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Cayambe and Corazon

Saturday, 24 January 2015 20:31

Cayambe is a mountain of superlatives: It is with 5790 meters sea-level the third highest peak of Ecuador. It is the only place on the equator of our planet where you find ice and snow permanently. It is a perfect white volcanic cone which a tremendous huge mass of ice.

Marion with Cayambe

 

Before we dared to go to Cayambe we had climbed up 4790 meters Corazon which is few kilometers south of Quito west of the little town Machachi. Corazon means heart and indeed with some fantasy you might find a heart in its shape.

 

The Oriente - Misahualli

Saturday, 24 January 2015 18:21

The little village Misahualli is the main touristic destination in the eastern part of Ecuador - El Oriente in the hot, humid, green and lush area of Amazonia. It is located on shore of the river Rio Napo, one of the mightiest tributary of the Amazon river. Misahualli is an ideal base for trips into the jungle with a very good infrastructure.

Brown-white snake of the rain forest

 

We had been already two times in Ecuador, firstly in May 1981 and secondly in January 2004. 1981 we had been visiting the indigenous people Aucas- an exhausting 5 days trip. 2004 we had taken a public boat to Coca - a 10 hours voyage, which is no longer possible because today is a good paved road to Coca and the public transportation is done with buses. Tommy had been never in Amazonia, thus we decided to travel a third time to Misahualli. Again it was an amazing trip into the wonders and secrets of Amazonia.

   

Galapagos

Monday, 29 December 2014 22:08

The Galapagos island are famous for its enormous biodiversity. Is it one of the place on earth with the highest level on endemism, for instance 97% of the reptiles are found nowhere else. Due to its remoteness most animals are everything but shy. It is a perfect place to watch incredible many, different and nice birds, reptiles, turtles, sea lions and others. In addition its marine fauna is fabulous; there are excellent snorkeling and diving opportunities. In 1835 Charles Darwin started on Galapagos his work of the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Blue-footed booby on Isla Isabela

The islands are 900 km west of Ecuador's shore and located on the Nazca tectonic plate on a hot spot which is moving, yet. Their origin is caused by volcanic activity, which is still ongoing with eruptions in the western part. Usually clouds are coming from the south and sticking on the single volcano of the major islands. Just the largest one, Isla Isabela consists of six. Only there human settlement is possible on the larger island. All other sides of the volcanos and smaller islands are pristine and hostile deserts without any fresh water.  

   

Las Pichinchas, Laguna Yahuarcocha and the southern Pacific coast

Monday, 10 November 2014 18:15

The volcanos Pichinchas are located few kilometers West of Quito, Ecuador's capital. Besides their proximity to Quito it is a remote and pristine area in altitudes higher than 4000 meters with excellent mountaineering capabilities. The highest summit is 4794 meters high Guagua Pichincha - new Pichincha, which erupted in the year 1999 and covered the 2 million city Quito with a thick layer of ash. Marks of this incident are still clearly visible and Guagua Pichincha has a huge caldera with many smoking and stinking points.

The second main peak is the rocky Rucu Pichincha - old Pichincha, which can be accessed easily from the funicular TeleferiQo, a main attraction of Quito which brings you up to 3950 meters sea-level in few minutes. We did the marvelous traverse between these two peaks - a wonderful two days hike.

Our sleeping place with our little tent with 4698 meters high Rucu Pichincha on the top right

 

When we came back to Ecuador in autumn 2014 we visited primary the beautiful Pacific coast South of the medium sized town Manta with the stunning Machalilla National Park. Our base in October and November 2014 was the cozy Finca Sommerwind on shore of Laguna Yahuacocha nearby Ibarra because we had trouble with our car, again.

   

Northern Pacific coast and Mindo

Sunday, 20 July 2014 13:33

The little town Mindo is located on the lower western slopes of the Andes close to Quito in a terrific rain forest. Many different birds like toucans and hummingbirds can be seen there. Its vegetation is abundant, its climate is perfect for orchids and other beautiful plants. Ecuador's hot northern Pacific coast is little Africa because the majority of its inhabitants are descendents of former slaves. This region is touched only punctually by tourism despite marvelous beaches and picturesque villages. Its largest town Esmeralda is Ecuador's main port for oil, which is found on the eastern slopes of the Andes.

Kids in Borbón, close to the most northern Pacific coast of Ecuador

 

Before we flew back from Ecuador to Germany beginning of May 2014 we did a circle from Ibarra via the good street to the coast (San Lorenzo), along Ecuador's northern coast to Galera and to Quito over the direct excellent road which touches Mindo.

