Just as looking for jaguars in the Pantanal has gained in popularity during the past few years, looking for Pumas in Chile in the Torres del Paine area has also increased in popularity because it is the best place in all of South America to track, spot and photograph these beautiful big cats in the wild.
Have you or are you considering doing a tour or cruise to the Galapagos Islands? Have you already started looking at all of the options? There's a lot of them, aren't there? I just looked at the number of companies that exhibit at the South American trade show that I attend every year and I counted 28 that offer options to the Galapagos Islands. And that is just the number of companies who are willing to pay to meet with travel agents from all over the world! There are many other small companies that offer tours and cruises that other companies operate or they just have 1 small boat or hotel, so it is not worth it for them to pay to try to appeal to a worldwide audience.
In a recent Portrait of American Travelers study, it was noted that 67% of American travelers now express an interest in experiencing foreign foods. That is up from 51% just 2 years ago. Millenials showed the most interest while mature travelers showed the least interest. I wonder if that is partially due to tv celebrities like Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain who travel around the world eating local food? At any rate, it seems that will eventually hurt the malls I've seen in foreign countries that have nothing but American fast food restaurants in them.
South America is definitely an area where local chefs are developing cuisines that are evolving and enticing travelers.
I've written before about the delights of staying in one or more of the many haciendas that are available in Ecuador. Because they are owner-operated, historical and are often interwoven with the local community, they give you a richer experience than you would get if you just stay in a regular hotel. Of course if you are on a hostel budget, they would not be suitable for you, but some are reasonably affordable. As an example of what I am talking about, here is a very informative video presentation about one of my favorite haciendas:
Travel in South America can often be a problem because many times you have to fly to a major hub in order to connect with another city, which adds time and cost. Here are a few new routes to make things more convenient for travel in Chile and Argentina.
What are the best places to visit in Brazil? Well it depends on what your interests are. I’m not going to presume that if I pick my favorite 10 places, they will appeal to everyone. So I will let you decide.
If you are interested in big, modern cities, then there is the huge Sao Paulo, the romantic Rio, African-influenced Salvador and cities such as Curitiba, which has been called things like the "gold standard in sustainable urban planning", the “green capital”, the “greenest city on Earth”, and the “most innovative city in the world”.
One of our operators in Ecuador has just opened up a new facility called Magic Galapagos. Located in the quiet and cool highlands of Santa Cruz Island, this very special safari-style camp is available exclusively to their clients. With just six raised, walk-in, en-suite safari tents and four tree houses, guests feel that they have their own private hideaway. The only crowds they will see are the millions of stars in the night sky, the only noises they hear will be the gentle breezes and the measured passage of giant tortoises.
Have you been trying to decide whether you should visit an amazon rain forest lodge or a cloud forest lodge or both? My friend Richard Parsons came up with these ideas. In this case he is referring to Ecuador, but it would be the same in Peru or Colombia.
Jim has been an agent for over 20 years and has specialized in South America for much of that time