The Essential Backpackers' Guide to South America, Part 5

Published: 03/24/2014

Following on from the previous articles in this series which outlined the safety and common sense tips that every backpacker should adhere to aswell as a general overview of South America, with more detail on Argentina, Brazil, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia and Ecuador.  We now continue with our focus on Guyana, Paraguay and Peru.

Guyana is made up of a narrow and fertile marshy plain where most of the population live and a white sand belt, rainforests, the desert and interior lowlands.  The local climate is tropical and hot and humid.  There are two rainy seasons: from May to august and again from November to January.  The main language used in education, media and government is English but the vast majority speak Creole.  Getting around is either by road or railway and they make up 5,000 miles and 116 miles of routes respectively. 

The culture in Guyana is similar to English-speaking Caribbean.  There is a substantial Amerindian population with a blend of Indo-Guyanese and Afro-Guyanese cultures.  The cuisine is also similar to the Caribbean.  It is a fusion of African, Creole, East Indian, Portuguese, Amerindian, Chinese and European.

A short list of the top sites to visit in Guyana includes:  Kaieteur Falls – a waterfall on the Potaro River over 700 feet and five times taller than Niagara; Orinduik Falls – another of the 300 waterfalls in Guyana; Iwokrama Rainforest reserve and Canopy walkway – located in the heart of the Guiana Shield; Shell Beach – extendign for 90 miles along the northwestern shore, a  haven for sea turtles; Essequibo River – Guyana’s main waterway.

Paraguay is divided by the Rio Paraguay and the terrain consists of wooded hills, grassy plains and marshy plains.  The climate can range from temperate to subtropical and seasons are usually only wet and dry like most lands in the area.  Rainfall varies a lot across the country with more in the eastern areas.  The language most spoken in Paraguay is Guarani and Spanish is also understook by about 90 percent of the population. 

The heritage of their culture can be traced back to the marrying between indigenous Guarani brides and the original male Spanish settlers.   This fusion of cultures is expressed in the arts, music and cuisine of Paraguay to this day.  The culinary trends include dishes, which don’t vary greatly, made up of mainly meat, vegetables, manioc, maize and fruits, corn, milk, cheese and fish.  Barbecuing is a popular social activity. 

Some top sites in Paraguay include: Asuncion – the Capital; National Pantheon of the Heroes – a museum; Palacio de los Lopez – a palace; Casa de la Independencia Museum – another museum and Caacupe – a city definitely worth seeing.

Peru borders Ecuador, Colombia, Brazil, Bolivia and Chile.  The country is defined by three regions:  The costa (coast), the Sierra (highlands) and the Selva (jungle). 

The traditions that govern Peruvian culture are primarily rooted in Spanish and Amerindian and the cuisine reflects local practices and ingredients which includes influence from the Inca, Spanish, Chinese, Italian, German, Japanese and African cuisines.  Three traditional staples include corn, potatoes and chili peppers.  Spanish staples are rice, wheat and meats and traditional foods include quinoa, kaniwa, roots and tubers.

Top 10 sites in Peru: Huacachina – located near Ica, a tiny oasis town in the desert; Chan Chan – the largest city in pre-Columbian America; Mancora – a small town featuring eru’s best sandy beach; Iquitos – the Peruvian Amazon jungle; Nazca Lines – created between 200 BC and 700 AD; Santa Catalina Monastery – founded in 1580; Uros Islands – artificial islands made of dried totora reeds; Plaza de Armas – the centre of the historic section in Cuzco; Colca Canyon – of the Colca River, in the Andes mountain range; Machu Picchu – one of the most beautifu and impressive ancient sites in the world.

 
Posted in: Travel Advice
 
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