Archive for April, 2009

LA PAZ to MACHU PICCHU

It is 8,205 km from Ushuaia to Machu Picchu.  Neither this number, nor our five month journey, will we ever forget.  South America was the dream and we´ve done it!  But we can´t celebrate too much – we still have Europe, Asia and Australia to go.  Afterall, it is a long way home…

Our climb out of La Paz involved much huffing and puffing – clearly we had enjoyed our time off the bikes a little too much!  Before long though, we were coasting alongside the stunning Lake Titicaca.  Initially, this was as far as we had expected to get in South America. It sure feels good to be here 6 weeks ahead of schedule!

Easter in Puno was a little odd.  They celebrate with cake, not chocolate in this part of the world?  Amazingly, Jess managed to hunt down the only chocolate bunny in town.  The lesson – don’t ever get between a woman and her chocolate, especially on Easter.

Runny noses and upset tummies plagued our last few days of riding.  Why now?  Was it South America´s last ditch effort to break us??  We didn’t give in though, and with toilet rolls in hand, we kept on pedalling.

Peru´s valleys were stunning and a great end to our journey.  The riding was easy, and if it wasn´t for the Belgian couple clapping us in, we would have hardly noticed our last 4,300m pass!  Truth is we were too busy dodging out-of-control buses to care.  Peru´s drivers are by far the worst we´d come across.

Riding into Ollantaytambo was really quite sad – we´d run out of road.  From here, we trained and hiked our way to Machu Picchu. Sure, the famous Inca ruins are a city of gold for Peru´s economy, but pleasingly, they were alot more impressive and not as overrun by tourists, as we had expected. It was a fitting end, to our own “Inca Trail”.

Now, just like the other backpackers, we boarded a bus for Lima.  It was a long nauseating descent, but it gave us time to reflect on our journey.  South America hasn’t been about the “highlights” for us – it’s the bits in between, that has made our journey special.  I guess that´s what makes cycling different.  South America – we´ve done it!

Thanks for the support folks, you´ve been a big part of it too!

Jules & Jess

Stunning Lake Titicaca

Stunning Lake Titicaca

Jess enjoying the views

Jess enjoying the views...

...and not the only one!

...and not the only one!

Told you i would find a bunny

Told you i would find a bunny

Damn you, Lomo Saltado!

Damn you, Lomo Saltado!

Peru´s amazing valleys...

Peru´s amazing valleys...

...great end to our journey!

...a great end to our journey!

We´ve done it!

We´ve done it!

The famous Machu Picchu

The famous Machu Picchu

Glad to be here...

We´re glad to be here...

...She´s earned it...

...She´s earned it...

...hmm, ok and him too!

...hmm, ok and him too!

Its a jungle out there!

ORURO to LA PAZ  (Inc  CHALALAN ECO LODGE)

La Paz – no guide book can prepare you.  Bolivia’s capital is set in a deep valley and sprawls out around you on every side.  How they keep building up the steep slopes is a real mystery.  Overcrowded mini buses choke the streets, hawkers sell everything you could possibly want, and the mix of modern and traditional cultures is quite intoxicating.  Our 600m descent into town was incredible, we’re just not so sure the ride out will be as easy.

 
The hustle and bustle of La Paz couldn’t contrast more with our trip to the Amazon.  A special treat for Jess’s 25th birthday, we chose to stay at Chalalan – a community run eco lodge set deep in the heart of the Madidi National Park.  Like rock stars, we boarded a small plane for the harrowing flight across the Andes and down into the jungle… umm, the brochure didn’t mention anything about a grass runway!

 
Tropical Rurranabaque felt like another world, not just a 40min flight away from La Paz.  Oxygen filled our lungs and our clothes were dripping with sweat before we even reached the small arrivals shed.  There we met Thorsten & Sonia, a lovely German couple, who would be our only company that week.  After a brief introduction from the Chalalan team, we were shown our hotel and the rest of the evening was ours to enjoy.  Tomorrow we would travel five hours up river to the lodge.  Yep, it was going to be just us and the monkeys …

 
The lodge was stunning, set on a beautiful lake and made entirely from traditional materials.  By accident, or luck, we were upgraded to a secluded private cabin.  Not wanting to make a big deal of it, we felt it best, to just lay back in the hammock and forget this small oversight.

 
Andres, our local guide, occupied us day and night with his uncanny ability to spot mammals, birds and plants in the forest.  His eyes and ears really made the jungle come alive, and he was pretty handy with a machete too, when we needed it to cut our way through the vines.

 
The mix of western and traditional food was devine and never seemed to end.  It was hard to choose a favourite, but we think devouring the fish Sonia had caught during our days fishing was definitely up there.  We were sure glad to be doing a lot of walking, otherwise our poor bikes would never have forgiven us.

 
It wasn’t all hard work though – between boating, hiking and eating we did manage to squeeze in a swim or two in the picture perfect lake!  Yes, if you ever wanted a place to escape, then without a doubt Chalalan would be it.  We were very sad to leave…

 
Back in La Paz, we now prepare for our final stage, the ride to Cuzco and the famous Machu Pichu ruins.

 
Thanks again for the emails, comments and well wishes.

Jules & Jess

Amazing La Paz

Amazing La Paz

Jess the Rockstar!

Jess the Rockstar!

By boat to the lodge

By boat to the lodge

We´ve arrived

We´ve arrived

You sure this is our room?

You sure this is our room?

Its a jungle out there

Its a jungle out there

We hiked...

We hiked...

Boated...

Boated...

Crossed rivers...

Crossed rivers...

Fished...

Fished...

Some with more success than others...

Some with more success than others...

Swam...

Swam...

... and relaxed!

... and relaxed!

The Chalalan team made it great

The Chalalan team made it extra special

We were sad to leave

We were sad to leave