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  • Beyond Rio – Other Carnivals in Brazil

    For decades, Brazil’s international image has been synonymous with its festive Carnival season. And while Rio is ground zero for the action, it is certainly not the only place to celebrate. In a country as large and diverse as Brazil, various regions and cultures have created their own rendition of Carnival, differing from state to state. But to truly understand the diversification of Carnival, we need to take a look back at the party’s origins.
    Contrary to popular belief, Carnival isn’t actually a Brazilian creation; it’s a Catholic one, which is why Carnival is celebrated around the world. Introduced to Brazil in the early 1700s, the festival is essentially a chance for Catholics, or anyone looking to engage in a bit of revelry, to get in a few last bits of sin before Lent. In 1641, the first Brazilian Carnival celebrated the crowning of John IV as King, beginning a long and storied history of celebrations throughout the country.
    Although Rio Carnival is the most famous, it’s by no means the only festival worth visiting in Brazil. Here’s a look at where else to celebrate.

  • Photo: Alobos Life

    8 Incredible Adventures to Have in Brazil

    As the fifth largest country in the world, understandably Brazil’s mega size comes with mega adventures. There are rugged mountains, fertile wetlands, brilliant beaches, and of course, the mysterious Amazon to explore. Surrounded by endless biodiversity on both land and sea, this enchanting South American country is ideally suited for all kinds of adventure travel. If you’re feeling up for it, ixnay the resort this year and get ready for the trip of a lifetime with one (or all) of these epic experiences to try.

  • Photo: View of famous Farol da Barra (Barra Lighthouse) in Salvador, Bahia, Brazil.

    Bowled Over By Bahia

    We love the Brazilian State of Bahia While it may not be as well known as some of its southern counterparts, Bahia offers travelers an amazing variety of distinctly Brazilian experiences.

  • Photo: Gallery Peru

    A Foodie’s Photo Gallery Peru

    Professional food photographer Matt Armendariz recently visited Peru with fellow foodies Gaby Dalkin and Adam Pearson. While Matt certainly captured the mouth-watering beauty of Peruvian cuisine, he didn’t limit his subjects to what was on the plate. Matt also snapped a cornucopia of Peruvian ingredients, where they’re grown and the breath-taking Peruvian landscape. We hope you enjoy Matt’s work, it’s clear he does.

  • Gretchen Bleiler:
    Protecting Winter… All Year Long

    Gretchen Bleiler is one of the most accomplished women in all of snowboarding. She’s an Olympic Silver Medalist; four-time X-Games Gold Medalist; two-time US Open Champion; World Cup Champion; World Superpipe Champion; Espy Award Winner and more. Gretchen lives in Aspen, and is on the Board of Directors of Protect Our Winters (POW), a non-profit organization dedicated to reducing climate change’s effects on snow-based sports and local mountain communities. As a part of the Peak Seasons promotion, LAN will be making a donation to POW.

  • Gretchen Bleiler: Crossing the Equator with a Snowboard

    Gretchen Bleiler is one of the most accomplished women in all of snowboarding. She’s an Olympic Silver Medalist; four-time X-Games Gold Medalist; two-time US Open Champion; World Cup Champion; World Superpipe Champion; Espy Award Winner and more. Gretchen lives in Aspen, and has ridden at Chile’s Valle Nevado numerous times, so who better to shed some insight on the two resorts featured in our Peak Seasons promotion?

  • LAN Airlines and Easter Island: Our Unique Relationship with A Special Place

    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.

  • Paragliding through the Andes

    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

    How to Do Machu Picchu in 36 Hours

    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.

  • Photo: Vichayito

    Happy Campers: Beachfront Glamping in Máncora

    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.

  • Rafting in Chile

    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. 

  • A Hike (or Not) Up Monserrate

    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?

  • Photo: BruceW.

    4 Ways to Enjoy the Trip up Cerro San Cristobal in Santiago

    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.

  • Terra’s Top Travel Resolutions for 2015

    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.

  • Photo: Gisela Giardino

    How to Volunteer in Peru

    Traveling to the corners of the world has given me so much. Perspective, compassion, adventure, insight and knowledge are just a few of the traits I’ve brought home with me after exploring sights and places previously unknown. Journeying through Peru is no different.

