Our trip to South America started with a slightly tortuous journey out of Europe. At risk of sounding masochistic it was enjoyable torture, with an overbooked flight leading to a night in a posh hotel and what I believe businessmen call a ´generous compensation package´. Attempts to get bumped off the next flight unfortunately failed, and we soon found ourselves flying over the Atlantic, then the Amazon. Possibly I am being naive, but it would appear that there is still plenty of rainforest left in Brazil, and burgers can never be too cheap. Roll on deforestation.

Initial impressions of Peru were shaped by Lima, a typically sprawling and polluted city. Taxi driving was of a dissapointingly high standard, only one full on skid and three near misses in the 20 minute journey from the airport to our hostel. From here on impressions of the country were formed by staring out of bus windows. This makes it difficult to make any real comment on the country, not least because our only real break was a day in Cuzco, start of the Inca trail and a huge tourist trap.

Fortunately our journey on the buses has now come to an end with arrival in La Paz, the capital of Bolivia. Trapped in a deep valley, the sun rises late and sets early, but fortunately the heat of the day seems to stay trapped and it is noticeably warmer than we expected. The other side effect of the altitude, 3600m, is thin air, occasionally we entertain ourselves by sprinting up hills, only to collapse after about thirty seconds.

Tomorrow we head into the mountains for the first time, a short trip to start acclimatising to the higher altitudes we will encounter later in the trip. Local guides tell us all the snow has turned to ice, mixed news as it should be fairly safe, but more tiring. We are regretting leaving a lot of ice screws in London!

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