Life | 3 months ago

If you haven't made holiday plans for this summer, you should get some inspiration here.

I'm just back from backpacking for nine months through Central and South America. The January blues are real.

It was the best experience of my life so I wanted to give you a heads-up about eight amazing places you should think about visiting this summer.

The flight prices below are for a return ticket between June 1 and June 14, so if you want to go on a two week adventure in some of the most interesting places in the world, have a read.

1. Ilha Grande, Brazil

The 'Big Island' is one of the most beautiful places in Brazil. There are no cars, which tells you how peaceful it is, and the only mode of transport is water taxi.

The village of Abraão is where the majority of tourist stay and it's a great base for hikes to some amazing beaches, including Lopes Mendes which is considered one of the best in the country.

Getting there: Fly from Dublin to Rio for €588 (return), then catch a local bus to Angra dos Reis where you can take a boat to Ilha Grande.

2. Huaraz, Peru

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If you like hiking, mountain climbing, incredible scenery and not spending a lot of money then you need to go to the mountain city of Huaraz in central Peru.

The Cordillera Blanca and Cordillera Negra mountains surrounding the city contain 35 peaks over 5,000 metres. The place is sensational.

The highlights include Laguna 69, Laguna Peron, the Santa Cruz hike and the Pisco trail.

Getting there: Fly from Dublin to Lima for €775 (return), then catch an eight hour bus from the capital to Huaraz.

3. Buenos Aires, Argentina

I fell in love with Buenos Aires for a number of reasons; the weather, the food, the wine, the people, the architecture, the history, the parties and the Irish influence.

Argentina has the fifth biggest Irish population in the world which weirdly made me feel at home. It's like a bigger version of Madrid and it has everything you could ever want or need.

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The highlights are the La Boca, Sarmiento and Palermo neighbourhoods, Monday night at La Bomba de Tiempo and the chilling Memory Park.

Getting there: Fly from Dublin to Buenos Aires for €811 (return).

4. Pucón, Chile

If you're looking for an adventure holiday vibe mixed with some relaxation, then Pucón is the perfect place to visit.

You can hike to the crater of the Villarica volcano which erupted last March and you can do a thing called Hydrospeed that's basically one-person white water rafting. Extreme stuff.

If that's all too much, you can chill by the lake or visit the glorious Huerquehue National Park which is full of lagunas and waterfalls.

Getting there: Fly from Dublin to Santiago for €904 (return), then take a 12 hour bus south to Pucón.

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5. Machu Picchu, Peru

I know it seems like an obvious choice, and it is, but for a reason. A lot of people hyped-up Machu Picchu to me before I went there and I was afraid that my expectations were too high, but it totally exceeded them.

Machu Picchu. The perfect way to end the trip of a lifetime. Amazing, unforgettable times 🇵🇪⛰♥️🌎

A post shared by Joe Harrington (@imjoeharrington) on

I did a four day hike to it and it's one of the best experiences of my whole trip. The story of the Incas building it, the stonework, the scenery, the meaning of the place to Peruvians all combined blew me away.

Getting there: Fly from Dublin to Lima for €775 (return), then take a return flight from Lima to Cusco (€130 approx) and go from there.

6. La Guajira, Colombia

Colombia was my favourite country in South America, anyone that's been there will tell you the same.

It has everything, but for me, nothing quite comes close to the beauty and wildness of La Guajira and Punta Gallinas which is the most northerly point of South America.

The best part is getting there. You'll cross vast deserts that crash into the Atlantic Ocean, you'll see pink salt flats, you'll meet an indigenous tribe called Wayuus, eat lobster fresh from the sea and get within touching distance of flamingos.

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Getting there: Fly from Dublin to Bogota for €615 (return), then take a flight north to Santa Marta (€100 approx) and go from there.

7. Iguazu Falls, Argentina

They're one of the most famous natural wonders of the world and they won't disappoint if you manage to travel there this year.

You can see the falls from the Brazilian side and the Argentinian side and I recommend doing both, but the Argie side is much better.

The Devil's Throat is where you can get within a few metres of the biggest falls in the place and it makes you feel tiny. I found the place hard to comprehend, it was genuinely amazing.

Getting there: Fly to Sao Paolo for €626 (return), then take a 15 hour bus to the Brazilian side of the falls and go from there.

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8. Uyuni Salt Flats, Bolivia

Another favourite with backpackers in South America, but it's 100% worth going there. I've never seen anything like it in my life.

The salt flats themselves are mind-blowing with salt literally as far as the eye can see, but the journey there takes you to places David Attenborough filmed the new Planet Earth II. It's stunning.

Three days of desert, lakes, geysers, hot springs, llamas, salt hotels, boulders, quinoa farms, salt flats, cactus islands, train cemeteries and more. Do it.

Getting there: Fly from Dublin to Santiago for €904 (return), then take your time going north to the Bolivian border and stop off in the towns of Valparaiso and San Pedro de Atacama before taking the Uyuni tour.

***

Safe travels.

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Well hello there! Keep reading! While you're here...


Check out Episode 4 of The JOE Show - Ireland's first social chat show - featuring live studio guest Alison Spittle, we have the craic with Russell Kane and his tidy haircut, music from Tim Chadwick, the best new comedy sketches and Kymann Power tracks down Mark Ronson in Ibiza.


That's right, IBIZA. The lucky fecker.


Enjoy...


Read more about:

Travel, Backpacking, South America