   

Beaches and more - Santa Marta

Thursday, 12 June 2014 18:38

The sunny and hot Caribbean cost around Santa Marta is a terrific part of Colombia with amiable people, stunning beaches, snowy mountains, lively towns, incredible nature and a lot of history.

Marion on the western beach of Palomino

 

The Caribbean cost is the major tourist destination in Colombia with countless domestic and foreign visitors. Its infrastructure is pretty good developed. We hurried by plane in a rush to Santa Marta because we wanted to see the carnival of its neighbor city Barranquilla. Colombian people claim that this is the second biggest and most important carnival of the continent after Rio's.

   

Amazonia the second

Saturday, 08 March 2014 03:14

Leticia is exactly on the triangle border Brazil, Colombia and Peru. No street leads to the capital of the Colombian province Amazonas. Leticia is the southernmost town of Colombia and an important port city of the Amazon river. It is a bustling town of approximately 40,000 inhabitants more or less grown together with the Brazilian town Tabatinga. There are no real border between Brazil, Colombia and Peru on the other side of mighty Amazon, and it is possible to pass the virtual borders without passports, stamps or visas. The people living here are feeling like Amazon citizens and not Brazilians, Colombians or Peruvians. Most of them speak Spanish as well as Portuguese. Thanks to its remoteness the jungle in this region is relatively well preserved with huge trees, abundant wild life and some indigenous tribes.

Scorpion of the Amazon


When we came to the nice hostel La Jangada owned by the Swiss guy Herve, he convinced us to do a three days trip on Rio Yavari together with the German / Australian couple Anna and Duncan.

   

Bogota and Coffee Farms

Friday, 28 February 2014 05:00

The capital of Colombia, Bogota is with more than 9 millions inhabitants one of the biggest metropolis in South America. It is located 2600 meters high on a plateau on foot of the Cordillera Oriental of the Andes nearly in the center of Colombia. Bogota has a wealthy face with fancy shopping malls but on its other side poverty is still a huge problem like homeless people sleeping on its streets and begging for some money or food. For tourists it is a relative pleasant city with interesting museums and the picturesque old town Candelaria. Bogota is famous of its wall paintings which can be seen almost everywhere. Some demonstrate critics and resistance to political injustices, exploitation of people or social evils.

Dangerous girl with dynamite in her hands

 

Before we came to Bogota we visited a coffee farm, a must to do in Colombia. Hacienda Guayabal close to Manziales was an excellent choice in a marvelous environment with lovely people. There was a little surprise when we came to the farm after struggling with a steep and narrow road.

   

Nevado del Tolima and Farallones de Cali

Saturday, 01 February 2014 21:52

Majestic Nevado del Tolima is with 5215 meters sea-level the second highest peak of the Cordillera Central in the middle of Colombia, a perfect volcanic cone adorned with a glacier on its top with enormous mass of ice and snow. Full mountain equipment like crampons or rope is essential to achieve the summit. Its access is relatively easy but very long because all possible useful starting points are low, around 2500 meters sea-level.

The most critical part to the summit of Nevado del Tolima

 

Between the Ecuadorian border and the Parque Nacional Los Nevados with Nevado Tolima are the Farallones de Cali, a wonderful mountain region close to the huge metropolis of Cali. They are part of the western Cordillera Occidental of Colombia with peaks up to approximately 4000 meters sea-level.

   

Pico Fuya Fuya, Volcan Rumiñahui and Laguna de Cuicocha

Wednesday, 15 January 2014 23:30

Pico Fuya Fuya is with 4286 meters sea-level the highest peak around Laguna Mojanda in northern Ecuador close to the famous village Otavalo. It is a popular 3 to 4 hours hike in a marvelous environment. Few kilometers North is the beautific Laguna Cuicocha with two islands. It is an outstanding dark lagoon in a collapsed volcanic crater. The 5 to 6 hours trail around the lake provides excellent views.

4939 meters high Volcan Cotacachi seen from Laguna Cuicocha


Volcan Rumiñahui with its three peaks (up to 4712 meters sea-level) is located opposite of Cotopaxi, the second highest summit of Ecuador and with 5897 meters high one of the tallest volcanoes on earth. Both are in the wonderful national park Parque Nacional Cotopaxi, which can be accessed free of charge now and provides good campsites without any costs.

