With her crown of pyroclastic cones, looming over the intermontane valleys of the ever-spectacular province of Cotopaxi, Mount Quilotoa – or ‘Princess Toa’ in native Quechua – has become one of the Quito area’s most coveted tourism destinations.
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.
Chile is well-known for having a coastline that is almost 3,000 miles long. And with all that beachfront real estate, there is something for everyone. There are horseshoe-shaped coves for splashing, in the north at Guanaqueros, or in the central region, at El Canelo. There is surfing, in the north near Iquique, and famously at the big wave competition site Pichilemu in the central south.
And, since 2007, on the central coast, just a little over an hour’s drive from Santiago, there is also the world’s largest swimming pool, located at the beach. And it makes perfect sense.
It’s hot in Buenos Aires: prime time to flee the big city. If surf and sand isn’t your idea of paradise, skip the crowds along Argentina’s Atlantic coast. There’s a cooler, mellower summertime getaway awaiting in the lakes district – hike to high cliffs over the water, plunge through a shallow river on horseback, catch a fish, recline at an eco-friendly spa, or just indulge your chocolate addiction in Bariloche.
Most folks think of Brazil as a beach destination. Rightfully so, there’s no denying Brazil was sun-kissed by God almighty himself when perfect sands were being dished out to Earth. But Brazil is also home to a massive interior of pastoral hills flush with hidden waterfalls, deep canyons, rolling coffee plantations and dramatic rocky landscapes which come along with a culture entirely different from that of the beach – no bikini necessary.
One of Brazil’s most beautiful countryside destinations is the state of Minas Gerais, which is famous for colonial towns, hearty cuisine and cachaça, Brazil’s local firewater; but is perhaps best known for the friendliness of its people. I have a little joke in Brazil: Whenever I meet a Brazilian that I immediately love to death, they are almost always a Mineiro. To that end, Mineiros are especially good at hospitality. If you are visiting Belo Horizonte, Brazil’s third biggest city, on business or pleasure, consider hanging around a bit and making the 195-mile trek south to Reserva do Ibitipoca; better yet, if you’re in Rio de Janeiro (for pleasure – what else?), it’s even an even closer journey: 157 miles. But regardless of where you come from, this luxury plantation is a world away.
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.
Photo: Brazilian Beach House Co.
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 …
At about 4 pm, the employees at San Agustín de Callo let the estate llamas out to roam around the hacienda’s beautiful stone courtyard. With their half-dainty, half-clumsy swagger, the camelids hastily make their way towards a clutch of leafy vegetables left out for them. Guests are usually amazed to see so many so close.