The Joys Of Traveling To A New Place With No Expectations

Filed Under: Travel

Hello from Cartagena, Colombia!


We all have places we’re super excited about visiting, and places we’re not so excited about visiting. There’s largely no rhyme or reason to it.

Perhaps it’s based on a lack of knowledge about the place. Perhaps it’s based on not having had friends visit. Perhaps it’s based on preconceived notions based on incorrect information.

Whatever the reasons are, I think it’s something we all face when plotting out our next travel destinations.

In the past, South America as a continent hasn’t interested me as much as Asia, Europe, etc. While I can’t put my finger on exactly why, I have a few possible explanations/theories:

  • My perception is that many cities in South America aren’t safe. I realize I’m painting with a broad brush here, but I remember being in Sao Paulo, and the hotel concierge telling me it’s not safe to walk outside the hotel at night. That’s the first time I’ve stayed anywhere with a hotel concierge who was so direct. Sao Paulo isn’t representative of the whole continent, but it did stick with me.
  • It’s the continent I’ve heard fewest firsthand reports from. I haven’t had that many friends say “oh my gosh, you absolutely have to go to [insert city in South America].”
  • There aren’t many good first & business class products and chain hotels in South America. I realize that’s a terrible reason not to travel to a place in general, but keep in mind my job is reviewing airlines and (mostly) chain hotels. It’s how I make a living, so my “ideal” trip is visiting a new destination and being able to review some interesting airlines and hotels in the process.

Well, Ford and I are in Colombia for the week. We flew here on American thanks to their great business class fares, which are especially lucrative before American’s frequent flyer program goes revenue based in the second half of the year. We’re spending a few days in Cartagena, and then flying to Bogota for a few days.


Ford was actually the one who encouraged us to take this trip, as several of his friends have been, and raved about it.

I don’t think I’ve ever arrived at a destination with as little preparation as here. I’ve done an insane amount of travel the past couple of weeks, so haven’t had any spare time to research and plan.

When we arrived in Cartagena I had no clue what to expect. No clue whatsoever.

Well, having now been on the ground for 16 hours, I can’t even begin to say how much I love Cartagena so far. It’s incredible.

The people are extremely friendly. The food is delicious. The city is gorgeous. And everything is cheap.


The city has an amazing vibe. We had some great gin & tonics last night at a bar, then went to the most highly recommended restaurant in the city, which had lively music (though perhaps the best entertainment was the table of nuns next to us, who were quite enjoying their wine!). We each had two gin & tonics, an appetizer, and a main course, and the bill came to ~$75 (which is still really expensive by local standards).


There are virtually no American tourists (our tour guide this morning said we were the first Americans she has had in a long time), and everything seems very safe.

There’s no denying that there’s an impression in the US that Colombia is unsafe. When I told a friend I’m headed to Colombia, he said “don’t get killed.” I think that’s a perception a lot of people have. There are parts of Colombia which are less safe, and it was also less safe a decade or two ago. But that seems to be changing.


Bottom line

I’m loving Colombia so far, and Cartagena is quickly ranking on the list of my favorite cities. Best of all, it’s not all that far from the US, yet remains a place most Americans wouldn’t consider visiting. That’s probably because no one told them they must go. Well, that’s what I’m here to do — if you can visit Cartagena, absolutely do! At least that’s my impression a day into this trip.

As I reflect on my short time here so far, I think part of what I love so much is that I had no expectations going in. My approach was basically “the fare was great and we might as well visit, so worst case scenario we can check it off our list of places to see.” But instead I’ve found what I can only call an incredible hidden gem which I can’t recommend highly enough.

Conversely, there are cities which are beautiful, but over-hyped, to the point that they’re a let down when you actually do visit. Prague is one of those cities for me. It’s beautiful, but can it really exceed your expectations when dozens of people have told you it’s the most beautiful city out there prior to your visit?

  1. Hmm, same could be said about Egypt lol. So much stigma about being unsafe which is untrue and the place is beautiful. Very cheap too. Paying $75 for a dinner for two here (even with drinks) is outrageous. Definitely less than $50.

  2. I have a couple of friends who are also there right now. One is visiting her family and another is visiting some friends of his. I think of all the places in S. America, Colombia would be near the top of my list. I’ve ready quite a few good things about it. Another one of my friends was there last year and he loved it. He posted lots of beautiful photos.

  3. Actually Cartagena has always been considered safe and for as long as I can remember been a major cruise line destination, though most Americans who spend one day in the Old City regretfully don’t return so as to further explore and enjoy the city.

