(filtered by tag 'SouthAmerica')

Iguazu Falls viewed from helicopter

We thought we've seen it all yesterday. But no, Brazil has many things to offer too.

Lonely Planet suggests the best way to cross Argentinian-Brazilian border is by taxi. Buses are slow and they might not wait for all paperwork. So that's what we did - we moved from hostel in Puerto Iguazú into hostel in Foz do Iguaçu by taxi. We just filled in form given us by driver and he went to handle officials. Quick and efficient.

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Friday, 19th of February 2010. The biggest of highlights of our trip is just a few kilometres from us. We had a glimpse of mist created by it from the plane shortly before landing. We wanted to see it today, but our flight from Buenos Aires was delayed for 4 hours. Funny thing was I thought it will be one of our shortest stay at airport, because we came rather late (for my likings). And also it was rescheduled couple of months ago so instead of planned arrival at noon we arrived in the evening.

So we will see it tomorrow morning. Today, we are going to lovely hostel Timbo Posada in Puerto Iguazú with friendly staff and small pool surrounded with banana leaves and other tropical vegetation. And then for nice dinner with fine wine in near BBQ restaurant.

But you don't need to wait till tomorrow, just continue reading.

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Buenos Aires

Added: July 17, 2010

Tags: Argentina RTW SouthAmerica city photos

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Argentina deserves long time to stay. It does not make sense to go there only for short visit, but we wanted to see Iguazu Falls. And the only way we could get there easily with oneworld Round The World ticket was through Buenos Aires. OK, why not.

Buenos Aires is nice big and modern city. There are not any very old buildings there, because they pulled down all buildings in colonial style and rebuilt new ones of mixed styles. But they looked pretty old to me :-) At least compared to many modern skyscrapers in other parts of the city.

I liked it more than Santiago de Chile, and 100 times more than Lima. But we planned to stay there only for one day... again.

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Lima

Added: July 14, 2010

Tags: Peru RTW SouthAmerica info

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I don't have any photos from Lima, because everybody said Lima is unsafe and it is better not to attract attention. I decided that 1.5kg camera setup might attract some attention of potential muggers so I left everything packed. Zuzka took some photos, but she is not here right now. Next week, when she returns, I might add one or two just to provide thumbnail for this post.

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Sacsayhuamán

Our original plan was to visit Machu Picchu and to see most of Sacred Valley. But thanks to heavy rains Mach Picchu was closed and after some unplanned events we got only half a day for Sacred Valley. Fortunately there are 4 places really close to Cuzco, in fact their visit is part of City Tour.

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Cuzco

Added: July 13, 2010

Tags: Peru RTW SouthAmerica church city photos ruins

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Capital of former Incan empire, Cuzco is wonderful. We liked it a lot. There are hints of Incan architecture and also colonial. It is quite touristy, I haven't seen so many touts at one place before, but there has to be some price you pay for famous place.

We spent morning exploring centre of city and we will go afternoon to nearby places (it will be a separate post). We were not in a hurry, those a few places we wanted to see can be handled in half a day. The worse "problem" is Peruvian approach to tickets. You cannot buy any individual ticket, there are only for 10 days and the cheaper is I think for 3 days with limited number of attractions. It might not be bad deal if you stayed in Cuzco longer, but we were bound to leave soon.

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We spend whole day 15th of February in bus from Puno to Cuzco. It was very nice scenic road and that was also reason we decided to travel during day, compared to alternative night trip. That would save us some time and also money, but we would not see anything.

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I forgot what exactly Kamisaraki means, but it is some kind of greeting in Aymara, used at floating islands Uros, Lake Titicaca, Peru.

On 14th of February 2010 we boarded a bus from Copacabana, Bolivia to Puno, Peru. Driver gave us Peruvian customs declaration forms and asked to check NO everywhere, because he did not want to unload baggages unnecessarily. He collected the forms later, so that we could save time by processing them at once (if at all). He also suggested we should not exchange money at Bolivian side or in a buffet. He will tell us where is good money exchange office.

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Trip to Isla Del Sol, important place in mythology of Incas, deserves whole day. Or two. We had only one, but it was enough to say this place is amazing. Rugged rocks, green terraced fields, cacti, dark blue water of Lake Titicaca, small settlements and most important of all pre-Inca and Inca ruins.

Day did not start with nice weather, but to our pleasure it changed quickly and stayed nice for rest of the day.

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It's 12th of February and we are finally heading to Lake Titicaca! A pick up bus again arrives 30 minutes ahead of scheduled range, this time a driver is not willing to wait 5 minutes until I finish packing. We have to go to Vicuña Tours near main bus terminal to catch our bus. Fortunately receptionist is very helpful - he shows us the place on a map and catches a taxi for us.

The bus is packed, no wonder due to strike there are more travellers keen to get to Copacabana. It is really cloudy, clouds are quite low, because in El Alto they form fog.

