Category Archives: camping

Bogota

Bogota has travellers divided. The people we’ve talked to seem to either love it or hate it. After spending a few days there, I think my opinion falls somewhere in the middle. This isn’t Bogota’s fault though. I think if i’d been in the right frame of mind, I probably would have loved it. Walking around the city, it reminded me of London (England). The weather, fashion, street art and architecture were all very London-esque. They even have red buses and hordes of pigeons. The city’s location however, completely sets it apart. Bogota is surrounded by spectacular mountain peaks, that rise up into the clouds.IMG_1188 IMG_1213 IMG_1103 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

I have been continually impressed by the museums in Colombia. They are either free, or a steal. The most we’ve paid is 3,000 colombian pesos each, for the Gold Museum in Bogota, roughly $1.55 USD. IMG_1243 IMG_1237

We also visited the Botero Museum, totally free of charge. Botero himself (probably the most well known living artist from Latin America) donated the collection to the city, which includes his own works and those of other famous artists such as Picasso, Dali and Monet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_1132  IMG_1141 IMG_1139 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

We tend to miss our friends the most when we are in big cities, so we were happy to catch up with some of the new friends that we’d made on the San Blas trip. Faye and JJ had one last night in Bogota, so we caught up with them for some pizza and jazz.IMG_1097

Next, we ran into Olivier and Balthasar at The Bogota Brewing Company. We had a great night with them and a group of Bogota locals, who took it upon themselves to show us a good time. Gracias chicos!IMG_1257 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_1270

The next day we woke up in our stale smoky hostel room and decided it was time to get out of the city. We have been craving open spaces and van camping, the city is just not where we want to be right now.

We didn’t have to go far before we rolled into the carpark/campground at Laguna Tabacal, near La Vega. We spent the afternoon reading and chatting with some more friendly people from Bogota, who were also looking to escape the big city.

Ahhhh Blisss

Ahhhh Blisss

Posted from: Manizales, Colombia.

Coasting through Costa Rica

The friendly car park attendant at Playa Avellanas helped us find a place to camp.

Chatting to our potential host, she pointed to the bathroom and said “el baño, por ppfffffffftttttt (fart noises)”.

I burst out laughing and replied “En la mañana, en la mañana”.

I looked at Mark “this lady is hilarious, we are definitely staying here”.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAOLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Me and the poochMe and the pooch

SunriseSunrise

We spent four nights in Costa Rica, surfing our way down the coast. Finally, we are in sync with the van. We drove for a few hours at both dawn and dusk, before the van started to play up. In the heat of the day, we spent time at Playa Avellanas, Playa Esterillos, Playa Dominical and Pavones. At this time of year they all had mellow waves that were great for learning. We had heard on the backpacker trail that Costa Rica is expensive and overrun by North American tourists. The van is great at helping us avoid these places more easily. In Costa Rica we were able to find cheap camping every night. At someone’s house, then at a campground, behind a restaurant and at a palm tree plantation.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Playa EsterillosPlaya Esterillos

Pulling out of Playa Dominical a group of pretty ladies walk past the van.

“That’s a sweet ride”

“That’s the only ride”

Mark doesn’t miss a beat, grinning at me “do you think they’re talking about me”.

“Haha yeah right”.Wax on, Playa Dominical.Wax on, Playa Dominical.

My favourite I think was Pavones, a fairly isolated spot down in the south. It was a beautiful drive to get there and is exactly how I’d pictured Costa Rica. Lush green jungle surrounds the bright blue water of the coastline. IMG_0545

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It was short Costa Rica, but oh so sweet.OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Sleeping with Volcanoes

It was getting late in the day when we started the climb up Iztaccihuatl.  This mountain  is the third highest in Mexico and the climb would take us alongside the active volcano Popocatepetl (Popo for short).  There is a refuge cabin at about 4700 m elevation (15,400 ft) that mountaineers use as an overnight stop on their way to the peak. That was our target for the night.  Although we were leaving late, the friendly staff at the visitor’s centre assured us that we could make it there before sundown. So off we went.

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Unfortunately, the late start and the effects of altitude meant that we didn’t make it in time. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

With headlamps on we tried our best to follow the red dots on the rocks that marked the trail, but after an hour or so of this we decided it was time to stop.  The steep climb, the uneven terrain and the high altitude meant that we could hardly take five steps before we needed a break. We knew that we must be close to the cabin, but it was getting too dangerous to keep going, so we found a flat spot to sleep for the night. The night time views of the city Puebla in the distance were really incredible from our vantage point.  And the nearby volcano, Popo, was clearly visible, it’s smoke plume glowing red due to the lava in the caldera below. IMG_0294

It was a bitterly cold night and we hadn’t carried our tent because we were planning on sleeping in the cabin.  So after brewing a pot of tea, we huddled together and waited for the morning, hoping to get at least a little sleep.  Awake for most of the night and unable to get my feet warm I remember thinking, “Screw this, it’s time to get back to the beach as soon as we get off this mountain.” IMG_0295Cuddle puddle at 15,000ft 

It’s amazing what a sunrise can do to boost your sprits though.  As soon as the sun peeked over the horizon we were up trying to bask in it’s warm glow.  Everything was more beautiful in the light of the new day, and with a fresh pot of tea on the boil and some cheese quesadillas in the pan we were a lot happier and once again able to enjoy the beautiful views and laugh about our horrible night.  It’s amazing that all of this is only about 70 km as the crow flies from Mexico City.  IMG_0305 IMG_0303

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With breakfast in our bellies and some warmth returning to our bones we decided it was time to head back down to the van instead of continuing further up the mountain.  IMG_0329 OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

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We said our final farewells to the smoking Popo and set our sights for the beach, and some warmer weather.  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA IMG_0336