When we arrived in Huaraz we basically piggy backed a ride in a taxi, with a couple who had made a reservation before turning up at 7am, unlike us. We checked in to our room in Raju which had no window to the outside world meaning we managed to sleep until 11! Waking up delirious and disorientated we went on a hunt to soothe our bellies, we shared some street food, then wondered around town looking for a wall plug for what felt like the millionth time. Turns out electronics don’t last out here. Missions fulfilled we went to head home only to realise we didn’t have a clue of our hostels name and had walked beyond our sense of direction. Now feeling like absolute prats and wondering how we always manage to end up in these situations, by absolute chance we stumbled cross our hostel that was not in fact named Abdul as daisy thought or frow as I had thought. That evening we befriended an Irish lad staying in our hostel and grabbed some cheep dinner and beers together whilst discussing unsolved scuba diving accidents, shark attacks and other dark interesting story’s. I believe our interest in these subjects might have scared him of ,as once we got back to the hostel he agreed to a cup of tea and just disappeared with his tea going cold.
The next morning at 5 am we set off on our tour to Laguna 69. The buss journey was long and we drifted between conversation and sleep. We set off at an optimistic pace the moment the doors opened gawping at the already fantastic views. With dominating cliffs and mountains looming in every direction.
After trecking for a few hours where you would scramble up vertical hills and at the top be greeted with amazing flat fields full of cows and scattered Laguna’s. Only to have to scramble up again. Where I was unsure if It was the views of the altitude that were taking my breath away.
It was definitely the altitude as the last 1km dragged, we stoped regularly to catch our breath only to loose it again instantly. The view that greeted us at the top was worth every achey step!
Huge icy mountains surrounded a lagoon so amazingly blue it didn’t look real, the sort of thing you see a photo off and assume is edited.
It is here that we all chose an individual rock and drifted off feeling peaceful and accomplished.
The walk back was an absolute breeze despite the headaches. We chewed some coca leaves supposedly good for altitude and headed back to the city arriving at 8pm. We ate a rushed but beautiful Indian at Chilli Heaven, the portions were huge which was definitely necessary after a full day of hiking surviving only on snacks.
Next stop Lima.
After a night bus to Huanchaco we arrived spaced out and sleep deprived. So now starved and needing a coffee hit we headed off in search of somewhere to fit the bill. Some fruit and coffee later and we decided to head to Chan Chan an archeological sight near by. Safe to say it was not our cup of tea and without a guide to explain what we were looking at we ended up just discussing in depth what out next tattoos would be whilst wandering aimlessly and taking funny photos.
Which was not a good idea and just ended with us being escorted out.
That night we were surround by pissed up surfers and decided if you can’t beat em join em… this was a bad idea as hours later after rounds of blind Jenga we were loaded in to a taxi by a rather sensible 18 year old who wanted to make sure we got home ok. Despite this we only managed to stay in the taxi for a few seconds before we bundled out horrified by the price. And opted for a stagger home instead only stopping to devour burgers with the locals looking pretty classy with mayonnaise down our chins and Daisy’s bleeding knee. The next morning feeling like I had just been dragged out of a lamas arse and with a serious case of dry mouth I just about managed to drag myself out to the balcony. So I could die with a nice view at least.
That day was spent staring off at the walls of various cafes as we ate like bottomless pits, swearing we will never drink again.
Next stop Huaraz for some mountain treks!
Our flight back to the mainland was a turbulent death trap most of which was caused by our coffee shakes. The flight operated like a bus where once at Guayaquil we disembarked with only half the passengers as the others stayed aboard for the next stop Quito. We got straight on a night bus to Tumbes Peru and against all advice crossed South America’s most dangerous boarder at night. We hopped off the bus at immigration where there was a power cut and we stood in the dark the only light the bored staffs phones illuminating their faces as they scrolled social media, until the systems rebooted. Finally we were cleared and got back on our bus and drove through a refugee camp with Venezuelans sleeping rough and in tents. The boarders all over South America have seemed overwhelmed with refugees. We swapped busses in Tumbes and boarded the only bus leaving at this time of night. A bus run by some very obviously coked up men. At least 5 of them were wedged in the cockpit chain smoking and aggressively chewing on god knows what! So 2am tired and pissed off we arrive in Mancora with nowhere to stay.
