My favorite hidden gems in South America

After a year traveling around Central & South America, these are the places I liked the most. Since they are not very well-known, I’d like to call them ”my hidden gems”.

These ”cities” are very down-to-earth and laid-back places where I have felt something special inside, like a bubbling feeling of happiness, calmness and fulfillness.

 

1. — Holbox – Mexico —

The beach at Holbox

The beach at Holbox

Sunset in Holbox

Sunset in Holbox

 

Shallow water, birds, and blue sky.

Shallow water, birds, and blue sky.

 

There is just something special about this small island outside of the Yucatan peninsula in Mexico. This island has a natural beauty – white sand, palm trees, shallow ocean, thousands of flamingos and pelicans. Most of the habitants work as fishermen and it’s considered a virgin tourist destination unspoiled by mass tourism. There is only a main square and a few streets which are made of sand and there are just a handful of ”cars” on the island. You sleep, eat, do some small excursions, go to small music events, visit small shops with handicraft and just relax. You eat and live cheaply here too.

 

2. — Isabela – The Galapagos – Ecuador —

The mainstreet in isabela... beautiful with sand!

The main street in isabela… beautiful with sand!

The tuneles

The tuneles

Bluefooted boobies

Bluefooted boobies

Beautiful surroundings!

Beautiful surroundings!


I love all the Galapagos islands,
but if I would have to choose one of them for living – it would be Isabela. although it is the biggest island it is the less populated of the habituated islands. Most tourists only come here for day tours so the ambiance feels very local. Also on this island, the streets are made of sand. It is very safe here. There are plenty of things to do and see here, you can visit lava tunnels, active volcanoes, you can snorkel with big tortoises, watch blue footed boobies, pink flamingos. It is not expensive here either.

 

3. — Jericoacoara – Brazil —

Enjoying life!!!

Enjoying life!!!

Windsurfers and a man playing capoeira-music

Windsurfers and a man playing capoeira-music

The streets are full with hantcraft stands

The streets are full with handicraft stands

Sunset in Jericoacoara

Sunset in Jericoacoara

A little street filled with restaurants

A little street filled with restaurants


This is like a bigger version of Holbox
, with more people, more shops and more activity, but still it has a lot of charm. This place is a paradise for windsurfers and kitesurfers. So yes, it is very windy but hey! – there are no mosquitoes :) If you get tired of the wind you can visit the Blue Lagoon, lovely calm lagoon famous for the hanging hammocks in the water. Jericoacoara is a mix of great people – during the day you’ll see all the active sporty people, and during the nights you’ll see all the musicians and the handicraftsmen out selling their work. There are always live music in a bar or a restaurant, always something to do. The main streets are of course – made of sand. :)

 

4. — Lagoa da Conceição – Florianopolis – Brazil —

Barra Da lagoa

Barra Da lagoa

View over Lagoa do Conceicão

View over Lagoa do Conceicão

Praia do Joaquina in Florianopolis

Praia do Joaquina in Florianopolis


This is a magical place
. It’s a laid-back neighbourhood with super nice surroundings. The area has a small town center and some of the island’s best beaches, and a lagoon that is surrounded by beautiful green hills. Surfing is a popular sport here. There is a lovely big mixture of all kind of Brazilians, but also a lot of Europeans that decided to stay or study here. The city Florianopolis has a lot of culture and bars to offer too.

 

5.  —  Isla del sol – Copacabana –  Bolivia — 

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Boats, beach, small houses and snowy mountains behind

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Clear water and hills with place for cultivation

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Local people in the south of Isla del Sol


This is an oasis in all the chaos between Bolivia and Peru
. This small island in the lake Titicaca is beautiful and super quiet. There is no noise, no cars, no rubbish on the streets. Not even lampposts (bring your head-torche). Beautiful sunsets and sunrises and the sky is super clear so you can see a lot of stars during the night. People live in harmony here with the nature and it’s surroundings. You can walk from the north to the south and see llamas and donkeys and some old inca-archaelogical sites along the way. Sweet local kids will offer you a little guided history about the history of Isla del Sol. There are a few small museums on the island too. I really enjoyed the landscapes in the south.

 

¿Have you been to any of these places? ¿What was your impression?

 

~ If I would extend the list these cities would probably make the list too, all though there are all not ”hidden gems” since some of them are capitals.

• Cusco (Peru) • Puerto Maldonado (Peru) • Quito (Ecuador) • Rio De Janeiro (Brazil) • Salvador (Brazil) • San Cristobal De Las Casas (Mexico) • Isla Mujeres (Mexico) • Tulum (Mexico) • La Paz (Bolivia) and • Buenos Aires (Argentina).

