A Travellerspoint blog

October 2011

Cotopaxi

semi-overcast 12 °C

The best-laid plans can always go astray so now we find ourselves in the shadow of one of the largest and highest volcanoes in the world, Cotopaxi Ecuador.P1060003

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We were originally heading for Banos but the road was cut so the next bus was heading here and we jumped on. We finally arrived at the eco-lodge hostel hoping they would have a room and with a little bit of shuffling they squeezed us in thankfully. It was going to be a long road back if they couldn’t. P1060064

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Cotopaxi stretches up to well over 5000 m and although the heart says climb to the summit the mind and body says different. It seems somewhere between 10 and 20 percent only actually make the summit where crampons and ice picks are necessary. We need to acclimatise again here for a couple of days as the altitude can really make you a bit ill. Any kind of exertion can affect your breathing where just taking a short walk can take a bit out of you. Our first day here saw us take the small waterfall trek which winds further uphill and through bush to a beautiful little waterfall with a swimming hole. Only the bravest of the brave or the stupid take the plunge as the water is absolutely freezing, fresh after defrosting from the snow.P1020131

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P1020132.jpg It goes without saying that the challenge was met. We made the trek with our guide Peter and about eight other brave souls and after about half an hour found ourselves standing at the edge of a ten foot waterfall in our togs just about to do the most stupid thing in our lives. I don’t know what was worse, the wait in the freezing water while some poor fool jumped or the plunge into the pool. Suffice to say I only jumped once but the boys managed a few goes before succumbing to the numbness. Matt even did the obligatory flip just to prove he was more manly than anyone else.
The following day we decided to take on the Pasachoa trek. Pasachoa is a climb that took us over 4200 meters and allowed us to see all of the volcanoes with a 360 degree view. P1060050

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The climb is pretty difficult without the altitude but when you add that in it almost feels like every step takes your breath away. We finally made it to the top and managed a few photos before we headed back down and a bight to eat. All up it took about six hours and we probably climbed or fell with style for most of that. The hostal had beautiful warm soup and bread waiting for us and after a shower we felt brand new. Patti hit the bed, Matthew took the walk to the waterfall again and has gone swimming and Brenton and I are veging out.
We haved moved further into the interior of Ecuador and have landed in Banos.P1060098

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Banos is a place the boys have been really looking forward to. We were in the place about 2 hours and they decided to jump off the Sanfran Cisco bridge. P1060084

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The drop is 120 meters.... crazy. P1060086

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Tomorrow its white water rafting. Andiamo

Posted by mike1967 19:25 Archived in Ecuador Comments (0)

Santa Marta

sunny 40 °C

Well here we are stuck in the middle of a traffic jam in Barranquilla, Colombia caused by what appears to be a flash flood. The chorus of car,van,bus and truck horns coupled with what I’m sure is a donkey ee-haw is hilarious. What I have found odd about this part of Colombia is the mad dash of commuters who feel the need to race everywhere and blast there horns when it is clear they really don’t have anywhere to go. At the moment our bus driver will not budge an inch to allow another car into our traffic jam even though we have not moved more than twenty meters in the last hour. It must go against his Colombian manliness to give in. Two hours later……….P1050914

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We’re finally back on the road and moving at breakneck speed to make our destination. Manuel is doing his best imitation of Montoya and only using the road rules as a general guide but nothing to be really adhered to. Double lines are an opportunity for him to test his skills against oncoming traffic with a bit of daring since most of his passing manoeuvres seem to be on hills going around blind corners.
We have just spent a couple of days right up on the coast in a town called Santa Marta. From there we went to the Tayrona National Park for some fishing and snorkelling. P1020055

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I managed to disgrace the team again by not only getting sick in the boat but continuing to throw my heart up while snorkelling. It was a nice day, the boys caught some fish and we ate it at a little hut while swinging in hammocks. P1020088

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The boat skipper was a great bloke and took us to heaps of snorkelling places and a few cliff jumping sites. P1020106

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We have made it back in to Cartagena and are once again holed up in the Chilli house. It’s got a nice atmosphere in the place but unfortunately not much else. We have our own room and ensuite but no aircon. The staff are really friendly but its the kind of place that Patti and I feel like house parents. Not normally our kind of place but it looked great on the net. Heading back to Bogota tomorrow and then down through the coffee district for a few days trekking and then down to Quito, Equador. Andiamo P1020092.jpg[P1020077.jpg

Posted by mike1967 12:21 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

Bogota, Colombia

semi-overcast 16 °C

We have finally made into South America and probably to the most challenging part of our tour. We don’t speak the language and it seems already that the barriers will be a little tougher than what we are used to. The accommodations are a little rougher but then the adventure value is higher. We have decided to place ourselves with most independent travellers and seek the places where there is a little more excitement. Arriving in Bogota, Colombia we didn’t really know what to expect although having already travelled through some third world countries we had a fair idea. True to form there was the usual noise and chaos at the airport and then the taxi ride from hell dodging everything from horse and carts to trucks, motorbikes and anything else that moves. It seems we hardly blink an eye now and I think I actually caught a few winks. We decided to stay in Colombia’s La Candaleria didtrict. ]P1010950

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Once known for a hotbed of violence and corruption the area has been kind of gentrified with most of the cities art galleries, parliament and universities in or close to this area. There are stacks of hostels and restaurants around the area and it seems like a police officer or two on every corner. Because of all the students there is a lot of art both on and off the streets giving the place a real edgy feel although it is the oldest part of the city dating back to the 1500’s. We have had our own rooms for a few days in Alegria’s hostel. Nice place but a front door hinge that just doesn’t squeak when opened it yells and screams with protest every time someone even looks at it. Patti and I must have been woken a dozen times by this door that seemed to have a foovoozela attached to it. Of couse once again the boys got the better end of the deal and slept like babies. Apart from that it was a great place, met some really cool travellers and got some great tips. Its like swings and roundabouts in hostels, sometimes not as comfortable as a hotel but meeting people in a kitchen or around the fire watching a rugby game can help make travelling sometimes not so much as a drag. The boys hired a few bikes and we toured the city with our trusty guide Manuel ( probably not his real name). he took us everywhere around the city through some pretty hair raising traffic( taxi’s were against us this time) and we managed to get a good look around. 4P1010976.jpgThe boys seemed to like a lot of the graffiti art work which is all about politics and freedom. A lot of Banksy inspired stuff so I’m told.
We managed to see most of Bogota’s attractions, a few galleries and made it to Monseratte via a funicular ride up and a cable car down. 1P1010971.jpgP1010977

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Bogota seems to go on forever and although the city was interesting I was glad to board the plane to Cartagena. Andiamo

Posted by mike1967 19:20 Archived in Colombia Comments (0)

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