Archive for the ‘ Inland Travel ’ Category

Four-Day Bus Trip

Tuesday morning, Oct.27, we left on a bus heading to Guaranda with our friends Shirley and Frank.  Our first leg was two hours to Puerto Viejo where we changed to a bus to get us to Quevedo, 5 hours later.   From Quevedo we caught a bus to Babahoyo.  This was only a two hour leg, but we arrived after 5 PM so spent the night in a hotel near the intersection where we could catch a bus in the morning to carry us up into the Andes to the town of Guaranda.  The bus driver was most helpful in telling us where to get off the bus and pointing out the hotel where we could spend the night.

Wednesday morning we caught an early bus up into the mountains.  The road was twisty with steep valleys and spectacular views as it rose up into the Andes from the wet river valley around Babahoyo.  We arrived into Guaranda before noon.  After checking into a hotel and leaving off our bags we decided to continue on to Salinas with its many cottage factories.  It was quite warm in Guaranda but at the higher altitude of Salinas it was cold.  Our first purchases were therefore sweaters.  The yarn is spun in one of the larger of the cottage factories and the woman of the town knit some of the yarn into items for sale.  The  entire town is run as a cooperative, so that the many products of the town can be grouped together for export.  We took an afternoon tour of many of the small factories and purchased lots of chocolate, cheese and small amounts of tea and salami.  We caught a combi back down the mountain to Guaranda after 5 PM and by then it was even getting cool in Guaranda, so our new sweaters were much appreciated.

The hotel in Guaranda only had rooms for Wednesday night so Thursday we headed back down to the coast in Guayaquil where we spent one more night before returning to Bahia de Caraquez yesterday.  Even that trip was an adventure as the bus broke down about 2/3 of the way home.  The drivers spent some time trying to get the bus running again but eventually called for another bus.  Three hours later we were on our way again and arrived back in Bahia just before dark.

It was a short but interesting trip as we passed thru parts of Ecuador that we had not been thru before.

Weekend Trip to El Valle

 This past weekend we made a trip to El Valle ,a small town in the caldera of a long extinct volcano.  Frank and Shirley have a car here in Panama and called us Saturday morning to see if we would be interested in going with them up into the mountains to El Valle.  We quickly thru a few things together in a bag and were off with them.  The last week it has been hot and humid here in Panama City so the trip to the much cooler mountains was a real treat.  The caldera must have rich soil,as the Panamanians that have vacation homes there have lush gardens with lots of flowers.

ValleLunch

We ate lunch at a small Italian restaurant on the main street of El Valle. 

ValleZoo

Then we drove around town eventually finding  the small zoo.

ValleCat ValleOstrich

The Zoo was small but contained cages of many of the local animals and some exotic ones.  Here Frank tries to get a photo of the ostrich and Shirley checks out the small cat that is a member of the jaguar family.

ValleHotel

Los Capitanes, where we spent the night, was a flower garden spot.  It is owned by a German so we enjoyed great German food in its little restaurant.

 Vallemarket

 

Sunday is market day in the little town, so after breakfast Frank drove back into town so that we could check out the wares.

 We drove back to Panama City, dropping back down into the heat of the coast as we joined the Pan-American highway.  We stopped for a lunch of ‘just-ok’ Mexican food before finishing our drive back to Balboa Yacht Club and the boats – home again.

Zephyrus’s Canal Transit

On Friday Doreen and our visitor PJ were line handlers on the sailboat Zephyrus as it made its transit of the Panama canal from the Pacific Ocean into the Caribbean Sea.

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Zephyrus untied from their buoy at the Balboa Yacht Club and moved into the channel where we met up with our advisor for the trip.  The advisor is an employee of the Canal Authority and is getting his early experience at transiting the canal with the smaller boats.  He is in radio contact with the canal officials,  the pilots that are on the large ships, and any other advisors on small boats.

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The transit really started after we passed under the Bridge of the Americas, which we had just passed under when I snapped this photo of Dan (Zephyrus‘ owner) and our advisor.

