Monthly Archives: October 2010

Weekly Latin America Travel News

This week’s Latin America travel news takes us from the skies above Brazil to the jungles of Belize.

Airplane WiFi Comes to Brazil

TAM, the major airline in Brazil, has announced that it will be installing WiFi in its planes. For now, the service will be available on some flights between São Paulo and a few other major cities.

Killer Jaguar Captured in Belize

In Belize, a jaguar that killed a man after escaping from an animal rescue center has now been captured.

Mexico’s Pacific Coast Ravaged by Drug Violence

Mexico’s tourist-friendly pacific coast, including the world-famous resort town of Acapulco, has been decimated by the drug wars that are raging throughout the country. This week, 15 people were killed at a car wash in Tepic, capital of the coastal state of Nayarit.

The Best Places to Ski and Snowboard in Latin America

Do you ever wish that winter could last all year? The South American Andes can make it happen, boasting some of the most exciting runs for the most adventurous of skiers and snowboarders, along with spectacular mountain views. Chile and Argentina are home to some of the most renowned resorts in the Americas, and their snow season runs from mid-June to mid-October, providing the perfect wintry escape for the snow bunnies of the Northern Hemisphere. Here’s a list of some of the top resorts:


Villarica National Park

For advanced skiers only, this national park offers the chance to ski down the active Villarica Volcano – that is, after you’ve made the four and a half hour trek to the top. No climbing experience is needed to reach the summit. However, the only way to make it up and down the volcano is through a guided tour (and trust me, you wouldn’t want to do it on your own), which should include all the necessary equipment. The volcano is located about a half hour ride south of Pucón, a small town with one of the best adventure tourism infrastructures in South America.


Magallenes National Reserve

Travelers come here to the Cerro Mirador Ski Center to get away from the crowds. The base is about 30 minutes from Punta Arenas. For quiet rides and amazing views of the seaand the city of Punta Arenas, this is the spot for you.

Termas de Chillán

What could be better than soaking in the warmth of natural hot springs after a full day on the slopes? Not only that, but this resort boasts South America’s longest run (13km/8m), some of the best cross-country skiing on the continent, AND a snowmobile park. This resort is about six and a half hours away from Santiago.


Portillo, located about two hours away from Santiago, is Chile’s premier ski resort. While it has a variety of runs for skiers and snowboarders of all levels, Portillo is best known for its excellent off-piste skiing and heli-skiing possibilities.


Las Leñas, located near Mendoza, has some of the best dry, powdery snow in the Americas, with more downhill slopes than anywhere else in South America.

Cerro Catedral is just 20km/12.4m from Bariloche. One of the largest resorts in Argentina, Cerro Catedral welcomes both downhill and free-style skiers and snowboarders, and offers them all magnificent views of Lake Nahuel Huapi and Victoria Island.

Cerro Chapelco, located in San Martin, offers an opportunity for some unique excursions, such as forest skiing, formidable chutes and bowls, and off-piste touring.

VIVA Launches Ecuador App for iPhone, iPad

Today is a big day at VIVA. We are unveiling our ground-breaking Ecuador application for the iPhone and iPad, available through Apple’s App Store. Best of all, to celebrate we are making it free to download through October 29th. Go to

VIVA’s app allows readers to access all the content from our innovative Ecuador guidebook, plus additional features like video, photographs, breaking news updates, blog posts and our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Readers can also purchase content from our other guidebooks. This is just the first of VIVA’s apps; the whole catalogue will soon be converted into applications.

Our managing editor, Paula Newton, is excited about the Ecuador app, saying “It allows us to move into the rapidly growing digital reading market by putting our product in the hands of numerous iPhone and iPad readers.”

The application was put together using the App Builder created by our friends at AuthorMob.

Weekly Latin America Travel News

Every week, VIVA brings you the most important news for travelers in Latin America.

Paula Ravages Cuba

Cuba was spared widespread devastation from Hurricane Paula, but the storm did knock out power on many parts of the island on Thursday and Friday. Localized flooding was reported as well.

Starbucks Expanding to Central America

San Salvador will be the home of Starbucks’ first location in Central America, a region famous for, well, producing the coffee that is sold at Starbucks.

United Airlines To Offer More Flights to Mexico

The newly merged United and Continental will be undertaking a major expansion into Mexico, offering new routes and more frequent departures from the US.

