6 things to know about South America before you travel there Plus complimentary night in a luxury hotel
Machu Picchu, Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls are iconic attractions visitors to South America flock to but there’s a lot more to see and do across the vast continent. As the longest-running Latin America travel operator in Australia, Contours Travel has released a list of six things to know about South America before you travel there.
- South America is huge
The continent comprises 13 countries and covers 17.84 million square kilometres. This means you won’t be able to see it all in one holiday. Instead, focus on exploring one area in more depth and more slowly.
- Learn a few words of Spanish before you go
Picking up a Spanish phrase book and learning the basic greetings and phrases will put you in good stead with the locals you encounter. Nine of the continent’s 13 countries have Spanish as their official language and even mastering just a few words of the local lingo will help you have more meaningful interactions with the people you meet.
- There are a huge variety of walks on offer
South America is home to deserts, mountains, national parks, rainforests, glaciers and ice caps – all of which can be explored on foot. Whether it’s trekking up the Andes in Argentina, exploring the national parks of Brazil, journeying through the spectacular Atacama Desert or discovering one of the six Inca trails around the Sacred Valley near Machu Picchu, walking is a great way to immerse yourself in your surroundings.
* Contours travel offers a lodge to lodge walk to Machu Picchu on the Inca tail –www.contourstravel.com.au/tours/salkantay-lodge-to-lodge-inca-trail
- You can stay in haciendas that are over 100 years old
When travelling to South America, you don’t have to stay in cookie-cutter hotels all the time. Instead, opt to stay in character-filled haciendas (farmhouses) which dot the countryside in Ecuador, Argentina, Bolivia, Chile and other South American countries. Contours Travel offers an eight-day hike through the Avenue of Volcanoes in Ecuador, with travelers staying in lovingly restored haciendas along the way.
- Colombia is the home of the world’s best coffee
Australians love their coffee and Colombia is known for making the world’s finest brew. The climate, topography and tropical Andean forest all contribute to the production of such high quality beans and Australians visiting the region can see the plantation and production of coffee at work, including the harvest, sun-drying and processing. Contours Travel offers a five-day, self-drive ‘Coffee Triangle’ tour:
- You can help improve the lives of the people you visit
In Australia we have instant access to clean drinking water, but it’s not the case for children in rural areas of Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia. Contours Travel offers travellers on its popular Treasures of South America tour the opportunity to donate a portable water purifier to a remote community, which they can deliver personally and help install, providing a way for them to give back to the countries they visit.
Contours Travel offers its own unique 27-day ‘Treasures of South America’ tour to five countries including Peru where guests can give a remote Peruvian community water filters. Departures available from March to November, 2017. www.contourstravel.com.au/tours/treasures-of-south-america/
Free luxury accommodation in Chile
Australians who book three nights at the luxurious winery resort of Vina Vik Millahue Hotel in Chile will receive a free night at the five-star hotel, Singular Santiago.
Nestled in a winery and surrounded by mountains 160km south of Santiago, the Vina Vik Millahue offers spectacular views, an infinity pool and guest enjoy full board indulgence with a glass of wine for lunch and a bottle per couple at dinner. A complimentary mini bar, free wi-fi, winery tour and transfers from Santiago are also included in the package. When booking a three-night stay from A$2367 per person, twin-share., including all meals, guests will receive one free night at the five-star Singular Santiago.
The deal is available until sold out and valid for stays from January 5 to April 30, 2017, except February 25-28. Call Contours Travel on 1300 135 391 or visit www.contourstravel.com.au/tours/vina-vik
* Established in 1975, Contours Travel is the leading Latin America travel agency in Australia, focusing purely on South and Central America. Contours Travel offers hosted tours and the opportunity for travellers to custom-design their own routes across the diverse and beautiful region.