Archive for the ‘South America’ Category

Five Top Places to Visit in South America

parinacota-volcano_chileSouth America tours have always proved to be enjoyable and amazing. The people are friendly and welcome tourists and there is a lot of color and history that one can take in when admiring the flora and fauna. South America does have something for everyone. If you are interested in heading to the large cities, such as Brazil and Argentina or would prefer exploring the quirky and quaint cities of Bolivia and Peru, you can enjoy a diversity of ancient cultures, architecture, wildlife, sensuous music and pristine beaches when you head to this exotic country.

Brazil is the largest country in the South American continent. Check out the vista from the Sugar Loaf Mountain or visit the majestic statue of Christ the Redeemer. Drive along the coast and visit beaches, such as Ipanema and Copacabana before you hit Rio de Janeiro, where you can mingle with the locals in the colorful busy city and enjoy the sights.

Argentina is the second largest in South America. Buenos Aires has many “must-see” places in the itinerary and you should devote some time to enjoy the mouth-watering steaks and extra large ice cream sundaes! These restaurants are open even after midnight when you will find many street dancers ready to entertain you. Enjoy a coffee at any of the small cafes and explore the antique shops which are open even on Sundays.

I love travelling to Peru where you feel you are transported back in time. The people in Peru behave in a dignified and friendly manner, which reflects their pride in their historic nation. As a nature love, I enjoy walking along the wonderful Inca Trail and looking at the ruins of Machu Piccu that lies close to Lake Titicaca.

Chile-1The coastline of Chile is a narrow long strip that is pinned between the Ocean and the Andes. Tourists enjoy visiting cities such as Valparaiso and Santiago where they can experience cultural traditions blending with modernism. Make sure to include visits to the deserts, glaciers and volcanoes.

The capital of Quito in Ecuador is filled with stunning landscapes. Here you can experience the rich culture, tradition and history of the Incas. I enjoyed learning how to make hats from the Otavalo Indians. The cobblestoned streets in Cuenca city opens up into plazas where you can walk around the flower markets and enjoy the spectacle of color everywhere.

Tourists who head to South America should include these top cities in their itinerary to experience the wonderful culture and traditions. I enjoy browsing in the shops when I am not out trekking or trying to feel one with nature. The scenery is spectacular and this makes South America a must-see destination for tourists around the world.


A Buenos Aires Break

There are so many flight companies and price comparison websites around these days that cheap airfare is no longer hard to come by. Even to South America. There are flight agents offline eager to give you the best deal possible and on occasion they may even sell a flight at a loss to gain your custom. Online, the flight market is massive. The airline themselves can offer pretty good deals and there are numerous flight comparison websites you can use to find the lowest fare to the destination of your choice.

Finding the cheapest far is a bit of a gamble however, as the best time to buy is either well in advance or right before you go on a last minute website. If you have a destination in mind, you’re probably best off booking way in advance.

Buenos Aires in Argentina is a fantastic destination. It is both accessible and cheaper than choosing another city in the country. It has the added benefit of being the kind of city you can hang around in for a while. The transport links are excellent, with a great metro system for travelling around the city and a large bus station from where you can take a luxurious bus to anywhere in the country or even over the border to Chile.

Must-sees in Buenos Aires
San Telmo is a lovely district of Buenos Aires with many fantastic steak houses and bars where you can sample Malbec from Mendoza in the North of Argentina. San Telmo has an antiques market every Sunday. Walking around the cobbled streets you will see tango dancers dancing in the street as a novel alternative to busking.

Recoleta Cemetery is arguably the best cemetery in the world and is really worth a visit. It’s like a village of family mausoleums each grander than the last. Eva Peron (Evita) is the most famous deceased resident here and there is always a crowd around her grave of eager tourists with their cameras out.

The Museo de Arte Moderno Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA) is a wonderful art gallery. Here you will find works by the revered Frida Kahlo who became more famous than her husband Diego Riviera who supported her ascent from the beginning when he was better known than her.

MALBA has one of the city’s many wide-open green spaces right outside it with a metal sculpture of a tulip – the Floralis Generica on it. The metal flower opens and closes with the sun. Near to MALBA are the Botanical Gardens. There are some great plants in here as well as an excessive amount of stray cats. It’s a relaxing place to chill out with a good book.

No trip to Buenos Aires would be complete without a trip to La Boca. For football fans, this is the home of Boca Juniors and going to watch a game isn’t very expensive. For everyone else, walking past all the brightly coloured corrugated iron fronted houses is very enjoyable.

