Mancora, Peru

29th -2 June

After Trujillo we took another night bus to Mancora, a coastal town in the north of Peru. Here we relaxed by the beach, took long walks on the beach and caught up with a couple of our friends we met travelling along the way.

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P1080147  Ceviche stall, we didn´t try it but it is very very popular in Peru! Raw fish with salad, kinda like Prawns.

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We spotted a couple Iguana´s hanging out at the back of our hostal one morning.

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25th -28th June

After Lima, we took a night bus to a city called Trujillo north of Lima. We stayed for a couple days and visited the convent where my Aunt Sr Theresa McGuane worked over 20 years ago.

The first evening we dropped by the Convent where Theresa used to live. There we met with three Peruvian nuns who were very welcoming; Sr Juanita , Sr Erika and Sr Aura. Juanita told us the clinic where Theresa used work is now closed down; the area has developed since and is not as poor as it used to be.

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Juanita on the left and Erika on the right of Paddy.

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Juanita told us some stories of the great work that Theresa did when she was there. She was highly regarded by the local people. We saw a photo album with some pictures of Theresa.

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Juanita took us on a tour of the convent. There is a little museum on site with the history of the Irish missionary nuns who came to Lima. It shows pictures and dates of when all the Irish nuns came to Lima. It also has some cute dolls which show how the Nuns outfits have changed over time.

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The description written until the last doll says Habito Sport 1994 or sports habit.

IMG_5601 image image There is a picture in the meausm with each of the nuns who worked in Peru. I spotted Theresa!

Juanita showed us her office and a building next door to the convent which is used as a daycare centre for women. It also has a legal office to offer advice to women who are in difficulty in the home.The building has a spare undeveloped section, Juanita said it is her dream to develop it into short-term accommodation for women to come and stay in times of difficulty such as if they leave there husband due to domestic violence.

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We signed a couple of books to register our visit. The Sisters gave us two Peruvian dolls; they are lovely and will be nice to have to remember our visit.

The next day, we went to visit Sr Immaculada (Immaculate), an Irish nun from Croom County Cork. We had lunch with her and she told us the history of the nuns working in Trujillo. She spoke about when Theresa and the other nuns worked during difficult times when there was political unrest in the country.

Sister Calixta joined us for lunch. She is a Peruvian nun who works with Drug addicts. We learned of the drug rehabilitation program provided by the nuns.

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After lunch, Sr immaculada took us to Alto Trujillo, an area on the outskirts of the city where the poor people live. We took a taxi around the area stopping at different points where Immacudala explained what missionary works were taking place in the area.

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We visited two child day care centers set up by the nuns and learned about the kitchens set up to feed children every day. We visited the technical college built by the nuns which runs many courses in cooking, shoe making, dress making etc.

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We also saw a lovely library funded by an American. We stopped to visit a young man who was paralyzed from his hips down due to a bullet he received. He is now bed bound and has a young wife and child of one. It was sad to see. He used to drive a local bus.

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We are grateful to Theresa for helping to arrange this unforgettable visit and the nuns for the great welcome.



Peru Hop Bus Tour

15th June – 23rd June

After finishing the Salktantay Trek we spent a day or two in Cusco before travelling back to the coast and up to Lima. We left Cusco with the Peru Hop bus company, a new tour company taking tourists on a route from Cusco to Lima in Peru. The company is run by two Irish Guys. We bus stops off in major cities on route to Lima. The cool thing about the bus company is there is a tour guide on the bus with you who speaks English, there to tell you where to stay, eat and what tours to do in each city. The bus picks you up and drops you off at your hostel so you avoid those doggy bus stations and the taxi cost. Other good points is the bus is full of tourists, we met on the bus some friends we were travelling along with previously in Bolivia. The bus has English movies also which helps pass the time on some of the day time journeys.

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So our first stop was the city Arequipa where we spent 5 nights. We booked a 2 day / 1 night tour of the Colca Canyon – a popular tourist attraction in Peru famous for the Andean Condors which fly above it. We saw many Condors on our first day there which was cool. The first morning we were up at really early at 3am to get a four hour bus out to the Canyon, that day we walked about 7 hours down into the Canyon. The views were good, very vast. The following morning we were up at 4.30am to trek up out of the Canyon before Sunrise. This was definately the highlight of the tour. The views in the morning were beautiful for the sunrise about 5.30am).

