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  • Meet the newest member of our family – The Boeing 787-9

    So when we heard Boeing was making a new 787, you know we had to get some. And now they’re here. The new 787-9 aircraft became a part of the LAN Airlines fleet back in April, and we’ll gradually roll them out across the fleet.

    For you, this means some welcome advances in in-flight comfort:
    • New air humidification techniques reduce feelings of dryness and fatigue by providing cleaner air
    • Windows with up to 40% greater surface area
    • Overhead luggage compartments 30% larger (!)
    • LED illumination and aerodynamics that provide for a smoother flight

  • LAN Airlines and TAM Airlines Opened the Largest VIP Lounge in South America!

    Skift.com couldn’t have said it better – our new VIP Lounge launched this April 2015 is a physical representation of the diverse cultures of our region, South America.

    Located on the 4th and 5th floors of the western sector of Santiago’s Arturo Merino Benitez International Airport in Chile, this space is much  more than just a VIP lounge. Here are some fun facts and main features of our sleek new space in SCL:

     

  • The French Café Boom in Santiago

    Got an early morning in Santiago and want to start it off with flaky pastry, or some crusty bread? Or you’ve already had a hotel breakfast but walking around downtown Santiago and beyond has got you hankering for a mid-morning snack? The French are masters of pastry, and whether it’s a second breakfast or an afternoon pick-me-up, Santiago’s many French bakery/cafés have got you covered, from downtown, up through Bellas Artes, Providencia, in Las Condes and Vitacura. A croissant and a café au lait, or your drink of choice is never too far away at one of these French or French-inspired cafés.

  • 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.

  • Photo: By Carla Peirano, in Magazine Photos by: Stefan Schmeling Young, sophisticated and laid-back. That’s Vila Madalena, São Paulo’s hippest neighborhood, a vibrant place where fashion, art and design co-exist with graffiti and a stylish crowd. It’s a sunny Saturday afternoon in winter here in São Paulo, Brazil. I can observe everything and everyone from the strategically located Amüse Food Store, on the corner of Girassol and Aspicuelta. While I wait for my iced tea, I observe the passers-by, most of them women united by their fashion sense and their desire to shop. You sense a certain self-satisfaction in the way they walk. Unlike other São Paulo neighborhoods, this neighborhood in the western part of the city is fashionably chic, but in an unpretentious way. Folks around here obviously pay attention to their look, but there’s a personal stamp in the way they dress. It’s quite different from what you see on Rua Oscar Freire, for instance, where the fashion parade is legendary and most pedestrians look like they stepped straight out of a fashion magazine and into this endless metropolis. It’s no accident that style lovers flock to the winding streets of Vila Madalena. This bohemian neighborhood began its transformation in the 1970s, when young students of art and fashion began to rent and share large houses. Over time, these homes were converted into art galleries, studios and casual restaurants, a chaotic and spontaneous process that nurtured the spirit so evident in the neighborhood today: bohemian, vibrant and full of color. Welcome to Vila Madalena A style all its own. That’s what you’ll find on the streets of Vila Madalena. It’s the perfect place for folks who want to be seen as well as those who would rather people watch, taking in trends, styles and bold statements in clothing and colors. When I stroll the streets here, I am constantly looking around, admiring these well-turned-out fashionistas. I’m struck by the way they’ve managed to achieve such a casually sophisticated look. It seems spontaneous, unplanned and, as result, totally authentic. As I sip on my iced tea, I talk with some girls who are next to me. They tell me they’ve come on a shopping tour of the local stores. They share some addresses and recommendations that I try to memorize as though they were secret formulas. They tell me that my best bet is to start my tour on the nearby street of Girassol. They leave with complicit smiles, as though they’ve helped out someone in dire need. I’ve finished my tea, so there’s nothing left for me to do but immerse myself in Vila Madalena. I walk down Girassol, and before long, I come across Uma, a surprisingly sophisticated store, with a collection dominated by clear and simple lines. Suddenly, I feel like I’m shopping in Tokyo, not São Paulo. I keep walking until I reach the store of Juliana Bicudo, a local shoemaker who designs handmade footwear. Her eponymous shop is both elegant and colorful, and the collection is divine. I adore these shoes because they can be worn to formal and informal events alike, depending on the rest of your outfit. She even has a wedding line with custom designs to accommodate the style of each bride. Crossing the street, I encounter the metallic blue suede and classic lines offered by Luiza Perea, another gifted shoe designer. This shop looks more like a living room. It’s a real delight. I’m barely through the door before they invite me to sit down and have something to drink. The designs are terrific. You can really see the dedication and care in the creations. The two women who make the shoes are usually in the store, so any questions you have can be answered by the shoemakers themselves.   Unlike other São Paulo neighborhoods, Vila Madalena is all about fashion but in an unpretentious way. Peixaria, a stylish but authentic restaurant, offers a taste of the beach in the middle 
of the city. Style on the Sand My tour continues. I soon come to La Cervecería, where the fun atmosphere, conversation and clinking of beer mugs is impossible to resist. When I’ve finished my chope (draft beer), I leave on the heels of two attractive women. They tell their friend who’s parking her car that they’ll meet her at Mocambo. I wonder what kind of clothing they sell there. As my imagination is busy at work, I arrive at a tiny space dedicated to… tattoos? I’m a little disconcerted. All of a sudden, I’m surrounded by rough-looking types straight out of a motorcycle magazine. The owners tell me they only do custom tattoos, one-of-a-kind designs for each client. Maybe that’s why the cool girls who led me here are so excited about a place that seems tailor-made for tough guys. In the small, dark space, they give me some more tips to continue my tour. One of their more interesting suggestions is Chapéu, a heavenly bathing-suit shop. I’m told it’s one of the most popular stores of its kind in São Paulo. And in a country where beach life is an institution, that really says something. The collection of bathing suits is varied and elegant. The designs and styles seem intended for a social event rather than the beach. I envy the women who can pull them off, but I’m afraid that on other Latin American beaches, they’d be more cause for gawking than admiration. I’m fairly certain that you have to be Brazilian – and be in Brazil – to wear them. I leave Chapéu and head down Rua Mourato Coelho. I spot the window of the shop Tonus, and I’m transfixed. I decide to go in. The clerks explain the ideas behind the designs. The back part of the shop features the workshop where designer Sergio Tonus comes up with his creations. Tonus himself explains the production process to me. His designs from the shop’s nine years of existence are carefully displayed on hangers.   The many worlds of Vila Madalena: 
tattoos at Mocambo and rockabilly style 
at Barberia 9 de Julho. With no set destination, I wander through Vila Madalena. Eventually, I come to Barberia 9 de Julho, a barbershop with the air of a rockabilly club. The parking spaces outside are taken up entirely by motorcycles. There’s also a dog sporting a bandana, patiently waiting for his owner. I continue along with no end in mind, accompanied by the impressive graffiti that adorns the walls, shops selling Japanese products, ceramics studios, art galleries and a few eateries. I’m hungry, but all the clothing and design stores keep distracting me. One highlight is the shop owned by Fernanda Yamamoto, who specializes in creations made with patterned fabrics. Best of all, there’s an outlet section with clothing from past seasons at reasonable prices. Another great place is Trash Chic, a mix between a fashion museum and a Buddhist temple. They even have a small altar in honor of Coco Chanel. The collection includes pieces by Valentino, Nina Ricci, Prada and Chanel. It’s the finest vintage store I’ve seen in my life. Finally, I end up at Peixaria. This beach-inspired restaurant is full of grilled seafood, endless caipirinhas and infectiously cheerful people. It turns out to be an excellent choice and a great way to end my adventures in Vila Madalena. in    

