Peru – Lake Titicaca

Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and in Andean belief it is known as the birthplace of the sun. We spent a couple of days here and enjoyed every minute.

Lake Titicaca

The view from our joint at Lake Titicaca.

Titicaca bedspread

Our rather fetching bed spread

We took a day trip to see the Uru people who live on a series of forty two floating islands on Lake Titicaca. To me this is what traveling is all about, experiencing ways of life that are totally different to the way we live. We had a great day with the Uru people, I also got a few decent photo’s as well.

There was a film crew there at the same time so I wonder whether we are on a documentary somewhere.

Uru village

The Uru people selling their wares. There were some amazing arts and crafts for sale.

Uro boat

Uru ceremonial boat.

Here’s a screen shot of some of the photographs I took while I was in Lake Titicaca:

Lake Titicaca

Click here to view / buy photographs and order prints from this trip.

Peru, Iquitos – Exploring the Amazon

Iquitos is linked to the outside world by air and by river only. It’s the worlds largest city that can’t be accessed by road.

We flew in to Iquitos from Lima.

We went there so we could access the mighty Amazon river.

There’s plenty going on in the city and there are loads of decent restaurants but because of it’s location everything has to be imported so costs tend to be a bit higher.

The ‘Yellow Rose of Texas’ restaurant is worth a visit, it has a very eclectic interior and the food is very good.

Yellow Rose

It’s also worth visiting the Pilpintuwasi Butterfly Farm which is also the home of the Amazon Animal Orphanage. It’s located in Padre Cocha which is on the Nanay river so you will need to take a boat to access it.

Make sure your boat driver takes you to the right butterfly farm!

Here’s a message that currently appears on the original Pilpintuwasi butterfly farms web site:

For Our Visitors: Please know that a previous employee of the refuge has recently set up a new butterfly house and is offering boat-drivers commission to take visitors to this alternative centre rather than the real Pilpintuwasi. The true centre offers homes to a number of rescued animals in addition to the butterfly house. 

Iquitos shack

View of the river at Padre Cocha.

Iquitos

Having a wander around Padre Cocha.

Snake skin

Drying out snake skins in the sun.

JV Snake

Me and a very large Anaconda. I couldn’t stand upright because it was so heavy.

Pepe bird

Pepe the very colourful and friendly bird.

Manatee

A very cute Manatee at the Amazon Rescue Centre. I didn’t realise how soft to the touch these animals are.

Smiling fish

Hello. Please feed me.

Arrow man

I bet the first thing you looked at was his hair??

My mate

My little mate.

Inca Cola

I drank gallons of this stuff.

Here’s a screen shot of some of the photographs I took while I was in Peru / Amazon:

Peru Amazon Screenshot

Click here to view / buy photographs and order prints from this trip.

Chile – Pisco Elqui – One of the most beautiful and relaxing places I’ve ever been

Pisco Elqui - Cactus
Posing with a cactus in Pisco Elqui.

Pisco Elqui is a small village in the Andes, located in the beautiful Elqui Valley surrounded by the Andean mountain range. It’s sunny about 300 days a year and really is an oasis of calm.

We arrived there thinking we’d stay for a day or two but ended up staying for over a week.

There was something about this place.

It’s small but it’s got everything you need to relax and unwind. I think we enjoyed it so much because we had been on the go for such a long time, we just needed to find somewhere to take it easy and Pisco Elqui was the perfect place to do that.

JV reading Elle
Look at me, i’m so relaxed reading a copy of Elle magazine in the shade without a care in the world.

JV Cristal
I can also highly recommend drinking an ice cold Cristal Lager while you are there.

Pisco Elqui mooching
You might recognise the art work on the wall in my portfolio.

Here’s a screen grab of some of the photographs I took in Pisco Elqui:

Pisco Elqui screen shot

Click here to view / buy photographs and order prints from this trip.

Bolivia, La Paz – Dried Llama foetus anyone?

Bolivia stalking victim

I liked La Paz but it’s very polluted so if you’ve got asthma you’ll be screwed unless you want to walk around in a face mask all day. It’s also 3660 metres above sea level so the air is a lot thinner for us sea level dwellers. La Paz is the worlds highest capital and has a population of approx 850,000.

