Features // South America

What’s the best festival you’ve been to?
What’s the best festival you’ve been to?

While February might not spring to mind as a time of celebration, some of the world’s greatest festivals are going on this month – not least the Kumbh Mela, rumoured to be the largest gathering on earth, and the infamous Rio Carnaval. Elsewhere, with ten days until Chinese New Year, cities across China and the…

Finding the Garden of Eden in Bolivia
Finding the Garden of Eden in Bolivia

You can’t buy a return ticket to the Garden of Eden, but if you could, your final destination would almost certainly be the Middle East. Colonial Spain begged to differ; according to Eduardo Galeano’s Open Veins of Latin America, one contemporary account located the biblical garden in the heart of the Amazon basin. It’s the…

The world’s most intense storms, Venezuela
The world’s most intense storms, Venezuela

Every night on Lake Maracaibo the clouds gather to perform the world’s most intense storms. Thunder and lightning crash about in the skies as residents of the local villages, built on stilts, sleep peacefully in their shacks. Alasdair Baverstock went to investigate. The towering thunderclouds that had been swelling upwards into the enormous skies were…

Show no restraint at Rio Carnival, Brazil
Show no restraint at Rio Carnival, Brazil

Brazil might not have a monopoly on exhibitionism, but it comes pretty damn close. There’s no other country on the planet where the unbridled pursuit of pleasure is such a national obsession, transcending race, class and religion. Brazilian bacchanal reaches its apogee during Carnaval, when the entire country enters a collective state of alcohol-fuelled frenzy.…

Experiencing the Pousada Maravilha Hotel, Brazil
Experiencing the Pousada Maravilha Hotel, Brazil

Fernando de Noronha is an impossibly beautiful secret island just an hour’s flight from Recife in northern Brazil. A pristine National Marine Park, it was once visited by Charles Darwin and is so eco-orientated that on some beaches no sun cream or flip-flops are allowed. It has long been a hideaway for the Brazilian jet…

Capoeira dancing up close, Brazil
Capoeira dancing up close, Brazil

There’s not meant to be any physical contact in this age-old, ritualistic melding of martial arts and breakdancing. Your instructor probably explained that, though unless you happen to speak Portuguese you probably didn’t understand (and if you did, would you trust it to be true?). But you’re ready to give it a whirl; who knows, you may even…

Star-gazing at Mamalluca, Chile
Star-gazing at Mamalluca, Chile

In the northern half of Chile, the driest place on Earth, clouds are virtually unknown and the skies are of the brightest blue. At night, far away from the lights of major settlements, you can look up at a dark vault simply shimmering with stars. The near-perfect visibility almost every night of the year makes…

The fascinating history of the Galápagos Islands
The fascinating history of the Galápagos Islands

Shafik Meghji has just returned from the Galápagos Islands during his research trip for the new edition of the Rough Guide to Ecuador. Here he explores some of the archipelago’s fascinating history. In the late eighteenth century British whalers sailing through the Galápagos Islands – considered at the time to be a forbidding place of…

The best places to visit in October
The best places to visit in October

As autumn looms in the north and spring is blossoming in the south, October is a beautiful month around the world. From the last of that European sunshine, to the wacky festivities of Halloween in the USA, here are the best places to go for holidays in October. Browse and buy leading art, London, UK…

What exactly was Machu Picchu?
What exactly was Machu Picchu?

Mark Adams, author of Turn Right at Machu Picchu, uncovers the myths and mystery around the spellbinding Peruvian landmark. This year, around a million visitors will make the epic journey to Machu Picchu – an odyssey that for most people entails a long flight to Lima, a second flight to Cusco, and then a three-and-a-half…

Braving Torres del Paine national park, Chile
Braving Torres del Paine national park, Chile

You have to keep your head down. Despite the spray-laden wind, it’s tempting to lift it above the rim of the boat and look ahead, so you can see the foam-capped waves racing past as the Zodiac inflatable roars upstream. Soon, in the distance, a towering peak of rock rises up. As you get closer…

Twenty places to make you feel insignificant
Twenty places to make you feel insignificant

French novelist Gustave Flaubert once said: “Travelling makes one modest – you see what a tiny place you occupy in the world”. With this in mind, here are twenty daunting and spectacular places around the world that might make you feel a little small. Easter Island, Chile A trip to see Easter Island’s moai lined up on…

Spotting birds in paradise, Ecuador
Spotting birds in paradise, Ecuador

 Andrew Benson recently visited Ecuador for Rough Guides. A short break spotting rare and beautiful birds was one of the highlights… Watching hummingbirds sip nectar while you breakfast is one of life’s greatest pleasures. At each of the three San Jorge eco-lodges located in the cloudforest to the northwest of Quito – the highest capital…

