On a tiny, far-flung island—thousands of miles from any other populated land—that 6,000 people call home, hundreds of giant stone statues that used to stand sentry, lay in various states. Half-buried, fallen over, repurposed, and most famously, standing tall and photogenic, the moai of Easter Island are part of the mystery that makes this such an enticing tourist destination.
There’s a long oral history, as well as recent archaeological investigations, to answer questions about why they were erected, why the culture of carving and transporting moai stopped, and later, why the people themselves decided to topple them. There exists a living culture that involves traditional dance, music, food and carving, mostly Polynesian-influenced, but with touches of South America as well.
There’s no denying the island’s appeal, for cultures present and past, as well as its stark natural beauty. It’s an island with volcanic craters, just a handful of paved roads, few vehicles, a postcard-perfect white sand beach, and a calm vibe that means you can be as active or as relaxed as you like.
There are four world-renowned 5-star hotels on Isla de Pascua, each with a different architecture and focus, allowing travelers to choose the luxury experience that best suits them.
Photo: Dave Lonsdale
Mountain Cotopaxi (5897 m) rises spectacularly along the Eastern cordillera of the Andes mountains chain. Its beautiful conical shape and perpetual snow make it one of the most coveted visitor sites in Ecuador, and it makes sense that it would be. Only an hour and a half drive from the capital, Quito, the slopes of this prodigy of nature couldn’t be more accessible and offer unparalleled adventure on one of the highest points on our planet. Click here for a chance to win an 8-day adventure for two in Ecuador!
Photo: Terra Hall
Remember that one cartoon where the main character is stranded in the middle of a never-ending desert? He drags himself over the sizzling hot sand while the sun relentlessly beats down. In the distance, he sees palm tree that provides shade and a lake that has limitless cold drinking water. Re-energized at the thought of this oasis, he rushes over, prepared to dive into the swimming pool only to have it all dissipate into thin air. It was all a mirage stirred up by his thirst.
When I first set eyes on the desert oasis of Huacachina (wa-ka-CHEE-nah), I reverted back to my childhood for a moment. It was like that cartoon I had watched dozens of times had appeared right before my eyes. My six-year-old self was impressed.
Photo: Cafe La Furgoneta
There was a time when I found it strange that visitors to Brazil would complain about the coffee. That sort of complaint didn’t seem to gel with the numbers (Brazil is the largest coffee producer in the world, producing around 1,350 million kilos of coffee per year, which clocks in at one-third of the world’s coffee production) nor my experience in country (we have amazing cafes in São Paulo, after all).
Photo: Bridget Gleeson
Buying art is intimidating. But there’s no better place to get started than the Argentinean capital. Buenos Aires is a breeding ground for creative types, and the city imposes few restrictions about where and how art can be displayed – which is why the quickly developing street art scene is one of the most exciting in Latin America.
Where to pick up a piece for your own collection? If money’s no object, of course, you can just go straight to the long-established art galleries of Retiro and Recoleta. But if you’re a first-time buyer, check out these modern galleries and art events with a youthful edge – offering excellent value on contemporary and small-format works that will likely fit right into your suitcase.
One of the big questions as of late for those visiting Galapagos is: should I do it land-based or cruise-based? There are many options for either/or and although cruise tours have traditionally had the upper edge, land-based tourism, also known as ‘island hopping’, has become an increasingly popular and attractive opportunity to discover the islands.
In the past, the main reason one would even think of land-based tours to explore the Galápagos was the price. Today, hotels can also offer expensive overnights, while some cruises are actually on the inexpensive side. All of which – cheap hotels, cheap cruises, expensive cruises, expensive hotels – have pros and cons to consider.
It’s nearly impossible to go anywhere in Colombia without hearing music or seeing people dancing, but the second weekend of September kicks that rhythm into another gear, offering not one, but two world-class events for jazz lovers traveling to Colombia; from the Andean interior to the Caribbean coast.
Photo: Quark Expeditions
The south of Chile and Argentina are some of the most photogenic places in the world. Stark blue skies, soaring granite peaks, giant rock formations in glacial valleys that show the soft slope where thousands of years ago, giant blocks of ice carved their way down from the mountains to flat land and beyond. And there are glaciers as well, dappled, blue-grey-white jagged surfaces that creak and groan, and sometimes calve into lakes below. Plan a trip to South America to find out for yourself or sign up here for a chance to win a trip to southern Chile and Antarctica with a friend!
Photo: Kevin Raub
Believe it or not, the first time you land in Brazil, it can be kind of hard to find a bar; at least, what most of us from North America and Europe think of as a bar. It is not, however, particularly difficult to find a place where people are drinking! That’s because most Brazilians, especially outside major metropolitan areas, drink at a Brazilian institution known as a boteco (aka buteco or botequim), which comes from the Portuguese word “botica“ and the Spanish word “bodega,” originally meaning a grocery store to buy goods. According to Wikipedia, “In Brazil, the boteco (buteco), or botequim, was traditionally known as a place where alcoholic beverages were sold, serving as a meeting place for ‘bohemians,’ who looked for a good drink, cheap snacks and a chat without obligation.”
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