    This country, so full of rich treasures, provides travelers with an unparalleled experience: the Amazon, with its densely verdant landscape and diverse ecosystem; the Andes, which took millions of years to form and now wind through seven South American nations; and the coast, complete with butter-soft sand and breathtaking views. Pair Peru’s natural wonders with its complex history and booming future and you’ve got a nation that gives travelers more in one visit than they could have ever dreamed of.

  • World Tourism Day: 9 Reasons to Visit Peru Now

    People around the world are in the midst of celebrating my favorite pastime and ultimate passion – travel. Commemorated each year on Sept. 27, the United Nations created World Tourism Day back in 1980 as a way of recognizing the positive contributions travel makes to local economies, cultural preservation, environmental protection and personal growth and enrichment.

    Our planet is a big place, full of majestic destinations to discover. While there are a heap of world wonders to uncover, this amazing Andean nation should be toward the top of your list. Here are the nine reasons you should visit Peru now!

  • Cotopaxi: Nature’s Prodigious Son

    Mountain Cotopaxi (5897 m) rises spectacularly along the Eastern cordillera of the Andes mountains chain. Its beautiful conical shape and perpetual snow make it one of the most coveted visitor sites in Ecuador, and it makes sense that it would be. Only an hour and a half drive from the capital, Quito, the slopes of this prodigy of nature couldn’t be more accessible and offer unparalleled adventure on one of the highest points on our planet. Click here for a chance to win an 8-day adventure for two in Ecuador!

  • Photo: Terra Hall

    An Adrenaline-Inducing Day Trip to Huacachina

    Remember that one cartoon where the main character is stranded in the middle of a never-ending desert? He drags himself over the sizzling hot sand while the sun relentlessly beats down. In the distance, he sees palm tree that provides shade and a lake that has limitless cold drinking water. Re-energized at the thought of this oasis, he rushes over, prepared to dive into the swimming pool only to have it all dissipate into thin air. It was all a mirage stirred up by his thirst.

    When I first set eyes on the desert oasis of Huacachina (wa-ka-CHEE-nah), I reverted back to my childhood for a moment. It was like that cartoon I had watched dozens of times had appeared right before my eyes. My six-year-old self was impressed.

  • Galapagos: Land or Cruise?

    One of the big questions as of late for those visiting Galapagos is: should I do it land-based or cruise-based? There are many options for either/or and although cruise tours have traditionally had the upper edge, land-based tourism, also known as ‘island hopping’, has become an increasingly popular and attractive opportunity to discover the islands.

    In the past, the main reason one would even think of land-based tours to explore the Galápagos was the price. Today, hotels can also offer expensive overnights, while some cruises are actually on the inexpensive side. All of which – cheap hotels, cheap cruises, expensive cruises, expensive hotels – have pros and cons to consider.

  • Turbo Down to Southern Chile and Antarctica

    The south of Chile and Argentina are some of the most photogenic places in the world. Stark blue skies, soaring granite peaks, giant rock formations in glacial valleys that show the soft slope where thousands of years ago, giant blocks of ice carved their way down from the mountains to flat land and beyond. And there are glaciers as well, dappled, blue-grey-white jagged surfaces that creak and groan, and sometimes calve into lakes below. Plan a trip to South America to find out for yourself or sign up here for a chance to win a trip to southern Chile and Antarctica with a friend!

  • Go To Extremes: Glaciers and Desert

    Verdant and desert, cool and warm, glaciers and sand dunes, these are the extremes of Chile. If you think of a map of the world and fold it in half, the south of Chile lines up with the Canadian Rockies, and the north of Chile lines up with the California desert. Except that the Andes are taller than the rockies, and the Atacama drier and larger than the desert in the southwest of the United States. So what’s it like to be in a country that has both extremes, such that you could visit them both on a single trip? In a word: stunning.

