Macchu Picchu is overrated - go for the underrated!

If you had just one week in Peru - where would you go? I bet Macchu Picchu. 

Macchu Picchu is still the most recognized symbol of the ancient South American civilizations and most often it gets included in the itineraries by default. How can you say you’ve been to Peru, but haven’t visited Macchu Picchu?

Well, that happened to us and we’re very happy with the alternatives we took. We did have Macchu Picchu on our list when we started our South America trip, but every time we heard some other traveler’s story about their visit to Macchu Picchu we were getting more and more frustrated. It sounded very much like visiting Times Square in NYC or Eifel Tower in Paris. I do appreciate both, but these places are becoming harder and harder to enjoy. So we decided to go for the alternatives which in Peru are plenty, but often overlooked in the shadows of Macchu Picchu. 

Kuelap was one of them. Kuelap is the ancient center of Chachapoyas indians culture - much older one than Incas (dating back to 800AD). Chachapoyas indians were “cloud people” - rightfully so because their cities literally live in the clouds high up in the mountains.

To get to Kuelap, you’ll first need to get to Chachapoyas town - it is connected to Tarapoto town which in turn is connected to Yurimaguas Amazon river port, and it’s connected to the west by a local road to Chiclayo (there are regular buses from Chiclayo and from Terapoto)

From Chachapoyas you can take combis (public minibus) that takes you close enough to Kuelap to walk, however Chachapoyas Backpackers hostel offers group transport and guides that are very affordable for any backpacker. The trip takes about 2-3 hours and the road to the cloud city is spectacular. 

Kuelap is a walled city that sits on a cliff in a remote mountainous area which made it difficult for the following civilizations- the Incas and the Spanish - to conquer it. The only access to the city is a single path up the mountain, all other slopes are too steep to walk or climb. It’s a magnificent structure with most of the citizen houses and governor building bases still visible.

The origins of Chachapoyas are not known, however the older texts written by Spanish explorers describe Chachapoyas indians as predominantly fair skinned, light haired and with blue eyes which is characteristic to Northern Europeans. There are also some theories about the vikings being somehow involved because the method of building (stone circle shape houses) resembles historic viking structures. 

The entire area has a surrealistic feel to it - the jungle has taken over many of the city areas producing spectacular landscape designs and mysterious aura surrounding the entire area.

This was an amazing trip in the privacy of about 20 other travelers vs. thousands of people visiting Macchu Picchu every day. Go for the underrated!


This story is written by our team behind What's It Like - helping travelers figure out when to go.



Amazon river on cargo boats

One of the coolest and still off the beaten path adventures you can do on Amazon river is to travel from town to town on cargo boats. River commerce/delivery of goods is quite active, and for some Amazon river communities getting supplies by boat is the only way due to the fact that they are too remote and too disconnected from the more advanced road infrastructures. In fact, if you want to get by land from Colombian side of Amazon to the Peruvian mountains that border Amazon jungle - river is the only way, there are no roads.

To start our Amazon adventures we flew from Bogota into Leticia, Colombia - a tiny town in the middle of dense jungle, cut off from the rest of the country by guerrilla forces predominant in the jungle. Leticia is a funny town - it's in Colombia, but from Leticia you can walk into Brazil (3 blocks from the town center) and you can hang out in Peru (5 minutes boat ride). There are only few cars in town as there are no roads connecting Leticia to anything else, it's mostly motorbikes. There's not much around, but you can explore the local villages, communities and jungle conservation projects by renting motorbikes ($12 a day) - everything feels like in the middle of nowhere though. 

We stayed at Mahatu hostel - it's really nice, affordable, has a lot of green, and the owner is a great guy who knows the jungle and surroundings inside out (he'll also recommend where to get the best set menus in town)

There are several agencies that organize trips into the jungle, watching wildlife and staying in indigenous communities, but many travelers come here for the sole purpose of boarding a cargo boat to cross into Peru. There is a faster and more "upscale" boat that can take you to Iquitos in Peru (within 24 hrs) even though "upscale" is hard to apply to anything in the jungle. And there are local cargo boats that go to Iquitos about 4 times a week and take 4 days/3 nights(ask around to know the precise days or visit the port to confirm the schedule)

Loading the boat

Loading the boat

For the true spirit of adventure we chose the cargo boat. The trip from Leticia to Iquitos is less tried by foreigners, so the prices are lower - the 3 nights trip + food + sharing a cabin costs about $45, but you can bargain with the captain. The trip from Iquitos to Yurimaguas where the overland road starts - was about $70 per person, but it also depends on how many foreigners you find who wants to share a cabin. 