  4. Bogota is one of the best places I’ve ever been to. Enjoy it. Go up to the Monserrate via cable car. I also did the salt mine cathedral outside of Bogota. I never felt unsafe.

  5. I just left Cartagena today, after spending 3 extensive weeks here. Go to the ‘Havana Club’ and eat at ‘Cafe Lunatico’, Ben! The city has so much to offer (except maybe beaches)!

  6. americans have no right to call any other country unsafe when just going about your day here can get you shot and killed.

    enjoy colombia. i had a great time there and can’t wait to go back.

  7. Well, let me be the first to say you must see the rest of South America! (And I speak as someone who had her bag snatched 10 minutes outside the walls of Cartagena.) There is something unmissable to see in practically every country.

    Highlights: Galapagos Islands, Cotopaxi (Ecuador), Salar de Uyuni (Bolivia), Machu Picchu (Peru), Atacama Desert, Easter Island, Torres del Paine (Chile), Perito Moreno, Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego (Argentina), Iguassu Falls, Amazon (Brazil). Paraguay and Uruguay are more low key but have highlights nonetheless (e.g. Itaipu Dam).

    Kia, Atlas & Boots

  8. I’d welcome you to come visit me in Venezuela, but due to the crazy policies of Mr. President here, including clpsing the Colombian fronteir, on second thought, that might be impracticable. Like, you’d have to come in by driving through a river (ie skipping passport control). So on second thoughts, maybe not 🙂

  9. It isn’t Colombia, but I had a similar experience in Ecuador 10 years ago. No expectations and was just blown away by everything. Even food poisoning and getting stung by a jellyfish didn’t keep me from enjoying the trip.

  10. The latest US State Department report on Columbia starts out on a sunny note:

    “Tens of thousands of U.S. citizens safely visit Colombia each year for tourism, business, university studies, and volunteer work. Security in Colombia has improved significantly in recent years, including in tourist and business travel destinations such as Bogota, Cartagena, Barranquilla, Medellin, and Cali.”

    Then takes it all back again:

    “However, violence linked to narco-trafficking continues to affect some rural and urban areas.

    The Department of State strongly encourages U.S. citizens to exercise caution and remain vigilant as terrorist and criminal activities remain a threat throughout the country. Explosions occur throughout Colombia on a regular basis, including in Bogota. Small towns and rural areas of Colombia can be extremely dangerous due to the presence of terrorists and criminal elements, including armed gangs (referred to as “BACRIM” in Spanish), that are active throughout much of the country. Violence associated with the BACRIM has spilled over into many of Colombia’s major cities. These groups are heavily involved in the drug trade, extortion, kidnapping, and robbery.

    …kidnapping remains a threat. Terrorist groups and other criminal organizations continue to kidnap and hold civilians, including foreigners, for ransom. No one is immune from kidnapping on the basis of occupation, nationality, or other factors.”

    So other than explosions taking place “regularly”, even in major cities, and the ever present danger of being kidnapped, no worries….

  11. I’ve been to South (and Central) America many, many times and have never had a problem in terms of safety. There’s no more lovely setting for a city than Rio, in my opinion – not SF, not Cape Town, not Sydney. Sao Paolo is so vibrant and full of life. I stayed at the IC there and had no issues walking around even at night (granted, it was during the World Cup and there was more security throughout the city). San Pedro de Atacama, Chile is beautiful and full of adventure, think Queenstown, NZ in the desert. Argentina and Uruguay offer great food (especially steaks) and wine at rock bottom prices. Wonderful Hyatts in BA and Mendoza to boot (and also in Rio, SP, Santiago along with many other chain hotels in many other cities). The Ecuadorian tourist train from Quito to Guayaquil is one of the most enjoyable and eye-opening trips I’ve ever taken. There’s a beach to suit every desire in Florianopolis, Brazil. Go, keep your eyes open and you’ll enjoy yourself immensely.

  12. Allen, I live right in the middle of the danger zone. With some precautions, you should be fine. Bring plenty of repellant (and sunscreen) 🙂

  13. Lucky,

    Great you enjoy Colombia so far! Cartagena is definitly an amazing place! I am actually German and have been living in Bogota for almost 1,5 years now. Let me know if you need any advice. There is also a lot to explore in and around Colombia’s capital…


  14. Places that I encourage people to visit in Latin America, Mexico City, Cartagena, Medellin and Bogota Colombia, Buenos Aires Argentina, Quito, Cuenca and Guayaquil Ecuador, Sao Paulo and Rio Brazil, yes you can get into trouble in these cities just like you can in NY, Miami or LA, just have to be smart

  15. Hunter is right if you make it to Bogota at all. I went to Bogota for just a day last year with a friend and the atmosphere and food there was incredible. Looking forward to trying DL’s new route down to CTG soon.

