Tag Archives: south america

20140416-092349.jpg

Santiago, Chile: Cosmopolitan Paradise

20140416-092147.jpg

We don’t know what we were expecting when we arrived in Santiago airport, but a cosmopolitan, modern city filled with wide streets, Spanish colonial architecture, an endless array of designer stores and the finest fine dining going around, was not it.

Alas, mass media has pulled the wool over our eyes once again – there is much more to Chile than dry deserts and glaciers. This city easily outdoes a lot of European cities we have visited. The prices for eating out are on par with Melbourne (subtext: expensive). Accommodation is likely some of the most expensive in South America, alongside Buenos Aires, given the country is wealthy and has had a strong economic performance over the last 20 years.

We’re staying in the picturesque, bohemian neighboured of Bellavista (pronounced Beyahvista, since double L’s are spoken as a Y). There is a law university across from our hostel, so everyday we are in the midst of countless students, and consequently, are in the vicinity of cool, rustic bars and amazing, classy restaurants, which are situated in Patio Bellavista – an arcade of restaurants, bars, and stalls selling Chilean copper ornaments. The street art around the streets is actual art, not the scruffy graffiti that’s often seen in most cities. There are some spectacular pieces up the backstreets, as one walks toward San Cristobal.

We were excited to visit Valparaiso, but have since had to cancel as the country’s worst-ever bush fires have destroyed much of the port side city, leaving at last count, 12,500 people homeless, and at least 15 dead.
That’s now two earthquakes, two tsunamis, and a deadly bushfire in the space of two weeks for Chile. The president has declared it a disaster zone and a state of emergency, and right now, the entire city is under military rule.

We will get a bus down there for the day, but as much as we would love to stay, it wouldn’t feel right since there’s so much tragedy.

We’re off now to eat more empanadas and drink pisco sours (the strongest drink since Hungarian palinka). Santiago has really left us speechless. You would be hard pressed to find a city like this in Europe, let alone anywhere else. Oh I forgot to mention the most important part: Santiago is surrounded by the Andes!

20140416-092426.jpg

20140416-092438.jpg

20140416-092446.jpg

20140416-092502.jpg

20140416-092559.jpg

The Beach Film

Latin America: The Journey Begins

Latin America, here we come!

We depart for Chile Monday morning from Melbourne, with a stopover in Sydney. From there, it’s a 12 hour flight to Santiago, and once in Santiago, we will be hiring bikes to explore the poetic capital by wheel! Some of history’s greatest ever poets resided in Chile, such as Pablo Neruda and Ruben Dario, who flicked their poetic prose down south in Valparaiso. This is where we will be celebrating Easter – Latin America’s street art capital:

Real street "art" - not substandard graffiti!
Real street “art” – not substandard graffiti!

 

After celebrating Easter in Chile, we will be catching a bus across the Argentina border into Mendoza – the world famous wine region. The weather is in the mid-20s everywhere we’re visiting, until we go “to the end of the world” a.k.a Patagonia, down South at the tip of Antarctica, where it will be below zero. We decided to prolong our stay in Patagonia, since Sam wants to climb the Perito Moreno glacier, and I want to hike Monte Fitz Roy – two amazing journeys that will take upwards of 10 hours to complete.

We’ll keep you posted with photos and travel stories soon! Leave comments or questions below :)

 

2599536890_c23afcfaec_o

Patagonia: Pure Adventure!

In four weeks, we leave for Chile before crossing the border into Argentina. First on the agenda is Mendoza, a region made famous by the wine it produces, and the trekking, water rafting, horse riding, and snow sports it has on offer. After this, we will be making our way to one of the harshest, most isolated places on Earth: Patagonia.

Perito Moreno

Perito_Moreno_Glacier_Patagonia_Argentina_Luca_Galuzzi_2005

Patagonia is located at the very bottom of Argentina, and is home to the Perito Moreno Glacier, and Monte Fitz Roy. Fitz Roy has a reputation for being an extreme hike, despite its average height, due to the sheer granite faces present long stretches of arduous technical climbing. In addition, the weather in the area is exceptionally inclement and treacherous. Bear Grylls did an episode here, which showcased just how unpredictably dangerous the terrain can be. Crevasses hidden beneath the snow appear at random throughout the mountain, which can drop down into pure darkness. Instant death, or at least a painful one, is virtually guaranteed.

Monte Fitz Roy at sunset
Monte Fitz Roy at sunset

Only recently, famed climber Chad Kellog was killed on the mountain when a boulder struck him on the mountain. The area is stunning, and arguably one of the most beautiful, most remote places you can find on earth, but there’s a risk in such harsh conditions. But that’s what travellers live for: To explore new horizons, to see new places, to experience culture, and ultimately, to live freely.

We’ll be updating Backpacker Adventures during our South America and Central America journey over the next six months, and invite you to leave any advice, thoughts, or questions you may have!