    A Fashionista in São Paulo

    By Carla Peirano, in Magazine
    Photos by: Stefan Schmeling

    Young, sophisticated and laid-back. That’s Vila Madalena, São Paulo’s hippest neighborhood, a vibrant place where fashion, art and design co-exist with graffiti and a stylish crowd.

  • Cartagena Re-writes Itself

    By Carlos Serrano, in Magazine
    Photos by: Alvaro Delgado

    With a cool, new vibe that has earned it the nickname “JetSetManí,” this neighborhood represents the best and most cosmopolitan aspects of the city where Gabriel García Márquez wrote some of his most memorable stories.

  • Eating Brunch in Santiago, Chile

    Chile’s gastronomic scene is hopping, with new ingredients, and new spins on old ingredients. And now, a new (to Chile) spin on a meal itself, the introduction of brunch to the Saturday and Sunday culinary scene in Santiago. Brunch is a combination of breakfast and lunch, and can include savory and sweet at the same meal, and essentially flies in the face of both the Chilean breakfast (it’s too big), and the Chilean lunch (it’s too varied). And while that might be the case, it’s catching on like crazy, with options at nearly every price point, and much of the length of the red line metro, from Las Condes down to Santiago Centro. 

  • Visiting Luxury Hotels on Easter Island

    On a tiny, far-flung island—thousands of miles from any other populated land—that 6,000 people call home, hundreds of giant stone statues that used to stand sentry, lay in various states. Half-buried, fallen over, repurposed, and most famously, standing tall and photogenic, the moai of Easter Island are part of the mystery that makes this such an enticing tourist destination.

    There’s a long oral history, as well as recent archaeological investigations, to answer questions about why they were erected, why the culture of carving and transporting moai stopped, and later, why the people themselves decided to topple them. There exists a living culture that involves traditional dance, music, food and carving, mostly Polynesian-influenced, but with touches of South America as well.

