VENEZUELA

December 15, 2009 by none;
Filed under VENEZUELA

VENEZUELA                                                

Travelling here is something you do at considerable risk and is the reason why I have not been. When in Argentina last year I met two great Welsh girls who should have been met there by two friends from Wales. They were not there with them as they had stopped off in Venezuela with the intention of spending 2 weeks on holiday exploring that country. They were questioned at the airport in Caracas for an hour and then taken to the coast, told ‘this is your driver, this is your car, this is where you can go and when, and if you don’t agree then you can leave the country’. The girls decided to leave the country and because they were so shock-up they flew back to Wales.

On getting  to Quito about 2 months later I was to met 3 Australian guys who had been in Venezuela and said ‘do not go there’!!  The police and military had held up their buses and come on board demanding money for all passengers. In their case $100 each time. Buy the third hold up in one day a young Japanese man had only $80 left so they hit him in the face with the butt of a pistol. (These incidences occurred last year and it may be different now )

This is a shame that travellers are not really to welcome here as there are many places I wanted to visit. Angel Falls for a start. Island of Margarita, highest cable car in the world near Merida………

On having said all that, there are people that have been recently who have found it safe enough and enjoyed themselves, so it is down to the individual.

(Please remember that all opinions expressed in these pages are mine and only mine.)

GUYANE (French Guiana )

GUYANA

SURINAME

The above three countries I have not visited.  I think they get missed a bit by the average traveller being so far over on the other side and they aren’t countries talked about around the dinner table.

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PERU

December 15, 2009 by none;
Filed under PERU

PERU

Hot on the coast and cooler in the Andes. There is, like all countries in South America, lots to see. Lima itself was not so appealing to me and from all accounts a little dangerous. When picked up from the airport, the first thing my hostel driver did was lock the doors. When I gave a startled look it was explained  to me a that at the traffic lights young men in groups with open the doors and try to either remove your bags or remove you from the vehicle and beat you up in order to obtain money, cameras, more or less everything you have with you. I only stayed in the city for a day and headed to Nazca.  All the coast of Peru is desert but from the ancient aquaducts there is a fresh water supply from the Andes. Some of these water channels, which are mainly underground, are up to 1000km long. I went to where 3 of these channels came out in a huge well.  Apart from the Nazca Lines which you view from the air, there are also pyramids and old burial grounds which are being excavated on the plains next to the Nazca plain. The wind here travels at 40km per hr all day, everyday. The puzzling thing is that the sand does not reach the Nazca Plain which is only separated by a dried up river ( until the rains and snow melts in the Andes ). The distance between the two plains is approx. ½ km. My guide, and no one else to date, has been able to explain this.

Arequipa. This city, half way between Nazca and Lake Titicaca, is surrounded by 3 volcano’s. The main one being a volcano called El Misti. This city nearly has a million inhabitants and is right in the Andes. Surprisingly it has a dry climate. I stayed here for 2 days so as to acclimatise to the altitude. It has some interesting history along with very old buildings and museums. Most of the travellers I met here where doing the same as me. If you don’t want to go from sea level to 4000m above sea level then stop off here for a night or two. The altitude here is 2,380m

Puno was the next jump up in altitude to 4000m above sea level. It is right on the edge of Lake Titicaca. From here you can do the floating reed islands. My feeling is that if it weren’t for the tourists visiting then they would no longer be living on the reed islands. Puno is very smelly if it rains, which it had to do when I first got there, and to make it worse I had altitude sickness. My friend Amy was fine. Coca tea – does it work- I don’t know. I have tried it a few times now and personally don’t think it does anything for me.

Cusco is where , obviously, everyone heads for to see Machu Picchu or to do the Inca Trail. I took the backpackers train and did the day trip. It’s a long day but so worth the effort. Kiwi’s note the Totara tree where the buses drop you off. Machu Picchu left me with more questions than answers. It is an amazing place. If you are fit you can climb Huayna Picchu. On average it will take an hour. Its hard slog though! Cusco has lots to see and do. Amy and I did a bus tour of the surrounding villages and went to the temple of the sun in the sacred valley of Urubamba. This too is a mysterious place. You can stand in front of the sun temple and look down on this whole ancient site but when you put your head around the corner it nearly gets blown off. The wind whistles past here at 40kmph ( or there abouts ). It is like this day in and day out. How? Why? Who knows, just another of those unanswered questions that fascinates me.

