Wendy Wu Machu Pichu
Five reasons South America needs to be on your 2019 hit list
A continent of captivating beauty, layered history and plenty of rhythm,  South America is a must-visit destination.  Wendy Wu Tours gives you five reasons to join the party this year in South America. Machu Picchu This 15th-century Peruvian marvel is one of the new Seven Wonders of the World and is pretty much on everyone’s bucket list. Don’t let that deter you; there’s a reason so many flock to this UNESCO World Heritage site. Set in the Andes Mountains, its location would be spectacular on its own – however, the ruins of this Incan citadel will leave you awestruck. Cartagena Colombian, Caribbean and colonial, the 16th-century port city of Cartagena is a delightfully intoxicating mixture of heat, heritage and hedonism. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Cartagena is a city to get lost in. Plans are futile, so give in to the rhythm of this charming port and discover why it has captivated so many travellers. [caption id="attachment_47212" align="alignnone" width="600"] The picturesque city of Cartagena.[/caption] Patagonia Glaciers don’t generally come to mind when you think of South America, but they should. Patagonia, a geographical area at the southernmost tip of the continent, spans both Argentina and Chile and is a seemingly limitless wilderness of ice and rock. On the Argentinian side is El Calafate, the ‘National Capital of the Glaciers’, home to the spectacular Perito Moreno Glacier. [caption id="attachment_47213" align="alignnone" width="600"] Baby blues, the Perito Moreno Glacier.[/caption] Iguacu Falls The waterfalls of the Iguacu River, which lie on the border of Argentina and Brazil, are nothing short of spectacular. Dramatic and captivating, the 275 cascading falls span a three-kilometre stretch within the lush Iguacu National Park. Watch this thundering display of Mother Nature’s might and feel very, very small. [caption id="attachment_47214" align="alignnone" width="600"] The many faces of Northern Argentina[/caption] Rio De Janeiro It’s virtually impossible to travel to South America and not swing into Rio. This Brazilian metropolis is a high-definition riot of colour and carnivale, from the beaches to that lush mountainous backdrop and the frenetic energy coursing through the streets. Samba is the beat this city dances to and everyone’s invited to the party. [caption id="attachment_47215" align="alignnone" width="600"] Bathed in sunlight.[/caption] Let Wendy Wu Tours take you to South America. For more information on tours and destinations in South America visit wendywutours.com/south-america or call 1300 177 506
visit Patagonia Chile Torres del Paine explora hiking
7 reasons to visit Patagonia this year
Few places in the world are as wild and untouched as Patagonia. But that’s not the only reason to go there, writes “There was no sound but the wind, whirring through thorns and whistling through dead grass, and no other sign of life but a hawk, and a black beetle easing over white stones.” So wrote Bruce Chatwin in his 1977 classic In Patagonia and the southern tip of South America has barely changed since.   Apart from a few more lodges and trekking trails, Patagonia still exudes the mystique of a wild and unknowable place.   Named after a race of giants encountered by Portuguese explorer Magellan in the 1520s – the ‘patagones’ were said to be twice as tall as Magellan’s men – this largely uninhabited region occupies the curved tailbone of South America, jutting into the Southern Ocean further than any other non-polar land mass on Earth.   It’s a landscape of lonely peaks, wind-beaten grasslands and massive glaciers. And closer to Antarctica than to Santiago, Chile’s capital; the mercurial weather constantly reminds you of that. You soon get used to dressing in layers and carrying sunglasses, a down jacket and rain gear whenever you step outside, which just ramps up the adventure of being there.   To experience one of the most untouched places on the planet, Patagonia is hard to beat. Here are seven more reasons to put it on your must-see list this year: 1. To get far, far away You don’t have to be misanthropic to want to get away from the rest of humankind now and then, and Patagonia is the perfect place to escape to. Just getting there makes you feel you’re off the map. The first part is easy, particularly with LATAM Airlines now flying non-stop from Melbourne to Santiago (LATAM and Qantas also fly direct from Sydney to Santiago). From there it’s a three-hour flight to Punta Arenas at the bottom of Chile then a five-hour drive to Torres del Paine National Park, which is about as remote as you can get without crossing the Drake Passage to Antarctica. 2. To see the Torres del Paine Imagine Patagonia and it probably looks like this: a monolith of three granite spires piercing the sky. While 90 per cent of Patagonia lies in Argentina, these Torres del Paine (‘blue towers’; paine means blue in the indigenous Aonikenk language) are in the Chilean part.   They’re made even more formidable by their southerly latitude; Everest was climbed before the highest of the three peaks, the 2884-metre Paine Grande (by an Italian mountaineer in 1957). See them on a rare blue-sky day and you’ll feel blessed by the gods, but they’re just as compelling when storm clouds and rain squalls play hide-and-seek with sheer rock faces and snow-dusted slopes. ‘Spectacular’ doesn’t even come close. [caption id="attachment_38930" align="alignnone" width="1500"] The summer snows of Torres del Paine National Park (photo: Louise Southerden).[/caption] 3. For the best ‘room with a view’ ever At first glance explora Patagonia, an award-winning lodge in the heart of Torres del Paine National Park, looks like a ship that ran aground on the shore of a turquoise Lake Pehoé 25 years ago (it opened in 1993).   But it’s what’s inside that counts or, in this case, what you can see from inside. The Torres del Paine come to you when you stay in one of explora’s 50 rooms. Whatever you’re doing and wherever you are – lying in your king-sized bed, taking a bath, relaxing in the lounge with a glass of Chilean pinot noir, enjoying a meal in the lodge’s dining room – you’ll be distracted by unbeatable mountain views. [caption id="attachment_38931" align="alignnone" width="1500"] How's the view: Torres del Paine from the explora Patagonia lodge (photo: Louise Southerden).[/caption] 4. To brave the elements The room rate at explora Patagonia includes plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself in the scenery as well as look at it. Half-day guided hikes are a good start, taking you through Antarctic beech forests, across hanging bridges, along pebbled beaches fringing iceberg-choked lakes – and back to the lodge for an à la carte lunch.   There are also more challenging full-day hikes; you can even do the famous multi-day “W” trek, with transfers to the trailhead each morning and accommodation at the lodge each night. 5. To ride with huasos The other main activity in Patagonia is horse riding. You’ll wear suede half-chaps (knee-length coverings to stop the stirrups rubbing your legs) and ride with beret-wearing huasos, the Chilean equivalent of Argentinian gauchos.   The beauty of riding, in contrast to hiking, is that you don’t have to watch your feet; you can gaze as you go. Back at the stables afterwards, the hausos will make mate and pass around a mug with a metal straw – the traditional, social way of drinking this bitter, invigorating tea. [caption id="attachment_38932" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Hiking Patagonia takes you through Antarctic beech forests, across hanging bridges, along pebbled beaches fringing iceberg-choked lakes (photo: Louise Southerden).[/caption] 6. For photo ops It goes without saying that Patagonia is photogenic. But it’s not just the peaks that are Insta-worthy. There are surprisingly green deciduous beech forests that blaze with oranges and yellows in autumn.   There are Curacao-blue lakes, towering icebergs, vast glaciers fed by the Southern Patagonian Icefield, the third largest in the world after those in Greenland and Antarctica. Then there’s the sublime and ever-changing light, thanks to Patagonia having the cleanest air in the world. 7. To see a puma There’s a good chance you’ll see one of these beige big cats in the national park and they’re not as dangerous as their North American cousins. But there are plenty of other, more benign, wild creatures to see too, including guanacos (long-necked orange and white llamas), rheas (small emus), condors (vulture-like birds with the second-largest wingspan in the world) and armadillos (armoured echidnas that can often be seen crossing the road).   Louise Southerden travelled to Patagonia with LATAM Airlines and Adventure World.
