I love South America- my bucket list contains visiting every single country, mountain, beach, waterfall and river in South America. To date, I have been to Venezuela (Angel Falls and Merida) Peru (Macchu Picchu, and northern Peru) Ecuador (Galapagos, Riobamba, Banos). My favorite resource is South American Explorers. They are so helpful, nice and just great people. Their clubhouses offer events, maps, books, storage, eco- tourism, advice and more. But since I’m not traveling now, I subscribe to their newsletter to keep up to date on what is happening down in South America!
Here are some quick news updates from their latest newsletter
Did you Know…that Venezuela has a desert??
Coro, apart from being one of the oldest cities in Venezuela, was also the country’s first capital and was eventually named a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1993. The city lies on the neck of the Peninsula de Paraguaná that juts out into the Caribbean Sea and was once part of the sea itself. Today, however, it is more often frequented by travellers wanting to marvel at El Parque Nacional Médanos de Coro, located a mere two kilometres outside of the city centre. Indeed, one of the strangest and most magical things about Los Médanos is how easily accessible they are. It is as simple as parking your car, buying a packet of crisps or an ice-cream from the street vendors sat by the side of the road and then going for a walk in the sand.
The 30 meter high sand dunes really are a curious site. They lead the lonely traveller northwards towards the edge of the peninsula and it is thought that these natural wonders were formed due to centuries of winds and waves from the coastal region nearby. It is possible to hire horses or buggies to cross the dunes in style, but walking is just as popular and highly enjoyable. Large numbers of Venezuelans also bring plastic bags with them when visiting the great sands to use as make-shift sledges. Sliding down sand dune after sand dune makes the most out of a free afternoons entertainment for the whole family, particularly as the sand is so smooth and fast.
Knowing about this rare natural spot makes it more baffling as to why Venezuela remains one of the least visited countries in South America. The country is home to the world’s longest cable car, its highest waterfall and, as you now know, a freak desert formed within the unlikely outskirts of an old colonial city. Venezuela and Los Médanos are nothing but magnificent in my eyes.
Peru Amazon Confrontation
The latest news in Peru has been the unrest in the Amazon region and recently in the pueblo of Bagua, which has been going on for almost two months. There have been many protests from the indigenous people living in the areas affected by the governmental decrees of unchecked development in their territory. The decrees are part of private investment policies within the Free Trade Agreement signed with the United States, as well as other laws that impede their own territorial rights. Unfortunately, there have already been casualties on both sides of the conflict, along with strict government impositions such as curfews. For travelers, this means that some roads have been blocked off and popular tourist destination like Cajamarca-Chachapoyas-Tarapoto-Yurimaguas are more difficult to arrive at BY ROAD. Flying is not affected. The government and the “Nativos” have restarted the dialogue to resolve the dispute, however further strikes have been announced. Check with your embassy before travel for warnings which may affect your travel insurance.
More information on the situation can be found here:
*Oil companies “should withdraw” as Peru “faces its Tiananmen”, Survival International Press Release, 8 June 2009
Galapagos – A World Heritage in Danger- International Galapagos Tour Operators Association – Making Tourism Part of the Solution
The Galapagos Islands face serious threats to their unique biodiversity. In 2007, the UNESCO World Heritage Centre placed them on their list of World Heritage Sites in Danger. In response these threats, the International Galapagos Tour Operators Association (IGTOA) has launched a new education and funding program to help meet the challenge of lasting protection for the islands.
The program is designed to help travelers understand the serious issues facing Galapagos, and how travelers themselves can be part of the solution. Visitors to the islands can provide critical financial support for scientific research and conservation and follow best practices during their travel.
For more information see www.igtoa.org
Andes Slopes Waterfall Volunteer Project-World travelers needed to protect one of the worlds most pristine areas.
This is a lifetime opportunity for travelers to create a legacy with a worthwhile project that will provide an infrastructure to a small community. The best part is this project will be a fraction of the cost of normal tours that only follow the tourist hordes to the name brand sites without actually benefiting the area itself.
Volunteers are needed for building a trail to the recently “discovered” highest waterfall in Peru. This waterfall is about three times as high as the (324m) Eiffel Tower.
Three years ago the Gocta waterfall was “discovered” that was over twice as high as the Empire State Building in northern Perus Department of Amazonas. This is not the lower Amazon Basin but rather where the main trunk tributaries are all falling out of the worlds 2nd highest mountains to enter the worlds greatest rainforest. Gocta made world news at that time and since has brought many new tourists to this remote zone. Due to Goctas local popularity other Andean Natives came forward mentioning several other waterfalls which they claimed were as high or higher. One such waterfall met the challenge; The Andes Slopes Waterfall was measured to be much higher in fact, around 896m or 2938 feet and has yet to make the world news.
Our goal for the Andes Slope Waterfall is to assist and support the local community in becoming the caretakers and sole benefactors of this natural wonder. Creating this infrastructure will give the locals a prideful responsibility and a financial ability to protect and share this treasure with visitors into the future.
We are in need of “a few good volunteers” to assist the locals in developing a path similar to an “Inca Trail-type roads” to pass by several waterfalls higher than any in the USA. For more information see: http://www.andesslopeswaterfall.com or email project leader Charles Motely on firstname.lastname@example.org