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Archive for south america

The Inca Trail

By Linda Tancs

The Inca Trail is a hiking trail in Peru that terminates at Machu Picchu. Lauded as one of the most iconic treks in the world, you’ll be following in the footsteps of the ancient Incas, who ultimately designed a network reaching 25,000 miles through their South American empire. The classic route to Machu Picchu is 26 miles from the trailhead known as Kilometre 82 to the ancient citadel, which is sprinkled with ruins and cloud-cloaked mountainsides. That trek generally takes four days and includes camping. A shorter trail from Kilometre 104 can be accomplished in a day. Whichever trek you choose, you’ll need a permit so it’s advisable to book several months in advance. The end of April or May is a good time to visit; the ground is drier and permits generally won’t sell out as fast as during the peak season from June to August.

The Venice of Brazil

By Linda Tancs

Embraced by the Atlantic Ocean, the Brazilian city of Recife developed as a city of trade and as a major port. It’s known as “the Venice of Brazil” because the city is crossed by waterways linked by numerous bridges. Recife Antigo (the old town) offers glimpses into the city’s colonial past following the Dutch and Portuguese occupations. Other sites to visit include the Mamulengo Theatre (puppet theatre, a staple in northeast Brazil) and Paço do Frevo, a cultural space dedicated to frevo dance and music, which has been recognized as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO.

Smoking Mountain

By Linda Tancs

They say that only the most adventurous dare to climb Mount Fitz Roy, the highest peak in Southern Patagonia’s Glacier National Park. At over 11,000 feet above sea level, you can understand why. Due to a fairly consistent atmospheric haze over its peak, it was originally named Chaltén, a word meaning “smoking mountain” in the indigenous Tehuelche tribe’s dialect. The current moniker, Fitz Roy, is a nod to Captain FitzRoy of HMS Beagle, the ship that voyaged around South America with Charles Darwin. Although there’s nothing volcanic about the revered granite walls, you’ll get smokin’ views of Fitz Roy from Laguna de Los Tres, some 1,400 feet from the base camp reserved for mountaineers.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Argentina’s Dead Rock

By Linda Tancs

The third largest national park in Argentina, Lanín National Park is named for the area’s largest peak, Lanín volcano, a word meaning “dead rock” in the native Mapuche language. It is, indeed, a dead rock—an extinct stratovolcano that can be seen for miles on a clear day. Many visitors come to climb the volcano, but the park is also prized as a conservation area for the monkey-puzzle tree, what naturalists call a  “living fossil” dating back to the Mesozoic Era. The park is located southwest of Neuquén province.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Bears and Unicorns in Bolivia

By Linda Tancs

Located in the so-called Elbow of the Andes, Bolivia’s Amboró National Park is a place of tremendous ecological diversity. In fact, its location features the convergence of three ecosystems: the high-altitude Andes altiplano, the dry Chaco region and the lush pampas of the Amazon Basin. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the fauna varies widely as well and includes some rarities. For instance, spectacled bears roam there, the only wild bear remaining in South America. You’ll also find the horned curassow, a rare bird species. Its trademark blue “horn” above the orange bill is responsible for the nickname, “unicorn bird.” Several tours are available to guide you through this immense region. If traveling independently, it’s best to hire a local guide.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The Other Brazilian Rainforest

By Linda Tancs

Although nearly adjacent to the Amazon, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) is the lesser-known cousin. One of the five most diverse hotspots in the world, this tropical and subtropical rainforest once stretched along the Atlantic Coast of Brazil for a whopping 476,000 square miles. Today, its footprint is much smaller (at around 38,600 square miles) due to centuries of deforestation for timber, sugar cane, coffee, cattle ranching and urban sprawl. In fact, two of the world’s largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, were both built over it. A small percentage of the land is protected, most notably in Chapada Diamantina National Park, where one of the country’s highest waterfalls (Cachoeira da Fumaca) is found. It’s so high that the water vaporizes before it hits the ground, earning it the name “Smoke Waterfall.”

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Flower of the Ocean

By Linda Tancs

The Colombian island of Providencia is affectionately known as “the flower of the ocean.” It’s an appropriate nickname, considering that it lies entirely within UNESCO’s Seaflower Biosphere Reserve, an oceanic archipelago with coral banks, small islands and islets forming part of atolls. Those are rare systems in the Caribbean, where this getaway rests between Central and South America. It was once a haven for pirates like Captain Morgan, whose memory is invoked by landmarks like Morgan’s Cave and and Morgan’s Head. The unspoiled island also became one of England’s first colonies, established in the 1600s by English Puritans. Now its Spanish heritage is infused with Creole and a distinct African-Caribbean vibe. You’ll get there via a flight from sister island San Andrés.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Tough Trek in Rio

By Linda Tancs

Pedra da Gávea is Rio de Janeiro’s most imposing monolith. The trek to the top is also the most arduous, commanding at least three hours. The hardest leg of the trail, known as Carrasqueira, is a steep climb leading to rewarding, bird’s-eye views of Sugarloaf, Corcovado, the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema and even the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range. Hire an experienced guide for the safest experience.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

The City With Four Names

By Linda Tancs

You might think that Sucre, Bolivia, suffers from an identity crisis, considering that it’s known as “The City With Four Names.” But the reason for its name changes is rooted in history. The area was originally named Charcas after the indigenous inhabitants. Later, its Spanish conquerors named it La Plata (silver) in recognition of the rich natural resources there. When the Spanish later took control over Buenos Aires using a similar designation, the name was changed again to Chuquisaca, a version of the original indigenous Charcas settlement of Choquechaca. Unrest over economic conditions imposed by the governing forces resulted in an independence movement famously led by Antonio José de Sucre. The city was renamed in his honor. Casa de la Libertad is where, in 1825, the republic was created with the signing of the Bolivian declaration of independence and is one of the most important museums in the city.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Chile’s Oldest Park

By Linda Tancs

Chile’s Vicente Pérez Rosales National Park is the oldest park in the country. Created in 1926, it’s located in Chile’s pristine Lake District, featuring Lago Todos los Santos (All Saints Lake). Its fabulous emerald-green color makes it one of the most popular attractions in the park. Boasting over 600,000 acres, the park also features the turquoise waters of the Petrohué Waterfalls as well as Osorno Volcano. Travel up the volcano to a ski resort for striking views of the Petrohué River Valley.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

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