Lima is the last destination in Peru, and also the last destination in South America. We fly in from Cuzco, which is a fairly short flight – it certainly beats taking a 21 hour bus that has a tendency of becoming badly delayed due to a combination of bad roads and rainy season.

Upon arrival we again go straight to the Taxi Green counter for a pre-paid car to take us to a hostel we like the look of in the Lonely Planet called Home Peru, but we've not booked anything. It would have been difficult to book a room at this place anyway as it appears to be closed down. Our second choice Red Psycho Llama is full and we head over to Hostal El Patio. We’re in luck and they have a reasonably priced room available, although only for one night after which we can change to a larger more premium room. This guest house is really lovely set in an old colonial mansion. The cheaper room is still very nice and even has a private little patio. The larger and very plush room we stay in for the last night is still reasonably priced, and still much cheaper than the rooms we had in Singapore and Rio de Janeiro but this for a very luxurious room and not the very basic dorm-like rooms of the previous mentioned.

First evening we don’t get up to much but have a dinner and a couple of beers before going back to our hostel to relax. We wake next morning for a very nice breakfast consisting of fruit salad, home made breads, home made olive paste, as well as normal jam.

We arrange to catch up with an old friend of mine Alfredo and around mid day he comes around to pick us up and he takes us to a lovely seafood restaurant called La Mar Cebicheria Peruana where I select for mains the Cacerola Cinco Razas from the A Fuego Lento section - absolutely gorgeous slow-cooked fish stew. If you’re ever in Lima and want a gourmet experience this is a good place to head to for lunch. Alfredo later takes us to the Convento de San Francisco (Saint Francis Monastery) for the catacombs. The catacombs under the monastery were apparently Lima’s first cemetery. It’s estimated 70000 burials were made here, and according to Saul, our guide on the Salkantay Trek, many natives were lured into the monastery by the catholic Spaniards and killed before buried down in the catacombs. Needless to say there are many, many bones and sculls down there that’s been excavated after the tunnels were discovered in 1943. Also in the historical centre around the Plaza Mayor, which is now on UNESCO World Heritage List, there is a lot of magnificent architecture - some dating from the founding of Lima City in the fifteen hundreds. Shame we don't have enough time to explore it more.

[caption id="attachment_2742" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hannah's starter at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana in Miraflores, Lima. Hannah's starter at La Mar Cebicheria Peruana in Miraflores, Lima.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2743" align="aligncenter" width="478"]Church of San Francisco (Saint Francis) in Lima. Church of San Francisco (Saint Francis) in Lima.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2744" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of San Francisco (Saint Francis) in Lima. Church of San Francisco (Saint Francis) in Lima.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2747" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of San Francisco (Saint Francis) in Lima. Church of San Francisco (Saint Francis) in Lima.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2745" align="aligncenter" width="472"]Archbishop's Palace by Plaza Mayor, Lima. Archbishop's Palace by Plaza Mayor, Lima.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2746" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa de la Literatura Peruana, Lima. Casa de la Literatura Peruana, Lima.[/caption]

It’s really good to catch up with Alfredo, and in the evening he takes me out to a couple of bars. Hannah was tired from earlier in the day and decides to stay put in our plush room at Hostal El Patio. We head over to the Barranco area and first visit a well known hot-spot called Ayahuasca – a really nice bar and restaurant set in an old mansion. We have a few beers and some gorgeous bar-food before we decide to head over to another also well known place called La Noche. Here we catch the end of a live act that we didn't get to know the name of – we asked the door-man and he’d forgotten - we enjoyed it nonetheless and finished the night here with a few beers before Alfredo dropped me off at our Hostel in the early hours. I have now found the name of the group that was performing at La Noche – they were called “La Sentimental” and below is a little taster of their repertoire.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M1NoMZKrbgc&w=560&h=315]

Last day in South America we have a relaxed morning packing our bags and enjoying a large breakfast before getting a taxi to the airport. The flight to San Jose is a three and a half hour journey and again we're flying with TACA Airways. We arrive in San Jose in the early evening, and failing to find a bus and with no tourist information at the airport we have to splash out on a taxi again to take us to our chosen Hostel Green House. The place is a bit run down but the room is very clean and the staff (mum and her two sons) are really friendly and helpful. We only stay in San Jose for the one night before taking the next day's bus to our next destination Montezuma on the Nicoya Peninsular coast.

First of all I would like to apologise for this veeeeeery loooong post, but I hope you'll enjoy it nonetheless.

We arrive fairly early by bus from Arequipa. Again we have not had the time to do a proper research of places to stay, so we first ask at Milhouse Hostel, where Bamba Experience - our tour operator for the Salkantay Trek - is based but fortunately they are full (I say fortunately because we later heard some less than flattering comments about this hostel). We have a look in our guide and it recommends Hostel Loki, so off we go to have a look. It's up a very steep hill, so in high altitude thin air and with almost 40kg of baggage to lug around it's definitely a test of the respiratory system, and the heart get a good run for its money too. At Loki they have a room free but it's not cleaned yet - Hannah get a bad feeling of the place and thankfully convinces me to have a look around for an alternative place. I can vaguely remember reading about a hostel called Suecia on Tripadvisor and we head there to have a look. It's a very nice building and the room they offer us looks really nice, bright and airy. It's got a very nice bathroom as well, and this at only five Soles (£1.25) more than Loki, where there was only shared bathroom and no windows – Loki we also learn later on is one of the most notorious party hostels in Cuzco – not quite what we were looking for anyways – we want to be able to get some sleep during the night... we don’t mind staying up late partying but don’t want to be kept up all night when we need to get some rest.

When out and about we can really feel the effect of the altitude here in Cuzco, even after a few days of acclimatisation in Arequipa we feel out of breath very easily, just walking about gently and it sometimes leaves us gasping for air. I'm getting a little bit worried about how it will be with the trek. We've both had symptoms of altitude sickness but for me it’s only been minor headaches and slight stomach upset. Hannah however has been suffering with much worse and she’s really not very keen on the trek because of this. She manage to rearrange her booking thankfully so she’ll take the train up and catch up with us in Aguas Calientes on the fourth day.

We’d booked our trek well in advance so all we had to do on arrival in Cuzco was to make ourselves known to the Bamba Experience Agency in Milhouse Hostel to arrange a briefing for the evening before the actual trek. It would have been more logic to have the briefing earlier in the day so we could have some more time to get the extra bits needed for our trek, but instead we have to run around last minute before all the shops close for the evening. Luckily we’re quite well prepared and only need a few small bits. The pickup in the morning is at 04:00 so not much chance to get any last supplies in the morning.

[gallery columns="4" ids="2627,2628,2629,2630"]

It turns out our group of fellow trekkers is quite small – we’re supposed to be six in total but as Hannah decide not to do the trek due to altitude sickness we’re down to five. In the morning though one more person is missing and no one knows why. He seemed quite eager the night before at the briefing, but admitted to not being very prepared and need to get just about all the equipment required bought or rented in the short time before the shops close after the briefing, so it could be it became too expensive or maybe he didn't have enough time to prepare and had to cancel.

