The last leg of my journey, Ecuador! This relatively compact country in South America has a lot to offer. Although I didn’t start of that well, it eventually turned out to be very promising and enjoyable.
Peru and Ecuador are the last two countries I covered in South America. When I entered Peru, I had almost 40 days to cover both countries. This is pretty quick considering the size, sights and activities it has to offer. With the time almost equally divided between Peru and Ecuador, I knew Peru would be the most exhausting part. But in the end, seeing these natural and man-made wonders, it was more than worth it.
Eduardo Galeano had described its fate very well in his book ‘Open veins of Latin America’: “The city which has given most to the world has the least”. It is a perfect example of European greed, the start of capitalism and all the consequences that came after. While reading this book, I felt like I became more aware of the whole situation Latin America is struggling with. Afterwards, I felt determined to see this place with my own eyes. Although, as I came closer, I wasn’t sure about its kind of tourism and if I was even physically able to visit it. I’m talking about Potosí, or better, Cerro Rico. The mountain filled with rich minerals towering behind this former prosperous city.
Bolivia is perhaps the most unfortunate country in South America. After it became independent in 1809, neighboring countries took over half of its territory. Present day Bolivia is struggling with high poverty rates and is considered one of the poorest countries in South America. Besides these struggles, Bolivia has now one of the fastest economic growth rates in the region and economic inequality is getting less. This is partly thanks to the first indigenous president Evo Morales. Politics aside, this country has one of the most iconic landscapes you can find in South America. And being one of the cheapest countries to visit as well, it is great for travelling on a budget.
Once arrived in Chile, I thought I wouldnt stay here for this long. I calculated on maximum a week, as I planned only to see San Pedro de Atacama. From Mendoza I would make my way up in Argentina and cross the border via Salta. Thing is, I went from Mendoza to Valparaíso and my stay in Chile turned out to be a little more than a month.
Valle de la Luna, probably the most surreal and beautiful landscape I’ve ever seen. It was a rough ride cycling there by bike. But cycling through the driest desert in the world and watching the most beautiful sunset gave me an experience I will never forget. Here are some of the pictures I took on that day:
If you look at the map, Chile is the long narrow country at end of the world. This neoliberal state is geographically unique, with a total length of 4300 km and a maximal width of 340 km. From the driest (non-polar) desert in the north to one of the biggest glaciers in the south, almost all climate zones can be found here. This country is not only interesting nature-wise, but it also has a controversial recent history which still causes heated political debates among its people.
The home of mate, great beaches, asados (barbecues), Luis Suárez and a liberal lifestyle. Those are the first words that come to mind when describing Uruguay. This country is often overlooked as a destination by tourists with Argentina and Brazil as its neighbors. To be honest, it also seemed quite unknown to me, but it definitely surprised me in a positive way as I strolled along the coastline.
Uruguay, the second smallest country in South America. Locked between the two large countries of Argentina and Brazil. Although its size is 2,5 times bigger than Holland, it has only a population of about 3,5 million. Due to being politically stable and having some social reforms over the last few years, Uruguay now enjoys a high standard of living.