Machu Picchu is a citadel built by the Inca in the 15th century. Interestingly, people tend to view it as something that is ancient, but in reality, it came to be even later than the Oxford university, so it’s not as old as many believe. It is located in the mountains, the Eastern part of the Cordillera to be precise. It is not exactly a lost Incan city either, although many refer to it that way; in fact, the scientists and the archeologists who work with Machu Picchu believe that it was constructed as an estate for Pachacuti, the emperor of the Inca at the time. Sadly, this wonderful dwelling place had to be abandoned about a century after having been built, all due to the Spanish invasion.
The estate relied heavily on farming, growing most of its crops on man-made terrace farms the civilization is truly famous for as incredible engineering skill was necessary to construct them. Interestingly enough, archeological discoveries of the site show that most people who lived in Machu Picchu, of whom there were approximately 750, were actually immigrants from very varying places.
As of today, it is fair to say that Machu Picchu is one of the biggest tourist attractions in the world. The people flock to try and feel the spirit of the fascinating Inca civilization and to understand how the estate looked like – it was constructed in accordance with the traditional Inca style, meaning polished dry-stone walls, and many of its outer parts had to be recreated with the hopes of offering people are clearer idea of what the original looked like.
Needless to say, this fascinating piece of architecture is a part of UNESCO, having been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The fact that it was also among the New Seven Wonders of the World (a global attempt to shed more light onto fascinating locations in the world) speaks to its popularity and significance as well.
It is also one of very important economic driving forces for Peru. With such huge number of visitors, Machu Picchu provided the possibility of growing tourism revenue, constructing new hotels, offering guiding services as well as other things which bring the country substantial benefit. A good balance is being maintained though between tourism and preservation. Since UNESCO is actively thinking about including Machu Picchu into the list of World Heritage in Danger, a no-fly zone exists over the site and the foot traffic is being limited.
As a whole, whether you happen to be in Peru, or whether you hope to travel there just to see Machu Picchu – it’s truly worth the time.]]>
A very famous option this one, this 2004 biopic of a young Che Guevara is a fascinating character piece and a gorgeous advert for travellers looking to visit South America. Following the true story of the future communist revolutionary’s motorcycle journey across the continent with his friend Alberto Granado, The Motorcycle Diaries features some of Peru’s most stunning scenery and closely sticks to Che’s own historic journal writings about the events.
The scenes at Machu Pichu, as touristic such a destination has become in the modern day, are some of the most amazing footage ever shot of the area – with the UK’s Daily Telegraph newspaper saying they were ‘worth watching several times over’. Today, The Motorcycle Diaries sits at a 7.5 out of 10 score on review aggregator Metacritic and has an Academy Award for Best Original Song to its name.
Of course, we would be doing the history of Latin America a disservice if we completely avoided some of the more unsavoury aspects of it’s past, and its especially important for writers and directors to tackle these serious topics. One of many Peruvian movies featuring The Shining Path, a communist guerrilla insurgency that tried to start a revolution in Peru in the 1980s, La Boca Del Lobo is an unflinching depiction of the horrors of war – and how the worst kinds of acts are often perpetrated by both sides.
Telling the story of a Peruvian army unit that arrive in a remote mountain town, only to become besieged on all sides by revolutionary fighters. One young soldier, known as Vitan, must fight with his own ideals of right and wrong as the paranoid and outnumbered soldiers begin to take out their frustrations on the local populace. Translating literally as ‘The Jaws of the Wolf’, this classic piece of 1980s Peruvian cinema was nominated for Best Foreign Language Film at the 1989 Academy Awards, losing to Swedish immigration drama Pelle The Conqueror.
