A Travellerspoint blog

Beached in Puerto Madryn

Puerto Madryn, Argentina

overcast 14 °C

With volcanic ash cutting a swathe across Chile and Argentina, causing all airports in these to remain closed, we concluded the best thing to do was reschedule our home-bound flight and give ourselves time to catch the bus to Buenos Aires. Instead of a 3 hour flight, this would involve roughly 44 hours on the road - ouch! To ease the pain of this we decided a 2 day stop in the coastal Patagonian town Puerto Madryn would break up the journey nicely.

In complete contrast to the grey, ash-coated El Calafate we had left, Puerto Madryn was singing blue skies and sunshine the afternoon we arrived. Puerto Madryn is a small port town thriving on the tourism of whale watching and exploring of the nearby Peninsula Valdes Reserve.

Marco and James suiting up

Marco and James suiting up

At our hostel we met up by chance with the 2 British backpackers we┬┤d met in El Calafate, James and Marco, and the next day Trav went out with them on 2 scuba dives. Ali had a luxurious morning to herself, doing a bit of shopping and then spending ages on the end of the pier mesmerised by 2 frolicking Southern Right whales only metres away. The whales swim into the bay at high tide every day from the start of June until December. Later that day as the sun went down we stood and watched the whales again from the beach as they cruised the bay just offshore.

With June just the start of whale watching season, we were among a very small flock of tourists in the town, most of who were detouring through Puerto Madryn by bus due to the ash. And was there ash! Excepting the glorious blue sky on our first day we awoke to streets clogged with ash-smog, blown around by gusty winds. The ash left a fine chalky layer of dust over everything - cars, pavement, shop-front windows and park benches.

Baby Elephant Seals

Baby Elephant Seals

Baby Elephant Seals

Baby Elephant Seals

With a whole day left, we went on a full-day tour of the Peninsula Valdes Reserve, a protected Unesco World Heritage site, 3600 square km and home to some of Argentina┬┤s unique land and aquatic wildlife. Of the land animals, we sighted guanacos (like deer), rheas (like ostriches) and even a curious armadillo.

Cheeky Armadillo

Cheeky Armadillo

Down by the chilly yet sparkling clear water we visited a colony of elephant seals, all juveniles, lying flopped out and sleeping on the sand. Next we saw the sea lion colony, where we also by fluke spotted a lost and lonely Magellan penguin swimming in the surf, usually not seen here for a few more months.

Ready to catch me a whale

Ready to catch me a whale

Then we drove to tiny Puerto Pyramides, where our whale watching tour would launch from, and just happened to be the very first tour of the season. Ignoring the chilly winds and ever-present ash-cloud, we clambered aboard the large dinghy and powered out through the the swell to find us some whales!

The Southern Right whales come to Puerto Madryn and the Valdes Peninsula every year between June and December to mate and give birth. These beautiful, majestic creatures weight more than 27 tonnes and are 12m long. And suddenly, a whale emerged like a submarine beside our stationary boat, blowing water through its blow hole, and then gliding along the surface only to disappear again beneath the surface with a flick of their gigantic tail.

Close encounters of a whale kind

Close encounters of a whale kind

What a fluke

What a fluke

This left us waiting again time after time for these teasing animals to start the the game all over again. This was a truly amazing experience getting up so close to the whales.

Southern Right Whale Couple

Southern Right Whale Couple

We drove back to Puerto Madryn, with the cloud of ash descending densely along the streets. This was perfectly timed for our night bus to Buenos Aires, and after a ritual serve of mate (traditional Argentinian tea), we trekked through the cloud to the bus station - 20 hours away was the great city of B.A!

Posted by tlbaker 21.01.2012 22:56 Archived in Argentina Tagged animals wildlife whales Comments (0)

Fire, Water and Ice

Chillin' out in Patagonia

sunny 8 °C

El Calafate

El Calafate - a pretty, friendly town in southern Patagonia. Our hostel was perched high on the hill at the top of town, and on our arrival we were greeted by 4 gorgeous fluffy dogs and a friendly cat. A woodfire was burning in the living room, and our "room" was a warm and cosy self-contained cabin, making the hostel easily the most inviting and comfortable hostel we'd stayed in so far. The large fireplace in the living room proved perfect for that night's assado - a BBQ of succulent beef, lamb, blood sausage and guanaco (the local version of deer). Who needs a TV when you can watch hunks of meat slowly grilling to perfection on the fire?

