Wednesday, 30 April 2014


So on the final day of the trek we got to Maccupitchu, with Salkentay trek you arrive at aguas calliente which is an the bottom of the Maccupitchu mountain. The times of various things had already been arranged by the tour company, my train back to Cusco was set at 230. So even thou I got the bus up I only just had enough time for the tour and to see the sun gate and the Inca bridge before vetting the bus back down and to get on the train.

So we arrived at the main gate at 7 in the end and started our tour of the site. The first guy to get to Maccupitchu in the 1900's was an American, I forget this name but he wasn't even looking for Maccupitchu, he was trying to find a little town called Olltabochy, this little city is on the train line and I got to see a little of it and its also a great little incan city which had a colonial town built on it. So after finding Maccupitchu he came back some years after and recovered a lot of little artifacts from the site and made some assumptions about the use of the rooms. There are many temples and some rooms which they just don't know what they were for, like the three window temple, its a room that they were making and it had three windows but no idea what it was really for.

Some of the site was reconstructed in the mind 1960's as it was again a site of intense interest. There was a massive earthquake centred on Cusco in 1650 and this is the reason they believe that there is some damage at the site. There are not any sign of human destruction to the building. The site itself is huge and the tour with walking around the site took almost 3 hours no including the sungate or Inca bridge. The scale of the city is massive, running down one side of the city are terraces for agriculture, the constitution of which is awesome, they are built from large stones at the bottom, gravel and then sand and earth on top of that. Water that falls on the top trickles down to the next terrace, in this way the soil does not erode and each terrace gets water. Separating the terraces from the other part of the city as a large stair case with a series of water fountains running down the side. These are no water fountains as we would think of but its a small follow of water that has been directed down a series of rocks with groves in for the water to flow. It goes along one grove and then drops down to the next level under another rock and into another grove. The groves are man made and are uniform in size. We do not know what this is for, could be for drinking, watering the terraces in dry seasons as I was told that the water flows all year round from a natural spring near the top of the mountain.

The other two thirds of the city is temples and building for living in. There is an open area in the centre of the city for grazing alpaca.
The hike up to the sun gate was quite long again about 45 minutes and was quite steep uphill but the path was main of rocks that had been placed down to form huge steps. The view from the sun gate was incredible, can see the mount of mantupichu and hyna pitchufrom there.
Taking the bus down hill took 45 minutes and then back on to the train to arrive back at the family homestead by about midnight. Very exhausted but very little time to get ready as I had an early flight to Panama and then to Orlando to go visit my friend Vig and see cheerleading worlds 2014.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

Salkentay trekking

So the first day of the trek is finished and it was reasonably good going. The day started really early at 5 getting up for the bus and waiting for it to grab me. Then a 2 hour ride to get breakfast before another hour bus to the start of the trek. The group contains 2 Americans, a French couple and a Brazilian couple. Now I was hoping for a chance to practice some more Spanish but none of them speak Spanish very well so no chance there. However back to trekking. The first spot on the trek is at 3450 metres and then we started the slow climb to the camp site at 3900 metres that is about 12km away. They have an ingenious system built into the mountains to not stop people at streams which can become rivers during high rainfall, basically there is a dam which has an overflow in use all the time this is then dammed up. There is then a sluice that can be opened to dump the contents of the dam into the river, this gives a set of trekkers time to pass in which the river is blocked.
We reached the camp site shortly before 2 and had lunch straight away which was a really good meal. After the meal we headed up to a freshwater lagoon which is fed by the glacier on mount Umanty. On the way up we saw an avalanche, thunderingly loud and looked very much like a very small waterfall. The lagoon itself is beautifully blue and at a height of 4300 metres. I am feeling the full effects of the height and getting out of breath after 30-40 metres, two weeks in Cusco don't seem to have helped at all strangely. But the views are staggeringly beautiful and I have been taking pictures on my phone but will need to find a proper computer to get them as my pad doesn't want to get them off. The area is quite rocky with lots of green grass but very few trees and became more rocky the higher we climbed.

