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 will take me all across South America - and possibly further. My plan is to move 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.

Finally, if you want to support my travels with a small donation via Bitcoin (bc1p7a23v00vs6szxtk333k04ge5kmzf8cyy7qqr0uc9dh46kzg6hyhssfzp9p) or Ether/ Polygon/ BSC (0x4a33E893edfba89bbEf6A50F8e53D4291Bb05b52), this would be very welcome indeed!

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 » Peru » Loreto » Iquitos January 17th 2023

(Day 201 on the road)I am back from an adventurous week in the Peruvian Amazon. It was a fascinating glimpse of life on and along the mighty river. But after a while I realised that this was not the life for me. Call me spoiled, but life there was very, very basic, the infrastructure was poor to non-existent, the heat and humidity were oppressive, as were the mosquitoes. It was great to experience it, but to be honest I was not too sad when I left after a good week. I entered via Iquitos, on the banks of the Amazon. Fun fact: Iquitos is the largest city in the world that is not accessible by road. It has a whopping 500,000 inhabitants, but no road access. You can only get there by plane or boat. I ... read more
Noisy Iquitos
Life by the water
At the Monkey Rescue Centre

South America » Peru » Lima » Lima » Miraflores January 10th 2023

(Day 194 on the road) There are famous places in this world that you read a lot about before you actually visit. Mystical or remote places that capture the imagination, places that are elevated to a higher level in the mind. Places you want to visit for many years, often decades. But once you've arrived, these places sometimes seem rather ordinary and don't quite live up to the high expectations you've set for them. Not so Machu Picchu. Like most people, I had seen the iconic photographs of this ancient Inca site all my life, so I sort of knew what to expect. But when I finally approached Machu Picchu at the Sun Gate, high above the actual ruins, I was still overwhelmed by its sheer beauty. This is one of those places where pictures just ... read more
Barranco district in Lima
View from our appartment in Cusco
Quechua women with alpacas in Cusco

South America » Ecuador » Galápagos December 11th 2022

(Day 164 on the road) Listo, I am back in continental Ecuador with a wealth of unforgettable memories after ten amazing days on Galapagos. Nestled in the Pacific Ocean, the Galapagos Islands are a unique and breathtaking destination, home to an array of exotic wildlife and landscapes unlike anywhere else in the world. I had opted for a land-based trip (as opposed to taking a multiday-cruise), and I feel it was the right choice - I was constantly amazed by the natural beauty and diversity of the place. Of course, it was a lot cheaper that way, but I am also very bad with taking boats, pretty much getting very seasick all the time. I spent my days exploring the three islands of Santa Cruz, Isabela and San Cristobal – and the 2h boat-crossing from Isla ... read more
Stern looking blue-footed boobie
Galapagos sunset
Giant tortoise on the road

South America » Ecuador » West » Guayaquil November 29th 2022

(Day 152 on the road) If one had secretly beamed me from Colombia into Ecuador, it would have taken me a while to realize that I am in a different country at all. The two neighbours are pretty similar to me as an ignorant foreigner - the language of course, the culture, the food (think fried chicken with rice), the beautiful Andean landscape, the aggressive street dogs, the car alarms going off 143 times day and night, the incredible friendliness of the people. One thing that is different in Ecuador is the proficiency of the English language. A fair number of people here speak either pretty good or at least basic English, which is a very welcome change from Colombia, where literally nobody spoke any English. It might be related to the fact that a whopping ... read more
Enjoying the sunset high above Quito
Quito - View of the city from Basilica del Voto Nacional
Latitude 0 at Sitio Intinan

South America » Colombia » Ipiales October 20th 2022

(Day 112 on the road) The area south of Medellin is coffee country. My flight from Cartagena put me right in the thick of it, in the city of Pereira. And thus I spent the next few weeks exploring the region, starting with some beautiful hot springs near the village of Santa Rosa de Cabal, before moving on to the hot springs near Manizales. Now, Manizales is one of those second-rate Colombia’s cities which most people have probably never heard of. But they are one of Colombia’s cities I have seen that have incorporated cable cars into their public transport system. It is ingenious really: As Manizales lies in pretty hilly terrain, the bus terminal is located not near the city center, but at the bottom of a hill, right next to a cable car station. ... read more
Getting a shoe shine in Manizales
Willy jeep

