Oh I do like to be beside the seaside...

Trip Start Nov 25, 2004
Trip End Jan 26, 2005

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Sunday, August 7, 2005

After a fairly uneventful overnight bus ride to Arica, we wandered to a very friendly hostel and went to sleep!!!!! Exciting eh? But when we got up it was great, lovely & warm and we headed straight down to the seafront to watch the waves crashing in! It's a lovely little town with the most popular McDonalds we've ever seen....the queues went on for miles! The town itself is overlooked by a huge cliff called El Morro and there are literally dozens of small condors gliding around on the thermals everywhere...who said we needed to go to the Colca Canyon!!!! We had a couple of days just enjoying the sunshine really, climbed El Morro (Paul pushing me up the hill by my backside! Good husband that he is!!! Hee Hee!) which had great views of the town and the sea of course!!!

We then headed out to the Parque Nacional de Lauca - a Global Biosphere Reserve for more volcanoes, mountains and lakes (the altiplano again!)...we just can't get enough!!!! The first thing we saw as we headed out from Arica, were huge hieroglyphs carved out in the sand! You needed binoculars to really appreciate them which we didn't have...organised as ever...but you could still make them out...just and they're basically made like a mosaic using lots of little stones! The rest of the trip was just a steady climb all the way up to 4600m which is a hell of alot in a day from sea level...so it was coco tea for breakfast to help us acclimatize and ham & cheese rolls of course! We even got a freebie little bag with our very own supply of chilean coco leaves!!! WOWEEE! Funnily enough it was the Chileans on the trip that suffered from altitude sickness the most...we felt OK just abit lethargic really and lightheaded everytime we got off the bus...some of the group were on the oxygen!!!! Oh yes not to be taken lightly this altitude malarkey! Anyway..passing lots of snowcapped volcanoes (some active and smoking away!), we arrived at the highlight of the day...the emerald coloured Chungara lake (according to Chile this is the highest navigable lake in the world and not Lake Titicaca!!!!) and it was beautiful and unbelievably serene! Lots of wildlife to be spotted as well along with the bizarre candalabra shaped cactus...we were even lucky enough to see guanacos which are the rarest member of the llama family infact we saw all 4 types of llama in the same day - guanacos, vicunas, alpaca and llama! At one of the stops, we met some very tame llamas who were obviously used to tourists giving them things to eat and one consequently spat in this woman's face! Hee Hee!

And then it was time to head back down to sea level again, passing through cute little villages with very old adobe churches, a late lunch in Putre and back to Arica in time for last minute shopping for our jaunt out to Easter Island (yipppeee!)...
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