    There’s no denying the island’s appeal, for cultures present and past, as well as its stark natural beauty. It’s an island with volcanic craters, just a handful of paved roads, few vehicles, a postcard-perfect white sand beach, and a calm vibe that means you can be as active or as relaxed as you like.

    There are four world-renowned 5-star hotels on Isla de Pascua, each with a different architecture and focus, allowing travelers to choose the luxury experience that best suits them.

  • Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous at Ponta Dos Ganchos

    Let me preface this blog post by saying I have stayed in a lot of insane hotel rooms around the world. A lot. There was the absolutely ridiculous bungalow at the Six Senses Yao Noi, overlooking Phang Nga Bay in Ko Yao Noi, Thailand; there were the postcard-perfect vineyard views from the Poetry Inn in Sonoma, California; there was the memorable granite bathtub suite at Sabi Sands Game Reserve in South Africa; there was the insanely perfect Andes views from Cavas Wine Lodge in Mendoza, Argentina. The list goes on and on, nearly 80 countries deep at this point (don’t hate the player, hate the game).

  • Photo: Paul Silva

    Mistura 2014: Your Guide to Getting your Grub On

    While it’s only recently received a nod from the international food community for its innovative dishes, creative ingredients and chefs who are committed to nothing less than perfection, Peru is (and has always been) a serious food country. Case in point – each September it hosts Mistura, South America’s largest and most popular food festival. This year half a million hungry food enthusiasts are expected to visit Costa Verde de Magdalena for the ten-day event which kicks off September 5.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Jungle Love: 48-Hour Foodie Binge in Belém

    When Brazilians talk food, they’ll usually tell you the gauchos in the South are the best at beef, Paulistanos are the best at pizza and everything gourmet and the Mineiros are the best at pretty much everything they pour their hearts into. Well, way up in the middle of the Amazon jungle is Belém, the second biggest city in the Amazon after Manaus, and people say folks from there and throughout the state of Pará, the Paraenses, are the Mineiros of the North. That is to say, they take their food muito sério!

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    São Paulo Street Food Starts Its Engines!

    It’s Good Friday in São Paulo and the sun is shining. Revelers abound in the bohemian neighborhood of Vila Madalena outside A Queijaria, one of two actual artisan cheese shops in town. Today, the shop has taken their wares to the streets, along with some ice-cold craft brews, and made an event out of it. Parked alongside, crowds are swarming the Buzina Food Truck, where a culinary couple armed with an impressive resume under their aprons are dishing up organic chicken curries, pulled pork sandwiches, gourmet burgers and hand-cut, never-frozen French fries. A curious Brazilian woman walks up to me inquisitively: “What are these guys selling in this truck?” she asks, a little confused.

  • Making the Most of a Business Trip to Colombia

    Business travel almost seems like an oxymoron at times. Sure, you’re in another country, but if you’re trapped in meetings and conferences all day, it hardly feels like it. Airports and hotels all start to look the same after a while, don’t they? Colombia’s growing economy has led to a boom in business travel, and the business suit types are touching down in the country’s major urban centers with increasing frequency. Unfortunately, hard-working folks here on business don’t have the same schedule flexibility and free time as those on vacation, but a work agenda doesn’t mean you can’t get at least a little taste of the local culture and food before you catch your flight back home.

    Though most business travelers have a packed schedule, there’s always the possibility that you’ll have a free afternoon somewhere in the mix. Here’s how to make the best of your stay in one of Colombia’s four largest cities when you only have a few hours to get away.

  • Where to Get Your Work Done: Buenos Aires

    Forget suits and ties, windowless conference rooms, weak coffee and generic chain hotels – thanks to Apple, Wired, Aloft hotels and Mark Zuckerberg, the modern business traveler is more likely to be wearing Converse, scrolling through spreadsheets on his iPhone and conducting meetings via FaceTime. In Buenos Aires, a handful of stylish workspaces cater to young professionals who take care of business on the move.

  • Photo: Terra Hall

    Shopping for Lima’s Treasures from the Past

    A knickknack for grandma; a t-shirt for dad; a handful of key chains for the coworkers; and of course a bounty for yourself. Shopping is one of many vacation pastimes, but when in Lima there’s no reasoan to limit it solely to souvenir shops or the Inka Market. Sometimes, venturing beyond the obvious places can mean finding a unique treasure that has more meaning and a better back story than Peruvian-themed shot glasses or woven llama magnets.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    VIPpalooza Brazil: Observations From Inside Lollapalooza’s Lolla Lounge

    If you’ve ever attended a concert or been a fan of music, there’s little doubt you have wondered what goes on backstage. You’ve probably even tried to sneak back there! Although there’s much more to this privileged world than you might think (and we know what you might think), if you were the third installment of Lollapalooza Brazil, which parked itself at Brazil’s Formula One Grand Prix racetrack, Autódromo José Carlos Pace (commonly referred to as Interlagos) in São Paulo last weekend, the answer would be: Not a whole helluva lot.