Moon valley, Chile
The best place to see the total solar eclipse in Chile
Have the adventure of your lifetime and experience a rare celestial event in one of the most beautiful settings in the world with Wendy Wu Tour’s Chile Eclipse itineraries this July. There’s no show like it on Earth. The drama of a total solar eclipse is a beautiful astronomical performance that will long remain etched in your memory. If you’re lucky enough to be in the narrow path of the moon’s shadow as it slips across the sun, you’ll be left awestruck by one of the most unique and rare experiences on our planet.   Fortunately, you can be that lucky. This July, in the second oldest city in Chile, La Serena, a total solar eclipse will occur. With Wendy Wu Tours, you can make sure you’re there to witness this fleeting but unforgettable celestial event.   Imagine the adventure of arriving to the seaside city of La Serena by private charter plane to immerse yourself in the inspiring beauty of the cosmos. Imagine finding yourself in Chile, with a pisco in-hand, as you wonder at the mystery of our solar system.   More than simply enjoying the eclipse, on Wendy Wu’s 8-Day Chile Eclipse Tour you will also acquaint yourself with the vibrant culture of this South American country and explore two of its most spectacular cities. Let the adventure begin… Day one: meet ‘the jewel of the Pacific’ On your first day, you’ll arrive in Santiago before transferring to the explosion of colour that is bohemian Valparaíso. This coastal city is eclectic, erratic and beautiful in its disorderly array of neighbourhoods that stack colourfully up climbing hillsides. Chile’s much-loved poet Pablo Nerudo fondly said of Valparaíso’s irregular style: “you haven’t combed your hair, you never had time to get dressed, life has always surprised you.” Tomorrow, you’ll discover the meaning behind Nerudo’s words. Day two: explore the captivating beauty of Valparaíso In 2003, the delightfully mad and completely stunning city of Valparaíso was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Funiculars take you from the seafront to the hillside neighbourhoods where houses painted in a rainbow of colours flank narrow, winding streets. By the time you’ve explored a little, you’ll have newfound affinity with poet Pablo Nerudo’s city. Stop by his house for a visit. Day three: sip in Santiago Head back to Santiago today before exploring beautiful vineyards and incredible Chilean wines. [caption id="attachment_46368" align="alignnone" width="600"] Sample some of the best wines Chile has to offer.[/caption] Chile is the fifth largest exporter of wine in the world, which would be surprising until you realise the country has been producing wine since the Spanish brought grape vines with them in the 16th century. Today, Chilean wines are much sought-after and you’ll be able to explore many of the varietals on this fascinating tour. Day four: time to eclipse Today is a day you’ll never forget. It begins with a one-hour private charter to the adorable seaside town of La Serena. From here, you’ll be taken to a private viewing area in the optimal vantage point of the Elqui Valley where you’ll watch this rare celestial event unfold. Many of us are lucky to witness a handful of total solar eclipses in our lives, but to watch one from such an incredible location is a true once-in-a-lifetime experience. [caption id="attachment_46369" align="alignnone" width="600"] Witness the breathtaking astronomical event.[/caption] An eclipse is not simply breathtaking, it is also fascinating, so to enhance this special event you’ll be joined by astronomy expert Dr Stuart Clark. On hand to answer any of your astronomical questions and to explain the event as it unfolds, Dr Clark will help to deepen your understanding of this magnificent show. Don’t forget your camera! Day five: discover Santiago’s boroughs Incredibly, 40 per cent of Chileans live in Santiago. This visually stunning city with the incredible Andes Mountains at her back is a thriving metropolis and home to 32 boroughs (comunas), each with its own unique personality.   Of course, you won’t meet them all in one day, but you can get under Santiago’s skin with a city tour that takes in some of her most beguiling assets. Visit the Plaza de Armas and the Cathedral, and the city’s commercial hub, Ahumada Boulevard, before making your way up San Cristobal Hill to admire that dramatic, mountainous backdrop.   Explore the street-side eateries and a lively night scene around Bellavista Road and Lastarria, while a visit to the well-healed neighbourhoods of Providencia and Las Condes will reveal world-class restaurants and high-end hotels Day six–eight: homeward bound It’s time to say farewell to the vibrant and colourful beauty of Chile, her people, and her eclectic cities, and start planning your next adventure with Wendy Wu Tours. The details: make it happen The incredible Wendy Wu Tours 8-Day Chile Eclipse Tour is truly an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The tour takes you under the skin of the destination and allows you to explore deeper with cultural and active experiences. Want to make the experience last longer? Wendy Wu has created three custom itineraries spanning 8 – 18 days.   All tours include: Return international airfares All accommodation Guides and entrance fees All transportation and transfers Internal domestic flights if applicable Private charter plane to a reserved eclipse viewing area Guided eclipse viewing experience with renowned Astronomer, Stuart Clarke   Prices start at just $6,980pp, visit Wendy Wu Tours or phone 1300 177 506 for further details or to book.
