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January 26, 2011

Food for Thought: Guinea Pig for Dinner

Guinea Pig... It's what's for dinner. (Lisa Costantini)

When you hear the words guinea pig, your first thought probably isn’t boiled or deep-fried. But in South America guinea pig, or cuy as they call it, is more likely to be found on a menu than in a cage sipping from a water bottle. In the highlands of Peru, Bolivia, and Ecuador, guinea pigs are more than just what’s for dinner, too. Until they end up on the table they can be found running around under it, keeping the rats at bay, and warming up the house.

Continue reading "Food for Thought: Guinea Pig for Dinner" »

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Related Topics: Culinary Travel · South America Travel

October 28, 2010

Save an Ecuadorian Biosphere and National Park

By Guest Blogger

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Ecuador volunteer
Voluntourists paint warning signs (Adventure Life)

One of the hottest trends in adventure travel is the idea of "voluntourism," or trips that give travelers a chance to give back while on holiday. Perhaps the coolest voluntourism adventure to date is the newly unveiled Cotopaxi Group Service Project in Ecuador

Travelers experience an Ecuadorian adventure and volunteer for conservation at the same time, combining mountain biking with replacing national park signs, and zip-lining with trail maintenance. For five days, give back to the area you're getting to know, the Cotopaxi National Park and the Condor Biosphere, a 5.4-million acre conservation project. I just visited these locations, and let me tell you, it is like paradise.

Continue reading "Save an Ecuadorian Biosphere and National Park" »

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Related Topics: South America Travel · Voluntourism

September 14, 2010

Buses, Bikes, and Bottles of Wine: A day in the Vineyards of Mendoza

By Guest Blogger

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Chacras de Coria, Mendoza, Argentina(Michael S. Lewis,Nat Geo,Getty)
Vineyards in Mendoza, Argentina (Michael S. Lewis)

I am no great wine connoisseur, but I do know that the reds of Chile and Argentina are considered to be some of the best in the world. So when I was planning a trip to the massive country that is Argentina (the eighth largest in the world), it seemed only right to include a trip to the prolific and prodigious wine region of Mendoza, on the Chilean border. Here, in the shadow of the Andes, as much as 70 percent of Argentina's wine is produced.

My two friends and I stayed in the city of Mendoza, Argentina's fourth largest city and the capital of the eponymous province. It is a vibrant and attractive city, with lots of parks and squares and a relaxed atmosphere. We were staying at Hostel Ruca-Potu, on the busy main road Gobernador Videla, a ten-minute walk from the center of Mendoza. It is, like a growing number of hostels, a family home that expanded to take advantage of the popularity of backpacking. The vivacious owner, a loud, tubby character, baked fresh bread every morning and laid out various cereals and spreads and as much tea and coffee as we could stomach.

Continue reading "Buses, Bikes, and Bottles of Wine: A day in the Vineyards of Mendoza" »

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April 21, 2010

In the Saddle: Biking the Americas Q&A


Working in the travel industry, I have the privilege to visit, explore, and read about some of the world's great destinations. I also have the good fortune to meet the people out there experiencing the trips and places we love. Witness 25-year-old Chip Albright, a Van Wert, Ohio, native who has been traveling the world for over four years and is currently over halfway through his quest to bike the Americas from north to south. We caught up with Chip via email in Baja, Mexico, on his way north toward the U.S. border after over a year in the saddle. You can follow Chip's progress toward his final destination, Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, at

Away: Where are you now?
Chip Albright: I am currently on the east coast of Baja, Mexico, in the small little village of Santa Rosalía, heading north on Highway 1. I'm about 600 miles south of the U.S.-Mexico border in Tijuana.

What's next on your adventure?
Next on the list is the United States, starting with southern California. Once I cross the border, I will head up through Joshua Tree National Park and Mojave National Preserve before traversing Arizona from the west and entering southwestern Colorado through the Four Corners region. Colorado is going to be a treat, with six mountain ascents ranging from 8,000 to 10,000 feet. I will also be biking through Rocky National Park and making my way up into Wyoming, where I'll stop in Yellowstone National Park before hitting Glacier National Park in Montana.

