When traveling through South America, the majority of people will include Peru on their itinerary, and the biggest tourist attraction by far in Peru is Machu Picchu!
D was in charge of planning this bit of our trip, and if there’s one thing D is bad at, it’s planning. Ideally, you need to book the Inca trail at least six months in advance – if that is your chosen route to Machu Picchu – but D didn’t know that. Luckily for us it turned out that almost all tour companies offer one day trips. So we booked ourselves a full day tour, and got ready for the trip of a lifetime.
We wanted to share our experience with you in case it’s on your bucket list and trekking isn’t your thing either (or you and forget to book the Inca Trail, like D!)
Ilha Grande or “Big Island” lies approximately 11 miles off the coast of Rio de Janeiro state in Brazil, South America. An island with a rich history and relatively new tourism industry, it is already a popular holiday destination for Brazilian and foreign travellers alike.
The Lonely Planet guide describes Ilha Grande as “a fabulous island retreat…..pristine condition“. In some respects this is true, but in others this statement can be misleading. Ilha Grande appears on many backpacker tourist routes and attracts cruise ship day trippers. As a result the island has adapted to deal with this influx of travellers.
The question is whether Ilha Grande should be considered an island paradise or just another tourist trap?
Travelling round the world has already allowed us to see loads of amazing sights, meet lovely people, eat weird and wonderful foods and try out new experiences.
We wanted to share with you some of things that we have had the pleasure to do for the first time:-
Horse riding – D had never before ridden and a horse and was actually a bit scared of horses! But as part of our 4 day Pantanal tour we went on a horse ride trek and D loved it.
Pirahna Fishing – Also in the Pantanal D tried his hand at Piranha fishing and managed to catch one! (don’t worry, it got thrown back in afterwards unharmed)
Overnight Bus Ride – Our journey from Sao Paulo to Iguacu Falls was the first time we had spent all night on a bus. Considering the chairs reclined to almost flat, it was not the worst experience in the world!
Cerro Rico towers over Potosi. The town was built up around the mountain because of the abundance of silver inside that was extracted and sent to Spain. The Mine Tours take tourists to visit the miners who work inside and now extract tin.
The Tours are the only reason most tourists visit Potosi. Although a few people recommended going, I always knew I wouldn’t. Eventually D decided he wouldn’t be going either, so we had a nice time seeing a few other things that the city has to offer.
Whenever bad things happen I always remember the conversation we were having at the time. It’s never about world politics or feeding the hungry, it’s always some mundane thing that haunts me whenever I think about how stupid it was.
This is what I was thinking, while I sat in the wheelchair in the stark whiteness of an accident and emergency department in Lima, reflecting on the conversation I’d been having with D about the time I’d once had too many shots of rum on a night out.
A few weeks ago our Photo Friday post focused on the Uyuni Salt Flats. One of the highlights of any trip to Bolivia is seeing and experiencing this bleached white expanse. “But what else does a four day trip involve?”, we hear you asking. “What do you eat? Where do you stay? How much will it cost?”
To help you decide if this is something you would like to do (or if you’re just curious), we have tried to answer these and other questions based on our experience of the tour – starting in Tupiza and finishing in Uyuni. Note that you can do an Uyuni-Uyuni circular trip which will be entirely different, as you miss out the cool stuff we saw on the first couple of days!
We over-landed most of South America, because the buses are so cheap and comfortable. That’s not to say they weren’t strange places to be at times. Locals seemed to find these stories not so out of place, but us gringos thought they were just a tad peculiar.
Potosi – Tupiza
The bus fills up in Potosi; all the seats are taken. It’s 10pm, so we try to settle down to sleep. When the bus stops, we’re confused, but think nothing of it. That is, until we wake up to find people sleeping in the aisles. One woman has her head on D’s armrest.
Pantanal – Corumba
Part of our Pantanal price included a transfer to Corumba, the border town with Bolivia; although we had heard vague rumors that this was not a transfer in the traditional Western sense. After a bumpy ride in a jeep from the lodge, we stopped at a small island of grass on a dual carriageway that stretched both ways as far as the eye could see. The majority of people disappeared into waiting cars or minibuses, and we waited in the shade of a tree to see what was in store for us.
Its one of the seven wonders of the modern world and a must see on any trip to Peru. Whether you arrive after a three or four day trek on one of many routes (the most famous being the Inca Trail of course) or you opt for a single day trip, Machu Picchu is not to be missed.
Santa Cruz de la Sierra is not the richest town when it comes to sightseeing. As indicated by the Lonely Planet Guide to Bolivia, you’ll probably spend most of your time there strolling around and sipping coffee in one of the city’s many cafes.
So we thought we would give you a brief run down of some the establishments you will likely frequent on your visit:
Okay so its not the most original or authentic (or the best) coffee shop in Santa Cruz, but its the most recognisable so we thought we would start with it. This is a fairly standard Starbucks so you know what your getting and there is free WiFi (although we can’t comment on the actual internet speed).