The Amazon Jungle


The day after we arrived back in Cuzco from Machu Picchu we took a flight to the Amazon Jungle (Puerto Maldonado) in the north of Peru. The flight was only 35 minutes, then there was a an hour long bus ride and a two hour boat ride before we arrived at the jungle lodges where we were staying.

On the boat we saw white caimans, macaws and these huge rodents which I can’t remember the name of. I was calling them ROUSs – Rodents Of Unusual Size for those of you playing at home (a Princess Bride joke – oh yeah!). Apparently they ae the biggest rodents in the world, although I swear I´ve seen bigger ones in Dad´s garage!

In the evening we went for a walk in the junge to try and spot the many insects and other creatures that come out at night. We saw a tarantula that was bigger than my hand!

We then played a game where we were split up and we had to wait 10 minutes in the dark by ourselves until one of the other group members came to get you. It was a bit nerve wracking being in the pitch black but quite exhilarating. You could hear so many different types of animals and you could see fire flys flickering around which were mesmerising.

The next day we went for a hike into the forest where we saw wild boars, howler monkeys and heaps of different species of insects and plants. We also went canoeing around a lake in the forest and did some piranha fishing which was awesome!

Will playing George of the Jungle

Looks remarkably like Will doesn´t he?

After walking back to the lodges we were all pretty hot and bothered so our guide said that if we wanted to go swimming to be down at the pier 4pm and a boat would pick us up and take us to the other side of the river where we could swim. Now we’d been told that there were white caimans in the river but that they were shy and wouldn’t go near humans so we felt pretty safe. We arrived at the pier but the boat didn’t come so Joey and I decided that we’d swim across. It was probably about 70 metres and it wasn’t flowing very quickly. We both made it across ok and then when Will was half way across the boat showed up and nearly ran him over!

We were all pretty excited that we’d been swimming in the Amazon, that was until that evening when we went out caiman spotting (their eyes glow red in the dark) and we spotted a huge black caiman right near the pier where we’d been swimming! We all remembered the guide clearly telling us that there were no black caimans in the river (they are really aggressive and would happily attack humans), and yet here was one metres from where we’d be swimming hours earlier! I think we were a bit shaken up but were still glad that we’d swam in the Amazon!

The black caiman right near where we swam!


Machu Picchu


WOW!!! Machu Picchu is something that I will remember forever. Arriving at the Sun Gate and looking down on the city gave me the most amazing feeling. After hiking the inca trail for the last three days, it felt as though we has accomplished something incredible and the reward was the breath-taking view of one of the world’s seven wonders as the sun was rising.

I’ve seen a million pictures on Machu Picchu but nothing compares to seeing it first hand. From the Sun Gate we walked down and entered the city from above. We were then taken on a tour and was told about the history of the city, how it was discovered by Hiram Bingham in 1911 and about the different buildings within the city.

After the tour we were given the opportunity to spend time wandering around. A group of us decided to find a good vantage point where we could take in the sights. I could’ve sat and looked at that place for weeks!

What an amazing place! I was extremely sad to leave because I felt that Machu Picchu was a truly remarkable place but I know that it will be one of those places that I will never forget!

The Inca Trail – Day 3

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We began the day´s trek by heading up 350 metres and then down the other side for 400 metres. We came across two inca ruins and then spent the middle of the day walking through the cloud forest which was just spectacular – we were able to spread out along the trail and walk by ourselves, giving you the feeling you were the only person in the world while marveling at the gorgeous path we were taking and the amazing views you see through the trees.

After lunch we hit the Gringo Killer Steps (gringo means white person or tourist) – 6 kms of steps down for 1000 metres for 2 hours.

We past two inca ruins and along the way we could see Machu Picchu mountain which had the inca flag atop. Machu Picchu city is on the other side of the mountain so it couldn’t be seen but it was exciting to think that we were almost there!

Day 3 was the highlight of the trek – seeing such amazing views and being within a couple of hours walk of Machu Picchu really brought home how this was probably one of the greatest experiences I will have during my lifetime and something that I will never forget.

Although the trip has been hard in parts I can honestly say that I have loved every minute of it! The sights I have seen are indescribable because of their sheer magnitude and magnificence and the experience itself has been incredible – the realisation of a dream I have had for many years.

Tomorrow I will take the short journey to Machu Picchu – arising at 3:45am and arriving at the Sun Gate that overlooks the ancient Inca city in time for sunrise.

I can’t wait!

The Inca Trail – Day 2

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We had an early start for breakfast and then we began what was meant to be the hardest day of trekking. And it was tough! We walked 12 kms, up 1,200 metres in altitude for 7 hours.

Nat having a rest part of the way up.