  • Photo: Terra Hall

    Welcome to the Jungle: Peru’s Piece of Heaven on Earth

    With its towering trees and endless landscape, the Peruvian Amazon is quickly becoming a hot-spot for environmentally conscious travelers looking to experience one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. In an attempt to meet demand, ecolodges in the Amazon jungle are becoming more and more common. While each has an array of amenities, unique itineraries and different opportunities to see the plants and animals that inhabit the rainforest, Refugio Amazonas’ commitment to sustainable travel makes it stand out from the rest.

  • Worth a Thousand Words: Tips and Tricks to Get the Perfect Shots

    If a picture is worth a thousand words, the photos travelers take on their adventures through Peru are enough to fill the pages of many a novel. While we will undoubtedly remember their four-day trek to Machu Picchu, over time the details – like how the scenery looked under the cloudless, bright blue sky – can be forgotten. Thankfully photos take us back to those moments in time that might otherwise be lost.

    That’s why I recently sat with wildlife photographer Jeff Cremer of Rainforest Expeditions. He and his team not only take curious travelers to the Amazon, they also provide high-end equipment and training to travelers eager to learn how to snap shots like a pro. After all, pictures are one of the best souvenirs to bring home with you – why not have the best ones possible?

  • Cabo de la Vela: Cape of Kites

    Nestled on the western side of the Guajira peninsula, a remote spit of desert split between Colombia and Venezuela that juts out into the Caribbean, the pocket-sized town of Cabo de la Vela has quietly become a major eco-tourism destination – for those daring enough to brave the trip to try to find it. A two-hour drive from the nearest highway, Cabo de la Vela is the definition of “off the beaten path,” a tiny fishing village with a few houses and restaurants, a nearby lighthouse and some of the most beautiful water on Colombia’s Caribbean coast.

  • Treatment for Altitude Sickness

    Standing before Machu Picchu, overlooking the goliath Incan civilization built entirely by hand 600 years ago is breathtaking for most travelers lucky enough to set their eyes on it. It takes travelers’ breath away, not only because of it’s size, complexity, beauty and history, but also because it sits at about 8,000 feet (2,500m) above sea level. Here the air is thin, leaving visitors gasping for oxygen and worse.

  • San Gil: Adventure Capital of Colombia

    Vancouver, Canada. Queenstown, New Zealand. Cape Town, South Africa. And…. San Gil, Colombia?

    San Gil may not make most publications’ list of Top 10 Cities to Get Your Adrenaline Pumping, but that’s just because the folks writing those lists don’t know about it yet. This formerly sleepy town in the northeastern Colombian department of Santander has recently re-branded itself as the “Adventure Capital of Colombia,” and so far it seems to be living up to that reputation, if the legions of happy visitors are any indication.

  • Photo: Philippa Kikelly

    7 Tips for Seeing Peru Solo

    “To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world,” penned renowned travel writer Freya Stark in her 1932 book Baghdad Sketches.

    I can attest to this. I just completed my very first solo adventure last month, though I will admit, it was less “pleasant sensation” and more terrifying fear that rattled my nerves; at least in the days leading up to the trip.

    While I was nervous, the experience was one I can only call amazing. Going it alone meant not only seeing I wanted to see, when I wanted to see it but also getting to eat at this great hole-in-the-wall multiple times and going to bed at 7 p.m. one night after an exhausting day sightseeing.

    With its sweeping vistas, rich history and diverse terrain Peru is the perfect place to explore on your own.

  • 3 Places To See Penguins in the Wild: Argentina

    The first time I saw a penguin in his natural habitat was right here in Argentina. I was with a marine biologist on a speedboat, both of us bundled up against the cold, gliding through the still bay off the coast of Puerto San Julián. As we approached the rocky coast of a small island, I spotted a small group of black and white birds emerging from the water, their plumage sleek and glossy, waddling one by one along the beach in a comical parade. I grew up with Mary Poppins and trips to the zoo – seeing penguins on the beach, and getting out of the boat to walk around their little colony, was an experience I’ll never forget.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Ruínas Americanas: The Jungle Pleasantvilles of Fordlândia & Belterra

    It’s not often we speak of American ruins – after all, the country isn’t old enough to have had anything crumble under the weight of history. You might think, anyway. But deep in the Amazon rainforest, Henry Ford and his Ford Motor Company, on the front end of the 20th Century, took a wildly ambitious yet woefully overreaching idea to task: Build a perfect prefabricated American industrial town – complete with fire hydrants, golf courses, front porches, water towers and sassafras tea – in the middle of the Amazon rainforest, where everyone could ride a carrot-dangled wave of rubber riches to the promised land. 

