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.
Speaking of heritage artwork in Ecuador that you may want to take back home with you, I’d like to introduce to you a certain Eduardo Vega. One of the country’s foremost potters, Eduardo Vega is sure to impress you on your visit to Cuenca, or so I’d like to conjecture. Here, you’ll be able to discover the master’s gallery and workshop, located in his own home, which incidentally is only a few steps away from a nice sightseeing stop, Turi Church. The lookout point offers the most spectacular view of the city of Cuenca.
Photo: Natalie Southwick
Let’s cut to the chase here – this is not an unbiased post. I have repeatedly and publicly stated, to pretty much anyone within earshot, that Villa de Leyva is one of my favorite places in Colombia. However, I’m hardly alone in this opinion – in fact, I don’t know a single person that has visited Villa and failed to fall in love with it. Cartagena may be Colombia’s most romantic city, but Villa de Leyva seems designed to capture the heart of any visitor, as long as they don’t mind a few cobblestones underfoot!
Photo: Nico Kaiser
Melancholy, sensual, and deliciously languorous, the strain of the bandoneón is at the very heart of tango. Here are some fun facts: despite popular notion, the accordion-like instrument is not from Argentina. It was originally meant to play religious music. It’s said to be one of the most difficult instruments to learn. And apparently it’s under threat of extinction.
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!
Photo: Ana Carina Lauriano
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 …
Photo: Pablo Trincado
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.
Time to play catch-up: I’ve just arrived back to Buenos Aires after weeks of travel in Mexico, Peru, and the USA. Here’s my to-do list for the hot weeks of summer ahead (well, the cultural events, at least, I doubt anyone’s interested in hearing about getting my air-conditioner fixed or trying to get invited to a friend’s swimming pool.) Art, film, telescopes, acrobats, let’s do this.
Back in the 1980s, Quito still used to be a quiet town past 8 pm. Quiteños were known to shy away from the cool evening winds that dominate the city’s altitude of 2800 meters above sea level, retiring to their homes as soon as the sun went down, warming up in front of their fireplaces, under their heavy llama-wool covers. But one fine day, everything changed, and an animated nightlife (with all the necessary party lights, dance floors, amps and turntables) was born.
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