A Brief History of Argentine Tango

If you’ve watched any movie with a sultry, passionate, dimly lit dance scene in it, the chances are high that it was an Argentine tango. Argentine tango has inspired dancers and audiences for over a century, and its history is riddled with myth and a range of theories as to its origins that make the dance all the more enticingly mysterious.

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Starting in the mid-1800s, mass immigration to Argentina brought African slaves and an increasing number of Spanish, Italian, Portuguese, Russian, Polish, and British settlers. Over the following 50 years, the population of Buenos Aires grew exponentially to about 1.5 million before World War I. African rhythms and habanera from Cuba mixed with European waltzes and polkas, all infusing themselves with Argentine folk music and dance.

The most common theory sets the origin of tango in African-Argentine dance venues. A majority of the immigrants in Argentina in the mid- to late-1800’s were poor, single men looking to make their fortunes and return to Europe. The unbalanced ratio of men to women was such that the underground scene of brothels and bars in Buenos Aires was heavily frequented. As such, the tango was born in the ill-reputed barrios of Buenos Aires where African rhythms married the Argentine fast-paced polka music known as the milonga, to which new steps and techniques were created and rapidly popularized. After all, with 100,000 more men than women in Argentina as late as 1914, dancing well was a compelling alternative to payment for a woman’s company.

While the upper echelons of Argentine society frowned upon this form of dance and music, the sons of the wealthy were nonetheless frequent participants of the underground dance scene, helping it gain traction. Tango spread to provincial towns around Buenos Aires, even crossing the River Plate to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, to establish itself as a key ingredient of the urban culture there too.

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The tango was introduced on the international stage as the sons of Argentine elite traveled to Paris in the early 1900s and presented a new avenue for elegant impropriety with which to occupy the desires of the Parisian société. As the “tango craze” spread from Paris and swept Europe and the United States prior to World War I, with hundreds of tango establishments appearing on both continents, the Argentine elite came to covet the sensuous and formerly rejected art form with great national pride. The tango’s success was in fact so great, that a heavily censured version of the dance found its way into European and American dance academies, where ‘Ballroom Tango’ is now a fundamental pillar of ballroom events and competitions worldwide.

Beginning in the 1930’s and lasting through the 1940’s, Argentina came to be among the 10 richest countries in the world. The “Golden Age” of tango was directly linked to the success of its birth-country; art and culture flourished alongside the economy, and tango musicians were booked every night of the year for dancing parties that lasted until 3 or 4 every morning.

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The Golden Age of Argentine tango lasted through the 1950’s. Yet in the face of post-World War II repressive military dictatorships in Argentina, song lyrics that reflected political sentiments of the people were banned for being subversive. Curfews and restrictions on public gatherings pushed the tango music and dance scene into a decline, and most of the regular venues or milongas closed down. While the political reality was in large part a reason for this shift, the influence and popularity of rock and roll was also a noteworthy contributor to the declining popularity of tango.

Following the Falklands War of 1982-83, the social liberalization and return of democracy in Argentina engendered an interest within a younger generation of Argentine society to learn and reclaim their tango heritage. The simultaneous launch of the immensely successful stage show Tango Argentino that opened in Paris and toured internationally re-introduced tango to the worldwide spotlight. The new generation of tango dancers, teachers, and singers have found audiences all around the world eager to witness an unforgettable show or partake in the thrill of the brief, yet passionate, few minutes of a unique social tango dancing encounter.

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If you are traveling in Latin America and want to learn more about tango in Argentina, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

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A Visit To Chile’s National Zoo in Santiago. Lions, Tigers, Bears, Oh My!

If you wish to see wild and exotic animals, the Chilean National Zoo should be your next stop! In January 2010, the Chilean National Zoo introduced five rare white tiger cubs.
The genes responsible for their white colour represent only 0.001% of the tiger population; which makes them very rare. The Chilean National Zoo, aka the Santiago Metropolitan Park, is located in the neighborhood of Bellavista, which lies at the foot of San Cristobal hill. You can admire more than 150 different species at the zoo. Along with the white tigers, the zoo is at an outstanding location and houses several species from all over the world.
However, you may ask ourselves the following question: Does the Chilean National Zoo have a good public image?
In order for us to answer this question, we will treat the topic through three different parts: a flash back on the national zoo’s history; a guided visit of the zoo; and feedback given by visitors and press over the last few years.

