Well, what a year it has been! From the most northern point of South America, to the very bottom (well, almost), ticking off long-held bucket list items big and small and adding in amazing experiences in places that twelve months ago, we didn't even know existed.
From Panama to Colombia, due south towards Chile, east across Uruguay in search of Brazilian sun and then back into Argentina before dashing across the border into Bolivia, we've visited ten countries this year, spent what must amount to literally weeks in buses, slept in boats, hammocks and the odd floor and eaten our body weight in scrambled eggs (they're cheap!).
Although we travel pretty slowly compared to many, it hasn't stopped us from falling in love with more places than we can mention, so instead we've singled out a few of our very favourite.
A city that was once a hot-bed of drugs, gangs and drugs is now a must-do on every Colombian itinerary. We based ourselves there for a month in February, making friends, working on the site and getting to know Medellin properly.
Unmentioned in the Lonely Planet, Jardin is still an off-the-beaten-track sort of place, a small town where you can discover cowboys and the real Colombia. We only spent a couple of days there in March, but it's a town we know we'll go back to, one day...we just hope it hasn't changed too much by then.
To those that are regular fans of Along Dusty Roads, it won't come as a surprise that we love the beach. What we didn't expect however, was to fall so much in love with those on the coast of Ecuador, the spot we picked to spend April and May. We had sand between our toes, gorged on fresh seafood and relaxed completely. The only downside? That we couldn't stay longer!
After leaving the sunny coast, it was quite a shock to find ourselves at altitude and in the rain, hiking through the Andes. Just us, our teeny-tiny backpacks (how great would it be to travel with just carry-on all the time?) and beautiful countryside. But the real highlight? The people we met along the way.
It may come as a surprise that the one place in Peru that made the top ten was not Machu Picchu, instead it was the oft bypassed Huaraz in the north of the country that stole our hearts. You know how people say a picture can paint a thousand words? Just take a look at our photos from hikes near this place and we're pretty sure you won't forget Huaraz the next time you make it to Peru!
Home to the best empanadas of the trip (and we've tried a lot!), phenomenal street art and an alternative boho vibe, Valparaiso was a difficult place to leave. In fact, we loved the city so much, we visited twice - once before beginning our Santiago house sit at the end of August, and again in time for the spring time Mil Tambores festival (naked, people, body pain and a lot of hippies - we promise you'll see the photos soon).
Buenos Aires (Argentina)
We've not hidden the fact Argentina was a difficult place for us to love, however Buenos Aires was an expected exception. Amazing architecture, a strong European flair and great food. A week spent here in October in our rented apartment was the perfect antidote to the frustrations we'd felt elsewhere in the country.
Punta Tombo (Argentina)
And then there was Punta Tombo. After being thrown out of a car rental place for daring to question the absurd insurance policy and then receiving quote after quote of hideously over-priced tours we very nearly didn't make it to one of Puerto Madryn's highlights.
As soon as we came to almost touching distance of elephant seals, we forgot everything. When we caught a photo of this penguin waddling his way home, we knew it would be a place we would remember forever.
As of the end of December, Along Dusty Roads has officially existed for 19 months. We've gone from a website that was only visited (rarely) by friends and family, to a travel blog with more content than we ever intended to produce and 35,000 page views a month.
We now consistently work with tour companies and hostels and produce photography that people want to buy. We even get recognised by readers, including by a young Ukrainian couple atop a hill in Ecuador.
All our hard work is beginning to pay off, and it seems there are a few articles that we have to thank for this:
Our top five most popular posts
However, what goes viral on Facebook or is loved by Google, won't always be the posts that we have enjoyed writing the most or that we're most proud of, so we've singled out our five personal favourites from the last year:
What does 2016 hold?
True to form, the last few months of this mammoth Latin American adventure follows a bit of a convoluted route before we fly home mid-March.
On the way down through South America we didn't make it to Venezuela - something we've decided we must rectify. So, after a few weeks in Bolivia we will be heading back across into Peru and up to Iquitos to take the slow boat along the Amazon and into Brazil, from where we will hopefully be able to cross into Venezuela.
From there, it will be a week or so on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro (thonged bottoms for Andrew and caipirinhas for Emily) before our London-bound flight from Sao Paulo.
Going home and back into a wholly different lifestyle is going to be tough, if only for a short while. We do have plans for another long-term trip (we'll keep you guessing for a while longer on where) but the majority of the year is going to spent working and saving hard with a number of European getaways thrown in for good measure. And of course, we'll keep on sharing those stories and adventures with you to help stoke your own wanderlust.
Hopefully Along Dusty Roads will continue to grow, particularly with our plans to develop the photography side of things a little more and a few UK projects we have in mind.
We've had an amazing twelve months, and although this Latin American adventure may be coming to an end soon, we know that 2016 has many more in store for us!