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Buying the Boleto Turistico: Cusco’s Tourist Ticket

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Cusco’s boleto turístico covers admission to 16 sites. At first glance, it seems overpriced at US$40 (US$20 for students under age 26 with ISIC card), but when you consider the total number of sites, it is worth it. More importantly, rules have changed, and individual entrance fees are no longer possible at most of the included sites, so you cannot get into must-see ruins such as Sacsayhuamán, Pisac, and Ollantaytambo without this ticket.

Moray Ruins in Peru. Photo © Matyas Rehak/123rf.
Moray Ruins in Peru. Photo © Matyas Rehak/123rf.

The ticket can be bought at the entrances to most major sites or at COSITUC (Av. El Sol 103, #102, 8am-6pm Mon.-Fri.). Unfortunately, the pass only lasts 10 days and this is strictly enforced. If you are doing the Inca Trail first, buy the ticket afterwards.

The ticket covers these 16 sites:

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  • Museo Municipal de Arte Contemporáneo
  • Museo Histórico Regional
  • Museo de Arte Popular
  • Museo de Sitio Coricancha
  • Centro Qosqo de Arte Nativo
  • Monumento a Pachacútec
  • Sacsayhuamán
  • Q’enqo

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  • Puca Pucara
  • Tambo Machay
  • Pisac
  • Ollantaytambo
  • Moray
  • Chinchero
  • Tipon
  • Pikillacta

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If you don’t plan on visiting both Cusco and the Sacred Valley then consider purchasing a lower-priced circuit ticket (US$27). There are three circuits to choose from: the Sacred Valley (over two days), Cusco Inca sites, and Cusco museums (one day only).

Notable sites that are, rather frustratingly, not included in the ticket are the unmissable Coricancha temple (US$3.50) and the interesting Museo de Arte y Monasterio de Santa Catalina (US$2.50), but if you go to both you only pay US$5. The Catedral de Cusco (US$8.50), Iglesia de la Compañía (US$3.50), Iglesia San Blas (US$6), and the Museo de Arte Religioso (US$6) are not covered either, but if you plan to go to all four you can buy the boleto religioso at the entrance of any of these sites for US$15 (US$6 for students under age 26 with ISIC card). Other interesting sites not included are the Iglesia de la Merced (US$2.50), Museo Inka (US$4), and the Museo de Arte Precolombino (US$8).

Excerpted from the Third Edition of Moon Machu Picchu.


Travel Deeper: Argentine Asado with a Local Family

Autumn at Lake Gutierrez near Bariloche, Argentina.
Autumn at Lake Gutierrez near Bariloche, Argentina. In addition to an office in Bariloche, Eureka Travel operates out of Los Angeles, CA. Photo © Ksenia Ragozina/123rf.

Traveling to another country means different things to different people. Some like to check off items on their “must see” list, some want to visit as many sights as they can in a short period of time, and some seek unique experiences such as volunteering or immersing themselves in local culture, learning how to cook meals and speak the language.

Analia and I began Eureka Travel in 2006, helping visitors from around the world get to know Analia’s native Argentina. Ten years later, our passion for matching the right experience to an individual traveler’s needs has only grown.

A group of travelers ready to eat!
Analia’s sister Cecilia and their mother welcome a group of travelers ready to eat Argentine asado! Photo © Eureka Travel.

Each time we travel to South America—to visit relatives or to explore new restaurants or tango shows to add to our tours—we personally like to experience something more unique than just snapping a photo of a famous place. Instagram has a hashtag for just this type of experience: #traveldeeper.

During a trip to Brazil in 2010, Analia and I found ourselves spending an evening with a local woman in her home, first preparing a meal and then enjoying it while talking late into the night. Getting to know each other in such a way was a highlight of that trip, and a new way for us to travel deeper. There’s little more intimate, revealing, and eye-opening to a different culture than a few hours of unscheduled and unscripted time enjoying home-made food and conversation with your hosts.

Based on that wonderful night in Manaus, we decided to give something similar to our clients–of course with an Argentine flavor. We began offering asado–a typical Argentine BBQ–in the home of Analia’s sister, Cecilia, four years ago and it’s been a runaway hit. Argentina is famous for its beef and how it’s prepared: slowly cooked over wood fire and hot embers. Asado is a feast and a ritual at the same time, done for special occasions and family gatherings. When we have a bigger group, we like to offer the special treat of a lamb on a cross.

Cooking a selection of local meat outdoors over a wood fire in Bariloche.
Cooking a selection of local meat outdoors over hot coals from a wood fire in Bariloche. Photo © Eureka Travel.
Preparing lamb on the cross for a larger group.
At his and Cecilia’s home, Ernesto skillfully prepares lamb on the cross for a larger group. Photo © Eureka Travel.

Our clients are typically picked up from their hotel by a private driver and dropped off in Cecilia’s house at about 6pm. There they can watch the asado being slowly cooked on a custom-built parilla (a wood burning grill) and help out with the preparations if they wish. The feast typically starts with an appetizer of two types of sausages, followed by different cuts of meat cooked to desired tenderness.

Meanwhile, as red wine flows and the ice breaks, the conversation can turn from casual to more philosophical or even political. You can never tell how the evening will go. Sometimes friends drop in, adding to the conversation; at other times someone picks up the guitar and the guests start singing–as has happened with a Chinese tourist group. That particular evening the feast went on until midnight with spontaneous and truly magical musical entertainment for all.

Inside an Argentine family home, preparing sausages and meats in a wood-fire grill.
Cecilia’s husband Ernesto serves as asador, making sure everything is grilled to perfection as he prepares their guests’ home-cooked meal on the parilla. Photo © Eureka Travel.

Even though not all might speak fluent English, everyone is nonetheless able to communicate. It’s a lovely opportunity for our guests to travel deeper, practicing their Spanish in a friendly setting, helping to prepare and then enjoy a fantastic meal, and intimately get to know how the locals live.

Where to Travel in 2016: A Month-by-Month List

Most of us at Moon have an ever-growing list of places we want to visit, a common side effect of working on a book–or even just seeing the cover options. The following list reflects a few of the destinations that inspired our wanderlust in the last year. There are trip-of-a-lifetime-type destinations and there are smaller destinations, but all of them triggered that classic reverie, imagining what it would be like to be there, and the pull of awaiting adventure.

Where to Travel in 2016 Moon Travel Guides



Kick off 2016 like a Beach Boys song. Find your own travel inspiration in Aruba’s best beaches and our best of Aruba in one week travel itinerary.

Eagle Beach and Manchebo Beach…offer a tranquil, secluded getaway…. There are many spots where a visitor can settle down, look around, and not see a soul.”
–From Moon Aruba by Rosalie Klein

Soft waves lapping onto a wide white sand beach with swimmers in the water near a beachfront resort in the distance.
Aruba’s beaches are never too hot for a barefoot stroll even at noon. Photo © Iuliia Nufrychenkova/123rf.

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Start the new year with a run up the Rocky Steps at the Philadelphia Museum of Art. And don’t stop there–Philly is museum-rich. Check out the museums in Old City Philadelphia and the Museum District. Once you’ve had your fill of history and art, take in the rest of the best of Philadelphia in three days.

And if you don’t mind bundling up, winter offers the lowest hotel rates, fewest crowds, and, if you’re lucky, perhaps a beautiful snowfall.”
–From Moon Philadelphia by Karrie Gavin

Rocky Steps, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo 123rf.
Rocky Steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Photo © Natalia Bratslavsky/123rf.


Sanibel Island, Florida

Join the snowbirds and escape winter at this low-key beach destination. Wildlife lovers will have fun birdwatching on Sanibel Island and the South Gulf Coast is perfect for a road trip.