  • Channeling Theroux: Riding the Old Patagonian Express

    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.)

  • Rock Climbing Across Colombia

    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!

  • Into the Belly of the Beast: Navigating São Paulo

    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!

    Here’s how:

  • Photo: poirpom

    Trekking to Cuidad Perdida: Colombia’s Own Lost City

    Step aside, Machu Picchu – Colombia has its own arduous hike to a stunning lost city, with some extra Caribbean coastline thrown in.

    Far less famous (and less frequently visited) than the Inca Trail, the five-to-six-day trek to the site of Ciudad Perdida (the Lost City) is a challenging but rewarding hike along Colombia’s Caribbean coast and into the beautiful Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. The almost 47-kilometer hike leaves from the small village of Macheté and winds through the tropical forest, making almost two dozen river crossings and ascending and descending steep inclines before arriving finally to the Lost City itself. The temperature is significant hotter than in the Peruvian Andes and the terrain can often be challenging – it’s certainly not a trek for beginning hikers and it helps to be in good physical condition, but no matter how you get to the end, the spectacular views are worth it!

  • Beyond Christo and Copacabana: Rio de Janeiro Off the Beaten Path

    It’s no short order to escape the tourists in Rio de Janeiro. The city easily finds itself near the top of almost everyone’s to-visit list. And as one of the most beautiful and exotic urban landscapes on the planet, rightfully so. According to figures from Brazil’s Ministry of Tourism, over 9.2 million tourists disembarked in Brazil in 2012 – and almost every single one planted their toes into Rio’s remarkable city sands.

    The allure of the Cidade Maravilhosa is, in fact, too powerful to ignore for some, who find themselves back on their favorite air travel search site a few months down the line, frantically playing with dates and routes to find the most economic way in which they can return to lap up even more sun, sand and samba. Those folks have already visited Rio’s 5-star attractions – Christ the Redeemer, Pão de Açúcar, Copacobana, Ipanema, Santa Teresa etc. – and are looking to escape fellow nomads and go a little more local. The good news is it’s not an impossible wish, but you’ll need to be committed to the effort. Here are a few places in Brazil’s most visited city where you can (maybe!) escape most fellow foreigners …

  • Visiting Iquique in Chile’s Norte Grande

    Iquique is one of the emblematic cities of the Chile’s Norte Grande, the vast northern part of Chile that crosses the Atacama Desert, which is the driest in the world. Iquique is a modern city sandwiched between dramatic cliffs and the Pacific Ocean, and has an interesting history as one of the opulent cities in Latin America up until about the 1930s, to the end of the nitrate boom, which had fueled the city’s growth for many years. The well-preserved architecture from that time makes for good sightseeing at any time of year, with sunshine nearly assured, and temperatures never dropping below about 45, nor climbing above about 85 degrees.

  • The Towns of Chile’s Carretera Austral

    Chile’s Carretera Austral, or Southern Highway is one of the world’s great drives. The road is an improbable project, started in the 1970s to connect far-flung Chilean towns and villages to the rest of Chile by road, rather than small plane or overland via Argentina. Even now, traveling the length of this remote (mostly gravel) 1200-km road takes days, and gives travelers a taste of untouched rural Patagonia, the way it has looked for thousands of years. There are giant rivers with snaking tributaries in and placid lakes in blue, green, turquoise and every color in between. Stands of thick forests, including giant, sequoia-like alerces trees line parts of the road, and in the early summer, colorful lupins in yellows, purples and pinks fringe the lakes. Glaciers and steep mountains complete the picture of rugged Patagonia. Below are a few of the towns and highlights you’ll see on your way down this road. 

  • Photo: SF Brit

    Visiting Antarctica from Chile

    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.