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We entered the first lock (the Mira Flores lock) behind this ship and tied off along side of another small boat that was itself tied to a tug.  Both boats are visible as they lined up to enter the lock in this photo.  The small insert shows the lock doors closing .  We were sandwiched then between the closed doors and the stern of the ship.

We were lifted thru two locks to the Las Flores lake where we had about an hour wait before we could transit the third “up lock”’ then we passed under the Centennial Bridge, into the Culebra cut and finally into Lake Gatun.  Most of the rest of the day we motored thru the lake to the upper end of the Gatun Locks.  Since a ship ahead of us had had difficulty pulling their anchor up, the lockage down was delayed just long enough that we were able to squeeze in front of a large car carrier for the trip down.  We tied off to the ship’s tug for the lockage with the big ship just off our stern.

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We exited the last lock into the Caribbean.  This photo is looking back into the lock as the ship that locked with us is just exiting the lock.  The visible tug is the friendly one that we locked down with, tied along side.

It was a dark moonless night as we dropped off the advisor in Colón and headed over to the Shelter Bay Marina where Zephyrus had nabbed a slip for a few days.  Frank from WindSong, one of the other line handlers, had been to this marina on other boats many times before; he was able to help guide us in – in the dark!  Since it was quite dark and late by the time we tied up, we could not find a taxi driver that would come and return we three line handlers to Balboa, so we all spent the night together on Zephyrus.

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The next morning we took a hike into the jungle that surrounds the marina. On the hike we saw and heard several troops of howler monkeys and ended up at a lovely beach directly on the Caribbean Sea.

Perú Travel Summary – July & August 2007

Some particulars (including costs) of our Summer 2007 trip through Perú. Hopefully useful info for other travelers …

We entered Peru at the La Tiña-Macará border crossing, riding on Transports Loja from Loja, Ecuador to Piura, Peru ($8).

The money of Perú is the Nuevo Sol (simply called the Sol). At the time of our trip, the exchange was 3.10 to 3.25 Soles to the US dollar. We won’t quote the price of tours as that is highly variable with the season, tour options, etc. Prices noted for bus travel are “per person”; prices quotes for hotels are for a “matrimonial” (typically a queen-size bed) or a “doble” (two twin beds) – almost always the same price, but one or the other is not always available.

Piura

Hotel Peru: 69 soles ($23) Good restaurant in the hotel; around the central plaza we found only sandwitch and ice cream restaurants.

Algarrobas Inn: 60 soles ($20) very near the Linea bus station, comfortable and quiet. elalgarrobo_hotel@hotmail.com

Piura to Chiclayo: Transportes Chiclayo or Transportes Linea. 12 Soles ($4.00)

Piura to/from Loja, Ecuador: Transportes Loja, 28 Soles ($9.00). Steep, winding, beautiful mountain road.

Chiclayo

Hotel Presidental: 70 soles ($23) eMail: hotelpresidencial@hotmail.com, web: http://www.hotelpresidencialchiclayo.com/

Hotel Paraíso: 50 soles ($17) eMail: mailto:reservascix@hotelesparaiso.com.pe, web: http://www.hotelesparaiso.com.pe/

Both are nice hotels with real hot water and cable TV and both are just about as far from the main plaza, only about 6 blocks.

Chiclayo to Trujillo: Transportes Linea 12 soles ($4)

Trujillo

We stayed in nearby town of Huanchaco on the coast. Combi between the two was 1.2 soles, taxi 10 soles ($3). There are many hotels along the Malecón in Huanchaco. We found a room in Hostal Los Esteros overlooking the water for 60 soles ($20). There is also a decent cafe in the hotel.

We made our tour reservations through Hostal Ñaylamp (a few blocks farther from the center of town). Also has a good restaurant for dinner. eMail: naylamp@terra.com.pe, web: http://www.hostalnaylamp.com/.