  • 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: Kevin Raub

    Beyond Brahma: Brazil’s 10 Best Craft Beers

    As recently as just three years ago, you’d have been hard-pressed to find a beer in Brazil that wasn’t watered-down lager serving a single purpose: Beat the tropical heat with a buzz. Brazil’s most common beers (Brahma, Skol, Antarctica, Nova Shin) are all about as interesting as television static, despite being drunk in copious amounts by millions of Brazilians on a daily basis; in bars, at the beach, at barbeques – wherever you are in Brazil – you’ll find the majority of Brazilians quite happily content with more or less tasteless lagers, served on draft in small cups at least half full or more of foam (the entire country has been duped into believing a massive head keeps the beer cold longer –  it doesn’t; it’s a lie perpetuated by Brazil’s biggest breweries and immortalized by bars the country over so they may serve the population half a beer for the price of a whole one!). For a beer country, it was all so distinctly average.

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Brazil’s 5 Best National Parks

    Whatever toots your horn: Hiking, biking, diving, mountains, canyons, flora, fauna, dunes, rivers, oceans, caves or prehistoric rock paintings – the list is exhausting, actually! – Brazil has got a reason for you to ditch the Havaianas and get out and about with some sort of nature that doesn’t involve caipirinhas on the beach and sand in your sunga (that’s Portuguese for those Speedo-type bathing suits!).

    Over 15% of Brazil is under environmental protection, clocking in at 1.3 million sq km to be exact. Between Atlantic rainforest, tropical rainforest protected wetlands and the most amphibian, bird, mammal, reptile, and vascular plant species on Earth (according to Mongo Bay, one of the world’s most respected environmental science and conservation news sites), Brazil is the world’s most biodiverse country, which leaves a wealth of national parks to explore beyond Ipanema and Copacabana – nearly 70 in total. Here are our five favorites:

  • Photo: Kinoshita

    Sushi in São Paulo: The Top Four (It’s Too Expensive to Eat at More than Four!)

    Sushi is everywhere in Brazil’s biggest city. As I’m sure you’ve no doubt read, São Paulo is home to the largest Japanese population outside of Japan, centered in and around the fascinating neighborhood of Liberdade (we’re not even sure if that fact has ever been substantiated but there you go). The problem is, the majority of it is unimpressive, sold as all-you-can-eat extravaganzas from bad buffet restaurants whose fish selection rarely extends beyond imported farmed salmon six different ways. Não, obrigado.

    Why subject yourself to a bad Brazilian experience when you can have an authentic Japanese one in Brazil? There are some serious, serious sushi joints in São Paulo. If you know the right places to go, you’ll do a double-take and check your passport as you enter.

    Irasshaimase!

  • Photo: EMBRATUR

    Navigating Brasília: How to Tackle Brazil’s Befuddling Capital

    Architects notwithstanding, Brazilians don’t tend to be too impressed with their space-age capital, carved out of nowhere in the 1950s by then-President Jucelino Kubitschek, architect Oscar Niemeyer, urban planner Lucio Costa and landscape architect Burle Marx.

    Most think it’s boring (it’s not), too hot (that’s true), too confusing (only at first), tourist-unfriendly (it doesn’t have to be) and an urban symbol of the country’s ills – corruption and bureaucracy, for example – and not the futuristic capital of the country of the future it was built to symbolize (well …). Most tourists (who aren’t architects or budding architects) dismiss it as skippable (it’s hard to tear yourself away from those beaches, after all) and that’s a shame. For as confusing and polarizing as Brasília is, it’s nothing if not fascinating.

  • 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: Foto by Rudy Huhold, courtesy of EMBRATUR

    Começa a Folia! It’s Carnaval Time in Brazil!

    The annual rivalry between the football teams from the universities of Georgia and Florida may bill itself as the World’s Largest Cocktail Party, but anyone who knows anything about Carnival in Brazil would only laugh at such sentiments. There is no party on Earth that rivals Carnival in Brazil, especially in Rio de Janeiro, where millions of revelers fill the streets for days on end. Exultant mayhem is the only way to describe it – and it must be experienced to be believed.

  • 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.)

  • 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:

  • Experiencing Argentina, With an International Twist

    There are plenty of places in Buenos Aires where you can get a good steak. There are not, however, plenty of places in Buenos Aires where you can get a good steak and also learn how to properly fold an empanada, serve mate, and communicate with your taxi driver using only hand gestures.

