Posts tagged: hike

New Zealand North: Visiting Coromandel

By , January 24, 2011 5:00 am
The Beach @ Cathedral Cove

The Beach @ Cathedral Cove

Joining us for the North Island is Boris’ mother and her boyfriend. They greet us French style, with lots of kisses and Champagne! We make a compromise with them. From this point on, we travel their style and in return, we cook for them when feasible. Thank you Marie Hélène and Gérard for giving us the better end of the deal. :)

Beautiful Natural Christmas Tree

Beautiful Natural Christmas Tree

We go for a road trip around the North Island and it reminds me a little of Maine because there is always some place to stop for delicious seafood. We stop at Coromandel Oyster Company for lunch. It is a small shack right off the road and they have a darn good seafood chowder.

Coromandel Oyster Company

Coromandel Oyster Company

Our lodging at The Church, in Coromandel, is one of the cutest accommodations. There are a handful of designer cottages all equipped for a relaxing night stay. With the four of us, we decide to go with “The House #12”, which gives us more space and amenities than we actually need.

The House

The House

More Champagne Please

More Champagne Please

We dine at the hotel restaurant the first night and the food and wine is excellent. The next night, we grill it up on our very own porch. Every French meal includes, at least, Champagne, wine, and delicious meat. With Gerard and me around, we also like to have the American delight called chips.

Fish In NZ Is Fabulous

Fish In NZ Is Fabulous

Salmon Cooked At Perfection

Salmon Cooked At Perfection

Nearby are two popular attractions. At the Cathedral Cove, the hike in is an easy 30 minutes with wonderful views. At the end, we arrive at a great beach spot for pure relaxation. Don’t forget to bring your snorkel gear.

Magnificent Views

Magnificent Views

Not Permitted To Enter

Not Permitted To Enter

Rock Island

Rock Island

The other attraction is called Hot Water Beach. During low tide, we enjoy this underground hot spring by creating a hot water pool, which we share with the other hundred folks that are here. We borrow a shovel and dig into the sand for some time to allow the hot water to escape to the surface. While enjoying the warmth, the cold tides come in and collapse all that hard work we put in to have us rebuild all over again.

Group Hot Water Pool

Group Hot Water Pool

Stay tuned for our next post on our North Island favorites.

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

Marie Hélène and Gérard

Marie Hélène and Gérard

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Peru: Lake Titicaca From Puno

By , December 28, 2010 7:40 am
Welcome To The Floating Islands of Uros

Welcome To The Floating Islands of Uros

The city of Puno doesn’t look like much at first glance.  My immediate reaction was to get out of there since it was dirty and filled with mostly fast food eateries, but it grew on us the longer we stayed.  The city was buzzing with lots of teenagers practicing dance routines and working on costumes for an upcoming parade.  When we came to see the parade, we were offered front seats and free beer.  Overall, we found the locals we encountered in Puno to be very nice and chatty with us.

The City of Puno

The City of Puno

Anyone Want Peanuts Or A Baby?

Anyone Want Peanuts Or A Baby?

Yearly Parade Held By University Students

Yearly Parade Held By University Students

Early morning, we went down to the docks where the boats leave for Lake Titicaca.  We were approached by many so-called “captains” offering us their best deal.  Since we had asked a few locals before what we should be paying, we knew we could do better.  Later we approached a tour guide and negotiated on a price we were willing to pay.  We then jumped on small boat for a 2-day tour.

Our first stop was the floating islands of Uros.  It really felt like we arrived in Disneyland but it was still very cool to see.  All the locals were dressed up in traditional clothing and greeted us upon our arrival.  Underneath us and what was keeping us afloat were layers and layers of totora reeds.  While this used to be the only way of life for the Uros tribe, it serves more as a popular tourist attraction today.

