A Travellerspoint blog

Huanchacho (A hidden Oasis on the Ocean)

We´d heard about Huanchaco from some people in Chiclayo and decided to skip the city of Trujillo and head to the small coastal town of Huanchaco...... one of the best decisions we´d make in Peru !!!

sunny 20 °C
View Around the World on Taffski's travel map.

The bus down to Trujillo was easy and uneventful and we soon arrived in the city, jumped in a cab, and headed straight back out again, towards the coast and towards the fishing village of Huanchaco.

The hostel we´d wanted to stay at was full, so we ended up having to pay for a hotel for the night (which wasn´t cheap) The Village looked pleasent enough though, so we walked around town and headed to the beach, where we had a cheeky cerveza at a beach front bar.

We watched the surfers doing their thing on the great waves, backed up by the odd fisherman on his reed boat in the distance (which was something a little bit different to say the least!)

The Fishermen went out in the morning on their "hand made" reed boats to fish and then in the evening, they surfed the waves back to the beach with their catch and then they´d sell it to the local restaurants.

DSC_0366.jpg

This we gleaned having chatted to a local restaurant owner, who´d bought his fish an hour or two earlier. Sure enough, a half an hour later Steph and I were eating said fish... which turned out to be some of the best fish we´ve had in a long time (having also watched it being barbequed on the parilla by our friendly asadoro come restaurant owner!!)

We were going to enjoy this place... we could tell !!!

The Fish was called Corvina and it rivals Kingclip (from South Africa) as far as we´re concerned as some of the best fish we´ve eaten on our travels ..... so far of course !!!!

The next day we decided to check out another hostel nearby and whilst stmbling around town we happened upon a friend from Banos on the way around town.

Ross (an Aussie) was staying at the Casa De Suiza Hostel, so having met the other guys he´d been travelling with, we decided to check into the hostel for a night (it was cheaper but not necessarily better that was for sure!)

It wasn´t the cleanest hostel we´d stayed at and Steph wasn´t too impressed, however, it was cheap and we decided to stay there for the night.

We managed to drop off our washing also and then having chatted to the rest of the guys at the hostel, I managed to wangle a guided tour of the Chan Chan archaelogical sites nearby (with an English speaking Guide) for 30 Soles Each..... not bad going ... even if I say so myself.

We grabbed a bit of breakfast in the cafe next door.... nice place called the Chill Out Cafe..... the bus picked us up and we headed off to Trujillo.

Our first stop was the Moche site called Huaca De la Luna.

DSC_0149.jpg

We walked up the mound of Adobe bricks and then were confronted by some incredible Painted friezes. The paint work was all original, as were the colours, and consisted of numerous animals, faces and symbolical images vibrantly painted and looking as if they were only a few years old!

DSC_0121.jpg

To say they were about 1500 years old... their condition was immaculate and a credit to the Archaeoligists who´d painstakingly uncovered them!

At the site we also found out that they had discovered about 42 skeletons that had been sacrificed within a short time period. The archaologists reckoned this was as a result of the El Nino effect that caused the locals to panic and sacrifice more than the usual amount of people and had caused the sudden movement of the people from here to the Coast and Chan Chan.

DSC_0159.jpg

We unfortunately couldn´t visit the Huaca DEl Sol as the site was being excavated at that very moment and since it is the largest Huaca in the region we´re sure it´ll surely turn up some fantastic finds since it also has been relatively untouched by the grave robbers!

DSC_0133.jpg>

A great start to the tour......

As per usual for the Peruvian tours... we were dumped at a tourist restaurant for our lunch... however then we headed off to La Huaca Arco Iris.

For this leg of the journey we were joined by a few other tourists and funnily enough Emi (the Brazilian Lady from Cuenca and the Nariz Del Diablo) was sitting on the bus. Small world or what !

DSC_0239.jpg

The Rainbow Dragon Temple (or La Huaca Arco Iris) belonged to the Chan Chan Complex and was Built by the Chimu Empire some 2000 years ago.

It was however one of the best remaining examples of Chimu Architecture and had some of the most intricate and most complete wall friezes in all of South America.

