Quito – The Closest Capital To The Equator

Quito and the whole experience of Ecuador are the reasons why I initially panned this whole trip. Since being a little child the once in my life I wanted to experience the amazon rainforest and Ecuador’s biodiversity has always fascinated me.

So let’s get back to Quito.

Quito is the capital of Ecuador and second highest capital in the world. It lies about 25km south of the equator in the centre of Ecuador, in the Andes mountains at the foot of Pichincha.

Reading beforehand that Quito has 40km in length, we only really realised how big it really is when it took us 45 mins from the bus station to the city centre on a straight and empty road.

In the Centre lies the colonial old city. In the South you find the industrial and residential area. In the North lies the modern area with shipping centres, financial district and high rise buildings.

Easiest way to get around Quito is the MetrobusQ network. A network of fast busses run all the way from the south to the north that cost only 25 centimentos one way. A metro system is under construction and should be opening in 2019.

With our hostel located in the centre-north part of Quito it was easy to get to places. 10 minutes on the bus away we visited the old city centre. First destination for us was the independence square or locally known as Plaza Grande with the Catedral Metropolotana de Quito and other colonial buildings flanking it.

Around the plaza and in all parts of the old town are many Cafés, little restaurants, shops and Churches/Cathedrals. Right next to it we found ourselves walking into the cultural centre. It’s located at one of the squares corners and hosts a range of arts exhibitions, a Café, a public library and a rooftop from where you have a great view over parts of the city. It’s a very bright and warm building from the inside, with pretty stairwells and a well looked after courtyard.

A twenty minute walk straight up north of the plaza lies the Basílica del Voto Nacional, which we visited. This Roman Catholic Church lies up a little hill watching over the city. We have in fact not visited the church itself rather bought tickets for the tower, which you only reach walking on top of the nave along a narrow path to the actual tower. From there it’s a iron staircase that will take you to the top of the tower from where you can oversee the whole of Quito. It’s a far and amazing view that reveals another face of Quito.

Another way to get a greater view over Quito is to take the TelefériQo in the western centre up to the upper slopes of the Ruku Pichincha, an active volcano. The cable car takes you up to around 2,5 miles altitude. From there you can follow many hike trails to different view points, one of which will take you up to the summit of Pichincha.

Our hostel was close to Plaza Foch in the Mariscal Sucre district. The square and lanes around are filled with restaurants, bars and clubs of all kind and busy every day of the week and stroke us as a great place to meet people and have a drink.

Quito is the heart of Ecuador’s gay life, a Country that is otherwise very reserved and conservative.

Read about some LGBT History in Quito and our experience here.

Quito is definitely a city to visit to experience history and a modern metropolis.

All photo credits belong to Nadine Kremer



The Rainbow Vagabonds take on Rainbow Mountain ⛰

Endeavour to reach the top and you’ll reap the rewards.

Rainbow Mountain is known for the spectacular spectrum of colours.

However it isn’t a simple endeavour, with the altitude, the steep incline and the changing climate you might be tempted to hire a horse to the half way point.

But that would surely waste the emotional and physical reward at the peak.

Our tour picked us up at 3am in Cusco, then stopped at a restaurant around 1hour away. Here we sat and had a fresh omelet, bread and jam and tea/coffee before another 1-2 hours to the trek starting point.

Our guide kindly explained the route and the option to hire a horse for an extra S/10. This option is available for those who feel uncomfortable with the first 1hour of the hike, however you must complete the last uphill section by yourself as the altitude is too high for the animals.

The first hour is majorly flat through the valley. Here you enjoy the peace of nature while rambling through some sections of mud. Every few minutes a horse will pass you with a local horsemen running in front.

Unfortunately, some parts of the path are in disrepair but we advise watching your feet and looking for the easiest way around the mud tracks.

The mountain slowly reveals itself after 45minutes and so does the effects of the altitude.

