Monday, 29 December 2014

A day trip to Guatapé

La Piedra
Wow - the view from the top of La Piedra de Peñol, just outside of Guatapé - is just wow. Just as is claimed on the sign on the way up to the 'rock', this is probably one of the most beautiful views that I've ever seen.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Volunteering with the Angeles de Medellin

James and I with some of our English students

In Medellín, we spent a few weeks volunteering with the Angeles de Medellín, teaching English, playing with the local children and distributing much needed clothes, food and household goods.

The charity operates up in one of the mountains in Medellín in the small barrio of Regalo de Dios (which, perhaps ironically, translates as gift from God). 

Friday, 19 December 2014

Photo Friday: No need for viagra!

This sign, which translates as "Don't take viagra, drink goat's milk", was on a wall in the small town of Guane, just outside of San Gil in Colombia.

There were several shops in the town, selling goat's milk,

Thursday, 18 December 2014

From Barichara to Guane

The pretty town of Barichara is just a 40 minute bus ride outside of San Gil. We jumped on a bus from the local bus station on the

Saturday, 13 December 2014

White water rafting in San Gil

San Gil in the Santander region is about 6 or 7 hours north of Bogotá. It's Colombia's centre for outdoor sports, from caving to bungee jumping, down hill mountain biking to white water rafting.
We opted for a day on the river, as I had never been white water rafting before. Despite my lack of experience, I was persuaded

Friday, 12 December 2014

Photo Friday: The mud volcano

About 30 miles outside of Cartagena lies the Volcan de Totumbo, where you can bathe in a mud pool inside the crater of a small volcano, while getting yourself a massage. We were intrigued.

On arrival at the volcano, we were a little surprised at what it looked like. We'd expected it to be much larger and to look more like a volcano, rather than

Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Being vegetarian in Argentina

I may have been able to seek out more vegetarian options in Argentina, if James hadn't been on an ongoing mission to find the best steak in the world. 

Luckily, because of the Italian influence on Argentinian cuisine, pretty much every restaurant in Argentina (including the steak houses) do serve meat-free pasta dishes. However, generally these options are either pasta with a nice (but not especially inspiring) tomato sauce or pasta with a good (but again not particularly varied) cheese sauce. 

To avoid just eating pasta covered with tomatoes, here are some of our top tips for being vegetarian in Argentina:

Monday, 8 December 2014

Relaxing on the beaches of Tayrona

Sunset in Tayrona

The Tayrona National Park is beautiful mix of dense jungle and pristine white beaches, bordering the clear waters of the Caribbean sea in north east Colombia. 

Unfortunately for us (and the trees), there had been very little rainfall 

Friday, 5 December 2014

Photo Friday: Knockers of Colombia!

In parts of Colombia - we particularly noticed them in Cartagena and in Barichara near San Gil - some of the door knockers in the central part of town are really quite elaborate.

Monday, 1 December 2014

Highlights of Cartagena

The famous clock tower entrance into the old town
We visited the beautiful colonial city of Cartagena de Indias twice during our time in Colombia. The main reason for our second visit was to catch a sailboat out of South America to Panama on our way home, but we were also pleased to get more time in the town.

On both visits, we enjoyed wandering the colourful streets, eating and drinking, 'walling'

Sunday, 30 November 2014

5 things you need to know about Colombia

1. Its Colombia NOT Columbia!
Fed up with everyone from international media sources to Paris Hilton and even US presidents* misspelling their country's name, a social media campaign was launched last year to shame offenders into correcting their error. 

The campaign is also designed to encourage people to take a second look at a country that most people immediately associate with drug-lords and kidnappings. 

Saturday, 29 November 2014

Sleepy Salento: In pictures

The streets of Salento

Salento is a small and colourful town in the zona cafeteria, Colombia, about 8 hours west of Bogotá. We spent 3 days there, enjoying the scenery, blowing things up (!), eating and drinking and of course touring a local coffee plantation. 

Tuesday, 18 November 2014

Arriving in Colombia: Bogota

The sprawl of Bogota from Monserrate
While we would have liked to have explored Brazil much more, when we flew to Colombia we were very pleased to arrive back in a Spanish speaking country, where we could properly communicate again. 

I don't think I've ever had such a good conversation with a taxi driver than the one I had from Bogota airport to our hostel!

Saturday, 15 November 2014

Being vegetarian in Chile

Arriving in San Pedro de Atacama over the salt flats from Bolivia, we were pleasantly surprised to find a town in the middle of the desert stuffed with a range of good restaurants - all of which had tasty veggie options, which is not always guaranteed in South America. 

