Two blood-related blondes taking on South America, what could go wrong?

Mishap number 1: Choosing to use my staff travel.

Sadly delays and cancellations left me on a jump-seat of a 777 for 10 hours en-route to Houston. Shout out to the operating crew for supplying me with champagne and baileys though. Some heroes wear heels and lippy, not capes.

Katie and I finally made it down to Lima arriving early morning to start our month of exploring together. The area around the airport was barbaric. Even vietnamese traffic does not compare. The city of Lima itself was also terrifying, so electing to stay out of the city centre was a top choice, as we did not blend in with the locals at all. The Point Hostel in Barrancos was the perfect starting point for our adventure – Lima nights out are actually wild! The spin wheel game in the hostel bar got us so drunk every night that we hit the clubs not even realising we were still in our shower shoes and weren’t wearing make up. That didn’t stop us getting hideously low to reggaeton though. We even managed a hungover surf. The area is also full of cool street art and cute little side street cafes, as well as your usual South American main square with performers and fountains and pick pockets. A good start I’d say.

Mishap number 2: Not looking into the geothermal activity in the surrounding areas.

After a 6 hour bus from Lima, we arrived in Ica; a sleepy little town (besides the gazillion moto-taxis beeping at all hours). Although turns out it wasn’t as peaceful as first imagined when a 7.3 MAGNITUDE EARTHQUAKE WOKE US UP AT 4AM. Can’t say it was a nice surprise, but I guess it’s something to talk about. It was a good few miles away from us, but it legitimately shook us out of our bunkbeds. I don’t know how, but business went on normally the following day. After some persuasion and flattery, another hostel owner let us in on his tour to Ica city and Huaccachina. We explored a local bodega, got awfully trashed at an inappropriate time in the afternoon on Pisco and wine samples, and headed to the desert for a run around in the sand dunes in a buggy and on boards. DEFINITELY do this drunk – absolutely one of the best afternoons of my life. Especially when the driver fancies you and gives you the front seat and extra sand boarding runs. Plus the alcohol eased us off to sleep on our 17 hour bus down to Cusco.

Mishap number 3: Regretfully ignoring all the travel health advice found online.

Oh my gosh I was so, so sick in Cusco. It sits around 4000 meters above sea level and boy, did I feel it. Sounds ridiculous for an air hostess to complain about altitude sickness but I am proof that it is real, and it affects even the best of us.

Definitely visit Loki Cusco and Changa for a night out, avoid toilets (Katie), and 100% book on to every tour you can find. Be prepared for the ‘Massage lady?’ and ‘Buy my painting, almost free!’ heckles from the locals, and give the Macdonald’s a visit – great McNugs and saved us on plenty of occasions from the horror of lomo saltado overload.

Weather here wasn’t great in January, so we couldn’t visit Rainbow Mountain, but it was refreshing compared to the sizzling climate of Ica. We also got to show off our sexy ponches.

Kokopelli Hostel will always have a special place in my heart; it was banging. Special shout out to our Argentinian & American boys for making it so much fun, and not laughing at me too much when I passed out on a mountain on the way to the gorgeous Laguna Humantay and had to be carried up by a horse.

Kokopelli Hostel will always have a special place in my heart; it was banging. Special shout out to our Argentinian & American boys for making it so much fun, and not laughing at me too much when I passed out on a mountain on the way to the gorgeous Laguna Humantay and had to be carried up by a horse.

So altitude sickness got me bad, plus I developed tonsillitis on the way up to Machu Picchu which was a delight. We undertook the jungle trek which was genuinely superb; picture 2 blondes zip lining, mountain biking and river rafting their way to one of the Seven Wonders of the World. Katie fell of a bike, I got a black eye capsizing in the river and we got chased by llamas at the top, but it was magnificent. Cusco you were special. So if you end up here (and literally everyone does), give yourself plenty of time, invest in altitude sickness tablets, choose a cracking hostel and you’re set!

Mishap number 4: Going to La Paz.

Two days of stressful travelling and border crossings and we found ourselves feeling lonely wandering about the streets of La Paz, arguably the worst city I have ever visited. I hated every second. Bolivia was a bit awful actually, besides the salt flats tour from Uyuni, I was not a fan. Even then, most of that tour was trying to avoid the over-talkative UK couple who kept managing to seek us out in a crowd. Nobody likes the suck ups.

We arrived in Uyuni unexpectedly early at 4 in the morning with no phone battery and no hostel. Our saving grace was a little Bolivian lady who claimed her cafe was the only one open, and whilst it served questionable smoothies, it had an electric fire and wifi and plugs so we really hit the jackpot. Our tour began the next morning, firstly heading to the train cemetery and salt flats, before venturing into the Bolivian desert and into Chile. After making such good pals in Lima and Cusco, our hopes were sky high for another great bunch of people to share our 4×4 with. We opened the car door to a Bolivian couple and their 5 & 9 year old daughters. Bingo. To top it all off, one was very, very car sick. For the whole 3 days. Fab. Luckily it didn’t detract from the beauty of the salt flats, literally a super vast area where the sky and the earth seem joined from all angles. The salt was covered in a layer of water from the rainy season, making the reflections in our photos even more spectacular. Still couldn’t distract us from the that travel sickness though.

The Bolivian desert was cold, saw some cool rocks and pretty lakes, we had to make our own milk from powder every day, but to be honest it was just pretty refreshing to be off the grid for a few days.

Mishap number 5: being ignorant enough to believe it wouldn’t snow in a desert.

Realistically I think we’re with the majority here so I don’t feel so bad about it.

We woke up to like 5 inches of snow. It was so cold I had to sleep in my hat. I still couldn’t eat with the altitude, and this was all going on in the particularly unstylish bedroom we shared in the Bolivian desert on the Chilean border with the family and their vomiting children. Life wasn’t great that night. En route to the border we stopped at some hot springs which was such a great experience surrounded by mysterious fog and piles of snow. When we got to the border it was shut. Who shuts a border with a little snow? Chileans. Anyway, eventually it reopened and we were driven 30 minutes to Atacama, a weird little town where it was like 30 degrees and nobody would take our American Dollars. It was a short stop, and the next day we were in Calama to take a flight to Santiago, (which is pretty but pervy by the way), and then headed back to Texas and England!

The best month spent with the best company in the best locations in the world. Thanks to you all x