After being picked up we get introduced to our guide Saul and also our cook Grimaldo before we have some time to sleep in the van on our way up to the start point of our trek, and where we can get some breakfast as well in a village called Mollepata. The breakfast menu is very basic with three options, but it’s quite good with bread, omelette, fruit salad, and a banana too – tea and coffee is of course also included. After a long breakfast with all of us starting to chat and get to know each other we finally get started on our trek. The rest of the group is made up of a German couple Katharina and Sebastian, and Niels from Holland. As we get started it’s a mix of excitement and also a bit of nerves as I'm clearly older – and I'm guessing in not as good shape as the rest of the group – I'm worried I'm going to be the one that slows everyone down. Luckily the pace is fairly slow so my worries are unfounded – PHEW. After a few hundred meters we get introduced to Adolfo, our horseman. He sees that the horses and mules are well looked after and that all the equipment and some of our stuff arrive safely to our camps, and talking about age he is only a few days away from his sixties birthday and with Grimaldo as the second oldest of the team speeds ahead of us to set up for lunch and later setting up camp well in time for us supposedly healthy “young kids” to arrive. The first day consists mostly of gentle walking – it’s only when we occasionally take “shortcuts” that it becomes a bit testing – shortcuts being close to vertical climbs instead of walking along on the gentle path. The scenery is very impressive right from the start of our trek and it just keep getting better and better – I soon have problems keeping up with the rest of the company as I continuously stop for taking pictures, so much so that I occasionally have to run after the rest of the group to keep up – it’s not my fitness that slows me down strangely enough.

A very nice surprise is when we stop for lunch. We camp up on a little plateau with an amazing scenic view, but as if that’s not enough we get a second surprise when lunch is served – the food is absolutely amazing – we’re all astounded of what our cook Grimaldo can create under such basic conditions. After lunch it’s more amazing scenery after more amazing scenery. We reach the first night’s camp at about 3800 meters altitude after a 22km walk that started at about 2900 meters but because the incline was fairly gentle it doesn't really feel like we've gained a whole 900 meters of altitude. After another great meal by our cook and many stories by Saul, our guide, about his forefathers and their traditions it’s time to get some rest before day two.

[gallery columns="4" ids="2631,2632,2633,2634,2635,2636,2637,2638,2639,2640,2641,2642,2643,2644,2645,2646,2647,2648,2649,2650,2651,2652"]

On the morning of the second day we wake early and I'm feeling very much energized – must be the fresh mountain air – although I'm not sure if that feeling is shared by the rest of the group. We have the option of being served Coca Leaf Tea as we get woken up – I'm keener on a cup of normal tea but try it out – it tastes a bit like grass and I don’t think it has very much effect.  After a large breakfast we gather our stuff and get ready to start walking. The second day, we've been informed, is the toughest of them all with the longest leg and the steepest incline. We’re a bit nervous as to how tough it will be and how we’ll cope with the 800 meters steep incline to 4629 meters in a just over three hours as opposed to the gentle incline the day before and the 25 km total distance to get to the next camp. So we start the first few hours with a constant up-hill finishing with a very steep 500 meters climb at the end where we have a well deserved break and the chance to soak in the amazing scenery. I really liked the challenge of the climb, but not so sure this view is shared by the others in the group.  We’re on the ridge between the Salkantay and Umantay mountains called Salkantay Pass, it’s the highest point of our trek so from this point it’s all (almost) down-hill and hence much easier to walk.

[gallery columns="4" ids="2653,2654,2655,2656,2657,2658,2659,2660,2661,2662,2663,2664,2665,2666,2667,2668,2669,2670,2671,2672"]

It’s still quite early in the day when we start descending from the mountain and although it’s much easier walking there is a lot of it to be done before we reach our lunch-spot. The light is continuously changing as the weather can’t decide whether to be sunny or rainy and this gives the already stunning scenery even more life – it’s really breathtaking and again I'm taking way too many photos while walking along. As we’re nearing our lunch-spot though the weather is starting to make up its mind, and it being the rainy-season there is no big surprise as to which way that decision goes. We’re in luck and get to our camp just as the skies fully start to open its valves, and as soon as we’re under cover it’s torrential. The sound of the rain is incredibly loud, like a herd of buffaloes running past our camp, and we all sit in amazement at how heavy this rain is thinking it can’t get any worse than this... WRONG! The volume is suddenly turned up and we’re again thinking it really can’t get any worse now – wrong again... It builds up to an even more intense downpour and it’s almost impossible to talk to each other now because of the noise the rain makes. We’re now certain it reached its peak only  to again being proven wrong – after this we just give up guessing and just let it run its course and for a while we can hardly hear our own thoughts. As we finish our lunch our guide Saul decide to stay under cover to see if we can wait it out to see if the downpour will stop. It slowly starts to calm down but there is no stop to it and we have no choice but to brave the rain and get going if we want to reach out camp before it gets late and the darkness sets in. The rain poncho I bought in Cuzco the night before departure now comes in very handy as we continue our trek in the pouring rain – although at least it’s not torrential anymore. The previous downpours have however made some streams into rivers and our guide has to re-plot parts of our route to save us having to wade across high current deep waters. After a detour that entails mostly walking steeply up the hill for a while is our next hurdle the mud-baths. Although not very physically challenging it’s an effective way of getting very dirty very fast, which means it’s not the most pleasant and joyful two hour walk. Some clever clogs thought it a great idea to widen and even out the natural path only a few months earlier, and as the rainy-season set in it became the completely horrendous mud-bath it now it – thank you for that, twats!

After clearing the muddy part it’s a fairly nice walk down to our camp. To our surprise the camp is actually in a small village where our tents have been placed on a roofed terrace. We do our best to hang up wet clothes and leave our shoes to dry after which it’s time for a lovely dinner - our cook Grimaldo doesn’t disappoint of course.

[gallery columns="4" ids="2673,2674,2675,2676,2677,2678,2679,2680,2681,2682,2683,2684,2685,2686,2687"]

Alongside us on our second leg we've had another group of trekkers which we've in various degrees been interacting with during the day – some of which seem not at all prepared for this trek what so ever – some are anything short of trekking in high heels and a ball gown. They’re really struggling even as it’s only gentle terrain and down-hill. As we’re enjoying our lovely dinner after a nice rest we spot the last stragglers coming into camp long after dark. It’s a mixed emotion of feeling sorry for them as they’re obviously in pain and struggling and the thought of “how stupid are you to do this sort of trek without being at all prepared”. The good thing of course that they do make it to the camp without being on a stretcher and no one is left behind. This camp also have some creature comforts it being in a small village – right next to our tents on the terrace there is a bar and shop and there are a couple of shops scattered around in the village as well. I'm strangely not thirsty for a beer (I know – maybe I should be checked out by a doctor...) and just get myself some water, and quickly gulp down a litre of that. The others in our group settle with sharing a couple of beers. Some of the other group of trekkers seem to be a bit thirstier and up for a party though, and by the sound of it there will be many headaches to nurse in the morning.

Third day and another early start, but this time we talk our guide into serving us a cup of Té Puro instead of the Coca Leaf Tea – it just tastes so much better. Ahead of us is a gentle 14 kilometre down-hill walk along the Apurimac River to a village called La Playa where we have lunch. On our way we learn to sing two songs, one in Spanish – which is fairly easy to understand and therefore easy to learn and remember and then attempting the second song in the Quechua language which I fail spectacularly at. The Quechua song I can’t remember anything of anymore but the Spanish song is a scout’s song and goes a little bit like this:

Como estan mis amigos, como estan, (muy bien)

Este es un saludo de amistad (que bien)

Camineros siempre juntos, con amigos siempre unidos, como estan mis amigos, como estan (muy bien)

Singing our song we walk into the La Playa village where we get served our lovely lunch. And after lunch we get picked up by a van that takes us further to the town of Santa Teresa where we have our camp for the night. It’s late afternoon and we still have one more stop for the day, a trip to the Santa Teresa Hot Springs. There are three large pools here and we have about two hours to get soaked in the lovely hot water. The pools are not their natural formation any more but have been nicely fashioned with slate surfaces and a fine pebbled bottom – parts of the largest pool is still the natural rock-face. When we get there it’s virtually empty – only a few locals enjoying the tranquillity before the surge of tourists. Slowly but surely the pool starts to get busier and busier, as more and more tourists arrive after their day’s trek. A bit before we’re supposed to head back we buy a few beers from the vendors by the pool – beer rarely tastes as good as this and I have to concentrate on not drinking too much too fast. We take the taxi back to our camp a little bit later than planned and come back to a lovely dinner – I can easily get used to this diet but this is sadly the last dinner cooked by our chef Grimaldo before we come back into civilisation. After dinner the other group of trekkers which we are again sharing camp with get a fire going and start a little party – the local store provides beer and music. Niels brings out a bottle of whiskey which keeps our little group happy and we later join the other camp for a little boogie around the camp fire.

