Back to South America

May 2nd, 2013, 11:46 PM
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Back to South America

This is the beginning of what will probably be a very long trip report spread over the next few months. We leave Heathrow on Sunday for Quito and six months in South America, a continent we fell in love with when we spent some time there on our travels back in 2008. This time we are travelling with the primary objective of deciding whether we would like to settle in this part of the world, if not permanently, then for at least part of the year.

We are basing ourselves in Quito, Ecuador for the first two months where we will be taking intensive Spanish lessons in order to build upon the language skills we have been developing over the last six months we have been living in Spain. We have rented a room in the South America Explorers Clubhouse and from there we will explore the northern and central parts of the county from the Andes to the beaches and "El Oriente, Ecuador's piece of the Amazon basin.

From Quito we will work our way south through the country and into Peru searching out paths less travelled and places we have not visited before as well as revisiting some old favourites. Continuing south we aim to cross into Bolivia via Lake Titicaca and from there head to La Paz and hike, bike and canoe our way down into the Amazon basin probably to Madiddi national park before continuing on a rough circuit of the country with a possible side trip into Argentina and Salta province ( who knows, we may even meet up with flintstones - is there a fodors prize for meeting both her and avrooster??). we plan on crossing the border into Chile via the Atacama desert and San Pedro, a place we sadly missed on the last trip.. We will then head back north along the coast stopping at various places along the way until we reach Lima and our flight back to London. We are hoping that our eldest son will be joining us for a couple of weeks somewhere along the way.

Our aim this time is to experience some of the more out of the way places. Our "bucket list" of things to do/activities/places to go etc. now runs to over 30 items and is still growing. Once again, we plan to carry out some voluntary work along the way as and when the opportunities arise.

Last time we travelled for a long period we made the mistake of taking everything but the kitchen sink. Having learnt our lesson the hard way by humping ridiculously heavy backpacks around for a year and barely using 75% of the contents, this time we are travelling with hand luggage only and are limited to 10kg apiece by the airlines. Despite the usual packing stereotypes, my wife is finding this new packing regime easier than me!

I will be blogging this trip and will post a link here and on my profile page once I have finally decided whether to use Travelpod or Wordpress ( Thursdaysd - still struggling with the latter!). I will post an abridged version of the blog here as we travel along. Many thanks to those of you who responded to my request for information during the planning of this trip, , notably mlgb and Thursdaysd, much appreciated.
crellston is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 02:42 AM
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Crellston - who do we phone if you stop posting for a month?
colduphere is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 02:53 AM
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911. LOL!
avrooster is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 07:24 AM
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Looking forward to reading your reports as you travel. We have a trip to Ecuador planned for February 2014, and are really excited about it.
SusanInToronto is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 07:39 AM
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Que viaje increible - que se disfrutan!
crosscheck is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 09:06 AM
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Sounds like a wonderful adventure. Look forward to following it - especially that Madidi part!

The two of us geezers have whittled down our luggage for two month winter trips to a single weekender softside bag each and smallish hand bag for use on the plane etc. We couldn't be happier - and still each trip we find an article of clothing or two never used and a candidate for abandonment next trip. . .

Buen viaje!
glover is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 09:58 AM
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Can't wait to read your reports Crellston.
mlgb is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 10:03 AM
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RE Wordpress, I've found Twenty Eleven to be a decent free theme and not too complicated.
mlgb is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 10:58 AM
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Crellston and Mrs. Crellston: this made my day. I was so enthralled with your reports the last time you ventured into South America - and DH and I made good use of so many of your suggestions, that I am chomping at the bit to get you on the road and me onto your blog.

Safe and wonderful travels !
MarnieWDC is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 11:12 AM
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Marnie: are you going to call 911, as I suggested, if they don't report or eat too much egg salad?? Please disregard, just one of my silly jokes. LOL!!!
avrooster is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 12:00 PM
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Looking forward to reading about it! Sounds like a great trip.

What problems are you having with Wordpress? You can email me at mytimetotravel at gmail if I can help.
thursdaysd is offline  
May 3rd, 2013, 12:52 PM
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Yet another amazing adventure Crelleston, I covet your trip
Smeagol is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 03:28 PM
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AV, you are scrambling my brains...they are soft. Hold the Mayo.
MarnieWDC is offline  
May 4th, 2013, 11:10 PM
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Great update on what's to come. I am really looking forward to reading your updates because as you know I am heading off at the end of the year for similar travels!! one thing I am really working on and changing my mind constantly is what to take... It would be an awesome help if you could give a run down on gear your packing and pack size etc.. I have hiked a lot in the past but always seem to take too much and definitely don't want to be overloaded for the whole year.

You mentioned you are staying at a room in the South America Explorers Clubhouse.. are these a cost effective way of travel in South America?