    To acquire this particular skill set, you’ll need some porteño friends – or you can just sign up to spend an evening at the Argentine Experience. Despite its gleaming storefront in Palermo Hollywood, it’s not exactly a restaurant; regardless of the checkered aprons and empanada diagrams, it’s not a cooking class, either. It’s a ‘culinary experience’ run by an enthusiastic multinational team – Argentine, English, Brazilian – dedicated to introducing tourists to national traditions with a gourmet twist. I heard they happen to serve one of the finest steaks in town, so this past weekend, I went to check it out for myself.

  • How to Manhandle a Brazilian Churrascaria

    Almost every carnivore who visits Brazil finds themselves – probably on the first day or two – in a showdown with a Brazilian churrascaria. These all-you-can-eat meat restaurants, where waiters dance around the room carrying long spits of fresh-off-the-rotisserie meats of dozens of varieties which are carved onto your plate until you cry, “Uncle!,” is one of the most typical experiences you can have in the country. If you’re a novice, though, this whole beef bonanza can be more overwhelming than a ménage à dix!

  • The World’s Biggest Pool: San Alfonso del Mar

    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.

  • Cafés for Coffee Purists: Buenos Aires

    Let’s get one thing straight: I’ll always be devoted to the old-fashioned bares notables of Buenos Aires, the staid waiters in tuxedoes, the grand piano in the corner. I’m a romantic at heart – but I’m also becoming something of a coffee snob. And the ancient espresso machines in this town just aren’t getting the job done. So this isn’t a post about my favorite cafés in Buenos Aires, it’s a post about three places in Palermo where I’ve recently had outstanding coffee.

  • Colombia’s Colonial Treasures: Villa de Leyva

    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!

  • Guayaquil: A City in the Mangroves

    Guayaquil is the largest city in Ecuador. It is Ecuador’s concrete jungle par excellence, an urban hub along the Pacific coast that has become accustomed to cement, skyscrapers and development projects that extend every which way along the highways, byways, and freeways that connect it to the rest of the country. But as much as there are streets and sidewalks and bridges and balconies, doors and public parking lots, there are mangroves.

  • A Mid-Summer Cultural Calendar

    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.

  • Escape to the Lakes

    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.

  • Ingapirca: Temples of the Sun and Moon

    One of my favorite aspects of Ingapirca, one of the most important and impressive archaeological complexes in Ecuador, is its lunar and solar “calendars”.

    On one hand, we have the lunar calendar: seemingly rudimentary boulders laid around in a haphazard semicircle, carved along the top with a series of small holes. They belonged to the Cañari civilization that existed in the area before the arrival of the Incas, a civilization that based its belief system on the Moon.

  • Renting Bikes in Bogotá

    Colombia’s capital is famous as a bicycle-friendly city, with hundreds of miles of bike lanes and the famous Ciclovía (roads closed to cars) on Sundays and holidays. Though statistics vary, many analysts estimate that up to two million people (or almost a quarter of the entire city’s population) uses the Ciclovía, and that residents make as many as 400,000 trips on the city’s 300 km of designated bike lanes each day.

    Yet in the midst of this cycling utopia, visitors often feel like they’re the only ones without wheels, as bike rentals have historically been surprisingly few and far between. Fortunately, that scarcity is beginning to change, as smart entrepreneurs have figured out there’s a market for daily bikes. Here are a few places to borrow bikes or even sign up for a two-wheel tour of the city and join in the biking fun:

  • Unusual Ice Cream Flavors

    January means summer in the southern hemisphere, and as a break from the heat, Chileans eat quite a bit of ice cream. On any given bus ride an ice cream vendors will board, shouting “helado helado” (ice cream, ice cream). In minimarkets, they do brisk business selling popsicles and ice cream on a stick, and fast food restaurants (local and international) sell soft-serve out of store windows.

    But the real Chilean ice cream experience is had at a sit-down ice cream shop. There are a few local chains in Santiago, some of which also show up in other parts of Chile. And then there is the helado artesenal, or small-batch ice cream. It is at these smaller ice cream shops, that you tend to find some of the most unusual flavors. Below are five you might want to give a try.

  • Photo: Loretin

    Santiago a Mil: Summer Performance Festival

    Santiago is Chile’s cultural center, and there’s no better time to check out international and national performances on offer than during the annual Santiago a Mil festival that takes place from early to mid January. The festival was started in 1994, and has grown tremendously since then, both in terms of the performances, and the audience that attends.

  • Photo: Riotur

    Ring in the New Year with Two Million of Your Closest Friends

    Rio de Janeiro needs no excuse to throw a party. In fact, the word for “party,” (festa) might just be one of the first words in Portuguese you master on a visit to the most beautiful city in the Southern Hemisphere, right after caipirinhacerveja (beer) and ressaca (hangover)!

