Category Archives: South America

Isla de Baru, Colombia

Crystal blue water, white sand, and Caribbean sun – ours were 2 days of pure vacation on Isla de Baru, off the coast of Cartagena 

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Cartegena, Colombia

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 I’ll start by sharing that it took me half the week to finally start calling this Caribbean city Carta-henna, instead of mispronouncing it as  Carta-henYa.  A UNESCO World Heritage site, Cartagena’s old town is a tourist-friendly spread of colonial Spanish buildings washed in bright colors.  Cafes and shops line the streets, shadowed by balconies and enveloped in sprawling, flowering plants.  The city is a fascinating blend  – somewhere between South American and Caribbean – and the feel and flavor nowhere more wonderful than in the local cuisine.

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Bogota, Colombia

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 When I travelled to Colombia over spring break with friends from Columbia Business School, I couldn’t help but wonder how far Colombia had come from the headline-making situation of the last decade.  What we saw in Bogota was a sophisticated city with a rich culture and historical district, fascinating museums (see the fat Mona Lisa from the Botero house), and some very trendy and upscale neighborhoods and eateries.  Despite grey skies and temperate mountains, the beauty of a city set amongst the mountains, progressive with its clean transportation, and with strong upward momentum was evident all around.

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Arequipa, Peru

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The city of Arequipa itself, Peru’s second most populous city, is a UNESCO heritage site, due to the imposing white Spanish colonial buildings throughout the city.  It is a fun city, with excellent restaurants, but the reason to go to Arequipa is for the landscape  of the surrounding environs.  At nearly 8,000 feet, wedged between the coast and the Andes Mountains, the region is one of the highest altitude deserts, dotted with a series of volcanoes.  It is magnificent.

From Arequipa, we took an overnight trip to Chivay, notably in order to visit the Colca Canyon and watch the flight of the condors.

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Machu Picchu, Peru

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For the who/what/where/when/how, check out   The NY Times Travel – June article on Machu Picchu.

Like the Taj Mahal, Machu Picchu did not disappoint, despite grand expectations.  In addition to the ruins itself, there are a few hiking trails, ranging from  very easy to fairly difficult, each providing a different view of the ruins and the vast mountains range among which the ruins are nestled (these pictures are from the trail to the sun gate).  We decided to forgo the first bus at 4 am, and “slept in” until 6:30 am.  We had taken the train through the sacred valley the night before (as opposed to the multi day Inca trail trek), and weren’t all that keen for a dawn start, but boy was it worth it.  For the first two-three hours of our morning, we had the place all to ourselves.  By about 10 am, the other tourists crowded out the trails like ants at a picnic.

Add this one to the bucket list.

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Cusco, Peru

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Peru was a whirlwind.  Our group spent no more than one night in each place for the week that we travelled.  It was exhausting, but considering Peru’s natural beauty, I am glad we saw so much.

We started in Cusco, the former Inca Capital with a lot of energy and an incredible culinary scene.  From there, we toured the Sacred Valley and the Inca ruins at Pisac and Ollantaytambo, stopping at an alpaca farm to play with the llamas and the Pisac market to buy more layers of wool (it was in the 30s at night!) along the way.

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Buenos Aires, Argentina

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 Despite the rain, the cold, and my tango failure, it wouldn’t take much arm-twisting for me to return to Buenos Aires.  We spent 5 days in this very European city, 2 of which were spent exploring neighborhoods and the macabre Recoleta cemetery (where Evita is buried).

In addition to tango, highlights include the River Plate soccer game (they lost and were demoted – it would be like the Red Sox being kicked out of the Major League), Argentine wine tasting, and spending a day at our classmate’s family’s ranch outside of the city.

Photos credits: CG, MC

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