From the pounding surf of Rio de Janeiro to the driest desert on the planet, crossing South America is an incredible experience which packs in more natural wonders than anywhere else on the planet. In just seven days you can feel the spray from the world’s largest waterfall, walk through multicolored mountains and gawp at high altitude lakes en route through three incredible countries.
However figuring out a route across this diverse nation wasn’t easy. With a limited transport network and a surprising lack of information online, it took hours of trawling online forums, poring over maps and baffling bus timetables to work out the best way to travel from East to West.
So to save you going through the same headache, we’ve shared our seven day travel itinerary for crossing South America via some of the most spectacular and diverse landscapes on the planet.
From deserted beaches and bustling cities to historic temples and lush green jungle, South East Asia has it all and then some. We spent two months travelling around this fascinating region. Here are our South East Asian highlights in pictures.
I’m standing on the edge of Rio de Janeiro’s famous Pedra Bonita getting ready to jump. Perfect crescents of white sandy beach meet twinkling blue ocean 500 metres below but the city’s beauty is the last thing on my mind as I’m focussing on the single 7-word instruction given during the world’s shortest safety briefing: “Just run as fast as you can”.
So I do…….despite every instinct in my body telling me not to, I run as fast as I can towards the edge of the cliff until the edge disappears and I’m jerked upwards, screaming and thinking about how I’m too young to die. The world spins, a blur of colour and nausea but then…….I’m flying! We whoop and spin skywards, thankful to be alive. The flourescent fabric balloons over our heads as we drift over colourful favelas trickling down lush hillsides beneath Christ’s outstretched arms. The city has never looked so beautiful.
We slide open the camper door and step barefoot onto dewy grass. It’s early but the sun is already slicing through the tree canopy, mottling the ground beneath us in light and shadow. We pick our way carefully along the overgrown path to the empty riverbank. Steam rises from the water and hangs in white fluffy clouds, illuminated in the hazy morning light. It looks like a witches cauldron. Eagerly we step into the warm water, comforting in the crisp morning air. As we settle in, neck deep, beside a small sun dappled waterfall a solitary tramp emerges from the steam, towel and soap in hand and offers a friendly wave before disappearing into the trees. This is the weirdest and most magical bath time I’ve ever experienced!
Back in England, if someone had asked me to sleep in a campervan for three weeks and bathe in the river with a tramp I’d have laughed in their face! But this is New Zealand where the rivers are geothermal hot pools rich in healing minerals, tramps are as nice as pie and campervans are the way to travel! What other mode of transport allows you to slip out of your bed and straight into a hot spring in the wilderness?
It’s a sheer 1000 ft drop on either side to the canyon floor. One wrong move and it’s game over. Even the condors don’t venture this high but swoop gracefully below, distracting us from the task at hand. On either side the valley stretches into the distance, it’s rich red craggy walls splashed with white like a giant has kicked over the paint tin. Far below us the Virgin River, so tiny from up here, curls like a discarded blue ribbon, dropped and forgotten in the grass. It’s a miracle that anyone keeps their footing on this path with such breathtaking scenery!
We’re walking the Angels Landing Trail in Zion National Park, one of the USA’s most beautiful national parks, and the south western corner of America is positively brimming with them! Within a few hundred miles you can travel to world wonders, quirky towns and iconic landscapes. You can start your morning horse riding on a ranch in the Grand Canyon, run like Forest Gump through Monument Valley in the afternoon and watch sunset through one of 2000 natural sandstone arches in Arches National Park.
There are dozens of national parks scattered across southwest USA, all completely unique from one another and packed full of adventure potential.