If you seriously want to grab yourself a taste of local culture before you head to a country, you could definitely pick a worse choice than the local’s most watched movie of all time. In Peru’s case, that is Asu Mare! – a 2013 comedy biopic created by the insanely popular local funnyman Carlos Alcántara. Made on a budget of under $1 million, Asu Mare! grossed nearly $6.5 million worldwide and knocked animated comedy Ice Age 4 of the Peruvian box office’s all-time top spot. You might not get all the jokes, but Alcantara’s rags to riches life story is an engaging one that gives a true feel for life in this fantastic country.]]>
Just an hour drive from Cusco is this amazing mountain, known to locals as Vinicunca, with its multicoloured geological stripes of red, gold and turquoise. Prior to 2015 these stunning visuals just did not exist, as they were covered by layers of permafrost and snow for 99% of the year. However, climate change in the region has meant the snow cover now melts for longer and longer each year. This had made tourists visits possible, and people have been flocking here ever since.
Soon to become one Peru’s most visited sites, travellers are recommended to visit here sooner rather than later – before the government is expected to start limiting tourist numbers and imposing more restrictions. Oh, and its also at a very high altitude too. So, hikers are expected to prepare for that or otherwise pay the price with altitude sickness and insurance problems being a real possibility.
Peru may today be one of the safest countries for tourists in South America, but that doesn’t mean the area hasn’t had a long and bloody history. One of the most unique tourists’ attractions in the capital city of Lima, The Ossuary of Convento de San Francisco is an ornamental collection of human bones takes full advantage of that morbid history by allowing visitors into a sombre experience unlike any other.
Right in the heart of the city, the ossuary contains the bones of an estimated 70,000 people spanning a dozen generations. Rediscovered in 1943, they are rumoured to be a part of an even larger network of catacombs that connect many local churches and Lima’s main cathedral. Visitors can only see this part of it however, looking down into this creepy subterranean burial ground through the floors of the church it is built over.
These fantastically arranged pools of saltwater cascading down a steep mountainside have been providing brilliant visuals for visitors, and sellable salt for the locals, for thousands of years. Salinas de Maras, as they are known to the people who live and work here, were built by the Incas in the 14th century – although many historians suspect they may have been here for much longer than that. Local salt gatherers still use the same non-invasive and sustainable techniques that their ancestors used to extract the useful mineral from these pools, and then sell bags of it at the local market. Sadly however, in 2019 the local government declared that tourists are no longer allowed to walk around the salt pans themselves – as the risk of contamination is too high.]]>
One of the top bucket list destinations in the world has to be Angel Falls in the Canaima National Park in Venezuela. At just under one thousand meters high it is the highest waterfall in the world and the jungle setting adds to the overall drama. Although it is one of the world’s most famous locations you can only get there by plane or helicopter as it is not accessible by road. If your budget permits, choose for the fly-over option where the overhead views are absolutely stunning.
If you had just woken up on the Salar de Uyuni you could be excused for thinking that you had been transported to another galaxy. As far as the eyes can see, the salt flats of this remote part of the world go on and on until they finally reach the mountains. The Salar de Uyuni covers a vast expanse of over ten thousand square kilometers, and sporadically there are lakes and deserts that break up the exhaustive salt flats to add even more surrealness to the vista. Expect to see great wildlife such as pink flamingos and llamas as they roam around in their natural habitat.
The outstanding Machu Picchu is one of the greatest archaeological places not just in South America, but the whole world. It attracts many people to its ancient secret history that took place among the huge stone walls. Building this amazing Incan city is quite remarkable due to the remote location. And the daunting craggy peaks and lush green jungle that surround this unique citadel make the construction of Machu Picchu simply amazing. The best time to visit is the first thing in the morning when the sun rises, the early rays of day highlight the beauty of the landscape.
From the thick green jungle of Machu Picchu to the ice lands of Ecuador our last great place to visit in South America is Cotopaxi National Park. The must-see attraction of this park is the strato-volcano covered in ice. The six thousand meters volcano is dark, brooding, and menacing. To climb up this unbelievable part of nature throws up the most complex challenges known to climbers. Firstly, you have to cope with the biting winds, and the temperatures are enough to freeze your breath. But the weather is not the only hurdle to overcome, the volcano is almost in permanent twilight which makes the ascent almost impossible. These wonderful destinations of South America are all so different and each one is unique in their own right. To visit any one of them would be a trip of a lifetime.]]>
Located just four hours’ drive from the capital Lima can be found The Red Beach which is tucked away in the outstanding Paracas National Reserve. As well as offering great swimming in the clear blue warm waters the beach is a fantastic viewpoint for taking in all the natural wildlife that inhabit the landscape.
