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A guide to Santiago street food

Whichever part of the world you’re in, humble street food has always been the place to look for the best eats. Forget fancy restaurants and gourmet cuisine, it’s on the streets where you’ll find the people’s food. Santiago is no exception where the high footfall metro stops around Santa Ana, Baquedano and Cal y Canto have some mouth-wateringly good food. Alternatively, as night begins to close in, make a beeline for Bellavista where the delicious things are cooked along the streets until the early hours.

Completo

Completo’s are Chile’s answer to the American hot dog, just better and twice the size. A large boiled frankfurter sausage placed between bun is where the comparison ends. The basic completos are then loaded with freshy chopped tomatoes, mashed lemony avocado and lashings of mayonnaise. You can then create your own bespoke hot dog. Some add sauerkraut, others fried onions, French fries and fried eggs. If you’re looking to soak up the night’s boozy intake, try the completo with potatoes and cut meats and avoid the hangover the next day.

Mote con huesillo

Typically served during the summer months, the mote con huesillo is a traditional non-alcoholic drink made from unhusked wheat grain, dried peaches and peach juice simmered with sugar and cinnamon. It’s seriously sweet with an interesting texture provided by the soaked wheat and makes for a meal all by itself and the use of a spoon is necessary. Look out for varieties sold from rolling vendors who sometimes replace the sugar with honey and use dried prunes instead of peaches.

Empanada de pino

Empanada’s a stable all over South America. Much like a British pasty, warm, flaky pastry encapsulates a savoury filling of minced beef (pino), onions, olives and some hard-boiled eggs. Occasionally, you’ll find varieties that include raisins and it’s not hard to find vegetarian empanadas filled with a spiced potato and vegetable mix or even seafood empanadas. The ones found on street stalls have already been oven baked nearby, so look out for empanadas hot and fresh out the oven.

Anticucho

Flickr: Ricardo Diaz

If you’re looking for anticuchos, just follow your nose. The smell of roasting meats emanates along the most streets in the Chilean capital so they aren’t difficult to find, particularly at night. Typically, chunks of beef, though chicken and pork are not uncommon, are marinated in a heady mix of chillies, cumin and garlic vinegar before being barbecued over smoky coals. For some of the best brochettes, seek out the vendors around Cal y Canto and La Vega.

Fresh fruit juices

There’s seemingly a juice seller on every corner of the city. These rolling street vendors can blend up your very own bespoke juice with combinations that include passion fruits, oranges, apples and bananas as well as seasonal and exotic fruits. If you’re looking for a healthy kick, try adding in a little carrot. They’re an inexpensive way to rehydrate on the move during the summer months.

Ceviche

Most Latin American countries make ceviche in some form of another. Chile’s long coastline provides a never-ending abundance of top quality fish making theirs some of the finest. Firm white fish sometimes with the edition of prawns or even squid are marinated in a zingy mix of citrus juices until translucent and ‘cooked’. It’s often complimented by soft cooked sweet potato, slices of red onion, chopped coriander and crunchy Chilean corn. Best eaten accompanied by one of Santiago’s pisco sours.

Sopaipilla

Flickr: Marita Olave

If you’ve got a sweet tooth, make a beeline for one of the sopaipilla stands where discs of fried dough made from sweet potato and flour are topped with lashings of indulgent dulce de leche. They also sell savoury versions where a zingy blend of coriander, chopped tomatoes, onions and a dash of chilli sauce works perfectly with the crunch of the sopaipilla. At around 20p each, they won’t break the bank either. Go on, have another.

Churros

If you spot one of the churros stands in Santiago, make a quick dash because they sell out quick. The chewy, crunchy fried doughnut-like treats originating from Spain are popular here. While in Europe they are often served with thick hot chocolate, in Chile, when they come out the fryer they are lightly dusted in sugar and dipped in rich dulce to leche caramel. Bliss.

Ready to start diving into Santiago’s street food scene? Call one of our Chile experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here to start planning your foodie tour of the capital.