At this stage you are above 4,000m and it is very normal to feel dizzy, nauseous, breathless and tired when at this altitude and guides are ready to support and help you along the way.

Having a supply of coco leaves or sweeties with help take away some of the effects as you climb. Take them in moderation however!!

After an hour you will reach stopping point for the horsemen. Then you are faced with this uphill mud slide:

Ropes at one side can be used to pull yourself up but take your time. We witnessed many people sprinting up only to be gasping for air a few seconds later. Slowly does it.

Once you have reached the top, there is a welcome surprise of alpacas and other hikers taking some shelter behind a stone wall. Locals also sell hot drinks and snacks here if you are in need of some heat and energy.

The temperature fluctuates dramatically throughout the trek so bring transferable clothing and wear basic terminal layers.

At the stone wall marker, we were wearing our jumpers and raincoats as well as hats gloves. Be prepared for the cold.

However, this isn’t the top. You have another 10-20minutes to the peak of Mountian Winikunka. Unfortunately, you can’t walk to the top of the actual rainbow mountain and it is obvious to see why. The ridge is basically loose stone and with the amount of hikers making the trip, the integrity and shape would be lost.

But, don’t be too disappointed! The view at the top of yet another mud slide is worth it.

All photo credits belong to: Nadine Kremer

Cusco – The Cultural Capital of Peru

In our last post, we discovered the highest capital city: La Paz, Bolivia. Now we take you to a city enriched by history and established in 1100!

Cusco sits at 11,200 ft and has a estimated population of 435,114. Many tourists flock to the cultural centre with the two largest plazas: Plaza Mayor del Cusco and Plaza de Armas.

This is also the city where you can book tours into the rainforest, to climb the Rainbow Mountain and Macchu Picchu.

The prices of tours can vary between companies so make sure you do research around the city. For foreigners many choose Peru Hop for safety reasons but local tour companies often offer more varied and less touristy deals.

There is certainly a lot to keep you occupied in and around Cusco, here is our suggestions:

1. Churches

Cusco has some of the most decorative churches in the world, filled with Inca gold. The largest is the cathedral complex in Plaza de Mayo.

Entrance to churches can be pricey but you can reduce the cost by getting the Cusco Tourist Card which gives you access to 3 churches for 12sol. (Compared to 25sol)

2. Restaurants

The city has a wide range of restaurants to suit your tastebuds and price range.

In the centre, restaurants and cafes are more expensive and mostly cater to the richer tourist market however if you search in the lanes you can find some local gems.

We highly recommend searching for cafes/restaurants that offer a Menú. These are set menus that offer a soup, main and a drink for a set price. Prices range from 5sol – 10sol. Anything over 10sol isn’t local!

3. Markets and Plazas

Cusco has markets for anything you can imagine.

Mercado de Pedro is the main food and clothing market where you can grab fresh fruit juices, sweets and meats.

This market is also the place to grab the best menus in town. The back of the market hosts local women with small gas stoves serving the menu of the day.

Hint: Lomo Saltodo is a traditional Peruvian dish with meat, tomato and potatoes. Definitely try this at the Mercado De Pedro!

After your meal, finish up with a fresh fruit juice for 3sol.

Prices broken down:

Menu cost – 5 sol ($1.49/£1.19)

Mixed Fruit Juice – 3sol ($0.89/£0.70)

Total cost – 8sol ($2.89/£1.86)

At these prices it is an absolute steal for anyone on a budget.

4. Bars and Nightlife

The city comes alive at night, with bars opening their doors and nightclubs opening from 10pm onwards.

Jacks Irish Pub, is most popular with the backpacker tourist crowed giving a feeling of home with the food and the beer. Football games (of the American and European kind) are shown her regularly along with other major sporting events. The place itself is the highest Irish pub in the world 🌎

If you are looking for something more traditional then head to one of the cities clubs and Salsa dance the night away.

We visited Mamma Africa in Plaza de.. and danced some salsa with the locals. Drinks here are reasonably priced but water isn’t free.