South America » Colombia » Cartagena September 24th 2022

(Day 86 on the road) Not further accelerating climate change can be hard. Faced with the choice between a 16-hours bus-ride for 20€ or a 50-minute flight for 35€, I admit that I opted for the plane. Thus, leaving Bucaramanga in Central Colombia, I soon found myself in the northern, somewhat shady city of Santa Marta on the Caribbean coast. It felt like being in a different country. For one, compared to the central parts of Colombia, the northern coastal area seemed poorer and less developed. Power cuts were frequent – if there was electricity at all. A number of places I visited relied entirely on diesel generators. Maybe counter-intuitively, prices for most things - especially accommodation & food - were higher (not just in some remote areas, but also in the bigger cities). The culture ... read more
Ciudad Perdida
Lightning on the beach
Amazing sunset in Cabo de la Vela

South America » Colombia » Santander » Bucaramanga August 25th 2022

(Day 56 on the road) It’s been roughly a month since I arrived in Colombia, so now seems like a good time for a first recap. And to say it upfront, it has been a pretty good month indeed! After a two-hour flight (and a 3 ½ hour wait at the completely understaffed Colombian immigration), Medellin with its 2,5 million inhabitants was my first port of call. And despite of what image the city has as the former base of the infamous Pablo Escobar and its drug cartel, these days I found it to be an inspiring and forward-looking city. Gone are the days when Time Magazine called it “The Most Dangerous City in the World”, complete with its gang wars and the highest murder rate in the world. Nowadays, the whole city seemed to brim ... read more
Comuna 13 in Medellin

(Day 23 on the road) After a fairly painless flight and a late-night Uber into the city, I arrived in Santo Domingo, the capital of the Dominican Republic. The main reason for coming here was to take a language course for a week to brush up my Spanish, before hitting South America a few weeks later. The school was located in Sosua, on the north coast of the island; and all in all, it was the right decision to start with the course. I did learn a lot, and since my co-students did not always show up for class, I often ended up being the only student. Nice. The next couple of weeks I spent exploring the island - the beautiful Samana peninsula in the north-east, the capital of Santo Domingo, Jaracaboa in the mountainous inland ... read more
Deserted Playa del Amor
Parque Central in Puerto Plata at sunset
Preparing my fresh fish for dinner

Europe » Spain » District of Madrid » Madrid July 3rd 2022

(Day 3 on the road) I am on the road again - more than 11 years after my last sabbatical ended. And boy, it does feel good! Between 2008 and 2011, I travelled across many parts of Asia, Australia & New Zealand, Central America and India. This time, I am looking at a 12-months trip around (mainly) South America. Originally planned for two years ago, Covid has delayed my plans just slightly. But now I have finally started, and I couldn’t be happier. They say that anticipation is sweet, and it certainly was in this case. A lot of flights to Latin America are going via Madrid, so that's where I am starting my trip. The first order of business was getting a proper and thorough haircut - having almost no hair makes things just so ... read more
Metro Estacion del Arte
At the Prado
Installation at Reina Sofia

Europe » Germany » Berlin » Berlin June 30th 2022

(1 day until departure) I am in the final stages of preparing for a 12-months sabbatical. Over the last few weeks and months, I have dealt with wide range of issues – from booking my first few flights, finding a language school to brush up my Spanish, getting some vaccinations, purchasing travel insurance, subletting my flat, handing over my work to my colleagues, to saying goodbye to family and friends. The last time I did a bigger trip in 2008, there were virtually no processes in place at my company for a longer leave of absence. In the end, I had to quit my job to go travelling. This time around, things are very different. Over the years, many big companies in Germany haven given worker-retention and motivation some serious thought. The result is, that I ... read more

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