Latin America


The original blog – “roylloydjones” – started out as an almost daily journal from my eleven month backpacking trip around Latin America in 2005/06, recording daily events as I travelled by any mode of transport available – car, bus, train, aeroplane, rickshaw, canoe, sail boat, speed boat and ferry, eventually travelling this route from Northern Mexico to Patagonia.

Every entry is still available on this site, so you can read about visits to ancient ruins, natural and man-made wonders, modern cities and remote villages, see photos of crossing the Andes and sailing in the Caribbean and browse tales of hiking in natural parks and watching a football game in Argentina.

Travelling is full of different experiences that will take you away from routine, and this trip was no exception. I slept in hotels, hostels, tents, hammocks, buses and boats; ate fabulous steaks in Argentinian Parrilladas and wonderful tacos from Mexican street stalls; drank exotic fruit cocktails on the Caribbean coast and coca leaf tea high up in the Bolivian Andes. I swam with sea lions in Argentina, got woken up by monkeys in Mexico and shared Macchu Picchu with the llamas in Peru.

I experienced many landscapes and conditions – deserts, jungles, plains, mountains, rainforests, rivers and oceans. By reading, you can share in some favourite moments – learning Spanish in a Colonial city, a jeep trip to the largest salt plains in the world and a train journey to the largest canyon.

Read these pages and you can take a Jeep trip to the largest salt plains in the world and a train journey to the largest canyon. Cycle on the most dangerous road in the world. White water raft in the Andes. Climb an active volcano. Trek in the Andes. Swim in a Patagonian river

See the Panama Canal, the ancient cities of Teotihaucan, Palenque, Tulum and Tikal. Visit Mexico City, the largest city in the world, La Paz the highest city in the world, the cosmopolitan Buenos Aires, the colonial architecture of Guanajuato and Oaxaca, and the tiny island community of Mexcaltitlan.

Unfortunately it wasn’t all fun and games. I had my passport and bank cards stolen from a bus, a close encounter with a Colombian rebel group. A friend nearly lost his sight due to a parasite in his eye.

Whether it is, a boat nearly sinking, a 27 hour bus journey, going deep underground to the silver mines, responsible for millions of deaths over the last 500 years, or being stranded in a desolate Andean village, roylloydjones documents it. At the end of the trip, I wrote a Packing List and short review of my clothing and equipment, in order that anyone planning the same kind of trip can benefit. Also be sure to read my list of Six Essential Items To Carry Whilst Travelling.

Should you choose to read about the entire eleven months from beginning to end, or just the bits that interest you, I hope you enjoy the story.

USA (Days 1 to 11) >>

Mexico (Days 12 to 60) >>

Guatemala (Days 61 to 101) >>

Honduras (Days 101 to 112) >>

Nicaragua (Days 112 to 125) >>

Panama (Days 126 to 140 & 265 to End) >>

Argentina (Days 140 to 172 & 175 to 190) >>

Chile (Days 172 to 175) >>

Bolivia (Days 175 to 212) >>

Peru (Days 212 to 237) >>

Ecuador (Days 237 to 239) >>

Colombia (Days 239 to 256) >>

Equipment Review


1 Pair Trousers - used sparingly, in nightclubs and whe ntemperature dipped – especially in Bolivia
1 Pair Cargo Shorts – used extensively. I recommend Gap. Lasted very well, had pockets repaired in Panama then replaced in Colombia.
3 T Shirts - White t-shirts didn’t last too well. Easy and cheap to buy when replacement needed.
2 Vests - Easy and cheap to buy when replacement needed.
1 Shirt
Haverhill C.C. Baseball Cap
Woolly Hat – used sparingly, but always handy to have – again especially in Bolivia.
Belt - As it turned out, I put on a lot of weight around the waist. Who would have thought.
Swimming Shorts
4 Pairs Boxer Shorts – Not enough.
3 Pairs Socks – Enough.
1 Pair Flip Flops – Every day wear. Replaced in Argentina. Havaianas are the way forward.
1 Pair Reef Sandals - Used very sparingly, posted home from Bolivia.
1 Pair Shoes/Trainers – Replaced in Colombia.
2 Jumpers – One stolen from hostel in Oaxaca, replaced in Guatemala.
1 Raincoat – Again, used sparingly but useful in colder places.
2 Pairs Glasses
90 Pairs Contact Lenses - used all and bought new ones in Colombia.