Annonser

Brain short circuit – slowly coming back

I have been meaning to start writing for a very long time, but it has just been to much for me. You know when you have tooooo many things to write down so instead of just starting you get a short-circuit in your brain and watch tv-series and do bracelets instead?? Exactly.

That’s pretty much how I’ve felt the last couple of months. I don’t know why. I’ve felt quite inspired but not productive.. I’m really not good in handling strain right now. 

But today I’m taking a few short steps in starting writing again. Maybe it will come back.

What’s keeping me back is that I have missed to write about a few very important moments in my trip: 

1) My visit to the Island of Sun in Copacabana, Bolivia, where I really enjoyed the company of my fellow alone-travelers Maider from Spain and Anthony from England (where I later met Anne on my way back too!)

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One of the beaches on the north side (challapampa) of Isla del Sol in the lake Titikaka in Copacabana, Bolivia.

2) When I was in Cusco in Peru and got to meet with my friends from Sweden, Mats & Ewa, Jacob Spijk and David & Carol, such a weird feeling to speak Swedish and fika!

Having lunch with Ewa, Mats and Jacob in Cuzco (notice the snus on the table, so swedish!)

Having lunch with Ewa, Mats and Jacob in Cuzco (notice the snus on the table, so swedish!)

3) My trip to Puerto Maldonado where I visited the jungle, ziplined through the rainforest and kajaked in the amazonas river, got to pet some monkeys and parrots and also got to spend time with three great Norwegian guys, two French girls and a Brazilian couple :)

With the greatest group in front of the Amazonas river in Puerto Maldonado

With the greatest group in front of the Amazonas river in Puerto Maldonado

So you understand that I have a few adventures to write about, and thousands of pictures to share.  Well.. not really… Because my waterproof camera got lost in the Amazonas river together with all my pictures from the second and third point here above. Stupid stupid stupid me. I have a few cellphone pics from the Swedish invasion and all the pictures the norwegian guys took (thank god for that!) but it’s not really the same.

I think that’s one of the reasons why I haven’t written about it, because it reminds me of my lost, I can still remember every picture I’ve taken. Yes, I’ve always been very sentimental about my pictures…. Still remember and “cry about” (not literally) the two times my camera got stolen – about the pictures that got lost and that I’ll never see again. The memories slowly shade away. So no, I’m not sad about the camera itself (I can buy a new one) but I’m greatly sad because of the pictures of the future memories that got lost.

Well. I think this will be enough for this entry. By the way, I’ve recently started to look into Brazil… and woooow I’m looking so much forward to it, a warm sun, turquoise sea and a white sand beach….. scuba dive and surf…. Ahhh!!

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Day 3 & 4

Day 3.

Lovely pancake in the morning!!!

Lovely pancake in the morning!!! Perfect start of the day :)


Lovely breakfast once again – a sort of moisty pancake filled with apple and chocolate sause… woooooow. Good start of our third day – the longest trekking day!

We all trekked together in a group, starting with 1 hour of uphill trekking where we visited an archaeological site, Pacaymayo, believed to have been an Inca military fortress used to overlook the valley or a place where the running messengers swapped places.

Pacaymayo - maybe an Inca military fortress .. day 3

Pacaymayo – maybe an Inca military fortress .. day 3

On our way to the top..

On our way to the top of this day..

Finally at the highest point of this day..  just have to walk downstairs now.. day 3

Finally at the highest point of this day.. :) A little chilly!

Matilda, Mia and me above the clouds!

Matilda, Mia and me above the clouds!

Walking down the last big hill!

Walking down the last big hill!

Group picture day 3 :)

Group picture day 3 :)

It was a beautiful day where we passed by a few mountain lakes and archeological sites, Sayacmarca and Phuyupatamarca.

We had lunch on the top of a mountain that was surrounded by clouds, so we couldn’t see what was expecting next.. But walking into the other valley we noticed a change in the climate – more humid and also warmer like a jungle.

Phuyupatamarca, meaning "place of the clouds", because most of the year is surround by big and thick clouds (not so much this day though)

Phuyupatamarca, meaning ”place of the clouds”, because most of the year is surround by big and thick clouds (not so much this day though)

Phuyupatamarca on the other side

Phuyupatamarca on the other side

Our guide is telling us about Sayacmarca, meaning "Inaccessible Town", a name that describes the position of the ruins perfectly as they are protected on three sides by a precipice.

Our guide is telling us about Sayacmarca, meaning ”Inaccessible Town”, a name that describes the position of the ruins perfectly as they are protected on three sides by a precipice.

We have reached the urubamba river that passes by Aguas calientes.. Meaning that we are really close to machu picchu now!

We have reached the urubamba river that passes by Aguas calientes.. Meaning that we are really close to machu picchu now!

