Highlights of Ecuador, 2 and 3 weeks itinerary

If you want to discover South America but have only a few weeks in front of you, Ecuador is certainly the destination I will recommend. Andes, coast, amazon rainforest, traditions, colonial history… you can experience in Ecuador most of what South America has to offer, without wasting too much time in transportation (the country is one of the smallest of the continent).

In this article I put together my recommended itineraries for 2 or 3 weeks, both will allow you to discover the country and many of the things it has to offer. You will also get ideas for alternatives and practical information about transportation.

Friendly locals to help you find your way (from Sigchos to Insinlivi)

Friendly locals to help you find your way (from Sigchos to Insinlivi)

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7 months itinerary in South America: a trip of a lifetime

Are you looking to spend several months travelling in South America? This article is for you! In June  24, 2014 we left Europe for a trip of a lifetime, exploring South America. It took us 222 days to go “From the Caribbean to the end of the world“. It was magic.

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Highlights of 6 months in South America

This is always a difficult question: what did you like the most in South America? Impossible to pic one thing but here is a list of few experiences that make it to the “top list”.

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Join Earth Hour tonight and make a change

They all say that travelling changes the way you see the world. At the occasion of Earth Hour, Adnan, my travel companion, shares in this article his thoughts about travelling and green responsibilities. Anyone who recognize him/herself?

Traveling in South America made me think about humans role on this planet. How are we supposed to live without destroying this beauty? Or are we supposed to end it all? Is it our role here? I don’t think so, we are build up by the same building blocks as all life on the planet and in a way we are the same. What differs us from the rest you might think? We humans are the only living species that can take control on our own actions, good or bad, happy or sad. That’s why we today more than ever need to take responsibilities for our acts who affect the planet  and discuss how to live in a sustainable way. In this posts I am sharing my thoughts about the problem and why, as a traveller, I feel more than ever concerned.

This is what the problem is about (you probably already know that)

Photo 2014-12-10 07 18 37You have heard that before, the ennemy is called Green House effect and the responsible : CO2. CO2 is a colorless, oderless gas vital for all plant life on the planet. The gas is mainly a biproduct from animal respiration, yes we breath out CO2, its also a product from organic combustion such as a camp fire. Also CO2 is produced from natural decomposition done by microorganism or fungi (some kind of mushroom)

Interesting enough, its almost impossible not to produce CO2. Breathing and even dying for example, produce CO2. CO2 is a natural part of our life cycle, it is necessary for all plant life on planet earth. It is also needed to keep our home warm enough to be habitable. CO2 acts as a greenhouse gas and reflects a part of our sunlight back, which warms up our planet. Without CO2 our home would have an average temperature of around minus 18 degrees Celsius. The perfect mix of CO2 in the atmosphere is actually around 300ppm (parts per million) which is roughly 0.03% of all the gases in the atmosphere. 

But today, following the industrial revolution, the concentration of CO2 is climbing above 400ppm – a rise of 130% in the latest century and its accelerating. This is due to huge unnatural production of CO2, emission coming from all kind of fossil fuels: petrol, coal, natural gas etc. In 2100 scientists predict that the level of CO2 in the atmosphere would be around 900ppm if we continue business as usual, a rise of 300% from the “normal” mix of 300ppm! This means a rise of 5 degrees of the average temperatures on Earth ; with all the disastrous consequences we know: glaciers are long gone, sea level rises, forests becomes deserts, land becomes sea and fragile eco-systems are destroyed, with million species disappearing for ever. After spending more than 7 months admiring wonders of nature (Amazonas, Galapagos, Atacama desert, glaciers… among many) it cannot leave me insensible.

Looking at this fact, there is no doubt: green revolution must happen now if we want future generations to be able to enjoy views like this.

The amazing 27km long campo hielo sur, grey glaciar, Patagonia Chile

The amazing 27km long campo hielo sur, grey glaciar, Patagonia Chile

And we have to start acting now! 

Our thoughts as travelers

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Starting the South American journey but an transatlantic flight… not so great for the planet. Unfortunately, you don’t always have alternatives…

It might be difficult to know where to start. Why not doing something simple first? Tonight, I’m turning my lights off during earth hour (8.30pm local time), and if you have recently admired landscapes that you would be sad to be gone, why not doing the same? Earth hour is just a small step to spread awareness.

During our trip, we got inspire to try to make a change in our life to try to reduce our carbon footprint. A first step was to try to measure it. So we have been traveling for 7 months and during our months of travel we spent a lot of fossil fuels, for transportation, but also to just to live. To be precise we evaluated that we spent around 60000kWh of energy, Which can be translated to around 60000kg of CO2. Using a simplified conversion where 1kWh of coal produces around 1kg of CO2 (the conversion differs depending on which energy source you are using). Its a lot! Is there a way to pay back our carbon dept? Sadly today there are not so many payment plans and the debt is just rising bigger and bigger. Luckily plant earth has some answers, by making plants breath in CO2 and breath out oxygen. But if we would like to compensate for all our CO2 produced during our travel we would need to plant 8500 trees (one tree can offset around 7kg of CO2/year)! Just for us two… 

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The fragile eco-system of bio reserve Limoncocha, at the border of the Amazonas

Is there a better solution? Can technology help us? This of course triggers many questions…

Have you ever tried to measure your carbon footprint? Which tools did you a use?  In a future article we will  share our own energy calculator, it is our small contribution but first, let us switch off the lights.

The End

We reached it. After 7 months on the road, all the way from Cartagena, Colombia, we eventually arrived. Ushuaia, the most southern town on planet Earth. The end of the world.

So how far is the end of the world?

More than 30.000km on the continent, 103 buses, 6 planes, 13 boats, 67 taxis, 1 train, 1 car and 1 scooter? The figures speak for themselves. We are far!

Really? The GPS do not leave any doubt, our furthest position is S 54 51’40”. If you are looking for a reference from the north hemisphere, it would be Belfast, in northern Ireland or almost Copenhagen. In other words, living in Stockholm for 3 years, I was closer to the north pole than now, in Ushuaia, to the South one!

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Bucket list – sitting at the back of a pick-up truck

Our 5 days hike on the Quilotoa Loop has been rich of adventures, emotions and new discoveries (come on, I almost bought a pig!). As we wait for the bus on the side of the road in the small village of Tigua, our final stop before returning to civilization, a pick-up truck stops. Do we want a ride to Latacunga for $5? We don´t hesitate long, there is no better way to enjoy the landscape one more time, and to conclude such a unique experience!

Highlights of Sri Lanka – 2 weeks itinerary

There is a lots to see on this small island called Sri Lanka ! Beaches, Ruins, Temples, Hikes… the country offers plenty of adventures. Though, the short distances should allow you to discover a lot of its wonders even if you have only 2 weeks. Discover my suggestion of 2 weeks itinerary for a first visit to Ceylan.

Polonnaruwa

The complex of temples of Polonnaruwa is so huge that you should dedicate a complete day to explore it.

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A ride in the dark

“I know a good place for you. White Elephant really good. Green house, not good. I can arrange room for you, ok?”

We exchanged a quick look. It was enough. “No, we go to Green House. You agreed to drive us there. We booked at Green house.” -we didn’t. And we were just hoping that this guesthouse, mentioned in our Lonely Planet will still have a bed for us at this late time of the night.

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