I finally got sick of rice in Peru. It’s served up with everything. Peru grows acres of rice and also potatoes but for some reason you don’t get potatoes with your meals. They grow over 2000 varieties of potatoes. (they export nearly all their potatoes)  Between Puno and Cusco there are huge flat plains ( the altiplano ) where alot of crops are grown.  Not far from Cusco is also a huge plateau where the new airport is going to be. My first thought was how sad as it is such a beautiful place. But that’s progress for you.  They hadn’t started moving in the machinery when I was there, but I dare say they have started by now. The other thing which tests your patience here is the people right in your face trying to sell you things. I haven’t found any other place in my travels where the local people do this. Keep walking and say no. You have to because you can’t buy from everyone.

Ingrids Travel Tips for Peru

1) You don’t have to do a tour for the Nazca plains. Go to the airport and just go ask one of the pilots that will be standing by his plane. If you go in a group of up to 5 this is better. It is about a third of the price this way. Hostel and hotel owners will insist that you can’t do this, YOU CAN!

2) In Peru they tend to load your bags onto the bus once everyone is on. In Nazca no-one got on the bus much to the driver’s annoyance. Stand your ground and make sure the bags are loaded before you hop on. Peru was the only country that I didn’t feel at ease about my luggage.

3) Sit on the side of the bus that bags are loaded. This way you can watch at every stop to make sure no-one is taking off with your bag. It does happen every now and then, but luckily it’s not very common.

4) For going to the floating reed islands in Puno by your tickets from your hostel, it’s cheaper. ( Yes the opposite from Nazca )

5) Wear good footwear for Machu Picchu.

6) Don’t forget your tourist stamp from Machu Picchu in your passport. Got mine!

7) If you’re fit , Huayna Picchu is absolutely worth the hard slog.

8) If you want to post a parcel home from Cusco take a photocopy of your passport with you. They provide boxes and tape.

9) Try guinea pig and lama. Let’s face it, you probably won’t have the chance to again so go for it. It’s not bad actually!

10) Don’t be out late in the wrong area of Lima. Sadly violence towards tourist here is on the rise. They will take your top brand Nike shoes if the opportunity is there for them. Young youths on the streets at night are only a problem in Lima. Elsewhere in Peru you see signs ‘protect the tourist’ and plenty of police keeping watch.

11) The bus system in Peru is good, just the roads are hard work, but don’t hesitate to take them. It’s not as scary as it seems really.

12) Sad but true is also the fact that you will see men urinating in the street. If your urgently need to go the toilet just ask in a shop or restaurant. Sometimes it may require you to buy a cup of tea or coffee.

13) As in most South American countries have some toilet paper on you all the time. At public places like bus stops you have to pay to use the toilet. I don’t mind this as they are only trying to make a living.

14) Take the backpackers train to Machu Picchu. I found it interesting with amazing scenery and of course there are those switchbacks. This train ride also gives you lots of photo opportunities and a chance to meet people from all over the world.

15) Enjoy Peru and take your time, there’s a load to see.

 

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ECUADOR

December 15, 2009 by none;
Filed under ECUADOR AND GALAPOGOS ISLANDS

ECUADOR, including the Galapagos Islands. 

This country is so easy to get around with buses from the main bus station in Quito going to every destination in the country nearly every ½ hour. The coast of Ecuador from Manta to Guayaquil has beautiful warm clear waters and small off shore islands to go snorkelling for a day.  From Quito you can do the equator or go to places like Banos and of course many more. Mountains are close and rivers for rafting. Ecuador seems to have it all. Amongst all the fruit you can buy I found Banana Passionfruit. I had heaps of people at the hostel eating them as they had never come across them before. In New Zealand the banana passionfruit vine is now considered a noxious weed. In Ecuador they are taking over and grow just everywhere.

Best hostel in Quito is ‘Secret Garden. Breakfast is about $5 but its as much as you can eat and they also do a tradional Ecuadorian meal every night which is about the same price. They also have live music one night a week.  You will find yourself with endless places to go and endless activities to enjoy. This is another country so set up for tourists and its not hard to find out anything you want to know.

