Nazca and Arequipa, Peru

Our first stop after leaving Huacachina was Ica and the winery El Catador. This was an included short tour and tasting arranged with Peru Hop. My only downside was that the group was too large for my taste, but the tour was short and we got to taste 4-5 different products. Their wines are wayyyy too sweet for me!

As part of the Peru Hop ticket, we had an included stop at the Nazca lines viewing tower. This is basically a massive staircase tower on the side of the main highway where people go up for typically 2min to take photos of 3 of the well-known Nazca lines. Basically, we still are unsure what they were for and how they were made, but you definitely needed to be up high to see and understand the full shape and meaning of it (although they were made way before we could fly). Quite honestly, I’m glad this stop was included in our bus ride and I didn’t have to make special arrangements to get there. It was super short and we can’t really see much from the tower. I heard from other travelers that staying in Nazca one night and taking the flight over the lines was incredible, however there is nothing really to do in Nazca after your 20min flight is over.

We stopped in Nazca quickly to get some food as take out (about 20soles for the dinner, all pre-arranged by Peru Hop) and hit the road again. Usually, this stop includes a proper stop for dinner in Nazca with the group. However, there were some strikes happening recently and farmers were blocking the roads at random hours to protests a massive government investment in mining. Our guide decided that we should make it short and just keep going and try to be in Arequipa early. Turns out we were fine, but a group who left a few hours after us go stranded for 38hrs in total (instead of a 12h trip) as they hit the strike at 2 different locations on the highway. We’ve heard that the president had heard them and was going to post-pone his decision in order to reopen negotiations. Which was good for us and meant we had no bus issue for the rest of our trip! Yay!

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Paracas and Huacachina, Peru

Our bus came to pick us up directly at our hostel that morning. We jumped in the bus and drove a few hours until Paracas, where we stopped for lunch and for the first tour of the trip. For 50 soles, we did the 2h boat tour and ride to the Ballestas Islands.

These islands are Peru’s own version of the Galapagos and you will ride around the islands and see tons of wildlife. Be ready for the smell and lots of bird poop falling down on you – I would strongly recommend bringing a small poncho or at least a hat that you can easily wash afterwards. I ended up putting my soft rain shell on as we got to the islands and I’m glad I did, because it would have stained my other layers otherwise.

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Miraflores and Barranco, Lima, Peru

I have been planning to come back to South America from the second I left back in 2016. Life happened, and turned out this summer was finally my time. After chatting with a few friends, I decided to go for Peru for a total off 23 days. The trip is different this time, because I am travelling both with my mom and a friend, who are both first-timers at backpacking and South America. I built the trip around my friend schedule, who was with us only for the first 10 days. This meant that we had to include Machu Picchu and make our way from Lima to Cusco within that time frame. Read More

Elk River, Landslide and Foster Lakes, Strathcona Park, BC

Distance from Victoria : 4-4h30 drive
Elevation gain : about 700m to Foster Lake
24km round-trip to Foster Lake, about 12hrs total

This summer I was finally able to get my first overnight hike on Vancouver Island since the West Coast Trail back in 2013. I had planned to hike to Landslide Lake last year at the end of August, however, we had to cancel after reaching Campbell River due to the heavy smoke from the BC wild fires. This time, we made it with gorgeous weather and great trail conditions.

The trailhead is easy to find from the main road in Strathcona, not long after driving in front of the Buttle Lake Campground. There is also an outhouse near the parking to make sure you are all ready for the hike! I did quite a bit of research before arriving to the trail, as I found a bit of confusing information about the distances and times. I’ve read some people saying they did the trail to Landslide lake in a one-day round-trip in about 4-5 hours, which I think gave me a false impression of the actual time to expect on the trail. I am quite an experienced hiker, however I have never been a fast hiker whenever there is some elevation gain. I can usually trust the average reported times from hiking textbooks or popular hiking webpages as my hiking time including my breaks and lunch. In this case, the trailhead information stated that the trail was about 6-7hours round-trip to Landslide Lake, and that is what I would plan with a light pack. There also seemed to be a disconnect between reported distances between trip reports and hiking books (GPS trip reports showing about 2km extra than stated in books) – however, as I do not track my own trails, I will report here the information I had from trail map and books. Read More

Sidney Spit, Gulf Islands National Park, BC

In my previous post, I talked about some places that I love taking my SUP out around Victoria. I was looking for an overnight trip to go paddling somewhere, and I had heard about Sidney Spit Island from a friend who did a kayaking trip there years ago. It takes about 2h to paddle from Sidney (BC) to the island in a kayak, and I thought it could be an adventure to do in the future. At this point though, we didn’t feel comfortable paddling in open water just the 2 of us on such a distance, so we decided to do a mix of ferry/camping/bringing our SUP with us.

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SUP in and around Victoria, BC

Moving to Victoria last summer was a huge change. I was a bit concerned about the idea of being “stuck” on an island, after spending so many years in the booming city of Vancouver, where you can be anywhere in a pretty short drive. I’ve been here for a year now, and I can only say that I keep getting surprised by the places I discover in the area. And everything is so accessible…

Last year I finally also bought my own SUP, after shopping for a few years and renting here and then with different clubs (I was a member of the Locarno Club and UBC Sailing Club at Jericho Beach for a few years). As I live in a small space, I went for an inflatable which would make transportation and storage much easier. I know there are still plenty of places around Vancouver Island where I didn’t have a chance to paddle just yet, but this is a shortlist of my favourite spots so far, all accessible for a day trip or even shorter from the city.

When we want to go for a short paddle or when our time is limited, we simply head down to one of the local beaches in Victoria. Gyro Park has been nice, but to watch the seals and go for some quick island hopping, I usually head to Willows Beach. There is plenty of street parking nearby if the parking lot is full, and you can follow along the beach to Oak Bay Marina, as well as paddling out to some smaller islands.

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