For years, Santiago had a reputation as a sleepier version of other cities on the continent, with adequate lodging offerings, but not much that really stood out. In recent years, that trend has reversed, and Santiago has several elite options, from traditional international chains, to fashion-forward boutique hotels. There’s something to fit nearly every upscale taste in Santiago.
Though it’s just an hour away from Buenos Aires, you’ll need your passport to travel: Colonia del Sacramento, across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires, is the gateway to Uruguay. Many travelers come to Argentina with intentions of visiting the historic riverside town, settled by the Portuguese in 1680. And they always ask the same questions — how, why, when, and what is there to do there? Without further adieu, let’s address these frequently asked questions.
Photo: Terra Hall
As old as Lima itself is Casa de Aliaga, a 480-year-old mansion located in the heart of El Centro, the capital city’s historic district. Casa de Aliaga’s story started when Spanish conquistador Don Francisco Pizarro established Lima as Peru’s capital city on Jan. 18, 1535. Because friends make the best neighbors, Pizarro gave the piece of land adjacent to the Plaza de Armas to his ally Jerónimo de Aliaga.
Well, Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, anyway. Michelin‘s famed culinary Bibles, known simply as the Red Guide, have long been the end-all, be-all of gastronomy in Europe (gaining – or losing – a coveted star in the guide’s three-star system can cause tectonic shifts in a country’s culinary scene), will introduce their first Brazilian guide in April.
Photo: Jeff Cremer
The Amazon Jungle is one of the most biodiverse ecosystems in the world. In fact, it’s so expansive that if it were a country, it’d be the ninth largest. Ten percent of the life on this planet live within the confines of the Amazon Rainforest. When you think about it – that one in 10 of all of the world’s flora and fauna inhabit nine countries in South America – it’s pretty impressive.
The task of choosing some of my favorites was a difficult one, so I enlisted the help of Rainforest Expeditions wildlife photographer, Jeff Cremer to help me narrow down the list of thousands of potential candidates, to eight of the greats (in no particular order).
Got an early morning in Santiago and want to start it off with flaky pastry, or some crusty bread? Or you’ve already had a hotel breakfast but walking around downtown Santiago and beyond has got you hankering for a mid-morning snack? The French are masters of pastry, and whether it’s a second breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up, Santiago’s many French bakery/cafés have got you covered, from downtown, up through Bellas Artes, Providencia, in Las Condes and Vitacura. A croissant and a café au lait, or your drink of choice is never too far away at one of these French or French-inspired cafés.
The week before Easter Sunday, Semana Santa (Holy Week) is the biggest travel week in South America, with flight prices that rival Thanksgiving levels in the US or Christmas elsewhere. In Colombia, only Thursday and Friday are official national holidays, but schools, universities and many offices and businesses give students and employees the other three days off, allowing families to take the whole week of vacation.
But if everyone goes on vacation, where do they go?
The Portuguese left an indelible mark on Brazil when they finally got out of town in 1822. There are number of charming colonial towns built by the Portuguese throughout the country. These sleepy towns and villages, flush with whitewashed architecture accented by a kaleidoscopic array of flash and color, are the perfect spots to kickback with nothing to do but wander the stuck-in-time cobblestoned streets. No photographic skills necessary, these gems do all the work for you, around each and every turn a new postcard Brazilian moment.
If you visit any of these sleepy Kodak-moment towns, you can impress the locals with your knowledge of the local vernacular. The word for “cobblestones” is one of the most entertaining words in Portuguese: Paralelepípedos.
Good luck with that!
Surrounded, and often overshadowed, by the countries that border it — Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru — Bolivia remains mysterious to many travelers. Luckily, there’s a small but vibrant Bolivian presence in Buenos Aires that’s on colorful display at street festivals and in the city’s very own Barrio Boliviano.
Photo: Lorena Flores Aguero
Lima can be a crazily hectic, incredibly busy city. When I want to reconnect with nature and have a few moments of peace, I head to the Pacific. For some reason, the sea always brings me solace.
One of my favorite times to head there is just before dusk, when the ocean and the sun meet briefly to steal away a goodnight kiss.
The way the sun sets the sky ablaze in fiery reds and oranges really is unparalleled. While you can catch this Pacific sunset anywhere along the 1,400 miles (2,250 km) of Peru’s pristine coastline, there’s something really special about Lima’s.