Having a break, soon reaching our last camping place just a couple of hours from Machu Picchu :)

Having a break, soon reaching our last camping place just a couple of hours from Machu Picchu :)

We reached our last camping place, “Wiñayhuayna High Jungle camp” above a river valley in late noon and had a small nap before dinner. A couple of hours after sunset we heard the last group arrive, it must be hard to trek in the dark! So glad that we are quite fast ;)

We had our last dinner together, and still as good quality as before – and they even baked a CAKE for us for desert!! I really don’t know how they can do that with this portable gas kitchen thing… so impressed. After dinner we had a small celebration with our portiers, the cook and the guide,  they presented themselves with name and age (the youngest was 36 I think and the oldest 58!).. so cute.. one of them even shed a few tears as we said goodbye. We tipped them and said thank you.

All our portiers, the guide and the cook! So sweet!

All our portiers, the guide and the cook! So sweet!

They have really been amazing… I feel so bad that they work so hard for us, they carry so much on their backs, and don’t even have good backpacks. They are not supposed to carry more then 20 kg, but I think some of them carries a lot more! And they are so quick! They always pass us by running on the trek, because we leave before them, they pack up all the camping equipment, then catch us up, reaches the camp long ahead of us to raise the tents and prepare the food for our arrival… And they have so bad shoes too, and bad backpacks. So impressed.

Also I feel bad that we barely talk to them, they are sort of afraid of us and treat us as we were king and queens.. I wonder how much they earn. I don’t think it’s that much.. I hope it’s more then our tipping! In our pre-meeting the woman from Bamba Experience (the agency) told us that the average tipping is 50 soles total per person but it turned out to be around 140 soles.. Every porter got about a total of 80 soles (30USD), the cook a total of160 soles (60 USD) and 50 soles (20 USD) each to the guide..

Then we had an early night – next morning we were going to wake up 2.50!!


Day 4

We woke up and directly packed our bags and left the camp at 3am to get to the checkpoint-gate before the other groups. The gate reach the Sun Gate with a view over Machu Picchu opens at 5.30 and we were there like 3.15 – the first group in line. There are only seats (benches) for the first three groups, the rest have to stand. Our guide is ALWAYS the first there with his group, haha. When the second group arrives he applauses and says “congratulations to the second place!” haha.

Waiting in line (the first ones) for the last check point to reach Machu Picchu

Waiting in line (the first ones) for the last check point to reach Machu Picchu

Morning day 4, walking the last hour in the dark before reaching the sun gate at sunrise..

Morning day 4, walking the last hour in the dark before reaching the sun gate at sunrise..

After a couple of cold waiting hours in the dark, we finally got our passports and passes checked and we started to trek in the dark. About one hour later, after the gringo-killer-steps, we reached Inti-Punku, the sun gate, just when the sun had gotten up, and we gout our first view over the amazing inca city Machu Picchu. It is situated on a mountain ridge above the Urubamba Valley. Then we had about one more hour before actually reaching Machu Picchu. On our way we passed by a  few other day-trekkers – really fresh with really nice hair and clothes like boots and jeans.. haha.. and all out of breath.. they had only been walking for like 30 minutes, and we have actually been doing it for 4 days… felt quite good actually. Totally worth it.

I mean, the goal was to reach Machu Picchu of course, but I noticed that that itself didn’t matter “that” much anymore– the thing itself was the trek, all the amazing things I’ve experienced along the way.

Our group hiking :) Lucys picture

Our group hiking :) Lucys picture

On the inka trail - reaching Machu Picchu in a couple of minutes!

On the inka trail – reaching Machu Picchu in a couple of minutes!

When we reached Machu Picchu we had to leave our bags in the baggage storage and we also finally had normal bathrooms with a regular toilet instead of a whole in the floor :) Then we entered again and had a guided tour in this enormous and magnificent archeological city. But we were all tired, we had been awake since before 3am and while having the tour we almost fall asleep haha.

Machu Picchu was built around 1450 but abandoned about a century later. Most archeologist belive that it was built as an estate for the Inca emperor Pachacuti. Also they think that it’s a sacred religious site because it’s built on and around mountains that hold high religious importance in the Inca culture.

What’s important with this site is that it wasn’t found by the Spanish conquistors, so it has remained intact. It was rediscovered at 1911 by an American historian (Hiram Bingham). It is often referred as the “Lost City of the Incas”. It has been reconstructed and restored to give an idea about how it originally looked liked. It was declared an UNESCO world heritage site in 1983 and in 2007 Machu Picchu was voted in a worldwide internet poll to become one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

Another classical picture of Machu Picchu

The classical picture of Machu Picchu

Lamas going for a walk in Machu Picchu.

Lamas going for a walk in Machu Picchu.