Street with flags
Exploring Chile: the best places to visit in the land of fire and ice
A narrow sliver of land between the towering Andes and the Pacific Ocean, Chile is blessed with natural beauty far beyond her size. Join Wendy Wu Tours on an adventure through this extraordinary land, from the fiery hues of the Atacama Desert in the north to the icy beauty of Patagonia in the south. Atacama Desert One of the driest places on Earth, the Atacama is exactly what you’d imagine Mars to look like. The simplicity of its shapes and colours affords the landscape a stark, crimson-hued beauty. Jagged triangles of rock form otherworldly valleys and ridges, while perfectly symmetrical volcanoes are brushed with the same red tones that shift to purple and black with the setting sun. [caption id="attachment_46394" align="alignnone" width="600"] Iconic sculptures dot the skyline.[/caption] Enjoy the beauty of this desert spectacular by simply staying in the hub of San Pedro de Atacama or venture deeper to find a more varied palette. Your vista of the seemingly endless rocky plains are broken only by azure lakes populated with salmon-pink flamingos, the white geometric patterns of a salt lake, or the yellowish billows of steam produced by the geothermal pools and geysers. The Atacama is also the ideal place to stargaze. The night sky here is staggering in its complexity, with galaxies, planets and constellations visible to the naked eye. The Atacama Desert is truly unlike anywhere you’ve experienced before.   Santiago de Chile Nestled in a bowl created by the Andes Mountains, whose peaks are easily visible throughout the city, cosmopolitan Santiago pulses with a love for life. Each of its vibrant neighbourhoods leaves a unique impression, from stately Centro (downtown), which is full of colonial architecture; to Bellavista with its relaxed and bohemian vibe; and boisterous Barrios Brasil. [caption id="attachment_46395" align="alignnone" width="600"] Experience Santiago de Chile's eclectic mix of neighbourhoods.[/caption] On the coast, 100 kilometres from the capital, the port city of Valparaíso has a ramshackle, roguish charm. Perched on the cliffs above the industrial seafront is the city’s UNESCO-listed historic quarter. Here, the cerros or neighbourhoods are full of narrow streets lined with colourfully painted houses, chic cafes and boutiques, and artfully dilapidated mansions with breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Reached by funicular lifts, getting lost in this brightly hued maze is the perfect way to spend a day in the city.   Lake District Thanks to a long resistance to the advances of both the Inca and the Spanish, Chile’s Lake District was long a region of simple farming settlements and the indigenous Mapuche people. Much of its thick forest remains today, dotted with deep lakes and watched over by snow-capped volcanoes. Towns such as Puerto Varas, on the banks of Lake Llanquihue, charmingly blend in with their surroundings and offer a gateway to the gorgeous nature they reside in. [caption id="attachment_46397" align="alignnone" width="600"] The Lake District is brimming with culture[/caption] In summer, you can hike the forested slopes of Volcan Osorno and in winter venture down on skis. At the foot of the volcano you’ll find thundering waterfalls and lush greenery. Explore Chiloé Island, part of an archipelago just off the coast, which is home to pastoral landscapes steeped in folklore and, often, an enigmatic fog. Don’t leave without taking a photograph of Chiloé’s ‘palafitos’ (overwater bungalows), and spotting as many of the island’s 150 charming wooden churches as possible.   Patagonia Encompassing the tip of the South American continent, Patagonia is a region of wild grey seas, ice and rock. Its landscapes are pristine and, thanks to its huge scale, incredibly diverse. From the colourful town of Puerto Natales, you can cruise the desolate waters of the Ultima Esperanza Fjord to spot sea lions, snow-capped mountains and glaciers, before heading to Chilean Patagonia’s headline attraction, the Torres del Paine National Park. [caption id="attachment_46396" align="alignnone" width="600"] Cruise through the spectacular fjords.[/caption] Centred round a massif of towering granite columns, the eponymous Torres, this national park showcases the very best of Patagonia’s dramatic landscapes. Alpine valleys, grassy meadows, dramatic peaks, and sparkling blue lakes abound, all watched over by the mighty Grey Glacier. This is nature at its most magnificent, and totally unmissable.   How to get there Explore Chile with Wendy Wu Tours’ CHILE TOP TO TOE – 15 DAYS from $9180pp or call 1300 177 506.
Bottom Bay in Barbados, the Caribbean.
Barbados – is this Caribbean’s best kept secret?
Travellers have long flocked to the Bahamas, Puerto Rico and the Cayman Islands for a hit of Vitamin 'Sea', but just next door lies the Caribbean’s most underrated island nation, Barbados. This is why it should be your next tropical escape. A culture shock, in the best way possible Humidity, ear-splitting reggae and flirtatious crowds of islanders will greet you at Barbados' sole airport.   Though it's only 12 kilometres from the capital city of Bridgetown, the airport's open-air baggage pick-up makes you feel much more isolated than that.   To get to your first stop on the island (and for an experience you'll never forget), your best option is to catch a bus. Small white vans known as ZRs will cost you less than $2 to get to almost anywhere on the island.   They are sweltering hot, raucous and overflowing with locals on their way to work. Drivers rarely turn down passengers, so don’t be surprised if you’re squashed between two bulking Barbadian men when abiding by the four-to-a-seat tenet. [caption id="attachment_21958" align="alignnone" width="1024"] Find humidity, ear-splitting reggae and a flirtatious crowds of islanders[/caption] Stunning beaches, all around Along with its glistening turquoise waters and pearl-white sand, Barbados is also characterised by untouched coral reefs and limestone cliffs manned by wild goats.   Its beaches change vastly from shore to shore, so whether you’re after a secret spot for a relaxing dip, or an exposed coastline greeted by barrelling waves you can surf, you’ll find it on one side of the island or the other.   Past the heaving beaches of the south coast lies Bottom Bay, a quiet beach tucked behind time-worn coral escarpments. This little alcove provides sweeping views of the ocean, and proves a great place to spot turtles and breaching whales offshore. However spectacular the views, be aware that the rough waves here can make swimming tricky.   If you’d rather somewhere you can swim or snorkel, Miami Beach is Barbados’ most popular among travellers and locals alike. The water is tranquil and the charming beachfront is an idyllic setting to take in sunsets.   There’s also an abundance of colourful food trucks and tiny cafes hidden around the corner, so beach picnic supplies are never far away. Diving in the deep end Sure, lying on the beach reading a cheesy romance novel has its perks, but Barbados is also a go-to destination for thrill-seekers.   Whether you’re scuba diving between the shipwrecks of Carlisle Bay, or getting lost in the hanging granite tunnels of Harrison’s Cave, there's always an adventure to be had.   The most exciting (and may I say comical) way to get around the island is by hiring a mini moke. It’s a little Fred-Flintsone-in-his-footmobile, but the experience promises a unique side of Barbados, far from the major shopping strip of St Lawrence Gap.   Drive through the island's vast fields of sugar cane to the treacherous eastern coast of Bathsheba. Make sure you stop for one of the freshly carved coconuts sold at nearly every street corner along the way. [caption id="attachment_21964" align="alignnone" width="1500"] There's always an adventure to be had in Barbados[/caption] A holiday for your taste buds It’s fitting that a place where swimwear is your everyday attire is also be home to a bounty of fresh seafood and local rum, completing that stereotypical holiday brag shot.   Every Friday and Saturday night the sleepy coastal town of Oistins is overwhelmed by the smell of garlic, spices and frying seafood for what is known as the Oistins Fish Fry.   Grab something from one of the cheerful vendors serving an array of traditional seafood delights, and don’t forget to sample a glass of Barbados’ legendary Mount Gay Rum punch from one of the make-shift taverns along the water. [caption id="attachment_21959" align="alignnone" width="1500"] Make sure you stop for one of the freshly carved coconuts sold at nearly every street corner.[/caption] If you’re after something more sophisticated, there are plenty of options a little further up the north coast. Naru restaurant is headed by award-winning chef Barry Taylor, and serves up a sensational fusion of pan Asian and Caribbean cuisine. Try the grilled fresh water shrimp served with roasted butternut squash mash, a spicy mixed capsicum emulsion and shredded stir-fried vegetables.   There's also the annual Barbados Food and Wine and Rum Festival every November, luring some of the world’s best chefs to the island. Cooking classes, tastings and information sessions are held around the country, and you can get involved by booking tickets online.  