A cargo boat is a barge with an engine - base floor is for cargo, there's really nothing you can't encounter being transported - bananas, soda bottles, tractors, pigs, furniture, rice, motorbikes, other boats, plastic, etc. Second and third floor is for passengers - the space is just a deck with metal bars on the ceiling for tying up hammocks. Everyone hangs their own hammock - sometimes it's reasonable distance from each other and sometimes when the boat is crowded it's more like shoulder to shoulder - and everyone lives in their hammock for 4 days. You can buy a decent hammock and ropes at Leticia market for $8-12. Before boarding the boat - you need to get an exit stamp from Colombian Immigration (you'll need to go for it to the airport border control) and an entry stamp from Peruvian Immigration (you'll need to take a boat to a small Peruvian island next to Leticia called Santa Rosa and go to Immigration office/shack on the main street, any boat from the port will take you there for about $2-3, from that island you can take another boat to the neighboring island where you can get onboard of your boat)

Upper deck

Upper deck

There are mosquitos in all villages along the Amazon, but when you're on the boat and moving no need to worry about them/no need for mosquito net - the breeze and distance from the shore keeps them away.

There is a kitchen onboard and they serve breakfast, lunch and dinner (for breakfast usually just bread, for lunch and dinner - rice, fried banana and some undistinguishable meat) Some gringos (white people) who traveled on cargo boats will advise not to eat the food onboard as you can get upset stomach or even parasites because of the quality of the water they use and seasoned sailor style hygiene standards, but we and the other couple of travelers took the chance and ate some of the food they serve (not meat though) It's very basic and the portions are quite small - so take canned tuna, bread, snacks, vegetables and water with you. At many stops there will be vendors sweeping through the deck selling food while the boat is ashore, so you can get fruit and snacks from them too (you never know though when they'll come) You can use plates and utensils from the kitchen or you can get your own plate and fork at the market (it's still a mystery whether they use filtered or unfiltered/water from the river for washing dishes)

There are stories of bags being stolen from gringos while they were sleeping. On one of the boats we were also warned by some good locals on board that there is a guy onboard who is famous for stealing and had already problems with police. So if you have nothing to steal keeping a bag next to your hammock or inside your hammock will be fine, but if you have your DSLR, tablet, kindle, expensive gear in your bag - the advice is to share a cabin with other travelers. The cabin is an absolute no-no for sleeping (there is a bunk bed in each of 8-10 cabins onboard), but you can sleep on the deck in your hammock and just use the cabin to keep your bags locked there. On the day of departure the boat will be offloading and loading at least 4 hours before departure (usually 6:30-8pm) so you can come 3 hours before in order to find a good spot for the hammock (upper deck is the best as toilets and kitchen is on lower deck) and to find a captain to bargain for a cabin. When you get a cabin and keys from the captain you can stay and watch for other foreigners to arrive and offer them to share the cabin/costs for the bags. From Leticia we were 3 gringos onboard, from Iquitos - there were about 10 foreigners in total so we ended up with a pretty good deal of sharing the cabin between 3 the first trip and between 5 the next trip. 

The cabin

The cabin

People traveling on cargo boats are mostly villagers from remote places and traveling as far as from the East of Brazil to the West of Peru on cargo boats (2-3 weeks just to visit a family in another country) Most of them are very simple people and a lot of them have never seen a white person before - so be sure, you'll be quite an attraction on the boat. If you speak at least basic Spanish - you can get to know some people onboard, especially your neighbors in the closest hammocks (even though your neighbors might change every day as they come and go)

The boat experience is really unique. You get to see places and communities which you'd never see otherwise as there are no roads. You get to experience the magnitude and majesty of the Amazon river itself - it's length that goes beyond the horizon, its width and fullness that impresses you every morning when you open your eyes, its abundant green color on both banks. With every kind of weather the Amazon changes - from gloomy and mysterious to incredibly bright colors and lively atmosphere. The time on the boat passes very slowly, most of the time you're going to be walking around, sleeping or reading in your hammock or talking to others. There's nowhere to go, there's nothing to do and there's nothing you can do about anything on the boat - you're stuck there for 4 days and this being stuck is quite liberating.

