Cerro Campanario and Bariloche

After making a difficult decision about where to go next in Argentina, from El Chaltén, I decided on San Carlos de Bariloche. The deciding factor being, if/when I return to complete my tour of South America, Puerto Madryn, Cordoba, Mendoza etc., are closer to Buenos Aires.

I seem to have a habit of turning up at places when they are closed. This was the case again, in Bariloche. Cerro Catedral, which is said to have a view among the top ten in the world, was shut. On the advice of Jorge, my taxi driver, Andrea at the Adventure Centre and Martin at Hosteria Guemes, where I was staying, I took a trip up to the mirador of Cerro Campanario and I was not disappointed.

After descending via the chairlift, I went off searching for more natural beauty. It was not hard to find. El Trébol was a mere 15 minutes away.

I caught the bus back to the centre of town but before returning to my hotel, I went down to the lakeside and then walked through the plaza, where some musicians were entertaining the public.

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Lago Capri and Fitz Roy

After visiting the Perito Moreno glacier in Argentina, I thought I was going to be just marking time as I made my way northwards to Iguazu Falls. The next stop on the journey was El Chaltén in Los Glaciares National Park. Until recently, I have to confess, I had not heard of El Chaltén, even though it is famous for various reasons.

I was advised to visit El Chaltén, by one of my Portuguese travelling companions on the Bolivian tour in Uyuni. I am glad I followed his advice, thanks Rodrigo!! However, before you are allowed into the park proper, you are taken from the bus into the Park Rangers´HQ and given a briefing on the history of the park and the rules. The town is new and nowadays is virtually all tourist related.

When I got to the bus station I tried to buy a ticket for 2 days later to continue my journey to Bariloche but I was told that the next bus would be 3 days later. So, luckily, I had to stay an extra day. El Chaltén is worth at least a week for those who have the time and money. Unfortunately, I didn´t have the time but was determined to get the best of it. Depositing my hunchback at the hostel, I immediately set off on a 4 hour hike (roundtrip) to Lake Capri and the Mirador for the mountain, Fitz Roy.

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La Serena

Arriving back in San Pedro de Atacama, Chile, after visiting the Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, I only had a short time to feed myself and repack my hunchback before catching an overnight bus to La Serena. I did make time to have an argument with the tour operator about the driver who accidentally took us off road on the way back to the border but I was wasting my time.

I arrived early the next day at my hostel in La Serena and was pleasantly surprised by both the city and the accommodation, BleuBlanc Hostal. Very pleasant after roughing it for the previous week. My main objective was to relax for a couple of days but it did not quite work out. On my second evening there, I went on a trip to the observatory at Mamalluca, which was fascinating. Unfortunately, this meant not returning to the hotel until after midnight.

I had to check out by midday the following day but my bus, for Santiago, was not leaving until midnight. I decided to visit the neighbouring town of Coquimbo, which has a large cross celebrating the third millenium. I walked there and back which was a total of more than 25kms. I did manage to sleep well on the bus journey to Santiago, though.

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Laqo and ?

After visiting Tambomachay and Puka Pukara, two Inca sites a short distance outside of Cusco, I set off in search of the Temple of the Moon. I had been given directions by Jeremy, of Rumi-Tumi Tours but after a couple of hours of looking over the previous sites, I couldn’t remember them very well.

I had a vague idea of the direction I should be going and I knew my position with regard to the road and the location of the city, so I was not going to get lost. I walked for at least 2 hours during which I discovered…

…but no Temple of the Moon. I carried on walking, intrepid explorer style, passing bemused farmers and their families. I was on the point of giving up, when I spotted a group of young men collecting wood. I asked them if they were aware of Inca ruins close by and received directions to a site which was just a few minutes away.

From the “unknown” site, I started back towards the City. It had started thundering and rainfall was imminent. As luck would have it, before long, I stumbled on another site. This one was clearly signposted as Laqo, which as it happens, is the Temple of the Moon. However, by this time, with a 5km walk ahead of me, at least, I decided to take just a few photos and try and get home before the downpour began. I can go back again later for more if I have time.


Another hike up the hill out of Cusco for about 30 minutes and I was at Q’enqo. It was a religious site or temple and was used by the Incas for making sacrifices. The rock formations are much different to what I have become used to seeing recently.