Five unmissable sights on easter island
Five unmissable sights on easter island

Easter Island is one of the remotest places on Earth – its nearest inhabited neighbour, Pitcairn Island, is 2250km away in the South Pacific Ocean – and is less than half the size of the Isle of Wight. Despite its diminutive size, this triangle-shaped island (known locally as Rapa Nui) is packed with truly unique…

On the Trail of Bruce Chatwin In Patagonia
On the Trail of Bruce Chatwin In Patagonia

The Polish woman grins as the car ferry to Tierra del Fuego crashes over the Magellan Strait. The bus groans and moves very slightly forward, grazing the truck in front of us. I grip my chair. She waves a book at me. “Have you read our excellent Podróże Marzeń guide to Chile?” She smiles again…

Interactive Map: The world’s best street food
Interactive Map: The world’s best street food

One of our most popular galleries recently was our round-up of street food across the globe. From bunny chow to poutine, it had a variety of suggestions for hungry travellers. Here we’ve pinned those photos to one of our world maps so you can see where to go for your next foodie fix. Where would…

Exploring Chile’s Southern Highway
Exploring Chile’s Southern Highway

The Carretera Austral – Chile’s Southern Highway – begins nowhere and leads nowhere. Over 1000km in length, it was hewn and blasted through the wettest, greenest and narrowest part of the country. This sliver of Patagonia is a majestic land of snowcapped volcanoes, Ice Age glaciers, emerald fjords, turquoise lakes and jade-coloured rivers, set among lush temperate forest where…

Traversing the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni
Traversing the salt flats of the Salar de Uyuni

Driving across the immaculate white expanse of the Salar de Uyuni, you’d think you were on another planet, so alien and inhospitable is the terrain. Some 3650m above sea level in the remote Andes of southwest Bolivia, the Salar is the largest salt flat in the world, a brilliantly white and perfectly flat desert that stretches over 10,000 square…

Swinging sticks at the Argentine Polo Open
Swinging sticks at the Argentine Polo Open

It’s the most prestigious polo club tournament in the world. But unlike similar sporting events elsewhere, there’s no snobbery involved in the invitations. Turn up at the ground in Buenos Aires’ leafy Palermo district, hand over less cash than you’d spend on a beer in an upmarket London pub, and you’ll find a seat in…

The best places to visit in April
The best places to visit in April

April is a fantastic month to travel. Spring in the northern hemisphere brings warmer weather, making it an excellent time to soak up the early sun in Marrakesh or take in the rhododendron displays in Sikkim. Over in Australia you can visit Uluru without the crowds, while California’s Coachella festival and Austria’s Snowbombing  provide partying aplenty.…

Visiting the last panama hat wearers, Ecuador
Visiting the last panama hat wearers, Ecuador

Panama hats, as any Ecuadorian worth their salt will tell you, don’t come from Panama. Authentic Panamas – or sombreros de paja toquilla, as they call them locally – are only woven in the Andean country, from the straw of the toquilla plant, which grows in the swamps near Ecuador’s central coast. The origin of the misnomer comes from…

Indulging in a Welsh tea feast in Patagonia
Indulging in a Welsh tea feast in Patagonia

By Shafik Meghji In 1865, 153 Welsh men, women and children boarded a tea-clipper, the Mimosa, in Liverpool and set out on an 8,000-mile journey to what they hoped would be their Promised Land. Fleeing cultural and religious persecution in the UK, the pioneers wanted to create a “little Wales beyond Wales” – a place…

Five essential homestays around the world
Five essential homestays around the world

One of the best ways to truly get to know a destination is to chat to the locals, and one sure fire way to become an instant expert on a place is to go a step further and spend a night or two with them. So leave behind the comfort zone of the international hotel…

Why you should visit Southern Brazil
Why you should visit Southern Brazil

Brazil’s booming southern states – Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul – are often strangely absent on tourist itineraries of the country. The cities of Curitiba and Porto Alegre will host 2014 FIFA World Cup matches, and the region is already a huge draw for Brazilian, Argentine and Uruguayan tourists. Yet it can…

In the footsteps of Gabriel García Márquez: a tour of Colombia
In the footsteps of Gabriel García Márquez: a tour of Colombia

Following in the footsteps of legendary author Gabriel García Márquez, James Rice takes us on a literary tour of Colombia. Gabriel García Márquez, the acclaimed Colombian novelist who died in April 2014, never considered his stories as magical as others supposed. Amused that he was always praised for his inventiveness, he once said: “The truth…

