The first thing everyone thinks of when you say ‘Peru’ is… Machu Picchu! But when I was planning our trip, I started thinking “Let’s be original and go to Peru but skip Machu Picchu”. My ‘original’ be it slightly blasphemous idea was quickly vetoed and sent to the garbage bin by my dearest. In retrospect, and though I still believe one can have an excellent trip to Peru without seeing Machu Picchu, I’m very happy that I visited the site now. It wasn’t a walk in the park to get there (I must have really angried some of the Inca gods with my ‘original idea’) but it could become a lot more difficult to visit the place in the not so distant future.
Chile has been the biggest surprise of our travels in South America. Until about a month ago I would not have been able to name any highlights apart from Torres de Paine and the desert regions near the border with Bolivia and Peru. As our time in South America was limited, we had from the start decided that we would not explore Chile further north than the capital of Santiago. However during our stay in the Chilean Lake region aka el Chico Sur ( the small South) we became aware that there was way more to this part of the country than we had imagined; national park after national park, the island of Chiloe and great surfing at the pacific coast. Moreover due to our unexpected trip to Antarctica the time we could spent in Chile was reduced by almost 2 weeks. With only a couple of days left, some though choices had to be made and in the end we decided to make a beeline for Middle Chile; the region of its capital Santiago de Chile.
The region around Bariloche in Argentina and across the border in Chile is known as the ‘lake district’. But that only tells you a part of the story. There are indeed a lot of gorgeous lakes in all kind of shapes from small lagoons to huge ‘inland seas’ and in all kind of colours. But more interesting there are also the mountains and volcanoes. And who says mountains says hiking. And so we put on our hiking boots once more and got out there…and we soon found out that this region has way more to offer than we had time for. Continue reading
Patagonia had the very ungrateful task of welcoming us after we had been completely awe struck by Antarctica. But Patagonia is definitely up for such a challenge. This huge region with plains that stretch out far beyond the horizon, awesome mountain peaks and winds that can knock a grown man down is the stuff of legends. From Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid to Che Guevara on his motorcycle it has attracted adventurers, eccentrics and outcasts for centuries. These days it is tourist central during the summer months with crowds of tour groups that fly in and out to check out glaciers and mountains. But no worries the place is huge and even in the most visited regions one can still find some quite places to take it all in. Continue reading
We are not ‘city people’, give us mountains, oceans, deserts, bush, savannah, etc. and we are happy. After a couple of days in most cities we get restless and start looking for the exit. There are only a very limited number of cities we really love but we just got to add one to the list. Even though we only spent 3 days there we really got charmed by Buenos Aires (BA). The big avenues and boulevards lined with trees and beautiful buildings , cafés everywhere, little markets, the covered shopping galleries…You would be forgiven if you thought you were in Paris. They even have their own version of the famous Paris cemeteries . But Buenos Aires is much more than just a copy of Paris. Actually due to the large immigration (especially Spanish and Italian) in the 19th century, it is a very nice cocktail of all kind of European influences spiced up with some truly local elements.
The local summer is not the best period to travel in Southern Brazil climate wise. There is often a lot of rain we were told. We had been very lucky to have 4 days of beautiful weather while we were in Rio. Last year it had been raining all night on New Year’s Eve and there have even been years where a great part of the fireworks could not be seen because they exploded above the clouds. While we drove down the coast from Rio, the beaches were packed with Brazilian holidaymakers and also our first afternoon in the town of Paraty had been very hot and sunny. In the evening however we saw the first thunder clouds appear.
First things first: all our best wishes for 2013 to our loyal followers. I’m not the biggest fan of big New Year parties. Except for a couple of memorable parties during my student times these parties usually turn out to be a bit of a let-down, much ado about nothing. But a year must end someday and we wanted to be in a ‘special place’ for this trip. I guess the most famous places to be for New Year are Sydney, London, Berlin, New York and Rio de Janeiro. 6 years ago I was in Australia for New Year but on purpose avoided all the craziness (and high prices) of the party in Sydney and spent the night with friends in the middle of nowhere in the Australian bush. Although we had a great time, I regretted not having been in Sydney when I saw the fireworks on TV afterwards. So this time I wanted to be in the middle of the action. Continue reading