Hostel dog lounging outside our cabin

Hostel dog lounging outside our cabin

This was the perfect spot to spend a few days in recovery from the 'W' trek. Resting weary bones, Ali's swollen foot, Trav's swollen ankle and of course dodgy knee, we happily remained sedentary on the couch by the warm fire, eating meat stew cooked on the fire, drinking red wine and watching fabulous sunsets over the lake from the livingroom.

Steaks cooking on the hostel fire

Steaks cooking on the hostel fire

After a couple of days we took an all-day tour on a boat (no walking required) around Lake Argentino, Argentina's biggest lake, inside the southern end of Los Glaciares National Park, which took us up close to three huge glaciers. The first glacier we saw was Spegazzini, the biggest of all the glaciers in the park - and what a giant it was!

Glacier Spegazzini

Glacier Spegazzini

Glacier Spegazzini

Glacier Spegazzini

Glacier Spegazzini

Glacier Spegazzini

Our boat passed by icebergs as we travelled along the lake from the Glaciar Upsala. Some of these were sculptured into interesting shapes took on a blue appearance in contrast to the 'glacier milk' jade-green water of the lake.

Icebergs from Glaciar Upsala

Icebergs from Glaciar Upsala

The third and most famous of the glaciers was Perito Moreno, standing at an impressive 60m out of the water, and 5km wide, this glacier is really exciting to watch as it advances up to 2m per day. We stood on the deck of the boat watching, photographing and listening to the walls of ice crack loudly inside the glacier. We saw one section of ice come crashing down into the lake, with much noise - this was a really cool sight to see.

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

Glacier Perito Moreno

After our day of glaciers, we took another day out to laze about the hostel, playing a hundred games of 's**t-head' with 2 British backpackers, James and Marco, who were equally as content to give in to the slow pace of the hostel. Our lifestyle took on a notably Argentinian flavour at this point, with the purchase of our own mate (wooden cup), metal straw and yerba (herbal tea, a staple of Argentinian culture). The owner of the hostel, Martin, gave us a lesson in preparing the mate and yerba, on drinking etiquette, and even prepared our mate cup by burning the wood inside with sugar and ashes from the fire. Buying our own beef steaks to then salt and cook on the grill or over the fire, to eat for lunch and dinner accompanied by a full-bodied red vino became almost a daily ritual. We were feeling right at home in this country!

Home cooked steak sandwich

Home cooked steak sandwich

El Chalten

Then we were off to El Chalten, the next major dot on the map 3 hours away on the main highway. El Chalten, a tiny village that exisits purely for the tourists visiting the surrounding nothern end of Los Glaciares National Park. Known as the Fitz Roy Ranges, this part of the park is home to the magnificent 'Cerro Fizt Roy' and 'Cerro Torre' mountains, whose sharp, jagged snow-capped peaks tower above the village and and also habitat several glaciers. The ghost village was closed for the winter - with virtually only the hostel, supermarket and a pharmacy open.

Our plan was to do some more trekking through the national park to see the mountains closer up - crazy maybe - with injuries still pending, but we felt okay enough to tackle at least one of the easier day treks. These treks were to be far less hardcore - no camping required, we slept in a comfy, warm hostel at night and carried only daypacks. We met up with the two British backpackers who had been staying at the same hostel in El Calafate, and got straight into more rounds of 's**t-head' and shared the cooking of a lamb curry and chili con carne with them, given there were no open restauarants to be found.

Which way do we go?

Which way do we go?

