Travel Log

This is basically a list of where we stayed, how we travelled, and how much it cost. It will really only be of use to people who are planning on going the same way and would like to get some idea of the logistics involved. All room prices are per double room and all transport prices are per person. Assume the rooms are en-suite unless otherwise stated. Prices are given in local currency and were correct for 1999.

Exchange rates during our visit were:-

Rate per UKP
Rate per USD
N. Sol

If you want to check current prices you will have to find out the current exchage rates and adjust my figures accordingly. There is a useful online currecy converter at


Taxi fare from airport to Macuto. 12,000Bs (after agreeing 10,000). Bus 100 (yes one hundred!)Bs.
Posada del Hidalgo, Macuto. 22,000Bs. Nice place but expensive for what you get. AC. TV. I don't think it's there anymore (mud slides) so a bit academic really.

Bus Macuto - Caracas 500Bs.
Metro to Petare 350 Bs.(Metro is clean and safe and a good way to get around the city).
Bus Petare - Terminal Oriente 140Bs. (Bus stop is behind metro station - you shouldn't have to cross the road!).There are other ways to get to the bus station from the city.
AC Bus Terminal Oriente -Barcelona 5,800 Bs. 5 hours.
Hotel Madrid, Barcelona. 12,000Bs. AC. TV. Crummy in the extreme but the only place we could find at that time of night. Had a concrete plinth for a bed which, strangely enough, was the most comfortable bed we found in South America!

Changed to Hotel Canaria. 7,000Bs. Fan. TV. Much better.

Bus Barcelona - Puerto la Cruz. 110Bs.
Por Puesto (shared taxi) Puerto la Cruz - Santa Fe. 1,000Bs + 400Bs. per bag. Good scenery from here heading east.
Siete Delfines, Santa Fe. 6,000 Bs. Fan. Right on the beach - good restaurant on the sand, roof garden, boat trips, diving etc. Recommended.

Por Puesto Santa Fe - Cumana. 1,000Bs + 200Bs. per bag.
Hotel America. 6,000Bs. Fan. A real dive - should have done better.
Cumana is a top town.

Por Puesto Cumana - Carupano. 3,500Bs. More nice scenery. 2 hours (also buses on this route).
Carupano looked a nice town - didn't really stop to explore properly.
Por Puesto Carupano - Rio Caribe. 1,000Bs 20 mins.
Posada de Arlan. 15,000Bs. Fan. A really nice room - spotlessly clean - and a real family welcome. Quite expensive.
This is as far east as we went - there are more nice beaches further east but they were more difficult to get to.

Por Puesto Rio Caribe - Carupano. 500Bs. Was our Spanish getting better!!!
Por Puesto Carupano - Chacopata. 3,000Bs. Spectacular stuff near the end.
Small boat Chacopata - Porlamar. 3,000Bs. A bit rough but good fun.
Bus Porlamar - Juan Griego. 350 Bs.
An excellent days travel - the back route to Margarita. We weren't sure if we would like Margarita - ended up staying for a week!! - well it was our honeymoon and we did stumble across one of the best hotels on the island.
Patricks Hotel and Restaurant, Juan Griego. 12,000 Bs. AC. Fan. Hot Water. Food to die for! The best hotel on Margarita - give Patrick our regards!

Taxi Juan Griego - Punta del Piedras. 2,000Bs. (Cock up with the bus times! and we wanted to get the early ferry).
Ferry Punta del Piedras - Puerto la Cruz. 5,000Bs. 2nd class. Nice ride through the islands.
Bus into town 150Bs.
Hotel Magdelina, Puerto la Cruz. 13,500Bs. AC(just). TV. Pretty rough, but OK for one night.

Bus Puerto la Cruz - Ciudad Bolivar. 3,500Bs. 5 hours. Travelled non Ac with Expressos Guyanese. Boring trip until just before the end. Play 'Count the Shoe Shops' in El Tigre!
Hotel Caracas, Ciudad Bolivar. 6,000Bs. Fan. A big mistake - a truly awful hotel with a 'rip-off' attitude. The city is great though - see below for a better accommodation choice - although anywhere would be better than here!

17/7/99 - 18/7/99
Angels Falls trip. It's expensive, it's wet and uncomfortable - but it is the highest waterfall on the planet. If you go, Thomas Bernal were the best when we were there - but seek out local intelligence from people coming back. Book directly with tour operator and NOT with agencies in town.

Hotel Union, Ciudad Bolivar. 7,000Bs. AC. Fan. TV. A real bargain - clean and comfortable.