The quiet, secluded island feels like a beach town that has only hesitantly embraced its identity as a beach town…. Twenty-five miles of wide, multi-use trails run parallel to the main roads, and the flat terrain is optimal for biking.”
–From Moon Sarasota & Naples by Jason Ferguson

Sanibel Island, Florida 123rf
Lighthouse Point on Sanibel Island, Florida. Photo © Daniel Korzeniewski/123rf.

Granada, Nicaragua

Come for the international poetry festival, then set out for some of Nicaragua’s natural wonders. Start with experiencing the city’s colonial charm, and don’t forget to sample some of the best boating, swimming, and cycling in the country. If you can, take in the best of Nicaragua in two weeks–or pick and choose from our itinerary to craft your perfect trip.

A lot of the city’s charm lies in the interesting excursions…. Choose a day trip to Volcán Masaya, Mombacho, or the Laguna de Apoyo…. The annual Poetry Festival (February 14-20, 2016) is a knockout.”
–From Moon Nicaragua by Elizabeth Perkins

Granada, Nicaragua. Photo © Rafal Cichawa/123rf.
Granada, Nicaragua. Photo © Rafal Cichawa/123rf.


Big Bend National Park, Texas

Enjoy the great outdoors and get some alone time in this vast, isolated park in the Chisos Mountains.

It’s a true getaway to a relatively untouched land…. The solitude and seclusion amid a gorgeous backdrop of rugged beauty are ultimately soul cleansing.
–From Moon Texas by Andy Rhodes

Big Bend, Texas. Photo 123rf.
Chisos Mountains from Sotol Vista Overlook on the Ross Maxwell Scenic Drive at sunrise, Big Bend National Park, Texas. Photo © Steve Lagreca/123rf.

St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands

Experience diverse and authentic island culture against a backdrop of Danish colonial architecture. Whet your travel appetite with our expert author’s introduction to St. Croix, then start your planning with our seven-day travel itinerary.

The largest of the U.S. Virgin Islands is the richest in history, culture, and landscapes…. Nowhere is St. Croix’s diversity more evident than in its music, food, and arts.”
–From Moon U.S. & British Virgin Islands by Susanna Henighan Potter

Salt River Bay, St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.
Salt River Bay, St. Croix, Virgin Islands. Photo © Susanna Henighan Potter.



Soak in the infectious energy of this enigmatic island—and perhaps even get there on a direct flight from the U.S. Here’s why you should travel to Cuba and just as importantly, five ways to immerse yourself in the experience.

Cuba is a mother lode for anyone who loves classic American autos, fine cigars, quality rums, and Las Vegas-style cabaret revues…. The tail fins of ’57 Eldorados still glint beneath the floodlit mango trees of nightclubs.”
–From Moon Cuba by Christopher P. Baker

View over the Parque Céspedes in Santiago de Cuba.
Parque Céspedes in Santiago de Cuba. Photo © Christopher P. Baker.

Bourbon Trail, Kentucky

Sample small towns and small sips of Kentucky’s spirit along this idyllic route. To make the most of your meandering along the trail, check out our five day itinerary.

Travel along the famed Bourbon Trail and you’ll get to taste more than the nation’s only native liquor…. This is small-town America, …where neighbors are never strangers and where the best cooking is home cooking.”
–From Moon Kentucky by Theresa Dowell Blackinton

Oak barrels used for aging whiskey along the Bourbon Trail, Kentucky. Photo 123rf.
Oak barrels used for aging whiskey along the Bourbon Trail, Kentucky. Photo © dcslim/123rf.


Hudson River Valley, New York

Catch a northbound train from New York’s Grand Central Station for a weekend of antiques and historic estates. There are plenty of day trips to the Valley for those short on time but big on travel.

A handful of majestic estates line the Hudson River…. Kykuit, the sprawling hilltop estate of the Rockefeller family, is a must-see…. If you want to browse antiques shops, …stay on the train until it arrives at Cold Spring Station.
–From Moon Hudson Valley & the Catskills by Nikki Goth Itoi

There are tremendous views to be found in the Catskills, like this scenic look at North-South Lake.
There are tremendous views to be found in the Catskills, like this scenic look at North-South Lake. Photo © Colin Young/123rf.

Cobá, Mexico

Climb the Maya pyramid Nohuch Mul at the Cobá Archaeological Zone—an increasingly rare experience.

Just an hour from Tulum are the terrific jungle-cloaked ruins of Cobá…. The view from the top is impressive—a flat green forest spreading almost uninterrupted in every direction.”
–From Moon Cancún & Cozumel by Gary Chandler & Liza Prado

Coba, Mexico, 123rf
Mayan Nohoch Mul pyramid in Coba, Mexico. Photo © Nataliya Hora/123rf.

Quito, Ecuador

Wander through Quito and enjoy the sights of cobbled, hilly Old Town in the (nearly) year-round springtime air.

Steep, narrow streets characterize [Quito’s centro historico], and cars barely fit in lanes designed for horse and foot traffic.”
–From Moon Ecuador &the Galápagos Islands by Ben Westwood

Aerial view of the city of Quito, Ecuador. Photo © Nicolas De Corte/123rf.
Aerial view of the city of Quito, Ecuador. Photo © Nicolas De Corte/123rf.


Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah

Stare out at the garden of sandstone spires and see first-hand what a hoodoo is. Take three days to experience best of Zion and Bryce, or craft your own weekend escape.

Bryce Canyon isn’t a canyon at all, but rather the largest of a series of massive amphitheaters cut into the Pink Cliffs…. A short walk down either the Queen’s Garden Trail or the Navajo Loop Trail from Sunset Point will bring you close to Bryce’s hoodoos.”
–From Moon Zion & Bryce by W. C. McRae & Judy Jewell

Thor's Hammer, a large hoodoo, bathed in early morning light.
Thor’s Hammer at sunrise in Bryce Canyon National Park. Photo © Pierre Leclerc/123rf.

Prince Edward Island, Canada

Tour the quaint Charlottetown on the island inspired the bucolic setting of Anne of Green Gables and get back to nature in Prince Edward Island National Park.

L. M. Montgomery portrayed rural Cavendish as an idyllic ‘neverland’ called Avonlea, imbued with innocence and harmony. The most pastoral and historic places are preserved as part of Prince Edward Island National Park.”
–From Moon Atlantic Canada by Andrew Hempstead

Prince Edward Island, Canada, 123rf
Prince Edward Island harbor. Photo © Darryl Brooks/123rf.


Vancouver and the Canadian Rockies

Take an epic drive from one of Canada’s most dynamic cities to the glaciers and ice fields of Banff and Jasper National Parks. Roadtrip to Vancouver and make sure the car’s packed for camping in Banff. If you’d like to take in more of the city or Vancouver Island, here’s when and where to go.

With the purple of dusk coloring the sky, Vancouver's city lights reflect in the water.
Vancouver’s city skyline. Photo © Lijuan Guo/123rf.

Vancouver [is] a splendid conglomeration of old and new architectural marvels, parks and gardens, and sheltered beaches.”
–From Moon British Columbia by Andrew Hempstead

The 230-kilometer (143-mile) Icefields Parkway, between Lake Louise and Jasper, is one of the most scenic, exciting, and inspiring mountain roads ever built.”
–From Moon Canadian Rockies by Andrew Hempstead

Icefields Parkway and Cirrus Mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Photo © Feng Yu/123rf.
Icefields Parkway and Cirrus Mountain in the Canadian Rockies. Photo © Feng Yu/123rf.

San Miguel de Allende, Mexico

Step up your Spanish game with a short-term course at a language school in this charming town. Use these tips on learning and speaking Spanish in Mexico and bolster your studies by taking in the best of San Miguel and more with our expert author.

