South America (Okt 2019 – Jan 2020)

Home again

Hi peeps,

Got back home safely! After a horrendous long travelday and about 2 hours of sleep I got greeted with typical Dutch weather. Stull dark at 08:30 am, strong winds and a lot of rain. Awesome.

But it is good to be back! Gives a new perspective on (Europe and) the Netherlands, what I missed and what not haha. Definitely cheese <3

I will miss South America. Hope to see everyone again soon.

Day 104: Waterfall Valley

Hi everyone, been a while!

The last week was very nice 🙂 I spend it in Cochabamba. Again, no walking tour but here are some nice pictures. The city is a bit more modern and commercial than Sucre but definitely much greener than La Paz is. A good middle ground for sure.

There is a very nice viewpoint of the city with a Jesus statue. Luckily you can chose to take a cable car instead of a few thouzand steps up the hill.

I also went to a town called Torro Torro. This town lays next to a big national park where you can do a few day tours,. The town is known for it’s access to the national park and the preservation of dinosaur prints.
Torro in an indigenous language means ‘mud’. Since the ground there is all muddy and infused with cool minerals.

I met some friends that were doing the same tour as I wanted to, so we huddled up in the car to see some dinosaur prints! Spoiler alert: dinosaurs are freaking huge. Some were up to 6 meters high and 28 meters long. It was very impressive and interesting.

Our tour took us to a small waterfall and a canyon. From the canyon we descended to a (muddy) river. Which was a 1000 steps, give or take. When we got to the river it apparantly was a lot higher than expected since last nights rain. So we had to jump on/over rocks and boulders to get to the waterfall. Ofcourse I stepped in the to water once, pushed someone because I fell and slid down a rock onto one of my groupmates.

The waterfall itself was really impressive. Definitely a sight that I wouldn’t have expected from Bolivia.

Now onwards with my travel back home. Just one more day and than it’s all traveling back to Europe. See you soon, my friends!

One Reply to “Day 104: Waterfall Valley”

  1. Met naar ik vermoed een Turkey Vulture – Cathartes aura, in NL roodkopgier, in de lucht. Fraai hoor!

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Day 96: Sugar Mountain

Hi everyone,

I’ve spent a few days in Sucre now. The official capital of Bolivia. It is a really cute colonial town, built to sustain the rich families who got money from the mines around Potosi.

I’ve tried to do a walking tour around the town but unfortuantely there aren’t enough other tourists. Every tour was cancelled. So I just did my own laps around town with wikipedia. The main plaza is really pretty and green!

I also went to a historic museum but the 12-year old tour guide only spoke Spanish and there were no signs with English unfortuately. So here are just some pictures with pretty furniture in it. They also had a small statue of the second president of Bolivia, which is what the city is named after: Sucre.

Also fun to note is that the whole historic center is part of the UNESCO world heritage. Which is pretty cool.

I also went to a really nice viewpoint of the city.

And below is just the view from my hostel haha.

Can not believe I have only 9 days left, guys. What the hell happened to the last 3 months? Where did they go? WTF

One Reply to “Day 96: Sugar Mountain”

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Day 93: Enemy mine

Hi all!

I finally left La Paz for good and went on my way to Potosi. Which is a smaller town in the South of Bolivia. The main reason I wanted to go is because the mines hold an important role in the (quite sad) history of the country.

So I booked a tour where I could get more information and explanation about the mines. Apparently there are about 180 mines around Potosi and they hold silver, zink, tin and led. Silver obviously being the most valuable one.

First we went to a ‘factory’ where the minerals are sorted, grinded and produced.

This was the first experience in how the mineworkers are exposed to toxic gasses and stuff like that. While we were all wearing masks to breath through, no one else was.

We actually went into one of the active mines around. Which was, as the tallest of the group, a bit annoying and claustrophobic. If I got an euro for everytime I hit my helmet I could stay here for another month.

Luckily, everytime we stopped to get an explanation it was in a bigger part of the mine. The entrance was one of the smaller tunnels.

In the mine we got to see a few people working. We gave them some gifts, including dynamite. That was an expierence haha. We had 3 to 4 minutes to get to another part of the mine after the worker lit the fuse.

Besides chatting with the workers, our tour guide told us about the history of the mines. Apparently it started by slavery of the Spanish 500 years ago. Not that much has changed, since they still get little pay for very intens work. Since there aren’t many opportunities around Potosi, a lot of men start to work in the mine around age 11. The general life expectancy is around 45 to 50 years old for these people. Working in the mines is far from safe. The tunnels are barely supported by beams and often people die from ‘mystery gasses’. This gas makes them paralyzed within 3 minutes and dead in 5. There is no ventilation in the mines and imagine if you get lost in there?!

