AFAR Magazine Explores Nicaragua's Emerald ... - Aqua Nicaragua

AFAR Magazine Explores Nicaragua's Emerald ... - Aqua Nicaragua

20 UNEXPECTED ADVENTURES FOR FOODIES, SPA ADDICTS, CULTUREMAVENS, THRILL SEEKERS, AND NATURE LOVERS BY JEN MURPHYANDREABAKACSVisitors to Bogotá cantake a 15-minute tramride to the summit ofMonserrate mountainor opt for an hour-longhike along a windingfootpath.JUNEIJULYAFARCOM JUNEIJULYAFARCOM 71

1NATUREBRAZILTHE PANTANALThe Pantanal is one of the best wildlife-spotting destinations on the planet.Cox & Kings offers a five-day trip to the remote Jaguar Research Center, whereguests may also encounter hyacinthine macaws, anacondas, and giant river otters( Brazil’s cowboys, known as pantaneiros, live throughout thePantanal. Visitors can get a taste of farm life with a stay at one of the area’s manyranches, or fazendas, such as the family-run Pousada Aguapé ( PatagoniaSouthern Patagonia is home to the legendary Torres delPaine National Park. The best way to observe the park’swildlife, which includes guanacos, deer, and pumas, is tojoin Tierra Atacama hotel’s new six-day wildlife photosafari, led by Chilean photographer Pía Vergara ( Or explore aboard Nomads of the Seas,a 15-person yacht equipped with helipads, and zodiacsfor whale watching. To book a trip, contact ShelbyDonley of Camelback Odyssey Travel, (602) 266-4000.COSTA RICAOsa PeninsulaECUADORChocó RainforestLocated on Costa Rica’ssouthern Pacific Coast,the Osa Peninsula iscovered by one of thelargest lowland tropicalrain forests in theAmericas. The new KuràDesign Villas ( are ideal forexploring the region.The vision of an architectand a biologist, thesix villas are near severalparks and reserves. Kuràcan organize snorkelingand diving trips to CañoIsland Biological Reserveand whale-watchingtrips to Ballena NationalMarine Park.Book a suite at MashpiLodge and you can spothowler monkeys, sloths,butterflies, and hundredsof bird species from yourPhilippe Starck bathtubwith-a-view( Opened inApril 2012 on the 3,000-acre Mashpi BiodiversityReserve, the lodge hasresident biologists and alibrary stocked withbird books. A new tramtraverses more than amile of dense forestcanopy, providing guestswith an overview of thereserve’s extraordinaryplant and animal life.ADVENTUREARGENTINAEL CHALTÉN2The small town of El Chaltén in southern Patagoniahas been called the trekking capital of the world dueto its proximity to Mt. Fitz Roy and Cerro Torre, twoof South America’s most rugged peaks. It’s also thejumping-off point to reach Aguas Arriba Lodge, a newsix-room mountain cabin in a nature reserve next toGlaciers National Park. From El Chaltén, you followa gravel road along Las Vueltas river to the emeraldgreenLago del Desierto, then take a short boat rideacross the lake. If you’re more hard-core, put yourluggage on the boat and hike three hours through theforest to reach the lodge ( travelers who likea shot of adrenaline withtheir culture head toMexico’s southernmoststate. LatinAmerica travel specialistAdventure Life Journeysrecently introduceda nine-day ChiapasAdventure package thattakes participants intothe countryside on a20- to 25-mile bike trip;through the LacanjáRiver’s class-three rapidson a half-day whitewaterraft trip; and to theremote Yaxchilán Mayanruins ( de NoronhaThis 21-island archipelagooff the northeast coast ofBrazil is a dream destinationfor Braziliansand international visitorsalike—especiallysurfers, who find reefand point breaks as wellas hard-hitting beachbreaks. From Decemberto March, the wind blowsevery day, ensuring constantwaves that comein bigger than just aboutanywhere else in thecountry. To book a trip,contact Lauren Maggardof Jet Set World Travel,(312) 574-1186.BELIZEToledo DistrictThe least-visited districtof Belize, Toledo is aplayground of unspoiledrivers, mountains,and rain forest. IslandExpeditions, a companythat specializes in Belizeadventure trips, recentlylaunched a four-day,five-night tour calledWild South. Guests navigatethe rapids of theMoho River in inflatablekayaks and follow Mayanguides on nature treksthrough the jungle. Atnight, camp sites areset up on the riverbanks( AFARCOMJUNEIJULY TTHE “T” SYMBOL HIGHLIGHTS RECOMMENDATIONS FROM AFAR’S TRAVEL ADVISORY COUNCIL MEMBERS.

Climbers fromaround the worldjourney to southernPatagonia inhopes of summitingCerro Torre’sice-capped peaks.JUNEIJULYAFARCOM 73

