Peru and hiking the amazing Inca Trail to Machu Picchu!

I’m home now, back in rainy Devon after an amazing trip in the Andies Mountains of Peru! I joined a group of wonderful people to try and hike the famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu. Unfortunately, due to the mountain being too steep and full of rock steps of varying height and size, combined with the roughness of the trail and altitude, plus my lack of fitness,I failed to complete the challaenge, but I did hike roughly a third of the trek and feel proud of my attempt. I aim to return in a couple of years to complete my challenge.
Fortunately, along with 3 other amazing people, I managed to raise lots of money for Galloway’s Society For The Blind, so I’m happy for that :). People can continue to give if they wish, as Galloway’s needs all the support it can get to continue their amazing work, supporting blind and visually impaired people throughout northwest England.
I had an amazing 10 days experience in Peru, met and trekked with wonderful people from both England and Peru, who helped and supported me all the way, visited fascinating Inca ruins like Tambomachay, Sacsayhuaman and Machu Picchu and even rode on horseback! An unbelievable adventure to add to my collection of amazing experiences. Photos to come soon. Warmest wishes to all my friends and followers. Cheers, Tony :).
— Tony Giles, blind solo traveller, author and public speaker. Author of latest eBook: Seeing a Slice of Southern Africa My Way ISBN 9781839781544 Published 31 December 2020
I’m Fund raising for Galloway’s Society for the Blind, a charity that supports blind and visually impaired people throughout the northwest of England. my challenge: to raise more money for Galloways, in order to enable them to continue their necessary work supporting blind-visually impaired people. Most money raised goes to Galloway’s to support their fine work and, the rest, to help pay for my trip to hike the Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru in April or October 2023 and show what blind people can do. My Go fund me page:
Author of eBooks:
*Seeing The Americas My Way* An emotional journey (September 2016) ISBN 9781912022625 Available from Amazon – Kobo –
*Seeing The World My Way* A totally blind and partially deaf guy’s global adventures (2010, repub as eBook only, 2016) ISBN 9781912022861 The first eBook in the trilogy. Second edition is available from all eBook sites. Amazon –
Website: Facebook: YouTube: Tony at Armenia Travel Fest vid.

Cameroon Travels So Far!

