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

Montanita and Banos

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


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 did it because I did  and 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…. 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 guys 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

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. So 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… Need I say anymore! 

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. (I say guys one I wasn’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

All Hands Volunteering

I have always wanted to volunteer and help out after a disaster so when I heard from my friend Michael that there was a project in Ecuador I thought it was meant to be and decided it was a must to add on to my trip. The girls didn’t really want to volunteer so I said I wanted to go on my own and thought it would be good to split up and have some time apart but they didn’t like the idea so came with me. I said no moaning or arguing and they were both great to be fair and I was glad they came in the end. 

We got the night bus from Quito to Canoa which was the bumpiest and worst ride yet and took 2 hours less than expected a so we got dropped off in what felt like the middle of nowhere at 5.30am. Luckily there was a French girl that was going to meet her friend so she showed us the way to the hostel (she actually took us to Coco Loco and not the Coconut hostel but it was good enough for us. We waited it out like hobos in the garden until it got light and then hitched a lift to the right place up the road. 

The first day we were just at base clearing an overgrown area to make a garden for the staff and tidying and cleaning up base. Afterwards we went in the sea and fell asleep on the beach as we were exhausted. All the staff came back from the day at work and we had to do the whole cringy stand up say your name, where you’re from, why you came etc etc. Everyone at All Hands seemed so nice and welcoming, there’s the odd one on a power trip but I guess you get that everywhere you work. 

The second day we had to get up at 6am to have breakfast and leave by 7am. It was good that us 3 girls were split up into different teams so that we could meet new people. First task I was handed a machete and told to shave the excess off the bamboo to make it flat…I mean yes course I can do that no problem… I was then asked how good I am with a saw… I was like erm well since the few times I used a saw in wood work classes about 12 years ago I would say my saw skills are average. Actually though I wasn’t half bad at it, better than I was at using the machete! I was helping out a girl to finish the walls, drilling and cutting and climbing the scaffolding. It amazed me at what they allowed us to do but the house looked great and was extremely well built. Apparently they last 25 years, they have an upstairs and a separate toilet building out the back, they’re actually really nice and the bamboo structure looks cool. I made a school boy error and went to use the temporary toilet which is a hole in the floor but it absolutely stunk and had all maggots and flies in it, it was disgusting. I was like ewwwww how do they even use that, the volunteers were like yeah it’s rank just go in the bushes! The people who’s house we were building were staying in a temporary shelter next to the new house and cooked us dinner which was really nice. 

On the Saturday we took part in the Olympics games which obviously was held in honour of the recent Olympics in Brazil. It was fun we did loads of different things like javelin and shot put. I think I pulled a ligament being as competitive as I am! (Being competitive and being good are 2 different things can I just add!)  After this we all went out in Canoa and stayed in a hostel because the volunteering place has an 11pm curfew. I got royally fucked up and my Hong Kongnese friend had to drag me back to the hostel which I am very thankful for and apparently neither of us could get the key in the lock. I then spent the next few hours of the morning with my head down the toilet and woke up with no pillow or blanket and Kelly in my bed… Dis-grace never learns!  Sunday was our day off so a very hungover bunch of us went for breakfast and then chilled out all day. 

We decided to head to Manta until Friday where there was another smaller project building a community centre. It was the best decision we had made, we stayed in a tent but it was comfier than being 3 of us on an air bed so when one moved we all moved. The work wasn’t with bamboo but with wood. So straight away we were using power tools, varnishing and hammering wood. We got a lot done and it was hard graft but the team was great and much better being smaller so you could get to know everyone. The base is in the grounds of a church and the vicar guy was clearly gay and so camp but he was so lovely and welcoming. We all played bingo with the church goers, luckily I understand Spanish numbers and I won the base some mugs and saucers woop woop.

