Salt flats and the end of Bolivia

Sorry Sucre but you are not deserved of an entire post. Yes it was cute but nowhere near as happening or as big as La Paz and they call themselves the capital of Bolivia! I read you could loose yourself here for days… All I can say is anyone that loses themself here clearly can’t read a map! They didn’t even have Bridget Jones in English at the cinema, we would have  taken English subtitles we were that desperate, gutted. I ate a crisp sandwich, Charlotte went on a mad food binge and ate her weeks calories in one day… animal haha, then we searched for coffee all day and somehow had several failed attempts, one being we ordered a chocolate espresso in a chocolate shop but after discovered it was just an espresso shot of chocolate no coffee, it was amazing though! Contrary to what you may think, it’s actually been difficult to get a good coffee in South America. To sum it up we ate a lot (nothing new) did an uninspiring walking tour, went to a mini Eiffel Tower which is made by the same guy that made the real deal in Paris, then went to watch a dancing show which was fun. Don’t get me wrong I had a laugh but that was the company with the Irish girls and co not so much the place. I wasn’t drinking here too due to antibiotics still, bore off. Anyway so we quickly left here for Uyuni with our Cali friend Connie that we met in La Paz. 

A very cultured crisp sandwich

Char possessed by a food monster

Proud as punch in her gap yaar jumper

Indigenous women producing fabric that takes a ridiculous amount of time and patience. Hats off to them!


We took a local bus which was one of the worst we’ve been on, it was freezing and only semi karma and got there at 4am. Luckily I had booked the trek already and Waldo was there waiting to pick us up at 4am which was the best thing ever. It was bloody freezing and he had a car with heating so we were over the moon at not having to haggle a taxi in the early am! Waldo took us to  Nonis coffee shop (she’s obviously his friend or family who he’s getting business for but we were quite happy to oblige) she’s like the cutest little old nan that put the heater on for us then we sat drinking the best hot choc,  breakfast and had wifi from about 4.30am until 10am when we had to start the trek. Time flies when you’re having fun though. 

Day 1 I’ll try to keep this as short and sweet as possible. We were in the car with 3 girls who had met people we knew travelling, small world for sure! First stop was the old train cemetery, basically train carcus’s and an old railway line. I had to get a new hat seen as though I lost my old one, it’s cold but hot at the same time and the UV rays are super strong, you definitely need sunglasses too because the light is too bright with the reflection of the salt. 

Can you guess which one of us is scared of heights


Next stop was the actual salt flats where everyone spends hours getting THE perfect salt flats photo. It’s an amazing place and the scenery is just surreal. It just takes a while for everyone to pose for their pretty pictures…as you can see ours were the best obviously🙂 Oh and obviously there are giant Guinea pigs and T-Rex’s ;) 

 

Unfortunately all I can see in this photo is my double chin … Wenched!

 

Day 2 We had to get up at 5.30am then strangely went to a small village where there was just a shop and a toilet and we sat for a while to wait for the guide. There was a doll on the gate to the village and apparently it’s to warn thieves that they will kill them if they intrude. 2 months prior 2 guys had attempted to rob them so they shot them, it’s so deserted that there’s no police. Citizens arrest at its finest! Then we went to the rock canyon and climbed a few rocks for a while… avidly named. Luckily we had an aux lead and me and another girl also named Grace (grrr, just kidding) had music on our phones so we were entertained on the long drive. We had a few stops at a few lakes which were really pretty with lots of flamingos. It was bloody freezing so we didn’t stay at each stop long. Our guide was really nice but didn’t speak English so luckily Connie translated as much as she could and I understood a lot of it. He would stop and make us get out to take photos even if we didn’t want to haha. It was worth it when we did it was just a bit cold and we were tired. Most of them didn’t rate the food but I enjoyed it, it’s classic trek food and I am easily pleased with regards to food, I was chuffed we got avacado and an orange, I’ve not had one of them for weeks! We stayed in a bed made of stone with mattresses on, luckily we had super warm North Face sleeping bags and quilts and I slept in my jumpers, hat and gloves and eventually got warm. I didn’t sleep much though due to the altitude which causes an anxiety feeling in the night like I can’t breathe! Darn altitude causes so many problems. 

 ​​ 

Day 3  The final day was a 4am wake up, so I was pretty tired but we did get the best pancakes for breakfast and got to see the sun rise over the mountains. The views are just unreal and I loved the whole trek, the people were lovely and the music well, singing Adele, Tinie Tempah and Britney who could ask for anything more in life! We went to the gaizers which are bubbling springs with steam coming out and they smell like egg…We stopped at the hot springs but it was pre 9am and bloody freezing so none of us got in we just watched and laughed at people getting out running for their towels!

My favourite lake was the last of the day which was lake verde (green lake, very creative I know) I also made a stacked stone tower which is a Buddhist tradition. The stacking of stones signifies the coordination, balance and concentration needed to control the mind and body. 



Sad to leave Bolivia it’s been a blast and I didn’t even get food poisoning, winning! Let’s see what Chile has in store🙂

Much love OTA xxx

Welcome to the jungle 

In between my time spent in La Paz I headed to the Amazon. Well I say Amazon it’s the Amazon basin and it’s called Pampus so don’t pull me up for saying Amazon those that know! I was so excited about this trip as its a once in a lifetime experience. I decided not to take the ‘dangerous’ bus and got the small plane over to Rurrenabaque, the views over the the Andeas and the Amazon were just breathtaking. Our friend made this trip and cried due to the turbulence but me and Char couldn’t see what the issue was, we loved it.