The temple is called the Dragon Temple due to the dragons that surround it´s main central platform, on top of which it was hypothesised that sacrifices and other religious ceremonies took place.

DSC_0231.jpg[

From the top we could look over to the East towards the city of Trujillo (not too appealing) or to the West the ruins of the massive complex of Chan Chan.

This was to be our next stop and so having filled up on pictures of the architecture and masonary work, we headed back in the bus to head off to Chan Chan.

DSC_0309.jpg

The Massive Chan Chan complex runs from the sea to the main road from Trujillo to Huanchaco (they even managed to build the road directly over some of the ruins !!!!

Anyway, what remained of this massive citidel is mostly now crumbling away and had to distinguish against the desert sands. However, nearer the sea, the complex remains pretty much as it did some 2000 years earlier.

Because of the size of the complex, we only toured around a single temple as this had been restored and remained fairly much intact.... there are another 8 similar temples on the site however in differing states of deterioration!!!!

The single temple was huge however and more reminiscent of walking through a maze or Labyrinth than through a ruined temple.

DSC_0258.jpg

Having been given the rundown of the Chan Chan Temple and once again heard how grave robbers had desicrated nearly all of the sites at the comples and that as a result very little was left for the archaeologists, we headed off back to Huanchaco.

DSC_0246.jpg

It was a good day out, however by the end of the it... we were all ready for a cerveza or two by the beach.

We hit the village of Huanchaco that night and all got royally pissed !

It was a great night and HuanChaco was great value as it was the quiet period so we had the run of the bars (all 4 of them :) )

The following day we decided to go for some much needed breakfast at the Chill out cafe next door to the hostel.

Whilst nursing my cofee, I noticed that there was a deal going on at the chill out where we´d get a room and all (Yep... ALL) our meals for.... now wait for this............

25 Soles !!!!!!!!!!!!

Yep..............

25 SOLES !!!!!!!!!!!!

Now think about this for a moment............

25 soles is................

4 pounds Sterling !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A BED

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

ALL for 25 SOLES !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

This had to be the deal of the century as we´d already been eating there and knew the food was great... so we asked to see the rooms.

5 minutes later all 6 of us grabbed our rucksacks from the Case De Suiza and shot next door to the Chill Out !!!

There were only 2 rooms so Steph and I shared with Siana (an American) whilst Ross, Kingsley (English) and Lynon (American) crashed in the other room !!!

We all couldn´t believe our luck...

We all soon decided to stay in Huanchaco for a few more nights and hit the beach bar soon after to admire the surfers doing their thing on the great waves over anothe cheeky cerveza or two !!! ;)

DSC_0400.jpg

That night, Kingsley, Ross and Siana decided to hit the big metropolis of Trujillo (at about 1am in the morning!)

Steph and I had purchased a bottle of "Bubble gum wine" which was 8 soles (1.50 for a litre) and tasted like bubble gum.... however we were tired so we left the other three to head into the city.

The following morning we heard the results !

Ross and Siana had got a taxi back home about 5 in the morning from a night club where they were the only Gringos. Kingsley on the other hand had been destracted by some beautiful ladies and had suddenly realised, at about 7 in the morning, that he was in someone else´s house.... somewhere near Trujillo..... with no money...... and no idea where he was staying..... he couldn´t even remember the name of the village we were at, never mind the name of the hostel ,)

The man clearly has some good Karma going for him as he turned up an hour later outside the hostel.... having had the taxi payed for him by a local guy at the party, told the taxi driver that he wanted to go to " Cha Cha Cha " ??? Wherever that was supposed to be!!!! Luckily the taxi driver was a good one and dropped him off in the centre of Huanchaco.. right next to the Chill out Hostel !!!

How lucky was that!!!

So sometimes it´s good to remember that not all the locals here are robbers and mggers and the good stories are often forgotten amongst all the bad ones !!

Two nights later and having dragged ourselves away from the Chill out.... We did however manage to leave Ross, Kingsley and Lynon still there as Lynon had met a local guy and the Lads had decided to stay at the Chill out for another week.... or two.... and learn some Spanish !

