Our very own Theo Porter made his first foray to the continent of South America recently. Leaving behind the Head Office in London, where he can be found in the reservations team, he set off for the lands home to stretches of the Andes, fantastic wine and beautiful beaches. Theo experienced the delights of Chile, Argentina and Brazil on our South American Express tour and shares with us his impressions of the countries’ best bits, from coast to coast.
1. Santiago de Chile
The sprawling capital of Chile has an amazing location, the cityscape set against the mountains which enclose the city. Taking the funicular railway up San Cristobal hill provides you with not only the chance to view the statue of Virgin Mary but on a clear day you’ll see the Andes Mountains in all their glory.
2. Viewing the Andes
The Andes Mountains running through the heart of South America are an impressive sight at every point. On the drive from Santiago to Mendoza the stunning views continually took our breath away.
3. Wine time
Home to some of the world’s best vineyards, Mendoza is a wine lover’s paradise, We visited three of the best in the area during our tour. Starting at a small boutique vineyard and working our way through to one of the oldest in Mendoza meant an interesting variety of wines and tastes to enjoy – a fantastic and delicious experience.
4. Parks and squares of Mendoza
Centred on a main square with four smaller squares arranged in opposite directions, Mendoza is a really pretty town which is easy to explore on foot. One part of Mendoza well-worth a visit is General San Martin Park, a serene place to enjoy walks along the lake and a rest in the rose garden located on the outskirts of town.
5. Boca, Boca, Boca!
I was excited to arrive in Buenos Aires on the fifth day as there were a number of places I was really keen to visit. One of those was the colourful La Boca. Birthplace of tango and home of the famous Boca Juniors football team, it’s a fascinating part of the city and a great place to people watch, seeing the locals go about their daily life in the brightly coloured neighbourhood.
6. No trip to South America is complete….
..without a football match. We were fortunate enough to be able to watch the home team of Boca Juniors play against the Racing team. I would definitely recommend getting to the stadium early to experience the atmosphere build-up, the excitement building to a crescendo as the two teams emerged from their dressing room. This passion and excitement from the crowd didn’t diminish during the game.
7. Birds of Paradise
Whilst Iguazu Falls is famous for a fairly obvious reason, there are so many other interesting things to do in and around the Falls. One of these is a visit to Parque das Aves (Bird Park) which holds over 800 species of birds from across South America. One bird which is a must-see and a classic symbol of Brazil is the toucan, which are huge fans of the corn on the cob we were feeding them.
8. Iguazu Falls
It needs little introduction and is one of the most amazing natural sights I’ve ever encountered, potentially even the best. Walking out on the platforms with the noise and mist immediately hitting you – the power of the 275 waterfalls – is immense.
9. New Wonder of the World
Voted as one of the New 7 Wonders of the World, Christ the Redeemer has been on my bucket list for a while. It didn’t disappoint – it’s a truly impressive statue and the panoramic views across Rio de Janeiro are sublime.
10. The perfect end
The perfect end to an amazing trip was watching the sunset over Copacabana beach from Corcavado (Sugar Loaf Mountain). Rio is an incredible city, full of beautiful landscapes, spectacular sandy beaches and welcoming friendly people. This was my first visit to the continent and I can’t wait to return to South America.