South America – Wrap Report

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So back in the PR world whenever I finished a campaign or project for a client I’d have to put together a report summarising our activities and the outcomes, so I thought it only fitting that I do something similar for my South American adventure. So here it goes:

In three months I travelled through five countries, stayed in 29 different towns/cities, slept in 12 hotels, 17 hostels, one jungle lodge, one mountain lodge, one salt hotel, a desert shack, a beach shack, camped for three nights and took seven overnight buses.

So, what were the highlights I hear you ask? Well, I’ve narrowed it down to my five favourite experiences:

1. Inca Trail/Machu Picchu, Peru – Completing this four day trek and finally arriving at the wondrous place that is Machu Pacchu has to be the absolute highlight of my trip. The trek was really hard but, as I’ve said before, I enjoyed every minute of it and walking into the lost city filled me with such happiness at the thought of fulfilling a life long dream.


2. Horse riding in the Cochamo Valley, Chile – anyone who knows me knows that I love horses and that I love riding, so being able to go trail riding in the Chilean mountains was something I really wanted to do while I was travelling. This 2-day ride was like nothing I’ve ever done before. The trail was incredible; forest, rivers, and mountains and the horses were amazing; sturdy, strong and courageous. I was absolutely blown away by the spectacular scenery and once again loved every minute of the experience.


3. The World’s Most Dangerous Road, Bolivia – My mum actually forbid me from doing this before I left on my trip but I knew that if I didn’t do it I’d really regret it. The 64 km downhill bike ride on what is considered the most dangerous road in the world was absolutely exhilarating. It was so much fun that I had a smile on my face for the whole ride and the scenery was spectacular; waterfalls, forest and of course the huge cliffs that drop away from the side of the road.


4. Bike riding in the vineyards of Mendoza, Argentina – I’m not much of a bike rider so it’s kind of funny to see that two bike rides made it to my top five list, but this one also included one of my favorite things in the world; wine. This was just one of those days where you have so much fun that the next day you wake up and think, ‘wow, that was perfect!’ Combine delicious wine, riding a bike on a glorious day through gorgeous vineyards with the spectacular Andes in the background, and fabulous company and you have one stellar day.


5. Rio de Janeiro, – Rounding out the top 5 is the coolest city I’ve ever been to. I loved everything about Rio; the amazing sights such as Christ the Redeeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, the stunning beaches, the crazy nightlife and most of all just the fantastic vibe the city has. I’m so glad Rio was the last place I visited because it was the perfect ending to the most amazing trip.

So there you go, five places/experiences that absolutely blew me away. It’s good to see that there is one for each country because I loved all the countries I visited, they were all so different and I was lucky enough to have incredible, unique experiences every place I went.

Of course, one of things that really made this trip what it was is all the amazing people I met along the way. I was lucky to have a group of fantastic people in my tour group in Peru and then once I was by myself I was able to meet some great people to hang out, party and travel with. Thanks to all those people who I met, you made this trip the greatest thing I’ve done in my life!

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Horse Riding in the Cochamo Valley

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This continent just continues to amaze me! I thought I’d seen some of the most spectacular places in the world, but yet again South America has shown me that it is a land made of jaw- dropping scenery that you could never get sick of.

The Cochamo Valley in northern Patagonia was one of those places that stopped me in my tracks and had me shaking my head in disbelief at just how beautiful this part of the world is.

After a 2-hour bus ride from Puerto Varas we arrived in the town of Cochamo where the riverside lodge of Campo Adventura is located. It was here that we would begin our 5-hour ride into the mountains. After being kitted out in wet weather gear, we met our guide Kurt, who owns Campo Adventura, and our Chilean ponies.

Then our group of seven horses and riders was off. The ride started out nice and easy on the flat, following the river, but soon we started to head into the thick of the forest and up into the mountains. I’ve been trail-riding before but this was something entirely different. The track wound through the most beautiful green forest, with the aqua-marine waters of the river visible through the trees and over a number of smaller creeks running down from the hills.

I know it sounds lovely but it was a tough trail. The path is over a hundred years old and in some parts has been cut in so deep that the ground rises above the horse on either side and is so narrow your knees often scrape against the rocky walls. And the mud! I’ve never seen mud so deep or so thick! But the horses took it in their stride and traipsed through even though at times it was up past their knees.

The horses were incredible! They could take a hair-pin turn while stepping down two feet from one slippery rock to another even slipperier rock. In places they needed to walk across mossy wooden poles that had been put along the track because the mud was too thick. They crossed freezing cold, fast-running rivers that came up to their bellies. And they did it without any fuss, like absolute troopers. Incredible I tell you! I have always loved horse but these ponies gave me a new found respect for just how intelligent these creatures can be.

So after 5 hours of absolutely grueling, but incredible trail riding we arrived in La Junta Valley where the Campo Adventura mountainside lodge is located. As we rode out of the forest and into the open fields if the valley I was amazed by the astounding beauty of the area. On every side the valley is surrounded by enormous snow-capped mountains made of granite that are so dark in colour that they have a metallic shine – it was like nothing I’ve ever seen before.

The lodge was a gorgeous little wooden building with a warm kitchen and cosy beds. The trail we took is the only way to get there so everything has either been brought up on horseback (or by mule) or on foot (including the huge slow combustion oven) and it also means there is no electricity. What an incredible place to live. We were well looked after by the locals Tatiana and Horacio who cooked us a delicious dinner of salted pork and vegetables.

In the evening and also the next morning Kurt took us for a walk around the property where we saw beautiful waterfalls, got to take a ride on a cable car across a raging river and at one point had to make a river crossing in bare feet through water which two hours ago was snow on the mountain tops (brrrr).

I couldn’t believe that one place could be so beautiful – lush green rainforests, spectacular waterfalls and awe-inspiring mountains – what more could you ask for!

Riding back down was once again an amazing experience and I still couldn’t believe the things these horses could do.

Thanks so much to Kurt, Cochelo, our local guide, whose horsemanship was incredible to see, Tatiana and Horacio for allowing me to have this once-in-a-lifetime experience and see a place so beautiful I know I will never forget it.

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