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On the Friday we were back on the bus and headed to Huacahina. On route we stopped off at the Nazca lines. The Nazca lines are a series of ancient engravings in the desert rock. The lines are mainly visible by air; two lines are visible from a lookout point which we stopped at. There are many theories as to how the lines came about which was interesting to learn about.

P1070885  P1070882 P1070884Can you guess what is in the picture?

The top photo is a tree and the below are crossed hands.

We arrived at Huacahina on Friday night. It is a popular party town so we went out for the evening with the crowd from the bus. The hostel had a pool, bar and nightclub so we did not have to go far. The next day we did a Pisco wine tour, as the area is famous for Pisco. We did a good few shots, it is pretty strong, we learned how best to drink it so the taste did not cause a burn to the throat. In the afternoon we went Sand boarding. I didn´t go as wasn´t feeling the best. Paddy really enjoyed the experience. There are huge sand dunes surrounding the town, it was an impressive place. I relaxed by the pool for the afternoon.

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That evening, we travelling onto Paracas and stayed one night. The following morning we went out on a boat to view some national wildlife off the coast. We saw some sea lions, lots of birds and penguins! That afternoon we went to the Paracas national park and bay area. The views were great.P1070974 P1070972 P1070966 P1070960 P1070959 P1070955 P1070954 P1070940 P1070939 P1070938 P1070936 P1070924 P1070909 P1070901

Later that afternoon we stopped off at a small village called El Carmen where we visited Hacienda San Joe one of the oldest and richest houses in the whole of Peru. We took a tour of their underground tunnels that were used 300 years ago to help bring slaves from Africa from the port to the Hacienda illegally. Slavery was abolished in Peru in 1854 however up until then this was common practice. We have since been to Colombia where we have learned about the slavery which occurred in Cartagena, so it was widespread.

P1070979 P1070980 P1070982 Inside the house, we learned the furniture was stripped of all its gold coverings.

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The grounds were beautiful!

That evening we arrived in Lima and at our hostel. We spent two nights in Lima. We did a city walking tour which took us by bus to the downtown region. We stayed in an area called Miraflores, a very safe part of Lima which had many security guards at most corners on patrol in the city. We ended the Peru hop tour in Lima, the owner Will met us in Lima and give us some tips on what to do and see in the area. It was really enjoyable and nice we didn´t have to plan what to do and see!

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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu – Part 2

11-13th June 2014

On the third day, we were walking through the tropical rainforest. The weather was lovely and the trek a little easier than the previous day. In the afternoon, we arrived at hot springs and relaxed for the afternoon.

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On day four, we trekked to Aguas Calintas along the railway line, the town near Machu Picchu. Today, we had only 2.5 hours walking so it was an easy day! We had the afternoon to relax before heading up to Machu Picchu on day 5. The world cup started today, all the cafes were showing the match so we watched the opening cermony and the first game that Brazil won.

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On day five, we woke at 4.20am and hiked up to Machu Picchu arriving there to watch the sun rise. The place was impressive. Our guide gave us a short tour until 8.30am and after that we had the day to ourselves to explore.

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The food at Machu Picchu is very expensive so we took up some rolls, ham and cheese and ate them for lunch with a hot cup of tea from the restaurant. After, we did the Machu Picchu Mountain hike which took us 2.5 hours  (2000+ steps). It was tough going. We enjoyed the views on Machu Picchu until about 2.30pm and then set off back down the 1000+ steps back to Aguas Calintas.

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I have added a few photos of Cusco, we spent about 5 days there in total. The city is pretty, nice restaurants, good market and even has an irish pub too, Paddy´s..highest pub in the world. We did the walking tour of the city which ended up being a hike to some old ruins above the city, which also had a nice viewpoint of the city.

