Torres del Paine

The Torres del Paine National Park in Chile is huge and comprises of lakes, glaciers and mountains including the world famous “Torres”. On my visit yesterday, I thought my previous comment about me having become ” a tourist in a hurry”, had come back to bite me. The weather was not great, and I was on a one day tour of the park´s highlights.

It did not look too good when at a viewing point of a lake, with a wonderful backdrop of mountains, I was the only one who wanted to get out and take photos. Majority rule had its way and off we went, without pictures. This was repeated several times and I confess to being close to tears at the thought of missing all these opportunities.

The feeling was compounded when we stopped for people to photograph sheep. I kid you not. The group consisted of Chileños, Brazilians, Germans and me. I would hazard a guess and say that it was not a unique experience for any of us to be seeing sheep. The wonderful combination of rivers, glaciers, lakes etc., for me at least, when this adventure is over, may never be repeated. And, as anyone who likes to get good pictures knows, with variable light and conditions, some photo opportunities are unique.

From 8 in the morning until lunchtime, I guess I took about 2 dozen pictures and had no one to blame except myself. I originally planned to spend up to a week trekking in this area as I had in previous settings. If you come to Torres del Paine, give it some time.

While my travelling companions had lunch and sheltered in the bus from the rain, I decided to go off on my own and search for pictures and was soon rewarded near the Grey Lake and glacier.

When I got back to the vehicle, surprise surprise, the others had ventured out into the elements. Fortunately, in the afternoon, the weather gradually improved and photo ops came with greater frequency.

Overall, I was happy with the result. Ironically, I kept back a free day in case things went wrong and the weather was much worse. My luck continues to hold.

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Bolivia

After more than 4 months in Perú, I crossed the border into Chile. I stayed there, in the city of Arica, long enough to celebrate my birthday and to get ill. It was the worst case of sickness I have had, since I arrived in South America but a trip to a doctor and US$40 soon had me on the mend. I was well enough to travel to San Pedro de Atacama, where I stayed for just one night before embarking on a 4 day trip to Bolivia.

The trip was amazing. The scenery was stunning. The accommodation was basic, particularly on the first night. My travel companions were great fun, as was the driver/guide, Mario. The only downside to the trip was the driver who returned us to the border on the last day. Not only was he surly, unhelpful and uninformative but also a really bad driver. He reinforced that opinion when he took off-road, too literally, failed to make a bend and when he braked too hard too late, managed to unseat everyone except himself.

That incident did nothing to spoil the overall impression of the trip but the tour company, Colque Tours, were not really interested.

The first day started with being collected from the hotel and after passing through customs and immigration at San Pedro de Atacama, being transported by bus to the Chile/Bolivia border. After completing the entry process into Bolivia, we were assigned into groups and to our vehicles complete with drivers.

The vehicle was a Toyota Landcruiser and the driver was Mario. The group was made up of 2 young ladies from Italy, 2 young men and a young lady from Portugal and myself (the not so young man) from England. The others seemed to have no end of languages available to choose from and they all so spoke English except Mario. And so began my sojourn in Bolivia.

From the hot springs, we moved on to the similarly hot and very smelly, geysers.

After the geysers, we made our way to the very basic (not even a shower) accommodation, where we had lunch and a rest before visiting the nearby, Coloured Lagoon. We then spent the night in the basic accommodation, where it was as many as six people in a room.

The Nazca Lines

Seeing the Nazca Lines, has to be near the top of anybody’s list of things to do in Perú. There are observation towers, which you can climb to get a better view than at ground level but it is worth stumping up the extra money and taking a short flight. I paid $120 which made it the most expensive 35 minutes of entertainment in my life. It was well worth it though.

When I left Pisco at 7.30 in the morning, I still was not sure if I would be taking the Nazca flight. I had a dodgy stomach the day before. Fortunately by the time I got to Nazca at 11AM, I was feeling much better. I was met at the bus station by Pepe of Aeroparacas, who, as soon as he knew I was feeling up to it, organised my flight over the lines.

Pepe is a friend of Bertha, who organised my tour round the Paracas National Reserve and was generally helpful with advice during my stay at the Tambo Colorado Hotel in Pisco. I have been very fortunate in recent weeks with tour companies and with my choice of hotels.

The Nazca airfield is just a short distance from the city and, after completing the formalities, which included being weighed and of course, paying the airport tax, I was on the tarmac ready to board the plane.

???????????????????????????????????????The plane…

??????????????????…pilot and co-pilot. The co-pilot was great for cueing up when the forms were going to be showing up beneath the wings. It was difficult to take photos, as the pilot was constantly maneuvering the plane, to try and give people on both sides of the aircraft an opportunity to see the shapes.

?????????This was about as high as we got.

?????????The Whale

????????Triangle

?????????????The Astronaut

??????????The Monkey

???????If you look carefully, you may see The Dog.

???????????????The Hummingbird

??????????The Spider

??????????The Condor

??????????The Parrot

??????????????????????The Tree and The Hands

????????????????????Me

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Pisco and Paracas

I enjoyed the trip to the Paracas National Reserve in Perú so much, I decided to go back for another look. It was less than a half hour away from my hotel in Pisco. I also stopped on the sea front in Pisco.

DSCN2652Marshy area adjacent to the sea front in Pisco

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DSCN2666Expecting rain?

DSCN2673DSCN2675

DSCN2740Back to the desert.

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DSCN2719I had to walk a long way to get within a reasonable distance of these flamingos.

DSCN2728

DSCN2791Let sleeping seals lie.

DSCN2797They do not like to be woken up.

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DSCN2839Dinner time.

 

 

 

Paracas National Reserve

Paracas National Reserve is basically a massive beach. To be more precise, it is coastal desert which has been designated part of of a marine conservation area, to protect the various forms of wildlife there. Also it helps preserve the heritage of the region. It is located in the province of Ica, some 3 hours drive south of Lima, Perú.DSCN2522The desert landscape is out of this world.

DSCN2498There is an abundance of fossils of prehistoric marine life forms.

DSCN2530A rare example of a beach of red sand.

DSCN2505A part of the rock formation known locally as “The Cathedral”.

DSCN2536Enjoying a break with a spot of fishing. The one in the middle is my driver/guide, Fredy.

DSCN2554Also planning on fishing.

DSCN2552Hovering, looking for somewhere clean to land. No chance!!

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