Latin America’s top football teams

boca juniors

Flickr: Sam Kelly

The beautiful game is by far the biggest sport in Latin America, nearing an obsession for many. Even if you’re not a fan of the sport, you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy the lively atmosphere. Try a match between some of the biggest rivals like Buenos Aires’ River Plate and Boca Juniors. Though the teams haven’t got the spending power of European clubs, managers keep an eye out for new talent. So, if you’re looking for a new club to support in the new world, here’s our list of the best there is.

River Plate, Buenos Aires

Let’s start with two of the biggest and well known. The Buenos Aires team River Plate has gained a serious following despite, a recent run of bad luck. They’ve notched-up 36 titles and two Libertadores Cups under their belt. Many of River Plate’s top players get nabbed by European teams.

Boca Juniors, Buenos Aires

The fierce Buenos Aires rivals of River Plate are the Boca Juniors who, over the years, have nurtured a wealth of talent and be named one of the top Latin America clubs of the 21st century. They’ve had similar success with River Plate with 30 titles and four Libertadores. Heard of Maradona? This was his team.

Corinthians, Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo’s Corinthians have gained a serious reputation. With a star-studded list of players over the years, they are Brazil’s largest club. Over the years have bagged a ton of titles including 5 Brasileiraos, a Libertador and even a FIFA World Cup when they beat the UK’s Chelsea. This is a club to look out for.

Penarol, Montevideo

Without a doubt, Penarol is Uruguay’s most followed and successful club. Located on the outskirts of Montevideo, this team have scored enough to gain almost 50 league titles and several Libertadores. The club has produced top players over the years and contributed to all Uruguay’s World Cup teams. Though they haven’t won a cup since the ’80’s, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Santos FC, Santos

Santos FC needs little introduction. This historic Brazilian club has set the football world on fire with the likes of Pele and Robinho. Pele is often considered the greatest player of all time. More recently, it was Neymar’s club before he moved on to play for Barcelona. If you’re looking to support a Brazilian club with pedigree, look no further than Santos.

Atletico Nacional, Medellín

Atletico Nacional, based in Colombia’s city of Medellin, are having a good run, bagging plenty of league titles over the last 10 years. They’re becoming the powerhouse not just in Colombia, but the whole of Latin America. The most famous player to come out of the club is Rene Higuita, a goalkeeper known for his unique style.

Colo-Colo, Santiago

Let’s face it, Colo-Colo is Chile’s most successful team. They’ve many cups and a Libertadores under their belt. Famed for producing players with a fast and offensive style; the big European clubs keep an eye of for talent.

Olimpia, Asunción

Olimpia continues to do well with almost 40 league titles among other cups. It’s best known for bagging the Intercontinental Cup, the Copa Interamerica, the Libertadore and the League Title all in 1979, the peak year for the club. A good solid team with a strong history and one to keep an eye on.

Want to go and watch the beautiful game in Latin America? Call one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here to start planning your adventure.

Where to watch Latin America’s famously melting sunset

Who doesn’t like a good sunset? One of life’s great joys is watching the melting ball of orange light dropping behind the horizon, while colouring the sky. Whether you are on a honeymoon or on a romantic getaway, be sure to not miss one of these sunset places. In Latin America they don’t all revolve around the beach and sea, it could be desert or mountain.

Valley of the Moon, San Pedro de Atacama

This spectacular lunar-like landscape lies in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Towering red rock formations would look more at home on the surface of Mars than they do in Latin America. Scamper up to the viewpoint at the end of the afternoon to enjoy a special sunset. As the sun drops down behind the arid scenery, the rock colours transform.

Tamarindo, Guanacaste

Tamarindo

Flickr: Duane Storey

We mentioned that few of these spots are beaches, but we’re making an exception with Tamarindo. This surf town and strip of sand overlooks the Pacific on Costa Rica’s western coast. Ideal honeymoon territory. Spend you days swimming, snorkelling or wildlife watching before taking your seat on the powdery sand. Watch the sun setting over the ocean’s horizon, a picture-perfect sight. Spend the evening with travellers splashing around in the sea.