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Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu Part 1

9th – 13th June We did the Salkantay 5 day 4 nights trek to Machu Picchu. On the fifth day, we hiked up to Machu Picchu and spent the day enjoying the sites. The trek covered 72kms, our legs were so tired after it all! The tour started with a 3am pick up on the first day. Normally we walked for 7-8 hours a day. It was hard going at times but really enjoyable as the views were great. We were in a group of 19 tourists. The group were good fun, we got to know each other over the trip. Pictures from day 1 P1070258 P1070262 P1070263 P1070277 P1070280 P1070281 P1070289 P1070306

On the second day, we hiked 1700m, 24km to the summit of the Salkaney mountain. This was the toughest day, as the route was trekking uphill at a steep incline. We started out about 5am. Pictures from Day 2

P1070318 P1070317 Setting off on day tour. Our Campsite with a nice view. P1070328  P1070340 P1070330 P1070358   P1070363 P1070359 P1070374

For the first three nights we camped. The first night was especially cold as we were by the mountain. Each night we had tea and popcorn before our dinner. The food on the trip was ok, alot of carbs which was good to provide us with energy for all the trekking.                P1070378 P1070379 P1070366 Celebrating reaching the top!

Lake Titicaca

After La Paz we travelled to Lake Titicaca. We stopped in Copacabana for one night in order to visit the island of the Sun to do a trek.

The bus from La Paz to Copacabana was due to take 6 hours but ended up taking 10+ as we had to go cross the boarder into Peru for about half an hours driving before returning into Bolivia. It was time consuming because there was about 50 or so people getting stamps to exit Bolivia, entry / exit Peru and re-entry stamp to Bolivia!

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Island of the Sun

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The trek on Isla de Sol took 3 hours, the views were stunning – a bit like Ireland.

The Lake was very nice – huge.

After Copacabana we took a bus to Puno in Peru. We crossed the boarder again to Peru which was a straight forward process. When we arrived in Puno we did a 3 hour boat tour to see the floating island. It was very commerical, touristy, almost fake experience. Luckily just a few hours of our lives! At one stage we took a little boat made of reeds to cross to antoher floating island. After about 10 minutes into the journey, a little speedboat came along and gave our boat a little push along the way. So the two guys rowing a break. It was funny!

We stayed only the one night in Puno and took a 7 hour bus to Cusco with a company Turismo. The bus was very comfortable, it was cama, we had the front seats upstairs so had excellant views along the way.

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Our Jungle Experience

25th May – 2 June

On Sunday we were due to fly to Rurrenabaque from La Paz. The flight was cancelled due to rain  so we ended up going Monday. We booked two tours from Rurrenabaque; pampas and amazon jungle tour.
We flew on a 50 seater plane there and a 19 seater on the way back. We flew over snow covered mountains and then the landscape changed to acres of green forests. The town is in the Amazon basin, from here you can visit the pampa´s and also Amazon jungle.

The Pampas tour was three days / two nights. We took a jeep  with 4 other tourists to the pampas. The road there was so bad. Over the three hours the jeep broke down three times and we had a mini crash (skidding across the road) as the steering axel was broken. The driver fixed it by tying it together – problem solved or maybe not. It came undone later which he had to fix again. Other problem was the suspension hanging down from under the car, driver thought it wasn’t necessary so took it off! After the eventful jeep ride, we arrived around lunch. Accommodation was basic, fly net windows to keep out the mosquitos. The food was excellent, great buffet style lunches and dinners.

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The tour consisted of driving on a boat around the Pampas to spot wildlife. We saw many alligators, pink dolphins, howler monkey, spider monkey, cappacin monkey, many species of birds, a large rodent capybara, turtles and a sloth.

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Aside from touring around on the boat, we went pariah fishing. Paddy caught two and I caught one. One of the guys on the boat was bitten by his catch. The pariah bit off a Calais!
We did a night boat tour where we could see the alligators eyes glowing in the dark along with fire flies. We also were out before 6am to watch the sunrise which was lovely.