I’ve now been in hot and interesting Cameroon for 2 weeks, apparently, and the time has flown by! I started in busy Douala, the country’s economic capital and largest city, located on the Wouri River estuary. It’s busy and noisy with motorbikes whizzing everywhere simultaneously, bumping over the pot-hole rough streets! Walking about blind, is not easy in Douala, or Cameroon itself for that matter. I stayed 3 nights at the Hotel Astoria, a reasonably priced establishment and took a taxi tour of the central area of the city on both of my main two days there. I visited the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul, Doual’art, an building that showcases local artists and is located in La Pagode neighbourhood. A nice local lady attempted to describe one of the main exhibitions on displayed. Something to do with the survival of both nature and women, although, I didn’t entirely understand! Next I headed down the coast for 2 nights in touristy Kribi, on the Atlantic coast for some beach time and to visit Lobé Falls (Chutes de Lobé), some 7 km south of town. I stayed in a small apartment run by a nice, friendly local couple and took motorbike taxis everywhere for about 1Euro per journey. I found a nice bar-restaurant at Lara Beach, ate an expensive but tasty fish and went across the beach to hear the waves crashing against the hot sand. The following day a guide took me to Lobé Falls on a motorbike, and I had a very short and expensive ride in a small wooden boat with engine out along the Lobé River to hear the large waterfalls. It comprises of several rivers that come together to plunge over a cascade directly into the Atlantic Ocean below. That rumbling sound was wonderful. Sadly, the experience was way too short. From Kribi, I took a very early bus back to Douala, meeting a nice Cameroonian guy named Steve, who spoke good English and helped me buy a beget filled with boiled eggs – tasty and cheap! 4 bumpy and hot hours later, I arrived back in Douala, where I jumped on yet another moto-taxi and for 3Euros, was dropped at the shared taxi stand for a 2-hour ride to Limbé. This is another touristy beach town on the atlantic Ocean, but in the heart of the southwest Angophone region of Cameroon. It is potentially in the country’s dangerous southwest region, where there is an ongoing violent struggle between Cameroon and Ambazonian separatists who want to gain independence. However, apart from the town having to lock-down on Mondays, it seems peaceful. Limbé has the motto: “A Town of Friendship” and its people are very friendly and speak good English. Unfortunately, my first day in Limbé was a Monday, so I simply relaxed and listened to the wild ocean crash onto the black sandy beach at the delightful Fini Hotel – a 15 min drive out of town. On my second day I went on a city sightseeing tour with a lovely guide named Mia, and his driver. We took the unbelievably bumpy road to Bimbia, a former Central African slave port. Once there and, after a 30 minute wait for the manager to arrive and open the gate, we wandered around the large sight of overgrown grass and rough stoney trails, heading towards the sea, where the former slave port and slave auction area was located. Various metal signs along the downwards sloping trail offer fascinating information on large metal boards, about the slave port, how many slaves were transported to various Caribbean islands and the Americas, and by which European nations. Once at the sight, after clambering down many rough, rock steps, cut into the trail and climbing over many loose stones, I was able to touch some of the few remaining structures that were left in ruins. There were several large and tall stone columns, covered in moss, where slaves were chained, in the sun, to await deportation. More information was given, telling about the various goods that were exchanged between Europeans and African chiefs for slaves. Items such as sugar, guns, gunpower, knives, food, and many other items. Another information board listed the names of various ships from different European nations that waited off-shore to take slaves to the Caribbean and elsewhere. I touched a big door; the ‘Door of No Return’ where slaves were transported in small boats along a tiny river out to the waiting ships. It was a cruel and brutal trade that lasted until the mid 19th century. I highly recommend visiting, but a guide/car is needed as the place is quite isolated. Once back in Limbé, we briefly visited the botanical garden, where a grave sight to former French soldiers is located and also stopped at the wildlife centre to hear chimpanzees fight and scream with one another! The centre also has monkeys and some reptiles. The last stop was at a large volcanic lava flow, some 20 min drive north of Limbé. The larva has solidified into a huge rock formation, some 17 km long and 3 km wide. Climbing up onto it was tough going. We, eventually, reached a small wooden platform where photos were taken, before clambering down and heading back to my hotel. An excellent day’s exploring. On Wednesday, 8 March, with help, I returned, yet again, to Douala by taxi, then took a shared taxi closed to a town called Melong 2. I was dropped at the Bare police checkpoint, from where I took a short motorbike ride to a Franciscan monastery and stayed for a night. This placed had been recommended to me by a fellow traveller, Bart from the Netherlands. The monks were very friendly. Some of them spoke English and made me very welcome. After a short rest and chat with one of the monks, I took another motor taxi to Ekom Waterfall, one of the main tourist sights in that region. A roughly 20 minute ride along a very rocky road brought us to the park. I paid around 6Euros for the entrance and to take photos. Then the motorbike driver, kindly escorted me along a grassy and gravel track and down several long steps to a platform that the waterfall could be viewed from. A good place to see and hear the falls, but I wanted to get closer. I managed to persuade my guide to help me down the steps. There were a hell of a lot, and many were rough and slippery. Some 20 mins later, we reach the bottom, and I heard the waterfall crashing in its full cacophony! A fantastic sound of tumbling water. Eventually, we ascended the hundreds of rock steps, I stopping many times to catch my breath. At the monastery, I joined the monks for evening prayers and took dinner with them. The following morning I join again for morning prayers, spoken in French with hymns sung in Latin before a tasty breakfast was taken. An hour later, I was back on the road, this time on a large hot bus for a 7 hour journey to Yaoundé, Cameroons large and buzzling capital. From there, I began my tour of the north with a local guide named Jude. At present, I am in the northern city of Ngaoundere. Cheers, more updates coming soon. Douala photos now on website and Facebook. Thanks for follow. Tony :).

Sharing a Website for Disabled and Non-Disabled Writers with Interesting Stories.

Some links to a newish media platform and website: primarily for blind-visually impaired and disabled writers with interesting stories. But available to all. It is a paid platfoorm and I’m not sure if it is fully accessible without paying to read it. But another place for travel/other interest disabled/non/disabled writers to present their work, so thought I’d share it. I was interviewed by the author/founder of the website last year. Please share the links and have a look-read. Thanks, have a wonderful day. From sunny Devon, Tony :). Online media platform DateKeepers, run by Itto Outini, an American blind journalist and writer
Here’s the link where you can subscribe:
It is a paid platform where Blind and disabled travel writers and blind-visually impaired writers can post their blogs/stories.It is open to all writers. I hope it is accessible. Cheers, Tony.
Itto Outini Fulbright Alumni Human Rights Activist Founder of Fulbrighters with Disabilities Co-Founder & Independent Journalist at The DateKeepers Phone: USA, +1 (479) 502-3244

An Amazing Adventure!

