Simply By Joy https://www.simplybyjoy.com Escape the ordinary Mon, 08 Jul 2019 15:46:56 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.2.2 Discover San Pedro de Atacama by car https://www.simplybyjoy.com/discover-san-pedro-de-atacama-on-a-budget/ https://www.simplybyjoy.com/discover-san-pedro-de-atacama-on-a-budget/#respond Mon, 08 Jul 2019 15:46:51 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=568 Two friends and I decided to pay a visit to the driest desert in the world. Before our departure, many people told us it’s an amazingly beautiful place. Once I got there, I (indeed) couldn’t believe my eyes. According to me, San Pedro de Atacama is (besides Patagonia) the most beautiful spot in Chile. We also heard San Pedro is really expensive, so we did great research on how to travel there on a budget. Guess what, we prepared pretty well! Let me share our great ideas with you.

How to get to San Pedro?

Coming from Uyuni: The usual way to get to San Pedro is combined with a tour from Uyuni, Bolivia. There are hundreds of tour companies that offer a 3 to 4-day tour through Salar de Uyuni and finally end in San Pedro de Atacama. They will help you cross the border and finally bring you to the center. Flying in from Santiago: This is what we did. We found a cheap flight (60 dollars back and forth, off season) to Calama Airport. This flight only took us two hours to get to our destination.

How to get from Calama to San Pedro de Atacama?

By rental car: When we arrived at the airport my two friends and I decided to split up and bargain with every car rental company available. The stands are displayed at the exit of the airport. When we finally came to good terms with a certain company we took off and started our holiday! We found a very good deal at Europcar. Before flying in we already checked online what prices we could expect. When making the deal, we asked for a discount twice… and got it twice. Yay us! The final price for 5 days was 169 000 CLP ( +- 220 EUR) for an SUV + 4×4 car. By bus/public transport: If you’re not planning on renting a car you could get to the center of Calama by Uber, taxi or shuttle bus; there you should find the bus terminal and get a bus to San Pedro. No need to book in advance, there are lots of choices. If you arrive late in Calama and plan on traveling the next day, I advise you to stay at Hostal El Lao. I stayed there one night on my way back to Santiago and found it to be the best option price/quality wise.

Why a rental car?

As we traveled by rental car, I can only share tips for this way of traveling. I’ve encountered many people who did not rent a car and decided to travel by themselves (by the use of bicycles or tours). Seeing San Pedro by bike must be really impressive… but heavy. San Pedro is located in the North of Chile and usually has a warm climate during the day. There are also mannnnyyy climbs. If you’re looking for a bike experience I advise to visit Valley de La Luna and Valley de La Muerte by bike. The other option is taking tours. Now, you have to know that San Pedro is one of the most touristic spots of Chile, meaning that the tour companies aren’t afraid of asking a high price. I’ve looked around… and believe me… Tours are REALLY expensive. Especially during high season. So, with the money that we spent on the rental car and the gas (divided by 3 people) we definitely saved some pesos. We saw everything of San Pedro on a smaller budget than anyone who was taking tours. Also, you’ll probably find people at the hostel that would gladly join you & pay for gas or rent partially.

Our hostel

The Feel Atacama hostel was recommended to me and I highly recommend it to all of you. It’s located a bit out of the center, but that forms no problem if you are traveling by car. It was the cheapest option we found and the ambiance and atmosphere are just great. Of course, you could also try Couchsurfing or camping.

Day 1 – Calama to San Pedro

We drove from Calama airport to our hostel in San Pedro in the afternoon. On this route, you’ll be able to make a stop at Cordillera de la Sal. This will give you a first impression of how you’re staying in San Pedro will look like: peaceful, beautiful and impressive. Take some time to make some photos or to stretch your legs. Very recommendable!

After this stop, we drove towards the hostel. No need to do groceries in advance as there is a local store at 5 minutes walking distance of the hostel. We cooked our dinner, prepared lunch for the next day and joined the caipirinha-evening which was organized by the staff. Great start of our trip 🙂

Day 2 – Ruta 27

We departed around 10 am, together with two Germans we met in the hostel. On this day, we’d be driving on Ruta 27 towards ‘Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos‘. Before reaching the national park we made several stops:

 – Vulcano Licancabur: here you could park the car and walk closer up to the volcano. You can’t really miss the volcano as it is 5920 meters high. At a certain point, we reached a small canyon. There we had some fun taking pics and enjoying the view.
– Further we drove to Mirador Quebrada Quepiaco: However, we stopped a bit in advance and parked the car at the side of the road. This place was so beautiful! Impressive landscape & many vicuñas.
– We drove towards Laguna Pujsa, which was off-road. Was much fun to drive off-road but the destination wasn’t the most impressive one. If you don’t feel comfortable driving off-road, then it’s not too bad to skip this stop.
– Our next visit was the Reserva Nacional Los Flamencos which is found right after a big curve. You’ll need to go a bit off-road. You’ll see this sign:

Drive further to see some impressive rock formation and even further to get to the Monjes de la Pacana. (Be careful while driving there & avoid it with a normal car).

