I’ve traveled and photographed 63 countries so far. I know many backpackers have travelled a lot more, but I think I’ve done pretty well considering my travel really began after I turned 30 years of age. I’ve been to Africa, Asia, Middle East, Europe and North America, but the one continent I always wanted to go was South America. And this May, that wait will finally be over. I’m starting a 7 months adventure in the continent.
Last month or so I’ve spent mapping out my route. My route is a bit unusual, as I start in May, and I start in Santiago, Chile. It seems most of travelers prefer coming down from Colombia, Ecuador or even Peru. But I decided to take a opposite approach. It’s actually better for me because I always enjoy taking routes where there are less travelers, and more locals. However, the main reason I chose Santiago as my jump off point is to make a big circle as I travel the continent, and to end my trip in Patagonia, which is southern part of Chile, and will be in a good season to be explored by the time I return back to Chile in December.
The journey will begin outside the continent, though, as I will first fly to Easter Island. I’ll finally get to photograph Moai, and will spend about a week as I also get used to a different time zone. Then I return to Santiago, check out the city, visit Valparaiso, then cross a border to Mendoza. Once in Argentina, I will reach Cordoba, then move north to Salta to check out the region, before I cross back to Chile to meet the deserts of Atacama. It’s also where I will take a tour to Salsar del Uyuni, the famed salt lake, and enter Bolivia. In Bolivia I will visit Potosi and Sucre, before reaching the capital, La Paz. Then I move down to Lake Titicaca, take a few days, and cross the border into Peru.
I will then make my way to Cusco, and finally get to see Machu Picchu with my own very eyes. By then it will be sometime in July, but I don’t think I want to buy Inca trails tickets in advance. I need more flexibility. I’ve heard the trail has limited number of visitors every year and it’s sold out months in advance. It’s a shame, but I guess I’ll look for some alternative routes. I also plan to check out newly discovered ‘rainbow’ mountains in the area. After that I’ll go to Lima. I was going to take a bus, but I hear the road between Lima and Cusco isn’t too safe so I might fly. I will spend a few days and head north, checking out Trujillo along the way. I then will cross another border and enter Ecuador.
My first destination in Ecuador will be Vilcabamba, and then, Cuenca. I also plan to take a look around a bit once I reach Quito. But the main event here will be flying to Galapagos. I also like wildlife photography and has done it for many years, so I will be crazy to miss out this enchanting islands. The plan is to take 8 days tour while there, and return back to Quito. I will keep heading north to reach Colombia, although I also hear road between these two countries could be unsafe, so I’m contemplating whether I should fly or not. But in anyways I will visit Cali, Salento, and Bogota, before heading further north to check out Cartagena.
That’s where I will fly to Leticia, and I will enter the Amazon, and Brazil. I will take a boat that will take me to Manaus, an Amazon city of Brazil, and also look into wildlife for few days while there. From there I will fly to Sao Luis, to reach Lencois Maranhenses National Park, where it’s said to have beautiful sand dunes with lagoons. I will trek there and when I am done move south to Salvador, and onto Rio de Janeiro! Rio seems to be a place with a lot of things to do so I might stay around a week, then move onto Mines Gerais region to check out cities like Ouro Preto. From there I will head north to reach the famous Iguazu Falls. Check out the fall in Brazil, and also in Argentina side, then move onto Paraguay- by reaching its capital- Asuncion. The Brazil part of the route is still not 100% clear at the moment but from there I will reach Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay. And then finally- Buenos Aires.
Take some time in Buenos Aires and make my way down to Puerto Madryn, known for its wildlife, and then onto Perito Moreno, to see the famed ice glaciers. I will follow by heading further south to reach Ushuaia, the southernmost city in the continent. It’s where I’ll embark a ship to photograph some penguins in the Antarctica peninsula. Once I return, I will cross over to Chile, pass by Punta Arenas, and then trek the Patagonia, which will be the finale to this long journey. From there I get back to Santiago and fly out.
So well, obviously, not everything will go as planned. It’s a long trip and I don’t know what I will see or who I will meet, which will result in me changing plans, going where I wasn’t going to go, or not going where I was going to go, etc. But at least I have a general idea of where I’m going and what I’m doing. As stated Brazil part of the trip is not still finalized. I could visit some other places, or give up some. More and more I’m seeing there are a lot of things to do in that country.
It’s going to be a long trip, and while I’m good at saving money while on road, I’m more of a photographer than a backpacker, and this won’t be a cheap trip. I’m trying to save up as much as possible, will be writing for magazines or newspapers of the journey while on the road, and also try to sell my works in advance to fund the trip possible. Naturally a book will be on the way once I return back home. Though it sounds like a long time away from now.
Well truth is I still have two months till departure, as I will be on my way on May 8th. Although I speak a bit of Spanish due to my time in Honduras when I was young, I’m taking lessons these days to speak more eloquently. I’m also getting some workouts at a gym to make myself more fit for the treks, since I’m really physically not that strong at all. And then soon it will be the time for me to leave. Once this journey begins this blog will turn into my South America travel and photography blog but I hope you keep on reading. I’m still planning and figuring things out but one thing is certain. The time is coming. And I will be on the road again. It’s where I’m meant to be as a photographer. I can’t wait.