Hint: Bouncers in Cusco are cautious of drunk patrons throughout the course of your night. If you arrive to drink to a club or bar you will be denied entry.

5. Rainbow Mountain

The mountains rainbow colours come from the minerals within the rocks.

Tours to this area are very popular as a day trip from Cusco, with prices starting at 40sol including transport and food.

Read about us conquering the rainbow mountain.

Huacachina – Dune Buggy Adventure

In Lima we met an amazing person and now friend. She invited us to come with her to Huacachina on a dune buggy adventure.

Huacachina is a small desert oasis in the west of Peru. It has a little lagoon in the centre and from there you can go on a dune buggy through the National Park.

In order to get there you can take a bus from Lima to Ica in the morning. From Ica take a taxi to Huacachina which is around 18 soles.

We would highly recommend it as a fun thing to do in Peru.

But convince yourself:

As I am not a professional video editor don’t be too disappointed about the video quality 😉



Travelling the world as a couple

Spending the whole weekend with your partner, we all know it, sometimes makes us look forward to Monday’s as we finally have some time for ourselves.

What are the struggles for couples travelling together and what have we learned already?

When we told our friends and family that we will be travelling the world together obviously everyone was very happy and exited for us but there were mixed feelings too. As a couple we have been through ups and downs and admittedly sometimes have some communication issues that lead into arguments quite often (might be a general lesbian thing).

I think we all have been worried about this but we knew that we can make it.

It would be a lie to say it’s easy but it is going very well. Our relationship is growing stronger and we have learned so many things about each other.

Daily struggles include being around each other for 24/7, making decisions, communication and listening to each other during stressful moments and disagreeing in general.

As you are stressed out in certain situations while travelling already, especially if something went wrong. Please remember your partner is stressed out just as much!!!

Some tips how to deal with tricky situations and arguments:

  1. Listen – don’t block that person out just because you are stressed out. Your partner is in the exact same situation and listening first can already prevent misunderstandings and blind shouting at each other.
  2. Patience – not just patience on general but patience for your partner. Your partner might take a little longer to get used to certain places and situations. Just to show a little patience will help your partner as he/she knows he/she have your support.
  3. Being completely honest with each other. Tell your partner if you are uncomfortable in a situation or feel unsafe.
  4. Couple time – it is important not to forget that you guys are a couple on holiday. If you travel for a long time don’t forget to sometimes treat your travels as a holiday. Sometimes couples forget this and get stressed out as they start treating the travels as a sport or job. You need time as a couple, for example book a double room every now and then or just rest couple days without being out and about all day.
  5. Accept that your partner might change in character and behaviour. Travelling and seeing the thing we do while visiting different countries we will change. We will mature and our character will be shaped. You as a partner can’t change that, try and see the good things in your partners new behaviour and try to accept it.

These of course are only tips out of our own experiences so far. There are so many other factors that can affect you and your partner while travelling. The best you can do is always find a balance between travel and spending quality time as a couple.



Lima: modern city in the dessert

In our last post we have been writing about Peru’s city of culture. Now we take you to the government centre of the country: Lima.

Lima is the capital and the biggest city of Peru. It is located at the coast of the country to the Pacific Ocean. It’s elevation is 0-550m and the population is around 12,140,000 excluding the urban areas.

Despite being located in a tropical dessert the climate is mild.

Eventhough Peru has limited LGBTI rights and isn’t necessarily tolerated in the rural areas, Lima has a colourful LGBTI scene in the Miraflores and Barracco neighbourhoods. This is also the touristic area with the main attraction being Kennedy Park.

The city is notably shaped by European and Asien influences, due to migration and colonisation.

The beaches fill up in summer and is known as the Gastronomical Capital of the Americas.

For transport you can take taxis, Uber’s and the metro but be aware of crazy Rush-hours. Everything will take up to an hour longer if you try travelling during peak times and metro buses can become crowded.