The house of gards on the top there

The house of gards on the top there


After the guided tour we had a few hours to walk around by ourselves. I picked a big stone with a great view over Machu Picchu and
I sat there meditating for one hour, before it started to get to hot.

I took a few more walks around Machu Picchu. The site is roughly divided into an urban sector and an agricultural sector, as well as the upper town and the lower town. The temples are part of the upper town, the warehouses the lower. There are about 200 buildings on wide pararell terraces.

Meditating with this wonderful view in front of me... breath taking

Meditating with this wonderful view in front of me… breath taking

Sweet lama at Machu Picchu

Sweet lama at Machu Picchu

The residential part of Macchu Picchu

The residential part of Macchu Picchu

Extensive terraces were used for agriculture , and there are stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site.

Extensive terraces were used for agriculture , and there are stone stairways set in the walls allowed access to the different levels across the site. Also view over the nobel houses.

Let's say I shouted "I'm the queen of the world" when I jumped.

Let’s say I shouted ”I’m the queen of the world” when I jumped.

Around 12.30 I met up with the group at 12 and took the bus down to Aguas Calientes, where we had lunch. While eating it started raining – wow, we have really been lucky with the weather! We waited out the rain and then took the train back to Ollantaytambo, where a bus from the agency where supposed to pick us up, but they didn’t… so we went with another company and weren’t back in Cuzco until around 21.

Great experience!

P.S I used everything in my backpack, so it was worth to bring everything with me!

The Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Day 1 & 2

So… time to tell you about the Inca Trail!
It’s 4 days of trekking and about 50 kilometres through the andes. Around 70% of the path is hand-built stone about a thousand years ago. It’s the only trek that take you along the original Inca trail, so you litterally walk in the footsteps of the ancient Incas and also enter Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate instead of the regular entrance of the visitors.

To be honest, I thought this was the only way to visit Machu Picchu at first.. but there are plenty of other treks that goes there and you can also do a day-visit to Machu Picchu. This trek is the most expensive of them all, in our group we all paid different fees, something between 500-650 USD. I paid 500, but it didn’t include any portiers that carries my stuff or hiking poles as it did to some of the others in the group.

Ok so..

Day 1
I got picked up 5.30 in the morning, then we picked up the rest of the group in their hostal, and then we went to Ollantaytambo  where we had a 15 soles breakfast haha. After that we were supposed to leave to Piscacucho/Km 82, but we didn’t have enough portiers. We only had 2, and we needed at least 7. Usually there are portiers waiting here in ollantaytambo… but they didn’t this Saturday morning. The guide told us that sometimes they have been out partying and that they don’t show up in the morning… So we stayed there a couple of hours waiting for porters to show up, but they didn’t..
We started to get slightly irritated since we had booked this over 6 months ago, but they couldn’t book porters even a couple of days before?? Then the guide said that we should go to Km 82 and start preparing lunch (the cook was with us : ) and that they had localized some portieres from Cuzco that would go there directly. So… that meant we actually could have slept until 12 instead of 4… but well well.

We had a delicious lunch, we were all really surprised of the quality of the food, we had a soup as first and pasta as a second, with bread and tea and everything.. and we even had our own table and chairs!!! Amazing.

Lunch at Km 82.. look at all the food and pots they are bringing with them! Crazy and heavy!

Preparing the lunch at Km 82.. look at all the food and pots they are bringing! Crazy and heavy! But the food was delicious!

We didn’t start our trek until 14, instead of around 8 in the morning… so we were a little behind. When we got to the first check point, the guards weren’t’ even there, they where having lunch… so we had to wait another 30 minutes before they got there. Haha. But the guide told us we still would reach the camp in time before darkness – and we actually did just in time!  In the info it said it would take around 6 hours to trek this part, but we did it in around 4 hours, but of course we didn’t have  the lunch break or anything.

The first group picture exactly at the starting point of the Inka Trail!

The first group picture exactly at the starting point of the Inka Trail!

We had to cross the river just in the beginning of the Inka Trail.

We had to cross the river just in the beginning of the Inka Trail.

We passed by a few archeological sites along the way and stunning and really beautiful views. Still it was actually really heavy… I started to think like “why the heck am I doing this for?” And this is what they say, ”and easy start”… we had a little uphill and we were all exhausted afterwords… and the second day is supposed to be the hardest day with over a kilometer just uphill.. this was like 200 metres or less.. haha. We asked the guide if it was going to be this stiff too, and he just laughed and said it was going to be a LOT more stiffer.. haha.