  • Photo: CREES

    Biking through the Cloud Forest

    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?

  • 5 of Colombia’s Most Magical Places

    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).

  • Spending Time in Cajón del Maipo

    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

    Climbing Above the Equatorial Clouds

    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

    Favelado for the Weekend

    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: Aztlek

    Whale-Watching on Colombia’s Pacific Coast

    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.

  • 4 Reasons to Love: San Miguel de Tucumán

    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.

  • Photo: Pirqa

    Rock and Wall Climbing in Peru

    Bouldering, indoor, free rock, trad rock, solo and alpine climbing … I still get confused with all these names. I’ve only tried  bouldering and indoor climbing, but they both were fun and physically demanding. I thought you need to be extremely strong but I was wrong. It is not all about the strength. Balance, creativity and control play a very important role as well.

    Although this activity has been present in Perú, specially in the Andes, it has grown in popularity over the last years. Here I’ll share two places to practice this sport in Lima and the northern highlands.

  • Eco-lombia

    One of Colombia’s main draws for tourists is its wide range of natural beauty – but, as we all know, beauty doesn’t last forever. Whether it’s deforestation or rising water levels from climate change, landscapes don’t stay the same forever, especially when humans get involved. Luckily, many of the folks involved in the country’s tourism industry are already wise to this, and are focusing plenty of energy toward supporting ecologically friendly, sustainable development and tours. A short Google search will lead you to several excellent companies that operate with a sustainable focus, but if your main concern is the destination, here are a few of the country’s “greenest” spots.

  • Weekend Getaway: Gramado

    Though little known outside of Brazil, the small but adorable Swiss-inspired mountain village of Gramado, 124 miles northeast of Porto Alegre in the deep Brazilian south, is a little island of giddy European charm surrounded by an ocean of Tropicália. During winter break, Brazilians flock here, all too happy to don hats, gloves and galoshes while they pretend that cold is kitsch between bites of fondue in fireplace-toasted restaurants. Sounds like hell frozen over? Not so fast.

  • Photo: Yogasana

    Best Yoga Studios in Lima

    If you live in Lima or you’re just visiting the city, here are some good schools to practice the ancient tradition of yoga. They all have experienced teachers and an amazing atmosphere that attracts experienced practitioners and beginners.

  • Retreats: Getting Away From It All

    As we ease into the lazy, late dog days of summer, the call of the wilderness – or at least the world outside your office – is stronger than ever. But if you’re not the camping and backpacking type, how can you get away from the sounds of all those clicking keyboards and incoming texts?

    Luckily for you, in addition to its natural beauty, Colombia boasts plenty of places to retreat from the loud, buzzing “real world” and take a few deep breaths. Whether you like warm sandy beaches or lush green mountainsides, there’s a place for you to spend a few days far away from emails, traffic jams and anything else that might interrupt your reading time.

  • Photo: Embratur

    Friendly Floripa

    It came as a surprise to many – including your Brazil expert – when Florianópolis was recently chosen by readers of Condé Nast Traveler as the Friendliest City in the World, beating out the likes of Hobart, Australia; Thimpu, Bhutan; Queenstown, New Zealand and Charleston, South Carolina on its way to its poll-topping performance.

    I have never been to Hobart, Thimpu or Charleston (though I did jump out of a plane in Queenstown once), but I have been to Florianópolis, the jewel of the Brazilian South, on more than a few occasions.

  • Daytrip to Isla Damas

    Wildlife lovers visiting La Serena, one of Chile’s favorite northern coastal cities, should make time for Chile’s National Humboldt Penguin Reserve. The reserve is part of the Chilean national parks (CONAF) system, and is a favorite among locals and visitors to the area. There’s something for everyone, with a boat trip out to the reserve, plentiful wild life sightings, desert plants and flowers, and white sand beaches which make this park one of the highlights of the Norte Chico, the northern part of Chile that is closest to Santiago.

