Charli and Leigh in South America

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Photos! Made by charli on 2011-09-01 13:20:13

Have uploaded loads of images that we didn't manage to get on the website whilst we were traveling. Enjoy!

31 pictures uploaded today
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Back in England Made by charli on 2011-08-18 16:48:41

Quick note to say that after a 22 hour flight we are back in England! And only mildly jetlagged, and craving cheese.

Ambue Ari Made by charli on 2011-08-13 14:18:24

We have now left Ambue Ari, and are back in civilization in the city of Santa Cruz

Ambue Ari was an amazing place, its an island of jungle in the middle of hundreds of kilometres of farmland- so the wildlife there is amazing. We've seen capuchin and squirrel monkeys, snakes, armadillos, anteaters, and even a giant otter (it chased Charli). The animals in captivity at the park are primarily cats, as they cannot be released into the wild. The cats are all awesome! Leigh worked with an ocelot called Engine- aptly named for the noise he makes, and easily the wildest cat in the park. Charli worked with a jaguar called Katie, a remarkably well behaved jaguar who is amazing at climbing- lots of Charli's job involved trying to put Katies food high up in trees.

Whilst all the animals at the park were fantastic, there were 60 people there and it was very busy, and somewhat lacking organisation. Not being able to book means we were turning new volunteers away one week, but desperately needing volunteers the next. It was a beautiful jungle location, but with a road running straight through the middle of it, and with a camp that was lacking somewhat in design.
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I'm glad we visited the Park, it was a great experience, but I'm not sure I'd return.

5 pictures uploaded on 2011-07-29 21:03:24

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Rah from the jungle! Made by charli on 2011-07-23 20:13:03

So, we are still alive, its just Parque Ambue Ari is very rural, and rather a long way form places where we can use a phone or access the internet!

Leigh is working with an ocelot called Engine (he makes engine noises), and I was working with quarantine animals- which included some pigs, tortoises, a tamarin monkey, a squirrel monkey and a toucan, and now I'm helping look after a jaguar called Katie. The animals are all awesome! But the park is slightly like an 18-30 holiday at times. Lots of people here, about 60 volunteers. Me and Leigh are enjoying just playing in the jungle, but lots of people feel the need to go out and drink a lot (not us, no cider here).
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Had an email about the snow in Bolivia... definitely no worries to us, the average temperature here is about 35 degrees! We're in the jungle!
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No pictures today as the internet is terrible, will try again in a fortnight.

Welcome to the Jungle(Reprise) Made by leigh on 2011-07-09 23:04:14

After a 16 hour bus ride we are now here in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. It´s our last stop before heading into the jungle again, so we might not be making many posts for a while. Oh yeah I lost my hat again:( and possibly my sunglasses.

An odd week Made by charli on 2011-07-07 18:58:20

It's been quite an odd week, that which should have been straightforward turning out to be a headache and the thing we were quite concerned about being no trouble at all. Firstly we paid good money for our tour of Machu Picchu and with that expected some level of organisation but ended up being badly disappointed. It didn't really occur to me just how much faith you put in these people until it went wrong at exactly the worst time it could have. That time would be close to midnight when you are in the middle of nowhere and with no hope of transport back to your hostel. With a little luck and thanks to a nice South American family we got a better hostel than our booked one and got a nice ride back in the morning. Of course this messed up our plans for the next day (no pony trekking for Charli!) and cost us more for a bus to Puno and for the Hostel. Did our tour company care? No. We got refunded for the bus and nothing more, given that they would have saved that money by not bothering to send us a bus in the first place it didn't really seem to cover it.

Then Puno and crossing the border, this has been a problem of late with protesters blocking roads and the border. You wouldn't have known it from our experience we had 2 great tours in Puno, of The Uros Reed Islands and The Sillustani Ruins, and crossed then border without incident. Uros is a remarkable example of a lifestyle so different from what most people are used to, it's been a little tainted by tourism but it's easy to appreciated what it would have been like before. Building floating Islands with the roots of the reeds as a base and layers of reeds on top that had to be topped up every month. This meant lifting up their houses to put under a fresh layer of reeds! Sillustani being the ruins of a pre-Inca burial ground that was still used in Inca times and is still used ceremonially today. Both tours offered a fascinating insight into the cultures that existed in the area before the Spanish came along and struggle to maintain an identity today. At 20 soles (around $7.25 or £4.50) the Uros tour has to be the bargain of the trip so far it included transport to and from our hotel, the boat trip out, the tour guide and the 5 soles to get in to the islands.

So we made it to La Paz pretty much on schedule but not in time to confirm our ride down the death road today so we wait impatiently for that tomorrow. The only slight excitement on the trip being the random stop of the bus when we had to all get off the bus and take a boat while the bus took it own ferry. It had to go on its own on the ferry in case it sank! A little time to rest, make a few more indepth posts (witness this one) and hopefully litter the internet with reviews of our Machu Picchu tour company won't go amiss. On that note if you are thinking of booking with Chunchaski Tours (we booked through Promoturs so I'd avoid them too) then I'd think again. Their office is in the Main square (plaza de armas) in Cusco pretty much in the middle of the side with the BCP bank at the end. With an open front the tour desk was on the right hand side as you walk in and the back was filled with the usual tourist tat for sale. It wasn't just the ending the whole tour was uninspiring and badly organised getting stranded was just the icing on the cake!

And here are pictures of Machu Picchu, Sillustani and Titicaca.

13 pictures uploaded today
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Location:Puno Made by leigh on 2011-07-04 17:51:50

After a bit of a nightmare in Cusco we have arrived here in Puno, on the shores of Lake Titicaca and our last stop in Peru.

Machu Picchu Made by charli on 2011-07-02 12:31:13

Our latest trek was a 'jungle trek to Machu Picchu', a cheap Inca Trail version. The trek started off cycling 45km! Which sounds loads, but it was all downhill and we barely had to pedal. We started off really high up, at the snow line, and finished way down in the jungle. It rained a lot and we got very muddy!

The second day the terrible weather continued, and instead of going on an awesome jungle zipline we had to just get a taxi. When the weather cleared up a bit we walked 3 hours to Agua Calientes- the town just at the base of the Machu Picchu mountain.

And then the third day we got up at 4am in order to climb the hour up to Machu Picchu- only the first 400 people get a ticket to go to a higher mountain where you can get photos of the whole site- we were easily in the first few hundred and got the ticket- but by the time it came to climb said mountain there was buckets of rain and loads of fog hanging around- no point climbing a mountain to see only a cloud! The Machu Picchu guide was really good and we had a nice tour of the ruins, before giving in to the weather and fleeing in a bus back to the town below. Now we're hiding and waiting for our train back to Cusco, mmm.. clean dry clothes!

Arequipa and Colca Canyon Made by charli on 2011-06-29 00:00:24

We have been on a trekking tour of Colca Canyon for the past 3 days, near Arequipa in Peru.

Said tour involved seeing condors (has the largest wing span of any land bird in the world!), and climbing down (and back up!) the second deepest canyon in the world. Was an awesome trip, though hard work.

14 pictures uploaded today
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