Tell us a bit more about your journey.
The idea to bike from South America's southernmost point (in Argentina) to North America northernmost point (in Alaska) started over a handful of beers with my roommate, Chris Foster, while we were enjoying ski season in Wanaka, New Zealand. Before we knew it, it was Christmas Day 2008 and we were starting this journey up the Americas from Patagonia in southern Argentina. The idea started with two guys shooting the breeze, which then turned from a "what if?" to a "why not?" Fourteen months later, I'm still trucking along toward Prudhoe Bay, Alaska.

Continue reading "In the Saddle: Biking the Americas Q&A" »

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Related Topics: Central America Travel · Dispatches from the Road · Mexico Travel · Outdoor Adventures · South America Travel

April 09, 2010

Colombia's National Sport: Like Darts, But With Explosives


In Colombia (and only Colombia) there is a sport that has become the national pastime. Think part darts, part horseshoes, and the most important part: gunpowder. Originally called "Turmequé" (for the town where it started more than 500 years ago) it is now more popularly known as "Tejo" (the Spanish name for the metal discus used). The object of the game is to throw your tejo, weighing roughly five pounds, at a target containing small paper pouches filled with gunpowder. There are several ways to score points, the most common being hitting a pouch causing the gunpowder to explode. The first person (or team) to a predetermined amount of points wins. Traditionally, the loser buys the winner's drinks, but most players drink as much as they can while competing in the hopes that they don't have to foot the bill. It makes sense that beer companies sponsor nearly all the professional teams.

Watch this video to see a couple of "gringos" play for the first time alongside locals...

Lisa Costantini is a writer/editor currently traveling the world with her husband working on a project about sport and culture. More information can be found on their website at Lisa will be blogging from the road for us as she and her husband travel through Africa, Asia, South America, and Europe over the next several months.

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Related Topics: Dispatches from the Road · South America Travel

April 08, 2010

Travel Safety Alert: Mudslides in Brazil

By WorldNomads

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Overview of the Situation
Following massive thunderstorms in Brazil this week, transport and communications in Rio are all but shut down. Eduardo Paes, the mayor, ordered all schools closed and urged workers to stay home and not visit the downtown area which was inundated with water. Most businesses were also shuttered.

"Each and every person who attempts to enter them will be at enormous risk," Paes said. Adding to the problems, thousands have been left homeless and 90 killed after record rains washed away shanty towns and hillside slums (known as favelas).

Sources: and Al Jazeera, Wed 7 April, 2010

Issues for Travelers
Travelers these days are increasingly looking for authentic local experiences and many travel to the favela slums when visiting Rio de Janeiro. World Nomads blogged about traveling safely in Rio’s favelas in its SafetyHub blog a while back but now, with this recent landslide disaster, there are further safety issues to take into consideration.

Continue reading "Travel Safety Alert: Mudslides in Brazil" »

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Related Topics: South America Travel · Travel News · Travel Tips

March 19, 2010

Water While Traveling: What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy

By WorldNomads

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Editor's Note: Thanks to Chris Cranshaw, founder of Hydropal, for providing this information. Chris is a seasoned traveler who has been working to help the environment and provide safe drinking water for 15 years.

Water is something most of us take for granted until we step on a plane and head out into the world. Then we suddenly realize that this precious liquid so necessary to sustain life can also cause serious ill health and even worse.

Nothing ruins a good trip like a bout of diarrhea, nausea, feeling totally exhausted, feverish, and in no mood for anything but bed! Waterborne illness is one of the leading sources of health problems for travelers, and can have serious immediate consequences and after-effects for months.

Where are you at risk?
High-risk areas include Central America, most of Africa and Asia and the Middle East. Moderate-risk areas include Eastern Europe, Russia, South Africa, Argentina, Chile, and the Caribbean. Even developed countries aren't necessarily risk-free.

Basically if you want to be safe, assume the worst and plan accordingly.

