Peru - Aguas Calientes - Machu Picchu

First off to get that off the table, Machu Picchu itself is great! Aguas Calientes on the other hand is nothing other than a tourist trap, as there is nothing around, and no possibility to go anywhere else once you are there, be aware that prices for just about anything are 1.5 – 3 times higher than for example in Cusco which in itself is not the cheapest town either. So I got to Aguas Calientes on Thursday afternoon by train, as does everybody as there are no roads leading there. Train ride is quite nice and I would recommend at least going one way on the Vistadome train as it provides stunning views! (Albeit not being the cheapest option). Aguas Calientes is a small town, and has no more space to grow horizontally, so it looks like it is growing vertically. I had booked a place called Cusibackpacker B&B based on a relatively large number of reasonable reviews I had found, and the fact that it was not the most expensive place in town. When I got to their front door, there was a little sign indicating that they were closed for business and now in a different location under a different name, the Machupicchu Royal, which sounded promising, but I was still annoyed a bit that I had not been informed ahead of my arrival, for which there had been plenty of time as I had booked 3 or 4 days before going. After walking back across town I finally found the new place, and at check in is where the shadiness started, I had booked a private room, but they wanted to set me up in a dorm. After insisting that I had indeed booked a private room, I was shown to one, with no furnishings other than the beds. The windows were open, and it looked like a reasonably clean and nice place. However when I laid down on the bed to rest a bit, the bed itself, the blankets and pillow turned out to be smelling quite moldy, just as when you forget to take your clothes out of the washer and they adopt quite a moldy smell.. Not very nice to sleep in. At first I did not say anything as it was not overpowering. But when I got back form a little walk it was even more intense, so after letting the front desk know, they changed me to a different room, which again had all windows open, and thus smelled ok. I got a fresh pillow as well, and went for dinner. Upon my return this room had just the same smell, as I had closed the windows as otherwise anyone could have come into the room from the corridors to which the windows led.  Not only was the moldy smell quite strong, it got cold as hell, as there no isolation whatsoever. I slept in my clothes and under the provided blanket and still woke around 4 am shaking cold. So I checked out the next morning instead of staying 4 nights and went ahead and booked a relatively expensive hotel, which provided a small electrical heater in the room, hot water in the shower and reasonably isolated windows.

After checking into the new place early in the morning I went to the thermal baths to heat my bones again, and the thermal baths turned out to be quite reasonable and relatively cheap for 10 soles you can pretty much stay the entire day. Be sure to bring your own bottle of water or whatever you like to drink as although there is a bar it is as most food and drink in town totally overpriced.

Following a good night’s sleep I headed up to Machu Picchu by bus at 5:30 am on Saturday, and as it was very busy  got up to the first terraces just in time to watch the sun rise over the mountain, which is quite a sight to behold! Amazing scenery! I stayed on that same spot for a little while, as the suns heat dissipated the small clouds, and rose new banks of fog from the valley which made for a gorgeous play over the Machu Picchu town ruins. One moment covered in thick fog, barely visible, the next clearing up again, just to be recovered a little while later. Following about 30 or 45 minutes of this play I looked around and noticed that the fewest people were heading up to Intipunku, one of the old entrances to the town, where the Inka trail actually comes into town, so that is where I headed first. It took me a good hour to get up there, as it all is quite high and the air is quite thin, and I have to admit, I am not in the best of shapes! But the walk was more than worth it, providing stunning views of the whole town, of the face behind the town, and of Waynapicchu as well!

After enjoying the view for a while I headed back down with the intention of then heading up to Machu Picchu Mountain which it turned out required a separate reservation as they only let 400 people a day climb it. I was aware that Waynapicchu was limited to a few hundred a people (actually 2 groups of 200) per day but did not know about the mountain, so that was a bit of a bummer, but I did not let it bring me down, instead I headed in the direction of the Inka Bridge, and on the way found a nice boulder sitting on one of the terraces so I decided to sit there for a while and meditate a bit with a stunning view of the surrounding mountains and valley! As I was sitting there in my black cape one lady ended up calling me Santo de Muerto (saint of death) and a few other tourist took pictures… I should have asked for a few soles as the locals do when you want to take a picture, but I just smiled and let it go.

A little later I went to the Inka Bridge which is one tiny bridge and from the looks of it leads to nowhere or maybe to a long abandoned tiny walkway, but was very interesting to see nonetheless! After that it was around 11, and I decided to have one of my concealed snacks, and headed back to discover the town of Machu Picchu itself! The ruins are amazing and the precision with which the Inka’s built this town is absolutely phenomenal! The stones and how precisely they are carved and placed on each other is something rarely seen in modern day buildings! The town is crawling with tourist, but if you have a bit of patience you can take a lot of nice pictures without anyone in them! Around 1 it started to rain a bit and I found shelter under a rock where a couple from Chile was hanging out as well, I talked with them for a while and they turned out to be very nice people. I ended up walking around a bit with them after the rain had stopped.

A little later I ended up walking alone again, as the couple had left for their train, and I ended up in a nice little quiet spot where I saw a few Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rats, (Cuscomys oblativa), funny little creatures. Besides a few Lamas and birds these were the only animals is saw up on the mountain.

Around 4pm I headed back down to Aguas Calientes which is about an hour walk if you are not going to slow and goes down mostly steps, for about a 1000 meter drop, so quite intense.

Back in town I went for an Alpaca steak which turns out to be some of the most delicious meat I have had in quite a while so if you ever get the chance to have one, do so! Sunday I spent all day in bed as my legs were quite sore, and on Monday morning before getting back on the train I went looking for the local waterfall, which in the end I did miss, but ended up seeing Machu Picchu again from below on the back side, which was a very gnarly view as well!

Overall I would definitely recommend visiting Machu Picchu if you are in Peru! Be sure to go for at least 2 days on the mountain and have a reservation for Waynapicchu as from what I gather there are some amazing places up there as well that I have unfortunately missed! Be sure to have a decent budget for your stay in Aguas Calientes, as you’ll want to stay in one of the better hotels as with all the walking there is to be done, you’ll need some good rest at night.  Be sure to take the Vistadome train at least one way, as there are some amazing sights to behold on the way to Aguas Calientes as well. My final recommendation would be to go in the off-season as then the visitor numbers are limited to 3500 per day, as I overheard a guide say that in high season although the official limit is still 3500 they often let in up to 5000 people.  Below you can find a small selection of photos which I’ll hope you’ll enjoy! In any case you’d be better off to go visit yourself as the images hardly capture the magic of the mountain! Machu Picchu is indeed one of the nicest spots I have seen in Peru to date, as it was never discovered by the Spaniards, and thus there are no churches or crosses or statues of Jesus around. So if you want to witness old Inka ruins with a lot of flair, this is indeed the place to go to. Be sure to take your time so you get to see all of it, and not just the main ruins.


