March 17, 2018

South America & Antarctica

Head for the Galapagos, the Amazonian jungle or chilly southern climes

By Jennifer Davoren

Vacations Magazine: South America & Antarctica
Globus Family of Brands
Sail aboard a small ship. The 16-passenger Celebrity Xploration plies the waters of the Galapagos on 10- to 15-night vacations. When not stretched out on the sundeck of what might as well be their private yacht, Celebrity Cruises guests snorkel Darwin Bay, hike the volcanic landscape of Isabela Island and spy sea lions, marine iguanas and blue-footed boobies catching their own rays along the coast. Prices start at $7,099 for autumn itineraries that sail round trip from Quito, Ecuador.

Slumber in the jungle. Ariau Amazon Towers is a treetop hotel complex and gateway to its namesake rainforest outside Manaus, Brazil. Lodgings and amenities are propped atop stilts and connected by 4 miles of catwalks, and its hosted river adventures include canoeing in crocodile country and swimming with rare pink dolphins. Book a stay through SITA World Tours trips like the four-day "Ariau Amazon Towers." Daily departures are available from $1,485.

Investigate Incan culture. Alpacas, llamas and their lesser-known cousins, the guanaco and vicuna, are part of the camelid family of mammals. Their wool is prized by South American weavers and spun into bold fabrics found throughout the Andes. A visit to the Awana Kancha facility near Cusco, Peru, means a look at an ancient production process, from harvest to loom to shop. Cosmos' "Mysteries of the Inca Empire" stops here on its 11-day panoramic peek at Peru, priced from $2,139.

Meet a manatee. Avalon Waterways' 11-day "From the Inca Empire to the Peruvian Amazon" river cruise includes a trip to a wildlife rescue center. Here, visitors receive a hands-on lesson in conservation by bottle-feeding young Amazonian manatees undergoing rehabilitation. This jungle adventure also includes a Machu Picchu excursion, a tour of the Incas' Sacred Valley and a shamanic healing clinic. Departures through March 2018 start at $4,749.

Lasso lunch. On the nine-day "Classic Argentina & Chile With Mendoza Wine Country," Gate 1 Travel guests hang with gauchos on a visit to Santa Susana Ranch. This agritourism hot spot outside Buenos Aires offers horse-herding demonstrations, carriage rides in the country, a showcase for folkloric dance and musical customs and an authentic Argentine parrillada, or barbecue. Eight departures priced from $1,549 include wine-blending and tango lessons.

Boogie from Brazil. Traveling round trip from Sao Paulo, the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, MSC Cruises' weeklong South America sailings are a lively introduction to dance country. The MSC Musica explores Uruguay and Argentina, using a stop in the latter to spend a night in Buenos Aires and try a tango or two. Meanwhile, the MSC Preziosa sticks to Brazilian shores; a late-night stay in Salvador, a cultural capital founded by 16th-century Portuguese colonials, means extra time to practice the samba de roda, a local specialty. Prices start at $989 for departures from January through March in 2017 and 2018.

Pause and reflect. Open sky both above and below -- welcome to Uyuni, Bolivia, where water pools on the world's largest salt flat to create a flawless mirror of the heavens. Snap a few photos of family and friends seemingly suspended in midair with the three-day "Bolivian Salt Flats" from Intrepid Travel, which ferries guests across this alkaline wonder in four-wheel-drive vehicles. You'll also see how locals farm the region for salt and visit a train "cemetery" to witness the devastating effect of harsh conditions on area transit. Daily departures are available from $860.

See the rugged south in style. Silversea Cruises will deploy two of its luxury ships to explore Antarctica in 2017. The intimacy of the 296-guest Silver Cloud and 132-guest Silver Explorer translates to stellar service and other onboard comforts even in the face of Drake Passage, the tumultuous waterway connecting South America and Antarctica's northern coast. Once at the continent, expedition teams lead the way to penguin rookeries and scientific research stations while providing expert insight on the continent, from its volcanic features to its hardy wildlife. Geologists, naturalists and other specialists accompany itineraries priced from $10,750 for 10 nights.

The information in this story was accurate at the time it was published in Winter 2017. Please visit Vacations To Go or call (800) 338-4962 for current rates and details.

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