The Pan-American Highway runs the length of the Americas, from Canada down to Patagonia. For 48,000 kilometres, it winds through lush forest, wide open deserts and frozen mountain passes, uniting the Americas via the road trip of a lifetime. Well, almost.
You see, there’s a small gap in the road where the continents meet- a mere blip, just 100km long. It’s called the Darien Gap. The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) are known to operate in these areas, kidnapping tourists and researchers who attempt the crossing. Although it is possible to travel overland through the Gap, it’s basically a suicide mission. This leaves the traveller with a conundrum. How do you travel from Central America to South America?
The first option is the most obvious. Flights between Panama City and Cartagena or Medellin depart daily, and the fares are quite reasonable. It’s a two-hour flight, and it gets you to your destination with as minimal fuss as possible.
The other alternative is to travel by sea, via the San Blas Islands. Hundreds of tiny islands form the archipelago, all of them storybook perfect. Home to the Kuna people, they truly are paradise on Earth.
Ever since I was let down last week by my job agency, I’ve been pondering what my next step should be. And I think I’ve found a solution…
Exciting, huh? It probably seems a little bit random considering a few days ago I was talking about admin jobs in the UK, but it’s not quite as crazy as it seems.
I got back from Latin America seven-and-a-half weeks ago now. Jeez, it feels weird to type that. I’ve been really bad at updating my blog lately, and it’s because there’s been so much stressful stuff going on here. Writing about my travels only made me more sad that I was stuck at home doing nothing.
At the beginning of August, I applied for a job via an employment agency. I had the interview on a Thursday, and they emailed the next day to tell me I had passed, was on their books and would get updates about the job when they had them. They forecast a mid-September start, but it was not certain. I was mildly annoyed that I’d be sitting around waiting for a whole month, but the pay was AMAZING (three times what I could make in other admin work) so it made financial sense to wait.
Two weeks passed, and I didn’t hear a single word. When I emailed to see if there were any updates, I got another vague email saying “probably mid-September”. So I went back to waiting.
To me, mid-September would have meant the 15th at the latest, assuming a Monday start. So last week, I was getting twitchy. Then out of the blue at 4pm on Thursday, they emailed to say that the job was cancelled completely.
The Galapagos Islands are usually pretty high on any South American itinerary. The sheer abundance of wildlife and amazing opportunities to get up close to these gentle creatures above and below water lure in thousands of travellers every year.
Unfortunately, a visit to the Galapagos can be prohibitively expensive for a budget traveller. The islands are located nearly 1,000 miles off the coast of Ecuador, meaning that the only practical option for visiting is to fly. And just like monopolies everywhere else in the world, the airlines aren’t rushing to bring you cheap options.
Many different places have started to call themselves ‘The Poor Man’s Galapagos’. We visited two: Paracas in Peru, and Isla la Plata in Ecuador. Let’s just say that Paracas was definitely the poorer version, and I’m not talking about money. Despite having seen blogs with photos of hundreds of penguins, seal lions and various other birds, we saw basically nothing on our tour of Paracas. Three penguins so far away that my camera couldn’t capture them even with my zoom, and a few sealions on a distant stretch of beach.
However, Puerto Lopez was a massive surprise and definitely deserves to be the Poor Man’s Galapagos.
If you’ve been to Italy and think you know what an aperitivo is- think again, if you haven’t been to Milan.
From visiting various friends studying in different Italian cities, it became quite clear to me that the Milanese just do aperitivo better.
Read my recommendations after the jump…
Shantaram. The Beach. Eat, Pray, Love. The Alchemist. Into the Wild. On the Road.
What do all those books have in common? They’re on every single ‘favourite travel books’ list you’ll ever find. They’re obviously popular for a reason, but it makes finding alternative travel reads pretty difficult.
So I thought I’d share some of my favourite travel books, in the hope of offering something a little different. I don’t think these books are ‘off the beaten track’ when it comes to reading. Yet they’re not ones I’ve seen on a lot of ‘favourite travel book’ lists.
Read on for my recommendations