Mancora is the Peruvian equivalent to Palomino (Colombia) but minus the power cuts. It has a laid back hippy vibe that bubbles over in to a party town at night. The beaches are long stretches with only a scattering of bodies.
There are plenty of food options and we have tried the £2 set menus all over town. Whole bbq fish, Chinese inspired Peruvian classics and ice cream coffees to die for.
We’ve spent our days lazing on the beach soaking up the sun or covering ourselves in mud at the mud baths trying to calm the sunburn. This being the only time it is acceptable to roll in the mud sober.
We have leisurely nibbled our way around town enjoying the slow paced lifestyle after our jam packed Ecuadorean escapades. In the evening we have enjoyed a few beers or pisco sours watching the town come to life, but quickly sneak off to bed before our minds become hazy. Being the good girls our friends back home didn’t think existed.
Throughout our stay I have been discussing ideas with a local tattooist and tonight before our night bus my ideas shall come alive.
Baños has a small town feel to it buried high up in the mountains. The first night our hostel was lacking in dorm beds so we were upgraded to a private room and all for the same price as I cheekily suggested, proving my mum was always right when she said don’t ask and you won’t get. That night I ate a two course meal and drank half a bottle of wine, whilst Daisy sat across the table from me feeling ill but politely nodding along to my tipsy ramblings.
The next morning we rented bikes and set off on a 17km bike ride along a busy road with no helmets and in the pissing it down rain. We passed four beautiful waterfalls before arriving at Pailon del Diablo. Where we stared mesmerised as the crashing water resembled the flames of a fire and the spray the smoke rising in thick patterns before hitting the rocks. Now soaked to the skin from the ride we resembled drowned rats. And opted for a lift back in a pickup where we squelched in our shoes and my jeans felt at least two sizes smaller making me feel as though I had been sectioned in my own clothes.
Now absolutely starved we rode around town in search of some lunch. I got distracted by a veggie looking place, nearly dropped my bag, slammed on the brakes so hard that I nearly went over the handle bars. It Was a close shave but a great find of Avo burrito! So was totally worth the bruised shin.
That night we went to a vegetarian restaurant called Healthy Cafe the food was to die for. We ordered two different curries and both were amazing and even better washed down with a bottle of red. So now drunk, full and ranted out we stumbled home.
After an unproductive day we went for dinner in an amazing Spanish place Tascos! The tapas were amazing and all the surrounding tables, us and the owner friendlily conversed between courses. When we got back to the hostel we found the place a complete mad house, the already strange residents were even stranger with the addition of beer pong and brightly coloured wigs. They couldn’t understand us brits being sober and kept trying to pressure tequila shots on us, until we locked ourselves in a dark room and tried to watch a film that was intermittently interrupted by strange shadows opening the door.
The next morning we went to Casa Arbol for some not so high adrenaline but super cheep swings and zip lines. With lots of time to kill before our night bus we went for some Chinese massages where I was manoeuvred like a piece of meat being aggressively rubbed up. So now sufficiently tenderised we headed off to the city ready for our flight to the Galápagos Islands.
The entire journey to Jardin we felt like experienced travellers ruffing it with the locals. Wedged in to the back of the bus where the luggage usually goes. After a quick beer we headed to bed in our new hostel Arcadia, a hostel with three story bunk beds and riddled with bed bugs!
The next morning itchy enough to want to rip off my own skin, we burnt some pancakes and scattered wishing we had never returned to Medellin. Next stop Jardin a supposed three hour bus drive that took five. We got stuck in traffic and I found myself super annoyed and restless waiting in the heat until we passed the reason for it. A car accident that lives had almost definatly been lost in, it left me feeling hollow as people gasped at the tragedy and I wanted to cry for the message a family was about to receive. The rest of the journey was spent in silence as I realised how lucky we are to be here. Jardin is a beautiful small town with soo much choice of food.