There are of course other interesting aspects of being on the boat. The hygiene in the toilets and showers may seem close to non existent (take wet wipes instead of using showers), the local kids will immediately take over the boat as their playground, you might get a transvestite cook or a waiter flirt with you occasionally (for some reasons all Amazon river cargo boats employ transvestites and not the elite looking ones), time to time you'll have to defend your hammock spot when someone will attempt to hang theirs right above you, and so on. But it's fun!

The boat never sleeps and that's the life on the boat.

Colombia's Caribbean coast

Charming, rustic and incredibly captivating - Colombia's Caribbean coast will have you in its grip as easily as a siren trapping a sailor. 

It makes you feel at home as if that's where you're supposed to be. The nature is incredibly beautiful - from wild beaches to high jungle to snow peaks - yes, just a bit up from Minca village you can see both at the same time - the Caribbean sea to the North and snow peaks of Sierra Nevada of Santa Marta to the South. Within two hours of traveling you can dive and swim with gigantic turtles and you can watch toucans gathering in the high jungle for their sunset chatter. And if you want to party like there's no tomorrow  - that's available pretty much any day of the week. 

Needless to say it was very hard to leave this "Bermuda" triangle which lies between Santa Marta town and Taganga village, Tayrona National park and beyond down the never ending beaches and up the high jungle around Minca village. 

If you're coming from Cartagena it's easier to take a mini bus from the bus station (they all say it's going to take 3hrs, but expect about 5hrs, getting to Cartagena's bus station may take about 30 minutes depending on the route and traffic, so leave your hostel a bit in advance) In Santa Marta it's very easy to get anywhere with a taxi, pretty much anywhere is going to cost $2-5. The main tourist drag is by the beach, however it's quite cheesy there. Walk around the old part of the town, visit the central market around 8th-11th street (paralel to the beach), meet other travelers at one of the party hostels (e.g. La Brisa Loca) and it's going to be much better than the boardwalk. For much more rustic and hippie atmosphere head to Taganga - the mini buses for Taganga stop on the main 5th Avenue, just check the sign on the bus - should say Taganga (the taxi will cost about $10, mini bus - $1, it takes about 10 minutes to get there as it's just over a hill) Taganga also offers one of the cheapest PADI diving certifications in the world ($300 for 3 days/6 dives/all equipment/transport to the diving spots in the national park waters/study materials/lunches between dives) It is amazing to learn to do that! 

Santa Marta is usually the jumping point to other destinations around, but it's also good for parties, especially in the hostels. Note that Santa Marta hostels are not cheap for those who want private double rooms (expect to pay $35-50 for an ok private double). So staying there for longer time might not be such a great idea, besides Santa Marta is very hot - you'll want to get out to where the breeze is in a couple of days. Another part of the town, Rodadero, offers some more beach options, but it's rather cheesy as well - big concrete hotels, etc., so I wouldn't stay there.

Most people from Santa Marta go to Tayrona National park - just for a day/two day hike. Local buses leave from the market (crossing of 11th and 11th street for Tayrona and further, and one block further - ask around - for Minca) Staying in Tayrona - camping or sleeping in hammocks - is quite expensive ($20 for a hammock if I'm not mistaken), but the hike is quite nice - avoid the crowds and you'll enjoy it. At the Cabo San Juan - keep going further down the trails that connect the beaches for most beautiful and less visited places.

DSC_6949.jpg

For more beautiful beaches - head further East along the coast, there are several villages along the coast that have accommodation and amazing, less visited beaches, for example Palomino beach. Take a couple of days (or weeks :)) at Costeño Beach - a surf camp about 10 minutes from Tayrona park. You'll get basic but cozy accommodation right on the beach among coconut palms, hammocks and white sand, remote location, lots of sun, lots of fun with the local surfing crew and other travelers, and if you want to try surfing - the break is right in front of the camp (ask in advance about the season as in stormy season the waves are pretty crazy). To get to Costeño beach - ride the Tayrona park bus 10 minutes past the Tayrona entrance and ask the driver to stop at the Costeño beach turn - from there you'll need to walk about 15 minutes on a quite sandy path.

If you want to get away from everything, experience the beauty of the highland jungle and its creatures and make friends with amazing people - visit Casa Elemento, about 5km up from Minca in the hills overlooking the Caribbean sea. It's a renovated coffee farm house in the middle of lush forest, surrounded by green hills, hiking trails and great views. It also has probably world's biggest hanging-over-the-slope-of-the-hill hammock - perfect mind exploration place. The team behind this place are passionate and incredibly dedicated to their dream people from different countries. They will inspire you a lot (and will feed you like a king :)) and you'll leave having gained so much more than just a place to stay.

