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Treks of South America – Part 3: Colombia, Ecuador, and Antarctica
Go back to read:
Treks of South America – Part 1: Peru
Treks of South America – Part 2: The Patagonias (Chile and Argentina)
Continuing from Treks of South America – Part 2, below are treks found in Colombia, The Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, and South Georgia in the Antarctica region.
Trek to the Lost City in Colombia
Close to Santa Marta, Colombia, the tiny laid-back fishing village of Taganga is set in a horseshoe-shaped bay with the picturesque backdrop of the rugged Sierra Nevada Mountains. The bay is very popular for diving and snorkeling due to the diversity of marine life and the variety of dive sites. The village is the ideal base for trips to Tayrona National Park and trekking to the Ciudad Perdida – the Lost City.
Sitting at 1100m on the rugged slopes of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta is the mystical Lost City, the ruins of the ancient capital of the Tayrona people. It was discovered in 1975 by treasure hunters and is believed to have been built between the 11th and 14th century, before Peru’s Machu Picchu.
To reach it involves a trek through dense jungle, crossing hanging bridges and waist-deep rivers, and climbing 1260 steps at the entrance to the ruins. The Lost City itself is made up of a series of 169 terraces carved into the mountain, stone roads, plazas, and irrigation systems all overgrown with jungle vegetation.
5-Day Trek to the Lost City
Though not a formal trek, a visit to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador involves plenty of walking and exploring.
A modern Garden of Eden, the Islands allow the visitor to walk amongst nesting blue-footed boobies, albatrosses, frigatebirds, and cormorants, as well as dodge and side-step sleeping seals and marine and land iguanas.
A trip to the Galapagos Islands is as much exploring the region by land as it is by sea!
South Georgia (this trek is a great option when cruising in Antarctica)
Known as the “Galapagos of the Poles”, South Georgia has long been a centre for exploratory expeditions and commercial exploitation. Many of these original inhabitants arrived on the island to hunt whales and elephant seals. Wildlife populations were once decimated, but thankfully have rebounded, as whaling and sealing cease to exist today. You will see many remnants of these past activities, including several whaling stations and other abandoned outposts.
One significant and historic site is the grave of the great explorer, Sir Ernest Shackleton. You can visit his grave at the settlement of Grytviken, which is also home to an old whaling station, a museum, a small gift shop, a church, and a research station of approximately 20 scientists and support personnel.
Why is Sir Ernest Shackleton, one of Antarctica’s most famous explorers, buried in such a far-off and remote locale? Much of his fame is derived from his least successful expedition – but unquestionably one of the most successful stories of survival in modern times, with South Georgia playing a pivotal role.
After finding themselves stranded on the continent of Antarctica, Shackleton and some of his crew navigated an open boat from the Antarctica peninsula across the southern Atlantic, aiming for South Georgia where they knew help could be sought from the whaling station there. After numerous days in some of the roughest and least forgiving oceans of the world, his small band made landfall in South Georgia…..unfortunately on the opposite side to where the whaling station was. Thus, a hike followed over the island to finally raise the alarm and seek help.
Today, select departures to Antarctica offer those who want to truly challenge themselves in what can be harsh conditions, and also retrace the steps of one of the world’s physically and mentally toughest explorers, by crossing South Georgia on foot.
Falklands, South Georgia, and Antarctica Cruise
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