Recommend July 2010 - (Page 17)

Not to miss is a hike in the startlingly beautiful— latin and vertigo-inducing—Quebrada de los Cardones. america ChILe the two extremes C rick shively onsite review april 2010 Chile is 1,500 miles long and only about 150 miles wide, a long geographical string of startlingly beautiful physical contrasts from one extreme to the other—all of which, despite their differences, share a commonality of stark natural beauty, along with pristine natural resources unencumbered by an overabundance of man-made artifices. It is, after all, a country that combines one of the world’s most breathtakingly beautiful regions rich with a seemingly untouched collection of rivers, mountains, glaciers and fjords in Chile’s Patagonia, with the mesmerizing splendor of the world’s driest environments in the region of Atacama, rife with desert-like otherworldly moonscapes that overwhelm the senses—a place where you realize desolation can truly give birth to a unique sense of beauty and awe. But it’s also a sophisticated country with a colorful indigenous population, a vibrant colonial past, important port cities and a sophisticated, lively capital—Santiago—whose charm is only exceeded by the genuine friendliness of its people, its culture, its history and its exciting array of restaurants, clubs and nightlife. On a recent visit to this incredibly beautiful country with a number of officials and members of the U.S. Tour Operators Association, there was an opportunity to experience and savor the unique appeal of this truly magnificent place. First stop for most from the U.S. is Santiago itself flying in with LAN Airlines, for a 3.5-hour connecting flight to Balmaceda, home to Patagonia’s Aisen Region’s largest airport and also a bustling village of about 500 people—which is pretty telling about what kind of neighborhood you’re going to be in for the next couple of days. The region, in fact, is the least populous of the country’s 11 regions, a fact you’re not going to mind at all as you head even farther into this wondrous land. No time for sightseeing here, though, a bus is waiting for the next leg of the trip—another 2.5-hour ride to Chacabuco situated along the fjordland coast, which is a small port where guests board the Patagonia Express Catamaran for still another high-speed passage to the Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa, an absolutely drop-dead gorgeous resort, literally just about in the middle of nowhere. But first, more about the luxury high-speed catamaran, which was built and owned, by the way, by the owners of the Puyuhuapi Lodge & Spa, a family business whose primary focus is on being one of the biggest ship builders in Latin America. That expertise is reflected in this luxury catamaran with plush reclining seats in the downstairs seating area with large view windows on the side and up front. Upstairs, there’s a spacious lounge and dining area with a bar where complimentary drinks and meals are served. In this case, after boarding and en-route to the lodge, a full-course luncheon july 2010 17 ÍÍ rick shively

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recommend July 2010

Cover: Experiential Travel
Contents
Editor’s Notes/Agent Speak
Hotel Desk
Tour Talk
Louis Cruises'
Chile
Shamwari Game Reserve
Jordan
Scotland
Las Vegas
Rancho De Los Caballeros
Caribbean
Mexico
Calling Indiana Jones Types

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