Locals Waiting For Tourists

Locals Waiting For Tourists

View Of Uros

View Of Uros

Neat Seating Area

Neat Seating Area

Tiny Salespeople

Tiny Salespeople

7-Eleven Boat

7-Eleven Boat

Further into Lake Titicaca, we made our final stop for the evening on the island of Amantani. All tourists who want to stay overnight on the island have to participate in the homestay program. The program consists in pairing tourists with a participating family. This allows each family on the island to receive some money.  Esther, a 17-year old girl, came to pick us up and we followed her up the hill, through multiple farmlands, up and down piles of rocks, and finally to her home where she lived with her parents.  Once we unloaded our bags in our bedroom, we made our way downstairs to their kitchen for lunch.  Everyone was there with Julia, the mother, cooking, Esther helping her mother, and Augustin, the father, sitting and talking to us at the table.  It felt very strange to be eating only with Augustin at the table so we asked the other two to join us but they politely declined.  We had potato soup and a potato and cheese dish for lunch.  They live self-sufficient lives where they eat mostly what they grow and raise.  They make seldom visits to Puno for things like flour, rice, and sugar.  While our Spanish was limited, we were able to have basic conversations with them during meal times.

Isla Amantani

Isla Amantani

Our Homestay

Our Homestay

Our Room

Our Room

MuiMui Enjoying The Views

MuiMui Enjoying The Views

Views From Our Homestay

Views From Our Homestay

Our Host Family

Our Host Family

The Kitchen

The Kitchen

Locals Eat Mostly What They Can Grow & Raise

Locals Eat Mostly What They Can Grow & Raise

Our Host Mother, Julia

Our Host Mother, Julia

After lunch, we met up with the rest of our group for a hike to the top of the island.  It was a good uphill walk where, in case you needed something like candy bars or a warm hat, there was always a local standing by for your business.  When we reached the top, we got a great view of the island and a dramatic sunset.

Reminds Me Of My Dog, Jojo

Reminds Me Of My Dog, Jojo

Views From The Top

Views From The Top

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

Locals Standing By To Sell You Anything

Locals Standing By To Sell You Anything

Sunset

Sunset

Later in the evening after dinner, we met again with our group in a town hall for some dancing.  Our hosts convinced us to dress in their local attire and when we arrived at the hall, it seemed like everyone else was too.   After a few minutes of dancing, I was sweating from all the layers.  It was a very fun night and even though it was arranged just for us, we appreciated the warm welcome.  As we walked home, we were in arms reach of the star lit sky.  I have experienced many wonderful nights before, but this was definitely mesmerizing as there were absolutely no lights on the island or for next thousands of miles except for the millions of stars above us.

Dressed Up To Party

Dressed Up To Party

Boris & Esther

Boris & Esther

MuiMui In Layers

MuiMui In Layers

Dancing Around The Fire

Dancing Around The Fire

After a good night sleep, we had breakfast with our hosts and said our goodbyes.  Our first stop of the day was the island of Taquile, which is known for artisanry. While it was nice to walk around, there was nothing extraordinary about the place.

Isla Taquile

Isla Taquile

Local Girl Hanging On Direction Post

Local Girl Hanging On Direction Post

Back in Puno, we met up with Claire, who we befriended while on our tour.  We were joined by a few others and all headed for dinner.  I was very excited as we were going to try Cuy (guinea pig) for the first time.  It was very delicious; I liked the crispiness and saltiness of the dish.  We tried a few other dishes and as always, Alpaca was a pleaser.

Yummy Cuy Guinea Pig

Yummy Cuy Guinea Pig

MuiMui Eating Cuy ... I like It

MuiMui Eating Cuy ... I like It

Alpaca Dish

Alpaca Dish

After dinner, we went to a bar for what was suppose to be one round, turned into three rounds, of Pisco Sour.  In short, we had a great night and a great time because of the people we met in Puno.  It’s truly the people that make a place.  We are going to miss our host family and hope to come back again.

We Love Pisco Sour!!

We Love Pisco Sour!!