Bus Ciudad Bolivar - Sta Elaina de Uairen. 7,000Bs. Turbus Turgar (non ac). Get the early bus in order to do this trip during daylight as it's one of the best bus journeys I've been on - try to get a non ac bus so that you get to see out. Through the gold fields (lunch at El Dorado or the evocatively named Km88! to the Gran Sabana with it's waterfalls and table mountains. Wow! (11 hours).
Hotel Gabriella, Sta Elaina. 6,000Bs. Fan. Average hotel - good value.
Sta Elaina is a nice town with a Brasilian feel - this is because it's closer to Brasil than Venezuela. You can arrange trips into the Sabana from here - better than in Ciudad Bolivar - or even climb Mt Roriama if you're fit enough. The bus to Boa Vista cost 6,000Bs with no trouble at the border (no taxes to pay).


Shortly before we arrived in Brasil there had been an economic crisis and we found that prices were a lot cheaper than we had been expecting. This may not currently be the case so carefully check the exchange rates before taking our word on these prices.

Bus. Sta Elaina de Uairen (Venezuela) - Boa Vista. 6,000Bs. 3 hours. Brasilian bus calling at all border posts. There is a new Venezuelan post out at the border itself. Some guidebooks said there was land tax to pay here, but this was not the case and also there is no longer a requirement to visit migration in Sta Elaina. No problems at either post. The driver visited a bank shortly before leaving Venezuela where you can change any remaining Bolvares at a poor rate (better to spend them in Venezuela).

Hotel Três Nações 20R$ AC. Hooks for hammocks above the beds. Not bad - handy for the bus station. Short bus ride into town.

Bus. Boa Vista - Manaus. União Cascavel. 48R$. 12 hours. 1 ferry (being replaced by a bridge). This was one of the big surprises of the trip. Brasilian buses are among the most luxurious anywhere - so on one of what we were expecting to be the most difficult sections we actually got a really comfortable nights sleep. Felt a bit like cheating arriving in the middle of the Amazon Basin in such style. We caught a night bus so as to avoid arriving in Manaus after dark - an unnecessary precaution as it turned out.

24/7/99 - 27/7/99
Hospedaria Turística 10 de Julio, Manaus. 28R$. AC. TV. (Including breakfast). Fair hotel in good location near the Opera House.
Manaus is an amazing city - considering it's location. The botanical gardens made a good day trip, and just wondering around looking at the old rubber barons mansions was great fun. The Opera House must be one of the most opulent buildings anywhere - shame there were no operas on during our visit. Don't forget your white suit for the obligatory 'Fitzcaraldo pose' outside! The 'ice cream by the kilo' places bring out the child in everyone!
South from Manaus the road is not repaired (although just about passable by 4 wheel drive) so we had to take a riverboat towards Porto Vehlo. It's better to actually go into the port to buy a ticket direct from the captain rather than from the busy official ticket office on the pier. That way you get to have a look over the boat first - try and find a clean one, ask about speed - we overtook the boat that had departed two days earlier, and also you will probably get a discount as there will be no commission to pay. If you want a cabin, make sure that the AC is working or you will bake. We slept in hammocks on the deck which was no problem at all, but make sure you get on board early to bag the best places (away from the engine and toilets).

27/7/99 - 31/7/99
Riverboat. Manaus - Porto Velho. Almte Paulo Arnold. 70R$ (first class hammock space) including all meals. 4.5 days. The only way to travel in the Amazon! There were 2 Australians in one of the cabins, apart from that all Brasilian passengers. Security not a problem - we all looked out for each other. Fascinating views of river life. The best bit was probably getting up just before dawn, going up on the top deck and watching the forest wake up. A pair of binoculars are vital for this - we had the only pair on the boat - they got a lot of use by everyone! Also saw loads of river dolphins. The food is a bit monotonous so supplement it with biscuits etc before you leave. Most (all?) boats have a bar on the top deck - although it's much too hot to go up during the day. Great sunsets guaranteed.

Hotel Pousada da Sete, Porto Velho. 20R$. AC. (Including breakfast - well coffee & biscuits). Good value place right in the centre of town. It gets a special star because I contrived to leave my passport, plane tickets, travellers cheques, credit cards, and 400$US cash in the room when we checked out the next day. I didn't realise this until we were almost in Guajará Mirim. When we returned some 12 hours later all my stuff was returned to me intact - so we can definitely recommend the security.
The railway in the town is well worth a look - quite a history. The road south uses some of the old railway bridges.

Shared Taxi. Porto Velho - Guajará Mirim - Porto Velho. 35R$ (each way - each!). A bad day due to the problem outlined above. The road south is badly potholed but is paved most of the way. The taxis are much faster than the buses.