Lima has many museums and cathedrals you can visit while also exploring traditional restaurants and cafes.

Take a walk to the Plaza de Armas de Lima and watch the changing of the guard at the Presidential Palace. This change is more a studied performance lasting half an hour every day at 12:00am, accompanied by a live military band.

In the corner of the Plaza next to the Palace you will find a chocolate museum with Peruvian chocolate goods and a pisco museum.

Budget Tip: The Museum offers free tastings of flavoured Pisco and raw Coca beans.

Looking for some more culture?

The museum offers chocolate making classes for all ages, taking you through the process step by step. Ask at the museum for more information.

Lima has by far the most ethnic Chinese community in Latin America. Asian and especially Chinese immigrants came mainly in the 19th century to Peru. You can Chinatown not far from Plaza de Armas where you can buy Chinese medication and food from Chifas.

A Chifa is a restaurant that sells a culinary which is a mix of Cantonese Chinese elements and Peruvian ingredients and traditions and worth a try.

Recommendations on what to do:

  1. Huacachina an oasis in the desert with the possibility to go on a buggy tour through the dunes
  2. Explore Chinatown and taste a mix of cuisines.
  3. Taste local and cheap street and market food at the central market.
  4. Take in the Plaza de Armas and watch the change of guard at the Government Palace of Peru
  5. Visit the chocolate museum and get your taste buds moving with flavoured Pisco!
  6. Take a step back in time and go to the Basilica and Convent of San Francisco and walk amongst the dead in the catacombs.

A Guide to booking Macchu Picchu without any hassles!

As we wanted to travel free, not having a set schedule, deciding our own path, we have not booked anything far in advance. This can be stressful and nerve reckoning.

For Machu Picchu as it is a major attraction it’s better to book the train and tickets in advance if you want a special time to enter.

There are two different types of trains that run from Ollantaytambo (Expedition) or Cusco (Vistadome). The cheaper option is the Expedition and the more pricer is Vistadome.

We would advise you to stay in Ollantaytambo and take the expedition train in the morning.

Ollantaytambo is a little village located in the sacred valley surrounded by mountains and Inca ruins.

From Ollantaytambo the train will take you to Aguas Calientes. You can then hike up to the ruins site or take the bus which is 12$ per person one way.

If you have booked Montaña or Huayna Picchu you should take the bus as both are quite tiring.

How/Where to book tickets for Machu Picchu:

You can book tickets online at the official government website but there has been reports of issues with paying by card. In this case, you will have to call the helpline.

If you are already in Peru you can reserve tickets on the government website and go to a Banco de la Nación branch but be aware the tickets are only reserved for 6 hours.

Another option is the official store located at: Boletos a Machu Picchu Official, Casa Garcilaso, Calle Garcilaso, Cusco 08000 in Cusco where you can pick and pay your tickets.

Ticket types:

  1. Machu Picchu is only the ruins site
  2. Machu Picchu + Huaynapicchu is the ruins site and a 45mins hike up Huaynapicchu mountain from where you can take the famous Machu Picchu pictures
  3. Machu Picchu + Machu Picchu montaña is the ruins site and a 1-1/30 hour hike up another close by mountain from where you will have a breathtaking view over the ruins and the surrounding valleys

Tip: if you want a specific time for the train or a special type of ticket for the site we advise you to book both in advance as especially during the season these are in high demand and quickly sold out

Kathmandu Interloper gridTECH 70l

The interloper gridTECH from Kathmandu is a more expensive travel bag but worth the price. It’s a 70 l Liter backpack with a attachable 18 l Gluon Summit Daypack.

If you are off to a long adventure around the world or trekking the summits of our world, this is the perfect backpack for you.

You get the bag on amazon for 279,99£. Check out the black unisex version here. And the blue Woman’s version here.

The gridTECH fabric makes it resistant and durable to all kinds of weather extremes and don’t worry about dropping it, it can take some beating. The fabric is water resistant and easy to clean. Normally I just wipe the bag from the outside.

