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Jimmy on the Grand Tour of South America

Mar 18, 2014 by Jamie Burke

white text overlay of cafe surrounded by palm trees


This grand tour is just that: grand. From the cosmopolitan capitals of Rio and Buenos Aires to ancient Incan ruins and wildlife-rich rainforests, South America is a continent full of beautiful contrasts. Follow along as Jimmy takes in the sights, tastes and history of this adventure.

Interesting facts about Iguassu Falls


On a continent full of natural beauty, Iguassu Falls still manages to be one of the most sought-after destinations. The falls certainly lives up to its name, which roughly translates to “big water” in the native Tupi-Guarani language.

Interesting facts about Iguassu Falls:

  • The 275 falls of the Iguassu Falls system lie along 1.67 miles of the Iguassu River, which borders Brazil and Argentina.
  • Iguassu Falls is actually wider than Africa’s Victoria Falls, but Victoria Falls is considered larger because the surface area of its water flow is less interrupted.
  • The rainforests that surround the falls contain around 2,000 species of plants.
  • The falls were first discovered by Spanish Conquistador Álvar Núñez Cabeza de Vaca in 1541.
  • When Eleanor Roosevelt saw the epic cascades she famously exclaimed, “Poor Niagara!”
  • Mist rises between 100 and 490 feet above Devil’s Throat, the abyss at the depths of the falls.

Food Spotlight: Argentina

Argentina is famous for its high-quality beef (and very beef-centric cuisine), but local menus actually blend a range of indigenous ingredients with Mediterranean influences. Natives lived hunter-gatherer lifestyles or grew their own squash and sweet potatoes until the 16th century, when Spanish settlers brought traditional empanadas and omelet-like tortillas as well as the vine cuttings that started Argentina’s celebrated wine production. Later, Italian immigrants brought pizza and pasta dishes. Meals in Argentina hold Mediterranean flavor more than just through popular dishes—as in most of Spain, smaller towns and cities still shut down at midday so everyone can gather for the day’s largest meal.

close up of three drinks being carried on a black tray

“Having lived in Mexico for a while, I always enjoy going back to a Latin American country for the food. It can sometimes be as simple as corn topped with some lime juice and I’m in heaven. My favorite, though, would have to be the fruit. I just love the variety and quality of local fruits such as the papaya, pineapple and watermelon—and the fresh cocktails, of course.”

Jimmy’s cheat sheet for South American cuisine

asado– from the grill

chimichurri – a green sauce of herbs, garlic and vinegar commonly served with grilled meat

empanada – small, savory pastries usually filled with meat or cheese

fideos – thin pasta (like spaghetti)

mate – a bitter infusion drink

Jimmy’s tour highlight: Macchu Pichu


“Amazing, mind-blowing, impressive, absolutely gorgeous—I loved Machu Picchu! I’ve been fortunate to have visited most of the iconic Mayan and Incan sites in Mexico, Guatemala and Peru, and I can honestly say Machu Picchu wins my heart, hands down. Its location on top of a cliff, surrounded by stunning mountains and tropical vegetation, leaves you speechless. It’s as if the site was invented to be photographed! The history is also very interesting. After hearing stories about the courage and eagerness of the Incan people to build this magnificent place in such an incredible location, I leave with even more admiration than before.”

Want to learn more about the Grand Tour of South America? See the full tour itinerary!

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About the author | Jamie Burke
Always on the lookout for the next best meal ever, Jamie loves exploring the world—and all the great food in it. When she's not working to inspire new travelers, you'll find her biking around Boston, eating at her favorite sushi place, or hanging out at home with her family (and cat).

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