Peru & What Next – Final Change of Plan

By now you know about Peru and Chile not happening and so Galapagos happened and Brazil was supposed to be the next stop after Bolivia. Well, we have another update – Peru Consulate in La Paz, Bolivia accepted the Visa Application and we are going to Peru! FINALLY!

Yes, you read that right. After trying so hard in Colombia and Ecuador, we had given up. But one evening I decided to write to the Consulate in La Paz and they responded positively! The process took over a week, but that allowed us to enjoy the beautiful landscape of Bolivia (posts to come).

Next week we are likely to be in Peru :) As such, Brazil is now off the table. Also, as we spent a lot of money at Galapagos, we cannot afford Europe anymore. Secondly, the Schengen Countries are creating a fuss about the visa too. So we will be heading to U.S. of America after Peru to visit a little life that has arrived in this world and finally end our year long journey with a road trip along the west coast. Can’t wait!

Follow the updated itinerary travel map right here.

Just a note – thanks all for praying for us :)

Quilotoa Loop for Everyone?

If you Google ‘Things to do in Ecuador’ and Quilotoa Loop will be on the list. We read about it on various sites and blogs and then decided not to do it! We don’t think Quilotoa Loop is for everyone.

Here is our reasons:

  1. Doing the Quilotoa Loop means leaving your big backpack at a hostel and coming back to get it after doing the loop. The thought of leaving most of our belongings behind for few days not comforting. What if we needed something urgently (I know it doesn’t happen but yea!)
  2. We could do the Quilatoa Loop carrying the big backpack with us. It meant walking with it for 6 hours each day. As if we are fit enough for that!
  3. We are on a holiday and we didn’t see the point in over exerting ourselves. Doing the complete loop meant hiking for 4 days back to back. We would rather hike to our physical ability and relax when necessary.
  4. We are quite particular about some of our clothes, especially because we are only carrying 4-5 sets of socks and undies. So hiking 4 days would mean no clean clothes after the hike and the thought of it was not comfortable at all.
  5. We found plenty of day hike options from Chugchilan, including the Quilatoa Laguna. This option was comfortable and yet adventurous.

Look out for our post about spending 5 days in Chugchilan. There is plenty to do from one location! We saw various parts of the region, almost similar to the Quilatoa Loop experience.

Safety while traveling

Some of you must of realised that our blogging has reduced. There is one main reason for it – our laptop was stolen from us. It was definitely an unfortunate incident but we have learnt from it. Here is what happened and how you can ensure safety while traveling.


During our South America research we read a lot about thefts in Colombia. We were mentally prepared about keeping ourselves and our belongings safe. But I guess the recent economical development in Colombia provided us a much safer environment. We gradually let our guards down and that came to bite us in the bum in Ecuador.

The Realisation

The incident took place on the bus ride from Otavalo to Quito. The journey itself was uneventful till we reached Quito. We were heading towards our hostel in La Marsical when at the Quito metrobus connection Shruti realised that one of the bags was unusually light.

We quickly opened the zips of the bag to realise that the laptop was missing. Our initial thought was we thought we left the laptop in the hostel. However, further thinking through confirmed that it was not a possibility. As we had checked out early to do the hike around Otavalo, we had locked our bags and left them at the hostel. An email exchange with the hostel confirmed our fears.

We then tried to recall every incident since we left the hostel. The theft could not have occurred on the Quito metrobus as the daypacks were on our laps due to the evening peak time rush. The only situation left was the Otavalo to Quito bus ride.

Theft from under the feet

After our 5 hour hike in Otavalo, we had a decent meal and were ready to board the bus to Quito. Due to the hike and food coma, Shruti and I fell asleep as soon as the bus left the terminal. The daypacks were places next to our feet on the bus floor. Something we have been doing since Colombia.

The thief/ves must have been sitting behind us on the bus. They would have realised that we were fast asleep giving them the opportunity to carry out the theft. At one point in the journey, probably 40 mins after we left the terminal, I woke up for a few minutes to realise the bag was not against the side but halfway under the seat. I thought that the bag had moved due to the rash bus driving along the mountains.

Once we got to our hostel in Quito, we went through the chain of events and realized that we had been robbed by some skillful thieves. The bag was dragged from under the seat, the laptop taken and pushed back to close to our feet.

What Next?

The next 2 hours revolved around changing passwords, estimating the damage and the plan of action. As we had specified the laptop when we bought our travel insurance, we had to file a police report as soon as possible to claim the theft. The tourist police station in La Mariscal area of Quito had an officer who could manage some English and helped us file a police report. In the next couple of days we filled our claim to the insurance and are currently waiting to hear from them.

UPDATE: Our travel insurance replied and they have reimbursed us for the lost laptop! I must say we have the best travel insurance and highly recommend Southern Cross Insurance for everyone! They have only been understanding :)

How to be Vigilant

There are a lot of lessons we learnt from this event. Here are some of our tips for ensuring safety while traveling.

  1. The time on the road is when we have to be most careful. The focus must be to arrive at the destination safe and sound. If you are distracted thats when an incident could occur.
  2. Always board the bus after decent rest. Sleeping on the bus is not an option unless you are hugging your belongings. This incident occurred because both of us were tired and fast asleep. Even when I woke up for couple of minutes during the journey, my tired brain accepted the easiest possibility of bag moving due to the bus ride. I did not think twice or consider other possibilities.
  3. Always lock all your bags, especially the zips with the money and passport.
  4. Never place anything on the top shelf of the bus because if you cannot see it, it is likely to be gone. Under certain circumstances if you have to place some of your belongings on the top, either place it on the opposite side so you can always see it or leave some part of the belonging hanging so it is still within your sight.