[gallery ids="2688,2689,2690,2691,2692,2693"]

The next day is the last day of trekking but we don’t have a very long distance to go – only a 10 kilometre walk from a place called Hidroelectrica up to Aguas Calientes. We have the option of trying zip-lining before starting our walk at Hidroelectrica. It’s apparently the longest zip-line in Peru with a total of 2.4 kilometres spread over six lines. It’s exhilarating zipping along a couple of hundred meters off the ground and I'm really glad I went for it despite the slightly high cost – although Sebastian managed to haggle it down a little bit for us – well done.

Zip-lining in Peru:

[youtube=http://youtu.be/x2LqNmTGorE]

After a quick packed lunch stop at Hidroelectrica the trek continues with a really easy walk at the side of the train line following the Rio Urubamba all the way to Aguas Calientes. When we reach the end of our trek and get to our hotel Hannah have already arrived by train but as she was a bit hungry she popped out for a bite to eat. I join her at the restaurant but as I had lunch not too long ago I only go for a sneaky beer. Afterwards we go to the hot springs for a little dip which is very nice, but not as nice as the hot springs in Santa Teresa by any standard. It does a good job of refreshing us though. Later in the evening we all gather for dinner at a restaurant called Salkantay. It’s not very great food – compared to the food Grimaldo dished up for us, it pales in comparison. Me and Hannah wish we could have gone for a Menu del Dia (meal of the day) in a little local restaurant off the main tourist drag.

[gallery columns="4" ids="2694,2695,2696,2697"]

The last day of the trek is actually without any trekking. We start early with a five o'clock breakfast before getting one of the first busses up to Machu Picchu. It’s pouring down with rain so it looks like a sunrise might be out of the question – it’s rainy season after all so there is no big surprise in this. A little after six our bus arrives at the entrance of the site and we’re all dressed in our very stylish plastic rain ponchos ready to explore this ancient city. Saul takes up to a very nice viewpoint where he explains the history of the city of Machu Picchu, and although not the capital, its significance as the spiritual centre of the Inca empire. At first when we arrive at this viewpoint it’s looking like the clouds are clearing to give us a nice view of the ruins but as we spend more time up here it gets more and more cloudy and at the end of our little history lesson the view is completely obscured by the clouds and it’s started to rain again. We head down into the ruins and Saul takes us around the key temples and important houses and explains their significance. The rain seems to get worse and worse but thankfully not torrential this time. By the end of the sightseeing tour we agree a time to meet up down in Aguas Calientes for the train journey home and the group splits up. Hannah and I are feeling a bit tired from processing all the information, and our legs are tired too from all the walking up and down the slopes of the city – we’re also hungry and need to find a restaurant, so head for the exit. We find some of the most expensive sandwiches known to man and sit down for a little rest. I'm eager to head back and explore more of Machu Picchu and as the weather is improving rapidly it looks like I might be able to get some better views of the ruins. Hannah has had enough of Machu Picchu and is actually very disappointed of the site unlike me and decide to sit it out in the restaurant reading a book. The views have indeed improved and from time to time the sun even comes out of the clouds. As my feet are quite tired I don’t attempt on seeing the whole site again but concentrate on getting some nice overviews. By this time the site has filled up with a lot more people though and I find walking about in certain places slow and difficult because of the crowds – many tour groups seems to be afraid of letting people pass them and they move extremely slow due to people in the group are unable to cope with the steep slopes for various reasons. I'm tipping around behind these slow people looking like a little boy that needs the toilet and they still are refusing to let me pass.

[gallery columns="4" ids="2698,2699,2700,2701,2702,2703,2704,2705,2706,2707,2708,2709,2710,2711,2712,2717,2714,2715"]

After my second tour of the ruins I head back to the exit and the restaurant where Hannah is patiently waiting for me. We take the bus down to Aguas Calientes and meet up with the others before starting our journey back to Cuzco. It’s early evening by the time we arrive and it’s time to say goodbye to the group. We head back to Suecia to check in for our last night in Cuzco after which we go to get some food before taking an early night.

We wake nicely rested on our day of departure from Cuzco. We've had to book a flight to Lima for us to have any time there at all before our pre-booked flight to San Jose in Costa Rica. Our flight is in the afternoon so we have time to go for a little walkabout in Cuzco before we head over to the airport. While I've not sampled the breakfast at Suecia before Hannah had a few days of it and wasn't very impressed – it’s the usual bread and jam so we decide to skip breakfast and just have a tea before we go out to find a restaurant. We end up going to Paddy’s Irish Pub at the other side of the Plaza de Armas and have an absolutely amazing Full Irish Breakfast – we've not had such a satisfying breakfast for a very long time. Afterwards we collect our bags and take a taxi to the airport. As we check in we have the option of catching an earlier flight which means we’ll arrive in Lima about an hour ahead of schedule.

Our Cruz del Sur night bus from Nazca rolls in spot on time in Arequipa at eight in the morning but to our disappointment we’re far away from the historic centre where all the hostels are located. We hadn’t had much of a search for places before leaving Nazca as the internet in the hotel didn't really work very well. The bus has Wi-Fi on board but only works when there is a 3G mobile connection. Most of the trip goes through vast remote countryside so for most of the journey there is no internet for further search on Tripadvisor for guest houses and hotels. It also doesn’t help that we conk out almost immediately after we leave Nazca. We have a little bit of connection as we’re approaching Arequipa and try to do a little bit more of a search but it becamomes too ridiculous with the very shifty connection and we have to just chance it with some of the once we've already researched. We decide to head for a hostel called La Casa de Sillar – it has good reviews on Tripadvisor and also at 60 soles per night has fairly good rates when compared with the other hostels we've been looking at.

We get to the hostel quite early and are in luck that they have a room to spare – in fact they have a few alternatives for us. One room is a fairly small one upstairs which has only a single bed, but the lady tells us she can move another bed into the room for us if we like. The second option is also upstairs – it’s a dorm room with five beds in it but we can have it as a private room if we decide to go for it. The third alternative is a large double room on the ground floor which looks quite nice but it’s not as bright as the rooms above, and it has a bit of a damp smell to it. We decide for the small room upstairs and we’re happy to sacrifice the space for a brighter, airier room. This of course means the lady will have to move a bed from the dorm to our room – we ask if she needs assistance but are not allowed to help out and are left to our own devices in the kitchen to listen to the rummage upstairs. The room doesn't have a private bathroom but as there is nobody in the dorm room it’s like having our own bathroom. It’s absolutely massive with a bathtub/shower in the middle of the room. It’s very bright and airy due to a large skylight window. The architecture is a tad odd though and it feels like you’re on a platform above the kitchen and although there are windows underneath the platform, so not open into the kitchen, you can’t see these windows so it’s a weird feeling of being a bit exposed when in the shower or on the toilet.

