An Overlander recently advised us, “If you make one plan, you will end up with two plans, because plans always change”.
We have realized that with Overlander travel, schedules don’t work. The van needs maintenance, the road is closed, documents take days to renew instead of the expected hour or so. And then there is another place just down the road that locals tell us we have to see. Our original plan put us in Peru in February. It’s now mid March and we are still in Colombia. Continue reading “Colombia: Quindio the Coffee Region”
A major tourist destination, Cusco is chock full of museums, old architecture, and traditional customs. It is also the starting point for tours to amazing treks and many Inca ruins. Over the week, we had first-ever experiences like dealing with altitude sickness, holding a baby llama, eating alpaca steak, and waking up at 4 AM to the heart pumping sensation of an earthquake.
We spent a little over a week at Al Bosque camp, near the tiny village of Santa Elena. Situated in the mountains just east of Medellin, the whole area seems to be carved out of the forest, a wandering paved road connecting trimmed yards, small restaurants, and public parks. Tall cedar and pine hug the roadways, with striking orange Black Eyed Susan vine climbing everywhere, over hedges and fences. Continue reading “Medellín, Colombia”
On route 25, it is 640 kilometres from Cartagena to the city of Medellin, but it is not an easy drive. In that distance the altitude rises from 100 feet in Cartagena to over 8500 feet before it drops down to Medellin. The road was decently paved with only random holes or bumps to avoid. Having had the fuel pump replaced the van seemed re energized. It was not long though before we experienced car troubles again. Continue reading “Cartagena to Medellin; driving through Colombia”
We had anticipated a grungy port city, enduring long days waiting for the van to arrive. But Cartagena turned out to be a joy to visit almost from the time we arrived. I say almost because there was that moment at the airport. Going through customs, we were surprised to see a short line just for Canadians. Wow! We skipped up to the window with the red maple leaf sticker. How nice to get special service. Our smiles quickly faded when we learned that incoming Canadians are slapped with a reciprocity fee of $80 US each. Continue reading “Cartagena, Colombia”
The 30,000 km Panamerican highway that we have been following stops dead at Yaviza, Panama. It begins again at Turbo, Colombia, leaving a roadless gap for 100 kilometres. Known as the Darién Gap, this land is home to three indigenous tribes, the Kuna, the Emberà, and the Wounaan. It also hides drug smugglers, illegal migrants on their way north, and enough paramilitary rebels to leave you shaking in your boots. There have been plans to continue the road but all efforts have failed.A few travellers do manage to get through using jungle trails, wooden river lanchas, and even a short hop on an 8 seater plane. Continue reading “Panama City, El Papa, and the Darién”
We had anticipated an organized border crossing into Panama for two reasons. It borders Costa Rica, and it has had a lot of American influence. But our optimism was misplaced. We stamped out of Costa Rica, bought car insurance for Panama, and went through Migración easily enough. The final stop was the Aduana for the car importation. Continue reading “Panama and Los Dos Amigos”
As soon as we entered Costa Rica we noticed a huge difference from travelling in Nicaragua. We passed lush forest on clean wide highways, with no cows or horse carts on the roadway. Affluence was apparent in the numerous large billboard advertisements for hotels, tours, restaurants or businesses. In the first hour we saw a 3-foot iguana cross the road in front of us, and passed signs for 4 of the country’s 27 national parks. Continue reading “Costa Rica – Pura Vida”
The thermometer registered 95 degrees as we entered Nicaragua, and that heat followed us right through the country.Short fat trees squatted over very dry pastureland. We could see mountain ridges in the distance but here the land was flat, and the highway wide with smooth pavement and good signage. Bob felt relief from the constant curves and hills of Honduras and Guatemala. Continue reading “Heating up in Nicaragua”
We fully intended on entering Nicaragua at Los Manos, but our entry was denied. The trouble began when we tried to cancel our Honduran vehicle permit. The woman at the Aduana refused to cancel it. She insisted I walk into Nicaragua, and return with a permit before she would process our vehicle paperwork. This is not normal procedure. But then, nothing here is ever normal. Continue reading “Detour in Honduras”