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Four months of South America in photos

Sarah Duff Machu Picchu

The second part of this year-long around-the-world trip (after a three-month stint in the USA), was South America, a continent I had never visited. It had always seemed so far from South Africa, so I felt like a normal-length two-week trip would never cut it. I saved up South America for a time when I had months to see as much as possible.

In four months, I travelled the length (and some of the breadth, minus Brazil) of this amazing continent, learning Spanish and tango in Buenos Aires, trekking the spectacular peaks and glaciers of Argentinian and Chilean Patagonia, getting soaked under the spray of Iguazu Falls, hiking the otherworldly landscape of Chile’s Atacama Desert, where I stood under huge steaming geysers and floated in salt lagoons, 4x4ing through the desert of Bolivia’s altiplano and seeing the sun rise over the world’s largest salt flat, bird watching and piranha fishing in the Bolivian Amazon, exploring Machu Picchu,  snorkelling with sea lions and communing with marine iguanas in the natural Disneyworld Galapagos Islands, walking through mists in the beautiful cloud forest of Mashpi on mainland Ecuador, trekking for four tough days through the Colombian jungle to reach the ancient ruins of the Lost City and learning to dive on tiny Providencia Island.

It was one adventure after another – a wild, wonderful journey that I will never forget.

These are my favourite places in photos.

Iguazu Falls, Argentina-1Las Torres hike in Torres del Paine National ParkPerito Moreno glacier trekking, El Calafate, PatagoniaMoon Valley, Atacama Desert, ChileLlama and Licancabur VolcanoEl Tatio Geyser field, Atacama Desert, ChileSalar de Uyuni, BoliviaLaguna Blanca, BoliviaLlama, BoliviaMadidi National Park, BoliviaSarah Duff Machu PicchuView from Wayna PicchuSarah Duff Machu PicchuSarah Duff Galapagos Islands-11Sarah Duff Galapagos Islands-1Mashpi Lodge, EcuadorHiking at Mashpi Lodge, EcuadorColombia's Lost City or Ciudad PerdidaProvidencia Island, Colombia

 

 

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Machu Picchu in photos

Sarah Duff Machu Picchu

Photos of famous sights can be misleading. The Pyramids of Giza look like they’re in the middle of the desert, surrounded by empty horizons of sand, while they’re actually on the edge of the dirty, chaotic city, a Pizza Hut and KFC just across the road. Stonehenge looks like it’s in an English bucolic paradise, but it’s right next to the highway. You expect to be impressed with the Mona Lisa, one of the world’s most famous artworks, but you don’t realise that the painting comes with a jostling crowd of tourists.

Machu Picchu, on the other hand, is more spectacular than photos can ever portray. The ruins themselves are beautiful, but what is more astounding is their setting. Surrounded by an amphitheatre of steep, forested peaks dipping dramatically down hundreds of metres to gushing rivers below, Machu Picchu is spread out on lush grassy terraces (which are kept neat by resident llamas). In the mornings, thick swathes of clouds envelop the site, covering everything for a few minutes, before sweeping away. While no one knows exactly what Machu Picchu was, it’s easy to see why the Incas chose this place to build it.

View from Wayna Picchu Hiking Wayna Picchu Sarah Duff Machu Picchu Sarah Duff Machu Picchu Sarah Duff Machu Picchu Sarah Duff Machu Picchu

 

 

 

 

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