Friday, January 23, 2009

Buying South America Climbing Gear

It is very hard to find climbing gears in South America but here are a few spots. Be prepare to pay more than at home.

1) La Paz, Bolivia

2) Santiago, Chile

Rock Climbing @ South America

I regret everyday that I did not bring a climbing buddy AND my climbing shoes with me in South America. There are quite a few sweet spot for sport climbing here. Man. Buying climbing gears is NOT easy here in South America. Bring your gear my friends!

Here are a few spots I've heard so far that has pretty decent climbing.
1) Around La Paz, Bolivia
South of La Paz @ area call Mallasa (Valley Del Luna) or Madre De Dios. Local goes there. Only spot climbing. You can take the minibus there. If you don't have gear, you can pay 300 B to hire a guide with gears.

Rolando Tarqui - is the guide I went for from Elma Tour on Illampu Street North of Plaza San Francisco.

2) Around salar de atacama Area, Chile
Toconao, Chile
Socaire, Chile
Some basic bouldering and 5.9 to 5.13 spot climbing. You can find a tour from San Pedro De Antacama for 45,000 pesos.

3) Chile
The staff at Eros, where I finally bought a pair of Madrock (YEAH!!!!!!!!!!), gave me this website with lots of info on where to climb in Chile.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

South America Hostels

Cuzco, Peru

The Point
  • Party house. Lots of young folks. Friendly environment. Great for parties but not for you if you want a good rest.
La Paz, Bolivia
Hostel Austria
  • Basic lodge with kitchen and common area. Internet with decent speed for 2.5 B per hour
Potosi, Bolivia
Casona Postosi Hostel
  • Decent dorm rooms with kitchen
  • Include breakfast and with mind tour service
  • Staff aren't that nice servicing breakfast (fixed portion of breakfast and no refill coffee!!)
  • Bring oil, salt and pepper if you were to cook.
Uyuni, Bolivia

Hostel Avenida
  • 50 B per night - cheapest we can find in the area
  • Basic lodge like a motel with friendly staffs

Santiago, Chile

La Casa Roja

  • 7000 P per night
  • Great facilities (kitchen, pool, tour office, cheap and COLD beer and wine) and finally all day hot water!!!!

Altitude sickness?! :-O [Cuzco, Peru]

It was a long night at Lima Airport (5 hours overlay in the middle of the night) waiting for my flight to Cuzco. I´ve totally forgot to take the altitude sickness pills I´ve got from the Travel Clinic util I boarded my flight from Lima to Cuzco. Crossed my finger I won´t get terribly sick from the altitude jump from sea level to 3,300 m at Cuzco. It would not be pretty if I got sick and start the Inca Trail on Jan 2nd.

Thank God that the pill worked. Beside slight light-headedness and minor obstacle in breathing upon my arrival at the Cuzco Airport. I did not feel too much of a difference.

I definitely felt the effects of the elevated altitude when I climbed the stairs up to the Sacsayhuaman, Cusco. I definitely breath more rapidly to get more oxygen. Normally with this kind of "exercise", it definitely wouldn´t cause me to breath like this.
I found one good way to avoid getting sick while treking or any form of exercise in elevated areas is to make sure you make deep breath everytime you breath until your lung can´t inhale more air.

Inca Trail, Peru

Safe Drinking Water

Handheld UV Water Treatment Equipment (

A friend I met on the trip recommend this handy equipment to supply safe drinking water no matter where you go. Beside the old school iodine tablets and micro-filter, this is one of the safest and most handy piece of water treatment eqiupment that will be worth your investment if you are going to somewhere known to cause you stomach problems. Haven´t use it myself in person but these folks highly recommended it.

Peru - Inca Trail Company

Peru Trek (

There´re a lot of companies offering the traditional Inca Trail tour at Cuzco, Peru. Me and my friends went with Peru Trek. I recommend this company as oppose to others beside the smoothness of the trip because:

1) Fair porters treatment
  • All the porters were given proper gears to trek the Inca Trail that I witnessed is not standardized across all companies offering Inca Trail Tour. All porters on my tour were given proper sneakers, branded jackets, water proof tents, and other equipments. You will be surprised to find these basic needs are not being offered across the board among all of the companies offering the Inca Trail. I saw one porter even have back support equipment, which is over and above what I expected.
  • All of the porters were unionized and have life insurance (again not a standardized requirement).
2) An extra mile to keep the folks on the team healthy
  • A few folks on my tour got sick. The guide provided proper care (i.e. special made tea to help nausea and stomach problems, medicinces) to ensure the folks are healthy.
3) What´s promised was what I got.
  • There were no surprises nor extra hidden fees
When you shop around for your Inca Trail, I hope you will keep the wellfare of the porters in your mind.