How you can make a lasting impact to children in Peru

I want to share a project with you which is very close to my heart. Join me to make a lasting impact to children of poor families in the Peruvian Andes.

While travelling through Peru I realised how wealthy and privileged we are even if we think we are not. Most of the families and kids I have seen live in very simple conditions. Kids are helping their parents to earn a small amount of money to contribute to feed their family. Besides working, kids also have to go to school if the parents can afford it. This is, unfortunately, a normal life for the children in the small villages in Peru. Travelling made me realise that I want to make a lasting impact and support the children in Peru. I just had no idea how.

simple life
The simple life of Peruvian children in the Andes.

When I was taking photos in Lima, I met Javier Gamboa. He is an amazing photographer and we are in contact since. I always believe you meet people in your life for a reason.

A while ago I noticed a post from him on facebook about his project to support children of poor families in the Peruvian Andes. At this moment I knew I want to be part of his project and fulfil my mission close to my heart.

Javier’s project to support children of poor families in Peru

Javier’s project started 3 years ago when he realised that lots of the indigenous population lack school equipment, such as pens, pencil, notepads, books, you name it. Many children have nothing to write on; some siblings have to share one notepad between each other. In case the parents cannot afford to buy a sketchbook, they cannot send the children to school, especially if it is a girl. These are unfortunately normal circumstances in the smaller villages in Peru and hard to imagine for us.

This gave Javier the urge to help and his project was born. Javier started to collect books and school supplies from people he knew and was able to bring more than 50,000 books and school material to the people in the small villages of the Andes Mountains in Peru. The smile he brought to children’s eyes was an incredible rewarding gift.

The school year in Peru starts in March and the children need our help. Javier is going back to the small villages on the 25 March to bring more books and school supplies. Each child needs approximately 10 notepads, pencils, erasers, pens, sketchbooks, colour pencils, rulers, etc.  All the children of Ccolccabamba, a small town in the Andes, will need their school equipment and books. However, there are so many more children in nine other communities over 4,000 m high in the mountains who need our help. There are roughly 500 children affected. Watch more here. Check out Javier’s post and photos of the children here.

How can you make a lasting impact to children in Peru?

Are you like me who loves to make an impact and bring a big smile into children’s eyes? If you answered this question with yes, I ask you to help Javier and me to be able to complete the project to bring school supplies and books to the poor children in the Andes mountains.

A donation will be much appreciated. If you want to make an impact, please donate using the Paypal button below. Even a small $5 amount will make a huge difference for the kids.

When you transfer money to my PayPal account, don’t forget to email me your email address or home address. You will receive a handwritten personal letter from the child you have supported.

I guarantee you from the bottom of my heart that each cent you send to my PhotographybyalexK – PayPal account will be transferred to Javier’s project account and only used for the school supply, books and to cover the costs of transport. Thank you so much for your help. Watch another video here.


Javier’s background story and why he became involved in helping kids in Peru

Continue reading “How you can make a lasting impact to children in Peru”

Decide what to do with the time given to us

I love this quote from J.R.R. Tolkien. Make the most of every opportunity because life can be short. You never know what will happen tomorrow. So enjoy and be grateful for every day.

We cannot choose to live in other times or jump into the future immediately if we don’t like a current situation. However, you do have a choice about what to do in the here and now. It is your decision of how you want to live and what you want to do. Be grateful for the gift of life.

What is it you always wanted to do? Why are you still dreaming about it? Write down what you want and the reasons why you haven’t pursued it yet. Now read it again and be honest with yourself. Are your reasons excuses? If your answer is yes, then forget about the excuses and just do it. Do not waste any time.

Are you still not sure? Is fear holding you back? Now, that can be a serious issue. I recently wrote an article about it: “How to overcome your fears”: click here to read more about it. Are you scared of failure? You most likely will not fail if your mindset is positive and if you do experience unpleasant things, take it as a lesson learned. You have nothing to lose.

