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Leisa in Latin America

a travel writer's diary

La Paz – Bolivia

La Paz is often referred to as the highest capital city in the world. It is high alright, at 3,640 metres. But, it’s technically not the capital of Bolivia. Sucre is the actual capital, and La Paz is the administrative... Continue Reading →

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Isla del Sol – Bolivia

Isla del Sol (Island of the Sun) is on Lake Titicaca. It is a special place where the Incas believed the sun god was born. We took a small boat there from Copacabana, which left us at the dock in... Continue Reading →

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Copacabana – Bolivia

Lake Titicaca is a name that I’d heard of prior to this trip and not forgotten too easily. I didn’t actually know very much about it – especially just how large it was – until I started researching. It is... Continue Reading →

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Border Crossing Peru to Bolivia – What Happens if You’ve Overstayed?

We spent one night on the Peruvian side of Lake Titicaca in a town called Puno. We had replaced the historic centre of Cusco for a small lake-side city with a rural feel. I saw pigs and sheep being grazed... Continue Reading →

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6 Tips for Visiting Machu Picchu – Without Booking Early

Visiting Machu Picchu (or choosing not to visit) comes with a lot of ‘bucket list’ pressure. After all, it is considered one of the Seven Wonders of the world. As we worked our way south in Peru, it became apparent... Continue Reading →

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Cusco & Sacred Valley – Peru

Cusco was yet another high-altitude city which offered warm winter days with crisp, blue skies, but very cold evenings and early mornings. Unsure of how I’d like this well-trodden tourist town, I was pleasantly surprised by how much there was... Continue Reading →

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Arequipa & Colca Canyon – Peru

We arrived at the crack of dawn in ‘The White City’, so called for its volcanic rock architecture as well as its popularity among Spanish colonialists. It was cold there at 5am, so we were lucky to be shown to... Continue Reading →

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Huacachina – Peru

Huacachina is a resort town built around a natural desert oasis, just outside the city of Ica, Peru. Most visitors only spend one day, or night, here to partake in dune buggying and sand boarding. We decided to book two... Continue Reading →

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Paracas & Ballestas Islands – Peru

After three weeks in the ‘Lima Gris’ (Lima grey) we were so ready to hit the road again. We’d decided to be lazy with our planning and book a Peru Hop ticket all the way from Lima to La Paz,... Continue Reading →

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Lima – Peru

There’s a certain excitement that bubbles away inside me when we’ve reached another capital city. Part of this is because it signals civilisation and modern comforts that you can’t find everywhere else. The other part is because of the size;... Continue Reading →

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Huaraz & Santa Cruz Trek – Peru

After over a month by the beach, we swapped the sand and surf for snow-capped mountains and lakes. Huaraz, at over 3000 metres high, is the gateway town for hiking the numerous peaks of the Cordillera Blanca mountain range. The... Continue Reading →

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Huanchaco & Chicama – Peru

Huanchaco is a coastal village in the north of Peru, near the city of Trujillo. It is famed for its surf culture and indigenous reed kayaks, caballitos, that are still made here today. I'd speak to a local surfboard designer... Continue Reading →

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Mancora – Peru

Our border crossing to Peru was less than fun. We crossed by day on a bus from Guayaquil (Ecuador) directly to Mancora. When we arrived at the immigration checkpoint, their entry system for Peru was down. It stayed down for... Continue Reading →

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Puerto Lopez & Isla de la Plata – Ecuador

We were keen to visit Isla de la Plata, which translates to the Island of Silver. Despite its interesting pirate history and legends of hidden bounty, it is known as Ecuador’s ‘Poor Man’s Galapagos’. It is given this name for... Continue Reading →

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Montañita – Ecuador

Montañita is known as the party destination of Ecuador’s south coast. It’s a 2.5-hour drive from the major city of Guayaquil, which makes it a popular weekend holiday spot for locals from November to April. Although there are plenty of... Continue Reading →

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Baños – Ecuador

I think a lot of travellers, like me, have a chuckle that a town could name itself after the word for toilet (it doesn’t actually mean toilet, it’s a little more civilised, like wash room). Once you realise this, the... Continue Reading →

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Quilotoa – Ecuador

Lago Quilotoa is a 3km-wide crater lake that formed inside a collapsed volcano, almost 4000 metres above sea level. Many keen hikers venture here from small villages in the surrounds that make up the Quilotoa Loop, a 3 to 5-day... Continue Reading →

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Latacunga – Ecuador

Latacunga is an Ecuadorian town that most travellers will pass through, either on their way to Cotopaxi or before beginning the Quilotoa Loop trek. It has a sizeable bus terminal servicing these destinations, and beyond. We stayed here for 3... Continue Reading →