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Fresia the emblematic elephant!

First of all, it is important for you to know that this zoo has a very long history; which began over 90 years ago! This zoo opened its gates on the 12th of December, 1925,  but in 1907 Chile welcomed its first national zoo – located in Concepcion. However, this zoo in Concepcion was located too far from the capital and therefore it was less accessible for visitors. So, in 1921, began a campaign that introduced the National Zoological Garden construction program. In November 1925, the program was formally accepted by the former President of Chile, along with the agreement of the financing terms and the construction of the zoo on San Cristobal Hill. In December 1925, the zoo opened its gates to the public (fun fact: the zoo’s installations were built in less than 2 months!). The national zoo’s first director was Carlos Reed. The national zoo quickly became one of the favorite pastimes of Santiago’s citizens and one of the best cultural activities in Chile.

The species that were kept at the former zoo (in Concepcion) were then transferred to the national zoo, in addition to 70 other animals of which included: camels, boas, macaws, a sheep, and a baboon. In 1940, there was a new arrival that boosted the zoo’s recognition: Fresia The Elephant. Imported from Rio de Janeiro, the elephant was in the spotlight and at the center of attention, until her death in 1991. Since 2010, the number of species at the zoo has steadily increased each year.  Today, there are over 1,000 animals and more than 150 species in the zoo. The evolution of the zoo also includes the growing number of the staff: more than 50 employees are dedicated to the zoo’s welfare (caretakers; guides; veterinarians…). Throughout its long history, the Chilean National Zoo has proven that it is definitely worth a visit!

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Cute but ferocious…

Now that we have been through the National Zoo’s history, let’s focus on its various animals. In order to access the entry of the zoo, you have to climb the San Cristobal Hill. Before that, if you wish to get a free souvenir from your visit, a beautiful llama is waiting for you (hint: take a selfie with him!).

Also, while climbing the hill, do not forget to admire the beautiful views and landscapes surrounding you. Finally, you arrive at the entry of the zoo where you purchase a ticket (the price per ticket is around 3.000 CLP). The first animals you see in front of the entry are two nice elephants from Africa. Then the rest of the visit is uphill (yes, climbing again). There are several detailed maps in the zoo that set a global perspective of what animals you wish to see and where they are located: it is a very big zoo with a lot to see!

Take your time and appreciate a nice walk around the zoo grounds. In front of each animal enclosure, there is a small description written about the animal so you can learn more about their history. This zoo is all about various wildlife: lions; white tigers; llamas; condors, zebras, giraffes, lemurs, a hippopotamus, polar bears, Chilean flamingos, the Pudu, a jaguar, a camel, meerkats, baboons; Darwin’s frog… And so much more!

With such impressive species, there is no time to get bored. Here is an interesting fact about the national zoo’s species: 24% of the mammals and 37% of the birds held at the zoo are native to Chile. If I could describe this zoo and its species with only two adjectives, it would be: unpredictable & amazing!

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The Zoo View

 

So, how is the image of the zoo to the people of Chile and its visitors? Given all the data we have, the answer can only be treated objectively with comments from press and visitors over the last few decades. Sure, we know that the National Zoo is renowned all over South America, and that it is a worthy experience – but what kind of reactions have there been from public opinion? Fortunately, times have changed for the National Zoo’s reputation. In 1996, the zoo was subject of criticism in the New York Times in which it was stated that the animals were living in “deplorable conditions” (rumoured mistreatment). At that time, comments given by veterinarians and animal rights advocates, had a negative impact on the zoo’s reputation and were degrading towards its image. It is known that lions and also a white tiger had to be shot after escaping several times from their enclosures and nearly killing staff employees.

However, the rumored mistreatment of animals following these events didn’t stop the number of visitors from growing, in TripAdvisor out of the 1300 reviews, 37% rated the zoo as very good.

If you are traveling in Latin American and want to learn more about Chile’s zoos download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

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10 Traditional Colombian Drinks You Must Try During Your Colombian Travel Adventures…

Colombia is known for its delicious coffee and rum – but here’s a list of other top drinks in Colombia that you won’t find anywhere else.

