Let’s wrap up the Southern hemisphere today on our round the world trip, showcasing my favorites in South America from Virtuoso Travel Week.
South America is vastly underrated as a tourist destination for most Americans and I am not really sure why. It has such a rich cultural heritage and beautiful landscapes at every turn…I think Americans (me included) have been missing out by not spending more time exploring our neighbors to the South. And, an added benefit, you don’t get jet lag when traveling there since they are in similar time zones as the US.
If Patagonia is not on your bucket list, then it probably should be…within the pristine and untamed wilderness of Patagonian Chile, you can explore fjords, glaciers and the stunning rock towers in Torres del Paine National Park (see photo above).
The Singular Patagonia would be my choice of where to stay to best experience Chilean Patagonia – it is a luxury hotel created from an old refrigeration plant in which they kept much of the original machinery intact. They offer numerous excursions for all levels of abilities ranging from horseback riding, to hiking in Torres del Paine National Park, to sailing or kayaking in the fjords.
If you are headed to Chile to visit Patagonia, most likely you will fly into Santiago, Chile. Definitely spend a few days exploring the booming capital city, quickly becoming a destination popular for its culture, nightlife and excellent cuisine. The “it” place to stay in Santiago right now is the W Santiago, with a rooftop infinity pool, numerous dining and nightlife options including “Whiskey Blue” – Rande Gerber’s first South American venture, and a helipad ready to transport you for your heli-skiing adventures (that would be YOU not me!).
Buenos Aires is known as the “Paris of South America” for good reason – it is a city known for world class art, haute cuisine and cutting edge design. The European influences are felt everywhere but it also retains a distinctively Latin feel.
The Palacio Duhau – Park Hyatt Buenos Aires is a microcosm of the city itself – two hotels in one, the French belle epoque palace from 1934 and the modern minimalist tower are connected by a contemporary art gallery and the always fantastic Park Hyatt service.
Bariloche, Argentina is in the foothills of the Andes mountains in Argentine Patagonia. If you landed there not knowing where you were, you might think you were in Switzerland. Located within a national park and nestled between two lakes, Llao Llao Hotel and Resort is the ideal place for exploring the surrounding area. Ski in the “summer” or take advantage of the numerous activities available at the resort year round.
If seeing Macchu Picchu is on your “must see” list then you will want to learn more about Inkaterra Macchu Picchu Pueblo Hotel – an opulent boutique hotel within the “cloud forest” and the Macchu Picchu Reserve. There are 85 casitas and two villas offering spa-like bathrooms, alpaca blankets and welcoming fireplaces. Relax in their twelve acres of gardens that contain over three hundred species of orchids and let them arrange your visit to the Macchu Picchu citadel and other sacred sites nearby.
Ecuador’s capital city, Quito, is home to 40 churches and chapels, 16 convents and monasteries with their respective cloisters, 17 plazas, and 12 museum, and was the first city to be named a UNESCO world heritage site. As such, Quito retains its distinctive colonial quality. In keeping with the colonial tradition, Casa Gangotena is in a newly restored and beautifully appointed boutique hotel in an historic building in the heart of the city in Plaza San Francisco.
We couldn’t leave South America and Ecuador without experiencing a true “trip of a lifetime” – a Galapagos cruise. And which one do I recommend?? You can’t do much better than the National Geographic/Lindblad ships which have less than 100 passengers and several on board naturalists offering instruction on everything from photography to scuba diving.
How are you enjoying our “travels”? Later this week, we will be heading back to the other side of the globe and into the northern hemisphere to Asia…see you on the flip side!