 At Manta the staff cook the meals so you take it in turns to be on house keeping. Me and Kelly got put on together which I wasn’t happy about because neither of us can cook. In the morning we cleaned the base and as I was cleaning the toilet and emptying toilet paper bins I thought Jesus I hope you’re watching you better bloody love me for this I could be on a beach somewhere! Neither of us are great at cooking and the most I have ever cooked for is about 5 so cooking for 15 was going to be a challenge. We decided to cook fajitas as that and lasagne is the only thing I am good at. We had a budget of $43 so we went to the market and someone had said go to the back for the chicken… For a second I was faced with the below image and thought omg I am going to have to kill a chicken! Then we looked round and saw luckily this was not the case, but I still had to stick my hand up the chickens backside and pull out the giblets while it had a head and feet still intact, I was gipping and everything it wasn’t a nice experience! I was doing all the bartering because negotiating is part of  my job as a buyer and my Spanish is better than Kelly’s. I said to her ok you look for an avocado…she pointed at a water melon and went hey I’ve found an avocado… Needless to say I took charge of the task haha. With a shaky start I think I did well and everyone liked the food. So we are no Delia Smith and Nigella Lawson but I think we made a good team in the end. 

I wasn’t well the next day and literally it took everything I had to varnish as I had no energy, I just crawled into my tent after work and slept for hours. I felt bad not being sociable seen as though CHarlotte and Kelly were and they hadn’t even wanted to do the volunteering but were thoroughly enjoying it by the end. If you know me well you know that I am a strange one and go through phases where I need to be alone and can’t be social especially if I am really tired. I envy them in a way that they can always be around people but I just like to be on my own reading sometimes. I enjoy my own company what can I say! The next night we went to watch the Ecuador Brazil football game after work which was so much fun! THe girls get so dressed up and there are so many people out watching it, good team and community spirit I wish England was more like this!

We were meant to be leaving on the Friday morning so we said bye on Thursday night…. The girls wanted to stay for tea Friday as some friends from Canoa were coming and cooking… I thought it was too late but I couldn’t be bothered to disagree so we stayed… We then said our goodbyes again and headed off for the bus to Montanita… It was gone 7pm and the buses had stopped so with out tails between our legs we headed back to base to stay the night. We ended up smashed on Rum so I was happy I had had a send off that night and made up for being in bed the day before! I also felt so much better, I’d had a rash on my chest and neck so was worried it may be something more serious but luckily I was ok after sleep and rest. Char was on hair dressing duties so she cut 2 guys hair and corn rowed mine, I love it! So third time lucky we said our goodbyes and headed for Montanita. Time to chill and party now yayyyy it’s well deserved! 

If you get chance I would love it if you can donate please as we are nearly at our target!

Much love OTA xx

Cartagena to Medellin 

After the lost city trek we headed to Cartagena I took the easy option so the guys didn’t moan and we went in style on a $60,000 (Peso) air conditioned mini bus. I always feel like I’m cheating when I take the tourist option and not the local buses but I just wanted an easy life today as I was exhausted. We all sat separately so that we could be with ourselves, I think we had seen enough of each other on the trek. I got sat next to an old Spanish guy and we had a broken Spanish conversation, we seemed to have a right laugh but I had no idea what he was talking about jajaja! 

Cartagena Old Town

So anyway we stayed at La Villana in the old town, the hostel is really cute with hammocks and it has a really friendly chilled out vibe. I got recommended this along with a lot of other things from a friend I am grateful to and strangely miss. The town itself is so pretty, cultured and full of life. I felt safe walking around in the day and at night which was such a nice change to Santa Marta. 

There are loads of little shops and restaurants and horses and carts going around the town. We went for a meal which was really nice I had prawns and they had steak. Then we went out of the tiles for a proper night out. I probably drank too much of the two for one cheap drinks in the hostel and felt a bit pissed so calmed down after that, we went to a roof top party and I was talking to some Brazilian guy being friendly as you do, when he just stuck his tongue down my throat. Luckily he was cute but it was unexpected and unwanted! We then went to Eivissa rooftop bar on the Plaza and managed to swindle our way in for free… A smile goes a long way in any language! We seemed to be palming unwanted guys off left right and centre, well I was trying to dodge them at least. Turns out most of the women were prostitutes so the guys were making a beeline for us because luckily they knew we weren’t looking for guys to pay us for sex. (We do it for free, jokes). The next day I got up early and went to the beach on my own. I definitely needed some alone time, I had the best day I went to the beach and got table service with a sun lounger, had calamari and beers (which my mate in England said is apparently very British) I made Bezzies with the waiters and got talking to some locals who ended up giving me sweets as they were on family vacation. I also people watched and then walked back as the sun was setting it was such a fun day…. I decided to leave the girls to go out that night as I didn’t feel up to it and when I’m in one of them moods the last thing I want to do was interact. It turns out they fell out so I am glad I didn’t go as I would have been in the middle, I however got a full 8 hours sleep, smug or what. 