Had an amazing day in Sao Tome. This morning I went with a local guide, after hiring a car for the day, and a young, shy, local lady to Ilheu das Rolas – a small tropical island just off the southern tip of Sao Tome island.

It took a good 2 hours to drive there, what with winding and twisting roads and the many potholes. Several parts of the roads were rock and gravel tracks, which made for a fun and bumpy ride!

Once at Ponta Baleia (Wales Point), Sao Tome’s southernmost point. We headed to Hotel Yamy to take a small wooden boat with an engine for the 3 km journey to Ilheu das Rolas itself. The fast, bumpy ride took roughly 20 minutes. I was picked up and carried into the small craft, to save me getting my shoes and clothes wet – a very kind gesture!

A return trip by this boat costs 10 Euros for tourists and Sao Tomians, tour guides go free!

Upon being deposited on Ilheu das Rolas, we headed up the steep sandy beach and ascended the steep rocky slope in the only village. I could smell fish being cooked on wood-burning fires – the smell of smoke was strong.

We made our way over rough and loose rocks and stones, continuing uphill, eventually entering the dense forest, where we were all eaten alive by mosquitoes. Our destination: the marker or monument to the Equator, which passes through Ilheu das Rolas. The small rocky and tree-covered island was discovered by Portuguese navigators in the late 15th century. Apparently, there are just over 70 inhabitants on the island. We heard kids running around and birdsong in the trees. With some effort and me constantly banging my feet and tripping, we made it up the steep hill and found the concrete or stone marker to the location of the Equator. A line on the ground marks where the Equator is meant to pass through. Maps on the ground identify the other continents with regards to the Equator. After photo-taking. We continued through the forest on a long walk/hike that consisted of pushing our way through thick forest and stepping over and/or, tripping on rocks, stones, tree branches, small logs and thick grass or bush. Our destination: a small blow hole on one side of the island – not an easy hike in thick forest with hardly a trail to follow whilst continuously being attacked by mosquitoes, a permanent pest of African nations, and some of these ones carry malaria!

After a long and hard walk, we finally emerged from the forest and found ourselves on rocky terrain above the sea. I heard the waves crashing on the rocks, a tremendous, powerful sound! We made our way over the rocks and, finally, clambered down onto a beach to where the blow hole sat in front of us. At first, silence, then, bang, and a big wave, with white water, shot up out of this hole in a rock. The sound and energy created, was amazing. After experiencing the blow hole’s spectacular efforts for several minutes. We began our hard walk back most of the way we’d come. I became tired and stopped frequently as, after re-entering the forest, it became more humid again. Eventually, we made it back to the village, the last part being back down the steep rocky hill we’d ascended at the beginning of our adventure. Once back at the beach, we relaxed and waited for the small boat to return us to Sao Tome. Back on the main island, we jumped in the vehicle for the long, twisty and bumpy drive back to the main city.

Now relaxing. Next stop, Windhoek, Namibia – via a wait of several hours in Luanda international airport, capital of Angola!

One other bit of interesting news, I was granted an e-visa to Gabon today! Unfortunately, it arrived too late and I changed travel plans! I was, originally, meant to arrive into Libreville, Gabon tomorrow evening! :) Such is life on the road. Stay safe, be well, Tony the
Traveller :).

Vids coming soon!