11 loos with great views
11 loos with great views

White, sometimes stained floor tiles and a plain, usually graffitied grey door: I think we can all agree, this is an accurate description of your average toilet – pretty boring, no? Have you ever been having a tinkle, twiddling your thumbs and thought to yourself: “You know what this toilet needs? A good view!” Well,…

Airbnb: ten unusual places to stay
Airbnb: ten unusual places to stay

Tired of the usual bed-in-a-box hotel rooms? As Airbnb takes over the world we had a rummage for some unusual places to stay listed on the site. Owl house, Merseyside, UK  If you like owls, you’d be wise to check out this bird-like bolthole just outside Liverpool. Built at the bottom of a garden, the eco-friendly cabin has…

9 tips for backpacking South America
9 tips for backpacking South America

Taken from the Rough Guide to South America on a Budget, these are our top nine tips for backpacking South America. From the tropical beaches of the Caribbean to the windswept archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, backpacking South America guarantees a treasure trove of adventures that has fuelled the imagination of travellers for centuries, with dizzying…

Surfing in Rio, Brazil
Surfing in Rio, Brazil

My favourite spot in Rio isn’t lying on Ipanema beach or watching the world go by sitting in the Copacabana Palace terrace. Nor does it involve hiking in the Parque Nacional da Tijuca, or snaking around the islands on a boat trip in Guanabara Bay. My favourite spot is unfamiliar to the casual tourist, because…

Experience Tapati festival on Easter Island, Chile
Experience Tapati festival on Easter Island, Chile

Rapa Nui – Easter Island – is shrouded in mystery. How did its people get there? Where did they come from? How did they move those gigantic statues? Some of that enigma comes to life during January’s fortnight-long Tapati, a festival that combines ancient customs, such as carving and canoeing, with modern sports, such as…

Exploring Quichua culture in Ecuador’s highlands
Exploring Quichua culture in Ecuador’s highlands

You’re at an altitude of 3900m, shivering in the cold as the sun rises behind you. Below, a saw-edge precipice encircles a still, emerald-green lake 3km in diameter. Lower still, fertile plateaus creased with deep, shadowed valleys are picked out by the golden dawn light and, beyond, snow-capped peaks fringe the horizon. This is the…

Glacier-hopping in Patagonia
Glacier-hopping in Patagonia

Pure air, tranquility and glacier-chilled cocktails – Andrew Benson sees Patagonia‘s icy wilderness in style. An immense shield of pristine ice crowns the southernmost peaks of the Andes, where the Americas funnel down towards Antarctica. From this Southern Patagonian ice field gigantic glaciers toboggan into fjords and turquoise inlets set among the barren badlands of…

Brave the devil’s throat at Iguazú Falls
Brave the devil’s throat at Iguazú Falls

Upon first seeing Iguazú Falls, all Eleanor Roosevelt could manage was “Poor Niagara”. Every year, tens of thousands of visitors from around the world try to evaluate the sheer dimension of this natural miracle – a collection of more than two hundred cascades thundering over an 80m cliff – and usually fail. However you spell it – Iguazú, Iguaçu…

Santa Cruz: gateway to an alternative Bolivia
Santa Cruz: gateway to an alternative Bolivia

A new direct flight route from Europe to Santa Cruz de la Sierra in Bolivia could open up another side to the country writes Neil McQuillian. Travellers setting off on a South American tour rarely make Bolivia their first port of call. But as non-stop flights between Europe and the county restarted again last November (with Air Europa),…

Chasing condors in the Colca Canyon, Peru
Chasing condors in the Colca Canyon, Peru

The rays of the morning sun begin to evaporate the mist that shrouds the depths of Peru’s Colca Canyon. You’ve come out in the early hours to see the condor, or Andean vulture, in action, and as the mist dissipates, you can see hundreds of others have done the same. Many cluster at the mirador…

22 stunning images from the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards
22 stunning images from the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards

After a search for the most captivating, exciting and beautiful travel photography, the Travel Photographer of the Year Awards announced their final winners last week. Here is a selection of our favourite images from this set of talented photographers. Eagle hunter, Alti Region, Mongolia By Simon Morris | http://www.tpoty.com Powell Point, Grand Canyon South Rim, USA  By Gerard Baeck…

Simon Reeve on India and penis soup
Simon Reeve on India and penis soup

As the face of travel on the terrestrial television, Simon Reeve has presented a number of BBC travel series, from exploring where our tea and coffee comes from, to travelling the entire Tropic of Cancer. Having just returned from filming a new series in India, Simon talks to Rough Guides about adventure, muppetry and a better…