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ski centre at Chacaltaya

The reason we decided to stay in La Paz for longer was we really wanted to go to Chacaltaya. It is probably the only place in the world where you can get so high by bus! You only need a few days of acclimatization and a few $. What could be the better birthday present for Zuzka anyway?

Chacaltaya was former highest ski centre in the world, but it does not operate any more. It misses one thing - snow. The remnants of glacier finally melted down in 2009 and it is not likely it will recover soon. Surprisingly it snows there only in summer due to wet air, but never in winter.

We like mountains a lot so I could not resist showing many photos again. Sorry for that :-)

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Last day at Uyuni trip was less impressive (compared with previous day). We have seen only a few nice places and then travelled for long time back to Uyuni. However, the boring ride was compensated slightly by adventures in Uyuni.

We reached the highest altitude for us so far and finally I got decent photo of llama. Apart from that I made my first vertical panorama of llama! You know, bumpy road, driver does not want to stop, you need to shoot at high speed during ride :-) The first photo cuts the head, the 2nd one misses legs. No, I did not try to stitch it... But I like the concept ;-)

All in all, it was fine end of this wonderful trip. I encourage everybody travelling in Bolivia to go there.

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vicuñas at Laguna Hedionda

We had fantastic experiences yesterday, at Salar de Uyuni. It will be even better today, on 6th of February 2010. We continue with our Uyuni trip. While yesterday we have seen a lot of white and blue, today we are going through landscapes providing every possible colour. And some impossible :-)

This day was the one I took the most photos and I had a huge problem to select only a few of them. It was nearly impossible task. I went through selected ones repeatedly and deleted a few, but there are still many of them. So bear with me, please.

I've decided against showing photos in order we have visited places they were taken at, but to reorder them to create 2 groups: rocks/mountains and water/animals.

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Uyuni - Day 1

Added: June 15, 2010

Tags: Bolivia RTW SouthAmerica lagoon photos

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Travelling in Bolivia and not going to Uyuni is inexcusable mistake. Yes, it is quite far from La Paz and getting there is tiring, but the place is amazing. And word amazing does not do it justice. I made about 1100 photos in those 3 days. And some are actually nice :-)

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Valle de la Luna near La Paz

It is obvious Valle de la Luna (Moon Valley) is not really Moon-like landscape, because it was created by water erosion and there is not so much water on the Moon to create anything similar. That does not make it less impressive, though. And that name is not so bad after all. At least it says it is something worth of visit. Previous sentences probably show why programmers don't like marketing - it usually insults their analytical thinking :-)

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Tiwanaku

Added: June 12, 2010

Tags: Bolivia RTW SouthAmerica mountains photos ruins

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Also known as Tiahuanaco was a target of our first one day trip from La Paz, where we were acclimatizing for high altitude. We've done it on 2nd of February.

It is archaeological site near Lake Titicaca. It was built in pre-Inca times and existed for much longer time than later Inca empire. That also means it is less preserved, more crude and it is hard to compare with Inca sites. We had an advantage, it was our first archaeological site in South America and we liked it in the end. But it does not stand out much, it is easy to miss from distance.

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La Paz

Added: June 06, 2010

Tags: Bolivia RTW SouthAmerica church city mountains photos

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It was the 35th day of our travelling, Monday 1st of February 2010. Our flight landed at El Alto. We walked about 100m to passport control and it was sufficient to get light headed and heavy breathing. No wonder, El Alto is at about 4100m above sea level and we flew there from Santiago de Chile at 520m. With such high elevation any strange feelings in head cannot be ignored.

I cannot help myself, I have to show many photos here. No wonder, we've spent more days in La Paz than at any other place we travelled through. We wanted to acclimatize to this altitude well before heading to "wilderness" and spent there 4 days. And then later 3 unplanned days. During that time I found I like La Paz a lot. It's atmosphere, people, colours, mountains, even weather was amazing.

Our stay was enhanced by very good hostel Cruz de los Andes we stayed at. Staff did not speak English much, only one lady was able to help in all cases, but for simpler needs we managed well also with others. We liked especially old lady in kitchen who served breakfast.

While staying in La Paz to get acclimatized to altitude you don't need to be bored. You can make many small trips in surroundings. We went to Tiwanaku and Valle de la Luna (those are easy) and later we made a hike to Chacaltaya (~5300m). You can go further away, like for example visiting Copacabana at Lake Titicaca.

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On 30th of January 2010 we said farewell to New Zealand and Australia and spent 16 hours in plane flying to Santiago de Chile. It was the longest flight we have made. Immediately in the plane I have learned our English is less useful than anywhere else we have been till now. Even simple "water, please" was always met with puzzled face. Fortunately we have learned couple of phrases that should help us to get through South American continent.

We did not plan to stay in Santiago or in Chile for long time. Just to sleep after long flight, to spend one day around the city and then fly to Bolivia. We were not interested in European city like Santiago. But when we got to our hostel we have learned from provided fliers how many things we are going miss around Santiago. (We knew we will miss Patagonia, but there was not any time even think about going there during our 1 month stay in South America). At the end I can say Santiago de Chile is interesting city.

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