And so, after three years, we were finally off to visit Australia again. This time flying via Hong Kong, in an epic series of flights that took us over 34 hours door to door. Still, it could be worse. A billiard table could fall on you. On the way we discovered that there’s nothing quite like an airport full of pokestops and pokemon catching to make a seven hour layover absolutely fly past. Thanks Hong Kong. Also, it’s possible for a six-year old to watch the Lego Movie four times in a row, even when there are other movies and … Continue reading Australia Part 1: Melbourne to Mildura
“I’VE HAD IT WITH YOUR ATTEMPTS TO GET THESE MOTHER F**KING BIKES ON THIS MOTHER F**CKING PLANE (without paying the relevant fees which we are levying even though you thought that because you’d bought your tickets from Air New Zealand you would only have to follow their baggage rules)” the Calgary Air Canada employee yelled at us, hurling a stapler at Alex’s head. He went on to threaten us with overweight fees of $100 per bag for our two bags which were underweight by 500grams, and overweight by 800grams respectively. This was right after we’d killed his puppy, and stolen … Continue reading the depth of my love for air canada knows no bounds
As if I haven’t done enough gadding about already this year, I have decided to travel across the Pacific Ocean and go to Australia. And then come back again 3 weeks later. Although I’m tempted by Anonymous Lefty’s noble and environmentally conscious scheme of going by ship, I shall probably just stick with an aeroplane. This is the route I shall direct the pilot to take: Calgary – Melbourne So in two days time I’ll probably be hanging out at an airfield of some sort, trying to hitch a ride on a plane. Or a zeppelin.
kitten fishing in santiago de chile mendoza, argentina the southest i’ve ever been arriving in patagonia parque nacional torres del paine around the park into bolivia hot-tubbing bolivian style my very first geyser (a.k.a. i can see why safety fences are sometimes a good idea) through the altiplano hotel de sal (yes i licked the walls) salar de uyuni uyuni, bolivia lake titicaca cusco, peru inka trail – day one inka trail – day two inka trail – day three inka trail to machu picchu lima, peru screaming slugs – the highlights
The Screaming Slugs came to South America too, and were alarmed by most things they saw there. A cactus on an island in the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia In the middle of the Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia At Machu Picchu, Peru In a Richard Serra installation at Toronto Airport, Canada
Just to prove that you’re never too old to get excited about dinosaurs, we went to the Royal Ontario Museum (ROM) in Toronto, and gazed awestruck at all of the dinosaur skeletons they had. I’m pretty sure there were other things we looked at too (in fact there were probably even some real live Galapagos tortoises there as part of a display about the life of Charles Darwin), but the dinosaurs are all I really remember. Even if they had changed the diplodocus so it doesn’t put it’s head up any more, and had a label explaining how scientists now … Continue reading dinosaurs!
After all of the encouraging words we’d read about Lima, we weren’t particularly looking forward to spending any time there. A guidebook I’d read before leaving basically suggested: “If you spend only a couple of days there, and see the main sites, you might not hate it.” Armoured vehicles with sub machine guns by Plaza de Armas, the main square in downtown Lima And maybe there’s not much there to see if you’re keen on going to museums and art galleries and general tourist attractions. But it’s not that bad. The main thing that tipped it into favour … Continue reading lima, peru
And the clouds cleared, and as they descended from Inti Punku there was light! And sun! To beat the crowds to the gate we were up at 4am and queueing to get stamped onwards. Light was already appearing in the sky as we walked towards Inti Punku, and soon headlamps were discarded as I managed to find a quiet section of trail with noone infront of behind, and could pretend I was meandering along on my own. From Inti Punku we caught our first glimpse of Machu Picchu as the sun rose. Well, that was the idea. The … Continue reading inka trail to machu picchu
Another 6am wakeup, with Alex feeling slightly better than last night. We attempt to transfer more of the load to my bag, which is difficult given that it’s filled to the point of explosion with the sleeping bags. We then start the slog up towards the second pass, stopping to look at the Runkurakay ruins along the way. Runkurakay We stop at the second pass and take silly photos, momentarily excited with the fact we have clear views, and are surrounded by snow-capped mountains – the highest, Mount Veronica, sitting at 5682m. Wandering onwards we stop at the … Continue reading inka trail – day three
For our 6am wake-up call we were greeted with the question of what sort of tea we would like, which was then left at the door of the tent for us to sip at our leisure before breakfast at 6.30am. Breakfast involved toast, scrambled eggs, porridge-type-substance in a drinking cup, fruit platter, potatoes and more tea. The ubiquitous trekking pole We got going at around 7.20am, and were let loose to make our way up towards Dead Woman’s Pass out our own pace, stopping to regroup at Three Stones, and then a morning tea stop at Llulluchapampa. Here … Continue reading inka trail – day two
The classic Inka Trail is 45km long, and usually covered in four days. Following major overuse and abuse of the trail, the number of people starting the Inka Trail (the classical Inka trail to Macchu Pichu) was limited a few years ago, with guidelines instated regarding porter (or chaski “fleet-foot messenger”) welfare, and limiting how much they can carry. It is not allowed to trek the Inka Trail independently, as you must have a trek permit and guide. So we signed ourselves up for a group trek a few months back, and ended up with a group of 14 trekkers … Continue reading inka trail – day one
The town of Cusco, sprawled out over the surrounding hills – which also have hill graffiti scrawled over them, not very visible in this photo though. An ‘istorical monument (the Cathedral). And some Incan stonework. There’s lots of it around town, and if you read the guidebooks they tell you to go and look at it all. I was not particularly excited by it – though it did manage to fill me with disdain for all modern attempts at building worldwide.