The must-see sights of Galapagos National Park
There’s a spot in the Pacific Ocean that holds a special significance to anyone with a deep appreciation for the natural world, discovers Daniel Down. If Charles Darwin hadn’t observed the unique wildlife of the Galápagos, namely its famous finches, and made deductions that helped him formulate his great theory of evolution by natural selection, we’d still be ambling around saying how incredible it is that all life was created 6000 years ago by an omnipotent being. [caption id="attachment_44555" align="alignleft" width="1000"] paradies galapagos[/caption] Besides making a scientific pilgrimage to the islands, you should go to see their otherworldly landscapes and abundant endemic wildlife.   To get there, catch a flight from the Ecuadorian capital Quito to Baltra Airport just off Santa Cruz; stay at Red Mangrove Eco Lodge in Puerto Ayora, for example, and organise a tour through the lodge, or book a cruise with transfers straight to your boat from the airport.   Incorporate just a few of the ideas into your itinerary to witness the great natural wonders of the Galápagos National Park, and indeed, the world. El Chato – Giant Tortoise Reserve You’ll need a guide to enter this part of the national park that’s been set aside for the Galápagos’ most iconic animal, the giant tortoise.   Weighing up to almost half a tonne these magnificent, ancient beasts do what they have been doing for millions of years in the wild, namely extending their long necks very slowly to nibble on grass; a captivating experience that you’ll take an unnecessary number of photos of. Snorkel León Dormido With 150-metre-high buttresses of rock rising out of the ocean, the sight of León Dormido alone is worth making the trip out to this remote spot off the coast of Isla de San Cristóbal. But you should also come to snorkel with eagle rays, hammerhead sharks and turtles. Climb Volcán Alcedo You feel like you could be on an alien planet on the slopes of Alcedo Volcano. Emerging from the heart of Isla Isabela, take a guided walk to see big groups of giant tortoises sitting in pools in a landscape of craters, ancient lava flows and fumaroles spewing hot sulphuric gases. Puerto Egas / Las Tintoreras The black igneous rock seems to come alive in another of the archipelago’s most famous sights: that of countless scaly black marine iguanas clinging to a surf-battered shoreline, warming up in the sun before swimming off to dive and graze on algae.   See this endemic lizard at Puerto Egas on Isla Santiago, or catch a boat out to Las Tintoreras (pictured above) off the coast of Puerto Villamil.   Some species of the iguana also sport red blotchy skin and the occasional dollop of turquoise. Tortuga Bay On the central island of Santa Cruz you can hike along a paved, 2.4-kilometre path through the scrub to reach the pristine crescent of white sand at Tortuga Bay.   Here, marine iguanas patrol up and down the beach like miniature dinosaurs. While the main beach is closed for swimming, you can take a dip in a nearby cove, often with reef sharks. Darwin Lake They like naming things after the bearded Victorian here, and Darwin Lake in the shadow of the mighty Darwin Volcano, is a spectacular sight reached via a two-kilometre hike from the shore of Tagus Bay on Isla Isabela.   An old volcano caldera has created this near circular saltwater lagoon, only separated from the sea by a thin sliver of land. The Charles Darwin Research Station Scientists have been using this facility, at Puerto Ayora on Isla Santa Cruz, to study and conserve the islands’ unique biodiversity since 1964.   Pay a visit to get hands on with specimens and get up close to giant tortoises at the centre’s breeding program.  
La Paz, Bolivia.
How to spend 48 adventurous hours in La Paz, Bolivia
You’d think the fact that La Paz is a city located at the bottom of a canyon would be its most interesting feature, but trust me it has so many more. The capital city of Bolivia, La Paz encompasses the colourful lifestyle and unique landscape of South America perfectly. The city will leave you in love with Bolivia’s bright and bold culture, and a dose of fresh and crisp air. While travelling across South America, I can honestly say I wasn’t as excited to visit Bolivia as some of the other nations on my itinerary.   La Paz is a city that you don’t really expect too much from and has a reputation of being unsafe, but boy did it prove its worth! It is the highest administrative capital in the world sitting at more than 3500 metres above sea level. With Mt. Illimani as its backdrop, the city’s landscape is nothing like you’ve seen before. The higher you climb, the more stunning the view. [caption id="attachment_44367" align="alignnone" width="600"] Residential neighborhood in La Paz Bolivia[/caption] The rich culture, the unbelievable history, the vibrant atmosphere, the friendly people, the mouth-watering food and the incredible landscape, La Paz has all the characteristics of a must-see city. Although some more northern parts of the city are deemed unsafe due to theft, the majority is full of curious tourists like yourself and a helping hand. Manoeuvring around is quite the adventure, and the best part is, you can do it all in 48 hours. Day one: 7.30am: Death Road Mountain Biking One of the major attractions of La Paz is Yungas Road, also known as Death Road, and you can’t visit the city without giving it a good run. It was built in the 1930s as the only route from La Paz to Coroico, although its narrow, high and sharp turns soon made it a deadly path for travellers.   The only way you should conquer the road these days is with a mountain bike. There are a few different tour groups that offer excursions, though I would highly recommend Gravity Assisted Bolivia. They’re pricey but safe, provide great detail along the way, and the day is organised well. Once breakfast at Cafe Del Mundo is ticked off, you’re in for a long bus ride, hours of mountain biking and a trip to the La Senda Animal Refuge. Price is $174. 10.30pm: Pollos Copacabana Day one is jam-packed and the only way to finish it off is with a good late-night feed. Pollos Copacabana is the most popular fast food restaurant in Bolivia and you must experience its deliciousness. Its burgers are fatty, its chicken is greasy and its plantain chips are the bomb!   [caption id="attachment_44368" align="alignnone" width="600"] Ornate alley in old town La Paz Bolivia.[/caption]  11.30pm: overnight stay After a massive day, you’ll want to hit the sheets for a good night’s sleep before another early morning. My personal hotel recommendations include Hotel Rosario, Stannum Boutique Hotel & Spa or Presidente Hotel. They are clean, conveniently located close to shops and restaurants and have friendly and knowledgeable staff to help with any questions you have.   If you have a bit more energy then you should head straight to Wild Rover Hostel, the number one hostel in La Paz. Its bar is loud, its atmosphere is buzzing and makes for a very fun night meeting fellow travellers. Just don’t go to bed too late! Day two: 9.00am: HB Bronze Cafe South America boasts some incredible coffee. Luckily for you, HB Bronze Cafe recently popped up in the centre of La Paz and stocks some of the most incredible coffee beans from not just SA, but all around the world. Each coffee is brewed and served in its traditional way, so the baristas put on a bit of a show. 11.00am: walking tour I’m a massive fan of walking tours. In La Paz, Red Caps is known for its incredible walk through. They’re informative, quirky and very well organised. Plus, only cost $4! My tour starts at Plaza San Pedro and then continues on through the major markets of La Paz, San Francisco Church, Plaza Murillo and a complimentary drink at Sol y Luna cafe.   