They found a Spanish school and I couldn´t recommend a better place to chill, Surf, drink, eat and basically be merry !

Huanchaco was definately the highlight of my Peruvian journey so far and if it carried on like this.... I was going to love the place !!

Posted by Taffski 18:41 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Lord of Sipan

We´d arrived in Peru and as agreed it was now time to visit some temples.... Little did we know how many temples and museums we´d end up visiting. That was the point of coming here though... well.... that´s what I kept telling Steph.

sunny 20 °C
View Around the World on Taffski's travel map.

DSC_0096.jpg

Having arrived in Chiclayo (we arrived in Piura and decided to skip on through) late the previous night and spent half an hour running around the hotels trying to find a good and cheap one (since the hostel listed in the Lonely planet shoe string guide literally no longer existed) we had ended up in the Hotel Sipan. It was relatively cheap and we also got a TV and breakfast so we decided to stay there.

The Manager at the hotel was a really nice guy and having served us our breakfast (bread, jam juice and nescafe instant cofee) in his 70´s suit we headed off into town to see how we could go and visit the numerous archaelogical sites around the city.

First stop was the tourist info office and then we called at a few tour agencies (not that there are many in Chiclayo) and organised a tour for the following day. The Company we settled on was Moche Tours who were fine and at least we´d get an english speaking guide (although this did cost a little bit more)

That night we wondered around town and found a great little bar / restaurant down a back alley. It was called Sol Y Mar and it served great, and we mean great, ceviche (raw fish soaked in lime and lemon juice which sort of cooks it... well sort of !) Anyway, it was absolutely brilliant and the large dish, which was more than enough for two, was only 10 soles (that´s 1 pound 60 pence!)

We were by the coast anyway and the local speciality lived up to our expectations (e´ve learnt only to eat fish near the sea!!!)

The bar was great and we had a few more beers in there (being that we were the only gringo´s in the bar.... come to mention it... Chiclayo as a whole had very very few gringos so we really liked the whole atmosphere there!)

We arrived at the tour office the following day at 10am.... since Steph decided the tour left at 10.... it turned out to be at 10:30am .... he..he.... so after getting Steph to admit she was wrong (doesn´t happen often) we had a quick coffee and then headed off on our tour of the local sites.

There were only five of us on the trip so it was nice and cosy. A guy from Lima and an Italian couple and us made for some interesting conversations en route to our first site...Ferrenafe.

The Museo De Sican was a basic little museum but it provided us with a great introduction to the local culture and especially the Lord of Sipan and his burial.

He was buried upside down in the feotal position, however, he´d been decapitated and although his body was facing East, his head had been turned around to face the West (towards the sea).

His tomb, fortunately for us, was found in good condition as the grave robbers hadn´t found it so we were able to see which way he´d been buried etc. He was surrounded by ceramics, was wearing a golden burial mask and had lots of gold, silver and copper offerings buried with him.

The best thing about the museum was that we were allowed to take photos of the items recovered (which was something we´d find out, in peru, they don´t often let you do.... which infuriated me!!!)

Perhaps the best item was the fantastic burial mask made of gold, silver, copper and assorted precious stones etc.!

DSC_0022.jpg

After the museum we headed to the Piramides De Tucume.

The Pyramids (or Huacas as they´re known here) had unfortunately been subjected to the elements, therefore at first glance, they don´t look particularly pyramidal!

However, with a good guide and a good imagination you could image how they must have looked.

The site was recently discovered and therefore a lot of the site was still being excavated.

As a result, we were only allowed to visit one of the pyramids and then walk up to the mirador to view the other surrounding pyramids. This was a bit dissapointing, however, I´m sure in future the site will be absolutely brilliant!

As we walked around the site we were visited by a few Peruvian Hairless dogs! Great little animals, however, not the prettiest that´s for sure. I couldn´t help but think how similar they were to the hairless (and also BLUE) dogs that the ancient Egyptians had.... coincidence..... a theme we´d happen upon quite a few times in our journey around the sites in Peru!

