I’m so jealous of past Sarah for the excitement and trepidation she was feeling this time year so I wanted to look back on some of the coolest things I experienced on my travels. Here are 8 amazing experiences I had in South America!
I climbed Colca Canyon – If we thought Huayna Picchu was a difficult climb then nothing prepared us for Colca Canyon – one of the deepest canyons in the world. Getting from top to bottom was the most physically challenging thing I’ve ever done, never mind getting back up again. I’m still not sure how we managed it and the experience was mostly pretty horrendous, but the sense of pride at having accomplished it was so incredible. The views weren’t too shabby either…
Read more: Colca Canyon: A Worthwhile Ordeal (Probably)
I got lost on one of the most beautiful islands in the world – When we arrived on the Isla del Sol without a map, a plan or any accommodation booked we realised we might have made a slight error. After hours of trekking up hills and across beaches in search of the hostel we wanted to stay in we finally declared ourselves well and truly lost and spent the night in an old lady’s hut. It was so easy to feel disheartened until we sat with our legs dangling off the cliffs enjoying the incredible views of Lake Titicaca.
Read more: Stranded on the Isla del Sol, Bolivia
I explored the Uyuni Salt Flats – Even though I was really ill when we visited the Salt Flats were one of the highlights of our trip. The landscapes were beautiful and often eerie, the sunsets were like nothing I’ve seen before and the thrill of having no idea where you were in the middle of the desert without seeing a single soul for hours on end was absolutely incredible. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the salt flats don’t even feel like they should belong on our planet because they’re so alien.
Read more: Sunset Over Salar de Uyuni
I experienced my first earthquake – Up until our second day in Ecuador I had never felt an earthquake. Tom felt a minor tremble in Arequipa, but that was nothing compared to the 7.8 Mw in Montanita. Just after it happened we were laughing at how terrified we’d both been, not realising the full extent of what had happened. While we were lying in bed in the darkness feeling very confused, most of the town were fleeing to higher ground because of tsunami warnings. Maybe calling it an amazing experience is a little inappropriate but it is one that not many people can say they’ve shared and I feel very lucky that the only scars we walked away with were mental ones.
I almost died on a mountain in Ecuador – The Quilotoa Loop is absolutely beautiful and our photos make it seem like we were having the best time ever, but in reality it wasn’t always like that. We found ourselves caught up in a flash flood climbing up the mountain, watched lightning strike the ground right next to where we were standing, had to seek shelter for the night in a freezing cold stone hut with no running water or electricity and took a wrong turn that led us perilously close to plummeting hundreds of feet down to almost certain death. I have never been so cold, been so soaked to the bone or felt so scared and downtrodden, but the feeling of reaching the crater and being so taken aback by how beautiful it was made it (almost) worth it.
Read more: Hiking the Quilotoa Loop (The Disaster That Was)
I visited the centre of the Earth – Sure Quito’s Mitad del Mundo is super touristy, but being able to say you’re standing (or sitting) in two hemispheres at the same time is pretty cool right?
I slept in a cabin at the foot of an active volcano – You might have heard that Ecuador’s most famous volcano erupted recently, and the national park surrounding it has only just reopened. Not put off by our near-death experience in Quilotoa we spent the weekend at The Secret Garden hostel trying activities like horse riding and mountain biking in the mornings followed by card games and lots of rum until the early hours. With no internet access whatsoever we got to meet so many amazing people. I was devastated when we had to leave and say goodbye to new friends.