I spent a night in Rurrenabaque in a hostel with a pool which was cool, the room was absolutely boiling though. We shared a room with 2 Irish girls Una and Niamph who would turn out to be good friends. I can’t explain to you just how many thrift shops and second hands clothes stalls there are here it’s unreal. I googled it to find out why and I think it could be that the clothes are sent here from different projects around the world. Whether this is ligit or not is another question, there were all different sports brands and some UK specific brands like Tesco and ASDA’s range. I do hope that when I give my clothes to charity or cash for clothes they aren’t sent here, when I took my clothes down to the British Heart Foundation I didn’t expect they would be sent to help one Bolivian local shop keeper I more expected to cloth homeless people who were in desperate need of the garms! The other alternative was that it was all the clothes stolen from travellers or from travelers that have died in savage crocodile attacks in the jungle. Jokes! Anyway if you need to buy anything for the jungle here is the place. 

Char thrift shopping


Day 1 of Pampus: we actually got a good group it was 6 girls and one girls bf Gustav, who it turns out is a doctor so we all relayed our problems to him. (Yes my 9 week long itchy bites which he seemed concerned by and said I should definitely get checked out in La Paz, oh shit!) Looks like I’m not going to meet the love of my life here but that’s no biggie seen as though I look like a scrubber anyway. I have now convinced myself I look like a boy that often that my boy name is Greg and Charlottes is Charles. So day one we drove for a few hours to get there and had dinner then set off on a boat on the river. We saw Cuppiboroughs which are like giant Guinea Pigs, a Sloth in the tree, a Jabaroo bird with a red neck that blows up to mate, a variety of different birds, monkeys and Dolphins. We saw an unreal amount of Cayman which are their crocodile species, it was unreal I never expected to see that many. Apparently because it’s dry season the river is low so animals have to come here for water so we got to see a lot more. 


After a full day on croc watch playing croc or log we went to eat dinner and put our bags in the lodge. We watched the sunset and of course deeted up and wearing top to toe clothes to give us half the chance of not coming back looking diseased! After a lovely veggie dinner we went night hunting Cayman it was crazy you could see them all by the side and their red eyes reflected in our lights. I loved it but gave up trying to take photos and just enjoyed the moment. I hope I never forget it and think of it when I’m old or working an office job again. The whole experience of night or day for that matter hunting Cayman and animals in the Amazon was surrreal and out of this world. 


Day 2 This morning we got up and had pancakes, fruit and some extras which were really nice but I can’t describe. Then we headed on an hour walk in search of anacondas, Choco the guide found shedded snake skins which me and Char joked he’d pulled out of his sleeve to keep us all happy… then we found an anaconda waheyyyy! 

Our guide Choco proud as punch with his Anaconda

Me, also looking proud as punch and like an absolute babe in my travelling pants as per. Btw the deet insect repellent stripped the logo off my tee so watch out!


Afterwards we went back to the lodge and had a nap and a feed like the kids we are and went back out on the boat. There was a lot of singing involved today, mainly old school 90’s pop music and a bit of Oasis, much fun was had! We found big black camen and also went piranha fishing. I caught a relatively big piranha yayyy! My brother will be proud.  We ate the piranhas for tea that we had caught but seen as though I’m a Bolivian veggie someone else had mine. We sat in the hammock room chilling and swinging then had an early night. Rebecca was really funny sleep talking shouting “is everyone in or out the tent… In or out?!!?” Then persisted to shine her torch on us like a copper. Luckily Connie shouted back “IN!” And must have realised she thought the mozzis net was a tent. 

…. Me or should I say Greg taking a group selfie


That’s my serious fishing face


Ask him if he’s happy


Day 3 We went out on the boat dolphin hunting, I’d already seen dolphins by the lodge in the morning anyway so it was no biggy! We found the dolphins and some people went swimming in the Amazon, I love water and swimming but only when I can be bothered. I wasn’t bothered about getting mucky in the water as it turns out it’s not actually the Amazon river so there was no point. After we headed back for lunch then back out on the boat where we saw shit loads more crocs again no biggy, along with more giant guinea pigs of course. It’s mental how easily accustomed you get to the crocs and animals. We sang loads more songs and then went back in the 4×4 to Rurrenabaque. 
There were 6 girls and 1 doctor (one of the girls bf) so no mum I didn’t meet the love of my life in the Amazon, I think she’s finally given up asking me. I think its the lesbo sandals scaring them off, the only come on I’ve had is a chubby old Bolivian lady that told me I am very beautiful. It’s better than nothing I guess, I’m happy with that 😃. Although having fat ankles is a sign of beauty in Bolivia so maybe I shouldn’t be too happy!

Gustav and Rags getting a croc selfie


Much love OTA xxx

Top 10 things to do in La Paz

I was excited but also apprehensive about visiting La Paz which is the capital city of Bolivia (or second city depending on who you ask). It’s notorious for being dangerous and sketchy and I have heard and read some bad stories. Regardless of this it turned out to be one of my favourite places, it was trouble free without even a dodgy stomach! (Apart from the altitude wind me and Char had jajaja!) So here’s my 10 favourite things about La Paz: 
1. No danger: It’s not as dangerous as people make out. We were there for 5 nights either side of going to the Amazon and didn’t see any trouble once. I even went to the cash machine on my own, yes I hear you gasp, I felt that safe to venture out on my own in the afternoon.  We also went to a football game between Ecuador and Bolivia which felt completely safe. So big thumbs up to La Paz! 


