COLOMBIA – a complete guide

(Updated January 2020)

Colombia, still suffering from the stigma of being a dangerous place torn between drug barons and guerillas, is actually a beautiful and interesting place – with wonderful, honest people. On just one visit, it became one of my favorite countries on earth.

At the Goldmuseum in Bogota

Treasures at the Gold Museum in Bogotá – by far not Colombia’s only treasure…

I travelled with my adult daughter to a dozen places – mostly by bus, sometimes we flew – and felt perfectly safe.

 

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BRAZIL – guide to the southern region

(Updated January 2020)

Actually, I think there are countries that are automatically on every traveller’s bucket list: Australia, India…and Brazil is a country like that, too.

Collage of the Iguazu Falls, Cristo Rey and the Sugar Loaf in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

These are only three highlights Brazil has to offer – kind of an appetizer.

For me, the danger with these standard bucket list countries is that since they are permanently there, I feel no rush to visit. I always knew that I wanted to explore Brazil one day. Yes, one day….

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PERU after Paddington Bear – the complete travel guide bye:myself

I don’t get Paddington bear: how could he have left Peru?
This country – divided into the geographic areas sierra, selva, costa,  which means mountains, jungle, coastline – has so much to offer!

I’m sure this little boy would have adopted Paddington and gave him a good home.

Not only lots of geographic, but also cultural, culinary, and spiritual variety, so that everyone gets to simply love Peru. Everybody but stupid Paddington who went to England of all places!

 

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Guide to PARACAS

Paracas itself is just a short promenade along the shore. But it’s a great gateway to two natural treasures: the Islas Ballestas, Peru’s ‘Galapagos Islands’. Every morning the tour boats leave the village and show the visitors the undisturbed wildlife on these rocks: sea lions, flocks of different birds, and even groups of penguins are greeting from the shores.

 

sea lions islas ballestas
Quite a family: Sea lions and their many, many babies enjoying the beach and the Pacific ocean.

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Guide to ICA and HUACACHINA

The desert and especially the artificial oasis of Huacachina are a major tourist attraction. Since Peru has so much natural beauty to offer, I don’t get why everybody is going to an artificial oasis – but after all, I did, too. You can hike through the sand or – much easier – slide it down on a board. Sand jeeps drive you in wild circles up and down the dunes. Around the artificial lagoon, there are cozy restaurants and bars – hanging out one or two days out here can be very relaxing.

 

huacachina
Reward for an exhausting hike uphill on the powdery sand of the oasis Huacachina. In the backdrop the city of Ica.

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Guide to AREQUIPA and the COLCA CANYON

Getting off the bus in Arequipa in the morning, I felt super dizzy. Was it the unsound sleep? Was it the altitude? Was it a mix of both? Who knows.

Even a little shaken, I fell in instant love with this white, elegant city where recent nobel prize winner Mario Vargas Llosa was born in 1936. 



Plaza de Armas
In front of the Catedral de Arequipa, protests from the workers of the mines surrounding Arequipa. They are digging for ore, silver, and gold – a trade, that destroys the nature and the workers.

Start your tour at the Plaza de Armas and just walk the streets and alleys with your eyes wide open. This colonial town is just so beautiful.

Guide to PUNO and a visit to lake TITICACA

Going from Arequipa to Puno is fast and easy, and even here you risk to pay more when you pre-book. 


Puno itself is not that great, there is the cathedral and you can climb up to the Mirador El Condor. But mind you, this will be one of the highest points of your Peru-trip, and you mind feel it. They even had oxygen bottles at my hotel just in case. 



I suffered a big deal from the altitude, stumbled around like a zombie and was hardly able to eat something. The recommended coca tea did not help, the drugs I’d bought – some tablets they sell you from an open pack, something totally unthinkable in Europe – did a good job; but they dried out my nostril, so that after a while I got a nose bleed. One pays a high price for all this awe.






lago titicaca
Traditional boat on Lake Titicaca.

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Guide to CUSCO

Cusco is of course a great gateway to fantastic places such as the Sacred Valley, Sacsayhuamán, Ollantaytambo, and of course Machu Picchu. I’m telling you about the trip to the Sacred Valley in the chapter on Ollantaytambo, and Machu Picchu has its own chapter.

Cusco itself is an extremely charming place, too, so here is an introduction of some places not to be missed.

The Plaza de Armas with the adjacent Catedral, the Iglesia de Compañia, and just the rows of low-rise colonial houses alone is a jewel were one can spend the entire day observing Peruvian life and ado.

 

plaza de armas
The 9th ruler over the Inca empire, Pachacútec Yupanqui, overlooking the Plaza de Armas; even the sky chips in to increase the dramatic view.

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Guide to OLLANTAYTAMBO

Picturesque Ollantaytambo was the last stop of an organized tour that I took from Cusco.
I had booked it beforehand on the internet at Coca Tours which was a big mistake. I had trouble finally getting the ticket since their office was closed as I arrived in Cusco, and checking the prices in town, I paid about triple of the prices you get at the stalls around the plaza. Again: no(!) pre booking in Peru!

 

pisac
Valle Sagrado de los Incas – the sacred valley

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