As evening falls, …amber streetlights illuminate the sandstone domes of 18th-century churches, while clanging iron bells herald the end of another day…. Mariachis tune their instruments and sidewalks hum with diners, gallery-goers, and revelers. This is Mexico mágico, the mythic place of corridos (ballads) alive and thriving on the high plains.”
–From Moon San Miguel de Allende, Guanajuato and the Bajío by Julie Doherty Meade

San Miguel de Allende. Photo 123rf.
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, overlooking Parroquia Archangel Church. Photo © William Perry/123rf.


Boise, Idaho

Savor authentic Basque cuisine in this up-and-coming capital city, which also hosts a summer Shakespeare festival in a riverside amphitheater. Before you travel, discover all Idaho has to offer.

Once you arrive in Boise, take in a summer play under the stars at the Idaho Shakespeare Festival after touring the Basque Block… a thriving ethnic enclave with restaurants, bars, and a museum.
–From Moon Idaho by James P. Kelly

The foothills of Boise, Idaho. Photo © rck953/123rf.
The foothills of Boise, Idaho. Photo © rck953/123rf.

Charlevoix, Québec

Follow the St. Lawrence River north out of Québec City for relaxingly beautiful scenery, quaint towns, and perhaps a beluga whale sighting. Once winter hits, skiing Le Massif de Charlevoix is an incredible experience–despite modernization, the mountain maintains its unique, untouched beauty.

Charlevoix’s landscape is distinct in its variety. At times pastoral and hilly, the region’s high cliffs and breathtaking fjords are adorned with tundra, while nearby, steep sand dunes rise unexpectedly along the coastline.”
–From Moon Montréal & Québec City by Sacha Jackson

Landscape of Port-au-Persil in Charlevoix, Quebec, Canada. Photo © Denis Roger/123rf.
Landscape of Port-au-Persil in Charlevoix, Québec, Canada. Photo © Denis Roger/123rf.


Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan

Kayak around Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore to view these colorful cliffs at your own pace. Start planning your visit early to make the most of the experience.

The remarkable colors, cliffs, and rock formations of Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore stretch out like an artistic masterpiece being unveiled.”
–From Moon Michigan’s Upper Peninsula by Paul Vachon

Miner's Castle in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan. Photo © ehrlif/123rf.
Miner’s Castle in Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore, Michigan. Photo © ehrlif/123rf.

Machu Picchu, Peru

Hike through the Andes–for two hours or upward of four days–to add to the unforgettable reward of seeing Machu Picchu. Make this trip-of-a-lifetime the full experience by taking on the trek to Machu Picchu, and explore the best of Machu Picchu in eight days.

The mist lifted to reveal the spellbinding sight of perfect stonework backed by the towering mountain of Huayna Picchu…. Machu Picchu is the culmination of a once-in-a-lifetime pilgrimage.”
–From Moon Machu Picchu by Ben Westwood

Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo 123rf.
Machu Picchu, Peru. Photo © a41cats/123rf.


Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina to Virginia

Road trip along “America’s Favorite Drive” surrounded by the warm hues of fall foliage. Take a full two weeks for the experience, and make sure you brush up on these driving tips for the Blue Ridge Parkway.

North Carolina’s High Country is no joke. The mountains are steep, and the road grows aggressively curvy, making for unworldly views as you round corners with nothing but space and the Blue Ridge Mountains in front of you.”
–From Moon Blue Ridge Parkway Road Trip by Jason Frye

Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. Photo 123rf.
Linn Cove Viaduct, Blue Ridge Parkway, North Carolina. Photo © Mark VanDyke/123rf.

Oaxaca, Mexico

Celebrate Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and the week leading up to it in Oaxaca City and surrounding towns, the best place in Mexico to experience this fiesta.

You can spend your entire week admiring altars and tapestries, and enjoying the party in Oaxaca City. Or you can head out into the valleys and hills, and celebrate…in a dozen different towns and villages. Every single one will have its own way of honoring their dead.”
–From Moon Oaxaca by Justin Henderson

La Catrina costume, Dia De Los Muertos. Photo © Alejandro Duran/123rf.
La Catrina costume, Dia De Los Muertos. Photo © Alejandro Duran/123rf.


Northern Sonoma, California

Visit this quintessential California wine country region on a weekday during this most popular season to beat the crowds. Between tastings, there’s always plenty of hiking, boating, and biking.

The cool, lush Russian River Valley has forests, rivers, small farms, and some of the best pinot noir and chardonnay in California…. The warmer Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley are home to big red wines from small family-owned wineries.”
–From Moon Napa & Sonoma by Elizabeth Linhart Veneman

Napa Valley, California. Photo 123rf.
Napa Valley, California. Photo © Andrew Zarivny/123rf.

São Paolo and Iguaçu Falls, Brazil

Head to Brazil’s economic and cultural center for urban sophistication then combine it with a side trip to Iguaçu Falls to stare into the Devil’s Throat. A stroll to take in the sights along São Paulo’s Avenida Paulista is an excellent daytime activity, as is shopping for the latest Brazil fashions between browsing antique galleries.

“Teeming with noise, activity, and a certain degree of urban chaos, …São Paolo offers a wealth of artistic, gastronomic, nightlife, and shopping options.”

“Iguaçu is not just one big cascade but a series of 275 falls that rush over a 3-kilometer-wide (2-mi) precipice. The sound is deafening, and the sight absolutely unforgettable.”
–From Moon Brazil by Michael Sommers

Iguacu Falls, Brazil, 123rf
Iguaçu Falls, Brazil. Photo © leksele/123rf.


Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, Colombia

Watch the sunrise from one of the beaches in Colombia’s famously beautiful national park. Plan your visit for early December to avoid the winter holiday rush, and make certain you pack the essentials for Colombia travel.

The frequently tempestuous waters of the PNN Tayrona provide dramatic scenery, with palms growing atop massive island boulders, waves crashing up against them.”
–From Moon Colombia by Andrew Dier

Tayrona NP Colombia
Parque Nacional Natural Tayrona, Colombia. Photo © Andrew Dier.

Nashville, Tennessee

End the year to the beat–and inspiration–of Music City. Seek out live music venues as you take in the the best of Nashville in the fall and winter.

People come here to make their dreams come true…. You don’t have to be here more than a day or two to encounter truly talented musicians singing on the curb on Broadway.”
–From Moon Nashville by Margaret Littman

Nashville, Tennessee. Photo 123rf.
Downtown Nashville skyline, Tennessee. Photo © Sean Pavone/123rf.

La Cuarenta: Argentina’s Most Adventurous Road

From the Bolivian border near La Quiaca to its terminus near Río Gallegos, RN 40 has been Argentina’s great, unfinished interior highway. Some segments of “La Cuarenta” (cuarenta means “40”) in the central Cuyo provinces have long been smoothly paved, while others in the Andean northwest remain rough and rugged. None of those has enjoyed the notoriety of the segment between the El Calafate junction and the town of Perito Moreno, on the cusp between the Patagonian steppe and the icy southern Andes.

[pullquote align=”right”]With accommodations and supplies few and far between, bicyclists and motorcyclists must carry tents and cold-weather gear, even in midsummer, and plenty of food.[/pullquote]It’s no longer Argentina’s loneliest road—some of the cul-de-sac tracks that spin off it seem simply abandoned—but for Argentines and foreigners alike it’s been the standard for adventurous driving and cycling thanks to its secluded Andean lakes, isolated estancias (ranches), plentiful wildlife, and sights like the pre-Columbian rock art of Cueva de las Manos. Even the advent of ever more frequent public transportation has not diminished its mystique.

In recent years, the summer season has seen a growing procession of motorists, motorcyclists, and bicyclists (though most cyclists prefer the Chilean side). Some, at least, appreciate Charles Darwin’s insight that the appeal of the bleak Patagonian plains was “the free scope given to the imagination.”

Driving La Cuarenta is the Argentines standard for adventurous driving and cycling thanks to its secluded Andean lakes and isolated, rugged terrain.
Driving La Cuarenta is the Argentine standard for adventurous driving and cycling thanks to its secluded Andean lakes and isolated, rugged terrain. Photo © Wybren, licensed Creative Commons Attribution & ShareAlike.