In Puno, Peru – altitude of 3826 metres. It’s definitely up high (we didn’t see the Bolivian Navy though).
When we arrived in Uyuni after the trip through the Altiplano, we discovered that a lot of the buses to La Paz weren’t running that night, due to blockades. So we booked a ticket for a bus the following night, and hoped it wouldn’t be cancelled as well. And spent a day and a half hanging out in Uyuni, a little town with a population of 10,000 or so, some really good street markets, and lots of tourist shops selling tours out onto the Salar. The night markets sold huge slices of tasty cake for 15 cents. Actually, there were … Continue reading uyuni, bolivia
Salar de Uyuni – at 10,582 km² , the largest salt flat on Earth. Around 40,000 years ago it was part of Lake Minchin (an enormous lake that encompassed the Salar as well as another neighbouring Salar, and two existing lakes). It sits at an altitude of 3650m on the Bolivian Altiplano being salty and flat. It’s also very handy for taking lots of silly photos – here we see Alex executing a perfect star-jump style ‘jump’ photo. Up-close with the salt – it’s very hard, and forms strange patterns on the surface. And … Continue reading salar de uyuni
Scattered around the Salar de Uyuni are quite a few salt hotels – we spent a night in one down the South end of the Salar. The entire building, beds, tables, chairs, were all made out of blocks of salt. It smelt a bit like the sea…
Flamingos in lagoons, where they look a lot more at home than they did in cold and icy Patagonia. Laguna con flamencos Another Laguna – they all started blurring together towards the end, and I forget which was which. Chile one way, Bolivia the other – the trainline crossing Salar de Chiguana.
Geyser Sol de Mañana – at around 4900 metres altitude, it was the highest point we reached throughout the trip. People lurk in the steam of the fumaroles. We could wander around at will in amongst the geysers, fumaroles and mudpots, with just common sense stopping us from going in silly places. As a result I nearly slipped into a mudpot (the mud was unexpectedly slippery and wet! I was taking photos! There were no safety fences or signs, how was I supposed to know it was dangerous!? *shakes fist at the world*). The terrain was … Continue reading my very first geyser (a.k.a. i can see why safety fences are sometimes a good idea)
It was around lunchtime when we reached Aguas Termales – a beautiful hot spring that’s just the right temperature to sit in at the cool temperatures of the Bolivian Altiplano (the altiplano is where the Andes are at their widest, and is the most extensive area of high plateau on earth outside of Tibet). The surrounds weren’t so bad to look at either Most of the white in the above photo is borax rather than salt, but as everything was being explained in Spanish, I was initially very confused as to what Borat would be doing … Continue reading hot-tubbing bolivian style
We reached the Bolivian border control after driving up a long long hill out of San Pedro de Atacama in Chile, climbing up onto the altiplano to about 4000m altitude. Then a nice man inside stamped my passport. We were taking a 4WD ‘tour’ across the Bolivian altiplano and to the Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt plain in the world. So as lost seagulls wandered around acting like they were on a pier at the beach, our trusty 4WD was loaded up, and we set out in convoy across the desert. Apart from us two, … Continue reading into bolivia