The beach gets its unusual name from the red sand that occurs due to the natural pink granodiorite made up of solidified magma. When the light is just right the whole beach looks like it is on fire and provides a dramatic vista that is breathtaking.
Our next destination is Miraflores in the capital Lima. It does not have the scenic beauty of Playa Roja but the bustling city backdrop certainly is impressive. The area surrounding the beach is known as the Costa Verde and is recognized for its lush green vegetation as well as the unique brown cliffs. It is an ideal place to get away from the city and enjoy a spot of surfing or swimming. And after a relaxing day’s fun at the beach you can just stroll into town for dinner.
Situated in the north of Peru at Punta Sal is Paradise Beach and is a getaway haven for a peaceful retreat. In this part of Peru there are many long sandy beaches, lined with lush tropical palm trees and memorable sunsets. There are a number of luxury beach resorts around Paradise Beach that offer superb spa treatments and five-star dining. This is a dreamy exotic place, with calm waters, blue skies and brilliant white sand, perfect to forget all your worries back home.
Staying in the north of Peru we head to Mancora to sample the party atmosphere. This area is where tourists and Peruvians alike come to party, there are many bars, nightclubs and live music venues packed into a relatively small area. People from all over South America come to let their hair down and have some fun.
Apart from partying the night away most people just hang out on the beach and relax. If you still have any energy left then there are plenty of beach-type activities to enjoy such as, surfing, windsurfing, kayaking, and horse-riding.
The Party Beach in Mancora is different than many crowded European party resorts, it has a much more laid-back feel to it and has almost a hippy vibe. Some travelers end up staying far longer than they had planned. All these beaches show the diverse nature of the beaches in Peru, and these are just a selection of what is available. So why not pack a bag and head to South America for your next beach holiday.]]>
But the true picture is that these exotic cities are as diverse as Beijing is to London. South America stretches from the Caribbean to the icy glaciers of Chile. Some of the cities represent Hollywood’s description, being cosmopolitan melting pots of humanity. Other are demurer and date back to colonial times. To celebrate these great cities of the Western Hemisphere we look at some of the top cities to visit in this exciting part of the world.
The locals of this wonderful city in Brazil have a saying, On the Eighth day God created Rio. And looking at this breathtakingly beautiful city by the sea it is easy to see why. Everywhere you look, Rio is a place of conflicting contrasts.
From the beautiful beach people to the poor workers in the Favelas, everything is one extreme to another. Rio is surrounded by golden beaches, forest peaks, tropical rainforests and probably the most famous statue in the world. Rio is also home to the biggest street party in the world, Carnival. Where party-time stops normal life and samba takes over. Rio is glamorous, tropical, creative, but also friendly and definitely a bucket-list experience.
The home of tango, Buenos Aires is famous for its football, steak, and sophistication. It was once dubbed the Paris of South America because the beautiful squares and parks are elegant and refined. Buenos Aires oozes culture, it has many galleries, museums, theaters and fine-dining restaurants.
The architecture is also reminiscent of Europe with many Italian and French designs incorporated in the buildings. Places you must go are Palermo where you can sit outside a street cafe and watch the world go by. Or San Telmo which is a bohemian district full of eclectic markets. Buenos Aires does not spring into life till 10pm, when the restaurants first open for service and people start to hit the streets for a night of entertainment. Don’t expect to be home till the sun rises in the morning.
There was a time if you suggested to somebody to take a holiday in Cartagena they would have probably looked at you thinking that you had lost your mind. However, today Cartagena has cleaned up its act and is once again very much open to tourism.
Firstly, the location is stunning, with the city facing the Caribbean, and secondly it is a historical masterpiece. The 16th Century port has a more than colorful past, but the beautiful old colonial buildings also tell of a rich and opulent history.
