Plaza de Armas, Arequipa’s Splendid Main Square

Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa

Pigeons and people populate the late afternoon square in front of the cathedral

Like the Santa Catalina Convent, Arequipa’s main square (Plaza de Armas) is part of the city’s world heritage-listed historic centre.

Surrounded by the Basilica Cathedral of Arequipa to the north and portals to the east, south and west, the plaza is a wonderful place to relax, watch the world go by and politely decline unsolicited offers.

Archway displaying Peruvian colours with Misti in the background, Arequipa

A giant ribbon in national colours on the eastern portal (Portal de los Flores) prior to Peru’s independence day (28 July); Mt Misti is in the background Continue reading

Arequipa’s 16th Century Landmark: Santa Catalina Convent

People playing Pokémon GO outside Santa Catalina Convent, Arequipa

Santa Catalina’s white volcanic stone walls tower over these Pokémon Go players

Founded in 1579, Arequipa’s imposing Santa Catalina Convent (monastery) takes up a whole city block and is a major tourist attraction. One can easily spend hours exploring the different rooms, cloisters and galleries. The convent’s history, size, architecture, art and ambience impress. Besides the museum, an adjoining New Monastery still functions although it is closed to the public. Continue reading

From the Brazilian Pantanal to La Paz, Bolivia by Taxi, Train and Bus

From the amazing Brazilian Pantanal I needed to get to La Paz, Bolivia. With no direct flights and one-way flights ridiculously expensive, the best mode was overland.

Leaving the excellent Hostel Road Riders in Corumbá, Brazil, Dana, Ela and I took a taxi to the Bolivian border. As an Australian, I obtained my Bolivian entry stamp easily. Not so Israeli passport holders Dana and Ela. Border officials shunted them around, asked for itineraries and bookings and treated them with disdain.

Quijarro Border Crossing, Bolivia

The Corumbá-Quijarro border crossing from outside a shop on the Bolivian side where I waited for Dana and Ela

After a few hours Dana and Ela still had not received their visas so I left the border for Puerto Quillaro’s La Brasilena train station. There I met New Zealanders Kyle and Anna who also wanted to buy a ticket on the Death Train to Santa Cruz de la Sierra. Continue reading

The Epic Pantanal Wetland

The Pantanal, Brazil

A Pantanal water lily

The Pantanal, spread across South American countries Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay is the world’s largest tropical wetland. The region is also an amazing place for viewing wildlife despite consisting largely of privately owned cattle stations. In four days of Pantanal exploring I saw and photographed so many birds and other animals, they required separate blog posts. Continue reading