South America

//South America

La Paz

I usually fall in love with every place I travel to for one reason or another. I’m a culture vulture and a people watcher. I love landscapes as much as cityscapes. And I thrive when I’m out of my comfort zone and have to navigate the waters of a new environment. However, it was difficult to do in La Paz because I just wasn’t feeling it when I got there. Not one bit. Save your hate email, ‘one Bolivian’ who may read this because I loved so much of what I saw outside of the capital and was endeared to the Bolivian people everywhere I went, but La Paz itself...a bit lack lustre for me. La Paz sits in a canyon, wedged between mountains in the valley of the Andes. It has an elevation of 3650m making it the highest capital in the world, so my almost three months in South America did nothing to prepare me [...]

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Las Pampas Amazon Tour

After the buzz of the Salt Flats I was a bit deflated when I learned a few towns near Uyuni that I was hoping to visit for my last week in Bolivia were plagued with ongoing miner protests. I was told that I could still go, but I may very well find myself stuck in one as the buses were often cancelled when such conflicts flared up. Scrambling for something fun to do, I was recommended to fly up to the north of Bolivia to the tiny town of Ruennabaque and do a tour in the Amazon Basin. This sounded like a fabulous idea that I didn't have any money for, but when I learned it was hot and tropical, I booked it immediately. Having just left one of the coldest places in Bolivia, I was in desperate need of a heavy dose of sunshine and thought of little else. Just flying in to this place was quite [...]

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Uyuni Salt Flats

A tour of the Salt Flats in Uyuni (Salar de Uyuni) was lingering on my bucket list for years, so part of my motivation for visiting Bolivia was to finally see this unique and beautiful place. And on a three-day tour of the area, I saw so much more than I expected as we crossed into different ecosystems, climates and landscapes. However, I think it was the perspective that this trip gave me that made it so memorable and one of the best tours I've ever done. As was the way with most of my South America trip though, not everything went perfectly smoothly on the tour, which kind of made it perfect in the end...especially because I'm still alive. First off, getting to the town of Uyuni from the capital of La Paz wasn't the most fun. I had to take an uncomfortable 9-hour night bus, and although we were served food and given [...]

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Easter Island

Early in my South America trip I entertained the idea of going to Easter Island as a birthday present to myself, which I thought I thoroughly deserved for god-knows-what reason. And since I was going to get as close to it as I ever would when visiting Chile, I convinced myself that I practically had to go and not think about the expense. So I did. I assume so many of you are as clueless as I was about this place, so I'll ply you with some fun facts... Easter Island got its name when it was "discovered" on Easter Day, 1722 by the Dutch explorer Jacob Roggeveen, but the original name of the island, which is still used predominately by the locals, is Rapa Nui. It's been a Chilean territory since its annexation in 1888; nonetheless, it has so little in common with Chile or anywhere else in South America, [...]

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Valparasio

I'm convinced that if you follow the yellow brick road it will invariably lead you to Valparasio, Chile. A small city of about 200,000 people, Valparasio is actually one of the most important seaports in the South Pacific and a big university town as well. However, it's so much more than both of those aspects and was a great escape for me just when I needed it most. It's about an hour by bus from the capitol of Santiago, but a world away in many respects. Sure, there are some similarities between the two cities. The warmth of the Chilean people is ubiquitous; the cold weather in July is inescapable, and the love of the region's wine is very much intact. However, Valparasio has something that Santiago doesn't have, something I've never found anywhere in fact, which makes it one of my favourite places. Ever. It's definitely a bit rough [...]

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Cordillera Huayhuash

I should have known things were going to go awry when I caught food poisoning the night before we left. I haven't had it in over 25 years, but the night before the biggest hike of my life and...pow! I had signed up with Inkaland Treks to do the Cordillera Huayhuash circuit, which is a nine-day mountain hike that takes you through the Peruvian Andes. I was so excited and prepared. It was going to be The Sound of Music meets Seven Years in Tibet, and soon it was all mine. The itinerary was amazing; the company was organized and enthusiastic; my team was incredible. I had a fabulous guide Lidia, who knew the mountains inside and out, an extraordinary cook Yovani who made better meals than I do at home, and the happiest human alive who moved everything from camp to camp, our donkey driver Sulio and five of his [...]

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