Jaza's World Trip


The Cotopaxi fiasco

When I went exploring in Quito yesterday, I also did some shopping around for Cotopaxi mountain-climbing tours. One of the tour agencies in town, Gulliver, told me that they had one person looking for a partner, to do the climb on Monday and Tuesday. I told them that they could put me down as confirmed for going on the climb as well. However, when I got back to Quito from Pululahua this afternoon, and phoned them up to confirm for tomorrow, they told me that they now had 4 people for the climb, and that I couldn't come any more! Gulliver's have ditched me: not the nicest thing a tour agency can do to its customers.

Filed in: QuitoUnfortunateToursNot happy Jan

Hiking inside the Cañon del Colca

Our second day doing the Cañon del Colca hike was spent entirely within the bowels of the canyon. We started from the little village hospedaje that we slept in last night, and hiked all morning until we reached the oasis, stopping along the way at Victoria's museum. As with yesterday morning's hike, the walking this morning was quite pleasant, and the scenery was simply to die for.

Filed in: Cañon del ColcaAdventureStunningHikingTours

Salty morning

This morning began our tour of the Salar de Uyuni, the world's highest and biggest salt flat. After a brief visit to the Uyuni train cemetery, we took off to the flats themselves. Our group has six people (plus our guide, Raul, and his son, Willy): myself, Chris, Leila, Christina, another Swiss (an older woman, can't remember her name), and a French dude (can't remember his name either). We drove across the salt flats in our Land Cruiser 4WD this morning, and it made for a very salty morning indeed.

Filed in: Salar de UyuniSaltStunning4x4 ridesTours

Uyuni train cemetery

This morning, our group of six people met our tourguide for our three-day tour of the Salar de Uyuni, we piled into the customary Toyota Land Cruiser 4WD that's used for such tours, and we began our tour with a trip to the "train cemetery" just outside the town of Uyuni. Quirky, although not-so-beautiful, start to a beautiful trip. Big wreckages of trains, piled onto a bunch of tracks. Makes for an interesting 5-minute stop, although not worth much more than that.

Filed in: UyuniToursTrains

Technically outta Bolivia

This morning, Chris and I left for our tour of the Salar de Uyuni, on a three-day trip with Esmeralda Tours (actually, ended up being Olivos Tours — meh, same diff). But before we left, we went to the immigration office in Uyuni, and we officially exited Bolivia. So, despite the fact that we won't be in Chile until Wednesday, as of today we're technically no longer in Bolivia. Technically, until Wednesday we're not in any country at all.

Filed in: UyuniBorder crossingsTours

Parque Cretácico

There really wasn't much to do when Chris and I arrived in Sucre this morning, after our interesting night's bus ride. So we decided to check out Parque Cretácico, a site where you can see dinosaur footprints embedded in the face of a rock wall, and one of Sucre's main tourist attractions. Very cheesy place, and not terribly awe-inspiring, either. But like I said, there wasn't really much else to do in Sucre. So we had a look at the footprints.

Filed in: SucreDinosaursPlasticToursFake

Death road ride

Arguably the most famous, and the most popular, tourist attraction in La Paz these days is the death road bike ride. A 3000m descent, from La Cumbre to Coroico. Downhill almost all the way. And fatally dangerous for much of the distance. Today, Chris and I did the ride, with B-Side Adventures (great company — but horrible web site). And we survived, and loved every minute of it.

Filed in: La PazToursCyclingDangerousAdventure

Pilcopata: the jungle tour

Yesterday — our first day in Pilcopata — was fun, but it wasn't a jungle tour. Playing with animals, yes; horse riding, yes; but jungle tour, no. Today, we had the real deal. Hike through the jungle, bizarre plants, deadly insects, dazzling waterfalls — you name it, we saw it. Pretty fascinating, just what kind of exotic stuff you can find out here. And also pretty scary, to think that this is what you find on the edge of the jungle, where it's still relatively tame. I wonder what the middle of the Amazon must be like?

Filed in: PilcopataToursJungleBizarre

Real city tour of Cusco

This afternoon, Juan Carlos took a gang of us Amigos students on what he calls a "real city tour" of Cusco. The sites on the tour are all various places where the poorer, less advantaged people of Cusco live, work, and study. Definitely not your average city tour. And after completing it, it became inescapably obvious to me that the tourist-infested city centre — the only area I really knew, up until now — is definitely not the real Cusco.

Filed in: CuscoCultural divideToursStudyingPoverty

Machu Picchu tour

This morning, after an exhilirating sprint up the mountain, we finally made it to the grand finale of the Salkantay hike, the Lost City of the Incas itself, Machu Picchu. The place may be overrun by tourists; but really, when you get there, you can see why so many people go out of their way to visit this place. Putting aside the history, the romance, the mystery, and the culture, Machu Picchu — city and surroundings — is without a doubt one of the most stunningly gorgeous places I've ever visited. Our guide, Feliz, was good enough to give us a tour of the ruins.

Filed in: Aguas CalientesToursHikingStunningArchaeologyInca