Mud Baths

So the next day me and Charlotte went to the mud baths, Kelly didn’t wake up, it was for the best though I think they needed time apart. The baths were the strangest thing ever, you go in in your bikini into this clearly man made volcano and loads of people all fumble about bumping into each other and there are Colombian men massaging you, and before you ask no, they aren’t even fit! I was really freaked out saying no no massage, so they leave you alone, it felt strange but it was funny and we met lots of people. Then you climb out and these women wash you down in front of everyone get really into all your cracks and crevices, she literally pulled my pants to the side at one point I jumped back in shock and hoped no one saw! Then we went for dinner where we had classic Colombian food, fish and rice with fried plantain which I enjoyed and then got time to swim in the sea and wash the remains of the mud off! That night we got a flight with our new mate Boscow to Medellin, unfortunately the flight was delayed so we had airport beers instead of going out in Medellin.

I instantly loved Medellin it’s down in between mountains and yours ears pop you go so low down. The taxi driver was playing electro and house music so I had a good feeling about the place. We stayed at Palm Tree Hostal and got a private room for the same price whoop, I loved it because it was cute and they were so friendly but it was a bit out of the way. I did feel a bit bad but the girls daren’t moan much because I do all the planning and hostel booking. 

Day 1 walking tour and techno

We went and met Bosco and had baileys ice coffee and these pizza cones which were corn cones which were lush. Then we went on a walking tour which I found so incredibly interesting, the guy doing the tour was a Paisa himself which means he’s from Medellin. He was really honest and we could ask him anything we wanted. Although we learned that they hate Pablo Escobar, he brought so much death and destruction to the country, we had to refer to him as the famous criminal or Harry Potter style he who must not be named. So you should definitely watch Narcos on Netflix it’s ace and it helped me to relate to things in history he was talking about and showing us. Basically the famous criminal kidnapped his uncles and also killed some of his friends (not personally but during his reign of terror) and he may have helped a couple of hundred poor people but that was nothing compared to the thousands that he killed and the childhoods he took away from so many because of how dangerous a place it was to live during that time. However he didn’t suggest that killing him was the answer and that it made the country any better because it didn’t up until 2002 when the country started to change for the better. He basically said that the Paisa people and Colombians in general have such a positive outlook on life and no matter what happens they look for the good in everything and will cling onto the tiny  bit of hope and happiness to make their life better. He then also said that his mum told him never to offer opportunity to people for them to steal from you and told us to put out bags on our front as we were entering a dodgy area where people were smoking things worse than crack and sniffing all sorts of substances. People watching at its best! We also ate the best panadas during this tour. Anyway then we went out round the bars and to Calle 9+1 which is a techno club. It was ace we partied until the sun came up… I feel it was a very fun day and had sampled a lot of local produce, which is always fun when you’re in another country right. 

(The guide in the photo is Juan and he is a Pasai from Medellin. He is so passionate and such a lovely person and I would highly recommend doing the real city walking tour)


(An artist made this sculpture to stand in a new area made specifically to restore the area and hold gigs and music concerts as it was rough and not well looked after. Unfortunately during the first gig someone set off a bomb and blew up the sculpture killing several people including a child and an unborn baby. Several parties claimed the bombing and to this day no one knows who it was, the artist made another sculpture but insisted the old one remains so that they never forget what happened and the people that were lost. The bird signifies the new life and new beginning of Colombia.)