1. Aguardiente:

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In English, it’s known as Firewater. This is Colombia’s national drink! It’s a strong alcoholic drink that is made from anise (a type of spice) – and sugar cane.

2. Canelazo:

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This is aguardiente with a mix of aguapenela (water with melted sugar cane), cinnamon, lime juice and cloves. It’s a hot drink that is perfect for a chilly day.

3. Aguapanela:

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This drink is made by dissolving sugarcane into water and adding a squeeze of lime. It’s a sweet replacement for herbal tea and coffee. There’s a popular belief that this drink can help cure colds and that it has tons of re-hydrating minerals and vitamin C.

It’s also used as an ingredient for other drinks, as you’ve read above with canelazo. Black coffee is also often made with aguapanela instead of water and sugar.

4. Refajo:

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This is a popular cocktail made with beer and a Colombian soda called “Colombiana” – that is made with tamarind.

5. Guarapo:

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This is a fermented sugarcane drink that is often served with ice. Sugarcane is definitely a huge thing in Colombia so give this drink a try!

6. Masato:

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This is a fermented rice drink made with cinnamon. Colombians often drink this for breakfast as well.

7. Jugo de Tamarindo:

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Tamarind is a type of fruit that originated from tropical regions in Africa. It has a sweet and sour taste and has high levels of B vitamins and calcium! This fruit can be found in Latin American countries such as: Brazil, Costa Rica, Colombia, Cuba, Guatemala, Mexico, Nicaragua, Puerto Rico and Venezuela.

This fruit makes quite a sweet – yet sour, and refreshing drink!

8. Avena Colombiana:

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It’s rich, creamy, and delicious. It’s made with oats, milk, water, cinnamon, cloves and sugar. It’s often a breakfast drink.

9. Limonada de Coco:

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This is a delicious smoothie that you should definitely try! It’s made with coco cream, ice, lemon juice and sugar – all blended together in one sweet amazing concoction!

10. Lulada:

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This drink is made from the pulp of lulo, which is a citrus flavored fruit found in Ecuador, Panama, and Colombia. At some places, you can even find this juice mixed with a shot of vodka – to make a tasty alcoholic beverage.

These are just a few of traditional drinks in Colombia, but there are many more. If you want to learn more and check-out other Colombian cuisines and desserts, download the local guide on TheBesty app. You can also use the app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

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From Coffee to Submarinos to Mate, Here Is A List Of The Best Argentinian Drinks That You Must Try!

Argentina is famous for its delicious wine. Beer in the country is also quite popular. But here’s a list of other famous Argentinean drinks that you should definitely try before you leave the country!

1. Fernet:

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Fernet is the national liquor of Argentina! It apparently helps with digestion after meals. People often drink Fernet either with Coca-Cola, grapefruit juice, or coffee. It is very popular particularly in Buenos Aires and Cordoba; you will most likely see it at parties, barbecues and dinners!

2. Mate:

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This herbal tea drink originated from northern Argentina, from the Guarani indigenous culture. It’s a natural caffeine that helps you stay awake! It’s made with yerba tea leafs.

Because the leafs are chopped up in bits, people normally drink mate with a metal straw called “bombilla.” This special straw has a filter at the bottom with tiny holes to help you avoid drinking up the leafs.

3. Submarinos:

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Submarinos is Argentina’s unique version of chocolate milk. When you order a submarino, you will be given a glass of warm milk and a bar of quality chocolate. You drop the chocolate into the glass and wait for it to melt; and voilà, you have chocolate milk!

4. Gancia:

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Gancia is similar to wine but it’s more alcoholic and has a lemony flavor. It’s made with over 15 types of herbs and has a bit of sugar in it as well. It’s mostly drink before a meal to stimulate your appetite. An it’s typically mixed with either Sprite or 7Up.

There is also “gancia batido” which is similar to pisco sour. It’s made of gancia, lemon juice, sugar and ice all blended together.

