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Special South America Issue

Chile Today, Peru Tomorrow

Sunday, November 23, 2003; Page P01

In the dry Atacama Desert of Chile, you can look up from a sweep of multicolored rock into a sky studded with so many stars that astronomers camp out with their telescopes all night.

In southern Peru, you can tour the grand temples and terraced stonework constructed by the Incas almost six centuries ago across the mountaintop of Machu Picchu.

Dancers feel the beat at Cafe Tortoni which hosts tango shows in Buenos Aires. (By R. Paul Herman)

_____South America Special_____
The Beat Goes On and On (The Washington Post, Nov 23, 2003)
ARGENTINA (The Washington Post, Nov 23, 2003)
COLOMBIA (The Washington Post, Nov 23, 2003)
CHILE (The Washington Post, Nov 23, 2003)
PERU (The Washington Post, Nov 23, 2003)
South America Made Easy: Pick a Country -- or 13 -- and Go (The Washington Post, Nov 23, 2003)

In Buenos Aires, you can start the night with martinis at an ultra-chic cocktail lounge and spend the rest of it perfecting your tango.

In Patagonia, you can watch as half a million penguins blanket the beaches in a display of nature you'll remember forever.

With 13 countries stretching across 6,878,000 square miles, South America offers just about any scene a visitor could want. But for all its variety, U.S. travelers often overlook the continent as a destination. In 2002, by the Brazil tourist board's account, fewer than 700,000 travelers from the United States visited their country -- the world's fifth-largest. That's fewer than the number of U.S. visitors who toured the tiny country of England in June and July alone. The perception of crime and political unrest deter some visitors. Language barriers are another issue.

Those North Americans who have ventured into the Southern Hemisphere find South America far more of a bargain than Europe, the Caribbean or even parts of the United States. Although discount flights to and within the region are rare, everything else is cheap. In Rio de Janeiro, four-star hotels go for $80 a night. In Lima, Peru, one of the unsung gastronomic capitals of the world, you can eat yourself silly on ceviche and a three-course dinner for $10. A four-day whirlwind tour of Buenos Aires goes for less than $1,000, including airfare and hotel. And the standards of service often meet or exceed those in more developed corners of the world.

In this special issue, we provide an overview to visiting the continent, with suggested itineraries and practical tips, along with reports from Chile, Brazil, Peru, Colombia and Argentina.

Raw nature. Unabashed revelry. Ancient civilizations. Take your pick. But go.

Argentina: What a Tango Web We Weave
Head to Buenos Aires for the ultimate tango fix.

Brazil: The Beat Goes On and On
Drumming and dancing from Rio to Salvador da Bahia.

Chile: A Literary Tour of Santiago
Gary Lee visits the monuments and haunts of Chilean literary greats.

Colombia: A Jolt of Coffee Culture in the Jungle
A tour of the country's increasingly popular coffee region.

Peru: Ups and Downs on the Arduous Trail to Machu Picchu
Our correspondent does the famed Inca Trail.

South America Made Easy
The basics of planning of trip to the continent.

© 2003 The Washington Post Company