  16. @me – have you left the ’90s? The kidnapping epidemic that ravaged Colombia in the 1980s and 1990s is largely over, and hasn’t been a threat for a long time.
    I’ve been going to Colombia for the better part of 6 years and love it. i thought Cartagena was beautiful but preferred the area around Santa Marta and Taganga – simply better beaches.
    I second the recommendation to go to Andres Carnes de Res restaurant. Sensational. Go to the one in Chia if you can – the original. The one in Bogota is good, but the original in Chia is the best.
    The rest of South America is simply sensational. Peru is definitely the best place to go (and that’s hard to say). Lima has what many say is the best food scenes of any city anywhere. So much good and creative food there – highly recommended. Then Cuzco for history and machu Pichu. Plus Arequipa and then Colca canyon – so much to see!! Chile is more understated. I’d recommend going all the way down and going to torres del paine park. Valparaiso along the coast is simply stunning for its architecture and for the food and views over the coast. Finally, Argentina – it’s amazing. Buenos aires is one of the most walkable cities, with the best nightlife and food. Iguazu falls is stunning. Finally, Brazil still is great- I never tire of spending time on Ipanema beach in Rio or of going out in Sao Paulo. Vibrant and full of life.
    No offense, but who do you know? People have been telling me for years about all the wonderful places in South America, and that’s where I’ve spent a good amount of time. This should be where you spend a lot of time. Best value, best food, and nicest places.

  17. It’s so funny how different people’s perspectives are. South America is my favorite continent for what it’s worth (I haven’t been to Africa and Antarctica yet though), and every time I’ve gone I felt PERFECTLY safe, even walking around alone as a female who (to my embarrassment) doesn’t speak a word of Spanish. I LOVE the food (and in case of Peru, pisco sour!!!), the fact that things are much cleaner and more civilized vs some parts of Asia (at last from my experience), and I find the people and the culture totally fascinating. Highly recommend Peru, Ecuador (especially the Galapagos) and (although it’s Central America) Costa Rica (I always say it’s my dream to retire to Costa Rica… another thought: how many Costa Ricans have you met in the US? In my case, NONE – the reason is who the hell would want to move away from that paradise? On the other hand, there are loads of expats there). I only spent one night in Colombia (Bogota) on a long layover, but really liked what I saw and hopefully will make it back one day. Next on my (and I think should be on everyone’s 🙂 list for South America: Chile/Argentina – Patagonia trip, Easter Island and Bolivia).

    It is ironic that your feelings/preconceived notions about South America are similar to how I feel about Europe – I’ve only been to a handful of countries there (will add 2 to my list by the end of this summer) and don’t have much desire to ever go. I am Eastern European myself, but spent most of my life in the US, and just don’t find Europe exotic enough I guess…

  18. @jason

    Go do some homework pal.

    I didn’t say anything about Brazil–travel there all the time.

    Columbia is NOT a safe place.

    For a milky white skin boy like Lucky not a safe place.

    Have fun on the trip.

  19. Great timing! Not sure if you watch the Amazing Race but on Friday’a show, they were in Cartagena, Colombia! I hope you guys visited the mud volcano!
    We went there back in 2011 and had a blast. Enjoy!

  20. No American tourists?? Really?? Cartagena has been VERY popular destination amongst New Yorkers over the past few years. JetBlue offering near daily non-stop flights from JFK has made it quite an easy and affordable trip. #1 on my to-do list right now and am hoping to do so in June.

    For another trip I think Panama City is also wonderful. Surprisingly cosmopolitan with a lot of wonderful attractions nearby. Lots of affordable chain hotels for you to review. The Hard Rock is one of the most fun hotels i’ve ever stayed at.

  21. I recommend you visit Santiago, Chile, and Buenos Aires, Argentina. In both places they have lots of chain hotels. We stayed at the Hyatt Place in Santiago and the Park Hyatt in Buenos Aires. There are also lots of Marriotts and Club Carlson properties in both cities. We enjoyed the sightseeing in both places, and never felt unsafe, although we were told not to wear jewelry in Buenos Aires. Also try Ushuaia, Argentina. It is a nice little town, and the embarkation point for cruises to Antarctica, which is an astoundingly beautiful place.