DSC_0183.jpg

We headed to Lambayeque for lunch (at the obligatory Touristico Restaurant... which we hate.. although the restaurant wasn´t too bad!) and then it was on to the Gem of the Chiclayo Area........ the Museo Tumbas De Sipan.

This place was full of all the artifacts and items recovered from the Lord of Sipans tomb... which combined with those we´d already seen were absolutely fantastic !!!

What´s more... all the items were the real thing ! No replicas here !

Talk about Gold.... There was loads of the stuff... Gold Staffs, Masks, Bracelets, Idols, Offerings etc. etc. The place was absolutely fantastic and was by far one of the best museums we´ve ever visited !

It would have been nice to have spent all day at the place... inspecting the various artifacts and idols, however, we were on a tour so after an hour or so... it was time to head off back to Chiclayo for a shared large Ceviche and to our beds.

Tomorrow we head South again and have some more archeological sites to visit.....

Posted by Taffski 17:28 Archived in Peru Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

The Nariz Del Diablo

And the Furthest Point away from the Centre of the earth.... I´ll explain in the Blog !

semi-overcast 20 °C
View Around the World on Taffski's travel map.

DSC_9713.jpg

We jumped on the Bus from Banos to RioBamba and after a short, but bumpy hour and a half we pulled up in RioBamba.

The Bus dropped us off by a Roundabout at the top end of town... which meant we had to jump in a cab to our hostel.

We stayed at the Hostel Oasis...which the Taxi driver knew where it was.. which made a nice change.. and having booked in we decided to talk a short stroll around the city.

As we wondered around the city (the old colonial buildings were everywhere and there seemed to be a plaza on every corner (so to speak)... a bit different to Banos that´s for sure!

We asked around about tours to Chimborazo, and after some discussions with various operators.. we were recommended a guide by one of the hotels. The Hotel phoned the Guide (Joel) and literally and as if by magic he appeared at the hotel ready to meet his prospective guests for the following day.

We payed half the total (cheap at $40 for the 2 of us for a private tour!) and then headed back to the hostel via a pizza place as we had a TV in the room and decided to make the most of it.... Pizza, Pepsi and crap TV..... Great !

Joel picked us up as arranged at 7:30am outside the hostel.

His pick up was new and he spoke Spanish.. which meant the whole day was to be spent flicking through the Spanish phrase book for those illusive little words we couldn´t remember....

Joel was a pleasent soul and very talkative.... which at 7:30 am.... wasn´t exactly what Steph and I had in mind... Steph having taken the back seat so she could hide away and not have to talk pigeon Spanish for an hour or so up to the Mountain !

We continued up towards the Mountain and the Mist was heavy in the air... the higher we got... the heavier it seemed to get.

However... luckily for us Joel was on Hand and joking around he bet me that he´d be able to clear the mist so we could see the summit !!!

The Bet was on !

Stupid Welsh Man !!!!

Like a practiced conjurer.... Joel clapped his hands... started to sing and then as if by magic (or a well honed trick) he blew the mist away and the summit suddenly appeared above us !

DSC_9703.jpg

The Man was a Magician !!!

Either that or a frequent visitor at this time of the day :)

So here we had it... the Highest Mountain in the world.....

well....

If you were to measure from the Centre of the Earth to the summit of Chimborazo... it´d be further away than both Evertest and K2.

However, unfortunately for it (and Ecuador)... the sea level bulges at the Equator... therefore... it´s not as high above sea level as the it´s 2 more famous mountain Brothers in the Himalayas.

Unlucky, but still Impressive I can tell you !!!

Joel dropped us off at the First Refugio (a meer 4,800 Metres above Sea Level) and then we headed up towards Refugio Edward Whymper a further 200 metres higher at 5000 metres above sea level!

DSC_9689.jpg

On the way up you pass the graves of climbers and people who have died on the mountain. This was a bit of a downer as the most recent were a couple of germans in 2003.

It once again reminded us how dangerous and yet beautiful Mountains can be ! And in this respect, Ecuador had it´s fair share!

Luckily for us we´re fairly acclimatised to this altitude malarky and after a short half hour walk we arrived to a Locked Refugio.