From here you could reach Salar de Tara, which is yet another long way off-road. We never got to the actual lake since we were getting really tired of driving off-road, and we were also losing a lot of time to see other places. So, we decided to head back to the main road. From the main road (Ruta 27) we continued to drive toward the border Chile- Argentina, where we passed two other lakes.
Laguna Aguas Calientes and Laguna Quisquiro: After spending some time there we decided to drive back and find a nice spot to watch the sunset. You should know that this route is quite long and you might need some time to get back. Of course, I recommend going as close as possible to San Pedro center before it gets dark. We found the perfect spot to watch the sunset: we stopped again at the Vulcano Licancabur.

Day 3 – Ruta 23

On the second day, we decided to head South- East on Ruta 23. The final stop on this route would be Piedras Rojas. It’s a quite long drive, so we had decided to make 1 stop before reaching the final destination. Actually, we were hoping to see flamingos on day 1 and we thought they’d just be in any laguna we’d pass – but we thought wrong. Somehow, we gave up hope to see these pretty pink birds. While driving to Piedras Rojas we reached ‘Salar de Atacama‘, so that would be our stop before heading further. Mission of the trip completed: we saw flamingos. To enter Salar de Atacama you pay 2500 CLP, and you’ll be welcomed by local people that are passioned about the conservation of the park. As we were entering we asked a lot of questions to the man at the entrance, so he decided to give us a little tour. There, we learned more about the types of animals living at the Salar, what they eat, when they bread, etc. We spent about 1h30 minutes in the park. Because we felt so welcome and comfortable we had decided to eat our prepared lunch there, while looking over Salar de Atacama.

After the flamingo adventure, we headed back to the main road & drove through Tocanao. Unfortunately, we got told that Piedras Rojas would be closed. Stubborn as we were we decided to check it out anyways. As the people of the town had already warned us, we came to learn that indeed we couldn’t enter. However, a man along the way pointed out where we could find a nice viewpoint.

After Piedras Rojas, my friends and I headed back towards San Pedro. However, it was not the end of the day. Before heading to the hostel there were still some stops to be made. First one was Laguna Miscanti & Laguna Miniques. (I can’t surely say what the normal entry price is. I, as an exchange student in Chile, could get a discount. As a student, you pay 2500 CLP to get it.) Side note: while driving towards the entrance you’re very likely to come across foxes. Please do not feed or touch them. Be ethical. Admire them from a distance.

Once you get out of the park, there is one more stop I recommend before calling it a day: Laguna Ojas de Salar & Laguna Tebinquiche. This is the perfect spot to watch the sunset and take nice pictures. Don’t stay out too long as it’s an unpaved road & still quite some time to reach the center – try not to drive in the dark.

Once we got back to the hostel, we had to get ready for our stargazing tour. The only tour we took (obviously because we do not have the knowledge). My advice: check if there’s a full moon or not (if there is, you won’t be able to see the stars well) & dress warmly. I’m not going to advice the company I went with because I’m not completely satisfied with their service. There are several tour agencies at the center of San Pedro.

Day 3 –  El Tatio Geysers & Caspana

Day three was kind of rough. The girls and I left at 3 am and drove a long way in the dark towards El Tatio Geysers. It’s a 2h30min drive and it’s completely dark. The nice thing about the dark is that you could make a stop to watch the stars. Believe, that’s really worth it.

We arrived at the entrance of the Geysers around 5h30 am. Again, we had a student discount and paid 4000 CLP pp. Once you get in, drive all the way to the back: there you can find estacionamiento to park your car. There are two good things about being so early: there are no annoying tours (= many people)  and, because it is so cold, the geysers are very active. The reaction of the combination of the heat underground and the cold air gives you some impressive views. When I say cold air, I mean … really cold air. We had to endure a temperature of -17 degrees. My hands and toes were freezing off, so come prepared… Also, don’t forget to take a small breakfast with you. Another nice thing about being so early is that you can see the geysers at three different settings: first when it is completely dark, secondly during sunrise and finally when the sun is up. Once the sun is over the mountains the temperatures are much more comfortable, so no worries you won’t have to endure the cold too long.

