When I reached Cartagena after almost half a year of travelling through South America, I was tired of meat, rice and french fries. It didn’t matter where we went on this continent, it seemed as if half of the restaurants would only let you choose which kind of meat you wanted to have with your dry rice and your soggy french fries. And it didn’t matter which one we went for, the meat seemed to taste the same everywhere.

I am not saying that we didn’t have amazing food along the way. I remember that Patagonian lamb, for example. Or the delicious sopa de mani in Bolivia, a soup rich in flavours and spices. But there had also been parts where we hadn’t been able to afford anything other than the cheapest and most tasteless dishes, particularly in expensive regions like Patagonia or Galapagos.…

Located less than an hour away from Santa Marta, Minca is a little paradise. Up here in the mountains, a fresh breeze offers relief from the heat. You can hike through bamboo groves and swim in rivers and waterfalls. And at the end of the day, hammocks invite you to relax.

Not too long ago, this tiny village used to be a refuge for extremists who used to hide in the mountains. These days, instead of soldiers with machine guns, backpackers stroll through the streets.

And while Minca can be seen as a day trip from Santa Marta, you should consider staying the night. Let me show you why:…

This year, when travelling through Colombia, I was lucky and got to see the Cocora Valley. Located close to Salento, in the south of the country, it is a valley of green pastures, cows, hummingbirds and wax palm trees. Those palm trees are the national tree of Colombia and the tallest ones in the world. Walking in between them makes you realise how beautiful nature can be and also how small we are.

The Valle de Cocora is not just worth a visit because of the palm trees. Along the way, you will get great views of lush green valleys and you have the chance to spot hummingbirds and other wildlife at the Casa de las Colibris. Plus, the Cocora Valley is easily accessible from Salento.…

Salento was my first proper stop in Colombia. I won’t count Ipiales, the border town where we had to stay for a night, or Cali, where we only stayed for around 12 hours as well. Salento was the first place that I properly explored in Colombia and I couldn’t have gotten a better introduction to the country.

With its colourful houses and red-tiled roofs, Salento is a beautiful town. Add to that the coffee farms in the surrounding hills and the nearby Cocora Valley and you have found a little paradise. I recommend staying for at least two days so you can enjoy the region as much as I did. There are plenty of things to do in the area, and when you’re done, you can always relax in a hammock in your hostel.…

From white beaches to smoking volcanoes, jungle and giant turtles, Ecuador has it all. Despite its small size (it is only about half as large as Spain and smaller than the US-state Nevada), it has a lot to offer. This country full of contrasts can keep visitors busy for weeks.

Personally, I spent a bit more than three weeks here but I didn’t get to see nearly as much as I would have liked. As I said, Ecuador has it all. And to help you choose which activities to do and which places to visit, so you can easily put together a trip around the country, here are my personal highlights that I recommend to you and that you should not miss:…