Hotel Lider, Porto Velho. 25R$. AC. TV. Moved out here to be near the bus station ready for the early bus in the morning. An excellent room - very good value. All the places we visited in Brasil had bus stations miles outside the city.

Bus. Porto Velho
- Guajará Mirim. 15R$. Viação Rondônia. 7 hours (including 2 hr breakdown). Beginning to get used to this road by now. The only way from the bus station in Guajará Mirim to the port is by taxi (about 4 km) for which you end up paying the difference between the bus and shared taxi fare, so you might as well just get a taxi all the way from Porto Velho. Get exit stamp from the police station before getting the ferry to Bolivia - you can go to Bolivia for the day without signing out of Brasil, but if you want to spend the night there you need to go through migration. Things are much cheaper in Bolivia so there should be no need to stay in Guajará Mirim.


Guajara-Mirim (Brasil) - Guayaramerin Ferry 6B$ (5 min) Quite easy to miss the border post - in a small office on the left of the ferry landing. The sign saying 'Migration' had fallen off!
Hotel Plaza Annexa 50B$ Fan. Not brilliant but OK - bed a bit hard.

Guayaramerin - Riberalta
Shared Taxi 25B$. 1.5 hours. 1 ferry. 3 dodgy bridges! Some really 'exciting' bridges including one 'self-assembly'!!!! Quicker and more comfortable than the bus.
Hotel Lazo. 60B$. Fan. Hot water. Excellent room, v.clean.
Ribereralta is motorbike city - great fun. Got stuck here for Independance day(s).

Riberalta - Rurrenabaque
Bus - Flotas Yunguenas 130B$ 17 hours. 1 ferry. 2 fords. 0 dodgy bridges! There was only one company plying this route - hence the exorbitant price. Mind you when you see the state of the road it's likely they have to buy a new bus for every trip!! The worst road I've ever seen anywhere. We stopped once in the whole 17 hours - at the Sheraton 5 star (no kidding - we have the photograph) - because there was only one place to stop. Rarely managed to get above 15 mph. Got to Rurre at 4.30am where there was no electricity - no light - and nobody about. Had to sling our hammocks in the bus station canteen and wait until dawn. Route recommended for serious travellers (nutters?) only.
Hostal Beni. 30B$. Shared bathroom. Basic but modern. Good value. Recommended.
Nice town - loads of restaurants and hotels. Catch the sunset by the river.

Rurrenabaque - Caranavi
Bus - Turbus Totai 40B$ 12 hours. Plenty of buses to choose from - we managed to get the slow one but I think that's the luck of the draw and not necessarily down to choice of company. Nice ride into the foothills of the Andes - try to travel during the day if possible (not easy). Very dusty.
Hotel Caranavi. 30B$. Shared bath (but no water!). Adequate (just!)
Chose this town to avoid another 3.00am arrival. Interesting slice of 'real' Bolivia. Only stayed overnight - people very welcoming - not many (any?) tourists.

Caranavi - Coroico
Bus Caranavi - Yolanda - Transportes del Norte 20B$ 4 hours. Very dusty ride through some really spectacular scenery - when you could see it. Road very busy due to one way system further south (see below).
Camionetta (pick up) Yolanda - Coroico 2.50B$ 30 min. Excellent standing on the back to blow the dust off.
Hostel Uchumachi. 30B$ Shared bath (hot water). Not clean or very comfortable. Coroico marked the end of our North-South Amazon crossing so we changed hotels next day to:- La Casa. 50B$. Fantastic room with brilliant view. La Casa is a good restaurant with some rooms in an adjacent house. We could only have this room for 2 nights so on the 3rd day changed again to:- Hotel Gloria. 100B$. Inc Breakfast. All mod cons. This was actually a 3 or 4 star hotel which was undergoing renovation hence the cheap prices. Good cheap food available - but watch out for the sand flies.
Can't speak highly enough of Coroico. Great food, great walking country, friendly, moderate temperature - this place has just about everything. The main road doesn't actually go through the town but it's well worth making the detour. One of my favourite places in the world.