Aside from trusty (and yummy) pizzas, the options were quite varied too, including quinoa risottos, stuffed peppers and stir fries. Just walk up and down Caracoles - the main street in town - and take your pick! Be warned

Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Waterfalls, Cachaça, Jungle and Waterholes in Paraty

The countryside around Paraty is full of pretty waterfalls, cachaça distilleries (known as alambiques), pretty jungle and a number of waterholes for a refreshing dip.

Thursday, 6 November 2014

Pretty Paraty

Pretty streets of Paraty
From Rio de Janeiro, it was with some slight regret that we skipped Ilha Grande and headed straight to Paraty.

The forecast was still looking a bit ropey and with only a short amount of time before our flight to Colombia, we decided that it made more sense 

Where we stayed - Argentina

Mendoza: We very much enjoyed Mendoza and stayed there three times while in Argentina - each time renting out a room at Federico's house, who we found through Air BnB.

We had a lovely stay at Federico's house. He was very welcoming and generous. He cooked a traditional Argentine barbecue for

Monday, 3 November 2014

A breakfast of açaí

Açaí berries are a purple fruit from the Brazilian rainforest, which  for hundreds of years have been a central part of the diet of native Amazonian people.

In the last ten years açaí (pronounced ah-sigh-ee) has become known as one of the latest superfoods, alongside goji berries and adzuki beans. Its popularity

Thursday, 30 October 2014

5 things every traveller should know about Brazil

No.1. You might have to search for an ATM that accepts your card 
We'd not had any problems getting money out of the ATM in any country in South America. Then we got to Brazil. 

After crossing the border, we headed, with our bags to the nearest cash point. It wouldn't accept either my or James' card. Neither would the next two that we came across.

After traipsing around town in the heat with our backpacks, we finally found one that would take my card and got our hands on some dosh.

Wednesday, 29 October 2014

Rainy rainy Rio

By the Arcos de Lapa in the rain

After our successful and sunny day in Rio visiting the sugar loaf and the Christ the Redeemer statue, the rest of our stay in the city was unfortunately very wet.

Rio is very much a city to be enjoyed in the open air. But no matter, with our long experience of rainy British summers to help us, we were determined to get the most out of our time in the city, even if we did get a bit soggy.

Sunday, 26 October 2014

The tale of the Sugar Loaf and the White Christ

The sugar loaf from Flamengo
We are lucky to have a friend in Rio de Janeiro, who let us stay with him while we were in town. He lives in the Flamengo area of the city with

Saturday, 25 October 2014

Our top eight travel apps

We use a number of different apps when we are travelling to make help us on our way. Here our eight favourites.

Number eight: XE Currency Exchange is a money exchange app, which when it links to the internet gives you the latest up to the minute exchange rate for pretty much every currency across the globe. Its a massively useful app when

Sunday, 19 October 2014

Where we stayed - Chile

The courtyard at Hostal Iquisa

San Pedro de Atacama -  The small family run Hostal Iquisa is a quiet and relaxing hostel, 10 minutes out of town. Several reviews on hostelworld complain

Saturday, 18 October 2014

Beautiful Bonito!

From the Pantanal, we headed to Bonito – a town known for its proximity to some of the clearest and most beautiful rivers in the world. 

Sunday, 12 October 2014

Nine South American Sunsets

A paddle in the Pacific
1. Lima: Our first South American sunset was in Peru's capital Lima, where on day one of our 6 month trip, I enjoyed my first ever paddle in the Pacific Ocean as the sun

Saturday, 11 October 2014

The rest of our time in the Pantanal

Sunset in the Pantanal

The highlight of our visit to the beautiful Pantanal in South-West Brazil was undoubtedly the jaguar sighting on our first day. However, we also enjoyed the rest of our stay at the Pousada Santa Clara - which is about 5 hours out of Campo Grande.

Tuesday, 7 October 2014


I hear our guide call out “Jaguar” in a loud stage whisper and see him pointing to the bank of the river. At first I see nothing and think he is joking, but then sure enough, between the trees and bushes, I see her eyeing us suspiciously.

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Watching the World Cup in Argentina

Is that James...? Or Lionel Messi??

James and I are not really football people. However, we couldn't help but get into the spirit when spending the whole of the Brazilian World Cup in 2014 in neighbouring football mad Argentina.

