South America is not just for backpackers (Part 1)
by Katherine Garces
Founder and Chief Journey Specialist
Whenever I mention that I’ve travelled to South America, the perception is that I must have taken about six months to backpack around the entire continent.
And as much as I befriended backpackers along my travels and those that I met during different activities, my version of budget only went as low as a 3 star hotel (which to keep to a western equivalent often equated to an economic 4 star.)
In the last decade, the standard of attractions, infrastructure and sense of style in relation to tourism has increased rapidly among countries thanks largely to periods of relative political and economic stability and growth.
Just as there is more than one way to reach Machu Picchu(you don’t have to trek the Inca trail, it is possible to board a comfortable or even a luxury train to get there,) travellers are now starting to come to grips with the wealth of possibilities they can choose from when exploring South America, with experiences available for even the most discerning tastes.
Over this week and next we’ll go through the variety of ways to travel throughout the continent combining maximum style and substance. With a focus on the type of travel that transforms you, is experiential in nature, the activities and stays of distinction that indulge your sense of adventure for those that have grown out of roughing it.
Soften your adventure
Sometimes the best way to explore the pristine beauty and wilderness of strikingly scenic and desolate areas such as Patagonia and the Atacama desert is to walk and hike to different viewpoints. This need not require extended trekking or overnight expeditions(unless you want to) as you can rest yourself at one of several premium or luxury lodges located strategically within or around Torres del Paine national park and the desert in San Pedro.
Boutiquify your stay
Honouring and displaying their unique cultural heritage with boutique style and design principles has been embraced by leading hoteliers throughout South America. Which is great for travellers, who can immerse themselves in the local flavour as soon as they commence their holiday and even during their down time. Most good hotels in Cuzco will feature a traditional courtyard or use wall features dating back to Inca times, whilst boutique hotels in Santiago and Lima try to incorporate and symbolise the essence of their neighbourhoods.
More than your average Ecolodge
Whilst lodging in remote wilderness areas such as the Amazon was quite ‘rustic’ making for quite a wild experience, a new generation of Ecolodges are now available with the essentials such as guaranteed 24 hour electricity covered as well spas and relaxation areas to supplement an interactive Amazon program.
Not your traditional trek
The traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu is well known for its toughness and as being a unique way to reach the sacred ruins, but what if you could take a similar route without needing tents? The Luxe Mountain Trek is a revamped hiking experience that offers exactly that, a premium walking journey towards Machu Picchu staying in comfortable mountain lodges, so travellers can enjoy the views, challenge themselves whilst also relaxing in style.
Next week we’ll continue to look at more ways to upgrade your South American journey.
Did you know about these experiences is South America or do you like the sound of them? Let us know in the comments.
Want to know more about travelling in South America? Check out our special Go To Guide featuring a brief summary of 32 of the most popular destinations.