Hitting the open road again! It's the only time I feel "at home"
Hitting the open road again! It’s the only time I feel “at home”

Have you visited Patagonia, or know of anybody who has? This will be my first time in South and Central America, so leave me some tips if you like! If anybody happens to be around, some Argentinian wine and travel story trading would be most welcome!

Happy travelling! :)

the beach film

The Beach Film: Inspiration For Backpackers

The Beach film has inspired a generation of backpackers to circle the globe, in search of adventure, cultural understanding, and to break away from the monotonous routine of an office cubicle.

the beach film

The Beach film is also responsible for the avalanche of backpackers who find their way navigating the mean streets of Bangkok, the alarming roadways of Phuket, and the picturesque beaches of Koh Samui. Backpackers can find beauty in every corner, on every street, and in every locale that they frequent and explore, but more often than not, they’ll agree that Bangkok is a hectic, polluted city, that Phuket’s exploitation of the sex industry (including the illegal side) ruins it completely, but that all is salvaged once Koh Samui welcomes their arrival.

the beach film

The Beach film is perhaps best known for flinging travellers and tourists towards Koh Phi Phi Don, as they hitch a boat towards the beaches of Maya Bay – the famous location where The Beach film was shot. Although the film has received questionable reviews on Rotten Tomatoes, one has to look beyond what the critics say, and reflect on what this cult film does for the legion of backpackers who relate to Richard (played by Leonardo DiCaprio).

Richard embodies the typical backpacker, who is in search of something more, in search of something  different, more visceral, more real. They wait for it to hit them. They go out with a group of friends, or they go out with their partners, or perhaps, on their own; whatever number accompanies them, they search for their own piece of paradise – something which is as much mental as it is physical. Legions of backpackers just like Richard come to Maya Bay in a ritualistic, rite of passage journey – let’s call it the backpacker’s mecca, because that’s exactly what it is. But backpackers soon find that the mecca is just that – overrun with hoards of people, leaving nothing to the imagination of what this place was like when Richard, Etienne and Francois discovered it.

the beach film

The great, leaping metaphor of The Beach film is that it compels travellers to get out into the world, and discover their own piece of paradise. I’ve found on my journeys that more often than not, deviating from the beaten path has been more rewarding than trampling the weathered roads. This isn’t about being elitist, and pointing the finger at somebody and saying “Hey, you, the Eiffel Tower sucks compared to the Catacombs,” or approaching Greek Island hoppers and laughing, telling them “You don’t know the real Greece until you’ve weathered the long road to Serres, Thessaloniki, and the remote areas of Rhodos.” Because what I’ve come to find is that, like Richard from The Beach film, people travel for their own reasons. I often wonder what backpackers say about Australia, using this line of reasoning, when ousting Bondi Beach, Byron Bay, and the Gold Coast from their list of special places Down Under.

the beach film

I wonder this because sometimes, these places are popular for a reason. You would, in fact, be hard pressed to find a beach as amazing as Bondi in New South Wales, or a rainforest as sublime as the Daintree. If The Beach film taught backpackers anything, it’s exactly that: Paradise is whatever paradise is to you. Paradise is not a universal place, it’s a personal refuge that suits our ideals, values, and ethics.

The only thing that ruins paradise, as The Beach film projects, is that paradise can only be kept a secret for so long. Once the crowds come, the development comes, and special places end up being overcrowded by hotel conglomerates and cruise ships. It sucks, but understanding that everybody has the equal right to travel in whichever way they please, I can’t argue with it. I don’t want to be unfair, and exclude people from the opportunity to experience something special for them, simply because it doesn’t match or agree with my thoughts on the situation.

the beach film

The Beach film has inspired me to travel all over Australia, Fiji, Switzerland, France, Malta, Italy, Greece, Hungary, Czech Republic, United Kingdom, Spain, The Netherlands, USA, China, Thailand, the Philippines and Singapore. It’s the reason I’m leaving in 7 weeks to backpack through Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Bolivia, Peru, Ecuador, Galapagos Islands, Brazil, Colombia, San Blas Islands, Panama, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Cuba, and the Caribbean. Damn, I might just chuck Belize in there for good measure too ;) The Beach film is the reason for this, which is why I have dedicated a post to the movie.

The Beach film has done more than that though, and I’ll share those thoughts with you all over time. My question is this: Have you seen The Beach film (if not, hire it now), and if so, has it inspired you to travel? I’d love to know the places you’ve been to, so feel free to leave a comment and share your own piece of paradise – if you dare….

hotel-kakslauttanen-igloo-village-lead

The Craziest Hotels In The World!

How cool are these hotels?!