So day 2 this is a long one apparently, up at 5 in the morning and we have to get up to 4650 metres before we head downhill given the difficulty of the lagoon trek its going to be hard, but at least last nights sleep was good and not too cold also breakfast was good this time eggs in an omelette and bread along with hot chocolate.  Well the climb was a lot less than I thought it might be, but the path did zig and zag all over the place but I managed to get a second pole as I worried about my knee but it gave me little trouble during the day. We reached the top in quite a quick time and joined the others who had rented a horse to get them to the top as they had struggled the day before. We then started the downhill towards the lunch camp, lunch was a good affair really and the food has all been good quality so far. After the lunch the landscape changed quite dramatically and we headed in to the high jungle, the path became more muddy and there were obvious gaps where a landslide had taken place and wiped the path out and a new one had been hewn into the mountainside. After a full 13 hours we reached the camp site for the night a little village nestled in a gap of the valley by a river which we had been following since it started in the mountains. Time to get some food and head to bed. Awesome day.
Everyone was really struggling from the massive second day, but we carried on through the day with the same determination. The landscape had change quite a bit and we were definitely in the jungle now and the little water fly's that had bitten me so badly in the Amazon were back and the back of my legs are covered with little bites. The third day of the trek wasn't too long about 6 hours before we had lunch, then another two to the camp site for the evening. Before dinner we got a chance to head to the local hot springs which was awesome, they have made three pools by the hot springs and you can dip into any of the temperatures for only 5 soles, about £ 1.20 :) This was very needed after the previous days hikes and was very relaxing. We got there as it was getting dark so the picture from my phone are useless unfortunately. In the evening we had a team meeting as the next day was going to be as long was the second but we could swap the train for a bus and switch it to just a 4 hour hike over flatter terrain. We ended up having the choice made for us as the campsite became a part zone with loud music played until about 2 so we ended up joining the 30 other trekkers and dancing to the tunes while drinking.
Day 4.
This was somewhat easier a sort of flat trek mainly along a railway line to aguas callientate, the town under the watchful eye of maccupitu. We got a few glimpses of the city from the ground, my phone did not have a good enough zoom but you can tell the city is there from the ground now that the site has been cleared. We stayed the night in aguas calliente, I put into a very budget hostel, I had hot water, which was scolding only to shower in. No toilet paper, not that the toilet flushed, the room was very cold because the window had a big hole in it and the TV did not work so I couldn't even distract myself. But it didn't matter because we had to be up early as the next day was maccupitchu day..........

Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Aprendo espanol en Cusco

Saturday night I was invited to go watch Gabriela's father playing a rock covers band and he played some Black Sabbath and Led Zeppelin so it was great. We started chatting in Spanish but I ran out of words pretty quickly but they do say any practice is good practice. After we headed to a biker bar to have a burger which was a nice change from the rice and pasta I have been having, not that I don't like rice and pasta.
Monday we had a double helping of class as it's holy week in Peru, they really go to town for the Easter week and have processions through the town with status of Jesus, pictures attached. The Jesus looks black because of the candles that they burn near him. So double class was hard, 4 hours melts the brain anyway but 8 just turns it to mush.
Tuesday me and Ollie decided to have some cuy, or Guinea pig for everyone else, I do have photos but I won't add them, ask if you'd like to see. We also have some alpaca steak, we tried to ask for separate plates but they ended up splitting the cuy down the middle and giving us half each and then bringing out the steaks so everyone looked at us oddly eating two meals between us, hahahahahaha. When I got back Gabriela informed me that there was a solar eclipse visible in Peru that night so we should wake up and try to see it, so set the alarm for 2 and got the camera ready. The cloud was ready and waiting to spoil the he view and we got some very iffy pictures of a reddish blob.
Wednesday we had another school trip this time to a wildlife sanctuary, they have lots of macaws because they cannot teach then to fly again once they have los the ability. However they can teach falcons and hawks with the use of some bait and the big gloves. They also have some pumas that were found as cubs in Lima, they have los their claws and don't know how to hunt and so cannot be released into the wild which is a shame. The highlight were the condors, they did a fly by of the group and they are much bigger than I expected.
Thursday was the last class and I have enjoyed learning a language and the challenges that come with it. I shall be continuing to learn and progress this when I get back as I did feel quite lost without being able to communicate in even a limited way with people along the way on this trip. I certainly like Cusco and Peru and feel that there is still a lot to see and do in south america as a whole.
After class finished, me Ollie and Gabriela took a little trip to devils balcony, which is a natural balcony which overlooks a little river. It is a nice little place, however when crossing the river I managed to slip and smash my knee and both mine and Gabriela's cameras. So my knee is slightly swollen, and badly cut which poses an issue for tomorrow as that the start of my trek. However I am more worried about the loss of the cameras :( EDIT  Gabriela's camera was fine after the rice trick, mine has finally died, leaving me with my phone for the trek and Maccupitchu.
Now is the time to trek to Maccupitchu and see Salkentay on the way.