The guides are passionate about their city, the nation of Bolivia and, what they admit is, their crazy history. My favourite part of the tour? San Pedro Prison. Second favourite? The incredible chorizo sandwich you’ll down for lunch at the Rodriguez Market. 2.00pm: Cementerio General It sounds a bit funny, visiting a cemetery while on holiday, but you won’t ever see one quite like this. La Paz’s main city cemetery is vibrant and loving. The cemetery is so full that the graves are being stacked on top of each other and the street art on the side is big and bright.   The best time to go would be during Day of the Dead celebrations at the start of November. The best way to get there is by bus and during the day, as it isn’t located in the safest of areas for tourists with pickpockets and gangs lurking at night. 3.30pm – cable cars   [caption id="attachment_44369" align="alignnone" width="600"] Cable car, La Paz.[/caption] One significant feature of La Paz is its cable car system Mi Teleferico. It’s not only the most efficient way to get around the complicated city, but also the most impressive. The view of the canyon is second to none. To make the most of your trip, head on up to El Alto and visit the Flea Market, which is one of the biggest in the country.   Beware though, there are known to be pickpockets throughout this part of the city, so wear your backpack in front and pack away your camera. 5.30pm – Cholita Wrestling Show You can’t leave La Paz without heading to a Cholita Wresting Show. It’s the WWE of Bolivia and is quite the night out! It’s best to book a tour through your hotel as you want to go in a group and with locals. NOTE: Wrestling shows only run on Thursdays and Sundays so time your 48 hours wisely!
Celebrity Edge
Celebrity Edge is the ship that will change cruising forever
For Celebrity Cruises®, the name for its newest ship was obvious. Set to launch in December of this year, Celebrity Edge® is the ship that will change cruising forever.   This revolutionary ship is like no other before – every design element was pushed to the edge of possibility, and carefully considered to exceed all expectations. And that it does, with some of the most attainable luxury, innovation and transformational concepts at sea. Everyone gets a view – and a King sized bed ‘Some resorts have a beautiful view, ours has thousands’, Celebrity says of its suites on board Celebrity Edge®, which feel more like modern urban apartments than ship accommodation. The largest suites in the entire Celebrity fleet, Celebrity Edge’s Iconic Suites are located high above the bridge, making guests feel on top of the world – or perhaps at the edge of the Earth – with panoramic views, two bedrooms and two bathrooms, and an outdoor area with hot tub and day bed. The breathtaking two-storey Edge Villas are the first of their kind in the Celebrity fleet – boasting one bedroom, two bathrooms, private terraces, floor-to-ceiling windows, plunge pools and personal butler service. While those in the Edge Staterooms can, with the simple touch of a button, transform the entire stateroom into an ‘Infinite Verandah℠’. The floor-to-ceiling window retracts, allowing even larger living space and access to sea breeze whenever one likes. So long, pokey cabins and portholes!   The beauty of Celebrity Edge® is that all staterooms and suites offer a luxurious experience, due to its thoughtful design which allows for a king-size bed in 99 per cent of the rooms. There are also a number of interconnecting options, making it easier for larger families to comfortably travel together in a variety of accommodation options. Add to that twice-daily housekeeping, custom-blended bath products, and Celebrity’s eXhale™ bedding with exclusive Cashmere mattresses. Take a trip through the Garden of Eden Outside of guest sleeping quarters, the public areas also have an edge to them. No expense was spared, from a seven-tonne chandelier in The Grand Plaza that is the central gathering space, to 7000 square feet of glass in Eden, a space resplendent in lush greenery that transforms from day to night. It has a café and bar, indoor and al fresco dining, activities such as yoga, cooking classes, wine tasting and pairing, and artistic performances that are integrated into an unforgettable dining experience.   [caption id="attachment_44018" align="alignnone" width="1500"] First to ever be designed in 3D by world renowned architects and designers[/caption] Entertainment like you’ve never seen before ‘We’re not pulling back the curtain, we’re taking it away’, Celebrity says, with all aspects of the ship possessing a wow-factor, be it with performance, immersive or aesthetic. Though if you prefer to sit back and enjoy the spectacle, the entertainment at The Theatre has four shows that will keep guests on the edge of their seat, with transformative stages, projectors, spiralling staircases and aerial rigging. There’s an actual Magic Carpet hovering above the water But if that’s not extraordinary enough, make like Aladdin and take a Magic Carpet ride on board Celebrity Edge®. This unique feature is the world’s first cantilevered platform on the edge of the ship, 13 storeys above sea level. Transforming into different spaces, depending on which level it is on, the Magic Carpet can be a dining room, pool deck, or space for enrichment talks and workshops, with the added thrill of feeling like you’re soaring over the ocean. Private cabanas, martini hot tubs and film-inspired food Up on the pool deck, a 22-metre lap pool is flanked by sun lounges, private cabanas that overlook the ocean, and a couple of two-storey martini hot tubs (as in, they are shaped like a martini glass) offering a sky-high soak. The jogging track winds its way around a living Rooftop Garden, where you can feast on a barbecue grill, enjoy a cocktail, listen to live music and experience A Taste of Film, where the food is inspired by the film. [caption id="attachment_44019" align="alignnone" width="600"] Every design element was pushed to the edge of possibility, and carefully considered to exceed all expectations[/caption] Cuisine from around the globe Indeed, food, glorious food is a key part of the cruising experience, and onboard Celebrity Edge®, world class dining is at your fingertips. Gone are the days that it is all just about gluttonous buffets. On board Celebrity Edge® guests have the exciting choice of four complimentary dining options! Choose between new American with global influences, refined French cuisine, Mediterranean fare and rustic Italian, with ample spots to relax with a drink, whether it be at the dazzling Martini Bar, country club-style Sunset Bar or the glitz and glamour of the Casino Bar.   Rivalling some of the world’s most luxurious hotels, the Celebrity Edge® is cutting-edge design, a refreshing new-look cruising experience that brings luxury to everyone. Details To find out where Celebrity Edge® is sailing, visit http://www.cruising.com.au/ Or call 1800 270 747 for more information.    
