Features // South America

Fordlândia: Henry Ford’s abandoned city of the Amazon
Fordlândia: Henry Ford’s abandoned city of the Amazon

In the late 1920s, automobile tycoon Henry Ford transplanted a little piece of the United States to the middle of Brazil‘s Amazon jungle. Complete with whitewashed American-style houses set on impeccably manicured lawns, shaded patios, and tree-lined streets dotted with pretty churches, he called it Fordlândia and it was to become the world’s largest rubber…

The best places to visit in January
The best places to visit in January

January doesn’t have to be that depressing, post-Christmas comedown month we’re all used to. There’s so much going on across the world, so whether it’s celebrating Australia Day in the sunshine or bagging bargains at the January sales in London, there are plenty of ways to banish those post-holiday blues. Here are our top places…

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
A first-timer’s guide to Chile
A first-timer’s guide to Chile

Stretching north to south for 4270km and only 64km wide at its narrowest point, this land of ice and fire, periodically shaken by volcanic eruptions and earthquakes, is one of the most geographically diverse on earth. Most travellers fly into the capital of Santiago, roughly in the middle of the country, and head either towards…

Things not to miss: Argentina
Things not to miss: Argentina

With one of the most fascinating capitals in Latin America, Argentina is a vast and varied country. Because there’s so much to see, from the hot and humid jungles of the Northeast and the mountainous Andes, to the fertile Pampas and windswept Patagonia, we thought we’d present the top things not to miss in Argentina in this musical photo…

Puerta Cerradas: eating with locals in Buenos Aires
Puerta Cerradas: eating with locals in Buenos Aires

Think Argentina is all rump steak and raunchy – not to mention randy – gauchos? Then it’s time to discover the latest craze in buzzy Buenos Aires as puertas cerradas are revolutionising the city’s eating habits. “You get together in their living room and talk to all these people you’ve never met while the home owner is cooking…

The best places to visit in February
The best places to visit in February

Dark, dreary and cold in Europe and North America, February often feels like a long drag before spring arrives. Yet it’s a fantastic time to travel. Warm, balmy weather and riotous carnivals beckon below the equator, while chillier climes should be embraced for snow-fuelled activities and unique wildlife watching opportunities. Here are our tips on…

7 useful pronunciation rules for travellers
7 useful pronunciation rules for travellers

During World War II, Dutch Resistance fighters exposed infiltrators by asking them to pronounce Scheveningen; with its two subtly different gutturals, it was a trick only native speakers could pull off. The stakes of course aren’t so high when you’re on holiday in a new place, but there is some satisfaction in not immediately revealing…

The world’s best bars with a view
The world’s best bars with a view

Wondering where in the world you can get a gorgeous view served up with your cocktail? Not to worry – Hannah Lodge from BarChick.com has done the hard work for you, rounding up the world’s best bars with a view. Sky Bar, Bangkok Sky Bar is the highest open-air drinking establishment in the world, so…

Discovering a lost world on Mount Roraima
Discovering a lost world on Mount Roraima

In the mysterious setting of Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World, Kiki Deere explores one of the world’s most unusual landscapes. The customs procedures take less time than I anticipate as I cross onto Venezuelan soil from Brazil and drive towards what is undoubtedly one of the world’s most incredible natural sights. My shared taxi…

Passport to write: the winner!
Passport to write: the winner!

After weeks of deliberation, we’re thrilled to announce that Stephanie Dyson is the winner of the Rough Guides and Journeys are made @gapyear.com writing competition and the recipient of a £2000 travel voucher. Congratulations, Stephanie!  The judges were particularly impressed by her fresh take on a well-known experience. The colourful language in her carefully paced piece bought the sunrise to life and made us…

Playing gaucho for a day, Argentina
Playing gaucho for a day, Argentina

Heidi Fuller-Love spends a day roping cattle, cooking asado and hanging out with a gaucho near Buenos Aires, Argentina. Gaucho day trips are a-peso-a-dozen near Buenos Aires, but I wanted to head out to an estancia (ranch) with a bona fide member of Argentina’s cowboy club, so when I met Andre – a gaucho guide from toursbylocals.com – I…

