Combine the upscale all-inclusive model of African safari lodges with the slate of guided outdoor activities offered at destination fitness spas like Canyon Ranch, and you get the unique model of the South American adventure lodge. This began in Patagonia with brands like Explora, a Chilean company that staffs its lodges with full-time highly trained guides, raises it owns horses, and offers the choice of dozens of daily full and half-day guided hikes, bike trips, horseback riding excursions and other outings from multi-sport adventures to watersports. Lodges are upscale, eco-friendly and showcase the best of the continent’s cuisine, along with plenty of Chilean and Argentinean wines.
In recent years this all-inclusive food, lodging and adventure model has exploded across the Continent, throughout Chile, Argentina, and more recently, Brazil, Peru and Ecuador. The top three specialists, Explora, Tierra and Awasi, all have properties in Patagonia and Chile’s stunning Atacama Desert, the driest spot on earth. Each also has unique locations including Easter Island – the planet’s most remote inhabited place, famed for its eerie towering Moai statues; Iguazu Falls, the world’s largest waterfall; and the remote Chiloe archipelago. Famed African luxury safari operator &Beyond just moved into South America with its first property, in Chile’s Lake District.
In Ecuador’s unique high-altitude rainforest, Mashpi Lodge has won all sorts of travel and environmental awards, and combines luxury resort amenities and numerous guided outings with working scientific research and an emphasis on environmental protection – all just outside Quito, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
In Peru, Machu Picchu has been the number one tourism attraction for decades, but suddenly the region around Cusco and the Sacred Valley of the Incas, a destination renowned for hiking, has exploded in popularity. There are a number of new, adventure-focused luxury hotels here from brands such as Belmond, Sumaq and Inkaterra, as well as Explora’s newest lodge.
The ability to combine these active trips with visits to gateway cities such as Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, all without jet lag for travelers from North America, makes the trend even more appealing.