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The Sabbatical Diaries: Chrissy’s South American Adventures

At Splendid, we recognise the hard work and passion that goes into the great work our staff produce and we recognise this with plenty of opportunities to take revitalising time out.  Day-to-day, this could mean a team lunch outing or after work tipple, as well as in-office yoga and meditation. In the long-term, we offer the chance of a three-month sabbatical and we’re always excited when one of our colleagues gets the chance to take one.

Chrissy Kellaway did just that, celebrating her three-year Splendid Anniversary (oh and her nuptials!) with an extended holiday to South America.

We’ll let her tell you about it…

South America. Where do I even begin describing this crazy, beautiful place? It’s such a diverse continent filled with incredible landscapes, scenery, history, gastronomy and some seriously wicked people. And that’s just barely scratching the surface of what it has to offer.

After getting married at the end of last year, my husband and I decided a two-week honeymoon just wasn’t going to cut it. So, we put our heads together and began planning one hell of a mega-moon to South America. In January of this year, we said goodbye to London life and set off on a 10-week adventure to a continent neither of us had ever stepped foot on before.

We were in total awe every single day and have returned to London with thousands of memories that will last a lifetime. Here are 10 of my favourite pictures that capture our trip and really bring our story to life.

Colombia:

A trip to Colombia wouldn’t be complete without checking out the country’s real goods – its coffee. Head to Salento, wander round Cocora Valley admiring the world’s tallest palm trees and then check out Finca El Ocaso, a working coffee farm with delicious coffee and breathtaking views.

Medellin is an incredible city with a dark (but interesting) history, great restaurants and really fun bars. It’s well worth joining in the free walking city tours to experience it like a local. In particular, Real City Tour and Communa 13 Walking Tour are not to be missed.

Peru:

Load up on suncream and bug spray and get away from it all with a few nights in the Amazon rainforest. We loved falling asleep to the sounds of the wildlife at Hacienda Concepcion – an eco-friendly lodge in the heart of the forest. Be sure to take a torch as electricity is only on for limited times each day.

Inca Trail – I know no one likes walking up stairs for 7 hours straight and then camping in the cold – but trust me – it’s worth it. You’ll be rewarded with unbeatable scenery, a real sense of accomplishment and awe-inspiring  Machu Picchu at the end. Make sure you do some research into the company you go with. I can recommend Llama Path, who goes over and above to treat their porters well.

Bolivia: 

I can see why cycling down the world’s most dangerous road, aptly named Death Road, doesn’t sound like the ideal honeymoon activity…but it’s definitely one for the bucket list. Despite my initial tumble over the handle bars, we both loved the 3,600m descent and, if you dare to look up from the road, the views are pretty awesome too.

This is where rainy season seriously won. With the whole of the Salt Flats covered in an inch of perfectly still water, the mirrored reflections here were insane. And the sunsets…Indescribable. The nearest town is pretty much deserted so skip that and, instead, stay in the desert in a hotel made entirely out of salt like Palacio de Sal.

Brazil:

We pretty much planned our whole trip around getting to Rio in time for Carnival. And it was totally worth it. Virtually anything goes here and no one parties like a Brazilian. Trust me. Street parties started at 8am and finished…well, I don’t think they ever did finish. For all I know, they could still be going now. Head to the Sambodrome for an all-night parade, some seriously wicked costumes and a bit of true Brazilian patriotism.

Buzios – this sleepy old fishing town is a real gem in Brazil. Diving, snorkelling and sunbathing. What could be better after a week partying in Rio? Head down to the pier and take out a boat with some local, friendly fishermen. They’ll take you to all the best, local spots to while away the afternoon.

Argentina:

A trip to Argentina wouldn’t be complete without visiting a winery. Or in our case, six. Head down to Maipu Bikes in Mendoza, grab your ride and off you go. We loved El Enamigo and Alandes. Both offered great wine tastings and gorgeous surroundings.

Buenos Aires has so much going for it and it’s worth really letting your hair down and doing it the traditional Argentine way. Of course, by that I mean partying until the early hours of the morning. Palermo is a great area to stay – it’s packed with delicious restaurants, candle-lit bars and boasts the best nightlife around. Casa Sur Palermo is a laid back, New York inspired hotel within easy walking distance of everything. Try and catch a football match whilst you’re there, whether you’re into it or not, the atmosphere really makes it worth it.