2. Amazing for veggies: Im being veggie for the entire time in Bolivia, partly because I heard people get ill from the meat often and partly because this way I experiment with my food more. Iv never eaten as much and as good quality food as we did in La Paz. Restaurant 1700 had THE best quinoa burgers, that good we went twice. Our favourite veggie/vegan restaurants were Namaste, La Vida and the big winner with a free chocolate ball for liking them on Facebook was Cafe Del Mundo. The staff are so sweet the ambiance is lovely and the food is spot on! We started our diet here and iv never eaten more bloody cake as what I did on day one and 2 of my diet. I then cried because I felt fat and ugly but I can’t blame Cafe Del Mundo for that unfortunately. Diet started again, day one went well anyway. 


3. La Paz by night: The street performers and vibe around La Paz in the evenings is just amazing. The markets come out about 5pm and the city turns into a fun vibrant place to be. One night we watched a rap battle in the main square, another night we saw a dance off and there was also street performers and a clown (I didn’t like the clown). Again we didn’t feel unsafe, we just didn’t take our bags out or hid our phone in our money belt encase. There was also a massive protest about some lesbians that painted some distasteful images on the side of the museum in the Main Street to symbolise women being repressed by the Catholic Church. It was funny each day watching the events unfold and progress, we even got on local TV. Apparently protesting is quite big in Bolivia, it was still a peaceful one though. (Play the game in the below photo… Where’s Willy!) 


4. The cold: Yes you’ll think it’s strange that I liked the cold but after being in the sweltering Amazon it felt so homely like being in England getting wrapped up and staying under proper bed quilts. We’ve got these amazingly warm down jackets and we’re right saddos and love wearing them! 

5. Wild Rover: Well I hate to be that cliche traveler staying at 3 wild rovers and getting a t-shirt to prove it but… I am that girl, and afraid I have the t-shirt! #sorrynotsorry it’s such a good way to meet people and party but we always party too hard get hungover and then need to get the hell out of dodge. It’s happened at all 3… yippee no more Wild Rovers in SA. P.s I would definitely recommend staying there though haha. 

6. The Amazon: this was an unreal experience that I’ll never forget. Check out my blog all about it but even the small plane we got over the Andes and Amazon just left me in awe it was that beautiful I felt so lucky and it reminded me why I quit my job to come traveling! It’s a must do adventure whilst in La Paz. 


7. Cable cars: not a lot to say on this one just the views are great, it’s not so much a pretty city but it’s still stunning and the colours are great. It’s worth doing just don’t get chatting and forget you’re meant to be sight seeing! 


8. Go see crazy Dave: so you’ll be wondering does he live up to his name. They should call him absolutely lost the plot mental off his Barnet crazy Dave. So yes he does, he was stoned out of his tree when we met him and he’s as scatty as they come. He was locked up in the notorious San Pedro prison for drug smuggling and gives a talk about his experience in the prison and and then basically anything else that pops into his head like is he called Jimmy that lives in the tree or on a war ship 😒 He also mentions about the well known book Marching Powder and how they’re making it into a film. You can tell he’s clearly gutted and resentful that he didn’t bring the book out, he would only spend the money on crack anyway. Worth a visit though just be prepared how nuts he is, I gave him 20bs after which I’m sure he won’t be sending home to his kids that he says he’s never paid child support for and they’re now 21 👌🏻 top bloke (that’s sarcasm btw for people that aren’t British). 


9. Route 36: Ok so maybe it’s not PC to write on here that I went especially if my mums reading it but I felt it was a must in La Paz. Route 36 is the notorious ‘first cocaine bar’ apparently it’s not legal so has to switch venues every 3 weeks to avoid the police… I read and heard many a story about this place but don’t be fooled. Is it fun? Yes definitely. Is the music the best iv heard whilst in SA? Yes I’d say so. Is the cocaine good? It’s not cocaine. Sorry to disappoint you and maybe once upon a time it was but the reason they don’t get closed down is because it’s speed, we knew it wasn’t coke as it looked like sparkly Unicorn dust and crazy Dave confirmed it for us. Makes sense why they’re allowed to stay open, can’t fault them for the money they make from tourists though it’s expensive at 150bs. I would recommend to go, but don’t buy the ‘cocaine’ apparently crazy Dave can sort you out so ask him or just go for the experience. However it’s not usual for people to dance there all night they just sit in groups talking… Me and this one guy however didn’t sit down for the entire night, we were dancing only on red squares just for the hell of it, yes we looked mental but I had a bloody good time🙂

Not the actual squares as you can’t take photos in the club but just encase you didn’t know what red squares look like!


10. Viewpoint: Our super fit friend Jeff loves a view point so he made us walk up to the one in La Paz. We are not so fit anymore and with La Paz being the highest altitude city it was tough going at his pace. It was well worth it in the end so I would recommend it. I probably wouldn’t go as late as we did as it is up in the sticks so can seem a bit dodgy near sunset. We were fine though apart from looking like 2 out of breath old women. 

 
Overall I had a super fun time in La Paz and would definitely recommend that you visit.

