Six months in South America – Part I

Beautifully preserved colonial cities, breathtaking mountain views, serene beaches, bustling capitals and much, much more. South America is a travelers dream, and I’m thrilled to have had the opportunity to explore it during six months. We visited a total of eight countries and saw both known locations, as well as hidden gems.

Bertrand  and I could not have missed Machu Picchu, nor Rio de Janiero, but we were keen on discovering the less known places. With this post, I’m trying to give you a good overview of both the hidden gems of South America, as well as the more touristy, but equally interesting destinations.

View over Rio de Janeiro in Brazil, South America

Over over Machu Picchu in Peru during a six months trip to South America

Six months in South America

I met Bertrand in London when I was working in sales, and he was a researcher at a university in the North of England. From the beginning of our relationship, we realized that we wanted to travel together, and not just a city break here and there but hardcore travel :). We were tired of our jobs, and we wanted to see the world. So one day, after Bertrand sent me a link to a Ted Talk about this entrepreneur who closed his business every 7 years to go traveling for 12 months, I said: “Let’s do it!”. Bertrand didn’t need any convincing, so we started planning our trip to South America. Ten  months later we were boarding a plane to our fist destination: Buenos Aires, Argentina.

During the trip, we had some great moments, as well as some hard ones. Nothing is perfect, and when you travel for such a long time, not encountering problems is quite unlikely. Also, spending 24h together for six months is not an easy task. At one point you get on each other’s nerves, due to tiredness or just disagreeing on different things, like where to go to eat :). However, all the little annoyances and arguments fade when you look back and realize the great adventure you experienced, and more importantly, that you experienced it with the person you love. “Awww”, I can hear you all say :).

At the top of Ciudad Perdida, The Machu Picchu of Colombia during a six months trip to South America

On our way to Salar de Uyuni in Bolivia, South America

Argentina: Buenos Aires, Patagonia, and Jujuy

November-December 2015. Our first destination in South America was Buenos Aires where we spent about three weeks. During this time, I started having hay fever and what seemed to be “South America withdrawal”. Basically, I was afraid of being so far from what I knew and it took some time for me to accept and embrace the new reality. However, once I did, it was quite refreshing.

Although Buenos Aires was not my favorite destination, we did see some interesting places and discovered two hidden gems outside the city: Tigre and San Antonio de Areco. Whilst we were in Buenos Aires, we also took a short trip to Montevideo and Colonia in Uruguay. The latter was my favorite: a small colonial town with major charm and a must see when in Uruguay (or Buenos Aires).

After so much time spent in the capital city, it was time for us to really start the trip. Our next stop was the equally expensive and breathtaking, Patagonia. I have some of my fondest memories from this part of Argentina: the first time in years going to the mountains, seeing the biggest glacier in the world, trekking for the first time. From the Perito Moreno glacier to the two amazing treks in El Chalten, and the lakes heaven that is Bariloche; Patagonia is a destination not to be missed!

Another highlight from Argentina was the Jujuy region, home to the major tourist attraction that is The Hill of 14 colors, one of the most photogenic places we have seen

Tango in Buenos Aires, Argentina - South America

Sunset in charming Colonia, Uruguay during a six months trip to South America

Trek to the Laguna de Los Tres in Patagonia, Argentina during our six months trip to South Argentina

View on the way to Perito Moreno glacier in Patagonia, Argentina during a six months trip to South America

The biggest glacier in the world, Perito Moreno in Argentina, South America

The Hill of 14 Colours in Argentina, South America

Chile: Valparaiso, Valle del Elqui, and the Atacama Desert

December – January 2016. From Argentina, we made our way to country number three: Chile. We spent a few days in the capital city, Santiago, after which we headed to Valparaiso for New Years. I confess that I did not connect to the city; however, I can’t deny its appeal. Besides being a hidden gem, it’s the place with the most street art that I have ever seen. If you go, just be careful with the stray dogs, the dodgy people, and mind the dirt :).

Our next destination was one of my favorite places in Chile and a true hidden gem: Valle del Elqui. We asked locals where we should go, as we had a few days to kill before heading to the Atacama Desert, and they all said: Valle del Elqui. We went, and we were not disappointed. From admiring the breathtaking views and exploring the cutest little villages to trying solar cuisine and the national drink (Pisco), this was one enriching experience. We loved it so much that we have placed it on the “we need to go back” list :).

Also on the list is the Atacama Desert. Although I suffered from altitude sickness most of the time there, I could not be struck by this natural wonder! We went on two-day tours to Valle de la Luna and Piedras Rojas, both awarding us with stunning views.

Street art picture from Valparaiso, Chile during a six months trip to South America

Street art picture taken in Valparaiso, Chile during the

Street art picture from Valparaiso, Chile during a six months trip to South America

Valle del Elqui, major hidden gem from South America

Sunset in Atacama Desert, Chile during a six months trip to South America

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

January 2016. So far in the trip, we had visited bustling capital cities, seen amazing mountain views, discovered charming colonial towns and the almighty desert. You would say it’s pretty good. I mean, what can top that? Well, Salar de Uyuni can…

Salar de UYuni in Bolivia, South America

Sunrise in Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia during our six months trip to South America

Salar de Uyuni at sunrise, Bolivia, South America

All about Salar de Uyuni and other magical places in South America like Brazil, Colombia, Ecuador, and Peru, can be found here.

Photography by Bertrand Delvaux.

10 Responses
  • Sanne
    July 5, 2016

    I still have to explore most of South America and your post definitely helped to put it higher up on my list again. Thanks for sharing some great hidden gems and I love your pictures. I’m traveling through Indonesia now but maybe South America should be next…

    • atunitsirc2014
      July 5, 2016

      Glad you liked it Sanne. South America is definitely a great continent with many things to see and do; and obviously, the home of many hidden gems :).
      Wow, Indonesia! It’s been on my list for a while. I hope to get there next year. Happy travels!

  • Isobel Lee
    July 9, 2016

    Loved this. South America is definitely on my hit list so your detailed post is really useful!

    • atunitsirc2014
      July 9, 2016

      Thanks for stopping by Isobel :).

  • Crazy Travelista
    July 10, 2016

    I absolutely love your story and how you guys up and left your job and made it happen! More power to you! Ive never been to South America and I cant wait to finally go and explore. There is so much to see! I must say that your photos are AMAZING! I especially love the sunset at the salt flats in Bolovia. Wow!!!

    • atunitsirc2014
      July 10, 2016

      Thank you for the comment and visit. I will pass on your compliment to the photographer.x

  • Natalie
    August 13, 2016

    I was especially interested in your experiences in Chile, as that is at the top of the list of “Where to next?” I would like to visit Santiago and Valparaiso, as we will have limited time to visit (probably 3 weeks or less and with 2 littles in tow). I also LOVE all the photos. Beautifully done!

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