I noticed I’m the one that has the biggest and heaviest backpack  (4 girls have their things carried by portiers, but another couple also carries their stuff, still they have really good light equipment plus they share some stuff)… I didn’t know how I was going to be able to make it tomorrow.. the guide even said I was going to have it really hard and asked if I didn’t want to pay a portier to carry my stuff… but nope. :p

First archeological site

First archeological site we passed by

Our glad portiers passed by us :) Behind you see a snowy mountain

Our glad portiers that passed by us :) One is having a backpack but the other only has an aguayo (the blanket)

The whole group first day of the trek!

The whole group first day of the trek!

When we got to the camp (Called Wayllabamba) I was surprised that it was in a village, I thought it was going to be in the middle of nowhere, so did the rest of the group to, but no… it was a camping site with water, toilets and even a small and expensive store… I think 2 L of water was like 9 soles (I had purification tablets with me, best thing!). Once again we had a greaaaat meal, wow, so surprised. Vegetable soup first and then for second we had rice, fried potato, fish and vegetables.. sooo good… I really thought that I was going to eat like powder soups or something.. but not at all – it’s better then in restaurants!

Having our first course at our first camping site :)

Having our first meal at our first camping site :)

After dinner we all went to bed – dead. It was really cold too, I slept with my union suit, fleece jacket and poncho in my sleeping bag.. and we were only at 2980m altitude….

Day 2
We woke up at 5 in the morning to have breakfast at 5.30 (omelett, cereal, porridge, bread, coffe, tea, hot chocolate…mmmm!) and leave the camp at 6 in the morning.

Getting lighter over the campsite

Getting lighter over the campsite


Today is the most challenging day along the trail! There is around 5 hours of vertical hike to reach the Dead Woman’s pass at a altitude of 4,215 meters. In the beginning of the day our guide pointed the Dead Woman’s Pass out for us, and it seemed soooo damn far away. It didn’t feel possible to reach there even in one day… but apparently it is.
And after we had around a 3 km hike down on stone steps before reaching our camp at Pacaymayo at the high of 3660 metres.. This I did with my around 10 kilos backpack…

The guide is showing us what's ahead of us, you see up there in the V of the mountain, there's like a boob and a womans face.. we have to go up there and then down on the other side..

The guide is showing us what’s ahead of us, you see up there in the V of the mountain, a little bit to the right there’s like a boob and a womans face.. that’s where we are going today and then down on the other side..

Some colorful portiers with quite good equipment passed us by

Some colorful portiers with quite good equipment passed us by

Second day on my way up to dead womans pass!

Second day on my way up to dead womans pass!

It was damn hard, but, easier than I thought it was going to be!  Today we didn’t hike together, but in our own pace. And I found a trick: listen to music! When I don’t hear myself being out of breath then I don’t feel tired either. Also, I listened to regueton which has a great rhythm for walking up hill. I felt happy dancing/trekking/singing and I had a really good pace. I really started to enjoy this –the breath taking hills and the breath taking views… to be this sweaty, tired and happy at the same time. . The guide praised me plenty of times for having a good rhythm even if I was having a big backpack too. I felt great! The way back down took around 2-3 hours.. I think it’s heavier to go downstairs that upstairs, not for the lungs bot for the knees..

Found some llamas along the way

Found some llamas along the way

The beautiful Inca Trail

The beautiful Inca Trail

Finally at the top - made it! Really cold up there though

Finally at the top – made it! Really cold up there though



When we arrived we packed up our things in our tents and had yet another great lunch of course. The afternoon was free and we were all so tired that we went to take a nap first… and then it started to rain. So we were kind of stuck in our own tents, I did a few bracelets and then the rain was over and it was time for dinner. Potato-soup, chard-pie, pasta, chicken curry (for me battered colliflowers) and salad… amazing.

Lunch day 2, saffran rice, mush potatoes, some beef thing with carrots and sweet potatoes filled with cheese.. and I had my own vegetable burger things.. loooovely

Lunch day 2, saffran rice, mush potatoes, some beef thing with carrots and sweet potatoes filled with cheese.. and I had my own vegetable burger things.. loooovely

Cuzco – Inca ruins in the Sacred Valley

Me and Jill had to wake up early to go to the tour to Maras and Moray..

It really started well (not) – the bus was parked at a plaza where we were standing in line to go up, when the tourleader say that the police is right behind the bus and since they aren’t allowed to park in the plaza the bus had to move, but only half of the group was inside the bus, the other half of the group starts to run after the bus, but then the bus accelerates and leaves and we don’t understand anything… we stay there waiting like idiots for the bus to come back like half an hour. Then when we finally get on the bus, the bus is overcrowded so there aren’t enough seats for everyone – Jill had to seat back in the bus and I had to sit in front with the driver, and I don’t see the guide when he points at things that we are passing.. Just hear him back there somewhere.. and I fall asleep instead.. Haha.

