Category: South America

Who wouldn’t want to hike a trail with such a reputation? Where might this place be? Favorite hikes of mine include Nepal’s Mt. Everest Base Camp and Kala Patthar trek via Namche Bazaar; the network of trails around Switzerland’s Lauterbrunnen Valley and Grindelwald; backpacking trails in California’s Marble Mountain Wilderness, the Sierra Nevada, and Yosemite.

Others might choose the Inca Trail in Peru; the pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela in Spain; pub-to-pub walking in the Cotswolds of England; the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine.

I’ve been tempted by the Overland Track in Tasmania. But Robert D. Hershey Jr. extols the virtues of the Milford Track in New Zealand in a recent story in The New York Times. As far back as 1908 this 33.5-mile trail was called the finest walk in the world and many hikers feel it’s true today.

After reading Hershey’s story I’m ready to start planning a trip south. How about you?

2 Comments | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Asia, Australia, California, Camping, England, Europe, Feature, France, Hike/Backpack, Nepal, New Zealand, Northern California, Peru, South America, Spain, Switzerland, Tasmania, United Kingdom, United States

You have to rally when it is a good friend’s 40th birthday. I almost didn’t. I was feeling overwhelmed with work and family obligations, but I knew it would do me good to get away.

My friend’s birthday fell on Inauguration Day so she really wanted to celebrate this year for many reasons. The weather was so glorious and we were headed to this resort called Seascape in Aptos, California. Just a few minutes south of Santa Cruz, this lovely spot is a great respite from the frantic city life I call my existence.

Five moms were headed to this condo to celebrate our good friend’s momentous birthday. The trip started out like some AbFab meets Sex in the City moment with three of us in a Volvo in heels, driving down Highway 1 at 10 p.m. It was pitch black and we were jabbering away about the economy when I thought I heard a plane crashing (the USAIR flight crash landing on the Hudson River fresh in my mind). Turns out, the front tire blew. It was terrifying…. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Books, California, Cruises, Family Travel, Feature, Northern California, Santa Cruz, South America, Spa/ Resort, United States, Yoga

Many of us like to believe that we’re remarkable travelers, having visited dozens if not hundreds of countries and connected with people in many cultures, but a news story in today’s San Francisco Chronicle about the death in Venezuela of a husband-and-wife team of travelers brought home what one meaning of the phrase “world traveler” is: one who never stops traveling.

How many of us will continue fearlessly roaming the globe into our 90s? That’s right, our 90s? The odds are that few of us will even reach our 90s but the amazing Hugh and Elsie Chang of Walnut Creek, California did just that, and perhaps they would have continued into their 100s if their lives had not been cut short in a boating accident on the way to see Sapo Falls the day before heading to Angel Falls.

Hugh Chang was 92 and Elsie was 90. We should all be so lucky to live the way they lived, to see what they saw, and to keep going until only an accident can stop us.

1 Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Venezuela

Anyone who’s been to Buenos Aires since the political and economic meltdown of 2002 is aware that the city has become the top gay travel destination in all of South America, and one of the most important in the world.

A recent issue of the Economist provides a good summary of BA’s gay appeal, with its vigorous nightlife (including a gay milonga or tango dance club), Latin America’s most liberal domestic partnership laws, the arrival of gay cruises, and even the five-star “hetero-friendly” Axel Hotel on the edge of San Telmo.

Another of Argentina’s attractions, for all sexual orientations, is the country’s wine. As far as I know, though, Buenos Aires is the only city in the world with an openly Gay Wine Store, near Plaza San Martin in the upscale barrio of Retiro. Personally, though, I’m bewildered as to what constitutes gay wine, and would appreciate it if anybody could clue me in. Red, white, or rosé?

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Argentina, Buenos Aires, Gay, South America

There are lots of places on the planet that qualify as the back of beyond, but the tropical South American nation of Suriname can certainly lay claim to the title, as Andy Isaacson reveals in his Dec. 7 story in the San Francisco Chronicle.