A trip on La Cuarenta still requires preparation. With accommodations and supplies few and far between, bicyclists and motorcyclists must carry tents and cold-weather gear, even in midsummer, and plenty of food. A GPS and maps, like ACA’s newest regional sheets, are essential. Motorists might feel more comfortable with two spare tires. Also carry extra fuel—between El Calafate and Perito Moreno, the only reliable supplies are at El Chaltén (a 90-kilometer detour), Tres Lagos, Gobernador Gregores (which sometimes runs out), and Bajo Caracoles (which also sometimes runs out). Some tourist estancias will sell gasoline to their clients in an emergency, but don’t count on it.

Hazards remain. Powerful winds can knock cyclists down in an instant. Deep gravel adds to the danger in some spots. Even high-clearance vehicles are vulnerable to flipping on loose gravel, especially when braking suddenly. Though four-wheel drive is not essential, some drivers prefer it to avoid fishtailing on gravel.

Chipped, cracked, and even shattered windshields are par for the course. Normally, rental-car insurance policies do not cover such damage, and replacements are expensive in Argentina (though fairly cheap in Punta Arenas, Chile). Approaching vehicles usually brake to minimize the possibility of damage, but some drivers find they need to play chicken to slow down an onrushing pickup truck or SUV.

About half of this segment of RN 40 is paved and the rest of it seems likely to be completed within a few years. Because of rerouting, it now passes through Gobernador Gregores (anyone nostalgic for the old route can still take on the graveled shortcut of RP 29).

If driving or cycling doesn’t appeal to you, but you still want to see the “loneliest highway,” summer bus and minivan services now connect El Calafate and El Chaltén, at the south end, with Perito Moreno and Los Antiguos at the north end of Santa Cruz province, and with Bariloche.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

Discover Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes

Argentina’s Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes is best reached through nearby La Villa, a lakeside town neighboring Villa La Angostura. Los Arrayanes is larger than the town of La Villa, but they’re so close that it feels more like a sprawling city park.

[pullquote align=”right”]Local folklore says Walt Disney’s cartoon feature Bambi modeled its forest after the arrayán woodland at the tip of Península Quetrihué…[/pullquote]Local folklore says Walt Disney’s cartoon feature Bambi modeled its forest after the arrayán woodland at the tip of Península Quetrihué, a former ranch that became the national park in 1971. With their bright white flowers, the eye-catching red-barked forests of Luma apiculata do bear a resemblance, but a Disney archivist has pointed out that Bambi was in production before Walt’s 1941 trip to Argentina, and that he never visited the area.

The park occupies Quetrihué’s entire 1,753 hectares, which stretch south into Lago Nahuel Huapi. Its namesake forest covers only about 20 hectares, but the rest of the peninsula bristles with trees like the maitén and the southern beeches coihue and ñire, as well as colorful shrubs like the notro and chilco, and dense bamboo thickets of colihue. The floral standout is the arrayán, whose individual specimens reach up to 25 meters and 650 years of age.

Enjoy a walk through the trees in Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes.
Enjoy a walk through the trees in Parque Nacional Los Arrayanes. Photo © miragik/123rf.

The park is ideal for hiking and mountain biking: The undulating 12-kilometer trail to or from the peninsula’s tip is a perfect half-day excursion (on a bicycle or doing one way by boat and the other on foot) or a full day by hiking in both directions. Argentine rangers often exaggerate the time needed on certain trails, but the three hours they suggest is about right for this walk in the woods, which passes a pair of lakes. Only at the park portal, near La Villa, are there any steep segments; a slide has forced partial relocation of the route here.

Before starting any hike in the park and within the previous 48 hours to the date of the hike, a free form must be filled in to keep a record at the national park’s Registro de Trekking and to show upon park rangers’ request. The form is provided at APN’s offices (Blvd. Nahuel Huapi 2193, tel. 0294/4494152, 9am- 3pm Mon.-Fri.), online on the park’s webpage, and at the Club Andino (20 de Febrero 30, tel. 0294/4527966). Access for hikers is permitted only up to 1pm, and up to 2pm for bikers. Bikes can be rented at La Villa.

At the portal, rangers collect a US$11 admission charge (US$4 for Argentine residents). Those who only plan to do the short walk to the panoramic Mirador Bahía Mansa and the Mirador Brazo Norte need not pay the fee. Near the dock at the peninsula’s southern tip, a café with a cozy fireplace serves sandwiches, coffee, and hot chocolate.

From the Bahía Mansa dock near park headquarters, non-hikers can reach the arrayán forest in about 45 minutes on the Catamarán Futaleufú, run by El Cruce’s Greenleaf Turismo (Av. Siete Lagos 118, 1st Fl., tel. 0294/4494404), which runs 1-3 services daily; the cost is US$20 one-way, US$38 round-trip, plus a small boarding tax and the park admission fee.

From the Bahía Brava dock across the isthmus, the newer Catamarán Patagonia Argentina (tel. 0294/4494463) runs a similar service (US$23 one-way, US$38 round-trip, plus a small boarding tax and the park’s admission fee), also 1-3 times daily.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

Puerto Montt: Gateway to the Chilean Lakes District

No Chilean city enjoys a more impressive setting than Puerto Montt, where a cordon of forested mountains and snowcapped volcanoes stretches south along Chile’s island-studded “Inside Passage.” Still, this midsize port can’t match the prosperity and cultural diversity of cities in comparable surroundings, such as Seattle and Vancouver, B.C. Attempts at improvements haven’t managed to improve its presentability. Part of the waterfront, with its dramatic views, has become a park, but the lawns have died for lack of maintenance and graffiti vandalism defaces many new constructions, and traffic clogs downtown streets.

Puerto Montt owes its growth to shipbuilding, extractive industries such as forestry, and the fish-farming sector. As a city whose potential, to this point, exceeds its achievements, the capital of Region X (Los Lagos) is mainly a gateway to the Andean lakes district, the Chiloé archipelago, Chilean Patagonia, and parts of Argentina. As a transport hub where mainland Chile ends and archipelagic Chile begins, it enjoys air, land, or sea connections in all directions but west. Cruise ships call at its port of Angelmó, though there’s barely room for them to maneuver in and out of the congested harbor; the largest vessels have to anchor offshore and shuttle passengers to the pier.

View of a snowcapped mountain on the way to Puerto Montt.
Summer snow on the way to Puerto Montt. Photo © Eduardo Zárate, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

Puerto Montt dates from 1853, when German colonists landed at the north end of the Seno de Reloncaví in what was then called Melipulli, a Huilliche word whose definition—Four Hills—aptly described the site. It grew slowly until 1912, when the railroad cut travel time to Santiago to 26 hours and it became the jumping-off point for southbound colonists headed for continental Chiloé, Aisén, and Magallanes.

In 1960, a massive earthquake destroyed the port and most of what Jan Morris called “structures in the Alpine manner, all highpitched roofs and quaint balconies.” Rebuilt in a mostly utilitarian style, Puerto Montt is only now beginning to sport newer buildings of distinction. The earlier style survives in nearby Puerto Varas.


Puerto Montt’s strength is its magnificent setting, but it also has a handful of architectural monuments and other sights. On the south side of Plaza Manuel Irarrázaval, built of alerce, the copper-domed, Parthenon-styled Catedral de Puerto Montt (1856) is the city’s oldest building. Surrounded by woods, the hillside Torre Campanario del Colegio San Francisco Javier (1894) rises behind the Iglesia de los Jesuitas (1872), at the corner of Guillermo Gallardo and Rengifo.

