I have recently decided that when I graduate from the master program I am currently enrolled in (11 more months to go!) I will take 2-3 months to travel through South America with one of my closest friends in the whole world. There are so many continents that I want to travel but have decided to start close to home (Panama) with South America. These are the places I am planning to visit and the things I am most interested in seeing. If you have already travelled this route or visited the countries individually then please add any tips in the comment section!
My first stop will be across Panama’s border south into Colombia and want to visit the four different locations:
- Old City: Cartagena’s old city is one of its major attractions, primarily the inner part of the city, which is surrounded by walls giving it its name of the “Walled City”. This area is said to be full of history’s, architecture, churches and so much more.
- San Felipe de Barajas castle: This castle is located on a hill called San Lazaro and was built during the colonial era. The Castle used to be used by the military but has since been named a heritage site. Tip: I have been told to get the most out of the experience it is important to have a guide!
- Other points of interest include: Plaza Santo Domingo, LasBovedas, For the sports fan the Estadio Jaime Moron Leon and the Convento La Popa de la Galeria.
- Laguna de Guatape: The city of Guatape is located on the outskirts of Medellin and I have seen pictures of this Laguna, it is simply a must-see especially if you appreciate landscapes and nature.
- Aburra Valley: This valley is the point of origin on the Medellin River and one of the most populated valleys in the country due to its vegetation. Yet another point to visit for nature lovers
- Barefoot Park: This public park is a great place to visit with your family as it is a park where you are encouraged to be barefoot and made for recreational purposes.
- Other points of interest include: Nutibura sculpture park, El Volador Hill, Los Katios National Park.
- Montserrate: One of the first places I would visit in Bogota is the mountain of Montserrat that can be reached by cable car and gives stunning views of the city. There are several restaurants on the top as well as a church and shrine.
- Andres Carne de Res: For the evening I have heard fun stories about Andres Carne de Res (restaurant) and its atmosphere! It is a restaurant that turns into a fun party so if you are looking to do something fun one evening, make sure to go there!
- Bolivar Square: Located in the center of Bogota and in the middle of its history Bolivar Square can be found with its statue of Simon Bolivar.This square is surrounded by important buildings such as the National Capitol and the Palace of Justice.
- Other sites include: Primatial Cathedral of Bogota, Colombian National Museum, Bogota Botanical Garden.
- San Andres
- This is a Coral island in the Caribbean Sea. After visiting the cities it is important to take a few days off at the beach!
My next stop, just one country further south is Peru and I must say I am a huge fan of Peruvian cuisine. If you are planning to visit you must absolutely try their ceviche and Causa! Causa is made of Potatoes avocado and can include meats such as crab or tuna and the ceviche is a mixture of raw fish marinated in citrus juices with condiments, it is absolutely delicious!
- Plaza Mayor: Also called the Plaza de Armas of Lima it is the center of the city and its birthplace. It is the best place to start discovering the city, as it is also the location of several palaces mentioned below.
- Monastery of San Francisco: the “convent de San Francisco” in Spanish is located just a few minutes walking North from Plaza Mayor and South of the Parque La Muralla. This Monastery’s library is very well known as it possesses many antique text and versions of the first Spanish dictionary as well as an early edition of the Holy Bible.
- Cathedral of Lima: This Roman Catholic Cathedral is located on the Plaza Mayor (really convenient that so many of the things I really want to see are all within walking distance). It is the burial place for several people including Francisco Pizarro, the conquistador of Peru (who was Spanish).
- More sites include; the government palace, archbishops palace of Lima, Museum of Italian art, Municipal Palace of Lima, and for sports fans there is always a stadium (EstadioNacional de Lima)
- Cusco Cathedral: This cathedral located on the Plaza de Armas took about 100 years to be constructed. It is the most important Catholic Church in the city and has been classified a world heritage site.
- Sacred valley: This valley is located near Cusco and Machu Picchu and was the heart of the Incan empire. There are several villages nearby including the village of Pisac known for its artisanal markets.
- There are several other sites I plan to visit including: Saksaywaman, Quirkancha, Moray, Tambomachay and more.
- Machu Picchu: If I am honest the pictures of Machu Picchu brought forth my desire to travel South America. It is an Inca side located further above the Sacred Valley previously mentioned. There are several ways to travel to Machu Picchu including train and hiking. I heard that hiking the Inca trails is really worth it but can be challenging!
- Paracas National Reserve: This national reserve consists of a desert that reaches the coastline and the pictures are simply unbelievable! It is protected land as there have been several archeological discoveries.
After discovering Peru I plan to go to Bolivia and one of the sights I simply cannot wait to visit!
- Salar de Uyuni: This is the second sight I was so inspired by that I decided I simply had to travel! It is the worlds largest Salt Flat and I have never seen something like it. It is located in Southwest Bolivia and is a breeding ground for Pink Flamingos. I have seen pictures of it and it is simply astounding, the salt on the ground acts as a mirror and it looks as though you are walking on air. It is also a source of minerals including sodium and magnesium and it is of course used for its salt.
- Laguna Verde: In English it is called the “Green Lake” and is also located in the South West of Bolivia. It is a salt lake located on the foot of the Volcano Lincancabur. The Lakes color is due to the minerals it contains and can vary depending on the disturbances of sediment in the water.
- La Paz
- Plaza Murillo: this is the central square in the city of La Paz and is located in its old town.
- Valle de la Luna: Located on the outskirts of La Paz this valley made primarily of clay is an important site during one of the national holidays which is the day of the dead (Also celebrated in Mexico). This is a great place to visit for those looking for an adventure and it is said that it can be visited within a few hours either in the morning or in the afternoon.
- Amboro National Park: If you are looking to see more nature then Amboro National Park (located in central Bolivia) is another definite must see. It is the home to many species including the Puma (which I have personally never seen). It is also one of the most famous National Parks when it comes to diversity of Flora due to its location.
- Sucre Cathedral: This cathedral is Roman Catholic and can be found in the capital of Boliva, Sucre.
- More sites in Bolivia include: the Basilica of our Lady of Copacabana, The witches Market, Illimani, Cristo de la Concordia and many more.
I have just started creating the outline of places I would like to visit in South America and there are so many different sights per country and ever per city that I am trying to mention only a few. If you have already travelled to these cities I would appreciate your feedback in the comments below! I am basing my current choices on research and recommendations that I have been given by friends that have already visited those cities.
Stay tuned for the next blog where I will finish describing the last 3 locations of my South America Trip with a pit stop on an island before heading back to Europe!