    Seriously, though, New Year’s Eve in Rio de Janeiro – known as Reveillon – is second only to Carnival in all stops being thrown out by the cariocas, as residents of Rio are known. Here’s what to expect:

  • Guatapé Getaway

    Located just a two-hour drive from Medellín, the tiny, picturesque town of Guatapé is a popular weekend getaway for city dwellers looking to escape the hustle and bustle of the metropolis and cool down a little. Guatapé, on the edge of a chain of man-made lakes in the rolling green hills of the coffee region, practically begs visitors to grab a cold drink, take a seat and slow down a little.

    Though the town mostly comes to life on weekends, it also has a certain charm during the week, when just the locals stay around and there are only a few restaurants open – all serving the same half-dozen plates typical to the region. Whatever the day, Guatapé is a great stop for anyone passing through Medellín. Grab an early bus out of the city for a day trip, or plan to spend the night and make a weekend out of it. Whatever you do, don’t forget the sunscreen!

  • Artesanías: Southwestern Colombia and the Pacific Coast

    Since there was just too much art to fit into one post, it’s time for Part Two of our introduction to Colombian traditional artisan work and handcrafts – just in time for the holiday season! These pieces and traditions come from the western and southern parts of the country, where the strong influence of Afro-Colombian and Andean indigenous communities is clearly visible in the art. As with most other traditional handcrafts, the legitimate versions of these artesanías are created by hand over days or even weeks by local artisans, who often learned the craft from previous generations of their family. They serve as beautiful decorative pieces and accessories, but even more than that, these crafts are a way to preserve and transmit the unique traditions of some of Colombia’s oldest cultures.

  • At Home in the Big City

    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.

  • Artesanías: Caribbean and Central Colombia

    Colombia’s diverse landscape and cultural influences have inspired thousands of different artisans across the country to create stunning handcrafts and pieces of art. These artistic products are seen as vital expressions of the country’s talent and diversity, and represent the different groups of people and regions that make Colombia what it is. From the colorful handmade mochilas of the indigenous Wayuu people in La Guajira to the carved wooden instruments of the Amazon, each region of Colombia produces its own beautiful, unique creations. Because there’s too much ground to cover and too much to see for just one post, we’ll start at the Caribbean coast and work our way south, saving the Pacific for next week.

  • Drinking from the Volcano: Papallacta’s Thermal Springs

    Papallacta is only about an hour from Quito by car, and some 30 minutes from Quito’s new international airport, as one makes their way towards the eastern slope of the Andean mountain range. Continue along some 3 hours on the same highway and you reach the Amazonian rainforest basin. Papallacta, however, lies somewhat higher in elevation, but its natural dimension is breathtaking nonetheless, and its proximity is even more of a reason to visit, even if your stay in Quito isn’t long.

  • Photo: Andres04

    Surfing in Chile

    Chile’s long, narrow geography with 3,000 miles of coastline, mean visitors and locals can have beach access almost any time they want, and even go from the Andes to the Pacific in a single day. Every beach, from north to south (and on Easter Island) has its own personality, with some being connected to fishing villages, while others are right outside of cities, and bring together families on weekends and all summer long. Some are protected, shallow coves with calm water, and some frothy and rocky. And then there are the surf beaches.

  • Colombia in Costume

    With Halloween coming up, people across the country, especially in Halloween-crazy Bogotá, are preparing for a night of disguises. But October 31st isn’t the only time Colombians hide behind masks. In fact, the year is full of festivals and carnivals celebrating the country’s history, traditions, folklore and mythology with elaborate costumes and outfits. Here are a few examples of Colombia’s dressiest days:

  • Photo: Kevin Raub

    Dining Out in Tiny Tiradentes

    It’s certainly no news flash that Brazil is a wonderful place to eat (check out our breakdown of Brazil’s finest dish), and the country’s biggest city, São Paulo, is certainly home to the biggest concentration of culinary wonders in South America, but Brazil’s holds a culinary secret deep in its interior that folks might not consider when planning their gastronomic itineraries. World: Meet Tiradentes.

  • Buenos Aires From a Different Point of View

    Nothing against the fleet of bright red double-decker sightseeing buses barreling at full speed around Plaza Congreso – but you’re unlikely to experience much of the charm of Buenos Aires when you’re listening to generic tourist information through a headphone set. Discover the allure of the Argentine capital with an alternative sightseeing option, from an ‘iPhoneography’ class to tours focused on architecture and street art.

