12th August 2000

Peru

Cuzco and Machu Picchu are almost obligatory on a trip to Peru and they are definitely unmissable. Warding off altitude sickness, here in the high Andes, is the first challenge. There are baskets of coca leaves scattered around our hotel; I’m not sure if they’re working, but they make my tongue go very numb. Cuzco is a tourist hub and trekking mecca, the South American Kathmandu, a gorgeous maze of red roofed houses ringed by mountains.
15th August 2000

Bolivia

The famous Witches' Market is a fascinating (and creepy) hotch potch of weird items: spell boxes, amulets, lotions and potions, llama foetuses (essential for the foundations of new buildings), aphrodisiacs, snakes, dried frogs, turtles, feathers and armadillos. Presiding over this hocus pocus are the ladies of La Paz in their scarves and bowler hats.
30th July 2004

Brazil

I’ve already learned to love the national drunk, the caipirinha. A typical serving costs about 50 pence and is lethal. One is usually plenty. Kurt and Candida go one better than just getting drunk and participate in a mock wedding at one bar. The ring is a free gift.
6th January 2005

Chile

From the tranquillity of the Everglades to the tranquillity of Easter island. The journey not so tranquil. Three flights. Rice and chicken three times. Around the World in 80 Days three times (not worth seeing the first time and, anyway, am doing it in 62!). Lose my tickets - all of them.
7th January 2005

Argentina – Patagonia

Then to Argentina El Calafate and an excursion to the colossal Perito Moreno glacier. Nearly 300 feet high, a land area the size of Buenos Aires and a mass of blue peaks like giant frozen penguins marching into the sea. (There are more real penguins, too).
13th October 2010

Venezuela

We’re a motley crew and it’s described as a trip ‘which emphatically goes off the beaten track’- that’s a bit of an understatement, especially as pioneer means that this is the first time the company have run this trip. so anything can happen.
17th October 2010

Guyana

The roads are red soil, still unpaved and after much bumping a ferry is involved. It’s another long wait while the bus is perilously edged onto the ‘boat’ – it’s a contraption of wood planks with an engine attached. No roads, no scheduled planes. More ignominious weighing as we embark on light aeroplanes to reach the capital  Georgetown.
17th October 2010

Suriname

This is a region of sugarcane and rice plantations and its low lying and so is threaded by drainage canals – and yes the odd windmill. 
17th October 2010

French Guiana

It’s a short trip across to St Laurent, in French Guiana. This was the French equivalent of Botany Bay, a receiving station for new inmates bound for the notoriously brutal penal colony.