Machu Picchu, Cuzco

Machu Picchu

Flickr: Todd Gehman

If you’ve got deep pockets, spend a night at the Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel next to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. When the throngs of crowds have all, you’ll have the perfect uninterrupted view of the sun setting over the citadel from your private terrace. A completely different way to experience one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

The Galapagos, Ecuador

galapagos sunset

Flickr: Steve

The Galapagos Islands are famous for wildlife, but few mention the spectacular sunsets. If you take a cruise around the islands it can be tiring spotting the archipelago’s animals. At the end of the day, enjoy a glass of something fizzy and some mouth-watering food, with the sun setting behind the ocean horizon. Then argue with fellow traveller’s if you’ve seen the ‘green flash’.

Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro

Sugarloaf Mountain

Flickr: duncan c

Climb Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain to take in the spectacular views across the bays but be sure to stay up there until the late afternoon. There are few places on earth that measure up to watching the sun setting over the Marvellous City. Lights twinkle among forested mountain scenery, spot the towering Christ de Redeemer. Just perfect.

The Salt Flats, Uyuni

The Uyuni Salt Flats lie on the high plateau of Bolivia are one of the world’s great natural wonders. A vast expanse of snow-white salt broken only be the odd cacti-laden island. Stay in one of the unique salt hotels out in the wilderness. Here you’ll witness the sight of the sunset’s light bouncing off the salty crust. Ready your camera, you’re not going to want to miss snapping this.

To start planning your honeymoon or romantic break in Latin America, call on of our experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

The highest climbable mountains in South America

The Andes runs all along the spine of South America. Stretching from Colombia in the tropical north to Patagonia in the windswept south. The towering snow-capped peaks offer some of the most thrilling climbs on earth. Here’s a rundown of the highest climbable mountains on the continent. Be warned, these are not for the faint-hearted. You’ll need stamina, endurance, experience, the right gear and an awful lot of training before you take on one of these behemoths. If you’re looking for something a little lighter, but as scenic, look at our favourite Latin America hikes right here.

Huantsan, Peru

Huatsan

Flickr: ydylg

Huantsan, is a 6,400-metre-high rarely climbed, beast in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. Those who make the effort will enjoy one of the world’s most incredible views over the rest of the snow-capped Andes. Make sure you’ve kitted up, got plenty of local advice and prepare yourself physically and mentally for this one, you’re going to need it.

Central Tower, Chile

Patagonia’s Torres del Paine are world-famous granite monoliths. Carved out by the ice the Towers has attracted famous climbers like Chris Bonnington and Don Whillans. Though the altitude is not so high as at 2,460 meters, the almost vertical granite rock face is more challenging. It’s not just mountaineering, you’ll need a range of climbing skills to scale this beautiful beast. The surrounding scenery is stunning and popular for trekking.

Chacraraju, Peru

Chacraraju sits in Peru’s Cordillera Blanca. This undisputed champion of climbs is one of the most tough of the six-thousanders. Expect rocky climbs, icy crevasses and weather than can change at the drop of a hat. All the routes take several days and involve hanging bivouacs. When you reach the summit at 6,100m, you’ll realize it was worth every minute.

Aconcagua, Argentina

The highest peak in South America, Aconcagua towers a fraction short of 7,000 metres. Aconcagua is the highest non-technical mountain in the world. It is also the highest spot in the Americas. The main problems are lack of oxygen and bad weather. If you’re lucky enough to reach the top it won’t just be the thin air that will take your breath away, the views are astounding.

Yerupajá, Peru

The second highest mountain in Peru is not for the faint hearted. Some attempt the long climb and, few make successful ascents. The only way to access the summit is via a razor-thin ridge, a tricky manoeuvre before you reach your goal. Expect near-vertical climbs and plenty of ice on this dangerous 6,600-metre climb. The summit is the highest point in the Amazon River watershed.