[caption id="attachment_2598" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Casa de Sillar, Arequipa. La Casa de Sillar, Arequipa.[/caption]

After our check-in we go to find some lunch – it seems a lot of places are closed as it’s early in the day but we finally find a restaurant not far from the main square. The dish of the day is spaghetti Bolognese and this sounds very tempting to us both. We’re a bit shocked when we get it served though – it’s such a massive portion it could probably feed three or four people easily – no need for a desert and I'm glad we didn't order a starter. It’s a very nice Bolognese though, so we’re not complaining. All content we take to the streets for some sightseeing and our first stop is the Plaza de Armas and the Arequipa Cathedral. When we arrive there though it’s only the museum that is open and not the cathedral itself - we decide to revisit a bit later in the afternoon when it’s reopened. There are a few recommended sights in our guide and close to the Plaza la Armas is the Casa del Moral, a lovely well preserved stately home of the Moral family with interesting furniture and paintings.

[caption id="attachment_2509" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Iglesa de la Compañia, Arequipa. Iglesa de la Compañia, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2511" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2510" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2513" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2512" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2515" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2514" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Casa del Moral, Arequipa. Casa del Moral, Arequipa.[/caption]

Also recommended in our guide is the Museo Santuarios Andinos where the 500 year old Mummy Juanita, or “Ice Maiden” as she’s also referred to, is on display – well, normally this is the case, but she’s in for service and further research. In her place is another frozen girl sacrifice also found high up in the mountains. The “Ice Maiden” was a girl sacrificed to the gods by the Inca high priests around year 1450 and due to the constant cold up in the mountains has been completely frozen for all these years, hence the remarkable preservation of the body. After the visit to the Museo Santuarios Andinos we continue to El Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena. This is a huge Monastery that is still in use but also open as a tourist attraction. As we enter it is starting to rain and stupidly enough I think it’s just going to be a quick light shower so don’t bother going to fetch my jacket from the Hostel – the rain lasts for hours and it’s torrential so even with my jacket I would probably been soaked, just not thoroughly to the bone – my linen shirt is not exactly waterproof... Even when only quickly running from house to house trying to stay under roof I get absolutely soaked.  The grounds are absolutely massive and it takes us a few hours to walk through it all – in the end we even skip looking into some of the houses as we want to be able to find our way out before they close the place for the night. It’s a very colourful place and I can’t help taking way too many photos.

[caption id="attachment_2516" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2517" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2518" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2519" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hannah at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Hannah at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2520" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2521" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2522" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2523" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2524" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2525" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2526" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2527" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2528" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2529" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2530" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2531" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2533" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2534" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2535" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2536" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2537" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2538" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2539" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2540" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hannah at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Hannah at the Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2541" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2542" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2543" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2544" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2545" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2546" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2600" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2548" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2549" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2550" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2551" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2552" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2553" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2554" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa. Monasterio de Santa Catalina de Siena (The Monastery of Saint Catherine), Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2555" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Catedral de Arequipa. Inside the Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2556" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Catedral de Arequipa. Inside the Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2557" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Inside the Catedral de Arequipa. Inside the Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2558" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inside the Catedral de Arequipa. Inside the Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2559" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Catedral de Arequipa. Catedral de Arequipa.[/caption]

After we finish our tour of the monastery we find a travel agent to book a tour of the Colca Valley and a visit to the viewpoint called Mirador de Cruz del Condor. It’s a long journey to get there so the tour starts at silly o'clock  We need to be ready outside our hostel at 03:00. After a quick explanation in the minivan we are left to drift into sleep as the van takes us the three and a half hour drive to Chivay Village for breakfast. It’s the usual feast of bread and jam – the bread being very fresh so I don’t mind, but I think Hannah has had enough of bread and jam breakfasts so she’s less pleased. One change in the diet is the coca leaf tea - I've got no sign of altitude sickness except for being a bit short of breath at times so don’t bother with it. After breakfast it’s back on the minivan and we start our drive into the Colca Valley towards the Mirador Cruz del Condor. We pass some amazing scenery and I keep kicking myself as I can’t tell the van to stop to take photos. We have a short stop to enjoy the view just as the Colca Valley changes into Colca Canyon (although we've missed many much more interesting viewpoints on the way already......) and from here it’s only a short drive to the Mirador Cruz del Condor. We’re in luck and get to see some magnificent condors gliding past – our guide is so happy for us that we managed to catch a glimpse of the condors – it almost sounds like it’s more normal not to see them. After the viewpoint we start our journey back towards Arequipa but with a few stops on the way. First another panoramic viewpoint of the Colca Valley before we stop off in a village called Maca with its magnificent colonial church and a stand that sells Prickly Pear Pisco Sours – very yummy, and ridiculously strong. After Maca we go to the Chacapi Hot Springs outside the village of Yanque. We decide not to hop in despite bringing with us the bathing gear – the hot spring looks just like a normal swimming pool – it’s not like what we imagined I suppose – we thought it would be natural pools in the rocks. After a very boring hour waiting by the hot springs it’s finally time for lunch back in the place where we had breakfast in the village of Chivay – when we hear the lunch is a buffet we’re at first a bit sceptic – it has a tendency of consisting of cold dried out food. Our fears though, were very much unfounded and we had the nice surprise of a marvellous spread of traditional foods – my favourite was the alpaca stew and the stuffed peppers, all very yummy. We have two more stops to make before the trip is over – the first being the highest point of the route at 4910 meters where we’re supposed to have a great view of the mountains and volcanoes, but with our luck it’s sleeting and foggy so the visibility is next to nonexistent. The very last stop is a field where they breed alpacas, it’s a very serene peaceful place and it’s a nice end of the sightseeing. From here it’s direct back to Arequipa and when we get there we’re completely zonked out. We go back to our hostel and later go out to get a bite to eat but otherwise we’re just knocked out and just want to get some rest.

[caption id="attachment_2560" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2561" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2562" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Andean Rabbit in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. The Andean Rabbit in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2563" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2564" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2565" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2566" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2567" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2568" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2569" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2570" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Mirador Cruz del Condor in Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2571" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Colca Canyon north of Arequipa. Colca Canyon north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2572" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Colca Valley, north of Arequipa. Colca Valley, north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2573" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Colca Valley, north of Arequipa. Colca Valley, north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2574" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Photo-op in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Photo-op in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2575" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley, north of Arequipa. Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley, north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2576" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley, north of Arequipa. Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley, north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2577" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2578" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Church of Maca in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2579" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inka streetart in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Inka streetart in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2580" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Inka streetart in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa. Inka streetart in Maca Village in the Colca Valley north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2582" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley. Street art in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2583" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley. Street art in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2584" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Sculpture in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley. Sculpture in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2585" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Sculpture in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley. Sculpture in Chivay Village north of Arequipa in the Colca Valley.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2586" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mirador de los Andes north of Arequipa at 4910 meters above sea level. Mirador de los Andes north of Arequipa at 4910 meters above sea level.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2587" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mirador de los Andes north of Arequipa at 4910 meters above sea level. Mirador de los Andes north of Arequipa at 4910 meters above sea level.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2588" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Alpacas in a field north of Arequipa. Alpacas in a field north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2589" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Alpacas in a field north of Arequipa. Alpacas in a field north of Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2590" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Church of San Francisco, Arequipa. Church of San Francisco, Arequipa.[/caption]

Our last day in Arequipa and we’re not doing much – we have an excellent lunch at a little restaurant a few blocks from the main square. The staff are too shy to come over and take our orders as they don’t speak any English. Luckily for us a local businessman picks up on this and starts talking to the staff for us. We would have been fine to make the order in Spanish but because we were of course talking English between ourselves the staff assumed that we couldn't talk any Spanish at all. The good thing about getting a translation from the neighbouring table was that we got a proper explanation of the menu and learnt that in Arequipa they have one type of soup for every day, and the soup on Monday is called Chaque. We’d been eying up this soup as we saw it served to almost every customer that came into the restaurant so we were definitely up for testing this dish out. Our Chaque was made with mutton, lots of vegetables, and it’s very nicely seasoned. You can also get a beef Chaque apparently. The soup is a starter but absolutely humongous – hence the main meal is quite small – totally the other way around from what we’re used to. It was very lovely though and we’re a bit disappointed we didn't know of this concept with a soup for each day when we arrived so we could have sampled some of the other soups. It’s our last day and there won’t be more soup-tasting here in Arequipa this time around at least.

