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Iguazu Falls, Argentina

22 Oct

Iguazu Falls, Argentina

Hola from Iguazu Falls. Yesterday, Stef and I spent the entire day in Iguazu National Park and it was incredible! We arrived at the park before 9am and paid the 85 pesos entrance fee. Locals in the area are allowed to enter the park free of charge. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had something like that in Canada? Continue reading

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Salar de Uyuni, Atacama Desert and Euro-Style.

20 Oct

I am finally HEALTHY!

It was awful being sick for 3 days, especially since I was scheduled for a 3 day Salt Flat tour, but everything turned out great. We met Sebastian, a 26 year old German physicist in Potosi, Bolivia and have been traveling for over a week before separating two days ago. The three of us went on the Salar de Uyuni tour, which boasted some amazing landscapes. There was a large group, so we had to go in two different jeeps. Stef, Sebastian and I ended up in a jeep with 4 sick Koreans and the other jeep had three Belgians and two drunk Aussies.

Our first day involved driving across the Salar, which is approximately 12000 square KM. Bolivian workers make 1bs. (less than 20 cents) per each salt pile they scrape… and these salt piles are quite large. They aim for 50 piles a day. It’s outrageous. Very few people in Canada would ever do that kind of manual labour. Continue reading

Traversing Bolivia

12 Oct

Sorry about not updating – lack of internet, horrible connections, and the fact that I have been utterly sick for the past three days. But, here is my attempt at a lovely recap….

My last day in La Paz was rushed. I wanted to do some last minute shopping and then ship a package home before catching a night bus to Sucre, Bolivia. Everything in South America is SLOW, so of course I got held up at the post office which was unnerving since I was already pressed for time. In the end, it cost me $45 to send 5 kg worth of Bolivian goodies and I made it to the bus station with 5 minutes to spare. Funny enough, everything is on South American time, so our bus was 45 minutes delayed. I guess there was no need to rush after all. Continue reading

La Paz, Bolivia & the Amazon!

6 Oct

The bus ride from Cusco, Peru to La Paz, Bolivia went a lot smoother than I thought it would be. We left Cusco at 10:00pm and were surprised to learn that there were actually two different buses going to La Paz. The bus we booked would cross into Bolivia through Puno, while the 10:30pm bus would go through a sketchier crossing, but is much faster. I decided to just stick with our original, safer route.

I arrived in Puno, Peru around 4:00am and had to wait in a freezing cold station for one hour until our next bus. Not so fun. It only took 2 hours to arrive at the hectic Peru/Bolivia border crossing. The bus driver told everyone to get off the bus and receive our exit stamps from Peru and then we had to walk across a congested bridge to Bolivia, packed with locals and tuk tuks. Everybody was scurrying across, trucking loads of goods across the border. It was an interesting sight. Once across, we walked into the Bolivian immigration building and received our entry and visa stamps. Lucky for us Canadians, we didn’t have to pay the $130USD dollars like our American counterparts. Continue reading

Lake Titicaca, Peru

21 Sep

Reed Boat on Uros Island

Now that I have some free time, here is a glimpse into our weekend trip to Lake Titicaca

After the whole ordeal last Friday, it was nice to get away for a bit. A bunch of the girls from our volunteer house booked a weekend trip to the world’s highest lake in the world, Lake Titicaca, which divides Bolivia and Peru.

At 9:30pm, 8 of us boarded a night bus to Puno, Peru, the starting point of our adventure. We arrived in Puno at 4am and took a taxi to our hotel for a quick nap and hot shower. After breakfast, our guide picked us up and drove us to the dock where we met our captain and island guide. Our first stop was the Uros islands. Continue reading

13 days before South America

19 Aug

I am one day past the two week mark. I am becoming more excited, but nervousness keeps creeping in. It’s not like I am completely new to this whole travel thing (as I’m sure you can tell), but every destination is different – every situation is novel. So, I guess I’ll have to embrace this feeling with an open heart and get a move on things.

I am trying to upload my Europe photos to Flickr, but for some reason, it doesn’t want to play nice and keeps shutting down my iPhoto. If there is anyone who can help out, it would be MUCH appreciated!

Stefanie has been in Toronto all week and we’ve been going over possible itineraries for our backpacking stint in South America. It took some blood, sweat and tears – well, maybe not tears but DEFINITELY sweat (from no A/C) and blood (due to a bike accident) to get a super duper awesome destination list going. I’m sure you’re all excited to read it! This isn’t in order, but is listed by country to make things a little bit easier. I linked some fun photos as well.

PERU
Lima / Miraflores,
Cuzco & Sacred Valley
Arequipa
Puno & Lake Titicaca
La Huacachina
BOLIVIA
La Paz
Rurrenabaque (Amazon Basin)
Sucre
Potosi (Highest city in the world)
Uyuni (salt flats)
CHILE
San Pedro de Atacama (driest desert in the world)
Santiago
Arica
ARGENTINA
Salta
Puerto Iguazu
Buenos Aires
Bariloche

I’m also thinking about traveling through Patagonia in Argentina to see some marine life, but I’m not entirely sure where to go between Buenos Aires and Santiago. I have about two weeks to get from Buenos Aires, Argentina to Lima, Peru, so there is room to take some interesting side trips and wander. I’ll be updating a few more times before leaving – so stay tuned!!!

The Countdown Begins

5 Aug

I’ve let this blog sit for a while now, but it’s time to rev her back up again. In just 3 1/2 weeks, Stefanie and I are jet setting (once again!) to a faraway destination. As you may have read from my previous blogs, we will be taking 20 hour bus rides, spying on alpacas, canoeing the Amazon River, sipping wine in Chile, eating steaks in Argentina and hiking pristine landscapes in South America all in 10 1/2 weeks. At least, that’s the plan and there is definitely more to it than that – which is the very challenge I’m dealing with as of late.

You think after a few gos, one would coast through planning their next backpacking trip. Well, not for me. I find it so much more difficult! Maybe it’s the type of trip I’m dealing with or maybe it’s the length of time I have – either way, planning my South America adventure has been more stressful than fun. The continent is massive. Look on a map. Now, take the distance from Windsor to Toronto (3 1/2 hours?) and compare that very distance between two cities in Peru. The only difference is that in Peru, it will take you 3X as long to drive. The roads are awful and there are lakes, mountains, desert and everything in between. The distances are so vast. From what I have figured out so far, I’ll be taking a few flights. I don’t know how many 23hr bus rides I can handle, especially if they are anything like the ones in Costa Rica!

When planning, I like to hash out ideas with people – get a second opinion, you know? With Stefanie on a road trip to the east coast of Canada, it’s hard to ask for her input. Thankfully, Stefanie is visiting Toronto for a week after her road trip. I hope we can get some things organized – at least a general route and a rough itinerary. The rest I can figure out on the road/in the plane.

I’ll update on how the planning goes. This week, my main concern is paying our volunteering fees (room and board, administration, etc.). I’ve decided to stay with a family one week and the volunteer house another. I’m super excited to try this out, but insanely nervous. I have ZERO experience teaching English, unless you count helping my little brother read. I need to think of some fun activities. Stefanie and I both agreed that we want to teach little kids! Mostly because we feel they won’t judge us. HA! Any suggestions of fun children’s games will be much appreciated!

The South American countdown begins folks. 27 days!!!

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