Rainbow Mountain Hike in Cusco, Peru

Rainbow Mountain Cusco Peru

Before I visited Peru I had seen many pictures of Rainbow Mountain and my old guide from my trek to Choquequirao, was now a guide on this trek, and kept posting lots of pictures on facebook and I knew when I returned to Cusco it was a trek I had to do.

When I arrived in Cusco I met with my old guide who told me about the hike to Rainbow Mountain.  There are options of 1 or 2 days though the 2 day hike is normally booked as a private trek.  His company is more exclusive and takes small groups early in the morning (2am) so that when you get to Rainbow Mountain there is no one else in your pictures.  The rest of the companies normally leave between 3.30 and 4 so when you get to the summit there are hundreds of people and that is just in the low season!! Continue reading

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The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge

I heard about The Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge that Stephanie Fox had started and decided to take part in it, it is aimed at rounding up 2016 and looking towards 2017.

If you want to take part then join the facebook group here.

A set of 10 questions have to be answered, and they have been designed to be a bit out of the ordinary to questions you would normally answer. It’s also intended to pass on the experiences and knowledge that you as a  travel blogger have had.

The answers that came to my mind did actually surprise me, and some of them were a fight with myself as I thought I knew where I loved.  I guess though the place in your heart you want to live might not be perfect and might not have everything but it somehow stole a piece of your heart.

Each Travel Whispers blog post can be found by clicking the link through to the next blogger at the bottom of the post, and so on, so have a read and see how other travel bloggers answered the same questions – you might find some exciting new bloggers to follow and some great travel ideas for the future!  You can also find them across Twitter and Instagram with the hashtag #TravelWhispers.

1. If you had to move to a country that you’ve NEVER been to, and live there for ten years, where would you go?

This for me is so difficult as most of the countries I would want to live in, I have already visited.  I think I would have to say the Philippines, it’s a country I would love to see.  The beaches look beautiful and there are mountains too which is where I feel most at home.  I think it would be a difficult choice as it’s not exactly stable at the moment and I could of chosen somewhere nearer home within Europe but at the moment I feel pulled to go there and I never like to choose the easy option!!

2. If you had to live in a hotel for the rest of your life, which hotel would you choose and why?

Armogosa Opera House & Hotel, Death Valley Junction, Death Valley, USA Armogosa Opera House & Hotel, Death Valley Junction, Death Valley, USA

I would hate to live in a hotel, it’s really not me.  I have spent most of the past 4 years in hostels and yes it can be hard being disturbed in the dorm rooms but they are great places to meet people.  Yes the luxury of a hotel can be nice but they can also be very lonely places!!

My choice would be one probably no one else would choose!! In 2015 while touring the US, I stayed in the Amargosa Opera House & Hotel in Death Valley Junction.  It is run now as a non profit and they are hoping to restore it in time to it’s former glory.  The story behind it and the location I just loved and I think it would be such an interesting place to live for the rest of my life!!

3. If you could only eat the cuisine of one nationality forever more, which would you choose?

This for me is easy, I love the Peruvian cuisine, though I would miss pizza and a roast dinner (especially Yorkshire Puddings!!).

4. Who has given you ‘holiday envy’ this year, and how?

A friend went to the Maldives.  I am so jealous as it’s a place I would love to go and see.  Her pictures were stunning and its high on the list despite knowing it’s going to cost a fortune.

5. If you had to look at the same sunrise or the same sunset every day, where in the world would you never get bored of seeing? Please don’t say sitting outside Cafe Mambo in Ibiza.

Sunset Arequipa Peru

I have been lucky enough to see some amazing sunsets while travelling.  Sunrise is a bit too early for me, but I love a good sunset.  The sunsets while I have been here in Arequipa have been amazing but most of the year there are no clouds which is what has made them so spectacular this time.

The best sunset I have ever seen was in Death Valley, I have never seen colours like it and it’s not too far from the hotel I want to live in for life!!

Sunset Death Valley, USA Sunset Death Valley, USA

6. If you were taking a ‘staycation’ in your home town, where would it be and what would you recommend others to do?

Waterton Park Hotel, Wakefield Waterton Park Hotel, Wakefield

My home town is Wakefield in the north of England.  I would stay in Waterton Park Hotel.  My best friend treated me to a spa day and afternoon tea there in August for my birthday.  It is set on a island in a lake and the views are stunning.

Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton, Yorkshire

After that I would drive out to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park for a walk around the grounds seeing the different sculptures on show.  The last time I was there they had poppies falling from a bridge into the river.

In the evening I would go to a local village Horbury for a meal in my favourite restaurant Bistro 42.

7. Describe your perfect travel day of the year?

Misti, Arequipa, Peru

In 2016 I was not able to travel too much as I badly broke my wrist in March but the best day I had was when I returned to Arequipa, Peru and climbed the volcano Misti at 5,822 metres!! It is the volcano that overlooks the town that you can see from everywhere and it was one of the hardest things I have done but also a day I was so proud of myself for the mental strength I had to get to the top.

8. What have you ticked off your bucket list in 2016?

Misti, Arequipa, Peru

Climbing Misti and getting to an altitude of 5,822 metres.  I had tried it in 2012 and got nowhere near to the top, but this time I did it.  I would love to try Kilimanjaro too, it’s slightly higher but knowing I can deal with the altitude I hope I would make it.

9. What is top of your travel bucket list for 2017?

This year I have so much travel planned, but the thing on my bucket list that I am looking forward to visiting is Chernobyl.  I have read a lot about it in the past and seen documentaries and I think it will be so interesting to visit.

