Located on the coast of Chile just two hours from the capital, Valparaiso is a vibrant coastal city whose historic quarter is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A beguiling array of brightly-painted houses cascade down its 42 hills which are linked by stairways and funiculars. Its thriving arts scene and rich cultural heritage give it a definite allure and although I've visited on six separate occasions, I've managed to discover new charms every time. Taking a graffiti tour to observe the vivid street art which brightens up every wall around the city is definitely one of its highlights.
I have always loved to travel. From interrailing around Europe to road trips in the USA, I was determined to discover every corner of the world from a young age. My passion for all things Hispanic led me to study a degree in Spanish and linguistics, and I became fascinated with Latin American culture and travel.
Keen to explore this incredibly diverse continent after graduating, I taught English for two years in Chile's lively capital, Santiago. Taking every opportunity to travel, I managed to visit most countries in Latin America as well as exploring the length of Chile, some 4,270 km (2,600 miles), including its deserts and glaciers.
Since joining Audley, I've returned to Chile and Argentina and also been lucky enough to cruise to Antarctica. Some of my highlights have included visiting the colorful Hornocal mountains in Argentina, a road trip through the scenically stunning Aisen region in Chile, and admiring whales, penguins and icebergs from zodiac trips in Antarctica.
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Set in a 100-year-old mansion just outside Salta in the foothills of the Argentinean Andes, La Casa de los Jasmines is a romantic spot for a bit of rest and relaxation. It is styled like a graceful country house and offers sweeping views as well as extremely friendly and helpful service. Rooms are modestly decorated in an elegantly refined way and guests can simply relax by the pool or have a massage in the spa. Alternatively, try one of the range of activities on offer and go cycling or horse riding in the mountains or learn to cook like a local with the hotel chef.
I'll never forget when…
A magical moment for me was when a gaucho (Argentinean cowboy) invited me to go horse riding with him along the foothills of the Andes near El Calafate in Patagonia. It was the most serene setting with an incredible backdrop of lakes and snow-capped peaks, and all we could hear were birds singing. During the ride we were lucky enough to see a sheep give birth to two lambs and also spot a family of wild pumas. I then helped to herd the sheep into their pen for the night before an evening of sheep-shearing and traditional Argentinean food by a roaring fire.