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The highlight, was swimming with the dolphins. We went to a safe part of the water, away from the alligators for the swimming. The dolphins were swimming around us, we had great views of them in the water. One came near paddy, kept circling him and swam under him. A couple dolpins were playful and did some tricks which was cool to see.
After the pampa’s tour, we had one night in Rurrenabaque before heading to the jungle. We had the same jeep take us back to the town but luckily no trouble as the roads were alot drier!
Next up was the Jungle tour. We took a three hour boat to the jungle – madidi national park. The views were great. We stayed in an ecolododge which had plenty of hammocks. We did a few jungle treks to see birds and wildlife. We really enjoyed the treks into the jungle which usually were three hours long stopping along the way to spot the wildlife. We would start treking after breakfast, come back for lunch and do another trek in the afternoon.

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We saw wild pigs,  a tarpin, parrots, a woodpecker, Tucans, cappacin, spider and howler monkeys. One afternoon we did tubing down the river for an hour – sitting in a black infaltable tyre. There were some small rapids along the way, it was fun and relaxing. Our tour guide Orlando is a local indigenous person from the only village in the jungle Santa Cruz, he is providing the tours for the past 8 years. Before that, he did a year with the Navy – it is compulsory for all Bolivians. Sadly, they don’t get paid more than the price of a local pint. The navy is required to police the rivers and prevent drug smuggling.
Orlando was very knowledgable on the many types of trees. He mentioned a few different trees  were used as medicines, the bark is boiled and use to treat skin and other diseases.
The food on the tour was excellent,  we had fresh juices and fruits with every meal.

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We had a great relaxing time and really enjoyed the jungle experience. We took the boat back to Rurrenabaque and got the flight the following day to La Paz. We had a bus pre-booked for Copacabana  (Bolivia) that afternoon so we headed straight for the bus terminal. P1070026 P1070035 P1070054 P1070111 P1070113 P1070116


La Paz, Bolivia

20th – 26th May

We arrived in Laz at 8am after a 12 hour overnight bus. The journey was very cold and there was no blankets. The ride was bumpy also so we woke often during the night. The toilets were locked so we had to wait for stops to get off. Overall, the worst bus experience so far!! We were glad to arrive in La Paz.

The bus station is 10 minutes from the plaza centre so we walked down the town. The place was busy with everyone making their way to work.

On our first day, we took the free walking tour (3 hours) which was good. It ended at at the Presidente hotel with a nice view of the city.

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P1060503 Famous prision run by inmates. Since 2010, it is no longer open to tourists, which is pity as we both were interested in taking a look inside. The wives and families live in the prision. Children live there until 11 yrs old. There are eight Bolivian Guards to look after the prision.

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We did a one day mountain biking trip – Death Road. It consisted cycling downhill 23km on a paved road and another 34km downhill on Death road. Sadly, it is famous for cars and buses going over and also some tourists doing the mountain biking. The last cyclist to die was in 2011 and last car to go over the cliff was in 2012.

The biking was great fun. It was very fast, I fell behind the group but it didn´t matter as there was a guide behind me. We went through some waterfall and saw some amazing scenery. It was thrilling, I can´t believe we were going so fast and not falling off!

The last couple days both of us have been feeling under the weather. We caught a bug, from some food or drink we have consumed. Not sure where! Feeling a bit better today.

We were due to fly to the Amazon Sunday 25th May at 4.30pm but our flight was cancelled due to bad weather. The morning flights were also cancelled. We took a flight out the following morning. We stayed 7 night stay in the jungle and came back yesturday.

I was hoping to post more photos with this blog but I have not been able to as there was very poor internet in the Jungle. We are now in Copacabana and I need to get started on uploading photos for the next blog – The Jungle Tour!

Sucre, Capital of Bolivia

11th-18th May

We stayed one night in Uyuni and the following morning, we took a four hour bus to Potosi, the highest city in the world at 4500m. Potosi used to be a rich town from silver mining. Nowadays, there is mostly tin, lead and zinc mining going on. Paddy went on a tour into the working mine. The tour started with a visit to the market to purchase cocoa leaves and cigarettes for the miners. Paddy said he really enjoyed the tour. He came back pretty dirty.. The highlight was when the guide blew up a stick of dynamine in the mine, which Paddy purchased in the market!


The next evening, we took a three hour bus to Sucre. We booked into an Irish hostel there called Celtic Cross, which was recommended by a tourist we met in Uyuni. The hostel is opened three months and so far getting great reviews on Hostelworld. It is run by Daragh (Dublin guy) who is living in Bolivia three years, married to a lcoal girl. He was very welcoming and gave us recommendations on what to do and see in the city.

