Category: vacation

So those Australia photos

A long time ago in a land far, far away, Adriana and I caught up with family and friends. And then I fell into some sort of Internet coma. I showed some signs of consciousness with Frex (still working on it), and now here I am with another post.

So, Australia.

We went to Oz back in May. I’d never been to Uluru before, even though I’d been to Alice Springs for a wedding (it’s not really that close to Uluru, but while you’re in the general area…), but at the time I was a university student with no money, and getting a day trip to the rock was well out of my price range. This time around I wasn’t going to miss it, so decided that a 3-day camping tour out of Alice Springs would be the ticket. We had a couple of days in Alice Springs to catch up with friends I hadn’t seen in yonks, acclimate (that is, let all the Florida humidity I’d acquired over the years evaporate), and try and sync up with the timezone. We also accumulated enough red dust to last us till we returned to Florida.

My friend’s two older kids were a hoot and we had a lot of fun with them.
Darcy and Amy

The Alice Springs Desert Park was large, open, and relaxing. We got to see some pretty cool bird shows:
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As you walked around the park, there were many Crested pigeons (I love these guys) basking in the sun:
Crested pigeon

The park provided awesome views of the huge open skies above the Macdonnell ranges:
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And a go-anywhere four wheel drive out in the car park:
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We then went to see the Alice Springs Reptile Centre, a quaint little place that allowed us to get up really close with some reptiles. It was pretty cool, and Adriana does what she always seems to do when holding a snake: making out she’s going to eat it.

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That’s a pretty quick summary of Alice Springs before we went on the camping tour, which turned out to be awesome and bloody cold at night. But, that’s for another blog post, standing up too fast can make one feel light-headed.  The flickr set for all of this is here.

Peru 2010 – Colca Canyon

From Arequipa we went on a guided tour of the Chivay/Colca Canyon region for a couple of days. The canyon is approximately four kilometres deep, making it about twice as deep as that of the Grand Canyon, so I was pretty excited about seeing that and possibly a Condor.

The small tour bus took us around the extinct volcano Chachani towards the town of Chivay where we’d be staying the night. We went past a huge processing plant, which I could only guess was some sort of cement factory. The landscape at this point was a contrast of pale grey dust, green valley and man-made structures:

Industrialisation in the valley

Along the way there were many wild llama, gunacao and vicunya and some great views of volcano Misti:

Misti watching over

I never expected to see flamingoes in this part of Peru, but there they were at high altitudes of around five kilometres, feeding in isolated wetlands.

Flamingoes up high

The presence of the wetlands in such an otherwise barren landscape surprised me:

Dramatic landscape

We came across a farmer (a photo of who appeared in a previous post) who had decorated his herd of llamas to attract tourists. The ruse worked fantastically.

A decorated llama

Descending into the Chivay area we were treated to some fantastic views of the town while doing some roadside shopping.

Adriana and the lamb

A natural hot spring was a great way to relax at the end of the day, and this one had a great view.

Hot springs

From the top of our hotel in Chivay I was able to get a photo of the sunset over the mountains that we’d descended earlier in the day.

Sunset over Chivay

The tour the next day took us through the Colca Valley on the way to Colca Canyon. The were many spectacular views of the small towns and the terraced farming that supported them.

Colca valley

The Colca Canyon was very, very deep, and much wider than that of the Grand Canyon. It was fairly difficult to see the bottom of it, so I had to walk around to all the viewing points to get a good sense of how deep it was. I don’t think this was the deepest part either, as the road went further around the canyon but our bus tour did not.

Colca Canyon

Our last stop in the canyon was to view the condors. That required a bit of luck, and the whole hour we were there the ones we did see were too far off to get a decent photo. While leaving the viewing area, a condor did glide past our bus and was viewable for a few seconds. I chose to admire just how massive it was rather than try and grab a photo.

The full set on flickr is available here.

Peru 2010 – Arequipa

Arequipa is the second largest city by population (approximately 900,000), and is located in the Andes in the southern part of Peru. It’s up fairly high, at an altitude of about 2300m, although taking the whole trip to Peru into account, that’s about half of the highest altitude that we reached. It has a nickname, “La Ciudad Blanca” (The White City), due to the fact that many of the buildings are constructed of a white volcanic rock.

Getting off the plane, we were greeted with the sight of El Misti. This volcano, the most prominent in Arequipa, used to have a white top of snow but with warmer temperatures it isn’t seen anymore.

Arequipa airport

We signed up for one of the bus tours a few hours after arriving to get our bearings and visited a lookout that offered a view of El Misti (middle) surrounded by Picchu Picchu (right) and Chachani (left). Click through for the full-size version:

Panorama including Misti, Picchu Picchu and Chachani

One of the places that we visited was a water-powered mill.

The Santa Catalina monastery is something to definitely see while in Arequipa. About 20 nuns still live there, but the rest of the monastery is open to the public.

