Photo Essay: The Virgin of Candelaria Festival in Copacabana, Bolivia

The Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria (which is another name for the Virgin of Copacabana, the patron saint of Bolivia), is so important that they celebrate it twice in Copacabana, Bolivia every year: Once on February 2 and again on August 5. But the festivities in this small city on Lake Titikaka extend well beyond those two days. Here’s what this Bolivian festival looks like, and don’t miss our Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria travel tips at the end of this photo essay.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

Cholas, the collective name for Latin women with Amerindian blood, wearing their best traditional finery and dancing up a storm in front of the church in Copacabana, Bolivia. We’re not sure what the albino bear with red hands is all about…

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

It was somewhat rainy during the festial, so plastic bags were used to protect the distinctive felt bowler hats that most cholas wear.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

More dancing cholas and more rain during the Virgin of Candelaria festival in Copacabana, Bolivia.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

These cholas were wearing dresses with uncommon patterned panels in them.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

Men take part in the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria celebrations as dancers and as members of tuba-heavy bands.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

Waka Tokori dancers dressed as toros parade around the church in Copacabana, Bolivia during the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

More costumed men in Copacabana.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

Celebrating the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria in Copacabana, Bolivia.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

Heavily fringed shawls like these make up a vital part of the traditional dress of most cholas in Bolivia.

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

Just when you thought things couldn’t get more colorful…

dancers Virgin de la Candelaria festival Copacabana, Bolivia

Celebrating the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria in Copacabana, Bolivia.

See the sights and sounds of the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria in Copacabana, Bolivia in our video, below.

Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria travel tips

Should you go to the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria in February or in August? Festival events are essentially the same so the big difference is the weather. In August (winter in South America) the climate is dry, but very cold. In February (summer in South America), temperatures are milder (though still quite cold) and the chance of rain is pretty good.

Concerts Festival virgin de la Candelaria Copacabana, Bolivia

One of many bands on many stages in Copacabana, Bolivia during the Festival of the Virgin of Candelaria.

We were at the festival in February. Though February 2 is the biggest day, this festival sprawls over a few days. We arrived in Copacabana on February 1 and the party was already raging with plenty of parading dance troops and bands in elaborate costumes and four different stages set up. By evening, those stages were all raging with separate bands. Poor sound mixing and close proximity means that the music does not sound very good, but the partying cholas (the collective name for Latin women with Amerindian blood) and men in front of each stage don’t seem to mind. They drink and dance into the wee hours (unless heavy rain shuts the bands down early).

Blessing the crops Virgen de la Candelaria festival

An early morning offering on the shore of Lake Titikaka to help ensure a good harvest.

Get to the lakes shore by 8 am on February 2 and you may get to see an annual ritual including flowers, singers, drummers, and locals performing offerings to ensure good crops in the coming year.

Musicians Blessing the crops Virgen de la Candelaria festival

A talented group of drummers, dancers, and singers took part in the harvest offering on Lake Titikaka.

After the shoreline rituals, the flowers and participants are loaded onto boats which travel onto the lake where more rituals are performed before the flowers are tossed into the water as an offering to the lake.

Andean Musicians Lake Titicaca

Musicians and dancers heading onto Lake Titikaka during a ceremony and offering to ensure a good harvest.

Watch the culmination of the good harvest ceremony as flowers and other offerings are tossed into Lake Titikaka in our video, below.

On February 3 nothing much was going on. No parades. No dancing cholas. No roving bands. Even the stages were all gone except for one.

On February 4 the town holds a bull fight event in their plaza de toros in the afternoon. Our Lonely Planet described this as a running of the bulls in the streets, but locals told us that this event takes place in the ring, not in the streets which was far less interesting to us.

Overall, this festival was much mellower than we expected. There were never huge crowds and town never felt bursting at the seams.

