Soroa, 7 kilometres north of the Havana-Pinar del Río Freeway is a village known for both its waterfall and orchid garden. As fans of orchids the latter attracted Rocío and me and we made a detour to Soroa between Viñales and Havana.
Getting to Soroa from Viñales without private transport took two colectivos and then a Jeep organised by a tout from the mechanic near the Candelaria/Soroa junction. The travel logistics and costs are listed below this post.
Soroa Waterfall (Salto del Arco Iris)
The Soroa Waterfall has two entrances. The Jeep dropped us off adjacent the lower, southern one where we paid the 3 CUC (US$3) entry fee.
Entry signs to waterfall Salto del Arco Iris; cascada is Spanish for waterfall; entry costs Cubans 10 CUP (US$0.40) and foreigners 3 CUC (US$3)
January is well outside the May to October wet season so the waterfall was a relative trickle. Despite this, the overhang and surrounding greenery still made a beautiful setting.
The scenery and views around Pitumarka in Ayapata District blew me away. Travelling from Macusani, Rocío and I accompanied guide Ulices and our Hilux 4WD driver for the first of two amazing day trips.
Seeing the glaciers, mountains, waterfalls, lakes, Andean geese, flamingos and other birds on the way to Taype was a great start. At Taype we turned off the main Ayapata unsealed road and drove past Lake Taype surrounded by mountains and potato fields.
Ollachea is stunningly set amongst the mountains, large waterfall and ancient terraces. These surroundings along with the natural hot spring make the mining services town worth visiting. At 2,785 high, Ollachea’s elevation and climate lie between tropical San Gaban 54 kilometres north and tundra Macusani 49 kilometres south. Like San Gaban and Macusani, Ollachea is capital of its own district in Carabaya Province, part of southern Peru’s Puno Region.
In October 2016 Rocío and I came to Ollachea to relax in its natural hot springs and enjoy more wonderful trout. While visiting, my camera flash mysteriously failed. We also toured ancient sites nearby worth their own blog post.
A central Ollachea street with surrounding mountains blanketed by cloudsContinue reading →
The journey from Ayapata to Puerto Maldonado was my most amazing and varied single day of travel ever. Seeing glaciers, tropical jungle and other magnificent landscapes all on the same day is hard to beat.
In late September 2016 Rocío and I wanted to get from Ayapata, Puno Region to Puerto Maldonado in Madre de Dios during daylight to view the scenery. There was no direct day transport, not even from Macusani. Using local advice, we reached our destination via the following steps:
Ayapata to Macusani Bus Terminal: van
Macusani Bus Terminal to Macusani Terminal Terrestre: mototaxi
Macusani Terminal Terrestre to Lechemayo: van
Lechemayo to Mazuko: mototaxi
Mazuko to Puerto Maldonado: shared car
Ayapata to Macusani Bus Terminal by Van
A mountain with sheer cliffs towers over this building between Ayapata and MacusaniContinue reading →
A stand up paddle board and paddles balancing on Paraty beach Praia do Pontal with stand up paddlers paddling on the water in the background
Founded in 1597, Paraty (also spelt Parati) is a historic town on the Costa Verde (Green Coast) between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Once an intermediate port for gold travelling from Minas Gerais to Portugal, Paraty was neglected for much of its recent history. This neglect helped preserve Paraty’s old buildings, contributing to its current charm as a tourist destination. Continue reading →
The 22 May bus trip from Argentina’s Puerto Iguazú, across Fraternity Bridge, through both sets of immigration and to my hostel in Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu only took half an hour. This contrasts greatly to my Argentinian entry when I waited for seven hours. The towns’ proximities belie their different languages and out of habit I thanked people with “gracias” many times before adjusting to the Portuguese “obrigado”.
Foz do Iguaçu has a significant population of Lebanese descent. When the local Arab restaurant didn’t have individual pieces of baklava, I performed exceptionally, eating a whole tray. The baklava tasted delicious, too.
The next day, Vimia and I caught a suburban bus to Iguaçu National Park, home of Brazil’s Iguassu Falls. The bus also stops at the city’s airport terminal, convenient and cheap for people with air connections. Prior to entering the park, we visited the adjacent Parque das Aves (Bird Park).
Video of a bird mimicking a boy at Parque das Aves. The bird chases the boy and even copies his jump Continue reading →
Puerto Iguazu is the Argentinian gateway to one of the largest and most spectacular waterfall systems in the world: Iguazu. Near Iguazu the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay join, although the waterfalls lie within Argentina and Brazil, with most occurring in Argentina.
Upon arriving to Puerto Iguazu Airport in May I transferred to a bus for the final journey to the town of the same name. Outside Puerto Iguazu the bus stopped for passengers to pay a town entry fee. Being squeezed on the bus, I left my wallet on my lap instead of placing it in my pocket. Once at the bus terminal I exited the bus, forgetting about my wallet until I arrived to my accommodation. The hostel staff member assisted selflessly, calling the bus company and advising them about the missing wallet. Later, a driver arrived with a wallet. Alas, it was not mine. Luckily my wallet only contained limited cash and a debit card which I blocked.
The highlight of my visit to El Calafate in January/February this year and, indeed, one of the absolute highlights of my trip, was seeing the Perito Moreno Glacier in Los Glaciares National Park. The glacier’s awesomeness cannot be overstated. The mild and sunny weather on both days I visited accentuated the experience.
According to Wikipedia, a glacier is a persistent body of dense ice that is constantly moving under its own weight. Perito Moreno’s movement slowly pushes it against the land, causing various sized pieces of ice to fall off regularly. I was lucky enough to witness and record a giant ~50 metre high slab falling off the glacier (see video below). Every four or five years a bridge forms in the ice and crashes down even more spectacularly. The bridge last ruptured on 10 March, more than a month after I visited.