Adventurer: Heather a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Cusco, Peru since 2019.

21 September 2023

Visit Heather Jasper on her Instagram, LinkedIn, and Website.

About you

I am a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Cusco, Peru since 2019. I traveled solo for seven months in 2022 in six countries and had a fabulous time! I’ve been traveling solo since I spent a month in Cambodia in 2005. Solo travel is the best way for me to meet locals in the places I travel and practice my language skills. I started learning Portuguese ten months before I went to Brazil to learn to surf and was able to make friends from day one! I love writing about the places I travel to and sharing the stories of the people I meet throughout South America. I am the author of Peru’s Best, a travel guide app available in free and paid versions. My articles about South America have been published by BBC Travel, World Nomads, Thrifty Nomads, Fodor’s Travel, Matador Network, Frommer’s, and more.

Why do you travel and look for adventures?

I loved learning languages before I caught the travel bug and started traveling to use my language skills and learn about different cultures. I love meeting people and learning about new places from the eyes of the locals who live there. I look for adventure to challenge what seems like limits and prove to myself that I can do anything I set my mind to.

What kind of adventures do you look for when you travel?

I love seeing how far I can get, especially finding the end of the road. In March 2022 I rented a car in Chile to drive south on the island of Tierra del Fuego to see what was at the end of the road. It ends at Caleta María, which is Spanish for Mary’s Bay. It’s a wild land of glaciers, elephant seals, penguins, and leopard seals. In February 2023 I went as far south as I could in Argentina to Ushuaia and on the same trip went to Argentina’s far north where the Salinas Grandes salt flats border Bolivia’s Uyuni and Chile’s Atacama. I like to meet the people who live in isolated places, in wild lands far from cities because they always have fascinating stories. As a writer, I believe there’s no better material than the stories told by the people who live at the ends of the earth.

What’s your go-to travel hack?

I like to use public transportation wherever I go. I’ve taken local buses everywhere from Borneo to Brazil. I loved the underground metro systems in Istanbul and Buenos Aires. It’s the best way to travel cheaply and also get to know what life is like for people who live in the places I visit. As a woman traveling alone, I’m careful about where I go and when, but I don’t let being a solo female traveler stop me from exploring new places by public transportation.

Got any gear you can’t travel without?

I’m a minimalist packer but still, never leave home without an inflatable neck pillow. It’s great for sleeping on planes and trains but also can double as a back pillow for uncomfortable bus seats.

What destination are you eager to go back to?

The Peruvian Amazon is a very special part of South America’s rainforest. I’ve seen part of the Peruvian Amazon in the south near Puerto Maldonado but can’t wait to see the northern part of the Peruvian Amazon near Iquitos. The wildlife you can see in Peru’s rainforests are astounding.

How do you stay safe when you’re travelling?

I always tell somebody where I’m going and where I’m staying and when they should expect to hear back from me. When I’m in remote areas that don’t have cell service or wifi I tell people exactly where I’m going and when they should expect to hear from me next. Sometimes that’s a family member back home and sometimes it’s a local I’ve made friends with. In Salvador, Brazil the easiest way to get around the city is with Uber. I always shared my location and information about my Uber driver with my friends in Salvador through the Uber app.

What’s the best way to experience a destination like a local?

This is pretty much the same answer as my travel hack. I travel on public transportation. Not only do I see the city or country from the perspective of the people who live there, but I also get to people-watch in a way that I wouldn’t get to anywhere else. I also feel a special sense of accomplishment when I figure out how to travel around a city on my own. For example, when I finally mastered the transportation in Istanbul that links busses, ferry boats, underground metro, and light rail trains.

What’s your favourite word in another language?

Zween in Moroccan Arabic is an all-purpose positive word. Delicious food is zween. Nice people are zween. Beautiful architecture is zween. Gorgeous sunsets are zween. It’s helpful to be able to use the same word for anything that I like in any context.

When and where are you next travelling?

In April I will go to an Inca archeological site called Waqra Pukará, which is about two hours drive and then another two hours hike from Cusco. Waqra Pukará means “horned fortress” in Quechua and it’s a breathtaking site overlooking the Apurímac River canyon. I think it’s even more impressive than Machu Picchu though it’s not as big.

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