As of 2014, the waterfront Museo Juan Pablo II (Av. Diego Portales 991, tel. 065/2223029, was undergoing major renovation to accommodate its collections on natural history, archaeology (including dioramas of the Monte Verde early human site 35 kilometers west of town), anthropology, early Spanish and 19th-century German colonization, and the city’s history from its origins as the hamlet of Melipulli to the 1960 earthquake and up to the present. For locals, the high point is the 1987 visit from Pope John Paul II, which resulted in the museum’s renaming.

Puerto Montt and Angelmó, two kilometers west, have gradually merged along the waterfront. The port retains its own identity and attracts more visitors than other parts of town, thanks to its sprawling crafts market and gaggle of marisquerías (simple fish and seafood eateries) jammed with lunch and dinner patrons. Taxi colectivos out Avenida Diego Portales go directly to the port, which is also the departure point for southbound ferries.

Monumento Natural Lahuén Ñadi

Little native forest remains near Puerto Montt. However, substantial stands of alerce, ulmo, mañío, coigüe, and other species survive in this 200-hectare woodland between the city and Aeropuerto El Tepual, despite the steady encroachment of trophy houses surrounded by high fences and guarded by Rottweilers.

Located on the private Fundo El Rincón, the Conaf-administered Monumento Natural Lahuén Ñadi (tel. 09/8570-2388, US$3, authorization required) features a small visitors center, a cafeteria, a short nature trail, and one slightly longer hiking trail. Midway between the Panamericana and the airport, a bumpy gravel road leads to the park, about three kilometers north. Water can cover parts of the road when rains are heavy, but the surface is firm gravel and vehicles without fourwheel drive pass easily.

Any airport-bound bus will drop you at the junction, which is about a 30-minute walk from the park. Visits now require authorization from Conaf’s Puerto Montt office (Urmeneta 977, 5th Fl., tel. 065/2486115).

Getting There and Around

Other than Santiago, Puerto Montt is the main gateway for air, land, and sea connections to Chilean Patagonia and across the Andes to Argentina. Only in summer can overland travelers begin the Carretera Austral by heading southeast from here, as Naviera Austral’s Hornopirén-Caleta Gonzalo ferry link operates in January and February only. Otherwise, it’s necessary to take the ferry from Puerto Montt to Chaitén, or the occasional sailing from Castro or Quellón.


LAN (O’Higgins 167, Local 1-B, tel. 065/2253315) flies several times daily to Santiago, usually nonstop but sometimes via Valdivia, Temuco, or Concepción, or a combination of those. It also flies at least twice daily to Balmaceda/Coyhaique and three or four times daily to Punta Arenas, occasionally stopping in Balmaceda/Coyhaique. Occasionally it flies from Santiago to Puerto Montt and on to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina.

Sky Airline (Benavente 495, Local 4, tel. 065/2437555) flies frequently to Santiago, less frequently to Balmaceda/Coyhaique, and to Punta Arenas and occasionally Puerto Natales.

No carrier has lasted long on the air-taxi route to Chaitén, a major starting point for overland trips on the Carretera Austral. Aerocord (tel. 065/2262300) and Cielomaraustral (tel. 065/2264010, fly to nearby Santa Bárbara (US$85). These leave from Aeródromo La Paloma, on the hill immediately behind the downtown area.


Still undergoing a major renovation that will include a four-star hotel, Puerto Montt’s Terminal de Buses (Av. Portales 1001, tel. 065/2283000) is about one kilometer southwest of the Plaza de Armas. Services are frequent to rural, regional, and most long-distance destinations, as well as to Bariloche, Argentina. Buses to the Chilean Patagonia destinations of Coyhaique and Punta Arenas, which pass through Argentina, are less frequent but reliable.

From the bus terminal, Buses ETM (tel. 065/2256253, US$4) connects to inbound and outbound flights at Aeropuerto El Tepual (tel. 065/2252019), which is 16 kilometers west via the Panamericana and a paved lateral.

Cruz del Sur (Av. Salvador Allende and Av. Presidente Ibáñez, tel. 065/483127) and its affiliated companies have opened a new terminal on higher ground near the Panamericana but continue to use the downtown terminal as well.

From a dedicated platform, several companies go to Puerto Varas (US$1.50, 30 minutes), including Expreso Puerto Varas and Thaebus. Thaebus also passes through Varas en route to Frutillar and Puerto Octay.

Buses Fierro (tel. 065/2252909) goes to Lenca (US$2.50), the southerly access point to Parque Nacional Alerce Andino, at noon and 4:30pm daily. Buses JB (tel. 065/2290850) goes to Correntoso (US$2.50), the northern access point to Alerce Andino, five times daily between 7:40am and 8:30pm, except Sunday when it goes at 9:10am and 8:30pm.

Daily at 7am, 8am, 1pm, and 3:30pm, Kémelbus (tel. 065/2256450) goes to Hornopirén, also known as Río Negro (US$7.50, four hours). One bus daily continues to Chaitén (US$18, 12 hours) via the Ruta Bimodal, which involves ferry crossing from Hornopirén to Leptepu and Fiordo Largo to Caleta Gonzalo. Still, more visitors use the ferry from Puerto Montt or from Castro or Quellón, on the Chiloé archipelago, to reach Chaitén.

Numerous carriers serve the capital city of Santiago (US$40-75, 12-13 hours) and intermediates including Temuco (US$14, 5.5 hours). Chiloé destinations include Ancud (US$7, two hours) and Castro (US$11, three hours).

Buses Trans Austral (tel. 065/2709840) goes to Futaleufú (US$45, 11 hours) via Argentina Monday and Saturday at 7am, and to Coyhaique (US$57, 21 hours) Sunday at 11am via Argentina. It also goes to Bariloche (US$25), El Bolsón (US$41), Esquel (US$60), Comodoro Rivadavia (US$79), Caleta Olivia, Trelew (US$111), and Puerto Madryn (US$111) Monday at 11am. Feryval (tel. 065/2721312) and Lago Espolón (tel. 065/2721215) also serve Futaleufú.

Several companies operate between Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas (US$85, 28 hours) via Argentina, including Pullman Bus (tel. 065/2254399), Queilen Bus (tel. 065/2253468), and Turibús (tel. 065/2252872), all of which normally begin in Castro (Chiloé) and pick up passengers here and in Osorno. These are through-buses, not permitted to drop passengers in Argentina. Queilen also goes to Coyhaique (US$57, 22 hours) Monday, Wednesday, and Friday at noon.

Five companies cross the Andes to San Carlos de Bariloche, Argentina (US$23-27, six hours), via Osorno and the Cardenal Samoré pass: Andesmar (tel. 065/2312123), Buses Norte Internacional (tel. 065/2233319), Cruz del Sur (tel. 065/2252872), Tas Choapa (tel. 065/2254828), and Vía Bariloche (tel. 065/2233633). Igi Llaima (tel. 065/2259320) goes to the Argentine cities of San Martín de los Andes (US$35) and Neuquén (US$45).

Andina del Sud (Antonio Varas 216, Oficina 907, tel. 065/2228600) sells tickets for the bus-boat relay to Bariloche (US$230) via Puerto Varas, Ensenada, Petrohué, and Peulla. These leave Puerto Montt in the morning, arriving early evening in Bariloche. Summer departures are daily. During the rest of the year, departures are Monday-Friday only and require an overnight stay in Peulla.


From Puerto Montt there are passenger and passenger/vehicle ferries or bus-ferry combinations to Chiloé and Chaitén in Region X, Puerto Chacabuco (the port of Coyhaique) in Region XI (Aisén), and Puerto Natales in Region XII (Magallanes). Since these routes follow the sheltered inland sea, seasickness is usually a minor problem except on the openocean crossing of the Golfo de Penas (literally, Gulf of Sorrows), en route to Puerto Natales. In the new passenger terminal, the two main companies are Naviera Austral (Av. Angelmó 1673, tel. 065/2270430) and Navimag (Av. Angelmó 1735, tel. 065/2432360). Vehicles, however, still board at the Terminal de Transbordadores (Av. Angelmó 2187), about 500 meters west.