   

Pacific Coast North of Lima

Friday, 01 November 2013 14:34

Southern Peru has Machu Picchu, Cusco and many other historical sites of the Incas but on the Pacific coast north of Lima are innumerable testimonies of ancient Peru, many still not detected or buried in the sand of the extreme dry Atacama desert which is a perfect conservation medium. The UNESCO world heritage site Caral is supposed to be one of oldest city on earth, founded 4500 to 5000 years ago. Other top highlights are the ruins of the pre Inca cultures Chavin, Moche, Sican and Chimu like Chan Chan the mightiest town of our world built with adobe, which we had visited in the year 1980.

Today there are huge cities like Trujillo or Chiclayo in the desert, where the sweet water from the glaciers of the Andes flows into the Pacific Ocean. Close are beautiful beaches, which are popular holiday destinations in the austral summer. The coast turns 90 degree on the most western point of the continent and the the impact of the cold Humboldt ocean current weakens. The landscape becomes more green and tropical the closer you come to Ecuador. The water temperature is pleasant and on the border are the only mangrove forests of Peru located. This region is very fruitful with many rice, bananas and sugarcane fields.

Peruvian family enjoying the beach of Zorritos

Approximately hundred kilometers Northwest of Lima is the incredible lush national park Reservas Nacional Lomas de Lachay, a true oasis in the dryest desert of our planet. The mist of the ocean is sticking so long on its crests that a rich fauna including raptors and flora with trees are able to exist. Lachay has a remote campground and superb hiking trails over and around its ridges. We were lucky because we spent a sunny day in Lachay, which is very rare.

   

Cordillera Huayhuash

Friday, 25 October 2013 12:42

The spectacular Cordillera Huayhuash lies few kilometers North of the famous Cordillera Blanca and its main city Huaraz. It is a relative small range with stunning pinnacles sugared with enormous mass of ice and snow. Nevado Yerupaja is with 6617 meters sea-level its tallest peak and the second highest mountain of both: Peru and the tropics. Like all other major peaks of the Cordillera Huayhuash access to its summit is extremely difficult and dangerous. Even today some peaks are without any successful ascents for years.

North-east face of Nevado Yerupaja at sunrise

 

Thanks to the book and movie Touching the Void Cordillera Huayhuash became very popular in the last years: It shows the unbelievable story of Joe Simpson and Simon Yates when they climbed up the south-west face of 6344 meters high Siula Grande in the year 1985. On the way down Joe Simpson broke his leg. His companion roped him down the steep, dangerous and difficult north-west ridge. Suddenly Joe Simpson hung under an overhang and he couldn't move. There was no more rope. Simon was standing in deep powder on the very steep ridge. The weight of Joe Simpson moved him slowly but constantly to the abyss. His only choice to survive was to cut the rope. Joe fell into an huge crevasse. Simon searched him desperately but couldn't find him. He returned to the camp and was sure that Joe didn't survive the crash but Joe found a way out of the crevasse through the glacier with his broken leg. After three days he came back totally exhausted to the camp in the night just before his companion wanted to leave.

Cordillera Huayhuash can be circled in a 10 days hike with many high cols (two more than 5000 meters sea-level), pristine lagoons and beautiful campsites. Only one little village is on its way - a lot of food and other stuff must be carried. Thus we searched for mules in Chiquian, the last bigger settlement on the western side of Cordillera Huayhuash and reachable via a decent paved road.

   

Ayacucho, Huancavelica and Lima

Monday, 07 October 2013 21:43

Ayacucho is supposed to be the second most attractive and fascinating town in the Peruvian Andes (after Cusco). Ayacucho, also called Huamanga by its 180,000 inhabitants, has a huge colonial inheritance with many beautiful churches and buildings. Andean life is very traditional and authentic because the tourism industry has neglected it more or less so far. The region of Ayacucho was the center of the Wari culture (700 - 1100 AD), which dominated the southern part of Peru between the city Chiclayo and lake Titicaca.

The name Ayacucho means corner of the death. It is located in a poor, rural and remote region. In the early 1980th the Maoist guerrilla organization Sendero Luminoso (Shining Path) was founded here and a brutal civil war with Peru's military government broke out. More than 70,000 people were killed until 1992, mainly innocents in the villages of this region. The shadows of this terrible time are still visible and perceptible, for instance most of the elderly people are very shy or there are doors secured with eight heavy locks.

Wall of the sad Memorial Museum for the murdered people


We came to Ayacucho from Cusco on Saturday late afternoon, August 10th 2013. This street had been partially horrible because it was under construction. Two times we were nearly in detonations with huge falling rocks. Sometimes we had to pass awful deviations on narrow and steep rugged or muddy dirt roads. Like in most cities of South America there were high bumps every few meters on the street to prevent drivers from speeding. On a very high one our car gave a loud strange bang and the left top side moved down a little bit weirdly.

   

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