We managed to do a short, 2 hour warm-up walk to a waterfall on the first day. This built up to a 7 hour trek on the second day with the British guys plus one more, taking us up a mountain side for awesome views of the valley and a trail that wound through woods, past completely frozen lakes, and to high points with amazing views of the Cerro Fitzroy. The trail we were on was technically closed due to the large amount of ice frozen onto the track as it climbed higher and higher up the mountain pass. We attempted to climb the entire way to reach the lake on the other side, however decided that slipping on the ice and sliding the whole way down would not be a great way to end our trip. So at that point we stopped, sat down amongst the rocks and ice and ate lunch while admiring the awesome views.

Cerro Fitz Roy

Cerro Fitz Roy

Cerro Fitz Roy

Cerro Fitz Roy

Cerro Fitz Roy

Cerro Fitz Roy


Lagoon with Cerro Fitz Roy

Lagoon with Cerro Fitz Roy

On our way back we came across a few noisy woodpeckers, busily chipping away at tree trunks. These beautiful yet destructive creatures were happy for us to get right up close and be photographed.

Woodpeckers on Fitz Roy trail

Woodpeckers on Fitz Roy trail

Woodpecker on Fitz Roy trail

Woodpecker on Fitz Roy trail

Our last trek, only 5 hours, took us to the view point of the Cerro Torre - which we managed to glimpse briefly from afar before thick cloud settled down in the valley and engulfed the moutain peaks for the rest of the day. We ate lunch sitting by a large frozen lake, and then hastily turned around toward the hostel, fingers, toes and noses frozen with cold. With Trav's knee just holding together, we reached the hostel in plenty of time to farewell 'Lorenzo,' the hostel's gorgeous shaggy St Bernard, and catch our evening bus back to El Calafate.

Travis on a frozen lagoon

Travis on a frozen lagoon


Lorenzo the ginormous dog

Lorenzo the ginormous dog

We had a few more days to kill in El Calafate, and quickly got back into the routine of lazing about and eating copious amounts of beef. This included an asado cooked especially for us by the hostel staff. One of the nights we made it out to a local bar which had a variety show, and lots of dancing and merry making.

Comedy duo at the bar

Comedy duo at the bar

Light twirling

Light twirling

We soon heard the news of the volcano which had erupted in Chile about 100km east of the Argentinian border a day earlier, spreading its ash all over parts of Chile and southern Argentina. All flights in the south had been suspended, so our flight back to Buenos Aires in a couple of days' time was not to be. So after a couple of days more at our home-away-from-home hostel in El Calafate, we eventually decided we would have to catch a bus to Buenos Aires and delay our flight home to Australia as it would take over 40 hours of bus travel to reach Buenos Aires. To make this more endurable, we decided to stop half way in Puerto Madryn, Argentina's prime whale-watching and sealife haven.

Posted by tlbaker 27.06.2011 14:16 Archived in Argentina Tagged mountains birds wildlife trekking Comments (0)

Torres del Paine lives up to its Name

The W Trek, Torres del Paine, Chile

sunny 5 °C

It was never meant to happen, but here we were, in the very south of Patagonia, on the border of Argentina and Chile. An extra 2 weeks added on to our travels (thanks, boss!) and we were set to do some trekking through national parks known for their beautiful glaciers, lakes, rivers and mountains.

Autumnal leaves

Autumnal leaves

From Lima we had flown to Buenos Aires, spending a night staying in the eclectic neighbourhood of San Telmo (yummy steaks!), then another flight to El Calafate, a small lakeside town set admidst snow-capped mountains of the southern Los Glaciares National Park. From there we took a bus to Puerto Natales, a tiny backwater Patagonian town just across the border in Chile and on the edge of Torres del Paine National Park, where we planned to do our first trek.

The long path ahead

The long path ahead

Strong icy winds greeted us when we stepped off the bus - very typical this far south. Luckily our hostel was well-heated and we quickly found out all we needed to know about doing the 'W' trek - so named for the shape of the trails on the trek.