Truijillo to Lima: Cruz del Sur “Bus Cama” (First Class!!!) service – the seats lay almost all the way back for good resting, meals served on the bus. 50 soles ($17). web: www.cruzdelsur.com.pe

Lima

Many hotels in the downtown area are not signed on the street – just a doorway to stairs leading up the reception desk on the second floor. The taxi from the bus station found us Hostal San Martín overlooking Plaza San Martín. 60 soles ($20) including breakfast.

Lima to Nazca: Cruz del Sur again. 65 soles ($22).

Nazca

Hotel Yemayá: 50 soles ($17).

Tour Agency: A great travel agency for flights over the lines and other tours is Nazca Trails on the main plaza. Recommended in many travel books. eMail: nascatrails@terra.com.pe. Juan is a great guide!

Nazca to Arequipa: Transportes Cial, 75 soles ($25). The only bus that travels in the daytime, but it leaves at 3:30AM.

Arequipa

Hotel: Hostal La Posada del Parque: 45 soles ($15). It has large rooms and has a cafe and a GREAT travel agency on the roof. The agent is Maribel, Marlon’s sister, see Cuzco below. eMail: sMarlon44@hotmail.com We used it for our Colca Canyon trip and for bus tickets to Puno.

Arequipa to Puno 50 soles ($17).

Puno and Lake Titicaca

Hotel: Hostal Q’oñi Wasi 40 soles ($13). eMail: Qoniwasi_lourdes@hotmail.com The rooms on the top floor are very nice, others can be dingy. Very friendly owner – close friend of Maribel in Arequipa, above. The tour agency we used was Edgar Adventures on the walking street. We took the two day tour on Lago Titicaca: 65 soles ($22).

Puno to Cuzco: We took the tourist bus that made 6 stops along the way for sightseeing, etc. First Class: 64 soles ($21)

Cuzco

Hotel Marlon`s House 50 soles ($17). A small, family run place, very friendly. Also a travel agency. Marlon arranged our tour of the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu. Web: www.Marlons-Travel.com, eMail: MarlonsTravelCusco@hotmail.com

There is lots to see and do in and around Cuzco, we spent over 2 weeks there. We had an absolutely wonderful stay at Marlon’s House, highly recommended.

Flew to Cajamarca on Aero Condor, aerocondor.com.pe changing planes (and waiting most of the day) in Lima.

Cajamarca

Hotel: Inca’s Hostal 50 soles ($17), three blocks from the main plaza. A town of few tourists, but many interesting sites nearby.

Tour Agent: In.God.We.Trust (on the main plaza). eMail: ingodwetrust10@latinmail.com

Cajamarca to Chiclayo: Transportes Linea: 15 soles ($5) Interesting views on the trip as you climb down steep, winding canyons back to sea level.

Visiting a local Family

Friday August 31: The last two days have been special for us as Vicky, a tour guide that we met at the iPeru tourist office, took us to her homes. Thursday she took us to her simple country house near Otuzco. It is under the care of her Aunt and Uncle who farm the small plot of land. Vicky hopes to expand it into a small “bread and breakfast” as time and money permit. Her aunt fixed us a nice lunch of potatoes, tuna salad and lima beans, while Vicky showed us around. Then we all enjoyed visiting while we ate. After lunch Vicky took us to visit the flower growing area of Huerta de las Hortencias. There lilies and hydrangeas are grown for sale. We walked from there thru the Hacienda Tres Molinos (a milk farm) and on to a cheese factory (Los Alpes). There was no ice-cream at this cheese factory, but we did purchase some great cheese and enjoyed rich creamy yogurt drinks before continuing the trek back into town.

This morning (Friday) Vicky came by the hotel again and took us to visit her family at her “in town” home. We enjoyed breakfast with her extended family while we visited. We met several of her sisters, one of her brothers and his family as well as Vicky’s 8-year old daughter. Several pleasant hours were spent visiting before Bill and I left. Thank You Vicky !!

We walked back to the hotel to relax the rest of the day (and play on the Internet), as tomorrow we move on to Chiclayo on our way slowly back to Ecuador and our Lanikai.