Emerg­ing high­lights beyond South Amer­ica’s tra­di­tional tourist trail

The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) - Escape - - WISHLIST | SOUTH |AMERICA - MELINDA BROWN­ING


The an­cient walled city of Kue­lap, billed as “the Machu Pic­chu of the north”, is three times as old as Peru’s more fa­mous an­cient city. Yet Kue­lap has largely re­mained off the tourist trail – un­til now. Dat­ing back to 6AD, the site en­com­passes the ru­ins of more than 400 build­ings perched 3000m above sea level. Thanks to a new ca­ble car opened last year, the moun­tain­ous site is now eas­ily ac­ces­si­ble, with tourism tipped to take off. Be quick if you want to ex­pe­ri­ence the site while it’s still rel­a­tively quiet.


With a pop­u­la­tion of seven mil­lion, San­ti­ago is one of South Amer­ica’s big­gest cities, but for years it’s been over­shad­owed by its bet­ter­known neigh­bours. Not any­more. With Chile named Lonely Planet’s No. 1 des­ti­na­tion to visit in 2018 and Na­tional Geo­graphic list­ing San­ti­ago, the un­der­rated city has hit the spotlight. It now ri­vals Buenos Aires as the des­ti­na­tion of choice for dis­cern­ing trav­ellers, with a thriv­ing foodie and arts scene. The city’s ripe for sight­see­ing, with its spec­tac­u­lar back­drop of the An­des and a re­cently re­launched ca­ble car pro­vid­ing easy

ac­cess to its most scenic point, Cerro San Cris­to­bal – which, with its 14m Vir­gin Mary statue, is billed as San­ti­ago’s an­swer to Rio de Janeiro’s iconic Christ the Redeemer.


One of the world’s most spec­tac­u­lar nat­u­ral won­ders, Cano Cristales is also known as the five coloured river, thanks to a unique plant that trans­forms the river into a bril­liant, chang­ing rain­bow of colour be­tween June and De­cem­ber. For years, the stun­ning site was off-lim­its as Colom­bia strug­gled with con­flict. In re­cent years, how­ever, the river has re­opened to tourists – and as the coun­try puts its trou­bled past be­hind it, Colom­bia is be­com­ing a tourist hot spot, with in­ter­na­tional travel up 20 per cent last year. Still, Cano Cristales’ re­mote lo­ca­tion (ac­cess is from La Macarena, a flight away from Bo­gota) means it’s un­likely to be over­run with tourists any time soon.


It’s hardly news that Brazil’s beaches are its top at­trac­tion, but th­ese days savvy trav­ellers are ex­plor­ing more than Rio’s tourist haunts of Copaca­bana and Ipanema. North­east­ern Brazil’s beau­ti­ful Bahia

re­gion was named as one of Lonely Planet’s top re­gions to visit in 2018. And per­haps Bahia’s hottest spot is Trancoso, a beach town with a hip­pie vibe that has seen it dubbed Brazil’s best undis­cov­ered beach town. In re­cent years, the town’s most stylish ho­tel, Uxua – owned by fash­ion de­signer Wil­bert Das – has been lur­ing the world’s beau­ti­ful peo­ple, and last year its lat­est swish new villa saw it hot-listed by New York Times.


This strik­ing moun­tain re­gion in north­west Ar­gentina has been largely over­looked by trav­ellers, un­til now. Na­tional Geo­graphic ranks it among the best trips to take in 2018, while Rough Guides de­scribes the pro­vin­cial cap­i­tal, San Sal­vador de Jujuy, as “up-and-com­ing”. The re­gion’s most dra­matic sight is Cerro de los Si­ete Colores (hill of seven colours), a ge­o­log­i­cal mar­vel formed over mil­lions of years. Ar­gen­tinian travel is all the more en­tic­ing this year, with the ex­change rate mov­ing in Aussie trav­ellers’ favour.


When it comes to South Amer­i­can wa­ter­falls, Iguazu hogs the lime­light. But, if you pre­fer your

nat­u­ral won­ders with­out the tourist hordes, then Kaieteur Falls is a pow­er­ful con­tender. This is no small­time wa­ter­fall – it’s con­sid­ered the world’s largest sin­gle drop wa­ter­fall by vol­ume, and is four times the height of Ni­a­gara Falls, so per­haps the most re­mark­able thing about it is that it has kept such a low pro­file. But with Guyana listed on sev­eral emerg­ing des­ti­na­tion hot lists in re­cent years, that looks set to change. Deep in the rain­for­est, Kaieteur Falls is ac­ces­si­ble via a five-day boat and hik­ing tour or by fly-in day tour.


The Gala­pa­gos Is­lands are as renowned for be­ing ex­pen­sive to tour as they are for their ex­tra­or­di­nary wildlife. But few have even heard of the re­mote is­land group’s more ac­ces­si­ble, far less ex­pen­sive ri­val – Isla de La Plata. Just off main­land Ecuador, the un­in­hab­ited is­land at­tracts many of the same birds, such as blue-footed boo­bies and Gala­pa­gos al­ba­tross, and is sur­rounded by co­ral reef that at­tracts manta rays, trop­i­cal fish and tur­tles. Time it right and you’ll also see mi­grat­ing whales. A day trip to the is­land costs about $50, com­pared to the thou­sands you’d spend on a Gala­pa­gos ad­ven­ture.


Ap­pear­ing like a mi­rage from the desert, Huacachina is the lit­eral em­bod­i­ment of an “emerg­ing des­ti­na­tion”. The stun­ning oa­sis, five hours south of Lima, is a must-visit for ad­ven­ture trav­ellers and rates among the world’s top up-and-com­ing des­ti­na­tions. Pop­u­lar among wealthy Peru­vians in the 1940s, with its la­goon thought to have heal­ing pow­ers, the oa­sis was aban­doned for years be­fore be­ing “re­dis­cov­ered” in the 1990s. Not sur­pris­ingly, with all that sand around, Huacachina’s main at­trac­tions are sand­board­ing and dune buggy rides.


Bo­livia is per­haps best known for its eerily beau­ti­ful salt flats, Salar de Uyuni, but vis­i­tors don’t have to ven­ture far beyond the city of La Paz to find an­other lesser-known oth­er­worldly at­trac­tion. Moon Val­ley – a se­ries of dra­matic lu­nar-es­que rock for­ma­tions that are the re­sult of ero­sion – is 10km from down­town La Paz. The city, one of South Amer­ica’s ris­ing stars, was named one of the best value des­ti­na­tions in the world this year. At less than $3 to visit, Moon Val­ley is a prime ex­am­ple of its bud­get-friendly de­lights.





Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Australia

© PressReader. All rights reserved.