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and one last trip before we come home.........?

a travel blog by chrishoorweg

Hi there all,
This is going to follow our 4 month trip through South America.
Hope that you enjoy reading our adventures!!
Chris and Corinne x

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London, United Kingdom

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on August 16, 2007 from London, United Kingdom
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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Krakow, Poland

Well, our final Eastern Europe trip before we head off on our big finale was a weekend away to the lovely Krakow in Poland. It was a great weekend. Krakow itself was beautiful. Undestroyed by the Germans in the war, so it's as it was since the 1200's

We also went to Auschwitz, which was very interesting. Very sobering too. As much as you may have read or seen in other exhibitions or museums (of which we've been to a few on this subject) doesn't ever really prepare you for the actual scale of the sites involved. They are just enormous.

All in all though, a great weekend away, with lovely weather and food.

Next update will be from South America!!

C and Cx

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on August 17, 2007 from Krakow, Poland
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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Final Preparations

London, United Kingdom

Well only a little while now till we go. We can't wait till our South American adventure begins. All the years planning will shortly be put to the test!!
Next stop..... LIMA and the AMAZON.

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on August 21, 2007 from London, United Kingdom
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Lima, Peru

Hi All,

Our flight over to Lima was just fine, although we wouldn't recommend Iberia Airlines for long haul. Didn't have individual screens and not a lot of food for such a long flight. I kept getting poor Chris sandwiches (we know he doesn't cope too well on an empty stomach).

Anyway, the trip is not all about the airlines.

Lima was as expected really. Fairly dirty, very noisy and not a lot to see really so we were glad we just spent the day there to recover from jet lag. We checked out the main sights surrounding Plaza Mayor and Plaza San Martin. We had a fantastic lunch at a little local cafe, La Casera - we stood out slightly as the only tourists but had a great time ordering our food in Spanish (with just a little help from our trusty dictionary). For 5.50 soles each (about 1 pound) we had a big bowl of chicken soup (much needed as it was freezing) and then a big plate of chicken, rice and vegetables and a local drink which tasted like camomile and honey, really tasty!

We watched 'The changing of the Guard' at the Palace - this seemed a little disorganised but interesting all the same. The police come out in full riot gear, covers taken off the military tanks and the band played 'If I could' by Simon and Garfunkel!! As you can imagine, Chris and I were in hysterics. (ed: We've since learned that the songs name is 'Aero Condor' and Simon and Garfunkel ripped off the melody!)

Off tomorrow to Iquitos where we will travel 3 hours by boat to our Jungle Lodge in the Amazon. Can't wait.
Hope you're all well.
Lots of love Corinne and Chris xx

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on September 3, 2007 from Lima, Peru
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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Piranhas, toucans, gum boots and funny rashes!!

Iquitos, Peru

Hola from the Amazon,

Arriving into Iquitos, we were met by our guides and transferred to our little red boat for our 3 hour journey upstream on the Amazon River to Muyuna Lodge. Iquitos was a really interesting city. Only accesible by boat or plane it has developed over time through the production of rubber. A population of 600,000 surprised us. Not many cars about so the main form of transport on the roads were little motor bikes with carriages attached to the back - very noisy.

Wow - the humidity and heat were hard to cope with at first but then our minds were taken straight off of it when we saw the mighty river and were greeted with friendly hello's from the local village people. Chris and I couldn't quite believe we were actually here.

We arrived at the lodge, had a lovely lunch of barbecued cat fish and local fruits. Very excited, we set off into the jungle for a hike to learn about the medicinal properties of the plants and in the hope of seeing some monkeys! Well, all was going great, we swung like Tarzan and Jane on massive vines, saw a tree rat (very cute) and Chris spotted a tarantula! All of a sudden the wind picked up and it truly felt like the trees were roaring and then the heavens opened! Our guide started to run and we thought it sensible to high tail it too. Inexperienced and should we say foolish, we didn't take our wet weather gear out with us as the thought of putting on any more clothing scared me (I even told Chris not to bring his jacket - woops!!)

The jungle floor quickly started to resemble a creek and our gum boots were now full of water. Testing out the water proofness of our (all weather) camera bag failed miserably. First day in the jungle, we arrived back dripping wet and one of our camera lenses full of water. On the upside, the insect repellent Chris bought worked a treat and we didn't have any bites! Secretly we really enjoyed it.

