We are home!

Happy new year friends! I am a bit behind on the blogging scene, but I am making my return.

A lot has happened since our stay in the beautiful fishing village of Taganga until now. So now just a quick recap πŸ™‚

We had a crazy few days of travelling. Think 5 countries in 2 days. Hence exhaustion hit big time! We made our way from Columbia to Punta Del Este in Uruguay (via Peru, Panama and Argentina). A highlight of our short stay in Punta was catching up with our friends Loren and Ryan. We cooked dinner together

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Beached and posed with the (apparently) famous fingers, cool hey? But as you can see the sunshine never lasted long, the sky had other plans.

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That was the last of our beach days. We spent the next couple of days catching up on our sleep debt, getting caught and stranded in the streets in the bucketing rain and exploring the town by bus over this insane bridge infamously known as ‘Drunken Bridge’

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Another highlight of our stay here was celebrating New Year’s Eve. We dressed up, hopped on the bus and made our way to our friend Alex’s family, who live in Punta and invited us to spend New Years with them.

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We had a traditional Uruguayan barbecue (asado), where the meat is grilled over hot coals, with lots of patience and lots and lots of love

20130111-061138.jpgAlong with the meats we enjoyed delicious cheeses, insanely delicious sweet potato and potatoes stuffed with Roquefort cheese cooked on the asado, salad and traditional desserts. It was such a treat to experience this with such a warm and welcoming family. Thankyou!

After dinner, we brought the new year in with champagne and fireworks.

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People in the neighbourhood buy their own fireworks and light them at their a leisure. Sitting in the back garden watching these fireworks was incredible and we actually thought we were the center of it as they were happening 360 degrees around us

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The rest of the night involved hitting up a white themed apartment party (in our black and bright orange outfits) and then a longgggg walk home. Was a great night, good company and fun way to begin 2013!
Next we caught our last bus and boat back to Buenos Aires for a few days of unwinding, reflecting, debriefing, drinking, eating and enjoying the very last leg of our adventures. We ended with quite the bang! Josh had accumulated some points from work travel and managed to book us into the magical Park Hyatt hotel for our last 3 nights. Wow. Think showering without thongs, walking barefoot, FREE drinking water, a proper absorbent towel… It is totally the small things you take for granted when backpacking for three months.

The best hotel perk had to be the randomly spontaneous deliveries of fresh fruit πŸ˜‰
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We also enjoyed exquisite breakfast overlooking the gardens

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And complimentary champagne on our last night πŸ™‚

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But it was all over to quickly and after 4:45 wake up and 16 hour flight we arrived home VERY excited to see our families!!!

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And that brings us to the end of our amazing travel adventure. What a journey!

I feel truly blessed to have shared these incredible experiences with the love of my life. We laughed a lot, and cried a lot from laughing alot.

Before I finish up, I want to thank YOU, my friends (new and old), family, fellow travellers and fellow bloggers for following our journey through my little blog. During our trip My Love Affair with Running transformed into a travel sharing space and I will now continue blogging about my passion for fitness, food and healthy living, so I hope you continue to ride along with me.

On a side note, I am always looking for new products and experiences that can enrich my healthy living philosophy to try and share with my readers. If you have got any health, fitness or natural products you are interested in me Trying and Sharing, please Contact Me by following the link πŸ˜‰

360 degrees of beauty in Tayrona National Park

Following a blissful few days on the beautiful Playa Blanca we began planning the last stint of our Columbian adventures and we knew more beach time was what we were after. Enter Tayrona National Park. Beach, forest and seclusion. From the entrance you walk through the forest and stop and camp at the different beaches along the way.

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Josh’s name for me is ‘Stompy’ as (according to him) I ‘just walk’ without looking where I am going with my head in the clouds. This could have turned dangerous, apparently I missed stepping on this little man by just a few cms! Josh’s lengthy research suggests this was a Colombian Boa, and was about 7 feet long and thick!

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We weaved our way through forest and sand, reaching open areas with great views of the sea.