What We Paid: Peruvian
Soles
USD Euro
– Flores Bus From Arequipa To Puno
[5.5 hours]
13/pp 4.65 3.50
– Private Double Room At Vargas Inn:
private bathroom, basic clean rooms [no wifi]
40 14.30 10.80
– Private Double Room At El Inti Hostal:
private bathroom, wifi, great family
[recommend but not the cleanest rooms around]
30 10.70 8.10
– Lunch In Puno 3/pp 1.10 0.80
-Dinner In Puno 5/pp 1.80 1.35
– Dinner Splurge In Puno 25/pp 8.90 6.75
– Glass Of Pisco Sour In Puno 5/p 1.80 1.35
– Lake Titicaca 2-day Tour
[does not include lunch on the last day]
42.50/pp 15.20 11.45

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Peru: Machu Picchu

By , December 20, 2010 4:00 am
Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

After a 4-hour train ride from Cuzco, we arrived in a small village called Aguas Calientes. Besides being the gateway to Machu Picchu, there is not much else going on in this little place.

As we walked around, we were always approached by locals who tried to entice us to eat or drink at their restaurants with promotions. Prices are so ridiculously set for tourists that we got specials like 4 drinks for the price of 1 or half off for food. Just remember to look at your final bill and the additional service charge written is not required.

A few pisco sour drinks later, we had to call it an early night for our ascend to Machu Picchu at dawn.

Me&Frenchie On The Train To Aguas Calientes

Me&Frenchie On The Train To Aguas Calientes

Having to wake up at 3am for anything is never nice and being welcomed by the rain, makes it even harder to get up. However, we got out of the hotel as planned and began our hike. About twenty minutes later, we arrived at a locked gate to learn that it doesn’t open until 4:45am.

By the time the gate opened, there was about twenty of us waiting in the pouring rain. It was uphill the entire way. Surprisingly, we reached the gates of Machu Picchu in an hour or so.

As we made our grand entrance with soaking wet clothes and grey cloudy skies above us, it all didn’t matter anymore when we were standing in front of the famous Inca ruins. We have seen so many pictures of this one spot, but in person, it was priceless.

First Sight Of Cloudy Machu Picchu

First Sight Of Cloudy Machu Picchu

The point of waking up so early is that they only allow a maximum of 400 people a day to have access to Wayna Picchu. This is a strenuous uphill hike that is supposed to give the best view of the valley. When we reached the top, the views were stunning even though the weather didn’t get any better. The only problem was we couldn’t really see through the thick fog that was covering up the ruins.

Ash & MuiMui Showing Beautiful Machu Picchu From The Large Peak Of Wayna Picchu

Ash & MuiMui Showing Beautiful Machu Picchu From The Large Peak Of Wayna Picchu

Waiting For The Clouds To Burn Off

Waiting For The Clouds To Burn Off

I was optimistic that the weather was going to change so we hung out on the top of the mountain for some time and to dry off our clothes. At 10 am exactly, the sun started to come out and we could see a little bit of the ruins as some of the fog moved away. At this point, we were all very happy that we were going to have some decent photos. About 30 more minutes, Mother Nature did her magic and the fog was all gone. It was just amazing to be staring down at this ancient Inca village and all of its grandeur. As we stared on for another hour, I tried to understand why this ancient city is so much more popular than the others as it is not the largest. I guess because of its unique location on top of a mountain and being surrounded by large peaks and its terrace landscape, it made it more gratifying to the eye.

Yay! We can see some of Machu Picchu

Yay! We can see some of Machu Picchu

Me & Frenchie

Me & Frenchie

We then made our way to the smaller and closer Wayna Picchu. When the view couldn’t get any better, we had a dead on view of the ruins.

Machu Picchu From The Small Peak Of Wayna Picchu

Machu Picchu From The Small Peak Of Wayna Picchu

We left the tour of the ruins for last.  As we walked around, it seemed like the lamas were set there on purpose to entertain the tourists.

Inside Machu Picchu

Inside Machu Picchu

MuiMui Taking A Classic Photo Pose

MuiMui Taking A Classic Photo Pose

Despite the rain, the tourists, the early wake up, we were very impressed by the sight of Machu Picchu and had an awesome day.

