South America – Wrap Report

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So back in the PR world whenever I finished a campaign or project for a client I’d have to put together a report summarising our activities and the outcomes, so I thought it only fitting that I do something similar for my South American adventure. So here it goes:

In three months I travelled through five countries, stayed in 29 different towns/cities, slept in 12 hotels, 17 hostels, one jungle lodge, one mountain lodge, one salt hotel, a desert shack, a beach shack, camped for three nights and took seven overnight buses.

So, what were the highlights I hear you ask? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to my five favourite experiences:

1. Inca Trail/Machu Picchu, Peru – Completing this four day trek and finally arriving at the wondrous place that is Machu Pacchu has to be the absolute highlight of my trip. The trek was really hard but, as I’ve said before, I enjoyed every minute of it and walking into the lost city filled me with such happiness at the thought of fulfilling a life long dream.

2. Horse riding in the Cochamo Valley, Chile – anyone who knows me knows that I love horses and that I love riding, so being able to go trail riding in the Chilean mountains was something I really wanted to do while I was travelling. This 2-day ride was like nothing I’ve ever done before. The trail was incredible; forest, rivers, and mountains and the horses were amazing; sturdy, strong and courageous. I was absolutely blown away by the spectacular scenery and once again loved every minute of the experience.

3. The World’s Most Dangerous Road, Bolivia – My mum actually forbid me from doing this before I left on my trip but I knew that if I didn’t do it I’d really regret it. The 64 km downhill bike ride on what is considered the most dangerous road in the world was absolutely exhilarating. It was so much fun that I had a smile on my face for the whole ride and the scenery was spectacular; waterfalls, forest and of course the huge cliffs that drop away from the side of the road.

4. Bike riding in the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina – I’m not much of a bike rider so it’s kind of funny to see that two bike rides made it to my top five list, but this one also included one of my favorite things in the world; wine. This was just one of those days where you have so much fun that the next day you wake up and think, ‘wow, that was perfect!’ Combine delicious wine, riding a bike on a glorious day through gorgeous vineyards with the spectacular Andes in the background, and fabulous company and you have one stellar day.

5. Rio de Janeiro, – Rounding out the top 5 is the coolest city I’ve ever been to. I loved everything about Rio; the amazing sights such as Christ the Redeeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, the stunning beaches, the crazy nightlife and most of all just the fantastic vibe the city has. I’m so glad Rio was the last place I visited because it was the perfect ending to the most amazing trip.

So there you go, five places/experiences that absolutely blew me away. It’s good to see that there is one for each country because I loved all the countries I visited, they were all so different and I was lucky enough to have incredible, unique experiences every place I went.

Of course, one of things that really made this trip what it was is all the amazing people I met along the way. I was lucky to have a group of fantastic people in my tour group in Peru and then once I was by myself I was able to meet some great people to hang out, party and travel with. Thanks to all those people who I met, you made this trip the greatest thing I’ve done in my life!


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.

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