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We eventually arrived at El Cabo

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where we got our tent

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Made our standard tuna sandwich πŸ™‚

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And spent the rest of the day on the beach and exploring…

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Nothing better then sitting on a rock as the sky gently turns from blue to red to darkness, watching and listening to the waves go by

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The next morning, after an eventful storm night, we had breakfast, spent the morning on the beach and then headed to Arrecifes, where we would spend our second night. On the way we found coconuts and tried every possible method of cracking it open (without a machete). Failed.

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We got our tent and pretty much spent the rest our time

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Right over here…

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Real unspoilt beauty.

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Oh Caribbean, we are most definitely falling more and more in love with you!

Coffee fields and friends!

After being on the road and hearing stories from other backpackers, we knew we needed to make time to visit Columbia. So we shuffled around our plans and before we knew it we were on our way from Lima to Columbia! First stop Salento, the seriously beautiful coffee region, with a quaint and charming town.

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We stayed at a place 20 minutes walk out of town called La Serrana, an Eco farm and hostel.

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Such a peaceful and magical place, with panoramic views of the valley and mountains.

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Our stay here was going to be amazing no matter what as we met up with 2 friends from home, Jared and Ryan. It was great to catch up, drink, eat, share travel stories and enjoy being in this cool place together!

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Our first night got rolling with the delicious hostel dinner, some drinks and then we headed out to play the local game, tejo aka hit the gunpowder with a metal weight. Only in Columbia.

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The next morning we headed out to the Valle Del Cocora, all tightly squeezed into the jeep

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The views were breathtaking, ground muddy and fields green and lush.

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It was fun to be in the wet, rainy, muddy wilderness together

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And the highlight was of course paying a mysterious ‘park’ entrance fee in the middle of nowhere to a mans restaurant which came with a complimentary hot chocolate and cheese. FYI Break the cheese up and put in hot chocolate.

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After a tiring day, drenched and hungry we ate and relaxed then night time called for a poker game… Excuse the awkward pic but the runner up is staring right back at ya πŸ˜‰

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The next day we went to a local coffee farm, where we took a tour around the family run farm learning about the coffee plants and how they produce their coffee.

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Salento is the type of place you can really lift your feet up and be swept away by the slow-pace, tranquility and beautiful surroundings. It was so great to spend a few days here, surrounded by nature and great company πŸ™‚

Next stop Medellin! For those of you just tuning into our travels now, be sure to check out our travel page and of course foodies and runners feel free to stay and explore!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Peruvian delights

Welcome to Lima! After a crazy week in the jungle, where we celebrated Josh’s birthday, festivities continued with a well deserved scrub up, yum meals and comfy bed back in civilization πŸ™‚

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Our first night kicked off catching up with Diana and Sylvia from Lima who I stayed with when I was visiting a few years ago. It was so lovely to see them both and catch up on time gone by.

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After drinks we had a very special dinner as a birthday gift from Josh’s parents. We had a great meal and savoured every last bite.

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The highlight was for sure the ceviche which is a Peruvian speciality – fresh white fish marinated in citrus fruit and chilli. It was delicious!

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The rest of our stay in Lima involved walking the streets as we do; visiting the city centre which was buzzing with parades and festivities

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And then we headed to Lacomar, a cool open air shopping mall with restaurants and a great waterside view.

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Night time came around too quickly again, and we enjoyed a pisco sour at the hotel bar. Another Peruvian speciality consisting of pisco, lemon, sugar and egg white. Don’t judge till you try!

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Our night ended at a games room. Need we say more? We spent a lot of money getting these tickets… Which got us 2 packs of chewing gum, hello kitty hair clips and a small ball πŸ™‚

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A fun few days in Lima, but time to reacquaint ourselves with our backpacks and off to Columbia we go!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Volunteering in the Amazon Jungle

Next stop, Taricaya Conservation Lodge in the Amazon jungle! In 2009 I spent a month volunteering here here so I couldn’t wait to return this time with Josh.

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We caught an hour long long-boat to the lodge hidden deep in the jungle along the Rio Madre De Dios

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Arriving at the lodge, it was time to meet and greet the volunteers mosquitos, wasps, ants, bees and all the other lovely creatures. And of course it was time to get working! Our first morning job was feeding the animals.