Getting Your Visa

visaWhen I first travelled to South America I was quite concerned about having all the required documentation as I had heard so many horror stories about immigration procedures. When I arrived at Santiago airport in Chile I was presently surprised at how quick and efficient it was. I was granted my tourist visa upon arrival and so I had 90 days in the country before it expired. Many friends had told me prior to travelling that it is important to buy a return ticket as I would be asked to prove that I would be leaving. I wasn’t asked for this and I didn’t have a return ticket. However, I did have a copy of the flights I had booked to Mendoza, which I could have used to prove I would be leaving Chile. If you are travelling to South America and are not sure how long your tour will take, this is a good way to renew your visa. Most countries will allow you to extend it for a fee. However, from my experience it is cheaper to book flights to cross the border to renew it….and there is the added bonus of visiting another country.

In the end I got a job in Chile and I was granted a temporary visa. I decided to travel back to the States before I started my new job and I had a somewhat different experience the second time I travelled to Chile, with a stopover in Brazil. On this occasion I was asked for a copy of my return ticket when I was checking in at the airport. I explained to the Brazilian air hostesses that my final stop was Chile, not Brazil and that I had a visa to stay there. I didn’t have a copy of my visa because it was still being processed, so the air hostess wasn’t convinced. She told me that I would have to purchase a return ticket. After a lot of persuasion, I convinced her that my last stop was Chile and they had a register of my visa at immigration. She let me travel on without any problems. However, this is an experience I wouldn’t like to go through again.

Chilean food

santiago chileEveryone has to visit South America at some stage in life. If you book airline tickets early you can get cheap deals. Chile is the long narrow strip of land which lies on the west coast of South America. Its capital, Santiago, is the first point of arrival for many tourists and airlines such as United Airlines, Delta Airlines, Iberia and LanChile operate flights to the city from Europe, the USA and beyond.

Given the length of the country, Chile’s climate varies from the desert like conditions in the north to the rainy temperate climate in the south. However, it is Chile’s variety of landscapes together with its extensive coastline that have resulted in the rich Chilean diet.

Chileans will tell you that you can’t get food in Santiago like in other regions of the country. However, nearly every tourist who comes to the city falls in love with the Chilean cuisine, and where better to sample the most popular dishes than in Santiago’s central market. Get off at Puente Cal y Canto metro station in Santiago and follow the smell of fresh fruit, vegetables and fish until you arrive at the market. Here you can sample all sorts of Chilean dishes and also purchase local produce. Try Chilean empanadas, fried fish, seafood stew (paila marina), cazuela soup and many other delicacies. This is the place to go if you want to mix with the locals and sample traditional food. Venture outside the city and the food just keeps getting better. Beware! Chile is not the place to go if you are on a diet.

Dancing Round the Americas

tangoThe Latin America region is renowned for its ancient cities, spicy food and vibrant party atmosphere – which is ever present in cities such as Cancun and Rio De Janiero.

There are a wide variety of dances that originated in Latin America and are now know around the world – particularly for their high-energy, flowing movements that are usually accompanied by flamboyant costumes and music which has a high tempo and energy about it.

Dance tours are popular with those who are looking to take in the sights and sounds of the main tourist attractions as well as learning a few dance moves along the way

If you’re looking to backpack around the region, why not consider taking some lessons along the way? Here are a few ideas for when you’re planning your trip:

Samba In Brazil – this energetic dance style is one of the most famous cultural exports of Brazil, and if you’re passing through Rio De Janiero during your trip, joining in the festivities at the Rio Carnival is a must. The world famous event is known as being one of the greatest parties in the world, with a whole host of decorative floats and flamboyant outfits on show.

There are a multitude of samba schools throughout Rio De Janiero, and many of these offer lessons in samba to tourists. So whilst passing through Rio, why not drop by one of these and learn a few moves during your time in the city?

Salsa In Cuba – salsa is a vibrant and rhythmic dance style that is famous throughout Cuba, and there are a number of tours that allow you the chance to explore the sights and learn a few moves along the way. One of the most popular destinations for these salsa tours is the historic capital city of Havana – described by as being “colourful and full of character”, so why not try a combination of sightseeing and salsa during your Cuba holidays?

Tango in Argentina – the tango is one of the most well known dance styles around the world, combining precise and flowing movements with an upbeat music style. Tango tours in Argentina give you the opportunity to explore the spectacular sights of the many national parks – including the waterfalls at Iguazu Falls and the glaciers of Los Glaciares National Park – interweaved with daily tango lessons with qualified instructors.

Dance tours are becoming more popular amongst tourists who are looking to keep fit and learn a few moves in amongst the sightseeing, and with more of these tours now available, why not consider including such a tour as part of your holidays in Cuba or Argentine adventure?

© 2012 Pat Travels the World