Our first meal was spent in a busy local place where we invited ourselves to sit at a table with a fellow backpacker, from the moment we sat down we managed to make her feel uncomfortable as we scratched our bites that were now everywhere, discussing the possibility that we had caught some sort of skin condition. Needless to say she ate quickly and left before she caught said skin problem. Dinner was Thai at a place called Bon appetite. And that evening we readily jumped on a very sketchy unsafe looking cable car to a view point high in the mountain. Where we enjoyed a beer whilst taking funny selfies, just two goons set loose on the world.
Breakfast was a DIY of cereals and toast, I opted for cereals a bad option as they barely kept the hunger at bay as we set off to to the local river. Which was beautiful, feeling like Mowgli off the jungle book we jumped along the rocks up river for a beautiful unspoilt view.
On the way back we ended up tagging along on the back of a tour in to some cave tunnels full of bats. At this point we were feeling pretty smug believing we had just blended in and avoided paying the £2 entry. We strutted out only to be asked to pay up, proving that even with out now off white skin we are still easy to spot amongst the other tanned tourists. Now lured away from the beauty by the familiar hum of hunger on the horizon we set off in search of a vegetarian restaurant “Dueños silvestiano”
The food was amazing and we inhaled it in record time, but then feeling super healthy and needing balance in our lives we searched for a bakery to stock up on treats for our upcoming bus trip. A doughnut and a caramel filled pastry cone in hand and we boarded the very festive looking locals bus to Riosucio.
Another day another tan line. This time an awkward neck burn caused by shit sun cream application. There is more skill involved in this apparently simple task than meets the eye. So our first evening here in palomino welcomed the first of a series of blackouts that have happened throughout our stay. Meaning no lights, phone reception or WiFi! So after walking through an apparent ghetto, looking for a better rout to town than through the woods we found a nice bar with a back up generator so we pitched up there to wait for our friends from back home. Hoping that they would be drawn in by the music and lights. We were in luck a few hours later we recognised their silhouettes and signalled them in. A nice dinner later with our very jet lagged companions where at least one person was starring off in to space at any given moment and we all retired to bed exhausted but optimistic for tubing the next day. Another early start and we waited on the beach for the others to arise. Then we all set off in the mid day sun with giant tubes balanced on our heads on an uphill sweaty trek. We expected some sort of rapid adventure but instead it was the most chilled lazy river ever, where we marvelled at the surrounding beauty for the first 10 minuets then spent the next hour with clenched bladders and complaining about the lack of food and beer. When the river finally washed up on the beach, six very hungry sunburn Brit’s rushed back to civilisation for some falafel wraps and beers. That evening we passed by a restaurant I been recommended “7 mares” it was completely empty and my so called comedian friends sarcastically joked about making a reservation. Karma hit us when after a few cocktails we tried to return for dinner to find every table full! So after a few walks up and down the street staring desperately in willing the people to eat faster and leave, we decided our bellies could wait no more and settled for pizza.
So day four and we are still fucked from jet lagg infact it seems to be getting worse we were up at 5.30am this morning! So being the resoureful cheep skates that we are we decided against a guided tour (a running theme for us) and instead headed off in search of a local bus to take us to the waterfall. Which was seriously amusing for the locals who bombarded us with friendly chatter, at an hour thats too early to function in english let alone spanish! We were advised to leave the hostel at about 9am but instead arrived way before 8 and had the place to ourselves. By mid day we were all waterfalled out and decided to head back to the hostel. Apparently the busses went every half hour so after waiting for 15 minuets we decided we should start walking back and just thumb down the bus on its way past. This may sound simple but with the “Colombian Clocks” we ended up walking for about 2 hours in the mid day sun with no water and having completely sweated off our sun cream feeling like something off bear grills. Our necks costantly snapping round at the slightest sound of a vehicle. We were finally picked up two sunburnt gringos frantically waving at the bus with hopeful eyes, and charged full price for the ride back home the cheek of it! For lunch we went to the cutest colombian place Meson del arriero where we overindulged and rolled home. For dinner we ended up back at Gringo Mikes for a Giant cookie to share and some margaritas, with the first of the many friends we would make on this trip Andy, Marc and Hen.