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South and Central America: Map Your Next Vacation Now

Turpial Travel - South and Central America

Turpial Travel can take you on an adventure. Some great destinations in South and Central America are described below.

Caracas, Venezuela

South America

Chile

If we begin at the southern end of Chile, one of the first stops along the route is Torres del Paine National Park, Visitors to the 500,000 acre park can hike, trek across glaciers or climb mountains in addition to kayaking, fishing and horseback riding. With the diversity of birds and animals found in the park, it is a great place for wildlife photography.

Continuing north on the South and Central America map, brings us into Chile’s wine-growing region. Since the 1980s, Chile’s wineries have been producing some well-respected wines, and many vineyards offer tours and other activities. Beyond the central valley wineries are the cities of Valaparaiso, on the west coast, and Santiago, Chile’s capitol. From Santiago, it is very easy to travel to other locations in Argentina, such as Iguazu National Park, which includes Iguazu Falls, and Los Glaciares National Park, where you can see the world’s third largest ice sheet.

Another stop on the route might be San Pedro de Atacama and the Atacama desert. Fascinating rock formations dotted with geysers, hot springs and lagoons make this a unique experience.

Before we leave Chile, consider a side trip to Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island), home of the giant and mysterious stone heads.

Peru and Ecuador

Two of the world’s most famous sites lie to the north as we continue our route along the South and Central America map: Machu Picchu in Peru and the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. The Lost City of the Incas was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in an internet poll in 2007 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as are the Galapagos Islands.

Venezuela

The eastern portion of Venezuela includes the Orinoco Delta and Los Llanos, a vast grassland on the eastern edge of the Andes. Traveling further east along the South and Central America map brings us to the Caura River and the small amount of the Amazon Rainforest that lies within the boundaries of Venezuela.

Canaima National Park is on the eastern border of Venezuela, and one of its main attractions is Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. Also part of Canaima is Gran Sabana, a large grassy plain on the border of Venezuela and Guiana, which features table rock formations known as tepis.

Caracas, the capitol of Venezuela, is situated along the Caribbean Sea and is surrounded by many beautiful coastal towns and parks. Some places of interest include Margarita Island, Puerto Colombia and Choroni, and Morrocoy and Los Roques National Parks. Moving along the north coast to the west, we come to Lake Maracaibo and the town of Merida.

Central America

Panama and Costa Rica

This would be a perfect opportunity to continue up the South and Central American map to Panama, Costa Rica and points north. Central America has many fascinating archeological areas as well as lovely beaches and lush jungles.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News 3 Comments

National Park Vacations: Top Destinations in Venezuela and Chile

National Park Vacations

Turpial Travel is happy to assist you in booking national park vacations in Venezuela and Chile. Read on to learn more about some of our top destinations:

Canaima National Park, Venezuela

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Canaima National Park includes the world’s highest waterfall, beautiful and unusual topography and some fascinating archeological sites. Known for its table mountain or tepui formations, the area resembles the mesas of the southwestern United States and shows geographic similarity to western Africa. The type of sandstone found in the park is the same as the sandstone found in the Western Sahara, as the area was once connected to Africa.

Canaima National Park vacations must include Angel Falls. At over 3,200 feet, Angel Falls is the world’s highest water fall. A trip to Angel Falls can be complicated as there are no roads in that region, and it can only be reached by air.

Much of the park is uninhabited wilderness, although there is a road from Ciudad Bolivar that runs through the eastern section of Canaima and provides access for tourists. Hotels and camping options are available. The region has been inhabited for 10,000 years and hand-made tools found in the park date back to 9,000 years ago.

Torres del Paine, Chile

Torres del Paine National Park in Patagonia is one of the top South American national park vacations. The park offers almost 500,000 acres of spectacular scenery and encompasses four distinct habitats: forest, scrubland, tundra and mountains, each with its own species of plants and animals. It’s a great place for bird watching with over 100 recorded species, including eagles, swans and Andean condors. You may also see pumas, guanacos and Chillean foxes.

Hiking is a highlight of a vacation to Torres del Paine National Park. Choose a day hike to the Salto Grande waterfall or the spectacular views of mountain lakes at Mirador Nordenskjöld. If you are up for a longer hike, the Circuit takes five to eight days through the park, while the W is a bit shorter and can be completed in three or four. Glacier trekking and mountain climbing tours are available to the truly adventurous. Other popular activities include kayaking, fishing, horseback riding and wildlife photography.

The park’s busy season is October to April, which is spring and summer in Chile. Mild temperatures in the lower elevations–highs in the 60s and lows in the 30s or 40s–make this a year-round destination. Hotels and camping are both available in the park and the admission fee is $38 US dollars.

Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island)

The mysterious stone heads of Easter Island are an iconic image and one of the most notable national park vacations. Known as moai, the giant sculptures are made of volcanic rock, and their average height is 13 feet and weight is 14 tons. There are no written records of the methods the island’s inhabitants used to move or create the moai or what their purpose may have been, but they are a sight not to be missed.

Plan to include the Ranu Raraku quarry in your vacation itinerary. This is where the giant heads were carved, and the island’s early inhabitants left over 400 sculptures in various stages of completion.

It is easy to get around the island with cars, motorcycles and bicycles, which you can rent. The best time to visit is January through March, when excellent diving, surfing and swimming are available.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Our Trips Leave a comment

Mochima National Park: Paradise in Venezuela’s North Coast

Mochima National Park

Turpial Travel can help you book your trip to Mochima National Park. Read on to learn more about this paradise in Venezuela.

Mochima National Park: Paradise in Venezuala

Founded in 1973, Mochima National Park is located on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela. At roughly 235,000 acres, the park is home to some spectacular scenery. From the white sand beaches and turquoise seas of the Caribbean to the cloud forests of the Turimiquire mountain range, visitors to the park consider it one of the most beautiful in Venezuela.

Mochima National Park was set aside in an attempt to protect the northeastern marine coastline and the water shed contained in the mountain forests. Named for the town of Mochima, which is included in its borders, the park stretches from Puerto la Cruz to Canama and includes 32 gulf islands off the Caribbean coast. The boundary extends westward to the Turimiquire Dam and the mountain range of the same name.

Diverse Geography

The area includes diverse habitats which range from coral reefs, mangrove swamps and jungle vegetation to desert areas. Many species of mammals and reptiles live in the park, including four species of endangered sea turtles. The area around the Turimiquire Dam at the southern end of the park is a favorite spot for bird watchers.

The climate varies from the coast to the mountains with temperatures ranging between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. From November to May, the temperatures are hotter with regular trade winds on the coast, while June to October is cooler with higher humidity.

Things to Do

Mochima National Park is a great place to swim, snorkel, laze on the beach or go sailing. The mountain and forest areas offer hiking and some great views for photographing. Roads have been cut through the park making access to areas easier.

A wide variety of accommodations are available in Mochima National Park in some of the small towns located within the borders. This is one of the more populated of Venezuela’s parks, which has led some environmental groups to press the government for more restrictions in the park, especially in sea turtle nesting areas. Turpial Travel and Adventure’s tours are designed with responsible travel in mind. Tour groups use public transportation wherever possible to minimize environmental impact, and the number of visitors is kept small so as to reduce negative effects on the local area. Keeping groups small also allows tourists to interact with local residents and gain a greater cross-cultural understanding.

Especially in environmentally sensitive areas, like Mochima National Park, Turpial Travel and Adventure encourages tourists to purchase only locally-made souvenirs from resident artisans for a fair price, to frequent local businesses and, when possible, to eat locally-grown, organic food. Also, plan to pack reusable items rather than disposables and leave the outer packaging at home. You don’t want to contribute to the waste stream in an environmentally-fragile area like the Mochima National Park.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News, Our Trips Leave a comment

Chile Tours Lead by Turpial Travel and Adventure for You

Chile Tours

Turpial Travel can help you book Chile Tours. Read on to find out about some popular destinations.

Santiago

A tour of Santiago can include any number of cultural, gastronomic or entertainment offerings. Founded in 1541, Chile’s capitol city is tucked in the Central Valley against the Andes Mountains. Chile tours can include visits to historical buildings, such as Palacio de la Moneda (the office of Chile’s president), La Chascona (a house built by Pablo Neruda featuring a nautical theme), or Iglesia de San Francisco, Santiago’s oldest surviving colonial building. Foodies will want to head to one of the city’s busy markets to sample the street food, a traditional steak house for some Patagonian beef or to a seafood restaurant for a taste of ceviche. No Chile tour is complete without shopping. Look for deals on lapis lazuli. Chile is one of only two places in the world with natural deposits of this semi-precious stone.

