Watching the sunrise in Salar de Uyuni, enjoying the Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro, coffee picking in Colombia, and trekking in Peru. Only a few of our experiences during the six months trip to South America.
If you have read my previous post, then you already know how the first three months looked like. Pretty good, if I may say so myself :). However, the adventure didn’t stop there. We had three more months to experience this fascinating continent while discovering more hidden gems.
Bolivia: Salar de Uyuni
January 2016. We had been dreaming about Salar de Uyuni for a year, so we were ecstatic to finally see it. There were several options to get there, our choice was to cross from the Atacama Desert. The first day of the crossing was pretty hard for me as the altitude sickness was unbearable when we reached 5000m altitude. However, this slowly improved as we started descending, and I could enjoy nature’s wonders in country number four: Bolivia.
In order to experience the mirror effect of the biggest salt flat in the world, it needs to rain the night before. Seriously. If there’s no water covering the salt flat, there’s no magic. I mean, it’s still pretty cool to see and experience, but with a few centimeters of water, it’s truly spectacular! We were lucky to have rain the night before we arrived, and I tell you, I cried when I saw it. Our guide, woke us up painfully early so we could reach Salar at sunrise. Although we hated the wake-up call, we loved what we saw. It was a major goosebumps moment and one of the most beautiful, surreal, amazing moments we had in six months in South America!
Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, and Jericoacoara
February 2016. After a grueling 48h bus(es) trip, we arrived in country number five: Brazil. We were welcomed with extreme heat, awesome fruit juices, and one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature: Iguazu Falls.
Brazil makes my “top countries in South America” list and for good reason. From the beginning, I loved the culture, the cuisine, the language, and yes, Rio de Janeiro is as amazing as they say! Along the way, we discovered quite a few hidden gems such as Ubatuba and its secluded beaches; Ilha Grande, a paradisiac island; Paraty and Olinda, two gorgeous colonial towns; Porto de Galinhas and Jericoacoara, must-see beach destinations.
Colombia: Ciudad Perdida, Cartagena, and Zona Cafetera
March 2016. We arrived in Bogota, the capital of Colombia and our 6th country where I discovered my new swimwear obsession. Right after we traveled to Santa Marta for the hardest trek of the trip – the Machu Picchu of Colombia: Ciudad Perdida. A true hidden gem – although not for long, as it is becoming more and more popular – Ciudad Perdida was one painful and rewarding 5 days trek that caused massive blisters and knee pain, as well as getting me into the best shape of my life. After the trek we went on for some relaxation time on the Caribbean coast, discovered the colonial beauty that is Cartagena, eat our way through Medellin, and finished on a high with Zona Cafetera. My top recommendation for Colombia is Valle de Cocora. It’s superb! More about it in a later post. I promise!
Ecuador: Quito, Cuenca, and Galapagos Islands
April 2016. Ecuador (country number seven) was a massive surprise for Bertrand and I. Besides Galapagos Islands, we didn’t expect much, simply because we didn’t know anything about it. It proved to be our favorite country in South America and Quito, the preferred capital. Also, not to be missed are a visit to Cotopaxi and Cuenca, and some shopping at Dominga and Andes Fashion. More about these two fashion hidden gems, in a future post.
Peru: Cusco, Salkantay trek, and Machu Picchu
April 2016. Last, but not least: Peru. Country number eight did not disappoint. We finished the trip on a high with Machu Picchu. Literally! It’s very touristy, but definitely worth it! Also worth it is the 4 days Salkantay trek leading to Machu Picchu. Hands down, the best trekking experience we had in South America. The sad part about Peru was that we didn’t get to see that much of it. Besides the trek, we spent some time in Cusco and visited The Sacred Valley, both worth the time and money, but we felt that it wasn’t enough. We promised to go back.
Photography by Bertrand Delvaux.
There is more to come…
That’s a wrap for Six months in South America part I and II. There is so much more to come in the next days, as I’m starting to share more posts for this incredible journey, as well as from other (European) destinations. Stay tuned!
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