In the same park, when you drive back to where you entered, you’ll encounter another route which leads you to more geysers and a hot spring. Don’ expect too much from the hot spring as the water isn’t super warm and there are many people watching you while you’re bathing. Kinda awkward.

After the geysers we didn’t really have any plan, so we started driving around. Finally, we headed towards the town called ‘Caspana’ (which we had found on the map). It’s located in the middle of nowhere, but it’s taken care of really well. There are even a museum and a cultural center. Unfortunately, when we got there, these were closed. It’s important to know that these facilities won’t open on both Sunday and Monday. Meaning I cannot tell you about the museum, but I can tell you about the scenic drive there. We didn’t even pass 1 single car. The views on this road were so spectacular and we saw much wildlife as well: foxes, donkeys, horses, vicunas, llamas, …

When we got back to the hostel we didn’t plan anything else in the evening as our day started rather early.

Day 4 – Valle de la Luna & Valle de la Muerte

The following day we wanted to take it slower. We drove off to Valle de La Luna which is pretty close to the center. Many people bike there. Once you arrive at the Valle, you’ll have to pass the entrance and pay. We paid 2000 per person (student tariff) which also gave us access to enter the viewpoint of Piedra del Coyote. Here is a summary of the prices in low season:

After spending time at Valle de La Luna, we visited Valle de la Muerte (where we watched some people failing at sandboarding – hilarious) and finally, we headed to Piedra del Coyote to watch the sunset. Best time to go to Piedra del Coyote is around 5 pm already, because if you’ll arrive at 5:30 pm, you’ll have to mingle with the hundreds of tour buses that come. If you’re earlier, you can take advantage of taking pics without other people, you’ll be able to find a nice spot, and you can enjoy the view quietly for some time. A nice alternative for this mirador to watch sunset would be Cordillera de la Sal. I suppose there will be fewer people as it is a lot less touristy.

Day 5 – Adios San Pedro!

On the 5th day, we had to return our car. I had a bus towards Uyuni around 10 in the morning, so I wasn’t able to join the girls on their last stop. They decided to see two more things: Tulor and Chuquicamata. Tulor is the oldest archeological site of Chile and according to my friends worth the visit. After their visit, they drove to Calama where they met up with their tour guide (Avenida Granaderos 4025) for a mine-tour. On this tour, they take you along the mines and give you further explanations. Tip: try to book this tour a few days in advance on this e-mail: visitas@codelco.cl. It’s the biggest open mine in the world, and it’s free!

]]>
https://www.simplybyjoy.com/discover-san-pedro-de-atacama-on-a-budget/feed/ 0
Salto Del Agua – Daytrip from Valparaiso on a (very tiny) budget https://www.simplybyjoy.com/salto-del-agua-daytrip-from-valparaiso/ https://www.simplybyjoy.com/salto-del-agua-daytrip-from-valparaiso/#respond Thu, 04 Jul 2019 23:56:40 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=571 Valparaiso is a famous port town near Santiago; it’s vibrant, charming, picturesque, and all of the good adjectives one can think of. However, sometimes it can be nice to get out of the hustle and the bustle by escaping to nature. This blog post serves as a guide to Salto del Agua, which is located about 40 minutes from Valparaiso. And the best thing is… it’s completely free! FYI, Salto Del Agua is a waterfall 😉

How to get there?

You can take a micro/bus towards Curauma. From the Sotomayor square, you could take bus number 001, 002 and 901 (or you can check the number of the busses through Google Maps). Try to follow your actual location on your online maps, or ask the bus driver to let you know when you get to Avenida Curauma Norte. Once at the town of Curauma, get off at the (only and) big roundabout. From there on, you can walk towards the park and start your journey.

Maps.me

Depending on your arrival time you could decide to walk along the lake and then walk towards the waterfall, or immediately head there. I’d recommend you to download MAPS.ME application on your smartphone. The application clearly shows you the possible paths within the park. The waterfall is named ‘Salto Del Agua’.

Once you’ve reached the viewpoint of the waterfall, you’ll be able to hike down. I’d like to make it very clear that it’s not the easiest hike, it’s very steep and slippery, full of rocks and tree roots. Also, the way up is a serious challenge as you’ll have to be able to climb over the big rocks again. I used the roots of the trees to help to pull myself up. It’s heavy but it’s worth it! Consider it as a small adventure. I don’t recommend this hike for people who do not feel fit. It’s also perfectly possible to enjoy the landscape from the viewpoint, without hiking down.

