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  • Paragliding through the Andes

    If you’re looking for somewhere to sprout wings, Colombia has the answer for you. Though not renowned as a center for extreme sports, the strong winds that spill over the country’s three Andean ranges make it an ideal location for paragliding pilots and enthusiasts alike. From Valle del Cauca in the southwest to Santander near the border with Venezuela, there are a number of quality takeoff points throughout the country – there’s even a great place to fly just outside of Bogotá!

  • Colombia’s Hidden Coffee Gems

    Colombia’s famous Eje Cafetero (Coffee Axis) has earned UNESCO recognition and is generally acknowledged as one of the most beautiful regions in the country. However, it isn’t necessary to go all the way out to the provinces of Risaralda, Caldas and Quindío to find quality Colombian coffee. Though they don’t get the same amount of attention (or visitors), there are plenty of other excellent fincas (coffee plantations) and production centers from the Caribbean coast all the way down to the Ecuadorean border. If you don’t have time to make the trek out to the Eje Cafetero, here are some of the other places in the country to get your coffee fix:

  • Photo: ruggin

    Five Stunning Views in Chilean Patagonia

    Patagonia is an area extending down from about the Lakes Region in Chile (and Argentina) to the southernmost reaches of the continent. Most visits to Chilean Patagonia include a little bit of the Lakes Region (near Puerto Varas), and then a flight much further south to the area near Puerto Natales. From streaky sunrises to fiery sunsets, and all the hues of daytime blue from glaciers and lakes, it’s no surprise that the area packs a photographic punch. Here are some stunning views you can catch in Patagonia, though of course, there are many more spots to photograph and pick as your own favorite.

  • Day Trips from La Serena

    With long white sand beaches, and a tranquil vibe throughout most of the year, La Serena is one of Northern Chile’s most popular beach vacation spots. For Santiaguinos and foreigners alike, the city’s location on a long beach with swimmable warm waters makes it ideal for a couple of days’ stop on a longer trip, or as a destination unto itself.

    Once visitors have seen the sights in town, which include the beach, the local market and the lighthouse, many choose to head out of town to do some exploration. In nearby Coquimbo are both the Cruz del Tercer Milenio, a monument in the form of a giant cross (visible from La Serena, and you can go inside for great views over the bay) and the mosque. There is also a very lively fish market. But there’s no reason to limit oneself to Coquimbo, either. The area is full of day trip possibilities, some of which are detailed below, so when you find yourself traveling through Chile, check them out.

  • A Day North of the Mapocho River in Santiago, Chile

    Tourists visiting Santiago usually divide their time among uptown, downtown and out of town, where out of town includes the wine country, the coast, the mountains, or a combination of all three. But there’s another way to think of the city, which is to use the Mapocho River—which runs down from Cajón de Maipo through the city—as a dividing line between north and south.

  • 3 Days in Puerto Ayora

    Puerto Ayora is one of the Galápagos Islands’ few ports, and it’s the town where the bulk of tour operation and organization begins and concentrates. The town is pretty, especially along the port and its Academy Bay, and there is lots to do. Cruise tours have traditionally made it a mere morning stop along the way, but in recent years, those wishing to economize as much as possible, decide to make it to Puerto Ayora and play it from there.

  • Photo: Terra Hall

    Welcome to the Jungle: Peru’s Piece of Heaven on Earth

    With its towering trees and endless landscape, the Peruvian Amazon is quickly becoming a hot-spot for environmentally conscious travelers looking to experience one of the most diverse ecosystems in the world. In an attempt to meet demand, ecolodges in the Amazon jungle are becoming more and more common. While each has an array of amenities, unique itineraries and different opportunities to see the plants and animals that inhabit the rainforest, Refugio Amazonas’ commitment to sustainable travel makes it stand out from the rest.

  • Galápagos: Recommended Reading

    The Galápagos Islands are a destination that will inevitably stay in your mind long after you visit them, and conversely, can live with you long before you’ve actually booked a visit, thanks to the abundant literature and many nature shows that highlight their wonders. They are certainly the stuff of fantasy. A coveted destination, no doubt, those who become obsessed with this one-and-only archipelago, always want to go deeper, know more about it, dreaming of returning if they’ve been or one day, finally, stand on its shores, admire its wildlife and swim in its seas, if they haven’t.

  • Bogotá Day Trips: National Parks

    Colombia has 41 official national parks, from the lagoons of the San Andrés archipelago down to the southern border in the midst of the Amazon jungle. The country’s amazing geographic contrasts and biodiversity make every national park a unique visual experience, whether you’re admiring a range of glacier-topped volcanic peaks, towering wax palm trees or gray sand beaches. You could spend a whole year just exploring the parks – but what if you don’t have that time?

  • 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: Aztlek

    Whale-Watching on Colombia’s Pacific Coast

    Each year, hundreds of humpback whales make the 8,000 km journey from the frigid sea off Chile to the warm waters of Colombia’s Pacific coastline, gathering in bays and coves by the dozens or even hundreds to mate and calve their babies before beginning the long trip back. In recent years, as the security situation in the region has improved, local tour operators have begun to capitalize on this event’s natural appeal, offering guided tours and boat rides to view the gentle visitors. Though it requires a certain level of commitment to reach the remote area, it’s made worthwhile by the payoff upon arrival: hundreds of miles of untouched coastline, jungles filled with some of the world’s most amazing plants and animals, and whales that come so close to shore that, legend has it, you can see them from your hammock on the beach.

  • 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.

  • Visiting Torres del Paine

    Vast Torres del Paine national park, located in Chilean Patagonia, just a few hours from the southern city of Punta Arenas, is one of Chile’s proudest and most-visited national parks, and with good reason.

    The park’s 600,000 acres comprise a vast ecosystem of glaciers, forests, steppe, glacial valleys, lakeside camping, a striated massif, and the granite spires of the towers for which the park itself is named.

  • 6 Things to Know About Easter Island, Beyond the Moai

    Fascinating facts about the most isolated island anywhere, courtesy of explora Rapa Nui

    An exotic dot in the southern Pacific, Rapa Nui – a.k.a., Easter Island – is nothing if not mysterious. Rising 6,600 feet from the seabed, the island has hosted many over the centuries – from the first settlers from Hawaii to the early Rapa Nui, who dotted its volcanic slopes with silent stone moai; the Dutch navigator Jacob Roggeveen, who popped by in 1722 while searching for the Great Southern Continent and gave Easter Island its name to the famed British explorer Captain James Cook.

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