Once upon a time, long before Costa Rica became a prime eco-tourism destination for North American travelers, Suriname was a haven for birdwatchers, but political troubles in the 1980s shut down the country’s small tourism industry. Just when the country was about to sell off big chunks of forestland to timber interests, Conservation International stepped in and helped convince the government to stake its future on conservation and eco-tourism development rather than strip out its natural resources. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Birdwatching, Eco Friendly Travel, South America, Suriname, Travel

A friend of mine named John Higham wrote a book about a 365-day journey around the world he took with his family that will be coming out in 2009 called 360 Degrees Longitude. He had a wild set of adventures, mostly good, many challenging, none catastrophic, and he tells a great story.

One that stuck with me was his madcap crossing of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni, the world’s largest salt flat, with a guide who knew what he was doing, sort of. Salt water gets into everything, is hell on engines, and getting stranded in a jeep fully laden with food but no fuel to cook it looks like a dead certainty.

And then things get worse. Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Bolivia, Books, Family Travel, Feature, Hike/Backpack, South America, Travel

As I wrote in a post on my own blog earlier this year, Chile and Peru dispute the origin of the addictive aperitif known as the pisco sour, the welcome drink at nearly every hotel in both countries. I enjoy both the Chilean and Peruvian versions, but I never expected to read, as I did in a recent Huffington Post, that George W. Bush had broken his personal prohibition pledge at the recent Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in Lima, Peru, with a pisco sour.

On my last night in Santiago de Chile before heading north into the Atacama desert for several weeks, I enjoyed a fish dinner at Ostras Azócar, one of the city’s classic seafood restaurants. In tribute to Mr. Bush’s rare indulgence of good taste — and his imminent departure from the U.S. presidency — I ordered a Peruvian pisco sour (pictured here). I’ll have at least one more on January 20th, and I’ll hope that he enjoys many more in the coming years.

By the way, despite what the Huffington Post piece suggests, there is no such thing as non-alcoholic pisco, which is at least 30 to 35 percent (60 to 70 proof) alcohol. In fairness to Mr. Bush, refusing it would not only have violated diplomatic protocol — it would have been extremely rude in the Peruvian context.

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Chile, Peru

It’s not me who’s stranded, as I’ve just returned from Rapa Nui (Easter Island, about which I’ll write more in the coming days) to Santiago de Chile. My 20-year-old daughter Clio, though, has written me from southernmost Patagonia, where her progress has been slowed partly by her learning the ropes on her first major trip to southern South America, partly because public transport connections were less than perfect (she spent a night sleeping in the bus terminal at Río Gallegos, Argentina), and partly because public workers’ strikes have slowed the border crossings on the Chilean side of the border (in one instance, she had to wait five hours to cross from Chile into Argentina). Continue reading »

Leave a Comment | Filed Under Argentina, Chile, South America, Student Travel

Studying Abroad is one of the most expansive experiences a young student can have, not only living and studying in a country, but being able to travel widely while away from home. I was lucky when I studied in France many moons ago because the dollar was strong and a semester abroad was actually less expensive than a semester on campus in Connecticut.

Nearly every weekend I took off for London, Belgium, Germany, Spain, Holland or Italy. I remember sewing a Canadian patch on my backpack before a foray through Europe because of the palpable dislike for Reaganomics and small acts of terrorism against Americans: small potatoes compared to travelers’ fears today. Continue reading »

2 Comments | Filed Under Africa & Middle East, Argentina, Budget Travel, Ecuador, Europe, Feature, France, Hike/Backpack, Netherlands, Rome, South America, Spain, Student Travel, Travel, United Kingdom

Without running a Google search or checking a current almanac, most of us probably wouldn’t know that our Earth contains 757 countries, territories, autonomous regions, enclaves, geographically separated island groups, and major states and provinces. Certainly most of us wouldn’t consider it possible to visit them all. Most of us would be wowed if we made it to 100 countries. Even 50 is pretty darn good. But all of them?

Charles Veley and others of his ilk aren’t like most of us. They want, and intend, to go everywhere. Continue reading »

1 Comment | Filed Under Adventure Travel, Africa & Middle East, Asia, Australia, Books, California, Cruises, Europe, Feature, North America, Paris, Sailing, South America, Travel