5. Coffee:

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If you’ve been to Buenos Aires, you’ll notice that there is a ridiculously amount of cafes and that it’s a popular trend to visit cute cafes with your friends. Here are 4 vocabularies you should know when ordering:

  • Café: this is espresso
  • Cortado: this is espresso with a little bit milk
  • Café con leche: half-half of espresso and warm milk
  • Lágrima: the reverse of a cortado, this is milk with a little bit of espresso

6. Wine:

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Malbec is Argentina’s purple grape variety that helps it to produce internationally known wine. Malbec wine and Argentinean steak dinner are a perfect combination.

7. Beer:

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The most common beer in Argentina is called Quilmes. But you may also see the brand Salta in many places as well. Give them both a try!

These are just a few of the traditional drinks in Argentina, but there are many more. If you want to learn more and check out other Argentinean cuisines and desserts, download the local guide on TheBesty app. You can also use the app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

Los Dominicos Souvenir Town – A Must See For Tourists & Locals Looking For Some Fun On The Weekend…

Take line 1 of Santiago´s metro to “Los Dominicos”, walk a few minutes, and you will find this artisan town, were you will discover Chilean history and typical local crafts made from traditional materials and products.

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What are you going to find here? The town has more than 100 artists who create and offer their artisan products, using all the materials you can imagine; wood, stone, leader, ceramics… most of them typical Chilean-style goods.

Example of shops you will see in the town.

Many of these shops usually offer work crafts and exhibitions to show and teach tourists how they create their products, so you can get involved in the process and get closer to the culture. You will also find animal shops were birds like the Chilean Queltehue – which are  sold here!  Moreover, like in any Chilean market, you are going to have the possibility of trying classic Chilean empanadas, and especially in this market, they are supposed to be done in the most traditional way, with a mud oven. Typical sweets, pastries with manjar and chocolate, are also available in shops.4906975

And the cultural experience is not only offered with the products sold, but within theatres, music, and traditional dance exhibitions – that take place in the streets of the town.

It is worth going to Los Dominicos because of the artisans town itself, and also because of its

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surroundings. It is located in the hillside of the Cordillera and next to a national monument, San Vicente Ferrer Church. This area used to belong to the Dominican Fathers of Recoleta – but- in 1978 – some artists asked the Fathers to build this artisans space in the church´s stable – and this is how the Dominicans artisan town was born.

 

When can you visit it the Los Dominicos market? It is opened every day of the entire whole year – but is closed on Mondays.

  • Winter (May-September): From Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 19:00h
  • Summer (October-April): From Tuesday to Sunday, from 10:00 to 20:00h

 

If you traveling in Latin America, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

El Cerro de San Cristobal- The Perfect View of Santiago

San Cristobal´s hill can be considered the biggest green lung of the city of Santiago with 722 hectares. But this park has something really special, its 800 m tall, allowing you to have an astounding view of the whole city, surrounded by the Andes and the Cordillera.

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Views from the hill

If you come in winter, it is highly advisable to visit the Cerro after a rainy day, when you will have the greatest view of the city, partly out of pollution.  I visited the hill in the afternoon so I could see the amazing sky when the sun goes down in Santiago, totally recommended.  However, no worries if you go and  you don´t see the sunset or amazing view, you will love it all the same!

But, what to do there?

Apart from the views and having a walk around the park, you will find one important symbol of the city, the 14m high statue of the Virgen de la Immaculada Concepción. Moreover, in the park there are two public pools for summer. The National Zoo is located there, as well as a the Mapulemu botanic garden and the child playground. 5 minutes away from the park you will find the Japanese Garden.

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Statue of the Immaculada concepción

It is typical to take the famous “mote con huesillo”, a sweet drink which I personally like so much, and if you are hungry after your way up to the cerro, you can enjoy a Chilean empanada!dfghj

 

 

 

 

There are two main way to visit El Cerro de San Cristobal :

Walking or hiking:  it will take you around 45 min from the park entrance in Bellavista to the top, and the path is not very complicated. Moreover, there are many benches on the way up and a snack bar in case you need some drinks or food. Just follow the Virgin Statue and enjoy the views along the way, and you will be at the top before you know it!

Funicular: in 445 Calle Pio Nono, you will find the funicular station that will carry you to the zoo and the Cerro in a few minutes.

