Fishing Village Memoirs

Hola Taganga! Cute, charming and picturesque fishing village on the Columbian north coast. Definitely a place I could stay much longer.
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The 1 street town is always buzzing with artisans selling their crafts, restaurants scaling their fish and people drink beer.
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Our days here were spent walking over and around the mountain to the next cove
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where the views are amazing
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and even better, is the end destination.. Playa Grande
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Swimming, kindles, sun and fresh fish for lunch!
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An “emotional experience” as Josh put it.
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Afternoon drinks, never without our kindles
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and gorgeous sunset!
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Followed by ice cold mojitos, garlic bread and the most delicious barbeque at Cafe Bonsai πŸ™‚
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We spent the next couple of days on the isolated beach of Palomino. We got a good beach run in (which reminds me why I fell in love with running) and amazing kindle time
20121227-111854.jpg Unfortunatey, the water was very rough and the beach was a tad disappointing (had nothing on Playa Blanca) so we left a day early so we could spend our last day on the coast in Taganga!

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!

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…

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Llama foetuses to island hopping

After our amazing few days on the road jeep crossing from Chile to Bolivia, we caught an overnight bus to the bustling city of La Paz. Wow.

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The markets, the lovely people, the vibrancy of the busy streets, the hooting of cars, the street food and finally being able to better speak and understand the Bolivian Spanish brought the city to life and made us truly fall in love with it!

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After a couple of days suffering from the typical South America travelling bug, I recuperated thanks to being in the care of the most caring guy ever.. And soon enough we hit the markets and became regular diners at our Bolivian momma, Elizabeth’s busy market store. Fried trout for me, chicken (complete with all its parts) for Livia and chicken for Josh

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We spent 3 great days walking the streets from the mystical witches markets selling potions for every ailment, spiritual statues, incense and most bizarrely llama foetuses which are supposed to bring good luck.. Business here can keeps the lovely ladies on their toes…

Can you spot the llama foetuses below? (Click to enlarge)

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Another highlight in La Paz was visiting the San Pedro prison… If you haven’t read the book Marching Powder you won’t understand our thrill of seeing the prison (only the outside don’t worry moms). A Brazilian guy tried to lure us in to visit an inmate who he had connections with, but we were hesitant and luckily so, as once we said no thanks he tried begging us for money. Hello what’s with the begging? We thought you claimed to be a tour guide and a security guard.. Needless to say we quickly departed the area

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After a bit too much market shopping this guy was looking for something with a bit more adrenaline.. Hello running down a building in a Spider-Man outfit

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Ahhhh so much worse being the person down the bottom watching my love dangling down a building

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But what can I say? He did great! And all smiles as he reached the bottom πŸ™‚

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After a great stay in La Paz it was time to zip up the back packs and goooo northhhhh. Our next port of call was Isla Del Sol. We caught a bus to Copacabana (northern tip of Bolivia, bordering Peru). Now listen to this! I was sticking my head out the window as I do and I spotted 2 friends from Sydney, Nat and Tash! Was so excited to see them and we managed to spend that night with them (and 9 crazy Argentineans) at the magical Isla El Sol!

After a steep, hard walk we reached our heaven! And only $4 a night!

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We watched sunset with drinks and good company

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After a fun night we woke up bright and early to watch sunrise..

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Josh and I carried on walking and exploring this awesome island and Josh made some friends along the way

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But soon enough it was time to leave 😦 easily could have spent another day enjoying this tiny slice of paradise!

But drum roll… Time for Peru! We walked and bussed over the border and arrived in Puno, on the Peruvian coast of Lake Titicaca. With just a quick stopover here we took a morning trip to islas flotantes de los uros – the floating islands of the Uros people.

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It was so cool to see how the Uros people use the naturally growing totoro reeds to construct everything on their islands- from their houses to their boats, furniture and even food!

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That’s all for now friends. Next up we catch an overnight bus to Cusco

Adios and thanks again for following our journey and keeping us company with your comments!

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!!

