My name is Hero, the travelling bear

bear 5 "So, I am walking along the seafront in Eastbourne and I come across a teddy bear sitting on the bench looking out to the sea. I thought someone had lost their favourite bear until I looked closer....." Said Lorna Cooper, mother of two, Felicity and Tylus and my sister. Fast forward six weeks later. My parents arrive in Dubai from England and with them is a bear named 'Hero'. My mum, Sue explains their story. Bear 1

Word of mouth: where to go in Peru?

nazca lines Here are a few tips and suggestions on travelling in Peru including; where to visit, what you should pay and more. All from an avid traveller and photographer who recently explored the area. Cheers Rav!
Assuming you are flying to Lima then either taking a bus to cusco or flying. I suggest you stay somewhere near Plaza de armas in the city center. You can book tours to Machu Picchu just about anywhere expect to pay around $250 USD for a 2 day tour. (You need a two day tour because you will sleep in Aguas Calientes and wake up early for Machu Picchu) DO NOT pay more than $250 for 2 days.

So, what is the Global Volunteer Network all about?

GVN what is

I thought now is a good time to give GVN a bit of web time and highlight some of the reasons why I have decided to volunteer with them. The Global Volunteer Network (GVN) was launched in December 2000 by Colin Salisbury, its Founder and Executive Director, after spending time volunteering in Ghana, West Africa. While he was there he saw the tremendous difference volunteers could make in helping local organizations achieve their goals. Upon returning to New Zealand he spent some time researching the different volunteer organizations around the world and was amazed at how expensive and limiting many programs were in terms of volunteer opportunities. Over the past 14 years the Global Volunteer Network have built up strong ties with grassroots organizations throughout the world, and placed 19017 volunteers.  Bill Gates personally recommended GVN by stating "I'd love to see more young people taking action to help the poor and disadvantaged. Two places to get started are Network for Good and Global Volunteer Network” and CNN listed the Global Volunteer Network as one of 10 organizations that can help you to make a positive impact on the world around you.

Challenge: See all the best bits in a 5 day family trip to Sri Lanka

This is not my first time to Sri Lanka but it will be our first trip to the island as a family. I'll be travelling from Dubai with my twin 9 year olds, Rudi and Sadie along with my husband Nigel, four bags, lots of chargers and an ipad. We are expecting a whirlwind, unpacking/repacking type of holiday with a good few hours of car time so distraction tools and stops will be necessary! After a thorough look at a map and some great tips from some friends via a 'do you know of..' Facebook post, I have concluded that the best option is to start in Colombo, move on to Kandy, go south to Ambalantota and head up the coast road towards Colombo stopping at Galle. We are considering leaving one night free and booking a wild card hotel when we get there in one of the coastal villages on the way back. How are we going to get there? Where are we going to stay?

I’m a Brit, do I need a visa for Peru?

Peru entry requirements

The below visa information is current based on my research, but may have changed since this post was written, so you should check with your local embassy for confirmation. passport Visas British nationals don’t need a visa to travel if the purpose of the visit is tourism. On arrival, you are normally given permission to stay for up to 6 months. Volunteers from the majority of countries are automatically given a 90-day tourist visa on entry into Peru.  If volunteers wish to stay longer than 90-days, they have the option of crossing the border into Bolivia or Chile and re-entering Peru, where they will be given an additional 90 days. Alternatively, volunteers can request an extended visa on arrival to the country. Peru will give visitors as many as 183 days of visa when entering the country in Lima. It is essential that volunteers request this when they arrive in Lima, as once issued, a 90 day visa cannot be extended. 

While you are in Peru…

Lake titi After we confirmed our place on the volunteer programme to Peru we recieved a email from WEA Worldwide Exotic Adventures in Cusco offering all kinds of tours and activities. They work closely with the Global Volunteer Network to provide adventures for the volunteers.  Cusco is well-placed to visit some of the amazing sights in Peru. The city is surrounded by beautiful mountains dotted with Incan ruins. WEA offer all types of treks and packages, with something for everyone.I will be travelling with my 9 year old daughter, Sadie so we have opted for a visit to Machu Picchu in comfort by train and stay in a nice hotel. However, if you are a bit of an adrenaline junkie and want the excitement of downhill biking, rafting, bungee jumping - they have it all. http://exotic-adventures.com/

“5 questions for mum” by Sadie Cooper-Clark

Sadie interviews mum about the volunteer trip to Cusco, Peru  Sadie and Mum Sadie: This is an interview with Zoe Cooper-Clark who will be my PARTNER going to erm, Peru and yeah...I'm going to ask Zoe some questions and she is going to answer them.  Sadie: Ok, here's my first question. How do you feel about going to Peru? Zoe: Well, I never thought that we would end up going so I'm very excited and even more excited that you are coming along with me. Sadie: Yeah I'm excited too. Ok, second question. What would you take if you were never going back home?  Zoe: I would take my family, my dog and my cat and your hamster. And probably a few things from the house that I have. Sadie: What few things would they be?

What to take on trip to Peru?

Peru_-_Cusco_Sacred_Valley_&_Incan_Ruins_039_-_textile_handcrafts_for_sale_at_Tambomachay_(7092596219), McKay Savage, CC BY 2.0. Wikim. Comm.

After the excitement of booking the flights to Peru, Sadie and I have a something new to look forward to ... shopping!

Here are some of the suggestions from the volunteer organisers, GVN. 

What we may need:

•    A weekly budget of around US$50 to cater for all other expenses like bottled water, transportation for weekend excursions, personal costs, beverages, and entertainment. •    Duplicate copies of papers, e.g. passport, visa, spare passport photos and insurance policy details. •    A money belt •    Journal and pens to keep a diary •    Soap bar for washing •    Bedding is supplied at the volunteer house however they recommend a sleeping bag for warmth during the cooler months, as there is no central heating in Peru. •    Batteries and camera film are expensive to buy, so buy before •    Flashlight/torch with spare batteries •    Books to read •    Playing cards •    Sunglasses and hat •    Sturdy comfortable footwear as well as a pair of sandals/jandals for light walking              (I will be doing a post on this in the future, along the lines of 'where to buy shoes that don't make you look like an idiot abroad' or 'can walking shoes be stylish?') •   Warm clothing as Cusco can be surprisingly cold, especially at night during June-July.

Jabs? – No legal requirements

GVN logo

The GVN provide a fantastic website for the volunteers with all sorts of useful and interesting information. I continue to be impressed by the efficiency of the staff and the organisation. 

One of the activities to cross off the list is of course, the jabs. What do we really need? When do we need to have them? And more importantly, where is that certificate that says what I have already had so I don't need again!   Here is a summary of the information provided by GVN. Obviously the main point is to consult a doctor first.   You will probably need the following vaccinations: