As you may know, my husband, Hank, and I have been living in Latin America for nearly two years as part of our experiment in nomadic living. To help us plan a few new adventures in 2013, we turned to Myths and Mountains specialist Allie Almario for her extensive experience in organizing custom travel in South America. 

Galapagos Sea Lions by Allie AlmarioRead on for Allie’s insider insights and recommendations, in case, like us, you’re planning to pack a suitcase for South America in the new year.

What’s trending in travel to South America?

More people are doing “combo” trips - combining one country with another. For example, our most popular trip this year has been our Across Patagonia itinerary, which starts on the Chilean side of Patagonia and crosses over into the Argentinian side or vice versa. Of course, combining the Galapagos with Machu Picchu continues to be a favorite travel combination. Why? I’m hearing a lot more of “Well, this might be the only time I ever get to XYZ, so I might as well do as much as possible.” My theory is that with such a precarious economy, people are being very protective about their vacation time and budget; more so than ever.

What’s new and exciting for travelers to do in South America?  

South America used to be a backpacker’s dream. In some ways, it still is. But these days, people are looking for five-star experiences. It’s why the idea of trekking by day and enjoying luxury by night has taken on a whole new meaning there. Now, you can spend your days trekking to Machu Picchu and return at night to a luxury lodge where the staff will greet you with a cocktail, fluff your down comforter, and direct you to a hot tub where you can soak your tired body. Even Easter Island, which used to only offer basic accommodations, has opened a five-star Explora lodge. The days of settling for outdated motel-style rooms on the island have passed.  If “glamping” in a tented camp with a view of palm trees and the ocean on Easter Island (Rapa Nui), one of the world’s most remote and mysterious archeological sites, is on your wish list, no problem.

What shouldn’t you do in South America?  

Confuse the words “hostal” and “hostel.” Hostal is the Spanish word commonly used to describe a hotel, but it is not the same as a hostel, which is low-cost backpacker style dormitory hotel.

About Allie Almario

With travels to almost 70 countries and all seven continents, Allie’s passion and profession is sharing more than 20 years of destination knowledge with travelers. A consultant for magazines, guidebooks, travel media, and documentary films in the Galapagos Islands, Ecuador, Peru, Chile and Argentina, her specialty is in Latin America wildlife conservation and cultural interaction. “Even after more than 25 trips to Latin America,” says Almario, “I still think it’s one of the most spectacular regions in the world.”

About Myths and Mountains

Myths and Mountains is an adventure travel company catering to the discerning and inquisitive globe-trotter seeking hand-crafted, life-changing travel experiences. Recognized by respected publications such as Travel + Leisure, National Geographic Traveler, Outside Magazine, and Men’s Journal as one of the world’s top adventure travel companies, Myths and Mountains specializes small group departures, customized trips and outstanding customer service. Additionally, the company offers travel with a purpose throughREAD Global, an independent nonprofit founded in 1991by Myths & Mountains owner, Dr. Antonia Neubauer. To date, together they have built more than 50 libraries and community centers in Nepal, India, and Bhutan. Its pilot site, READ Nepal, is the winner of the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation’s Access to Learning Award.

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About Ellen Barone: Consumer travel expert Ellen Barone is the founder and publisher and She’s currently at work on her first book - I COULD LIVE HERE. Click here to learn more or stay connected on Twitter at,FacebookGoogle+ and LinkedIn


Ellen Barone has been creating words and images for travel and tourism since 1998. She co-founded and publishes the group travel blog and is currently at work on her first book "I Could Live Here".