Still not sure? Ask yourself if you would horribly miss out if there wouldn’t be a tomorrow? If the answer is yes, go for it and don’t hold back.

It is your life; you make the decisions of what to do in the time given to you.

For me, it was to fulfil my dream travelling to South America. It was the best decision I have ever made. The photo below is me after the hike to the Fitz Roy mountain glacier lake; it was an 8 hours hike return, exhausting but rewarding.

“All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.” 
―J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring   

Hiking in Fitzroy National park, Argentina. Exhausting but so rewarding.
Hiking in Fitzroy National park, Argentina. Exhausting but so rewarding.

Why you should visit Ushuaia in Argentina

Ushuaia is the southernmost city in the world in Tierra del Fuego on the shores of the Beagle Channel. Ushuaia means ‘the bay facing westward’ in the language of the original Yamana inhabitants. The town is surrounded by the Martial Mountains and the Beagle Channel. It is in Ushuaia where the Andes meet the southern ocean in a sharp ski.

happiness
Ushuaia the most southern city in the world.

Ushuaia was once a penal colony for political prisoners and criminals. Nowadays it is a busy adventure hub for tourists. Antarctica cruises start here in Ushuaia’s port.

Ushuaia
port in Ushuaia, Argentina

The Tierra del Fuego National park is 63,000 hectares huge but only a small part of it is open to the public.

How do you get there:

There are daily flights from Buenos Aires to Ushuaia.

In case you are planning to see El Chalten, El Calafate and Torres del Paine National park in Patagonia first, you can take a bus from Punta Arenas. Punta Arenas is a small town of approximately 100,000 people, Chile’s southernmost city. The estimated travel time via bus is approximately 12 hours depending on the border. Once you get close to Ushuaia the scenery suddenly changes. It is worthwhile experiencing the bus ride if you have the time.

What to do in Ushuaia:

In winter the town is a major ski resort area for both alpine and cross-country skiers.

There are plenty of hiking options available in the Tierra del Fuego National park. Also sailing, kayaking and even scuba diving options are just minutes away.

Ushuaia is the base for cruises along the Beagle Channel to observe the marine wildlife. Expect to see lots of sea birds, sea lions and penguins. In case you cannot get enough from penguins, you can book a trip to the penguin colony and walk around the little cuties and get a bit closer to see the king penguin.

The Beagle channel:

The Beagle channel is named after Darwin’s expedition vessel and is a strait in Tierra del Fuego Archipelago on the extreme southern tip of South America partly in Chile and partly in Argentina.The channel’s eastern area forms part of the border between Chile and Argentina and the western area is entirely within Chile. The Beagle Channel is about 240 kilometres long and about 5 kilometres wide at its narrowest point.

Harbor cruises are usually four-hour morning or afternoon excursions to cormorant colonies

sea birds from the Beagle Channel
sea birds from the Beagle Channel

and to sea lions.

sea lions from the Beagle Channel resting on the rocks
sea lions from the Beagle Channel resting on the rocks
southern american sea lions from the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia.
southern american sea lions from the Beagle Channel, Ushuaia.

You will be cruising along small beautiful islands:

Beagle channel near Ushuaia
Beagle channel near Ushuaia

and pass the lighthouse ‘Les Eclaireurs’ called ‘end of the world’ on the north shore of the Beagle Channel:

View of the Lighthouse 'Les Eclaireurs' called 'End of the World' near Ushuaia on the north shore of the Channel
View of the Lighthouse ‘Les Eclaireurs’ called ‘End of the World’ near Ushuaia on the north shore of the Channel

After a few hours on the boat you will finally arrive at the penguin colony.

Magellan penguins from the Beagle Channel
Magellan penguins from the Beagle Channel

The Magellanic penguins were named after the Portuguese explorer Ferdinand Magellan, who observed the penguins in 1520.

a little penguin from Ushuaia, Argentina.
a little penguin from Ushuaia, Argentina.

