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Jacada Photo Journal: South America

My trip of a lifetime to South America
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In 2014, Roy and Sarah took a trip of a lifetime to South America. They visited six countries across this vibrant region, spending ten weeks taking in striking landscapes, stunning vistas and a plethora of local wildlife. Roy planned the entire trip with our Hong Kong travel designer, Jobi Chan, and kept each element as a surprise for Sarah, ensuring an unforgettable experience for the adventurous couple who were searching for off-the-beaten-track highlights. Roy reminisces with Jacada Travel about his trip which started in Ecuador and then proceeded to Peru, Bolivia, Chile, Argentina and Brazil.

Their trip started with cruising in the Galapagos Islands, a region renowned for its vast range of wildlife, which visitors can get up close to, such as giant tortoises, lively birdlife and inquisitive sea lions. “We were up at 5am, and heard all the seabirds in a frenzy, circling and diving into the water. It was an amazing moment we shall never forget, especially with Tortuga Island in the background too”.

Next up was Peru, home to the vast, luscious Amazon and the ancient Inca Trail hike: “From our campsite on day one of the Inca Trail, we took in such amazing rugged views. After this moment in the hills, we knew that our experience on the Inca Trail would be an amazing one! The afternoon before the final descent into Machu Picchu, our guide brought us to Winay Wayna late that afternoon on the Inca Trail only to find absolutely no one there. It was completely empty and we couldn’t figure out why there was no one there at such an underestimated Incan site. We took the moment to savour and soak up the amazing landscape, the silence and rainbows in the distance. Hiking up Huayna Pichu was a slog, but the views were totally worth it. We went around a path to find our little space to enjoy the landscape without anyone around.”

The couple was next bound for Bolivia to explore the country’s incredible and surreal natural salt flats: “We had so much fun getting creative in Uyuni! A clear reflection of our marriage. In Uyuni, everyone comes to experience the salt plains and its sunsets. But we decided to explore the quiet surroundings a little more and I guess we were lucky enough to witness a rare storm raining in the distance.”

Argentina was the next hotspot for the couple. The immense country boasts Patagonia’s majestic glaciers and soaring mountains. The adventurous pair enjoyed hiking in Argentina: “Here we are conquering the Cerro Torres trail! Unbelievably lucky with the weather”. They also experienced the iconic Perito Moreno glacier: “For a brief moment when there was sun, we took off most of our cold gear to enjoy the lake within a glacier at Perito Moreno”.

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Chile offers an incredible diversity of dramatic landscapes, from wineries and deserts to glaciers and Easter Island. The couple trekked in the Atacama: “We decided to explore the lesser-known Rio Grande trek instead of doing all the popular excursions in the Atacama. 16kms of truly raw and magnificent scenery!” After that they visited Cejar Lagoon: “I was truly able to float in Cejar Lagoon and seemingly defy the laws of physics! A truly buoyant moment for me!”

They then went to Easter Island, one of the most intriguing and isolated locations on earth, to see the iconic and mystical moai statues. There are over 900 of these giant stone statues on the island which were built in honour of past chieftains and elders, and were placed on stone platforms called ahu. “We specifically avoided the tourist timings and went to Tongariki in the afternoon when everyone was having dinner. As expected, there was no one there and we could explore all on our own! A powerful moment for us!”

The W Trek in Patagonia provided plenty of memorable experiences too. “We had an unbelievable moment when the French Valley was singing to us for about 30 minutes… it was an orchestra of howling, singing, crackling of the ice, small landslides, quite a bit of movement in the valley. It was incredible how alive the valley was. It felt like it was putting on a show just for us”. After completing the amazing W Trek in Patagonia, sore and tired, we witnessed this stunning natural formation called a supercell as it was hovering above Torres del Paine for only a brief moment. It was an incredible experience to be able to see this on a boat on Lake Pehoe, as this supercell made Torres look very small indeed!”

Next up was a rare sighting: “An unbelievable part of the land. Our guide took us to the unknown and private land called Sierra Baguales. Here there was a unique ”Valley of the Shark Teeth” where an ancient forest had dried up only to leave shark teeth scattered everywhere. This is because the enamel of the shark teeth is the only thing that could survive 20,000 years”.

“Our first morning in our favourite hotel of all time – Awasi! Roaming horses everywhere immersed in the landscape. A truly breathtaking moment with Torres in full view!”

“Site of the proposal: It was late in the afternoon in Patagonia and we had hiked up the back of the hilltop ‘to search for a rare species of fox’ (thanks to a set-up by our wonderful guide JP) and just to soak up all the views. Thankfully she said ”YES”…. However, I secretly knew that with this stunning landscape we were witnessing, it would have been hard not to”.

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