Much love OTA xxx

Head stands at Lake Titicaca

5th October

We got the night bus from Arequipa to Puno which took around 6 hours and got there at 4.30am, I didn’t sleep much because I was worried about getting robbed like our friends had. (Don’t worry mum we’ve been lucky so far, lucky or more so careful!) We then waited until 7am and got the bus to Copacabana. Some border crossings can be sketchy but this one was bloody amazing! There were hardly any people on the bus apart from about 15 French over 60’s so we felt like we were on a Saga holiday. We went with the bus company tour Peru and the route was via Lake Titicaca so the whole 4 hours had stunning views. I was so tired but I literally couldn’t take my eyes off the lake. Top napper Racey wasn’t well bless her and was fast on straight away. Immigration was a dream we sailed out of Peru and into Bolivia with no qualms. They even stopped at a money exchange so we changed our Peru Soles to Bolivianos, which meant I needn’t have bought lots of chocolate and biscuits to try and get rid of my loose change before leaving… Oh well! 

(Bye Peru I’ve had a blast, time for country number 4!)


Copacabana

We got to Copacabana and just went to any hostel, the first private room in a while woop woop. We just had a well needed chill for a day, I am recovering from being ill and Chrlotte is currently Ill with a cough and we’re just run down. I also think we have altitude sickness as we’re just so tired with dodgy stomachs and I can’t sleep at night. We went for breakfast at El Condor it’s a little Irish place (number 1 on trip advisor for a reason) I had the best gronola, honey and Greek yoghurt and we got an Italian filter coffee which was probably the best I have had whilst in South America, bold statement. The owner was sooo lovely he volunteered us advice about Bolivia and how we can get half price flights at this business fair in La Paz for the next week. He also told us where to eat on the island. So Bolivia is renowned for giving travelers food poisoning and upset stomachs, trust me we had it in Colombia so we will do whatever we can to avoid that ordeal again, it can ruin days of your trip and time is precious for us now. So anyway because it’s so derelict on the Isla del sol the restaurants don’t buy fresh food everyday from the mainland due to the chance it will get wasted. Therefore everyone on the mainland and on trip advisor are recommending these 2 restaurants to drum up customers so that it causes a quick turnover of food and consequently the restaurant buying fresh produce daily from the mainland. Then hey presto, no food poisoning for us unsuspecting travellers. (Although me and Char have self diagnosed ourselves with parasites in our gut which we are going to the doctors in La Paz about, oh I have also had itchy painful bites about 10 of them on my head for 7 weeks now so I have promised the mother I will go the doctors about it as she’s willing to foot the bill. I’ve been suffering in silence but if she’s willing to pay the insurance excess who am I to disappoint her). 


Lake Titicaca and Isla del sol

So being named Isla deal sol makes it sound like somewhere Brits abroad go to an all inclusive resort, well I assure you it couldn’t be anything further from it. We decided to do 1 night there and I am so glad that we did it was just the most peaceful place I have ever been and the views are stunning. This is definitely the life and this is the kind of place our friends and family think we are everyday, I assure you it’s not. We took a 1 and a half hour boat ride across and got talking to a lovely Canadian guy called Jeff who we gave lots of advice to, he thought we were top travellers and was very impressed haha. We went to the south of the island and it took us about an hour to walk to the village, the altitude was horrendous we were like 2 obese old biddies after 3 steps we were panting like bull mastiffs so it’s a good job we could go at our own pace and only had small bags. Well I use the term small lightly as they’re still about 6kg I reckon! I can’t stress enough how tranquil and stunning it is here. We just sat for a while and took it all in, then Char did a few cart wheels and I did head stands, you know as you do when you’re 27. 

Then we went to find a hostel and stumbled across this beauty called Inti Kala…


Char had moaned most of the hike up but she was as happy as Larry now, mainly because it had wifi which we hadn’t expected! It cost us 80B which is equivalent to £9 each for a private room with private bathroom, plug sockets, wifi, balcony, free breakfast and free tea and coffee. We were told there was no electricity so we couldn’t believe our luck. We spent the rest of the day chilling, sunbathing, reading and me writing this blog :) 

We then went for tea at Las Velas and watched the sunset. There is no electricity and Pablo and Lidia are the cutest old couple with candles and head torches. It was muy romantico, I would definitely recommend it! 



All in all its been an amazing start to Bolivia and I’m happy happy :) 

Much love OTA xxx

Ain’t no mountain high enough, ain’t no canyon low enough

Like I said before I needed to get the hell out of Cusco before I booked a flight home (ok a bit extreme but there was too much partying and hangovers for me). So a nice 10 and a half hour night bus to Arequipa for me and Charlotte. I’m not being sarcastic when I say ‘nice’ night bus I love them, they had full karma recline, chicken and rice meal and they even had English subtitles on the film #winning. 

Foodies 

The first night we stayed at the hostel Arequipay backpackers it’s so nice and relaxed with a public kitchen. Iv been craving cooking and really missed it so we made fajitas with a new girl we had met from the Netherlands. We had nachos, guacamole and a hell of a lot of wraps with chicken and peppers etc. I loved it. 
The next day we had a set menu for 15 soles which is about £3.50 with avacado salad starter, pesto pasta, pancake for desert and even a drink, amazing for the price! 

The third day we met Teresa an Aussie friend from Cusco and ate some amazing food at this Peruvian restaurant called Ratatouille which was 8 soles for a starter of quinoa salad and chicken and rice for main which equates to about £2. It was amazing! 