The Obligatory Welsh Flag Shot was taken with the Help of Joel and even the Mountain cooperated a little bit by clearing up for us :)

3.jpg

It was nice and luckily for us the Refugio caretaker (not too happy to be there we thought) turned up (begrudgingly) and opened up for us... no coffees or anything though were to be had... so having taken some shots of the mountain we headed down once again!

We arrived at the lower refugio to be welcomed by the Entire Ecuadorian Mountain Elite Brigade and their artillary (or so it seemed !)

We worried for a wee while and contemplated returning back up the mountain and claiming sanctuary at the Higher Refugio.... but we didn´t and wondered into the Refugio.

Here the Soldiers were all having cups of Coca Tea and chatting happily !

Their Tanks were outside and having chatted to the Captain and shared a cigarette we managed to convince him to let Steph up into one of the tanks for a quick photo !

DSC07888.jpg

Classic !!!

In a tank at 4,800 metres !!! Not many people can claim that one I tell you !

We headed back to RioBamba, via some local villages(And Wildlife!), where Joel seemed to know almost everyone... or so he made out :)

DSC07897.jpg

Once in RioBamba, we popped to the train station and bought our tickets for :

"The DEVILS Nose Train ride"

oooohhhhhhhh.......

What a dissapointment this turned out to be !

Chimborazo was Fantastic Though so well worth paying for the day trip with Joel (Highly recommended also)

DSC_9822.jpg

The following morning we were given a lift to the train station by the hostel owner (well his great great grand dad or similar it seemed in an equally old car)

We´d met two germans (Andrea and Reinhart) at our hostel and a Brazilian, Amy, who we´d met at the Refugio on Chimborazo the previous day all waiting for the train and we all boarded ready for the 7am departure.

Now unfortunately, because of 2 Japanese tourists who´d literally lost their heads whilst riding on the roof of the train (i.e. not paying attention!) we were no longer allowed to ride on the roof of the train !

Damn.... what a let down and to be honest.... the only point you´d be riding the train otherwise !

It was a pretty train ride to Alausi... however nothing special (I fell asleep) although the town of Alausi was pretty.

DSC_9960.jpg

We headed for the Nariz (Nose) of the Devil and after a coupld of switchbacks down the mountain arrived at our final stop.... a ghost town / train station in the middle of nowhere!

DSC_9990.jpg

Then....... we headed back up the track, back to Alausi !

Wow... what a ride... NOT !

Really think the Ecuadorian Tourist people need to find some way of letting the Gringos back on the roof...else word will get around and no one will bother.... I wouldn´t that´s for sure !

We jumped on a bus in Alausi, together with about 30 other Gringos and headed down to Cuenca.

We arrived in the evening at 8pm so jumped in a taxi and headed to our hotel in town (Hotel Milan)

It was nice and having checked in for a mere $7 each (including Agua Caliente.... hot Water and more importantly.... BREAKFAST !!!)

we were well chuffed with ourselves (Some things are too good to be true though.... as we found out later on!)

We went to sleep and tomorrow we´ll head out and about around Cuenca!

The view from our room was cool as it overlooked Plaza St Stephen (one of the main market Plazas) and also we found out that the Irish Girls were also in the hotel as we bumped into Caroline on the stairs the previous night !

DSC_0012.jpg

Ben was also there from Hostel Revolution in Quito. So it was good to catch up with everyone.

Steph and I visited the Museo De Las Culturas Aborigines which had more pieces of Pottery than I think we´ve ever seen before in our lives.

We really liked it.. although the others weren´t too impressed!

We also visted the Museo Del Banco Central (Pumapungo) which had a fascinating exhibit of Shrunken Heads (or tsantsas) and also the remains of an Inca Citidel in it´s grounds.

It was a good museum, however, lacked something... not too sure what though !

ah well....

Today was Shopping day... since I had a hole in the knees of mine... and Steph didn´t like her American ones (The Cut was apparently bad!)