Map: beer from around the world
Map: beer from around the world

Beer-lovers rejoice: the British Government recently announced that a pint of beer in the UK will be a whole one penny cheaper than before. Not exactly saving a fortune, but why would that matter when you have thousands of alternatives from around the world? From the Belgian Chimay to the Turkish Efes, Europe alone has much…

Santiago out of the shadows
Santiago out of the shadows

New boutique hostels, quirky nightlife and a medley of world cuisines are making Santiago stand out among the crowd of popular Latin American capitals. After spending a long time in the shadows of its more illustrious South American neighbours like Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, Santiago is finally coming into its own. The Chilean…

17 amazing pictures of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru
17 amazing pictures of Brazil, Bolivia and Peru

Stretching from the warm tropical shores of the Caribbean to the wild and windswept archipelago of Tierra del Fuego, South America has a dizzying treasure trove of landscapes that have long seduced independent travellers seeking an unforgettable experience. Belgian photographer Pascal Mannaerts has been captivated by the continent since he discovered photography during his student years; here is a selection of…

Things to do in Ecuador beyond the Galápagos
Things to do in Ecuador beyond the Galápagos

There’s so much more to Ecuador than just the Galápagos. Chitra Ramaswamy went on her own voyage of discovery to find the best things to do in Ecuador, beyond Darwin’s famous islands. The alarm on my mobile phone goes off at 4am. Deep in the heart of Ecuador’s Mindo cloud forest, a fragile wilderness that…

Arrivals: a travel news round up (Oct 10th)
Arrivals: a travel news round up (Oct 10th)

Rough Guides writer Steve Vickers casts an eye over the big travel topics and unpicks the top stories of the week. First route to the Philippines since 1998 Philippine Airlines is about to open a new route from the UK. The flights, from London Heathrow to Manila, will be the first direct link between the UK…

The world’s most honest cities
The world’s most honest cities

Losing your wallet or purse while travelling is often a painstaking mistake. We keep so much of our lives in there: cash, plastic, drivers’ licence, ID cards. When all of those things go missing together, it can be a costly process to get them back. If you’re prone to losing your wallet, dropping things or…

The best places to visit in June
The best places to visit in June

Whether you’re after beaches, culture or countryside, June’s glorious weather and long days make it the perfect month to travel in Europe. Elsewhere, wildlife enthusiasts can spot whales in Iceland or bears in Yellowstone, while the World Cup will be in full swing in Brazil. In a bumper round-up, Helen Abramson and Eleanor Aldridge run…

Things not to miss in Brazil
Things not to miss in Brazil

Next year sees the World Cup gracing Rio De Janeiro‘s various stadiums, and it is expected that 600,000 foreigners will flock to the country to support their favourite teams and players in football’s biggest tournament. But there is so much more to Brazil than its status as host to the World Cup 2014. There are…

Face to face with wildlife on the Galápagos Islands
Face to face with wildlife on the Galápagos Islands

Rough Guides writer Heidi Fuller-Love embarks on a luxury cruise to meet big lizards, a giant tortoise and other magical wildlife of the Galápagos Islands. Ever since reading The Voyage of the Beagle when I was at school, I dreamt of visiting The Galápagos islands. Contrary to popular belief, Charles Darwin’s trip in the HMS Beagle was…

A hallucinogenic ayahuasca experience in Peru
A hallucinogenic ayahuasca experience in Peru

Embarking on a very personal and spiritual journey, Rough Guides writer Anna Kaminski shares her ayahuasca experience, after ingesting the hallucinogenic vines of the Amazon Basin. The ancient Volkswagen Beetle climbs the hairpin bends high into the mountains, the lights of Cusco spread out in the valley beneath us.  On a particularly steep bend, it gives…

Trend report: new things to do in Buenos Aires
Trend report: new things to do in Buenos Aires

One of South America‘s booming capitals and major cities, Buenos Aires is a seductive and cultured city with an eclectic mix of people and places. Vicky Baker has the lowdown on the newest things to do in Buenos Aires, Argentina.  Biking mad A few years ago, cycling the manic, traffic-packed streets of Buenos Aires seemed…

The best places to visit in March
The best places to visit in March

Whether you fancy an Aussie music festival, a literary break in England or sake and sakura in Japan, March is an excellent month to travel. Spring breathes new life into the northern hemisphere, while riotous festivals take place everywhere from Ireland to Brazil. Here are our tips on the best places to visit in March. See…

Face your fears in the name of travel
Face your fears in the name of travel

From arachnophobia to fear of loneliness – Kia Abdullah explores how to face your fears and open up the world of travel. It was early morning on my first day in Cambodia that the feeling of dread descended. Trundling along in a tuk tuk, I felt something heavy land on my leg. The brown-black mass was…

Kia / 17.03.2014
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