The city is just enchanting, surrounded by fortified walls to keep invaders at bay. And in the old streets you can find many bars and restaurants where the locals are busy talking about the important issues of the day. Just tie up your favorite walking shoes and take to the streets, that is the best way to explore this compact city.]]>
As well as this stunning array of natural beauty it also produces some of the finest New World Wines that you can possibly find. The diversity of Chile makes for very interesting wines that can be complex yet very quaffable, and parts of the country have a similar climate to that of the Mediterranean, with the Andes providing cooler temperatures.
The best wines to be produced out of this complex bi-structure are Carmenere, Sauvignon Blac, Chardonay, and Cabernet Sauvignon. All these wines punch their weight against traditional wine producing countries but are a fraction of the price.
Chile employs the D.O. system (Denomination of Origin) to define the areas of wine production. And the main wine producing areas are broken further down into sub-regions, that are also separated into zones. The label on the bottle will always carry the information for identification purposes.
The label on a bottle of wine from Chile will also name the grape variety and what type of terrain the grapes are grown. There are three terrains, Andes, Entre, and Costa.
These three terrains perfectly fit the D.O. system, and more information is included about the elevation of the terrain, its atmosphere, its terroir, which all go to tell the purchaser exactly what sort of wine they are buying.
The Andes region has sedimentary soil and the air is cool coming straight from the mountains. The terrain is a mix of mountainous steep slopes right down to a fertile valley floor. The tall mountains protect the grapes from too much sunlight, and temperatures are cool. This area produces some fine red wines along with some interesting sparkling whites.
This area is responsible for the production of over half of Chile’s wines. The expanse of flat and fertile lands are some of the oldest wine growing areas in the country. The climate is similar to that of the Mediterranean and the soil is rich and fertile. The wines produced here are elegant and perfect for aging, the best examples are Syrah and Cabernet Sauvignon.
The Costa region has a cool breeze straight from the Pacific Ocean, and the area specializes in cool-climate wines. The soil is rather chalky which imparts a high level of acidity into the wine as well as a plethora of minerals.
New World Wines have gathered a fine reputation among the wines of the world, and Chile produces some of the best wines in South America. The standard is consistently high and the D.O. system makes it easy to find the exact wine you want.]]>
Every place has something it is known for and you will be safer if you find out what dangers the city you are traveling has. Some places are notorious for stealing, mosquito-related illnesses, or unhealthy drinking water. Whatever it is, make sure you research to know what peculiar dangers your destination poses.
Also, get acquainted with the happenings in the political and social arenas of the country and make sure you do not join any form of protest no matter how legitimate it seems. Avoid anything that will put you in real danger if you want to enjoy your traveling.
The best way to travel in places like South America is by joining organized travel group. This keeps you from the dangers you might face alone, and the bad road network associated in most of the cities. The possibility of being mobbed or stranded on the road due to lack of transportation is removed as well. Accidents are the greatest threats to tourists, but an organized tour helps eradicates such possible dangers.
While there is need to be very careful and aware of your surroundings when you travel, you should not be scared of everyone and everything. It is possible to begin to look at people with suspicion and think they want to rob you of your belongings. The thing is that most people are kind and helpful to tourists. If you do not feel comfortable with any stranger, simply move away from the environment. Make any inquiries directly from your tourists guide about where you want to go or board a taxi.
Naturally, these guides are against the troubles people cause to the future of their jobs, so they handle tourists more carefully. Take time when choosing the taxis, you board as some of them are out to rob passengers, especially tourists, of their money. Find a taxi with the proper logo and use it all through your traveling in the country.
Sometimes some tourists may go beyond their limits and cause more problems to themselves and, perhaps, to others. Even though you are touring the country, there are places you should not go to avoid possible dangers which you may not know or see at the time. For instance, going kayaking on Amazon River for days or a week stay across the Andes, without a guide or permission of the tourist guides can be a dangerous venture. Never try to do it alone even though you think you can.
