Mental Escape to the South American Summer
Hello 2015! Where did you come from?
It’s like I blinked an eye and fireworks, sequins, champagne and make-out sessions were all around me and voila! Another year is upon us. I suppose time flies when you’re having fun, and what fun 2014 was! As a travel blogger, I make it my mission to try and discover every corner of the earth, starting with beautiful South America. After living in Buenos Aires for a year and a half, I’ve been able to explore not only Argentine greatness in its steaks and Malbecs, but also many other countries nearby that hold their own greatness, gems and treasures.
As temperatures dip into the teens during the North American winter, I’ve been busy crafting a mental escape for everyone who has been dreaming of sunnier skies. For those of you who’ve made new year’s resolutions around bettering yourself and getting out of your comfort zone – you know, the usual promises to oneself – then perhaps you should turn the mental escape into a polar vortex escape. No one act encompasses all of these new year dedications better than international travel. Just hop on a plane to some place you’ve never been before, and I guarantee it’ll do more than just cross things off of a bucket list. Plus, everyone needs more vitamin D in their lives. Without further adieu, escape to the South American summer…
The first time I stepped foot in this South American wine country and sipped its fine Malbec, I was hooked, not to mention drunk in love with Mendoza. Besides the copious amounts of delectable vinos throughout the various regions, the views of the Andes Mountains aren’t too shabby either. The best part about the area: wine never goes out of season, so neither does this stunning Andean treasure.
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ahh Brazil. I love Rio de Janeiro so much that I strongly considered moving there at one point. The combination of bustling city and tropical beaches makes this Brazilian beauty tug on my heartstrings. Don’t even get me started on the food and the acai berries native to Brazil. It’s no wonder everyone here is beautiful. With a beach workout and fruit smoothie every morning, maybe I could look like that, too…just maybe??
People often travel to cities to visit museums and other man-made creations. I prefer the mountains, where I can feel part of the natural world. One of the most frequently asked questions I receive is “What’s your favorite location in South America?” My answer every time is Chilean Patagonia, specifically Torres del Paine. It’s hands down the prettiest sight I’ve ever laid eyes on, and if you want the best view, look no further than Explora Patagonia’s Salto Chico Hotel inside the national park. There’s always a chill in the air here, but go during the South American summer and enjoy temperatures in the high 60s surrounded by mountains.
Atacama Desert, Chile
Welcome to the driest place on earth! Thank God I had a window seat as we landed in Calama, Chile, because the rumors about this place are most definitely true – it really does look like Mars. With volcanoes, sand dunes, hot springs, salt lagoons and geysers as rugged backdrops, visitors really do wander around in awe. If you want the ultimate luxury adventure experience, stay at Tierra Atacama, a 5 star hotel that caters to the lover of the great outdoors who don’t want to give up their creature comforts!
Machu Picchu, Peru
The thing about traveling to Machu Picchu is that it turns all walks of life into equals. The history buffs, the outdoorsy type, the luxury adventurers, the backpackers, the hostel goers and the aggressive and non-aggressive hikers alike stand in awe at this new World Wonder and feel beyond miniscule. Hell, even the homebodies feel compelled to embark upon the expensive endeavor, feeling the need to tick something bigger than themselves off a near non-existent bucket list. That’s how captivating this Lost City really is. Figuring out all the logistics to make a Machu Picchu trip seamless can be a bit daunting. See my step-by-step guide here.
No place in the world has felt more like an adventurer’s playground quite like Baños. About two and a half hours from the capital of Quito, the door to the Amazon Rainforest has it all. Hike to massive waterfalls, bungee jump from bridges, zip line over canyons, tour butterfly farms, bike, horseback ride, or bird watch. Whatever you do, just don’t miss La Casadel Arbol, or the Swing at the End of the World.
Animal lovers unite! It’s obvious who steals the show in this enchanting destination that lies 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Sea lions, blue footed boobies, giant tortoises, penguins, sea turtles and land iguanas are only a few of many animals visitors will encounter upon visiting the 13 major Galapagos Islands. Whether you cruise or stay on land, you’ll never forget this once-in-a-lifetime vacation. If you want to make it really special, stay like royalty on Princess Grace Kelly’s honeymoon yacht like I did!
Cartagena will stand as one of the most romantic places I’ve ever visited. With cobblestone streets, charming old town centers, colorful houses with bougainvillea-filled balconies and views of the never-ending sea, the city is perfect for a honeymoon location. I’d suggest spending a few days in the Old Town and then venturing to one of the various islands for a secluded get-a-way! If you want your mental escape to continue, check out my 48 Hours In Cartagena guide here.