Second to none of course are the Galapagos Islands. If your budget allows, don’t miss them! It is an amazing experience to snorkel with turtles and fur seals. The waters are warm and clear and surprisingly calm. I could snorkel not more than 1metre from the rocks and when I got close, would just push myself back out a little. There are blue–footed boobies and the albatross (males ) sitting on the nests. You can get very close to take photos. Then there are the many hundreds of iguanas. Ugly things I think, and not as big as I thought they were. Flamingos.……. The ship I went on was great, as was the service, and each morning you woke to find yourself at a different island. The Charles Darwin Research Centre is where you get to see the enormous turtles. It takes 8 men to lift one. Personally I think they lied, and that it must take as many as 10 of even 12. You are allowed to get right next to them but no touching. I still think today WOW and I would love to take everyone there to see the Galapagos. Ecuador is another country I will revisit. Mind you I think the whole of South America is great and that I will go back to all the countries there many more times.

Ingrids Travel Tips for Ecuador

1) Watch your belongings in this country. If you put it down they think it belongs to them and ‘bang’ it’s gone.

2) If robbed, get on the phone quick. My room was broken into ( I wasn’t to realise this until sometime later as it was done in such a way that I didn’t immediately know ) and by the time I got on the phone they had cashed  us$4000.00 And no, they didn’t get my passport. I little obvious that they knew the person that worked in the bank.

3) The hostel I stayed in at Quito did spanish lessons. The tutors came to the hostel. If your hostel runs this service take advantage of it. This proved helpful for me as I hired one of the tutors to be my interpreter for getting the police report after being robbed.

4) The people like it if you attempt to speak in spanish. I still have to do a bit of pointing and other hand gestures to get understood, but hey it makes for a bit of fun and laughter.

5) Before going to Ecuador make sure your budget allows for the Galapagos Islands. It would be a shame to go all that way and to miss them. It is an unforgettable place.

6) Don’t forget a visit somewhere along the coast. The beaches are beautiful and the water so clear.

7) Do the Teleforica when in Quito. Amazing views over the city.

8) Remember you are at altitude and its hard work just walking so take your time.

9) Make a point of going on a bus to a small town within an hour or so of Quito each day. Buses are going to somewhere all the time and this is an easy way to do the equator.

10) Visit the Otavalo markets. This is something to remember for life.

11) Just like in Bolivia – if travelling alone put your bag in the backseat with you. If the taxi driver tries to say no it will be because he wants to fill the vehicle up with others and there is no way of knowing where you will get taken before being dropped off, or the cost.

12) Remember  that Quito is at altitude so dont try to do to much the first day or so.

From 2010 a new International Airport for Ecuador is going to open. This will be about a ½ hr drive away from the outskirts of Quito, towards Cotacachi. Im not certain which month this opens.

COLOMBIA

December 15, 2009 by none;
Filed under COLOMBIA

COLOMBIA   

This is also another country I love to visit and have been to twice. People think that it is rather dangerous to go there and especially if you are female and travelling alone. It’s no more dangerous than any other South American country.  My first visit was to Cartagena on the Caribbean coast in the north and my intention was to stay for 3-4 days and I ended up staying for 9. I was right on the beach in the area called Bocagrande. It was here that I met a lovely young Colombian couple on holiday themselves from Bogota. I went to visit them again this year in Bogota. Next month I am going back to attend their wedding.

The Old City of Cartagena is surrounded by a wall which you can walk. In one corner before a bridge there is a very neat night club, and it’s very popular to. Many Americans have brought homes within the old city and have done a great job of restoring them. They are painted all the colours of the rainbow and it is a nice place to walk around to see them all. There are also lots of cafes to sit and have the best coffee in the world. After all my travelling I think theirs is the best coffee.

Of course Colombia is the place to buy emeralds (unless you go to Indonesia or India where they are so cheap). Buying emeralds here means you will get a certificate of authenticity and from what mine they came and when. I brought several rings for family members and myself and then a very rare Tourmaline ring.  Throughout Colombia there is no problem finding ATM’s or internet cafes.