Day 2 Guatape and the big rock

Soooo when you’re really hungover and had about 2 hours sleep you should get a 2 hour bus journey and then climb a massive rock with a massive hill and then 740 steps to the top in the boiling heat right? Well actually yes that’s right, it was such a fun day. I was so glad we didn’t take a tour and did what I said and just made our own way there, it’s so easy to navigate the metro and it’s like less than 3000COP to go as many stops as you want. Then the bus was easy too and the scenery was great. It was difficult walking up the rock and again being scared of heights is never easy but I love a challenge. The view from the top is out of this world and well worth the climb up. After we went into the little town of Guatape which is the cutest thing ever, it’s like a little town that’s stuck in time located by this reservoir. I imagine it’s one of them places where people don’t leave and outsiders don’t move there. It was Bosco’s last supper with us so I pushed the boat out and got steak but I felt so guilty (about 6 English pounds so don’t judge me too much) then we got this jumbo chocolate for the bus home which if you go Colombia you’ll love it! We didn’t get back until late so we didn’t go out. Unfortunately the girls fell out back at the Hostal, I feel so in the middle and thought that this was our time to part ways. I’m all about peace and love so just want an easy life :( 

Day 3 Game Day

OMG this was the best thing ever I had so much fun, dare I say too much fun considering we had a night bus to catch! (Much to the girls dislike as they later said they’d Said don’t mention the bus to Grace so we can stay another night and go out). We all bought t-shirts and bracelets and sat out drinking beers while all the fans arrived. Unfortunately they didn’t serve beer inside, they don’t at the football due to fighting already being an issue, I love this idea so it makes it more about the football than the piss up like in England. Although I’ve been told they get coked up before the game, they would have to because they don’t stop singing for the whole 90 minutes it’s unreal. They also hang off the balconies holding onto nothing but the flags it’s so dangerous. The atmosphere is just amazing like nothing I have seen before. We sat as close to the fan stand as possible and sat chanting and dancing for pretty much most of the game, we were supporting Atletico National who scored and won 1-0 yayyy team. If you ever visit Colombia I would highly recommend this it was the best thing I did, stuff the tourist things and planned days out, this was real Colombia and I Loved every minute. That was until the game ended everyone disappeared and reality hit, ok so do we pay £12 for a night bus or spend at least £100 for a flight, 1 more night in a hotel all for 1 more night out in Medellin. Yes my time was cut shorter than I wanted but the sensible girl in me said Grace it’s time to leave. I told them to stay and genuinely didn’t mind going on my own but they knew I was right and followed. The bus was like I said £12 to Bogota and took like 8 hours it went so fast and we slept most of the way. I am so sad to be leaving Colombia but I feel that one day I will return. But for now Colombia adios. 

Airport Day

I came away from Colombia thinking nothing but peace and love and realised that I just need to be happy! So this was it I said right I am off to volunteer when we get to Ecuador I can’t cope with you two moaning and arguing so it’s time we spit up and did our own things as its ruining my travels, it’s a lot harder than I ever thought travelling with 2 girls, one of which I have only just met. I am very laid back and hate any conflicts, Kelly is really nice and Char has been my friend for years so I love her but together they just clash. It was a long day when the flight was delayed so we spent 12 hours in the airport and in total 29 hours travelling. Time spent unknown where they would go when we split up…. Only time will tell. 

Much love. OTA xxx

Cuidad perdida

We got told to use the company Expotur to do the Cuidad Perdida trek with and I would recommend using them. (That’s if you still want to brave the trek after hearing my account of events, I can’t say I would do it again given the chance but it was a great experience). It works out at about £180 and they have trips running everyday so you can always get booked on just register online or call into their office which is located in the centre of Santa Marta, it’s easy to find, they like you to have paid in full before the trek so they don’t have to wait around. We stayed at La Villana which is literally around the corner and is chilled out but you can meet people there is a pool and chill out area so I would recommend to stay here to get a good nights sleep before the trek! 

Day 1 of the trek… Is it too late for a refund?! 

We had a bumpy car journey to the start then we sat having a meal and watched the people returning from their trek, well they looked a bit deshevelled and glad to be back but it was too late we were knee deep and couldn’t turn back now! After the first corner it was all uphill and I instantly thought what the hell have I done. Luckily you get use to it after a bit. Then the rain came and the path turned to a muddy land slide and I fell down the hill. People were slipping and sliding everywhere. No one prewarned us about the rain and the mud so be warned it is horrendous whether you are going up or down a hill when it’s muddy and raining there’s no good way to go! We finally reached camp at about 5pm, went in the lake and tried to clean off and had a game of cards then very unsociably went to bed as we were all so tired. 

(These 2 translators were lovely and clearly had a bit of a thing going on)

Day 2 of the trek… We actually paid for this punishment 

A 7 hour hyke today which included a straight 1 hour uphill struggle that tested us to our max….But the worst was yet to come. 