  22. Risk is all dependent on what you do and where you go. @ Pavel that is a huge generalization of America. You are not likely to walk down Michicagn Avenue in Chicago or Fifth Avenue in New York and get shot or kidnapped. Murders in the US, it is much more common to be gang related or where the victim knows the suspect, despite what the media may make you think. So for an American Colombia still does have some danger. But a lot less danger than the 90s where it would not be advisable to go unless you had to. As long as you take the appropriate precautions there is nothing to worry about. As usual it seems that people here are either saying you have nothing to worry about at all or lucky will find himself in a Taken kind of situation. But truth is the country is way way better than the 90s and 80s. Being polite to the locals which I am sure lucky is will always go a long way. It’s a safe country but as always there can be some risks. I mean think about it, it is obviously safe enough for American Airlines to have their pilots spend the night in Bogota. But as long as your not stumbling around at 2 am drunk in Bogota being a loud mouth American or flaunting money everywhere I am sure Lucky will be okay.

  23. During the late 1970’s I made several trips to Colombia, visiting Bogota, the Caribbean island of San Andres, and my favorite South American city: Cartagena. My hotel of choice was the Plaza Bolivar, right on the plaza of the same name in the heart of the colonial old town. An inexpensive, but completely charming little place, the rooms, the bar, and the simple plaza-facing restaurant reminded me of a period movie set; white stucco walls, cool-to-the-feet Saltillo tile floors, jalousies at every window to filter the light, slowly turning ceiling fans, potted palms in every corner. And gracious and caring staff. I’ve been to scores of expensive, high-end hotels around the world, but few of them have stayed in my memory like the Plaza Bolivar.

  24. It is truly puzzling why Americans are so narrow minded (harsh but perhaps true) that they totally ignore travel opportunities to South America, maybe with the exception of Brazil, which has some of the most dangerous cities on the continent. Delta and American fly business and first class to South America. Many European, Asian and Middle East airlines fly nice products there too. And, of course, there are very nice hotels including US chains there.

    I just came back from Bogota (I agree with Jeff regarding Montserrate) and am in Panama City right now. Lima, Santiago and Buenos Aires are other very cosmopolitan cities that I can vouch for. South America and Central America are relatively inexpensive and in some countries you can even use your US currency. Plus even though total distance travelled can be great, there is little to no jet lag because there is no significant, if any, time change. I’m unaware of any South American country, with the exception of Brazil and Venezuela, that require visas for US tourists or that you cannot get on arrival. More Americans should go.

    I agree with Jeff regarding Montserrate. The views are incredible. Also in Bogota go to the Botero Museum and the Museo del Oro. One drawback to South America, in my experience, is that outside of cities and tourist attractions, English is not widely spoken. More Americans should go.

  25. Lucky so glad you’re enjoying Colombia!

    Not sure if you’re heading to Bogota on this trip but I’d recommend the Street Art Tour and the Gold Museum as well as restaurant Rafael. In Cartagena I’d recommend Carmen restaurant which we liked and taking a walk around Getsemani. Fyi, there are a lots of International hotels opening in Colombia we just stayed at the Four Season’s Casa Medina and they’re opening a mother hotel in Bogota soon. There’s a relatively new W in Bogota and Marriot has an Autograph hotel where we stayed too, Artisan DC.

    I agree that Cartagena is very popular with Americans, not sure what the guide was saying. Luckily when we were there it wasn’t a weekend and there were no cruise ships in town.

    “Me” posted above “Columbia is NOT a safe place” -not sure I agree, things are changing for the better and fast. Perhaps you haven’t heard of the peace process that’s currently in the news?!! We are just back from three weeks in Colombia and found it safe, but you do need to pay attention to where people say you should and shouldn’t go, like NYC in the 1970s.

    Lots more about Colombia including hiking in the south on my blog. I haven’t got around to Medellin and Cartagena yet! Hope you and Ford enjoy the rest of your trip. Good to see you doing more than just getting on and off a plane!

  26. I lived in São Paulo for 11 years and never had any trouble at all. Unless you were staying in the centro, I have no idea why the hotel concierge would tell you not to talk around at night. Avenida Paulista never sleeps!

  27. I always roll my eyes and give a snort of disgust when someone ‘advises’ me against going to a destination for safety reasons. For decades I have been told that I’m going to be kidnapped or gun-downed or blown-up. I just could not believe all the stupid questions I got when acquaintances found out that I was going to Paris in April: “Are you not afraid of terrorists?” I’m frankly more concerned with being bothered by latent xenophobes and their obnoxiously ignorant fears.

