Meet The Insiders
When you really want to know about a place, you ask a local. That’s the idea behind our team of South American Insiders. These on-the-ground experts are always out and about, looking for the experiences found only in South America. Got questions? Fire away, and enjoy the benefits of some good, solid, insider information.
About Terra HallThis American journalist traveled to places many Peruvians have never heard of, stocked her kitchen with fruits that look like they're from a sci-fi flick, and re-enrolled in school so she can say phrases beyond "¿Dónde está la biblioteca?." Whether it's paragliding over the Malecon, where Lima's green coast meets the royal blue sea, or rappelling 300 feet into a canyon, everyday in this country is an adventure.
Terra Hall's FavoritesFavorite Peruvian food: Vegan lomo saltado
Favorite outing to date: Hiking along the edge of a mountain, later followed by repelling 300 feet into a canyon and exploring an abandoned mine now inhabited by bats
Favorite neighborhood: Barranco, for its bohemian vibe and artisan shops
About Natalie SouthwickThis Boston-raised and Chicago-educated journalist never felt so at home as she does in Bogotá. In just over a year, Natalie swam in the jewel-blue Caribbean near Santa Marta, chowed on ceviche in Cartagena, hiked through misty wax palms in Salento, ogled dinosaur fossils in Villa de Leyva and danced salsa into the wee hours in Cali.
Natalie Southwick's FavoritesFavorite food: Ajíaco
Favorite coffee shop: Juan Valdez Café
Favorite hidden gem: José Celestino Mutis Jardín Botánico in Bogotá
Favorite place to spend all my money: Usaquén Sunday market
About Kevin RaubCo-author of Lonely Planet’s Brazil guide and coordinating author of the Brazil section of South America on a Shoestring guide, Kevin has–not surprisingly–traveled extensively across Brazil. He learned to dive in Fernando de Noronha, sought after the perfect moqueca from Espírito Santo to Bahia and swam with pink dolphins in the Amazon. Kevin also regularly tweets about his adventures @RaubOnTheRoad.
Kevin Raub's FavoritesFavorite São Paulo Restaurant: Maní
Favorite Beach: Praia do Sancho, Fernando de Noronha
Favorite Bar Snack: Coxinhas at Bar Veloso, São Paulo
Favorite Ecotourism Destination: Bonito, Mato Grosso do Sul
About Ilan GreenfieldIlan is a musician, composer, writer, translator and art enthusiast living in Quito with his wife and two children. He also created an Ecuadorian travel magazine christened ‘Ñan’ (or ‘road’ in Quechua) with a close group of colleagues. He says that Ecuador is as small as a peanut on a world map, but at the same time, the whole world fits snuggly within it. He certainly has a lot to tell and many reasons to invite you to come to Ecuador and, as they say, ‘take the plunge’...
Ilan Greenfield's FavoritesFavorite beach: Los Frailes
Favorite restaurant: Los Tiestos, in Cuenca
Favorite Galapagos Islands: Fernandina, the youngest, and Española, the oldest!
Favorite Ecuadorian band: Of course, that would have to be my band, the Swing Original Monks… check us out…
About Eileen SmithSince moving to Santiago eight years ago, Eileen has sat with huasos at a rodeo in Futaleúfu, eaten chancho en piedra near the river in Talca and bought olives in Punta de Choros. As a travel writer, she dispenses advice for a living, so feel free to ask a question!
Eileen Smith's FavoritesFavorite beach town: Pichilemu
Best hiking near Santiago: Parque Mahuida, or Aguas de San Ramón
Favorite spot for lunch in the Vega Chica: Tía Ruth’s
Best place to buy souvenirs in Santiago: Pueblo Los Dominicos
About Bridget GleesonIn the name of travel journalism, Bridget has been up to the highest cliffs of the Andes, down to chilly sea level at the end of the earth in Tierra del Fuego, and right in the center of the crowded dance floor at tango clubs in Buenos Aires. She fell in love with Argentina and its people and is happy to share what she learned with her fellow travelers.
Bridget Gleeson's FavoritesFavorite Tango Song: Niebla del Riachuelo (Cobián & Cadícamo, 1937)
Favorite Wildlife Experience: Whale-watching in Península Valdés
Favorite Café in Buenos Aires: Any of the 73 bares notables (historic bars) designated by the city
Favorite Cultural Experience: A traditional asado with choripán, Malbec and good friends
Your Latest Questions & Answers
Your question inspired an entire blog post titled Top 5: Off the Tourist Circuit in Buenos Aires. I hope you’ll enjoy it!
First of all, that’s a great time of year to go to Ushuaia – it’s a magical part of the world, in my opinion! If you want to hike and camp in the region, the most obvious choice is Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego, the southernmost national park on the planet. Compared to other parks in the southern cone, like Torres del Paine, Parque Nacional Tierra del Fuego doesn’t see huge numbers of visitors, which is part of what makes the experience special and the landscape so pristine. The park features glaciers, lenga forests, ice-blue lakes, waterfalls, thick forests, and beaches along the Beagle Channel. The park is a hot spot for birdwatchers, and home to Andean foxes and graceful guanaco. Don’t miss the Senda Costera, a popular coastal hiking trail. Camping is basic; you’ll want to bring all your own equipment. For more information, check out Moon’s guide and a useful article by travel writer Wayne Bernhardson, an expert on the region.
There are many stores that sell lapis lazuli in Santiago, a few of which have online stores. Try Lapis Lazuli House. Faba, which is another good option for online (or in person) shopping. Other stores may also have online shops, or be able to ship something to you as well. I hope you’re able to pick up what you are looking for online at one of these shops!
Hi Mary Ann,
Hi Jose Manuel,
Líbano is in the department of Tolima, located about halfway between Bogotá and the coffee axis city of Manizales. It looks to be about a 4-hour drive or so from Bogotá and a bit less coming from Manizales. If you are in either of those cities, you should be able to find transport that would take you there. You would probably have to leave fairly early if you’re only planning to spend part of a day there, as traffic can get pretty heavy in the mornings, but if you’re willing to sit in a vehicle for a few hours each way, it’s definitely doable.
Hope this is helpful!
I’m not aware of any particular families that are doing this in Quito. Couch surfing is popular amongst backpackers, and increasingly popular in Ecuador as a whole, but it is also something I don’t have any experience with. I do know of a Spanish Institute that houses students with families, and people of all ages are enrolled. Maybe they have contacts of families wishing to host visitors in Quito. The school is called Simón Bolívar Spanish School +(593 2) 254-4558, and their website is www.simon-bolivar.com.