Toiletry Bag

Toothbrush – no need to worry, these things are available everywhere you go.
Dental Floss
Shower Gel
Shaving Oil

Ear Plugs – Absolutely indispensable. Used a lot, enabled me to sleep in places I wouldn’t have otherwise slept. If you are thinking about travelling, take earplugs. Simple as that.
Sleeping Mask – never used.
Vitamin Tablets
Sun Cream
Aftersun Cream
Sun Protection Lip Balm
Spare Razor Blades
Cotton Buds
Insect Repellent
Nail Clippers
Shaving Mirror
Eye Drops
Hair Wax

First Aid Kit etc.

280 Doxycycline Tablets (Malaria) - didnt end up taking.
Chloroquine Tablets (Malaria) - took them through Central America. Lots of people don’t bother.
Antiseptic Wipes
Dressing Bandage – didn’t use
Dressing Pads - didn’t use
Germoline – didn’t use
Bonjela – didn’t use
Antihistamine - used sparingly
Sewing Kit
– unless real emergencies are required, very cheap to go to a launderette and pay a tailor to make repairs.
Dental Floss
Ear Plugs

As a side note, all of these toiletry and first aid things are widely available in every town and most villages. Probably worth buying as and when required, unless planning to do a lot of things away from towns and villages.


Passport – oh dear.
Flight Tickets – never once got asked for proof of onward journey.
Address Book – never used
Vaccination Record Card - never got asked to show it.
Notebook/Journal - used a lot. Sent home full one in Bolivia. Replaced in Arequipa.
Hotel Reservations for USA
Photocopies of Passport – came in handy when passport was stolen.
Insurance Policy
Glasses and Contact Lenses Prescription – came in handy when buying new contact lenses.
Elastic Bands – ?
Calculator – never used

General Bag

Battery Charger c/w Adaptor – lost and replaced in Guatemala
Alarm Clock -
Victorinox Swiss Army Knife – confiscated in Panama City. Forgot it was in my pocket and tried to board a plane! Whoops.
Duck Tape – Used to repair pockets in trousers and money belt, and to keep camera battery compartment door closed.
Cable Ties – never used.
Torch - Don’t remember ever seeing this!
Padlock – Used a lot, especially in hotels with lockers.
Batteries for MP3 Player
Camera Memory Card


Lonely Planet Mexico – very useful. Heavy. Left in Guatemala.
Rough Guide Central America – ?
Rough Guide South America – Not brilliant. South America is too big a continent to condense like that.
English-Spanish Dictionary – helpful.
Lonely Planet Health Handbook - never used.
American Psycho (some light reading) - book exchanges in hostels are for winners.

Other Stuff

Travel Towel – not good. felt horrible, didn’t dry properly. After a few days I bought a normal towel. Started using a sarong in South America, which is lightweight and dries quickly.
Sleep Sheet – not good. Too small, too hot in Mexico to sleep with anything covering. Sent home from Bolivia
MP3 Player – used to store photos. Have since bought an iPod.
Digital Camera & USB Cable - worked wel until Panama, where it died. Would take small camera and possibly a larger better quality camera next time.
Money Belt – works well if you actually wear it. Doesn’t do so good if you leave it in your daysack. As I unfortunately found out. Replaced in Arequipa.
Day Pack – stolen in Peru. Replaced. handy to keep with you when on buses.
Laundry bags – useful for separating dirty clothes from clean.

Things I bought when away

Casio watch – needed to know the time. worked well until stolen from hostel in Lima. Replaced with imitation in Colombia, which didnt work too well.
Extra jumper - didnt really need this, just bought it because I liked it.
Pen and small pad – I kept wanting to write little things down but never had paper available, so I bought a little notepad and kept it with me all the time.
Hiking boots – cheap ones, from a market in Bolivia. The Hi-Tec Squash – although awesome – were not up to the rigours of hiking in the Andes. Would probably buy better ones next time as they were not the most comfortable.
Blanket – for cold nights in Guatemala. Used sparingly and sent home from Bolivia.
Sleeping bag – bought in Argentina. Never really used and got lost on the plane journey from Panama to Madrid at the end of the trip. Quite hard to find a decent camping store, so I would buy from home next time. I thought about getting all the camping gear and starting to camp more to save some money, but the equipment (where available) was not of a great standard and not cheap either.
Valium – used to sleep on buses. Needed a prescription in Lima, but available over the counter in a small village pharmacy. Work well but leave you very drowsy the next morning. I read the whole of Mice and Men the morning after taking one, and I can’t remember a thing about the book. Not sure about the legality of taking them across international borders?

If you like this equipemtn review, or are trying to research your own equipment needs, be sure to read the review of my Six Essential Items to Carry Whilst Travelling

Back to Latin America Summary >>

Final Route

The route at the beginning of the trip through Mexico …..

The route through Mexico

Then into Central America …..

The route through Central America

And finally into South America …..

The route through South America

Back to Latin America Summary >>