If you are around for a while you know I’m the kind of backpacker who will try my best to go everywhere by myself: find out how locals get there and try to do the same, usually spend way less money and is more fun. But I have to agree that if you don’t have much time in your vacation you better go on a tour to certain places… And sometimes you don’t have a choice, you have to book a tour to visit that place.
This is a list of places you cannot miss while traveling South America. We were on a budget and still managed to pay for some tours and we aren’t a tad regreating. You know what? I’d do it all over again!
Are you a fan of extreme sports? Do you love nature? Do you want to have an unforgetable adventure? Then you gotta take this tour! It can be scary cycling 4700 metres above sea level in a rocky pavement with holes. But hey! It’s trully fun, safe and amazing. If I was living in La Paz
and had spare money
I’d go for this activity every single weekend. You can read more about my experience here.
It’s hard to beat italian coffee but colombian coffee is simply the best of the best! We wanted to meet some farmers who had coffee plantations to show us around but we found something cooler in Salento (Zona Cafetera aka Coffee Area), a Coffee Tour! This is a great opportunity to understand the process from a coffee bean in the soil until is ready in your morning coffee cup. I enjoyed especially the interaction of this tour since they asked us to get a basket and pick some red (means they are ready to collect) coffee beans from the plants and then you had to put them in a small machine like Bruno is doing in the pic above. In the end, we tried two different qualities of coffee: the low quality we find in supermarket for a cheap price and the high quality coffee, more expensive but so delicious. You could see easily the differences by color and smell. We paid 3€ and walked one hour to get in the farm, but you can go by taxi.
Picture in your mind a desert. Now picture a desert with salt instead of sand. That’s Uyuni. This salt flats are the largest in the World! You can’t find a bus to get there, you gotta book a tour which sucks because is overpriced in my opinion. For a day you pay around 30€ and 3 days (including night stay in a salt hotel and watch pink pelicans in the wildlife) is more then 100€. Basically is a touristic spot but you can’t miss this surreal and uncommon natural place. [I wonder if you are interested in a full post about Uyuni? By the way, the first image of this blog post is also in Uyuni]
Amazon is considerated the heart of our planet and it’s so huge that you can find it in nine different countries: Brazil (60%), Colombia, Peru, Ecuador, Venezuela, Bolivia, Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana. If you come to South America you simply can’t miss it. I was lucky enough to spend my anniversary here! From Baños you can go to Puyo which is the beggining of Amazon but I don’t recommend it because is too close to towns and mostly of the tours were a day trip full of activities instead of learning and exploring the forest. Didn’t sound right. So we decided to take a bus from Baños to Tena and from Tena to Misahualli where we stayed for 4 days. It’s a small village in Amazon ready to receive tourists so don’t worry you will find 5 or 6 travel agencies there. My suggestion is to go to all and see which one fits in your interests and budget.
Our tour was a full day with snacks and lunch (sandwiches) included, a local guide who knew a lot about amazon trees, plants and natural medicine and a boat ride. We started at 8am and walked 6 hours in a dense forest with tall trees and found only one black animal we didn’t manage to discover what was. The boat ride was about an hour and it was peaceful and enjoyable, I couldn’t believe how small we are in Amazon. If you want to spend several days in Amazon of Ecuador go to Coca. It’s far away but you’ll find more animals and have a more authentic experience. I heard Peru’s Amazon wasn’t a big deal and Bolivia’s is hard to reach. Amazon is nature and nature is ours so it’s free of usage, so why do I need to book a tour? Because you don’t want to get lost in Amazon! There are many paths you can choose from, wild animals + bugs and no food. It’s hard to survive Amazon if you never lived there. We paid 100 dollars for the 3 of us, so 33 dollars each – worth each cent.