Ancient ruins found in Cusco

Over the past few months we’ve interviewing some of the best and most adventurous travel bloggers in the world. In this interview, we’ll be speaking to the amazing Flora from Flora the Explorer.

Read about some of her adventures below!

You’ve spoken about easy ethical mistakes that travellers can make on their journey, and we thought this was a great article. Are there any specific ones that you could mention for anywhere in South America since you wrote that post?

Plenty! Unfortunately, it’s pretty easy to make ethical mistakes wherever you’re travelling. The biggest ones are usually relating to children or animals; any type of volunteer project at an orphanage or children’s home should ring alarm bells, and any would-be volunteers should do a hefty amount of research prior to committing to a project like this.

Specifically in South America, there are a lot of animal rehabilitation centres in the Amazon which offer volunteer projects – I never worked at any of them but it’s recommended to get in touch with past volunteers and decide whether the projects offered are ethical.

There’s also the topic of environmental preservation, something it’s crucial for travellers to be aware of.

Locations like Machu Picchu in Peru and the Galapagos in Ecuador are high-risk for being negatively affected by thousands of tourists each day, so we have to minimise our impact as much as possible. No littering and reusing our plastics (or better yet, not using them to begin with) is a great place to start.

We saw that you managed to do the Galapagos in six days for $600! It can be quite expensive there, but do you have any general money saving tips for people travelling more broadly?

If you’re travelling long term the costs can really add up – but then again, long term travel is also really helpful for budgeting.

The biggest day-to-day costs are usually paying for accommodation as single night stays, and eating out instead of cooking. If you spend a few weeks, a month or longer in one destination then you’re able to rent a room/apartment and pay one upfront fee for your home base, which should hopefully include a bed and a kitchen!

Cooking in foreign countries is so much fun regardless – you get to visit local markets, try new ingredients and get to grips with cooking local cuisine!

If you’re not keen on renting somewhere long term, then volunteering/work exchange projects which offer you homestays are also really helpful.

Tranquil waters in Puerto Ayora Harbour

Your post on Colombian coffee is quite fascinating. We love coffee. Would you say Colombia has the best kind, and are there any styles of coffee that you would recommend in South America that aren’t quite available in Europe?

Drinking tinto in Colombia was definitely my favourite coffee experience in South America: there’s an entire culture around it, and Colombians are downright obsessed with the black stuff! I drank coffee in every South American country I visited but I don’t think I found any better than in Colombia.

I know you tried to learn Spanish before you went over to South America, but what would you say are the most crucial words or phrases going over there? 

I recommend that any South America travellers have at least a level of beginner’s Spanish (greetings, hello/goodbye, being polite, saying thank you etc), but I’d also say your attitude is just as important! Being open to conversation and not being afraid of getting it wrong goes a long, long way.

For my first six months in Ecuador I was learning the language but never trying to practice – so I didn’t improve at all. It was only when my (much more fluent) friends left and I was traveling totally solo that I finally HAD to start speaking to strangers in Spanish – and I improved steadily from then onwards!

The beach you discovered in Paracas sounds amazing, but what would you say was your favourite beach-side location in South America?

The Pacific Ocean laps over beaches in Paracas.

Apart from Paracas, my favourite beach area was probably Colombia’s caribbean coast.

Over a few different visits to that part of the country I spent time in Cartagena, Santa Marta, Taganga, Costeño, Palomino and Tayrona Park – all in all, I felt like I really got to know the Caribbean side of Colombia!

We see that you have a love of Doritos, but what was your number one food throughout South America? Is there any that you’d simply wish was widely available in Europe?

My favourite meal in South America was probably Peruvian ceviche – once I realised how much I loved it, I ended up eating it for most meals (until the sharpness of the lemon juice got too much!).

I also really loved the salteñas in Bolivia – such a perfect snack food, particularly when you’re grabbing them from your favourite stall at Sucre’s market (which I did every day for at least a month straight!).

Flora - Flora the Explorer

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