Bogota is worth a visit but probably even more so if you have someone to show you around. There is Moserrat high up on a hill which is reached by cable car. This gives you a fantastic view over the city. There is a good bus system in Bogota, you just have to work out where you want to go and what bus to take. My friends took me outside of the city. We went past a big lake and then to some very high waterfalls. Sadly all the sewage from Bogota goes into this lake then over the falls.  We then wound down into a very green valley and had a traditional Colombian meal for lunch. It was so tasty.

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Ingrids Travel Tips for Colombia

1) When in Bogota go to the gold museum. It shows the history of gold and its uses in Colombia.

2) You can walk to the cable car to go to Monserrat from the centre of town if you like walking.  Alot of taxi drivers understand a little english. I have found them to be honest and friendly.

3) If you fly into Bogota don’t change your money at the money exchange there.  They absolutely rip you off. When you come out from picking up your bags you have to walk right past them. Keep going,  go left once outside and go to the departures check- in area. Go up the stairs and go left. There you will find an ATM.

4) Go to the Emerald trading house. Here you can view raw emeralds of all colours and sizes. I could spend hours looking at them.

5) Not far out of Bogota you can go to places where you can pick your own strawberries. Your hostel or hotel might be able to help you on how to get there. I was taken by my friends in their car.

6) Colombia is very cheap because of the exchange rate so get out your money and spend. It will go a long way. They have good fashionable clothing and leather goods.

7) I have not yet visited all the other main cities but intend to. Friends have been to Medellin and from all accounts it is a nice safe place to go.

8) Walk the city wall of Old Cartagena.

9) Do a day trip to Rosario Island when in Catragena.

10) Cartagena has a big port and lots of cruise ships calling in. You can catch a small sailing boat from Cartagena to Panama. If you go to Club Nautica in Manga they will put your name on a list.

CHILE

December 15, 2009 by none;
Filed under CHILE AND EASTER ISLAND

CHILE and Easter Island ( Rapanui ) 

This is one of the countries of South America where the Police can be trusted.  Good thing to know if you run into trouble.  Santiago City has a good underground rail system which can take you to all the main tourist things you wish to see.  The surrounding area of Santiago and north of here is very dry and desert like. South is more beautiful and inviting.  Chileans, I think, speak the fastest Spanish in the world. The fact that one of my Mexican friends finds them hard to understand is testament enough for me.  Chile boasts the Largest Swimming Pool in the world.  La Serena is worth a visit and from here you can do a night trip to view the stars from an observatory.

San Pedro de Atacama is a delightful village up in the Andes and from here you can go to a thermal region and see the sun come up while floating in a hot pool. Nice but boy do you freeze when you get out. There are tours to small villages that consist of about 5 homes and a church and then there is the salt lakes you can take a quick dip. These ones are cold and a half minute in there is about all you can stand but there’s no chance of drowning because of the salt concentration.
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Ingrids Travel Tips for Chile

1) If you fly into Santiago try to also book a shuttle which will take you right to your accommodation.   You will be given a number via email and this can be taken to a kiosk before exiting the baggage pick-up area. Its great and you don’t have to deal with taxi drivers who will likely cost you twice the price and means you don’t have to try working out the buses into the city.

2) Airline of Chile is LAN CHILE and I like them, but they are notorious for overbooking flights, so always get there early to check in. If you miss out they do compensate you quite generously but do take a long time to pay up. They finally paid me 6 months later and then a month after that decided they made a mistake and took money off me, needless to say the email they got was not nice.

3) Buses are going frequently to all destinations and are cheap and a comfortable enough way to travel through-out the country.

4) Go to an observatory. Take your camera as you can photograph Saturn and its rings through the telescope.

5) From La Serena you can see a huge cross on a hill. Catch the bus and see the amazing view from the inside of it, including one of the soccer stadiums that hosted world cup games.

6) Bus is more or less the way to get to San Pedro de Atacama. Lots of accommodation in this little town and normally no need to book ahead.

7) From here you can do an early morning visit high up in the mountains to see the sun come up and swim in the hot pools.

8) Don’t forget to try sandboarding. Yes they have huge sand hills at San Pedro, and for my first time trying it, it was such fun. Also got to the salt lake for a swim. This is more a photo opportunity as the water is so cold. No chance of drowning here.