It is pure horror. The mines are owned by international companies so the money doesn’t go to Bolivia or their people. Besides that, the companies cleary do not care about the workers. Otherwise they would have machinery and safer work conditions. But no, everything is done by hand (or dynamite) and men often die. The guide told us that only yesterday 3 of his friends died from the gas. He worked in the mines for 22 years, now being 32. Hooked on coca leaves, alcohol and cigarettes he looked a bit older than that. After a few years as a mine worker you are allowed to get your own ‘lot’ in the mine. Whatever you find, you can sell. So you can imagine that a lot of people try to work as much as possible, totally alone in silence and mostly darkness. You’ll need some stimulans to keep going. They love to drink 95% alcohol (my desinfectent is only 70%).

I have some pictures of workers and the guide that I won’t post here. Text me if you want to see it.

Overall a very interesting and educational visit. Also sad, nerve wrecking, hard to breath and claustrophobic. Totally recommend!

Day 91: New Year’s Eve

Hi everyone!

Feliz ano nuevo! I hope you all started the year with fun and without hangovers.

I spend it with Suki and her family. I participated in the typical traditions, so my 2020 is supposed to be awesome!

We ate 12 grapes and made a wish for each one, counted our money (so we have more of it in 2020) and walked around outside with our backpacks (for fortunate travels in 2020). There’s plenty more we didn’t do haha.

Unfortunately I am moving on from La Paz and thus saying goodbye to Suki and her lovely family. But next there will be more adventures. 2 more weeks to go people!

Here are some pics from the Telerifico in La Paz. Coolest (and cheapest) public transport I’ve ever been on.

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Day 89: The Jungle Book

Hey everyone,

Just got back from the Pampas in Madidi national Park. I have mixed feelings about the trip. It was really cool to see the new surroundings and expierence the nature during the day and during the night. I think my expectations were just wrong. We did some awesome wildlife but we only stayed on the river and didn’t go into the jungle itself. Besides that, it was a terrible time to visit the Pampas because of the many mosquitoes. We got eaten alive out there. I think I donated a few liters of blood to the Pampas babies, unwillingly. I’ll spare you the pictures of my legs right now. So as soon as the boat went a bit slower or we stopped to look at something, all the mosquitoes came flying in. So we actually skipped some activites that we were supposed to do because of that, which really sucked.

Anyway, I did take a looooot of pictures haha. On the way there, in the car, I already saw around 15 new bird species I had never seen before, also saw a toucan and kiwi bird (!). The birds there are very pretty, exotic looking (obviously) and colorful. Unfortuantely I could not get all of them on picture, because they are super fast and far away. So I only have the bigger ones!

As you can see in the pictures, the density of the forest is really high. Trees in all shapes and lenghts, bushes that go as high as trees and a lot of smaller plants covering the bottom.

About the wildlife, I saw three types of monkeys, a lot of alligators (kaaimans), one of which was up to 5 meters longs. Also dolphines, turtles, capyabara’s and sloths. But one of the sloths was cheating since that one was just rescued and chilling in a hostel garden haha. Here come the pics!

I also have a cool video of an alligator eating an eel! Ask and thou shall recieve.

The dolphines are really hard to spot. In the water you can see their backs often, but that is it. The sloth was hiding pretty well in the tree, so also not really recognizable haha. I swear guys, it really was a sloth.

We also went out at night on the boat to see more alligators and fireflies. It was really pretty because the stars are very visible ofcourse. Also the fireflies were something new and exciting! The noises the jungle makes are really impressive and scary honestly haha. Especially at night when you can’t see shit and you’re on a boat without a flash light.

I feel like I could have learned more about the jungle if I would have had a different guide. I tried to book one with awesome reviews where people were really enthousiastic about his knowledge. But I was the only one who booked it so they refered me to another company, who were less engaging.

Conclusion: It was a cool experience but over priced and over mosquitoed. Next time I’ll go into the jungle and WILL NOT GO DURING RAIN(mosquito)SEASON.

I hope you enjoyed the pics 🙂

3 Replies to “Day 89: The Jungle Book”

  1. We hadden een lodge aan de rivier! Dus een kamer met badkamer wel. Maar zaten zelfs muggen in de klamboe haha!

  2. You survived!!
    En mooie foto’s.
    Ik ga de vogels nog opzoeken.
    Nu weer terug naar de stad, Merel.
    Liefs pap

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Day 87: Tarzan

Going on a jungle tour!

In the meantime, here are some cool pics from La Paz.