We stayed there seven days and we love the city. The weather was18-20 degrees and sunny. It was lovely to be back in the sun!

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P1060379  P1060377Trying out the foods from the local markets in Sucre. The only issue at first was translating the menu.. the Spanish classes sorted that out! P1060373 P1060363  P1060294

The local market in Sucre were fantastic. The fruit and vegtables so fresh. In the markets they sold everything from condiments to fresh spices and fresh meat. We cooked in the hostel a bit, making Chile Con Carne and vegtable soup using the ingredients purchased at the markets.

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We enrolled in Spanish lessons in Scure. Sucre is the place to do it in Bolivia as it is pretty cheap. It was $5usd p/h each for a private lesson for us both with the Bolivian Spanish School. The lessons were great, we had no Spanish when we came and now we are getting by and can understand better the times and cost and can ask for tickets/rooms etc.

The school held a cooking class one night which was fun, lots of drinking vodka and not much cooking. The receipe was emailed to me, in Spanish, so I will need to get Aunty Theresa to help me with the translation!

IMG_4699 Paddy doing his homework and practising his Spanish @ Celtic Cross Hostel


Paddy was doing better at picking up the Spanish. We did a little competition in class, name and spell in Spanish the fruits and vegtables. Paddy did very well and kept scoring points. The teacher kept saying “Muy Beana Patrick!”  or very good Patrick. I eventually made a sort of comeback but too little too late.

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One evening, we watched a local fashion show. It was mentioned Mr South Amercia was going to be there. A large crowd turned out in the Plaza for the event.


Some models giving interviews earlier that day. P1060395 P1060484 P1060411 P1060423

We went to a local soccer game, Scure v Potosi. The place was lively with a huge turnout of local supporters. There wasn´t many tourist there. The game ended 1-0 to Sucre. The home crowd chanted and played drums throughout. There were more going on in the stadium than on the pitch but a good day out. They like their food and there were people selling popcorn, ice-cream, hot food and drinks throughout.

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After Sucre we took an overnight bus to La Paz.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolovia

8th-10th May

We did a three day tour to the salt falts from San Pedro with a compnay World Wide Travel. We crossed the boarder into Bolivia on the first day. The tour was by Jeep cross country, there were six of us and the driver. Two people from Chile and two from Switzerland. The Swiss couple had excellent Spanish and English. The Bolivian guide (driver) had only Spanish so we were lucky the Swiss couple could translate what the guide was explaining.
The tour was great, the first day we travelled up to 4800m high. I had a headache from the altitude, i took tea with coca leaves which helped.  Paddy felt fine, lucky guy!

The first day we passed some lagoons and went to a lovely thermal pool with great views of the surrounding landscape.

The first night, we stayed in very basic accommodation, it was really cold that night, we were provided a winter sleeping bags and heavy blankets on the bed, so were very warm during the night. It was definately minus degrees. There was only electricity for three hours that night and cold showers. The food was good and plenty of it.

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On day two, we visited more lagoons and saw many flamingos. We also visited some rock formed by volcanos. We stayed in a Salt hotel the second night. The floors and walls of the hotel were covered in salt, it seems to act as an insulator. We had hot showers and a lovely meal. Before dinner, we explored the small village and watched local teenages playing 5-a-side football on a basketball court.

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The third day, we got up at 4.30am to make sunrise on the salt flats. The salt plains were amazing. We had lots of fun taking photos. We visited a cactus island in the middle of the salt flats, we did a little hike up to the top for some great views.
The tour finished in the town of Uyuni, with a visit to the train graveyard where we saw many old steam trains, used in the 50’s. We stayed one night in Uyuni, it is a small town, the local Bolivians were friendly, there were many small cafe restaurants serving Italian food.

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The Bolivian women have a nice style, they wear black hats, colourful shawls, big skirts, thick tights with sandals and wear their hair in plats. I’m keen to take photos of them but don’t want to upset them!

Looking forward to spending time in Bolivia, first impressions are good 🙂