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Taricaya takes in animals who are in need of care and rehabilitation with the ultimate aim of releasing them back into the wild. But for now, nothing beats a cuddle with these cheeky little things!

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These baby spider monkeys all have their own story of why they are here e.g. Kept as pet and seriously malnourished, lost their mother etc. it was great to see that many of the spider monkeys that were there in 2009 had since been released and are now living free and wild.

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Feel the love?

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Now this little fellow, 1 month old Theo, is the newest member to the Tarikaya Tapir family. He is the cutest, oddest looking creature on earth!

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We had fun cleaning out the tapir poo pool (on Josh’s birthday)

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One of the afternoon jobs at the new farm near the lodge is feeding the turtles which have been bred in protected area at the lodge to prevent hunters poaching the eggs to all in town. This project has been so successful and it was great seeing all the beautiful turtles! Here we are preparing their food which consists of extremely finely cut spinach, cabbage, carrots and chicken liver. We were sweating buckets here!

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But the turtles of all sizes enjoyed their meal

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And in return, we enjoyed playing πŸ™‚

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Another activity was animal enrichment where we made paper mΓ’chΓ© snakes and filled them with meat for the cats to practice their hunting. Loved seeing josh being creative πŸ˜‰

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Now in Tarikaya you feel as though you are taking risks all the time. Climbing the new animal enclosure (no adequate ladder of course) to continue on with the building is just one example. I never quite made it up…

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A few hours of machetting in crazy humidity takes it out of you!

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But other projects like butterfly catching and releasing are a bit more chilled

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As is picking mangoes that have fallen off the trees near the hammocks and devouring them… Knife not even necessary!

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Where ever you go here, there are animals! This man paid us a visit in the dining room.

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And Trumpy enjoys his regular tickle under his chin by the hammocks

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Other birds require binoculars and a 45m rickety canopy platform to be sighted.

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My favourite thing to do in the jungle is just to walk, listen to the sounds of the forest an enjoy the serenity.

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Night time in the jungle involved many games of cards

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And an awesome cayman catching session on the long boat with Stuart. He first gave us a talk about the creatures which are part of the crocodilian family and then we set out in silence and darkness on the long boat where he spotted, pounced and caught a cayman, showed us and released it.

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Finally, Josh got to play his long awaited soccer! Peruvians verse volunteers for a large coke. Peruvians won 10-9.

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And last but not least we celebrated a very special milestone in the jungle, Josh turned 25! Yummy dinner (home cooked food was well received by us)

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And then cake time…

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Followed by machetting the piΓ±ata πŸ™‚

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A birthday spent in the Amazon jungle, not bad ay?

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I just love this boy!

Plane is now taking off to Lima where we are super excited to scrub up, wear clean clothes, no insect repellant, use a dry, fresh towel and enjoy the city for 2 days before heading up to Colombia! Let the adventures continue…

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Sacred time, Sacred Valley

Music, colour, history, ruins and the warmth of the wonderful people. Welcome to Cuzco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas! Spending time chatting with Maximus on top of the mountain overlooking Cuzco was a highlight!

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We arrived in Cusco at 4:30am, unable to check into our hostel until 9:30am… What did we do? Walked the streets and awaited sunrise πŸ™‚ Feeling slightly on the lost and hungry side, we stumbled across a Novotel hotel and saw a mammoth buffet breakfast on offer. We decided to treat ourselves and made ourselves comfortable for a good few hours!

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Now Cuzco is the most charming city with cobble stone streets, narrow alley ways, beautiful green plazas and colonial style Cathedrals. We spent plenty of time walking the streets, having tea or a happy hour drink on the balconies of the little restaurants and bars overlooking the plaza

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But what I was most eager to do was head to the small town of Urubumba, where in 2009 I spent a month teaching English and living with a host family. We arrived in Urubumba and walked through the busy market place where they sell everything from live chickens to lambs, 100’s of different types of potatoes and corn, hard wares, clothes and everything else you can imagine.