Tried and tested: where to eat, drink and sleep in Tulum, Mexico
Tuck into inventive Mexican cuisine in secret gardens and sip mezcal by campfire; sleep beach-side in boutique hotels and jump into bright blue sinkholes. Bikes cruise down a winding road that leads through the jungle. Dreamcatchers displayed outside shopfronts turn in the breeze. Street signs reading ‘Be here now’, ‘Follow that dream’ and ‘Know thyself’ sit between resorts.   Welcome to Tulum, Mexico, the hippie-luxe town two hours south of Cancun on the Yucatan Peninsula. Despite its steady stream of international tourists, Tulum still hasn’t lost much of the boho charm that put it on the map in the first place. Most of its hotels are eco-conscious and nearly all of its restaurants seem to be at one with their surroundings. [caption id="attachment_43035" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Papaya Playa Project restaurant[/caption] Though Tulum is beachside, it’s more than just a beach town. It’s got ancient ruins, stunning cenotes and award-winning dining. If you haven’t thought about heading here, do. Here, some picks for what to try when you’re there. EAT $ Tulum is divided into two areas: a ritzy, beachside tourist zone and a downtown pueblo with more down-to-earth prices. It’s in the latter that you’ll find Burrito Amor. The vegetarian-friendly cafe is unassuming with open sides, foldable chairs and its most expensive meal is priced at a reasonable 185 pesos (approx. $13).   But don’t let any of that fool you, the food – burritos and salads – and drinks – juices, cocktails and beers – here are top-notch. [caption id="attachment_43030" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Tacos are served[/caption] $$ Mexico’s known for its street food, but if you can’t speak Spanish and aren’t sure what to order, getting to it can often be near impossible. Enter Charly’s Vegan Tacos. The establishment at the far end of the tourist zone has created a name for itself for its colourful, flavourful meals and homemade sauces served at wooden tables scattered in front of a food truck.   Start with the fried plantain bananas with tofu and garlic cream before digging into the porkless cracklings or soyrizo and cheese. $$ Also in the tourist zone is Safari. It’s another no-frills affair with a fire pit and Airstream trailer setup, and an undercover patio dining area to the side. Inspired by traditional Mexican recipes but adding a campfire twist, the restaurant uses all local ingredients and makes its tortillas from scratch.   Among its tacos, of note are the shrimp, served with mole verde green sauce, and the fire-roasted octopus. If you’re still hungry, try the yuca truffle fries. And if you’re feeling like a drink, sip on a mezcal. $$$ Its tagline ‘secret garden’ should give you some idea of what to expect at Cenzontle. The intimate restaurant, seemingly carved into the lush forest, is an enchanting retreat set back from the tourist zone’s busy main road.   Its concise menu consists of mostly meat- and seafood-focused Mexican meals, all with an inventive twist and prettily presented. Don’t miss the beef barbacoa with bone marrow sauce and the duck carnitas tacos. And, as with most restaurants in Tulum, don’t forget to bring mosquito repellent. DRINK                                                         $ Within the downtown pueblo, Batey Mojito & Guarapo Bar is known as the place for a night out. The popular dive bar has mojitos made with sugar cane juice you can watch being crushed in a converted VW Beetle, affordable prices – all drinks are about 100 pesos (approx. $7) – and live music most nights.   Sit at the front bar or at a picnic table in the back gravel area and choose from specialty mojitos like ginger, passionfruit and watermelon. Word of warning: they’re strong here. $$ You’ll find Gitano in the tourist zone. It was such a hit that its owners recently opened a second spot in New York City. One look at it and it’s not hard to see why. Tucked into the jungle, the restaurant and bar is lit only by candles and fairy lights.   The smoke and aroma of copal, an incense used by the Mayans for spiritual cleansing, wafts through the place. Go on a Friday and arrive at around 11pm when the disco and house DJs begin playing. Slide into a booth or take a seat at one of its three bars and order yourself a mezcal cocktail. $$$ If Friday nights are for Gitano, Saturdays are all about Papaya Playa Project. If you’re having dinner here first, arrive around 8pm. [caption id="attachment_43037" align="alignleft" width="1500"] Music at Papaya Playa Project[/caption] That should give you plenty of time to tuck into a delicious feed before the party kicks off around 11pm. If you’re instead arriving around then, expect a cover charge with its rate depending on the DJ or artist performing. If you’re coming with a big group, it might be worth getting bottle service at a booth. Once a month a Full Moon party is held here and goes until 4am. SLEEP $ Though newly-opened Holistika Hotel is only a few minutes’ drive from Tulum’s main pueblo drag, a stay here will have you convinced you’re in the heart of the jungle. Walking across its sprawling grounds, you’ll hear birds chirping, leaves rustling in the wind and little else.   There’s an on-site restaurant called Tierra, regular yoga and meditation classes, two massive pools and an art walk. Accommodation is separated into adults-only and family-friendly. With only 24 rooms, you’ll want to book ahead. [caption id="attachment_43038" align="alignleft" width="800"] Bedroom at Holistika[/caption] $$ A beachfront home-turned-boutique hotel, Casa Malca in the tourist zone has attracted the likes of Elle Macpherson, Leonardo DiCaprio and Cara Delevingne.   Designed and styled by art collector Lio Malca, who purchased the abandoned mansion in 2013, the hotel is filled with striking contemporary art. Sculptures of ants crawl across the ceilings.   A piece by American artist KAWS sits near the impressive doorway. Unmarked front gates and a secret underground pool add to its edginess. $$$ Where to even begin when describing Azulik Hotel? Designed with the idea of reconnecting with yourself in mind, the eco-friendly hotel created by a self-taught architect is a maze of 48 rooms – some ocean-facing and perched above the jungle’s canopy – a spa, a clothing-optional beach club, three restaurants and a neighbouring art gallery.   Structures, mostly made from bejuco wood native to the area, are connected by winding pathways and stepping stones over decorative pools of water. EXPLORE $ There are more than 3000 cenotes (sinkholes) on the Yucatan Peninsula but within Tulum, Grand Cenote is the most popular. Right outside downtown pueblo, it’s actually comprised of several cenotes all connected by wooden walkways.   The water is bright blue in some parts, light green in others, and jumping into it in the searing heat is a real treat. Pay the extra few pesos to rent snorkel equipment and see fish beneath its surface. Post-swim, dry off near the lily pond as you watch turtles swim by. $ Despite also being minutes from the downtown pueblo, Cenote Calavera, also known as The Temple of Doom, has surprisingly remained undiscovered by tourists. The cenote can best be described as ‘jug-like’ with its rocky roof seemingly sliced off to reveal a pool of fresh water below.   A ladder is installed in the largest hole and can be used to climb down, but the two smaller other holes can only be jumped into. If you’re lucky, you might spy one of the many iguanas that live around it. $$ The Tulum Ruins is one of the only archaeological sites in the world that overlooks a crashing sea below. The ruins provide a glimpse into the town’s powerful past as a thriving seaport. Open from 8am–5pm, the ruins can get crowded with tour groups so come early.   If you’re arriving by car, skip the expensive car parks next to the site – you’ll find free parking across the main street. If you’re interested in learning more about Mayan culture, opt for a guide. Otherwise, reading the information from a Mexico guidebook or an online site should do the trick.