Monasterio de Santa Catalina

The most notable attribute of the monastery is the coloured walls. The blue coloured walls indicate a private area, while the red walls indicate a public area.

Monasterio de Santa Catalina

A special sort of rock is used to filter the water, and the filtration process can take a while. From memory about a litre of water could be filtered every five hours.

Rock filter.

Monasterio de Santa Catalina

One of the bus tour stops was a mini zoo of sorts that contained llamas, alpacas, vicuñas and guanacaos. I had my first experience of being spat at, and I have the guanacao to thank for that. I honestly thought he just wanted to chat.

Guanacao

Here are some more photos taken while walking around the main square of Arequipa.

Sunset in Arequipa

The cathedral of Arequipa at night

Iglesia de la Compañia

I swear there is no better way to finish the day than with a hot emoliente, a traditional Peruvian herbal drink. We spent a bit of time trying to find someone who was making them, but it was completely worth it.

That in a nutshell was our experience of Arequipa. The next two days were spent in the Chivay/Colca Canyon area (chasing condors), which will be the subject of my next Peru post. The full set of photos from Arequipa is up on flickr here.

Peru 2010 – Lima

This is the first of three parts of the photos from Peru. I think I honestly spent more time reworking my Lightroom to Flickr workflow (I’ve reuploaded photos to Flickr several times working it out), so now I should be able to get photos up online a lot faster. This is going on the assumption that I *feel* like doing it immediately after taking photos, which has always been rather hit-and-miss with me (ask Adriana). I guess I also spent a bit of time working on my new website, so if you went to the old daecks.blogspot.com and ended up here (you should have), welcome!

While in Lima we stayed with Mema (Adriana’s grandma) again, and we were acquainted with her new dog ‘Cookie’, a Maltese Shih Tzu. She already had Gypsy, a miniature poodle, but Gypsy’s getting older and more relaxed now and so Cookie really balanced things out. I have to admit that I was never a fan of the small yappy dogs, but Cookie really grew on me, and we spent most of our time at Mema’s playing with her.

Mema with Gypsy and Cookie

I didn’t get the opportunity to eat Chifa, a form of Chinese cooking where local ingredients are used as substitutes, last time I was in Peru. I remedied that this time around, and the food was delicious.

Chifa at Walok

We went to friends of Adriana’s, Steve and Karla, to see their baby, check out their *fantastic* new place, and eat some anticuchos (normally beef heart on a skewer). The antichuchos were sold on the street, and there was quite a crowd gathering to buy them.

Anticuchos de Grimanesa

Our meal back at Steve and Karla’s

The feast at Karla and Steve's

The next day we headed out to the town of Cieneguilla for some Peruvian BBQ. There was a lot of good food here, as Chancho could testify

Chancho and food

Adriana, Chancho and I continued on to Antioquia, a small town out in the freaking middle of nowhere. The draw was that all the houses in the town were painted with birds, flowers, and so on, so it was something that just had to be seen. I didn’t know what to expect on the drive there. The road started off ok, then the condition of it got worse with many potholes, single lanes, rickety bridges and then small rocks that the car kept on bottoming out on. The road followed the river along and we were elevated above the river in some points, but there was nothing to stop us from going off the edge. My fear of heights was kept at bay, I think because I was more worried about not knowing how much worse the road was going to get, and whether we’d bottom out on rocks enough to get stuck.

On the way to Antioquia

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Finally arriving in Antioquia, we were greeted by a town with very few people out and about, and some nicely painted houses.

Antioquia

Antioquia

After wondering around the town a bit, we finally headed back to Lima. It was a lot better on the way back, simply because we knew what to expect, and I was able to concentrate on taking photos again.

Leaving Antioquia

Leaving Antioquia

Back in Lima, we visited Adriana’s aunt (who is 25!) and her newborn, Macarena. This photo shows Macarena holding my finger while in Adriana’s arms, and Adriana’s grandfather in the background.

Visiting Macarena

We were also very kindly taken out for chicharrones (a dish made with fried pork rinds) by some of Adriana’s family for our wedding anniversary. I think I got a hint of my future demise while there…

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Near the end of our Peru trip, we saw a traditional Peru dance performance at a place called “Las Brisas del Titicaca”. It was fantastic, the costumes especially so.

Las Brisas del Titicaca

Las Brisas del Titicaca

Pachacamac, a pre-Inca temple site, was the last thing to see on our Lima itinerary.

Pachacamac

Someone was having a wedding there while we were visiting

A wedding at Pachacamac

And I finally got to see a Peruvian dog up close. It’s a hairless dog, and in some cases doesn’t have teeth. This is fine example of one.

The attractive Peruvian dog

So that, in a nutshell, sums up what we saw in Lima. There are still posts waiting for Arequipa and Chivay/Colca Canyon. The whole set for Lima is available here.