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Local Inca ruins

So I'm now in Cusco and have been living with a local family for the past week and they are really nice and welcoming. Astrid the grandma of the house does not speak any English but she has a good grasp of body language. Astrid is really nice and always offering hot water for hot drinks. Done a week of Spanish classes but more on that another time.

So Tuesday i got up early and tried to see the sun rise from Saqsayhuaman, the Incan ruins just about Cusco but as normal things did not go to plan. I missed the sunrise by looking in the wrong direction, it was really cloudy and the sun rose behind the mountain and trees to my left rather than were I was looking. However got a good opportunity to look around the ruins. The stones are huge, think Stonehenge but bigger stones and they have been altered to fit exactly. And I do mean exactly, its like they played a huge game of Tetris with the stones and ground down ones that didn't quite fit into the wall. How on earth they did this I have no idea or how they even managed to get the stone up to 3400 metres of Cusco. The area of the ruins itself might be half the size of Windsor castle but the size of the stones makes Windsor look like it was made with Lego bricks when compared to the huge stones.

Wednesday me and an American lady Geraldine who is also living with the host family took a bus up to Tambomachy which is 400 metres above Cusco. Our plan was to walk down from there on an old tour trail, however it has since been overgrown and is not used anymore and the local Peruvians warned us off of it. However we saw the ruins of Tambomachy and here the Incas had redirected a local stream through some walls creating fountains of water that come out of the wall. Again how they engineered this is a mystery, and again how its standing after so many years is amazing. There are another two ruins of interest on the way back to Cusco that we saw, firstly Pukapukara which was a fort that the Incas built with a commanding view of the valley in which Cusco is situated. The second site is called Qenqo ( pronounced kenco) this is a single giant rock that had been split into two parts by an earth quake and the Incas had craved ledges into the rock, it is said that young incan warriors would be placed on the ledges and given little food and water until they had a vision about what they had to do in the world.

Thursday we had a school trip to the cemetery, the Peruvians commerate their dead very differently to us. The cemetery contained many small tombs which contained it's that the deceased person might like, a doll for a young child, chocolate or coke for others, some contained pictures of the family so that the dead person would not forgot them. After the cemetery vivist we headed up to Christo blanco ( white Jesus) which is on the hill over looking Cusco, this status was a present from the Israeli people to Cusco. Pictures of both it and my class are below.  From left to right, Steins, Olly, Paulo (Teacher), Me.

Next time Spanish lessons......

Monday, 7 April 2014

Lima and another long bus trip

So many hours later I am in a hostel called the lion in Lima, Peru. Its a nice looking and well looked after hostel in Miraflores, which is the tourist section of Lima. First hour I have met an american guy called Chris who lived in Columbia for a year and Emmanuel from Chile who speaks as much English as I do Spanish but we manage to have a bit of a laugh anyway about how cold the shower is. So I looked for a nice beach to rest on but it turns out the beaches in Lima are not good for anything right now because of pollution unfortunately. So instead me and Chris headed into the night to take a look around the city, saw a few of the more pretty places but my camera is not so good in the dark so you'll just have to trust me.

After the stupidity of my last section of travel to Lima I decided to get ahead of the curve and plan the rest of my flights and travel, the next day. So I spent a day looking at travel options and decided that a bus to Cusco and a flight back to Lima would be the best option. So now I have smashed the credit card hard but I know when I have to be in places to get back all the way to England. I have also changed my plans for the next few weeks again. I'll admit that at time when travelling about I have felt a bit lost as I can only talk to people who speak English, I have perhaps three times used a bit of French to get something or understand directions but I think I have mostly been lucky. So on Monday the 7th I start two weeks of Spanish lessons in Cusco, I'm also living with a Peruvian family who don't speak English so basically I'm dropping myself in at the deep-end and hoping that I can learn to swim really quick.

