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Melissa visiting a Chilote town, Chile

Melissa, Latin America Specialist

As the daughter of a diplomat, Melissa has lived her life on several continents, including three years in Cuba, one year in Chile and six months in Mexico.

She went on to study Spanish and French at Cambridge University, specialising in South American Literature and Language with a year spent in Chile. On a mission to discover the southern cone and to perfect her Spanish, she thoroughly explored the Chilean coast, the countryside and of course neighbouring Argentina. She fell in love with the scenery, steaks and gaucho-style riding, and has revisited her friends in both countries several times.

Since joining Audley after two years in London, Melissa has gone back to Chile and Argentina to deepen her knowledge and added two new countries to her travel portfolio; Uruguay and most recently Brazil. Both countries provide the exotic Atlantic beaches which, together with Chile and Argentina, make up the complete experience of the Southern Cone.

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Audley Travel specialist Melissa

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Bariloche, Argentina

I recommend visiting - The Lake District

It's always hard to find a favourite place when up against competition from the likes of Patagonia. Villa La Angostura is a gorgeous Swiss-style chalet town in Argentina along one of the most scenic mountain driving routes I have ever been lucky enough to experience - the route of the seven lakes.

It’s truly a place to stop and reflect, faced with the stunning Andes across the most beautiful of mineral lakes. The variation of landscape from the pine tree-covered slopes of Bariloche to the dramatic rocky canyons to the north (all in one day!) is an absolute feast which I highly recommend for drivers of all levels of experience.

Bahia Vik, Jose Ignacio

I recommend staying at - Bahia Vik

First Class

My favourite place to stay was one of the fabulous Vik properties in Uruguay. This one is located right on the beach, with a stunning view of the Atlantic Ocean and incredibly spacious bungalow suites. You can step off your private terrace into a series of infinity pools, which take you across the entire property without ever leaving the water.

Each room is styled by a different designer and faces the ocean. They are separated into lodges and spread out across the shore so you can never really tell the size of the property or how many other people you are sharing the beach with. Their bar, La Susana, with tables in the sand facing the sunset is famous in Uruguay for its food and wine (and its upmarket clientele).

I'll never forget when…

After one of the most dramatic desert storms of the rainy season, our hotel guide from Tierra Atacama suggested taking a small group out at night to walk by the light of the moon and stars across the lunar landscape of the Atacama Desert. It was warm and still and the lack of vegetation meant a total absence of wildlife - complete silence.

After walking through the beautiful and eerie landscape, marked by lightning far off to the south and under the largest moon I'd ever seen, we sat around a campfire with drinks sharing travel stories with guide and travellers. The exclusivity of the excursion was due to the flexibility and enthusiasm of the guide to give his guests something to remember due to particular weather conditions that week.

Photos of Melissa

  • Melissa with the world's biggest cashew tree, northeast Brazil Melissa with the world's biggest cashew tree, northeast Brazil
  • Melissa in Purmamarca, Argentina Melissa in Purmamarca, Argentina
  • Melissa at Iguazu Falls, Argentina Melissa at Iguazu Falls, Argentina
  • Melissa in Torres del Paine, Chile Melissa in Torres del Paine, Chile
  • Melissa trekking the sand dunes at Cabo Polonio, Uruguay Melissa trekking the sand dunes at Cabo Polonio, Uruguay
  • Melissa on Easter Island Melissa on Easter Island
  • Melissa in front of street art on Olympic Boulevard in Rio, Brazil Melissa in front of street art on Olympic Boulevard in Rio, Brazil
  • Melissa in the Talampaya Canyon, Argentina Melissa in the Talampaya Canyon, Argentina