  • Photo: 878

    Vintage Cocktails in Buenos Aires: 3 Bars Inspired by the Past

    The Italian and Spanish immigrants who originally settled in Buenos Aires had their own well-defined cocktail traditions, but somewhere along the line, mixed drinks went out of style in the Argentinian capital. These days, porteños aren’t big cocktail drinkers – unless you count the ubiquitous bottle of Fernet Branca, a bitter herbal spirit found at every house party in the city – but it’s a tendency that’s slowly changing. Witness the mini-Renaissance of the classic cocktail at three serious watering holes inspired by the city’s past.

  • 72 Hours in Puno

    The city of Puno, located at the shore of Lake Titicaca (the highest navigable lake in the world), is a gateway to fascinating cultures and breathtaking Altiplano landscapes. The city that boarders Bolivia is also a Ramsar Site (wetland of international importance) due to its large population of water birds.

  • Perfect Weekend Escape: Ilhabela

    When it comes to Brazil, São Paulo normally hogs the superlatives, but one thing this monster of a city cannot lay claim to is, “The Best Beach.” In fact, São Paulo city has no beach at all. Paulistanos, as residents of the city are known, must brave a solid two hours of bumper-to-bumper gridlock (on a good day!) to reach any of São Paulo state’s beaches worth sitting in traffic for two hours to reach. But if there’s one escape that is worth the wait, though, it’s the idyllic island of Ilhabela (“Beautiful Island), a Paulistano playground for the rich and famous and bold and beautiful some 200km northeast of the city. Dig in for a weekend. Here’s how.

  • Breweries at the Bottom of the World

    If you’ve made it all the way to Tierra del Fuego, congratulations – it’s time to crack open a cold one. Luckily for frazzled travelers arriving by plane (picture a thrilling landing over an icy archipelago) or overland (imagine a rocky boat ride over the Strait of Magellan), cervezas artesanales, or craft beers, are all the rage in Ushuaia. Here, a short list of varieties to try from the key microbreweries: you can find them in bars and restaurants around town, or take a few bottles home, learning something about the region’s fascinating history while you’re at it. Raise a glass – you’re at the end of the world!

  • Visiting Torres del Paine

    Vast Torres del Paine national park, located in Chilean Patagonia, just a few hours from the southern city of Punta Arenas, is one of Chile’s proudest and most-visited national parks, and with good reason.

    The park’s 600,000 acres comprise a vast ecosystem of glaciers, forests, steppe, glacial valleys, lakeside camping, a striated massif, and the granite spires of the towers for which the park itself is named.

  • Photo: Calle del Medio Restaurant

    A Night Out in Cusco

    I recommend you start your night at Calle del Medio Restaurant located in front of the Cathedral in the Plaza de Armas (Main Square). From the moment this place opened its doors, it was destined to become one of the city’s favorites. This might be because of its colorful and cozy atmosphere, but also because of its signature cuisine made of Andean ingredients, such as Alpaca brochette and Tartare de trucha (Trout tartar).

  • Photo: Embratur

    A Pantanal Primer

    Visitors to Brazil often underestimate the size of the country (it’s the 5th largest country in the world, bigger than the continental United States) so as a result, end up facing some tough decisions about where to spend their time after Rio de Janeiro and Iguazú Falls. One of the most common dilemmas travelers face is choosing between the Amazon, the world’s largest rainforest; and the Pantanal, one of the world’s largest freshwater wetlands. Of course, the honest answer is, “Why choose? Go to both!”

  • Photo: Santiago Brusa

    Exploring Gourmet Buenos Aires: One Food Tour, and One “Anti-Tour”

    Perhaps you’ve heard: Buenos Aires’ culinary scene has been undergoing a metamorphosis. In the not very distant past, if you weren’t in the mood for grilled meat, pasta, or tapas – the latter two a throwback to the city’s Italian and Spanish heritage – you were out of luck at dinnertime. Today, a growing number of innovative chefs bring much-needed diversity to the city’s dining sphere, while others focus on perfecting traditional recipes for an increasingly discerning clientele. Of course, the foodie scene isn’t necessarily easy to access: as any traveler who’s ever visited a large city can attest, it’s easy to overspend on a mediocre meal. Enter the professional epicures. Though the following two services are quite different – the first a socially-minded food tour, the second a personalized ‘anti-tour’ through the city’s lesser – known food highlights – both provide invaluable entry into gourmet Buenos Aires.