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We then headed to some other markets, where we stopped for a fresh banana and mango fruit juice.

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Feeling fuelled and a bit anxious to approach the house of my host family, we walked down the street and immediately recognised the house and knocked on the front door.. Only to be greeted by the warmest hug and shrieks of joy of my host mother. It really was a very special moment! We sat down, had a drink and some fruit and chatted away. It was so lovely seeing her and laughing about how she taught me to hand wash my clothes and whip the clothes dry before hanging them on the line! Oh the memories!

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Arriving back in Cuzco we visited what was my favourite cafe, Jacks, and it still delivered the most amazing salad and warm delicious bread. Sarah, I thought of you every bite through πŸ™‚

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Cuzco has some great bars.. And happy hours

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we watched this guy play and he was amazingggg!

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Another special spot in the Sacred Valley is Ollantaytambo. We walked up the ruins here

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And enjoyed the beautiful view of the town.

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Sun got a bit much for this lad πŸ˜‰

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Now the highlight of visiting this region is going to Machu Piccu. I never went with this time as I had been before and it’s a bit of a splurge to do twice… So lucky Josh had a day free to himself πŸ™‚

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Can you spot the face in the mountain below???? Once you see it, you can’t escape it.

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Such a fun stay, but its over now and next stop 1 week volunteering at a conservation lodge in the Amazon JUNGLE! And guess who will be celebrating his 1/4 of century birthday…

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Jeep journey through salt

Our 3 day jeep ride from San Pedro de Atacama to Uyuni, Bolivia began at this humble office. Hola Bolivia!

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Passports stamped, jeep group formed and off we went. Our jeep consisted of Javier the driver, Josh and I, the 2 Brits Joss and Anthony, the Italian flight attendant Claudio and Iludie, our lovely French girl.

The first day we passed many coloured lagoons… From the white lagoon

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to the red lagoon.

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Slowly but surely the altitude was rising and i reckon between our group we experienced every possible symptom of acclimatising to the high altitude. After we arrived at our hostel in the middle of nowhere, dinner was served! Soup followed by mash, salad, hotdogs and the first of many rounds of concrete-style stale bread. Mm.

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After a rocky start to the morning, think being greeted by an overly friendly, giggling and presumably drunk driver we eventually got going.. Thank goodness for seatbelts. On a more pleasant note we enjoyed the shade of the rock tree πŸ™‚

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And then enjoyed lunch prepared by our sobered up driver

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After lunch (just casually) we experienced a tornado!!! Claudio and Iludie were standing right where it began and were swept into a pool of dust. Check out the shadow…

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Night two was spent at a salt hotel… Everything from the beds to the tables, chairs, walls and floors was salt

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The girls quickly made a new friend πŸ™‚ who reminded us of Tommy from Maipu

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Morning came around quickly.. Jeep packed and ready for our last day on the road

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We headed to the cactus island which is literally a random mountain of endless cacti of different shapes and sizes

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Ever seen a blue one???

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Our llama friends followed us from the cactus island into the salt flats

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Where the fun began!

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Followed by lunch on the salt flats πŸ™‚

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And a final group snap!

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Great few days.. thanks to an awesome group, beautiful scenery, well functioning jeep and a driver-who-got-no-tip

Next stop La Paz!!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Enjoying the desert life

We have journeyed from big cities like Buenos Aires and Santiago, hiked up an active volcano covered in snow in Pucon, relished the smells and tastes of Maipu just outside of Mendoza, trekked and camped Torres Del Paine and the list goes on. But now friends it is time to share our latest adventures in the Chilean desert town of San Pedro de Atacama…

Presenting our hostel, our cozy haven which began as a 2 night stop over stay and rapidly transformed into to an awesome 4 night desert experience.

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The town quite simply has a special touch. The streets are sandy and lined with tourist offices, restaurants, mini-markets and huddles of people waiting to board their collectivo and begin one of the many morning/afternoon/evening tours on offer.