The best time to visit Santiago is in the summer. Not only are the temperatures mild, but the air is cleaner. Being situated between two mountain ranges not only provides lovely scenery, but also contributes to a smog problem.

Central Valley Wineries

Wine grapes have been grown in Chile since colonial times, but the wine industry really took off in the 1980s. Chile tours can include some of the country’s finest wineries. The most popular wine-growing region is the Central Valley near Santiago. You can tailor your tour to fit your interests. In addition to tasting and buying wine, some of the vineyards include restaurants or cafes, and others have bed and breakfast accommodations or spas. Many wineries offer horseback riding or picnics in the vineyard.

Chile’s climate is similar to that of two other well-known wine regions, California and France, and it ranks fifth in terms of world wine exports and ninth in production. The most popular Chilean wines are Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Carmenere.

Torres del Paine National Park, Chile

Many Chile tours head south to Torres del Paine National Park. The park covers almost 500,000 acres and offers hiking, glacier trekking and mountain climbing, as well as kayaking, fishing, horseback riding and wildlife photography. Experience four unique environments during your stay: forest, scrubland, tundra and mountains. Over 100 species of birds are found in the park including eagles, swans and Andean condors, and visitors often see puma, guanaco and Chilean foxes.

The best time to tour Torres del Paine is in the summer, which in Chile is October to April, but the climate is mild and there are fewer visitors in the off season. The park admission fee is $38 US dollars, and accommodations are available within the borders.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Our Trips 1 Comment

The Cost of Living in Chile

Although the cost of living in Chile is expensive compared with most other countries in South America, residency comes with many benefits. International Living notes that Chile offers residents all the comforts of modern living, beautiful scenery, and the lowest level of corruption in Latin America. The country also has the strongest economy, a stable government, and the lowest level of poverty in South America.

Cost of Living in Chile

Numbeo offers the breakdown below as the average cost of living in Chile.

Average prices in Chile are approximately 38 percent cheaper than in New York City (NYC). Compared with NYC, rent in Chile is estimated to be more than 80 percent cheaper, groceries are 45 percent less, and restaurants 50 percent less.

The following average prices of goods and services in Chile are estimated in U.S. dollars:

Food and Drink

  • Meal at an inexpensive restaurant — $6.94
  • Three-course meal for two at a mid-priced restaurant — $37.76
  • Milk (one liter) — $1.29
  • Loaf of fresh white bread — $1.29
  • Bottle of wine (mid-range) — $5.95
  • Domestic Beer (one 0.5oz bottle) — $1.39

Transportation

  • One-way public transit fare — $1.21
  • Monthly public transit pass — $47.59
  • Taxi fee (per kilometer) —$1.98
  • Gasoline (one liter) — $1.59

Monthly Utilities

  • Electric, Heat, Water, and Garbage (for an 82 square meter apartment) — $126.95
  • Internet — $39.66

Monthly Rent

  • One bedroom apartment in an urban area — $415.00
  • Three bedroom apartment in an urban area — $793.10
  • One bedroom apartment in a suburban area — $396.55
  • Three bedroom apartment in a suburban area — $693.96

Real Estate Prices

  • Price per square meter in an urban area — $1,800.00
  • Price per square meter in a suburban area — $1891.38
  • Average mortgage rate — 5 percent

Leisure Activities

  • Monthly Fitness Club Membership — $55.00
  • Movie Ticket — $7.73

Apparel

  • Brand name jeans (Levis or similar) — $60.00
  • Casual dress (purchased from a chain store) — $50.00
  • Brand name athletic footwear — $79.31
  • Men’s dress shoes — $94.00

Living in Chile

According to InterNations, more than 17 million people live in Chile. Approximately 89 percent of residents live in the country’s cities and larger towns, like Santiago, Puente Alto, Valparaiso, Antofagasta, and Viña del Mar. In fact, approximately half the population of Chile lives in Santiago, the country’s capital city. Spanish is the official language of Chile. The country is known for having the best medical care in all of Latin America. Chile is also a very safe country, with violent crime rates lower than those of the U.S.

So while the cost of living in Chile may seem high compared to other countries in South America, consider the many advantages it has to offer. These benefits may serve as a suitable trade-off for the high price tag.

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