Back to the bus, now I was dreading the bus that it would be like the buses in Brazil, cold, long and boring. Now in Peru they have got busing down to an art. I mean it felt like I was taking a flight. I arrived changed my voucher for a ticket, checked in my bags and waiting to be called for boarding. Once I got on board I headed up to my seat, I had a seat at the front of the bus on the upper level, right in front of the 25 inch screen that they were going to show movies on. I have a foot rest and the seat reclined to nearly flat. The bus steward came around with proper head phones for the movies. Then at about 7 dinner came round, just like it would on a flight, then breakfast in the morning as well. Needless to say I was very impressed and it made the 20 journey a pleasure not a pain.

Being at the front I got some great views of the road, I'll share a few after this :) so I am now in Cusco, with the family and have had a little tour from the old lady in Spanish about Cusco and have a map. Tomorrow I start my lessons.....

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

The decent, Roraima

Right up and away by 730 everything is water proofed except for me and it should all be safe if it rains or the waterfalls are heavy. Today we should be able to hit the base camp for lunch and then the first camp for dinner, I thought this was a big aim considering it was two days to get up. However there has still been no rain since we started trekking so the waterfalls and the rivers should not be heavy or high but Alex our guide says these things can change quickly.

This time I have been preparing and have my camera ready to give you some idea of the climb. Rose and Beatrice, hired a personal porter as they didn't want to have to carry a bag on the decent. I won't say it was easy, but slow and steady made it down in one piece. After a brief lunch we started out for the first camp, hoping again our luck holds and there is no rain. The hardest aspect of the next part was the sun, we started out just after 12, I had covered up as I didn't want to get burnt but this meant I was even hotter and by 2, I was out of water, and my shirt and trousers were almost dripping wet (yes I felt disgusting).

Our luck held and the rivers were even lower meant the second one could be crossed without getting wet. Now I'm at the first camp only a short walk and a car ride tomorrow and I'll be back at the hostel, let's hope they have water this time, as last week they didn't have any in Santa Elena. Grrrr.

So the group left the camp just before 8 in the morning, and my legs were killing me, walking back was hard work after the hard decent the day before but well worth it, the weather held off raining till we were back at the camp. Once back we learnt that the boiliver had strengthened against the dollar as the president said he was going to buy more forgiven currency so last week we got 70 boiliver for a dollar today 45 was the best we could get and only if changing a huge amount of currency. Therefore me and Johannes decided to just run back to Brazil, given that we only had 200 riels between it us it was going to be tight to get back to boa vista. We managed with a little bit of luck and some hard bargaining. That evening trying to get money out of the banks was hard we tried banco Brazil, 2 different Santander branches and finally a little service station let us take out some money. Nice to sleep in a bed for the first time in a week and not be super cold.

Got some dollars the next day and I headed back to Manaus by bus to get a flight to Lima. This turned into a huge mess, I had looked at flight timed on the net and assumed that 3:41 was in the afternoon naively. So now I'm here and I have a second problem, my debit card has been cloned and someone in america has been with drawing money from my account, the money will come back but the card is now useless and I only have 100 riels left, not enough to get a taxi to town and back. All my money is in dollars or Peruvian Pecos, so stuck in the airport for 15 hours with luggage and everything. I had downloaded a little app to learn some Spanish so I have been going over and over it on my phone. But later tonight I head to Lima and maybe a beach day or two before moving on.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

The Top of Roraima

The Top.
So woke up and looked out the weather was clear.  Straight after pancakes, the food on this trip is awesome, we headed out to the window. Its just a rock formation that gives you a nice view of the top and of the other table mountain. Here there is also a piece of overhanging rock that gives you a really sense of the sheer size of the mountain. The top is 26 square kilometres and has a few animals that are only found here, the black frog being one, another being a little racoon that is cream and black, got a bad photo of the later. Once we had had our fill of the window it was time to head to the lagoon for a wash, this is a natural pool of rain water, that was supposed to be warmed by the sun during the day, but Alex our guide had been lying, it was freezing. The water was so clear however and there were quartz crystals on the bottom which glimmered in the sunlight very beautiful.
Back to the hotel for lunch and then another climb this time to the highest point on the mountain, great views which over looked the base camp an the approach as well as the climb, and got some awesome photos. We then we headed into a cave that extends into the mountain for 6km, Roraima is mainly sandstone and has quite a few little rivers running through it. My camera was not good enough to take any photos with the cave but it was small and damp, a few parts had me on my hands and knees to get through gaps.
As soon as the sun went down it was bed early as we had an early start for the decent from the top.

