‘January was the month for dreaming’ – Jean Hershey (modified)
January is my chill month…I don’t rush to meet the deadlines I think I should have for my blog and this includes sharing my travel round-up of 2019. My ‘New Year’ has always started after my birthday (Jan 16th, if you would like to gift me with ‘something, something’ next year) so technically I’m in week 3 of 2020. I like to reflect on past travels as it helps me shape how I want my 2020 of travels to look like. At the end of 2018 and being all consumed with finishing my studies, I knew I wanted to immerse myself in #slowtravel and take my time in a country and whilst in South Africa, I decided I would take an extended trip of FOUR months around Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia.
Overall 2019, was a year of firsts and repeats! I threw myself into so many firsts on my South American adventure – solo hiking, watching sunsets with strangers (who later became friends), slow salsa dancing until the early morning hours and so many more wonderful moments. I also repeated visiting two European cities and exploring old stomping grounds.
So let’s dive into what my 2019 was like, starting always with home…
Walton on the Naze, Essex
My job sometimes takes me to places that I would never naturally visit and after work, I took a chilly February walk along the beach admiring the beach huts valued at just under £20, 000.
Hever Castle & Gardens, Kent
Childhood home to Anne Boleyn, I love that I still got to sneak a UK Castle into 2019, learn some history and of course run around the Yew Maze like the kidult I am!
Hitchin Lavender Fields, Hertfordshire
This whole place was a thing of absolute pleasurable beauty, smells & sun and I topped off the day with lavender flavoured ice cream.
Kingsgate Bay, Kent
This was my favourite day in the UK. It was so sunny I felt I was abroad, it was a day trip of the beach, sea dips, seafood and volleyball.
Peak District, Derbyshire
I headed up north on a microadventure of hiking and rock climbing with the British Mountaineering Council on an Outdoor Weekend for BAME adventurers.
Work took me again to explore another part of the UK with night time walks along the marina of this waterfront town.
My first international trip of the year saw me take off to celebrate my birthday in the birthplace of Alfred Nobel, the gentleman who founded the Nobel Prizes. This was my second time visiting and it was just as cold as the first time but so enjoyable!
Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Third time in the ‘Dam and my ‘bleisure’ trip had me being very specific on what I planned to do – I finally got to visit the Anne Frank Museum!
I won a competition to attend the first Women in Travel Summit to be held in Europe. It was amazing to explore this city in conjunction with Magnetic Latvia and with my travel tribe.
My Four-Month Trip around Ecuador, Peru & Bolivia
This was a trip of a lifetime and being back in the UK makes this time seem like a dream that happened to someone else. I explain here my reasons for going but boy the lessons I have learnt from this trip have been so so worth it! I got to explore an area I have so longed to see and tick off 4 Wanderlist dreams of the Amazon, the Galapagos, Machu Picchu and the Salar de Uyuni. I will forever smile every time a memory of this trip pops into my head.
Quito has my heart and I will forever big it up after living here for a month.
The Amazon, Ecuador
Let me share this – I have loved the Amazon since I was a kid even before seeing it. I wanted to reserve it for Brazil but I’m glad my Danish brother talked me into seeing the Ecuadorian Amazon. Despite the mosquitoes, the creatures, the sweatiness, etc I would do it all over again!
Baños de Agua Santa, Ecuador
If you are looking for adventure sports then Baños is it! Despite arriving here in a grump and I left pumped for action!
What a landscape! I took what was deemed one of the most ‘dangerous’ train journeys in the world around ‘The Devil’s Nose.’
Considered the ‘commercial’ capital of Ecuador I really enjoyed learning about the history here and my walks along the Malecon 2000 as the sun set.
The Galapagos, Ecuador
To visit here was a dream and was paradise all in one – I had not planned to visit but decided to blow a hole in my budget and get myself here.
A surfer city – this place had me dancing in a sand filled club ’til 4am in the morning and considering to get a tattoo – it chilled me out no end visiting here.
I marvelled at the beautiful cathedral at night and that really was the extent of my enjoyment here. That and giving life advice to 20 year old kid over pizza and talking with a Venezuelan guy listening to soft acoustic music.
This is why it is so important to talk with other travellers; if so I would have missed out on this beauty. By far one of the most beautiful sights I have seen in my life – I wanted to stay longer but alas I feared I would not leave.
Another surfer spot but not with the vibe of Montañita, I spent my time in my thoughts, walking, eating and taking in the ancient ruins of La Huaca del Sol.
Ahh this place was one of resting, beauty and hiking. I really enjoyed my time and could easily have stayed longer having made friends with all the staff at my hostel.
I could have wandered this city at night for eternity. I loved capturing its beauty at night time.
Aguas Caliente, Peru
This place was a shock to my senses after spending much of my time with nature for the 4 days before arriving into here; before the last hurrah to Machu Picchu. It was not my cup of tea and I’m glad I did not have long to spend here. The views on the train back to Cusco were stunning.
Machu Picchu, Peru
I made it here!!! And it is such a sight to behold.
Not much to this place which is a gateway to exploring Lake Titicaca but I spent time watching kids practice their dance routines for an upcoming festival.
Uros Floating Islands in Lake Titicaca, Peru
Learning about the islands and how, and what they are made from was fascinating.
Islands of Amantaní & Taquile on Lake Titicaca, Peru
I stayed with a family on Amantaní island and got to learn about the culture and traditions on the islands.
I liked the chilled vibe of Arequipa and when I was visiting the Feast of Corpus Christi celebrations were taking place.
To think these lines were created centuries and centuries ago creating amazing images to view from the sky.
The location of my infamous sandboarding accident in the oasis desert of Peru
Two things I loved out here, the food and the street art scene.
Watched the sunset over Lake Titicaca after hiking up Cerro Calvario and it was so worth it as you can see!
Isla del Sol, Bolivia
My time on this island was WONDERFUL, watching the sunrise from my bed and walks of solitude. I would have loved to have spent longer on here but I didn’t have enough money to on me to do so.
La Paz, Bolivia
My favourite moments in this crazy city was taking myself to a club solo to dance the night to Saya, Afro-Bolivian music and taking cable cars all over this city.
Coroico & Tocaña, Bolivia
My journey to Tocaña via Coroico was not an easy one but it was certainly one of beauty. I took this option instead of biking ‘Death Road’ and despite having to hitchhike there it was important to me to visit the Afro-Bolivian community.
The most beautiful city I visited in Bolivia, I checked myself into a hotel here and just chilled.
For a place I spent only a short time here, it was a place of interest to me as I discuss here and here.
This city is sadly so underdeveloped and lacks investment but Salar de Uyuni is a place of brilliance. I know I will return to visit and next time with friends.
And there you have it my 2019 travels can be described with one word GLORIOUS! I will never forget it. I do wonder what this year will bring me.
The Five to Nine Traveller