Coroico - La Paz
Minibus - Turbus Totai 15B$. 5 hours. The most dangerous road in the world - one vehicle goes off the edge every fortnight (on average). Well there's now a one-way system in operation which makes it a bit safer (apart from the Le Mans start at the bottom) - down during the day and up at night. (there is also a new road being built to bypass the bad section - should be ready before 2010!). Unfortunately we ran into cloud about a third of the way up so no 1000 m drops for us - and we'd booked the front seats especially! Got to La Cumbre pass as it was getting dark and hit the first bit of good tarmac we'd come across in Bolivia - the sensation of moving at over 30mph made us feel quite giddy - or was it the lack of oxygen? First sight of La Paz will stay with me - like a mountain lit up with fairy lights.
Hotel Torino. 40B$. Shared bath. A bit like a prison. We'd been recommended to this place by a girl we'd met in Coroico - I think it was a joke. A truly horrible place. Next day moved to Hotel Alem 120B$. TV. Hot Water. Inc 'breakfast'. More expensive but a nice enough hotel with carpeted rooms - much needed due to the 'sub-zero' temperatures (not really but it felt that way).
La Paz is a truly unique and vibrant city. We stayed for a while to acclimatise. There are some good day trips to Tiwanaku etc. Also good fun to just jump in a mini-bus and go for a ride to watch the traffic. Valle de la Luna is a good destination - go by public transport.

La Paz - Copacabana
Bus - Trans Manco Kapac. 12B$ + 1.30B$ for the ferry. (3.5 hours). Good bus on good paved roads - was this really Bolivia? Brilliant views of the lake towards the end of the trip.
Buscars de Titicaca. 120B$. Shared bath. Hot Water. Balcony. Expensive room (well it felt expensive) - but with a lake view to die for.
There are some even more expensive places here. Watch out for Saturdays when prices rise by 50% even if you're already in the room. The reason is because that is when the famous vehicle blessings take place in the plaza - not to be missed. Two religions merge into one. Copacabana is I suppose a Bolivian tourist resort (for Bolivian tourists I mean). Great fun though - loads of places to stay and eat. Good architecture - good walking and most importantly the place you have to go to get to the Isla del Sol.

Copacabana - Isla del Sol.
Boat - Titicaca Tours 20B$ open return. 1.5 hours. Well dodgy boat in freezing conditions - but better to use them than the flash git catamarans and hydrofoils which are messing the place up for about 100USD a go!
Mirador del Inca. 30B$. Shared bath. Hot water - if you're persistent enough. This was in Yumani. We subsequently discovered a much better hostel but had already paid. Can't remember the name but it sits right on the top of the island (at over 4000mtrs!) and has the only restaurant in the village. Great place to watch the sunset over a beer and some soup - would have been even better if we hadn't had to find our way home in the dark. The island is a real lovely place - no cars, hardly any electricity, ruinas everywhere (it's still the focal point for the local religion), and great walks. We walked up to the north of the island and stayed at Challa Pampa at Hostel San Francisco. 20B$. Lovely place - great value - interesting outside toilet. Restaurant in village will only cook food to order - we forgot and had to settle for cream biscuits and red wine!

Back to Copacabana in evening.
Residential Sucre. 50B$. Hot water - with electric shocks in true Andean fashion! Lovely room - crap view. A bargain. Good restaurant with very cheerful owner.

Copacabana - Puno
Minibus Copacabana to Border 2B$ 15mins. No problem at border - and thence to Peru.


26/8/99 - 30/8/99
Copacabana - Puno
The border post is just outside Yunguyo. Shared taxi into town from the border 1S/-.
Bus. Yunguyo - Puno. 3S/50. 2 hours. There are plenty of buses on this route. The bus stops at Juli where there are some spectacular churches - if you have time (we didn't).
Hostal Victor, Puno. 40S/-. Hot water am only. Nice enough hotel - probably better bargains to had. Puno is very much on the Gringo trail - lots more backpackers here. The shoe shine boys are a real pain - not like Bolivia. There are a few good excursions from Puno including the Uros islands which are heavily touristed but unique, and Sillustani, an old burial ground which we found very impressive. There are lots of agencies selling these tours - shop around for the cheapest price - there's usually only one actual operator.

30/8/99 - 3/9/99
Train. Puno - Cusco. 19US$. Ejecutivo (2nd) class (of 3). 12 hours. Our first train ride of the trip - the road to Cusco has been improved and the train is now really only a tourist train - it's still a good ride going over a high pass at over 14,000ft. and then dropping into the Urubamba valley. Buying a ticket is a real pain - it's probably better to get the bus nowadays. Third class is only available from Juliaca - all other classes are priced in US$. There is plenty of food served on the train - but it's not cheap.
Hostel Platenos, Cusco. 16US$. Cable TV. Hot water
am only. Quite a nice hotel - very central. A lot of both cheaper and more expensive options in Cusco - as befits one of the worlds leading tourist destinations. Plenty to see and do in the city. We thought the most impressive site was Sacsayhuamán - very impressive stonework. Taxis around the city centre should cost 2S/- a ride.

