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The Story of Starry-Eyed Travels

By on Dec 22, 2011 in Uncategorized | 8 comments

It’s just a few days to Christmas; the presents are wrapped, the preparations are almost done. It’s time to take a breath, calm the already fraying nerves and reflect on the year gone by. So I thought I’d take a moment to write a Christmas message to you. Considering where I was this time last year, it’s hard to believe everything that’s happened in the intervening months. Starry-Eyed Travels didn’t exist – it was not even a twinkle. But last Christmas, I was, in a roundabout way, given the gift of a year. One year, to do absolutely anything I wanted with my life. More than anything, I wanted to be a writer and I wanted to travel. The logical step seemed to be travel-writing, so in January, I ventured a couple of articles to Kash at Europe Budget Guide and Margo at the Travel Belles. I fired off those emails in a tentative, nervous tone and...

25 Things I Wish I’d Known about South America

By on Oct 1, 2011 in Uncategorized | 10 comments

Now that I’ve finished my four-month adventure, I’ve had a few moments to reflect on some of the things I’ve learnt about travel in South America. If you’re planning to go, you might just want to bear some of these in mind – enjoy!       1. That ‘winter’ means everything from 30 degree heat and bone-dry weather to temperatures below zero, to fog and rain. 2. That overland border crossings can be the most mystical, fun or downright chaotic moments of the trip. 3. That you need to carry toilet roll and hand sanitizer at all times. 4.That heating and hot water, even where nights are frosty, are novelty items 5. That Peru is the most amazing, vast and diverse country, with people who are far too kind and experiences which are far too wonderful, meaning that you never want to leave. 6. That there are dangers, but if you are sensible...

Inca Trail Photo Diary Part 2: Machu Picchu

By on Sep 19, 2011 in Uncategorized | 4 comments

So, the first three days of the Inca trail had offered incredible sights and plenty of ups and downs. We were feeling weary and almost beaten. Here’s what happened next… Well, we did eventually make it to the campsite, but at 3:30am, we were up again, porters taking the tents down with us still inside them and we stood in the dark in a long line of hikers for a couple of hours waiting for the checkpoint to open. When it finally did, we found we had renewed energy and determination to get to Machu Picchu. At this point, the sun had not yet risen above the mountains, but the first light of day was an impressive sight. After a final, tough hike up a load of steps, we reached the Sun Gate, breathless and tired, but suddenly, there it was. Still distant and in the dim light of the pre-dawn, but we had arrived. It doesn’t matter how much you have seen or heard about Machu...

Inca Trail Photo Diary Part 1: The Trek

By on Sep 17, 2011 in Uncategorized | 2 comments

I’ve been thinking for a while about how to write about my trek to Machu Picchu, because how, in four months of superlative experiences, does one go about describing the absolute highlight? Yes, you’ve heard it all before, but nothing on this earth compares to actually hiking the Inca trail. It is far, far more than arriving at Machu Picchu; the sights, experiences and people along the way make the trip. So in the end, I hit upon the idea of a photo diary, so that you can see for yourselves and so that I don’t repeat: ‘incredible’, ‘amazing’, ‘stunning’, more times than any of us would care for. Enjoy! We didn’t exactly have to go far to be rewarded with the views; in fact, we’d barely set off when we were greeted with that dazzling landscape. At that point, having just finished lunch at km82, where the trek begins, we...

Discovering Huaraz

By on Jun 7, 2011 in Uncategorized | 7 comments

Huaraz is a town which will quite literally take your breath away. Situated in the Peruivan highlands, it is at an altitude of more than 3,000 feet. At this height, the clouds enrobing the surrounding mountain-tops seem very close indeed. Everywhere you turn in the town, the view is spectacular. The Cordilleras Blancas mountains rise up majestically, their snowy peaks a brilliant white in the sunlight. The town itself is a ramshackle collection of buildings, brightly coloured facades and a whole lot of noise and movement. Taxis toot their horns almost in conversation with each other, combi ticket collectors shout from the open door of the minibus, people cram on, paying their 80 centimos and the tiny vehicle continues on its way. In the centre, travel agencies advertise their hiking trips, women in traditional Peruvian dress sit on the pavement, knitting gloves, hats and cardigans. It...

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