The bag has an adjustable C3 ADAPT harness, which you can adjust perfectly fitting to your bag for maximal comfort. If you struggle to proper adjust it you can consult Kathmandu for some help.

It has a quick access lid compartment and an extra compartment at the bottom from where the main space can be accessed.

The bag has a bladder pocket and a secure zipper compartment on the insight. You can access the main space from the top, the bottom and opening the whole main compartment from the front. All zipper docking point can be locked and secure your valuables stay safe.

For transportation the harness can be zipped in with an attached cover so that nothing gets caught. Two handles on each side of the bag assure you to carry your bag even with the cover on.

The only small thing missing which would make it perfect is a rain cover. But as the material is very waterproof too it’s not necessary if you are not in heavy rain areas .

For me this bag has mastered the field test travelling South America. It is easy washable, durable to any bumps and weather conditions, easy accessible, has the right size to fit everything you need and sits perfectly comfortable on your bag.

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Lake Titicaca – The Highest Lake in the World!

In our last post we showed you the highest capital city on earth and now here is the highest lake!

Lake Titicaca is truly a natural wonder, with the drive taking you through the mountains and rural villages then slowly revealing itself through the valleys. Our first thought was “this must be a the sea” cause it is so big. Most lakes or lochs in Scotland, you can see the land masses at each side but with Lake Titicaca the water merges with the blue sky for miles and miles.

We booked a tour with Bolivia Hop which wasn’t such a bad idea in the end but you can get collectivos from La Paz. We had a early wake up of 2:00am with a pick up at 3:00am then a 2hour drive to a ferry crossing point. The road to Copacabana is divided by the lake itself so requires the bus to unload and be taken over by a not so safe looking shallow ferry while we are taken over by small fishing boats.

From the other side, it is an other hour to Copacabana. This little village isn’t to be mistaken for the beaches in Brazil but definitely makes up the lack of sand in true Bolivian character.

The shore is lined with balcony cafes and the Main Street has a selection of local shops and restaurants. Be aware, Lake Titicaca is cold but grab a blanket, take a seat on a deckchair and look out into the peaceful water for hours on end.

We had a short meal break then ended up buying two woven jumpers from a street stall. Susannah also insisted on buying the national indigenous flag patch cause “it was rainbow and I love it”

Hint: When buying from stalls make sure you have cash. We found a stall that took MasterCard but ended up running to a bank machine anyway!

With our tour we had booked a boat trip to one of the many islands inhabited within Lake Titicaca; Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) This was a 1 hour boat ride and passes “the lonely tree island” (name credits to us). Isla del Sol doesn’t really become clear until 30-40minutes into the journey, definitely leaves you guessing where you are going at all.

We were dropped off on the south side and we would be picked up on the north. If you are on the local boats these will drop you off on the North.

First thing you realise is the isolation of the island itself. The only access is by boat but besides this, the island is well looked after and maintained.

Second, is the history with ruins that resemble an ancient temple and rumoured to be the birth place of the sun god. We wandered in and out of the various doorways for 15minutes then followed the path along side.

Third, is how high you are and how damn hard it is to walk this path. It is steep and with the attitude we really started to gasp half way.

Forth, how awesome alpacas are. Alpacas line the route giving you cute motivation along with locals asking where you are from and selling hand woven fabrics and clothes.

Fifth, the view at the top of the hill is a reward worth waiting for. There is also a restaurant with some over priced fizzy drinks.

After these 5 realisations, you make a descent into the village. If you have enough time, we would recommend stopping by at one of the local restaurants and pick up a meal made from the freshest ingredients which won’t set you back to much either.

You can also stay here! A ecolodge is located in the south and we counted 5 Hostels in the village. Though these might be on the pricey side, the sunrise and sunset must be worth the money.