Tarifs:

*Monday to Friday- 10:00 to 18:45h:

  • Adults:
    • Zoo: 800 $ chilean pesos
    • Cerro: 1500$ chilean pesos
    • Go and return: 2000$ chilean pesos
  • Children and seniors:
    • Zoo: 500 $ chilean pesos
    • Cerro: 1000$ chilean pesos
    • Go and return: 1500$ chilean pesos

*Weekend and holidays- 10:00 to 18:45h:

  • Adults:
    • Zoo: 1000 $ chilean pesos
    • Cerro: 1950$ chilean pesos
    • Go and return: 2600$ chilean pesos
  • Children and seniors:
    • Zoo: 650 $ chilean pesos
    • Cerro: 1300$ chilean pesos
    • Go and return: 1950$ chilean pesos

If you traveling in Latin America, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

 

 

Skiing Portillo Mountain During July and August in Chile…

Portillo is in the Valparaiso region of Chile, located on the edge of Lake Inca – in the Andes Mountains. It is a great place to go, not just for the skiing, but also because it has a lot of history. Portillo is the oldest ski resort in South America!

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Skiing started in Portillo as early as 1890, when Norwegian Engineers were employed to study the area for a railway line, now the Uspallata Pass, that would connect Chile and Argentina. They used skis to get across the mountains and are thought to be the first ever people to have skis in the region. As the railroad continued being built, more and more of the workers used skis to get around, and after the railway’s completion, skiing turned into an enjoyable past time for many people – especially with the easy mountain access that the new train line provided. With increasing popularity came the establishment of the Portillo Ski Centre. Funny enough, this means that the railway  was also technically, the first ski lift in Chile!

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The Ski Centre also holds importance in the country’s sporting history. It was the host to the 1966 World Championships for alpine racing and to this day remains the only games to be hosted in the southern hemisphere. In addition to this, Portillo is only 23km from the great Aconcagua Mountain, the tallest mountain in South America and outside of Asia. It stands just under 7,000 metres tall and has a large number of glaciers, one of which measures 10km across. Roughly 2000 people attempt the ascent to summit each year, with the boldest among them even skiing part of the way down the mountain.

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As for the Portillo Resort, there are 3 exclusive hotels to choose between, the main one being the Hotel Portillo. The service is excellent; the staff ratio to hotel guests is almost 1:1, and the hotel amenities make up for lack of a ski town – with fitness center, bar, game room, a disco, and even a cinema – at your disposal. The resort has previously been ranked in the top 10 best ski resorts in  the world by Ski Magazine and the Travel Channel.

When it comes to skiing, Portillo is a great choice if you’re looking for lots of variety. There are 14 lifts available and a great range of slopes to suit all abilities.The soft powder and small nature of the resort makes it perfect for beginners, who can practice on the gentler slopes without crowds of people skiing past. The fact there are so few guests in this resort is actually great for everyone, as it makes for a more relaxing, uninterrupted ski holiday. If you’re a person of a bit more adventurous nature, this is also the perfect place for you. Portillo offers some insane off-path skiing routes if you’re willing to take a cool hike up the mountain, one of which will lead you to the “Christ of the Andes” statue, and down a thrilling 9 mile run. There is also lift access to the high-up avalanche chutes which offer steep powder skiing for those really seeking a challenge.

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You don’t even have to know how to ski to enjoy this place – there’s a great tour which can take you on a snowshoe trek around the base of the mountain where you’ll experience breathtaking views of the Aconcagua Valley and sparkling Inca Lake above the treetops.

If you are traveling in Latin America, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

Skiing in Valle Nevado During Chile’s Beautiful Winter Season…

Bordered by the Andes mountains, Chile is a fantastic destination for anyone looking for an unforgettable ski or snowboarding experience away from the typical North American/European style resorts. As peak season occurs in July/August here in Chile, The Andes provides a breathe of fresh air away from the heat of the Northern Hemisphere summers.

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The biggest (and one of the most popular resorts), Valle Nevado, is definitely worth exploring. The way the edges of your skis or board will glide through the soft powder snow that appears mid-season, is definitely not a feeling to be missed while traveling in Chile! At a maximum altitude of 3700 meters, the mountains offer some of the best quality snow in the country and what’s more, being only 46km from the capital city of Santiago, means you can experience the greatness of the mountains and the city – all in one exhilarating day trip.