Me in front of Moray - which was used in agricultural purpose

Me in front of Moray – which was used in agricultural purpose

Outside Moray, so beautiful.

Outside Moray, so beautiful.

Me and Jill in the Salineras :)

Me and Jill in the Salineras :)

We visited some different archeological sites and some indigenous villages. First we went to Moray, which was used for agriculture purpose, it has platforms in a circular form with different levels and climates, so there can be about 15 degrees Celsius (60F) between the top and the bottom, so they can grow all kind of things – potatoes that grows best in higher colder altitude to vegetables that grows best in lower and warmer temperatures. Smart!

Then we went to the Salineras in Maras, a lot of small salt mines, it has been used since the Inkas, they used it like money and trade it for other products. Really cool!
We also visited a small village where a woman told us about how they dye their wool and stuff, and everything in English!! I was so surprised – never heard someone from a small village speak English fluently. She was also really funny, made us laugh a lot.

The woman here at the left told us about their work in English :)

The woman here at the left told us about their work in English :)

It was interesting but the tour was really bad organized, really! When we got home we where sooo tired, slept a good siesta.

In the evening I met up with Rafael and played bingo in the bar, we were hoping to win something but we didn’t.. But I really had a nice evening with Rafael, eating potato chips, really dark chocolate and talking about everything in life, from work, animals, travels, love, brazil… he showed me a lot about his city (Porto Alegre) and I’m definitively going to visit him when I go to brazil : ) Sadly he was leaving next day to go back home.. it’s aaalways going to be like this for me, huh? When I find someone I really like to hang out with, they have to leave… Well well. When he went to get his stuff packed I joined the Pariwana team for the pub quiz – and we actually won the quiz! Woho :)

Bingo-night with Rafael!

Bingo-night with Rafael!

Next morning I had breakfast with Rafael before he left for his flight, and I went for a Sacred Valley tour, and wow, this was really good and well-organized!! Interesting sites.

We started with the Pisac village where we visited a traditional market, then we visited the ruins in Pisac there, great views over the andeans (platforms) and the valley. It was really fun to walk around in the temples and residences there, but I got so lost and couldn’t find my way out, haha. Finally I did though, but I came late to the our meeting time with the group, haha.

The market in Pisac. Peru has around 4000 different types of potatoes... these are just a few of them.

The food market in Pisac. Peru has around 4000 different types of potatoes… these are just a few of them.

The market of Pisac

The market of Pisac

Temples and residences in Pisac

Temples and residences in Pisac

Panorama from the temples over Pisac

Panorama from the temples over Pisac

After that we went to Urubamba and had lunch, but I didn’t want to pay 25-35 soles for a meal, I already had my avocado sandwiches with me, so I sat down in the sun and had my picnics alone. The driver got me desserts from two different buffet places where the other had eaten while i ate my sandwiches i brought haha.  And he also gave me water. So sweet!

Having my avocado sandwish :) Also showing of my new bracelet I bought in the market of Pisac, with the colors of Cusco :)

Having my avocado sandwich :) Also showing of my new bracelet I bought in the market of Pisac, with the colors of Cusco :) (the nametag-thing is from the hostal)

After that we visited Ollantaytambo and the ruins there, where ruins I ran into Nadja and Facu from the hostal! So funny, small world! Ollantaytambo also have really cool Inca constructions, with a temple of the sun made of really big blocks of rock from the mountains in the surroundings. Not only the closest one, because it has different colours, so it’s taken from different mountains in the Sacred Valley, which they have brought there… It must have been so damn hard, they really weren’t lazy those Incas.

Ruins of Ollantaytambo

Ruins of Ollantaytambo

The stairs and the suntemple in Ollantaytambo (and nadja and facu)

The stairs and the suntemple in Ollantaytambo (and nadja and facu to the right)

On our way back we stopped at Chincheros and visited another village there with different families, sort of had the same talk like yesterday (and in mexico) about how they colour their wool and stuff, but this one was in Quechua instead of English.. but this woman had the same joke as the woman yesterday, even if it’s totally different villages and people… Do they know each other? Has a guide that has visited both villages told one woman about that joke and she copied it? I have no idea.. I just found it a little rare…

Chinchero, the only inca site with regular houses above, because the Spanish destroyed the old ruins and built new houses above...

