I don’t know why, but I’m excited that it’s a new month. Maybe because I’m fully booked for my trip to Igauza falls in 17 days, or possibly because it’s a trip to Machu Picchu is probably on the horizon. Either way, I’m feeling fine, and today is a new day in a new month.
I left Vancouver on January 4th, so that means I’ve been here nearly a month now. Time flies. I have a little widget on my phone with my rough itinerary in it, and it says I have 57 days left in Buenos Aires. I fly out on March 30th for New York City, where I’ll be meeting my business partner and his girlfriend for a few days of site-seeing, and hopefully some deep dish italian pizza for my birthday! It won’t technically be my birthday until I arrive in Ireland, but it’ll be close enough that it’ll be fun celebrate it with a few friends.
I’m all booked for Iguaza Falls. I’m flying on LAN airlines on the 18th of February, arriving in the early evening. I’m about one email about from reserving a room in Jardin De Iguazu, a trendy hotel in Puerto Iguazu that is ranked #2 on trip advisor, so that’s where I’ll probably stay. I actually managed to use points on my TD Visa for the flight, which brought the cost from $380 CAD to about $80 CAD. Once I factor in the hotel, I’m probably looking at around $350 for the transportation costs. I’ll probably spend another $150 – $200 on entrance fees, taxis, busses, etc, but still, $500 to visit one of the most exciting wonders of the natural world is a pretty good deal if you ask me. Plus, I get to sleep in a comfy hotel bed and make use of their pool, something that I’m strangely looking forward to.
I have two additional trips that I’m considering. The first is a trip to Machu Picchu, The Lost City of the Incas, in Peru. It’s officially a wonder of the world, so I’d like to see it while I’m here. It’ll take more planning and coordination than Iguazu, so I need to sit down with a pen and paper one day and figure what that trip will look like. As it’s 7 hours worth of flights away, I’ll have to take a four day weekend to pull it off most likely, so it’ll probably be later in March (when we’re done our current project at work) before I attempt it.
The trip would involve flying out of Buenos Aires and heading to Cuzco, Peru, which used to be the capital city of the Inca civilization. You can’t get there directly, so you have to change planes in Lima, Peru. Cuzco is a little tiny, picturesque town situated at approximately 11,000 feet above sea level. At that height altitude sickness is a concern, so most people stay in Cuzco a day or two and try to acclimatize to the new altitude (which forces your body to make additional red blood cells to compensate for the lack of oxygen). The locals also treat it by drinking mate de coca, a local herbal tea that has a bit of cocaine in it. It’s a very small amount, probably similar to a mild analgesic, and it’s perfectly legal and an acceptable treatment for altitude sickness.
From there you have to take a four hour train (apparently an amazing trip) through the Andes to the town of Aguas Calientes (about 8,000 feet above sea level), situated within striking distance from Machu Picchu. So a rough itinerary would be to fly out of Buenos Aires on Thursday afternoon, arriving in Cuzco in the evening. I would probably spend Friday in Cuzco, then take the early morning train on Saturday to Aguas Calientes. Depending on what time I arrived, I would probably try and catch Machu Picchu in the evening. Sunday morning I would wake up to try and catch the early morning sunshine in Machu Picchu, and then head back on the late night train to Cuzco. Monday I would fly back to Buenos Aires. It’s a tight itinerary, but pretty much the only way I could pull it off.
One other weekend trip I’m considering is down to Ushuaia, the southern most city in the world. If I go, it would most likely take the place of a trip to Mendoza (which is where all the Malbec wine comes from), which I also want to go to. But while I’m sure Mendoza is a nice town, there’s something enticing about visiting the southern most city in the world, and having some food while looking out across the water towards Antarctica (I’m sure I wouldn’t be able to *actually* see it, but knowing it’s just across the water is pretty cool). In fact, many sites I’ve looked at have said it’s one of the top three cities in Argentina to visit, so I would like to maybe attempt it.
Flights to Ushuaia are three and a half hours long and usually cost around $600, but I found a special for around $380, which makes it more affordable. Once I book Machu Picchu I’ll see where I’m sitting in terms of finances, and them may consider it more. I don’t want to break the bank, as I’m heading to Europe after here where things are more expensive. But, it sounds like a fun trip so we’ll see.
Now that I think about it, there’s actually another place I’d like to see as well: Bariloche, a city in Argentina that’s cradled by the Andes. I’m told it looks like something that should probably be located in Switzerland, as it has a very European look and feel in terms of the landscape. But as it’s basically against the Andes, I probably won’t head there as I’m going to get a similar experience by being in Cuzco and Aguas Calientes.
So, lots to think about. I’m unfortunately not limited by my imagination, only time and money. I can’t do them all, so I’ll have to make some choices in the next few weeks. Machu Picchu is at the top of the list, followed behind by Ushuaia. Originally I had wanted to do Rio De Janeiro as well, but it’s an added hassle and expense ($150 for a Brazillian visa, and another $70 USD reciprocity fee at the airport, plus flights and accommodation to Brazil). I’ll probably save Rio for another trip in a few years.
All photos from Wikipedia