In order to get back to Valparaiso, you’ll have to head back to the main road and the roundabout. There, you can take several buses back. Just check with the driver.

Budget:

  • +/- 1000 CLP to pay for the bus
  • … that’s it 😉 there is no entrance fee for the park

Tips:

  • Bring enough water & lunch/snacks.
  • Leave on time from Valparaiso (approx. 10 am).
  • Walk through the park towards viewpoint: easy.
  • Hike from viewpoint towards the base of the waterfall: hard (wear suitable clothes: walking shoes, comfortable pants, …). Avoid hiking alone.
  • If you’re planning beforehand: don’t pay for a tour, you can perfectly do it without a guide!
]]>
https://www.simplybyjoy.com/salto-del-agua-daytrip-from-valparaiso/feed/ 0
One month in Peru – itinerary https://www.simplybyjoy.com/one-month-peru-itinerary/ https://www.simplybyjoy.com/one-month-peru-itinerary/#comments Mon, 24 Jun 2019 21:39:06 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=463 As you might or might not now, my exchange to Chile began the first of March. My boyfriend and I decided to leave for South America a bit earlier and take some time to discover Peru. I’m super glad I did: I’ve deeply fallen in love with the country and the Peruvian culture. Besides from me loving the country, I’ve got many reasons to share my itinerary with you. Budget wise we did a good job, and I personally think we saw a bit of everything that the country offers. Perfect combo, no?

Iquitos – day 1 to 2

Our adventure started off by flying in from Brussels to Lima. We didn’t leave the airport just yet as we had booked another flight straight to Iquitos. We spent 4 hours waiting at the airport for that next flight. I really recommend to avoid waiting yet another few hours after an international flight, but in this case, we immediately wanted to fly north in order to be able to travel downwards.

Iquitos is a city located in the middle of the jungle, which connects tourists with their future jungle experience. We stayed in there for about two days before we’d start our 5 day-jungle trip.

My 3 tips for you:

  • Check the timing of the year: rain season or not?
  • Bring repellent (a lot!)
  • Read my article 😉

The Amazon Jungle – day 2 to 6

We stayed at the ‘Ayahuasca Ecolodge’ with Louis as our local tour guide. Oh, what do we love this man! Despite being there during the rainy season and being eaten by mosquitos, it was one of the most interesting experiences so far. Regardless of the several hikes I’ve committed myself to, I have never had been this close to nature. We stayed at the lodge for 4 days, 3 nights. Read here more on how to book a stay in the jungle. (For those who are doubting where in South America to visit the jungle have a look at this article. Dutch speakers only!)

My 3 tips for you:

  • Stay at least two nights
  • Buy enough bottled water to take along
  • Bring a headlamp and breathable clothes that cover your skin (arms and legs) completely

After these few days in the jungle, we traveled back to Iquitos by boat where we stayed for one more night before we’d fly back to Lima.

Lima – day 8 to 10

After this intense experience between the tall trees, snakes, insects and air thick environment we had decided to spend some days in the capital city of Peru: Lima. We stayed at a random hostel we found last minute, rested out prepared ourselves mentally for the next heavy adventure. Besides from resting and strolling around, we didn’t do much since we knew we’d come back to Lima later on our trip.

Huaraz – day 10 to 17

It is only a 7-hour bus ride to get from Lima to Huaraz. Oh, do I love this place. Huaraz is known to be a paradise for hikers and nature lovers. Coming from Lima and Iquitos we found the weather a bit colder. Chilly weather, coming along with a lot of rainfall. Especially at night. The city has an average temperature of 14 C, with a good deal of rainfall during the summer months.

But hey, still no reason to hold you back! As I mentioned before, it’s a paradise for nature lovers!  We joined a 3-day trekking into the Andes Mountains: the famous Santa Cruz Trek.

The tour company we traveled with was Galaxia Expeditions and it totally satisfied our needs. Of course, if you’re an experienced hiker you could do the trek without a guide. Besides from the Santa Cruz trek, Huaraz offers many other trekking opportunities such as Laguna 69 (1-day trek), Huayhuash (multiday trek), etc.