One statue is said to be of a Puma but bears little resemblance, except when the angle of the sunlight is correct. The shadow is supposedly in the form of a puma.

There are tunnels or labyrinths and you can enter the “ritual room” where sacrifices would have been made.


San Isidro

Following on from last week’s walk to Barranco with Mike from South American Explorers, this week we decided to go to San Isidro another suburb of Lima which is adjacent to Miraflores. Apart from the exercise, we had a couple of other objectives; to check out the proposed new site of South American Explorers, which is moving home within the next few weeks and to look at Parque Olivar which is in the centre of San Isidro. IMG_0164 Apparently, the park contains more than 1500 olive trees, some more gnarled and wrinkly than me.IMG_0153

The park is very popular with families and also with newlyweds who apparently stroll through the park after their wedding ceremony. There is also a live music facility IMG_0163. No doubt the venue for the Morrissey concert. Although perhaps it’s a bit too big.

The park does boast several water features, the largest and most spectacular was sadly closed for refurbishmentIMG_0166. Although a sneaky look behind the tarpaulins, seems to confirm the rumour that it is in fact, being converted to a skateboarding park. IMG_0165.

The park and its environs are also popular with dog walkers and I confess to squealing with delight when I saw this little poodle.IMG_0161 It is actually wearing shoes. I did not get close enough to see if it was wearing socks.

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Barranco is another district of Lima, neighbouring Miraflores and is described in various publications as being bohemian and home of many Peruvian artists. For me, and not wishing to appear too much of a philistine, it was somewhere to walk to and maybe take some photographs. I was invited to accompany Mike, who runs the South American Explorers club here in Lima. He likes to go for a walk regularly, for exercise and I need to keep building my strength for challenges I may face later in my travels.

From my penthouse to Barranco and back, I clocked up almost 14kms. Fortunately, although it was somewhat hazy, DSCN0687_341 the sun was shining and it was a good day for walking, if there could be such a thing. We walked out of the centre of Miraflores towards el Malecón, where I walked last weekend and headed south. It was not as busy as last Sunday but I imagine many of the people were working. They do seem to work very long hours here.

It must have taken us an hour and a half to reach Barranco, stopping at  Larcomar on the way for a pit-stop. Consisting of shops, bars a cinema and the all important servicios, Larcomar is built into the cliffs facing the Pacific Ocean. At the oceanfront, Barranco and Miraflores are separated by a gulf IMG_0121, so you have to walk inland a little way to cross a bridge. I didn´t mind on the way there but I resented those extra paces on the way back.

Apparently, Barranco was very fashionable, a hundred years ago and more. An affluent area and a popular place to live and to visit. Many of the buildings have fallen into various states of disrepair since though, as Barranco was largely deserted it seems by those wealthy residents.DSCN0700_354

More recently, the influx of artists and artisans, has seen some restoration and it is a very popular place for evening entertainment, with a number of restaurants and clubs. There are some rather stark images between the carefully restored and the sadly neglected but there are also some quaint reminders of times gone by. Although some could have you wondering if they were coming,IMG_0125 IMG_0126or going.

The partly restored church IMG_0133, might look even less dilapidated if it were not for it´s rooftop scavengers who are probably stripping the roof quicker than it can be covered.DSCN0697_351

After crossing the Bridge of Sighs, I inadvertently got into a conversation with a guitar playing local busker, who was waiting for his percussionist, who had been persuaded to take a photograph of a couple next to a statue. It was not really a conversation because his accent was so strong, I could not make out a single word. It has been quite a while since that has happened. It soon became apparent that he wanted to perform for us. I declined and Mike and I headed off, only to be pursued by the dubious duo. They had us boxed in as we were headed for a dead end, so we gave them a few coins and they played for us.IMG_0138Finally managing to understand their accent, when they asked us where we were from, I replied, “Inglaterra”. The drummer responded straight away with his one word of English, “Beckham”. It made me feel quite nostalgic for the good old days when most non – English speaking people knew two words – Bobby Charlton. I pointed out that David Beckham and I have something in common, we are both recently retired. Chuckles – at least they understood me.

It was time to head back to Miraflores and I have to say, I was glad to get back. It was a great walk though and another is planned for next week.

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