Dr Abhijeet Deo
SOUTH AMERICA EXPEDICION 2018
Vibrant, diverse, and completely captivating, South America is unlike anywhere else we have ever been. A road trip from the top to the bottom of South America was not going to be a cakewalk. Yes, we are talking about the entire continent. Our journey of 10000 miles (over 15,000 km) began from Cartagena in Colombia.
Colombia: Colourful pueblos, fascinating cities, stunning national parks and idyllic beaches – Colombia has it all. During our 8eightdays in Colombia, we took our time to soak in the country’s vibe in Cartagena before driving to quaint cities like Monteria, Medellin and Popayan. We enjoyed our time in Medellin, which was once dubbed as the “most dangerous city on earth”. But today, Medellin is a delightful place to explore. From visiting Casa Museo – the house of Pablo Escobar to streets filled with graffiti art, from the whimsical Botero Statue Park to the Barefoot Park… we enjoyed our one-day rest in the beautiful city of eternal spring.
Ecuador: Located on the Equator in South America’s northwest, Ecuador is known for its remarkable biodiversity. We reached Quito, the second-highest capital in the world which is located right on the Equator. We ticked one more item off our bucket list as we reached the Equator line in Ecuador, known as the Middle of the World. From watching the eye-opening demonstrations of the Coriolis effect to balancing an egg on the head of a nail, we did all the fun Equatorial Shenanigans. We feel proud of standing on both hemispheres at once. After exploring the fascinating city of Quito, we were ready to cruise into the mystical, mysterious and the fascinating jungles of the Ecuadorian Amazon rain forests.
An Amazon River Cruise isn’t like any typical cruise. We spent three days experiencing the remote and pristine areas of the Ecuadorian Amazon, kayaking, going on jungle walks, fishing for Piranha and more. Now it was time to cross the border and enter the next country, Peru.
Peru: Peru is one of the most versatile countries on this planet. It is full of high mountains, deep valleys, a lovely coastline, ancient culture and pristine nature. There are so many unique things to do in Peru that it’s hard not to fall in love with this country. While driving through the Inca empire, we took our time to visit Machu Picchu, got a 360-degree view of the enigmatic Nazca Lines, trekked up the colourful Rainbow mountain, ate a furry friend (Because When in Rome, do as the Romans do; when in Peru, eat guinea pig), and took selfies with locals (read Llamas).
Bolivia: Quaint and charming whilst also adventurous and vibrant, Bolivia is a country of contrast. There is probably no traveller or tourist that leaves Bolivia without having visited Salar de Uyuni, the largest salt flat in the world (4,086 square miles). The harsh beauty and desolateness of Salar de Uyuni made for an incredible experience, and we enjoyed driving on endless stretches of the salt flats. We continued our journey to La Paz, the highest capital in the World and drove towards the Bolivian-Chilean border.
Chile: From the driest desert on Earth, high altitude geysers to the frozen mountains, Chile is a country of incredible beauty and contrasts. Being the longest country in the world (stretching over 2,670 miles from tip to top), Chile varies in landscapes, terrains and climate, and we were happy to experience it all during our expedition. Soon after entering Chile, we reached San Pedro de Atacama and drove through the Atacama Desert. Few places in the world truly take your breath away, but the Atacama Desert is one of those places that left us breathless, and that’s not just because of the high altitude!
We lost ourselves amongst the endless stretches of tarmac and perfect landscapes. We continued our drive in Chile and took some time to visit La Serena, one of Chile’s top beach destinations and went sightseeing in Santiago, Chile’s capital city. Chile also happens to be one of the best locations in the world for observing the unfiltered and unadulterated night sky, and we spent hours gazing at the Milky Way which felt so close, we could almost reach out and touch it. We were genuinelystarstruck.
Argentina: The classic combination of food, football and Tango makes Argentina a country like no other. Fun, free-spirited and passionate, this South American nation truly has everything. One of the biggest highlights in Argentina is the Perito Moreno Glacier. Looking out onto an endless sea of blue, white and grey ice moulded into jagged peaks and then watching sections of the glacier calve and fall was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Next up was the end of the world. Ushuaia is the largest city in Tierra del Fuego and is often referred to as “Fin Del Mundo, or The End of the World”. The name is well-deserved since the town is located at the southernmost tip of not only South America but of the world! Any further south and we would have been driving across the ocean to Antarctica (that’s probably best saved for next time).
In Argentina, we got a chance to go Whale Watching in Puerto Madryn. It’s hard to express the joy of watching whales and seals in their natural habitat. We were lucky enough to be in the right place at the right time. Finally, we reached Buenos Aires, aka the last destination on our expedition. We took to the streets of La Boca in Buenos Aires and learned to tap our feet on the tunes of Tango after all Tango is considered the deepest dance in the world and we didn’t want to leave this country without learning a step or two.
We spent over two months in this continent and still feel we only scratched the surface. In these two months, we got a chance to experience glaciers, deserts, oceans, ancient ruins, exotic cities, mountains, rain forests, mysterious waterfalls and more all in this one epic journey.
Dr Abhijeet Deo
SOUTH AMERICA EXPEDICION 2018