 

I also did the walking tour here where we got bit to shit from standing around, had a shot of Pisco sours and visited a place where they make Alpaca sweaters 


Colca canyon 

Day 1 First on the list was watching the giant Andean condors, we got picked up at 3am which was a killer as I only had about 2 hour sleep and didn’t sleep on the bus there. Altitude seems to stop me from sleeping. It was great to see the condors flying around, they are huge and have a maximum wingspan of around 10ft 10 inches. The only spoiler for us was that when we asked why they gather at that area every day for tourists to watch the answer was that the locals put dead cows there that have ‘fallen’ off the mountain to attract the birds to that one specific spot. Yeah ok how many cows can fall off a mountain everyday they’re not that thick! Plus we didn’t see a single cow on the mountain during the trek. The altitude was unreal every step you get so out of breath, Iv also got cold and a bad chest so it was sooo hard you can’t imagine how tight your chest feels and my nose keeps bleeding a bit because of the altitude and pressure or so we think! 

We had a 3 hour hike down to the lodge where we stayed had dinner and we had a nap, then had tea and an early night. The food was really nice. 


Day 2 Usually on treks you have to get up at the crack of dawn but we had a nice chilled get up at 7am for pancake with banana and choc sauce yum with coco tea to help with altitude sickness. One girl had been sick the night before so she was feeling really ill bless her, Charlotte said she had no sympathy because we had been ill worse and this trek was a walk in the park compared to Lost City! Haha. After the 3/4 hour trek we made it to the lodge with the pool omg it was so nice and chilled out, it’s been such an amazing trek I’m so glad we did it. Charlotte stopped moaning at this point because we had a pool and could sunbath! The group is small and lovely and it’s not too intense we can go at our own pace, still tiring on the legs and calves though. The meal was nice and we had an early night about 8.30pm ready for 4.30am start. 


Day 3 Bloody hell today was a killer, I had really bad cold and a bad chest so it made it even tougher. But as usual I didn’t moan I just pushed on, I’ve realised on this trip that this is one of my strong points and I now have an answer to the ever challenging interview question “So Grace, tell us your strengths.” I’m not sure how “I can trek for days and not moan once” or “I’ve learnt that I can count to ten very well” will relate, but I’m sure it’s a transferable skill. We had a 5am start and then a 3 hour steep incline walk back up the mountain. Me and Char are evenly matched at hiking which is good, Teresa looked like she was close to jumping off the mountain at one point and was pissed off that the slow people in our group had sneakily got up half an hour before us, so this meant she was now the one at the back. So much for finishing as a team! Finally we reached the top and I felt a great sense of achievement. The trek has been amazing and I met some people great people, that’s one of the best things about treks, you meet your new squad! 


After the trek we felt like we deserved a treat so went for the best Italian gelato ice cream. It was unreal!


We stayed at Wild Rover, again. And in sticking with the routine we maxed going out, got too drunk, ended up too hungover. Ate some amazing ice cream, ate a McDonald’s, Pizza Hut and a Curry amongst other things and decided it was time to leave. I face timed my Mum and sister for ages while I sat in Starbucks eating a cookie and panini, it was great to talk to them and I got some good sympathy off my mum for my stupid bites. I don’t know what I would do without my Mum there for support and sympathy! This time it was hard to leave as we were leaving the squad behind for good, Bianca, Teresa, Jose and the Dutsch boys Jim and Luke. It was a sad farewell from us and time to leave Peru for the country that I am most excited about… Show us what you’ve got Bolivia :) 

Much love OTA xxx

Machu Picchu I salute you!

Machu Picchu and the jungle trek. 

The question a lot of people have asked me is does Machu Picchu live up to the expectations… my answer, yes, 100 times over. I decided to do the 4 day jungle trek through Eco Packers and it was the best decision that I made. It was the best mix of trekking and fun activities. We met a guy in our hostel called Tommy who was lovely, he lives near us back home and came out for dinner with us. He ended up being good friends and partied with us after Macchu Picchu… His trip ended suddenly due to a job opportunity coming up in the UK. Little did I know then that he would continue to kind of travel with me through Charlotte and I wouldn’t be able to bloody get rid of him haha. 

Day 1 we did a mountain bike ride down the mountain and the views were just amazing. It was mad that it went from being freezing cold to boiling hot the lower we went. The bikes weren’t great and my legs were going like bees wings (it brought back memories from a traumatic triathlon I did)  to get round a corner before a lorry. I also lost my ray bin sunglasses (luckily China fakes) out of a hole in my pocket. Wahhhhh, gutted. We stayed in a hostel and drank beer with some nice girls from Landan in a fake karoeke bar and had an early night.


Day 2 we had to do quite a lot of hiking today around 8 hours, it was hard work and we had to walk on the edge of a mountain which was testing my fear of heights. One girl was crying and the guide had to help some people. It was boiling hot but the walk was still really enjoyable. The guide drew face paint on us all using a plant, then we went on a pulley car across the river and then hot springs which were nice even though we got bit to shit. The food was really good we had the best guacamole as they had avacados growing in the garden! We then made it to a little village and we went out for beer and all had dinner, we continued the party at Gringo club which was quite funny… we accidentally drank a bit too much and Kelly was the one waking us up… must be bad if Kelly is the one in charge haha. 