3/9/99 - 6/9/99
The Inca Trail. We booked through Q'uente Tours on Platenos for 77US$ including SAEC discount. We were grouped with people from other agencies, most notably United Mice who seem to get most recommendations. Note that as from July 2000 the rules regarding the Inca Trail have changed and it will now be more expensive to do this hike (also no solo hiking is now allowed). This has been done to reduce the number of people walking the trail and the impact on the environment. It really is one of the best walks on the planet though and if you can possibly afford it you should make this your number one destination in Peru. You will need to be moderately fit and acclimatised to the altitude. You won't regret it. You can hire sleeping bags etc in Cusco. Don't forget to tip the porters generously - it's them who are doing most of the work.

7/9/99 - 8/9/99
Back to Hostel Platenos to recover and relax.

Bus. Cusco - Abancay. 15S/-. 6 hours. (1 Breakdown, 1 stoppage for roadwork's) Transport Turismo Ampay. Brand new bus terminal in Cusco - possibly the most organised we'd seen since Brasil. We decided to head to Lima via the central highlands which took us off the tourist trail and into 'real' Peru. Most of the roads from now on are unpaved mountain roads through some really spectacular scenery. This route included the lowest (of 3) crossings of the Apurimac (Amazon) river - with fantastic views on both sides of the valley.
Hostal Leonidas. 20S/-. Shared Bathroom. Clean and cheap. Abancay is a nice little town with a good line in Chinese restaurants.

Bus. Abancay - Andahuaylas. 12S/-. 5.5 hours. Señor de Huanca (honest!). Another nice ride up into the clouds and down into a fertile agricultural region.
Hostal Liberatores Wari. 20S/-. Hot Water 24 hrs. Andahuaylas is a bit grubbier than Abancay but still a nice place. A good day trip is out to the Chanka fortress at Sondor, and a colourful market in the town.

Bus. Andahuaylas - Ayacucho. 20S/-. 10.5 hours. Chankas Tours. Every climate imaginable on this trip - two really high passes (4600 mtrs) plus the Rio Pampas gorge which was tropical. Saw condors on the highest pass and sugar cane being grown in the valleys.
Hostal San Blas. 25S/-. Hot water 24hrs. Really nice family run hotel near the market. Ayacucho is a great city - recently the headquarters of the Sendoro Luminoso. The ruins at Wari are hidden beneath a forest of cacti - very exotic.

Bus. Ayacucho - Huancayo. 20S/-. 11.5 hours (including 2 breakdowns). Transports Molina. No passes for a change - rather following the Rio Mataro. It's important that you get a seat on the left hand side of the bus if you want to see anything. Mind you - if you're at all nervous it's probably better to sit on the right!!
Hotel Prince. 20S/-. No hot water. Large hotel that had definitely seen better days. Very cheap and nasty. Huancayo took us by surprise - a much bigger place than we were expecting. Exciting fountains in the main plaza.

Bus. Huancayo - Huancavellica. 10S/-. Trans Yoranga. 6 hours. At one point the bus was so overloaded that we all had to sit on the right to keep the chassis off the wheels! More spectacular countryside and a bit of tarmac just at the end.
Hotel Comacho. 18S/-. Shared bath. Hot water am only. Not much in the way of places to stay - this seemed to be the best of the cheap places. Quite cold here but another great town in a spectacular setting.

Train. Huancavellica - Huancayo. 8S/- First class (second of 3). 6 hours (including 1 derailment!). At last a real Peruvian train and it didn't disappoint. Pigs, chickens and children everywhere and non stop food from hawkers jumping on and off - a real culinary experience. Not to be missed.
Hotel Roger. 32S/-. Hot water 24hrs. Cable TV. We'd already sussed out a better place to stay and so headed straight here. Plenty of accommodation in Huancayo. No trains running to Lima, but talk of the service resuming. Good place for buying handicrafts.

Luxury Bus. Huancayo - Lima. 35S/-. 5 hours. Decided to splash out because it was our last trip. Crossed the highest pass of the trip at 4700 mtrs and then descended straight to sea level - oh to be able to breath again. There are much cheaper alternatives to this bus, and also the possibility that the highest train in the world will begin operating again soon.
Hotel Savoy. 10US$. TV, Fan, Towels etc. Another SAEC discount. We usually splash out on the last night anyway but this deal was too good to miss - included breakfast and airport transfer. Actually the hotel was a bit crummy - sort of run down 70's. Got a bus to Miraflores and walked down to the sea to complete our continental crossing, bought a load of presents, and came home via Madrid.

Don't hesitate to email if you need to know any further details.