Map of Torres del Paine

We had 2 main questions about the trek - 1. Is it too cold, and 2. are we crazy? Yes, it's very cold, but not too cold, and yes, perhaps we are a bit crazy but there would be at least a few other crazy people out on the trail with us. And so we got ourselves ready for 5 days of trekking. Over an hour later we emerged from the supermarket with oats, rice, pasta, soup, spices, sausage, powered milk, tea, hot chocolate, chocolate and loads of scroggum. Add to that new socks, polar fleece gloves, vests and ear warmers, and the essential trekking gear - tent, backpacks, sleeping mats, gas stove, cups and bowls which we hired from our hostel - and we were ready!

Day 1

The next morning we set off - with only 9 hours of daylight, we would have early starts ahead of us on most days, but not too early due to the late sunrise. Apart from the luxurious Inca Trail, we were real 'rookie' trekkers, being only 'soft core' campers, but we figured, how hard could it be!

Horses on the plains

Horses on the plains

The first day was a gentle intro 5 hour trek through mainly flat grassland along a track surrounded by mountains and lakes and occasional herds of grazing horses. However, we quickly discovered that this trip would be full of minor disasters. Firstly we discovered that the zoom on our lens was stuck meaning that we would be taking wide angle photos for the entire trek. Secondly, Travis losing his water bottle meaning we needed to share for the entire trip.

Nice and Fresh on our first day

Nice and Fresh on our first day

Despite this we arrived at our campsite, Paine Grande, before dark and had our tent up and warm soup in our bellies within an hour. The campsite, normally chokkers in the high season, also had a hostel with a camp kitchen and toilets. While we opted for tent and ground over roof and bed, we did make use of the indoor camp kitchen, a welcome refuge from the freezing cold night, to cook up our pasta with chorizo and mushroom in a white sauce, with hot chocolate for dessert.

Also doing the same trek were 2 other crazy couples, one from Chile and one from France. The Chilean couple were on a 9 month trip walking their way around Patagonia, and the French couple were medical interns from Lyon.

Day 2

In the morning after a bowl of hot oats and a cup of tea, we set off on our day hike along a scenic trail to see Glacier Grey. Along the way we passed through a beautiful valley with many lagoons and varied landscapes. We passed Lago Grey, a large, beuatiful lake, all the time surrounded by high jagged mountains capped with ice daggers.

Frozen Puddle

Frozen Puddle

Ali at Lago Grey

Ali at Lago Grey

Reflections in a Lagoon

Reflections in a Lagoon

We sat atop massive boulders for a close-up view of the impressive glacier and large icebergs while we ate our lunch. Only our second day, and already what we had seen was simply magical.

Glacier Grey

Glacier Grey

Glacial Ice in front of Glacier Grey

Glacial Ice in front of Glacier Grey

Our return hike back to camp hit a low note when Trav's knee started playing up. Luckily our fellow med student-trekkers had a well-stocked first aid kit, and with the help of some codeine Trav made the descent , though all the way questioning whether we'd be able to continue with the trek the next day.

Ali crossing a river

Ali crossing a river


Sunset

Sunset

A hot dinner that night of curry risotto with meat and mushroom, and of course hot chocolate, some anti-inflamatories for Trav, and we were ready for bed.

Day 3

We woke early (a good 2 hours before the sun) the next morning, packed up our gear and pondered our next move over breakfast. With Trav's knee feeling okay, and with spare codeine and voltaren at the ready, we continued on the trek at a slightly slower speed.

Travis Trekking in the early morning

Travis Trekking in the early morning

Lakes and Mountains

Lakes and Mountains

A rickety bridge

A rickety bridge

Two hours later we came to a campsite where we left our packs to then make the hike up 'Valle de Frances,' for a view of the Glacier de Frances, a massive glacier high up on the mountainside.

Rio Frances

Rio Frances

Glacier Frances

Glacier Frances

Ali and a Waterfall in Valle de Frances

Ali and a Waterfall in Valle de Frances

After climbing up the valley, on a windy flat top we sheltered behind a rock to eat lunch and watch and listen to the ice walls cracking loudly inside the glacier. There was light snow falling as we sat amidst wind blown leaf-less trees - this truly wa a wintry Patagonian moment!

