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  • Where to buy Lapis Lazuli in Chile

    Lapis lazuli, a dark blue semi-precious stone, is a popular souvenir from Chile. Chile is one only a few countries in the world that mine the stone in quantity, with the other major source of lapis lazuli being Afghanistan. Lapis lazuli is naturally-occurring, and is considered more valuable the darker the stone, and the more golden (but fewer white) streaks and flecks it has. The golden flecks are pyrite, also called “fools’ gold,” and the white ones are calcite.

  • A Day in the Vineyards with Mendoza Wine Camp

    It’s time to harvest the grapes in Argentina’s winegrowing capital. Thanks to Mendoza’s reputation as a world-class producer of Malbec – not to mention affordable prices and a stunning location at the base of the Andes – tourist numbers are up. But plenty of visitors arrive with the idea that they can go it alone, renting a car, exploring the country roads, stopping into tasting rooms on a whim. What they don’t know – and what can end up being a terrible disappointment – is that most wineries require reservations that are strictly enforced at the gates by security guards with clipboards. Mendoza is, in short, one destination where you’re better off leaving your plans to the professionals.

  • Colombia’s Colonial Treasures: Barichara

    Often mentioned as a frontrunner for the highly competitive title of Colombia’s most beautiful colonial village, drowsy Barichara, in the Santander department, is a sun-drenched town of historic architecture and one of the country’s highest per-capita concentration of artists and local artisans. It’s slightly removed from the nearby Gringo Trail hotspot of San Gil, and tends to attract more Colombian than foreign tourists, especially on the busy weekends. The Colombian tourists know best, though – Barichara is one of the country’s loveliest towns, and is a haven for artists and art-lovers alike, as well as those who are just enjoying a little warm weather while passing through. You can visit on a day trip from San Gil or stay overnight for a relaxing weekend – either way, there’s plenty to see, even if you never leave the plaza.

  • Ecuador – Beyond the Traditional Tours

    Ecuador in many minds is known mostly for its Galapagos Islands and within Ecuador, Quito and Guayaquil are typically associated as gateways to connect to the Galapagos. Two different cities – one in the heart of the Andean region – rich in Colonial art, history and architecture and one in the Pacific Coast  – a tropical port city that has done so much to re-emerge as a modern and welcoming city.  Both cities are known for their friendly people and are only 30 minutes apart by air.

  • How to Prepare Peruvian Ceviche

    There are a few theories about the origin of ceviche and its name but it seems that it originated more than 2,000 years ago among the indigenous groups of northern Peru, where the Moche culture was situated (Chiclayo and Trujillo). Nowadays it is prepared in many Latin American countries in a multitude of ways. But if you want to know how it’s served at the best cevicherias in Peru, get your pencil, paper and fish ready for a great recipe!

  • Photo: Piedra de Agaua

    Great Spas of Ecuador

    As if Ecuador did not have enough to see and do (Galapagos Islands, Andes Mountains, Amazon Jungle, haciendas, beaches, lodges, great food, colonial towns), people are beginning to come for another reason: their health.

    Spas and Resorts have made a significant presence in the tourism circuit of Ecuador, from the Andes to the coast, with settings as magnificent as tropical rainforests to more stark, but beautiful high altitudes of the Andes. Many of them take advantage of Ecuador’s natural geothermal hot springs.

  • Photo: Quito Turismo

    Ecuador: A Birdseye Tour of Quito

    Central Quito, comprised of about 1,000 acres of historical buildings, public spaces, and narrow streets and stairways, is a labyrinth that requires a certain spirit to discover it. But sometimes, even that is not enough. You still need access to some important places, something that not every tour in Quito can offer.

    Meet Julio Rivas. Quito’s one of a kind tour guide. A tour with Julio Rivas is unorthodox, mysterious, remarkable, and even suspenseful. Rivas takes his tours into the convents and the churches of El Centro, climbing the back stairs and maneuvering through restricted passageways, and it seems, always exiting onto the rooftops.

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