Fitz Roy, Argentina

Fitz Roy is a mountain peak in the Southern Patagonia icefield. The foothills provide some beautiful trekking around meandering trails. Climbers looking to satisfy their thrill-seeking itch will need to look up to its granite summit. It might not be so high, stretching up 3,375m, but it’s a toughie. Those who have completed it often say it’s also one of the most rewarding climbs.

Ready to go trekking in South America? Get in touch with one of our Latin America experts today on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here to start planning your adventure in the mountains.

Wildlife spotlight on the Andean condor

The mighty Andean condor is iconic in Latin America and tops most bird and wildlife lovers’ list of species to see. Here’s some interesting facts about these magnificent birds.

They are the largest flying bird in the world

Andean condors are the largest flying bird in the world with a wingspan of up to 10-feet. When they are fully mature, they can reach over a metre tall and weigh up to 15 kilos. With that size and weight, it’s not surprising that they need such large wings. That said, if they fly in ideal wind conditions, they can often reach more than 5,000 metres, circling on the morning thermals.

Andean condors are bald

Unlike there Californian cousins, the Andean condors have bald heads which are surrounded by white feathers along the neckline. The males are almost always bigger than the females, which is unusual for this family of avifauna.

They don’t just live in the Andes

Despite the name, Andean condors don’t just live in the Andes Mountains. They are commonly spotting flying around the coastal regions of Latin America, as well as the deserts of Northern Chile and Argentina and along the edge of Peru. Sightings are rare in Colombia and Ecuador, but they have been known to fly over the Amazon occasionally.

They live almost as long as humans

Andean condors have a life expectancy of over 60 years in the wild. In captivity, this can increase to a staggering 75 years, almost the same as a human. One of the only birds in the world to live longer is the Californian Condor in North America.

They don’t build nests for their eggs

Interestingly, unlike most birds which build a nest to protect their eggs, Andean condors lay on cliff ledges. Both parents are required to look after the egg during the incubation period to ensure it stays safe. They lay one egg every couple of years, and after hatching 2 months later, the chick stays with the parents for 1 year before flying the nest. It then takes over 5 years for them to reach maturity.

They are vultures

Though they may look graceful, the Andean condor is a scavenger and part of the new-world vulture family of birds. This means that most of their diet is made up of the leftovers of dead animals. They typically target large mammals in the mountains and fish along the coast, swooping in to pick at the carcasses.

They are classified as threatened

Sadly, the Andean condor is classified as threatened by the IUCN and could face extinction in the future. There are many reasons for the decline of these large birds, but like most threatened wildlife, human hunting and loss of habitat are the main culprits. Fortunately, there are efforts by zoos and conservation experts to ensure these amazing creatures are around for future generations.

If you’d like to see Andean condors in the wild, the best place is the enormous Colca Canyon in Peru. To start planning your tour, speak with one of our Latin American experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

Interesting spots for art lovers in Latin America

The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

Flickr: Helen K

The Museo de Art Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (shortened to MALBA) is a World-class gallery. Located along Figueroa Alcorta Avenue in Palermo, the museum houses a wealth of Latin American art within a contemporary structure. Works from artists including Antonio Berni, Joaquin Torres Garcia, and Diego Rivera and amongst many others. The MALBA was inaugurated in 2001 with the mission to collect, preserve, and promote Latin American art. It receives well over a million visitors every year making it one of the highest visited museums on the continent.

The Blue House, Frida Kahlo Museum

Flickr: ::: Mer :::

More commonly known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul), the Frida Kahlo Museum is in Colonia del Carmen in Mexico City. The cobalt blue museum was the home of the artist. It was here she was born, created much of her art, lived with her husband Diego Rivera, and ultimately died. It chronicles her life, and has much of her artwork. Most of the building has be left exactly as it was when Frida lived there in the 1950’s.