Taming Lima’s Wild Bus Routes

Travelers wading into the perplexing jumble of Lima’s bus and combi routes have a new ally: Jeroen Prinsen’s clear map of the most useful of the city’s transportation routes.

The Best Places in Latin America to Go Hiking//Trekking

By Allison Carlton, VIVA Editorial Intern

The Latin region is as vibrant as its culture. Vast plains and highlands, rugged mountains, active volcanoes, amazon rainforest and arid deserts have created a geography unique to each individual country that makes up Latin America. For the adventurous, hiking and trekking the rocky mountainsides at high altitudes is a favorite trip moment because of the vistas and panoramic views that greet them at the top. Here is a list of some of the best hikes in Latin America:


National Geographic rated Cerro Campanario as having one of the “Top 10 views in the World” and for good reason. Once you’ve hiked the short trail to the top, head to one of the lookouts for a panoramic view of the mountains and shimmering blue lakes beneath the sun before you. You should be well-rested after your hike up the mountain, which can get very steep, after spending a good amount of time taking in the view, but if not, head inside the cafe for a refreshment.


Serious and experienced hikers only for the challenging Illampu Circuit. This multi-day hike is a tedious 66 miles long and it is recommended that you be acclimatized and assisted by an alpaca or llama to carry your equipment and packs. Magnificent views treat you along the way as you make many ascensions at roughly 1,000 feet per day.

Costa Rica

You may get to see some wildlife during this trail through the rainforest. It is a short walk, roughly 10 minutes in and 20 minutse out, but gets pretty steep, giving your legs a good work out. However, the sound of the rushing Rio Fortuna waterfall in your ears will signal the end of this hike. The white water flows into a turquoise pool surrounded by rocks and boulders, which makes it a bit dangerous to swim in but there is calmer waters within the area.


Pack your warm clothes for this day hike from Quilotoa to Chugchilan that leads you by a volcanic crater, down a valley, through a town and up a canyon. The wind blows and the altitude makes for a much cooler temperature, so breathing may become difficult. It should take 5 hours to complete the 7.5 mile hike, more or less, depending on how often you stop to look at the beautiful sites along the way.


The Cordillera Blanca is a mountain range in the Andes where the country’s highest mountain is located, as well as the world’s most beautiful mountain. With more than 30 peaks over 18,000 ft in altitude and more than 110 miles long, the Cordillera Blanca sits behind Asia for having the world’s highest mountain range. The Santa Cruz hike is a favorite, and probably most popular, among many in the area because of the terrain you get to see during the 31 miles you hike over four days, such as wildflower meadows, lakes, glaciers, trees, views of snow-capped peaks and a statue of Jesus at the end. Acclimatization is recommended before attempting this hike.

Weekly Latin America Travel Deals

The leaves are changing colors across North America and Europe, signaling snow-birds and vacationers to plan their South America holiday. For travel before the December holidays, there are a number of deals in Latin America.

Samba Time: Rio and Salvador Package

Latin Destinations is offering a package to two of Brazil’s most beguiling beach-front destinations: Rio de Janeiro and Salvador da Bahia. The six-day trip starts at $1,338 including airfare and hotels.

Hopscotching around Latin America: Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile and Costa Rica

Guatemala, Ecuador, Chile and Costa Rica are some of the most appealing countries in the region for nature-lovers, who will revel in the chance to hike the volcanoes near Antigua, enjoy the Amazon rainforest at Cuyabeno, explore the vast fjords of Patagonia and relax on Costa Rica’s exquisite beaches. Exito Travel has air packages, starting at just $869, to bring you to all of these destinations in one exciting roundtrip.

Dominican Adventure: Cheap Flights to Santo Domingo

Travelers who can leave on short notice can take advantage of cheap flights to the Dominican Republic, and its historic capital city of Santo Domingo. American Airlines has flights starting at $59 one-way from Miami.

Mexican Relaxation: Hotel Deal on the Riviera Nayarit

If you’re looking to unwind on Mexico’s Pacific Coast, RIU’s Jalisco Resort, in Nuevo Vallarta, might be just the ticket. If you book now, rooms at the resort can be had for $60 per person.

