I'm especially excited to post the finalists of Intrepid Travel's December photo competition, all of which fall within the theme of 'Latin America'. Why? Because on a personal note, the timing could not be more perfect.
Below you'll find a captivating image of a traveller contemplating a game of checkers with two young boys, framed by a hectic Santiago de Cuba street. In fact, I just returned from Cuba last week. I went with my fiancé and 43 of our nearest and dearest, where we hosted our wedding overlooking azure seas. We returned to Canada husband and wife, but it wasn't without some heartache. You see, I've fallen madly in love with Havana's decaying beauty after a whirlwind 20-hour visit. Put Havana atop your bucketlist because I'm predicting this city will soon become the Paris of the Americas.
A handful of the other finalists capture the wonders of Peru and Bolivia. In just a few day's time I'll be making my way to Lima, la ciudad de los reyes or 'City of the Kings'. During our three week honeymoon my husband and I will travel to Cusco and Machu Picchu before travelling deep into Bolivia, a country so obscure that its high-altitude charms still elude most holidaymakers. (I've defended this Shangri-La nation against many why-would-you-honeymoon? there type enquiries.)
If circumstances have you bound to your desk this month, don't worry, we'll bring you along with us. (Do you follow us on Instagram yet?) In the meantime, enjoy these incredible photos from Central and South America.
Train Cemetery lies 3-km beyond Uyani's city limits and is a popular stop for travellers exploring the Salar de Uyuni, the world's largest salt flats. One immediately sees the appeal. Cloaked in Mad Max style apocalyptic abandon, the rusting trains are a photographer's dream.
Paracas National Reserve, Peru
Peru might not be lauded for its beaches but we'd be happy to lounge about on this strand. Paracas National Reserve protects a rich marine habitat and is a cultural epicentre the Paracas people.
A Peruvian woman fusses with dyed Alpaca yarn in Ollantaytambo, a destination often visited by day trippers basing themselves in Cusco. Weaving is a tradition in Peru that dates back 5,000 years and is still culturally and economically important to the people of the high Andes.
Machu Picchu, Peru
If a picture says a thousand words, what thousand words could we type that haven't already been penned about Machu Picchu? How about we offers some advice instead? If you're planning to trek Machu Picchu, do it any month of the year except February. The Inca Trail closes for the month for maintenance and repairs.
Not to be confused with the Caribbean island of the same name, Antigua is one of three UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Guatemala. (And all are worth visiting!) This yellow arch is famous the world over and makes for an iconic photo. I love how the photographer captured the clock face in puddle.
Spanish-Baroque architecture, Colonial churches and colourful facades, what's not to love about this city? The odd mid-century car and horse-drawn carriage has feeling as if we're suffering a bit of a time warp.
Pictured above is the Blue Footed Booby, fun to say no? This high-on-personality sea bird is found as far north as the Gulf of California, but most mating pairs call the Galapagos Islands home. Fun fact: the vibrancy of their blue feet directly indicate the booby's level of nourishment.
Santiago de Cuba, Cuba
Most travellers flock to the beaches of Varadero and Cayo Santa Maria, and of course the buzzing streets of Havana. However, travellers who wander to the island's southern city of Santiago de Cuba will be rewarded by improvised street music and salsa.
Torres del Paine, Chile
Welcome to Patagonia, a wild and rugged corner of the Earth shared by Chile and Argentina. It's a steppe plain the size of Alberta, filled with volcanoes, glaciers, mountains, desert, rivers and chain lakes. It's little wonder that Patagonia attracts trekkers from around the globe. The biggest natural attractions include the Perito Moreno glacier, the Valdés Peninsula, Argentine Lake District and Ushuaia and Tierra del Fuego.
Perito Moreno Glacier, Patagonia, Argentina
Counted among Patagonia's most popular destinations, Los Glaciares National Park's Perito Moreno Glacier is remarkable for a few reasons. First, in the face of global warming headlines, this glacier is actually growing. Second, if it wasn't obvious from the image above, it's huge. The glacier's terminus, also the location of the viewing platforms, measures 5-km wide and on average, stands 74-m tall.
Fitz Roy, Patagonia, Argentina
The snow-capped peaks of Fitz Roy reveal a special surprise to those who rise early enough to catch sunrise. This trek is popular because it is well-marked and doesn't demand a guide or porter to navigate it. Depending on the chosen route, the trek will take most hikers three to five days to complete.
La Paz, Bolivia
For a second month in a row, the photo contest winner captures the adorable face of a young child. Nice capture Florencia, congrats!
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Photos provided by small group adventure provider Intrepid Travel
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