Chinchero, the only inca site with regular houses above, because the Spanish destroyed the old ruins and built new houses above…

The woman in Chinchero showing how they make the red colour

The woman in Chinchero showing how they make the red colour

Anyhow, this was a great tour compared to the one yesterday, I noticed how important it is that the guide is organized and informs us about everything – this guide told us in the bus where we were heading, when we were going to be there and what we were going to do there and when we arrived he told us where the meeting place was after the guided tour and what time we should be there.. we had nothing of this yesterday, we just went to a place, entered, walked around without knowing anything about what it was until  the guide started screaming ”hey! the group of Roberto- come here!” – and people where at the toilet, or in a souvenir place, or in totally different places in the archeological site, sort of chaos.. (don’t remember the tour guides name, it’s probably not Roberto)

Anyhow.. I got exactly back to Cuzco in time for the pre meeting with info about the inka trail at 18.30. Met two of the girls that are in the same group as me, two Danish girls. At night we had some Kareoke night at Pariwana, and then I went to sleep earlish.

Skypetalk with my mother... so much fun to see her again! :P

Skypetalk with my mother… so much fun to see her again! :P

Next day, Friday, was chill out and planning day. I skyped with my mother (for the first time, she is so funny and sometimes it surprises me how un-technical she is, haha!). I also skyped with Duilio (for the thousand time)… Can’t believe I only have the Inka Trail left now, then I’ll be heading to Argentina!!! I’ve been counting the days, and now it’s only 5 days left!!! The day after arriving to Machu Picchu I’m flying to Buenos Aires. I feel like a child looking forward to Christmas. So damn happy.

In the afternoon I prepared for the inka trail, bought a headlight, cereal bars and repacked my stuff… I’m going to have my backpack but I’m leaving some stuff at the hostal.. still quite heavy and big though! But it’s going to be around 0 degrees Celsius at night so I need to bring all my warm clothes – and they take some space. I have really been thinking about what to bring, so let’s hope I don’t have too much or to less stuff with me! I’ll let you know!

First days in Cuzco

Arrived at Cuzco like 6am in the morning, I directly felt good when I bargained down the cab from 8 soles to 5 too, haha. I went to the hare Krishna temple, as Krishna Govinda had told me to, but he wasn’t there. Luckily they go up like 4 am in the morning to go to the temple so someone was awake. He said that everybody was at another temple on the weekends, and wouldn’t come back until next day or the day after that.. Well.. So I was in an empty big room with mattrasses on the floors, the mother’s room.. and there was another couchsurfer there, haha, weird. I didn’t have any mattress so I borrowed one for the night… but still.. I didn’t really feel comfortable.

My first room in the hare krishna tempel...

My first room in the hare krishna tempel…


The toilets was downstairs, the shower was a stockholm-toilet as we say, a very small space where the shower is above the toilet sit, so not really a shower… , no hot water, no internet.. I felt kind of lost there in a room filled with stuff everywhere but no one was there. I met up with Jill, who I met in Ica and couchsurfed together. We had breakfast at a place in the same street where the temple is, quite expensive but really delicious. We talked a lot about everything, so much fun to catch up with her! After that we went around for a while, visiting small shops and markets (lovely shoes!), the 12
th stone and Plaza de armas. It’s beautiful! Cuzco was the capital of the Inka empire and everything here has a lot of history.

Breakfast with Jill!

Breakfast with Jill!

The famous stone with 12 corners!

The famous stone with 12 corners!

Panorama over the main square in cuzco

Panorama over the main square in cuzco

Shoes!! I love all of them. Don't you?

Shoes!! I love all of them. Don’t you?

I went with her to her hostel where she works and lives, and wow, such a good vibe there!! 26 soles a night… good beeds… big patio with ping pong table and puffs.. bar and restaurant.. movie room.. internet everywhere… hot water :) Haha. I will stay one night at the temple since I already have all my stuff there but I will move later.

Jill went to sleep a siesta and I went back, met up with to german couchsurfers that also where staying at the temple, they were going out for a walk in Cuzco to some ruins, so I joined them. We walked up to the surrounding hills (damn it so many stairs, I’m in such a bad shape… and this is like 3400 metres above sea level, so you really notice it!) and passed by the Cristo Blanco and the Saksaywaman ruins. Usually you have to pay to go close there but you can also get the back way in just to visit the area.

Two woman looking out over Cuzco

Two woman looking out over Cuzco

Lot of people out camping, eating and playing games in the fields

Lot of people out camping, eating and playing games in the fields

I guess it’s because it was Sunday, but there were tons of people there in the fields, I think all the Peruvians go there with they kids and families and camp during the weekends. We found some really cool temples around there, it’s so weird, I really don’t understand how the inkas could do this stuff, cut the stones like this.. and why. It’s totally impressive. We stayed there and meditated for a while before heading back in the last hours of sun.

A big stone where a couple is sitting comfortable...

A big stone where a couple is sitting comfortable…

Meditating a bit on the rock. Weird formations.. how did they cut these??

Meditating a bit on the rock. Weird formations.. how did they cut these??