It’s not only the proximity to the capital which makes a trip to Valle Nevado worthwhile. It’s part of the Tres Valles (three valleys) mountain range, including two other major resorts, La Parva and El Colorado, which means you basically have access to a 3 in 1 deal. Why not start your day exploring the white peaks of Valle Nevado, switch to some awesome skiing through La Parva, and end with a relaxing alpine ski and a couple of piscos on El Colorado mountain? If you are just looking for an exhilarating day out, there’s a cool excursion you can book at thebesty.com which takes you to all of these places.

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If you are also into photography then Valle Nevado is the resort for you.  Take your camera up the slopes with you and you’ll be able to capture some of the most awe-inspiring views you’ve ever seen. Located above the treeline, there are barely any trees blocking your sight, giving you a crystal clear view over the mountains where you’ll witness the spiky peaks and glistening glacial features of the Andes mountains.  An evening ski session is highly recommendable if you want to see some stunning sunsets.

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The Valle Nevado resort is great for practical reasons too; it has fantastic modern facilities with brilliant lifts and slopes suitable for all abilities, so if you want to get into skiing or snowboarding, don`t hesitate to book some beginner classes on some of the best pistes in South America. If you really want make the most of the slopes, accommodation is available to meet your every wish, with affordable, well equipped apartments to luxury top of the range ski chalets – among the options of places where you can stay to enjoy your trip to the max!

If you are traveling in Latin America, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

A Fun Nighttime Experience In Santiago, Chile: Dinner Show with Cueca Dancing and Much Much More…

You’re missing out if you haven’t gone to a Dinner Show while staying in Santiago, Chile. There are a bunch of tours with “dinner shows” out there but I highly recommend downloading TheBesty app to find the best ones with the top shows and dinners.

On my favorite Dinner Show tour, you can enjoy music from 4 different regions in Chile: the North, the Center, the South, and Isla de Pascua. Chile is one of the longest and narrowness countries in the world, which allows it to have a variety of cultures and traditions!

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The North is known for its style of dance that follows the annual celebration called “Fiesta de La Tirana”, to honor Virgen del Carmen. The South is known for Mapuche Ritual Dances, since a lot of indigenous inhabitants, specifically the Mapuche, live there. In Easter Island or Isla de Pascua, there’s a popular dance called sau sau and a ballet called “Aromas de Tahití”. And throughout the country, people dance cueca, a national dance where men wear huaso (cowboy) outfits and women wear pretty flower dresses.

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I went to a dinner show last Friday and it was incredible. I can’t imagine any other place where you can experience and enjoy all of Chilean’s different dances in one place! It’s a 4-in-1 dance show! The dances were all very unique and the different costumes that the dancers had on were incredible and beautiful.

Here are short descriptions about each dance.

In the north, Fiesta de La Tirana is a festival that happens every year on July 16 in La Tirana, a town in the north of Chile. Today it is one of the biggest festival in the region. Many years ago, the ceremony was only a small celebration to give respect and honor Our Lady of Mount Carmel, whom is Virgin Mary in her role as a patroness of the Carmelite Order. But then in 1830, when the region became known for its natural resources of potassium nitrate which was essential for many factories during that time, more workers came to live in the area. These workers would frequently visit the chapel of Nuestra Señora del Carmen, which led them to join in on the annual celebration. Throughout time, the celebration kept getting bigger and today, the ceremony is now celebrated by thousands of people. For you to imagine how big the ceremony is, there are nearly 200 different dance groups that participant in the ritual, honoring the image of Virgen del Carmen de La Tirana. Promeseros, Cuyacas, Gitanos, Chunchos, Pieles Rojas, Morenos, Indios – are just a few names of the groups. Here’s a great video showing the Fiesta de La Tirana and the different dances that exist:

Moving on to the south, the Mapuche ritual dance is for worshiping the divinity. For many people, it is also a healing ceremony. There are many types of dances here. The ritual dances, the Nguillatún and the Machitún, are done to pray to the supreme god Ngenechen and to the rehue or canelo tree – which is sacred to the region. There is also the loncomeo, a dance that imitates the movements of animals around a fire. In these ritual dances, the people wait for the presence of the Machi, who is the shamanness of the Mapuches; she is the intermediary between mortals and the spirit world.

