Sunday, October 18, 2009

Pucon.. Rallies and Volcanos

Elaaaa Foufi, and hello again Mother and Father... when you get back from Scotland and have internet again.

I just wanted to pop some photo's up so you can see the places I've been the last couple of weeks... Pucon, San Pedro de Atacama and before that Mancora. For me the most important thing to show you is these photo's of our volcano trek yesterday. Seriously the photo's don't do it justice and exactly how steep it was doesn't seem to come through in the photo's.

First though, when we arrived in Pucon they were setting up a podium in the town centre with Mobil banners all over it. In my mind that only ment one thing... Rallying. And I was right, the national Rally of Chile was in town. As such I headed down to the centre on the evening to watch the opening ceremony for the event. It seemed like the whole town had turned out for the event and it was awesome to see.

Rally of Chile

Pucon is the adventure sports capital of Chile and possibly all of South America. You can hike, go rafting, horse riding, mountain biking, paragliding and jump out of aeroplanes... however the thing Pucon is possibly most famous for is Volcano Villarica, the volcano which looms over the town.
Without fully looking into exactly what it entailed, me and Marco signed up to hike to the volcano's crater. The next day the cloud had cleared and we could see the volcano in all its snow capped majesty, and god did it look big!

Me at the start of the hike.... ice axe and all

The summit, so far away

Early in the hike, look I'm still smiling, and it's not even a scared smile

A well deserved break

Still sooooo far to go

Early in the day team photo

Again... still sooooo far to go

Finally we're making progress, and it's starting to get steeper

Almost there and so steep

Vistory team photo at the crater

The view from the sumit

Like I said for the whole of the last hour to an hour and a half I was pretty much continually having a panic attack. The photo's seriously don't even vaguely show how steep it was, I kept getting this feeling I was going to fall off the world... weird I know.

At the crator

The crater was amazing, it was smoking but it was so deep you couldn't see the lava down in the bottom. But it was amazing.

It was hard not to imagine what would happen if it errupted... I think we'd have been done for in all honesty

The crater was huge, that's Marco in the distance

Look at that view... you can't really see but I'm still panicking

So I managed to trek Volcano Villarica, apparently even if the weather permits only about 50% of people actually make it to the top... let alone people who have a fear of heights haha. And now it's time for body boarding down a white water river ;)

San Pedro de Atacama

After Mancora although we'd had alot of fun hanging by the pool etc we were in need of a little culture. Having already traveled through most of southern Peru previously as part of the GAP trip we decided to power through and head straight down to San Pedro de Atacama in the Atacama desert. Now to get there involved alot of traveling, and I've already told you all how that went.

Once we arrived in San Pedro we needed to find a hostel, after walking around in the baking desert heat (we wrongly assumed Chile was going to be cold... I can confirm we were wrong, look at those skies) we found the below hostel. After a little bargaining we were all checked in.

Hostel Puritama

All the buildings in San Pedro are made from Adobe and externally all have a very basic feel, beautiful though.

The courtyard

My number one skype/email location in San Pedro

San Pedro has a very beautiful central plaza where the town's oldest building can be found. It was a beautiful old white washed adobe building, though the roof did appear to be falling in.

Me and the oldest building in San Pedro

San Pedro church

One of the 'must see's' listed in the Chile guidebook was the museum in San Pedro. As we were in town I had one of my 'days of learning' and headed to the museum. It set out the history of the people of San Pedro and there influences from the surrounding tribes etc.

Some ancient pottery in the museum

On our final night in San Pedro Chile were playing Columbia in their final qualifying game for the 2010 world cup. We sat and watched the game in a massively crowded bar with an old German chap called Dieter. He'd lived in Peru for the majority of his life, he was 70 and didn't look a day over 55. And he'd just bought a small patch of land about 10km outside of San Pedro and was now settling down to the simple life

Marco, Dieter and Me

At the final whistle Chile had beaten Columbia 4-2 and had qualified for the world cup for the first time in 12yrs. The bar, and inturn the town, errupted into celebration... celebrations which continued long into the night.

Chi chi chi... le le le... viva Chile!!

Friday, October 16, 2009


After traveling pretty intensely for the last two months or so and with the colder climes of southern Chile rapidly approaching we decided to head north in search of a rest and some warm weather. And we certainly found it. We headed to the north coast of Peru to the border with Equador... a little town called Mancora.