It was like something out of a movie and with torrential rain in the jungle like Forest Gump or Jurassic Park, it felt like life or death to get across the river. It was the worst the guides had ever seen it and the rain was relentless it was torrential, there was thunder and lightening and we later heard one group got electrocuted but were all ok. We lost the guides and were split up into twos, we them managed to make it into a 4 and then a 6, we almost took the wrong route but saw the guide stood by the river. Holding onto each other we waded through waist deep water across a fast flowing river in the down pour, Charlotte said oh what about my stick, it’s you or the stick, fuck the stick! We linked hands and made it across, we then had another mammoth hyke and eventually reached another fast flowing crossing but this time there was only 6 of us and no guide so reluctantly we waded across again holding on shouting down the line like Chinese whispers when it got deeper or stronger current, it was scary and exciting and we felt like true adventurers. A lovely polish guy helped us all out, we continued the hyke on slippy rocks and finally made it back to camp. Apparently the guides had been worried because the river has never been so high or fast, we bonded in fear and felt like we had acheived something with the day. We were all hyped and excited to see the lost city on the next day but little did we know that yet again the worst was still yet to come. 

(The photos above are from when the river was tame, unfortunately I couldn’t get my camera out the rain was that bad. Someone took a Go Pro video which I will post at a later date!) 

Day 3 Possibly THE worst day of my life…

Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse you get to day 3 with sickness and the shits. I literally had about 2/3 hours sleep I was on the top bunk up and down up and down all night… Omg how could I get through the day when everyone started getting up at 5am I just couldn’t move… I shouted the girls and they were the same. (Luckily all 3 of us were the same so we could stick together). It was horrendous Kelly was crying, they were both sick and then argueing and the camp had run out of water. I’m quite a tough cookie but this was something else! Saying that, we were determined to make the 1 hour hike up steep steps to ciudad perdida, the whole reason we had started this encounter. They ran out bottled water at the camp and we think the purified tank water is what gave us all the shits because everyone was fine off food so I would definitely recommend taking purifying and rehydration tablets. Imagine being ill and all you want to do is curl in a ball but instead with no water only bloody Gatorade we had to hike steep steps which scared me because I’m scared of heights. Once at the top we were promised toilets and water, I thought I was going to die Kelly had to shit in a bush and use a leaf and they had no water only beer at the top! If there was a hell it would resemble this day. Someone asked if it was worth it we all scowled no. At that time I couldn’t care less about the lost city which is a shame as I love things like that, but I honestly thought I was going to die. After a scary walk back down a man slipping and a massive rock nearly smashing Kelly on the head we made it back to the bottom camp had half hour nap in the hammock and set off on 2 hour trek to the next stop… Still with no water and the shits in the boiling heat. Luckily we got a horse to carry our bags to the first stop which was our water stop yayy that’s what kept us going…. Much to our distress they didn’t have any bottled water either, more Gatorade for me. If I see another bloody Gatorade it will be too soon! I actually honestly didn’t think I was going to make it back, Kelly was white as a ghost, it literally took everything I had in my mind and body to get through the next couple of hours. The tour guide Enrique was really nice to us but he walked ahead and disappeared so we were 3 girls clinging on to life in the jungle, we kept each other going though and although we had fallen out earlier I think we bonded over near death. I am not exaggerating when I say it was probably the hardest day of my life… Made harder by being with people that done get on😦

(This is us not giving a shit about the history or the lost city thats not bloody lost anymore. I couldn’t even muster a smile and that’s not usual for me! Not my strongest look Ill be honest, I better had lost weight from the trek is all I thought).

Finally we made it back to camp and the rain held off, Enrique found a turkey and brought that back too. He’s great he can make cat and turkey noises and interacts he’s like doctor Doolittle. Thank god they had water, it wasn’t cold but they had it! Everyone cheered for us and then also a guy came back after that had the same problems as us and said it was the hardest challenge of his life and he’s done trekking in a lot of countries an poor conditions. We felt like we had accomplished something and all we could do now was to pray for a good night sleep and no more dodgy stomachs. Dear God, see above, amen.

Day 4, the final furlong… Am I selling it? 

