Bogota is the capital of Colombia and one of the largest cities in Latin America. The city’s cultural center is the cobblestone historic downtown La Candelabra. Most of Bogota’s attractions are in this area such as Plaza de Bolivar, the Gold Museum, and the Botero Museum. Monserrat Hill is also frequented by visitors for its panoramic views of the city.
Zipaquira is a town about 50km from Bogota and is a place of pilgrimage in Colombia. The town is made famous by its the Zipaquira Salt Cathedral, which is an underground church built within the tunnels of the salt mine 200 meters underground. Many years before the main cathedral was built, the miners have already carved numerous sanctuaries and prayed for protection everyday before starting work.
Salento is a sleepy town in the northeast of Colombia. The peaceful town becomes filled with tourists on weekends and holidays, using it as a base to visit the nearby Valle de Cocora, as well as the coffee plantations in the region.
There are two seasons at the Amazon River in Peru: high water season from December to May and low water season from June to November. Even though we went during the low water season, there was still some rain. The main difference in visiting during the different seasons is the ability to access the jungle trails that get flooded during the high water season. But having said that, you can get closer to the animals by boat and see the rainforest at its lushest during the high water season.
Moray, about 50km northeast of Cusco, is an ancient agricultural research center made of several enormous circular terraces. I thought this was one of the more interesting Inca sites I visited. The location and design of this place creates a temperature difference of 15 degrees Celsius between the lowest and highest terrace.
Machu Picchu in Peru has always been on my bucket list. Since the Inca had no written language, there is no record of why this complex was ever built. It may forever remain a mystery as to why such efforts were made to build a city that could only support a few thousand people especially when the Inca did not have metal or wheels some 500 years ago. As the Spanish Conquest progressed, it was widely believed that the indigenous people were continuously driven to higher altitudes (difficult for their enemies to acclimatize) or into the Amazon (also difficult for their enemies to navigate and adjust to the high humidity).
We based ourselves in Cusco, the historic capital of the Inca Empire in southeastern Peru, in order to explore the nearby Sacred Valley of the Incas as well as Machu Picchu. Cusco is at an elevation of around 3,400m. Flying directly in from Lima which is at sea level doesn’t allow for the body to slowly acclimatize.