Insider Blog

Filter By Month: November 2013
  • Photo: SF Brit

    Visiting Antarctica from Chile

    For penguin peepers, glacier chasers, cruise fans, and those who love to visit far-flung places, Antarctica delivers. There are long days of summer sunshine, glassy waters and a constantly-changing seascape. Dolphin, whale and albatross sightings are practically guaranteed. From closer to the coast, or from landings, penguins, sea lions, different species of seals (including sometimes southern elephant seals) are also a sure thing.

  • At Home in the Big City

    When you’re visiting one of the largest cities in the world, it’s easy to feel lost in the crowd. But a wave of new businesses are scaling down to offer travelers more personalized experiences in Buenos Aires. Here are a few of my favorites from this spring, including a closed-door restaurant with a gorgeous communal table and a sophisticated townhouse-style hotel with only a handful of rooms.

  • Surfs Up Ecuador

    Some 20 year ago, the surfing world discovered Ecuador, and conversely, Ecuador discovered surfing. We can’t really say that ‘hoards’ of surfers from every corner of the globe suddenly flooded Ecuador’s beaches to surf… That would be grossly inaccurate. But such things as ‘surfing towns’ did bud from out of nowhere and exes were placed on the map identifying where the best waves brewed.

  • Photo: CREES

    Biking through the Cloud Forest

    Certainly one of my favorite ecosystems, full of orchids, ferns, colorful birds, waterfalls and other amazing flora and fauna. From all the places I’ve been to, the Manu Road has always been the most challenging. From the highlands it takes you deep into the forest. But biking this one-way road full of cliffs is even more challenging. Are you brave enough to take on this adventure?

  • Artesanías: Caribbean and Central Colombia

    Colombia’s diverse landscape and cultural influences have inspired thousands of different artisans across the country to create stunning handcrafts and pieces of art. These artistic products are seen as vital expressions of the country’s talent and diversity, and represent the different groups of people and regions that make Colombia what it is. From the colorful handmade mochilas of the indigenous Wayuu people in La Guajira to the carved wooden instruments of the Amazon, each region of Colombia produces its own beautiful, unique creations. Because there’s too much ground to cover and too much to see for just one post, we’ll start at the Caribbean coast and work our way south, saving the Pacific for next week.

  • 5 Blowout Brazilian Beach Houses

    Anyone who has visited Brazil since the strengthening of the Brazilian Real a few years ago, and certainly anyone who has looked into hotel accommodations for upcoming mega world events like the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympic Games, are surely intimately familiar with the Portuguese term, “Custo Brasil,” or “Brazilian Cost,” a phrase used to (explain? justify?) the rising costs of doing business in this South American giant and, as a result, prices that leave visitors often sticker shell-shocked. There’s no sugarcoating it: Brazil is an expensive country to visit.

    But there are ways to cut costs. One excellent idea is to steer away your dream of sleeps on the sands from often high-priced hotels and pousadas to pooling your money, resources and groups of friends into renting an entire piece of paradise all for yourselves. That’s where the Brazilian Beach House Company comes in. Started by English expat Steven Chew in 2005, the company specializes in finding fully-staffed beach homes for all budgets on the most pristine patches of sand the country has to offer. Often times, if a group of friends or couples split costs, you can rest your weary heads in paradise for a fraction of the cost of an overpriced pousada – and turn an entire luxury home into your own private Eden (with a private chef to boot).

    We asked Steven to highlight a few of his favorite homes in Brazil, from Bahia to Rio de Janeiro (*and we threw in our personal favorite in as well). It’s a tall order as luxury beach homes are something Brazil does very well indeed.  ”Here are my list of five favorites,” he says. “Or at least some of the them as the list could have run and run …”

    Without further adieu …

  • The Art of Eating at an Argentine Parrilla

    At any Argentine parrilla, or steakhouse, you can spot the tourists in a heartbeat. They’re always the ones who arrive too early for the meal – the people silently staring, bewildered, at the thick menu, wondering what the difference is between morcilla and chorizo (and trust me, it’s a key distinction.

    If you’re not lucky enough to have a local friend to show you the ropes, you can learn how to eat like an Argentine with Parrilla Tour, a guided food circuit that takes travelers into a series of hole-in-the-wall parrillas, traditional empanada shops, and artisanal heladerías.

    In the interest of preserving authenticity at these little-known venues, the tour operators don’t allow journalists to publish the names or locations of the restaurants and shops we visited. You’ll have to go yourself – but in the meantime, learn what to order. Just follow the parrilla experts’ advice in four easy steps, illustrated with my photos from last Friday’s tour.

  • Drinking from the Volcano: Papallacta’s Thermal Springs

    Papallacta is only about an hour from Quito by car, and some 30 minutes from Quito’s new international airport, as one makes their way towards the eastern slope of the Andean mountain range. Continue along some 3 hours on the same highway and you reach the Amazonian rainforest basin. Papallacta, however, lies somewhat higher in elevation, but its natural dimension is breathtaking nonetheless, and its proximity is even more of a reason to visit, even if your stay in Quito isn’t long.

  • 5 of Colombia’s Most Magical Experiences

    Building on our magical realism theme from last week, we’re going to move beyond the (very pretty) superficial level and take a look at some of the most magical experiences visitors can have in Colombia. Of course, you can find magic just about anywhere in this country, but the destination or activity that catches your fancy will depend on your style. The outdoorsy types might find their happy place hiking through the páramos and national parks of the Andes, while others will be completely context luxuriating on a roof deck soaking up the Cartagena sun. Still, whatever your travel goals, these five experiences are sure to give your time in Colombia just a little more pizzazz:

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