If you prefer to take the bus to the penguin colony tour you will pass some interesting rough scenery on the way.

the trees are shaped from the strong winds in Ushuaia
the trees are shaped from the strong winds in Ushuaia

Reached at the colony you will be able to get closer to the penguins

King penguin with attitude
penguin with attitude

and also see the famous king penguin.

king penguin on the penguin colony, Beagle Channel
king penguin on the penguin colony, Beagle Channel

When you are visiting Patagonia, make sure you stop in Ushuaia and enjoy the wildlife and scenery.

Have you missed my previous posts about Patagonia? Just click on the following links:

Enjoy reading.

Happy travel.

 

 

Trekking the W- circuit in Torres del Paine National Park

Arrived in Patagonia and now you are ready for some trekking? Do not miss the W-trek in Chile.

I did this W-trek with g-adventure; I really enjoyed that trip. Everything was organised, they look after you and the best part is that you meet some great like-minded people from around the world.

The first day of the W-trek was an 8-9 hours hike to the majestic granite towers of Paine. If you have missed my post about the challenges trekking to the Torres please read here.

On day 2 we left early our camping site and stopped for seeing a waterfall. It was so windy, I couldn’t believe it. You basically walked forward 10 steps and were blown back 8 steps. A group of trekkers passed us and one woman had broken her nose as she got hit by some rocks. That was a wake up call for all of us. Back in the car we waited for the ferry to cross the lake Pehoe. Well actually we were not sure if the ferry would even go but they are probably so used to the wind, so no problem at all. We crossed the beautiful turquoise lake and arrived at our next camping site.

Torres del Paine National park
Torres del Paine National park

After having our lunch we started our trekking through the beautiful french valley. I thought they are kidding us going trekking in that kind of windy conditions but the valley was actually protected. On the photo below you can see how the wind is blowing on the surface of the lake. The sky formation was very unique and beautiful.

A windy day in Torres del Paine, Patagonia
A windy day in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

The walk through the french valley was an 6-8 hours trek. Arrived at the viewing point you can see the glacier formed in a cirque hidden deep in the ribs of the Paine massif. Very impressive.

the glacier in shape of a cirque hidden deep in the ribs of hte Paine massif
the glacier in shape of a cirque hidden deep in the ribs of hte Paine massif

Back at the campsite we enjoyed our dinner, had some drinks and very bad but cheap wine called ‘Gato’. Well good enough for camping and at least you will always remember the fun you had being in a group drinking ‘Gato’. I cannot recommend that wine but we made the best out of the situation and laughed about it. The wind luckily started to ease down so we could catch up with some missing sleep from the previous windy night.

Getting up early in the morning and seeing this scenery cannot be described in words. I got excited, grabbed my camera and went for a walk around that lake and just enjoyed being in this beautiful place with striking scenery. The colours in Patagonia are just incredible. I have never seen that many rainbows in three days in my life.

rainbow in Torres del Paine NP
rainbow in Torres del Paine NP

It was a very peaceful morning. Another day of trekking was ahead of us and the weather looked promising.

Sky formation
colours in Torres del Paine

After having a big breakfast we started trekking day number 3. It is tiring though but a great experience at the same time.

The trek ended at the Grey glacier which is the main attraction in Patagonia. At one end there is this massive Patagonian ice field and at the other a 40 metre wall of ice of which pieces fall into the Grey lake and gives it its beautiful milky blue to green colour.

Did I say the weather was promising and sunny? Well that changes quickly, so enjoy each moment. The weather is very unpredictable. You can see the clouds hanging over the Grey lake and a light rainbow disappearing on the right hand side. It started raining and together with the blowing wind it was not very pleasant. Suddenly it was cold and we had to wrap us up in our second layer of clothes.

day 3 of the W-trek in Torres del Paine, Chile
day 3 of the W-trek in Torres del Paine, Chile

Arrived at the viewing point it felt like being in winter. It was raining but we still managed to see this massive glacier hiding behind the fog.

the Grey lake and glacier in Torres del Paine, Chile, Patagonia
the Grey lake and glacier in Torres del Paine, Chile, Patagonia

Patagonia is an amazing part of the world. The colours of the nature are breathtaking and it felt so peaceful being here. The weather can change quickly with having 4 seasons in one day, the wind can be very challenging but all this is the reason why the landscape is so beautiful and unique.

