Category Archives: South America
Cartagena de Indias may be chock full of tourists but for me it was still a fairy-tale city. In the UNESCO World Heritage walled colonial city every turn breaths an atmosphere of romance and legends. I would scan the Caribbean sea from atop the battlements, half expecting to sight a pirate ship about to attack. The historical legacy of Cartagena is still very much alive today, creating a richer, more enticing environment for it.
On the northern coast of Colombia lies the magical Tayrona National Park. This protected area features forests teaming with wildlife leading down to pristine beaches on the Caribbean sea. The only way to reach many of the most beautiful, palm-fringed sands are the meandering footpaths through jungle and over sea-strewn boulders. With only a little effort you can find your own slice of paradise in Tayrona.
San Gil is a beautiful, vibrant town. A busy central plaza is surrounded by sloping, cobbled streets. At a first glance you would never guess, but this town has a secret. A love of the extreme. From extreme sports (I tried paragliding) to extreme culinary offerings. And I’m not just talking about the pineapple sauce they put on my hot-dog, because that was actually pretty tasty! I’m talking about hormigas culonas. Or big-bottomed ants.
The beep of a car’s horn indicated my ride had arrived. Having booked a paragliding trip through my hostel I had no idea what the company itself would be like. I was hoping at the very least that safety would be a top priority. After all, when you’re floating high above the ground you want to be sure you’re securely strapped in! The minibus waiting for me wasn’t so reassuring. It was quite old, but it was when I got in, sat back and the seat-back collapsed that I had to laugh. Hopefully they take better care of their equipment than they do their vehicles!
In the old town of Quito, Ecuador’s capital, is a cathedral unlike any other I have ever visited. La Basílica del Voto Nacional combines an appreciation for religious architecture with an almost adventure sport activity that will chill to the bone anybody with the slightest phobia of heights. I had read up on La Basílica before visiting, so I thought I knew what to expect, but it was so much worse. My minor fear of heights together with a worry about the seemingly non-existent Ecuadorian health and safety regulations, created an extremely nerve-wracking experience.