After lunch we head over to have a look at the Convento la Recoleta museum but once again we get caught out by the siesta – we just can’t seem to get used to this concept and it continuously interrupts our sightseeing plans. Apart from seeing the facade of the church our sightseeing attempt is foiled and we start heading back towards our hostel to write a bit in the blog as we wait for our departure of the night bus to Cuzco.

[caption id="attachment_2592" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Convento La Recoleta, Arequipa. Convento La Recoleta, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2593" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Arequipa. Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2594" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Arequipa. Street art, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2595" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Arequipa. Street art, Arequipa.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2596" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Arequipa. Street art, Arequipa.[/caption]

Flying into Lima, Peru from Rio de Janeiro we waste no time and get some information brochures from the iPeru tourist information.  We then get a cab with Taxi Green straight to the main Cruz Del Sur bus station and get an afternoon bus to go to Nazca. The journey is supposed to take seven hours but somehow we get delayed by about an hour and a half but the bus is very comfortable so it doesn't matter too much with the extra time travelling. We had one hostel in mind before arriving in Nazca called Hospedaje Brabant but as they were full they recommended a similarly priced hotel down the road called Guang Zhou. We have a look and the room they offer us looks nice, spacious and clean so we go for it. It’s quite late and we're tired but also hungry – the hunger overrules the tiredness though and we head down to the main street to find a restaurant. We have a look in the guide and find a couple of recommendations, but unfortunately one is closed down and the other doesn't look too inviting – we're left to find a good restaurant on our own, as per normal, and end up at a place called Los Angeles. The food is excellent and the service is impeccable – the waiter is really friendly, inquisitive and full of information. Well fed we head back to get some rest before the next day’s adventures.

We get up semi-early and looking forward to the included breakfast, but it’s not quite what we'd hoped for. Two small pieces of bread, with not enough butter and a little bit of jam is all they spare us. I'm used to bread and jam so that’s fine but I'm used to more food than this – it’s not enough food to fill the gaps in-between my front teeth, let alone to keep me going till lunchtime. For Hannah it’s more the fact that once again it’s just bread and jam and no option of cereal, some fruit or maybe some eggs and bacon.

After our less than impressive breakfast we go on a mission to find a travel agent who won't rip us off too much for the privilege of sending us up in a tiny flying tin box. As it turns out, the first office we walk into is already cheaper than what our guide suggests, so no need for further investigation really and we settle with this one. We also ponder on booking an afternoon sightseeing trip for after our flight but leave the decision for later – a good decision as we don't really feel like cooking in the sun any more after returning from the Nazca Lines sightseeing. Had we more days here it would have been nice to see some of the ruins from the ancient civilisation, but it wasn't to be. We have a little wait in the office of the tour agent before our taxi arrives to take us to the airfield, which is a ten minute or so drive out of town. After registering with the reception, and of course paying for the flight, we have to wait for about half an hour before it’s our turn to take to the sky, so we sit down to watch a documentary about the mystery of the Nazca Lines (Nazca Lines: the buried secrets). It’s difficult to hear the commentary due to some loud Russians making a racket behind us and we get called up before the film ends, meaning as we go up in the air the history behind the Nazca Lines are still all a mystery to us and all we can do is to admire the view and make up our own theories. Our captain goes through the flight-path with us before takeoff and points out on a map where to spot the shapes and also very importantly how to spot them - this proves to be essential information as we're cruising at an average height (according to my camera’s GPS) of about 975 meters, which works out as roughly 400 meters above the ground, and many of the shapes are hard to spot. Some of the figures are quite faint and not very big whilst some are absolutely gigantic but still difficult to spot because they're faint, damaged, or disappear into the landscape due to the amount of stronger lines that are crisscrossing everywhere on the ground - I hope you are able to spot the figures in the photos... The captain also warns us that the flight can be a little bit bumpy and he was not exaggerating... I hardly ever get any motion sickness but at the end of the flight I'm starting to feel a little bit on the edge, but it seem I get out of it the lightest followed by Hannah. Our other two fellow passengers are having a bit rougher time up in the skies with the lady next to me sounding like she’s is trying to vomit all her internal organs out half way into the flight – it does not sound like she is having much fun. Despite being thrown around in a tin can for almost an hour we all come down to earth in one piece though. And even our fellow passengers seem to be glad they did the tour despite their condition. I would really recommend taking the light airplane sightseeing of the Nazca Lines – it’s really amazing to see these ancient monuments, and the only way you can see them properly is from above. It’s not cheap but also not so expensive that it’s out of reach for us on a budget. But remember to take the advice about only having a light breakfast seriously.

[caption id="attachment_2452" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The light aircraft that were to carry us over the Nazca Lines. The light aircraft that were to carry us over the Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2453" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hannah getting ready for take-off, Nazca. Hannah getting ready for take-off, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2454" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Whale, Nazca Lines. The Whale, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2455" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2456" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Giant, Nazca Lines. The Giant, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2457" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The Giant, Nazca Lines. The Giant, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2458" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2459" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Monkey, Nazca Lines. The Monkey, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2460" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Dog, Nazca Lines. The Dog, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2461" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2462" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Hummingbird (Colibri), Nazca Lines. The Hummingbird (Colibri), Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2463" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2464" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Spider, Nazca Lines. The Spider, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2465" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Condor, Nazca Lines. The Condor, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2466" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Heron, Nazca Lines. The Heron, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2467" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Pelican, Nazca Lines. The Pelican, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2468" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Parrot, Nazca Lines. The Parrot, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2469" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The Hands and The Tree, Nazca Lines. The Hands and The Tree, Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2470" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2471" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca Lines. Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2490" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2473" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2474" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2475" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2476" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Nazca. Nazca.[/caption]

Back in the town centre again we search out a place to have lunch, and although they have no menu and don’t speak a word of English, and I can't decipher anything that the waiter tells us about their selection, with a pit of pointing we get a lovely lunch served including a drink for a very reasonable price – I think it must be the cheapest meal so far in South America. After lunch we initially plan to go to the museum but half way there we’re feeling drained by the immense desert heat – during the flight the plain had become like an oven and we were still suffering from this along with the fact it’s the hottest part of the day and there is no shade to hide under. We decide to can the idea of the museum and go back to our hotel to relax by the pool and maybe update our blogs a little while waiting for our bus to Arequipa in the evening. To our surprise we find one of our fellow passengers from the flight earlier relaxing by the pool as well also waiting for his bus but in a different direction – he’s heading back to Lima. He had arrived by bus to Nazca earlier in the morning and had bought his flight ticket from one of the touts at the bus station – something our guide had strongly advised us against. We're therefore curious of how much he'd paid for his flight and it turns out he forked out about another 50% more than we ended up paying. We feel sorry for the guy and he tells us he sort of knew that he was being taken for a ride but didn't want to have the hassle of searching for a travel agent after a long overnight bus journey – we know that feeling well but we still always squeeze the last of our energy out to avoid any touts when we get presented with that kind of situation. It’s exactly why they prey on people who are fatigued – it’s often much easier just to give in even if you full well know you'll be paying over the odds.