  • Photo: Quito Tourism Office

    72 Hours in Quito

    Day One: Old Town

    8 AM: Wake up to a leisurely breakfast at Casona de la Ronda, the boutique hotel located along old town’s iconic, cobblestone street.  After some traditional helpings of local fare, mixed with international dishes, and a great cup of coffee, take a walk.  Depart to the west, exiting La Ronda onto the 24 de Mayo Plaza until you reach Benalcazar Street.  Turn right and head toward the Plaza San Francisco. Other hotels in old town: Casa San Marcos, Casa Gangotena, Hotel Patio Andaluz, Hotel Plaza Grande.

  • Photo: BitBoy

    72 Hours in Santiago

    Santiago, Chile, a city of more than 6 million people has ultramodern glassed-in towers, colorful traditional markets, a resurgence of interest in old folkloric traditions, a sparkling metro, a large hill-turned-backyard to take it all in from and is overlooked by the towering, often snowcapped Andes. There’s way more than 72 hours worth of sightseeing and activities in and around Santiago, but if you had to limit it to just a long weekend, here are plenty of activities to keep you entertained, and give you a good overview

  • 72 Hours in Buenos Aires

    Just three days to see Buenos Aires, the second-largest city in South America? Que bardo (what a situation), a porteño might say. Forget visiting all the sights and focus on absorbing some of the city’s heady blend of old and new – Italian architecture, edgy street art, tango music, modernist cocktails, classic cafes – a dichotomy that makes Buenos Aires unforgettable.

  • Rocking in the Parks: Bogotá’s Yearlong Free Concert Series

    As far as I’m concerned, the only thing better than music is free music. While this attitude can get people in trouble with the RIAA, it’s a welcome idea in Bogotá, city of music in the park. I’m not just talking about street performers, although they do a solid business throughout the city’s many parks and plazas. Each year, Bogotá’s ministry of culture, along with various arts organizations, hosts a series of concerts and music festivals throughout the city. The concerts cater to all different tastes and styles of music, but the one thing they have in common is that they’re all free. Spaced out across the year, these shows are all part of the “al Parque” (In the Park) series that makes all kinds of music more accessible to Bogotá residents.

  • Photo: - photo courtesy of Eileen Smith

    Vintage Paradise on Bandera Street

    Bandera, a downtown Santiago street, the name of which means flag, starts off at the Alameda (Libertador Bernardo O’Higgins), and heads north, for several blocks, passing under a colorful skybridge between two buildings (which is lit up, and changes colors at night).  It passes the PreColumbian Art Museum and the former National Congress building and ends one block from the Mercado Central (central market).

  • 72 Hours in Cartagena

    Colombia’s historic walled city is known for its stunning architecture, romantic atmosphere and excellent seafood. But with only 72 hours to spend in the city, how best to maximize your time there? There’s a month’s worth of activities and sightseeing to do, but here are a few suggestions to make the best of a long Caribbean weekend.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Top 8 Experiences: Fernando de Noronha

    For those who have never heard of it, the small island of Fernando de Noronha, 200 miles off the coast of Recife in Northeastern Brazil, may not roll off the tongue easily, but it sure is easy on the eyes. In a country that boasts over 4500 miles of coastline – darn near all of it the prettiest you ever did see – Noronha stands out as a paradise in paradise.  Brazilians equate it with Heaven itself.

  • Photo: jbstafford

    Buenos Aires: A perfect night out in Palermo Soho

    Few neighborhoods in Buenos Aires are more well known for nightlife than Palermo, and the half of it that makes up the Palermo Soho subsection is particularly hopping come nightfall. The boundaries of Palermo Soho are roughly made up of Avenida Santa Fe to the northeast, Avenida Córdoba to the southwest, Avenida Scalabrini Ortiz to the southeast, and Avenida Juan B. Justo to the northwest. The area contains buzzing Plaza Serrano and is filled with trendy cafés, restaurants, and boutiques in colorful, low-rise buildings. Here, the red-brick streets are strolled by young, fashionable Porteños and expats. You’ll feel more comfortable out and about here if you dress up a bit.