10. Share your favourite Instagram photo of 2016?

Ollantaytambo, Peru

Looking back through my pictures I realise I didn’t share many photos from travels from 2016 as I unfortunately didn’t get away much.  My favourite picture which is from the 29 December 2016 is in Ollyantaytambo in Peru.  I went to the ruins where there were thousands of tourists but found an open door and a path climbing up the mountain.  As I had plenty of time before it closed I decided to climb as high as I could, where I found a boulder to sit on and look at this view.  I sat there for ages, reading my book, chilling out and enjoying an amazing view, with no other people around.

This challenge was passed on to me by Julia Hammond from Julia’s Travels.  To read her responses click here.

I also now pass it on to Sara & Nacho from I do what I want to, read there responses here.

If you enjoyed this post then don’t forget to pin.

Travel Whispers Blogger Challenge

 

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6 months as a travel blogger

It’s now been over 6 months since I went live and wrote my first blog piece on why I started travelling.  I had no clue then what I was letting myself in for and how much hard work it takes to be a travel blogger.

I originally wanted to start a blog, to document my travels and help the people I have met along the way who wanted advice about certain places I had visited.  I love telling people about the great places I have visited and people who know me, certainly know if you start me talking about a place I won’t shut up!!  I have had so many people asking questions about places and it’s great when I can give them tips or direct them to a post I have written on that place.

Facebook

ilive4travel facebook

When I set up my facebook page I thought it would be easy to get thousands of followers, I am a bit obsessed with facebook so I do know how it works, but actually getting people to like your page, including your friends is a tough job.  I found that joining facebook groups and helping other people grow their pages helps too.  It’s also a great way to get introduced to other travel bloggers to see how they do things, to see where they are going on their travels and add even more places to the list.  I am not sure I am posting enough though, knowing that only a small percentage of your followers even see something you post in their newsfeed.  Should I be posting a link to a blog post several times? At the moment I only post 1 link per post.  I still feel I have a lot to learn on facebook but I need to concentrate on it as at the moment it drives the most traffic to my blog.

Twitter

ilive4travel twitter

Twitter was something I had never used before I had a travel blog it was one of the social media’s everyone said I needed so I gave it a go.  Getting followers is a lot more easier than facebook.  At first I liked a lot of people who were also travel bloggers and joined facebook groups for twitter too, but I find now after getting over 3,500 followers that I regularly get more followers, without actually doing much.  I still have work that I need to do on this, I still haven’t signed up to a site where I can schedule tweets and so I do feel I neglect this a little and at the moment i get the 2nd highest number of referrals from it.

Pinterest

ilive4travel pinterest

Pinterest is something I have only started using, it took me so long to get my head around it and understand what it is for but now I love it and am using it to plan my future trips!!  It will soon take over twitter as my number two referrer.  I use Canva to make my pins and it’s easy to pin them onto my posts.  Again I have joined more facebook groups to help get my pins repinned.  It’s great that after such a short time I am already seeing the benefit of it, which is great.  I still have a lot to learn on this I think, rich pins and group boards.  I am now over 1,000 followers but I still have a lot of work to do and over the next few months need to make sure all my old posts have pins attached and get them promoted.

Instagram

ilive4travel instagram

Instagram I have but I don’t particularly use that much, I do put pictures on and try and keep getting my numbers up but I find that it’s a lot of work for very little reward.  I get very little traffic from Instagram to my blog but maybe it’s something I need to look into more.  Do you have the same problem or am I doing something wrong?  Do you get much traffic from Instagram?

SEO

SEO, this is something that I am still trying to get my head around and something that I need to spend more time getting correct on my blog.  i have done a few courses that have included SEO sections, so I have more of an idea but it’s still a weakness I think.  I have finally got Yoast on my account which helps show me areas I need to do better but I still need to get my head around keywords.  Anyone got any tips on keywords, on how I choose what my keywords are in a post?

When I started my blogging journey 6 months ago I had no idea how much time, effort and dedication writing a travel blog took and I still think I need to get more efficient and organised.  I have learnt so much in the past 6 months about the different social media out there and done numerous courses online.  I never knew that it would be a full time job, the work you need to put in is unbelievable but hopefully in the end it will be worth it.  I think as long as I am enjoying writing about the places I have travelled and making the most of seeing those places and helping people to find the best things to do in those places  then I will be happy.

My family still don’t understand it’s work, when I tell them I am working and they say you might as well get a proper job the amount of hours you are putting into it, but for me travel is my life and maybe in the future my blog will help me travel the world.

For the next 6 months I have more travels planned.  At the moment I am writing this in Peru, I am here for 3 months.  I am finding it hard getting into a routine of travelling and blogging, but I guess it takes time to get used to doing both.

I am also planning on seeing 18 countries in Europe this year so it’s going to be a busy year for me.

Besides travelling though my goals for my blog for the next 6 months are as follows:

  • Set up a plan of the posts I want to write.
  • Fully understand SEO and update all my previous posts
  • Finish creating pins for Pinterest on all my posts
  • Increase my numbers of social media followers
  • Write some reviews of hostels I have stayed in
  • Get part of my travels paid for by my blog

Is there anything else you think I need to do or is there any advice you can give me on my 6 month goals?  Any help is appreciated.

Am looking forward to reading this back in 6 months and seeing how I did with my goals.  I really hope I get the discipline needed and don’t get distracted by all the travelling!!

If you liked it, then pin it.

6 months as a travel blogger

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Hiking El Misti a volcano in Arequipa Peru

Hiking Misti Arequipa

Last month (December 2016) while I was in Arequipa I decided that I needed a second attempt to reach the summit of El Misti.

I first tried 4 years ago when I spent 2 months in Arequipa at Spanish school.  At the time I felt I was physically fit but I was not used to carrying a heavy backpack or the altitude and when I booked the trip I only found out the night before that I was expected to carry everything up to basecamp!! This included my clothes, tent, sleeping bag, crampons, ice pick and 5 litres of water. Continue reading

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