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Cycling and walking Latin America

If cycle touring turns you on, climbing gets you high or you have the Latin soul, then this website is for you. I build it of the memories and photos gathered during many long travels to Latin America and out of fascination with this unique continent. Since I always travel by bike or crawl up the mountains with an ice-ax in hand, I can promise you a view from a different angle – from the perspective of an unhurried traveler, for whom the road matters more than the destination, to the extent that the voyage itself turns into the journey's aim.

The Atacama in blossom

Have you ever seen a blooming desert? If you haven’t, than quickly hop into a plane to Chile. The Atacama - usually dull and lifeless world’s driest desert – has just turned into the colorful meadow. El desierto florido or the blooming desert is the most spectacular triumph of nature over desolateness, the stunning display of life’s ability to endure the most hostile conditions. The phenomenon only happens every five to eight years. Normally the area receives 5 mm of precipitation per year. Seed in the ground can survive for decades but it needs as much as 30 mm of the rainfall to get back to life, germinate and bloom. This time the phenomenon is a side effect of an unusual weather pattern which brought rains to the arid Chilean coast. One day in March the region unexpectedly received 50 mm of rain. Ten years of accumulation in just 24 hours! What in Europe is jet another storm, in the Atacama turned into a disaster. The Chileans cursed the downpours, which resulted in 28 deaths and 1.5 billion dollars of damage. Now they can admire the flare-up of colours and scents of 220 simultanously blooming species. Pink  patas de guanaco  („guanaco hoofs”), yellow, orange and lilac  añañucas, blue  suspiros  („sighs”), and red inflorescences of  garras de león  („lion’s claws”) create some infinite colorful carpets. Most of the blossoming plants are endemics – you won’t find them anywhere else. And the show will last only for a few weeks, until the new seed is produced, which will then remain in the sand till another unusually rainy season.

desierto florido
Lilac fields of patas de guanaco
Photo: Gerhard Hüdepohl
desierto florido
Suspiros albinos blooming near Copiapó in Chile
Photo: Juan Francisco Bustos
desierto florido
Añañucas amarillas or yellow añañucas
Photo: Gerhard Hüdepohl
desierto florido
Blue and white suspiros, which means "sighs" in Spanish
Photo: AtonChile
desierto florido
Pink añañuca amidst blue and white suspiros
Photo: Gerhard Hüdepohl
desierto florido
Field of patas de Guanaco meaning "guanaco hoofs"
Photo: Sergio Rojas
desierto florido
Garra de leon which means "lion's claw"
Photo: Jean Paul de la Harpe
desierto florido
The desert in blossom
Photo: Gerhard Hüdepohl
Ostatnio lubię...

Maucallacta

Discovering ancient ruins. Not necessarily the oldest ones and definitely not those most famous, which long time ago lost their 'lost' factor. Yucatan's Tikal, Uxmal, Chichen Itza and Peruvian Machu Picchu, no matter how fascinating, were all converted into some sort of archeological Disneylands and money making factories. Day in day out, they see thousands of visitors. But not so far away there are less known, more difficult to reach, or entitely undiscovered places. In southern Mexico and Guatemala you will find dozens of overgrown Mayan ruins. In the Peruvian Andes there are plenty of virtually unknown Inca sites, such as Maucallacta in the Cotahuasi Canion (top picture), recently investigated by the Polish archeologists. To see how Machu Picchu looked like fifty years ago, pay a visit to the citadel of Kuelap in the northern Peruvian region of Chachapoyas, or to the undeveloped Inca site of Choquequirao, berely 50 km from overcrowded Machu Picchu. Few people heard of them, yet fewer bother to vist those marvels - no less spectacular than the continent’s most famous places. There are hundreds of such archeological gems in the Atacama and in the Andes - mysterious traces of precolumbian civilizations, that even the local people don't know the history of (bottom-left picture). And there are more modern sites as well – ruins of Jesuits’ missions, ghost towns in the desert and abandoned silver mines (such as Pulacayo in Bolivia – bottom-right picture). To feel like Indiana Jones, simply close the guidebook, get slightly off the gringo trail, ask the locals and keep your eyes wide open. piedras pulacayo

Come travel with me!

Dreaming of seeing South America? Then pack your backpack and come travel with me! Here are two awesome itineraries - 15 or 20 days in Peru and Bolivia. More of authentic Latin America for less dinero!