EASTER ISLAND

This, to me, is a magical place.  This island is a dot in the ocean literally. There is one small beach to go swimming, but it has very beautiful white sand. The Moia Statues look inland except on one hill where they look out to sea. There are many different places to see them on the island. The main street is always a buzz with people and the local young men ride their horses into town to go to the local bar. There are horses everywhere and dogs. I had one follow me from the wharf to my hotel, approx. 2km. Then it trotted off to follow someone else.  The fruit and veges they grow here are very big in size. Not sure how they do it, but these can be seen down the main street every morning where the locals go to sell them.

There is an old volcano to go and look down into. There is a reasonably good road up to it and from there pretty much all of the island can be seen. You also get a good view of the airport which is served by LAN Chile. Other airlines fly in like Thompson Fly from England on chartered flights.

There aren’t really any tips to give about this island as it is so small and friendly and not crowded but do hire a car or jeep and take your time doing the whole island. I was there 3 days which to me was a good amount of time. This is not an island where anything happens at a fast pace. And who cares anyway.

Remember to get to the airport early to get checked in. As I said, LAN unfortunately has the reputation of over booking their flights. I got caught, but it did mean they put me in a nice hotel and I got to have another day on the island. (This meant I actually had 4 days) This is a great island to totally relax and chill out.

Below is a very interesting website I hope you will visit. The link has been sent to me by a researcher Cate Newton. Many thanks Cate.  She became interested in Easter Island after she was assigned a research project in the field. From that research, she ended up publishing a great article which you can find here;

http://www.forensicscience.net/Easter-island

 



BRAZIL

December 15, 2009 by none;
Filed under BRAZIL

BRAZIL                             

Another land of such contrast simply because of its size. Beautiful beaches, inviting cities and of course that huge area called the Amazon jungle. Brazil is on my list of countries to revisit as I have only seen a little corner of it.

There is Rio de Janiero and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. They are long, with a rather dangerous surf. The sea goes very deep, very quickly, and a local was to tell me there are lots of drownings each year due to the undertow. Exercise caution when swimming here. The best and safest place to swim is where the 2 beaches meet. From here is also an excellent spot to take photos. As you can well imagine, you get a better view and a load of photos from Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Christ the Redeemer Statue. There is a restaurant at the top of Sugar Loaf.  You can go tandem hand-gliding just out of Rio. Get the best view of the forest, Rio and land on the beach.

Florianopolis. My favourite place in Brazil, to date, is Barra de Lagoa. This is on the east side of the island of Florianopolis. It is wonderful, as are the locals that will join you down on the beach at night around a bonfire. Not alot of Brazilians speak English, but the few that do show alot of interest in where you are from and where you have been. This is a nice spot to learn to surf. Brazil has an abundance of surf beaches and small islands off-shore to go diving and explore. Off the coast of Angra dos Rios in Rio de Janiero state there are some 300 islands to dive till your hearts content.

Bahia de Salvador. Known for its colourful culture and colonial era buildings. The streets are cobblestone and it boasts a high number of churches. This is the place to soak up Brazilian culture at its best.

Paraty. This smaller city has popular backpacker’s hostels and is a delightful place to visit. It also has cobblestone streets and is becoming more popular as word gets out about this place. It’s situated between Florianopolis and Rio de Janiero

Amazon.  Manus is in the heart of the amazon and from here boat trips leave to take you way up the Amazon River. Belem is at the mouth of the Amazon.

Fortaleza. This is now becoming a large resort city. Popular with people from all over the world wanting to soak up the sun on some of the world best stretches of beach. You can play hard and party hard here!

In the southern state of Rio Grande do Sul there are the Jessuit missions to discover.      Yes I think Brazil has it all – trekking, caving, diving, hiking, rafting, mountains, forests, caves, lakes, waterfalls……….

Which brings me to Foz Iguazu. If you have entered Brazil from Argentina here then don’t miss seeing Itiapu Dam. Most people miss it as they haven’t even heard of it. Well now you have. It is totally mind blowing when you see the size. Until the 3 gorges in China were built it was the largest hydro dam in the world. A video is shown first before you go in a bus to actually see it. The statistics on the building of the dam with amaze you for a start. Something not talked about however is the fact that waterfalls bigger than Iguazu where lost when the dam was filled. There are photographs in existence of the falls but I haven’t yet viewed any.