    @Abdel Rahmin Abdallah

    I empathize with you. Cairo is a magnificent city; it’s a city I love and miss. Egypt is one of the glorious places on earth and I am sicken when I hear people claim that it is so unsafe.

    On a happier note, I will be so excited to read of Ben’s impressions of Bogota. It is a city I have long wanted to visit. I am a sucker for vibrant urban art scenes and a painter friend of mine just lights up with excitement whenever Bogota is mentioned.

  28. Given that there’s no Hyatt there, I’m surprized you find the place.

    You’re fortunate, the Colombian Peso has dropped in half since 2015.

  29. Agree 100% with previous posts, of all the countries i have visited, many in S America and Africa, the USA is the one i have felt least safe in!
    Too many people with guns in the US,

  30. I’m quite surprised your tour guide said she hasn’t seen many American tourists. Cartagena has been a popular cruise ship port for many years. In fact, at least back in 2012, you would have been well advised to avoid being there when the ships were in town because it could get so crowded. But regardless, congrats on making an excellent choice for your vacation. Cartagena was fantastic, even though we were there on a ship and didn’t have much time.

  31. @me
    I’ve lived in Colombia and an just as “milky white” as lucky. No problems Furthermore I have several friends who live there currently working for the state department as foreign service officers, families in tow, loving life and enjoying living in Colombia As long as you’re in bogota /Cartagena/ Medellin / Tayrona park etc and not in isolated jungles near the Ecuadorean border you’re fine. Get updated on the current situation before spouting outrageously outdated information on a public forum.

  32. @ John I found Lima and Santiago to not be all that exciting. I had a rough experience in Santiago where things could have done sideways fast. Buenos Aires though is one of my favorite cities in the world which is saying a lot. The food was amazing and the city was beautiful.

    This article is interesting, because I do have a strong interest in visiting Colombia.

  33. Hi Lucky,
    I’m curious and enjoying how much comments this post generated. Not to long ago I recall that you got some snotty comments and snapped at for focusing to much on the plane and hotels. At the time I thought, “well, it is what he does, if you want a travel log, subscribe to another blog”, but I guess the reactions generated by this post confirm that readers are a little interested in how you experience and view the cities you travel to and through. Congrats.

  34. @ Pavel you clearly have no idea about the US. Most of the US is extremely safe. The dangerous spots tend to be certain areas of large cities. Those highly dangerous parts of US cities are not even areas that any tourist would ever have a reason to visit. I have lived in NYC for over 20 years and the media blows stuff out of proportion.

  35. Cartagena is amazing! I’ve been there three times and I recommend it to all of my friends. It is closer to NYC than California too!

  36. A refreshing post – enjoy your trip! Colombia is a beautiful country with lots to offer for all types of tourists. Cartagena and Bogota are both beautiful; Bogota is a jewel of a city – a very happening place and a must for the gastro-tourist. Nestled in between the mountains, the city is beautiful and the climate is always cool, making it one of my fab cities. It is a rapidly changing cultural capital and definitely a place for mingling with the beautiful locals and eating one’s way through. Three must-eat places in Bogota imo if you have the time: Matiz, Tabula and Nazca in no particular order.

  37. I guess for rolling stone that’s a good deal. For us non rock stars that’s expensive. Try some street food. Relate.

  38. The country has made a remarkable recovery from the black days of 10-25 years ago. A thriving tourism sector will give another dimension to the economy. It will take a while before people see the value and potential (safe) enjoyment in a trip to Colombia …but it will happen, IMHO.
    Enjoy the coffe but no pics of cappuccinos, please.

  39. I also agree with @Susan. a job is a terrible reason for not visiting a place. If you must, there are chains in all the big cities but the best hotels are often not the chains, especially in the nature areas. That said, you’ll find Sheratons throughout South America if you must.
    regarding @Paolo, Colombia is definitely discovered by Europeans and Australians, and other South Americans. it’s teeming with people from those areas. just not with Americans – and that’s sad. Vibrant, energetic and full of life. That said, Peru, Argentina and Brazil remain my favorite places in South America.

  40. Ive visited some 80 countries and when i visited Cargatena 2 years ago I got robbed, my bag was snatched from my back while walking. So I lost some $2k in cash, all my CCs, passport, $1000 money order and some vanillas. Had to wait a week to get a replacement passport from the US Consulate in the capital. It is as dangerous as they say it is you have just been lucky

  41. I like Cartagena, a lot. However, that is because I pretty much stay within the walls of the old city, where you have (at least in the past) the army, national and local police and local business owes to protect you.

