Places We’ve Missed
We’ve had the amazing chance to cross a large number of sights and destinations off our travel bucket list over the last four months. Rather than shrinking, however, that bucket list has only grown. For every place you visit while traveling, you’ll hear of three more that you just have to see. Plans have a tendency to laugh in your face as they change themselves, so even places that you were fully intending to visit can slip through the cracks. Every place we’ve visited so far has left us with a list of things we need to come back to do or see; here’s just a few.
Ciudad Perdida Trek, Colombia
Similar to Machu Picchu, the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) is an archaeological site located deep in the wilderness of South America. Rather than the mountains of Machu Picchu, however, this site is found deep in the jungles of Colombia, and was only rediscovered in 1972 (hence its name). Reaching it requires a five-day hike through the jungle, which you can do with the near-daily tours that leave from Santa Marta.
Located on the outskirts of Medellín, Guatapé is a picturesque lakeside town with a boardwalk, boat tours and viewpoints. You can take a tour to Pablo Escobar’s former mansion, zipline across the lake, or climb up its most famous landmark, El Peñon de Guatapé, a huge rock formation with zig-zagging steps up its side that gives a great view of the town and surrounding landscape.
Located near Quito, Ecuador, Cotopaxi is one of the highest active volcanoes in the world. You can take a day tour from Quito to view the volcano, or a longer tour to actually climb up near the mouth. Though only a few kilometers from the equator, it is capped with snow due to its altitude, so hiking can get pretty chilly!
Somehow we managed to miss the Amazon rainforest altogether; I blame our penchant for beaches. There are numerous treks and excursions you can do on the eastern sides of Peru and Ecuador. We’re already planning a trip back to South America, and the Amazon is near the top of our “next time” list.
Laguna 69, Peru
Located just outside of Huaraz (which we also missed), Laguna 69 is, by all accounts, a stunning lake situated in the Huarascaran National Park. You can reach it after a short two hour trek from the nearby campsites, allowing you to visit it in a single day if desired or spend more time exploring the region.
Stargazing, San Pedro de Atacama, Chile
We actually did go to San Pedro this time around, but we happened to be there right at the full moon. While that was pretty cool (we went on a nighttime trek through their famous Moon Valley), the full moon unfortunately blocks out a majority of the stars due to its brightness. The town is famous for having some of the clearest skies in the world, making it a go-to destination for stargazing. There are nightly tours with guides that will point out planets and constellations, including some that are only ever visible in the southern hemisphere.
I think anywhere we go, we’ll come away with more things on our “next time” list than our “done” list, which I honestly don’t mind at all. The travel bug never really goes away, and visiting a place is a much better way to get an idea of what to see than the internet could ever be. Talking to locals and other travelers, you constantly hear different opinions on the must-see attractions and destinations of the region. I don’t know when our next trip to South America will be, but I do know that there will be one, and that we’ll have plenty to do when we get back!