Follow my blog if you are interested in more travel stories from South- and Northamerica. My next travel post will be about the most southern city in the world ‘Ushuaia’ and the beagle channel.

Happy travel. Stay tuned.

 

 

10 things I have learned from travelling

Noosa beach

I love travelling, enjoy being outside in nature and experiencing different cultures.

Travelling is more than just sightseeing, it is experiencing life on a different level. To see other cultures and the way they live is an eye opener.

I was born and raised in Germany, travelled a bit through Europe, moved to Australia 8 years ago and fulfilled my dream to travel to Southamerica for 2 months last year. In all those years I have learned a lot about myself and life in general:

  • Respecting other people no matter where they come from, their cultural background, their job or how poor or rich they are. Everybody has a different story to tell, you never know what they have been through in their life and in the end it just doesn’t matter. Everybody deserves respect and a friendly smile.
happy family from Taquile Island, Peru
happy family from Taquile Island, Peru
  • Being grateful of what you have. Travelling to poorer countries in particular open your eyes. I have seen very poor people in Peru but they were so friendly and nice and they would give you anything when you treat them with respect. Some of the poor people don’t have hot showers or a big warm house. This makes you realise how rich you are even though you might just rent a small place but you are able to have a warm bath. People in the westernised world are complaining a lot about ‘nothing’. Travelling to those countries make you realise what a great life you have.
playing little girl on Taquile Island, Peru
playing little girl on Taquile Island, Peru
  • You cannot buy happiness. Happiness comes from the inside and not from material items you own. I met poor people who were happy with their life. It is about owning things you cannot buy with money, like health, love and friendships.
happy smile
the most beautiful smile in the world
  • I realised for myself and decided to stop shopping but to spend the money on travelling. This gives you insights, unforgettable experiences, great memories and opens your mind. It will change you for the better. You might not have enough money to travel – well, save and spend wisely and there is a budget for everyone. You don’t necessarily need to fly far away, the best travel can be in your area.
Devil's throat
the double rainbow over the devil’s throat
  • Don’t wait that something will happen, make things happen  and follow your dreams. Life is too short. Don’t let fear hold you back and miss out. What do you have to lose?
happiness
Are you curious what is out there? Go for it. Do more of what makes you happy.
  • Try new things and eat what the locals eat. You will be amazed what amazing cuisines are out there. I love cooking and in I try new recipes from different cultures. Festival of the taste butts.
Peruvian cuisine
Peruvian cuisine
  • Travel and pack light. Being on tour for 2 months made me learn how to pack light and simple. There are laundries everywhere and you don’t need your high heels when travelling through Southamerica. Organise your belongings and you will become a master and packing.
the cat is watching the tourists in La Boca
the cat is watching the tourists in La Boca
  • Dress simple and leave your jewellery at home. You don’t need to show off your luxury in poor countries. You will have a much more peaceful trip.
life in the streets of Cusco, Peru
life in the streets of Cusco, Peru
  • Beauty is everywhere, just open your eyes. Do not compare one place with another. Each is unique and has its own charm. Respect and enjoy the nature we live in.
A beautiful day in Fitz Roy National Park in Patagonia.
A beautiful day in Fitz Roy National Park in Patagonia.
  • Being organised when travelling is important but leave room for spontaneous things to have a bit of an adventure.
street dance
Difference is what makes life fabulous

Happy travel.

How to make the best of your life

The best years of your life are the ones in which you take ownership and decide to take control of your life. It is when you stop blaming others and circumstances and realise that you control your destiny. Take action and make decisions for your life which will lead you to happiness.

It is an easy way out to blame others when something doesn’t work out the way you want it to be. People keep complaining about their life and wonder why nothing ever changes. Well, nothing will change if you don’t take control of your life and start making decisions for the better. Stop complaining and take actions. You are the only one who can control your life.

