La Guajira

La Guajira is the northern peninsula of Colombia. It's very remote - a road less travelled by most tourists. We did the trip in 4 days / 3 nights with our Israeli friends, Ofri and Niv, who we met on the Ciudad Perdida Trek. Our driver took us 4x4, on dirt roads, to a remote village called Cabo De La Vela where we spent 1 night. We then took a small boat 3 hours across a pretty rough ocean, to Punta Gallinas. There are no hotels, hostels, or guesthouses out here... the area is mainly occupied by the Wayu Indigenous Tribes, so we were staying at their "Rancherias" (sleeping in hammocks again). The area is mainly desert but it was absolutely beautiful and well worth the trip (even despite Jen getting food poisoning and sea sickness).

On our way back to Taganga we had to wait for the truck to pick us up so Niv and Jen did a photoshoot of Dom and Ofri (she's an actual ballet dancer) frolicking in the in the desert sands. It was great entertainment to pass the time :)

Park Tayrona

Yaay beach time!!

Park Tayrona is a national park - it's a 1.5 hour drive from Santa Marta, plus a 2 hours hike in to get to the beautiful beaches where we stayed overnight. Note: we now understand how people could die while escaping the heat beneath the shadow of a coconut tree. A huge coconut dropped just a couple of meters away from us and made such a loud THUD that it woke us up from our beach nap! :)

Ciudad Perdida

The Ciudad Perdida (The Lost City) is the Machu Pichu of Colombia.

The journey is often more important than the destination… this is definitely the case with Ciudad Perdida.  The site of the Lost City is really impressive, but the 5 day / 4 night trek through Colombia's Sierra Nevada jungle is what really made the trip worthwhile.  Going up and down several hundred meters of altitude daily, through multiple river crossings, and non-stop breathtaking views... a total of 47km of walking roundtrip.  The most impressive thing is that it was SO hot that even after drinking 2+ litres of water per day, Dom only had to pee 3 times (just kidding).

Our casa lodging was also exquisite: exterior hammocks or beds with front row jungle views and the natural sounds of jungle to send our weary bodies to sleep.  An added plus - every casa had natural pools for us to escape the relentless heat and humidity.


Bogota in 6 days

Dom's nephew, Emilio, and his mom, Adriana, were kind enough to invite us to stay with them and show us around Bogota.

In 6 days, we mainly took it easy but managed to visit a few key sites...

La Candelaria (the old town)

Botero Museum

The Gold Museum

The house of Simon Bolivar (the liberator of Colombia)

Monserrate Peak (which gave us a nice view of the city)

The salt cathedral at Zipaquirá

And we finished our stay with dinner at Andrés Carne de Res in Chía (a unique restaurant which we will leave for another post).

Huge thanks Adriana, Emilio, and Carolina for making us feel welcome and taking the time to show us around!!

Andres de Carnes de Res

If you ever go to Bogota, you have to go to "Andrés de Carnes de Res".  This restaurant will surely entertain your senses. The food is good, the animation is good and there is a lot of things to see (puppeteers, weird characters walking around, tacky decorations, etc.) ….. this place is really huge.

If you can, go on a Friday or Saturday as you will have also people dancing Salsa on the dance floor.

Spider Pig

I thought the pig super heroes where just found in the Simpsons, but I guess I was wrong…. here are Bat Pig, Flash Pig and the Green Pigtern grafitti at a bus stop in Bogota.

Here are some other cool graffiti that were found in Bogota.

We Are On Our Way

We are finally on our way to the South-American leg of our trip. The last week was a bit hectic, but we made it and are ready to depart....there is nothing we can do anymore ;)

Our current plans are to explore Colombia for 3 weeks. Then travel to Peru for another 3 weeks where we will end up in Bolivia. After that, maybe Brazil, maybe Chile, maybe Asia, only time will tell. Finally, we wanted to say thanks to everyone for all your good wishes and we hope to see you along the way.

Merino Wool

One of the difficult choices you have when travelling for a year is what to bring and what to leave behind. When travelling for a 2 week trip, you usually try to make sure that you will not have to do any laundry.  However, for a year long trip, you cannot bring 365 T-Shirts.

That being said, I was looking for a shirt that I could wear more than 1 day and that was easy to wash. Looking around, I found two options:
    1) Exofficio who's slogan is: "17 Countries. 6 weeks and 1 pair of underwear. Okay, maybe two"
    2) Merino Wool: Merino Wool - Odor Control

In order to choose what I would bring, I put the T-Shirts to the test: Monday, I wore the shirt to work and to a volleyball game. Wednesday, I wore the same shirt to another volleyball game. Thursday I played Racquetball and volleyball. After all that, neither shirt smelled bad.... that is impressive.

At the end of the day, I choose the Merino shirt because they offer more variety than the Exofficio. The only problem with the Merino shirt is the price: A T-Shirt costs between $45 and $95.

Update (August 31st 2012): After 3 months of traveling, we prefer Merino Wool. The main reason is that it really holds to its oderless reputation. The only drawback we found is that sometimes it gets little holes.

My First Post

Welcome to "Beyond The Maple Tree". Jen and I will use this blog to recount and remember all our crazy adventures on this around the world journey.

At this time, we are still in Calgary preparing for our trip....There is still a lot that need to be done. We have not set a firm date yet, but are expected to depart sometime in 2012.

Hope you enjoy.

Dominic