Deep in the heart of Ecuador, this route lets you see highlights of both sierra and coastal rural life, from the highest Andean communities to life in its richest lowland agricultural region
Depart Latacunga, home to the fantastic Mama Negra festival every September, west into the Quilotoa circuit, a beloved loop road that traverses the Cotopaxi highlands and returns to Latacunga. However, you won't be going around the whole loop, just half of it. Along the way to Zumbahua, stop off to see the unique and colorful paintings on leather of the Tigua community.
If you finished dancing your heels of in the World's Salsa Capitol, Cali, and are now heading on your way to Ecuador, no need to rush as there's a lot to see in between.
One of the most beautiful landscapes in all South America is Parque Nacional Munchique, sitting to the west but equally between Santander de Quilichao for the north entry and Popayan for the south entry. The main feature of the park is the spectacular reservoir Morales, which you can get to faster through the north entry, and then prepare yourself for some unforgettable hiking vistas.
ARICA - S.P. de ATACAMA
Don't let the bleak-looking desert discourage you. Northern Chile will not fail to impress you with its beauty and fascinating charms.
Arica is a walkable, safe, and hip city that is famous for Chilean sandwich bars, so wander around the street Patricio Lynch and try out the chacarero or the barro luco! Climb up to the top of El Morro for stunning and expansive views. A day-trip tour worth booking is to Putre and the high plains region of Parque Nacional Lauca. If you want to explore closer in to town, right on the outskirts you'll find one of the largest collection of mummies in the world, dating back 9,000 years, at the Museo Momias Chinchorro.
So, maybe you've had enough of the big city in Guayaquil and are looking for a nice escape without going too far. If so, this route will do the trick, and you can do as much or all of it as you wish.
Just "around the corner" from Guayaquil on the road to Machala is the Reserva Ecologica Manglares-Churute, a national park protecting the fragile mangrove ecosystem and its habitat, including a wide variety of water fowl, reptiles, and even dolphins. You can get off the bus to trailheads at various points near the communities of La Flora and El Mango, but it's best to ask the bus driver to let you off at the Centro de Informacion Churute. There is a trail that takes you through dry forest and also to the large duck nesting lake Laguna Canción (Song Lake).
With Colombia's internal conflicts diminishing, travelers are rediscovering much more of the country that was previously off-limits. A great example is the fabulous Colombia Llano (the plains), which is the home to terrific rodeos, beautiful wide open spaces, and experiences of unique cuisine. This route is actually a loop, so you can choose to go clockwise or counter-clockwise, with Yopal being the halfway point. Going counter-clockwise, you head east from Bogota through lush green river valleys down the mountains until you empty out into Villavicencio, the gateway to the Llano, famous for its horsemen and ranching.
The most popular attraction in the area is Caño Cristales, a geological wonder comprised of rainbow-colored waterfalls and pools caused by naturally occurring mineral formations. On the east side of the city is also the Bioparque Los Ocarros...