If you don’t like your situation, change it and if you really cannot change the situation that quickly, change your attitude. Make a decision which will makes you feel good. Choose to be happy.

The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology or the president. You realise that you control your own destiny. – Albert Ellis – 

King penguin with attitude
King penguin with attitude

The challenges you face when trekking in Torres del Paine, Patagonia

Torres del Paine

After trekking in Fitz Roy National park, Patagonia and visiting the massive Perito Moreno glacier I got so excited to travel further to Torres del Paine National park in Chile.

A three day trekking tour was about to start. After a bus drive from Perito Moreno glacier to Punto Natales we got prepared with camping equipment, had a night of rest in Punto Natales before we took our bus to Torres del Paine National Park early in the morning.

On our way to the national park we could see some big storm clouds over the mountain range and a beautiful rainbow appearing on the horizon. I knew this trip will be amazing.

Chile
storm clouds and the rainbow in Torres del Paine National Park

You get also to see the guanacos here in Patagonia, what beautiful animals. This is a native South American animal which is around 1 to 1.2m high and can weigh up to 90kg. The fur is very soft and their fibre is being used in luxury fabric.

Guanacos in Torres del Paine
Guanacos in Torres del Paine

Arrived at the entrance of the National park, everybody got ready and dressed up for trekking. Backpacks on our shoulders and walking sticks for the ones who felt more comfortable with it. I definitely was one of them.

Suddenly we could hear this loud sound of the wind, the dirt from the gravel road started blowing in all directions. I could not believe it. I learned very quickly that this is pretty normal in Patagonia. In case it happens while you are trekking at the edge of the mountains, go down on your knees, cover your head and pray:) It only lasts a few seconds but the wind can be very strong and blow you away especially when you are a tiny and skinny person.

I had my camera equipment in my backpack and was worried about it; however, my bag from f-stop passed this test. It was sometimes a challenge to walk with that heavy bag of 8 kg on my back while going through those windy phases.

So, we started walking in the beautiful sunny weather but were experiencing some strong wind attacks. I unfortunately don’t have many photos of that day as it was just too windy and all the dirt blowing everywhere. I decided my camera was better protected in my bag. You can expect having 4 seasons in one day. Walking on the edge of the mountains can be very exposed to the strong winds, especially when there are no trees. That windy day was really challenging for me but in the end so worth it. The last one hour of trekking up to the top was the hardest for me. You have to climb up the big rocks and sometimes cannot even see the pathway. Just follow the crowd. Again a massive wind attack hit us and rocks smashing against our legs, in that moment you go down on your knees and hope for the best. The weather changed from cold and windy to rainy and then sunny and warm.

Finally arrived at the top you see this beautiful turquoise lake and the Torres del Paine towers surrounded by clouds and fog. Our tour guide had a nice surprise for us: a bottle of champagne. What a great idea, exactly what you need after going through all those challenges. I have to say I have never experienced trekking in such windy conditions. In that moment you are packed with adrenalin but also excited and hope everything will be fine and god is watching and protecting you anyways. It was so windy up there that you could rarely breath.

Torres del Paine
The towers of Torres del Paine

After enjoying a bit of champagne at the top we walked back for roughly 4 hours to the parking area where the bus was waiting for us to take us to our first camping site. I was on a g-adventure trip. The first camping site was pretty amazing: we had the private site just for ourselves. After travelling around Argentina you get a lot of meat, potatoes and bread. Most of us were graving for vegetables. We had such an amazing delicious home cooked dinner with lots of fresh vegetables and meat.

Everybody was hoping for the wind to stop to have a quiet and good night sleep. Well, that wasn’t meant to be the case for us. The wind was unbelievable strong and loud. My dad always taught me not to hang around underneath trees when it is windy. Guess what? The tents were directly underneath the trees. Well, looks like we just had to trust that everything will be fine. The family from this camp site were looking after us very well and even had to fix up some of our tents mid in the night. One of the tents was about to lift up in the air. You couldn’t really say we slept well during that night. At one stage the roof of the tent hit me on my nose. Well, that’s definitely called adventure.