Two girls out with their Llamas

Two girls out with their Llamas

Then I was really hungry because I had forgotten to eat lunch… I went directly to Pariwana hostel where Jill lives, because they were going to have a BBQ this night, and vegetarian : ) It was delicious!! Definitively one of the best bbq food I’ve ever had… so tasty. It was filmnight and we watched a movie in the bar too.. great.

Then I was so tired so I was on my way home, when I met Carla! We both couchsurfed at Kevins place in Arequipa.. haha. Small world! So we started talking and then she introduced me to Mitchell and Rafael from Brazil, and we kept talking for hours.. haha. A little bit funny because the only one of us 4 that actually was staying at the hostal was Rafael, the rest of us was just hanging out and visiting friends :P I had such a funny night.. sometimes you meet people that just makes you laugh all the time – and Michell is like that.. we had such a fun group dynamic, making fun of Carlas “fuegito” haha.. so many intern jokes already, haha.

Group pic at the hostal!

Group pic at the hostal!


So I got back home around 1.30 or something, and guess what – the temple was closed! I was knocked on the door but nothing… I stood there outside for a few minutes thinking about what I should do when I heard a noise inside, someone went to the toilet – hallelujah for not having toilets in the rooms – and he opened up to me haha. Went to sleep with all the clothes I could put on, since it’s around 5 degrees Celsius at night..

Woke up next day and moved to the Pariwana hostel. Got breakfast that morning! The breakfast is until 12, so good! Haha. Best hostal I’ve been too…. Guess what – the lockers have chargers inside!!!! Such a great idea… and every bed has two pillows!! And a duvet!!! I LOVE THAT!! Another detail: the shower has a bathroom mat!! How wonderful is that… small things that makes you happy while traveling.. hehe. They also have free tea 24hours a day… great for the cold nights. :)

And my new room. Love my bed... I have my methods to have privacy ;)

And my new room. Love my bed… I have my methods to have privacy ;)

Me and Jill went to the San Pedro Market and bought some fruits and stuff, I bought a tomato salsa that didn’t have a price – apparently it costed 15 soles!!!! (5-6 usd) Damn expensive.. when you can eat a menu here (first and second course) for 5 soles.. damn it.

Anyhow.. I went to look for Bamba Experience, which is the company that I have booked the Inka Trail with through Green Toad.. it was just around the courner from Pariwana : ) I went there to say that I’m vegetarian, so they would provide me with vegetarian food during the trail… and guess who I bump into – Michell from yesterday! Haha… small world again! He was also changing hostal, and the hostal where Bamba has their office was full, so he changed to Pariwana hostal where I’m staying too. :)

Hanging out at the Pariwana bar.. :)

Hanging out at the Pariwana bar.. :)

At night the hostal arranged salsa night, we learnt the basics.. it was fun to dance a little bit, but difficult since I was dancing with other beginners, haha. At night we finally decided to go out (we were about to stay inside to watch a movie) ..on our way out from the hostel we met a whole other bunch of people going out, so we all joined together.. around 15 people from our hostal :) Went to mama Africa, where we also bumped into Carla again : )
Next day in the morning (ok, around 11) Michell woke me up to say goodbye, he was leaving for lima and then heading up to Colombia.. too sad.. :(

The pariwana-gang at Mama Africa!

The pariwana-gang at Mama Africa!

Michell, Carla, Rafael and me... best gang. Carla is on fire! (look what michell has in his hand... haha)

Michell, Carla, Rafael and me… best gang. Carla is on fire! (look what michell has in his hand… haha)

After that me and Jill went out to buy a tour for tomorrow, we asked at one place and they said 30 soles, but we got it at another place for 20 ;) Then I bought some new shoes for me and Duilio and the rest of the day we just hang out at the hostal.. Love to do nothing! Haha. Just hang out, eat, have internet.. hehe. At night we played some beer-games (ping pong things and stuff.. our team was the worst, haha, but it was fun :) Later we went out to a called 7 angelitos where a tribute band to rolling stones played.

Shoes for me and Duilio ;)

Shoes for me and Duilio ;)

Facu, Nadia, Jorge and Shir cooking in the kitchen

Facu, Nadia, Jorge and Shir cooking in the kitchen

Playing beerpong... :)

Playing beerpong… :)

We were a whole group from Pariwana hostal again, but this time with almost everyone that works there, so no more sad good byes for a while,  at least that’s what I thought, but of course the guy I hang out with the most leaves next day too…. Damn it.. always happens to me! So it’s me, Jill, Shir from Israel, David from Spain and the rest are from Argentina.. Yep.. those Argentinians are everywhere!

After 7 angelitos we went out dancing at mythology and mama Africa, but it wasn’t the same good vibe as before, we went home around 3 or something.

The pariwana-gang at 7 angelitos

The pariwana-gang at 7 angelitos