THIS was to be a grand tour of South America that would take Kerry and Peta McKenzie of Shepparton to all the major locations and then finally to visit their family in Texas, USA.
Their first stop was Santiago in Chile. It’s an exciting city, which is very easy to get around, particularly if you use the hop on hop off bus system.
Peta and Kerry found it very easy to use, with a full commentary you could pick your points of interest to get off and then catch the next bus to continue your travels.
They took a full day excursion to San Pedro where they saw the Moon Valley, so named because it’s that desolate it looks like the surface of the moon.
Next, they visited Death Valley, it’s so dry that nothing can live there, but its desolation has a certain beauty to it. Peta found it had a mysterious feel.
Next, they visited the lake to see the pink Flamingoes their pink colour is caused by the algae they eat, it was only a small flock but very interesting.
Throughout the tour, the Andes Mountains towered over them even though they were already at 4200 metres above sea level. They felt a little breathless as they moved about, it wasn’t full on altitude sickness, which you can easily get at this height, but Peta was glad they had their cocoa beans and dark chocolate just in case.
They then flew to Lima, Peru. Kerry had eaten something that did not agree with her and came down with food poisoning. On arrival their guide gave Peta a card for emergency, a call was made and soon they had a doctor treating Kerry.
They travelled to Colca Arequipa and made their way to the Condor Cross at Colca Canyon to see the Condors. While there, they saw 16 of these magnificent birds lazily riding air currents from the canyon below.
The next morning they left early to fly over the Nazca Lines. They are one of the great mysteries, a mosaic of giant stylised shapes of animals laid out on the land below. It is said that you can only see them from above, so how did this ancient culture draw them?
Kerry and Peta then flew to Cusco, home of the Incas. The city is steeped in ancient Inca history recognisable in the famed buildings made with odd shaped rocks fitted so closely together that you cannot even get a piece of paper between them.
From there they travelled to the famous lost city of the Incas, Machu Picchu, it was discovered by the Spanish when they invaded. It lay hidden on its mountain top.
It was rediscovered in 1911 by Hiram Bingham. Overgrown by the jungle, the site was cleared to reveal a magnificent city high in the mountains, the Incas went to extraordinary efforts to transport the stones up the valley to build the city.
Both Kerry and Peta had read much about the lost city and were familiar with its general layout but nothing prepared them for the first time they laid eyes to it. Machu Picchu is very special.
They stayed two days returning to the ancient city to walk around its many buildings and explore the site. It was wonderful.
They then made their way to Puno and the famous Lake Titicaca, it is famous for its floating islands.
The islands have been made by piling layer upon layer of reeds until the top floats above the water.
People can live on the island and they have reed boats to travel from one to another, each island has little huts, just a single room but it’s cosy, and up on the wall Peta saw a TV set.
Yes you can light a fire but only on specially prepared rock bases to keep the reed from catching fire.
Kerry noticed a hole right in the middle of the Island, it was a fishing hole and soon dinner was on the fire.
They then took a catamaran cruiser to visit the natural islands of Lake Titicaca and met with the island inhabitants who told them the history of the region.
One island has a museum with an exquisite collection of pre-Columbian Peruvian art and the locals make you very welcome.
They now headed to La Paz where they saw the Witches Market where all sorts of spells and things are for sale, herbs and potions of all types but it was the Lama foetuses for sale that put Peta off.
Buenos Aires was next and it was a wonderful city, great feel, interesting tours but the highlight for Peta and Kerry was the Tango Show.
Peta says they were looking forward to the dinner and show but didn’t realise they would be taught to Tango.
Both Kerry and Peta tried their best but the Tango is complicated and if you are not quick you can be left feeling you have two left feet.
But the show was wonderful, the dancers were the best at their craft as they danced the night away.
Their time in South America was drawing to a close but not before a visit to the spectacular Iguazu Falls.
The falls were in full flow, they walked both sides of the falls and even took a boat ride to the face of the falls. Yes everyone got very wet but it was an amazing experience, they stayed two nights and their hotel was wonderful, very old world like something out of an Agatha Christie movie.
Next it was Rio but it rained and Christ The Redeemer was hard to see but Rio can be a lot of fun in any weather. They saw a Samba show, it was good but somehow not as good as the Tango night.
Finally the Amazon Jungle, they stayed at an Eco Lodge, Kerry wanted to see the point where the Amazon and Negra rivers meet.
The two rivers are quite different in colour, temperature and water quality, as they meet they seem to stay separate running side by side, this goes on for many kilometres until they finally merge.
That was South America, next it would be Texas USA to stay with their son, daughter-in-law and two grandchildren but that’s another story.
Peta and Kerry would like to thank Vivienne Erickson at Travelworld in Shepparton for arranging everything.
Until next time,