Hunkering down for lunch

Hunkering down for lunch

Mountains towering above Valle de Frances

Mountains towering above Valle de Frances

View down Valle de Frances

View down Valle de Frances

Picking up our packs, we walked on, heading for the next campsite 2 and 1/2 hours away. The trail rose and fell with the rocky terrain, taking us down small river beds (which in places incoveniently doubled as the path) and steep rock faces with knife-sharp edges. This was challenging enough even without a dodgy knee, and finally the torturous path opened out onto a pebbly beach on the shore of a large jade-coloured lake, Lago Nordenskjold, which then led us to our campsite, 'Cuernos'.

Torres del Paine Mountains

Torres del Paine Mountains

Totally exhausted to the bone, with daylight almost gone and with Trav's knee protesting any more walking, we were dreading the idea of setting up camp in the cold, when a fellow trekker appeared and offered to "let us into" one of the cabins for the night. The campsite's cabins, locked up for the winter, had locks that were easily persuaded to open with an improvised 'key' - and to our elation we found ourselves inside a cosy mountain cabin with real, soft mattresses, a sky light window to view the mountains and stars, and all to ourselves! Heaven.

Travis outside our cabin

Travis outside our cabin

That night we cooked pasta inside our cabin and with no sign of our French and Chilean companions got chatting to an Alaskan guy doing the same trail. We slept long, warm and soundly that night, disturbed only once by a hungry mouse who we scared out of the cabin with a lot of noise and then secured our remaining food with a rope hanging from the beams.

Day 4

A sleep-in the next morning til 8am, we awoke to watch a sensational sunrise over the lake from our cabin balcony. We were soon ready to leave for our next destination, a simple 5 hour trek to a campsite on higher ground, the shortest of all days.

With sun smiling down on us, we hiked through open grassy plains, climbed gently for sweeping views of the lake, surrounded always by stunning mountains. We took it fairly easy, arriving at campsite 'Chileno' with plenty of daylight left to set up our tent and prepare for a chilly night, being higher up in the mountains than we'd camped until now.

Camp Chileno

Camp Chileno

With perfect still conditions, we decided (despite regulations) to have a campfire. And with a fireplace already set up by chilly campers before us, all we had to do was gather our wood and kindling. The lighting of the fire proved a challenge even for fire-pro Trav, thanks to cold and damp wood. Eventually the fire was crackling, warming our cold feet and drying out our muddy shoes. Then a dinner of curry risotto, we hung our food in the trees to keep it safe from the hungry mice and then bed in anticipation of our very early start the next day.

Day 5

This was a big one. Ali was now sporting a bruised and slightly swollen foot, so after a 4.45am rise and staple porridge and tea breakfast, the go was slow. The hike to the look out point of Torres del Paine (3 Towers) was in darkness, aided only by headtorches. We ran into our French, Chilean and Alaskan amigos at a higher campsite and then commenced the steep, dark and icy climb to the lookout in time for an amazing sunrise over the stunningly beautiful Los Torres mountain peaks. It was windy and absolutely freezing cold at the top, but wow, witnessing the sunrise here was truly special.

Sunrise from Mirrador Los Torres

Sunrise from Mirrador Los Torres

The rising crimson light slowly illuminated the rock faces with a warm glow. The sky opposite the rock towers turned from layer upon layer of pastel colour over the snow-capped mountains. This made for some intimate, long-exposure tripod photography, compounded by a locked-up zoom lens.

Torres del Paine Illuminated at Sunrise

Torres del Paine Illuminated at Sunrise


Sunrise from Mirrador Los Torres

Sunrise from Mirrador Los Torres


Conquering Los Torres

Conquering Los Torres

Sunrise lasted about an hour due to our southerly position and afterwatching this awesome visual show, we climbed back down the mountain (far easier in daylight) and hiked back to our camp to pack up and then hike the final stretch of the trek. Another 3 and 1/2 hours to to go, which was excruciating by this time with not only Trav's knee but now his ankle in a lot of pain, and the codeine Ali took that morning for her foot wearing off .

