Ushuaia, the world’s southernmost city, often calls itself the ‘end of the world’. Yet, when we arrived here, the city had anything but an end-of-the-world feeling. It was big and lively, with shops selling everything you could possibly need. And since residents have tax advantages over the rest of Argentina, the city has grown over the past decade.
For tourists, Ushuaia has a lot to offer. We stayed for two and a half days but could easily have found something to do for another two or three days. Upon arrival, I suggest you stop by the tourist information to get a map and excellent free info brochures about Ushuaia. And then go out and check out the following sights and activities:
El Chalten does not have a long tradition. The town was founded in 1985, as a border outpost to race Chile who was also claiming land in Patagonia. Around two thousand people live here, although it feels a lot larger with thousands of tourist coming to visit in high season.
El Chalten is known for its excellent hiking, although even for those who do not like to walk, there are a couple of things to do in the area. I have tried to put together a list of things you could do, trying to include as much of a variety as I could. El Chalten might be the capital of hiking but that doesn’t mean there aren’t more things to explore.
I have already done one interview with a local. When I travelled to Ecuador, I met Jaime, a tour guide from Cuenca, with whom I spent an amazing day in the Cachas National Park.
Now that I have moved on to Colombia, I got the chance to meet more amazing people. Colombia is one of the most interesting countries in South America. Not long ago, it was completely off limits to tourists and Medellin was labelled as the most dangerous city in the world. It is unbelievable how much this country has changed. When I came here, progress was visible everywhere. From public libraries and free wifi at every corner to the creation of small businesses, it is obvious that Colombia has come a long way. And it is not just the country itself. I also met very progressive and inspiring people.
One of them is Juan from Medellin. He was our tour guide and was nice enough to agree on doing an interview with me.
One of the highlights of my trip to Patagonia was the Torres del Paine national park. My friend and I had planned this trip ages in advance. We had browsed through guidebooks, looked at maps and googled information. We had posted on forums and tried to find out as much about the Torres del Paine National Park as we could. We knew we didn’t just want to go for one day. We wanted to stay overnight.
After lots of research, we decided to hike the W, which is, if you believe the internet, one of the most famous hikes in the world. There were definitely lots of other hikers. But regardless of how famous it is, it is one of the most beautiful hikes I have ever done.
If you want to go to Torres del Paine, too, you will need to plan in advance. Keep reading to find out five things you need to know before setting out for your hike.
Paracas, located south of Lima, is a popular excursion from Peru’s capital. It also makes for a great stop when travelling in between Arequipa and Nazca in the south and Lima in the north. It is easy to stay here for a couple of days, watching wildlife, relaxing on beaches and enjoying excellent seafood. If you haven’t had any ceviche yet, this is the place to Peru’s national dish.
Check out the recommendations below for a full list of things to do in Paracas:
The part I like most about travelling are the people I meet. Whether it’s locals or other travellers, I enjoy talking to them and getting to know them. Yet, on my blog, I have only written about the places I have seen, not about the many encounters I had with people along the way. Which is why I have decided to create a new kind of blog post, in which I will interview locals so everyone has a chance to get to know them and find out what life is like in the countries I’ve travelled to.
My first ‘victim’ is called Jaime. I met him in Cuenca, a beautiful city in the Ecuadorian Andes, where he was our guide on a day trip we took to Cajas National Park.
Also called the Ciudad Blanca, the White City, Arequipa is one of Peru’s most beautiful cities. Its city centre is made up of colonial buildings, with a lively plaza and a long pedestrian zone. From various spots in the city, you can see volcanoes rising high into the sky. With more museums than one can possibly visit, vibrant markets and the Colca Canyon nearby, Arequipa should be on every Peru itinerary. It is easy to stay busy for a couple of days here.
If you’re looking for suggestions on what to do, keep reading.
Did you know that Sucre is the capital of Bolivia? No? Neither did I. I used to think it was La Paz. But even though La Paz is the seat of Bolivia’s government, the constitutional capital of the country remains Sucre. It is a beautiful city, famous for its white colonial building, that invites you to go for a walk and visit some of its many museums. Here are some of my highlights from Sucre:
Located higher than 4000m above sea level, Potosi once was the economic centre of Bolivia. It is known for its silver mines and while nobody knows how much silver has come out of these mines until today, legend says that you could build a bridge from South America to Spain with it and still have metal left.
Soon after the precious metal was found, the Spanish started mining in this area. First, they ensclaved the indigenous population and forced them to work in the mines. When, due to horrible working conditions, the natives had died, they brought in slaves from Africa. Eventually, Bolivia got independence and slavery was abolished, but working conditions have not improved much. Eight million people have died in those mines until today.
These days, Potosi is a beautiful city with a colonial centre that is well worth a visit. Some mines are still active and can be visited. But besides mine tours, there are plenty more things to do in Potosi.
The Salar de Uyuni is one of South America’s most famous tourist attractions. Almost everyone I met who was travelling around South America came there sooner or later. Some even made this their only stop in Bolivia, quickly dropping by to see the salt flat before flying out to other destinations.
It is true, the Salar de Uyuni is impressive. The salt flats stretch out to the horizon, a surreal landscapes that crunches underneath your feet as you move. The white is so blinding that it is impossible to keep one’s eyes open without sunglasses. Taking pictures here is one of the highlights of everyone’s visit. But before you come to the Salar, there are a few things to keep in mind to take home the most memorable photos.