Cuba in 10 days: the ultimate itinerary
From stepping back in time to explore the hallowed streets of Old Havana to enjoying the best mojito of your life on a beautiful Caribbean beach, a trip to Cuba is the experience of a lifetime. Whether you’re a backpacker on a budget or a luxury honeymooner, Cuba has something to suit every travel style. But in saying that, it’s important to have a solid itinerary mapped out before you leave. Here are our top tips on making the most of your time in this intoxicating country. Plan your accommodation ahead of time This isn’t really a turn-up-and-book-a-hotel kind of place. Making changes to holiday plans last minute isn't always easy in Cuba. With minimal internet access and certain go-to travel sites like Airbnb blocked once inside the country, simple tasks like booking last-minute accommodation suddenly become annoyingly difficult. Apps to download before you leave home First things first, download the apps. No, I’m not talking about Tinder, rather Triposo, CityMaps2Go and Google Translate. These three apps saved our behinds a number of times and all work perfectly offline. Triposo Triposo is like your portable travel guide. It grabs information from Wikipedia, Wikitravel, and elsewhere, and bundles it all together into a useful, easy-to-use offline guide, which you download prior to arrival. After you’ve downloaded the data pack of the country you’re heading to you’ll have activities, hotels, restaurants, maps and basic directions, all at your fingertips. CityMaps2Go Next, we recommend CityMaps2Go. Pretty similar to Triposo, as in you download a data pack prior to arrival. In this case we downloaded the entire road map of Cuba, making navigating the country super easy and convenient. Google Translate and Duolingo And lastly, Google Translate and Duolingo. New Year’s Eve 2017: among some other rather vain resolutions about chiselling a six pack and whitening my teeth, I vowed to learn Spanish for my impending visit to Cuba.   Via Duolingo I proposed to spend at least half an hour each day learning the basics. Come June and my New Year’s resolution was about as complete as Donald Trump’s wall, as I’d only reached a 7 per cent fluency rate. So unless someone was saying hello or goodbye, my Spanish was pretty useless. If in doubt just use Google Translate.   Now for the fun part. We split our trip up into two parts. Landing in Havana, we allowed ourselves five days and then bussed down to Trinidad for four days, then back to Havana for the final two. Havana ooh na na Touching down in Havana, we are buzzing and excited to sink our teeth into the city we’d read so much about. Lo and behold a 1950s Chevrolet Bel Air – slightly beat up but seriously impressive – greeted us on arrival.   Eagerly jumping in, our authentic Cuban experience had started straight off the plane. As our driver began to leave the airport we both instinctively reached for the non-existent seat belts, which I have to admit took some getting used to. The option to jump in a safer more modern car is always there, but make sure you negotiate the price before you commit to the journey. Where to stay in Havana We booked our accommodation – a casa particular – in the heart of the old town and found it via Airbnb. A common accommodation option throughout the country, a casa particular is a privately owned house that rents out either rooms or the entire place to visitors.   It had a bed and breakfast-type feel, with hosts offering meals, assisting with transport and giving local tips and tricks on what to see, eat and explore. For this leg of our journey, we booked a casa which consisted of the entire place, rather than staying with a family.   Alternatively there are loads of hotels to stay in but most are rather expensive and government-owned, which doesn't really help the Cuban people. We also found that hotels just kind of gave themselves their own star rating. Most claiming to be four star-plus, when in actual fact their fans don’t work and their light switches may electrocute you. So do your research. The best things to do in Havana Explore the cobbled streets of Old Havana We were taken back in time as kids played soccer in the street and old men played checkers on the side of the road. Horse-led carts cruised through the narrow alleys carrying fresh fruit and vegetables, while a man went restaurant to restaurant trying to sell today’s catch, lugging huge fish on his back. The absence of wi-fi – something we’re increasingly taking for granted in cities today – means that the streets were full of interaction, making for an extremely buzzing and lively city. [caption id="attachment_32537" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Havana, the capital of Cuba, is one of the oldest cities in the Caribbean. 'Old Havana' is a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1982.[/caption] From Plaza Vieja, a giant square filled with bars, restaurants and music to Obispo Street, which runs all the way into one of Hemingway’s favourite bars, El Floridita, you’ll smash your 10,000 steps before lunch and that's only scratching the surface. Walk and relax at the Malecón The Malecón photographs better than a sunset over Waikiki and comes jam-packed with people-watching entertainment.   The eight-kilometre strip, which runs from Havana Harbour in the old town to the central business district of Vedado, is loved by both locals and tourists, who set up camp in the late afternoon to farewell the Caribbean sun with a rum and a rumba. Find a good spot, BYO rum and don’t forget your sunglasses. Take a day trip to Santa Maria del Mar With white sand and clear blue waters all around, this coastline is about a 30-minute taxi ride from Havana and will cost you about 25 bucks each way. The hardest part of your day will be deciding which beach bar to commit to.   The whole strip consists of small bars offering refreshments, beach umbrellas and chairs. Relax as the ocean laps on the shore accompanied by the distant sound of locals trying to sell hats, bracelets and massages. Meet the locals and learn to salsa Cuba is synonymous with salsa, and at night most Havana bars and nightclubs turn into salsa clubs. It’s up to you to ask for a dance. This might sound intimidating, but I found that more often than not, the friendly pros were willing to help a goofy westerner with two left feet like me learn the basics. [caption id="attachment_16882" align="alignleft" width="1000"] Local school children look especially cute in their uniforms[/caption] Treat yourself to luxury Four words...Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski. Yes it’s a mouthful, yes it’s expensive and yes the elevator is slightly frightening, but save this for your last day in the country as you unwind and relax. Disclaimer: we did not stay here – it’s around $400 USD per night.   