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Indulging in the sweet tastes of Maipu

Argentina’s beer wine region, Mendoza, here we come! We were greeted with beautiful hot, sunny weather and a great balcony at our hostel to enjoy it.

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But we had places to go! Next day we bussed to the vineyard region in the large, brown area of Maipu (pronounced my-poo) which as you can imagine left us with hours of play-on-word jokes (which I took a took a step to far, continuing on for days…) From there we hired bikes and rode to the different wineries.

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Maipu smelt like roses!

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We tried different wines from Maipu region, then pooped popped back on the bikes and skidded on to the next stop.

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We were greeted by the cutest puppy, Tommy. It was love πŸ™‚

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And here we also enjoyed tasting the olives and olive pastes.

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We both loved our day in Maipu and highly recommend getting there if you are visiting Argentina.

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We arrived back in Mendoza and checked out some of the great bars the city has to offer. It was a Monday night and the bars were packed!

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We love our day trips- bright and early the next morning we caught a bus to Uspallata. We kind of had no idea what we were going to and to be honest we were both looking forward to 2.5 hours of sleep time on the bus. But when we arrived we were not disappointed! Beautiful, rustic small town in the valley surrounded by mountains. We hired bikes once again, got given a map and disappeared with not another person in sight into the desert wilderness!

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The town itself is described as a green oasis in the middle of the desert…

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The ride was uphill on rocky, unpaved roads for 10 fricken kms! Maybe had we prepared ourselves mentally for this challenge it would have been easier? Pretty low on the energy side of things, we eventually got to the end of the road,

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used every last ounce of energy to climb up to the top of one of the mountains and took time to enjoy the incredible view of the multicoloured desert mountains.
Worth the hard yards πŸ™‚

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After some chill time and targeted rock throwing, which is becoming Josh’s new hobby we readied ourselves for 10kms of pure downhill sweetness!

These highlights from Mendoza are only a handful of what this city has to offer! We also enjoyed just relaxing in the beautiful parks- went for an awesome run, enjoyed the cafes, markets and bars and were sad to be leaving… Luckily overnight buses aren’t that bad πŸ˜‰

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Next stop, Salta – in northwest Argentina!

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Big City Buzz

We arrived in Santiago bright and early after an overnight bus from Pucon. Only able to check into our hostel at 3pm we dropped off our bags and we were off roaming the streets (as we do) before the city had awoken.

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We decided to join a free walking tour, and we are so glad we did! Our guide Felippe was amazing and brought the city to life. After hearing not such great things about the city itself from other travellers, we found a liking to it and would highly recommend popping by if you’re in the area! We stayed in the awesome neighbourhood of Bellavista recommended by Aarin, a lovely girl we met in Pucon who lived here for a few months. Lots of great bars, restaurants and fun vibe.

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There was a great buzz- street performers, cool street food stands and don’t worry if you forgot to polish your shoes, there is someone conveniently placed every 10 metres of the city offering this service. Coffee-on-legs was another interesting service on offer all over the city district. What looks like an espresso bar with skimpily dressed girls serving coffee to men smoking cigars in business suites, feeding their egos for tips- is just that! Some of the places still have ‘happy minute’ where they ring a bell, shut the doors and close the window shutters – stripping for the business men, collecting tips then resuming business as usual.

As well as cultural norms of the city, Felippe did squeeze in some more historical info too.

This pic was actually taken to capture our new friends aka our fellow Aussie walking tour companions in their matching Kathmandu hats and belted up cargo pants (us in 40 years)

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After our walking tour we enjoyed lunch- yay sushi!!

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The next day we caught a bus to the charming, bohemian style, overly congested and colourful city of Valparaiso. My aunty had a friend who lived there and highly recommended us visiting it- thanks for your advice as always Mish!

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Every corner you turn takes you to a charming new alley way, lined with graffiti filled walls, brightly coloured flowers and lots and lots of power lines.

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Walking these streets was like walking through an art gallery – surprises around every corner…

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We went to local fruit and veg market- my favourite part of any town. Bustling, colourful and loud.

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Everyone here seems pretty content πŸ™‚

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…Only after a month in South America is this cute, rather than unhygienic!