Luckily for us we got a decent sleep and our stomachs were OK. Our only issue now was exhaustion and the heat, it was hard but all I could think was at least I didn’t feel like I was going to die like the previous day so the only was is up. It seemed to take longer than we expected to get back and the thought of more rice and chicken was a bit overpowering for us. Anyway we made it back and got a massive cheer from the group. All that mattered was that we weren’t the last people back thank god! I met some lovely people and will keep in touch with the English couple, pushed myself harder than I thought was possible and proved that I can do anything I put my mind to….I also proved that I am tolerant and good at counting to 10 haha. Oh yes and of course the views weren’t half bad too! 

(This was our group, such a nice bunch, with the tour guide Enrique in the middle)

Just another note a polish/ French Canadian couple that helped us cross the river, gave us strong tablets do and rehydration sachets also offered to help carry our bags and were very caring I was so choked up I think at times like that you see how amazing and kind people can be and I’m literally almost crying at how nice people have been to us. The English couple and Australian couple were all so lovely and concerned for us and I am eternally grateful for their help and support. 

So with all the above in mind, happy trekking don’t let me put you off! It’s a pain you forget and I am a sucker for punishment, it’s on my bucket list to do the Inca Trail so that’s what I will do. Personally I would say just do the Inca and spend more time exploring Colombia or sunbathing! But that’s just me. Ciao. 

Much love OTA xxx

Santa Marta and the Caribbean Coast

On the way into the centre Charlotte saw a man being held at knife point, in the daylight so it was a good start. We heard of quite a few muggings while we were there and people being held at knife point. Most could have been avoided like 2 girls going out to the bank in the dark and one guy going out on his own in the dark on the street so just be careful and don’t carry much money or belongings out with you. We stayed at La Brisa Loca, we wanted to meet people and party… boy did we get just that. Only stay there if you want to party, it’s a great way to meet people but they have this wheel that they spin and you get dares like drinking a shot from someone’s belly button, make a mangina and get your tits out. I had to do a few and so did Charlotte. 3 days hard partying here was enough, there were tears and arguments and one of us nearly ended up in hospital and got the bar closed down… We don’t speak of this incident unless you were there… Personally I think Santa Marta centre leaves a lot to be desired and I wouldn’t spend longer than 2 nights here. The staff at the hostel are really nice and the rooftop terrace is pretty cool but we didn’t feel safe enough to venture out far other than to a few shops, so forgive me if there’s a lot more to do! 

What Kelly did next…. So she disappeared for hours and then lost her handbag. She’s also sprained her wrist somehow. 

Cheat Night
We got a bus up to near Tayrona park and unfortunately there were no spaces at the hostels so much to my upset and much to their relief we had to stay in a luxury hotel which cost us £22 each for the night! I know don’t judge me we had no choice and I couldn’t face trying any more hostels and seeing their disappointed faces when I came back and said no, yes they aren’t the most laid back travellers ever but they’re getting better! 
Not a lot to report on this luxury 4 star hotel, a beautiful pool and on the beach the room was luxury with a kitchen and air con… So we went to bed at 8! Well needed rest, that’s enough about the cheat night.

Tayrona National Park
Whatever you do make sure that you’ve drawn some money out before you go to Tayrona because the closest ATM is in Santa Marta. Also second point, DO NOT take your big rucksack, we left ours at the hotel overnight and just took our day pack. It costs $42,000 to get into the park and I would recommend that you get there early, we got there for about 9. You then listen to some instructions in Spanish that you don’t understand, make sure you get the bus to the starting point it only costs $3000 which is about £1  otherwise this walk would take you about 45 minutes. Take some water and snacks, they have men selling water and lollies along the way but it could be a while before you reach this. Don’t fall at the first hurdle and give in and check into the first lot of hammocks. It takes about 45 minutes to get to this first point and it’s tempting to just settle here, the waves are too choppy and it’s well worth carrying on for a bit longer (another 45 minutes). It was touch and go whether Kelly would make it, but she pulled through. It’s not very well sign posted and there’s a horses route or a human route but which ever one you take you’ll make it eventually so don’t worry. Make sure you take in the scenery and the walk as its picturesque but you kind of forget due to the exhaustion walking in the sun. 