Over the next week we had 3 activities a day - including bird watching by boat before breakfast, various hikes, piranha fishing, swimming with the pink dolphins in the Amazon (major highlight), excursion to see the prehistoric birds and the giant water lilles and a trip to a local village.

This was fascinating. We were welcomed by an anaconda that had been caught that morning. It was really cold round our necks and slightly slimy - very cool!! As you would imagine, the local people live in very simple huts and eat two meals a day, which consists of fish, locally grown vegetables and fruit, rice and berries from the jungle. To our surprise they had two little classrooms, pre-school and primary. The children were just gorgeous and sung us a song. So Chris and I and 2 other Aussie girls sang 'Home among the Gum Trees' as the kids looked on with rather perplexed faces and then possibly out of politeness gave us a big clap! It was great fun. We then played soccer with the littlies and then had to stop as we were all absolutely dripping with sweat and exhausted.

In true Chris fashion he got really sick. Our guide brewed up some local medicine made from tree bark (can't remember the name)and Chris managed to force it down - only just! Not long after that he started to feel much better and is now on the mend. We are now slightly concerned about the strange rash that is now on both of his arms. I say off to the Doctor if it's not gone in a few days (even if I have to drag him there myself)!!! Don't worry - the rash appeared before the local medicine was ingested, so hopefully no strange jungle disease.

We are now in Lima airport waiting for our connection to Cusco.

Hasta Luego Amigos,

Lots of love,
Chris and Corinne xx

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on September 9, 2007 from Iquitos, Peru
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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Cusco and Surrounds

Cusco, Peru

After our amazing week in the Amazon and getting our camera gear wet, we arrived in Cusco. Wow, what a pushy city!!! Too many street touts trying to sell you everything from finger puppets to different tours. By the end of two days, we were well and truly ready to head into the mountains for our Inka trail trek.

Apart from the harrassment, Cusco is actually a beautiful city. It has the customary Plaza de Armas (in every city or town). Very nice cathedrals and some great small hikes to do in the surrounding area. This was especially good for us to prepare and get acclimatised for our trek.

Our first day was mainly spent trying to get our wide angle lens sorted out!! As it turned out, the Amazonian rain, well and truly ruined it! Bummer. So after a good day of stressing and trying to find a ´reputable´dealer in Cusco (there aren´t many), we were able to sort it out with a second hand lens. (Sigma 18-50. f 2.8 for those techno people).

We also saw a religious parade on the main plaza with school children as the main focus. Their brightly coloured clothing and head dresses were spectacular. As it turned out, there seemed to be some sort of parade nearly everyday we were there. Not surprisingly, Sunday had the biggest celebrations.

We did a day hike to the four ruins around Cusco. This entailed catching a local bus to the furthest one and then walking for approximately 4-5 hours back into Cusco.

The first ruins were Tambo Machay, Puca Pucara, Qenko and then finally Sacsayhuaman. (Sexy woman!) The ruins were a great introduction to the Inka culture for us and the final ruins were certainly the most spectacular. Admittedly, the altitude got to us this day and we did find it hard work walking up hill to our hotel at the end of the day!! Not too bad really just a slight headache and short of breath. Cusco is at 3326m and the furthest ruins of Tambo Machay are even higher at 3700m.

Our last night was spent meeting the rest of the trekking group, who were all Americans, made up of two other couples and two girl friends. More on this later!!

Off to the trail we go!! Woo hoo.

Keep the emails coming. We love to hear from you all.

Oh, by the way, my rash cleared up after about a week. I think it was heat rash, combined with mozzie bites!! So no weird jungle fungus Chris.....

C and C xx

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on September 9, 2007 from Cusco, Peru
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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Inca Trail Trek - Day 1

Cusco, Peru

An early morning pick up of 4am - but hey we didn´t mind as we were so excited. Drove through the Sacred Valley and had breakfast at Ollantaytambo - pancakes and eggs, yummy! Back into the bus for another 40 mins arriving at the Trail Head - KM 82 at 2750m. A quick group snap, stamps in the passports, packs on and we were off.

Hit the track at 8:30am, crossing the Rio Urubamba, and had a very nice 4 hour walk to our lunch spot at Wayllabamba (3000m) stopping at Llactapata ruins along the way. They think this place was used for grain storage as it is located between two valleys and is always windy, therefore good for drying. We were expecting a sandwich on the grass so you can imagine how shocked and excited we were when we saw the dining tent, individual wash bowls with soap and a tarp layed out for our packs! Impressed? We were! Lunch consisted of 3 courses finished off with sweets and hot tea.