A Day on The Road With Tony

Last Friday, 26th August I think. I awoke at 05:30, pack my small backpack and, with help from the quiet, friendly lady at the Danube Delta Hostel in Sulina, the easternmost point of Romania, I set off on another epic journey! First there was a ten-minute walk along the riverbank to a pontoon, to take the motorised canoe taxi-boat across to the other bank, where the main part of the town lies. This involved climbing up three or four concrete steps, then descending two or three, before stepping down into the motorised canoe whilst avoiding the gap between the riverbank and boat! Not an easy task if blind! Plus, the small craft was moving up and down like a trampoline! I place my cane on one of the wooden plank seats, and, with help from two strong pairs of arms, was helped/pulled into the boat. Once seated, it was merely a 40-second, rapid ride across to the other bank to clamber out again, with more of me wobbling my way out of the canoe and onto the riverbank. This was followed by stepping onto the moving pontoon, then ascending more steps, followed by immediately descending several others, before my companion and I were on the river path and heading to the seven am ferry back to Tulcea, the county town of the Danube River area. Once on board the slow ferry, after purchasing my ticket, I found a seat and relaxed, believing it would be another 4.5 hour to Tulcea. Unfortunately, the ferry arrived almost an hour early into Tulcea than I realised and, what with no announcements and the boats quiet engine, I didn’t realise we’d docked, until I heard the staff cleaning the ferry with a vacuum cleaner! Thus, I probably missed a train from Tulcea to Bucharest, Romania’s capital, where I was headed, with in tension to then take another train to Brasov. A very kind and friendly Romanian from Iasi, a university city in Romania’s northeast, helped me to the train station to enquire about the next departure to Bucharest. Unfortunately, the next train didn’t depart until 15:30, meaning I’d have over four hours to wait. The gentlemen then went and enquired the time of the next bus to Bucharest. One left at 12 pm, but all seats were taken. However, another bus departed at 14:00 and there were seats on that one. So I purchased a ticket and sat in the delightful Tulcea bus station to wait. There were charging points near comfy chairs and fee, high-speed internet, simple to connect and use – I was delighted! When returning from the toilet, a lady; a complete stranger, gave me a paper bag with two donuts inside – I couldn’t believe it. She didn’t say anything, just put it in my hand and walked off! Once the 14:00 bus arrived, a lovely female bus station staff member helped me aboard and I settled down for the 4.5 hour journey to Romania’s busy capital. Upon arrival in Bucharest, I asked one of the bus passengers to help me find a taxi. It was only a 10-minute walk from where the bus dropped me to Gara de Nord train Station, but what with the heat and my heavy pack, plus the chance I’d get lost, I took a taxi, paying slightly too much, as usual in Bucharest! At the train station I tried to find someone to help me locate the ticket office to buy a ticket to Brasov. I knew a train departed for Brasov at 19:42. Once I had my ticket, it was a case of finding the correct platform. This is not usually known in advance and the information is only shown on screens very closed to the departure time. I met a friendly local girl who showed me to a McDonalds near the platforms area. I grabbed some food and attempted to find someone who could tell me what platform I needed. Eventually, I found another friendly local and he walked me all the way to the train and helped me board and to my seat. People in Romania can be so kind and helpful. Settled in my seat, it was a quick, quiet, fast journey to Brasov. I simply asked another passenger when I felt we were approaching Brasov station and felt my braille watch to check the arrival time. Someone helped me off the train, down the vertical metal steps and onto the platform. They then guided me out of the station. I asked to be taken to a taxi, but when I showed the address of my accommodation, they said it was after 10 pm and would cost more. I asked the young lady who’d escorted me out the station if she knew where the number 4 bus stop was, and she kindly helped me find it. At this point, I met two young Romanian girls who’d recently arrived in Brasov. They offered to help find my hostel; Centrum House, in Brasov’s old town. We chatted away and they were extremely friendly and spoke good English. Our conversation continued after we’d alighted from the bus. However, one of the girls suddenly realised we were heading in the wrong direction! Back we went; laughing all the way into the centre of the old town. We finally arrived at the hostel in question, but now there was a problem. It was 23:00 and there was no way to enter the building. I’d reserved this hostel via a friend, who’d made my booking over the phone. I had no information on how to enter the building; a code was needed. There was a mobile number on the door, but when one of the girls phoned it, there was no reply. We all just looked at each other; what to do! Eventually, the manager or owner of the hostel phoned one of the girls back, gave her the code to enter the building and directions to my room, which was a little complicated! We had to ascend three lots of steps onto the first floor, then cross a terrace, enter a code at another door and try locate my room, which required another code! The next challenge was to tell me the WiFi name and password. The girls were so kind and patient, they were simply magnificent. It was nearly midnight by this point, but I’d arrived and got settled. Just another day in the life of Tony Giles, Tony the Traveller! Next stop, the small town of Sfantu Gheorghe (Saint George) in English. Cheers everyone, happy travels. |