It’s about 42 miles away from Lake Titicaca which we also went to.

One of the places you really must visit is the Witches’ Market. The Witches’ Market (Mercado de Hechiceria or Mercado de las Brujas) is one of the more unique sights in La Paz where you can buy dried llama foetuses, dried frogs for rituals, as well as aphrodisiac formulas.

Serena potions

Serena buying some potions in the Witches Market

Llama fetuses

Dried Llama foetus sandwich anyone?

LaPaz market

La Paz market place

Lapaz

And you think London’s crowded..

There is also a nice curry house in La Paz called the Taj Mahal. If after several months of travelling without curry you feel you need a fix you could do a lot worse than purchasing a flavoursome curry from the Taj.

I have to say I nearly died from curry withdrawal on this trip. There’s nothing better than a real bowel basher to remind you of home.

On a side note and contrary to popular belief I do own more than one shirt. The shirt i’m wearing in this picture is my favourite shirt, I love wearing it when i’m out on a shoot.  I bought it from H&M in Shanghai, China. I wish I’d have bought two now, i’ve worn it to death and it’s due for retirement. If anyone knows where I can get one similar to it please let me know. I did contact H&M but they told me it had been discontinued.

Here’s a screen grab of some of the photographs I took in Bolivia:

Bolivia

Click here to view / buy photographs and order prints from this trip.

Argentina – Perito Moreno Glacier – Just wandering around on a big old glacier

Glacier boat

On the way to the Glacier.

Glacier

That’s running water beneath the glacier.

JV Perito Moreno Glacier

Everyone should have the chance to wander around on a glacier, it’s quite an experience, especially when massive chunks of it keep breaking off.

Perito Moreno - JV

Glacier

Perito Moreno Glacier - Drinking Whisky

At the end of the walk we were presented with a big glass of Jameson’s Whiskey complete with shaved ice from the glacier. Just what the Doctor ordered to warm one’s cockles.

Perito Moreno Glacier - JV

Glacier2

JV Glacier

It’s just a very impressive; massive block of ice.

Here’s a screengrab of some of the photographs I took while I was in Argentina:

Argentina screen shot

Click here to view / buy photographs and order prints from this trip.

Machu Picchu – Shooting one of the new wonders of the world

JV-Machu Pichu1

Machu Picchu was created by the Incan Empire and stands 2,430 m above sea-level, in the middle of a tropical mountain forest, in an extraordinarily beautiful setting.

Needless to say that Machu Picchu is one of the most amazing places I have ever photographed. Photo’s don’t do it justice regardless of how good they are. You need to see it for yourself.

Top Tips:

Go to Machu Picchu out of season in February. The weather is nice and there is hardly anyone there. If this had been high season there would have been thousands of people everywhere.

Get there early as you will need a full day. Take plenty of water and a packed lunch if you can.

Here’s a screen grab of some of the photographs I took in Machu Picchu:

Machu Pichu

Click here to view / buy photographs and order prints from this trip.

Argentina – Penguin stalking

JV-penguins

Animals like to attack me. I’ve been chased by a cow, pecked by a penguin, stung by ants, sneezed on by a sheep, pick-pocketed by a monkey, slobbered on by a camel and stared out by a great white shark (the latter was from within a cage but still unnerving nonetheless).

There’s probably more incidents that i can’t quite recall right now.

I was squatting down trying to take pictures of these little fella’s when i felt a rather sharp pain in the side of my leg. One of these guys obviously decided i was getting too close and didn’t mind telling me.

Here’s a screen grab of some of the photographs I took in Argentina:

Penguins screenshot

Click here to view / buy photographs and order prints from this trip.

Argentina

I spent about 3 months travelling around South America. It’s a wonderful part of the world and three months is no way near enough. My cousin spent a year travelling around SA but even he said that wasn’t enough time.

Argentina was such an enormous and diverse country. I travelled around South America a lot by coach, in some cases spending nearly 24 hours on a coach. Fortunately most of the coaches are pretty comfortable.

My pictures of Argentina can be found here and can be purchased and downloaded instantly from my site.