[caption id="attachment_2477" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Dentist sign, Nazca. Dentist sign, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2478" align="aligncenter" width="545"]The local clinic, Nazca. The local clinic, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2479" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Enrique Fracchia mural, Nazca. Enrique Fracchia mural, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2480" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Murals, Nazca. Murals, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2481" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Murals, Nazca. Murals, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2482" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Mural, Nazca. Mural, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2483" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Mural in honour of Maria Reiche Neumann, who discovered the Nazca Lines. Mural in honour of Maria Reiche Neumann, who discovered the Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2484" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Random food-shot - the starter of the Menu del Dia, Nazca. Random food-shot - the starter of the Menu del Dia, Nazca.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2485" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Statue in honour of Maria Reiche Neumann, who discovered the Nazca Lines. Statue in honour of Maria Reiche Neumann, who discovered the Nazca Lines.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2486" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca "skyline". Nazca "skyline".[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2488" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Nazca "skyline". Nazca "skyline".[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2489" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The pool area at Hotel Guang Zhou in Nazca. The pool area at Hotel Guang Zhou in Nazca.[/caption]

Our bus leaves at 22:00 so we have a few hours to kill before we have to head from the hotel to the bus station. We kick back and write a little bit in our blogs and have a couple of beers, but making sure not to drink too much beer as they might not want to let us on the bus if they notice we've been drinking – they’re very strict on this at Cruz del Sur apparently. The journey to Arequipa takes roughly ten hours and is a very comfortable ride – I had planned to make the best out of the time on the bus and spend a few hours writing for the blog but fall asleep almost instantly after the snack we get served and wake only about an hour before we reach our destination.

After a long tiring journey up from Puerto Iguazu we finally arrive in Rio de Janeiro and make our way by taxi to our hotel Poussada Girasol on Copacabana. It's a basic place but we're glad to see it's really clean and the staff is really nice and friendly, unlike what we'd read in many of the Tripadvisor reviews of other hotels in Rio. The guy who checks us in doesn't speak any English but he understands enough to fill in the gaps for when I run out of Spanish vocabulary and then answers back in what Brazilians call Portuñol, a mix of Portuguese and Spanish. We've heard a lot about guided tours of the favelas from other travellers and find a brochure for Favela Tour in the reception and book a tour right away. The guy in reception also recommends a restaurant just around the corner for a traditional Brazilian buffet. We are in two minds about whether to go out for dinner or not but do in the end decide to go out despite being completely bushed after our journey up from Puerto Iguazu. It’s a good thing we do because as soon as we’re sat down in the restaurant we start feeling more energised and less tired. We go for the full wallop buffet which entails unlimited various grilled meats and salads and desserts. There is a buffet table with all sorts of salads, rice, pasta, fruit and cakes and there are waiters that come around with the meats on skewers fresh from the grill and they cut off portions for you. We’re obviously lightweights at this buffet business and after eating more meat than I thought possible we hand in our towels to the big surprise of our servers – it looks like they almost take it as an insult that we don’t want more meat. If I could I would, as it’s really, really tasty stuff with so many varieties of different sausages, plain or salt or garlic infused beef, pork or lamb, also chicken hearts and the likes but we didn't go for that this time around... I don’t know how much time we spend in the restaurant but it is really late by the time we wobble out of there. Even though it’s really late and I'm really tired I'm still not able to sleep so decide to try to catch up a little bit with the blog with the result that I end up only getting a few hours’ worth of sleep before an early start the next day. We have a fully packed program in order to get to see as much of Rio as we can. We only have one full day here and want to make the best of it.

We manage to drag ourselves out of bed fairly early in the morning to start our day of sightseeing. After breakfast we go to have a look at the Sugarloaf Mountain. Initially we plan on taking the bus but as we have to be back again in time for our favela tour we decide on taking a taxi to avoid running out of time. To get to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain we have to take two cable carts which takes us up the about 400 meters to the top. The first cable cart goes swimmingly well – there is no queuing required so we’re on the halfway point in a jiffy. Once there we decide to have a little walk around here before continuing to the top but this turns out to be a bit of a mistake. When we get around to taking the last cable cart up to the top a few bus-loads of tourists have just arrived and the queue is unbelievably long. It takes us an hour and a bit from when we join the queue till we finally get onboard the cart. At the top we get the gorgeous panoramic view of Rio and the harbour – it’s a bit hazy but still a great view and well worth the waiting in line to get up here.  After soaking up the atmosphere and enjoying the view with a couple of beers we decide it’s about time to get down. We hope to get some time to have a bite of food before our tour of the favelas but hit more queuing again as we try to get down from the mountain – it’s again a few large tourist groups hogging the cable carts. It looks like we won’t have a chance to get much food before our tour so when we finally get down to the middle level we quickly get some ice cream and pick&mix fruit salad – what a wonderful idea – before getting onto the last cart to take us down to ground level. Again we hail a taxi and go directly to our pick-up spot for our next adventure.

[caption id="attachment_2397" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2398" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2399" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2400" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. Half way up to the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2401" align="aligncenter" width="533"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2402" align="aligncenter" width="533"]On the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. On the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2403" align="aligncenter" width="533"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2404" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2405" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2406" align="aligncenter" width="545"]View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro. View from the top of the Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

We’re at the pickup spot for our favela tour about 20 minutes early and consider having a drink in the restaurant next door but then our tour-guide also turns up early, so into the van we go to pick up the rest of the people for the tour. Our first stop is a charity called Para Ti, a charity education centre for kids in the Vila Canoas favela, they have a small stall selling handicrafts and paintings and we decide to support this little charity and purchase a small painting and a bracelet. Next we take a quick walk within the narrow lanes within the favela, finishing off with a stop in a tiny “hole-in-the-wall” bar for a Caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail (sugar cane spirit with sugar and lime) it’s very strong and make our bellies all warm and fuzzy. Next stop is the Rocinha Favela – the largest favela in Brazil with a population of about 70000. First we have a walk through the commercial centre of the favela before we head up the hill for a nice panoramic view of Rocinha.  Last stop is along a little strip of street stalls where we can buy some souvenirs to support the local businesses. A few nick-nacks later, and a stop to look at the view, we go back into the van for our return to the pickup point at Copacabana beach.

[caption id="attachment_2407" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The art and craft shop at the Para Ti charity education centre, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. The art and craft shop at the Para Ti charity education centre, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2408" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2409" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2410" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2411" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2412" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2413" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2414" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2415" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2416" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2417" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2418" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2419" align="aligncenter" width="533"]The Caipirinha Master, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. The Caipirinha Master, Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2420" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro. Vila Canoas favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2421" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2422" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2423" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2424" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2425" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2426" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2427" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2428" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2445" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2429" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro. Overview of Rocinha favela, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2430" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Overview of Rio de Janeiro from the Rocinha favela. Overview of Rio de Janeiro from the Rocinha favela.[/caption]

After the favelas we wanted to go up to the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer towering over Rio de Janeiro but because it’s starting to become a bit late we decide to skip it for this time and instead head to the Escadaria Selarón, a set of stairs covered by tiles from around the world in the neighbourhoods of Santa Teresa and Lapa. But first things first - after all this sightseeing we’re feeling very hungry and before we make our way there we need some food  - we find a small no frills restaurant around the corner and order an enormous plate of late lunch.

