Michael Batson

Travel Writer





Living Between Water and Heaven - 30 April 2011

Lake Titicaca is the second largest lake in South America and at 3800 metres above sea level the highest navigable lake in the world. The lake is part Bolivian and part Peruvian, the border between the two snakes its way across the waters which are 80 kilometres wide at the broadest point and almost 200 kilometres from end to end. At over 8000 square kilometres it’s large enough in fact for Bolivia’s navy to patrol its portion, for since the country lost its coast line to Chile in the War of the Pacific, the country is entirely landlocked.Bolivia’s navy had been reconstituted in the 1960s by the then military junta of General Rene Barientos following the advice of German expatriate Klaus Barbie, a former Gestapo chief and Nazi war criminal then living in Bolivia, and better known by his wartime notoriety, as the “Butcher of Lyon”.Puno, according to legend, was also the cradle of Inca civilization, as Manco Capac, the first Inca, rose from the waters of Lake Titicaca, under the orders of the Sun God, to found the Inca Empire. The lake was considered the most sacred body of water in the Inca Empire.Puno sits on the the Collao Plateau, and is where other ancient and important cultures like Pucara and, later, Tiahuanaco, one of the most important precursors to the Inca appeared.The city of Puno was founded by the Pedro Antonio Fernández de Castro, 10th Count of Lemos in 1668 giving it the name of San Carlos de Austria. From that moment, the town began to change

Stone Temple Pilots - 25 April 2011

Cusco, the ancient capital of the Inca, sits high in an Andean valley. The modern name is a Spanish corruption from the Aymara and Quechua languages, which drew on mythical origins to name the city.The origin of civilisation in Peru can be traced back 20,000 years before the Incas, making the country one of the cradles of ancient cultures

The Temple of the Sun - 20 April 2011

Peru’s Machu Picchu has survived 500 years of rain, earthquake and landslides. The mountaintop religious retreat and citadel city is one of the world’s greatest archaeological achievements, built by Inca emperor Pachacutec probably in the 15th century, to prove his place among the gods.It’s an early start in the cold morning at Cusco railway

Secret on the Desert - 10 April 2011

Nazca is a dusty town located on the Pan-American Highway between Peru’s second city Arequipa and the capital Lima.  People usually pass through on their way from one city to the other. Just outside town is located one of the mysteries of the world, the Nazca Lines. The Nazca Lines are a series of ancient hieroglyphic drawings and symbols

El Misti and The White City - 3 April 2011

The road from Chile to Arequipa, Peru’s second city, takes you along a famous highway and through the dusty provincial centre of Tacna.San Pedro de Tacna, the southern most city in the Republic of Peru, is connected to Chile by road and by rail. The rail line was built in 1855 and is one of the oldest in South America.The road is part of the

The City of Eternal Spring - 27 March 2011

 Arica is the northern most city in Chile and the jumping off point for Tacna, in Peru. By measured rainfall, Arica is one of the driest inhabited places on Earth. Oxford academic Nick Middleton came here when filming for the television series, Going To Extremes, on the trail of the coldest, wettest and hottest places on Earth, this

The Most Perfect Desert in the World - 24 March 2011

The Atacama Desert is often described as the world’s most perfect desert. Parts of the desert haven't seen a drop of rain since recordkeeping began. It is the second driest place on Earth after Antarctica. The desert stretches 1000 kilometres from Peru's southern border rising from a thin coastal shelf to the pampas—virtually lifeless plains

Red Gold Fever - 11 March 2011

Copper accounts for almost one-third of all Chile’s foreign trade. At one time the figure was a massive 75 percent. These days Chile produces about 450,000 tons of copper per year.Not for nothing then is copper known as “Chile’s salary”.Mines come complete with their own cities to house the workers, their own water and electrical plants

Valparaiso - It's By The Sea - 5 March 2011

Two hours drive by bus from Santiago is the port of Valparaiso, until the early 1900s Chile’s first city. Testament to its former glories, Valparaiso was home to Latin America’s first stock exchange and the oldest continuous Spanish language newspaper in the world. Valparaiso once served as an important stopover for ships sailing between the