The sun has finally risen after a long cold and sleepless night at this 5,200m high mountain hut right at the snow line of the massive glacier that leads to the summit of Huayna Potosí.
The 6,088m high Huayna Potosí is attempted all year round by climbers from all over the world to pocket the honour of having climbed a relatively easy 6,000er. My attempt was thwarted by a nasty bout of diarrhoea that sent me spending almost the entire night in that hut with a green roof that perches precariously just outside.
The 5,395m high Chacaltaya in the distance on the opposite side of the valley was once covered with a glacial top that had all but melted without a trace by 2009. In fact the Andes stretching all the way from the Equator down to Patagonia provides ample proof for the devastating effects of global warming.
South America makes up the southern half of the Americas and a large part of Latin America. It's home to the world's longest mountain range, biggest waterfall and largest river -- even these mammoths pale in comparison to the stunning variety of life forms thriving in the rainforest. To the northwest, off the coast of Ecuador, lie the Galapagos Islands, which are unique for hosting species not found anywhere else on earth. These were the subject of study for Charles Darwin in his theory of evolution, which he himself said will require proof in every single case. The main languages in South America are Spanish and Portugese, which basically tells you which European countries colonized the place. The South American wars of independence took place over two decades in the early 19th century, led by Simon Bolivar of Venezuela and Jose san Martin of Argentina. Following liberation from Portugal and Spain, South America took off into its own development, capitalizing on the rich deposits of oil, gold, copper, silver and tango musicians. Brazil is the largest country in South America and home to one of the world's best parties, Carnaval. Have you heard of samba music? How about bossa nova? Maybe dancing for three days straight? I can't say enough good things about South America. All the world's continents have amazing secrets and treasures laying in wait for your discovery, but in South America... just have a look at our pictures while you're waiting for online confirmation of your plane tickets to hit your inbox.Text by Steve Smith.