Holland again

Last Wednesday we flew from Buenos Aires to Madrid. After a bit of delay we got a flight back to Amsterdam from there. Home sweet home!

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Uruguay

Our last week (probably) here on the continent we spent mainly partying, relaxing, partying some more, and of course visit Uruguay! From Buenos Aires we took a (very, very slow) boat to Colonia, a sleepy, pretty little city only three hours away. After eating at the local parilla and walking around town a bit, we directly took a bus to Montevideo, another three hours away. For some (those who didn’t sleep the night before) it was a long ride, but eventually we arrived around 19:00. We found a hostel, got dinner, and Anne and I went out with some locals. Tom joined us on Saturday night.

The clubs in Montevideo generally don’t open before midnight, and many way after. The party gets started even later, and when we left the club both Friday and Saturday night (not before 4:30) there was a huge line outside, which wasn’t there when we got in.

We are now enjoying our lasts day in Buenos Aires, hoping to get a flight tomorrow. Due to the ashclouds from a vulcano in Chile many flights are cancelled. A fellow Dutch’ flight got cancelled yesterday and his new flight is in 10 days. So we might be stuck here a little longer…

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Buenos Aires

We have arrived in the place where we will fly home from. Already partied and checked out the local Starbucks. Quite similar to the one in Utrecht. Tom and I went to see La Bomba del Tiempo; reportedly it is the best thing to do on a Monday night in Buenos Aires:

[La Bomba del Tiempo]

This weekend we will probably hop over to Montevideo. Get another treasured stamp for the passport and eat some steak.

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Argentina

This time we crossed the border in a more official manner (compared to how we went from Peru to Bolivia):

Border between Bolivia and Argentina; Argentinian side.

Relaxing in Salta at the moment.

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Salar de Uyuni

From La Paz we traveled onwards to Uyuni by night bus. There we visited the salt lakes and sites with volcanic activity in a three-day trip by jeep. Alice and Jonas from São Paulo kept us company; Brad too of course. The evenings and mornings were cold, but the views during the day were well worth it, and the hot spring on the third day helped everyone warm up and prepare for the over eight hour trip back to Uyuni. (You should do this trip in four days, really!)

[Jumping!]

[Nice lake!]

Hot spring!

(In Argentina — where we are now — internet is plentiful and reasonably fast. You might have noticed a bunch of new photos. Enjoy!)

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Death Road

For those who were wondering: we survived the Death Road. It was an amazing 64 km ride. The first part was asphalt and very, very fast; we reportedly reached a top speed of 75 km/h! The Death Road itself is a gravel road and was a little bit slower, but had much tighter corners and was steeper on some parts. Our guide was going very fast, but in the end we managed to keep up with him.

[The participants of the Death Road ride.]

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La Paz

After a long, long trip on Lake Titicaca we were finally allowed to get ourselves stamped into Bolivia. Our American fellow travelers Brad and Emile had some trouble; the Bolivian government apparently doesn’t like Americans and they had to pay 135 dollars (only good quality banknotes) to get in. We got our stamp for free and without trouble (and with a friendly “Aaaah, Holanda!”) from the border police officer.

Our first stop in Bolivia was the tourist-town Copacabana, which lies directly at the lake. After one evening and one morning we took the bus to La Paz, where we are still residing. La Paz is a nice – albeit a slightly chaotic – city. There is plenty to do in and around the city (some snowy peaks are very close to the city, as well as death road) so we will surely stay here for a few days, before we head towards Bolivia’s salt plains and Argentina.

[Copacabana]

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Cusco & Machu Picchu

After almost two incredibly fun weeks in Lima we had to move on again in the direction of Bolivia. But first, we had the mandatory tourist stop in Cusco and Machu Picchu. Cusco is at a high altitude again (about 3300 meter above sea level), something we weren’t used to anymore since Lima is at sea level. The first two days we took it easy here, with the highlight being a visit to the Dutch bar/restaurant here, “El Cholandés”. We had some great bitterballen, poffertjes, patatjes oorlog, and even hutspot!

Wednesday we took a three day tour to Machu Picchu and the Peruvian “jungle”, which started out with a two hour downhill bike ride. While it was a bit short, it was still very spectacular; we descended about 3000 meters! Anne had a little mishap involving a road-side ditch and a front-flip, but he was back on his bike soon again and was okay, minus some bruises and scrapes.

[Peter]

During the second day of the tour we teamed up with three Flemish girls for some canopying (zip-line) over a canyon. This was again very spectacular. With our guide we then hiked for a few hours to Aguas Calientes, a little town close to the Machu Picchu ruins. The hike was very beautiful, giving great views of the mountains around Machu Picchu and the river down. In Aguas Calientes Brad from the U.S.A. joined our group again.

[Amazing view.]

Day three started with a 4 AM hike to the entrance of Machu Picchu. Only 400 visitors are allowed to go up to Waynapicchu (the “young mountain”), which gives amazing views of the ruins and its surroundings. Naturally, we wanted to be seven of those 400 hundred. At 5 am the gates to the trail leading up to Machu Picchu opened, and this was the starting signal for more than one hundred tourists to run op the steep stairs (consisting of 1700 steps) to the ruins, all the get a stamp allowing entrance to Waynapicchu. Walking in the dark in a long line with that many other tourists was a weird experience.

One by one we arrived at the ruins and we collected our stamp. Half an hour later our guide joined us and we went into the ruins for a two hour tour. The ruins were amazing; the “town” of Machu Picchu is big and very well preserved. And the surrounding mountains are beautiful. The pictures should speak for themselves… We had an early train (earlier than promised by the tour agency :/) so around 12:30 we headed back to Aguas Calientes to board a train with very comfortable chairs but no leg space at all.

[View of Waynapicchu.]

Now we are back in Cusco, preparing to leave for Copacabana (Bolivia) this evening. The Bolivian border is closed by miners on strike, so we have to get into the country with a boat from Puno over Lake Titicaca (which we think will be pretty nice!).

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Lima

Since you might be wondering what we are up to, I thought I would share. We have been in Lima for five days now and will probably stay a couple more. Making some plans today for the remainder of our trip, but mostly we have been relaxing. Beer with lunch, cocktails, expensive tea and coffee at the local Starbucks, fancy bars at night, couple of movies at the hostel, and very good food! Wind down a little after a month and a half of traveling. Met Brad here from California, great guy who will travel with us to Cuzco; I suppose he will appear in pictures when we start making them again. Time for a Pisco sour — a local cocktail based on pisco — now, which are delivered ever so slowly during happy hour at the hostel.

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Mi Chef Kristof

On the backpacker’s plaza in Huaraz be sure not to miss out on Mi Chef Kristof. It is run by Kristof from Belgium who makes his own pasta, mixed drinks, sells Dutch “stroopwafels” (uses different — though very tasty — sugar), and gave me the first piece of rare cooked meat I have had since arriving in South America six weeks ago. Stuffed, liquored, and fully satisfied we left the place, easing the pain somewhat of having to leave Huaraz.

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