We did however pay $60 USD to use its facilities, which include a panoramic pool terrace, where the city views and the infinity pool become one, a gym and state-of-the-art day spa that includes daybeds, an ice bath, a steam room, a sauna, a massage spa, relaxation areas and free fruit and water. I left feeling a million bucks and about five years younger. Trinidad If you’re an Instagram advocate, Trinidad will get your wall buzzing faster than a bee hive. This picturesque preserved colonial town is absolutely gorgeous, with brightly coloured buildings and cobblestone streets. Not to mention being located on the foothills of the Topes de Collantes national park and just 15 minutes from beautiful Playa Ancón. Where to stay in Trinidad Getting to Trinidad involved a six-hour bus ride from Havana and was actually pretty easy. We once again stayed at a local casa particular but this time opted to stay with a Cuban family, which gave us an interesting insight into everyday life. The host also did our washing, which was super handy. The best things to do in Trinidad While this this town offers a variety of activities for both the evening and during the day, it relies heavily on tourism, so you find yourself being almost overwhelmed by local touts. I would recommend spending three to four days here. A day for the beach, a day for the national park and waterfalls and day to explore the town (where you’ll most likely end up back at the beach). Hire bikes and ride down to Playa Ancón The gorgeous sands of Playa Ancón are about a 15-kilometre bike ride (mostly downhill) from the centre of town. The ride takes you through some truly beautiful countryside and small towns, giving you the option to stop and swim along the way.   You’ll be dodging small crabs that scurry across the road as you embark on the journey to the main beach. Once you’ve arrived, you can park your bike and (just like the beaches in Havana) hire a chair and umbrella for the rest of the day. Hike to a waterfall and swim under it Within an hour’s drive of Trinidad, there are hundreds of waterfalls and hikes ready to be explored. Vegas Grande is about a six-kilometre hike and a little hard to get to, but leads to one of the most picturesque waterfalls I have ever seen.   We got a local taxi driver from town to run us up the mountain and wait for us as we embarked on the journey. If you’ve seen The Beach, it’s pretty close to the scene when the three explorers struggle through the bushland to finally emerge into paradise. We were lucky enough to have it all to ourselves– besides the Cuban lifeguard who was napping anyway. Experience Disco Ayala What would you get if Calvin Harris went hiking and stumbled upon a huge cave? A nightclub of the most unique persuasion. Disco Ayala is a five-minute walk from the centre of town and kicks off at about 11pm.   This giant cave has been transformed into what is probably one of the coolest nightclubs in the world. Descending down the winding staircase, you’ll find yourself suddenly on a dancefloor surrounded by dripping walls, disco balls and great music. Explore and have a drink on the staircase next to Casa de la Música Like Havana, Trinidad has winding streets and alleys that could be explored for hours. Wandering around the cobblestone streets, it won’t be long before you’ll find yourself rather thirsty. The staircase next to the Casa de la Música offers fresh mojitos and live music and also acts as a gathering place for many tourists as it’s a wi-fi hotspot. Don’t forget to wear flats. The cobblestones are hard enough to negotiate even before adding alcohol.
Hotel Escondido is a hideaway oasis on the Mexican coast
A palm-thatched Design Hotel on Mexico’s Pacific Coast is the ultimate hideaway, as Celeste Mitchell discovers over a mezcal margarita and Oaxacan delicacies. 
Explora Salto Chico hotel, overlooking Lake Pehoé, the Salto Chico waterfall and the Torres del Paine range.
The best luxury hotels in Patagonia
If you've never thought of visiting Patagonia, you should - there's hidden gems a'plenty. Chilean Patagonia recently welcomed its first two new luxury resorts in over a decade. These are the four most dynamic digs at the end of the world. Explora Salto Chico [caption id="attachment_48203" align="alignnone" width="600"] Explora Patagonia was one of the first of its kind[/caption] A luxury trailblazer since 1993, Explora Salto Chico is still crazily beautiful after all these years.   Many of its 49 rooms and suites have private outdoor jacuzzis, and all have panoramic views of Lake Pehoé, the Salto Chico waterfall or the Torres del Paine range.   Expeditions include treks and horseback rides through the national park, comprising the Southern Ice Fields, Lakes Paine and Sarmiento, AsciendoRiverValley and Toro Heights.   Explora’s dining room also serves an exceptional selection of Chilean wines, and offers guided tastings.   From $2660 for a minimum of four nights. The Singular [caption id="attachment_48204" align="alignnone" width="600"] Overlook the Andes at The Singular[/caption] Opened in 2012, The Singular has 57 rooms overlooking the Andes, a chic spa and unparalleled connections to Chile’s culinary history.   Located in an impeccably renovated, 1915-era sheep processing plant, the industrial-chic property is run by descendants of the 19th century Spanish agriculturalist who first brought lambs to Patagonia.   Friendly guides lead exclusive excursions to the nearby fjords and mountains, and the exemplary onsite restaurant serves the best of the local bounty – like Patagonian hare, white strawberries and, yes, pasture-raised organic lamb.   From $550 per night. Tierra Patagonia [caption id="attachment_48206" align="alignnone" width="600"] Expect breathtaking views at Tierra[/caption] This 40-room resort also debuted in 2012, within southern Patagonia’s breathtaking Torres del Paine National Park.   Interiors have a Scandinavia-on-Lake-Sarmiento vibe, with sleek furniture made from indigenous blond wood alongside the occasional sheepskin throw or cowhide rug.   Floor-to-ceiling windows provide sweeping views of the lake, sky and grassy plains filled with grazing sheep and guanaco.   The resort also has guided excursions throughout the park, a welcoming restaurant and the fantastic Uma Spa, where an outdoor jacuzzi and indoor cascade pool overlook the park’s eponymous peaks.   From $1870 for a minimum of three nights. Indigo Patagonia [caption id="attachment_48202" align="alignnone" width="600"] Expect funky interiors and majestic views[/caption] The most urban of the group, Indigo Patagonia, is located in charmingly scruffy port town Puerto Natales.   In 2006, the boutique hotel underwent a major renovation by Chilean architect Sebastián Irrazával.   The result is a funky mix of Nordic furnishings, unadorned woodwork and a multi-story eucalyptus wall.   The 29 rooms are sparse but comfortable, and the knockout rooftop spa has three outdoor jacuzzis with views of the grey fjords and glaciers.   From $265 per night.