1. Äscher Cliff, Switzerland

Website: myswitzerland.com

Website: myswitzerland.com

2. Hotel Kakslauttanen, Finland

amazing-hotels-10-1 2

Website: kakslauttanen.fi

3. Ladera Resort, St. Lucia

amazing-hotels-34amazing-hotels-34-1

 

Website: ladera.com

4. The Manta Resort, Zanzibar

amazing-hotels-41

amazing-hotels-42

Image credits: Genberg Underwater Hotels

Image credits: Genberg Underwater Hotels

5. Rayavadee Krabi, Thailand

Website: rayavadee.com

Website: rayavadee.com

6. Shangri La, Paris

Website: shangri-la.com

Website: shangri-la.com

7. Hotel Ristorante Grotta Palazzese Polignano a Mare, Italy

Website: grottapalazzese.it

Website: grottapalazzese.it

8. Conrad Maldives, Rangali Island

amazing-hotels-2-2

Website: conradhotels3.hilton.com

Website: conradhotels3.hilton.com

9. Panchoran Retreat, Bali

Website: panchoran-retreat.com

Website: panchoran-retreat.com

10. Hotel Ubud Hanging Gardens, Indonesia

amazing-hotels-32-1

Website: hanginggardensubud.com

Website: hanginggardensubud.com

11. Attrap Reves Hotel, France

amazing-hotels-23

Website: attrap-reves.com

Website: attrap-reves.com

12. Katikies Hotel-Oia, Greece

katikies.com

katikies.com

13. Hotel Le Sirenuse, Amalfi Coast, Italy

Website: sirenuse.it

Website: sirenuse.it

14. Ice Hotel in Jukkasjarvi, Sweden

amazing-hotels-1-3

Website: icehotel.com

Website: icehotel.com

15. The Cambrian Hotel, Adelboden, Switzerland

Website: thecambrianadelboden.com

Website: thecambrianadelboden.com

16. Dedon Island Resort

Website: dedonisland.com

Website: dedonisland.com

Website: homesteadresort.com
Website: homesteadresort.com 

 

18. Villa Escudero, Philippines

amazing-hotels-24-1

 

Website: villaescudero.com

Website: villaescudero.com

19. Hotel-Restaurant Öschinensee, Switzerland

Website: oeschinensee.ch

Website: oeschinensee.ch

20. Astarte Suits Hotel, Greece

amazing-hotels-8

Website: astartesuites.gr

Website: astartesuites.gr

21. Montana Magica Lodge, Chile

Website: huilohuilo.com

Website: huilohuilo.com

Know of anymore? Leave them in the comments below!

Facebook

Backpacker Adventures on Facebook! Help Us Grow :)

Backpacker Adventures would love for you to help us grow on social media! This travel blog is growing by the day and we would love to expand it to Facebook, so we can share travel stories, posts, travel quotes, beautiful photography, and insider tips to the best travel spots on the planet!

Like us on Facebook and invite all of your Friends to as well! Share our posts on social media and help us grow – we promise it will be worth it! :)

Because our Facebook is only one day old, we have a lonely 2 Likes. Whoever can get us the most Likes across Facebook will WIN A FREE BACKPACKER ADVENTURE EBOOK! (#1 iTunes Bestseller)

http://www.facebook.com/backpackeradventures 

facebookIcon2

Valparaiso

On Our Way to Chile! Stop One of South America 2014!

So the adventures continue well into 2014! 

And so they should. Ever since travelling overseas for the first time in 2005, my life has changed for the better: Seeing new places, having fun with new faces, and absorbing culture on a molecular level which has enhanced my mind and nourished my soul.

To all my fellow travellers out there, I know you feel the same!

In April, we will be flying from Australia into Santiago, Chile, where we will travel, explore, and experience everything the good Chileans have to offer! Valparaiso has really caught my eye, and for those of you who haven’t heard about this port side city, imagine a colourful plethora of street art that illuminates the buildings. Imagine true street artists decorating a quiet, Latin American neighbourhood, then picture yourself immersed in the southern city.

street-mural-valapariso-chile_62058_600x450

There are very few places in the world I have visited, where a city has literally been painted with such artistic fortitude. I stumbled across this city by chance, actually: Originally we weren’t sure if we would tackle Santiago, followed by a few wine regions, and then thanks to the power of random Google entries and an inkling that Chile MUST offer more than well, wine (not that there’s anything wrong with wine, believe me…), this is what we stumbled upon:

Street-Art-Valparaiso-1000x658

Valpo

Graffiti-in-Valparaiso-Chile-1000x848

If that’s not enough to make all you backpackers take a second look at Chile, I don’t know what is! I’m excited to see this all for myself, immerse myself in the street art scene, and discover more great artwork that I can share with you all on Backpacker Adventures! 

Have you been to Chile before? Or have you almost skipped over a country you didn’t think was worth visiting, only to discover, like I did, at the last minute that something truly astounding was waiting to be explored? Let us know in the comments below, we would love to hear from you!