Photo: Juan Carlos Martins
To be sure, the towering granite peaks of Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park are one of the country’s most stunning (and iconic) landscapes. Yearly, international visitors from all over, and Chileans alike, make the Torres part of their summer vacation. There are day trips, either on the Lago Pehoé side or the Torres side (or both), and the two different hiking trips, the W and the O-shaped circuit. But this is just one of the many national parks Chile maintains. Below are three others for when you’ve got a shorter trip in mind, or want to explore parts of natural Chile that might not make it onto a postcard, but definitely should.
Peru receives international acclaim for its man-made mysteries – primarily Machu Picchu and the Nazca Lines – but perhaps one of its equally alluring destinations wasn’t manufactured by hand.
Peru’s beaches stretch more than 1,400 miles (2,250 km) down a sprawling coastline that kisses the Pacific Ocean. At nearly double the length of California’s famous seaside, Peru offers travelers a varied experience – from luxurious resorts to surfing Meccas to playful penguins.
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.
Photo: Yassef Briceno Garcia
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!
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: Mae Natureza Ecoturismo
Most folks assume they need to make a choice when debating a trip to Brazil: Beach or jungle? The Amazon rainforest; or the beaches of Rio de Janeiro and beyond? To say nothing of the fact that Brazil offers so much more than sun and sand or flora and fauna, the reality is that in Alter Do Chão, you can have both!
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.
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 …
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