Monday, 31 March 2014

Mount Roraima the climb

So starting off from Santa Elena the group to headed to the mountain. The group consists of myself, Johannes, a German architect, Rose a girl from Taiwan and Beatrice a girl from Hong Kong, they meet each other online and are travelling for a year together. After driving for 90 mins we are at the point where we sign in with the park rangers and start the trek. Only a half day today, 12-14km till the first camp. Nice rolling hills and our first look at mount Roraima, it is quite impressive from a distance and it seemed that over each hill it was looking more impressive, especially in the lovely sunshine. The ground was really hard to sleep on but the tents were really good at keeping out the wind. Only issue is that we are supposed to keep the bags inside with us but the tents aren't all that roomy for 2 grown men plus two large bags, so we are just going to keep them outside but heavily wrapped in plastic.
Day 2 again this is just over half a day but starting the uphill climb with 2 rivers crossings which took some time to navigate. If there has been a lot rain on the top of the mountain then the rivers can be too dangerous to cross as the water is too fast and too high. Luck was with us and there had only been very light rain overnight. Second base camp had a great view and we can see the clouds coming over the mountain from where we are. There are a lot of small waterfalls that line the mountain, across from Roraima there is another table top mountain called kookinan and this has a 610 metre waterfall that you can see from the base camp, this water fall is not permanent and so does not count into the highest waterfalls, as sometimes its dry.
Day 3 the climb.
This started very steep and only got steeper, its not really fair to call it a hike but more scrambling or mountaineering, I really don't know how getting down is going to go. We had some luck in the fact it was not raining but I still got soaked because we have to go under 4 waterfalls, that seemed so lovely the day before from the base camp. Again if it had been raining we would have to wait for them to subside before being able to continue the climb. As we reached the top thick cloud came over the mountain and we cannot see a whole lot. We are now camped at a hotel on top of the mountain, which is just a rocky outcrop which should provide some shelter from the wind. However we cannot peg the tents in meaning mine and Johannes tent went flying off down the path, queue some choices words from the guide Alex :). Unfortunately because of the waterfalls and general cloud I didn't get my camera out on the climb but now I know what to expect I can get some much better photos on the way down, just after falling in the Amazon and somehow the camera surviving I didn't want to risk it with water again.

Tuesday, 25 March 2014

To Venezuela, but really really slowly.

Well the Amazon trip is over :(.

Now to start the bus trips to Venezuela, now I had heard this bit is a tad confusing but its not that bad. To get to Santa Elena from Manaus, you do the following.

1. Bus to boa vista.
2. Second bus to pacarima.
3. Walk to Brazilian border and through immigration.
4. Walk on to the Venezuelan border and though immigration.
5. Taxi to Santa Elena.

Simple steps, but the bus to boa vista was late meaning I missed the only bus to pacarima, so wait a day for the next one, then the next one is late, queue me panicking because immigration is only open in the morning according to my trusty guide book ( thanks so much Chris). Now I had read horror stories about not walking and there being terrorists, robbers, scoundrels and pirates ( ok not pirates but you know what I mean) in the bit where you are not in either Brazil or Venezuela, but there was just a guy selling juice, fresh orange juice actually. So I am now safely in Venezula, begin the trek up the mountain tomorrow, so not post for a while, as there are no pictures of today as you all know what a bus looks like. So added a few more from the Amazon to keep you entertained.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Amazon part 2 fishing madness

