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Hiking – My passion

I can’t believe it’s August already, what a wonderful summer we have had so far!

The holiday season is well on its way and the children will be soon back to school. I’m sure, some tired, distraught mothers are thinking “Thank goodness”!

For my holidays this year, I went walking in Dolomites. You get to a point where you run out of adjectives to describe these mountains. They are breathtakingly beautiful.

The Dolomites stretch across a significant amount of land as part of the Alps in northeast Italy and they are home to many enthusiasts such as hikers, skiers, free climbers, kayakers hang gliders and base jumpers.

The scenery and food throughout my stay in Italy were wonderful.

Walking and hiking is my passion. I have enjoyed a lot of walking/cycling holidays over the years in much of Europe and even China.

This year I stayed in a small family owned chalet, every morning at breakfast I was greeted by the very friendly owner always clad in the traditional dress “lederhosen”.

Though “The Dolomites” are Italian they have a really Austrian feel.

“Selva” the valley we stayed in was surrounded by very high mountains so had 360 views from our balcony. Our walks each day started at an altitude of 5127ft and we usually climbed to 8848 ft each day. A daily assent of 3721 ft for 11 days. As you can imagine it got my blood pumping and I felt really fit by the end of the holiday.

I’m back on the reception desk now, all the good work and fitness gone. The only thing I’m climbing now is the surgery stairs……. until my next hiking holiday!

Clare’s Travels – Peru

My favourite things in life are meeting new people, animals and walking. My last holiday to Peru included all these things and was truly amazing.

I flew into Lima where I met up with the other members of the group. There were 11 of us in total, all like minded so we hit it off from day one.

We started our first leg of our journey to the Amazon Rainforest. After a long journey by small boat along the Amazon we arrived at Cayman Eco Lodge, right on the banks of the river. Here we stayed a few days enjoying the sights and sounds of the jungle. We did day hikes, night hikes, and canoe rides at sunrise to see the macaws on the mineral licks.

The animal life was amazing and we didn’t have to go far from our lodge to see monkeys, sloths, and capybara just to name a few. There were lots of colourful birds and insects and of course the dreaded tarantula spiders! We took small canoes looking for anacondas and jaguars along the riverside, thankfully we didn’t see any but did see evidence that they had been there recently.

The next part of the journey was the 4 day long Inca trail, the highest pass was 13,828 ft. The 17 porters that travelled with us set up and took down our camp daily, cooked our meals and still had enough energy to run past us with their heavy 20 kg packs while we puffed and panted to Machu Pichu. The eldest porter was 63 years old, they were all amazing!

After us celebrating reaching Machu Pichu we arrived at another very different part of Peru; Lake Titicaca. We visited the locals that made their homes on floating reed islands no bigger than 20 metres across, which housed 4 families. The reeds from the lake were used to build their houses and boats and to burn for cooking. They mainly ate waterfowl and fish. They took us out on their reed boat which was surprisingly very stable, to fish and cut the reeds to repair the island and their home.

We then went to a ‘proper’ island and stayed with a lovely Peruvian couple who opened their modest house to us. Our guide advised us what to take as a gift, chocolate and sweet things were forbidden as there were no dentists on the island! We took food provisions with us as a gift and whilst there helped to dig the land and prepare meals in the small wood burning stove, no electricity or modern showers just the lake! I was blown away by their kindness, everyone we met were happy and had beautiful smiles and teeth, probably the lack of sugar!

I will never forget the people and their country……. where shall I go next year???

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