“We travel not to escape life, but for life not to escape us” – unknown
We are Bruce & Rebecca and The Yellow Van. We’ve been married for 15 years, living ordinary professional couple lives, but for the last 10 years we cultivated a dream (frequently feeding it with good bottles of wine) to take time out for an epic road-trip. In the summer of 2014, we turned the dream into reality, giving up our “good” jobs, getting rid of most of our accumulated stuff (putting the rest in storage), renting out our house in Oxford and moving into our converted yellow VW T4 – “The Yellow Van”. In October 2014 we shipped the van from London to Montevideo, Uruguay, for the start of our overland adventure in Latin America. You can see where we’ve been so far on our route map page and read our postcards home, accompanied by lots of photos. There are more frequent Facebook updates here. We are also doing occasional blogs on some themes of the trip (such as wine tasting, rock climbing, …) under the heading topics. Having been all the way south to “the end of the world” (Tierra del Fuego) and on to Antarctica, our original idea was to drive all the way to Mexico, but we have slowed down as we have travelled and taken our time to enjoy what we are seeing and experiencing. We now plan to finish our driving trip with a long stay in Colombia and return to the UK in the spring of 2017. The picture above was taken in front of the Torres del Paine in the far south of Chile in January 2015.
One thing that Becca has repeatly said during our trip is that she would like to see an opera at the opera house in Manaus. Manaus is right in the middle of the Brazilian Amazon, on the confluence of the Rio Negro and the Amazon, and emerged as the capital of the rubber boom in the late nineteenth century. When things were going well, it was such a rich city that building a grand opera house, importing marble etc. from Italy, seemed a reasonable thing to do! Manaus is down stream from Iquitos in Peru, so once we had done our conservation trip, we thought it would be an interesting experience to travel down the Amazon by boat to get there.
Something like a third of South America is taken up by the basin of the river Amazon. The outflow into the Atlantic is greater than the next seven largest rivers in the world combined and accounts for 20% of the freshwater flowing into the world’s seas. So we just had to visit it at some point on our trip. After spending the last week of March 2016 with a bit of a beach holiday in Zorritos on the north coast of Peru, we flew to Iquitos on Friday 1st April to start our Amazonian adventure with a conservation cruise up river of Iquitos. Part II of our Amazon blogs will describe our journey down the Amazon to Manaus in the heart of Brazil. Continue reading
As two biologists who both studied evolutionary biology, the Galapagos Islands are an iconic destination and one that we had every intention of doing thoroughly! Indeed, when we were in the early planning stages for our South American adventure, even before we had thought about what sort of vehicle we would get, we had a line in our budget for our visit to the islands. On the 6th March 2016, after about 40,000km of driving round South America, we finally touched down. Our time there was spent mostly on two boat tours – a diving trip to the excellent diving locations around the remote northern islands of Wolf and Darwin, followed by a more traditional naturalist cruise round the western islands. Continue reading
We wouldn’t exactly describe ourselves as foodies, but we do like our food and enjoy eating out regularly. Learning about and trying the different foods we have, and are yet to, encounter on this trip is an important part of the travel experience for us and we suspect we are choosing to spend more of our budget on dining out than many of the other overlanders we meet on the road. Given that, we arrived in Lima (on Tuesday 16th February 2016), dubbed the food capital of South America and one of the world’s great dining destinations, with high hopes for some gastronomic experiences. But a good meal (or two) every day for six days was more of a splurge than even we had anticipated! Continue reading
To drive along the coast of Peru is to journey through numerous cultures spanning more than 6,000 years, charting the rise and fall of civilazations. As we travelled north up the coast in February 2016, we visited as many archaeological sites as we could to try and get an understanding of the pre-Columbian history of this fascinating country, as well as taking some time to appreciate the rich coastal sea-life. Continue reading
This blog describes the second of two exciting mountain drives to and fro across the Andes of Southern Peru, taking in two of the deepest canyons in the world, Colca and Cotahuasi. This drive took us from the historic city of Arequipa, through the remote Cotahuasi canyon and over one of our highest passes yet, to join the major road to Ayacucho, arriving just in time for the start of its carnaval on 6th February. Continue reading
We set off from Cusco on Sunday 17th January 2016 to cross the Andes southwards to Peru’s second city of Arequipa. Given we were in the midst of the wet season in the mountains, we expected to simply drive north up the coast of Peru from there, but that wasn’t quite how things developed. This blog describes the first of two exciting mountain drives to and fro across the Andes, taking in two of the deepest canyons in the world, Colca and Cotahuasi. This drive, the first of the two, took us to the historic city of Arequipa and its famous convent of Santa Catalina, via the picturesque Colca canyon and its condors. Continue reading