We then headed down to the neighbouring coastal city of ViΓ±a Del Mar. So different to its neighbour- spread out, modern and city with a real beach-holiday vibe. Lots of beautiful gardens, hence it’s known as the Garden City.

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We enjoyed walking along the sunny boardwalk and stopped for some delicious dulce de Leche churros (dulce de leche is the famous caramel-like Argentinian spread use in everything- desserts, pastries, ice cream etc).

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Overall an amazing couple of days! Next destination the wine region of Argentina, Mendoza πŸ™‚

Thanks for tuning in friends, until next time adios!

P.S. Thankyou for the ongoing comments- we never have long enough periods of wifi to respond to each comment but we really love reading them! To our new blogging friends from all over the globe, feel free to leave us a comment or any questions about places we have been so far (and of course, any recommendations for us will be greatly received as well!)

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Boots up, Bums down

Next stop, Pucon!

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Beautiful quaint town with a great vibe, cool street markets, good restaurants and amazing warm weather!!

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Our 1st day here we hired bikes

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And explored the small streets, unpaved roads, rivers, farms…

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and visited these beautiful waterfalls.

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It was an awesome ride. I am seriously considering trading in driving a car for a bike when I get home πŸ™‚

Day 2 was time to get the boots dirty again. We hit up Huerquehue National Park. The showers turned on but we enjoyed trudging along in the mud

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and making new friends..

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Now day 3 was what we came to Pucon for.. To climb one of Chile’s most active volcano, Villarrica. For this you need to go with a guide and assistants, in proper gear including real boots, wind and rain protective gear and a backpack filled with things I have never seen or heard of. Think crampons, gaiters and plastic toboggans.

Gear on and ready to go! Note the weather at the bottom of the mountain.

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As we made our steep ascent up the mountain, we trekked through the clouds and slowly began to rise up and above them

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And slowly but surely the blue skies graced us with their presence!

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The higher we got the more magical the view was

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We finally reached the top… 2850m!

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We sat, enjoyed the crazy view and re-layered up as it got pretty chile chilly pretty quickly.

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Looking down inside the volcano we didn’t see any lava but we saw and smelt the smoke coming out which was pretty damn cool

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Now the question on everyone’s lips was how the hell are we getting down from here???
Considering the practically vertical ascent there was no way down but via the bum..

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Wish we could have taken videos of us coming down. But no need for an explanation on why this was not possible :p What took 5 hours to climb up, took only 45 mins to come down. This is a pic of a group who came down after us…

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After an amazing sleep, the following day called for relaxation and time to enjoy the town before bussing off to Santiago.

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We spent hours enjoying the sunshine and watching that little volcano in the distance

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Pucon, although you were a bit out of the way for us to get to, you made our stay worth every ounce of our energy!

Adios amigos xxxx

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Bariloche Part 1: Revenge of the nerds

The Argentine Lake District’s largest city, Bariloche, was our next stop and bring it on – we were ready for it! Arriving at Hostel 1004, which came highly recommended from a number of our friends (thanks Lee, Brad and Bortzy) we knew this would be a place we wouldn’t want to leave.

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We immediately felt at home with the lovely staff and the beautiful views over the lake and city.

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With our Spanish slowly progressing and the hopes of staying put in Bariloche for a little while, we thought we might try some Spanish lessons. We planned to meet Carolina the lady at the Spanish school for a brief introduction conveniently timed at 8:45pm (everything happens late here) – our time or dinner. She sat us down for a hard core test and we were not happy Jan.

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Needless to say, the nerds rebelled. Cheating our way through the first part of the test and failing to complete the rest of it, we threw away our hopes of mastering Spanish. Instead, we planned our revenge and opted to spend our days exploring the city by bike, car, foot, kayak and chairlift all fuelled by the most delicious food and an awesome city vibe starting in the main square and extending across the city.

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The streets of Bariloche are lined with cute chocolate shops (hello endless days of taste testing!), restaurants and cafes.

