Ahh, spring time in Buenos Aires.
How to Travel to South America:
I get around a lot…meaning that I fly a ton. I’m on an airplane it seems every other week, and I’ve done my fair share of research in the South America airline industry. The best in the game is LAN Airlines, Latin America’s largest airline holding company based out of Santiago, Chile. Being a member of the oneworld alliance (basically a group of the most preferred airlines out there) with more than 750 destinations in over 150 countries around the world pretty much puts them at the top of my Bookmark Bar. In my experience, the company excels in offering various flight times and destinations, modern planes, in-flight services/amenities, helpful tips and resources for any questions you have (as there are many when traveling abroad), contests and discounts, and the most important feature – customer service.
I flew with LAN to Punta Arenas recently, and my plane was delayed for hours due to unfortunate weather. I was highly impressed with their prompt updates and meal vouchers at every step of the journey, given that I missed my connection due to the delay. I find it hard to complain too much with free food and wi-fi. Bravo, LAN. I commend you on your services even when things are out of your control. Mother Nature can be a bitch sometimes. LAN also operates long haul flights from New York, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco, which makes my life easier seeing how I’m back and forth between North and South America so often.
Much unlike Europe, South America isn’t too savvy with the rail system, which leaves planes and buses as the main means of transportation. If you do have a shorter time frame in South America, I urge you to A) extend it (you’ll thank yourself later) and B) never, ever take a long bus ride (you’ll curse yourself later).
Where to Travel in South America:
Many of you have been wondering what hot spots to hit around the continent. While there are a plethora of must-sees, here are some packages that you can see and do with LAN in around 10-12 days in the southern part of South America. I’ll be putting similar packages together in subsequent posts for other regions around the continent, so keep your eyes peeled and your bank accounts full.
Note that you’ll want to visit many of the below destinations during the South American summer months (North American winter months) as the seasons are reversed in the hemispheres, and the climates are unlike those of the tropics in northern parts of the continent.
Itinerary #1: It’s the End of the World As We Know It
Miami (MIA) to Buenos Aires (EZE) – Fri, Dec 5
Take a 9 hour overnight flight to the sultry city of Buenos Aires.
Buenos Aires (EZE)(AEP) to El Calafate (FTE) – Mon, Dec 8
Fly into El Calafate, the gateway to Argentine Patagonia. Hike the Perito Moreno glacier and pay a visit to Fitz Roy in El Chalten.
El Calafate (FTE) to Ushuaia (USH) – Thurs, Dec 11
Hang out with the penguins in world’s southernmost city. If you have another week+ to spare, I’d hit Antarctica while you down there. Might as well start swimming since you’re so close. If extreme weather isn’t your thing, continue on…
Ushuaia (USH) to Iguazu (IGR) – Sat, Dec 13
Fly from Ushuaia to the famous Iguazu Falls (stop over in Buenos Aires) – a must-see attraction.
Iguazu (IGR) to Buenos Aires (EZE)(AEP) to HOME – Mon, Dec 15
Itinerary #2: Cold and Hot Flashes
New York (JFK) to Santiago (SCL) – Fri, Dec 5
Take the 10 1/2 overnight flight to Chile’s capital city.
Santiago (SCL) to Punta Arenas (PUQ) – Mon, Dec 8
Arrive to Punta Arenas, the gateway to Chilean Patagonia and in close proximity to Torres del Paine National Park.
Punta Arenas (PUQ) to Calama (CJC) – Fri, Dec 12
Change landscapes and go from mountains to deserts in the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert.
Calama (CJC) to Santiago (SCL) to HOME – Tues, Dec 16
Itinerary #3: Drink, Drank, Drunk Guide to South America Wine Country
Los Angeles (LAX) to Santiago (SCL) – Fri, Dec 5
Fly 13 hours with a stop over in Lima, Peru. Guzzle your favorite Chilean blends while discovering the country’s famous wine regions by car.
Santiago (SCL) to Mendoza (MDZ) – Tues, Dec 9
Discover the Argentina Malbecs of Mendoza and treat your taste buds to some wine tasting while soaking up the view of the Andes.
Mendoza (MDZ) to Salta (SLA) – Fri, Dec 12
Hop from one wine hot spot to the next, sipping and savoring every drop along the way. Try the Torrontes white grape variety from the one and only Salta region.
Salta (SLA) to Buenos Aires (EZE)(AEP) to Montevideo via ferry – Sun, Dec 14
Hop on a ferry ride across the Rio de la Plata from Buenos Aires to Montevideo to treat yourself with the Uruguayan Tannat, a rigorous with moderate-to-high alcohol content and grit. Gotta love that.
Montevideo to Buenos Aires (EZE) to HOME – Wed, Dec 17
Since you’ve basically spent the past 12 days drunk, it’s time to sober up and get back to the real world again. Good luck!