Living the Dream - Ben travels around South America - July 2022 until August 2023

In July 2022 - after a two-year, Covid-induced delay - I left on a year-long sabbatical. Starting in Madrid (Spain), my travels took me all across South America. I moved pretty slowly, taking my time to properly explore and roam, before returning home to Berlin (Germany) in August 2023.

I hope you enjoy my stories as much as I enjoy my journey. Any feedback (public comment on any blog entry or a private message) is very much appreciated and makes the blog special to me and everybody else.

Also have a look at my pictures on Flickr.

Previously on this blog: Living the Dream - Ben travelled around the world - April 2008 until March 2011
In April 2008, I quit my fast-paced corporate job, sold most of my belongings, and left on a world trip - and never looked back. Starting in Berlin (Germany) and heading east, my journey would last for three years and took me across parts of Eastern Europe, Russia, Asia, Oceania, Central America and finally India, before returning home to Germany at the end of March 2011 after 1091 days on the road. It truly was a trip of a life-time, and the memories will stay with me forever. You can find the pictures of this trip on Flickr and my chosen route here.

I have also published a book about this trip - you can find it on Amazon, iTunes or Kobo (and most other online book shops).

Please also take note that I never intend to offend anyone with my blogs but merely want to share my experiences (good and bad). So please don't get all worked up by my entries. Constructive criticism is of course very welcome indeed! Having said that, I was never aiming to write a politically correct blog. My writing is (naturally) highly subjective and expresses my personal opinions.

My journey between 2008 and 2011: Germany (home, start) - Turkey (9 days) - Germany, Berlin (2 days) - Lithuania (6 days) - Latvia (4 days) - Estonia (5 days) - Finland (4 days) - Russia (26 days) - Mongolia (17 days) - China (70 days) - Japan (42 days) - South Korea (10 days) - North Korea (10 minutes) - China (8 days) - Vietnam (15 days) - Laos (35 days) - Thailand (3 days) - Myanmar (25 days) - Thailand (9 days) - Malaysia, Peninsular (74 days) - Singapore (7 days) - Indonesia, Sumatra (27 days) - Malaysia, western Borneo (36 days) - Brunei (4 days) - Malaysia, eastern Borneo (42 days) - Indonesia, Java & Bali (28 days) - Singapore (7 days) - Taiwan (17 days) - Philippines (18 days) - Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur (2 days) - Indonesia, Lombok & Bali (10 days) - Australia (47 days) - New Zealand (107 days) - Fiji (14 days) - USA, Hawaii & California (31 days) - Mexico (21 days) - Guatemala, Tikal (3 days) - Belize (9 days) - Guatemala, Rio Dulce (5 days) - Honduras, Copan (2 days) - Guatemala (26 days) - El Salvador, western part (9 days) - Honduras (16 days) - El Salvador, eastern part (8 days) - Nicaragua (13 days) - Costa Rica (14 days) - Panama (35 days) - USA, Florida (11 days) - Germany, break at home (55 days) - India (96 days) - Germany (home, the end).


South America » Brazil » São Paulo » São Paulo July 27th 2023

(Day 392 on the road)Not to get robbed. Not on the last stretch of my yearlong journey across South America. That was one of the objectives for my final ~3 weeks in Brazil. I had been considering how to spend the final weeks. With Brazil being such a huge country, options were certainly plentiful. After some contemplating, I figured that spending two full weeks in Rio de Janeiro - one of the most exiting cities in this world – seemed very attractive. So I decided to take it slow, spend two weeks in Rio, a few days in the small coastal town of Paraty (halfway between Rio and Sao Paulo), and then my final few days in Sao Paulo. And it turned out to be just right. Before I arrived in Rio de Janeiro from Foz ... read more
Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro
Sugarloaf mountain in Rio de Jeneiro
Sunset over Rio de Janeiro

South America » Brazil » Paraná » Iguaçu Falls July 7th 2023

(Day 372 on the road) Iguazu. Big Water. What a fitting name for this fantastical natural wonder. Like the Atacama Desert in Chile, I had visited Iguazu Falls over 20 years ago. I do have faint memories and thus kind of knew what to expect. Yet it still blew me away. The falls are located on the border of Brazil and Argentina, and - like most visitors - I visited them on both sides of the border. They are both distinctively different, and I liked both sides a lot. I had entered Brazil on foot from Paraguay across the friendship bridge, and settled into a small private apartment in the town of Foz do Iguazu, about an hour drive north of the actual waterfalls. Leaving Spanish speaking countries behind after a year now felt strange, and ... read more
Iguazu Falls
South American coatis crossing the bridge
Parrot at Parque das Aves

South America » Paraguay » Ciudad del Este July 2nd 2023

(Day 367 on the road) If you ever wondered where some of the most stupid German people live in this world, fret not: I found them for you. They live in Paraguay. The number of simply bat-shit dumb Germans I have met here is unbelievable. I had read reports a while ago that a fair number of Covid-deniers, anti-vaccination believers and anti-immigration people (spot the irony) had emigrated to Paraguay. But I didn't expect to meet them literally on my first day in my cool hostel in Asuncion, the capital of Paraguay. And then again and again on a fair number of occasions during my roughly two weeks in the country. Interestingly, literally all of them were Germans - not Italian, British, Chinese, South African or from anywhere else (take your pick), only Germans. Where do ... read more
Palacio de Lopez in Asuncion
San Juanazo festival in Asuncion
The local youth on their terribly noisy motorbikes