  • 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: Andre Maceira

    5 Things to do Around Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses

    That’s no mirage. The towering dunes of Brazil’s Lençóis Maranhenses national park is one of the world’s most dramatic landscapes – 1500 sq km of otherworldly sandscapes, only broken up by inviting cerulean lagoons that pepper the sandy hills between March and September. From the air, the landscape gives the appearance of rolling bed sheets (lençóis in Portuguese), pitching across the world’s most picturesque bed. A visit here is guaranteed to leave your jaw on the deep sandy floor and your camera trigger-finger sore from overuse. But the park itself, located about 200 miles east of São Luis near the cutesy town of Barreirinhas, is far from the only cinematic destination in this part of Northern Brazil. Don’t miss a trip to this region; and don’t miss taking in the following while you’re there.

  • Colombia and Cinema: The Bogotá Film Festival

    When discussing cinema-friendly cities, Cannes, Venice or Park City might spring to mind. Bogotá is probably not on the radar of many cinephiles, but for at least one week in October, the city aims to change that. The Bogotá Film Festival, now in its 30th year, is the most important annual event for the capital city’s growing film community, bringing in directors, actors and industry representatives from across the country, the continent and the world. With affordable ticket prices and showcases for many up-and-coming Spanish-language directors, it’s one of the season’s cultural highlights in Bogotá and a necessary addition to the to-do list for any film fan.

  • Photo: Eraldo Schneider

    Brews, Blumenau and Brazil: It’s Oktoberfest!

    Brazil is a beer country, there’s no doubt about that. In this tropical heat and on these sandy shores, nothing quite goes down like a cold one. But until very recently, beer selection in Brazil left much to be desired. Unlike Brazil’s neighbors in Argentina and Chile, Brazil’s brew culture was mostly limited to a few bland brands of pale lager and ubiquitous chope – ice cold Brazilian draft beer that, while tasty, often infuriates foreigners due to the longheld but misguided Brazilian belief that the bigger the head, the fresher the beer.

    What you end up with is half a beer – nobody wants to toast to that!

  • Bogotá’s Organic Revolution

    As more visitors start to flood into Bogotá and residents become more conscious about the benefits of eating local and organic food, the dining scene has followed. Recent popular movements on behalf of the country’s farmers have put locally-sourced food right in the middle of the public consciousness, and many restaurant owners are responding by increasing their emphasis on organic and local products –great news for vegetarian and locavore diners! Bogotá is filled with healthy and environmentally-friendly eateries if you just know where to look. Here are a few standouts in some of the city’s most popular neighborhoods:

  • The Magic Water Circuit

    The Park of the Reserve, located in downtown Lima, became an important tourism attraction after the municipal government transformed it into a colorful experience of water and lights. There are 13 fountains in the park and the largest one is called Magic Fountain. With its 80 m in height it is also considered the “World’s largest fountain complex in a public park” by the Guinness Book Of World Records.

  • Photo: daxfdr

    72 Hours in São Paulo

    There are no two bones about it: São Paulo, Brazil’s financial heart and the Latin American capital of everything from food to fashion, is an unforgiving concrete monster that will totally overwhelm you. You’ll need to be willing to get your hands dirty if you want to conquer Brazil’s most modern megalopolis. Historically, the city was most visited by business travelers the world over, anxious to share air (and broker deals) with many of the continent’s most successful movers and shakers. These days, that hasn’t changed one bit, but tourists are starting to discover Sampa – so goes it affectionate nickname among locals – and are hitting the ground running, anxious to take in the city’s endless excursions: Gastronomy, museums, nightlife, shopping. You won’t want for anything here.

  • The Best Restaurant in Latin America

    The folks behind The World’s 50 Best Restaurants – an annual snapshot of the world’s best restaurants based on a taste buds of internationally recognized food experts – created a Latin American spin off which includes South America, Central America and the Caribbean region. This year, the ceremony took place in Lima. The excitement was even greater when they announced 1st place. The prestigious title went to the famous Peruvian restaurant Astrid & Gastón.

  • Street Food Fun in Brazil

    While Brazilian street food certainly doesn’t reach the same levels of intrigue as that of India, or gourmet levels of America’s food truck movement, it still manages to grip your taste buds in cross-cultural delight. Like Brazilian food in general, the country’s tropical roadside kibbles are as diverse as its population, with influences from Africa to Japan spilling into Brazil’s samba-fueled streets and, more often than not, sun-kissed beaches.

    There is a good deal more from where the following street treats came from (ranging from simpler things like grilled corn on the cob and fresh-fried potato chips to more elaborate choices like beach-grilled shrimp and sweet, tamale-like dumplings known as pamonha), but these are five of our favorites.

    And don’t worry about getting sick–Brazilians have high standards of hygiene, so you’d need to be very unlucky to get sick from any of the following (it’s never happened to us).

