10. Beer and chocolate in Barranco, Lima, Peru
This was a lovely day because I had planned to just sleep after a night bus, but then found myself back in Barranco eating chocolate and drinking beer. Hooray. The chocolate museum there gives you a free tour of the process of making chocolate as well as samples.
Then we found a bar where they brewed their own cerveza and it would have been rude not to try it.
Days like this are some of my favourite while travelling – spontaneous and spending time with nice people you never would have met otherwise.
9. Huancos Luna y Sol, Trujillo, Peru
The thing that really blew me away about visiting here is the quality of the art work from a very long time ago (The Huancos are pre-Inca). So much detail and creativity and the artefacts you see are in very good condition. There is alot of information about some pretty gruesome sacrificial rituals too and who doesn’t like that…? :-/ Definitely worth a visit.
8. Ayampe, Ecuador
Ayampe is a lovely, peaceful surfing village on the coast in Ecuador. I had a cabaña right on the beach for just $10, from where i could watch the surfers and try and spot whales.
Walking through the village is a special experience as the locals are so friendly and there is a lovely wetland area to walk around full of wildlife. The nightlife was chilled and my evening was filled with good conversation and live music. People that go there seem to find it hard to leave and i understand that and really wish i’d had more than one night there.
7. Playa Frailes, Ecuador
I can only describe this place as a little pocket of paradise on the coast of Ecuador. Along the rest of the beaches I visited, the sky was clouded over and the temperature no more than chilly. But Frailes was beautiful, white sand, clear blue sea and HOT!
The journey there was also fun as its best to hitch a ride with the friendly locals from the park entrance to the beach. We ended up with a little gang of 3 old men on a lads holiday who I’m pretty sure fell a bit in love with my beautiful German companion.
6. Sea Lions, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Sea Lions are just one of the nicest animals I have ever encountered and these friendly creatures are everywhere in the galapagos. They walk down the street in San Cristobal, lounge on the dock in all disembarking points and hang out feeding their babies, farting and sneezing right next to you on the street. I think the world would be a much happier place if this was the same everywhere. Its impossible not to smile when you encounter one.
5. Camping on Puerto Chino Beach, San Cristobal Island , Galapagos, Ecuador
I nearly didn’t go to this due to my old lady fear of camping without the comforts of my own tent and gear but luckily I had made some brilliant friends who persuaded me it would be good and the man from our hostel lent us a tent. Ok, so the mosquitoes there are crazy but being the only people camping on a beach in the galapagos is an incredible experience. The sea was warm and the sun was out. We were joined by a family of sealions who slept and farted right next to until just before the sun went down and then joined us again at dawn. They must fish all night. The baby sea lion was running around trying to work out if any of us was its mother (mummy sealions seem to have a bad system of feeding their babies, or maybe they are hiding because its common to hear a baby running around crying for its mum and is a bit heartbreaking).
We set up a campfire, accidentely with a branch that was also home to a lot of red ants! Oops.
We could then just chill under the perfect night sky. Lovely times.
4. Isla de la Plata, Ecuador
3. Watching a shark eating an octopus (and other crazy snorkeling events), Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
Snorkelling in the galapagos has to be one of my favourite activities during my trip. There were so many great moments but the shark eating an octopus was hard to beat. Its really quite scary when you meet a shark in the water even when you have been told several times that the sharks don’t really ever eat a human.
On this day, the group were following a white tipped shark who was hanging out around some rocks. Suddenly he plunged his nose into the rock and pulled out a plump pink octopus. With it between his teeth, he thrashed around on the sea bed until the octopus finally split into two pieces. He munched the half in his mouth quickly before doing a victory lap of the rock, then swimming around frantically looking for the other half, which didn’t last more than a minute onces he found it. It felt just like watching a live nature documentary and I could almost hear David A in my ears talking me calmly through it, while I resisted the urge to run away. Brilliant, but didn’t calm any of my fears of swimming with sharks!
2. Whale Watching, Puerto Lopez, Ecuador
This is a close second because seeing whales is truly one of the best things you can ever experience. The whales in Puerto Lopez were in mating season so the males leap from the water to impress the females. When it happens, it is like it is in slow motion. You can see everything – the colours of their skin and the molluscs living on them. We were very lucky because there were lots of whales on the day we went and our boat seemed the best at following them carefully, so we were treated to a stunning two hour nature show.
1. Swimming with turtles, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador
So… my dream came true. Anyone that has had the misfortune of talking to me for too long will know that for some strange reason turtles are my absolute favourite animal. Its something to do with the graceful way they swim and the cute way they pop their head above the water to take a breath.
In the galapagos the opportunities of actually swimming with them was plentiful and I have to admit I shed quite a few tears because it was overwhelming to fulfil such a dream and be so close to such a beautiful creature. Luckily I was wearing a snorkel so no one could see my soppiness.