A Travellerspoint blog

February 2018

Surprising Puno, Peru

sunny 15 °C

The Blissful Adventurers re-united in Lima on Friday and flew to Puno to begin their trek to the southern tip of Patagonia.

The small Peruvian city of Puno on the north shore of the world's highest waterway, Lake Titicaca, is more than twelve thousand five hundred feet above sea level and is often shrouded in cloud. On our last visit in 2015 we had several days of cold rain and saw little of the lake. We therefore decided to try again and, so far, luck has been on our side. It's our first day and the sun has shone since dawn. However, that is not the lucky part – this is...
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By pure coincidence we arrived in Puno on the eve of one of the most incredible spectacles in all of South America – La Festividad Virgen de la Candelaria. Here's a group of dancers decked out in skeins of alpaca wool - the yarn for which this part of the world is famous...
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Every year on this day some sixty five thousand costumed dancers and musicians dance and sing their way through the streets of Puno from the Church of the Virgen de la Candaleria to the main stadium where they perform in front of a crowd of thousands from all over the world...
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Our hotel is just a few yards from the parade route and the 102 cultural groups composed of bands, dancers and singers in this year's festival have been entertaining us from 8am this morning and will continue until late tonight. The festival is classed in the top three of South American events alongside the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro and the Carnaval of Oruro in Bolivia. Words cannot describe the beauty, the exuberance and the sheer emotion of watching tens of thousands of gaily costumed people taking part in such an amazing event. All we can do is show you some snapshots...
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The many beautiful young girls loved being photographed in their bright costumes...
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And the older women looked resplendent in their colourful hats...
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There were thousands of men in masks and costumes...
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And more than 2,500 musicians playing drums and traditional Peruvian pipes...
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We will leave you with these traditional stick dancers as we return to watch more of the procession...
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Tomorrow we will take to the water to visit the floating Uros Islands of Lake Titicaca.

Posted by Hawkson 12:52 Archived in Peru Comments (7)

Mindo - Ecuador's Garden of Eden

semi-overcast 27 °C

Just a stone's throw north of the equator in the heart of a tropical cloudforest lies the tiny community of Mindo. The perpetually warm equatorial sun greets us each morning as we breakfast in our lodge's rooftop restaurant, and we are serenaded by birdsong and the babbling of the nearby river as it tumbles headlong toward the ocean some 5,000 feet below us...
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Toucans and humming birds abound in this equatorial nirvana but both are too speedy to be caught on the wing and too difficult to see in the dense tropical canopy. The numerous exotic butterflies on the other hand have been corralled into several butterfly gardens where we were able to marvel at their amazing sizes, colours and disguises...
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And if you think that this is the head of a raptor looking for prey, try turning the picture upside down...
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Green is certainly the predominant colour in the lush tropical jungles that climb high into the Andes from the valley floor in Mindo, and by mid-afternoon everyday the hot humid air has turned to cloud and the forest is given its daily watering. The frequent showers and perpetual warmth has turned this part of the Andes into a Garden of Eden where plants that, to us northerners, are tender houseplants, grow in profusion. Sweetly scented wild orchids flourish here...
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as do the common slipper orchids...
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However, it is the multitude of brightly coloured bromeliads and heliconias that really stand out in the jungle...
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But all of the vegetation, including the cultivated bananas, coffee, papayas and edible yuccas, are exotic to us.
The best way to view the jungles of the Mindo valley is from above and there are two ways to do that. First we took a creaky open cable car across the valley - you can just see the river far below...
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But then we got really adventurous and put our lives into the hands of a couple of local guides and zipped from mountain to mountain on a series of 10 zip lines that carried us some 3 kilometres above the canopy. Here's Ian preparing for the first run...
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And then we were off...

After each zipline we climbed higher and higher into the the mountains until the final line zipped us all the way back to the start. It was exhilarating, (and a little nerve-racking at first), but once we had our feet firmly back on the ground we would happily have gone around again.

Our Ecuadorean adventure is now coming to an end and Ian will be returning to his home in France. He will be taking his GoPro underwater camera with him, together with his editing expertise, so back to the photographic steam age for us. We hope you enjoyed Ian's videos - we certainly did. Blissful Adventurers James and Sheila will be reuniting in Lima, Peru, for the next leg of the journey to the end of the world. We hope you will stay with us as we head south through Bolivia and Chile to Patagonia where we will bring you the wonders of Tierra del Fuego.

Posted by Hawkson 04:56 Archived in Ecuador Comments (4)

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