My 3 tips for you:

  • Get off your lazy ass and go hiking/trekking
  • When you trek/hike outside the season be prepared for lots of rain
  • If you decide to trek/hike with an agency: negotiate & compare

Lima – day 17 to 20

Thanks to past travels we had met great people from Lima, they gave us the best local experience ever. There’s plenty of things to do in the capital city of Peru: bicycle tours, paragliding, free walking tours, party, beach, etc. Of course, despite the local encountering we still felt obligated to be the typical tourist. I very much dislike water but I still got convinced to go swimming with sea lions, didn’t regret it a moment (maybe a little bit)! There isn’t too much information about this activity found online, so go ahead and check out my tips for swimming with sea lions 😉

My 3 tips for you:

  • Try to get to know some of the nightlife of Lima
  • Do a free-walking tour
  • It’s a big city; be aware of pickpocketing

Cusco – day 20 to 23

Cusco is known the be cultural heart the in the Peruvian Andes range: Macchu Pichu, Sacred Valley, hiking, rafting, … As we only had a few days to spend in Cusco we decided to participate in a tour that’d visit several places in one day. It was a good tour and lovely to have seen most of the places in a short time but of course, I recommend to take your time to see these beautiful spots.

  • Chinchero
  • Moray
  • Maras
  • Urubamba
  • Pisac

Aside from these impressive places, there are also many interesting museums found at the city center, such as: Museo de Historia Natural, Museo Inka, Museo de Arte Precolombino. Peru wouldn’t be Peru if you wouldn’t encounter massive markets; my favorite market was the Centro Artesanal Cusco. Stroll around, found some cheap food and juices, get a souvenir, …

Accommodation wise we stayed at the (not so international) Incama hostel/hospedaje. We booked a private room and found our cheapest option here. Friendly people, big room, central location, not too expensive.

My 3 tips for you:

  • I’ve skipped Machu Pichu – don’t make the same mistake as I did!
  • Avoid eating out at the city center of Cusco, try to find cheaper places around.
  • Negotiate with the tour companies.

Puno – day 23 to 27

We arrived in Puno without a plan. With no accommodation yet, we figured we would just let it come to us. We came from Cusco to Puno by night bus (+- 9 hours), meaning it was only 6 o’clock in the morning when the bus arrived. We saw the sunrise over Puno, so that was definitely worth it! Of course, we were worrying a bit that finding accommodation at this time might be difficult… But nope! As we were walking into the center we encountered a lady offering accommodation at a hospedaje. The price was really fair, and later on -when we talked to other people- we got to know that we had found the cheapest option. Cheers to that! Arriving at Puno feels like going back in time: many locally dressed people and this time not for tourism reasons. 

The reason why we visited Puno is because of Lake Titicaca. Puno is the highest navigable lake above sea level but besides from that, it’s also very popular of its floating islands.

Puno Boat Departures
Boat departures and prices from the port of Puno

Don’t expect much from the Uros island. I really felt like being trapped in a zoo, overwhelmed by the ‘locals’ asking for money in all kinds of ways. Of course, the floating island is really something you need to see when there, so don’t skip it if you’re there.

I heard people talking about a homestay at the floating islands, and they had a great experience. Maybe, if you have enough time to travel, this might be something you’d like to look into.

The next stop of the boat was the Island of Taquile. Be aware, it’s quite a climb to get to the main square… But absolutely lovely. Even though the boat said they are just transportation and not a tour they had planned on eating lunch together at a restaurant at the main square. We just sneaked out from the group so we could go on by ourselves. We found this lovely family owned place that I can only recommend. At that moment we really regretted not bringing any stuff to sleep over at their hostel. They were very kind and their prices aren’t high. So if you are planning on spending the night at Taquile island, this is the place to be:

Illary Hospedaje

My 4 tips for you:

  • Spend the night at Taquile Island
  • Don’t just accept the tour offers of vendors on the street. Go to the port and book your trip there.
  • Avoid hostels and try to find hospedajes, much cheaper!
  • Wander through ‘Calle Lima’ at night.
Summary of visited places

Border crossing Peru & Chile – day 28

Puno was my last stop in Peru before heading to Chile. From Puno, I traveled to Tacna, where I took a bus to Arica (Chile). Unfortunately, I had limited time during my travel in Peru. We weren’t able to see the whole country, sadly. Other must-see places in Peru are (according to travelers I’ve met along the trip):

  • Machu Picchu – Depart from Cusco. I consciously skipped Machu Picchu & Rainbow Mountain, however, I don’t recommend skipping it. For the Dutch readers among you, read here how to get to Machu Picchu on a small budget.
  • Arequipa (close to Puno)
  • Huacachina (desert oasis)
  • Mancora (beach)
  • Colca Canyon (south of Peru – hiking)

Any other recommendations? Questions? Please let me know, I’d gladly listen!