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Cotopaxi – Ecuador

I was inspired by the views of Cotopaxi volcano from Quito, and I wanted to get a closer look. We found out that a hostel in Quito, called Secret Garden, has a sister hostel right near the Cotopaxi National Park.... Continue Reading →

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Quito – Ecuador

We opted to fly directly from Bogota in Colombia to Quito, the capital of Ecuador. At our time of travel there were road blocks happening between Cali and Popayan, in Colombia’s southwest, and we’d heard bad stories of bus journeys... Continue Reading →

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Bogota – Colombia

As we made our way around Colombia, several people told us that Bogota was not really a city worth visiting. From these conversations we were expecting a big, potentially dirty, capital city, with some important national galleries and monuments. We... Continue Reading →

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Salento – Colombia

Salento has exploded as a place to visit in Colombia, due to its highly instagrammable Cocora Valley trail. The main attraction is this valley of sky-high Quindio wax palms that seem out of place in this Andean rural setting, alongside... Continue Reading →

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Filandia – Colombia

Filandia was the first town we visited in Colombia’s famous coffee zone, in the department on Quindio. It’s a small rural town surrounded by farmlands and coffee crops, which are intersected by nature reserves with thick vegetation and waterfalls. The... Continue Reading →

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Manizales – Colombia

Manizales is not at the top of the tourist radar in Colombia, but it slotted nicely into our journey from Medellin to the rural zona cafetera (coffee growing zone). Manizales is the capital city of the department of Caldas and... Continue Reading →

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Medellin – Colombia

Driving down the valley into the city of Medellin is an experience I won’t forget. A lot of you will be familiar with this vista from the Netflix program, Narcos. I want to preface this post by saying that there... Continue Reading →

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Palomino – Colombia

As we ventured further east along the Caribbean coast we found a tranquil little spot called Palomino. It is a basic enclave with dirt roads and little infrastructure, dissected by multiple rivers flowing from the heights of the snow-capped Sierra... Continue Reading →

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Minca – Colombia

Minca is a very small town in the Sierra Nevada mountain range, covered in coffee plantations and dotted with waterfalls. It’s about a 40-minute drive from Santa Marta, which we intended to do by bus, however a taxi driver offered... Continue Reading →

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Santa Marta & Rodadero – Colombia

We took a shuttle bus from Cartagena to Santa Marta, which took around 4 hours of driving, however we stopped in Baranquilla – the home of Aguila beer and Shakira – for about an hour to wait for more passengers.... Continue Reading →

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Cartagena – Colombia

We decided to fly into Colombia on the Caribbean coast, and the first place on our list was Cartagena. This historic port city's old town was founded in the 16th century, and its main fortress and walls can still be... Continue Reading →

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Antigua – Guatemala

Antigua is the ex-capital of Guatemala. Its UNESCO World Heritage status is apparent when you see its many historic buildings, of which many were once monasteries.  I also noticed the abundance of churches and their ruins that had succumbed to... Continue Reading →

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Lake Atitlan – Guatemala

We arrived in Lake Atitlan just after dark on New Year’s Eve. Not really having our bearings, we dropped our things at our Airbnb and negotiated the narrow streets of San Pedro La Laguna to the tourist centre. We didn’t... Continue Reading →

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Quetzaltenango (Xela) – Guatemala

We crossed the border from San Cristobal de las Casas in Chiapas, Mexico into Xela, Guatemala via a pre-booked shuttle bus. The bus was mostly filled with hippies from Europe who were heading to a town near Lake Atitlan for... Continue Reading →

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San Cristobal de las Casas – Mexico

I was looking forward to returning to San Cristobal, as it was my favourite city on my previous trip to Mexico. I think the artisanal feel of the place is prevalent, and it’s just a nice size city to explore... Continue Reading →

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Puerto Escondido & Mazunte – Mexico

Our 7 hour van ride from Oaxaca City to Puerto Escondido turned into almost 9.5 hours. It’s a windy road through the mountains, with what seemed like a million speed bumps in every small village, some of which were in... Continue Reading →

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Oaxaca – Mexico

We arrived in Oaxaca city after taking the full-day bus ride from Puebla. A really friendly young American couple, with a dog called Archie, greeted us at Hostal Pochon, and we could tell immediately that this place had a nice... Continue Reading →

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Puebla City & Cholula – Mexico

We took a coach from Mexico City to Puebla, and the scenery was just beautiful in some stretches. It was Lucas’ first time seeing hills covered in cacti, which is so foreign to us, and reminds me of wild west... Continue Reading →

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Mexico City & Teotihuacan – Mexico

We were relieved by the fresh air blowing through the taxi window, though It was tinged with a mix of fuel, sewage and street corn. Our skin was finally relieved of the air conditioning that 30 hours in transit had... Continue Reading →

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