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We don’t usually do the group tour type of thing, but in this town it is what you do. The more you book the better deal you get, and it is the easiest way to see the coolest places. Our first tour was visiting the Valle de la Luna. Awesome natural sculptures formed over millions of years..

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We watched the sunsetting over the landscape which was beautiful!

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Next day, 4am wake up “what the hell have we gotten ourselves into?”

This… Sunrise at the mind blowing El Tatio (the geysers) which means ‘old man crying’ in Quechua

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and by the way, temperature update: -11.5 degrees Celsius

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As the sun continued rising, we huddled around the geysers where the hot steam offers welcome warmth

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Our guide began explaining how the steam comes for the pools of water bellow surface, when he stuck his hands into the water and pulled out a bag of magical oval balls… Eggs!

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Also known as hand warmers ( and breakfast!)

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We continued on stopping at these hidden gems for snaps

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And then we took a dip in the natural hot springs.

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Such an awesome tour and well worth the early wake up. We returned to town at midday, grabbed lunch and napped in preparation for an 11pm star gazing tour. No pictures here but we were truly blown away by how crazy our sky is! Being in an unpolluted, undisturbed desert we saw our night sky up close and personal..planets, the Milky Way, moons, shooting stars.. The list goes on.

Next day stove cooked oats for breakfast in preparation for….

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SANDBOARDING

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Similar to snow boarding (not as fast according to Josh) but definitely fast enough for me!

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Was very cool being surrounded by these massive sand dunes, feeling as though we were in the middle of nowhere.
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That afternoon we hit up the Laguna Cejar.
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Crystal waters, sunshine and blue skies!
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and overall a relaxing afternoon of floating in the 25m deep salt lake..
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Complete with watching the sunset and drinking pisco sours πŸ™‚
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What a crazy few days, feeling so blessed and lucky to be sharing it all with Josh.
Next we have a 3 day jeep journey through the salt flats into Bolivia.

Adios amigos!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Chile adventures on foot

After arriving in the town of Puerto Natales after a long 14 hour bus ride from Ushuaia our trekking adventure in Torres Del Paine national park was next on our agenda and the part of our trip we were both so excited for!

This trek involved carrying our tent, sleeping bags, mats, sleeping gear, wet weather gear, stove, gas, cooking utensils, 5 breakfasts, 5 lunches and 4 dinners all on our backs for approximately 85 kms. Our hostel room was a bomb before we left.. 20121015-120610.jpg

We woke up bright and early Wednesday morning – but not early enough. Our phones were on the wrong time zone setting and thinking it was 630am it was actually 730am. Luckily the bus driver agreed to come back for us! We took a bus to the park and then a catamaran to the starting point of the W-trek which we were about to begin. Ready to go with bright orange wet weather gear- tick! 20121015-120623.jpg
From the very beginning of the trek the views were breathtaking. The terrain was so diverse from devastating desolate fire affected areas (caused by a tourist in January), to lush greenery, snow capped mountains, aqua lakes, glaciers and beautiful valleys and streams. With little to no wind the reflections of the mountains on the lake were incredible.
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Luckily we didn’t have to carry water with us. Any running stream of water was good to drink. And good is an understatement πŸ™‚ water never tasted so fresh and crisp! 20121015-120641.jpg
Day 1 we walked towards Glacier Grey. It was so cool seeing the icebergs and the different shades of white and blue caused by the reflections of the sky and the surroundings.
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Got to love a few selfies πŸ˜‰
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We camped right by the glacier the first night. We woke up thinking there was a massive thunder storm when in actual fact it was part of the glacier chipping off. Nature and its surprises.