One Reply to “Day 87: Tarzan”

  1. Wauw merel. Wat een mooie foto’s van La Paz. Heel veel plezier succes en sterkte in de jungle Tarzan.

    Liefs mam.

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Day 84: Market Street

Hi everyone,

I’ve been in La Paz for a few days now! Had a nice pub crawl with my friend, Suki. Did a walking tour, food tour and went to the new Star Wars movie.

During the walking tour we mostly talked about culture. Apparantly the Bolivians are very superstitious. They have all kinds of traditions and rituals that they perform for different reasons. At some point in history, human sacrifice was part of that as well.

So ofcourse we went to the witch market. Here you can find everything you need to make altars and sacrafices for Pachamama (mother earth). Apparantly she likes candy, flowers, llama fetuses and very strong (90+%) alcohol.

Of course we also discussed the (violent) history of the country. But also the current situation in Bolivia. It was nice to get a clear explanation about what is happening and what might happen in the future.

There is even one building that still has bullet holes in it, as a reminder of a war between police and military. 68 cilivians died during the 4-day shooting at the main square.

Here are some other cool pics from the tour. La Paz is definitely a ‘market city’. There is markets everywhere, everyday. I haven’t had a day yet where I NOT accidentally wander onto a market which contains several blocks. So hard to navigate haha.

Since La Paz is in a valley, it is surrounded by hills. This makes for an interesting (and exhausting) view. As an extend to public transport you can take the Telerifico (cable car) from one hill to another. There are multiple lines you can hop on for only 3 Bolivianos (0,39 euro).

Check out the clock on the second image.

The food tour from yesterday was really cool as well. Had a lot of original Bolivian drinks and dishes. Even tried Picana, which is a traditional dish for Christmas Eve dinner.

And, because I only have 3 more weeks left, I figured ‘why not get some Dutch foods’? There are a few restaurants here that have Dutch or Belgium foods. So I ate Bitterballen, Belgium fries and a Frikandel Speciaal. So yummy.

Day 81: Creation

Hi everyone!

I just got back from an amazing 3-day tour from San Pedro de Atacama (Chile) to Uyuni (Bolivia). I’ll tell you all about it.

It was so amazing! The Atacama Desert and Salt flats were super inspiring and impressive to see. All the nature was gigantic, beautiful and quiet. It felt out of this world, like I was on a different planet exploring.

This tour was a group tour. We were with 6 people in total, driving in a big 4×4 truck.
The first day we crossed the border into Bolivia and drove through a lot of lagoons with color names (white, green, black and colorado). This is also the day we went to the highest point on our trip (around 5000m high). Literaly breath taking.

I saw sooooo many wild flamingos! Apparantly there are 3 different flamingos, I’m pretty sure I saw at least two of them but it was really hard to tell them apart haha.

The landscapes were so diverse! The second day was mostly rocky landscapes and canyons.

We also went to a valley that was supposed to be a lagoon but was mostly dried up. There I climbed some rocks and chilled out a bit, enjoying the view of llamas eating grass in the distance. We stayed at a hotel where the walls were made of salt blocks. For the curious: yes, the walls do taste stalty.

I have to say though. The last day was definitely the best day! We went to the salt flats. The main attraction of this trip. We went to see the sunrise and it was very beautiful.
The salt flats in general were very beautiful, impressive and huuuuuuge. You could get lost there and nobody would find you forever, it is 10,582 square kilometers. Don’t ask me how the drivers navigate, because it is a mystery to me.

We also went to a huge rocky island in the middle of the flats. There we could climb a bit higher and have a nice view of the flats. You could see everything for kilometers! Untill you see a bigger volcano or mountain.

Ofcourse we also did the typical ‘weird perspective’ pictures at the salt flats. We even made a video where we are running away from a dinosaur, into a hiking shoe. Totally not showing you guys that one haha.

Besides the landscapes, we also ran into some wildlife. Not a lot, since there isn’t that many haha. I saw some wild ostriches and some sort of bunny/squirrel hybrid. I have no idea what they are called but they looked freaking adorable.

So now I am in La Paz, Bolivia. Probably stay here for a bit and celebrate Christmas. 🙂
Ciao!

2 Replies to “Day 81: Creation”

  1. Dat kleine vogeltje is de black hooded sierrafinch, of te wel de zwartkapsierragors die op de lijst van bedreigde vogels staat. Bijzonderheidje dus!

  2. Indrukwekkend!
    Je hebt overigens de James’ flamingo gefotografeerd! Mooi!
    Die zangvogeltje zoek ik nog uit…..

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Day 75: Destination Wedding

Hi everyone!

