Bike fun in Arequipa

6 05 2010

The white city of Arequipa in the south of Peru is definitely worth a visit. It is surrounded by three volcanoes   – Chachani, Misti and Pichu Pichu with altitudes close to and above 6000m (18.000ft) – and there is a lot of outdoor stuff to do like rafting, hiking the Colca Canyon and biking. We combined hiking the Chachani with a bike downhill from 5000m  (15.000 ft) altitude.

Mountainbiking starts with a downhill from the foot of El Misti.

Two days before we biked around the Misti with a small detour to the town of Chiguata with a beautiful old church built from the often used white volcanic stone named Sillar.

The church of Chiguata made of white Sillar blocks.

Great fun and cultural experience too because you ride through valleys with pre-Inca terraces which are still used today for growing herbs and alfalfa.

Riding through a valley with pre-Inca terraces.

Beautiful landscape close to Arequipa.

The bike tours are offered by Aldo Pena, who was several times Peruvian champion in mountainbiking and road cycling.

An eagle at the church of Chiguata.

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El condor pasa

3 05 2010

El Condor...

... pasa...

The Colca Canyon ist the second deepest canyon of the world  as we learned while visiting Peru. So it was a must to hike it – and also a good option to get used to the altitude. You start at the small town of Cabanaconde (a 5-6  hours bus ride from Arequipa) and you walk down around 1000m (3.000 ft) to the river in the canyon bed.

Hiking down Colca Canyon.

We ran out of water before we reached the village we were heading for. The hand drawn map had not shown that you had to hike up the canyon on the other side again, then going along the slope and to walk down the whole distance again.

After 8 hours of walking we decided to turn around and  go back to the river – to boil some water and disinfect it.

We slept outside on the sandy river banks in a full moon night at amazing 22 C Celsius at 2.200m (6.600ft) altitude and hiked back up to Cabanaconde  the next morning. Sore muscles guaranteed.

On the way to the Colca Canyon you pass by the Cruce del Condores. We were lucky. Exactly in our 20 minute break there where about five condors soaring close to the look out point in  150 metres (450 ft) distance.

On the way to and from Cabanaconde you drive over the alitplano where a lot of llamas and guanacos are kept in herds. So this is a road sign worth being printed on t-shirts I think.

Beware of Llamas at the altiplano.





Pichu Pichu

2 05 2010

Pichu Pichu means summit to summit

Pichu Pichu means Summit to Summit and it is one of three volcanoes near Arequipa. After a 3 hours drive with a 4×4 we hiked up to 5100m (15500 feet) to set camp there. To get an impression of this vast and lonely landscape check out the PHOTOS.





Lima in two days

25 04 2010

Aren’t we lucky? Meeting people while travelling is natural but with Victoria and Fernando who picked us up at Uspallata it is something special. Fernando lives in Lima and invited us to stay at his place when we arrived from Caracas, Whow. Two days of perfect private guiding through the city of Lima, dining at special places, seeing the nice spots – thanks again, Fernando for two great days.

Scallops galore at the Hawaian restaurant, Lima

Like all the major cities in Peru Lima has a Plaza des Armas with catholic churches and monasteries built by the Spanish conquerors – Lima even has a museum for the Spanish Inquisition – then the way to convince anybody that the catholic God is the only one….

Plaza de Armas Lima

Besides that Lima is the city with the most water fountains we have ever seen, there is even a special park for illuminated water plays. Lima is also sort of food capital of Peru with various restaurants and tons of seefod and an own mixture of Chinese and Peruvian – called Chifa – which is still quite Chinese.
Best was a buffet at the “Hawaian” where you could eat as much as you can with nice conchas (scallops), sushi; all kinds of fish and meat and typical peruvain postres (desserts) which are really really sweet.
The Miraflores district we stayed in is close to the sea where hundreds of surfers are trying to catch the wave – only the water temperature is not really comfortable. Definitely below 20 degrees C.

Waveriding beach at Miraflores Lima, Peru

By the way – they now call it Mira Torres (see the towers instead of see the flowers) because of all the high buildings – but we found it still has its charme especially the beach front with a long stretched park wehere you meet runners, bmxers, skaters and a capoeira group (again) practising.
Fernando helped us getting a bus to Arequipa because LAN had not accepted our booking/payment for flight from Lima to AQP – Oltursa got us in a night drive of 14 hrs to Arequipa, the white city of Peru, surrounded by volcanoes.