Winter Woods

Winter Woods

Last sight of the Mountains

Last sight of the Mountains

We finally limped into Lake Armaga, where we were met by our bus, which drove us weary and dirty yet happy trekkers back to our warm hostel in Puerto Natales. Back in town, and feeling re-born after hot showers, we feasted on dinner of delicious, hot thin-crust pizza baked in a wood oven and an oozing warm chocolate brownie for dessert; all washed down with a celebratory local micro-brew. Perfecto.

Asleep within minutes that night, with much effort we rose early the next day to cacth the return bus to El Calafate, back into Argentina.

Guanaco

Guanaco

Posted by tlbaker 18.06.2011 14:35 Archived in Chile Comments (1)

Our Last Taste of Peru

Lima, Peru

overcast 24 °C

Doing anything before 6am is never fun, and arriving in Lima off our overnight bus from the north was no different. However getting to our hostel and being able to check in 7 hours earlier than the usual time and go back to bed for a few more hours sleep is always a welcome bonus. Which is exactly what we did. Our hostel, circus-themed and aptly adorned with clowns and other paraphernalia had a comfy loungeroom equipped with beanbags, flatscreen TV and a huge DVD library.

Our main mission in Lima was to do some shopping and pick up some Peruvian handicrafts before leaving the country. Although Lima is Peru's capital with a few pages worth of sight-seeing in our Lonely Planet, it is really a massive, cloud-shrouded city and we had had our share of seeing ruins and historical artefacts. So our first day was spent perusing the giant Inca markets, which sold everything from ponchos and alpaca rugs to flourescent hammocks and erotic-design ceramic pots.

After splashing some cash, we collapsed into chairs inside an old-school Peruvian cafe, ordering double Pisco Sours. Staggering out some time later we then selected a restaurant to sample some of Lima's famous fine comida (food). That night we enjoyed a degustation menu of Peru-fusion dishes, washed down with a full-bodied Malbec from Argentina.

Fine Dining in Lima

Fine Dining in Lima

The next day followed a similar pattern - after a lazy morning we strolled down the street to a glamorous seafood restaurant 'La Mar.' The star of the menu here was the ceviche, done in many mouth-watering ways. We shared 2 of these delicious dishes for entree followed by 2 more fantastic fish dishes for mains, and topped it off with coffee and dessert.

Us in "La Mar"

Us in "La Mar"

Ceviche a "La Mar"

Ceviche a "La Mar"

Absolutely delerious by this time but not wanting to throw away the afternoon, we walked along Miraflores' waterfront where dog-walkers, loved-up couples, paragliders and surfers abound. Our plan was to walk to Baranco, the equally nice neighbouring suburb, however in reality this was a fair distance and with full stomachs and sore feet, jumped in a taxi for the last few kms.

There in Baranco we sat on the balcony of a bar, looking out over the ocean as the sun set and sipping our Maracuya Sours (like passionfruit), cheersing to our last day in Peru and an awesome 3 weeks enjoying excellent food, and of course, pisco cocktails.

Our Last Pisco Sour....in Peru!

Our Last Pisco Sour....in Peru!

Posted by tlbaker 06.06.2011 13:17 Archived in Peru Comments (0)

The Perfect Break

Trujillo, Huanchaco and Chicama, Peru

sunny 30 °C

After a day in Cusco to recover from the Inca Trail, we were then on a 20 hour bus ride bound for Lima. There we got straight on another overnight bus to Peru's north coast. Our transit stop in Lima was a short and sweet few hours, just enough time to devour a hearty Peruvian 3 course lunch and knock back some pisco sours - but not to worry as we would be back to see more of Peru's capital in a few days' time.

After a good sleep on our luxurious bus, we got off in the northern city of Trujillo. Close to the coast, but not quite close enough, we flagged down a combi (minivan) to take us the further 15km to Huanchaco, a laid-back beachside fishing town, with consistently good surf and cheap, high-quality seafood. The fish is all caught by locals of Huanchaco, who for centuries have used canoes hand-crafted from reeds for fishing in the rolling surf. We saw lots of these traditional canoes lined up along the shore.