WELLNESSNICARAGUAEMERALD COAST3Dense jungles and white-sand beaches have turneda 30-mile stretch of Pacific shoreline into a hot spotamong in-the-know wellness seekers. Located northof the beach town San Juan del Sur, the EmeraldCoast began attracting yogis with resorts such asPunta Teonoste ( and AquaWellness Resort ( In February,Mukul resort opened, with 12 villas and 23 treehouselikebohios. Six spa casitas offer rituals inspired byancient healing traditions from around the globe( who lounge toolong on the ViceroyZihuatanejo’s La Ropabeach can find instantrelief at the resort’s sixroomspa, which featuresa sunburn-soothing treatmentof freshly pickedaloe vera, Baja lavender,and organic chamomile( Nearby,the eco-conscious PlayaViva resort offers poolsideyoga, healthy cookingclasses, and bodyscrubs made with locallyharvested sea salt( Sacred ValleyThe route to MachuPicchu has gottensmoother, thanks to twohotels outside Cuzco.Aranwa Sacred ValleyHotel and Wellnessresort ( is built on a 17thcenturyhacienda andhas one of Peru’s largestspas. Treatments featurecoca leaves and camucamu, a fruit from theAmazon. To prepare for atrek, check into the HotelRio Sagrado and book analtitude acclimatizermassage at Spa MayuWilka ( DistrictCalled ArgentineSwitzerland for itswooden chalets andalpine setting, this area ishome to some of SouthAmerica’s best spas.The Latin America travelspecialists at Blue Parallelarrange yoga classes withviews of lakes and theAndes ( can stay at the1940s Llao Llao Hotel andResort ( or the CorrentosoLake and River Hotel,which uses native herbsin its treatments( AFARCOMJUNEIJULY

Treehouse-likebohios at Mukulresort in Nicaraguaare perched 300feet above thecrashing waves ofManzanillo beach.ARTCREDITJUNEIJULYAFARCOM 75

Gustu, Bolivia’smost ambitiousrestaurant, aimsto inspire a newpride in thecountry’s littleknowncuisine.ARTCREDIT76 AFARCOMJUNEIJULY

4FOODBOLIVIALA PAZThe capital of South America’s poorest countryseems an unlikely stop for globe-trotting food pilgrims.But Claus Meyer, co-owner of Copenhagen’sNoma restaurant, is set on changing that. In Aprilhe opened Gustu, a haute dining spot that will cookonly with ingredients grown or produced in Bolivia( For $135, diners can enjoy15 courses paired with Bolivian wines. Dishes mayinclude llama shoulder, poached in butter for 14 hours,and vicuña (similar to alpaca) jerky with hearts ofpalm, egg, and fried trout roe. The restaurant’s cookingschool will train 30 low-income students each year.MEXICOValle de GuadalupeIn Baja’s wine country,book a room at AdobeGuadalupe, a wineryand B&B (, or LaVilla del Valle (, home toVena Cava winery andCorazón de Tierrarestaurant. Don’t missthe beef cheek tacos atchef Javier Plascencia’sFinca Altozano (Km. 83,Carretera No. 3) or chefDrew Deckman’s beeftongue tiradito pairedwith a glass of chasselasat the Mogor-Badanwinery ( Coffee TriangleA trip through the CoffeeTriangle, the coffeegrowingregion of centralColombia, takes youinto the small towns andwildlife-rich mountains ofthe Caldas, Quindío, andRisaralda departments.Base yourself at theHacienda Bambusa(hacienda,an eight-room, family-runhotel hidden among 445acres of orchids, palms,and banana and cacaofields. To book a tourof the region, contactBetty Jo Currie at(404) 254-5677.ARGENTINABuenos AiresYoung Argentine chefstrained in Europe’s topkitchens are returninghome to reinvent theirnational cuisine. DanteLiporace, the el Bulli–trained chef of Tarquino(, is one of theleaders of the movement,known as La NuevaCocina Argentina. Hisnine-dish tasting menu,La Secuencia de la Vaca,uses every part of thecow. In June, AntonioSoriano opens his anticipatedAstor ManduquePorteño bistro.5CULTUREECUADORQUITOQuito has some of the continent’s best examples of colonial art and architecture.Must-stops include the National Museum of Colonial Art and the GuayasamínMuseum, dedicated to contemporary artist Oswaldo Guayasamín. The ManuelaSáenz Museum, named for Simón Bolívar’s mistress, showcases the couple’s loveletters. Book a room at Casa Gangotena (, a newly restoredhistoric mansion with a prime setting that overlooks Plaza San Francisco.COLOMBIABogotáYears of violence kept tourists away from this city, buttoday’s visitors discover a bohemian vibe and some 80museums. In the Candelaria district, the Botero Museumshows Fernando Botero’s distinctive portraits of rotundfigures, and the Gold Museum houses 30,000 piecesof pre-Hispanic gold. The Warehouse Art gallery exhibitsstreet art and other contemporary works. Designateda UNESCO City of Music in 2012, this year Bogotá willhold a series of festivals.OPPOSITEPAGESTEPHANGAMILLSCHEG/IBISTHISPAGEIANALLENPANAMAPanama CityThe anticipated Museumof Biodiversity, designedby Frank Gehry, opensthis year, and the PanamaCanal will soon doubleits capacity. To prepare,luxury hotels, such asthe Trump Ocean Club( Le Méridien (, are croppingup. And in the historicCasco Viejo neighborhood,Spanish colonialbuildings are reopeningas restaurants, boutiques,and trendy hotels suchas Tántalo, home to thecity’s first rooftop bar(ísoVisitors are reaping thebenefits of an ambitiousprogram to preservethis port city’s heritage.Last fall, the 23-roomPalacio Astoreca Hotel,and its destination restaurant,Alegre, openedin a Victorian mansion( The PalacioBaburizza, built in 1916,reopened last year as afine arts museum, andChilean architect EmilioMarin has transformed aformer prison into acultural center thatnow welcomes 170,000visitors per year.FINDTHEBESTUNDISCOVEREDBEACHESINLATINAMERICA 77

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