So to keep my life simple... I agreed to the purchase of 2 pairs (Mine being a cool pair of Dolce and Gabbana Copies.... $15 and Stephs being a bit more at $25... I got the better deal I reckon though ;)

Quite liked Cuenca and enjoyed the night life and just walking the streets, which is refreshing after Quito I can tell you !!!

DSC_9998.jpg

We headed for Loja the following day, and racked up in a cheapy hotel (Hostel londres) which was basic to say the least.

However it was safe and the following day we caught the bus from Loja over the border to Peru (Via Macara)

This route was absolutely fine and having walked over the bridge and the border into Peru we headed to Piura, where we decided to immediately catch a bus down to Chiclayo where we´d start on our Temple Journey Around Peru....

I´ve been waiting years to see all the interesting temples and Cultures in Peru so here... finally... we were in Peru !!!!

Posted by Taffski 14:03 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Baños

Ron, witches hats and white water rafting

semi-overcast 24 °C

DSC_9586.jpg

The bus ride from Quito to Baños (about $3) took about 4 hours...... on bumpy roads!

We travelled there with Caroline (an irish girl we had met in Quito), it was her second time in Baños as her bag had been swiped the first she had arrived straight off the bus! This time everything was ok!

A little apprehensive that my spanglish telephone conversation the previous night had not been understood we turned up at Hostal Plantos y Blancos......... we had a room booked....... yeah!

A nice private room with our very own shower (definately agua caliente), how posh!

Carolines friends, Niamph and Sarah had bussed it to Baños the previous day and were already at the hostal.

That evening we sat upstairs on the outside patio to see a huge smoke plume puff it´s way upwards from Vulcan Tungurahua......... one of the most active Volcanoes in south america (if not the world)....... very reassuring for us at the base of the mountains!!??

We managed to create a little gang on the patio and proceeded to drink lots of cervezas, followed by lots of ron (rum) and cokes!!!!

This made the decision to head out on the town very easy....... it was Halloween after all!

We chose the leprachaun bar, very fitting for the irish girls, and proceeded to get even more pished....... after a weird, unknown shot with tequilla and some other spirits, it was all downhill from there!

There was much dancing, drinking and stealing of the bar staffs hats going on (and maybe a little volunteer work behind the bar too!!! :)

As you can imagine the following day, for myself anyhow, was much of a write off!!!!!!!!

We did manage to visit the cementary that was very elaborate. Lots of people were painting the tombs and laying flowers. They were all very proud and getting ready for All Souls Day the following day.

DSC_9634.jpg

A fairly quiet night with a little gang of us heading out for a bite to eat.... It was an ok restaurant but a little tainted by the fact that a guy from the hostal (central american) received his meal for free after suggesting the restuarant in the first place..... we didn´t go there again or accept the guys invitations again!

There wasn´t any problems, however, when someone that´s supposed to be part of the gang and a fellow traveller, gets their meal for free from the owner as their Spanish is much better than anyone elses.... We don´t like it. It helps cement the idea of "Them and Us"

The following day was All Souls Day and we headed up to the cementary again to see flowers being sold, old men in their sunday best and lots of people just milling around. It was all very interesting as to how fond of their deceased relatives South Americans are. Kids would be climing on the grave stones and people would be talking about stories of how "Old Uncle Xavier did this and that ..... etc."

A Good Eye Opener for the both of us!

It was a gorgeous day, no clouds for a change, so we headed along a path in search of a better look at our smoking volcano!

The walk up was great as we passed a few farm houses, children playing and chickens running across the path. Unfortunately, by the time we made the Mirador, there were a few clouds hanging around the top of the volcano but the constant plume of smoke was still clearly visible.... cool but scary...... we were in a really bad place if it were to blow big style....... yikes!!!

A little later we decided to hire bikes and head off for an easyish ride for a couple of hours. The bikes seemed too much effort so back in town a few of us grabbed quad bikes and headed up to Bellavista lookout and beyond for some great views over Baños. It was so green and lush out here!

DSC07865.jpg

That night we had dinner at a really nice mexican restuarant, Poncho Villa on the main drag in Banos, with the irish girls. Fajitas and plenty of vino mmmmm.

