Latin America & the Best in Travel 2009

Where are the trendiest, coolest, most up-and-coming travel destinations in Latin America for the year 2009?  Every year, Lonely Planet produces a book (which used to be called the Lonely Planet Bluelist - now it’s called the Best in Travel) offering advice on the top cutting edge travel experiences and destinations for the forthcoming year.  So which travel destinations in Latin America appear?  Where to head in 2009?

Top 10 Countries

Peru is the only Latin American country to appear in the list of the top 10 countries to visit in 2009.  LP suggests that now is the time to visit Peru before it all gets wrecked by booming tourism numbers and unsustainable tourism.  I’d beg to differ - Peru was cool about 10 years ago - now it’s become a very mainstream tourism destinations.  Both Panama and Colombia are far trendier, up and coming destinations for the year 2009 in my opinion.

Top 10 Regions

Latin America gets two entries in the top 1o regions list.

First is the island of Chiloe in Chile, a very rainy place scattered with farms and churches - it’s all a very traditional Chile in Chiloe.  Lonely Planet makes it out as some kind of adventure tourism destination, but in reality the island is mainly visited by oldies who potter around the churches (maybe that’s not fair - admittedly I haven’t visited).

The second of the recommended regions to visit is are the Carribean islands of San Andres and Providencia, which are owned by Colombia.  This is a great suggestion in my opinion - the beaches here really are spectacularly beautiful and the turquoise sea the most beautiful I’ve ever seen.  Providencia is definately the better island to visit (I got back two weeks ago from a trip to both San Andres and Providencia) - wonderful, undeveloped beaches and a complete lack of resorts or development make Providencia a really special, untouched place to visit.

Providencia
Isla Providencia, Colombia - wonderfully undeveloped beaches.

Top 10 Cities

Latin America gets two entries in the list of top 10 cities to visit in 2009.

Mexico City is recommended as it’s an edgy “Manhattan of Latin America”.  Good point - there’s plenty of cultural attractions in and near the city, and well as some really buzzing and trendy nightlife.

Sao Paulo in Brazil is also recommended - for very similar reasons.  Sao Paulo is a massive city that’s shaking off it’s bad image and is fast becoming one of the trendiest cities in which to shop and party in Latin America.

More Top 10’s

So those are the top 10 lists.  There’s plenty more to the book though - all the following places and activities are recommended for 2009, for the noted reasons:

Rio Praguay, Paraguay - the two day ferry trip from Concepcion to Puerto Vallemi, to experience river life, wildlife and Guarani Indians.

Laguna Colorada, Bolivia - to witness the amazing multi-coloured volcanic lake near the Salar de Uyuni.

Camino Real, Panama - to follow in the footsteps of various conquistadores (& pirates) as they trekked from the Pacific to Caribbean coasts.

Pisac, Peru - as one of the best places to skywatch, just as the Inca’s used to.

Patagonia, Chile - as one of the best horseriding destinations.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil - as one of the top 10 places to steal a kiss.

Palenque, Mexico - as one of the greatest lost cities of the world.

Bariloche, Argentina - as the area has many mountains offering some of the “best things to throw yourselves off”.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia - as the “saltiest place in the world”.

Zipaquira, Colombia -  the amazing salt cathedral near Bogota, again because it’s one of the “saltiest places”in the world.  Who the hell comes up with these lists?

That’s enough - there’s plenty more top 10 lists of: the best places to have a mid-life crisis; the most interesting traditional foods; best cycling adventures;  amongst various others.  It’s a great coffee table book, or if you’re a bloke - a toilet reading book.  Go check it out.

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