Dancing with the Saramacca in Suriname
Dancing with the Saramacca in Suriname

Once a Dutch colony, Suriname sits on the northeast coast of South America and has a population of around a mere 550,000 people. Venturing deep into the jungle-clad interior, Rough Guides writer Anna Kaminski went to explore the ancestral territory of the Saramacca, descendants of seventeenth-century West African slaves.  Our little Cessna plane rumbles over the jungle; from above, southern Suriname is a dense carpet of greenery,…

Off the map in the Atacama: Chile’s eerie ghost towns
Off the map in the Atacama: Chile’s eerie ghost towns

Thousands of foreign travellers visit the geysers, salt flats, oases and volcanoes of north Chile’s Atacama Desert, but few make it to two of the region’s man-made attractions: the starkly beautiful ghost towns of Humberstone and Santa Laura. Shafik Meghji takes us into these abandoned settlements.  Yellow tsunami “hazard zone” signs, planted like sunflowers on…

Surprises in the salt flats of Bolivia
Surprises in the salt flats of Bolivia

The blindingly white expanse of Bolivia’s Salar de Uyuni is one of South America’s most spectacular sights, but few travellers venture beyond the classic tour circuit. Shafik Meghji hadn’t planned to either until violent snowstorms and gale force winds forced him off course. He was rewarded with ancient tombs, hidden lagoons, surreal rock formations –…

The Bolivian food revival: will it work?
The Bolivian food revival: will it work?

Bolivian food has long been in the shadows of its more acclaimed South American neighbours, but the co-founder of Noma – the renowned Nordic restaurant named best in the world earlier this year – aims to change that. Shafik Meghji popped into his new venture in La Paz for alpaca jerky, freeze-dried potatoes, custard apple…

Tierra Santa, Buenos Aires: a theme park like no other
Tierra Santa, Buenos Aires: a theme park like no other

Who would have thought you could relive the resurrection of Christ and pay respects at the Wailing Wall in Argentina; Tierra Santa, Buenos Aires, is Latin America‘s first ever religious theme park. Heidi Fuller-Love went along for some spiritual fun. “If you’re a nun you get in free,” says Frederico, my tango teacher turned Tierra…

Cartagena and Mompox: a tale of two cities
Cartagena and Mompox: a tale of two cities

Sooner or later, pretty much every traveller in South American Colombia finds their way down to Cartagena, the fortress city by the sea. Surrounded by the formidable 16th century Las Murallas (sea wall), the city’s old town is almost too picturesque, with its maze of leafy squares and narrow streets, lined with brightly-painted colonial houses sporting ornate…

A World Cup food & drink crawl in São Paulo
A World Cup food & drink crawl in São Paulo

Every four years, the World Cup erupts to the joy of millions around the world, some of whom converge on the host country to join the month-long festivities. Although only a fraction of fans manage to attend a match, they all come to celebrate football – and there’s no better way to immerse yourself in…

Don’t get lost in translation: how to teach English abroad
Don’t get lost in translation: how to teach English abroad

During her career break Ros Walford took up teaching English as a foreign language in Chile. Here Ros tells all about the realities and practicalities of teaching English abroad. As the row of blank faces stared at me across the classroom, I trembled slightly and wondered what on earth I had been thinking when I’d…

Brazil’s sexiest beaches
Brazil’s sexiest beaches

Brazil has some of the sexiest, swoon-inducing stretches of sand in the world. We’ve all heard of Copacabana and Ipanema, but the country has thousands of miles of unspoilt coral coves, balmy bays and coconut palm-shaded coast beyond Rio. Glorious beaches fringe much of the country’s 7500 km-long coastline, from the steamy tropical coast in the…

Rio de Janeiro: eight essential sights and experiences
Rio de Janeiro: eight essential sights and experiences

Rio’s residents call their home the Cidade Marvilhosa – and there can’t be much argument about that. The city is home to some of the greatest landmarks in the world, from the Corcovado mountain, supporting the great statue of Christ the Redeemer, to the famous sweeps of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. With the World Cup well and truly underway in Brazil,…

How to see São Paulo like a local
How to see São Paulo like a local

When in Rome, do as the Romans do. That’s the traveller’s rule of thumb, but in a metropolis of 11 million like São Paulo, Brazil, it’s hard to know where to start. Luckily Paulistanos take their food, drink and partying seriously, so if you want to immerse yourself like a local, follow our lead:  Join the queue at…