Day 3 we went on the zip wires today it was sooo much fun. I’m scared of heights but I manned up and managed to do it, I actually did it really well and managed to curl up in a ball and get all the way across every time. Some people were too scared and others couldn’t follow simple instructions to put their knees to their chest and so got stuck in the middle of the zip wire… derrr. After zip wires we went on the bridge…. omg this is close to the most scared iv ever been. We were attached to a rope but the bridge was really rickety and had a sheer drop over the river and rocks. I was literally shaking and singing to myself it seemed to go on forever I just wanted it to be over. I won’t be doing that again in a bloody hurry!! We then had the best walk ever it was about 3 hours along the train tracks and next to the river I marched on ahead with the front group and had my headphones in I had the best day I was so happy and felt inspired 😃 we then made it to Aguas Calientes it’s the cutest little village. We stayed in Eco Packers which was really nice, went out for tea with everyone and got them to bring Charlotte a cake out and they all sang happy birthday in different languages for her bday the next day. The cake was really nice! All in all a fab day and so excited for the final day. 

  
Day 4 eeek ticking off the bucket list with Machu Picchu. (Just for the record my bucket list is never ending and will be added to until I die.) No one tells you about the 4am start in the dark and rain. Walking by the river with our torches on stepping in puddles then queueing at the bridge. The gates open at 5am and everyone heaves on in to start the tough climb up the hundreds of steps. Well it got hot and sweaty and we didn’t look great. I was like seriously you can’t see the sweat and pain from the insta photos! Luckily we weren’t racing so could stop off along the way for water and a rest. We finally made it to the top and went in for the tour guide talk, it was bloody freezing. It’s a good job I had my down jacket because it was still too cold to concentrate on what he was saying. There was a lot of selfie and photo taking for several hours and the mist cleared and it was a beautiful day and went really warm. Apparently they have several climates up there, we definitely experienced the elements! I probably shouldn’t own up but luckily we had taken some make up and dried our hair in the driers in the toilets so I looked less like a boy for the photos. I guess it is cheating but honestly I looked rank and didn’t even have sunglasses, sorry not sorry!                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            

We bought Charlotte a Guinea Pig teddy because she loves them and also a bottle of Rum which we made her shot on Macchu Picchu. I bought her dairy milk chocolate and prosecco but it was too heavy for me to carry from Cusco so gave it her later. 


I loved every minute of the jungle trek and Machu Picchu and would recommend anyone did it as it was amazing and a highlight of my life! If anyone tells you it’s not amazing then they weren’t at the same place with the same people I was. 


Me and Kelly went for one drink to celebrate Charlottes bday and reaching Machu Picchu … Charlotte fell asleep. That one drink turned to raving to techno with some Germans in our hiking boots and then sat on a bench until 10am watching the sun rise over Cusco. Sadly we don’t even know their names. Damn Kelly and her one more drink!  


I did actually venture out of Wild Rover hostel, Cusco is actually really pretty. I went to the markets which were great and super cheap. I love markets and go to them in every city usually.

We did go out for a meal the next night for Char bday, which then turned into another mad one, Charlotte decking it, us hugging dogs at 9am on the street while a Swedish photographer took photos of us and us 3 girls sharing a bed. The next day was pretty grim, we said goodbye to Kelly and I was massively hungover. It was sad saying bye to Kelly, it’s been up and down with the girls but she’s a lovely person and overall we’ve had a blast. Sunday night one wine turned into another stroll in when the sun had come up. I decided it was time for me to leave Cusco and my hangover/ sad mood behind! 
Much love OTA xxx 

 Crossing the border from Ecuador to Peru by land

So this will be the first border we have crossed by bus. We flew from Colombia to Quito simply because I had read you need proof of onward travel to enter Colombia but they never even asked for it! So we debated going by boat to Peru but I wanted to visit south Ecuador and also I had read mixed reviews about it and there is limited information. Being young (ish, yes clinging on to the ish) girls it didn’t sound that safe or reliable for that matter so I decided to go by night bus.  The girls  wanted to fly but I refused to get anymore flights as they’re too expensive so they just got the bus with me. Its easy enough and I actually prefer a bus journey. 

So we decided to head south to Cuenca, Vilcabamba and get the bus from Loja. Which I have come to the final conclusion is pronounced Loha. See my post about my time in the above places as they are well worth visiting and made my time in Ecuador even more amazing and un forgettable and breaks up the journey down south. Talk about ending on a high. So we got the bus from Vilcabamba back to Loja which is about 1 hour and costs $1.50 and then got the 1pm night bus from Loja to Piura which costs $14 and you can buy the ticket in advance from the Movistar shop in Vilcamamba. It’s always better to get it in advance so you’re not worried about having to wait or miss the last bus. 

We reached the boarder about 4am and had to get a stamp out of Peru first from a small box like office, we had a bit of a tussle in the queue with an Ecuadorian family who pushed in but we won in the end. Make sure you take your hang luggage bag with you don’t leave it on the bus. Then you have to walk across the bridge, no one tells you where to go or what you’re doing you just follow other people and the bus waits for you after Peru immigration. It’s derelict and there are lots of mosquitos so be prepared! The Peru boarder was a young girl sat in a another box like office who didn’t speak a word of English and couldn’t find England/ Britain/ Unitied KIndgom wherever it is we’re from on her system. Charlotte started to freak a bit because it was her passport they were checking, but then she left it a minute and checked mine and it was all ok. Phew! All in all a bit dark and disorientated but pretty easy so don’t worry about crossing the boarder it’s simple. Remember to keep the immigration paper that they give you as all the hostels ask for it and you need it to exit Peru. THey forget to mention this at immigration, apparently you can pay for another upon exit of the country but it’s just easier to keep it safe. 

