Colonia del Sacremento is a beautiful small colonial town only a two and a half hour ferry ride from Buenos Aires. It has everything a place needs to be a tourist Mecca – a beach, cobbled streets, intriguing history and a location overlooking the Rio de la Plata.
The city has some good guesthouses, restaurants, bars and expensive supermarkets.
The city was founded by the Portuguese in 1680 to smuggle goods across the Rio de la Plata into Buenos Aires. The Spanish captured it in 1762 and held it until 1777, when tax reforms finally permitted foreign goods to proceed directly to Buenos Aires.
Santiago, being the capital city of Chile, is a big city. The city was founded and named Santiago de Nueva Estremadura on Feb. 12, 1541, by Pedro de Valdivia. Santiago has spread over a broad valley plain and is today one of the largest cities in South America. Low foothills surround the valley, and the snowcapped Andes, forming a beautiful backdrop, rise in the eastern distance. For most of the year the climate is nice: warm days and cool nights.
Santiago is the political, commercial, and financial heart of the country, although Valparaiso has been the seat of the Chilean congress since 1990. Much of Chile’s industry is distributed among other cities, but Santiago is an active manufacturing center. Textiles, foodstuffs, clothing, footwear, and other goods are produced. There are also large iron and steel foundries in the city, which has a subway and an international airport.
The industries are heavily felt. If you climb up to a view point in the city you will not be able to see very far in certain parts of the year. The smog is so heavy that even the mountains are hidden. So although I actually like Santiago a lot: the Chileans are very nice and the city (apart from the occasional demonstrations) is orderly, courteous and feels pretty safe, I would not like to live there. Having gone through a pollution emergency crisis in Thailand in 2007, I will never again live in a country with such heavy pollution – regardless of the salary – my health is priceless!!
Pucon is a beautiful lake-side village in Chile. It is located 25 km from Villarrica at the east end of lago Villarrica, Rio Pucon in the north and Volcan Villarrica to the south. It is a stunning place to visit during the day.
Pucon is an outdoor activity kind of place. In the summer you can swim in the lake, hike, go rafting or kayaking, and go biking. During the winter it is also a very pleasant place to go for a walk on the beach by the lake and enjoy the very friendly accommodation there.
However, it does get very smoky in the night time (after 6pm in the evening). Most houses are heated with fireplaces and this leaves the city full of smoke. I still liked my time there during the winter – but I am sure I would have loved it in the summer a lot more.
Valdivia is, at first view, a beautiful city with a breezy riverfront, multiple universities, old architecture and good restaurant. However, a walk down the riverfront changes your opinion a bit. You notice the extremely smoky Celco-Arauco paper mill that sends up constant masses of smoke into the sky. In 2005 some 5000 black-necked swans died from contamination from this factory. This environmental catastrophe drew local and worldwide outrage, but the plant continues to operate unfortunately.
The city is still well-worth a visit though – even if only for a day. Head to the colourful Ferie Fluvial, the riverside fish and vegetable market, where sea lions paddle up for handouts. In this video you will see some of the huge, gorgeous sea lions that were literally 1 meter away from me. They are not in cages. They are swimming freely in the river…bless them and let’s pray that the river is not as polluted as it looked.
San Carlos de Bariloche is the Argentine Lake District’s largest city and popular with both Argentinian and foreign tourist summer and winter.
It is located on the shore of the beautiful lake Lago Nahuel Huapi (the picture above) and surrounded by mountains. The city offers many shops (specially chocolate shops), hotels and restaurants. But the real attraction is outside the city: Park Nacional Nahuel Huapi. The park offers splendid hiking, rafting and skiing.
It’s a fun place to visit, but be prepared that its rather expensive (for Argentina).
Paragliding has been a life-long dream for me. Flying free in the sky was something I really wanted to try. I don’t think I will ever work up the courage to jump from an air plane (except maybe the week before I get married – one fear conquering the other :-))
But paragliding is totally different from jumping out from an air plane. A para-glider is a free-flying, foot-launched aircraft. The instructor/pilot and his passenger (for a tandem) sits in a harness suspended below a fabric wing, whose shape is formed by its suspension lines and the pressure of air entering vents in the front of the wing.
I found a place in Mendoza offering tandem paragliding for about 50 $ which I think is very cheap and I decided that I definitely wanted to do it. We drove outside Mendoza to the mountains and waited for the wind to pick up.
We used a mix between a forward launch and a ‘reverse launch’. We were standing forward facing the wind and let the wind bring the parachute into the air after which we just took a few steps over the edge and we were flying.
Paragliding is often seen as a higher-risk sport more than it actually is. Nonetheless, there is great potential for injury for the reckless or ill-prepared.
The safety of the sport is directly influenced by the skill and sense of the pilot. It’s important to note that almost all paragliding accidents are the result of pilot error. Paragliding equipment is very well built and, if properly cared for, will almost never fail. General safety precautions include pre-flight checks, helmets, harnesses with back protection (foam or air-bag), reserve parachutes, and careful pre-launch observation of other pilots in the air to evaluate conditions.
I had worried a bit about the safety before doing the jump – not because I was afraid of falling down, but because I had pain in my back and was thinking the landing might make it worse. There was no reason to worry. The landing was very soft. We ran forward for a little while in order for the parachute not to fall down in our head.
I thought it was an absolutely amazing experience and highly recommendable.
For more information about paragliding – go to: http://www.answers.com/topic/paragliding