Living in England, I thought I knew what a football mad nation looked like. How wrong could I be?

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Three Frontiers

The Iguazú falls are in the border of Argentina and Brazil.

Paraguay is also nearby - just over the bridge from Foz

Saturday, 27 September 2014

Chasing Rainbows at the Iguazú Falls

Drawing a rainbow in the sky
In the weeks leading up to our visit to the Iguazú falls on the border between Argentina and Brazil, I was worried. There had been massive flooding in the area and the falls

A quick guide to the quirky towns of Las Sierras de Córdoba

The best way to see the towns and the countryside around Córdoba is to hire a car and go exploring! But where to go? Here is our quick guide to the towns and villages in the Sierras. 

The open road

The towns are listed in the order we visited them. We hired a car for 4 days (3 nights).

We spent most of the first day in Alta Gracia and the night in Belgrano. The following day we were in La Cumbrecita for the day. We spent our second night in Belgrano. 

Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Las Sierras de Córdoba - Part 2: Little Germany, pretty views and some wine!

Chairlift up the Sugar Loaf Mountain near Cosquin
While in Córdoba - Argentina's second city, we hired a car to explore the surrounding countryside, which is dotted with interesting villages as well as beautiful landscapes.

We spent most of our first day in Alta Gracia, exploring the Jesuit Estancia and at the Che Guevara museum. To read more about our time in Alta Gracia see this post.

Sunday, 21 September 2014

Las Sierras de Córdoba - Part 1: Che Guevara

James hanging out with Che
We’d heard that the countryside surrounding Cordoba was worth a visit, both for the beautiful landscapes as well as the quirky

Saturday, 20 September 2014

Learning about the dictatorship in Córdoba

Like many (all?) countries in South America, Argentina has a pretty brutal history.

Although we’d had some idea of the events of the late 1970s and early 1980s during the time of the military dictatorship, the guide on our walking tour in Buenos Aires really brought home the brutality of the regime, when he highlighted that from 1976 to 1983 up to 30,000 people were ‘disappeared’ by the military.  

Thursday, 18 September 2014

Where we stayed – Bolivia

Bolivia is the cheapest country in South America. Depending on your budget you can find cheaper places to stay than those listed here. Alternatively, you can splash out a little bit and stay in some very nice places. Our choices were largely above complete budget, but were, on the whole, great value for money.

Monday, 15 September 2014

Skiing in Las Leñas

A central error in our destination choices for this trip has been that we are following winter around! 

We left the UK in early March, at the beginning of Spring and travelled further south in South America as their winter approached. We return to the UK in September, just in time for autumn!

Wednesday, 3 September 2014

A day trip to Tigre

Pretty walkway in Tres Bocas
An hour's train ride north out of Buenos Aires and you find yourself in a completely different world. 

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Finding Evita in Buenos Aires

Painting of Juan and Eva Peron in La Casa Rosada

La Casa Rosada
Anyone who has watched Evita will remember seeing Eva and Juan Peron making impassioned speeches from the balcony of the ‘pink house’ or Casa Rosada – the presidential offices - to thousands of adoring supporters in the Plaza de Mayo.

Thursday, 21 August 2014

Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Fuerza Bruta - Brute Force

On our first night in Buenos Aires, we headed to see the Fuerza Bruta show. I’d first heard of this from some fellow travellers in Sucre, who had managed to describe it as a bit like

Sunday, 17 August 2014

Starting our week in Buenos Aires

Argentine National Congress
Buenos Aires was fun and interesting city to while away a week. There was so much to see and do there, we could have

Friday, 15 August 2014

Drinking wine in Maipu

Straight from the barrel!
One of the best ways to enjoy the vineyards around Mendoza is to spend a day in Maipu, hire a bike and cycle from one to the next, sampling the local produce as you go. We liked it so much that we went twice!

Saturday, 2 August 2014

Mendoza – the city we just kept going back to!

Parque General, San Martin, Mendoza
We went to Mendoza three times while in Argentina! 

At the border: still smiling as
we haven't realised how long we'll be here
Crossing the Andes from Chile after our stay in Valparaiso, we arrived into the wine-making capital of Argentina on the 5th June (2014) for our first stay with our Argentinian host, Federico, who we found through Air BnB.

Friday, 1 August 2014

Our time in Valparaiso in pictures

Pretty Valpo
Known as 'Valpo' to its friends, this bustling, chaotic port town was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2003, after locals petitioned the international body to try and stop

Friday, 25 July 2014

And into the Elqui Valley!