Naviera Austral runs routes between Puerto Montt and Chaitén (8-12 hours) on the cramped, aging rustbucket Pincoya (US$19) and the newer, sleeker Don Baldo (US$30 pp reclining seats, US$59-66 for a bunk) five times weekly. Vehicle rates are US$165 for passenger vehicles and small trucks; bicycles cost US$11 and motorcycles US$38. For passengers, the Pincoya is cheaper, but it has no bunks.

The replacement of the Evangelistas by the smaller Edén has increased passenger pressure on Navimag’s Puerto Montt-Puerto Natales route, so reservations are imperative in the summer peak. If in Santiago, visit the Navimag office there. Still, it’s worth trying for a last-minute berth or cabin. Fares depend on the season and the level of accommodations but start around US$350 per person with full board. Bicycles cost an additional US$53, motorcycles US$152, passenger cars US$528, and light trucks US$564; other vehicles pay a linear meter rate.

From September-May, Cruceros Marítimos Skorpios (Av. Angelmó 1660, tel. 065/2252996) operates luxury cruises to Laguna San Rafael that begin in Puerto Montt; rates on the 140-passenger Skorpios II start at US$1,400 per person and range up to US$3,300 per person.

Car Rental

For car rentals, try Econorent (Antonio Varas 126, tel. 065/2481261) or Europcar (Antonio Varas 162, tel. 065/2286277). Note that taking a vehicle into Argentina requires notarial permission.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

Sights in Santiago, Chile’s Plaza de Armas and Vicinity

Central Santiago has the highest density of sights in or around the Plaza de Armas, Plaza de la Constitución, Cerro Santa Lucía, and Barrio Bellavista, with a handful elsewhere. The municipal tourist authority, with separate offices near the Plaza de Armas and on Cerro Santa Lucía, offers free walking tours that include admission to some of the best museums; check for the most current itineraries.

On its west side, the Plaza de Armas’ oldest surviving landmark is the Catedral Metropolitana, begun in 1748 but, because of earthquakes and fires, not completed until 1830. Italian architect Joaquín Toesca designed its neoclassical facade, modified with late-19th-century Tuscan touches.

On the north side, the next oldest structure is the Municipalidad de Santiago (1785). Immediately west, the Palacio de la Real Audiencia (1804) houses the Museo Histórico Nacional. At the corner of Paseo Puente, the French-style Correo Central (Post Office, 1882) replaced the original government house. Half a block east of the plaza, dating from 1769, the Casa Colorada (Merced 860) houses the municipal tourist office
and city museum.

Pedestrians cross a square surrounded by bronze statues on pedestals and elaborate buildings studded with corinthian columns.
Plaza de Armas in Santiago, Chile. Photo © Rafael Gómez, licensed Creative Commons Attribution No-Derivatives.

One block from the southwest corner of the plaza, the Palacio de la Real Aduana (Royal Customs House, Bandera 361) now holds the exceptional Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Chilean Museum of Pre-Columbian Art).

One block north of the plaza, built of massive blocks, the Templo de Santo Domingo (21 de Mayo and Monjitas) was constructed in 1747-1808. Two blocks north is the Mercado Central, the landmark central market that’s a tourist draw for its seafood restaurants. From 1913 until 1987, trains to Valparaíso, northern Chile, and Mendoza (Argentina) used Eiffel-inf luenced architect Emilio Jecquier’s monumental Estación Mapocho. Closed in 1987 and reopened as a cultural center, it hosts events like Santiago’s annual book fair. In the nearby Cal y Canto Metro station, foundations of the colonial Puente Cal y Canto bridge over the Mapocho are now open to view.

Museo Histórico Nacional

During the 17th century, the Palacio de la Real Audiencia housed Chile’s colonial supreme court, but earthquakes destroyed its quarters in both 1647 and 1730. Architect Juan José de Goycolea y Zañartu designed the current neoclassical building (1808). Its clock tower dates from Mayor Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna’s late-19th-century term.

During the independence struggle, the first Congreso Nacional met here. Royalists restored the Real Audiencia from 1814 to 1817. That same year, the Cabildo of Santiago met here to make Argentine general José de San Martín head of state, but San Martín declined in favor of Bernardo O’Higgins. After President Manuel Bulnes moved government offices to the Casa de la Moneda, the building became municipal offices and then a museum.

Today, the building houses Museo Histórico Nacional (Plaza de Armas 951, tel. 02/2411-7010, 10am-6pm Tues.-Sun., US$1.20, free Sun. and holidays). Thematically, its collections encompass Mapuche silverwork, colonial and republican furniture and art, material folklore, textiles, weapons, and photography.

Chronologically, it traces Chile’s development from indigenous times through Spanish colonial rule, the subsequent establishment of church and state, collapse of the Spanish empire, the early republic and its 19th-century expansion, the oligarchy that ruled parliament, and the failed reforms that resulted in the 1973 coup—when the story abruptly ends.

Museo de Santiago

Perhaps Santiago’s best-preserved colonial house, the Casa Colorada was home to Mateo de Toro y Zambrano, who became Chile’s interim governor, at age 83, after the colonial governor resigned. Named for its reddish paint, it hosted both José de San Martín and Bernardo O’Higgins after the battle of Chacabuco (1817), and the famous mercenary Lord Cochrane later lived here. Abandoned for many years, it underwent restoration after 1977. Only the two-story facade facing Merced, with its forged iron balconies, is truly original.

Inside the Casa Colorada, the Museo de Santiago (Merced 860, tel. 02/2386-7400, 10am-6pm Tues.-Fri., 10am-5pm Sat., 11am- 2pm Sun. and holidays, US$1 pp) chronicles the city’s development from pre-Columbian times through its founding by Valdivia, the evolution of colonial society, the independence era, and its transformation under 19thcentury mayor Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna. The history is vivid in the models of historical buildings and dioramas of events, such as the 1863 fire that destroyed the Iglesia de la Compañía. The museum was closed for a major remodel as of early 2014.

Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino

Late architect Sergio Larraín García-Moreno donated a lifetime’s acquisitions to stock the Museo Chileno de Arte Precolombino (Bandera 361, tel. 02/2928-1500, 10am-6pm Tues.-Sun., US$6, US$2 students, children under 13 free), housed in the former colonial Real Casa de Aduana (Royal Customs House, 1805). Following independence, the neoclassical building became the Biblioteca Nacional (National Library) and then the Tribunales de Justicia (Law Courts) until a 1968 fire destroyed most of its interior and archives. Flanked by twin patios, a broad staircase leads to the upstairs exhibits. The permanent collections from Mesoamerica and the central and southern Andes are impressive. There are smaller displays on the Caribbean, the Amazon, and Andean textiles. Particularly notable are the carved wooden chemamull, larger-than-lifesize Mapuche funerary statues. The museum also possesses Aguateca’s Stele 6, from a Late Classic Maya site in Guatemala’s Petén lowlands that has suffered severe depredations from looters.

Mercado Central

In 1817, Bernardo O’Higgins himself shifted the disorderly market on the Plaza de Armas to an area once known as “the Dominican rubbish dump” on the Mapocho’s south bank, a few blocks north. When fire destroyed the informal installations on the new Plaza de Abasto in 1864, municipal authorities hired Manuel Aldunate to create more permanent facilities. But the current Mercado Central structure (San Pablo 967, tel. 02/2696-8327, 7am-5pm Sun.-Thurs., 7am-8pm Fri., 7am- 6pm Sat.), from 1872, is mainly the work of Fermín Vivaceta.