Liked it? Pin it for later!

]]>
https://www.simplybyjoy.com/one-month-peru-itinerary/feed/ 2
Swimming with sea lions in Lima, Peru https://www.simplybyjoy.com/swimming-with-sea-lions-in-lima/ https://www.simplybyjoy.com/swimming-with-sea-lions-in-lima/#comments Tue, 07 May 2019 18:54:51 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=444 Last February I’ve spent a few weeks in Peru with my partner in crime. He is a real water and wildlife lover. I, on the other hand, am not a big fan of water. He had convinced me to go swim with sea lions… After setting aside my fears, I experienced a great water adventure with one of the cutest animals I’ve ever encountered. While researching about this activity I realized there’s definitely poor information about this on the world wide web – so here you go! 😉

PS, I already warn you for the pictures: some water came into the Go Pro case & ruined the quality of most pictures. Also, I was terrified. WATER and SEA LIONS from close-by aren’t my cup of tea.

Option 1 – Islas Ballestas (can’t interact with the animals here, read further for swimming!)

In Peru, you can easily visit the Islas Ballestas. These famous Islas Ballestas are groups of islands which are located about 4 hours from Lima. You’d have to navigate yourself to the small town named ‘Paracas’. What’s so special about these islands? How does ‘penguins in Peru’ sound to you? Strange? Well, that’s the spot to encounter wildlife such as sea lions, penguins, pelicans, etc. This tour consists of a boat ride and some information on the islands and the animals.
I, myself, didn’t make it to Islas Ballestas but instead I went for an alternative:

Option 2 – Swimming with sea lions on Palomino Island

How to get there?
First thing you’ll have to do is to get to Callao. Callao is considered to be one of the dangerous places in Lima, however, I didn’t notice any danger. Just don’t provoke and avoid going when it’s dark. It is a port town located about 30 to 40 minutes from the capital city. Tell your taxi or Uber driver to go to ‘Port of Callao’, get out at the square and follow the next instructions:

Find a tour
As we got out of the Uber, we immediately got approached by several tour companies that were selling the tour to Palomino Island. We choose the one that was least pushy and that offered us a fair price. We were the only foreigners in the group, which I like as it gives a more local experience. There were other tours where foreigners did join. If you mind being to the only outsider, choose your tour wisely. Later on, I learned that it is also possible to book this tour in advance (online). Of course, you’re going to pay a higher price. You have got to determine what you prioritize… An example of a company that uses online service is Mar Adentro.

Departure time
These ‘swimming with sea lions’ tours usually start around 10 am. We made sure to be at the location at 9:45 so we could find a tour calmly. One circuit usually takes around 2,5 hours until you get back at the starting point.

Action, action, action!
The boat ride takes about 45 minutes for you to get to the exact location. This gives you the times to enjoy the sun, the views and the wind in your hair. It’s also the time when you’re going to change yourself into a wetsuit, in order not to freeze when you get into the water. Because YES the water is cooooold. The smell and the noise of the sea lions will give you a heads up once arrived. You’ll be free to drive into the water and swim. Enjoy! The sea lions are super curious and will approach, listen to your guide and don’t touch the animals. Let them play around and do their thing 😉

Look right.

]]>
https://www.simplybyjoy.com/swimming-with-sea-lions-in-lima/feed/ 4
Iquitos, the gateway to the jungle https://www.simplybyjoy.com/iquitos-the-gateway-to-the-jungle/ Wed, 17 Apr 2019 16:36:27 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=415 As very first stop of our one month-trip through Peru, we spent several days in the jungle. I’m a big nature lover so my boyfriend didn’t need to do much in order to convince me to travel there. There are many options to visit the jungle in South America, but Iquitos is kind of a special place. The city is only reachable by plane or boat, there are no roads leading to this city. It’s completely surrounded by the Amazon jungle.

How to get to Iquitos?

As already mentioned, Iquitos is completely surrounded by the Amazon jungle which makes it impossible to reach it by car. There are only two ways to reach the city. The first way (and less popular way) is by boat. The boat takes several days which makes it more time-consuming. However, I’ve read and heard good things about the boat trip. Concluded, I can’t tell you much about traveling there by boat, but I’m sure that the World Wide Web has something in store for you. Reaching Iquitos by plane departing from Lima takes about 2 to 3 hours. At the airport in Lima, you can find many travel agency stands that sell tickets for about 200 to 300 sol (ir y revuelta). But of course, there’s still the internet if you prefer to plan your tickets ahead. My flight to Iquitos was one of the most beautiful flights in my life… Make sure you get a seat at the window!