The last few days were so much fun! As some of you might know, part of my travel to Chile was because of my Chilean friend getting married. So on Friday we had a pre-party for all the internationals. A lot of fun, nice to see and chat with all people! On Saturday morning I went to a vineyard with Nicholas and we had a nice tour + tasting. Ofcourse, me being such a wine lover ahum, had a lot of fun. Still don’t know a lot about tasting but we got to try some cool fancy (and expensive) wines.

After that I went back to get ready for the wedding. In short: it was amazing!I don’t think I’ll ever be invited to such a big, classy and fancy wedding (feel free to prove me wrong). It was emotional, so much fun and a lot of happiness. Met a lot of fun people and I feel honored to have witnessed this special day. In the end I went to bed at 6 am, that says enough haha.

The view from the venue (Golf clubhouse).

So now, onwards to the next part. Currently in San Pedro the Atacama. I can’t say I missed the desert. So. Much. Sand. Everywhere. I’ll keep you all posted!

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Day 72: View from the top

Hi all!

Yesterday and today were such fun days exploring the city! It is massive so it is easy spending a few days doing all the sight seeing. Yesterday started off with a free walking tour around the city. We went to multiple attractions, churches, cool buildings while the guide talked about the history, politics and even the current events.

There were also some streets closed, just like the presidential palace (last image above). The whole park was not available for tourists. Even in a famous church a statue was hidden so that it does not get vandalized or destroyed.

The walking tour was super interesting and the tour guide gave some advice about typical Chilean snacks to eat and drink. So Tim (Germany), Nicholas (Germany) and I went to check them out ofcourse. Unfortunately I already forgot all the Spanish names for the dishes but this particulary drink was white wine, grenadine and pineapple icecream. It was super gross!

After our Chilean snacks we decided to head in to the area called Bellavista. It is basically the art district in Santiago, known for the ‘hipster vibes’ and wall art.

We also went to a museum about Pablo Neruda. He was a Chilean poet and politician. One of two people who ever won a noble price. Honestly, the museum was not really worth it because it was all about his personal life instead of his poetry or politics. So we just ended up reading the wikipedia about him.

Today I hung out at Jardín Japonés, which is a super pretty park basically.

After that I went to Cerro San Christóbal. Which is another park on a big hill where you can get a pretty view of the city. You can go up with a cable car/train! Thank god because it is way too hot to walk up the stairs.

In the afternoon I met up with Nicholas at the Costanera Center, which is a big ass mall with 61 levels. Apparantly it is the highest 360degrees viewing point in South America at 300 meters high. Santiago might not be the prettiest city to get a look at but the view was still impressive.

Ciao chicos!

Day 70: Road to Santiago

Hi everyone!
Made it to Santiago Chili! Met a nice Chilean dude on the plane and he lives and works in Paragonia. Every year he works in California from April to October. He has skipped 10 winters already. That’s the dream, people. No more winters!

I saw three good doggies doing their job at customs. Such dedicated and cute workers. One found a mango in someones pocket and he was very excited about it.
I actually got jumped on as well but they apologized and moved on. It scared the shit out of me though haha. I made really sure that I didn’t bring any organic food because Chilean customs is super strict. Makes sense because it is very isolated (by the coast on the west and mountains on the east).

I’m excited to explore my second South American country/city. So far it is green and colorful outside even though it’s 27 degrees. I got sick of the Peruvian desert and sand everywhere. I feel like my bags and shoes alone can fill a desert back up now. The taxi driver actually uses his turn signal! Big wow!
Street are actually pretty good, haven’t seen a pothole yet. Which makes driving a bit less intense as well, less swerving.
They have beautiful money here but it’s harder to calculate with (1 euro = 871,49 Chilean pesos). I feel like a miljonair.

Tomorrow more exploring!

3 Replies to “Day 70: Road to Santiago”

  1. Hee paps, af en toe wel. Maar altijd het einde van de dag en ze zijn vrij makkelijk te ontwijken!

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Day 65: Splitting up together

Hey all!

I finally managed to escape paradise! If I had no deadline, I would’ve stayed in Máncora forever. I spent two days in Lobitos, a small and deserted town. It was 2 hours away from Máncora, lovely and quiet. Exactly what I needed. There was literally nothing there. No shops, no restaurants, just a few hotels and hostals. And a lot of beach!

Sabrine and I split up when I left. We spend 8 weeks traveling together on an off again. I can’t believe I have to miss that pretty face of hers untill we both get back from traveling. Luckily time always flies and we’ll reunite again in Europe.

I MISS YOU SEXY BABY LLAMA!

On to the next place! Only a few more days before I fly to the next country.

