Argentina- Mendoza: South America’s napa Valley
The old colonial section of Mendoza, Argentina, was destroyed by fire and earthquake in 1861, so there’s not much that’s unique to see in this city 610 mi/980 km northwest of Buenos Aires. It is, however, a bustling place with leafy boulevards and a wonderful climate, thanks to its location at the foot of the Andes.
The main attractions are the weekend artisans market on the Plaza Independencia and the 170-acre/69-hectare San Martin Park. However, the surrounding area also is worth seeing—beautiful Andean scenery (including Aconcagua, which at 22,835 ft/6,960 m is the highest peak in the Americas).
The country’s best ski resort, Las Lenas, is in Mendoza province but is actually six hours away from Mendoza city. Nearby is the Christ the Redeemer Statue and the Puente del Inca, a natural stone bridge 150 ft/45 m long and about 90 ft/25 m high. Mendoza is also the wine capital of Argentina (there’s a nice wine museum and hundreds of vineyards), and winery and tasting tours range from routine bus itineraries of the most commercial wineries to intimate top-shelf tastings in historic bodegas.
Recommend these hotels:
Park Hyatt Mendoza – www. mendoza.park.hyatt.com
Las Cavas – www.cavaswinelodge.com
Entre Cielos – www.entrecielos.com
If you are into hiking/ nature, then Ushuaia is another great place, south of CHILE.
Most consider Ushuaia to be the southernmost city in the world. Ushuaia’s port is a common stopover for visits to Antarctica.
The port itself, at Avenida Maipu 510, is wholly given over to commercial shipping. Passengers disembarking there generally head straight for the city proper, as there are no tourist facilities at the port terminal itself.
The city grew around a prison, whose prisoners helped to build the town and the foundation for theTren del Fin del Mundo (End of the World Train), the southernmost railway in the world. The railway connects visitors to Tierra del Fuego National Park.
Other attractions in Ushuaia include wildlife (penguins, birds and orcas) and nearby ski areas. The ski areas often keep the lifts running in summer for hikes to a nearby glacier.
The city experiences misty and foggy conditions for much of the year, so rain protection is a necessity for visitors. Be aware that the city also experiences strong winds. Warm clothing is necessary even in summer months, when average high temperatures don’t rise much above 47 F/14 C.
Ushuaia: Los Cauquenes – www.loscauquenes.com/en
If you want to explore Patagonia region, here are some hotels:
Punta Arenas/Patagonia region:
Explora en Patagonia Hotel Salto Chico – www.explora.com/explora-patagonia/hotel-salto-chico
The Singular – www. thesingular.com
A cruise can be a great idea:
Cruceros Australis – www.australis.com
Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil—sensuous, chaotic, sophisticated, open and friendly—is one of South America’s gems. The Cidade Marvilhosa (Marvelous City), as Brazilians call it, displays a unique blend of contrasts: old and new, tremendous wealth amid crushing poverty, an urban metropolis nestled around mountains and a huge forest.
All of Rio de Janeiro is symbolically embraced in the outstretched arms of Cristo Redentor, the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain.
The 2016 Summer Olympics will be held in Rio, making it the first South American city to host the Olympic Games, and tourism to Brazil is expected to increase significantly. Rio will also be an important host city to the 2014 FIFA World Cup. The finals are expected to be played in an upgraded Maracana stadium.
Rio is undergoing major infrastructure improvements, in efforts to upgrade its transportation system and adopt environmental initiatives in preparation for the Olympics. According to the Brazil Tour Operators Association, hotel capacity will more than double. Football stadiums are being rebuilt, world-class sports facilities are being designed, and the historic quarter and port area are being rejunvenated.
Rio de Janeiro plays host to what some call “the biggest party in the world” during the four-day holiday that is Carnival, which takes place just before Lent in February or Early March. Street parties take place throughout the city and the colorful samba schools parade through the city’s Sambadrome to the sound of heavy drum beats.
But if the buzz of the city becomes too much—during Carnival or otherwise—there’s always an easy escape: to the beautiful coast or to the lush Tijuca Forest that surrounds Rio de Janeiro’s mountainous slopes, where you can hike, bike or jump under a waterfall.
Hotels, my fav is Fasano!
Caesar Park Rio – www.caesarpark-rio.com
Copacabana Palace – www.copacabanapalace.com.br
Hotel Fasano Rio – www.fasano.com.br
Hotel Santa Teresa – www.santa-teresa-hotel.com/en
The St. Tropez of the southern hemisphere:
Buzios (east of Rio)
Buzios (pronounced BOO-zee-ohs) is a pricey, attractive resort area jutting into the Atlantic on the Cabo Frio Peninsula 125 mi/200 km northeast of Rio de Janeiro. The resort is made up of three settlements (Armacao, Ossos and Manguinhos) surrounded by nearly 30 idyllic beaches ranging from long, wide and crowded sweeps of sand to small secluded coves. Watersports include surfing, windsurfing at Ferradura (Horseshoe) Beach, snorkeling (Joao Fernandes and Joao Fernandinho beaches) and swimming. Sunbathers can avoid tan lines at Azeda and Azedinha, the resort’s two topless beaches.
A tiny fishing village completely off the beaten track, Buzios was “discovered” by French actress Brigitte Bardot when she was touring the area in the 1960s, and it has been popular for years with wealthy Brazilians and Europeans. Development is continuing at a controlled pace: New buildings have a height limit of two stories and are designed to blend in with local surroundings—a neat trick for million-dollar villas in what was once a fishing village. Most lodging is in small pousada-style accommodations. Book as far in advance as possible, because it can get busy.
As befits an upscale resort, there are many fine shops and excellent restaurants (international and Brazilian cuisine). Be sure to sample grilled fish, fresh from the sea, on the beach—it’s a special, inexpensive treat.
No trip to Brazil is complete, without a trip to Iguassu falls.
It’s fantastic if you can see it from both sides, Argentina and Brazil.
Stay at the National park, private off hours access, with Orient Express
Another idea, is to go WEST of Rio, to Paraty. There are no beaches here, but its gret for hikes. A trip to a beach is a 10 m boat ride.
To be continued…. 🙂