Take all the necessary precautions to avoid any damage. If an incident occurs, it ruins the next couple of days and possibly even your overall experience in the country.

Also, always remember that some people are constantly struggling to make ends meet. They are possibly in a situation where taking a chance is their best option. If they get caught, they could probably get away because most tourists do not get involved in pressing charges or taking action. It is almost a win-win situation for them.

In any case, we still count ourselves lucky as the thieves could have taken the entire bag and got off at the next stop. We would have been left with no passports and money then!

Change of Plans #3

Our One Year Round The World planning was covering 3 continents – Asia, Europe and South America. As we commenced our journey, 2 changes occured early on – Sri Lanka instead of Nepal and Alaska, USA for Northern Lights. We are currently in South America and everything was going to plan until getting Peru Visa became a pain for Shruti! So now here we are – Change of Plans #3.

Initial Thoughts about South America

Colombia was our first country in South America and we absolutely loved it! The culture, people and food is so different to any place we had been. We fell in love and decided to spend the entire remaining 6 months in this continent – including Central America.

Unfortunately Peru Visa didn’t work out and Chile Visa is a longer process (with required documents), so our South America travels are down to 4.5 months, closer to what we had initially planned.

Considering Central America

Shruti and I heard amazing things about Central America from fellow travels. It got us excited and we decided if Peru does not happen, we will head to Central America. Most countries in the region would accept me with open arms as Shruti has an American Visa.

When the time came to agree on next steps, Shruti realised that apart from stories we heard, we didn’t know much about Central America. We had never done any research as it was not part of the initial plan. It made Shruti nervous about traveling a region neither of us knew about in detail. So we decided not to head in that direction.

So What Now?

Shruti and I have agreed to explore and experience Ecuador and Bolivia to the fullest. Though Ecuador uses US Dollars and it can be slightly expensive at times, there are plenty of places to explore. Now that Peru and Chile are out, we have decided to head to Galapogos Islands!

Additionally, we now plan on visiting the Amazon in Brazil. Both of us will have to go through the process of applying for visa, but there is a much higher chance of getting it. Ultimately after spending 20 days in Brazil, we head to Europe.

Europe was always part of the plan but Colombia blinded us for a short while. It is now back on but due to the cost, we have agreed to spend only three to three and half months in Europe – including one month in Turkey.

For all the well-wishers out there, we are and will continue to keep an eye on the situation in Turkey. As of recent updates, the tourist parts of Turkey aren’t affected.

A small request – please say a small prayer for us. Shruti now has to apply for two visas (Brazil and Schengen) while I need visa for Brazil. Thank you :)

Peru Visa for Indians

As most of you know, I hold an Indian Passport and I am realising how much of an issue it can be while traveling. Peru has been a must visit destination for us since we started planning the trip. But turns out, we will have to skip the Land of Macchi Pichu for another trip. We tried many options for Peru Visa but everything failed.

Visa Application in Delhi

If you are following our blog, you know about our Delhi application incident. In summary, we applied ‘too early’ for Peru Visa! If we had known we would have altered our itinerary for a visa.

Emailing Consulates

While we were in Gujarat for about a month, spending time with my parents, Manish wrote to almost all the Consulates and Vise Consulates in countries we were visitng, Colombia, Ecuador and Chile regarding Peru Visa application. Unfortunately the response rate was under 10% and always negative.

Attempts in Colombia

We had planned on applying for Peru Visa in Bogota. We had our papers ready with the plan of visiting Peru Consulate as first thing on Friday morning. As it happened, our flight from Fairbanks, Alaska was delayed and we arrived in Bogota almost 24 hours late. We missed our opportunity there.

We were still not dishearted as we thought we could attempt again in Medellin. We got to Medellin on a weekend and on Monday morning heading to Peru Consulate. Guess what happens there – the Consulate closed down on Friday and all applications would have to go to Bogota office!

We were definitely bummed about that but after discussing our options and doing more research, we realised we could fly to Leticia, small town in Colombia Amazon that shares the border with Peru and Brazil. This would be a great opportunity to see the Amazon River and cross over to Peru.

So when we got to Guatape, we decided to contact the Consulate in Leticia to check if they would accept my Peru Visa application. We had to be sure that they will at least consider our application before we decided to fly to Leticia. Cost is always a consideration as we are budget traveling. We emailed and Facebook messaged them but received no response. Ultimately we decided to call and we were told that the Consular is on a month long holiday. After trying to clarify if we can still apply or not, we did not get definite answer. Dead end again!

From Guatape we tried calling the Consulate in Bogota to check our options but our calls were not answered. Another closed door. So we decided to head to Ecuador and try.

Attempt in Ecuador

We had our papers ready for visa application in Quito. On our first working day in Quito, we headed to the Peru Consulate. The entry is like an interrogation room – one way glass, one way mirror. After the security let us in, we headed to the office. There a woman greeted us. We put forward our papers and waited for her response.

Within 2 mins of looking at my passport and the cover letter, she asked, “Do you have Ecuador Residency?”. We said no and she quickly responded that my application will not be accepted. We explained we have the documents and we tried in Delhi but she shut us down. She got a call and left us hanging at the window.

A gentleman appeared after some time and attended us. We showed him my papers and even he rejected us. We started explaining our situation to him, at least he agreed to hear us out, but said he cannot do anything about it.

Completely dishearted we left the Consulate. We were not sure of what to do next. We discussed all our options over and over again but couldn’t conclude on anything. We stayed in the hostel most of the day, talking, planning and deciding next steps.

What Next?

Look out for our next post about change of itinerary – one thing is almost certain, No Peru happening this trip. Maybe I’ll have to wait for my Australian Passport before visiting this part of the world again.