Tag Archives: Peru

The Art of Booking Bus Travel In South America

21 May

If you’re heading off on a South American adventure then you’ll definitely be using the extensive bus network to get around due to the limited rail and hire car options on the continent, and relatively expensive flights. Long distance or short distance, each bus trip will undoubtedly be an experience in its own right. We had some great fun on buses, saw some amazing sights and met great characters, but we also had plenty of less positive experiences too! Each country does it slightly differently, but by asking a few essential questions at the outset you can save yourself some money and a whole world of pain!

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Rio Amazonas by Cargo Boat

28 Mar

The Amazon basin has approx. 80,000 kilometres of navigable water making it the largest river system in the world.  Much of this remote region is not connected by road and relies heavily on boat travel for transportation of goods and passengers.  Its rivers are the motorways of the jungle and taking a boat trip along them is one of the most iconic and memorable journeys in South America.  Six months earlier we’d had our first taste of river travel down the Peruvian Amazon from Yurimaguas to Iquitos so we were under no romantic illusions about spending 72 hours on another packed boat departing from Manaus in Brazil! But with just 10 days to go until Christmas and spirits sky high, we couldn’t help but feel excited about the riotous carnival of river life that was about to explode before our eyes.

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Iquitos – a steamy jungle metropolis

27 Dec

Iquitos is the largest city in the world which isn’t linked to the rest of its country by road and it’s best described as a sensual, steamy jungle metropolis with attitude. Despite its attractive promenade with wonderful river views, its historic buildings and leafy plaza with quaint eateries and coffee shops, Iquitos retains a working class identity with a somewhat edgy feel. We got the sense here that anything goes if you know the right guys and that the law of the jungle is very much alive and well.

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Cargo boat to Iquitos

23 Dec

We couldn’t imagine a more romantic notion than swinging in hammocks as we travelled by cargo boat along the mythical Amazon river in Peru for three days, from Yurimaguas to Iquitos. We dreamed of glorious sunsets and steamy evenings drinking dark rum whilst watching a lightning storm flickering far in the distance. We hoped for pristine, unspoiled rainforest and close encounters with monkeys, pink river dolphins and manatees. We wondered if indigenous tribes wearing loin cloths and with bones through their noses would wave as we passed from a sandy riverside spot. Despite our optimism, we knew that this trip wouldn’t be for the faint hearted and would test our patience to the very limits. Known for their very basic conditions, frequent lengthy delays and notoriously grumpy captains, cargo boats are not a luxury form of travel but they do represent one of the world’s last great leaders in river transport and offer those with adventurous spirits no end of rewards. We took the plunge and held our breath for the boat ride of our lives!

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The hidden treasures of Chachapoyas

18 Dec

We cut through the thick foliage with a machete and inched our way forward. We scanned the unusually quiet jungle with nervousness, readying ourselves for a prowling jaguar attack or a poisoned dart released from a blowpipe resting in the pursed lips of the indigenous hunters who tracked us. The ruined temple, shrowded in mist and overgrown with vines, came into view across a small clearing and we knew we were getting close to laying our hands on treasures beyond our wildest dreams. As we approached the intricately carved grey stone temple walls we saw that a huge boulder had been rolled to one side revealing a small, dark entrance and a set of stairs leading downwards. It all seemed too easy. Before we could stop him, the youngest in our group let out a triumphant yelp and ran forward through the entrance to collect his prize. With the ease of a well oiled machine, the boulder rolled itself back in front of the door. The last thing we heard from our friend was his screams as we tried hopelessly to force the door back open…and then a deathly silence. The site had been booby trapped…

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Huanchaco & Chan Chan

11 Dec

The distances and time it takes to travel on buses in Latin America never fails to astound us. You assume that half an inch on the map will take just a couple of hours but, in reality, your bus ride could take all day or longer. In these situations we’ve found that searching for a place to visit between your starting point and final destination will often form a pleasant break and help to save your sanity. Planning our 30 hour journey between Huaraz, a mountainous region North-East of Lima, to Chachapoyas, a jungle area of the Northern Highlands, we decided that just such an interlude was required.

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Trekking doesn’t get better than this – The Cordillera Blanca

27 Nov

You could be forgiven for thinking that whilst visiting Peru’s most mountainous area of the Cordillera Blanca and the second highest mountain range in the world after the Himalayas, you’d feel somewhat small in stature, dwarfed in the knowledge you are surrounded by more than 20 enormous summits over 6,000 metres. Instead, upon arrival in South America’s number one hotspot for trekking and adventure sports, we felt our chests fill with fresh air, our backs straighten and our legs tingle as we got ready to come face-to-face with these giants.

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Lima – a love-hate relationship

18 Nov

It gripped us around the throat and slapped us hard in the face. Our first impression of Lima, Peru’s massive capital city, were not favourable. Our bus crawled painfully bumper-to-bumper through lanes of traffic jams for nearly 1.5 hours to reach the central bus terminal. Black smoke belched out from the cars and buses around us and an endless cacophony of car horns told of people’s daily frustrations. With large proportions of the city’s 8 million inhabitants crammed into shanty towns and dilapidated buildings on the outskirts of the city, the grey, unattractive urban mass sprawled in every direction. The blue skies we’d had elsewhere in Peru, had been replaced with a blanket of clouds and a chilly drizzle swept across the city from the coastline on which it sits. We noticed homeless people sleeping on the streets and shady characters hanging around on corners and, without thinking, we’d picked up our bags from the floor and were holding them tightly on our laps. If it’s true that first impressions count and you can make your mind up about someone or somewhere within the first 10 seconds, Lima would need to go on a charm offensive to win us round.

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