Thursday 2 July 2009

Yachana Team on their Expedition

Four weeks summarised in one page - here we go!

We fled the torrential downpours of the rainforest, returning to civilisation in Quito for a few days before our flight to Lima to begin the Expedition Phase. On arrival in Lima we were met by Rob, our new leader, who strangely resembled our old leader Tim with his long hair and beard! In Lima we checked out the Villa Maria project which seemed to be doing some very valuable work in the area. We took a bus to Pisco which was still rebuilding itself after the recent earthquake there. From here we visited the Ballestas Islands which was teeming with sealions, cormorants and dolphins. Later on we went to the Huacachina oasis for dune buggying and sandboarding. The following day we took a flight in a little Cessna over the Nazca lines – we were all impressed by the scale and intricacy of these huge images. We finished the day camping in a beautiful spot on the beach at Puerto Inka, lighting a bonfire to see in Jamie´s 19th!

From here, we picked up a bus-cama and took it down the coast on the Pan-American Highway to Arequipa, the “White City”. Here we prepared for our first trek in the Colca Canyon, the second deepest in the world. The first day we descended all the way to the canyon floor, following this with an easy three hour walk to an oasis on the second. We relaxed here before the big climb back out of the canyon the next day!

On our return to Arequipa, Rob treated us to a delicious meal at a French restaurant with ostrich steaks all round. Later that night we sampled the local nightlife with drinks by the “bucket full”. On our last day in Arequipa we checked out the latest Terminator film before taking a night bus out of Peru to Arica, Chile… we´ll be back. From here it was onto San Pedro de Atacama, a peaceful little town nestling in the foothills of the Andes, where we did some horse-riding (or in Jamie´s case, fresian cow-riding!)
We started our salt flats adventure early the next day, crossing into Bolivia and spending three days admiring the lagoons, hot springs, geysers and accompanying wildlife. From Uyuni, the end-point of the tour, we took a night bus to La Paz. During our stay, we ice climbed on nearby Huanya Potosi , cycled The World´s Most Dangerous Road (where Sophie took a small tumble!) and ate some disgustingly large pizzas.
We then embarked on our second trek of the trip, along the Choro Trail, which took us from snow capped mountains down into the warm lush cloud forest around Coroico. After two full days of gorging at the buffet and sweating in the sauna, and a comically bad 15 hour bus journey, we arrived in Rurrenabaque. From here we visited both The Madidi National Park and the Pampas. Here we saw some incredible wildlife - monkeys, caiman, pink river dolphins, birds of all shapes and sizes and the all-important Rufescent Tiger-Heron! Along the way we celebrated both Kat and Gabi´s birthdays in fine Bolivian style, leaving them thoroughly egged and floured! We were also challenged to two games of football, winning the first 14 – 6 and narrowly losing the second 3 – 2, despite some fine saves from our resident ninja Tim! We also spent a day working at Jacj Cuisi, the new Inti Wara Yassi animal park, clearing land for the new comedor.

As we write, we are anxiously awaiting our 16 hour return journey to La Paz, from where we will visit Lake Titicaca and Machu Picchu (via the Inca Trail). More adventures await…

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