As long as you are not used to the environment, there is no way you can foresee the dangers you may face. It is better you join a group and get the first experience before you make decisions to do it alone. If you come across some people with a wrong motive, do not attempt to fight them except you are good at martial arts and can take them down easily. Always apply common sense so that you will stay out trouble. You are not home, so some risks should be suspended till you get back.]]>
This short expression means, `I don’t understand’ and you need to learn how to use it in conversations while traveling in Peru. There are times you may have to admit you do not understand what your Spanish guy is saying, so use the expression to tell them so. They will slowly repeat what they said for you to understand better.
The translation is, `how much does this cost?’. It is possible you may like to shop while enjoying the tour. This expression will be of help when you want to buy things like toothbrush, foreign fashion or anything else you wish. Using the phrase will put you in a good place. Some sellers take advantage of the ignorance of tourists to rip them off. You can avoid that if you can use this phrase.
This means, `How do I get to____?’. Touring a big city can be overwhelming even for a lover of adventure. International data can be expensive and Google maps unreliable, so your only choice is to depend on locals. They know most of the places you are headed and can direct you on the best routes or shortcuts to take to reach your destination.
`Can you bring me the check, please?’. Of course, you should eat good food to get the energy you need for more tour. The waiter may be too busy to come around your table and you cannot wait to see nightlife in Peru. The above expression will get you the attention you want from the waiter.
The expression means, `can I use your phone charger?’. You must not spoil the fun of the tour by having a low or dying battery. Nothing can be as bad as that, especially when you had planned to take pictures with your mobile device. You will need a charger and adaptor for such moments or if you are really lucky to make new friends, they may have one to share with you. Then all you need to get their help is, `Puedo usar tu cargador del movil?’. As simple as those words may sound, you are back to enjoying the fun in the tour once again.
Well, there may come the moment to want to say, `I think you are my soul mate.’ Yes, something like this can happen even when you did not plan to meet a stranger who you want to spend your life with. The new friend you come across may not be good at English, so a better way to convey your love may be to use the local language. Using the expression may not be enough to show the depth of your love, but it is a good way to start. You will have more time to make adequate preparations for the second meeting and be sure you are really good at it this time.]]>
The people of the continent speak mainly Spanish and Portuguese. At places where people are educated, English or French is used for communication. The indigenous people speak many other local languages, although it is unlikely you will come across such people.
Each region has its peculiar foods and you may not find identical foods in each region. In Argentina, for instance, you can find the world’s best steak, while Brazil has the Bahian food, influenced by West African culture.
You will find a variety of art in South America, from ancient art to local ones. Most cities have museums which offer tempting options to visitors and these places showcase classical and contemporary arts.
The designs used in South American architecture clearly show a European influence. Cities like Buenos Aires and some ancient towns are examples of European imitation. Some places still keep their ancient and beautiful appearance and as you walk on the cobbled-stone streets, with colonial building on both sides, you feel as though you were there when it was all set up. Modern buildings, built during the country’s economic boom, are found in many other cities in the region.
Literature in the region is famous for its content on politics and oppression, deep traditions of the people and family life. The innovative approach most writers use lends it a touch of professionalism. Some of the famous writers are Gabriel Garcia Marques of Colombia, Mario Vargas Llosa of Peru, Isabel Allende of Chile, and Jorge Amado of Brazil.
Dancing is one of the passions of South Americans. The romantic and seductive tango with the samba and bossa nova are popular in Buenos Aires, Brazil. South America has other kinds of dance which includes the salsa, the meringue, and the mambo. The samba and bossa nova, the romantic tango, and the cumbia are some of the music that has made the continent famous. Jazz is also getting popular in some cities and world-class operas host talents shows.
The continent has produced many movies which are popular around the world. Some movies, such as Like Water, Like Chocolate, Black Orpheus, The Motorcycle Diaries, City of God, and Central Station, made an impact on the population.
Film festivals are also conducted in America and Europe which feature films made in Latin America. Argentina and Brazil are popular film centers on the continent and they often organize international film festivals in most of their major cities.
The most popular sports in South America is soccer and it is the place you find many of the best footballers in the world. Brazil has won the World Cup organized many times in history. Chile, Argentina, and Paraguay are also not left in the wins. Football is a passion in Latin America and a good knowledge of it can help you start a conversation with the people.