  • Space-Time Ecuador-Style

    There is a certain time of year when from the high-rise buildings overlooking Guayaquil’s teeming and tropical “malecón” (or, riverside promenade) you can catch sight of Mount Chimborazo. Now, Chimborazo is the highest peak in Ecuador, at over 20,000 feet above sea level and it is, technically speaking, the highest point on Earth from the Earth’s core, since it lies on the so-called ‘equatorial bulge’ (never mind the Himalayas; they’ve been cheating all along). Back in Guayaquil, we’re at no feet above sea level at all. The air is warm; it’s heavy. The humidity is sweat inducing. The plants that grow here are deep green and the trees are tall. The city’s main river—Río Guayas—is about to roll into the immense Pacific Ocean.

  • Photo: D.O.M.

    Dining at D.O.M.: South America’s Top Restaurant

    For folks that pay close attention to such things (and many, many people swear by such things), the coveted World’s 50Best Restaurants list, brought to gastrophiles the world over annually by S. Pellegrino and Acqua Panna, is the end-all, be-all of destination dining. It is where foodie fervor reaches fever pitches; a one-stop ticket to foodgasm; the Bible of culinary creationism. For the 2013 edition, La Cellar de Can Roca, in Girona, Spain, dethroned Copenhagen’s Noma, to take over No. 1 restaurant in the world accolades, but we’re not here to talk Spain and Denmark.

    We’re here to talk Brazil, which means we’re here to talk about São Paulo’s D.O.M., the 6th best restaurant in the world according to the 2013 list, and the most highly-ranked spot to grab a bite to eat in all of South America (and No. 2 in all of the Americas period, second only to Eleven Madison Park in New York).

    Are you hungry yet?

  • Photo: Lindsey G.

    Breweries at the Bottom of the World: Part 2

    Making your way down to the bottom of the world is thirsty work, and Chile’s got a number of tasty beers that come from some of the southern reaches of Patagonia. The Spaniards’ arrival brought beer to Chile, and it has been developing since then, with several waves of immigration.

    These three breweries at the bottom of the world offer a great way to unwind after a long Patagonian day, or to raise a glass to toast to recent and future travels.

  • Photo: Tarquino

    Every Animal that Walks: The Evolution of a New Argentinian Cuisine

    To understand something about Argentina’s culinary tradition, consider one of their favorite sayings: ‘todo bicho que camina va a parar al asador’ (every animal that walks ends up on the grill). Indeed, it’s a nation of farmers, cows and carnivores, famous for its vast pampas, spectacular produce and grass-fed beef, and, of course, the weekend asado, or barbecue. But the meat-centric national cuisine is developing far past simple steaks on the grill. Here, two takes on la nueva cocina argentina (the new Argentinian cuisine) in Buenos Aires.

  • Welcome to the Neighborhood: Zona Rosa

    It’s entirely possible to spend a whole weekend going out in Bogotá without ever leaving the Zona Rosa. While I wouldn’t recommend this (there’s so much to see in the city!), the neighborhood certainly has enough to offer to keep any visitor entertained for at least 48 hours. As in other Latin American cities, the Zona Rosa is the main “going-out” part of town – but here, it’s so much more than that. Colloquially known as the “Zona T,” for the T-shaped pedestrian zone at its heart, these few square blocks are jam-packed with some of the city’s finest boutiques, tastiest restaurants and trendiest bars and clubs. Sit in La T on a weekend night and you’ll see many of Bogotá’s beautiful people strolling by. If you have more than one day in the city, the Zona Rosa is certainly worth a visit – if you’re looking for the party, look no farther!

  • Urban Parks of Santiago

    Gently swaying plum blossom trees and blooming yellow-pomponed aromos (acacia trees) are two signs that spring is upon us in Santiago. By the end of August, as trees are turning gold in the northern hemisphere, ours are blooming in a profusion of colors that will take us through to our fall, in April. There are the pink plum blossoms, and the yellow aromos, the purple jacarandas and the fiery red peumos. Flowers thrive in front of buildings and in gardens, and of course, in the parks.

  • 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.

  • 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: BernieCB

    Typical Foods of Chiloé

    Chiloé is a large island in the south of Chile that has unique geography, history, culture, architecture and food. It is famous the world over for its palafitos, stilted houses that jut over the water, and the wooden churches that dot the island. Visitors also come to shop for the thick, water-resistant woolen sweaters and blankets and to take long drives down the winding roads lined with bright yellow flowers, which were originally brought to fence in sheep.

  • Perfection in a Dish: The Brazilian Moqueca

    You would be excused if the first thing that comes to mind when asked about Brazilian cuisine is ubiquitous rice and beans – it is, after all, the Latin/Hispanic go-to base for pretty much every dish that exits a kitchen from the top of Mexico to the bottom of Argentina. And Brazil is as guilty as any in that regard. But while Brazilian cuisine may lack the kind of marketing machine behind it that Peruvian ceviche or Argentine beef is afforded, it is home to some of the most diverse and dynamic recipes on the continent.

  • 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.

  • 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.

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