Geography is destiny. For proof, look no further than Easter Island. It sits in blessed isolation, in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, with nothing around it for over 1,000 miles. The closest continental point is in Chile, over 2,000 miles away.
As one of the world’s most remote inhabited islands, it has managed to preserve much of its aboriginal Rapa Nui culture. Its isolation, however, has also created some unique challenges, many of which LAN Airlines is helping to solve.
If you’re looking for somewhere to sprout wings, Colombia has the answer for you. Though not renowned as a center for extreme sports, the strong winds that spill over the country’s three Andean ranges make it an ideal location for paragliding pilots and enthusiasts alike. From Valle del Cauca in the southwest to Santander near the border with Venezuela, there are a number of quality takeoff points throughout the country – there’s even a great place to fly just outside of Bogotá!
Photo: Ken Bosma
In order to really take in everything Machu Picchu and the surrounding Cusco region have to offer – their Andean peaks, Inca ruins and seemingly endless adventure – you’d have to spend weeks in the area. While experiencing the ins and outs of the region is worth it, the truth is, most vacationers don’t have that kind of time. The good news is, a trip to Machu Picchu doesn’t have to be all or nothing. If you are just passing through Peru on a business trip or a long layover, you can make it to Machu Picchu and back to Lima for your flight home in less time than it’ll take you to binge watch the first two seasons of “Friends.”
Note: LAN has flexible flight times that can suit even the tightest of vacation plans. This is a mock itinerary meant to show you that Machu Picchu is a possible feat even on the shortest of time budgets. Feel free to copy it and change the times and activities to suit your needs.
This may come across as a bit of a surprise, but I am not a camping kind of gal. While the idea of sleeping in a tent beneath the stars intrigues me, the idea of sleeping in a tent beneath the stars also terrifies me. You see, even though I’m an adventurer at heart – I like to surf and white water raft and mountain climb as much as the next adrenaline seeker – I much prefer to come home to running water, flushing toilets, and a plush mattress draped in luxurious linens when the adventure is over.
That’s why when I heard about glamping in Máncora, a beach town on Peru’s northern coast, I jumped at the opportunity.
Starting in about October and November, the Andean snowpack in Chile starts to melt, increasing water flow to the country’s many rivers. By December, they are in full force, and, not coincidentally, that is when some of Chile’s best river rafting starts. There are four main places where river rafting takes place in this long, skinny country, and below are details of each, what to expect, and how long to plan for.
Ask any Bogotá native what you should do in the city, and one of the first words out of his or her mouth will doubtless be “Monserrate.” Along with the famed Gold Museum, this mountain is one of the absolute musts on a Bogotá visitor’s to-do list, and you’ll never be forgiven if you leave the capital without making the mandatory pilgrimage to the famous peak.
So what’s the big deal about some mountain, anyway?
Cerro San Cristobal, the large hill that overlooks much of Santiago, Chile, is many things to many people. It’s a spot for religious pilgrimage, visiting the 22-meter marble statue of Mary atop the hill, or the small chapel nearby. It’s a proving ground for cyclists and runners, who use the hill’s smooth asphalt to train. And it’s a spot for family outings and photo-ops, atop the hill at Plaza Tupahue, where several vendors sell mote con huesillo, a local (nonalcoholic) drink made of reconstituted peaches and wheat kernels.
How you get up the 300-meter hill is up to you. If you’ve got a bit of time and energy, maybe you’d like to walk. A little less time but more energy, maybe a bike rental is for you. Or if not, there are a couple of motorized options listed below.
LAN Airlines recently received a question from a frequent flyer: “We have five days in Buenos Aires. What are some of the must-see things to do that are not the general tourist activitites?” We thought it made a good topic for the Only in South America blog. My five recommendations follow.
Photo: Madeleine Holland
January — it’s a month of new beginnings, a time when people vow to better their lifestyles, kick a bad habit to the curb and become more productive. The problem with these New Year’s resolutions is that they rarely stick. Busy lives get in the way or people discover that their goals were a bit too lofty. Whatever the reason, many people fail at resolving their resolutions.
That’s why this year, I vowed to make my resolution one I can look forward to beforehand, enjoy while I’m actually doing it, and look back on with fond memories. My resolution is to see more of Peru and I am inviting you, dear Only in South America readers, to join me.