We made our way down to the harbour and enjoyed the view before rushing to buy a ice lolly and board our ride to Copacabana.

Hint: It is worth carrying a few beers with you and enjoying them on the boat trip back while having an incredible view.

On the trip back to La Paz we had some time to spare at the other side of the lake crossing and sampled some street food in the square costing us 3 Bolivianos!!

We returned at 22:00 to La Paz after a memorable adventure.

Lake Titicaca is definitely a stop you make on your journey!

Bus Review… our journey from Buenos Aires (ARG) to La Paz (BA)

This is a story that all travellers should know before booking the journey to La Paz from Buenos Aires.

We booked our tickets through a site called “ticketsbolivia.com” and we had a transfer in a place called Villazon.

Our tickets said the bus left at 10am from Buenos Aires and the connecting bus was at 6pm in Villazon for the bus to La Paz. This meant a 30hr journey to Villazon and a 12hr journey to La Paz.

We got a Uber to the bus station, so we didn’t miss it. We waited a while until 10:00 passed and then we waited an hour more until something didn’t feel right.

Each of us took turns to go up to a counter, to be told:

“There is no bus at 10:00, there is one bus at 13:30”.

The poor woman behind the counter looked as confused as we were until they checked the passenger list and there we were.


But, there is a problem here. If our bus is 3hrs later than we thought, we would have a problem catching the bus in Villazon. Not very much you can do but we did think about setting up camp in villazon bus station.. 😂

The bus journey to Villiazon was very comfortable, absolutely no complaints about the service or food on board.

We received biscuits and a plastic packet with coffee, a tea bag and a large packet of sugar. Followed by the host serving hot water.

On these long journeys you often receive a meal and we received two!! First, was a meatloaf with mash potato.

The views are spectacular as you move from the Argentinian landscape to the Bolivian mountains.

This route is freezing and we did not prepare for the intense cold. Our host was luckily in the seat across the aisle from Susannah’s and gave her his blanket.

Couldn’t have asked for a nicer guy to look after us!

Views wise, in the north there is farm land and the Andes mountain range. A beautiful sight to wake up to.

Crossing boarders by aeroplane is pretty simple in comparison to land borders and there is some order in the chaos at the Argentinian and Bolivian border.

First, you have to fill out a entrance/exit card to hand over to the bus host and to the immigration officer.

Secondly, you all get off the bus. Queue (or whatever you call a queue) to the border office windows. Get stamped and make your way then back to the bus to find a group of people pushing to get your bags from the hold.

Thirdly, retrieve your luggage and walk past the immigration windows and queue (while everyone tries to get past) to get your luggage scanned. Then move across the bridge and wait for the bus to come along and re load your bags.

(Somehow in this process, someone might have tried to pick Nadines lock but we have no idea how that happened)

If you can stay calm, you’ll find the same order in the chaos we did.

Villazon is a town built for the border and the accompanying cross country business. This really doesn’t expand out of the border and there is nothing much to do.

We also had no currency. The bus station had no ATM’s or placed that took card payments so for a while we thought we might starve.


We brought Emergancy American Dollars just in case of this exact situation and it definitely saved us. We exchanged the last of our Pesos from Argentina and $10 dollars.

We had some bread, cookies and coke for dinner.

The bus from Villiazon to La Paz was the most stressful and uncomfortable journey we have ever had.

Susannah’s seat didn’t recline fully, South American music played the whole way… the whole 12 hours. Trying to sleep with traditional guitar music and bad Spanish singing is not possible.

We received tea and cookies at the beginning then a barely warm meal for dinner.

Stops were extremely badly communicated to everyone on board. We would be told 5minutes, rush round the shop and buy junk foods to keep us going. Meanwhile, the bus drivers would order a sandwich and have some coffee. The whole bus was furious when the 5minutes pasted and a lot of us left hungry for the rest of the journey.

To be honest, this had its pros and cons but be warned if you ever take a non direct bus to La Paz from Buenos Aires.