[caption id="attachment_2432" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Massive late lunch, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Massive late lunch, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2431" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art at Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro. Street art at Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

Feeling rather stuffed we then make our way over to the Escadaria Selarón, we again hop into a taxi as our guide doesn’t really explain very well whereabouts it is. Our taxi driver has little knowledge either but he goes to the general area and start asking around – after a few wrong turns we finally reach our destination. The steps are really quite a colourful and interesting mosaic of all kinds of tiles and were an ongoing project by the artist Jorge Selarón until his death on the 10th of January 2013. He called the project a “tribute to the Brazilian people”. After walking down the stairs to the bottom, snapping away as we go we find ourselves a restaurant and sit down for a few beers while watching life going past.  It’s starting to get late and it’s time we get back to the hotel to pack our bags for the silly early start in the morning. We've really enjoyed our time in Rio and are gutted that we already have to leave and decide to put it on our list of places to re-visit.

[caption id="attachment_2433" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2434" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2435" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2436" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2437" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2438" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2439" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2440" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro. Escadaria Selarón, Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2441" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2444" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2442" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2443" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro. Street art, Lapa neighbourhood of Rio de Janeiro.[/caption]

In the Lonely Planet they've dedicated the best part of a whole page with warnings of all the bad things that can happen to you when visiting Rio - why are they continuously trying to scare us about the safety issues everywhere? For the whole of South America the guide has what seems like an endless list of dangers to scare you. It’s good to know of certain safety issues but is it necessary to write it in such a way as to scare people from going around exploring, and making it difficult to relax and enjoy the places. We've found on numerous occasions that when speaking to the local people they can tell us a very different story about the safety than what our guide tries to scare us with. Generally, to be sensible, a bit streetwise and careful and you'll be fine.

At 02:00 our alarm goes off and half awake, half asleep but not feeling much alive. At 3:15 our taxi arrives to take us to the airport. At this time of the night the roads are very empty and our taxi driver takes full advantage of this of course - It’s like he’s on a Formula 1 race track – this of course means we get to the airport in very good time. Our next destination is Lima in Peru – it’s a three hour flight so it's not too bad, but we’ll be bypassing Lima for now and head straight to Nazca by bus,  which is another six hour journey if all goes to plan.

Really looking forward to visiting the Iguazú Falls we get onto the bus from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú. Travelling up is not done in a blink of an eye, and ahead is the longest bus-journey so far on our adventures. It's a 19 hour trip travelling in a very comfy bus where we get waited upon all through the journey with food and drinks included – we even get offered whiskey and champagne and why we thanked no to it is beyond me in hindsight – we were probably too surprised by the offer to think straight. The time goes by very fast and we're able to get a pretty good sleep during the night. We arrive in Puerto Iguazú just before one in the afternoon and have only a 100 meters walk over to the hotel we'd booked the evening before. The room is quite nice with ample space, a TV, hot shower and very importantly it's clean. As we're desperately trying to catch up on our blogging we find the lack of a proper internet connection a little bit disappointing - the signal doesn't travel to our room so we piggy-back on a neighbour's open, but sketchy, connection.

After freshening up we head out to try to find some food. We're both a bit wary of the massive portion sizes we've been served so far in Argentina and want to get something light - not tonnes of cheese over a mammoth piece of meat served with bucket-loads of fries. We'd hoped for some vegetables and maybe some rice instead of fries but we're not in much luck. It's Sunday and early afternoon (siesta) so the choices we have are a bit limited to say the least. Steak and chips it is...

After our lunch we fancy an ice cream – it’s very hot and humid here so we’re longing for a bit of cooling down. Just across the road there is a heladería (ice cream shop) that looks very busy – our thought is that if it’s popular with the locals it must be good. We go in and have a look at the menu, decide on our preference before I patiently join the queue. As it finally becomes my turn the lady at the counter just look up at me, pauses for a second and then start to address someone behind me in the queue. A bit dumbfounded I wait it out till she’s finished serving the other customer and expect to be served next, but no such luck... when she finally finish with the customer she just turn and starts chatting with some other customers who just came through the door. I start trying to get her and all the other staff’s attention but they’re all ignoring me, even the ones that doesn't have anything to do. How Fu*#@ng rude – I'm positively fuming and utter quite loudly “this is ridiculous, I'm leaving” and turn to Hannah, before stumping out of the place.

Further down the road we find another cafe that sells ice cream – it’s cheaper and we get served straight away, so at least we get something positive out of the ordeal. This episode really put me on an edge though and I start to realise that generally how we get treated here by people is not really nice, and we’re paying through the nose for the pleasure – tourists don’t seem to be very welcomed here. One thing after another puts me more and more on edge and I become more and more resentful of this town – the thing that holds me together and stop me from shouting at people is that I'm looking forward to get to see the Iguazú Falls in the morning. There are a few places where people are really nice to us though – it’s not like everybody in the town is evil. The people in our hotel are really nice despite us having slight communication problems – they are very patient with us. Also, we find a really nice little restaurant on our last day before heading off so that made up for some of the aggravation.

The plan is to go to the falls the next morning before taking an evening bus to Rio De Janeiro. We check with the tourist information about how to get there, and the cost of it. We're in shock of how expensive it is, and it kind of looks more like a Disney World theme park the way the area is explained to us - the information office offers to book us an additional boat trip to get really close up to the massive 80 meter tall wall of water and initially I think that doesn't sound too bad price-wise (although not cheap either) but then we learn that it doesn't include the transport there and the entrance fee. After quickly adding up the real price of this "offer" and recovering from the shock we politely say we'll have to think about it. We decide to just make our own way there and skip the boat-ride as we're not made of money - it'll still be expensive enough.

On our last day in Puerto Iguazú we get up early to head over to the falls. But when we wake we discover it’s torrential rain outside – it’s so loud we’re wondering if the falls have been moved over the town during the night. It’s still very early in the morning so I set my alarm to a couple of hours later in the hope it will have cleared up by then. Two hours later and we wake to the sound of... torrential rain. We thought it was loud when we woke up earlier but it’s now even louder – unbelievable. We get up and go to get our breakfast – as we go to the breakfast area there is a little dry-spell and I again get the hope back that it’ll start to brighten up. Only a few minutes later and it’s tipping down again and for every time we think that the downpour can’t get any heavier it does exactly that – I've never experienced such rain before, and there seem to be no end to it. Hannah decides quite early on that she'd rather not go but I thought I'd wait it out a bit to see if the weather would improve. With the clock ticking and the rain continuing to pour down I also finally decide it’s a lost cause - I'm not paying a fortune to be completely drenched in a Disneyland-like theme park with visibility of only a few meters - for then to hop onto the bus to Rio looking like I just jumped into the falls for the ultimate experience.

If we thought the bus journey up to Iguazú falls was a long one, next we were in for a much more testing ordeal as we make our way up to Rio de Janeiro. This journey is supposed to take 22 hours, but as we need to get over to the bus station on the Brazilian side of the border first, we have to leave in good time from the Argentinean side. The whole journey is supposed to take about 24 hours and on the Brazilian busses there is no luxury like on the Argentinean busses - more basic seats and no serving of food or drinks, just free water (we stop every now and then though so people can get some food of course). And then, with our luck the bus journey takes a few extra hours due to very heavy rain during the night, and then again the next evening as we're approaching our final destination. In the end the whole ordeal takes about 28 hours, so surprisingly enough we're slightly tired by the time we reach our hotel on Copacabana in Rio. Almost instantly after arrival though we start to feel the effect of this electrifying city - we're feeling the energy surging back into our tired bodies and start planning the next day's adventure over a magnificent all-you-can-eat grilled meat buffet.