More pics on FLICKR





Good bye Caracas

23 04 2010

Leaving Caracas - flying to Lima





Pearl of the Carribean

22 04 2010








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To avoid the rainy season of Peru in march we decided to have a sort of holiday in between our travel program. Looking for a place where you could windsurf and surf – and have nice weather and warm water – we stranded at Isla de Margarita, belonging to Venezuela, 40 km north east from Caracas.

Let’s make 3 weeks short: We had a wonderful stay at the Villa Carribean Sunshine thanks to the heartily and personal care of Waltraud (you guessed it – she is german) who lives for 17 years on the island. She showed us the best cocada place and gave us all the tips for the best spots, restaurants and what to do and where to go. And we met Alonso through her, fisherman, diver, surfer  who delivered langustos, camarones  and fish fresh out of the water.

Nadine and Sammy paid us a visit (more on  www.carajitoplaya.blogspot.com, sorry, only in german) and also Natascha – so we all had a good time riding the waves and cruising the island with our Chevrolet – in this case a real Chevrolet Caprice, 6 cylinders and all the bells and whistles a 20 year old American car had to offer.

Thanks to Vicente we learned a lot about surfing and Capoeira. And Kim and Natascha had one of their worst muscle aches in years after their first lesson.

La Isla de Margarita is also called the pearl of the carribean – not because it is so shiny but because there were pearl banks which were looted by the Spaniards when they discovered South America. Now the Venezuelans are looting the alcohol contingents of the island while partying during the Semana santa which is more a unholy week. I have never seen before people standing waist deep in the water eating chips and drinking cuba libre with 80:20 rum and coke…

But what can you expect from a country where alcohol and petrol are the cheapest goods because they are tax free. One litre of 95 octane costs 1 Euro cent – Venezuela has the 4th biggest oil reservoirs of the globe, questions anyone?

The  controlled shortage of electricity of 2 hours daily and a strike on our departure day where one of the streets  to  the airport was blocked with burning tyres indicates that the country is not in best shape – to say it this way. If you want to know more about the situation you can watch this TV coverage from the german station NDR.

Okay, lets stay with the good points:

  • 27/27 – these are the temperatures of air and sea in Celsius, and this is 24/7.
  • The best cocada (a mixture of coconut milk, coconut flesh and ice) and therefore also superbe pina coladas we ever drank.
  • Fresh juices from every exotic fruit you can imagine.
  • Fresh seafood and sushi to reasonable prices.
  • Great waves for experts and beginners at the beaches Playa del Agua, Playa Parguito and Playa Guacuco.
  • Good constant wind at Playa El Yaque for windsurfing and kite surfing.




Hop in, hop out

28 03 2010

Santiago de Chile is a warm relaxed, almost European looking and feeling  like city with a  perfect quarter with restaurants, bars and cultural life: Bella Vista. We had a hostel right there. Which meant we had only one minute to walk to sit and relax at a nice restaurant. And it also meant that we nearly did not sleep because our room was close to the lively street and it felt as if all the shouting, laughing people walked right over our bed at 3 o’clock in the morning.

We had to get up early because we had booked a flight to Caracas at 9.00 in the morning and – as rumours said – you had to be at the airport 3 hours before your flight left because of the chaos at the airport caused by the earthquakes some weeks earlier.  So we had to get up at 5 in the morning. Which brings me to the fact that travelling is not always holidays….  but, hey, no complaints.

Nearly asleep we arrived  at the airport just to learn that everything was working fine and there was no visible damage or problems – as we had also not detected any damages in the city at all. Trust only the facts you dramatized yourself … or so goes a journalist’s saying.

By the way: The food in Santiago was very good – I had mussels with cheese (yes) and Kim had a big salad with all sorts of veggies and  fresh green stuff. But the best was the celebration of the “wine month”: Buy a bottle from a selection of a special menu and you get a second one for free which you can either drink or take home with you. Feels like “Happy Month” instead of “Happy Hour”. We decided to take it to Isla de Margarita/Venezuela, our next station.