Vistadome Train

View on a snow covered mountain

Fountain in Aguas Calientes

Thermal Baths in Aguas Calientes

Sun Rise

Machu Picchu arboreal chinchilla rat, (Cuscomys oblativa)





sky reflector used to watch the stars

entrance to the temple of the sun

Inka House


me at the edge

Stone Wall and stairs


falling apart


Temple of the 3 windows



temple of the sun





a room with a view

between 2 houses

Some more of the Town


Staircase to Intipunku

Agricultural Terraces

Foundation Terraces

Inka Bridge

Inka Bridge

on the way to Inka Bridge

Town and Waynapicchu


on the way to Inka Bridge

VIew of the town, the face and Waynapicchu

some more view of the town


View from Intipunku


More view from Intipunku

More view from Intipunku

View from Intipunku

Clouded from Intipunku

Fog lifting


on the way to Intipunki

rising fog

covered in fog



face on Machu Picchu

fog on Machu Picchu

the town

Fog rolling in on Machu Picchu

View of Machu Picchu

River around Machu Picchu

Could not resist one tourist shot





Travelling ? Part 2

So following my moral dilemma whether or not to continue my travels, I am happy to report that I will indeed go on. There are a number of reasons, first and foremost, indeed there is poverty all over the world, and I won’t be able to change that by myself and it’s not bound to change anytime soon. I will go on keeping an open ear to anyone that wants to share their story with me, or wants to just talk for a while. I will keep on helping when and where I can, but came to the conclusion that ultimately it’s not my responsibility to help everyone or to help more than I can.

Thinking about the whole thing has grown my recognition of how fortunate I am to be able to travel, and that I cannot ignore.

Additionally I am yet again amazed by how my travels unfold, today I arrived in Pisac, a small town, that is essentially the gateway to the Sacred Valley, which supposedly plays a large role in the planets Kundalini energy, and I got here just in time for full moon on Sunday, which I will most certainly enjoy a lot! Funny thing is that the last full moon I witnessed was in the Amazon, and now I am up high in the mountains. It all just flows much too perfectly to abandon such an opportunity!

Thank you to each and every one of you that responded in some way shape or form to my last post! I will keep you all updated as to how my travels progress!

Peru - Iquitos – Wonderfully weird place

So now that a few weeks have passed since I left Iquitos, it’s time to look back. Iquitos is a wonderfully weird town, and hard to describe as it’s filled with such contrasts that it’s hard to either pin it down to positive or negative or just plain crazy, which probably sums it up best, crazy indeed! It’s a place where you can easily lose yourself, and judging by the number of lost Ayahuasca souls I’ve seen there, quite a few people do get lost in search of something that Ayahuasca probably was never meant to deliver. Traditionally speaking or at least so I have gathered Ayahuasca is more of a cleansing than anything else, and as far as I found out, the tourist brews as I like to call them do not deliver much of that either… Naturally it depends on what you are looking for to begin with. Although I was very open to the idea of drinking Ayahuasca, I did end up not drinking any, as I did not find a local traditional Shaman. So this report will stay focused a bit more on Iquitos itself. Katoo the owner of the Green Track Hostel and Tapiche Jungle Reserve (a review of which can be found here) put it quite well I think: “Iquitos is like a river turn”. And with that he meant that everything that flows on or in the river gets stuck in the turn, at least for a while, and that sums up Iquitos quite well. In the first few days all I wanted to do was get out again, and as more time passed, the more comfortable and at home I felt there. Another guy, Tim from Australia, put it this way: “When I got here I felt very uncomfortable, but after some time, if nothing else, my comfort zone has been expanded. And that’s always a good thing.”

So Iquitos is one of the poorest towns around, and it shows at every corner, on the other hand, you can still see that back in the rubber days, Iquitos was one of the richest places around, proof of which lies in some of the amazing buildings that have lost little of their charm even though they have been converted to new purposes, such as the once upon a time best hotel in all of Peru, which is now some kind of military installation. The general population is relatively poor, and yet there are a ton of Jewellery stores, shops for the newest cell phones, and gambling joints. The streets are filled with roaming vendors, beggars, dealers, and kids trying to sell candy for a Soles or two. And then there is the very special kind who’ll provide whatever you are looking for. You won’t be able to go far without being hassled in some way shape or form, so if you have a hard time to say no in your life, this is the place where you’ll learn it quickly, or otherwise you’ll spend your entire budget within a few days.

Nonetheless the town at least to me seemed like a relatively safe place, and besides an Ayahuasca tourist group being relieved of all their possession by pirates while on the boat to their camp, I did not hear of much crime. Of course there is the Belen market, where you can find just about anything from Fruits to Animal parts in glass jars, which is a bit of a different story, this is not the place where you want to take out your camera for a few shots even though some people do, there is a certain amount of danger in the air. As long as you stay on the top part of the market it’s relatively safe, but down by the river it’s a different story, as there, a body can quickly vanish in the dark waters of the river. If you want to go there, do so on a dry day or wear rubber boots to make it through the gooey substance that once was earth, but nowadays is a mix of god knows what, from trash to fish and animal entrails, it probably holds everything. The contrast here is the promenade by the river which is actually one straight shot into Belen, but is the complete opposite, concrete floors, and tourist restaurants and a fountain, around which loads of people gather pretty much every evening to hang out and enjoy the slightly cooler nights. If you go there be sure to stop by the Dawn of the Amazon for their “peanut butter conspiracy” one hell of a tasty smoothie. In general if you like fresh fruit, Iquitos is a good place to be in as they have loads of it, and loads of fruits you cannot even get in Europe. Then there is Green Go a sort of pharmacy where you can all kinds of strange powders and super foods, from Una de Gato down to Sangre de Grado or Mapacho Tobacco, all of which you can also find at Belen market for a cheaper price, but where it’s less easy to make sure you are actually buying what you were looking for, especially if you are not yet familiar with the substances!

Of course as most town it’s the people that make it what it is at the end of the days, and besides the hagglers, in Iquitos you can meet all sorts of freaks of nature, from the complete madmen down to people with amazing stories. One of which was a guy named Rob Dowling, the founder of   whose website I urge you to visit! I won’t go into too much detail here, but he is a guy who’s set himself to conquer 4 very peculiar challenges in order to raise awareness for his website with the goal of building a medical centre on the river bank for amazon children that often are in dire need of medical attention. Another interesting person I met was called Allen, who does work as a healer and has been travelling for the past 8 years. I had one relatively long talk with him, and he did help me quite a lot in dealing with a few personal issues I have been carrying for quite a while, with a few tips and tricks for my meditations. Not to forget all the rest of the people I sat down with and had more or less fascinating talks just about everything from drugs to nature and life in general. Some who thought they were wiser than they in fact are, and some so humble and knowledgeable they could come straight out of an Indian Ashram.