Medellín, Colombia

Home of the national hero slash merciless murderer, Pablo Escobar, city of brilliant vibes, modern, green and multi faced - Medellin is a true gem of Colombia. Medellin can make you feel like you’re in Manhattan, Rio de Janeiro, Bangkok, Napoli, Tijuana and San Francisco depending on what you’re looking for. Its urban modernity shares the fame with the remains of the age of the drug lords at the same time - you can enjoy the luxury of a Marriott hotel or you can organize a private party at one of the many narcofincas - former drug lords’ castle like estates in the mountains surrounding Medellin, now being rented out for private events. There are areas where you can go, where you absolutely shouldn’t go and where you can try going if you’re feeling adventurous, but only if you can put on a credible badass gangsta image. Taxi ride with an agency taxi driver through for example Buenos Aires neighborhood or a cable car ride up the mountain to Parque Arvi will let you peak at these areas from the safety of a cabin. 

Credit: http://solotravelerblog.com/

Credit: http://solotravelerblog.com/

The city has a very convenient metro which stretches very far North and South making each stop a distinct neighborhood. There is a lot of nightlife, primarily posh bars and clubs in Poblado and life music and salsa clubs around 78th street. There is a pretty big gringo land in Poblado as well - majority of hostels, gringo food places will be there, right around the Parque Lleras which is the famous party scene. Hostels here are overpriced, all look the same and provide not a very good value for the money. If you want to experience a bit more real Medellin apart from this Parque Lleras area gringo aquarium, use Airbnb.com - we’ve been using it for a while, mostly for bigger cities, and it has proved to be an excellent experience, especially in Medellin where hostels can’t much the value of most Airbnb properties. 

medellin.jpg

We paid $30 per night for a private room ensuite in a new, modern apartment right in the heart of Envigado neighborhood - it was just perfect! Envigado (same name metro stop) is a middle class working “town” where culture and atmosphere is perfectly preserved as very local. There are very few gringos/expats living there and generally tourists don’t really come here, so it’s a very well kept secret of Medellin. Envigado has everything you might need to feel like a local - tons of all sorts of shopping, food market, supermarkets, colonial architecture, entertainment, transportation, local nightlife and some local gangster scene as well if you’re into checking out the remains of Pablo’s times. Holidays like Christmas and Easter are especially big in Envigado - we got to see the preparations for Christmas - oh, man, Times Square in NYC would be embarrassed seeing Envigado on Christmas. From markets to street food to local billiard “barracks” and fondas (little dive bars) where usually older guys hang out after work - everything will make you feel the very authentic atmosphere of the town. There are many renovated and newly built apartment buildings in the area - beautiful, spacious places that go for relatively cheap. Our Airbnb place was one of them. Jesse, the host, is a great guy who loves this city, its vibe and what it has to offer. Spending time with him gives you a very profound perspective on the life in Medellin. Jesse also knows a lot of young expats who chose Medellin as their home and it’s a great little community that gets together time to time - we were lucky to be there for a Thanksgiving party and get to know Medellin’s expat crowd a bit. 

A definite highlight of staying in Medellin was 4 days spent in the mountains surrounding Medellin - at a castle like cabin in the woods near Santa Elena hanging over the city of Medellin at almost 3000m. This is another property Jesse and some of his friends are renting out time to time and its perfect for relaxation, getting off the grid or just locking yourself in the woods for some productive work time which this place is almost wants you to accomplish. Stained glass windows, fireplace, medieval chandeliers, rustic kitchen, sun room, huge bath tub for cold evenings, chill hangout area, the views - just perfect! From there you can hike about 5-7 km to Parque Arvi and get back to the city by a cable car.

The downtown of Medellin is a hustling and bustling commercial hub - overall chaos, crowds and crowds of people may be overwhelming at first, but you get used to that, plus it’s not a very popular area to visit except for shopping, transportation options (buses to nearby towns and villages leaving from here) and some more shopping. 

Medellin is a great place to be, especially when it’s still a quite hidden gem of South America. We absolutely loved it!

Cali, Colombia

Cali is a great bustling city divided in clearly distinct neighborhoods each having its own character, looks and things to enjoy. We stayed in a hip neighborhood called San Antonio - rolling hills lined up with cute colonial houses, squares, little shops and cafes. Casa Cafe on the 5th street where we stayed is a really cute and cheap place ($15 per night for a private room), it has a cafe on the ground floor and several rooms, living room and kitchen on the second floor, the owner girl is super nice and chill. 

