Having graduated from University of Nottingham I started travelling and absolutely loved it. I did one trip around the world, then a second major trip through Latin America.
I then went back to the real world with one of those job things, but the wanderlust didn't leave and I managed to fit in plenty of short trips.
I've now taken 12 months out to learn/perfect my Spanish. I'll be travelling through Spanish speaking South and Central America with a trip from Buenos Aires to San Francisco.
The primary focus of the trip will be learning the language - so I'll be regularly settling to study at language schools and do homestays with local families - but there'll be plenty of time for adventures I'm sure!!
May 17th 2013
Before arriving in Colombia I had heard nothing but positive reports from other travellers that had recently visited, with many saying with a knowing look that I would end up spending a lot longer here than I expected! I hate to pander to the stereotypes but they were exactly right, as I've already been here 6 weeks and this may be the first country where I have to do a nifty quickstep across the nearest border to renew a visa, as the three months I was given doesn't look like its going to be enough! The trip didn't start too auspiciously with a looooong bus (close to 24 hours instead of the expected 14-15) from Ecuador, which reached the southern town of Popoyan so late in the day that all the buses to my intended destination ... read more
April 17th 2013
With my family winging their way back to the UK, my attention now turned to trying to summit arguably Ecuador's most famous peak – the perfect cone of the Cotopaxi volcano topping out at 5,897metres (for reference Kilamanjaro is a fraction smaller at 5,895m). Given that on my previous travels I had summitted a higher peak (Huayana Potosi at 6,092m) and therefore could appreciate just how tough the summit attempt would be, I prepared as well as I could – eschewing alcohol in the ten days leading up to the summit attempt and climbing three preparatory peaks in the days beforehand. Unfortunately, the weather during the preparation stages meant that each preparatory summit was shrouded in cloud – so I now have a rather nice collection of photos of me surrounded by a skyline reminiscent of ... read more
March 29th 2013
At the beginning of March my family flew out to meet me in Ecuador for what must have been our first long holiday together for nearly 15 years! We had “agreed”, that we would look to take advantage of my Spanish language and do the trip in a manner more akin to the way I travel – i.e. not having any fixed plans apart from the start and finish dates, and organising things as we go along according to what we hear is good. Obviously there was a little more pressure on getting things reasonably well organised, as I didn't think my parents would take too kindly to sleeping a night in a cockroach infested fleapit because we turned up late in a town that was fully booked because we hadn't realised that it was the ... read more
March 8th 2013
The aim when leaving Cusco was to get up into the high mountains of the Cordillera Blanca for a few weeks of trekking en-route to Ecuador. This was achieved via a short flight, a long bus and a half day layover in the capital Lima. Half a day is not much to devote to a nation's capital, but it felt like it was probably all I really needed there!! I visited some pleasant parks – including an impressive one containing 14 different fountains all lit up at night – and got to see the sea for the first time on my trip, but that was enough for me!! Huaraz is the gateway town to the high Andes in northern Peru and to my mind was another unremarkable town, with a remarkable setting: a high altitude valley ... read more
February 17th 2013
Our arrival in Cusco certainly meant we were going to visit the famous Inka city of Machu Pichu. But, we had heard from many people that you need to book up the fabled “Inka Trail” many months in advance to have a chance of getting one of the restricted number of places. What we hadn't reckoned on is that turning up in the middle of rainy season in late January, demand for the Inka trail does actually drop off, and one of the most reputable agencies, Llama Path, offered Chris, Andrew and I a spot on their trip. I had declined the use (and cost!) of a porter, so I was testing myself by carrying all my stuff (except the tent and cooking equipment which were taken by the porters) throughout the four days. One of ... read more
January 23rd 2013
Given Chris was on holiday and time was a little more of the essence for him, we decided that the £100 it cost to fly from the mountains of Sucre down to the jungle of Rurrenabaque would be money well spent – especially as the alternative would be over 30 hours of Bolivian buses, on Bolivian roads – in the rainy season! Rurrenabaque has developed into a popular jumping off point for two broad types of trip, upriver you can travel to explore the jungle, and downriver stretches the lowlands of the pampas and their abundant wildlife. Chris and I first tackled the jungle for an abbreviated 2 day trip, as another friend Andrew was flying out to meet us and we needed to be back in Rurrenabaque on day 3. Jungle trekking is focused on ... read more
January 10th 2013
After leaving Cordoba, my final stop in Argentina was to be the colonial city of Salta. Immediately I was able to put my improved Spanish into practice, first with an incredibly friendly taxi driver (especially considering my bus had arrived about 5.30a.m.!) and then with the Spanish speaking crowd at the hostel. Here, for once the language around the communal dinner table in the hostel was definitely not English! My memories of Salta will probably not be of the abundance of colonial architecture, but instead of the natural sciences museum which was stuffed to the gills (literally) with the widest possible array of stuffed animals from around South America. It was similar to the science museum James, Steve, Chris and I had visited in Bariloche on the previous trip – so I thought it only right ... read more
December 26th 2012
At the beginning of December I arrived in Cordoba, the second city of Argentina, ready to settle down for another period of study at a language school. The first positive was that after completing a written exam and conversation “interview” with the class co-ordinator I had moved up from the “A2 beginner” level that I was being taught in Buenos Aires, to the “B1 intermediate” level here in Cordoba – so it seemed the Spanish practice on the road had been useful! (There are six levels, beginner (A1 & A2), Intermediate (B1 & B2) and advanced (C1 & C2). The school was very friendly, although they seemed to be in the middle of a bit of a recruitment drought when I arrived as I'm sure for the first week there were more staff at the school ... read more
December 3rd 2012
Leaving Buenos Aires I went on a road trip that would have me constantly reaching for my passport like a child into his Christmas stocking as I journeyed through Argentina, Uruguay, Argentina again, Brazil, Paraguay and then returned to Argentina. First was the Argentinian town of Tigre, which sits on the delta of the Rio Plata, meaning one of the key attractions is a boat ride through the delta to explore some of the islands. I had met a local guy, Arturo, in the hostel and he recommended a great little restaurant that I should go to for lunch, and then the next day he was free and so he suggested we have a “tourist day” together. He was a really interesting guy: although he was born in Tigre, he had lived in Germany for many ... read more
November 12th 2012
Since my previous travels in South America over 6 years ago, I've had a desire to perfect my Spanish, become fluent and hopefully be able to use the language in life/work in the future. Things in London were great, but they had reached a point in life and work (and age!!) where if I wasn't going to seize the opportunity now to take 12 months out from everything to learn the language, then I never would. Ultimately, I thought that if I didn't do this I'd look back and regret it – and that was the deciding factor which made the final decision a lot easier. That's why I'm now following my dream and have 12 months or so to live, travel and learn in Spanish speaking countries. My previous trip in South America was done ... read more