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In Easter Island, the sau sau dance is to show dedication to the gods and nature. The dance is characterized by the movements of the dancers’ waist and hip, the wave-like movement of their arms and hands, and the movement of the flowery garlands flowers that they wear.

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Last but not least, throughout Chile and especially in the more central regions of the country, people dance to Cueca, the National Dance that is often done during the country’s Independence Day. There are many forms of this dance but a common one is a courtesy elegant style where a woman holds a handkerchief up in the air and approaches or moves away from her male partner in either slow or quick steps. There’s also another style called the “Sombrerito” – where the woman holds a hat instead of a handkerchief – and at the end of this dance, the couple hides their faces behind a hat – and kiss!

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I highly recommend going to a dinner show like the one I went to! You not only get to see these different culturally significant dances, but you’ll also get to taste and enjoy some of Chilean’s most traditional dishes. I had a lovely night eating lomo, pastel de cholco, and cazuelas, seeing the dances, and even dancing with the dancers at the end of the night!  This is definitely a a top experience you have to do when visiting Santiago!

If you are traveling in Latin America, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).

Peru Is Much More Than Machu Picchu. Learn About All The Amazing Places, Beaches, and Mountains in Peru!

When people think of Peru, most think about Machu Picchu. But in fact, Peru has much more to offer than many people even realize. The diversity of Peru is so immense, that you will find highlands, jungle, and coastlines, all in one country! You will not only see the coast and the amazing Andes, but also witness the unbelievable Amazonas.

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First of all, if you want to go to the coast, there is no better place than Lima, a place where you will find shops and beaches. Peru is one of the best places to surf, so when you visit the beaches, you should definitely give this sport a try! Further in the North, you will find even more beautiful beaches, such as Punta Sal, where Presidents have beach houses and Máncora – a beautiful touristic place and the most visited beach in the North of Peru. There are other beaches as well, such as Vichayto, which is famous because it is a calm beach where you can go kite surfing. And for the surf lovers, visiting Órganos is a must.  Organos is simply the best place to practice surfing in Peru!

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On the other side of Peru, as I’ve mentioned, you have the Andes! You will discover that the Andes is divided into 3 parts: the Andes North, Andes South and Central Andes. All of the Andes pass through the highlands of Peru, from the country’s border with Ecuador to its border with Bolivia and Chile. If you wish to visit this area, and have a spectacular view of all the Cordillera de Los Andes, you should go to Ancash, it is a city that is located in the western central part of the country. People also often say that another place to visit and discover incredible natural scenarios is Cajamarca, which is located in the North of Peru, and has very welcoming people and even more beautiful views of the Cordillera de Los Andes.

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Finally, you have the inexplicable jungle of Peru. I call it this because there are some places in the jungle that have still not been fully discovered, places  where natives lives, and other places in the jungle so difficult  to get to – they are basically inaccessible. That being said, you can go to the Reserva Nacional del Manu; which so big that it is partially located in two cities, Madre de Dios AND Cusco. The Reserve is divided into three parts, one is the National Park, where only biologists and researchers may enter (as it is only for investigation), the estación biológica de Cocha Cashu, one of the most important research centers of tropical forests is the main area here.  The second part is  the Reserved Zone – where tourists are allowed to visit. And the third part is the Transition Zone and Cultural Materials, where settlers who develop agricultural and forest activities live. There are still some parts where only few people have access to as the natives who live there do not speak Spanish. They have a unique language or dialect since they came from the Asháninka or Aguaruna, two of the most popular jungles in Peru.

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After telling you about the different amazing areas and places in Peru, its impossible to say that  Machu Picchu is the only place to visit!   For those who love adventure sports, you can go to the coast; for those who prefer being with nature but not with exotic animals, you have the highlands; and for those who want to have a unique experience and are not afraid of spiders, anacondas and insects – you can visit the jungle!

If you are traveling in Latin America, download the TheBesty app to book the best tours and activities, discover fun things to do, and find the guaranteed lowest prices on hotel bookings – all in Latin America.

Download TheBesty app in the App Store (iOS) or Google Play (Android).