Iquitos also is a prime hub for excursions into the Jungle, a lot of which are to be avoided if you ask me, as they try to lure you in with the promise of holding animals to get your picture taken, so mostly young animals whose mothers have been killed in order to make some money, but there is for example the Tapiche Reserve, which is well worth a visit! The problem here is that the region is so poor, and there are few to no regulations from the government as to what is ok and what is not, here there is still a lot of work ahead for the people and the government, as currently the government encourages people to live off and support their life off the jungle in any way they can, which most of the time is anything but sustainable. So nothing for the long run, I hope that more and more tourist that go there will avoid the places that abuse nature, in order to play their part in changing things for the better so that the locals can actually keep on living off and with nature for a long time! But as long as there is demand for things like animal trinkets and pictures with animals, it’s normal that the locals will provide just that in order to make a living! Demand and supply, as usual strongly linked.

Overall Iquitos is well worth a visit, but not necessarily for the faint of heart. I for one had a great time there, and met some amazing people, but you’ll have to be able to say no, or learn it quickly, and not let yourself get carried away in some of the quick sensations and temptations that are offered.


the once best hotel in Peru, now a military installation

Back Alley to give you an idea of the contrasts

Old River Cruiseship

Graphitti showing the desolation of Iquitos

Street View

Plaza de Armas - Main Square

Art work at Karma Café

Almost Full Moon over the river

Fountain on the promenade

River by Iquitos

Detail of some floor tiles

Peru - Tapiche Jungle Reserve

Following a more or less chaotic week in Iquitos, I finally headed out to the Tapiche Reserve ( on a Monday at 1 pm, with Kat a volunteer from the Green Track Hostel (which has the same owner as the Tapiche Reserve).  Normally one leaves in the morning by bus to Nauta and then by speedboat to Requena and arrives at Tapiche about 4 to 5 hours later in a smaller boat, but as the road to Nauta was closed that was not an option. Instead we got on a slow boat directly to Requena, where we arrived about 6 am the next day, and then took the small boat to Tapiche. Travelling by slow boat was quite charming, we had a cabin to store our stuff, and also set up our Hammocks on the top deck, there were a lot of people, and the Hammocks hung pretty close to each other so it was really cosy. Considering that the slow boat is much cheaper than the speedboats, it was quite crowded, but that is the way the locals’ travel, so I enjoyed it very much! It actually gives you time to enjoy the Amazon River, and the views were quite stunning, the sunset in particular is a sight to behold while you are peacefully going down the river. Kat opted to sleep in the cabin as she gets a little cold at night, but I figured since so many locals were sleeping in their Hammocks I should do the same, granted I should have worn a bit more than a long-sleeve and shorts, as about 4 in the morning it got quite cool due to the pouring rain.  Nonetheless I slept quite well until about 5 when a couple of ladies came around trying to sell cheese, and they were close to screaming advertisement for their product, the flashlight that they shined straight into my face did not further sleep either. But that is the way it goes. Overall the slow boat was quite an experience, and other than the 2 toilets for about 150 to 200 people it was great, the toilets did get a bit messy, which is normal when so many people share only 2. Being the only 2 white people on the boat we got quite a few strange looks, but that is to be expected when you go to a place like Requena, where there is only few tourists coming through, pretty much only the people that go to Tapiche.

At 6 am José, our jungle guide, picked us up with a small boat and no engine, which we went to pick up a bit later. The engine was supposed to have undergone maintenance the day before, but it took about an hour to get it started, and then when we picked up José’s backpack for the trip, died again, and took about another hour to start, so all in all we left around 8:30. The breeze was cool, and the closer we got to the reserve the more beautiful the sights became, we saw quite a few river dolphins throughout the journey. José took us through a couple of shortcuts, one of which is actually only possible when it’s rain season and there is quite a bit of flooding. We arrived around 1:30 pm, and since we had not had much food on the first leg of the journey, to avoid the bathrooms, were quite hungry, Melitta the cook at the lodge quickly prepared a simple but delicious meal consisting of rice, pasta and some vegetables, which was more or less the diet for the rest of our time there, as there is no electricity except for a bit of time in the evening. Following lunch we sat up our hammocks, and I went for a nice little nap in the main room of the lodge, which is topped by a small birdwatching tower that also gives quite a nice 360° view of the camp. Since flooding is a normal occurrence the entire camp is built on stilts and that has its own charm. The nap was quite necessary as we had been on the river for pretty much 24 hours.

Following a nice shower with river water we had dinner around 6:30 when the generator was also turned on to provide a little bit of light, and a chance to charge our camera. Normally it runs for about 2 hours, but after 40 minutes, and some weird sounds it was done for the day. They set me up in a separate little cabin that has a bunk bed and was really nice. Sleep time in the jungle is about 9pm at the latest as the days start quite early, with breakfast around 5am and a departure out into the jungle about half an hour later. Normally the day trips consist of some time in a small boat, and some hiking, however as everything was pretty flooded we only used the boat.

The first morning we went out to Keito, a small lagoon or creek depending on how you look at it, and pretty much right away ran into a group of Squirrel monkey, which are very cute little buggers, agile and fun to watch, ultimately I think they are my favourite monkeys! We also saw a Mama Viejo (old mama) a bird that is named so as it sits on a tree and mostly just jabs away at anything that passes by, just as you would picture an old mama sitting behind her window complaining about anything and everybody.   (A full list of all the animals we saw by day and location as well as some pictures can be found at the end of the article.) Around 9 am we had 2nd breakfast on the boat, which is mostly for the benefit of the guide who does quite a lot of rowing as you have to move through the jungle as quietly as possible in order to spot animals. The rest of the morning was relatively quiet and we saw a few more monkeys, parrots, and loads of spiders. José turned out to be a great guide as he can discern most animals just by their sound, and is quite good at tracking them!

We went back to the lodge for lunch which consisted of rice, pasta, vegetables, and a raw beetroot salad. The beetroot salad was new to me, as I am not much of a fan of cooked beetroot, but here they just grate it and add mayonnaise which makes for a really tasty salad, a recipe that I will actually take home and start eating there as well, as it is really delicious and tastes a little bit like carrot with a twist.