On the internet we found a recomendation for a hostel whilst sorting our accomodation for Lima. The hostel was called Loki and boasted amongst other things a awesome looking pool... as always I was sold.

Loki Hostel... not your average hostel

The pool and bar area

The view from the balconey

There really wasn't too much to do in Mancora, its a little beach town that has a good break for learning to surf. And it has a nice beach that stretches off as far as the eye can see.

The town

Loki hostel was amazing, it turned out that Mancora was a little sketchy but in all honesty there wasn't any great to leave the hostel really... other than to go in search of the internet and skype headsets ;)

Loki had a system of employing travelers behind the bar, which ment no matter when you headed over there was someone to talk to... and we made some real good friends. These boys were from the North and we got on like a house on fire.

Naomi, Dom, Alex, me and Marco

Another fun thing about Loki was they had a lot of competitions and organised sports going on, like pool volleyball, fussball, table tennis and my personal favourite bowling on the nintendo wii. The below photo shows Marco competing in one of the many bowling competition.


And finally a beautiful sunset

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Nazca Lines & Sandboarding

Ela fouf, and hello mother and father, hope your all enjoying the newest photos. It's fun sending up-to-date photos for all three of you to see.

After Porta Inca we continued down the coast to Nazca, to see the famous Nazca Lines. The lines are like giant sketches on the desert floor and were created by the ancient Inca's. There's various theories as to what the lines and drawings are, such as that they are a giant ancient calender. They are also so large they can only really be send from the air, which raises questions over how they were made.

Due to the fact they can only be seen from the air we all booked onto a light aircraft flight over them. We were warned that to see the giant drawings properly requires the pilot to throw the aircraft around alot, and they weren't joking... I have to say by the time the flight finished I was feeling more than a little queezy.

Me & Marco and the light aicraft

Hopefully you'll be able to make out the various shapes we saw. They weren't always quite so well defined against the desert floor.

The Alien

The desert floor

The spider

The humming bird

The tree

After flying over the lines we went to a nearby Nazca cemetary, where the mummified bodies of centuries old Nazca people are preserved. I have to say I found the cemetary trip all a little strange, looking at the mummified remains of people who died hundreds of years ago all felt a little wrong, like we shouldn't really be looking at them.

A mummy in the cemetary museum

The Nazca people used to bury their dead with offerings for them to take to the next life, as they believed this existance was only the beginning and therefore didn't fear death.

Remains in the actual cemetary

After visiting Nazca we headed on to another town relatively close by up the coast to camp for the night. On our arrival in the late afternoon Neil had arranged for us to go Sandboarding and Dune buggying. Both were amazing, sand boarding involved 'sledging' on your front down giant sand dunes... and sand buggying involved driving really really fast up, down and around massive dunes in the below vehicle. It was alot of fun and we managed to catch the sunset too.

The dune buggy

Me enjoying the breakneck speeds

Dunes, dunes...

and more dunes

The dunes we sandboarded down were huge, and alot of fun.

Neil contemplating the next run

Marco zooming down a dune

Lovely pink skies

Sunset over the dunes

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Porta Inca

Elaaaa foufi, and now hello mother and father too!

Finally after what seems like months of being cold in the mountains we have finally made it back to the coast, Porta Inca to be exact. We were camping on the beach, and me and Marco did have concerns we'd pitched our tent a little too close to the sea and that we could quite easily wake up floating out to sea!

The beach

Email time

Other than the beach there really wasn't much else in Porta Inca, but it was nice just to have a walk out on the headlands and just hangout. In the evening we had a delicious bbq again cooked by the drivers, then the next morning thankfully the weather was nice, so we decided to have a little swim. As we're on the Pacific the water was colllllddddd, and the waves were more than a little rough. We had a swim but as with so many of the places I've swum on the Pacific we had to be careful we didn't get pulled out by the rip.

The beach and the resort

The Headland

The boys contemplating the waves

Reluctantly going in

Over or under?

Wipe out

After the swimming we decided to have a little game of beach volleyball. Everything was going fine until disaster struck again! dam weak feet!

Beach volleyball

Lining up for another winning serve

I haven't put in any actual photos of the injury, but the below photo shows Ruth and Marco trying to operate... well clean it with Alcohol. Ouuucccchh. I'm pleased to say it's now fully healed and, as with all my foot injuries, but a distant memory.

Silly silly feet