Transportation: from the airport to the city center

When you walk out of the airport many people will try to get you in their taxi… DON’T fall for these people. Walk a little bit further and stop a three-wheeler. These mototaxis (or three-wheelers… however you want to call them) are very efficient and cheap. A mototaxi from the airport to the city center is about 8 to 10 soles. The city center of Iquitos is called ‘Plaza de Armas’.

Just outside of the airport: choice enough!

Accommodation: Hostels or hotels

In Iquitos, you can find everything. From the most shitty hostels to a Hitlon hotel. Because I travel on a budget I stayed at the Casa Celestrial Hostel. I’m mentioning the hostel because I was very satisfied with the hostel since it fitted my budget very well. The stay there was smooth and easy, and a very good location as well. The owner spoke both English and Spanish. If you’d like to check other options I can tell you that generally hostels aren’t expensive in Iquitos – 1 night could cost you between 16 to 22 Peruvian Sol per night.

Tourist scams

People on the street try to address you. First, they try to become your friend by asking about your home country and by asking your name. See, that a trick. The owner of our hostel specifically warned us about that. By knowing your information they will contact the next hostel, tour guide or whatever you’re planning on doing or visiting and they’ll claim that he has sent you there. When that happens, the people of the agency or hostel will have to pay that person a commission. Even though they didn’t do shit.

Wifi

Be prepared for a little internet detox. The wifi in Iquitos isn’t as strong as we know it like back home. So, do much of your researching, booking, downloading before you get to the city.

Gateway to the jungle

All tourists who make it to Iquitos are preparing their trip to the jungle. My tip is: don’t book in advance, especially not on the internet. Don’t bite from the first time. The best thing you can do is hear people out, negotiate the price and tell them you contact them later once you’ve decided. There are tons and tons of jungle experiences that are sold in Iquitos. I’ve heard good and bad stories there. I, luckily, had a good experience with our tour. We stayed at a lodge which was very authentic. Our tour guide, Louis, was the owner of the lodge. I cannot express how much I appreciated him. He gave us so many great memories which I am so grateful of. I think I can write a book about him and his stories. If you’d like to know more about my stay or get a contact please contact me in private. I’d gladly provide you his phone number. Ps, post about my stay in the jungle coming soon!

Buy bottled water, don’t drink from the tap

Water on tap in Iquitos is not drinkable. Always buy bottled water. In fact, when I took a shower I felt very weird afterward. Like … not clean.

Try to avoid touristy restaurants and eat street food

The touristy restaurants of Iquitos are much more pricey than the street food places. Also, how much more authentic is it to eat with locals instead of being surrounded by all English speaking people. At night, street food is found generally everywhere.

Ayahuasca

You’ll get the opportunity to do Ayahuasca. When I was there, I got many opportunities too, but I didn’t do it. I can’t tell you much about it but what I can say is … Be careful. If you do decide to do it, then do it with full awareness. Make sure you’re with trustable people and with a clear head. I’ve heard many great things about it and many people recommended it to me. However, I’ve also heard some horror stories. Know that you’ll be puking your organs out, and you’ll be shitting your pants. However, I heard the trip is nice. I heard that people really get to know themselves afterward. Everyone says it’s a medicine, I’d rather call it a drug but I suppose it’s a matter of perception and everyone should decide for themselves what they consider it to be.

What to do in Iquitos?

Monkey Island – La Isla De Los Monos

Isla De Los Monos or Monkey Island is a sanctuary for monkeys owned by a family and opened up to the public. At this rescue center, you won’t see poor animals being locked up in cages that are way too small for them to live. In contrary, you’ll see the monkeys running and playing around in open air. Getting there: So, you should be very careful when navigation to Monkey Island. We tried… At the harbor, we contacted a local driver, made a deal and … finally, he dropped us off somewhere that clearly wasn’t Monkey Island. Concluded; we didn’t get to see the real Isla de Los Monos, but instead saw a mournful ‘rescue center’… It was quite sad and poor looking one which made me doubt if it was a real one. Again, a tourism scam.  The real Isla De Los Monos is located about 45 minutes by speedboat. This is the right information I got from the tourism center: take a speed boat from Puerto de Productores (and not Port Bella Vista – this is the mistake we made). There, look for a boat that goes to Varadero. It’s recommended to call the place when your boat leaves to any of these phone numbers: 065 235887, 965841808 or 987610985. By doing that, they can send a smaller boat to pick you up in Varadero.