Here’s more about travel in Bolivia

 

Support us on Patreon


Leave a comment


Photo Essay: The Mystery & History of the Doors & Windows of Cartagena, Colombia

This post is part 7 of 7 in the series Cartagena Travel Guide

The restored Colonial architecture in the center of Cartagena, Colombia, a UNESCO World Heritage site since 1984, is so gorgeous that the overall effect can be overwhelming. So much stone! So much color! So many balconies! When we traveled to Cartagena we particularly loved the mystery and history of the doors and windows of Cartagena, as you can see in this photo essay. Often shut to keep the Caribbean sun at bay, we couldn’t help but wonder what we’d see if we could just peek inside.

IMG_5801_Cartagena IMG_5885_Cartagena IMG_6195_Cartagena IMG_5888_Cartagena IMG_5913_Cartagena IMG_5883_Cartagena

IMG_5767_Cartagena IMG_6131_Cartagena
IMG_7114_Cartagena IMG_5884_Cartagena

IMG_0746_Cartagena

IMG_6156_Cartagena IMG_5764_Cartagena IMG_5887_Cartagena IMG_5918_Cartagena IMG_5911_Cartagena IMG_5864_Cartagena IMG_5752_Cartagena IMG_5969_Cartagena IMG_5759_Cartagena

Here’s more about travel in Colombia

Support us on Patreon


5 Comments - Join the conversation »


Photo Essay: Highlights of the Gold Museum in Bogotá, Colombia

We found many things to love about Bogotá, Colombia but a real stunner was the city’s Museo de Oro (Gold Museum), which was one of the best museums we’ve ever visited (3,000 COP/about US$1.25, free for all on Sunday, tours available in English). The exhibits are fantastic with descriptions in Spanish and English, the collection is breathtaking and the guides are passionate and knowledgeable. There are thousands of gold items created by the different pre-Hispanic cultures in Colombia on display in the Gold Museum in Bogotá. Here are just a few highlights.

Bogota-Gold-Museum-mask Museo-de-Oro-Bogota Bogota-Gold-Museum-animal Muisca-raft--Bogota-Gold-Museum Bogota-Gold-Museum-figure Zenu-Bogota-Gold-Museum Bogota-Gold-Museum-priest best-museum-in-bogota-gold-museum Bogota-Museo-de-Oro Bogota-Gold-Museum-bird Bogota-Gold-Museum-sun Bogota-Gold-Museum-breastplate Bogota-Gold-Museum-lime-container Bogota-Gold-Museum-condor Bogota-Gold-Museum-piece

 

Read more about travel in Colombia

 

Support us on Patreon


3 Comments - Join the conversation »


Photo Essay: The Heart of Street Art – Cartagena, Colombia

This post is part 1 of 5 in the series Street Art in the Americas

The street art tradition is alive and well in Cartagena, Colombia where works by modern graffitti and street art legends from Colombia and around the world, including DJ Lu, Lik Me, Fin DAC, Yurika MDC, M.R. Love and DEXS, mingle with historic Colonial architecture in this UNESCO World Heritage Site city. The city’s Getsemani neighborhood is the heart of Cartagena’s street art scene, particularly on Calle de la Sierpe which was the site of 2010’s Pedro Romero Vive Aqui (Pedro Romero Lives Here) street art project. Some of the original work from that project still exists and new pieces are added all the time. The following shots are some of our favorite examples of street art in Cartagena taken during different visits to the city over the past year. Enjoy.

Street art in Cartagena, Colombia

fin DAC street art Getsemani Cartagena de indias Colombia DJ Lu - Juegasiempre street mural Getsemani Cartagena Colombia Pedro Romero street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia Dexs street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia fin DAC street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia Pedro Romero street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia M.R. Love street mural Getsemani Cartagena Colombia Pedro Romero street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia Yurika MDC street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia Lik Me hola street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia Street mural Getsemani Cartagena Colombia street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia Pedro Romero street art Getsemani Cartagena Colombia

 

 Read more about travel in Colombia

 

Support us on Patreon


5 Comments - Join the conversation »


Photo Essay: The Knockers of Cartagena, Colombia

This post is part 5 of 7 in the series Cartagena Travel Guide

The restored Colonial center of Cartagena, Colombia was not made a UNESCO World Heritage Site solely on the merits of its knockers, but they didn’t hurt. Here are a few of our favorite knockers of Cartagena: over-sized, whimsical and artistic.

