South America is a spectacular continent and place to visit.
South America is not a destination I would regularly gravitate to, but when Qantas announced direct flights to Santiago, and I had the opportunity to climb Macchu Pichu, I couldn’t say no.
More than twice the size of Australia, with 13 different countries, so many different cultures, food, and traditions abound. Landing in each new country, you just don’t know what you will find.
I would say every Aussie should visit South America at least once, there are just so many gems to discover.
This is what I love about it so far:
1) The Food – Many of the major cities – and rural locations- only eat and cook with locally grown produce & much of it is organic.
Lima, Peru has some of the best high end restaurants in the world, and the whole country seems to be aware of the importance of low sugar, fresh food.
Argentina has brilliant steaks, and Santiago Chile is packed with gorgeous restaurants with great cocktails first class Chilean food which is everything from fresh raw fish to steaks, French influenced dishes and even burgers, and that’s just for starters.
2) The Wine – I could rave for hours about all of the wine, in all of the countries and their regions, but I didn’t have a bad glass of wine in a month there.
There are wineries in many different countries, and all are good. The Malbecs in Argentina are famous, and the whites and reds in Chile are amazing. The important thing is to drink local in every country you visit.
3) The Architectural History – Cities like Cusco in Peru and Cartagena in Columbia provide an incredible insight into the history of South America, with incredibly well preserved architecture and monuments. I stayed at the Belmond Hotels in Cusco which were just stunning. You can read about them here.
4) Diverse modern cities – Buenos Ares is known as the Paris of the continent and the 3 million people who live there are called “Potenos” as they have created their own culture and lifestyle. (Read about my stay at the jaw dropping Faena Hotel here).
San Paulo has a population of some 21 million people, and is Brazil’s financial centre, with world class dining, cultural centres and museums.
Santiago is a thriving metropolis packed with great restaurants, culture and historical monuments. Every city has its own personality and culture. It’s exciting simply to land in each one and see what’s on offer.
5) The Amazon – This incredible rainforest and river is the size of Australia and crosses into 9 different countries.
Its been said 20% of the world’s oxygen is made in the Amazon by the extraordinary plant life there.
From river cruises to eco holidays, and fitness trips, the Amazon is the stuff of dreams, and it’s accessible from so many different parts of South America.
6) Patagonia – This astonishing piece of the world is as peaceful, spacious and spectacular as it gets. From trekking to luxury cruises, horse riding and even luxury hotels, this part of South America makes you feel as if you are at the end of the world, in the best way possible. (Read about the luxury hotel I found in Patagonia here).
This is where you can truly connect with a very different aspect of nature to the Amazon, and get away from it all, and have wildlife experiences like no other, from Jaguars to birds and even glaciers. It’s all a knockout.
7) The ruins – Visiting Machu Pichu is a true once in a lifetime step right back in time to the Inca civilisations.More than 200 buildings and terraces are connected on a magnificent mountain with clouds than sweep in and out and all hours of the day. Even archeologists are still mystified by this incredible feat of man. (Read about my adventures there here).
Easter Island is home to Maoi statues, which one the beaches, another mystery yet to be solved.
8) Horse Riding – In Australia we ride in the British style, in South America it is one handed, which is absolutely terrifying, exhilaration and liberating all at the same time. This is adventure at its best, and it is so important to throw ourselves out of ur comfort zone and experience another side or aspect of life.
9) The cost of everything – The majority of travel in this part of the world is cheaper than anywhere else, and there are lots of different accommodation options and dining options to reduce the cost of your trip.
10) The Locals – the people in all of the countries I have visited are warm, friendly and welcoming of tourists. They want foreigners to love their country, but they are also genuinely kind and proud. And check out the local dress – each country has its own colours and designs. Love it.