 

Day 52: The Lighthouse

Hey everyone,

The last few days have been very nice. It’s still a consistant nice 29 degrees with a breeze. Don’t really have much to tell you. Besides that I took the time to explore a bit more. Watched the sunset from the lighthouse. You couldn’t actually go in to the lighthouse though..

I also came across these bad boys. They were everywhere walking besides the ‘lake’.

Honestly it was more of a small puddle haha.

 

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Day 46: The Beach Bum

Hey all,

Just realized I hadn’t posted anything for a while! But that’s just because I’ve been having the best time ever. Beach, sun, sea during the day and parties during the night. So basically having a great time haha! Here are some pics from Máncora.

Last Tuesday we went to Organos, a beach town only 30 minutes from here. There you can swim with wild sea turtles. They were freaking huge!

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Day 39: The Last Kingdom

Hey everyone!

The last few days has been really cool. I’ve traveled from Huarez to Trujillo and then to Huanchaco.

In Trujillo I did a very cool day tour about different ancient societies and their ruïnes. One well known society is the Incas ofcourse. But before that were two other very clever societies: moche and chimu.

For example, the pyramid shaped doors is iconic to Inca society but they actually had it already during the Chimu empire.

The Moche society built a lot of temples, which I visited one of (the Moon Temple). The Sun Temple is still being researched because this was discovered not that long ago. Everything you see in pictures below is original decoration of the temples. They used different plants and minerals to get color on the walls.

Everything the Moches and Chimus built is made of mudstone. Which means it’s very easily destroyed by the wind and rain. Luckily it’s in the middle of a desert so rain isn’t a threat.

The Chimu empire built the city of Chan Chan. We visited one of the many palaces (the only one open for visitors). They also decorated heavily and used it as ventilation as well.

You can see different kinds of pelican visuals on the bottom of the walls. These walls used to be higher ofcourse.

They also had walls painted with different layers. The bottom one are warriors (loser gets sacrificed to the gods). Second layer are the priests. Third layer is one of their gods: a double spider who share intestines. It is suspected that they worshipped spiders because they thought the people how to make fishing nets.

Overall a very interesting tour and totally worth going!

The next two days were spend in Huanchaco. Which is very cute hipster yoga beachtown 30 km from Trujillo.

There I got a nice sunburn (ofcourse) and Sabrine and I tried all the curious snacks/streetfood. A lot of fun!

Also a lot of beautiful sunsets.

Day 35: Blue Lagoon

Hey everyone!

Sabrine and I traveled from Cusco to Huaraz! It’s a smaller mountain town in the North of Peru. Very well known for the numerous hikes you can do here. Even up to 8 days sometimes.

We, ofcourse, took the easy day trip to Lagoon Paron. This was 4 hours by bus, 2 hours lagoon and 4 hours back. It was very beautiful even though I felt terrible at the altitude of 4300 meters.

Haven’t figured out yet why the water is so vibrant blue. Google says ‘minerals’ but that’s a bit vague haha. Totally forgot to ask our guide unfortunately.

 

And now onwards to the next city! Good night or maybe good morning for you already.

Btw, can’t believe it’s already been 35 days! Wow.

Day 33: The Ultimate Gift

Hey everyone!

Yesterday I went to Maccu Picchu! Since pictures say more than words…

The clouds moved so fast up there. So sometimes it was cloudy, sometimes not. It looked like everything was on fire because of ‘smoke’ coming up the mountains.

Antiono went as well! I actually got some pictures without people on it luckily haha.

Got to say, it was so amazing. We had a very knowledgeable tourguide, which was very nice.

Totally worth the 2 day trip eventhough we had a very crappy tour organization haha.

Saw some cool flora and fauna as well! I took way more pictures with my photo camera but haven’t been able to upload them. So just one cool flower for you today.

 

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Day 30: Halloween

Hey everyone!.

The last few days have been amazing! Last Tuesday I went water rafting. It was so much fun and very wet haha. Our team was so bad that we basically played bumper cars with the rocks in water haha. After warming up again in the sauna, a shower and a lunch, we went ziplining!

Yesterday I went bungee jumping from 125meters. Apparently this was the 4th highest bungee jump in South America. It was such a crazy experience and I’m super glad I tried it, I can now officially say that it is not for me.

Yesterday was the 31st of October, which means: Halloween! This is such a huge holiday here, the streets were flooded with creepy clown kids trying to get candy everywhere. Eventually the kids made way for the adults trying to find the best bars and clubs. It was so much fun! Even got some cat face paint haha. Can’t go out without a costume ofcourse.

Today it started raining!! Hopefully it’s just today since tomorrow we are making our way to Maccu Picchu!