South America

Nestled between the Caribbean, the South Pacific, and the South Atlantic Oceans, South America is the wilder of the Americas, and a continent of superlatives. The history, culture, crafts and food are hard to beat. Incan traditions in the Andes, in particular, are a huge draw. Latin, new world, southern hemisphere sensibilities converge in a unique way. The Andes and the Amazon dominate the continent with extreme geographic and climactic consequences. The high, dry, cool mountains rising up from a tropical jungle river.

We’ve only made one trip to this part of the world: a seven week odyssey that took us to Peru, Bolivia and Ecuador. A magnificent trip overall, the ruins of Macchu Picchu, the Andes, the Incan traditions, and the history were highlights. Travel was safe and easy and relatively inexpensive. 

Peru and Bolivia were favourites, Ecuador was lovely, just a lot less dramatic and more generic. Peru and Bolivia have kept their historic pasts, particularly indigenous, alive, making them much more stimulating and interesting.


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Beach Time

Puerto Lopez and Manta, Ecuador We arrive in Puero Lopaz after dark. Our noon flight gets us to Guayaquil around 2 PM and the next bus to the coast is at 3:30, which really means 4:15, and it takes 4 hours, not the advertised 3 1/2, and the bus stops for anyone on the road who flags it down, and …

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Colonial Wonderland

Cuenca, Ecuador Our choices for getting to Cuenca are: a very inexpensive 10 hour bus versus a $100 one hour flight. Guess how we get here? It is a bit of a brutal morning as the flight is at 0700 and the airport is 40 minutes from our hotel and we have to figure out where to store the extra …

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Equatorial Wonderland

Quito, Ecuador Be careful what you wish for … such great advice! We bemoan the fact that we have had such short stints in Cusco, a place worth spending more time. Our so-called last day here, we both wish for just one more day. A 5 AM wake-up call and 5:30 taxi for a 7:30 flight to Quito via Lima …

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la Selva

Puerto Maldonado, Peru In the 40 minutes it takes to fly east from Cusco (altitude 11,300 ft) to Puerto Maldonado (at less than100 feet), we leave the Andes behind and descend into the jungle, “la selva”, exchanging cool, fresh, dry, thin air for hot, sultry, humid, heavy air. As soon as we deplane from our Avianca flight the heat hits …

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Aguas Calientes, Peru We take a train from Ollantaytambo to Aguas Calientes, traveling along the Urubamba river. We get glimpses of the “Inka trail”, feeling smugly superior as we wave to the backpacking, tired looking hikers who we know will be sleeping in tents while we ride the train and stay in comfortable hotels. Aguas Calientes is a tourist town …

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Inka Terra

Cusco, Peru We fly from La Paz, Bolivia to Cusco, Peru and are back in Inka terra, the land of the Inka. Cusco is a city with a layered history. It was settled by indigenous people 1,000 years ago, became the capital of the Inka in the 13th century and then was the centre for Spanish expansion into South America …

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Out of this World

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia We are not sure that we have time or even want to go to Uyuni. We’ve heard from other travellers about the salt flats there and the guide books all insist it is a must see. But really, of what possible interest can a salty desert be? Carlos, our La Paz guide, convinces us to go, …

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Our Lady of Peace

La Paz, Bolivia Neustra Señora de la Paz, our lady of peace, or just La Paz, is a city of superlatives. The highest capital city and the highest commercial airport are two claims to fame. And the geography is mind-bending. The “bowl” or valley that the city sits in does not have smooth sides. There are ridges rippling from top …

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Off the Beaten Track

Copacabana, Bolivia Until this trip I thought Copacabana was a mythical place in a Barry Manilow song. As in “at the Copa, Copacabana, the hottest spot north of Havana”. Turns out I was wrong! It is a hippie haven in northern Bolivia on the south shore of Lake Titicaca. We take a bus, which is always an interesting way to …

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Lago Titicaca

Puno, Peru As if seeing the largest bird and deepest canyon weren’t enough, we are now on the world’s highest navigable lake, Lago Titicaca. Getting there is a bit of an eye-opener … the things you see from a bus that you don’t from a plane. The subsistence living of the herder families, in their one (or maybe two) room …

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Into Thin Air

Arequipa, Peru The flight from Lima south to Arequipa takes us over terrain that looks a lot like Utah: brown, dry, and crevassed. In just over an hour we go from sea level to almost 8,000 feet and we are conscious of the thinner air up here. I am light-headed and Craig is having trouble getting a full breath. Climbing …

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Loving Lima

Lima, Peru Sitting in YVR anticipating the trip, we wonder why it has taken us so long to visit South America? Sitting in the Dallas airport we wonder if we will ever get there? Bad weather had us circling Dallas for almost an hour. Many flights are delayed. Some are cancelled. Miraculously, we leave Dallas 10 minutes ahead of schedule. …

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