We’re feeling a little nostalgic today. Thanks to the magic of Facebook memories, we got reminded that exactly one year ago today, we struck out on one of the biggest adventures of our lives: a four-day trek to Machu Picchu on the fabled Inca Trail. It was a high point in our ongoing quest to visit as many South American countries as possible while we’re living here in Colombia. The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu were so memorial that we covered them in two separate posts, here and here.

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Our excited group, ready to start the four-day hike on the Inca Trail
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Four days later, arriving at Machu Picchu

In fact, that experience was only one slice of our fantastic three-week journey through Peru. Here’s the library of all our Peru posts. 

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We’ve made some progress on our scratch-off map of South America – but we have several countries left to explore!

We’re plotting our next South American adventures now, and one area we’re focusing on is the northern coast bordering the Caribbean. A big stretch of that coast is in Colombia, and we have a trip planned there in November. While Venezuela is off limits due to the tragic political situation there, we’re especially intrigued by the three little countries further east: Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. Until very recently, these three countries have been off the tourist radar; in fact, their tourism infrastructures are just started to develop. That makes them even more attractive in our view! From what we’ve read, Suriname in particular is a place of incredible natural beauty, with abundant nature reserves filled with lush jungle terrain and waterfalls. 

And now for the reblog

Our friends Lisa and Fabio are sailors and adventurers who just completed a circumnavigation aboard their sailboat, Amandla. We had the pleasure of meeting them in Curuçao, where they had lots of tales of their recent stopover in French Guiana. Lisa is a gifted writer and photographer, and her blog is a delight – especially to former sailors like us.

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Fabio and Lisa in Curuçao

Here’s Lisa’s account of their visit to the infamous Devils Island, a former French penal colony made famous by the novel Papillon.

If our South Pacific transit was all things James Cook, our return to the North Atlantic was infused with Papillon, the infamous escapee from Devils Island.

Read the rest here:  Sailing to Freedom: Our Escape to Devils Island

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One of Lisa’s pictures from Íle du Diable in French Guiana

So what else is on our South America bucket list?

  • Visiting all the patrimonios (historic colonial towns) in Colombia.
  • The Amazonian areas of Colombia and Peru.
  • Chile, especially Patagonia.
  • The Patagonian and wine-producing areas of Argentina. 
  • Bolivia.
  • Brazil. It’s so vast – we haven’t quite figured out what parts to visit yet.

We’d love to hear from other readers who have visited Guyana, Suriname, and French Guiana. What were your experiences? Any tips you’d like to share?


  1. Early adopters are my kind of folks! We will be interested in your fact finding, so thank you in advance 😉. PS: Is Cuidad Perdida on the northern Colombian list? To be continued…

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      It most definitely is! There’s so much more to see and do in Colombia. We’re headed to Santa Elena and Tayrona in November but need to save Ciudad Perdida for another time, since it’s a four-day trek in and out. I don’t recall – did you two do Ciudad Perdida when you were here?

      • Nancy Maio Reply

        We did not as it was closed for the month of our stay. It’s on our list! We will Write you soon to catch up before you head off.

  2. I spent two weeks in Guyana many years ago with the Iowa National Guard, wearing the pickle suit, flying a Chinook, helping to build schools in the jungle. At that time Guyana was (clearly) lacking any sort of tourism amenities. I’m talking about none, zero, nada. Again, at that time, possibly 25 years ago, the gap between rich and poor was stark and unrelenting. Beautiful country, extremely rugged, with very poor road and public use infrastructure, and some of the truly poorest people I’ve ever seen. Tarpaper shacks with corrugated metal roofs were the norm, with no inside plumbing, and no electricity. And hot! Sweet Jesus, I thought I’d melt. Between 11 am and 3 pm, nothing moved in the searing heat. Again, that was 25 years ago. I hope things have improved.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Love your stories, and one of these days you’ll have to tell me what a pickle suit is 🙂 No question, that whole northern SA coast is “hotter than the hinges of hell,” as my dad used to say. One of my all-time hottest memories was touring the big castillo in Cartagena at mid-day – thought I was going to die.

      These three countries had been off our list to visit until recently, but now they’re getting more attention from tourists and travel companies. Here’s an interesting blog post about Suriname: https://twomonkeystravelgroup.com/suriname-complete-travel-guide/. I wonder how much things have changed in 25 years?

  3. Thank you so much for the reblog! How awesome are you?!?

    I wish we could travel every bit of South America with you. We’ve loved our time in Colombia (and Brazil and French Guiana) and are so not ready to sail onward. Guess we will just have to go around again …or sail right back here after our trip up to Baja. Glad that I have your blog to keep my in South America (virtually) for awhile longer.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      You are so welcome, amiga! Something tells me you have another trip to Colombia in your future. See you soon!

  4. Janis Peace Reply

    Hi Susan and John! Great to hear from you! I love your posts!! Got to run to an appointment but love you both! Janis Peace

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hi Janis – so great to hear from you! Come down for a visit sometime.

  5. I enjoyed Peru very much and your post brought back fond memories of Machu Picchu for me. I haven’t been to Suriname, Guyana or French Guyana so look forward to hearing more about them. I’ve been to Chile and Argentina. They’re both wonderful countries to explore.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Thanks for your comment, Natalie. Glad we’re connected in “blog-land”!

  6. We were so excited to see Lisa’s post about the completion of the circumnavigation! What a delight it was to meet her in Australia and oh so close in Thailand. Isn’t it incredible how the blogging world brings people together?

    As to South America, Dave used to do some work there so he is far more traveled than i. We did a cycling trip in Peru a few years ago which was extraordinary and fairly challenging I might add. Following that we went on to visit Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands which I definitely would recommend.

    • John and Susan Pazera Reply

      Hello Sue – so sorry I’m just now replying to your lovely comment! Yes, we are so privileged to have first connected with Lisa and Fabio through the blogging world and then when they visited Colombia.

      We did make it to Ecuador (Quito) and the Galapagos – a huge highlight of our South America adventure! Did quite a bit of blogging about it. We’re going back down to Cuenca next year to check out that area – looking forward to it.

      Happiest of New Years to you!

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