I am not a morning person but at 5am I had enough from the wind,  so I got up and took my camera out to take some morning photos. It has calmed down a tiny bit. I was the first one awake and enjoyed the early morning in pure nature. I was so lucky to see a light beautiful rainbow.

The home cooked breakfast was great and exactly what you need to start another day of trekking.

rainbow in Torres del Paine
early in the morning in Torres del Paine National Park. Can you see the rainbow.

In my following post I will share the experience on the second hiking day in the Patagonian beautiful nature with non-stopping wind.

Happy travel and stay tuned.

Chauchilla cemetery near Nazca in Peru

desert Nazca

When I was in Peru, we visited the Chauchilla cemetery near Nazca.

desert Nazca
Chauchilla cemetery

This discovery of the cemetery was in 1920s and covers a period of 600- 700 years. Unfortunately this cemetery had been plundered by grave robbers who have left human bones and pottery scattered around. Since 1997 the Peruvian law protects this place. Nowadays tourists can take a tour to this ancient cemetery and see the mummies.

The bodies are preserved due to the dry climate in the Peruvian desert. They were clothed in cotton, then painted with a resin and kept in tombs made from mud bricks. The mummies still have their hair and skin.

I found this pretty amazing but also ‘creepy’.

mummification
Mummy in the Cemetery of Chauchilla

 

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Creepy.”

The magic Perito Moreno Glacier in Patagonia

Patagonia is an amazing and beautiful place in the world. There is so much you can see. In case you have missed my first post about Patagonia click here.

Now I want to introduce you to the magic Perito Moreno Glacier. It is approximately a 2 hours bus drive away from El Calafate where plenty of tour companies offer daily visits.

Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier

The Perito Moreno glacier was named after the explorer Francisco Moreno who studied the region in the 19th century. The ice formation is 250 km2 huge and 30 km long. It is the world’s third largest reserve of fresh water.

Perito Moreno Glacier in summer
Perito Moreno Glacier in summer

The glacier is one of only three glaciers in Patagonia which is still growing. The toe of the Perito Moreno glacier is approximately 5 km wide and 60m high above the surface of the lake ‘lago argentino’. The total ice depth is roughly 170m.

This massive river of frozen water and huge chunks of ice move down constantly crashing into the lake waters below.

massive ice mass from Perito Moreno Glacier
massive ice mass from Perito Moreno Glacier

You can go on a boat trip and get as close as possible to this glacier.

the huge Perito Moreno glacier makes a boat look like a toy
the huge Perito Moreno glacier makes a boat look like a toy

Being in front of this massive glacier is just an incredible feeling.

Ice glacier
Ice glacier

The view from the boat trip:

Perito Moreno Glacier
Perito Moreno Glacier

From here we left to Puerto Natales and prepared ourselves for a three day hiking trip in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile.

Stay tuned and happy travel.

 

Faith can move mountains

mountains Southamerica

Sometimes we just have to let go and trust that things work out. We need a certain level of control over our lives, some people more than others. However, not everything can be controlled. In these kind of situations we have to have faith.

With faith we put all worries to the side and accept things the way they are. What will happen is meant to be and happened for a reason. Having faith does not necessarily mean we need to pray; it can mean we sit back and trust people around us. You might be on an airplane and trust the pilot will do a great job, maybe you need to go for a surgery and trust in the skills of the doctor or if something you really wanted didn’t work out, it maybe wasn’t the right thing for you and something better comes up soon. Have faith and belief. Faith can move mountains.

Let go of the things that are out of your hand and focus on the things you can control. Trust everything else will work out and you will realise how much weight you just lifted off your shoulders.

Faith can move mountains

mountains Southamerica
Torres del Paine after a stormy night early in the morning. The rainbow on the horizon is vanishing.