Following a quick nap we set out to Wimba around 2:30 pm, and following a bit of very skilled chopping of branches made it past the many water-lilies, which can actually make it impossible to pass. Wimba was very dense, and José had to chop away quite a few branches in order for us to pass at all, but at Tapiche wildlife is actually still wild, so clear cut paths etc. are not an option!  We saw a few more different kinds of monkey, loads of spiders, and overall had a very good exploit so to speak. The coolest thing that did however happen was us running into another or the same group of Squirrel monkey, one of which became so interested in us that it actually followed us around for quite a while as we made our way back from a really old Ceiba tree. José opted to take us out of Wimba a slightly different path, and eventually the water became so shallow that we had to backtrack a little bit as the boat could no longer advance. With the shallow, stagnant water and the heat, we were surrounded by mosquitoes, and actually killed quite a few of those, but Kat still got stung quite a lot. Me on the other hand I only got bitten by the hardcore mosquitoes as I had been having loads and loads of raw garlic with every meal, and they don’t like that smell too much.

In the evening we had a quick shower before dark, as we could not count on the generator to provide much light (it again ran for about 40 minutes, which was a bit of a bummer as my camera was fully drained and I only could charge it a little bit, but these things happen, and the guys at the lodge said they had tried everything to fix the engine but needed supplies from the town to get it going fully again). Dinner included fresh amazon fish that was really delicious, however I do not recall its name, in any case I doubt I could ever find it back at home. Right after dinner we, or rather José, spotted a baby caiman in the shallow waters below the lodge, which was fun to observe while hunting small fishes. Well-fed I turned in quite early as even though I had not done much paddling, I was exhausted from all the sights and impressions and looking for animals. As I closed my eyes all of those impression started to appear before my inner eye, and boy there were a lot, so it took me a little while to fall asleep to the jungle sounds, which consisted of crickets, birds, and Zapo frogs, which can get really loud, sort of a rolling sound going back and forth between each other. The loudness of the frogs did not keep me from sleeping as they were quite rhythmic!

The 2nd morning we headed out to Chambira, a relatively large creek along the main river, and shortly after getting there were able to spot a white 3 toed sloth, which is a very rare sight, as they don’t move a lot and usually don’t come out much. At the same time as the sloth we saw a Zigzag Herron which was one hell of a funny looking bird, keeping its body straight and stiff to imitate a branch so it does not get attacked while protecting the one egg that was in its nest. A little later we saw a caiman lizard which I did not even know existed and it was quite agile and quick in the water. We ran into a second group of monkeys that actually were quite interactive and came down a little bit from the tree crowns in order to let us know that we were intruding in their territory. Right next to them we saw a family of  Nancy Ma’s night monkeys which looked really cute hiding in a cavity of a tree, you could see four heads one above the other, and they looked a bit annoyed as they were kept awake by all the noise the other monkeys were making. Also saw loads of butterflies of which the most impressive one sported a set of bright blue wings.

Around 11:30 we headed back to the lodge for lunch as the sun was actually scorching. Following lunch and a quick nap it started to rain intensely so that it made little sense to go out in the afternoon as all the animals would have been seeking shelter from the rain anyway as well. Up to this point Kat and I were the only visitors in the camp, so it had been very quiet and relaxing. In the afternoon however another group of 4 arrived, which was fine as well, as a little company is fun every now and then, 3 of the 4 I had actually already met and hung out a bit with back in Iquitos before leaving to Tapiche. One guy was going to sleep in the same cabin as I, and he advised me that he snored a little at night, which is fine by me, a little snoring has never kept me awake so I had no problem with that, the others sat up their hammocks in the main room. We hung around the lodge smoking some Mapacho, and chatting the afternoon away. The 3 Germans were quite anxious to get the generator on in the evening for some light, I hoped to charge my camera so that it would not run out of power the next day, but it only came on late, and this time around for only about 15 minutes, which was a bit of a bummer, as I had to very carefully choose what to shoot the next day and what not. Carlos, the guy who was supposed to look after such things said there was nothing he could do, so we had nice dinner in the dark. It was actually the best meal of all as we go to eat pan-fried Piranhas, which was also a first for me, and it’s quite a tasty fish, albeit quite bony with only little meat, here again it would have been nice to still be alone in the camp, as there were only 5 fishes each of us only got half a Piranha, but I’ll remember the taste for sure! Following a few more smokes we all settled around 9. My room-mate fell asleep within a few minutes and turned out to not be snoring a little but shitloads! Basically I can sleep through any kind of noise but I need to be able to fall asleep. As we had spent the afternoon in the lodge, there had been a lot of noise, and so not many frogs had ventured into camp to cover the snoring. I don’t blame the guy for snoring, as it’s not something one can control, but a little heads up about the actual intensity would have been nice, and in that case I would have set up a hammock in the afternoon. As I had packed lightly I did not have any Oropax with me either so I tried to meditate and calm my mind to fall asleep, but there was really no rhythm to the snoring that I could have gotten used to, still awake at 11pm I shook the guy above me out of his sleep (as he had advised me to do), I told him he was snoring a lot and loud, and he cutely answered: Oh am I? I tried to go to sleep right away, but within 2 minutes he was back to snoring and even louder then before. So I just laid there trying to calm my mind and fall asleep, which just did not happen. Shortly after midnight with only 4 more hours before having to get up again I ventured out to find a different spot to sleep, the next cabin proved useless as the snoring was still very loud there. I then headed very quietly to the kitchen, where I put 2 wooden benches together to get some sleep, but after about 10 minutes was “attacked” by a few cockroaches, so that was not going to happen either. I did not want to enter the main room to set up a hammock as I did not want to wake 4 more people. So I resigned and went back to our cabin. Around 1 am with only 3 more hours to go and a full day on the boat with no lunch at the lodge ahead of me I woke him once more, and said that if he could not give me 20 minutes to fall asleep I would actually smother him with a pillow, I was getting a little desperate. Fortunately that speech helped and I finally managed to pass out for a few hours. I got up at about 4 and was quite cranky. When I met Kat having her morning cigarette I told her my night, and she said she even heard the snoring in the main room, about 20 meters away from our cabin, so at least I knew I was not imagining it to be loud as hell.