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This city doesn’t do healthy. Most nights I ate the local fish, trout drenched in the traditional butter and lemon salsa

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and Josh enjoyed his schnitzel or steak, nicely portioned ay?

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Needless to say when we came across this next little gem it was well received by both of us even if Josh is too stubborn to admit it πŸ™‚

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Heaven!! Amazing juices, assortment of different veggie delights and complimentary sweet tea to finish the meal off with. So good, we went back a second time!

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But enough about the food, the real heart of the city lies in its beautiful surroundings. One of our highlights was hiring bikes and doing the 25km ‘Circuito Chico’ route. To begin with, the hilly terrain and cars speeding past almost blowing me away left me screaming and close to tears at many points.

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But Josh was patient, gave me many a pep talk and soon enough we were flying down those hills in unison.. Stopping every now and then to enjoy the incredible views.

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At about the halfway mark we turned down a gravel road with steep inclines and decided to tie up the bikes and walk down to the lake. We found a beautiful spot and enjoyed our picnic lunch.

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Back on our bikes we got and our next stop was at a little Cervazeria (beer house) where we sampled some beer and enjoyed the view for a little while before completing the rest of the circuit. Awesome day!

The following day we changed our mode of transport from bike to hired car, where we set out bright and early to drive the ‘Circuito Grande’. Our cute station wagon took us all over town.

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We cruised along the freeway, trying to figure out these roads with no rules; plugged in the iPod and sang our way through the mountains and shimmering turquoise lakes.

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We felt really spoilt with these views.. It is amazing how beautiful and so diverse a region can be.

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After a long day on the road, we chilled with a competitive game of cards and some drinks.

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Guess who won? πŸ™‚

That’s all for now,friends. Pease leave us a comment and fellow travellers, feel free to ask us any questions or share your thoughts/recommendations. We love hearing from everyone!

Stay tuned, Bariloche Part 2 is on its way!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!

Volcano sightings keep life interesting!

Feeling ready to progress our way up north, we spontaneously booked a flight Puerto Montt to begin our journey through the Lakes District of Argentina/Chile. We spent 2 nights in the lovely town of Puerto Varas which has beautiful views and interesting Colonial style German buildings. We arrived just in time for a magical sunset.

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Josh got the buzz around town that a big soccer game – Chile vs Argentina was on that evening so guess where we ended up? A few beers, pisco sours and a massive pizza later we were having a jolly time soaking up the atmosphere. Needless to say Josh (bless his soul) was trying to discuss tactics and strategies with me, but I was quite content people watching πŸ™‚

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The next day we put the hiking boots back on and made our way by minibus to Petrohue, the entrance to Chile’s second largest national park. Our aim for the day trek was to get a good view of the volcano, and that we did! Cool feeling being higher than the clouds..

20121019-083307.jpg Being in the Lakes District I guess you would expect beautiful lakes, but pictures don’t really capture how pristine and spectacular these bodies of water are! And the guy standing in front is alright as well πŸ˜‰

20121019-083328.jpg Now this next photo is Josh showing off how much faster he was walking than me. That’s ok :). Spending 24/7 with one person means a little space is required… Today we soaked up the opportunity to enjoy some personal space.

20121019-083631.jpg Lunch at the lookout point was amazing! Food is always that much better when you have earned it. Tuna and avo rolls hit the spot.

20121019-192935.jpgAfter lunch we persevered up a little higher and a little closer the volcano. Hard work as it was quite a steep incline, but the reward? Running skiing (without skis) our way down the sandy trail. Adrenaline peak!

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Interrupted by this awesome cloud! Reminded us of the Philadelphia cream advert. We took so many pics of it and have o far been unless with deleting unnecessary pictures, but have kept a good handful of these cloud ones.

20121019-083840.jpg 16 kms of nature at its finest, finished off with a Chilean Pink Lady Apple makes for a very content girl!

20121019-083850.jpg Great day, great place. Coming to you next from Bariloche, Argentina.

Adios amigos and THANKYOU everyone for your comments, we love arriving at a wifi spot and reading them all!

Check out our Travel Page for more of our adventures!