Mark Berman is from New Zealand. He has been traveling South America every year since 2008, little chunks of the continent each year. He has been living in Colombia since 2010. Mark never planned to travel South America continuously, it just kind of happened. He finds it fascinating and exciting that he can cross borders from one country to another and everything changes -- the people and culture etc. Whereas if he walks to the edge of New Zealand I fall into sea!
Mark chronicles his adventures on his website, South American Postcard. He was kind enough to answer a few of our travel questions.
Mark: I've been traveling South America each year for 11 years now and I'm still going. Growing up on an isolated island in an isolated part of the world (New Zealand) got me hooked on travel!
Mark: I'm a budget traveler who loves to walk and discover things on his own mostly.
Mark: The 11-year vacation that I'm still on here in South America.
Mark: I must have some apps on my phone -- offline GPS maps and the weather.
Mark: Learning the local language will reward you in many ways and many times over.
Mark: I enjoy Twitter for finding all kinds of information about traveling and making contacts.
Mark: South America, of course. There is much to see and do here with so many different cultures, landscapes and people!
Mark: Lonely Planet, Wikipedia.
Mark: Budget airlines, book well in advance.
Mark: Theft. Learn to look after your things and be meticulous with your belongings and you will be OK.
Mark: Always take a registered taxi in the big cities in South America. Once in Lima, Peru I took an unregistered taxi late at night. Another man got in the front with the driver and my backpack was in the boot. For 90 minutes I was driven around Lima and marched out to ATM machines and was robbed to the tune of $400USD. Not a good buzz!
Mark: Brazil is awesome for food! They have 'all you can eat buffets' everywhere. Just pay then eat until your heart and stomach is content.
Mark: Romance can happen anywhere anytime. Don't look for it; it will find you!
Mark: Quito in Ecuador is a beautiful city. I've been there several times. The climate is nice and the city has a fantastic historic center with many old churches and buildings. Ecuador in general is quite affordable for budget travel, you can travel for around $30USD per day per person.
Mark: Yes I have, my wife, a Colombian who I met in 2011. Having said that, I would also say that it is easy to get attached to random people while traveling and you should be careful doing so because it can change your plans, sometimes not for the better. No, I'm not talking about you, Ana! On the other hand, yes, I have made good and lasting friendships from my South America travels, people I can visit around the continent.
Mark: I don't know if there are best places, it depends on the individual. I like both, sometimes alone, sometimes with my lady. However, I would say cities are good alone if you want to meet people and do the things you like to do. National parks, nature, beaches and adventure are better with a friend.