The last section before the top of Dead Woman´s Pass

The top peak is called Dead Woman’s Pass and it was bloody tough getting up there but when I reached the top it was absolutely exhilarating. Everyone who had already arrived clapped and cheered as I took the last few steps and although I was exhausted you couldn’t get the smile off my face.

And then it was down the other side! Another 1.5 hours of downhill steps before we reached camp.

The Inca Trail – Day 1

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We said goodbye to the guys doing the Lares trek then left Ollantaytambo and arrived at the starting point of the Inca Trail. We’d had to pack a duffel bag that weighed less than six kilos which the porters would carry and we also had day packs which were mainly full of water, snacks, sunscreen and lots of toilet paper.

We headed through the first check point where we had our passports stamped and we were on our way!

The first day we walked 10 kms in 5 hours. It wasn’t a difficult trek, there were some uphill and some downhill sections.

It was quite amazing how quickly the landscapes changed – from rocky mountains and cactus plants when we started to rainforest areas with ferns and small streams running down into a raging river below.

When we arrived at camp we watched the locals playing a game of futbol (soccer), had a delicious dinner and headed off to bed with several layers of clothing on as it was expected to be very cold during the night.

Cuzco, the Sacred Valley and Ollantaytambo

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After a short flight from Arequipa we arrived in the wonderful city of Cuzco. Straight away I liked this place as it has a real vibrancy that you notice as soon as you step off the plane. The narrow cobblestoned lanes give the city an authentic colonial feel and the red brick roofs of the buildings make for a spectacular sight from above.

The main square (Plaza de Armas) features the spectacular cathedral which took 100 years to build using blocks of stone from the inca fort Saqsaywaman.

Also around the Plaza are many alpaca wool stores, restaurants and bars – we spent two nights dancing up a storm at a bar called Mythology – very good fun. Although, you have to careful when walking through the Plaza at night because there are representatives from every bar trying to get you to go there and they can get quite aggressive.

We checked out the local market where you could buy anything from fake alpaca scarves to frog smoothies! I picked up a very stylish beenie, which you’ll see later in the photos I’m sure, and I also purchased a real alpaca cardigan from one of the shops on the plaza.

One of the boys on the tour was the victim of an attempted pick pocketing however he caught the fellow before he could take anything.

From Cuzco we headed to the Sacred Valley where we visited the Ccaccaccollo community. G.A.P Adventures supports this small community by allowing tour groups to visit and purchase textiles from the women who make them. We were shown how wool from alpacas, sheep and llamas are used to make beautiful blankets, scarves and hats. I decided to buy a blanket, which will likely be used as a table runner, that features representations of the Inca trail. Gap also supports the community by employing men as porters on the Inca trail.

Afterwards we headed to Saqsaywaman (said like sexy woman) and Pisac, two inca ruins that gave us a taste of what was to come on the inca trail and at Machu Picchu.

That afternoon we ended up in Ollantaytambo which is a beautiful inca city featuring tiered terraces that reach all the way up the mountainside and overlooks the cobblestoned town below. It was amazing to hear about how the huge stones were quarried on a mountainside nearby and then transported all the way over to Ollantaytambo. The rocks have been sculptured so perfectly they fit seamlessly together and some have even been carved to fit around corners of the buildings.

In the evening we stocked up on supplies for our treks (some of us were doing the Inca trail while other were doing the Lares trek) and were briefed by our respective tour guides before heading to bed all ready for a huge few days ahead.

Colca Cañon


I know I’ve used this word quite a lot during the trip but Colca Cañon was just SPECTACULAR!! Looking down onto the valleys, overlooked by the rugged peaks of the Andes, it just took my breath away how beautiful the landscapes were. The valley has been tiered so the locals can cultivate their crops and there are small water resovoirs that catch the water that was snow on top of the mountains.

Several times I was almost overwhelmed with the scale of the mountains and the beauty of the scenes I was taking in. I couldn’t stop looking in all directions, jut trying to drink in the beautiful scenery.

We were at 3,800 metres and the canyon was 3,260 metres deep. At its deepest it is 4,100 deep and the mountains across from us were 5-6,000 metres high.

The largest birds in the world, Condors, live high up in the mountains and we had the opportunity to catch them up close. They often have a wing span of three metres and stand over a metre tall.

It was incredible seeing them soar over the top of us, although up close they were the ugliest birds I have ever seen!

I bought a hand-embroidered card from a lovely man who spends seven hours making each card. He arrives at the canyon at 5am (which would be bloody cold!) and works until 1pm. I paid 20 soles which means he earns about $1 an hour.

We stayed a fantastic hotel which was almost like a ranch, called La Casa Mamayacchi. It had a thatched roof, beautiful open fire, amazing views of the valley and mountains and of course a Llama in the garden.

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