Discovering South America

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Discovering South America

Discovering South America

I travelled to Chile and Peru - what an amazing region of the world this is, I saw and experienced so much, but I realise I saw such a small portion of this vast continent.

Santiago, in Chile, well exceeded my expectations. After a long flight, I checked into the Ritz Carlton, Santiago (which has the most comfortable beds ever!). It was tempting to lie down, but I didn’t want to waste valuable daylight! I caught the underground train from outside the hotel to the city centre and I must say I have never been on such an efficient, clean, modern underground system. The maps are easy to read and the locals are happy to assist with directions (although a little Spanish would come in handy).

Santiago is a modern city with currently a very healthy economy and it shows. There are trendy neighbourhoods with outdoor bars and cafes filled with young people and fellow travellers. Interspersed with the ‘modern’ are historic buildings. You must walk to the top of the citadel and travel to the top of San Cristobal for spectacular views of Santiago, surrounded by snow capped peaks (the Andes and Chilean Coastal Range).

Valparaiso, where the Holland America cruises leave from is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you have the chance it’s worth spending a few hours walking around the steep city admiring the colourful houses built up the hills and wondering how they remain there in this earthquake prone area.

Machu Picchu, in Peru, was my next stop and it really does look like the picture postcards you see, but to actually be there when the clouds descend over you, feel the ancient Inca stones and wonder that there are no cracks at all in the joins, and to be greeted by llama’s (be careful, they spit!) – these are some of the experiences you will remember.

We took a guided tour of the citadel (the ruins) which you should do, otherwise you miss out on so much. Machu Picchu is sitting above Machu Picchu Village (Aguas Calientes which literally means ‘hot water’ due to the hot springs) and can be reached by the long line of shuttle buses that transport visitors up the windy road for approximately 20 minutes to enter the citadel.

The local markets are amazing, I did all my shopping there including alpaca wool scarves and jumpers, colourful llama wool table runners, paintings from local art students and lots of jewellery – silver and semi precious stones are abundant in Peru.

Here are my tips for Chile and Peru:
  • Try a Pisco Sour or two, a wonderful local cocktail you will be offered (Chileans and Peruvians argue over who has the best pisco)
  • Locals especially the children love little koalas & kangaroo’s – take some of those clip on ones
  • Look out for ‘Cuy’ on the menu in Peru, this is guinea pig
  • Try to pre book a window seat on your flight to Cusco – you will get a spectacular view of the Andes
  • Learn a few words in Spanish before you get there, it will be appreciated

Ask about Travel the World’s fly-cruise packages to South America that include Holland America’s cruise from Santiago (Valparaiso) to Rio de Janeiro or Rio de Janeiro to Santiago, and pre & post touring options. This makes travelling in South America easy as you will have all arrangements pre-booked, have an English speaking guide and have the support and advice of our local partners who I travelled with.

View a range of Itineraries and Pricing for Holland America Line Cruises to South America

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