South America » Argentina » Corrientes » Corrientes June 20th 2023

(Day 355 on the road) Third time in my life in Buenos Aires, and I seem to like the city more every time I re-visit. When travelling, I subconsciously keep asking myself "Could I live here?". I always admire people who have traveled and then - at one point - simply fell in love with a place. And stayed. So far, I haven't found that one special place for me. Maybe one day. Having said that , and looking specifically at South America, Buenos Aires would certainly be my preferred place, where I could see myself living for a while. It has lots of things that I value in a big city: Amazing cultural offerings, efficient public transport, a great food scene, lots of nice parks, plus security is not much of an issue. Or to ... read more
Cruising in the Tigre delta
Horseriding in San Atonio de Areco
Boat captain in the Ibera Provincial Park

South America » Argentina » Mendoza » Mendoza June 4th 2023

(Day 339 on the road)I have the feeling that this is going to be a tough blog entry to write. Put simply, nothing extraordinary happened in the last four weeks in Argentina. No Machu Pichu to stare at in awe. No lost city to discover in the remote jungle. No 6.000m-high mountain to climb. No death road to bike down. No multi-day camping trips high in the Andes. No vast salt desert to drive through. No volcano to scale. No close encounters with tame wildlife. Put simply, no major highlights to write about - compared to virtually all my last entries. Instead, I discovered a northern Argentina full of pretty landscapes, with appealing and (fairly) orderly cities, and with a sophisticated and educated population. In fact, travelling south after spending many months in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru ... read more
Always keep your yerba mate cup nearby
Gaucho country
Really bad opening times

(Day 303 on the road)Visiting San Pedro de Atacama was special: It was the first place on this trip that I had been to before. Back in my student days, when I was doing an internship with a major airline, I was able to negotiate two free worldwide flights as part of my compensation package (the pay itself was pretty rubbish, if I remember correctly). I took one of those flights to Santiago de Chile and visited the Atacama Desert on that trip. Pretty much the only thing I remember about that visit in 2002 - some 21 years ago - was that it was bloody cold. And I can say that with certainty: That part hasn't changed much (a lot of other things have). I stayed in a guesthouse for three nights, and after freezing ... read more
Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert
Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert
Valle de la Luna in the Atacama Desert

(Day 300 on the road)There is a small street in the centre of La Paz where most of the travel agencies, many backpacker accommodations and a popular cafe are concentrated. As I walked down the steep street looking at the tours and excursions advertised by the travel agencies, I realised that I had done almost all of them. Valle de la Luna? Check. Copacana? Check. Free La Paz city tour? Check. Isla del Sol? Check. Tiwanako? Check. Chacaltaya? Check. Chulita wrestling? Check. Pico Austria? Check. Death Road? Check. Huayna Potosi? Check. Check. Check. It was time to leave La Paz and move on. First up were a couple of stops in unremarkable towns like Oruro, Cochabamba and Santa Cruz. I had discovered however that the Bolivian cities that are located at a higher altitude (say higher ... read more
Che's original and secret grave
69 million years old dinosaur footprints
The amazing Traffic Zebras at work

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz April 5th 2023

(Day 279 on the road)"If you need the oxygen bottle, your climb is over and you are going down". This was the firm stance of the guide at the climbing agency in the centre of La Paz. I was there because I had finally made up my mind to try to climb Huayna Potosi, a 6.088 metre mountain that is very accessible from La Paz. I had thought long and hard about whether I really wanted to do it. And why, really? I was quite worried about the altitude. Also, the actual ascent starts at 1 am, so there would be little to no sleep the night before. But as a good friend told me on the phone: I had been at the altitude of La Paz / Lake Titicaca for over a month now; I ... read more
Biking down the Death Road
A bus with 108 passengers went over the cliff here
Huayna Potosi - Inside the High Camp

South America » Bolivia » La Paz Department » La Paz March 24th 2023

(Day 267 on the road)If you read the following blog entry and think "wow, Ben's writing skills have certainly improved", I am afraid I have to disappoint you. Most of this entry was written by my good friend Suzanne, who came to visit me in Bolivia for ten amazing days of travelling together. But before I hand over, a quick recap of the days leading up to Suzanne's arrival in La Paz: My entry into Bolivia from Peru was as easy as possible: A minibus from the travel agency picked up all the passengers at 4am in Puno, the boat from Puno (Peru) to Kasani (Bolivia) took about 5 hours (straight across the beautiful Lago Titicaca), the immigration formalities in Kasani took less than 3 minutes, and a minibus took me to the lakeside town of ... read more
Suzanne with Alpaca street art in La Paz
Sightseeing by cable car in La Paz
Above Copacabana

South America » Peru » Puno » Lake Titicaca March 7th 2023

(Day 250 on the road)The ongoing protests in Peru are certainly not helping the country's tourism industry: Most of the fellow travellers I met over the past few weeks had already left Peru or were in the process of doing so. In fact, there were so few foreigners in some places in the south that I found myself unconsciously nodding as I walked past another traveller. Mostly though, I was the only foreigner in the places I stayed or on the tours I took. What a shame for Peru. The protests are concentrated in the south of the country, particularly in the Puno region, which has the only two land border crossings with Bolivia, my next destination. Both have been crossed since December. More than 50 people have died in the demonstrations so far, so the ... read more
The beautiful desert oasis of Huacachina
Flying over the Nasca Lines
Woman selling Queso Helado in Arequipa

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