For dinner we enjoyed devoured mushroom risotto from a packet. Our conversation went something like this.. “This could honestly be served in a 5 star restaurant”… “Maybe its just cause we are hungry”… “no i’m serious i don’t think I’ve ever tasted anything so good”. Lol.
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Next day we were all packed up and off to our next campsite. Crossing big, unstable bridges with signs like these are enough to make you a bit concerned. 20121015-120821.jpg

On day 3 we were blessed with beautiful blue skies which we did not take for granted after hearing horror stories about Patagonian weather.20121015-120829.jpg
A day of picturesque scenery.
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Panoramic 360 degree view. Feeling a bit low on the energy side of things, this definitely raised the spirits!20121015-120845.jpg

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Occasionally we would just stop, pinch ourselves that we were actually here and have a moment to take it all in.20121015-120914.jpg

This was by at our favourite day of scenery. Patagonia was really showing off what it has to offer πŸ˜‰ 20121015-120924.jpg

If mushroom risotto was 5 star quality, then 2 minute noodles AND creamy spinach soup deserved 3 hats!20121015-120930.jpg

Pitching our tent on a wooden board at the next campsite was luxury! A flat surface, unlike the previous night prevented me waking up squashed to the side of the tent on the hard cold ground (with Josh soundly asleep and oblivious) haha 20121015-120936.jpg

We had a relatively good night sleep and were ready the most difficult day of the trek. 22 kms and steep inclines. But after a hearty bowl of delicious hot oats- you know about my love for them– we were ready and pumped! . 20121015-120943.jpg

We reached our campsite way earlier than we expected, pitched our tent and decided to trek up to Torres Del Paine thinking it would just be a stroll. How wrong we were! Steep and rocky- but well worth the view! 20121015-120951.jpg
The cow mountain.
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After a lovely evening at camp we woke up for our last day, dosed up on the oats and coffee and off we went! 20121015-121006.jpg
We made it our tradition to run as fast as we could down hills (yes, with our massive backpacks on)… Such fun! This also meant our 10ks down to our end point just flew
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After a fun and relatively easy day we arrived at our final destination feeling good, accomplished and satisfied!20121015-121024.jpg

We enjoyed coke and coffee and a clean bathroom with oh so sweet melting soap!!!!20121015-121034.jpg

After finally returning to our hostel, returning our hired gear and scrubbing up like never before we headed out for a post-trek feed to a place recommended by our friend Bortzy, La Picada de Don Carlitos. a20121015-121103.jpg

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What an incredible journey we shared together! We crossed many boundaries that should probably never be crossed, spent hours chatting about random topics from trigonometry to economics to singing random songs, playing rhyming games, predicting passer-byers’ itineraries and enjoying kms of absolute silence.

Today we are taking a day to unwind, relax and rest the feet before taking a a bus early tomorrow morning to El Calafate back in Argentina.

Until next time, hasta Luego!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Walking the hoods of Buenos Aires

Our first 2 days in Buenos Aires have been a real feast for our senses. We have been walking and talking (we are loving the Spanish!) our way around the different neighbourhoods which are all so diverse and each unique in their own way. We arrived late Tuesday evening, checked into our hostel and went out for drink. We walked to San Telmo and found a cool bar with live music and a well deserved beer started off our trip with a bang!

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Our first full day began with an early morning run around our area where we got our bearings, sussed out the 23 (I think it is) laned street and checked out some of the famous landmarks. After a shower and free hostel breakfast we headed to Palermo where we landed up at the zoo!

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Palermo is such a cool hood. The cobblestone streets are lined with boutique style stores, great little cafes and bars and lots of interesting gimmicky stores. You can really lose yourself in the streets, as each store you enter and each corner you turn leads you somewhere new and exciting. We found a restaurant called Bio Solo Organic which immediately captured my attention for lunch πŸ™‚

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After lunch we popped into a wine store out of interest and ended up spending a bit of time wine tasting. Mmmm.

When we got back to our hostel we took a long nap and at around 10 pm, yes everything here happens late, we headed to the rooftop bar at our hostel for some drinks. We met some people and ended up heading our for an extremely late dinner and then out to a club back in Palermo. Fun, fun night!

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Today we spent in the neighbourhood of La Boca. A colourful, buzzing, soulful, soccer and tango obsessed hood.
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Graffiti lines the street walls and is well and truly works of art. I love this shot!

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Such a great day!

A nap and late dinner finished off our day. Steak. Josh’s happy place πŸ™‚

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Tomorrow we fly down south to Ushuaia where the temperature drops and the hard core adventuring begins!

Until our next update, adios amigos!!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!