Brazilian football: more than just a game
Brazilian football: more than just a game

Joyous fans, unmistakeable yellow shirts, jogo bonito (“beautiful game”) – Brazilian football evokes many images, but the country’s relationship with the sport is far more complex than the clichés suggest, say the authors of new book Brazil Inside Out. Here’s a quick history. “The English invented it, the Brazilians perfected it” In Brazil, that old saying could…

10 unforgettable things to do in the Amazon, Brazil
10 unforgettable things to do in the Amazon, Brazil

If you’re heading to Brazil for the World Cup 2014 then don’t miss out on the incredible Amazon jungle. While updating the Rough Guide to Brazil, Kiki Deere discovered the best things to do in Brazil’s Amazon. Hot air balloon ride over Acre’s geoglyphs Lying on the border with Peru, the state of Acre is dotted…

Top 10 things to do in Manaus, Brazil
Top 10 things to do in Manaus, Brazil

Brazil’s World Cup city Manaus will have far more than just football to offer this year. Here are the top ten things to do in Manaus while you’re there. See Italian architecture at the Manaus Opera House Completed in 1896 at a total cost of over two million dollars, the Manaus Opera House was built…

Sleeping in the sky: Peru’s epic suspended lodge
Sleeping in the sky: Peru’s epic suspended lodge

If Peru’s Sacred Valley wasn’t epic enough already, now you can sleep in transparent capsules suspended 300metres from one of its towering cliff faces. With a panoramic view overlooking the mystical Andes, the rapids of Rio Urubamba and the Sacred Valley itself, Skylodge (bookable through Airbnb) is not only the world’s first hanging lodge: it might…

Cliff diving around the world with Orlando Duque
Cliff diving around the world with Orlando Duque

It’s taken him from the deserts of Oman to the stunning Amalfi coast and the edges of Australia – Orlando Duque is a Red Bull cliff diving champion and lover of all-things travel. At the beginning of this year’s championships, we grilled him on his favourite destinations for diving. Having started out as an Olympic…

How to be an Antarctic explorer
How to be an Antarctic explorer

This year marks the centenary of Ernest Shackleton’s expedition on board his ship Endurance to Antarctica. In an age when most people found a trip to Blackpool thrilling enough, he was setting off for Antarctica in a wooden schooner – not once, but four times. What bravery, madness and skills are required to explore Earth’s greatest southern…

The other Inca trail, Peru
The other Inca trail, Peru

Escaping the hundreds of climbers on their way to Machu Picchu, Alex Robinson discovers the “other Inca Trail” in Peru – an equally impressive but near-empty climb.  I woke with a start in the night. The dogs were barking in the camp. I heard the clatter of tin cans, the crash of plates and then…

Where to watch the World Cup in São Paulo, Brazil
Where to watch the World Cup in São Paulo, Brazil

Local Paulistano Juan Cifrian scouts out the best places to watch the 2014 World Cup in São Paulo, Brazil. Football fans from far and wide will be out in numbers throughout the World Cup, and bars in São Paulo will respond with a slew of specials, especially during the Brazilian national team’s matches, when many are…

In pictures: meet the people of Peru
In pictures: meet the people of Peru

Rough Guides writer and photographer Kiki Deere shares with us some pictures of Peru from her latest research trip across the country. “My research for the new edition of the Rough Guide to Peru took me to remote corners of the country, from the little explored Cotahuasi Canyon, one of the deepest canyons in the…

Passport to write: travel writing competition
Passport to write: travel writing competition

** This competition is now closed ** Do you want to become a travel writer? Have you always dreamed about getting paid to travel the world? We’re on the lookout for talented new authors for our online features section, and have teamed up with Journeys are made @ gapyear.com to give someone the chance to write for…

Life is sweet in sucre: studying in Bolivia’s most relaxed town
Life is sweet in sucre: studying in Bolivia’s most relaxed town

Ros Walford recounts her time studying Spanish in Sucre, one of Bolivia’s most relaxed towns.  Sitting in Sucre’s shady central Plaza Mayor with my friend Katrien, it seemed that all was right with the world. The birds were singing, kids were playing, people laughing and strolling through the park and we were deep in conversation. Then,…

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