During the night there was a huge thunder and lightening storm, so loud it shook the room. Having been shaken up I decided to check there was no major erruption happening..... everything seemed fine. Mr Williams was happily snoring all through the storm! The next day we were told that constant volcanic activity causes the huge storms! Something to do with the ash in the air collecting the humidity.... or something like that!

After a rainy start it turned out into a beautifull day and so Alan and myself had a quad bike between us (I had the easy part of being a passenger) and rode along the ruta de cascadas towards the pailon diablo waterfall!

The route was very pretty, right on the edge of a canyon.

The unnerving part however was the 4 or 5 pitch black tunnels that we had to ride through......... with a little flimsy light on the quad. Glad Mr Williams was driving, I just hung on for dear life!!

Later we had a meal at Casa Hood (Cafe hood also nice for lunch), it was very tasty but full of gringos!

We did see some Coy (Guinea Pig) for sale on our way back... but we were already full so thought it wrong to try some on a full stomach ;)

DSC07854.jpg

It was a nice early start the next day and after breakfast on the patio we headed to the Geotours. We were about to go white water rafting!!!! It was a good deal for $30 each for a half day, that actually ended at 4pm after an almuerzo (set lunch).

The fact that there was a family from guayaquil (the largest city in Ecuador and situated on the West Coast) who included three young girls, in another raft doing the exact same route as we were doing, kind of made us feel less brave!

How we good we all looked in our gear !!!! NOT !!!! Alan decided to take the pictures so as to not be in any of them... bugger !

DSC07867.jpg

Our guide decided that Alan, two of the irish girls and myself were up for getting soaked and after asking us if we could swim made us flip the boat (sneakily telling Alan and Caroline to jump to mine and Niamhs side of the raft).

Somehow I ended up underneath the raft !!!

Alan saw a little hand appear from under the boat and yanked it bringing me bouncing to the surface.

We were all safe and sound, soaked and laughing very loadly! Our guide, not being satisfied with only a single soaking, proceeded to get us stuck on a rock....... Caroline and Alan fell out ha ha!

The Guide also through my camera (in waterproof case) to the other raft, it ended up in the water moving swiftly towards the rapids but was rescued! Hmmm

But he was a nice guy and watched out for us all the way down the river (which took some 2 hours!)

Later that evening Alan, myself and the irish girls headed to an Argentinian restuarant (directly behind the hostal) for a gorgeous steak and posh vino tinto. It was a little more expensive but really really tasty and the Chef was great value!

DSC07873.jpg

It was our last night in Baños and of course it wouldn´t be complete without a visit to the Leprachaun bar.

Not quite as drunken as the first night though .....ha ha!

DSC07871.jpg

Unfortunately the evenings were a little cloudy which meant the $3 trip to see the volcano errupting was a complete waste of time, so we didn´t bother. We had heard that it was rubbish anyway as you were really far away (although some people might prefer that)!

Well the next morning the irish girls left for Cuenca while Alan and myself headed off to Riobamba on an even bumpier bus ride!!

Que Risa (What a laugh en Espanol!).... we´re getting better by the day !

Posted by stephyd 11:39 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

Cotopaxi

a Volcano too far ???

snow 6 °C

DSC_8508.jpg

We´d booked to climb the mountain through Happy GRingo in Quito, who then sub booked us through a small little outfit around the corner called Condor Treck!

They were a decent enough looking outfit and having arrived there two guys who´d just returned from the mountain said it was great and the gear was all good!

This sealed it and so the next day, we´d head off early in the morning (having tested all our gear for the climb in the shop already)

It was a 2 hour drive to Cotopaxi National Park but a pretty one.

We dumped our bags and headed out with provisions for a four hour EASY walk to acclimatise, making climbing cotopaxi easier!!!???

The walk started at a lake and was very gradual towards the summit of Rumiñahui (4712m). It was all going so well, there were no problems with altitude and then suddenly thunder and lightening appeared in the distance. Ok carry on!

Just before reaching the top we had to quickly turn back as the thunder and lightening was much closer.

DSC_8497.jpg

So we decided to walk down the mountain via a valley........ very sensible to walk high in open spaces during a lightening storm.

