Photo: SF Brit
For penguin peepers, glacier chasers, cruise fans, and those who love to visit far-flung places, Antarctica delivers. There are long days of summer sunshine, glassy waters and a constantly-changing seascape. Dolphin, whale and albatross sightings are practically guaranteed. From closer to the coast, or from landings, penguins, sea lions, different species of seals (including sometimes southern elephant seals) are also a sure thing.
Certainly one of my favorite ecosystems, full of orchids, ferns, colorful birds, waterfalls and other amazing flora and fauna. From all the places I’ve been to, the Manu Road has always been the most challenging. From the highlands it takes you deep into the forest. But biking this one-way road full of cliffs is even more challenging. Are you brave enough to take on this adventure?
Photo: Hotel San Luis Village
Sometimes, I suspect that the Colombian government is paying every single citizen of this country to act as an undercover tour guide. It seems like everyone here, from office workers to taxi drivers, is willing and able to offer an opinion on the best spots for weekend getaways, must-see locations in different cities and all of the food visitors absolutely have to try while here (often physically leading said visitor to the closest place selling that particular delicacy).
Photo: Manuel Bahamondez H
Cajón del Maipo, a valley etched into the foothills of the Andes, and a short drive from Santiago, Chile, is where well-heeled Santiaguinos take weekend drives and where the wealthy buy homes perched on steep overlooks. It’s also a great place to go rafting, hiking, horseback-riding, camping, or just take a day trip up into the mountains. There is plenty of food and drink to sustain you, no matter what you choose to do. And if a single day isn’t enough, there are plenty of places to stay as well.
Photo: Giedre Bankauskaite
The Otavalo Valley, land of rose plantations (some of the most beautiful, vibrant petals in the world thrive here all year round), of textiles (which are, coincidentally, as vibrant as the roses), of lakes, of patchwork valleys, of great history, with a number of archaeological ruins that reveal the vibrant past of the great Cayambi civilization… is in many ways a sacred land, and looming above it lies the ever-so-impressive Mount Cayambe, the highest point along our planet’s Equator.
Photo: Kevin Raub
Anyone who has been to Rio de Janeiro has seen the colorful brick-and-mortar mazes precariously climbing up the lush mountains in all directions from most vantage points of note in Zona Sul: The favelas. Or shantytowns. Or slums. Or whatever the slur of choice is for a lot of underprivileged people stuffing themselves into illegal housing stacked on top of each other because the socioeconomic realities deem it so. They have traditionally been associated with violent wars between the police and drug lords, the latter of whom traditionally controlled them. Wandering into them if you were Brazilian was a scary no-no and an enlightening if not controversial good time for foreigners, who have taken the Jeep and van tours that have been operating since the ’90s.
Photo: Jonathan Hood
Imagine taking on the Wind. Being able to carry yourself from one place to the next on its back: go wherever you want to go, no matter how far, how steep, how wide, how narrow, how long it takes to get there or how difficult it may be.
Each year, hundreds of humpback whales make the 8,000 km journey from the frigid sea off Chile to the warm waters of Colombia’s Pacific coastline, gathering in bays and coves by the dozens or even hundreds to mate and calve their babies before beginning the long trip back. In recent years, as the security situation in the region has improved, local tour operators have begun to capitalize on this event’s natural appeal, offering guided tours and boat rides to view the gentle visitors. Though it requires a certain level of commitment to reach the remote area, it’s made worthwhile by the payoff upon arrival: hundreds of miles of untouched coastline, jungles filled with some of the world’s most amazing plants and animals, and whales that come so close to shore that, legend has it, you can see them from your hammock on the beach.
The northern Argentinian city – capital of the province of Tucumán, nicknamed El Jardín de la República (The Garden of the Republic) thanks to its bountiful crop of fruit and sugarcane – is historic. And warm in the winter. It’s the gateway to a picturesque mountainscape. And you won’t find a better empanada anywhere in the country. Need more reasons to go? Let’s count out four to start.