Ok, so we know there’s a heap of amazing places to travel to, so why choose to explore Guatemala over all the others?
8. Really cool ruins
If you’ve ever fantasised about being Indiana Jones for a day or just love old, stone things, Guatemala’s ruins will blow you away. The most famous is coastal Tikal, which will impress even the most jaded traveller. Then you’ve got the remarkable ruins of Yaxha, Uaxactan and Quirigua scattered around the country looking fabulous. And if you’re up for a 5-day hike and a bit of roughing it, then El Mirador lies deep within the jungle and is believed to be the cradle of Maya civilisation.
Chances are if you’re travelling to Peru you are thinking of visiting Machu Picchu.
These legendary ruins are certainly worth the hike (quite literally if you embark on the Inca Trail), but you may not be familiar with the wealth of other captivating and crowd-free ruins that are littered across this ancient and impressive landscape.
Now it’s time for David to put his head down and write up his PhD thesis…but not without sending us some more enchanting observations…
Just imagine the Galapagos…with no majestic giant tortoise, no quizzical looking blue footed boobies, no sea lions taking over the park benches on the water front, or no dinosaur-like marine iguanas sun-baking on the rocks.
It’s a scary thought – but if not for one action 50 years ago, that’s how the Galapagos Islands could be now.
Maybe it’s the broadening of existential horizons that comes with seeing how different folk dwell – or perhaps it’s just long beach-bound days perfectly suited to naval-gazing – but overseas travel has a habit of bedevilling the professional ambitions of even the most career-satisfied.
You know the score: one week you’re perfectly content toiling away in the sensibly chosen industry of your sensibly completed qualification, the next you’re in Cuba ruminating that your true calling may be as an antique watch-repairer. And while such whimsical wanderings usually last no longer than the evening’s final mojito, overseas adventurings can on occasion herald vocational redirections of the most drastic variety. Take Charles Darwin for instance.
Why have fountains flowing with water when they could be splashing about in the country’s national drink?
Yes, Peruvians are so passionate about their beloved Pisco that on the first Saturday in February they honour their famous cocktail with Pisco Sour Day. On this day each year the fountain at Plaza Mayor in Lima even pours with thousands of litres of the local brew!
If you can’t make it to this huge Pisco party, there is another chance to celebrate the iconic liqueur on National Pisco Day in July. And if you’re wondering what all the fuss is about, you can join Intrepid’s special Pisco Making Urban Adventure in Cusco to discover why this national drink has a way of bringing locals and travellers together.
Our ‘hairy neck’ in Peru, David Knight, has shared with us many wonderful insights into Peruvian life the past 6 months. But now as his time as Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher is drawing to a close, it’s hard not to wonder if his alternative career ambition is to be a world food writer!
We’ve heard all about spicy aji on the side of soup, the delights of cuy (guinea pig), chicha (corn beer), ceviche, the best quinoa soup around, fresh honeycomb and ‘spider’ punch. Now David shares with us the triumph of the humble tater…
“It took several minutes before I realized that an entire squadron of baby spiders was repelling down from the thatched roof above me and into my cup of hot aba* punch”, relates David Knight, Intrepid’s Community Based Tourism researcher in Peru.
“My research assistant and Spanish-Quechua translator, Nilo, seemed all too amused. Together, we had been invited into the home of a kind local woman to shelter from the hail that had begun to fall in destructive force upon the high Andean town of Amaru, where we’d been conducting research for several weeks. As the tiny spiders descended upon me to escape the fury of the elements, I couldn’t help but laugh with my companion in contemplation of the unique challenges and experiences we’d had thus far in these remote and breathtakingly beautiful highlands.
Real cultures, people and places are what our friends at Matador Network are always wanting to discover. So who better to talk to about the highlights of Buenos Aires than these talented travel journalists who have either lived, or are living, in Argentina’s iconic city…
Tom Gates, Matador Nights:
Arguably the best Japanese food in Buenos Aires is at Comedor Nikkai, which is, not surprisingly, located in the Japanese Cultural Center (Av. Independencia 732, San Telmo).
Sure you can get a buzz on roller coasters, jet boats and hang gliders, but as Intrepid’s Ella Benjamin discovered, sometimes a simple piece of ply board can give you the most thrilling ride of your life…
“Flying face-first down a hundred foot mountain of sand is one of the most exhilarating and adrenaline pumping experiences of my life.
Huacachina, a tiny town in southwest Peru, has increasingly become an attraction for tourists drawn by the sport of sand boarding and taking dune buggy rides. The town is built around a small natural lake in the middle of the desert and is surrounded by enormous sand dunes.