Ingrids Travel Tips for Brazil

1) Be aware that if you fly within Brazil you will probably be told that your flight is direct, then to find when you get on board, you are heading to Sao Paulo. Most flights, domestic and international, go through this city.

2) Sao Paulo and Rio de Janiero airports do not have many signs in English and no-one around to help. Rio has a tourist information desk. When I was there no-one at this desk spoke English. Bit pointless as far as I could see.

3) Make time to visit Florianopolis. It’s nice to see the colours of this city, then head to the east and stay near a beach and chill out. Perfect place to rest up and get to know the locals.

4) If you have the time and money, go right up the coast from Rio and make your way to Fortaleza. Long beaches and places of interest including Salvador.

5) As I said in my piece on Argentina, and above, make sure to visit Foz Igauzu and go to Itiapu Dam. The stats and info will astound you. This place is stuck in my memory!

6) Buses are not so comfortable in Brazil so take a night one so as to sleep and not notice. No smoking on the bus, only the driver, and wait for it to come through the air-conditioning.

7) Local buses have turn-styles in them. Biggest problem when you have a backpack on as they are so narrow. Take your pack off, through it over the turn-style and then go through. Chances of help from anyone – slim!

8) If  you have to take 2 local buses to get where you are going then stay on the platform. This way you don’t need to purchase an additional ticket. Step off the platform and you will have to but another ticket.

9) From Rio airport you can catch a bus to Copocabana and Ipanema beaches. Look at  a map of where you are staying and the driver will drop you along the beach as close to your street as he can.

10) Bus also run about every 40mins along the beach to the airport. Saves a taxi fare, but if you go by taxi know what terminal you are leaving from as there are 2.

The natural reserve heliconia is a jungle lodge in the amazon. Please take a look: www.amazonheliconia.com

BOLIVIA

December 15, 2009 by none;
Filed under BOLIVIA

BOLIVIA                     

Oh I love Bolivia.  I think it is the people that just seem to draw me in. They are very poor, but always have a warm smile on their face. There is lots to do in Bolivia.

The Salt planes of Uyuni, Mines of Potosi and the Amazon Jungle The Witches Market of La Paz is not to be missed either. There are a number of good hostels throughout the country with the most popular in La Paz being the LOKI. If you want to get in here make sure to book 2-3 weeks before hand, or you wont get in.

There is plenty of ATMs for getting money and resturants, entertainment etc. Bolivia is easy to travel around even though the roads are rough. This does make the bus trips a little hectic but really this is the only way to travel. Buses go at night to all major destinations, from all big tourist cities and towns.

Lets not forget that all important place, Lake Titicaca. A visit to Copacabana is a must and from here you can do isla de la luna on a day trip of stay overnight with a family that lives on this island. From La Paz you can do a day trip to the ancient ruins of Tiahunaco.
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Ingrids Travel Tips for Bolivia

1) Do the famous mountain bike ride down the Worlds Most Dangerous Road. It is for all experience levels and they will wait for you if you are a slower rider. It is loads of fun with some great scenery on the way. It is an all-day ride.

2) If you are game, go do the prison visit in La Paz. It does cost but is worth doing and go in a group.

3) La Paz is one of those places you shouldnt get drunk and walk back to your hotel or hostel. Get a taxi, lets face it, it is one of the cheapest countries in the world that you will visit so a taxi fare isnt going to break the bank.

4) Shop in the witches market. There are some absolute bargains to be had and the varity of things is amazing. Even travel bags if you need one. The clothing fashion and shoes of all brands will astound you!

5) If you are travelling by yourself and need a taxi always put your backpack in the back seat with you. Pay the driver at his window after you have got yourself and backpack out of the car. My lovely Canadian friend Mike put his in the boot and paid the driver, got out, and on getting to the boot of the car the taxi then drove off. All he had left was what he was standing in.