What Kelly did next… She forgot to bring any money to the park so we had to lend it her, massive travelling faux par! Also left her sandals so had to go back to the park for them…. 

Costeno Beach

It was now time to chill out on the Caribbean coast and have a well deserved relax. We stayed at the much more relaxed sister hostel of La Brisa Loca, La Brisa Tranquilla just next to the surfer hostel Costena Beach, that one was fully booked for nearly 2 weeks so book it well in advance just encase. La Brisa Tranquilla was only £8 a night, we weren’t happy at first our beds were on the porch of the dorm so out in the open and had mosquito nets. I complained that we didn’t have a fan, plug sockets and a safety deposit box like the beds inside did, Charlotte also complained… The next day they had electricians in and fitted them all for us! Talk about customer satisfaction. The staff were really nice and on the second night we got smashed on rum and sat up drinking with the owners of the La Brisa hostels and rated and slated their properties, it was good fun, I can’t remember getting to bed and was definitely still drunk when we had breakfast.

(The photo is a slightly rum drunk, me, Kelly and Charlotte with the American owners Ryan and Evan, talk about ballets with an amazing life just flitting from one hostel to the next socialising and relaxing by their private pool! Yes I probably am trying to steal his vodka) 

 I’ve finished my first book called The Sister, it was ok I would probably give it a 6. Someone saw a snake near our beds as well and we got bit to shit by mozzis, but I was so relaxed and didn’t want to leave. Time to part ways with Henry and Hamish our Columbian little brothers that we took under our wing. Back to Santa Marta for one night for a subway, shower and good night sleep before the torturous Cuidad Perdida. We stayed at La Villana Hostel, it’s a good location just round the corner from Expotur for the trek and has a good chilled out vibe but vibrant enough to meet people. (Not that we were interested in that tonight) hashtag unsociable traveller! 

What Kelly did next… Sorry to disappoint you today, other than loosing her dry bag, forgetting to take her bank card to Expotur office to book the trek and getting blisters from sunburn she’s getting better I’m glad to say :) 

Much love, OTA xx

First stop…Bogota 

We were worried about it being a bit dodgy around Bogota and although I wouldn’t wonder about at night unless I was in a group, the day is safe and there are lots of police around so we didn’t feel worried for a moment.

After a slow morning of Charlottes first experience in a hostel not being able to switch the light on until about 10.30 she wasn’t happy fumbling about in the dark. I got forced into a conversation still delirious about the room, I know basic Spanish words but they speak so fast. I would recommend taking a Spanish class or getting a CD to listen to and learn in the car, I did both and so glad to have the basic knowledge. We stayed at Hostel Sue Candelaria in La Candelaria area, the hostel is really nice and the woman that works there is very friendly and helpful even if we were probably having different conversations with each other! She’s so tiny and cute, she’s like the mother and just wants to help everyone out. All the staff were nice, the location ideal and wasn’t too loud but a great way to meet new people as there was always someone about. The breakfast was fresh juice, croissant, scrambled eggs and a mini cup of hot chocolate (already after 1 day I see a theme with mini hot drinks).

We did the graffiti tour which is free and they just ask for a donation at the end, they basically ask for $20,000- $30,000 peso and would probably look at you like shit if you didn’t pay so don’t be fooled by the ‘free’ part. We found it interesting and a good way to walk around and get our bearings in a group. It did last 2 and a half hours and you might loose the will to live slightly after hearing that each graffiti artist is ‘number 1 graffiti artist in Columbia’ that aside it’s definitely worth it and the graffiti/ art is unreal. 

On day 2 we went to Cerro de monsorrate which is a mountain that dominates the city centre of Bogota. The cable car is about $20,000 peso for a return ride and once at the top there is a church and a shrine. The views over the city are beautiful and apparently if you go in the afternoon you can watch the sunset and there are restaurants, shops and bars,we went in the day and unfortunately it was cloudy and rainy but I imagine it’s very romantic and quaint at night so I would definitely recommend that. 

 We had to go and meet Kelly at the airport because she was worried about getting a taxi on her own, this only cost around $60,000 for return taxi so don’t pay more than $30,000 peso for a taxi from the airport to Candelaria area. 