    Colombia in general is still ranked within the top countries with the most violent crime. Chicago, Detroit and New Orleans aside, the USA is far safer than anywhere in Central and South America. The Caribbean, Central and South America has overtaken sub-Saharan Africa for murder violent crime.

    Clearly, Colombia has cleaned up its act considerably over the past 15 years but don’t kid yourself that all the violent crime is drug gang related. Be careful and enjoy.

  42. I can also relate to the relative safeness. While I have never been to Cartagena I was robbed in Cali. It was not much, only some $300 and my wallet with credit cards as well as the green card, and a copy of my passport. I also had to go to the embassy and had them write up a letter saying that I was a green card holder that can travel to the US. Took 20 mins and $150. Also they drained my debit card and while I was able to get it all back it took me nearly 2 months to get my $4k stolen. All in all I had fun, but will definitely not be back because of that. Ecuador and Peru are heaps better. If you likes Colombia you will like Peru and Ecuador a lot more since they are actually cheaper and definitely safer. And I am a native spanish speaker.

  43. Glad that you are experiencing this very cool country. just got back from another COL trip, this time to experience Carnaval de Barranquilla for the first time. What an amazing event! Spectacular colors, music, spirit, characters, just a great vibe. HOpe you enjoy Bogota; i’m a bit of a coffee geek, and swung by to hit up Devocio’n on this last trip for the first time (at the bottom of the Hilton on Septima ); great place to explore the country’s coffee offerings if you can’t make a proper trip out to Zona Cafetera!


  44. The problem with walking outside Hyatt São Paulo is the neighborhood. I wouldn’t recommend it either. (And the Hilton and Sheraton are located two blocks from the Hyatt).
    You should’ve stayed at the Reinassance or Marriott Executive Apartments, or tried a different chain (Accor or IHG, maybe) that have hotels with better location. I know your preference for chain hotels, but São Paulo is not the best place for the chains with the lucrative CC sign up bonuses.

  45. @James I think he said there were 4 drinks (2 drinks each). So even in the U.S., at even a mid-range restaurant, that’s at least $40-$50 right there. And then they had two appetizers and two main courses. At one of the nicest places in town. Seems pretty darn reasonable to me.

  46. @jason

    See all of the REAL world stories above about being robbed above.

    Go do some homework pal.

    Ignorance is bliss…until you get robbed.

  47. Just completed my sixth trip to Colombia (with short stays in Bogota). Traveled solos some, with my double the rest. Have felt safe. Bogota is cheap and cool! Been to other parts of Colombia, too, including Cartagena, Santa Marta/Taganga, Barranquilla, Medellin, and San Andres Island. Bogota has always been my favorite!

    I had nearly been robbed in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic and bullied in Buffalo, NY at the wrong corner and at the wrong time; but in Bogota with caution and awareness of my surrounding, I feel safe!

  48. I’m planning on getting married in Cartagena in a couple of years. So glad you’ve been having a good time so far!!! Can’t wait to hear more! 🙂

  49. South America is one of the most underrated destinations out there. You need to see Puno, Lima, Cuzco & Machu Picchu in Peru, La Paz in Bolivia, Patagonia in Chile & Argentina….

    Machu Picchu is served by the town of Aguas Calientes / Machu Picchu Peublo, which as an absolutely amazing hotel owned by Inkaterra…You need to see it – I was lucky to stay free after winning a prize at a travel work shop.

    On a side note – I am a a travel agent in South Africa:
    1. Come see South Africa
    2. Your blog is an invaluable source of product information! Thank you!!!

  50. Recently back from 3 weeks in Colombia: Cartagena, Bogota, Villa de Leyva, Jardin (horsemanship in the plaza!), Salento (do the Kasaguadua tour), Salamina, Medellin. Drove 900km, flew 2 internal flights. Never felt in danger, enjoyed the contrast between very cosmopolitan cities and relaxed small towns. Do the RealCityTour in Medellin for excellent perspective on the country and recent history. In cities, use Uber to avoid taxi ripoffs. Bogota traffic is quite bad. You can get almost any cuisine in the big cities; small town food not that impressive. My wife and I were the oldest tourists in most places–lots of young people enjoying the warm weather and inexpensive places to stay and eat. Rental car prices are the exception.

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