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Archive for south america

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.

Scissor Hands in Peru

By Linda Tancs

Evocative of the movie Edward Scissorhands, dancers in Peru wield a large pair of iron blades as they jump, dance and tumble on the ground. The ritual is known as La Danza de las Tijeras, an energetic and costumed presentation that has taken place for more than 500 years. It’s inscribed on UNESCO’s Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. Performances occur around Christmastime, coinciding with the summer solstice celebration of the Andean indigenous people, as well as during agricultural festivals at other times of the year.

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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 River of Silver

By Linda Tancs

Río de la Plata (river of silver) is an estuary of the Paraná and Uruguay rivers and forms part of the border between Argentina and Uruguay. The major ports and capital cities of Buenos Aires and Montevideo grace its shores, one of the most densely populated areas of both Argentina and Uruguay. One of its many charms is the small island of Isla de Flores. It was once named Seal Island by visiting sailors for its vast number of South American fur seals. It’s perhaps better known for the historic lighthouse. Established in 1828, it’s still an active aid to navigation with two white flashes every 16 seconds, visible for 19 nautical miles.

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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 Grand Canyon in Argentina

By Linda Tancs

Argentina has many canyons that are grand. One of them is Atuel Canyon, in the heart of Mendoza Province. Formed millions of years ago from the winds and waters of the Atuel River, it’s a popular tourist attraction near San Rafael, offering activities like river rafting, hiking, climbing, horse riding and mountain biking. At the Valle Grande Dam riverside base you’ll find breathtaking views of the canyon as well as along the Atuel River, south of San Rafael and before Valle Grande Dam.

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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.

Rainbow Mountain

By Linda Tancs

If Matisse could’ve applied his color palette to an actual mountain, the result would likely resemble Peru’s Vinicunca Mountain. Also known as Rainbow Mountain or the Mountain of Seven Colors, these peaks in the Ausangate Mountain region of the Peruvian Andes offer an impressionistic portrait filled with turquoise, lavender, gold and other colors. You can thank the sediment and atmospheric conditions of the region for the rainbow-like appearance of this growing tourist attraction. A day trip from Cusco, there are plenty of bus tours offering treks, which is best done between March and November.

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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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