The bridge to Peru, maybe not quite what you expect from a country boarder. 

 

This is Charlotte and Kelly at the Peru immigration boarder… Very formal and security tight as you can see! 

 

When we got off the bus there were lots of rogue taxi men trying to tell us to go to another bus station but when we walked out we saw a bus company across the road called Sulluna Express, it cost £20 for a 14 hour bus journey to Lima and boy was it worth it. I am a sucker for a good bus anyway but this one was lush, it had full karma recylining leather seats, a free meal, blankets, a film (even if it was in Spanish with Spanish subtitles) and a toilet on the bus. Travelling in style, we didn’t want it to end! I would recommend the day in Puira there’s a Plaza (standard) with lots of shops and restaurants and we got an egg sandwich for 30p! 

All in all a smooth transition from Ecuador to Peru so don’t let people scare you, so far good impressions of country number 3 :) 

We spent 2 nights in Lima ate some amazing ice cream at an Italian place called Bosco Magico stayed at The Point hostel and partied a lot before getting a flight to Cusco when I’d had an hour sleep and we found Kelly still sat up drinking 1 hour before we had to leave… talk about a sketchy airport encounter. 


Much love OTA xxx

Finding our zen

We got our own private room in the yoga retreat which was really nice to be able to leave your phone on charge or your stuff unpacked (Kelly seems to shower the room with her belongings no matter if there’s 3 or 10 people in there ha. I put it down to the fact she has a shit bag that is also broken and only opens from the top). We got a nice meal I had pesto pasta and refrained from getting crepes with ice cream and chocolate sauce like the other 2. 

Both mornings we got up early and did yoga it was so nice and relaxing, I love yoga and it will be good for me after carrying the weight of a 6 year old child on my back for weeks. I found it really relaxing… even though on the second day there was a digger already working on the mountain. I did think well at least it makes a change from listening to my tinnitus! 

I wouldn’t class myself as an animal person I love wildlife and nature but people that know me know I don’t really like cats and dogs … However I love horses, always have and always will. I adopted 2 when I was younger because we couldn’t afford a real horse, I always used to go down to the horses on the fields near my house as well. My Dad once got offered a gypos old pony which we thought was a great idea but my spoil sport mum said she would divorce him if he brought that home! 

 

Anyway we did horse riding it was $30 for a half day where we trekked  up the mountain. My horse was called Carazon which means heart in Spanish. I fell in love with him immediately and if I was going to be a horse I would be this one. The guide was a local guy that owned the horses you could tell they were well looked after and he only took them out 3/4 days a week to give them   a rest. I’ve never done horse riding before and we just basically got on the horses and were given free reign (excuse the pun) and just trekked up the mountain. It was amazing I loved every minute. The girls got scared on the hills, Charlotte’s was a bit uncontrollable and she didn’t like going down or up the steep ones. My horse was so chilled and I was good at controlling it the guide even asked if I’d done it before as I was good. I am scared of heights but even faced with the sheer cliff edge and one slip from the horse and you’ve had it I wasn’t scared and trusted the horse 100% which I found bizarre as I wouldn’t have trusted myself on the edge! I’m the first  to admit that I’m shit at salsa but I think I have actually found something I am relatively good at🙂 Once at the farm we walked to the top of the mountain and the views were stunning. I had the best day and was so happy, I will never forget Vilcabamba and would definitely recommend the visit. 


I was sad to leave this place and Ecuador it’s just been amazing I knew I would love it I just had a good feeling about it. Next stop Peru. 

Much love OTA xxx

Hobos and workouts

It’s not all partying, hiking and buses (although some days it feels like it) sometimes we actually do get time to chill out and relax. After Banos we needed to head south to make our way to Peru and I wanted to go to Vilcabamba as it was recommended by an Ecuadorian to me. Most of your travelling is based on recommendations which I love. I had seen a Yoga retreat called Izhcayluma and I have been wanting to do Yoga since I got here as I do it back home. Firstly we had to bus it to Ambato and then unfortunately had to kill 6 hours until the 1am night bus… We went for a wonder and ended up getting Chinese. I got veg and noodles because I don’t tend to eat that much meat at home I like to be veggie sometimes. Kelly ate her weight in Chinese curry and spring rolls and took ages which for once we were glad of haha. Not sure where she puts it all as she’s so skinny! So I watched the last of season 2 Narco’s! Bloody loved it, watch it if you get chance, I hate Pablo Escobar after visiting Colombia and seeing the damage he did! We couldn’t drag it out anymore so headed to the bus station and them 2 napped like hobos, it was freezing so I was glad to have my top of the range North Ridge down jacket! (Which you can buy from Go Outdoors wink wink). Anyway the night bus was ok I was sat next to a randomer …they aren’t as comfy as Thailand night buses they only recline slightly but I still managed to pass out until 5am.  

According to Wikipedia it turns out that Charlotte and I are actually hobo’s so it’s a fair analogy not just an insult:

“A hobo is a migratory worker or homeless vagabond, especially one who is impoverished. The term originated in the Western—probably Northwestern—United States around 1890. Unlike a “tramp”, who works only when forced to, and a “bum”, who does not work at all, a “hobo” is a traveling worker.”