As we were a total of 6 people we took out a large wooden canoe with Jose at the back, and another guy, Hilbert, in the front to help with the paddling. Our destination for the day was Garzacocha, which is one hell of a beautiful and large lagoon, back home we would actually call it a lake. As we turned into the creek to get to the lagoon the guys in the back turned out to be quite noisy, and seemed to have no concept of what whispering means, as we went further in, they even started to complain that they had mostly seen only spiders up to this point, which considering their noise was no surprise to me, and I said if they would keep up the noise they could not expect to see much more. Following a few more calls by Kat to be quiet, and pretty much no reaction I actually got a bit pissy with them, and they finally quieted down a bit. Fortunately Pachamama (Mother Nature) was very kind to us, and we still saw a lot of animals, even a second sloth, this time a black one, it was well hidden in the leaves of a tree, but still visible! A little while after breakfast we even had a small frog on the boat that decided the best place for a rest was on my arms and later my head, so I just let it stay there as long as it wanted and enjoyed its company. We ended up seeing quite a lot different kinds of monkeys, I think about 8 in total, and also saw another caiman lizard that we met again later hanging out in a tree above the water, waiting to jump down for some prey. The lagoon itself was quite a sight, and holds a small moving forest which actually has trees growing on the water lilies, quite the phenomena! At the end of the lagoon we saw a large caiman, or at least its head, but it disappeared into the lilies once we got too close. The guy in the front was quite happy to be drifting on the lagoon as we had to make our way through quite a few lily patches to get there, and that is hard work, half of the engines’ fin was even lost in one of the patches, as the roots go quite deep. At the end of the lagoon is actually a paradise for birdwatchers, as there in the trees all kinds of species mingle in easy shelter with good access to food and water in and around the lagoon. The sounds were intense and loud, and the whole thing was quite a sight to behold. We drifted down a side creek, and ended up seeing a bunch of Uakari monkeys (a type of red monkey with large tails that they can’t use as a fifth limb) right before we had lunch on the boat.

On our way back things got interesting as just past the lagoon the second half of the fin broke off, and we had to rely solely on manpower to get back, with only 2 paddles and 8 people in total it was going to take quite a while. José and Hilbert paddled and paddled and we advanced only slowly as we were going against the current, I sure as hell did not want to be in their place that day! In the lily pads Kat and I helped as much as we could pushing lilies away with our boots and a stick, but it was still a Hercules type of a job to get through so a lot of respect to the guys! To make things worse, or actually for the paddlers a bit better, I started to pour but really pour by the litre,  the guy in the front seemed to welcome the rain as it cooled him down a bit, I had my poncho on me so was not bothered by the rain at all. The rain itself was quite interesting as we could hear it from a few kilometres away as it drew closer really fast. The only down side was, that all the animals went into hiding, but considering that we had seen quite a few in the morning that was also fine by me, I just sat there, enjoying the trees, and the rain. It took quite a while to get back to the main river, but eventually we got there, and at least there we could use a bit of the current to advance, and the guys could take little breaks in between.  Once the rain died down a bit, we actually saw 2 grey and 1 pink river dolphin playing, jumping around and somersaulting, which was quite the sight, as before I had only seen them come up for air and go back under, this was really impressive to me! I got a bit of it on film but finally my battery died, nonetheless a memory that will stay with me, as will the whole trip!

We made it back to the lodge around 5, and surprise, the unrepairable engine was running like a charm. So as it turned out, Kat had taken Carlos aside the night before and insisted on him moving his ass, as he was paid to do, and all of a sudden, the unfixable engine was running flawlessly. This in the end pissed me off a bit, as the days before the only answer, if any at all, Kat got was that there was nothing he could do. So I guess I ended up missing a few pictures not because there was an actual problem with the engine, which would have been fine as these things happen, and after all we were deep in the jungle, but just because Carlos turned out to be one lazy motherfucker. I had told Kat before that I was fine with there being no electricity at all, but yeah if I had known ahead of time I would have picked up a spare battery or a solar charger for the camera while still in Iquitos, but I had been assured that charging the camera was no problem etc. I was even fine with only the short charging times, as it was supposed to be an unfixable problem, but yeah laziness is a somewhat different story, at least for me.

That night I sat up a hammock in the main room as well, as I did not care to spend another sleepless night with my room-mate's snoring, and ended up sleeping like a baby, nice and comfortable in the hammock! On Saturday Carlos, Melitta, Hilbert, and I got into one of the boats to head back to Requena, where I was put on a speedboat to Nauta, and then got a bus to head back to Iquitos, which was an uneventful trip, and although faster not quite as fun as the 24hour boat ride to get there.

When I arrived at the Hostal the owner Katoo, was waiting and apologized right away for all the problems, I said, it was still a great trip, but also that as previously mentioned the generator being fixable, and the actual problem being laziness was a bit of a bummer. Carlos was not planning on keeping on working for Katoo anyway so at least that is one problem he no longer has to worry about. I could however not resist informing Katoo that before Carlos left he actually made a stop at his house to syphon gasoline from the boat, which I think he will hear about from Katoo as well. I may be a gringo around here, but sure not stupid, because when we stopped at Carlos’ house he took out one of the gasoline tanks, asked the neighbouring kids to bring an empty tank, then asked for a larger one, and disappeared with both in his house… Going in he had to use 2 hands and a leg to carry the boats tank, and coming out had it in one had. So it was pretty damn clear what happened. Katoo was happy to know and actually a bit pissed as he actually pays his staff good money, at least for here, so does not appreciate people stealing on top of that.

Nonetheless overall, one hell of a trip that I can only very much recommend, and that I will certainly remember for the rest of my life! If you come to Iquitos and want to visit the jungle this is the tour I would recommend, it is a bit pricey at 600USD but worth every penny! You will not get to take pictures holding animals or the like, but you will see the animals in the natural environment, the way it is supposed to be! As far as my research led me, Tapiche Reserve is actually the only one around that is really concerned with preserving nature, so I give them 2 thumbs up just for that! And besides the one black sheep all of the staff was super friendly and welcoming, and José is one hell of a knowledgeable guide who will go out of his way to find animals for you to see!  So go out there, enjoy the quiet, be a little quiet yourself, and you will have one hell of a time!!!  I would recommend coming during off season, as you might actually be there all by yourself, although normally they do not send out more than 4 people at one time unless it’s a group of 5 or 6 that already know each other.  If you have a bit of time on your hands, be sure to ask if you can go down to Requena by slow boat, as that is also an experience worth having, and much more fun and fascinating than the faster route.

