A Travellerspoint blog

Colombia

June 2007

-17 °C

My fixation with Latin American buses hasn't shown any sign of dissipating. Here is a rural bus, called a 'chiva' or goat.
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Although the practice of shrinking heads is perhaps better known in Ecuador, this was the only example I saw for real, in the Natural History Museum in the southern town of Popayan.

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Close to Popayan was the location of the ancient and mysterious San Agustin culture, which placed these statues over tombs of important leaders. Because they left no written records, their life and society is completely up for interpretation. Our guide told us they were able to carry out complex heart and brain surgery, around 1,000 years B.C.

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The wax palm trees of Salento, in the centre of the country.

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The old quarter of Bogotá had a very bohemian feel, with lovely wooden window frames everywhere.

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This is a real Colombian orchid, although it does look strangely plastic.

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Possibly the strangest product you'd find at the markets was snail slime, which they say is very good for the skin, and even as sunblock.

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This is me overdoing the snail slime treatment. No, not really.
On my last day in Colombia I treated myself to a bath in the mud volcano near Cartagena. It had the consistency of thick melted chocolate.

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Posted by Darell 14:12 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

The Galapagos Islands

-17 °C

Here are some pictures of the variety of the colours of the Islands.

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This was our pirate ship that took us round the islands.
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And here's a mother and baby seal. Or possibly sea lion. Not sure.
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Posted by Darell 14:05 Archived in Ecuador Comments (1)

Peru

April 2007

-17 °C

Shortly after our arrival in Peru we went on a four day hike to Machu Picchu.

The trail was dotted by Inca ruins that varied from villages....

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... to farmed terraces.

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The view from the campsite on the first night.

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This picture shows an Inca village a few hours walk away from Machu Picchu.

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We arrived at Machu Picchu early on day four. It's hard to do justice to the place in a photo. So instead I've decided to show some Inca stonework, in close up...

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...and a view of the site in sepia.

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Not sure if they quite capture the place.

Although this film shows what I think is a Bolivian drink, their 'mate', being made, it was available also in Peru, sold by elderly women in the mornings mainly. (I have no idea what she is putting in the drink, but it all looked healthy enough)

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gRZmFiSHAH4

The town of Arequipa was perhaps my favourite colonial town in south and central America.
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This is one of the two very imposing volcanoes that looked over the town.

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I'm not that interested in convents normally, but the Convento de Santa Catalina in Arequipa was fascinating. The nuns live in silence and rent out a small part of their place for tourists. This was their washing machine.
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Arty shot of a lemon.
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This is how the nuns purified their water, through local porous rock.
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Posted by Darell 09:44 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

Bolivia

April 2007

The most unnerving landscape I'd encountered so far was the Salt Flats in southern Bolivia, understood to be the largest in the world. The salt is up to 15 metres deep, and has the appearance of thick ice.

We climbed up here, to over 4,600 metres, from Chile, and the change in altitude was pretty unpleasant to begin with, but fine after a day.

These pictures show the surface just before sunrise and then the sunrise itself a little later.

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We found a football from somewhere, too.

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Stupidly, I have sent the rest of my Bolivia photos home, so this section will have to be finished when I get back.

Posted by Darell 13:34 Archived in Bolivia Comments (0)

Chile

April 2007

At the end of March we crossed from Argentinian Patagonia into Chile, and headed for a place called Torres Del Paine. This is the view from our campsite, one of the coldest places I'd experienced so far.

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Here are some of my overland truck mates.

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The setting was a great location for trekking and other outdoorsy type stuff.

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One of the most impressive sights in this part of the continent is the Perito Moreno glaciar. It's named after the explorer Fransisco Moreno, who apparently gave up the search and turned back, unaware he was only a few kilometres away. For more about this chap, who was quite an adventurer, have a look at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Francisco_Moreno

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As we headed north we zigzagged across the Argentinian/Chilean border, so I visited once again Bariloche and also went climbing glaciars, sliding down volcanoes and also paragliding. Sadly my camera had mysteriously broken by this stage, so I have no pictures to back up these claims.

By the time my replacement camera had arrived, courtesy of Edward, we were in Santiago. We didn't spend much time there and instead headed to the UNESCO listed seaside town of Val Paraiso.

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Then we continued our journey north towards Bolivia, via a few beach resorts. This is a sunset at a place called La Serena.

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Finally we arrived at the border with Bolivia, a town called San Pedro, on the edge of the Atacama desert, the driest in the world, so they say. We had a fancy dress party here and met a chap who can do fire throwing or Pai.

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Here's a picture of a large plant.

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Posted by Darell 10:45 Archived in Chile Comments (0)

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