Mark Freitag


Mark Freitag

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!!

Central America Caribbean » Cuba » Oeste » La Habana November 13th 2013

The final stop on the Latin American leg of my travels was Cuba, and to help me finish this chapter and start the next my sister was able to fly out and meet me for a 2 and a half week holiday! How fantastic! A personal recommendation had allowed me to book a “Casa Particular” in advance. This huge network of Cuban families who rent out extra rooms in their houses is certainly the cheapest and most atmospheric way to travel through the country, and looking back on the trip I can certainly say that the casas were fantastic – each one being of a very high standard and always having their own quirks – both positive and negative!! Our introduction to Cuba was the capital Havana, resplendent in a kind of faded glory, where some ... read more
Havana Bay looking out towards the lighthouse on the headland
Che Guevara - his image is on the side of the Ministry of the Interior
A Coco Taxi

After so long in the Spanish speaking world, Belize came as a bit of a shock – a small English speaking enclave on the shores of the Caribbean!! The language comes from the country's pre-independence history as British Honduras and the fact that apparently a good proportion of its population are descended from the pirates and buccaneers that used to frequent these parts!! I say that the language spoken is English – but not quite as we know it!! When the locals are speaking with native English speakers they have an amazing caribbean lilt that makes you want to break out into a big grin just on hearing it. But when they embark on a conversation amongst themselves the creole becomes a familiar yet indecipherable stream of words that you think might be English, but you're ... read more
The aptly named "shark and ray alley"
Blue Hole from the air...
Half moon caye

Guatemala was my first chance to pause after a couple of months of consistent travel up from Panama (oh the woes of the modern traveller!). I headed straight for its second city, Xela, partly because it was the gateway to a two day climb of Central America's highest peak and partly because the language schools were so incredibly cheap. I enrolled with Utatlan, where USD 155 got me 20 hours of private tuition, 7 days living with a family less than 10 minutes walk from the school, and 3 meals a day with the family! It was incredible value, given that by the time I'm next in London I'm sure a round of 4 pints will probably cost about the same!! For the real penny pinchers, I saw the same package offered with some of the ... read more
Early stage of the sunrise on the walk to the Tajumulco summit
View from the roof of Central America
Lago Atitlan - just before the clouds rolled in!!!

Probably like most people in the world, El Salvador hadn't really entered into my general consciousness, apart perhaps as the title of a song by Athlete back in 2003! ( In my time travelling through South and Central America I had met a grand total of one person that had been there, and so this, combined with the fact it would continue my trip's “achievement” of having visited every South and Central American country (admittedly I have to exclude the isolated Guayane, French Guyana and Suriname from that though!) it seemed just the ticket for a few days of my time! The journey from Honduras took a day and a half, but I arrived in Suchitoto, a small colonial town located on a lake, with seemingly every house painted a different colour, in good spi... read more
Laid back Suchitoto
Dusk looking down from Suchitoto
Summit Photo - Volcan Santa Ana

Central America Caribbean » Honduras » Bay Islands » Utila September 27th 2013

The main aim of my trip to Honduras was to complete my advanced open water scuba diving in the Bay Islands, supposedly one of the cheapest and best places in the world to do it. One small snag was that I was on the Pacific coast of Nicaragua and needed to get up to the Caribbean coast of Honduras! The first day of the two day journey somewhat improbably involved: a horse and cart, a row boat, a chicken bus, two taxi rides, a microbus, another chicken bus, a cycle rickshaw to the border, crossing the border on foot, a honduran chicken bus and one final honduran bus to get us to the capital! Phew – but luckily all of this only cost about $13 – but it did take 13 hours!! Finally reaching the Bay ... read more
Obviously something caught my eye...
Tiger fish

I entered Nicaragua on my birthday – and what better way to celebrate than a 6a.m. taxi to a bus station and then a full day of travelling! Luckily the travelling ended up at the wonderful Isla Ometepe, two volcanoes rising from Lake Nicaragua which join together and lay claim to be the largest freshwater island in the world. Despite being pretty remote, our guest-house also had just enough Wi-Fi to allow me to speak to Erika and for her to sing me happy birthday in Spanish, blow out the candle on the cake she'd made for me and show me my present. It may not have started out as the best birthday, but it certainly ended like that!! Thank you! Of the two volcanoes, which are joined by a narrow isthmus, I obviously decided to ... read more
View from Punta Jesus Maria
Volcan Concepcion crater
Easy rider...or maybe not!

Before arrival in Costa Rica, reports I had heard from other travellers meant I hadn't been expecting it to be quite to my taste – I.e. a well developed country with very expensive prices, and huge numbers of American tourists to boot. As usual the reality turned out differently to the rumours, as my first journey was to the out of the way Corcovado national park, on some pretty rickety buses across some pretty rough roads! I also got introduced to levels of bureaucracy that would have made Venezuela proud! To gain entry to the national park you couldn't just pay at the entrance like virtually every other national park in the world, you had to hike across town to their office to register your preferences, then take this form to their bank on the other ... read more
Corcovado national park
White faced monkey caught napping!
Yellow bellied snake

Central America Caribbean » Panama » Panamá » Panama Canal September 3rd 2013

Getting my exit stamp from Colombia was a sad moment. The country that had been my home for 4 months, had given me so many amazing experiences and memories, and of course best of all had been where I met Erika, was now sadly behind me. My exit point was Sapzurro, a tiny coastal village on the border with Panama from where I walked over one of the most relaxed border crossings I’ve encountered, a tiny military hut on a ridge separating Sapzurro and its Panamanian neighbour La Miel. My method of travel to Panama proper would be a 4 day boat trip through the San Blas islands, a beautiful chain of palm lined, white sand beaches and aquamarine waters inhabited by the Kuna people. But before starting the tour we were given a free night’s ... read more
Kuna village
Call of nature Kuna style
Lobster time

South America » Colombia » San Andres August 22nd 2013

Since leaving Cali, Erika and I had been looking forward hugely to meeting up again and we were able to engineer the best part of 3 weeks travelling together through some of the northern parts of Colombia that Erika had never been to. However, our first stop was a bit further afield with a trip to San Andres, a Colombian owned island in the Caribbean close to the coast of Nicaragua. Erika had arranged our accommodation, and wow what a place it was. On the top floor of a 5 story building, with us having one of the two rooms in the guesthouse with ocean views!! Incredible! Our ocean views were of the atoll of Johnny Cay, and we visited this and another tiny island named Acuario on what must have been the world’s slowest launch! ... read more
Acuario - beautiful sandy Caye just off San Andres
Erika and I snorkelling together in San Andres
“long, thin, ugly, angry fish”

South America » Colombia » Santa Marta » Ciudad Perdida July 30th 2013

Sandwiched either side of my visa run to Venezuela, I was able to first visit the rugged interior in and around Bogota and then travel along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The stint around Bogota saw me visit some smaller towns which were hugely enjoyable and once again showed why Colombia has been the country I have enjoyed most on my travels so far. Places like San Gil and Villa de Leyva have the potential to become household names as the popularity of Colombia increases, given their natural beauty, variety of activities and relative proximity to the capital Bogota. In fact if I was to dish out sage investment advice, it would be that starting up a top notch hostel in either of those two spots would be a sound choice…expect that someone has got there first and ... read more
Villa de Leyva
Paso del Angel
Scenic lunch spot

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