Traditional fishing canoes in Huanchaco

Traditional fishing canoes in Huanchaco

Our hostel sat metres away from and facing the beach and hired out decent boards and wetsuits. A real home away from home - the comfy beach house came complete with 3 cute pooches, plenty of hammocks, tasty breakfasts and home-cooked dinners.

So for the next 3 days we surrendered ourselves to the warm weather, sun and beach lifestyle. It was a real shock to the system after 3 months to do some strenous exercise requiring the use of arm muscles, and after just one afternoon of paddling out both of us were aching. Nevertheless it felt great to be back in the water.

The diet staple of the Peruvian coast is 'ceviche,' raw pieces of tender fish marinated in lime or lemon juice with onions and chillies. Heaven. Our first experience of ceviche 'mixto' came piled high on a plate, a delicious combination of fish, calamari, octopus and scallops. For lunch and dinner over the next few days we ate only seafood, enjoying more ceviche, paella, fish from the grill, fish fillets bathed in a spicy tomato and onion herby sauce and chupe, a shrimp chowder soup packed with seafood, herbs and rice.

Chupe

Chupe

Peru's north coast is also home to the world's longest left-hand surf break at Chicama, which is 2km long on its best day. There was massive swell, bringing in 10 foot waves at Huanchaco, making this break unsurfable. So we took a daytrip one hour north with a local surfer and 4 other gringo couples to Chicama. Not much can be said about this town apart from the beach. It is a shambolic collection of beachfront restaurants and budget surf hostels. But the beach was truly incredible. Line after line of perfectly formed, left hand peeling waves of around 6 feet, rolling along from the rocky point to the long pier. Huey was definitely smiling on us this day as these were dream waves.

Perfect Lines of Chicama

Perfect Lines of Chicama

Trav and fellow surfer

Trav and fellow surfer

Wave, after wave, after wave

Wave, after wave, after wave

The way to catch these left handers was to walk out along the sharp rocky point and then wade and paddle out on a diagonal across to the line-up of unbroken waves. This was hard work thanks to a powerful current waiting to carry you all the way down the beach, which took just minutes. Trav's best and longest ride of the day took him abut 200m along the wave. Ali, taken for a ride by the current, caught a few waves as they powered towards the shore. Once you were down at the pier-end of the beach, you had to walk all the way back to the point and start again, a not so leasurely stroll of about 2km. If you didn't feel like walking back there were moto-taxis to give you and your board a ride back along the sand. Another option was to hire a hire a dinghy or jet-ski to keep taking you back out to the start of the break. We ended this awesome day all watching a gorgeous sunset over the water from the clifftop with a cold beer.

Sunset at Chicama

Sunset at Chicama

Sunset at Chicama

Sunset at Chicama

Reluctant to say goodbye to the warm weather, we departed Huanchaco the next morning and spent the afternoon checking out Trujillo. Trujillo is home to some incredible old ruins of temples and cities from pre-Inca eras dating back to 400 AD from the Moche civilization. The 'Huaca de la Luna' and 'Huaca del Sol' (Temples of the Moon and the Sun) were large sites currently being excavated and featured colourful freizes in their original condition, which told animated stories of the Moche culture's significance of the sun and moon, the seasons and astronomy for rituals of daily life and religion. The Moche were also masters at ceramics and the site's new museum had a great display of these fantastic works.

Painting of a Moche God

Painting of a Moche God

Huaca del Luna freize with original coloring

Huaca del Luna freize with original coloring

Huaca del Luna freize with Peruvian Dog (below)

Huaca del Luna freize with Peruvian Dog (below)


Peruvian hairless dog

Peruvian hairless dog

After seeing the ruins we relaxed in a cafe in Trujillo where we sat through a power black-out sipping soup-thick hot chocolate and eating cake by candlelight. Later we ate a dinner of prawn chupe until our night bus was ready to take us back to Lima.

Posted by tlbaker 02.06.2011 15:41 Archived in Peru Tagged fishing beach ruins surf Comments (0)

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