Below is the list of animals we saw (some of the spelling may be off a little, but yeah I am not a biologist):

Day1 AM: Keito: Squirrel monkeys (loads) Dusty titi (cola blanca) Toucans Macaw 6 together Mama viejo

PM: Wimba: Dolphins Tokon Mama viejo Woodpecker Red howler Red saddleback tamarind Baby caiman at lodge Zapo frogs

Day 2 AM: Chambira: Brown Kapuchin Squirrel monkeys Red howlers Sloth - 3 toted white sloth Garza cebra - Zigzag Herron Red Uakan Baby caimans Musmuqui - Nancy ma's night monkey Iguana Cabeza Roja - caiman lizard macaws Mama viejo Blue butterflies

PM: Rain

Day 3 All day: Garzacocha: Tucan Kingfisher Kapuchin Squirrelmonkey Sparrows Red hornbull screamer Dusty titti Red saddleback tamarind Tatatau Iguana cabeza roja Mama viejo Wasp nest Awasari Red howler 5x Green frog on my head Black sloth Macaws Kamungo Hoatzin Wooly monkey Caiman Grey dolphin Pink dolphin Shitloads of birds (actually every day, but no time to write down all the names) Uakari 2 grey 1 pink dolphin somersaulting & playing




The frog on my head


My Friend the frog


Stunning Colours


More colours


Sunset Amazon River


another cool spider


Jungle view


The reflections on the river are as beautiful as the rest


sunset on the Amazon River


Sunset on the Amazon


Red tailed Dragonfly


Garzacocha Lagoon


Different types of spiders






little spider on my hat


Caiman Lizard


monkey not sure what species


Nancy Ma's night monkey


Baby Caiman


3 toed white sloth


Zigzag Herron


Uakari Monkey


actually blue on the other side


Monkey Clan


snake, one of the few I saw in the wild


one of the many Macaws


red howler


one of the many little visitors on the boat


cuter and cuter


spiders web colony


six legged spider


Squirrel Monkey


another squirrel monkey


Going up a tree


one of the many spiders


a little visitor to the boat


2 of the cabins in the lodge


View down into the Main Room


The smaller boat


More from the final leg


More sights


More sights to behold


Short-cut Amazonian style




Sight from the final leg of the trip down to Tapiche


José our Jungle Guide


The slow boat as it emptied in Requena


gnarly view


Hanging out on the slow boat


The water lilies


Slow boat out of Iquitos




Local hut mildly flooded


Costa Rica - a few concluding thoughts

So it has been a few days since I left Costa Rica, and I figured it was time for a few concluding thoughts!Costa Rica as a whole is one hell of a charming country, it has been running on only renewable energy for all of 2015, which granted has only been 3 months, but I consider this to be one hell of an achievement, as to my knowledge, no other country has been able to do this even for only a few days, let alone a few months at a time. Add the facts that Costa Rica has had no standing army since 1949, and that essentially the whole country is organic in its farming efforts,  and you have one hell of a peaceful country!

Food over there was always delicious, mostly due to the fact that it’s all organic as mentioned above, and you can live a very healthy life there! Of course poverty is still an issue, as most locals do not make a lot of money, and their main diet is rice and beans for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but they are nonetheless much happier people than what you see in so called developed countries! In this domain the story that struck me most, was that of the owner of La Colina in Manuel Antonio. The owner an American expat who used to live in Russia where he met his wife and where they had a child, who turned out to be pretty much allergic to everything, and was sick most of the time. They then moved to Costa Rica where there child has since been pretty much allergy free, and she can even eat foods that back in Russia would have sent her straight to the hospital.  Decide for yourself whether organic is worth the trouble or not, in my humble opinion it sure pays off for the country as a whole, as well as for the people that live there.

The Pacific coast in my opinion is a little overdeveloped as far as tourism goes, and somewhat too Americanised, but still is very charming, and has some of the best sunsets I have ever had the pleasure to witness! The national parks as well as the abundance of private reserves make it clear that as a whole the country has recognized that preserving nature is the way to go. Costa Rica, despite being relatively small has about 6% of the worlds’ biodiversity, and they work hard to maintain that level!

The Caribbean coast seems a little less developed and thus for me had even more charm than the rest! So if you want to experience raw and well preserved nature, be sure to head down the east coast of the country, especially down to the Manzanillo Wild Life Reserve where I got very lucky and saw what was probably a free living black Jaguarundi, something quite rare to happen, so take some time, and just quietly walk about the reserve, you may just get lucky!

If you plan on visiting large parts of the country, my recommendation would be to start on the Pacific coast for the sunsets, and then to head east through the country, as if you do it the other way around, the Pacific coast might turn out to disappoint you a little, but if you start there, you have memories of amazing sunsets, and all the rest just gets better the further east you head.

If you have food allergies or intolerances, consider visiting Costa Rica, as you might just be able to enjoy foods that you had to avoid for quite a while, in my case as I do not digest wheat very well, in Costa Rica I had my first slice of Pizza in forever and did not get sick at all. So that is a big plus! I am currently in Peru, and already miss the healthy cuisine of Costa Rica!

The people whether the local Ticos or the expats are all more than friendly, and crime seems to be at a very low level, not sure how it is in the capital, San Jose as I did not spend any time there, but for the rest I can assure you that it is as safe a country as it gets.

The only thing I mildly regret is not having seen the Tortuguero National Park, and the rest of the northern Caribbean coast, as I stayed longer down in the south of the Caribbean coast than I had planned, and I was coming to the end of my 90 day tourist visa but that is at least one reason to eventually return to Costa Rica at least one more time!

So whether you are setting out for a vacation or considering leaving your country behind for good, I think Costa Rica is an excellent choice!


Costa Rica - Puerto Viejo & Manzanillo

Following a few days in Jaco, I decided it was time for a change in scenery and hopefully a slightly less touristy destination, which as it turned out is the south of the Costa Rican Caribbean Coast. I drove straight to Puerto Viejo, and had a nice little dinner and a quiet first night there. In the morning I decided to drive down to the Manzanillo Wild Life Reserve, which is by now my favourite reserve, at least of the ones I have seen to date. There is no admission fee which is a bonus, and there is no map nor are there any signs pointing out the trails, so you are actually in nature… You can get a little lost, but considering that the sea is close by for orientation, you are never truly lost. Besides the 1 main trail I found, there are a ton of small trails, which sometimes are barely visible going left and right, a lot of them end up at very secluded and quiet beaches, I spent a few afternoons there, and often did not see another soul for a few hours.


















Originally I had planned to stay a total of 3 nights, 2 of which in the Casa Merlin, a nice little B&B right in the middle between Puerto Viejo where I went for most dinners, and Manzanillo, where I spent most of my day time. I ended up adding 2 more nights at the Casa Merlin, as it was cheap, and quite well equipped, besides having been recently renovated the location is unbeatable, a little way from the main street in the jungle, but with easy access to everything in the area.

The second day I started off by going to the Jaguar Rescue Centre, where they take in injured and/or orphaned animals, and do what they can to set them free in the wild again. Quite a nice station, and entirely living from the tours they give, and donations they receive, so while you are here, worth checking out, and at the same time supporting a good cause! They have a lot of monkeys, snakes, some sloths, and birds. Their private reserve La Ceiba may well be worth checking out as well, but I did not go as the tours start at 7 in the morning and I have always been more of a night time guy.