IMG_5985IMG_5749-5787 IMG_5886-5912

IMG_5910 IMG_5798-6157

IMG_5788-5747 IMG_5769-5971

IMG_0722

IMG_5968-5761

IMG_0751-6333 IMG_0768

IMG_5785-5863IMG_5970 IMG_5768

 

Read more about travel in Colombia

 

Support us on Patreon


1 Comment - Join the conversation


Photo Essay: Sunsets and Landscapes of the Galapagos – Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

When people travel to the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador they assume they’re going to get great photos of wildlife–we took thousands of them (which we kindly edited down to this 21 shot selection of gorgeous Galapagos animals). But even when there are no critters in sight, the epic sunsets (and sunrises) and the only-in-the-Galapagos landscapes will keep your camera busy.

Our favorite sunsets and landscapes of the Galapagos Islands

Wolf Island, Galapagos Islands

Wolf Island, at the most northerly end of the Galapagos archipelago, is rarely visited except by dive boats.

Pinnacle Rock Bartolome Island, Galapagos Islands

Pinnacle Rock juts up from mostly barren Bartolome Island.

Bartolome & Santiago Island, Galapagos Islands

See a larger version of this panoramic shot of Bartolome Island

Dragon Hill, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Island

Dragon Hill on Santa Cruz Island is home to a large population of land iguanas.

South Plaza Island, Galapagos Islands

Spring time color in foliage just off the beach on South Plaza Island is in deep contrast with the starkly blue water.

Darwin's Lake, Tagus Cove, Isabella, Galapagos Island

Darwin’s Lake, in this dormant crater on Isabella Island above Tagus Cove, provides life-giving water and breath-taking views.

Galapagos sunset

We spent 24 nights in the Galapagos Islands and pretty much every single one of them ended like this.

Darwin Arch & Darwin Island, Galapagos Islands

At the far northern end of the Galapagos archipelago lies Darwin Island and Darwin Arch and some of the best scuba diving in the world.

Port Egas Santiago Island, Galapagos Islands

Port Egas on Santiago Island offers a sandy arch of beach and dramatic volcanic rock formations and is favored by sunning sea lions.

Ecuador Volcano Punta Vicente Roca, Galapagos Island

The Punta Vicente Roca Volcano on Isabela Island is one of our favorite destinations in the Galapagos, providing dramatic topside scenery and some of the best snorkeling we’ve ever done in the bay at its base.

Galapagos light

Good morning, Galapagos.

Galapagos beach

A beach is never just a beach in the Galapagos Islands. This one offers creamy sand, jagged lava and lapping waves.

Punta Vicente Roca, Galapagos Islands

A wave of lava, from the volcanic eruption which formed Isabela Island, sweeps down to the sea near Punta Vicente Roca.

Rabida-Island-Galapagos

Rábida Island’s red sand beach and scrub cover are begin rid of invasive goats so that natural vegetation and endemic species can return.

Los Gemalos, Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos Islands

There are lush parts of the Galapagos Islands as well, including the Los Gemalos twin craters in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island.

Galapagos islands color

Galapagos color, all natural and unfiltered.

Galapagos sunset

Good night, Galapagos.

Going to the Galapagos

We’ve traveled to the Galapagos Islands three times while working on a wide range of story assignments. We’ve now spent more time in the Galapagos than Charles Darwin did. That doesn’t mean we’ve come up with a revolutionary scientific theory, but it does mean that we know our way around the place. For more insights and inspiration about going to the Galapagos, check out the stories we’ve reported and written about traveling to the Galapagos Islands.

How to Travel to the Galapagos Islands published by Travel + Leisure

Galapagos Islands Dive Boat Luxury published by Luxe Beat

Going Greener in the Galapagos published by The Toronto Sun

This is the Most Luxurious New Way to Tour the Galapagos Islands published by Bravo Jet Set

Cruising the Galapagos with Grace Kelly published by Bio.com

Pikaia Lodge luxury hotel review published by Luxury Latin America

 

Check out our epic animals of the Galapagos photo essay

Here’s more about travel in Ecuador

 

Support us on Patreon


7 Comments - Join the conversation »


Page 1 of 41234