All I can say is, “MEDELLIN IS AMAZING!”. Multiple people we’ve met on the road have raved about Medellin, but it wasn’t until I experienced it for myself that I truly understood why. So big, so beautiful, so historical, and literally something for everyone. Not to mention, the most gorgeous countryside I’ve ever seen!
If you’ve ever wanted to be a pirate, Cartagena is the town to do it. A great colorful city and colonial atmosphere — the culture is amazing, and the exploration through the Old Town is endless. The people are helpful, friendly, welcoming. Each narrow street with colonial style balconies, colorful walls, and the feeling like you just stepped into an episode of Black Sails. Personally, Cartagena is one of my favorite cities in all of South America.
I must be honest. At first, I was pretty unimpressed with Santa Marta. During the day, it looks like a quiet, dirty, port town. However, as the sun sets, all the streets open up and restaurants spill out into the plazas, salsa music pumping from every club – nightlife is alive! Good restaurants, street performers, and fun Salsa dancing bars! I guess Santa Marta isn’t so bad after all.
We flew from Bogota to Santa Marta on a quick hour and a half flight and stayed in Los Cocos Beach at Villa Maria. Tayrona presents a variety of climates and geography that range from arid landscapes, lush rain forest to 900 meters above sea level and is the second most visited national park in Colombia.
Colombia wasn’t on our original list of South American destinations, but after traveling for the past three months, everyone kept telling us how incredible Colombia is. Keeping with our travel fashion, we planned a last minute ten day trip to the Northern country to wrap up our South American tour.
I’ll start this post with a confession. Obviously, the Inca Trail is the famous route that everyone wants to take. However, we were unaware that the Inca Trail treks sell out six months in advance. We sadly figured this out at the end of February and were pretty disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to do it. However, after more research on other trekking options, we found the Salkantay Trek. This has the reputation of being the hardest trek and I must say, IT WAS, BUT SO WORTH IT! We were told by multiple people, including guides, that the Inca Trail is so packed, you’re never alone to enjoy the moment. But Salkantay exceeded every expectation possible. I couldn’t recommend this more. Absolutely remarkable. I’m sure one day I’ll still do the Inca Trail, but this was the best decision (though we didn’t have much of a choice) we’ve made thus far.
Most tourists travel to Cuzco to acclimate before heading to Machu Picchu. Cuzco is at 11,200ft, Machu Picchu is at 8,000ft. For us, we’ve been above 9,000ft for the past 2 weeks in Bolivia so we used it as a time to explore the city. Cuzco is full of culture, history, and charm. We also haven’t been around many tourists in a very long time so that was a bit of an adjustment as well. Michael’s mom, Bonnie, met us in Cuzco to do the trek to Machu Picchu so it was fun to all explore Cuzco together.
Traveling by train = The way to go.
Planes, trains, and automobiles. But trains are by far, the best. We decided to be tourists instead of travelers for a day. We splurged with a 10 hour train ride from Puno to Cusco, instead of the classic six hour bus, and I’m so glad we did. It finally felt like we were on vacation.
I’m sure most people haven’t heard of Copacabana, Bolivia (not to be confused with the ultra popular Copacabana, Brazil). But most probably have heard of Lake Titicaca. Copacabana is made famous by the infamous Lake Titicaca. I was definitely excited to see the highest navigable lake in the world at 12,507ft and check off another bucket list item. The four hour bus ride from La Paz to Copacabana had lovely views of the countryside. Bolivia really is a beautiful country.