Famous View Of Machu Picchu

Famous View Of Machu Picchu

MuiMui In A Sea Of Trees

MuiMui In A Sea Of Trees

Me & Frenchie Waiting For The Fog To Burn Off Completely

Me & Frenchie Waiting For The Fog To Burn Off Completely

Ash, MuiMui, And Boris

Ash, MuiMui, And Boris

Ruins At Machu Picchu

Ruins At Machu Picchu

City Of Machu Picchu

City Of Machu Picchu

Pretty Flowers At Aguas Calientes

Pretty Flowers At Aguas Calientes

What We Paid: Peruvian
Soles
USD Euro
– Roundtrip Train From Cuzco To Aquas Caliente
(Backpackers class; 4-hours one-way)
270 96 73
– Private Double Room with private bathroom 40 14.20 10.80
– Entrance To Machu Picchu 126 44.80 34
– Bus From Machu Picchu To Aguas Calientes (one-way) 20.50 7.30 5.55
– Lunch In Aguas Calientes 12 4.25 3.25
– Dinner in Aguas Calientes 10 3.50 2.65

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

Colombia: Lost In Tayrona

By , October 25, 2010 5:00 am
Tayrona National Park

Tayrona National Park

It seems wherever we go the rain comes with us. We were hesitant about going to Tayrona with the bad weather, but our friends who went before, convinced us it was a must-see. We stocked up on some snacks and on the local bus to Tayrona we went.

Through the jungle we hiked in our sandals. It was wet most of the way so we had to walk in mud. There were many moments when the mud actually reached our knees. We quickly realized we were better off wearing nothing on our feet. Over time, I still did not get used to stepping in the wet mud but I got good at it. There were so many ants, especially large red ones, and when we weren’t watching where we stepped, those suckers bit hard. Worse than that, there were many thorny branches so we had to be super careful not to step on or bump into one.

Hiking In Mud

Hiking In Mud

After two hours, we were finally rewarded with sun, soft sand, and sounds of waves crashing. It was a beautiful moment and all we wanted to do was to jump in the water but unfortunately we had to hike 30 more minutes to a safe swimmable area. Along the way, I kept seeing scenes from the television series, “Lost”.

Backdrop Of Palm Trees And Jungle

Backdrop Of Palm Trees And Jungle

Feels Like Paradise

Feels Like Paradise

Our final stop in Tayrona was El Cabo. It was truly a postcard shot with the beach, large rocks, and a backdrop of palm trees and jungle. In the middle of two beaches was a two story wooden bungalow. On the first floor were just hammocks and on the second floor were four private rooms. We rented two hammocks and had a great sleep under the star lit sky.

Welcome To Cabo

Welcome To Cabo

Hammocks With Memorable Views

Hammocks With Memorable Views

We are so thankful the bad, turned to good, weather we had during our three days in Tayrona. Ironically, my favorite moment was when it rained. It was just a wonderful feeling to be swimming in the cool seawater and having raindrops fall on us at the same time. Also, it was kind of nice having the entire beach to ourselves.

Let It Rain

Let It Rain

Rainbow After Rain

Rainbow After Rain

What We Paid: Colombian
Pesos
1800
USD eRate
2500
Euro eRate
Taganga
– Local bus from Taganga to Santa Marta: 20 mins 1,200 0.67 0.48
– Private Double Room at Casa Felipe Hostal:
fan only, private bathroom, shared kitchen, wifi, great staff, highly recommend
40,000 22.22 16.00
– Meals: DIY, supermarket in Santa Marta
– Bus from Cartagena to Taganga: 6 hours 40,000 22.22 16.00
Tayrona
– Park Entrance 34,000 18.89 13.60
– Shuttle Inside Park: Or walk 1 hour 2,000 1.11 0.80
– Hammock @ Cabo 25,000 13.89 10.00
– Breakfast 8,000 4.44 3.20
– Lunch 14,000 7.78 5.60
– Dinner 21,500 11.94 8.60
– Local Bus From Santa Marta To Tayrona: 1 hour 4,000 2.22 1.60
Tip 1: Buy Snacks in Santa Marta before going to the park
Tip 2: When leaving the park, there are lots of taxi’s who did a one-way drop off and would bring you back to Santa Marta for same price as the local bus

Flickr Photoset | Slideshow

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