1492700_10151888807625197_541533982_o.jpg

Up the hill there is San Antonio park - a real equivalent to Dolores park in San Francisco. Every day and night it welcomes crowds of young people who just like to picnic, play games, relax, listen to music and enjoy the views over the city from the hill. There are often many performers, crafts and food vendors in the park as well - it’s really fun! Don’t miss the park’s “bobsleigh” track - up the hill by the church there is a paved, pretty steep curvy street heading up - that’s where you can take a plastic beer crate, go to the top and join the fun of riding down inside the beer crate, or just watch others do it - fun in any case! Around 5th street we found a lot of places that offer set menu - soup, second and juice for $4-5 - it’s a great value and the food is excellent (we especially liked the lunches at the Middle Eastern place)

There is also a nice continuation of San Antonio neighborhood going around the hill - if you continue on 2nd or 3rd street further - funky, artsy and hip oasis right next to a heavy traffic road that hosts museums, banks and more expensive hotels.

Thursday, Friday and Saturday are hardcore party nights in Cali - there are literally hundreds of places with life music and salsa dancing in Cali. After all, Cali is the salsa capital of the world, and Caleños sure like to dance! Many salsa clubs are located in the Northern part of the city where there is no limit to the closing hours, so salsa goes on till breakfast time! Don’t miss it and immerse yourself into the dance scene, or even better - take a couple of salsa classes in Cali before you join the fun.

We also liked hanging out North of the 5-6th Avenue - it’s a very green, cozy neighborhood that turns into a bit more posh party scene around 18th street. You can also find supermarkets, malls, cafes and plenty of restaurants in there.

1606371_10151888819755197_1695301276_o.jpg

They say Cali is not a very safe city (popular thing people say about most places in Colombia), but we haven’t really felt unsafe, common sense works well plus you can ask the locals/hostel about the better to avoid areas. For us it seemed that perhaps the strip along the 5th street towards the stadium, central market area and Northern parts close to the bus station should not be walked alone after dark.

We enjoyed Cali a lot and wish we learned salsa properly!

Casablanca, Mompiche, Canoa and Montañita - Ecuadorian beach towns

Ecuadorian coastline is really amazing - long and wide stretches of scarcely populated beaches and the beauty of Pacific ocean come together to form an absolutely idyllic atmosphere. Some beach towns are busy and perform the role of ports/larger docks, but most of the places are still very rustic, sleepy and relaxed.

We visited only a couple of them, but the best thing to do would be to go really slow - moving from one village to the next along the coast - hidden gems are guaranteed. 

Casablanca is a small isolated area in Esmeraldas province that hosts weekend beach villas of the more affluent Ecuadorian families. It's a strip of hotels on the beach and private villas on the hills overlooking the ocean. Due to some interesting circumstances we were able to tag along and stay at one of those villas for a couple of nights with our friend, Abdul, and his Ecuadorian friends. It was great - very different universe of course, but fun nonetheless. We hanged out on the beach watching the guys kitesurf, played board games ("Mexican train" - really fun game), had a party at the villa, and just chilled a lot.

1403581_10151815995975197_1452972396_o.jpg

After the luxury oasis of Casablanca we caught a bus to Mompiche - a tiny sleepy village 10km off the coastal road. Mompiche is one of those places where you feel nothing will change for a long while - it's just a fishing village stretched on the long and wide beach. In the winter it gets pretty crowded as it's the popular season, that's when it hosts all those super chill parties. Off the season there's nothing much to do in Mompiche - chilling, taking long walks along the beach, horseback riding on the beach, getting to know random people who came and never left Mompiche. Other than that you will surely enjoy spending time at one of Mompiche's landmarks - bamboo hostels - one of the cutest and most crafty structures I've ever seen. If you're looking for budget accommodation options in Mompiche - walk to the beach, turn right and find a nice little lady in the second house off the main street - her rooms go for $6 per person.