The Last Supper in Cuzco

Wikipedia: Toño Zapata

Adorning the walls of the cathedral in Cuzco, there is a replica of The Last Supper. It was painting in the 18th century by a Peruvian artist called Marcos Zapata. The interesting thing about the painting is the Andean influence. You will notice that the table is filled with Peruvian foods including corn, peppers, different coloured potatoes, chicha (a fermented corn drink), and roasted cuy (guinea pig). At the forefront, Judas can be seen holding a bag of money, but this is commonly considered to be modelled on Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who executed the Inca Emperor hundreds of years before.

The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janerio

The Escadaria Selarón, more commonly called the Selaron Steps, are one of the most visited spots in Rio de Janeiro. Built by Chilean artist Jorge Selaron as a tribute to the Brazilian people, what started as a side project to his other work turned into an obsession that took years to create. There are 215 steps descending 125 metres and are covered with more than 2,000 tiles collected from around the world. Each step is unique creating an ever-evolving piece of art. 300 or so of the tiles are hand painted by Selaron.

The street art in Bogota

Flickr: McKay Savage

Street art has become popular across Latin America in recent years. One of the best places to see this modern art form is on the streets of Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Though you can see work adorning many of the streets, the best sports are along Calle 26 in the La Canderlaria neighbourhood, and Chapinero. The city has a dark history, and much of the work is about politics and social commentary. Local and international street artists like Banksy, Stinkfish, Vhils, and Toxicomano have all painted the walls here.

Want to see the art for yourself? Start planning your trip today by calling one of our Latin American experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

Things to do on Easter Island

While most know and visit Easter Island for the ancient Moai statues left by the Rapa Nui civilization, there are plenty of other activity options on offer for adventurous travelers, though many are connected to seeing the Moai as well. The island lies some 3,000 miles off the coast of Chile, and although part of the country, its culture is Polynesian. Here’s the top 10 things to do in on Easter Island.

See the Moai quarry

Rano Raraku is located on the slopes of Teravaku in the Rapa Nui National Park. It was formed from a volcanic crater and was used by the Rapa Nui culture for around 500 years as the main quarry for creating the Moai statues seen across the island. They Moai were built somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 years ago and although they were built for the gods, ironically the felling of all the trees to transport the heavy statues led to a huge change in the environment and the downfall of the civilization. An enormous 21.6 metre incomplete statue weighing over 270 tonnes still sits at the quarry.

Swim at Anakena Beach

The white sand on Anakena beach is made from ground coral and is one of the best on the island. Though most visit to see the nearby statues, the beach is a highlight. While away an afternoon sunbathing or swim in the warm Pacific Ocean.

Join Tapati festival

The festival is over 40 years old and started to help maintain Rapa Nui culture and drawing in tourism. The two-week long festival starts at the beginning of February and is full of Rapa Nui dancing, singing and competitions. Every year, two females compete to become the Queen of Tapati and there are horse racing competitions on different parts of the island. It’s one of the best, albeit the most expensive time to visit.

Biking around Easter Island

Flickr: Helen K

Taking a self-guided or guided mountain biking tour around Easter Island can be a great way to introduce yourself to the Moai and the island scenery. There are plenty of routes including Hanga Roa to Orongo and Puna Pau to Tahai. There are some paved roads across the island, but many are trails and paths which can be quite challenging. Rentals cost around US $15 a day. Just check the quality of the bike before you hire it.

See the sunrise at Tongariki

A popular tour for visitors to the island. Head down to the site of Tangariki where 15 Moai statues stand on a ceremonial platform overlooking the ocean. During sunrise and sunset, the most amazing colours can be seen hitting the ocean, coastline and Moai. A magical experience, just remember to bring your camera!

Hit the surf

Flickr: anoldent

You might not know this, but Easter Island has some excellent surf. There are several hire shops and schools if you want to learn which are inexpensive and offer good quality equipment. After a morning of exploration, the Pacific swells are a great way to expend some energy.