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre, My Cousin the Sloth

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

Jaguar Rescue Centre

One morning as I was driving to Puerto Viejo I ran into 2 girls I knew from language school so we had decided to hang out on a Thursday, and since they had no car, I took them down to Manzanillo, where we walked a bit along the beaches, discovered a nice cave that I had not seen before, and ended up hanging out at my favourite beach for a couple of hours. On the trail back to the car is where it got really interesting as we saw what was most likely a black Jaguarundi one of the wildcats still at home in Costa Rica. We saw it from about 20 to 30 meters away, and it was quite an impressive sight! Right there is when I knew why I had kept on adding nights to my stay here, it was to see this beautiful cat before heading out of Costa Rica and into Peru.

Sunset at Manzanillo

Sunset at Manzanillo

The Cave even has a sky light ;)

think when it's high tide, the cave is actually flooded

nice little house almost in the Manzanillo Wild Life Reserve

A few concluding thoughts on Costa Rica will come in the next couple of days, and by then I should also have arrived in Iquitos, Peru.

Costa Rica - Manuel Antonio & Jaco

I set out around 10 in the morning, and other than knowing that I’d head down to the pacific coast again, I had not real plan or idea as to where to go, so first I drove down to Puntarenas. The drive down the mountain was actually quite fun, and for the most part was on a very dusty dirt road where at time I felt a bit like Raoul Duke, lost at the race track in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas, as I could not even see the hood of my car. I arrived in Puntarenas, around noon or so, and after one drive through the town, I decided to keep on heading south, as Puntarenas is not much more than a hub to connect other parts of the country, as in my opinion was actually quite filthy.. On the way down to Jaco there were a few nice views that I took in, and even saw a couple of parrots. In Jaco I went down to the beach, but did not enjoy the vibe of the town all that much either, so I just kept on driving, and ended up in Manuel Antonio around 5 pm, so I checked into La Colina, a nice little restaurant with sunset view rooms, one of which I got and very much enjoyed the sunset from there! In the evening I ate at their restaurant, a nice little Steak House that is open on all sides, and they actually use a wood BBQ grill.

on the way to manuel antonio

on the way to manuel antonio

parrots on the way to manuel antonio


The next day I drove down to Manuel Antonio National Parc, which turned out to be relatively small, or let’s rather say, the official hiking trails turned out to be quite short, but nonetheless make for some great views of for example the Hidden Harbor. The beaches on the other hand are very beautiful, and probably make it worth going to Manuel Antonio National Parc in any case!




Shrooms Manuel Antonio National Parc

dry waterfall Manuel Antonio National Parc

Manuel Antonio National Parc

Manuel Antonio National Parc

Manuel Antonio National Parc

Manuel Antonio National Parc

Hidden Harbour Manuel Antonio National Parc

Manuel Antonio National Parc

Manuel Antonio National Parc

Manuel Antonio National Parc




sunset in manuel antonio

I spent one more night in Manuel Antonio and then headed back to Jaco, as I had heard about a festival there, the Jungle Jam, a review of which can be found here.

Costa Rica - Monte Verde

So following a couple of rain filled days at Arenal, which were quite fun, it was time to move on.From Arenal over to Monte Verde was about a 4 hour drive, more or less, as usual in Costa Rica, there is no telling when you’ll actually arrive at your destination, sometimes it’s faster than your GPS tells you and sometimes, well it takes a lot longer.

I arrived in Monte Verde in the late afternoon, as I had opted to throw in a few stops along the road to take in the panorama sights!

After a relatively early dinner I was in bed early, in order to make the most of my time the next day. Early in the morning I went to one of the few free attractions, a tree located in small stretch of forest in Monte Verde where there is a hollow tree (still alive) that you can climb all the way to the top, the peculiar aspect is that you are climbing through the tree trunk so to speak! I hung out at the top of the tree for a little while until more people arrived, and as the space is limited I went back down, an amazing experience nonetheless!

going up

down the tree

the view from the top

popping out of the tree on top

quite high!

Hollow Tree that you can climb

Following the tree climbing I wanted to go the Monte Verde National Reserve, but arriving there saw a lot of cars, and a few buses.. And as I was not in the mood for a lot of people decided to instead go to the Santa Elena Cloud forest, a privately owned reserve that is nice and wild. On the way there I could not resist the temptation and went for another round of canopy, this time in dry weather, which I must admit is somewhat more comfortable! The lines were pretty fast, and some had to be done in pairs, in order to gain enough speed going against the relatively strong winds.

I arrived at Santa Elena a little before 3, and the guard at the entrance suggested I should take the short hike of about 3 km. As I was going through on my own, just enjoying the forest, and letting its calm take a hold of me, it took me only a short while to finish that particular track, so I added the 2nd longest of about 5 km. This trail, as it turned out actually led to a little opening in the forest, offering a perfect view of Arenal Volcano, which for once was not hidden in a veil of clouds!

santa elena cloud forest


tarantula at santa elena

temptation at santa elena

nice roots hike

arenal volcano as seen from santa elena

arenal in the distance


nice views in santa elena

magic cloud forest

more amazing views from the cloud forest

more views in santa elena

The Santa Elena Cloud Forest Reserve is actually quite a nice reserve, offering a little bit of cemented trails in the beginning, but if you go for the longer walks, you are actually getting into a bit of wild nature, although the paths are still very clearly visible, it gets a bit muddy, and that is half the fun!

As I had caught a bit of a cold in the rainy climate around Arenal, I decided that after spending an additional night in Monte Verde I would head back to the Pacific coast where I knew the weather was nice and warm!

More on that in a later post!

Costa Rica – Arenal Volcano

So following an extended period of time in Tamarindo, I was quite glad to get on the road. I left Tamarindo on a Saturday morning, and the beginning of the journey was fun, a warm breeze coming in and the traffic flowing quite well.. Unfortunately I was not supposed to go to Orosi Volcano, as somewhere along a dirt road in the middle of the jungle the GPS battery died, as the charging cable turned out to be broken. Without a clue where to turn to when the next crossroads came up as street signs are relatively rare as well, and very limited water and food supplies, I decided it would be more reasonable to backtrack to the next large town, Liberia to get a new cable, and spend the night.. The frustration did however not stop there, as it turned out, Liberia was fully booked, and as I was making my way from hotel to hostel and on could not find a room or a bed for the night. Finally I decided to just drive back to Tamarindo for the night, and then start again on Sunday. Somewhere lost in the jungle... at least some nice views ;)

Somewhere lost in the jungle... at least some nice views ;)

