Latin America has the potential to re-charge your batteries and sweep you away on a carpet of natural sites and eye-popping scenes unlike any other in the world, I’ve spent some amazing times in places like Ecuador and Peru and it draws me back time and time again…it’s certainly a heaps more exciting place to explore than the more famous backpacking trail in Asia.
Travelling inspires an appreciation for diversity and life, as Latin America beats its own drum and betrays a singular, sensuous rhythm; for want of a better description, it can only be categorised as the collective heart-beat of this very dynamic and colourful part of the world.
While a salsa siesta and street festival may tickle your fancy (and why not? The experience is absolutely not to be missed) and there’s also a heap of unique attractions – like Bolivias San Pedros Prison Tours – spare a thought and a couple of days for the glories of the natural world or the mesmerising juxtaposition of civilisation – ancient or modern – and geographical location. Need an idea of where to start? Don’t worry, we have you covered.
Lago de Atitlán
The deepest lake in Latin America, Atitlan flooded a vast and cavernous caldera, formed over 80,000 years ago by an earth-shaking eruption; framed by three towering volcanoes, it’s beauty and imposition steal your words and breath away. The area is a thriving centre of villages and Mayan traditionalism, but the real action is beneath the surface, as divers and local fisherman have discovered many pre-classical buildings and historic infrastructure, some clearly defined and easily dated after pottery shards were retrieved.
An assuming and stately island shaped like an hour-glass, Ometepe is a curious anonmly rising from the depths of Lake Nicaragua. Though at first glance, Ometepe may look like two mountains getting warm and snuggly with each other, these peaks are anything but fuzzy. Two volcanoes connected by a stretched isthmus, Ometepe is a lush, fertile island but one with a price if any pyroclastic surge should arise. The Northwest volcano is named Conceopcion and she is certainly very active; after a long sleep, she started to wake up in 2005, fracturing roads and forcing the local government to advise an evacuation. Nothing happened until 2010, when things became decidedly heated. Maderas is dormant (some say extinct), providing rich soils for rainforest vegetation and plot cultivation. Ometepe is an important site in the Central American narrative.
You may have heard of the Amazon and dreamed about its eccentric and eclectic mix of animals, serpents, amphibians, crawlies and beautiful plants, but we’ll let you in on a little secret. Cruising the Amazon won’t always be what you wish it to be – the animals hide and avoid the sound of boats and people, and the canals sweat muggy claustrophobia. If you’re chasing an Animalia experience, the sloped basin of Pantanal houses 1000 bird speces, 400 types of fish, 480 scaly reptiles and 300 mammals, plus the innumerable invertebrates, including the intelligent and playful giant river otter and the awesome giant ant eater. Looking for a little big cat action? The Pantanal supports one of the largest and sustainable populations of Jaguar globally.
Only one question remains…
What are you waiting for?
The beauty and hospitality of Latin America awaits. Go check out some sites like www.myadventurestore.com.au or stir up your favourite search engine – You won’t regret it.