Photo: Ilan Greenfield
Puerto Ayora is one of the Galápagos Islands’ few ports, and it’s the town where the bulk of tour operation and organization begins and concentrates. The town is pretty, especially along the port and its Academy Bay, and there is lots to do. Cruise tours have traditionally made it a mere morning stop along the way, but in recent years, those wishing to economize as much as possible, decide to make it to Puerto Ayora and play it from there.
It’s the moment you’ve been waiting for – watching the clouds that hang low over Machu Picchu clear to reveal the former Inca citadel surrounded by a verdant landscape. But that lifelong dream quickly turns into a nightmare when you realize you didn’t buy your tickets in advance.
Fear not, curious explorers, we at Only in South America have you covered.
While Cusco has become a cosmopolitan hub – one that overflows with jet setting travelers, luxe hotels and restaurants owned by renowned chefs – the mountainside that surrounds the former Inca capital tells a completely different story. There, life has changed very little during the last several centuries. Villagers still live off of the land, growing and raising nearly everything they eat. And, men and women still shepherd their sheep, llama and alpaca through verdant fields, cook meals over an open flame and participate in a tradition as old as the civilizations that make up Peru – Andean weaving.
New York City had the Baggage & Dormitory Building on Ellis Island; Buenos Aires had the Hotel de Inmigrantes near the port docks in Puerto Madero. Today, the old hotel contains an intriguing museum documenting the experiences of the great waves of European immigrants arriving in Argentina between 1911-53.
Photo: Natalie Southwick
As if there weren’t already enough happening in Colombia in August — with Bogotá’s Summer Festival, Medellín’s Flower Festival and the Petronio Álvarez celebration of Afro-Colombian music and culture in Cali – central Colombia’s favorite colonial town, Villa de Leyva, has to get in on the action with a colorful celebration of its own.
Now that many of us carry smartphones in our pockets, those multi-functional cameras/voice recorders/GPS devices, it’s easy to grow accustomed to the convenience. When you’re on the road, it can be a bit trickier if you don’t have a local SIM card, or if your phone is not compatible with the local system, especially if you want to avoid data charges. The most elegant and inexpensive solution in Santiago, Chile is to disable roaming, and seek out free WiFi in this capital city. WiFi is often available, in some places you’d expect, and some places you probably wouldn’t. You’ll probably find more free WiFi in Santiago than you will in your home city.
In winter, it’s quiet in Mendoza – temperatures drop, winemakers focus on protecting their grapes from occasional snowfall, visitors pass through on their way to ski resorts in the Andes. It’s the perfect moment for the region’s culinary talents to escape for a few weeks and bring their olive oil and Bonarda to the tables of Buenos Aires.
Case in point: Zuccardi at the Palacio Duhau. Starting this week and extending through August 24th, a pair of creative young chefs – one from Familia Zuccardi’s Casa del Visitante in Mendoza, the other of the elegant Gioia restaurant at the Palacio Duhau–Park Hyatt, perhaps the grandest hotel in Buenos Aires – team up to present a special four-course menu with wine pairings.
Photo: Daniel Piraino
I say no problem! Since the early 1980s, and maybe even before, it was common knowledge that one could only really last a day or two in Guayaquil. Just as people were heading to tiny Ecuador ‘for tourism’, thanks to the hype of the Galápagos Islands, Guayaquil could barely reap the benefits. All that changed recently when the Malecón, the city’s riverside park was revamped, but still, after you’d seen that… then what? Could you last more than two days? What would I do if I were six days in Guayaquil?
“Perdoname,” I said, interrupting a shopkeeper organizing miniature versions of Machu Picchu. “Tiene La Ultima Cena con el cuy.” He didn’t, so, I exited what must’ve been the twentieth store I asked, sighing, “Oh well. On to the 21st.”
I did finally hunt down the Cusqueñan version of the Last Supper painting my mother requested and now has framed in her living room, but it wasn’t without my fair share of begging, asking, demanding, searching and, of course, haggling.
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