This time around I actually planned a little bit ahead, and booked a room at the Linda Vista Hotel next to the Arenal Volcano. I got back on the road, picked up a new cable at the car rental, and as the maps on the GPS dated back to 2011, asked if they had something more recent, which it turns out does not exist, so in addition to your GPS, if you plan driving around a little consider buying a paper map as well, and in any case be sure to rent a 4x4!!!! The drive to Arenal was beautiful, and the views of the country side and Lake Arenal were simply stunning! When you are driving around Costa Rica, and have a place you want to go to, be sure to look up the exact coordinates, as even though some roads have names, the GPS might not know these etc.. So the better you prepare your trip the easier you’ll get there. I am not one for loads of planning so usually end up taking a bit longer to get from A to B, having to occasionally throw in a U-Turn, but that is the way I like to go about as I enjoy occasionally getting lost a little.  (Since the first day I now always have a large stock of water, and at least some food in the car, just in case.) The closer I got to Arenal, the more it looked like rain, and as I checked in to the Linda Vista the clouds started to fully cover Arenal, but for a short moment I saw a bit of it, and I very much enjoyed going to the hot whirlpool with a cool shower from above, looking out at the lake.

Pool View

Arenal in a Cloud

clouded, but stunning view of Lake Arenal

View from the whirlpool

As it started to really poor, and the dirt road to and from the hotel was quite long, I had dinner there, and went to sleep early in hopes that all the rain would have come down by morning.

Well as the saying goes, there is no bad weather, only poor clothing, I set out to go on a Skywalk and Canopy tour at Arenal in the morning! The hike turned out relatively short, but thanks to the guide quite informative! The sky bridges make for stunning views, and should you visit Costa Rica, be sure to take at least one of these hikes as seeing the rain or cloud forests from above makes for a stunning change of scenery! And standing in front of a 500 year old tree is fascinating, and to feel its serenity is mind-blowing! The hike took about 2.5 hours, and around 1 the canopy tour started with about a 10 minute gondola ride up the mountain to about 1000m height.  From there it took about an hour and a half to get back down the mountain zip-lining down back and forth over the canyon with the highest line being about 200m above ground. Quite a fun experience! Unfortunately I only have a poncho against the rain, which was not suitable for the canopy tour, so I ended up quite wet, and a bit cold, but I had prepared a fresh change of clothes for as soon as I got back down.

View from one of the sky bridges

Go with the flow

Waterfall at Arenal, too cold to try, but beautiful!


On the Sky bridge in the rain.

about 500 year old tree

Arenal Forest

one of the sky bridges

Heart Leaf, natural.

From here on it was on to Monte Verde, which will be addressed in a later post.

Tamarindo - Costa Rica.

Alright having spent a little more than a month in Tamarindo on the west coast of Costa Rica, I can present a little bit of a first impression to you. First off, if you do like sunsets, than Tamarindo is certainly worth a visit, as you can see from a few pictures below. The sunsets are rather fast, but the colour plays are spectacular! The twilight lasts for about an hour, and is so far my favourite time of day, along with the occasional moonset in the morning!

My first week in Tamarindo, I spent fully immersed in the tourist experience which is very predominant here, so as you can guess Tamarindo is a bit more expensive than the rest of the country, although from what I gather Costa Rica is overall a bit more expensive than other countries around. On the upside, there is little to no crime in Tamarindo, which is if you can overlook the hookers (prostitution is actually legal in Costa Rica) and dealers (which, lets's face as anywhere are a result of a failed prohibition), of which there are plenty in town, mostly catering to the American Tourist in town for a week or weekend. Getting mugged is quite unlikely as the town is so small you’d probably run into the mugger the next day at the supermarket.

Nightlife is happening daily in Tamarindo, but the quality of the entertainment varies greatly, and for my personal music tastes, there are only 2 or 3 places in town where I am reasonably comfortable. There is El Garito, which is sort of an Electronic Fusion bar, where on Tuesday nights the DJ is accompanied by a live drummer, which mostly makes for fun times. Saturdays are quite busy here as well, but usually it’s just a DJ spinning tunes, all in all easy going Electronic sound. Then there is the Pacifico which is busy on Wednesdays for their ladies night, and Thursdays for their reggae night, which to me personally is a little better, as the music is more my taste, and the crowd is more local than other nights and places.  On Friday nights there is the Crazy Monkey, with a live salsa band on one level, and a DJ on the lower level. The crowd is mixed, the upper level is more filled with locals, and the tourists gather on the lower level. The other nights and Bars, are in my opinion not really worth mentioning.  If you do like live music look into Glasseye, a little local band playing all over the place, mostly reggae covers with a few good jams thrown in for good measure. The really good thing is that they don’t mind people standing in, so occasionally you get treated to a really good solo or two on any instrument.

The main beach, Playa Tamarindo is quite nice, although for me the pacific ocean is a tad cold, especially at night, the beach is quite popular with surfers, and swimmers alike, but you have to watch out where you go for a swim, as it is quite a rocky area.  The best feature as previously mentioned are the sunsets which are splendid most of the days, and the colour range has to be among the broadest I have seen in any sunsets thus far. So as you can imagine I have spent quite a few days watching the sun set. Night time is quite as beautiful, as even on the beach close to town the sky is magically clear, the only place I have seen it any clearer was in Burkina Faso where there was not a single source of artificial light around for a few hundred kilometres. But this comes in at a close second! The most amazing night time sight to date was a large halo around the almost full moon, which was a first for me as well.  Weather is perfect, considering it is dry season it has been in the low 30's (centigrades) most days and probably in the low 20's for most night, there was 1 night so far where it mildly drizzled.

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moon setting in the morning

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Halo around the moon

yes it is the moon in gnarly orange!

The last few weeks I have been mostly busy with going to language school, and my Spanish is actually improving though since I came here with no previous knowledge of the language prior to my arrival, overall my ability to hold a conversation is still limited. Understanding is a going quite well which is a good start! At night with a drink or two in me, the fluency is mildly increased, but not sure how grammatically accurate it is. The school itself is part of Education First, and as expected is mostly visited by relatively young people around their early twenty’s at most. Quite a few a very nice souls, and I am sure a few of them I will stay in touch with in the future. The classes themselves are alright as well, maybe a little big for absolute beginners like me, but with a bit of application outside of school I think most people could pick up at least some Spanish in a relatively short time.

Considering that I spend a lot of time studying, as the main goal of my time in Tamarindo is learning some basic Spanish skills, my explorations of the surrounding areas have been limited, but I have some time on my tourist permit left after school, so I’ll most likely rent a car then, and explore a bit more, so you can look forward to a new post sometime in the future, and certainly more pictures.

The most likely next little adventure maybe a trip to Envision Festival about 500 km from Tamarindo, just have to figure out a way to get there, and check the cost, but it sure does look interesting!