Continue reading "Water While Traveling: What You Need to Know to Stay Healthy" »

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Asia Travel · Central America Travel · South America Travel · Travel Tips

March 11, 2010

Travel Immunizations: What You Really Need in South America

By WorldNomads

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No matter what country you're from and how experienced a traveler you are, the bottom line is you probably need to get some immunizations before you do any traveling to developing countries. We asked our adventure friends around the world what they thought and below are their recommendations for travel to South America.

Travelers to South and Central America should get the minimum vaccinations recommended by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, including:
- Hepatitis A & B
- Typhoid
- Yellow Fever: This vaccine is always a good idea if you will be in the jungle since there are periodic outbreaks and deaths. Some countries require it for entry.
- Rabies: Yes, rabid animals can bite you even in the most cosmopolitan city and, once bitten, you could die unless you received the rabies vaccination in advance.
- Flu Shots: Flu Season in South America begins in June. If you are traveling during the Southern Hemisphere’s winter, you may be exposed to circulating influenza—both seasonal and H1N1.
- Malaria medication might also be recommended depending on the country.

Continue reading "Travel Immunizations: What You Really Need in South America" »

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Related Topics: South America Travel · Travel Tips

February 03, 2010

Amazon Adventure: Kayaking for a Cause

By Kate Chandler

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Amazon River - Brand X - brxbxp450224 HOME AWAY FROM HOME: The winding path of the Amazon River (courtesy, Brand X)

The Amazon River and its surrounding jungle can be a seemingly inhospitable place—with anacondas, piranhas, and electric eels being just a few of the characters you might meet along the way. But for 26-year-old Helen Skelton, the Amazon River is her home of choice for the next several weeks as she attempts to be the first woman to kayak the river.

Helen is a cast-member of the BBC kids television show Blue Peter, and she is hoping to use her notoriety and adventurous spirit to raise money for Sport Relief, a charity organization that aids the poor and homeless in the UK and abroad. Helen is no stranger to major accomplishments; in April 2009, she became only the second woman to finish the 78-mile Namibia Ultra Marathon.

Helen has paddled about 600 miles so far, and you can follow her the rest of the way on the 2,010-mile journey down the Amazon via her almost-daily blog, complete with interactive map. Also check out's Brazil Travel Guide for your own travel ideas in this amazing country.  

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Related Topics: Outdoor Adventures · South America Travel

January 28, 2010

Top Five Family Vacations, From a 12-Year-Old Perspective

NZ_Arthur's Pass sheep herd_Simon Russell-Photodisc-Getty-83298051
HERD CROSSING: Bring your brood to Arthur's Pass, New Zealand, where sheep have the right-of-way (Simon Russell/Getty)

As the founder of an adventure-travel company, I often have the chance to speak with our guests about their travels. One question I hear a lot is, "How do I know if my kids are ready for a trip to Europe?" (or Costa Rica, or New Zealand, or Peru...)

A recent conversation I had with my oldest son illustrates why I think it's never too soon to introduce kids to the big, wide world.

Jack, now 12, has been traveling abroad with us since he was an infant. (In his first passport photo, aged 11 months, he's wearing a Winnie the Pooh sleeper.) On a recent river-rafting trip, I seized just the right father-son moment to ask him which trips he remembers most fondly and why. With little or no prompting, he offered me the short list of his all-time top five.

5. New Zealand's South Island
While you won't spot any hobbits from the Lord of the Rings movies that were shot here, the whole family will find plenty of miraculous discoveries. Walk on amazing beaches, swim with the world's smallest dolphins, and explore a parrot-filled jungle with its own glacier. At a high-country sheep station, you can spend the day checking on baby lambs and watching the sheepdogs do their work. There's even jet-boat rides on the Dart River. Adults can enjoy sipping their way through award-winning wineries as well as some of the most scenic walks on Earth. New Zealand is a friendly country that captures the imaginations of all ages.

Continue reading "Top Five Family Vacations, From a 12-Year-Old Perspective" »

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Related Topics: Africa Travel · Central America Travel · Exotic Escapes · Family Vacation · Outdoor Adventures · South America Travel · Trip Ideas

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