We went for food at El Gato Gris which is just around the corner from the hostel. I had pasta and the girls had steak which was all reasonably priced, maybe a bit pricey for a traveller on a tight budget but it was a one off because the night  before we had street food and a beer for $5,000 so we splashed out a bit! We were planning on only having a couple of drinks but then everyone was drinking in the hostel so we ended up going to a local club and having salsa dance offs with the locals which was great fun… Wasn’t so fun the next day when we had only had 2 hours sleep.

What Kelly did next…. So I’ve only known Kelly a few days and I already know she’s going to be a nightmare. In a funny way but still a nightmare, reminds me very much of Jenna that I travelled with last time! So day 2 and massively hungover she breaks the zip on her make up bag and on her ruck sack so we have to head out quickly to get her a new one. She then forgets several belongings in the hostel due to being in a rush…. I left my hat, gutted! I can tell this is going to be eventful already!

A bit of advice if you’re heading to Santa Marta up north get a flight as it was only £35, the bus price isn’t much different and apparently it takes forever because there is only one road and the traffic is ridiculous. 

Much love OTA xx

Adios amigos 

Saying goodbye is never easy and no one tells you just how hard it is to leave everything you know and love. Whether this turns out to be the worst decision of my life or the most amazing adventure it was something that I just had to do. My mum has always said do what makes you happy and just to follow my heart and dreams. Travelling and new adventures are what makes me the happiest so here goes!

My friends from work showed me so much love and put on a surprise party for me which I just didn’t expect. It was the things I love, a techno DJ, a buffet of Bourbon biscuits, salt and vinegar spiral crisps with loads of bottles of prosecco, I didn’t realise people were that bothered I was leaving so it was lovely. I will miss the job and the people so much and have loved every minute. I don’t have a bad word to say about Go Outdoors. I can’t not mention being a part of the 3 musketeers and will miss the crazy kids that are Ben the designer and Lauren my boss the Product Developer that should be Queen of the world by now! I will struggle to find colleagues/ friends like them I know that for sure!
I told myself I wouldn’t get upset but apparently in my leaving speech I sounded like Homer Simpson and then I was that high pitched that only dogs could hear me! 

I am eternally grateful to the people that made an effort to see me before I went, I got gifts, messages and cards and had such an amazing send off. I couldn’t see everyone as it seemed to go so fast and I was so stressed out. I worked right up until 2 days before I left. I went to Tramlines and spent too much time getting drunk rather than packing (You’ll come to learn this is typical behaviour of me) I did however manage to sneak in a cheeky date before I left…yes this wasn’t essential given me going away but it was fun, and I think our paths may cross again one day! It has made me realise who my true friends are and who I care about and will make the effort to see when I get back, some people surprise you how much they do or don’t care so it’s an eye opener! 

The little sister…. Well as far as sisters relationships go we have just that. We might argue and annoy each other but it’s soon forgotten and we don’t hold a grudge against each other. It’s a 90/10 ratio in her favour being a brat but she’s my little brat sister and I love her so much. We couldn’t be more different, I love to travel and love being away from home and going to raves…She however likes other things and I just hope that this time me leaving Spurs her on to travel. There is a massive world out there and I think it would do her good to see it as it has me. So if you’re reading this Beth…. Get saving and see the world because you won’t regret it! 


Packing was bloody horrendous, imagine packing for 5 months into one rucksack where the weather goes from 31 degrees Caribbean beach to freezing cold Inca Trail nights … My friend came round to try help but I think I was beyond help at this point. 17.1kg heavier looking like according to Charlotte a turtle on steroids the packing was done. The final send off was emotional and mine and Charlottes parents were upset (well my Dad stayed at home and said don’t be short of cash, but didn’t give me any, yes that’s the kind of worldly advice I get from my father, along with have a photo with your Nan she might not be here when you get back!) With our life on our backs we embarked on the mega bus journey to London…..

…. With an hour delay, a drunk man talking to and following us at the bus stop, 2 tubes, 1 train 1 bus, I helped 1 drunk tramp dwarf off the train who’s leg fell down the crack and I thought he was a goner but luckily an American man helped me …It was a slightly traumatic start but I felt like it was preparing us for what’s to come and the adventure ahead. Sitting down to desperadoes and dominos in the hotel, I finally felt like Columbia will be a walk in the park now :) 
Much love OTA xx