Archive for the ‘South America 2009’ Category

The coast: Trujillo

Monday, March 9th, 2009

From Loja, we proceeded to Piura in Peru. We had to cross about four passes to get out of the main valley which always yielded beautiful sights. We crossed the border in Macará which was a very uncomplicated and pleasant.

As we were coming closer to Piura, the vegetation changed from a thick green forest to nearly a desert which is due to the Humboldt current that dries the air which comes from the ocean.

We spent the night in Chiclayo, unfortunately missing that there is also a historical site to visit — the Señor de Sipán — and left the next morning right away to Trujillo. Trujillo is famous for two pre-Inca sites: Chan Chan, an adobe city dating from about


we have to go

Cuenca & Loja

Sunday, March 8th, 2009

We were taking up speed and visited two richer cities in the south of Equador: First Cuenca, which some people call the most beautiful town in the country. Indeed, it is a nice city — and it has a small but nice museum about the art of the aborigines with a shrunken head!

Its story is as simple as that: Two neighbouring tribes in the Amazonas region kept attacking each other, the leader of the losing party always ending up as shrunken head. I´ll post a picture soonish…

Continuing the travel, the landscape became more and more lovely; whereas in the region of Latacunga, one was driving through rough and steep mountains; in Baños, we looked up what seemed to be several thousand metres from the crack the river was flowing in to the mountain´s top — now, if someone had shown me a picture and told me that it was in northern Italy, I would have believed it.

Near Loja, we payed a visit to the rain forest (still on 2500m!). If someone does not know why it is named “rain forest” — we can tell now… The afternoon was more successful though when we visited a lovely botanic garden. It is simply amazing to see all those flowers that we try to cultivate under extensive care at home growing here as trees.


Thursday, March 5th, 2009

Not so far from Latacunga is the place where the locals go for a nice weekend: Baños. Situated at the foothills of another vulano, its main atraction are its hot springs.

However, we started off with doing some sports and rented bicycles with which we drove along the river which is one of the few break-troughs through the eastern Andes into the Amazonas bassin. Indeed, the vegetation changes drastically on the way down. Along the way, we visited a spectacular waterfall.

As the road seemed to consist of climbes that became longer and steeper, we finally gave in and took the bus home to join about 100 Equadorians in a 5×10 m² pool. It was amazing — some people even drank the water as it is supposed to have healing properties. If we did that, we would probably have dropped dead instantly.

Needless to say, we were the absolute attraction. Tall, pale (well, partially red) skin — it took half an hour though until someone found the heart to start a conversation…

Go South — Laguna Quilotoa

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

We flew back to Quito and started to go south in the direction of the Laguna Quilotoa which is a lake inside a caldera. On the drive, we realized for the first time how hard life is for the Equadorians. Having only been in the bubbles of downtown Quito and the Galápagos islands, this was quite a shock.

The travel to the crater was not as straight forward as we had planned, but several coincidences later, we indeed arrived in the town Quilotoa. We stayed with a nice indigenous familiy which among each other spoke their native language, Quichua (similar but distinct from Peru´s Quechua) — somewhat resembling Polish for our ears.

After lightning the stove in our room, the kids just didn´t manage to leave, as it turned out bit by bit, they had brought their homework with them… So we ended up doing calculus and English with them 🙂

Philipp doing homework with two local kids

Philipp doing homework with two local kids

The next day, we walked once around the caldera — wounderful and silent, always the lake at one side and the wide landscape of the andes on the other.

That afternoon, we took the bus back to Latacunga. It was Saturday, neither many people in the bus nor on the road: perfect time for the bus driver´s 16 year old son to learn his fathers trade! “First gear, accelerate, now the clutch — no, that one is the brake…..” and off we went.

Two more days Galápagos: Isla Isabela

Sunday, March 1st, 2009

Having heard of a huge vulcano on the island Isabela (which is the biggest of the Galápagos islands), we decided to pay it a visit. We had the picture of the Canaries in mind where you can see quite a few neighbouring islands from the tops of the vulcanos.

We took the speedboat from Puerto Ayora on the central island Santa Cruz which took us in two shaky hours to Isabela. It turned out that while Isabela is for sure a very nice South Sees style island, it is not what you expect when you travel to Galápagos — too many people, too commercial, simply not this bizarre “on which planet are we?” feeling.

The next day, we rode up to the rim of the vulcano. It is indeed huge — the crater has a diameter of about 10km. Also the riding (with horses that couldn´t care less about what we were saying or doing) was fun; however the whole thing was just not what we had expected. The view was very limited, we did not even see the whole coastline of Isabela, not to mention the other islands.

I guess if we came to Galápagos again, we would rather spend those days on the New Flamingo 🙂

Galápagos Boat Trip

Friday, February 27th, 2009

So we left to the Galápagos Islands for a 5 day boat trip on the New Flamingo which was not very new but did its job. We were nine passengers aboard which was a very convenient size — and it was a great group.

Although I have to admit that I was not 100% sure beforehand if I was enough into strange animals to completely enjoy the trip, it turned out to be just terrific. A typical day would consist of two land walks and two snorkeling tours — really awesome.

From my point of view, the best part was that the animals were absolutely not afraid of humans. I have never seen wild animals so close up. The most exciting encounter was perhaps when we met a sealion who started to play with us. We made bubbles — he made bubbles, we went under water, so did he. Great fun!

I had imagined the variety and abundance of animals to be a bit more overwhelming, but there are still animals to see everywhere in an just amazing scenery which made these fiuve days fly by incredibly fast.

Facit: This trip consumed quite some time and money — but it was worth every single centavo and second of it!

For two other views on the trip, check the blog of some of our companions: Sara and Inge as well as Marike and Gerben.

Arrival in Quito

Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

After a really looooooooooong flight (side note: having only one and a half hours to catch a conneting flight in Miami is not recommended!), we arrived in Quito. First surprise: Also on the equator, the weather can be like at home — 12ºC and rainy. We spent three days in Quito, doing some sight seeing on ourselves, being mainly in the Old Town with its colonial palaces and churches but also doing a tour with the Tourist Police which proved to be very nice and informative. We climbed the windy towes old the Basilica and got on two hills which gave a nice view over the city (at least parts thereof).

One day, we also took the teleferiQo up the volcano Pichincha and tried to hike the remaining 700m altitude difference to reach the top (4794m) by foot. Unfortunately, we had to cancel this project as the clouds were getting thicker and blacker and it started snowing. We had quite a headache anyway…

Nearly a full day was also lost organizing a one-week trip to the Galápagos Islands, which turned out to require abouth the same budget than the whole rest of the trip. We ended up with the travel agency Scuba Galápagos which turned out to be a good choice.


Tuesday, February 24th, 2009

Well, this blog is dealing with a five weeks travel to Equador, Peru, and Bolivia in Spring 2009. I was not really sure if I should do this — but as everyone seems to so it, I thought I might give it a try…

Philipp, a friend from school times came up with the idea of travelling the americas after reading a magazine “Maya, Inka, Azteken”. We had been in Mexico and a tiny part of Guatemala and Belize two years ago and were now heading further south…

We did not organize a lot beforehand — we had bought the Lonely Planet and the South American Handbook as well as a flight from home to Quito (Equador) and back from La Paz (Bolivia). Philipp discovered also a blog from two guys who had been in that region recently.