Hike up Terevaka Volcano

The summit of Terevaka Volcano is the highest point on the island, towering over 500 metres above sea level and offering spectacular views across the island. Hiking to the top can be a rewarding experience that takes around four hours round trip. Few people decide to climb Terevaka, so those who do might very well have the summit all to themselves. For those who don’t want to trek, a horse riding tour to the top can be arranged.

Watch the Birdman ceremony

The Tangata Manu, also called the Birdman ceremony started sometime in the 18th century. Held in September every year, one man from each tribe contends in a dangerous competition to collect the first egg of the Easter Island (Manutara) seagull. To do so, the competitors must paddle across the rough ocean on floating reeds to the caves where the eggs are laid and then bring it back in tact to present it to the chief. The winner keeps the emptied egg Birdman’s house.

Gorge on seafood

Being an island, it’s not surprising that the main diet of the Easter Island community is seafood. There are plenty of great restaurants to gorge on fresh seafood including mahi mahi, tuna, swordfish, lobster and prawns. Look out for sea urchins which litter the beaches throughout the year. Eaten raw, these can be opened on a rock and the roe eaten right out the shell.

Want to visit Easter Island? Start planning your journey today. Take a look at our suggested Chile tours, call our Chilean travel expert on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

King Penguins in Tierra del Fuego

King Penguin

If you want to see King penguins but don’t want to go to Antarctica, go to Tierra del Fuego. A few years ago, a small colony of King Penguins started nesting at a local Estancia. This is the only place to find the second largest penguin within the American continent. We will be offering a day trip to see these graceful creatures. The itinerary starts in Punta Arenas and consists on a short flight to Porvenir and then a drive to the the reserve and then fly back. This is a perfect addition to any Torres del Paine itinerary with some idle time in Punta Arenas.

Tierra del Fuego means ‘Land of Fire’ after the fires the indigenous people kept going. The archipelago is shared between Chile and Argentina. Much of it is flat steppe grasslands, but a chain of rugged mountains runs down, covered in a permanent ice field. We also offer cruises that ply the islands’ fjords and include a stop at mythical Cape Horn.
Here are some Chilean holiday ideas.

5 cable cars to take in South America

Cable cars are, in our opinion, one of the best modes of transport. Quick, no traffic and it’s possible to take in the landscape or city from above. Many of the cities located along the Andes are, unsurprisingly, hilly, making transport difficult. Though some cable cars are being used for tourism, others are transforming parts of Latin American cities by making the areas more accessible.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

South America’s most well-known and oldest is Rio de Janeiro’s Sugarloaf Mountain cable car. Built in the early 20th century, it was designed for tourists to take in the city views from the mountain’s summit. The journey takes just a few minutes to reach the top.

La Paz, Bolivia

Flickr: Inhabitat

Flickr: Inhabitat

The highly successful state-run cable car that connects La Paz with El Alto is the highest in the world. Since its inauguration in 2014, millions of tourists and locals have used the cable car which costs just £0.25. The line can reportedly carry a staggering 18,000 people per hour. During the World Cup, some of the cars were painted to look like footballs.

Santiago, Chile

Flickr: Robert Cutts

Flickr: Robert Cutts

The Teleférico Metropolitano was built in 1980, but has since been refurbished and reopened late last year. It takes tourists and locals up to the huge Metropolitan Park, one of the largest in Chile. Some of the cabins have been adapted to fit bikes, a popular sport in the park.

Medellín, Colombia

Another highly successful transport system, the Medellín Metrocable opened almost fifteen years ago, and has helped to connect the cities hilly districts. More lines have since been added, the latest being in 2016.  The city one an award for innovation in 2012.

Quito, Ecuador

Flickr: Stuart King

Flickr: Stuart King

The Quito Teleférico hasn’t been created as a mode of transport to get around the city. The cable car starts are 2,950 metres above sea level and arrives in the heady heights of Cruz Loma at 4,050 metres. Fantastic views over the city and the adjacent Pichincha Volcano can be seen from the top. It’s also possible to spot Antisana, Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui on clear days.

If you’d like to take any of the cable cars in South America, or visit anywhere else on the continent, speak to one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478.

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