Jas and I are now in our last month in South America (gutted!). After Cusco, we travelled overnight to a tiny little town called Huacachina, which is built around a lagoon and surrounded by giant sand dunes. We stayed there a few days and on the afternoon of the second day, went on a sand buggy and boarding trip in to the dunes. It was INSANE! The buggy driver was mental and had us flying over the dunes, getting air and swerving all over the place. It was terrifying and awesome - there was lots of screaming and nervous laughing. We stopped at various spots along the way to either sand board or lie flat on the boards and throw ourselves down the tunes head first!! It was an amazing afternoon, the dunes seemed endless!
The next day we went on a wine and pisco (the local booze) tour around the area with a couple of Norwegian girls we'd met on the bus. It was ok, but quite different to the wine tours in Margs and the Swan Valley! The only wine they make in Peru is really sweet and nasty, so mostly we were just tasting different types of pisco...so basically doing shots instead of tasting wine - it was quite nasty!!
After Huacachina, we went to Lima for a couple of days and then headed north to Mancora - our last spot in Peru. Mancora was a brilliant little town on the north coast, just before the border of Ecuador. We stayed in an amazing hostel, called Kokopelli's which had a nice little bar and swimming pool. We stayed here for a few days, just chilling and drinking beer - it's a hard life!
After Mancora we had a bit of a rough border crossing in to Ecuador, then travelled overnight all the way up to Quito. When we arrived at the hostel, they had screwed up our booking so we scored when they gave us a little apartment type thing for the same price as a double room! Having our own kitchen for the first time in about a million years was great!
From Quito we decided to fly up to Medellin in Colombia to give ourselves more time and avoid a few huge bus journeys. When we got to Medellin, it was a surprise how modern Colombia is. We pretty much spent 2 days there hanging out in 2 huge American style shopping centres just up the road from our hostel - aircon and western shops was too good to miss! We went to the cinema twice because they had movies in English with spanish subtitles instead of being dubbed in Spanish.
From Medellin we had a mega dodgy overnight bus journey to Cartagena. The roads were crazy because of the bad weather the areas been having. They were totally potholed and had slipped in landslides, or had landslide land on them. Our driver didn't seem bothered by any of it and still drove like a maniac! Not much sleep on that one! We found an awesome hostel in Cartagena - Media Luna - it had huge dorms, a swimming pool, bar and roof top terrace. We ended up staying longer than we planned here. Cartagena old town is so pretty and surround by a wall on 3 sides and the ocean on the 4th. On our second day here we went to a mud volcano outside the city. It was probably the most random thing we've done on the whole trip. The volcano is about 25 m high and filled with warm, thick, mud. We climbed up the stairs to the top and the jumped in the mud. It was the craziest sensation ever! There were a bunch of local guys already in there - helping the tourists move around and offering massages. The mud is so thick that you can barely move and you kind of float in it, with your feet not touching anything. Mental. One of the girls there with us said it was like being in a giant marshmallow - and that really is the only way to describe it!! We spent about 40 minutes wallowing in the mud...then attempted to climb out - quite difficult! The we walked (looking like mud monsters) down to the river to wash off.
We're now in a little beach town called Taganga and are spending a few days here hanging out and sunbathing. Next we're going to head north again to the Tayrona National Park.
Only 16 days left in South America! :(