...in no particular order!
29.12.2012 - 12.03.2013
1) Rio de Janeiro - New Year's Eve
Brazil certainly knows how to through a party so I would definitely recommend going for either New Year's or else Carnival. Ringing in the New Year with 3.5 million people all dressed in white watching an unbelievable firework display was the perfect start to our trip!
2) Peru - Machu Picchu
An absolute must if your visiting Peru! There are a number of different trek options to choose from. We chose the Jungle Trek as it involved cycling and zip lining as well as A LOT of hiking. (And it was also the cheapest!) Usually the jungle trek attracts a younger group of people so you can have the LOLs during the trek! The 4 day trek is tough enough but well worth it once you reach the top! The views are absolutely incredible..we just sat at the top in awe!!
3) Huacachina - Sandboarding
Huacachina is so beautiful and 100% worth going for a few days. It was my first time seeing an oasis and doing sandboarding ....so two ticks there!! I'd recommend to try go sandboarding in the afternoon as you can stay and watch the sunset from the dunes...which is pretty amazing!
4) Bolivia - Salar de Uyuni
I had seen people's pictures here (the world's largest salt flat!) but its unimaginable just how amazing it is until you are physicaslly standing there. Due to it's reflective surface the sky and ground merge into one creating a spectacular dreamy/heavenly look. You could literally spend days there making funny pics!! We just had a few hours ......
5) Bolivia - Potosi mining tour
We all absolutely loved the mining tour in Potosi! I really don't know how its not more well known with backpackers! So normally on guided tours its all very relaxing and comfortable ....no no ...not this one ..for the most part of it your on your hands and knees crawling through tiny spaces with dust covering your face. (but apart from the slight discomfort its actually so much fun!) .... Sure on what other tour are you allowed to legally buy dynamite!!?
6) Punta Arenas, Patagonia - Magellan Island with the Penguins
If I've learnt one thing whilst travelling it's that impulse decisions to go on detours are always AMAZING! Originally Patagonia wasn't on our planned route but we met too many people along the way that said we had to go ....so we decided we HAD to go! I'd never met a penguin before so you can imagine my excitment when I bumped into hundreds of them at the same time!
7) El Calafate Patagonia - Mini-trekking on Perito Moreno
The main reason we detoured to Patagonia was to see the world famous glacier of Perito Moreno. I'm so glad we did as it still remains one of my favourite things I've done since I've started travelling. It's not often you get to put some spikes on and trek a giant glacier...and drink Jameson on the rocks using ice from the glacier!
8) Iguassu Falls
Its no shock that Iguassu falls was voted as one of the new 7 wonders of the world! When you first get there you nearly go into a trance just staring at all that water! (There's a hell of a lot!!) You're kind of speechless for awhile...which was a first for us as usually people are desperately trying to get us to shut up!!! I've two recommendations if you visit 'Iguassssuuu' (you have to pronounce it like that otherwise people haven't a clue what you're on about - I learnt the hard way!)
1) Visit both sides (Argentinian annd Brazilian)
2) You have to take the boat ride that brings you right under the waterfalls!! You get absolutely soaked and you lose the ability to see for awhile as the water is smashing into your face ....BUT it's hilarious!!
9) Buenos Aires - food, drink and nightlife
Although I loved every second of South America, Palermo in Buenos Aires was the first place that I could really imagine properly living in. I like big cities so with it's trendy parks, cafe's, clubs and pubs I was in my element! Apart from the fact that they only go out at night at about 2am (which is a killer for the ole hangovers!!) and apart from the fact that every single woman there is the most beautiful person you've ever seen in your life (...just a tad depressing!!) it really is a fantastic place!! We were lucky enough to be there for Ultra music festival which was great craic and we also spent some time in the La Boca area which is known for it's colourful decor and amazing tango shows. All in all Buenos Aires just has everything!!
10) Mendoza - Vino y bicicleta
Mendoza's main industries are olive oil and wine production ...two fantastic reasons to visit! Rent some bikes for the day, (from Mr Hugo as he' s hilarious and gives you free wine!) ...cycle around the different wineries and enjoy the numerous diffrent wine tastings available. For those that may not be that into wine you can also participate in the olive oil tour. As I was travelling with an olive oil lover we spent a good bit of our time there!
WILDCARD - The Amazon (Rurrenabaque, Bolivia)
As I wouldn't exactly classify the Amazon as an 'enjoyable' experience I felt I couldn't put it into my top ten list. HOWEVER on reflection it is probably the 'experience' that we laugh about the most from South America so I've thrown it in as my wildcard (controversial I know - Diana may kill me!!). But as the saying goes ....... “Sometimes it’s the mistakes that turn out to be the best parts of life”.
With this in mind I would reccomend going but NOT during wet season when the mosquitoes are out in full force! If you do go in rainy season bring about 20 bottles of 100% deet (you will probably have to purchase this at home!) and in the likely event that the tour guides don't warn you: Sit on your towel on the boat as the mosquitoes like to BITE YOUR BUM!!! (.....eerrr apparently!!)
Oh and cover yourself in clothes head to toe ...you may look ridiculously stupid but believe me that will be the least of your worries!!