Cochiguaz Valley
Fresh (?) off the bus from our adventures in San Pedro deAtacama, on arrival in La Serena, we decided to head straight into the Elqui Valley – where grapes are grown to make Pisco (mmm ... Pisco Sours). 

Small villages are

Sunday, 13 July 2014

Top tips for San Pedro de Atacama

There's lots to do in San Pedro and the surrounding areas. Here are some top tips for making the most of your time there!

For more posts on San Pedro de Atacama, see: Hanging out in San Pedro de Atacama and Trying to escape from San Pedro de Atacama

1.  For an amazing view into the Valle de la Muerte and

Saturday, 12 July 2014

Where we stayed: Peru

Lima: Most visitors to Lima stay in either upmarket Miraflores or slightly bohemian Barranco.  The old town is reportedly not very safe for tourists at night, although there are hostels and hotels there too.

Tuesday, 8 July 2014

Hanging out in San Pedro de Atacama

Sunset from Valle de Luna with the Licanbur volcano
San Pedro de Atacama is really cute and chilled out little town in the middle of the driest desert in the world. It is now largely centred on tourism, but this hasn’t ruined its small town outpost feel. 

Sunday, 29 June 2014

Being vegetarian in Bolivia

We’d been told in Peru from travellers coming north that Bolivian food was rather underwhelming and that there was little choice for vegetarians. I’d had quite an easy time in Peru and so was bracing myself for a month or so of nothing but rice and omelettes.

However, while it was true that Bolivia is less foodie than Peru, there were some good veggie options and I only ate about two omelettes in almost two months. (And they were nice omelettes.)

We did have more time to cook for ourselves, so that helped, but even in our homestay, the family didn’t seem to have too much trouble cooking vegetarian.

And there were some great veggie options both at the street stands street and in the restaurants, particularly in Sucre.

So what did we eat and where?

Tuesday, 10 June 2014

The highs (and lows) of our visit to the Bolivian salt flats

Our trip to Bolivia’s salt flats and other worldly landscapes of the country’s southwest was somewhat cursed from the start. First off we missed the bus that we had intended to take to Uyuni (where most tours to the salt flats start), as we struggled to find a taxi and then the police decided to check our taxi drivers papers. We arrived at the bus station, just as the very full bus was leaving. This was not too much of a problem as there was another bus in an hour, but if only we’d known it was a sign of things to come!

Thursday, 5 June 2014

Siete Cascadas and the road to nowhere

One Sunday in Sucre, we decided to go for a relaxing afternoon to the Siete Cascadas (seven waterfalls). We’d been told it was a beautiful spot, with pools to bathe in and areas where you could jump in. And it was only a short ride outside of Sucre.

By the time we’d got ourselves ready, it was getting a little bit late and so we decided to “splash out” and get a taxi rather than work out where to catch the bus from. But the taxi drivers we stopped didn’t seem to want to take us there. Some of them genuinely didn’t seem to know where it was. Others just said they wouldn’t go there and suggested we ask someone else. 

Sunday, 1 June 2014

Highlights of Sucre

The main square in Sucre
We spent 3 and a half weeks in Bolivia’s constitutional capital, Sucre. Independence was officially declared in the town and while most of the administrative functions of Bolivia have moved to La Paz (with the exception of the Supreme Court), Sucre is still officially the capital, according to the constitution. It is considerably smaller than La Paz though and you can get to know it, or at least the central area in a matter of just a few days.

Friday, 30 May 2014

And into the jungle!

Madidi Travel's resident parrot
A trip to the Amazon basin is on most travellers’ bucket list. But it doesn’t come cheap. Our research showed us that Bolivia was one of the more affordable entry points into the jungle. In Peru, we met people travelling north from Bolivia – all of whom recommended different trips and tour companies.

We decided fairly quickly against a 'pampas' or wetland savannah trip, as although you have a higher chance of seeing animals, due to the lack of trees, there are few (if any?) reputable companies that take tourists there and we'd heard that the area gets overcrowded with tourists and their not so conservation friendly guides. We've spoken to people who very much enjoyed their pampas trip, but we decided it was not for us this time.

Tuesday, 20 May 2014

The world’s most dangerous road

Its a long way down!
Before arriving in South America, I had read about the so called 'death road' in Bolivia, which according to Wikipedia claims up to 300 lives every year. I watched youtube videos of buses travelling along very narrow stretches of road, with sheer drops of over 600 metres. It looked horrible.