This has been one of the most memorable months of the whole year. Simply because we have seen and done so much in such a short time and everything has been pretty darn amazing.
Mountains, lakes, lagoons, flamingos, star gazing, salt flats, death road, the Amazon, Machu Picchu just to name a few! The month has been jam packed and full of adventure.
San Pedro de Atacama
Our month began in the Atacama desert, we took a night bus from La Serena to Calama and then another bus from there to San Pedro de Atacama where we spent 5 days exploring the nearby area.
San Pedro is all about the day trips and we made sure we did them all and we are so glad that we did because each and every one of them was so worth it.
Valle de la Luna was our first one, it literally felt like we were on Mars and watching the sunset over the rock formations was just fantastic. We walked through caves and rock formations before ending up at this amazing spot for sunset.
Star gazing in the Atacama was just incredible as it is one of the best places in the world to do so. The air is thin, you are at altitude and the sky was so clear. We got to see various planets and moons through telescopes but the real highlight was seeing the rings of saturn.
The red rocks full day tour was beyond spectacular. We were able to walk along a frozen salt lake whilst volcanos towered over us in the distance. This scenery was just a taste of all the good things to come though.
We went to see some geysers that were at 4300m above sea level very early one morning. Although they didn’t shoot water up into the air like ones we’ve seen before, there were more than 50 active geysers in the area so it was incredible to see them all steaming at sunrise.
San Pedro to Uyuni
From San Pedro we then picked up a 3 day, 2 night tour that took us into Bolivia and finishing at the famous salt flats.
Although I suffered a bit with the altitude it was all just too beautiful and the scenery was without doubt some of the best I had seen in all of South America. We did the tour in a 4WD jeep with 6 of us in total, our driver didn’t speak any English but lucky for us we had one Spanish speaker on board.
Breathtaking was a word we used a lot in our 4WD because that really was the only way to describe it. We made it to the salt flats for sunrise on the last day and had lots of fun doing silly perspective photos.
We overnight bused to the big city La Paz where we spent 4 days doing Death Road, Cholita wrestling, a walking tour and wondering what goes on behind the doors of San Pedro Prison from the book ‘Marching Powder’.
After a really crazy busy two weeks we were all craving a bit of down time to relax and recharge. Copacabana in Lake Titicaca was the place.Our hostel was beyond amazing, it had stunning views, great food and pet alpacas. We spent four glorious days in the sunshine here.
After four glorious days in the sunshine at Copacabana we crossed the border into Peru and headed for the town of Puno to visit the floating islands on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca. First we visited the island of Uros to see how people traditionally live on the floating islands made of reeds and then we went to a beautiful island called Taquile Island. It was a great spot and an insight into how people live on the island, still in a very traditional way.
After the quick stop in Puno it was then onto Cusco where five of us had rented an airbnb apartment for the next two weeks so we could base ourselves in Cusco and do trips from there. The airbnb was a great base for us and we really enjoyed having a house instead of a hostel room where we could cook, laze around and watch netflix if we wanted to (and we did a lot).
In Cusco we enjoyed eating at Jacks Cafe and wandering around the old town, we didn’t like the constant harassment to buy a tour, get a massage, enter a restaurant or buy an alpaca sweatshirt. It was a super touristy town and really busy so I definitely didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would.
The Amazon was a bit of a last minute booking but we booked a flight from Cusco to Puerto Maldanaldo and headed for the awesome eco resort called Amazon Planet. We spent three nights, four days in the Amazon and it was a truly memorable experience.
We did jungle walks, canopy walks, canoeing around a lake, night time walks and floated down the river at sunset one evening. We got three course meals, a beautiful cabin to sleep in and our guide was amazing.
We came back to Cusco for a couple of days before heading off to Machu Picchu, we took the cheapest possible route which included a bus journey, a walk, staying in a small town and getting up at 4am to get into the site early. I was personally a little underwhelmed by it and was shocked at how many people they let in. It was so busy! We stayed there for a few hours before going back to Cusco.
We spent a couple of nights in Arequipa which is a beautiful town in Peru, we didn’t do much as the town was just a nice place to walk around. We grabbed some helado queso which is famous in Arequipa as well as good coffee and I even popped into the Kiwi bar for a drink.
To finish up the month we arrived into Huacachina which is a teeny tiny oasis in the middle of the desert where you can go sand boarding and get on a dune buggy through the massive sand dunes. It was pretty scary for me as you get to the top of a ridge and you go straight down super fast. The sand boarding was really fun and it’s a great spot to watch the sunset.
Plans for next month:
Fly to Colombia
Tayrona National Park
Providencia Island – Caribbean