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Our Real Latin America Expert

Mary Anne Nelson
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

Cocora Valley

Where have you been?
Colombia. Villa de Leyva, Chivor, Medellin, Coffee Region, Honda.

Have you been before?
To Colombia, yes. I lived in Cali until I was 13 then I went back there for holidays a couple of times. I then went to Bogota and Guajira in 2007 but I’d never been to the places I visited on this trip.

If so… notable differences?
I can’t say - I didn’t see much of Bogota this time and I hadn’t been to the other areas before.

How did you get there?
I flew on Avianca’s direct flight from London Heathrow to Bogota and then on to Medellin.

How long were you there?
2 weeks.

General route?
I started off in Medellin then flew to Bogota. The rest of my trip was all self-drive: I drove to Chivor, Villa de Leyva and back to Bogota. I then drove to Armenia, Pereira and Manizales in the coffee region and on to Salamina, Honda and back to Bogota again.

Which was your favourite…
Place: Salamina.
Hotel: Hacienda Venecia.
Excursion: Horse riding in La Samaria wax palm forest.

Appeals to which type of traveller?
Adventurous, curious travellers who want to discover the real Colombia – and people who like to drive!

What did you pack/take with you?

Nothing out of the ordinary – walking boots, lots of t-shirts, one or two jumpers/fleeces and swimming costume.

Any good food, drinks, restaurants or bars recommendations?
Try the delicacies offered in Salamina! Macana, steamed eggs...

Room for improvement?
Yes, they need to improve their English! And maybe a bit of a road upgrade would be good. Otherwise, I think the places should try to stay as genuine as possible.

How would you summarise your trip in a sentence?
The most exhilarating trip I have had – so far.

Any top tips?

You need to really like to drive, be experienced, in particular driving up and down mountains with sharp bends, and know how to properly use a gear box, not just rely on brakes. Negotiating certain routes requires some skill and concentration, but the rewards are amazing – you will get to see breathtaking landscapes and some incredibly beautiful little villages.

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Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

  • CarrieGallagher2
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Paul Winrow Giffen
    Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert

    After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.

  • Sally Dodge
    Sally Dodge - Travel Expert

    A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.

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