Teaching English in Latin America

By Cathleen Carris

Teach English in Latin America

Teaching English is a practical and rewarding way to make a living in Latin America. With the exception of Uruguay and Paraguay, there is a great demand for English teachers in grade schools, private schools, universities, and businesses throughout Latin America. Many employers offer teaching positions to any native English speaker with a Bachelor´s Degree. However, TEFL/TESOL certification is sometimes required, and those with such certification and/or a degree in education often have access to more placement options and better pay. If you don´t have a background in education, earning a certificate will inspire much more confidence in your abilities and ensure that you are well prepared for your teaching duties.

Finding Work

It is possible to find work on your own, either by writing directly to overseas institutions or simply arriving and applying in person, but going through an organization that provides job placement services ensures that you not only find a position, but a reputable employer as well. Several US organizations offer such services, and in addition arrange housing, work permits and other logistical matters. If you do decide to look on you own, check out the following web resources, and try to gather as much information from previous employees of the listed institutions: Dave´s ESL café forums (www.eslcafe/forums) and These websites also provide a platform for job postings, schools, recruiters, and much more. Given the sometimes tedious and stressful process of acquiring work permits, many travelers who seek employment on their own end up working under the table, or working on tourist visas, applying for extensions to keep them up-to-date.

The academic year runs from late February/early March to December, so it´s best to start the job hunt in January or February, a few weeks before the end of the summer holidays.


TEFL/TESOL courses can be taken online, in your home country, or in the country where you intend to teach. The cost for these programs can range anywhere from $1,000 to $3,000 for a month or two- month long course.

Oxford Seminars ( is one of the leading TEFL certification schools in the US and Canada, with over 130 locations throughout these two countries.

The International TEFL Corporation ( offers a 4-week classroom course in Argentina and Costa Rica, as well as online courses in teaching business English.

Vialingua ( offers courses in Peru, Argentina, Mexico, Brazil, and Chile.

BridgeTEFL ( provides online courses and classroom instruction in Peru, Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica.

Job Sites

The highest demand for teachers can be found in Mexico, Chile, Costa Rica and Brazil. Generally the only prerequisite for a job in Brazil is a Bachelor´s degree. The main employers are Brazilian companies, who often provide training upon arrival, and some even offer language classes in Portuguese. In Chile, the capital city of Santiago is also home to many businesses looking to hire English teachers.

Some of the biggest employers of ESL teachers throughout Latin America are cultural centers and American Bi-National Centers. Information about these centers can be found at

Latin America Travel News

VIVA brings you the latest news about travel in Latin America in this weekly feature.

A New View of Antarctica

Can’t shell out the $3,000 for a tour of Antarctica? Google has you covered. Its Streetview feature, used to help you navigate around Notting Hill and TriBeCa, now provides images of the world’s most barren continent.

Slow Going in Costa Rica

It is the so-called “green season” in Costa Rica, when rains pummel the Central American nation. This has caused a number of road closures and other problems in the last week, though the Panamericana has been reopened.

Plane Crash in Nazca

A small aircraft carrying tourists on a fly-over of the famous Nazca Lines in Peru crashed, killing 6. This is the second such incident this year at Nazca.

Always Hire a Blond

Uruguay, in a push to promote its brand overseas and attract more tourists, has enlisted World Cup hero Diego Forlán to serve as the centerpiece in a new ad campaign.

Always remember to send your Latin America travel tips to nick- at-

Weekly Latin America Travel Deals

Once again, VIVA is bringing you a sampling of the best Latin America travel deals. Whether they want to visit one of the world’s great cities or one of the natural wonders of South America, holiday-makers have a number of options this time of year.

Galapagos Deals

Many people book their Galapagos trips as part of a package, but those travelers with a more independent streak could benefit from LAN Ecuador’s cheap airfare to the Galapagos: for $619, you can buy a round-trip ticket from Miami to Baltra. Travel is good through mid-December.

Isthmus for Less

Panama has a lot more going for it than its canal. Panama City is a modern, cosmopolitan place with a skyline ripped out of some futuristic Asian metropolis. Getting to this swanky city doesn’t need to cost a fortune, however. Melia Travel is offering excellent fares to Panama City, including a $252 roundtrip ticket from Miami.

A Weekend in the City

Mexico City is one of the most vibrant and fascinating cities in the world, as well as being one of the largest. From the burgeoning music, theater and art scenes to the famous cuisine, a few days in Mexico’s capital can be an exhilarating experience. STA Travel is offering a 3-day getaway in late October, from $593, including airfare from New York City and a hotel accommodation.