Belen Market

The Belen market is characterized as a vibrant and exotic place. You can’t miss this out when in Iquitos! The size of the market is enormous and you won’t believe your eyes when you see what you’ll encounter. It’s recommended to go there with a local guide as it is easy to get lost. However, I think if you think rationally, you’ll be able to find your way back. Also, big tip: be aware of pickpockets. It’s commonly known that tourists at this place are a frequent target.

Puerto Belen

They call Puerto Belen the Venice of Iquitos… Only much more poor. You’ll encounter houses put on poles to stay above the water. It is located at río Itaya, right next to the Belen market. We spent half a day at this location, going around by boat. It’s a sketchy area, but it is worth visiting. I recommend you to go there with local in order to obtain a more local experience. If you’d be interested feel free to contact me and I could provide you the telephone number of a friend we made there. Wear decent shoes or even boots, feet might get dirty. Apologies for the quality of the next video!

Manatee Rescue Center

Ever heard of a Manatee? To me, it is the cutest animal I’ve ever seen. At the Manatee rescue center, you’ll encounter several animals that have been rescued out of several terrible situations, for example out of the hands of local people that keep them (sloths, monkeys, …) as a pet. Of course, there are so much more situations I could sum up. That’s where this team of people comes in. They started out as a rescue center only for manatees and finally grew to what they are now. Visit their website for more information. Getting there: You could reach the place by getting into a mototaxi. The address is Carretera Iquitos – Nauta, km 4,5. You could find it on Maps.me by typing ‘Centro de Rescate Amazonico (CREA)’.

]]>
Tips for the solo traveler https://www.simplybyjoy.com/solo-traveler/ Mon, 19 Nov 2018 18:11:40 +0000 https://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=384

For this article, Nyala and I put our heads together to spread our advice and solo travel experiences throughout the World Wide Web. Because hey, this is what the blog is about… right? 😉

Some time ago Nyala contacted me seeking advice on solo female travel. She asked me for some general travel tips and more information on the financial aspect of her future lifestyle. Now, she is fully enjoying her gap year and totally rocking life.

(more…)]]>
Amsterdam – things you might not know https://www.simplybyjoy.com/amsterdam/ Tue, 17 Jul 2018 10:18:53 +0000 http://www.simplybyjoy.com/?p=353 Welcome to yet another article about a lovely country called: the Netherlands! In this section, I’ll mention 8 things you might not know about this marvelous city (yet). Cheers!

Amsterdam has it all: canals, a nice atmosphere, sex shows, legal (soft) drugs, etc. It is the city where controversial freedom is present. Personally, I think Amsterdam is one of the most charming cities in Europe. It’s not a secret that I love the Netherlands -which isn’t common to say for a Belgian-, and after reading this article I’m sure you’ll love it too. 

And yes, you might think you know Amsterdam: It is the capital city of the Netherlands, you can buy weed legally (for personal use), the red light district is where you can find prostitutes, the house of Anne Frank, Vincent Van Gogh, … I’m sure you know it all. But what if I told you that Amsterdam is more than that? Let me enlighten you with fun facts about this precious city that you didn’t know. 

  1. Amsterdam in the local mouth is ‘Mokum’. Mokum is derived from Hebrew, meaning ‘place’.
  2. Amsterdam counts more canals than Venice. The total length of all canals together is 100 km
    (328084 feet). The century canal ring is declared to be a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2010
  3. There are more than over 2 500 houseboats floating on the canals of Mokum.
  4. The ‘IAmsterdam’ sculpture has been captured on camera countless times. It is the city’s most photographed object. However, all these posers and photographers don’t know the purpose of the sculpture: In 2005 Amsterdam decided to start a campaign to rebrand the city. ‘Iamsterdam’ is one of the actions they took. The sculpture is located right in front of the Rijksmuseum.
  5. Amsterdam counts more bridges than Paris.
  6. Unlike other countries (for example Belgium) the royal family doesn’t live in the capital city Amsterdam. Yes, for the smartypants among us: The Netherlands is a kingdom.
  7. The smallest house in Europe can be found in Amsterdam. It is 2,02 meters wide and 5 meters deep! (6,62 feet wide and 16 feet deep) The tiny house is located in Oude Hoogstraat 22.
  8. The name Amsterdam originates from ‘een dam’ (English = dam) in the river Amstel. Amstel + dam became Amsterdam.

 

 

 

 

 

If you liked my article about A’dam, make sure to check out the city’s biggest rival: Rotterdam! Ps, make sure to check out part two of this article as well! (coming soon)

 

]]>