[caption id="attachment_2381" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art in Puerto Iguazu. Street art in Puerto Iguazu.[/caption]

From Mendoza we arrive at the huge Retiro bus station about lunchtime. We’re a couple of hours delayed due to the horrendous traffic we hit as we get into the centre of Buenos Aires. At some stage we pass only a couple of hundred meters from the Elefante Rosa Hostel who we've booked with, but there is of course no way we can get off the bus on a flyover highway even though the bus is stuck in traffic. At first we consider taking a taxi when we arrive at the bus depot but we then decide to see if we can find the closest Metro (Subte) station and figure out how it works. As there is no signage for the Retiro Metro station at the bus station we ask for directions at an information booth and find it without major problems. On the way there we pass through a very bustling and colourful market with many stalls selling various street-food – the cooking-smells are killing us. The metro system is really easy to understand and manoeuvre through, and it’s very cheap to use. Before we know it we’re at the station by our hostel and after a bit confusion of directions, as we surface from underground, we get to the right address. We’re at first a bit confused as we can’t see any signage anywhere, not even on the door, but then we discover a very discrete pink elephant painted on the window above the door – this must be the right place and we test the doorbell. We soon hear footsteps coming down the stair inside and the door is opened by one of the two brothers running the hostel. We get shown the room we've booked and are amazed at what we get for our money. It has a mezzanine where the bed is located and the bathroom is also up on the floor above. The downstairs has a table with chairs and a large sofa-chair. We also have a TV and a small balcony. It's the kind of room you don't particularly want to leave to go out and do sightseeing – we feel like just chilling and enjoying the luxury.

[caption id="attachment_2318" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2319" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2368" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2369" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2370" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires. Hostal Elefante Rosa, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

After a little freshen up we decide to go and have a look at a few museums recommended by the hostel, but first it’s about time we got some food in the belly. Our guide recommends a Parrilla (grill) called Parrilla al Carbon so we head over to it not knowing what we had in store... we get served a mountain of various grilled meats – it’s way more than what we can hope to finish so it’s good we didn’t order any sides. Our lunch therefore consists of meat, more meat and even more meat and nothing else but a shared bottle of beer to wash it down with. Completely stuffed we continue our sightseeing adventure, and due to our very heavy lunch we decide to head over to the museums by foot to try and burn off some calories – should have run a marathon rather than a wobbling walk to compensate for our meat feast...  Unfortunately we have some problems finding the museums and as the evening is approaching fast we’re quickly running out of time. We find the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes (National Museum of Fine Art) recommended in our guide and have a look around. It’s a nice gallery/museum and we have to settle with the fact that we won’t have the time to venture further to the Museo de Artes Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Buenos Aires Museum of Latin American Art) and we start heading back towards our hostel, with a few stops on the way to sample some bottles of beer of course.  We get back and get working on our blogs for a bit before an early night – we’re completely bushed.

We don’t have much time to explore Buenos Aires, and it doesn't help that we’re still affected by the jet-lag from our Singapore-Santiago flight – when are we supposed to be back to normal? The jet-lag of course makes it very difficult to get up in the mornings and we lose a lot of time because of this. Luckily the breakfast doesn't have a cut-off point in the hostel which means however late we get up we won’t miss out. On our second day it becomes after mid-day before we finally get out of the hostel and we head into the centre to book up a guided city-tour for the next morning and buy our bus tickets to Puerto Iguazu for the evening. All this takes quita a lot of time as we have difficulties finding the tourist office from where to book our tour, and we also have a bit of trouble finding the right office from where we book the bus tickets - then their card machine doesn't work, so we’re left to search for another company that we can book from which takes even longer... the joys of time-wasting... The rest of the day we use for wandering about the streets of Buenos Aires doing a little bit of essential shopping – my sunglasses are positively falling apart and are partly held together by a bit of sewing thread – very stylish I’ll have you know... We return to our hostel fairly early in the evening – we both feel really tired and blaming the jet-lag, so we have a fairly early night after a bit of packing and lounging in our private “living room” downstairs in our suite – we’re so impressed by this room and try to utilise it as much as we can.

[caption id="attachment_2320" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Torre de Los Ingleses, Buenos Aires. Torre de Los Ingleses, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2321" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Taking the flag down for the night at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires. Taking the flag down for the night at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2322" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Evita (Eva Perón), Buenos Aires. Evita (Eva Perón), Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2323" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Obelisco de Buenos Aires at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires. Obelisco de Buenos Aires at Plaza de la República, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

It’s our last day in Buenos Aires and we start the day with the half day city-tour we booked the day before. We manage to arrive at our pick-up spot a little late and we can see the van pulling out and disappearing only 20 seconds before we get there – we call the office but they’re not willing to tell the driver to come back for us but instead instruct us to take a taxi to another pick-up point not too far away... reluctantly we hail a cab to catch up with our impatient sightseeing van. The tour is not quite what we had hoped for anyway – the tour starts off with a lot of drive-by sightseeing, and needless to say we’re not impressed by this (especially after the stress with playing catch-up with the van). We decide if it continues like this we’ll jump off at the most interesting part of the tour, the La Boca neighbourhood, and make our own way back. We’re in luck though and the van does stop at some sights later on in the tour - including the La Boca neighbourhood where we actually get a fair amount of time to explore the area. The La Boca neighbourhood is a very poor but colourful part of the city (also the sketchy part of town), traditionally it was the neighbourhood inhabited by the dock workers and its colourfulness is due to the workers using the leftovers from the painting of the boats. The neighbourhood is now home to many artists, which is reflected in many murals and lots of street art, and there is also a handicraft market in the most touristic part, and with heavy police presence around this touristic centre it's now completely safe to walk around. Most of the other sights on the tour went by in a flash, so I don't have too vivid memory of them. Boca was one of the main reasons for taking the tour anyway, so although a little disappointed we at least got to see the main attraction.

[caption id="attachment_2324" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street art, Buenos Aires. Street art, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2325" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2326" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2327" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Casa Rosada (The Pink House) by Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires. Casa Rosada (The Pink House) by Plaza de Mayo, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2328" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2329" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2330" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Estadio Alberto j. Armando, the La Boca Football Stadium "La Bombonera" (The Chocolate Box) in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2331" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2332" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2333" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2334" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2335" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2336" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2337" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2338" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2339" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2340" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2341" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2342" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2343" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires. Streetart in the La Boca neighbourhood of Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2344" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2345" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2346" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2347" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2348" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street art in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Street art in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2349" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2350" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2351" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2352" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2353" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2354" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2355" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2356" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2371" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2358" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2359" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2360" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2361" align="aligncenter" width="545"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2362" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2363" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Sculptures of Diego Maradona, Evita (Eva Perón) and Juan Perón on a terrace in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. Sculptures of Diego Maradona, Evita (Eva Perón) and Juan Perón on a terrace in the La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2364" align="aligncenter" width="533"]La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires. La Boca neighbourhood in Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2365" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Street Art, Buenos Aires. Street Art, Buenos Aires.[/caption] [caption id="attachment_2366" align="aligncenter" width="545"]Street Art, Buenos Aires. Street Art, Buenos Aires.[/caption]

In the evening we go to collect our bags at our hostel and head over to the Retiro bus station for our 19 hour bus journey to Puerto Iguazu. Everyone we've met during our travels who’s been to South America has been raving about it and so does our guide – we’re quite excited to go there on our way to Brazil and Rio de Janeiro.