Well maybe we are a mix between hobo, tramp and bum! 

Anyway I stumbled across Cuenca because it was on the way and only read a little bit about it but turned out to be so much fun. We stayed at El Cafecito and after a night bus they let us check straight in at 8am and have a couple hours kip. We got nice coffee, $0.75 smoothies, I got to feed my market fetish and also got chance to workout finally! They went out for curry and if you know me you know how strange an eater I am, so my sister asked how skinny I was yet because every time I move away, Uni, Ibiza and Travelling Asia I go skinny…. Well this has not been the case, I have literally eaten chocolate everyday, had pizza, chips, so much rice and bread along with donuts, ice cream and an unbelievable amount of biscuits for bus snacks. I seemed to think I will die if I don’t eat a considerable amount of biscuits on a couple if hours bus journey. So anyway I’m now watching what I eat as I am conscious I am eating like a horse. So all I had was smoothie and then strangely went out bought Tupperware (shout out to all the Tupperware lovers!) and had granola, yoghurt and banana for tea. I was in my element.


 
 So the workout…. well it was the funniest workout I’ve had, me and Char jogged about 2 miles to the running track and Park, this almost killed me as I haven’t ran for weeks. Ecuador have only ever won one gold medal by a chap called Jefferson Perez in 1996 for speed walking. He is from Cuenca and he used to train in Canoa on this track so we thought it was rude not to, there were loads of locals speed walking so we even tried that! Apparently after his win he embarked on a 459 km pilgrimage, walking, jogging and running from Quito to his hometown of Cuenca…No funily  enough we didn’t attempt the pilgrimage, the weird hip swinging speed walk around the track was enough for us! Check out my videos on Instagram … Char was so funny and so were Jean and Sandra on the hip swingers… Watch my video on insta! WE also had great coffee, today was a really good day :) 


We had the best bus ride watching a film about James Brown on Char’s tablet, finally got use of my dual headphone adapter, amazing if you don’t have one get one they’re about £2 off eBay! Listened to some music from Fleetwood Mac, Kendrick Lamar to Rip Tide, variety is the spice of life and Apple music is ace it means I can download a different album for every journey! It’s only £9.99 a month and well worth it. 2 guys from Hull were like now that’s a familiar accent, they were working in Villcabamba. (Sorry but I say guys one we weren’t sure if it was an ugly girl or a feminine boy, again I am concerned I may cause this confusion to people… Time to paint my nails I think!)
Much love OTA xxx

Montanita and Banos

We decided to head to the beach after volunteering to chill and also party… We definitely did just that. 

Montanita

To sum up the few days we had here, party, Narco’s and Sushi. We stayed in Iguana hostel which was a good balance of meeting new people but being chilled at the same time. Obviously with there being Americans there they just wanted to play beer pong, we don’t really get drinking games, we don’t mean to get smashed it just happens so games only make it much worse! 

So this it why it was called Iguanas hostel…

 

We had a pamper day where Charlotte died her hair and we both died our eyebrows… This made me look slightly less of an egg with eyes at least for a week or so!



I absolutely love Sushi but I rarely have it because I don’t think it’s filling for what you get and pay. However we paid $5 each in the hostel and luckily there was only me and Charlotte had it in the end and we got a shit tonne of Sushi it was amazing we even had some left over for the next day to eat hungover! Even better still when we checked out the owner said she wasn’t charging us because the new guy had made it and it wasn’t up to her perfectionist standard as she’s a chef. We said we would pay but she insisted and said she had also made the guy leave, oops! 

We met some nice people here and the owner didn’t want us to leave because she said we were so much fun. After heavy partying it was definitely time to leave! (I feel like this becomes a bit of a regular occurrence). Plus it was cloudy so there’s no point beating at a beach town where there’s no sun. 

Next stop adventurous Banos….

Swing at the end of the world…

We took the hiking option which took us about 3 hours steep uphill with no sign posts or very limited. It felt like a while since we had done any hiking so it killed me. We eventually thought we had reached the swing yayyy. We then decided this wasn’t THE swing but an imposter swing, this happened about 3/4 times and I was so close to giving up when we eventually found THE swing at the end of the world. Don’t give up its worth reaching La Casa Del Arbol where there’s 2 swings and a tree house, either push on through the pain or simply just take the bus! 

Photos of the imposter swings…


Photos of the real deal

White water rafting

I’ve always wanted to do white water rafting the girls weren’t that bothered but they did it because I did. They hated me at the beginning when the guide was telling us all about what to do when you fall in and if you fall under the boat and how not to put your legs down or they’ll get scratched on rocks…. They loved it in the end. We had so much fun on it and didn’t fall in once, in fact only one boat capsized and we were the life raft that saved them (hashtag winging team) one of the girls was erm chubby to say the least and bless her she was as pale as a ghost it took a couple guys to get her on board and she looked like a beached whale. (Sorry).


We met a nice bunch of people here and yet again partied too hard all weekend. It rained on our last day and we were too hungover to do any extreme activities so me and Charlotte just met up with a couple friends from volunteering and had amazing pizza which was really nice. Then we travelled to Ambato and got a night bus to Cuenca. 

What Kelly did next… Yes it’s been quiet on the clumsy front, but Kelly used my mirror without asking and smashed it, accident I know. So she kindly said I could have hers….Which she then also smashed the following day. 

Much love OTA xxx