I don´t think I have ever walked so fast with my head down and thunder crashing right above!!!!

To put the cherry on the cake it hailed.......... HARD!!!

It took us an hour less than intended to race back down the mountain to the hostal. We arrived soaking wet and were glad of the huge open fire where we all huddled amongst the wet items of clothing draped eveywhere!!

After a very nice meal it was an early night.

The next morning we headed to the refugio at the base of Cotopaxi. It was an hour from the carpark with backpacks but fairly easy. We reached the refugio at 4800m.

After a few hours rest and plenty of coca tea (with no other side affects much to Alans dissapointment!) we hiked to the glacier for a wee practice session complete with crampons and icepicks!

The session went quite well, we felt quite comfortable with the ice and were raring to go!

Back at the refugio, which now had about 7 other climbers and 4 other guides, we had the obligitary spag bol, before TRYING to sleep for a few hours!

DSC07792.jpg

I´m not sure whether it was the excitement, apprehension or the altitude that induced insomnia but I hardly slept at all, Alan slept a little!

Cesar, our guide, woke us up at 11pm to get dressed in all the regalia and have some brekkie. Having breakfast at 11pm was weird to say the least but it was important to eat something!

12 midnight we stepped into our harness´ and headed off ............ to climb Cotopaxi!!!!!!

It had snowed heavily during our rest so we started off with a trek through a couple of inches of snow before even getting to the glacier.

Once at the glacier we were attached together with a rope (first Cesar, then me and finally Alan). We slipped the crampons on and stomped along the ice. It was a little tiring but bearable.... so far so good.

As we approached the sand (now snow) I managed to slip down a crevace (later finding out it was tiny BUT in the dark and with my frantic imagination it was a huge never ending drop AND I was going to die!!!!!) I didn´t die and with the help of Alan and Cesar pulling me back with the rope we plodded on.

Plodding was definately the style of choice for us both with the snow being extra soft!

We reached a small glacier as we plodded up the Volcano and it was a tricky maneouvre to get up and around it. This involved using our ice crampons much more than we´d done so before and sticking our toes into the ice to climb vertically up the ice !

This was getting dangerous!!!!!!

I was definately out of my comfort zone and I don´t think Alan was too far behind me.

We successfully negotiated the ice ridge and continued to plod ever upwards through the increasingly slippery and soft snow!

We were really tired (me especially) so Cesar made a tiny ledge to sit on and rest. Plunging the ice picks into the snow and wrapping the ropes tightly around them made it more secure..... kind of !?!

It was a short break and onwards again. Cesar did mention at this point that this kind of snow often caused avalanches..... very reassuring.

One of the guys a little further infront of us came past us as they had decided to turn back, deciding it was too hard.

Hmm ??????????

A little further on I was completely shattered again (Alan not far from it also) and needed another precarious rest on the edge of a volcano.

It was at this point 5400m up that we decided enough was enough and to turn back. I was gutted to say the least (we both were).

Descending the mountain was by no means easy.... harder in some ways.

Alan had the difficult part of leading the way as it was a complete reverse. The snow was just as hard to negotiate on the way down.

It was great fun as we hit the ice patch again, Alan handled it pretty well on 2 feet but I had to resort to all fours......... practically abseiling on the rope. Very attractive!

We made it back to the glacier and over the huge (not) crevace.

We even made it back to the refugio where we unloaded our gear and climbed back into our sleeping bags........ defeated!

In the morning we found that nobody had made it to the summit that night and that only one french guy had made it further than us, having to terminate the climb just 90m from the top due to the dangerous conditions!

After a coca tea we made our descent to the carpark where we were driven back to Quito.

We were completely shattered. I felt a mixture of failure and pride as we had tried so very hard.

Maybe we had bitten off a little more than we could chew this time.

Cotopaxi was yet to be beaten and possibly, for us amateurs anyway, a Volcano too far !!!

Posted by stephyd 11:38 Archived in Ecuador Tagged backpacking Comments (0)

(Entries 16 - 20 of 42) « Page 1 2 3 [4] 5 6 7 8 9 »