Street-side storefronts have concealed the original facade except on the Ismael Valdés Vergara side, where it faces the river and opens onto a new plaza. There are entrances, however, on all four sides. From the interior, the wrought-iron superstructure, embellished with the Chilean flag’s recurring lone star, provides an airy setting for merchants to display their fresh fruit, vegetables, and seafood— according to journalist Robb Walsh, “a display of fishes and shellfish so vast and unfamiliar that I felt I was observing the marine life of another planet.”

Lunching and people-watching at tables set among the produce is a popular pastime for locals and tourists alike. The smallish restaurants on the periphery are cheaper and nearly as good as the two or three that monopolize the prime central sites.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

Volunteer with Two Brothers Foundation in Rio de Janeiro

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Based in the favela of Rocinha, the mission of Two Brothers Foundation (TBF) is to “promote education, community service and international exchange in low-income neighborhoods in Brazil.” To achieve this, they seek to create educational communities, bring together people from diverse walks of life, and empower people to have a positive impact on the world around them, both locally and globally. Their educational communities focus on learning in languages, arts, and science.

Based in the favela of Rocinha, the mission of is to “promote education, community service and international exchange in low-income neighborhoods in Brazil.”
Based in the favela of Rocinha, the mission of is to “promote education, community service and international exchange in low-income neighborhoods in Brazil.” Photo © Daytours4u, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

[pullquote align=right]Voluntourists are welcome to propose programs and workshops they would like to initiate and can be responsible for.[/pullquote]TBF is a small-scale NGO with a bare-bones structure, so the most successful volunteers here will be those with initiative and strong self-management skills. Short-term volunteers (“voluntourists”) support ongoing classes and activities by acting as assistants to full-time volunteers who are “resident” (staying for three or more months), and voluntourists can only be accepted if there are residents on-site to work with them. Voluntourists are welcome to propose programs and workshops they would like to initiate and can be responsible for. It is important that voluntourists realize they will not just be teachers at this organic school, but also learners. There are always English classes at the educational center, and “open classes” have included subjects such as personal financial management, health, physical fitness, martial arts, dance, visual arts, computer literacy, film studies, photography, and video production. Tutoring in reading, writing, math, and science is also provided.

TBF also accepts groups; in the past, they have helped out with English classes, assisted in refurbishing TBF’s old building, and have offered consultation in business administration or other areas of expertise.

When volunteers are not working, they have plenty of ways to keep themselves busy: hiring a local tutor to improve their Portuguese, surfing, learning capoeira or jiujitzu, working on photography and film projects, conducting research, or exploring Rio. Some have volunteered for other organizations in Rocinha as well.

As a marginalized neighborhood, Rocinha can be dangerous. According to TBF’s Volunteer Manual, “Police and members of Rocinha’s drug gangs are extremely dangerous, and while it is wise to be friendly when spoken to, it is important to avoid getting involved with either.” TBF will provide volunteers with guidance about staying safe.

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Two Brothers Foundation

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Application Process: Volunteers should send an email and arrange for a meeting upon arrival to Brazil. Individual volunteers must be 18 or older; those younger than 18 will be considered on a case-by-case basis. Families are welcome.

Cost: None. Volunteers are responsible for their own expenses.

Placement Length: Minimum three visits for short-term volunteers.

Language Requirements: None, although if the volunteer does not have Portuguese skills, TBF asks him or her to be actively studying before and during volunteering. Local tutors can be hired by the volunteer upon arrival in Rocinha.

Housing: Volunteers must make their own arrangements, although TBF can provide a list of conveniently-located hostels (US$17-26 per night). They also work with a guesthouse that is in a local home (US$120-144 per month; shorter stays are possible, but preference is given to resident volunteers). All volunteers are responsible for their own meals.

Operating Since: 1998

Number of Volunteers: about 50 “voluntourists” and another 7 resident (long-term) volunteers in 2012.

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Excerpted from the First Edition of Moon Volunteer Vacations in Latin America.


What to See in Palermo, Buenos Aires’s Largest Barrio

Buenos Aires’s largest barrio, Palermo boasts wide-open spaces thanks to 19th-century dictator Juan Manuel de Rosas, whose estate stretched almost from Recoleta all the way to Belgrano. After his exile, the property passed into the public domain and, ironically enough, the sprawling Parque 3 de Febrero takes its name from the date of his defeat in 1852.

Once part of the capital’s unsavory arrabales (margins), its street corners populated by stylish but capricious malevos (bullies) immortalized in Jorge Luis Borges’s stories, Palermo hasn’t entirely superseded that reputation—in some areas, poorly lighted streets still make visitors uneasy. Yet it also has exclusive neighborhoods such as Barrio Parque, also known as Palermo Chico, with embassies, single-family mansions, some of Buenos Aires’s highest property values, and several key museums.

Across Avenida del Libertador, the Botánico is an upper-middle-class enclave taking its name from the Jardín Botánico Carlos Thays (Av. Santa Fe 3951, tel. 011/4831-4527, 8am-6pm daily, free), a lovely botanical garden regrettably infested with feral cats. Once a neighborhood of imposing mansions, the Botánico is still affluent but less exclusive than when, in 1948, Eva Perón enraged the neighbors by making one of those mansions into a home for single mothers; it’s now a museum in her memory.

Neat paths surrounded a landscaped patch of grass framed by trees.
Palermo’s botanical garden. Photo © Pedro Angelini, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Opposite nearby Plaza Italia, the rejuvenated Jardín Zoológico (Av. Las Heras s/n, tel. 011/4806-7412, 10am-6pm Tues.-Sun., US$12, children up to age 12 free) is an ideal outing for visitors with children.

The real action is slightly northwest at Palermo Viejo, where Plaza Serrano (also known as Plaza Cortázar) has become a major axis of Porteño nightlife. Palermo Viejo further subdivides into Palermo Soho and the more northerly Palermo Hollywood, where many TV and radio producers have located facilities. Shaded by sycamores, many streets still contain low-rise casas chorizos (sausage houses) on deep, narrow lots. At the northern end of the barrio, Las Cañitas is a gastronomic and nightlife area challenging Palermo Viejo among partygoers.


Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández

Named for the author of the gauchesco epic Martín Fierro, Museo de Arte Popular José Hernández (Av. del Libertador 2373, tel. 011/4803-2384, 1pm-7pm Wed.-Fri., 10am-8pm Sat.-Sun., closed in Feb., US$0.20, free Sun.) specializes in rural Argentiniana. It’s tempting to call it the “museum of irony”: Argentina’s most gaucho-oriented institution stands in one of the country’s most urbane, affluent, and cosmopolitan neighborhoods. Even more ironically, oligarch Félix Bunge built the French-Italianate residence with marble staircases and other lavish features, and exhibits depict gentry like the Martínez de Hoz family—one of whom was the 1976-1983 dictatorship’s economy minister—as symbols of a romantic open-range lifestyle. That said, the museum’s worthwhile collections range from magnificent silverwork and vicuña textiles by contemporary Argentine artisans to pre-Columbian pottery, indigenous crafts, and even a typical pulpería (rural store).

Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo

Matías Errázuriz Ortúzar and his widow, Josefina de Alvear de Errázuriz, lived less than 20 years in the ornate Beaux-Arts building (1918) that now houses the national decorative art museum. The inventory of the Museo Nacional de Arte Decorativo (Av. del Libertador 1902, tel. 011/4802-6606, 2pm-7pm Tues.-Sun., closed last week of Dec.-first week of Jan., US$2.50, free Tues.) comprises 4,000 items from the family’s collections, ranging from Roman sculptures to contemporary silverwork, but mostly Asian and European pieces from the 17th-19th centuries. Many items are anonymous; the best-known are by Europeans like Manet and Rodin. Guided English-language tours (US$2.50) are offered Tuesday-Friday at 2:30pm.