6) Do the Salt Plains of Uyuni. You will get some amazing photos. Wear sunglasses as the glare is blinding. I only did the day trip as many people say the 3 days is just the same thing each day with lots of time spent sitting in the vehicle. This is entirely up to the individual. Remember the salt plains are 12.000km sq.

7) Dont miss the Potosi silver mines. Not such a good idea if you are very claustiphobic as you go approx. 1km down in a lift.

8) If you want jungle, head north. You might be as lucky as my Aussie friend to step out of your tent in the morning to nearly step on a anaconda. ( Yes I have seen the photo. )

9) The main airline to go in and out of La Paz is TACA. I have flown them several times while in South America and find them to be up there with other top airlines in the world. They are good and you can do your booking online.

10) Dont rush Bolivia!!  Its to nice a country to be rushed and the cheapest place you will find to learn spanish. Go for it!

ARGENTINA

December 15, 2009 by none;
Filed under ARGENTINA

ARGENTINA                   

Buenos Aires of course is a must and I think everyones  starting point for the country. Be ready to listen for some fast spoken Spanish and good steaks. And very late nights as nothing happens until the sun has well and truly gone down. Siesta means don’t try shopping in the afternoon except on Florida Street. Here you can get just about anything you desire and need. Most shops have at least one person who speaks English. It is worth putting in the effort to learn a few words of Spanish before you head here or to any country in South America.I personally found Argentina to be 3rd world, more so than I expected. Their cars tend to be very old and the streets away from your main tourist areas are dirty. There is considerable pollution and packs of dogs roaming the streets at night.Having said that, the night life is certainly there for the party goers and it is not unusal to get picked up at 4am to be taken to the night clubs.There  is no shortage of hostels in Buenos Aires or any of Argentina, and loads to do, whatever your interests. The most talked about of course is Iguazu Falls. Take you time and do them over 2 days as it can be so hot there.

Dont forget that Argentina is a big country and there is something for everyone in places like Mendoza and the much talked about cold place ( to me anyway ) Ushuaia. If looking for something warmer head to Mar de Plata. Remember if you are there in the summer holidays this place will be packed. There’s the Pampas region also, which seems to go on forever.  Buenos Aires is the ideal place to catch a ferry over to Uruguay.

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Ingrids Travel Tips for Argentina

1) Learn a little spanish before you get there.

2) Look out for gel or anything vile being thrown over you. They then try to come to your rescue with water, meanwhile a second person is robbing you.

3) Guys, and girls to, take only the money you need when you go out to the clubs. If you are silly enough to try walking back to you hostel, chances are very high you will be robbed. If your drunk, which we know you will be, get a taxi!!

4) Dont believe everything they tell you. Organize your own flights and buses as they are very good at telling you the wrong time to catch them.  Go to my links page to find airlines and booking engines.

5) Take a night bus from Buenos Aires to wherever. They are pure luxury. Hot meal, movie, alcohol. Wide leather seats that recline right down and pillow and blanket provided. Breakfast in the morning before you get to your desination. I love them. Their airline however, has missed the boat on this sort of service. Honestly, they are the best I have come across in the world.

6) If you go to Puerto Iguazu, make sure to jump over the border to Brazil and visit Itiapu Dam. Its provides 78% of Paraguays power and 26% of Brazil. It blew my mind. So worth the visit but most travellers havent even heard of it. (More on this under BRAZIL )

7) Get some throat lozengers for Buenos Aires. Very polluted and your throat will be constently sore.

8) Visit the one and only true foreign exchange in Puerto Iguazu. Its fasinating and will change any currency in the world. It is the only one I have come across.

9) Get out into the less visited places like La Cumbre where I went. Its north of Cordoba and in the 18 years the hostel owner had been there I was the first kiwi to stay.

10) Most certainly go have a steak. There are as great as they say!!

11) Be in line for the ATM by 8.30am. By around 11.00am the machines have run out of money. If you intend to ride the buses keep hold of your coins, they are in short supply, and no change is given on the buses.

12) Look out for dog poo when you step into the street in the morning.

13) The footpaths are very narrow in Buenos Aires so if you need to step off onto the road to get past people, LOOK BEHIND YOU. The buses and cars run extremely close to the kerb.

Airlines of Argentina;   www.aerolineasargentinas.com