Slow Travel Through Waterfalls

Waterfall at Ponto de Pedra, West Brazil

Waterfall at Ponto de Pedra, West Brazil.

What is the link between slow travel and waterfalls, you may ask? Does seeing the Niagara Waterfalls or Iguazu Waterfalls slow you down in any way? On the contrary, you may argue. These type of destinations we often visit for the destination itself rather than looking for anything interesting along the way. Continue reading

5 Awe-Inspiring Landscapes in South America – Our Roles to Help Save the Planet

Tres Cruces, Peru

Tres Cruces, Peru

“An image of the earth, its landscapes, directly affects people. The beauty of the earth creates enormous emotion, and through that emotion, you can transmit knowledge and raise consciousness”~Yann Arthus-Bertrand

This quote spoke to me, which made me read up on Yann Arthus-Bertrand’s work and philosophy. He is known for, among other things, his book Earth from Above – aerial photos from landscapes around the world (more about that here). Yann Arthus-Bertrand is a photo-journalist , cinematographer as well as Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations.

I decided share a couple of our photos with you that exactly had that effect on me: that emotion where it felt as if my chest enlarged because it filled with air and energy. Standing in these places made me aware of my minuscular role in the universe and the extraordinary beauty of our planet that we need to preserve and treasure. Continue reading

5 Popular Religious Festivals in Bolivia

Processions are an important part of religious festivals in Bolivia (©photocoen)

During our continuous journey in South America that started in 2007, we visited Bolivia six times. In total we spent about a year in this diverse country. We were particularly captivated by the extremes in landscapes and the Bolivians’ strong need for celebrations. Although we never planned to be in a certain place for a particular festival, procession, or fiesta, we stumbled on them regularly. Continue reading

5 Top Travel Destinations in French Guiana

oTop travel destinations: watching the hatching of sea turtles (©photocoen)Why this tiny piece of land called French Guyana offers top travel destinations:

  1. May be a little-visitedt territory, but if you care for nature and/or wildlife spotting, it is a top travel destination and you shouldn’t miss it. You can easily spend a 3-week holiday here. Okay, we spent closer to 3 months (over various visits), but Coen and I have the tendency to not being able to leave once we fall in love with a place.
  2. Has been one of our big surprises on our South America journey. This overseas department of France lies north of Brazil and east of Suriname. It has few people, lots of Amazon rainforest, a bit of savanna and a long and easily accessible coast along the Atlantic Ocean.
  3. Offers a diversity of trails for hikers, fun outings for families with kids, and has numerous spots for birding, watching sea turtles or other wildlife. Having said that, it is not a country for those who seek large or imposing museums or suchlike cultural places of interest. Continue reading

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires – 5 Hidden Corners

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires: Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires, Argentina (photocoen)

Banco de la Provincia de Buenos Aires: detail of a bronze door

Sightseeing in Buenos Aires, let me think for a sec. Okay: taking tango lessons, eating slabs of beef, visiting the Recoleta Cemetery, strolling around Palermo, checking out the football stadium in La Boca…

All activities worth undertaking and places worth seeing. So, Coen and I did all that and more on the typical must-see-cum-do list for Buenos Aires. Then part two of the fun started, finding the city’s quiet yet charming spots, hidden churches, local restaurants, and anything else worth exploring outside guidebooks.

Sometimes we succeed on such missions, sometimes we don’t. In Buenos Aires we did and had a marvelous time in one particular neighborhood near Plaza de Mayo: the ‘Zona Bancaria’ – Argentina’s banking zone. We discovered it has much to offer in terms of churches, museums and architecture. Continue reading

5 Off-the-Beaten-Track Attractions Around Lake Titicaca

Toritos for good luck in Atuncolla.

Toritos for good luck in Atuncolla.

Our journey in Peru started around one of the most bewitching places in South America: Lake Titicaca. As usual I had a general idea of the places I wanted to visit in Peru; also, as usual as well, we got a couple of surprises on the way. Peru’s Lake Titicaca turned out to offer much more than just a stop in Puno and a visit to the floating islands.

After 10 years Coen and I continue to share the passion for finding hidden corners, off-the-beaten-track places, and enjoying moments of pleasure when we stumble upon such a treasure. As a result, our ‘planned’ (or should I say, ‘expected’) two-day, straightforward trip to Cusco turned into a brilliant five-day exploration.

There is still a feeling of excitement when entering a new country, even after 10 years on the road and having visited 30 countries. It takes a couple of days to get the feeling of a country: the energy, the ambience, to interpret the faces of people, to learn the nuances of the language. Going slow is a great way to do exactly that.

Visiting the floating islands of the Uros obviously came from a guidebook – all guidebooks talk about this. But from where to visit them, Llachón, was a tip we got years ago from other travelers, which I had jotted into a notebook. We came across the chullpas around Cutimbo by just driving around, feeling intrigued by the landscape and driving up a hill to see if there was anything of interest. The lunch at Prudentia’s house in Atuncolla was the result of Coen walking into the countryside, wanting to take a picture and meeting this extraordinary woman.

And so our Peruvian journey started in a most surprising, fantastic way. Here are the places we visited or stumbled upon. I invite you to go there and check them out. Do you know places around Lake Titicaca worth sharing? I’d love to hear about them (e.g. below in the comment section).

Continue reading

5 Museums in La Paz, Bolivia

18th century houses in Calle Jaen.

It was one of these beautiful days: a dark-blue sky, sunrays warming me, and an empty to-do list. I strolled through La Paz’ city center and ambled uphill on the northeastern side of El Prado, the city’s main avenue to visit five of La Paz’ museums, conveniently located in one street, called Calle Jaen. It was a long walk, but as I wasn’t in a hurry it didn’t matter. Continue reading

5 Places in South America to Soak in Hot Springs

Hot springs in South America: Thermal Bath in Southwest Bolivia (©photocoen)After 2,5 year of Amazon tropics Coen and I are happy to have returned to the colder and drier climate of the Andes Mountains. During these past 10 years I have never written, “Boy are we glad to be back in the tropics so we can wear shorts and bathing suits again,” yet I have expressed that, “It feels great to wear socks and sweaters again and to sleep under our down blanket.”

We’re cold-weather people. Continue reading

5 Places in South America to Listen to Silence

Silence in Deserto do Diablo in Northwest Argentina (©photocoen)“The sound of silence”
~Paul Simon

My parents had an album of Simon & Garfunkel. I loved listening to it and when I started learning English in highschool, one particular song triggered me: The Sound of Silence. I loved the melody and although I didn’t understand much of the lyrics, the words ‘sounds of silence’ made me wonder: did silence have a sound? It started listening to my surroundings and I concluded that the world was hardly ever silent. Continue reading

5 Places to Connect with Wildlife in South America

Wildlife in South America: Birds of Prey in Parque dos Falcões in Brazil (©photocoen)One of South America’s great features is its wildlife. Not only can you see animals often and at many different locations, at some places you can touch them, caress them, connect with them. Here are some of my favorite places to connect with wildlife in South America: Continue reading