I think long and hard about what kind of cool, helpful knowledge I might be able to share with Gadling readers, and sometimes the most obvious material escapes me. But it only took me a few months to realize I’ve been keeping my best tips to myself because I don’t see them as suggestions, but rather as experiences.
I stepped foot in the Hostel Trail guesthouse in Popayán, Colombia by default. I hadn’t even intended to pass through the “white city” (it’s known as this because all of the buildings in the historical center of the city are a beautiful, uniform, stark white color). In fact, I only planned on being in Colombia for five weeks — not twice that long, as my stay there turned out to be. My five days in Popayán were so comfortable because Hostel Trail is one of the cleanest and most reasonably-priced guesthouses I’ve stayed in all my travels around Latin America (and, believe me, I’ve seen some pretty decripit places).
Tony and Kim, the Irish owners of Hostel Trail, realized the fantastic potential of Popayán as a travel destination (it was recently named of the gastronomical centers in Latin America — and rightly so!). They quickly made this place (at the edge of the old city) their home and have been sharing it with backpackers for about two years. Using their technological savvy, as well as their connections in Colombia and Latin America, they decided to utilize their innovative web domain as a homepage for not only their hostel but all of the cool hostels in Latin America. Tony and Kim continue to spend long hours networking with other hostels in South and Central America. Once part of the network, a hostel is given a whole page dedicated to information about their lodging. Ultimately, HostelTrail.com is truly the most viable lodging resource for backpackers in Latin America.
There are now hundreds of hostels in the Hostel Trail network, making it that much easier to travel from city to city because you know what to expect when you get to your next hostel. What’s even cooler about Hostel Trail is if you’re on a tight budget and have a way with words and a camera, you can actually write for Hostel Trail and get free lodging wherever it is you stay — so long as it is not a place that is already covered on the site, and you provide a comprehensive overview of the hostel, along with photos of the place for other travelers to see.
How have I waited this long to reveal one of my best kept Latin American secrets? I guess it’s been nearly a year since I stepped foot in Latin America, so I kept my memories tightly locked in the recesses of my mind so as to avoid the painful nostalgia I feel for this part of the world. Regardless, the Hostel Trail guesthouse in Popayán, its hostel network, and the travel writing opportunity with the site makes HostelTrail.com one of the best resources for travel not only in Colombia, but all over Latin America. If you do make it to Popayán, please tell Tony, Kim, and their cute little black dog I say “aloha!”
[Yes, that's me in the photo, enjoying Poker beer and a ride on a Chiva, taking in the Popayán nightlife!]