  • Quito Urban Art 2013

    Quito is a little more colorful starting this month, but don’t be surprised if you fail to take notice.  Even though the new urban art project launched for 2013 covers nearly 4,000 square meters of public space (painted on bridges, cross walks, tunnels and walls), many people seem not to notice it.

  • A perfect Night Out in Buenos Aires: The Recoleta Barrio

    By day, the upscale Recoleta neighborhood is a top destination for visitors to Buenos Aires. The residential area is famed for the sprawling Recoleta Cemetery, a walled maze of elaborate 19th- and 20th-century crypts and mausoleums. Aside from the architectural wonders, the cemetery has historic appeal, as well: former first lady Eva Perón is buried here. On weekends, the nearby Plaza Francia, which sits adjacent to the cemetery, buzzes with a large open-air market. You can find traditional leather goods, jewelry, and other souvenirs here.

  • Photo: FEEP

    Train Crucero: Ecuador’s Luxury Railway

    The world often associates luxury and class with speed and sleekness. But along a 447 kilometer stretch of railway that snakes through the Andes Mountains and coastal plains of Ecuador, high class travel has begun to be redefined.

    A symbol of man’s triumph over nature, the Ecuadorean train was a nearly forgotten, historic achievement until it was resurrected and enthusiastically restored over the past four years by the national government.

  • Photo: Prayitno

    Learn to Tango in Buenos Aires

    Aside from steak and maybe red wine, Argentina’s most famous export is tango— a sultry dance that originated in the port communities along the Río de la Plata, near Buenos Aires, in the 1890’s. Today, the dance and music are enjoying newfound popularity with young Argentines, infusing fresh energy into Buenos Aires’s nightlife.

  • Discovering the Moche Route

    Once I heard that the best time to be had when traveling is when you wake up before anyone else to enjoy an unforgettable sunrise. When I did this in Chaparri, Moche Sacred Mountain, and I saw it reddened by the sun, hidden in the fog, I understood why shamans still invoke it in their sessions and why the pre-Incan civilization Moches did too.

  • Welcome to the Equator…Both of Them!

    Visiting the Equator is one of the original tourism attractions of Ecuador that never seems to lose its charm.  But once visitors arrive at the “Mitad del Mundo” (Middle of the World), about 30 minutes from north-central Quito, they should not be surprised to find two Equators.

  • Little Known Ways to Trek the Andes

    Getting a massage after six hours of walking, arriving at the campsite with an amazing view of the mountains, taking a hot shower followed by a delightful dinner made out of local ingredients and falling asleep on a comfortable feather pillow. Believe me, this is how you want to trek the Andes!

  • Photo: Rosino

    Brazil’s Boa Morte Festival

    Though Brazil is the largest Catholic country in the world, within its borders is a far more diverse religious melting pot often stirred by the country’s rich African roots, which are most evident in the northeastern state of Bahia. Here, Brazil’s most well-known Afro-Brazilian religion, Candomblé, maintains a powerful following.

  • Ski Arpa

    For pristine, above-the-treeline back-country skiing, tremendous vertical drop and the opportunity to ski in the shadow of Aconcagua, South America’s tallest peak, cat-skiing at Ski Arpa, has an offer that is unparalleled in Chile, and much of the world. Add to that the fact that Chilean winter comes during North America’s “off season” period, and the decision is simple.

  • Argentina’s Most Scenic Ski Resort

    At Chapelco Ski Resort, near the town of San Martín de los Andes, the stunning scenery nearly outshines the thrills of the slopes. Mount Chapelco looms 6,496 feet above cerulean Lake Lácar, and many of its twenty groomed ski and snowboard trails run through tall forests of lenga (pictured above), a type of beech tree native to the southern Andes.

  • Re-Discovering Quito: The Rural Parishes

    When tourists come to Quito they often visit the central historical district, the tourism district known as the Mariscal, and some of the other attractions around the northern half of the city.  But the largest part of Quito–the rural area–often goes unnoticed and unexplored.

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