Im going to start dating the entries a little because i have lost track of what day I've done things....Tuesday the 18th, so me and Adam were all ready to head into the jungle for round 2, when Ralf asked us how deep we can dive. Thinking back to swimming at central pool in Reading, I could get to the bottom of the diving pool which is 12 feet, so I said 4 to 5 metres maybe, Adam likewise. He said " great can you give us a hand?" , we have a fish on the bottom of the river we need to hock and get up. We said sure thing, got changed and headed off on a small fishing boat. On route we asked him about the task, he said the fish had been harpooned, and to try to get away had swam into the weeds at the bottom of the river. Our task was to follow the harpoon rope to the bottom whack a fish hook in its mouth and then come back up. Sounds easy right. Well the part of the river that the fish had flew into was in the flooded forest, so it has weeds on the surface and it had also gone under a tree. So we slipped into the water,and I got the task of going first. First go was to get to the bottom and find the fish, I didn't hit the bottom but I got some nice scratches up my arms and legs. Next go I got to the bottom popped my ears, open my eyes and see nothing and I don't know what I am feeling for either. Adam's turn, he gets to the bottom both times but can't see a thing and doesn't know what to feel for either. Ralf's English in this respect was kind of limiting what he could tell us. Then Ralf stepped up to the plate, first go he came back up and said he saw the fish and could get the mouth. So he went down and hooked the mouth, then the older guy who had harpooned the fish in the first place started pulling it up. Watching the rope go by the fish was roughly 13 feet's under the river, then the head appeared, mouth open and you could fit a mans arm in it easy ( I know this because this is how I carried it later). The fish kept on coming, hitting almost 2 metres long. Don't believe me pictures below :) In the evening we headed into the jungle to sleep again, in the evening we headed out in the boat to find more caiman and ended up missing a huge one but found one at 1.3 metres not huge but bigger than last time, they are very soft to hold. We also came across a green tree boa that we resting in a tree.
Wednesday the 19th. We headed into the jungle to find monkeys, sloths and other jungle creatures, ended up seeing a few moustache monkeys, basically they look like they have a big white moustache. Rested the rest of the day as it was raining heavily.
Thursday the 20th. Hunting day, we started out as soon as breakfast finished and went back to where we were the previous day as there was evidence of wild pigs, followed the trail for hours till lunch time then we failed to start a fire as the lighter ran out and it had been raining more overnight and so everything was very damp. However this turned out well as we ate with Ralfs family instead which was very nice and had everything authentic, plain rice with manjoca flour which they make from the roots of the manjoca plant which if eaten raw are poisonous. In the evening we went spear fishing which was much more complicated than I thought but on the second chance I got a snakehead fish, no pictures as I forgot the camera again, sorry guys.
Friday the 21st. Morning started with a second chance to learn to do cast fishing, which went well as i caught another snake head fish. This time i got a picture of a happy me with the fish. So its the end of my time in the jungle but I am very happy with the time I have spent here. Time to get ready and plan for Venezuela.......

Friday, 21 March 2014

Amazon part 1

The last day in Lencois was a lot of trekking 7km up and 7km down, very little flat ground at all up to see Fumaca, means smokey in Portuguese, and its amazing. It gets its name from the wind creating a smoke effect from the tiny water droplets that form as the water falls. However since its very dry right now in Brazil, it has a slightly bigger effect on the waterfall. The wind whips up the entire waterfall and it actually falls upwards once it reaches half way down the waterfall. Its an amazing feeling when the wind whips the water in the direction of the plateau above the waterfall that you are standing on. At the bottom of the water fall is a pool of water the looks very calm and still, considering it should be fed by a waterfall.

Then another little trip in the car to another natural water slide and a big pool which we could swim in. The water was coloured red because of the tiny bits of rock that were in the water. Was very pretty, however my camera ran out of battery on the way up Fumaca which was disappointing but I will be getting pictures from a German guy called Timo, he has quit his job and is going on a year travelling, he asked if he could read my blog for ideas, not too sure what ideas you going to get from my ramblings mate but good luck.

Getting to Manaus means a 7 hours bus, a taxi to the airport, two flights and a car ride to the office. Very excited about this part of the trip.

After a long trip to Manaus, and then another long trip involving two trips by boat and two taxi rides I am now in the Amazon basin. I arrived at the camp early in the morning, I have lost track of the actual day of the week now completely. Meet two British couples and a guy from Denmark who I am going to be spending the night with in the jungle, so we headed out on the boat after lunch. The setting here is beautiful, there are trees all along the way and the river opens out the huge lake like areas, without a guide you would get lost easily. On the way we saw sloths in the trees and a few terrapins. We got to the camp roughly two hours latter and started setting, there was a long hut with no walls that we would sleep under and it had beams to hang hammocks. Beside it was a small lean too for starting a fire under, which was the first thing that Paulo our guide did.  He cooked rice and one and a half chickens on the fire, the food was surprisingly tasty. After dinner Adam the guy from Denmark found a few tarantula, another larger spider and a few leeches crawling through the forest. Then came sleep time, crawling into the hammock without ripping the mosquito net was difficult.