Canoa is another little coastal village about 4-5 hrs South of Mompiche. It's an absolutely amazing place - slightly larger and a bit more lively than Mompiche. On weekends it turns into a very fun place with a lot of young (and not so young) expats meeting each other and hanging out at the main beach street cafes and bars or going to home parties around the town. The expat community is really quite big for a small place like that - people just come and never leave. The atmosphere is very chill, rustic, friendly and easy going. Food choices are good, there is no market, but you can also buy fresh stuff in tiendas around the main streets. We especially liked eating at Upishum (2 blocks from the beach, excellent curry), pizza/panini place on the second floor terrace 1 block from the beach - really good paninis, local eateries along the main town street. Accommodation options vary, but they are plenty - we stayed at Iguana camping 1 block from the beach - absolutely amazing, homelike place where you can camp on beach sand ($3 per person), sleep in dorms ($5 per person) or have a private room ($7 per person) - there is kitchen, wifi, hangout area, not loud, and the owner lady is very sweet. The closest ATM is in San Vicente, about 20 minutes away by bus, so take enough cash with you. Week days are quiet and you can enjoy some real coastal rustic & slow atmosphere in between party time. We got stuck here for 2 weeks :)

Canoa is also where we learned surfing - the Pacific in Canoa was great for that. You can go with an instructor 1-2 times, and then you can just practice yourself. Body boarding is also fun in Canoa - the waves are really good for that. Traditionally people go to Montañita to surf and learn surfing, but it's way more pleasant in Canoa - no crowds, no all day/all night long party, the atmosphere is much more rustic, personal and less commercialized. Loved it! You can also learn paragliding here, and as with most places that are expat favorites - you can easily find yoga classes and Spanish language schools as well. 

We also visited Montañita - it's a bit larger than Canoa and is famous for wild parties and surfing. As mentioned before, it's much more commercialized and designed quiet artificially to cater to foreigners. Prices are very steep in comparison to Canoa, but you can still find affordable breakfasts, eat set daily menu lunches for $3 or cook at your hostel. We stayed over the bridge from the party area - it's much quieter and cheaper there. 

We didn't have enough time to visit more, but we were highly recommended to visit Los Frailes beach in the coastal national park - long stretches of beautiful wild sand beaches.

In general, we fell in love with Ecuadorian coast and its rustic charm. You can definitely get stuck in one of its villages for a while. 

Biking around Cotopaxi volcano, Ecuador

Cotopaxi volcano trip is something a lot of visitors do, especially on weekends, so if you go - make sure you choose work days and someone who has a bit more alternative plan to offer, otherwise your visit will consist of a bus ride through Cotopaxi National Park along with 10 other tourist buses.

We were lucky we could arrange the visit through our friend Israel who we met at the biological research station in Cosanga. Israel doesn't work with gringo tourists, he helps to organize adventure trips for visitors from Colombia, therefore with his services there's no usual gringo tour bullshit. 

When we told Israel that we'd like to go to Cotopaxi for 2 days, he organized everything we would need within one hour, and by noon we were all ready to go starting from Quito. First, we stopped by Israel's house on the way to Cotopaxi to pick up sleeping bags, tent, bikes and other equipment. All that was loaded into a pickup truck which would then take us to the Cotopaxi National Park from where we biked on our own.

Seeing volcano in its full size depends on the weather, for us it was quite cloudy so we were able to see only 3rd part of it. Nevertheless, the park itself is amazing as well - the scenery makes you think you're on another planet altogether - desert hills rolling, sand blowing, huge boulders scattered around the shrubs and covered in moss that grows in curious, almost alien-like designs. Beautiful!

After the park we headed down the mountains on our bikes. The roads are mostly dirt, with some stones and cobbled in some places. Going downhill on mountain bikes is incredibly fun - the speed + dirt road give it quite a lot of adrenaline. The landscapes are beautiful - sometimes it's deserted nothingness and sometimes it's all about charming little valleys. Among this nothingness and mountain valleys there are a couple of farms which raise bulls for bull fights. Those beasts are huge and made to be mean. And they also roam around the valleys freely which we didn't know when we headed downhill. Some of them happened to be grazing right on our path, so there was no other way but to face them - needless to say, adrenaline boost was guaranteed if we wanted to pass them on our bikes. Fortunately, we managed to get through without any losses :)

Around sunset time we arrived to a small village where the local "president" gave us permission to camp by the basketball field - such a nice guy! :) So we put up our tent, collected some wood, made fire and cooked some camping appropriate food. Next morning we were invited to Israel's friend's house in the village to have our breakfast with a cup of hot chocolate and a proper bathroom.

After the breakfast we ventured to hike about 10km to see some waterfalls nearby. These waterfalls are part of a private property, but Israel seems to have friends everywhere, so we were able to enter the property freely. 

Getting back to the civilization at the base of the mountains took a while - our butts were aching badly from the previous day biking and there were quite a lot of uphill biking as well. But we made it! This was a brilliant experience and we couldn't have done it without Israel. The butt hurt for some more time, but it kept reminding us of our awesome 100km biking adventure.