Mexico farewelled us as warmly as they had welcomed us, with a friendly official refunding our temporary import car visa. Unlike other borders, there is really only one choice for crossing between Mexico and Belize - at Chetumal. All in all the process of leaving Mexico and entering Belize took us just over an hour, which was a lot better than we were expecting after reading about so many Central American border horror stories. Read more about our experience and the process here.
The Valle de Cocora (Cocora Valley) is normally, and rightly so, on every travellers Colombia to-do-list. This remarkable valley is home to the world's tallest palm trees (a wax palm), and the walk there explores some great areas of Colombian cloud forest. If you can, try to arrive early in the morning to enjoy this eery place before the crowds and the heat settle in for the day. A really nice option would be to bring some lunch to enjoy at the end of the hike, as the main area with the palms is nice grassy farmland, perfect for a picnic.
After thoroughly enjoying the coffees in Bogota and Medellin, the next logical step in our Colombian voyage was to the source, the Coffee Triangle just south of Medellin. Coffee has been growing in Colombia since the 16th century, when Jesuit Priests brought it to the country. Now, the Colombian coffee region includes more than 300,000 hectares of beautiful countryside, and was designated a UNESCO world heritage site in 2011.
Medellin is a vibrant and innovative city that was tarnished by an incredibly turbulent and sad past. While in surprisingly recent times it was branded with the label of "most dangerous city on the planet", it has actively transformed itself into the haven that we were lucky enough to call home for a month.
This is a place where contrasts coexist - ostentatious wealth next to heartbreaking poverty, groups of women exercising next to drug users, colourful graffiti amongst drab brick buildings. There's also a new generation of young, passionate, and creative Bogotan's (some of whom we were lucky enough to meet) that are helping to transform this city into a major urban hub of art, design, and nightlife.
As more and more time passes it becomes harder and harder to escape the Gringo Trail and the countless backpackers that come with it. It seems somewhat oxymoronic or contradictory, but all tourists want to be the only tourists, and we are no exception to this. We have found a few really special and relatively untouched spots on this trip, and Guadalupe fit squarely into this elite category of destinations.
For a small city San Gil has a lot to offer, and like us, l am sure you will end up spending more time here than planned (we planned on 2 nights and stayed 5). San Gil is a small Andean city in northern Colombia, straddling the River Fonce, and is known as Colombia's adventure sports capital. The city was surprisingly charming for a red-brick built one, it's wonderful natural beauty shone through, as did its friendly and welcoming residents.
Our overview of the tranquil and relaxing hike from Barichara to Guane along the Camino Real Trail that connects these charming historic colonial towns. This trail is steeped in history, originally built and used by the Guane indigenous people and declared a national monument in 1988. From Barichara this section of the Camino Real Trail is an easy, mostly downhill, 6kms and takes roughly 2 hours to complete (walking at a leisurely pace and taking in the views). Read more about the Camino Real Trail, and the Barichara to Guane section, in this blogpost.
We arrived into mainland Mexico at the same time as a hurricane, with heavy rain and flooding streets we made our way through this new lush and tropical land. It felt like an entirely different country to Baja California. But it is beautiful in it's own right - with dripping jungles leading to golden bays. This post explores our adventures along the Pacific Coast of Mexico in Mazatlán, San Blas, Sayulita, and Puerto Vallarta. It also includes our experience living with locals in Guadalajara (and our visit Tequila and Tapalpa along the way).
Catching the ferry from Baja California to mainland Mexico was both harder and easier than we had imagined, in different ways. Accordingly, we thought it would be useful for fellow travellers if we wrote about our experience. In this blog post we write about our experience, the things we learnt that we wish we'd known in advance, and where you can go to get more information.
Baja Sur is more beautiful than we had imagined. The people are friendly and the roadside scenery is exhilaratingly stunning. It was stickily hot (the desert during the peak of summer). But this heat heat that caused us some sleepless nights also kept the masses away. This meant we often had the spectacular beauty of the Baja to ourselves, the only souls on the wild west beaches. Read more about our experience in own of our favourite places in Mexico in this blog post!
Baja California Norte is so much more than it's reputation of seedy border towns. It is a place of dramatic scenery, wild coastlines, and good surf meet. Read about our time in Baja Norte in this blog post, which provides an overview of our experience and highlights the places we recommend finding and / or avoiding. Hope you enjoy!
Before leaving the United States we had decided to travel down the Baja Peninsula. This left us with a few border crossings to choose from (Tijuana, Otay Mesa, Tecate, or Mexicali), depending on how far we were willing to drive inland. After doing a bit of research, we decided to cross the border at Tecate. In this blog post we outline the step-by-step process of crossing the border into Mexico in our own words.
Wow. Is what we keep uttering as we work our way through or west-mid-central national parks: Zion, Bryce Canyon, Grand Canyon (both north and south rims) and Joshua Tree. Our Detour inland came about as a proposal from Brooke, "we've come so far, we may as well see it all". And we're so glad we did. Warning: with so much seen and done, this will be a longer post than normal.
We loved our time here. Yosemite has won the title of our favourite national park. We were blown away by its natural splendor and scale; it is like nothing we have seen before or will likely ever see again. Yosemite and hiking go hand in hand. The number of trail options and the scale of wilderness in the park is truly impressive. You can drive for 2 hours and still be within the national park! Making a lot of beautiful scenery within the park accessible by road. While what you see won't be quiet as good as what you can see if you get on to the hiking trails, it's still pretty spectacular and certainly can't be scoffed at.
Oregon is known for its beer, its beaches, and its scenic roads. We loved our road trip through this state. In our previous posts about Oregon we recommended taking the time to explore the seemingly never ending stretch of coastline and venturing inland, but we do appreciate that some people have limited time available to them. Accordingly, to help others planning their own journey along the coast we thought it could be useful to highlight our top five stops along the Oregon Coast.