Ted’s Travels – The changing face of Latin America
“In all the Latin American republics , it is necessary to a greater or lesser degree to use mules, donkeys , burros, and horses for certain journeys” – The South American Handbook, 1924
If I told you that my first trip to Latin America (back in 1975) was wonderful, I’d be lying. The train trip to Machu Picchu felt like the longest train ride of my life: The railway track creaked under the wheels of the rustic carriages, my backside had disappeared somewhere in my rock-hard bench seat and my bladder was about to explode (anything was better than the toilets though).
When we finally arrived, I was exhausted. It had taken me nearly four days to drive from Lima to Cuzco and that train ride made me feel like I might join the Incas in Heaven shortly. I made my way to the only hotel in the area: Turistas Hotel, a small lodge located at the entry of Machu Picchu ruins. The hotel was run by the government and cost about $25USD a night. As soon as I got to my room, I dozed off.
I’ve been to Peru about thirty times since 1975 and seen how the tourism industry has transformed over the years. By 2014, a 5 star coach took me all the way to Cuzco in under 21 hours through paved roads. The dodgy train had been replaced with an array of first-class services (among them, the Hiram Bingham deluxe train operated by the Belmond group). And in place of Turistas Hotel, MAPI Sanctuary Lodge (also operated by Belmond) now welcomed travellers from all over the world with rooms starting from $900. In fact, there were over 50 small properties ranging from backpacker hostels to boutique accommodation and 4 star hotels to choose from around Machu Picchu village!
Overall, hospitality and tourism have made incredible changes all over Latin America. Accommodation, transport, infrastructure, guides and service throughout the continent have very high standards nowadays. It’s enough to say that some of the world’s best restaurants and hotels are in this region of the world! The benefits of the industry have spread far and wide. I found that the communities of Lake Titicaca, for instance, fought poverty and now have improved their living conditions with schools, clean water and several small tourism businesses in the area.
Throughout the last 40 years, I have constantly been drawn back to Latin America because of its charm, its people and now, its services. It truthfully never stops surprising me and I’m sure it will be a pleasant surprise for you as well!
Next week I look forward to telling you all about my trip to Brazil last November, where I discovered a destination that would be a birdwatcher’s paradise and a photographer’s dream. Did I mention it’s also home of the jaguar?
Ted Dziadkiewicz is Director and Founder of Contours Travel, Australia’s longest running tour operator to Latin America. He has been more than 100 times to Latin America over the past 40 years and visited over 20 countries. If you want to know more visit www.contourstravel.com.au
Source = Teds Travels – Ted Dziadkiewicz – Contours Travel