Oh my, how were we going to get up after this? Before setting off again, our guide, Solay, taught us how to chew coca leaves to help with altitude sickness. It tasted kind of strange at first but rather sweet. We were warned that the afternoon hike was going to be challenging and Solay kept saying ´positive thoughts, positive attitudes and always smiling.´

The next 4 hours were challenging, 700m all uphill, and Chris and I chewed those coca leaves like they were going out of fashion. They really did help - it was a strange feeling as our energy was renewed and we were able to keep pushing on up the mountain. We arrived at camp, Llulluchapampa 3750m, at about 5pm and got into our tent just before it started to hail. The last people arriving an hour later ( a little wet). We were totally exhausted but felt exhilarated at the same time. Corinne felt a little dizzy and nauseaus but after a lie down, some gatorade and chocolate she was back in full form. The terrain was fairly varied going from trees and grasslands to cloud forest and spectacular ravines.

We had another amazing 3 course meal and got to meet our fellow trekkers a little better. There was another married couple about our age from the Napa Valley, California, very cool, 2 girls from New York who were just lovely and a 64 and 62 year old couple from Alberqurque, New Mexico. They were interesting to say the least. We thought at one point they were going to sell us vitamin supplements. They had very strong opinions on practically everything to do with nutrition and were somewhat hard to take at times (apparently she has been reincarnated 20 times!). Oh well, it takes all types for the world to go round. However, if we´re that fit at that age we´ll be happy! Time for bed I think - sleep is much needed after 9 hours of walking.

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on September 12, 2007 from Cusco, Peru
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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Inca Trail Trek - Day 2

Cusco, Peru

The day was off to a fine start when Solay brought hot chocolate to us in our tent. With a full belly of pancakes and porridge we set off uphill for 500m to the infamous ´Dead Woman´s pass´at 4215m. The push uphill from our camp was challenging but we made it in about 45 mins. It was rather chilly up here and all the layers were quickly put on. To celebrate, Solay brought out some Peruvian rum, and we all had a shot to warm our bellies. After a quick break, we then descended to 3500m to our lunch spot. This was hard going on the knees as it was very steep. At this point we were very happy that we had rented trekking poles in Cusco.

After a much needed lie in the sun, we headed uphill again climbing to 4000m where we passed the ruins of Runkuraqay. We then descended again to Sayacmarca ruins at 3580m. They think this is where the Incas would have stopped and rested overnight on their pilgrimage to Machu Picchu. It was then a short downhill walk to our campsite. We had a great night playing games round the dinner table and then headed off to bed as 8 hours of walking up and downhill at altitude had taken its toll.

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on September 13, 2007 from Cusco, Peru
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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Inca Trail Trek - Day 3

Aguas Calientes, Peru

Again, our guide woke us with hot chocolate. We were in for an easy day of walking as we had done the hard part in the first 2 days. In total we walked only 5.5 hours before we stopped for lunch and set up camp for our 3rd night. Firstly we walked uphill to the ruins of Puyupatamarca ruins at 3640m and then downhill to Winaywayna - elevation 2650m. After lunch we checked out the ruins of Winaywayna. We were really lucky as we had the place to ourselves. The other trekkers had not arrived to camp yet. We had a really relaxing afternoon drinking a few beers and chatting. In the evening we thanked our porters as this was the last time we would see them. Another early night as tomorrow we would be woken at 4am to reach the Sun Gate for Sunrise.

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on September 14, 2007 from Aguas Calientes, Peru
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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Inca Trail Trek - Day 4

Machupicchu, Peru

In the pitch black we packed up our things, had a quick breakfast, put our head lights on and started our final trek to Machupicchu. It didn´t take us long to reach the Sun Gate for Sunrise. Absolutely spectacular! We sat and watched the sun come up behind us and over Machupicchu mountain before descending down to the ruins themselves. We all felt really proud of ourselves for making the journey and earning the right to be at such an amazing place in the world.

Solay showed us around the ruins with fantastic explanations. We then took our own time to appreciate being here and to soak it all up! We were really lucky to have such a clear day and to have the ruins almost to ourselves for a couple of hours before all the tourists arrived.

We reluctantly headed down to Aguas Calientes for lunch and then our train back to Cusco. We were certainly ready for a shower and a rest but felt rather sad to be leaving. What an incredible and amazing 4 days.

permalink written by  chrishoorweg on September 15, 2007 from Machupicchu, Peru
from the travel blog: and one last trip before we come home.........?
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