In the morning I learned I had been bitten badly on my legs and back, and in the afternoon it started to itch. I had left my antihistamines back in the office and was regretting this choice now. Once we had had a quick breakfast of pineapple and biscuits we headed back to the jungle lodge. We briefly stopped at a little local house to see a pineapple plantation, this was enlightening as we also got to see a rubber tree and try various other fruits, guava, orange lemon, papaya and a few others I have never heard of. Since myself and Adam are staying longer we are going to have a different guide and head off deeper into the Amazon over the next few days, not sure exactly how this will work but it should be an adventure.

So the guide did not turn up that afternoon, so we were with the main group having no idea what was going on, ended up fishing for piranha using chicken as bait, caught quite a few and they are much bigger than I expected. I was useless however and failed to catch a thing, fishing has never been my thing. Next day headed out early to see the sunrise from a good vantage point, got a few good photos. Mine and Adams guide has arrived and we are going to go out rowing into the swamp land and try to find some of the rare wildlife, then fishing in the afternoon and a caiman hunting in the evening, I really hope it goes well.

We now have a new guide Ralf but pronounced Half in Portuguese. He knows a lot about the local area and the row into the flooded areas of the forest was good, my camera is not good enough to take the distance shots, but we saw howler monkeys along with various birds and an owl. He was explaining that the water level changes by up to 12 metres at some points, and that during the dry season this is a normal forest but during the wet season it floods. The water does not mainly come from rain, but from further up the right river in Peru the mountains get the rain and the water level of all the Amazon rivers gets higher as a result. Once back we went fishing, Adam has brought a casting rod with him and I had a few goes at casting, it's a little more complicated then I thought. Then more piranha fishing, this time I actually caught one and since we were fishing outside the protected area we could eat them. On the way back I lost my balance getting out the boat and ended up in the river, camera luckily came out rather undamaged even if it took a few dodgy photos in the middle which I am super grateful for, but I have some large bruises on my right leg now grrrrr. Caiman fishing turned out a lot better however and we caught and got pictures with it. We tried catching a larger one but it did not want to happen and we lost the one that we hooked, from the boat the head was at least twice as large as the one Ralf caught by hand.

Morning of the 18th we headed to a local school and Ralf's house which is a short trip up river from the jungle lodge. This afternoon myself and Adam will beheading back into the jungle for round 2.………………

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Last day in lencois......

Yesterday was trip number 2 was even better then the first day and I took over 65 pictures and I managed to steal a few from one of the other guys who has much better picture sense than i do :) first up was the highest peak in the Chapada, at 1120m its not overly high but gives a great view over the park. Next was two underground caves that have sparking blue water, I forget the names but they were great. Last up was a trip 70m underground, through a cave system that used to be a river, saw a huge amount of stalactites and stalagmites but just being underground was awesome in a natural cave.
Today I went to the natural water slide and swam in the huge pool that it has created, got a bit burned on my head and neck so will have to be careful tomorrow. I guess I wouldn't have that issue if this stuff was in the UK thou. For those of you that like the pictures I'm in the process of uploading a bunch to flicker, as I'm pretty sure I'm going to run out of space when I get past the Amazon part of the trip.
So its my last day here in Lencois tomorrow, since I didn't get a great feeling from Salvador I'm only going back for a little bit before my flight to Manaus, heading on one last outing, got to see Fumaca. Its the second tallest waterfall in Brazil, the tallest having only recently been found apparently, the brochures still tell me its Brazil's tallest.

Monday, 10 March 2014

Lencois and Chapada Diamantina

A change of plan, up till now i have been in big towns, and i saw a picture of a waterfall and thought i need to go see that, had a few days so i am just going. 6 hours bus ride out of Salvador is a sleepy little town called Lencois, this town happens to be on Chapada Diamantina national park in Brazil famous for it's blue water lagoons and waterfalls. I got there late yesterday and checked into my hostel but still had enough time to do a 6km hike to a small waterfall over some rocks.

Today I got down to the bigger stuff. Inside a cave is a clear blue water lagoon, called Poco Azul. You have to shower before getting in to make sure you don't have sunscreen or makeup on to keep the water as pure as possible. You also have to wear a life jacket because diving down is not allowed, however this meant taking picture from within the lagoon was possible. Light lunch then off to mosquito waterfall, named because of the size of the diamond s that were found there. The view from the top was awesome but even more so was swimming under the water fall.

On the way back to the hostel we managed to come across a tarantula :)
Hope there is more to come tomorrow......