Cant wait for your updates.
brendensadventures is offline  
May 6th, 2013, 09:52 AM
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Estoy muy interesado por sus impresiones y experiencias en el cono sur. Buena suerte!
kanadajin is online now  
May 6th, 2013, 11:06 AM
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Looking forward to traveling along with you via your blog.
HappyTrvlr is online now  
May 7th, 2013, 05:01 AM
Original Poster
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Many thanks to all of you for your kind words!

A few specific replies ( in no particular order)

Glover. The primary reason for including Madiddi on the itinerary was reading that article you posted previously, so many banks for that. Can't wait as the current plan is to start our trip there by a 3 day mountain bike ride from Sorata in the Andes to Rurrenbesque in the Amazon ( all downhill fortunately!)

Thursdaysd and mlgb thanks for the additional info on Wordpress etc. I think I need to give both WP and Travelpod a shot this trip. I have gotten used to TP I suppose I just need to give WP a fair chance and will probably post in parallel for a short while jus to see how I get one ( Thurs - I will probably take you up on your offer and email some questions.)

Brenden - I will certainly post a packing list in a few days. Having jus got here and unpacked I have already come across a few things I am thinking " I didn't really need that!" In the meantime, our packs are Lowe Alpine 40 litre TT Carryon. We are really pleased with them and have now used them on several long trips. They fit within the max allowance for 95% of airline for carry on luggage so we don't get the hassle of check in baggage and all that that entails.

SA Explorers has 3 rooms for rent here in Quito. We are paying $300 US per month for a large double room with shared bathroom and a very comfortable bed. At $10 per night for the two of us, it is a bargain. I think they have a reduction for single occupancy. It compares very favourably with hostels on price and quality and is clearly outstanding in terms of traveller facilities. I AMS not sure hours whether there other locations have rooms. I will ask the manager here.

colduphere - stop posting for a month!! As if! If I do, call the British embassy as I will almost certainly have been kidnapped and send for Avrooster as an interpreter.

Anyway, we arrived safe and sound here in Quito albeit very tired after exactly 24 hours travel door to door. The journey was fairly uneventful but involved an 80min Tube raise from Cockfosters in north London along the whole of the Victoria line to LHR terminal 5 ( one of the most impressive airports I have ever flown from!). From there it was a 2 hour flight to Madrid on Iberia, which is now apparently a no frills airline for short haul which I wasn't aware of. A good flight on a brand new plane - very impressed. Even more impressive was the Spanish pilot who broke into song as we took off with his rendition of Come Fly With Me. On landing we were treated to Dancing Cheek to Cheek ?? Presumably his two favourite Karaoke songs..

After a wait and a very long ride through the tunnels underneath Madrid airport, we checked in for our Lan flight to Quito. The good news was that they gave us a centre row of three with the middle seat blocked off - very thoughtful. The bad new started when we boarded. As I approached my seat a lady was already sitting there and clearly reluctant to move. After a while she moved to her correct seat in the row in front - next to a mother with two very small and very loud children? I could see what she was reluctant to move! After a while, I was alerted to that fact that there were also two small and very energetic children in the row behind by the incessant kicking of the back of my seat. The mother had already lost control and the father, very sensibly, has secured a seat in another part of the plane. I attempted to keep one of the kids occupied by playing peekaboo for a while but clearly would not be doing his for the next 12 hours. Usually, I have found that kids tend to play up for a while and then sleep on long flights ( mine certainly used to) but these just didn't stop, much to the consternation of all those around. We had found ourselves in a sort of badly behaved kid sandwich where we were the meat and from which there was no escape!

Earplugs and a little meditation lessened the kid problem but the service on this Lan flight was something else. We were fed soon after take off with a choice of veggie pasta or chicken but even though we were amongst the first server, they ran out of chicken! During this 12 hour flight, not once did they offer a drinks or snack service. Getting dehydrated on planes is a problem for me and I lost count of the number of trips I made to the back for a glass of water ( no way to summon cabin staff") . The drinks offered with the meal were very limited soft or wine, nothing else. They did offer another meal service before landing, again, chicken or pasta, again they ran out of chicken.

I could not fault the quality of the aircraft, the in flight entertainment system or the seating, but this level of service is simply not acceptable and I doubt that I will ever choose Lan again for intercontinental flights. Such a marked contrast to the last time we flew with them from New Zealand to Chile in 2008 when they were excellent.

Enough of my ranting. I am going for some breakfast and then to have a look at some language schools. Hasta Luego.
crellston is offline  
May 7th, 2013, 05:08 AM
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Does the British embassy have an 800 number? LOL!!
avrooster is offline  
May 7th, 2013, 05:33 AM
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Glad to hear you've arrived! That really sounds like the flight from hell, I will will definitely avoid LAN for long haul flights. Settling in for a fun ride...
thursdaysd is offline  
May 7th, 2013, 06:02 AM
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Av, not since the deficit reduction program!
crellston is offline  

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