Peru receives international acclaim for its man-made mysteries – primarily Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines – but perhaps one of its equally alluring destinations wasn’t manufactured by hand.
Peru’s beaches stretch more than 1,400 miles (2,250 km) down a sprawling coastline that kisses the Pacific Ocean. At nearly double the length of California’s famous seaside, Peru offers travelers a varied experience – from luxurious resorts to surfing Meccas to playful penguins.
Photo: Michele Mariani
It’s time to get festive, because Carnival season is upon us! While Rio may get most of the world’s (well-deserved) attention and Mardi Gras is the place to be in the northern hemisphere, there’s a raucous Carnival taking place on Colombia’s Caribbean coast as well. For four days out of the year, the Atlantic port city of Barranquilla, perhaps best-known internationally as the hometown of famous colombianas Shakira and Sofia Vergara, turns into the national party capital as it celebrates its own unique take on Carnival. It’s a must-see cultural experience if you’re in the country at the right time.
Photo: Foto by Rudy Huhold, courtesy of EMBRATUR
The annual rivalry between the football teams from the universities of Georgia and Florida may bill itself as the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, but anyone who knows anything about Carnival in Brazil would only laugh at such sentiments. There is no party on Earth that rivals Carnival in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro, where millions of revelers fill the streets for days on end. Exultant mayhem is the only way to describe it – and it must be experienced to be believed.
Photo: Eileen Smith
For a thoroughly crazy, unexpected day in what is a fairly quirky city to begin with, stay off the funiculars and out of the museums this Sunday, February 23rd in Valparaíso, Chile. Once a year, parts of this city become an urban downhilling course for some of the world’s best competitors. Valparaíso Cerro Abajo is routinely referred to the world’s most insane downhill race, and if you come to see it, you’ll know why.
Photo: Bridget Gleeson
All aboard La Trochita – revisiting the landscape that inspired Chatwin, Theroux, and Darwin on a slow train journey through a desolate landscape.
(First, a note: much is made of glaciers, penguins, and whales, but Patagonia is vast, with subtler pleasures to be discovered amid the wide-open spaces and world-famous attractions. In an effort to introduce travelers to a few of these, I’ll be sharing experiences from my own overland travels, starting today in the province of Chubut, where the landscape of the Andes transitions into the Patagonian steppe.)
Photo: Ilan Greenfield
The humble provincial city of Riobamba is actually located smack-in-the-middle of the Ecuadorian Andes. Certainly overshadowed by Andean prima donnas Quito and Cuenca, visitors come and go without ever hearing about this very special area of the country. But there are many interesting things to do and discover here.
Photo: Carlos Adampol Galindo
From Italy to the Caribbean and even the United States (Mardi Gras), Carnival is celebrated in practically every region of the world with Catholic roots. The celebration traditionally falls in the days preceding Ash Wednesday, which marks the start of Lent, a period of 40 days where practicing Catholics typically abstain from parties and rich foods, while engaging in fasting and other activities viewed as pious. Historians believe this is where Carnival came into play.
In the days leading up to Lent, all those rich foods – including the stockpiles of alcohol – needed to be spent and what better way than throwing a huge block party to get rid of it all (it’s like eating a box of brownies smothered in ice cream before starting a new diet).
When thinking of Carnival in South America, the first vision that likely comes to mind is scantily clad women costumed in elaborately ornate headpieces Samba-ing their way through Rio de Janiero. While true for Brazil, the Portuguese-speaking nation isn’t the only place to get a piece of the Carnival action; Peru has a few parties all its own.
Photo: Yassef Briceno Garcia
Though Colombia’s Andes may not be as tall as those of its southern neighbors, there are plenty of places to strap on harnesses and scale a few walls. The last few decades have seen an explosion in the popularity of rock climbing among locals, and foreigners finally seem to be getting wise to the wealth of offerings as well. From the jagged volcanic peaks of national parks to vertical rock walls and climbs across the top of caves, Colombia is a climber’s paradise – as long as you know where to look!
The Southern Hemisphere’s largest city is about as intimidating as cities come: A mindblowingly immense concrete jungle of cloud-kissing skyscrapers, intertwining streets and avenues sprouting in all directions with no rhyme or reason, 21 million people going about their hard working, hard playing lives, eating at 12,500 restaurants, drinking 15,000 bars and going home to their houses, condos and high-rise apartments in 96 different neighborhoods, most of which are home to more people than entire cities elsewhere.
It’s a beast.
If you show up in São Paulo without a local to lean on, you’re likely to be overcome with a sensation of “I’m Not a Celebrity but Get Me Outta Here!” very quickly. It’s a city that chews you up and spits you out like no other I have ever visited. But now that I live here, I navigate the streets like I own the place. You can too!
When you think of ethnic food in Santiago, you might think of food from other Latin American nations. We have our share of Peruvian restaurants, and a few Brazilian and Colombian places, including some new eateries serving arepas and tropical juices. And of course, there are also a couple of well-reviewed Argentine steakhouses.
But what might surprise you is that in recent years, as the face of immigration to this sizeable city changes, and the Chilean palate opens to new experiences, we’re also seeing a large culinary expansion into Asian food.
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