Map of Palermo, Argentina

Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

Dedicated to Latin American art, the Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (Av. Figueroa Alcorta 3415, tel. 011/4808-6500, noon-9pm Wed., noon-8pm Thurs.-Mon. and holidays, US$7, US$3 Wed.) is a striking steel-and-glass structure that devotes one entire floor to Argentine businessman and founder Eduardo F. Constantini’s private collections, featuring prominent artists like Mexico’s Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera. There are also works by Antonio Berni, Chile’s Roberto Matta, Uruguay’s Pedro Figari, and others. The second floor offers special exhibitions. The museum also has a cinema and hosts many events.

Museo Eva Perón

Eva Perón, the charismatic spouse of populist president Juan Domingo Perón, made a point of antagonizing her political opponents, or, in her words, “the oligarchy.” At her most combative, to the anger and dismay of neighbors, she chose the upscale Botánico neighborhood for the Hogar de Tránsito No. 2, a shelter for single mothers from the provinces. Even more galling, her Fundación de Ayuda Social María Eva Duarte de Perón took over an imposing three-story mansion to house the transients on their way to the capital.

Since Evita’s 1952 death, middle-class multistory apartment blocks have mostly replaced the elegant single-family houses and distinctive apartments that then housed the Porteño elite (many have moved to exclusive northern suburbs). Fifty years later, on the July 26 anniversary of her death—supporting novelist Tomás Eloy Martínez’s contention that Argentines are “cadaver cultists”—Evita’s great-niece María Carolina Rodríguez officially opened the Museo Eva Perón (Lafinur 2988, tel. 011/4807-0306, 11am-7pm Tues.-Sun., US$4) “to spread the life, work, and ideology of María Eva Duarte de Perón.” What’s missing is a critical perspective. Rather than a balanced account of her life, the museum is a professionally presented chronological homage that sidesteps the demagoguery and personality cults that typified both Evita and her charismatic husband.

There’s a museum store with a selection of Evita souvenirs on site and a fine café-restau- rant as well. Guided English-language tours, bookable in advance, cost US$6.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

Sights in Santiago’s Providencia

At the east end of the Alameda, lively Plaza Italia (formally Plaza Baquedano) marks the boundary of the borough of Providencia, the westernmost of the affluent suburbs that also include Las Condes, Vitacura, and Ñuñoa. While this mostly staid, middle- to upper-middle-class area has shopping malls that seem straight out of the San Fernando Valley, it also has Bohemian enclaves like Barrio Bellavista (Santiago’s main restaurant and nightlife area) and bar-hopper zones like Avenida Suecia. Except in compact Bellavista, points of interest are more spread out than in Santiago Centro, but public transportation is good.

From Plaza Italia, the northbound Pío Nono bridge crosses the Mapocho to Barrio Bellavista. The area’s most conspicuous landmark is the 31-story Torre Telefónica CTC (Av. Providencia 111), the company headquarters in the form of a (now nearly antique) 140-meter cell phone!

A stone etched with the words to Neruda's poem with a view of La Chascona across the street.
Neruda’s poem “Pido Silencio” at his Santiago home, La Chascona. Photo © Andre Oliveira, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

South of Plaza Italia, Avenida Vicuña Mackenna separates the boroughs of Santiago Centro, on the one hand, and Providencia and Ñuñoa, on the other. On the Providencia side, the Museo Nacional Benjamín Vicuña Mackenna (Av. Vicuña Mackenna 94, tel. 02/2222-9642, 9:30am- 5:30pm Mon.-Fri., 10am-2pm Sat., US$1.20 adults, US$0.60 students and seniors) honors the mayor, historian, journalist, and diplomat responsible for the capital’s 1870s modernization.

On the Mapocho’s north bank between the Padre Letelier and Pedro de Valdivia bridges, the open-air Parque de las Esculturas (Av. Santa María 2201, tel. 02/2340-7303, 10am- 7:30pm daily) showcases abstract works by contemporary Chilean sculptors. It also has an enclosed gallery with rotating exhibitions.

Barrio Bellavista

At the foot of massive Cerro San Cristóbal, compact Bellavista is a walker’s delight. In daytime, Santiaguinos cross the Pío Nono bridge to stroll its leafy streets, parks, and plazas and enjoy modest lunch specials at innovative restaurants. At night, they crowd the same places for elaborate dinners before a night at nearby bars, discos, salsa clubs, theaters, and other diversions. Daytime visitors, by the way, may not even realize that this is a nightlife center—most dance clubs, for instance, do not open until 1am or so, and few have prominent signs.

While most visitors see Bellavista as a single neighborhood, the recently rehabbed Avenida Pío Nono is a dividing line between the two comunas (boroughs) that compose the barrio—rough-edged Recoleta to the west and modish Providencia to the east. There’s more style than substance to this, as security-obsessed Providencia makes more conspicuous efforts to prevent auto burglaries and other petty crime in what is, for the most part, a safe area.

On weekends, Pío Nono itself is a frenetic blend of crafts market, cheap sidewalk restaurants, and beer joints. While not as bad as that might sound, it’s less appealing than the perpendicular and parallel side streets.

For a notion of Bellavista’s best, relax on a bench at Plazuela Camilo Mori (Antonia López de Bello and Constitución), a small triangular plaza. Walking north on Constitución, turn into the cul-de-sac at Márquez de la Plata, where poet Pablo Neruda lived at the house he called La Chascona, now a museum. A short walk northwest, Plaza Caupolicán is the main entry point to the 722-hectare Parque Metropolitano, a hillside and hilltop public park. A funicular railway carries visitors past the city zoo to the summit, whose terrace offers exceptional views on clear days. From here, a teleférico (cable gondola) connects the park to eastern Providencia.

On the Recoleta side, at the north end of Avenida La Paz, famous figures from Chile’s past are among the two million reposing in the Cementerio General (General Cemetery, 1897).

La Chascona

Inconspicuous from the street side of its cul-de-sac, Pablo Neruda’s hillside home La Chascona today houses the Museo Neruda (Márquez de La Plata 0192, tel. 02/2737-8712, 10am-6pm Tues.-Sun. Mar.-Dec., 10am-7pm Tues.-Sun Jan.- Feb., US$8 adults, US$3 students and seniors). It may be the most conventional of his three houses (the others, also open for visits, are in Valparaíso and the beach community of Isla Negra).

Opposite the house, a small amphitheater tucked into the slope is an ideal complement to the residence, which has been restored since its military sacking in 1973 (Neruda, a committed Salvador Allende supporter, died about a month after the coup). Audioguided tours are available in English, French, German, and Portuguese. The Fundación Neruda also offers hour-long guided tours by reservation. The museum also operates a café, bookstore, and souvenir shop.

Cementerio General

All but two of Chile’s presidents are interred among the Gothic, Greek, Moorish, and Egyptian-style sepulchers of the Cementerio General (Av. La Paz s/n, tel. 02/2637-7800, 8:30am-5:30pm Mon.-Fri., 8am- 5:30pm Sat.-Sun. and holidays). Bernardo O’Higgins’s remains at rest in the Alameda’s Altar de la Patria, Gabriel González Videla lies in his native La Serena, and General Augusto Pinochet—if he qualifies—was cremated.

Other notable figures include diplomat Orlando Letelier (killed by a car bomb in Washington, D.C., under orders from a Pinochet subordinate); Venezuelan-born educator Andrés Bello; and cultural icon, folksinger, and songwriter Violeta Parra. Nobel Prize poets Gabriela Mistral and Pablo Neruda originally rested here as well, but Mistral’s body was moved to her Elqui valley birthplace and Neruda’s to his Isla Negra beach residence. Salvador Allende moved in the other direction—after 17 years in Viña del Mar, he regained his freedom to travel after the Pinochet dictatorship’s demise and has a monumental memorial here. Another indicator of change is sculptor Francisco Gazitúa’s Rostros (Faces), memorializing the regime’s victims.

Excerpted from the Fourth Edition of Moon Patagonia.

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