We Present To You The Best Of The Best…
1. For Variety Head to… Chile!
It is the longest north-south country in the world (over 4,000km) which means it has 10 different climatic zones from ice caps in the South to the world’s driest desert, the Atacama, in the north. It’s not just about the climate though, the buildings, food and culture can vary enormously. In the alpine ski resorts you could be mistaken for being in Germany but in Viña del Mar the glitzy beach promenade is more like Miami or Marbella. This means that whatever you’re after from your backpacker experience you’ll probably be able to find it in this incredible country.
2. For Nightlife Head to… Colombia!
Brazil and Argentina may have buckets of nightlife to offer but Colombia’s third city Calí is the world’s undisputed capital of Salsa with handfuls of salsotecas pulsating til dawn. Some hostels offer free salsa classes so you don’t become a complete embarrassment when you give it a go after too many aguardientes. Bogotá is one of the continent’s coolest capitals and is one of the most up and coming clubbing destinations in the world. Personal safety is no longer the concern it was and now welcoming educated, stylish Colombians has helped to reinvent this and other cities from being drugs dens to progressive metropolises. One addition to most cities is the discotecas zooming around town on revamped Colombian buses. In Bogotá and Cartagena these Chiva Tours are around £10 per night for entry, transport and unlimited rum and Colombian doughnuts. Can’t say fairer than that.
For an undoubtable night of debauchery a chiva is sure to deliver!
3. For Beaches Head to… Brazil!
One country owns this category: Brazil. In fact the British expression ‘that’s my cup of tea’ has a Brazilian equivalent: “é minha praia”, Portuguese for ‘that’s my beach’. Say no more. From Uruguay to French Guiana its coastline streches for 8,000 kilometres which is longer than the distance between London and Mumbai and that’s not even including some of the river beaches on the world’s longest river, The Amazon There are over 2,000 beaches from buzzing Copacabana and Ipanema in Rio to more secluded tropical hideaways far up north in Bahía. Don’t just stick to the vast golden sands as the toasty waters of the Atlantic will no doubt persuade you into taking up surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing or diving. A few picks would be the hippy southern town of Florianópolis, chilling on the river beach on the Amazon at Alter do Chao with a freshly grilled fish or discovering your own on the unbelievable island of Ilha Grande. But honestly, there are no words that do some of these beaches any justice. You really DO need to go and explore them for yourself.
Mile after mile of unspoiled coast line- thank you Brazil!
4. For Food and Drink head to… Argentina!
Two words: wine and steak; enough said. Because of its climate and environment the country is arguably the best place in the world to taste both of them. Pretty much anywhere in Argentina you will find a prime steak and a good glass of malbec for a price much cheaper than at home.
5. For Activities head to… Peru and Bolivia!
It’s hard to choose between them so it’s got to be both of them: Bolivia AND Peru. There is one simple reason for this: The Andes. The world’s longest mountain range and the vast Altiplano calls out for off the beaten track adventures and what better reason to come to South America in the first place? Of course there is the famous Inca Trail and Machu Picchu in Peru and the Salt Flats in Bolivia but nearly every large town in these two countries will give you an opportunity to do something you’ve never done before. Trekking Che Guevara’s trail or climbing a peak over 6,000 metres need to be considered if you want to experience the real Andean countries.
Why not go sand surfing on the dunes in Nasca, Peru?
Written by: Harry Van Schaick