At first glance, the difference between La Paz and sprawling Santiago is their scale. The compact size of the Bolivian capital is dictated by its geography; its dense position within dramatic canyon walls makes it seem far smaller than its 472 square kilometres. The metro area of Chile’s capital, on the other hand, spreads out over 15,403 square kilometres in a vast valley in the shadow of soaring Andean peaks. One-and-a-half million people call La Paz home, while there are five times as many Santiaguinos.
Visiting them both on one trip—as we do during our new Natural Wonders of Bolivia & Chile small group tour—provides an enlightening glimpse of how two cultural centres have adapted to and been influenced by their Andean locales. From arts and leisurely urban pursuits to cuisine and dress, here’s how these two remarkable cities compare.
The low-down on high altitude
La Paz: Your 12,000-foot elevation may require a cup of maté tea to combat altitude sickness.
Santiago: At an average of 1,700 feet, Santiago lies in the centre of a massive basin encircled by mountains.
Bird’s eye views
La Paz: Ride the Mi Teleférico cable cars, the world’s highest and longest aerial public transit.
Santiago: Ascend San Cristóbal Hill and share the view with a stunning statue of the Virgin Mary.
Unique, culture-rich shopping and browsing
La Paz: El Mercado de Hechiceria, or the Witches’ Market, boasts a curious collection of potions, talismans, and more.
Santiago: The bustling Mercado Central, a confluence of fishmongers, butchers, and greengrocers, invites wide-eyed wandering.
A snack break
La Paz: Tuck into a delicious salteña, a meat-filled pastry.
Santiago: Go for a savory, cheese-filled empanada de queso.
A locally inspired cocktail
La Paz: Try a yungueño, a mixed drink of local brandy, simple syrup, and orange juice created in the valleys.
Santiago: Sip a pisco sour, a blend of brandy and tart pica lime juice.
Wine from nearby vineyards
La Paz: Sample Singani, distilled from white Muscat of Alexandria grapes in the high valleys.
Santiago: You’re in Chilean wine country, so uncork your favourite wine from any of numerous wineries.
The skinny on fashion
La Paz: Try on traditional alpaca knitwear and bowler hats.
Santiago: Find 21st-century chic and sophistication at boutique clothiers in Bellavista.
La Paz: Meander the cobbled streets around the San Francisco Cathedral.
Santiago: Grab a bench by the Simon Bolivar fountain in the Plaza de Armas.
La Paz: Explore Jaen Street, the remarkably restored colonial district home to notable museums.
Santiago: Wander among the boutiques and avant-garde galleries of bohemian Bellavista.
Souvenirs and take-homes
La Paz: You’ll find ample offerings of coffee, alpaca sweaters and scarves, and silver.
Santiago: Duck into a bookstore for poetry by native Pablo Neruda, or find copper trinkets in local markets.
Finally, Gate 1 Travel gives you an answer to the question so many of you keep asking – what are our most popular tours? Today we are sharing the 12 best selling tours thus far in 2018 because you deserve to know!
These tours vary greatly in destination, but they all excel in showing you must-see sites, beautiful cities, unique cultures and natural beauty all in one escorted tour! We are giving you a countdown of our top 12 tours that may offer some inspiration when it comes to planning your next unforgettable adventure. Journey with us from Ireland to Vietnam to the United States, with a whole world in between.
12. 9 Day Enchanting Ireland
Enchanting Ireland is right. Ireland is a beautiful country known for a warm culture, lush greenery and excellent sites to see. While on this tour of Ireland you will see some of the can’t miss spots including the city of Dublin, where you will enjoy a city tour, visit Trinity College to see the Book of Kells and have free time to explore. Also enjoy the Killarney area where you will drive through the world-famous Ring of Kerry and see sites on your way. On this tour you will also see Blarney Castle, Waterford, Bunratty Castle, Cliffs of Moher and Galway. If you have been wanting to visit Ireland, there is no better time than the present to go green.
11. 7 Day Essential Vietnam
Vietnam is a country that is so incredibly different from anywhere else that its popularity is no surprise. Your tour of Vietnam will begin with a visit to Ho Ch Minh City, formerly Saigon, where you will have the chance to take an optional excursion to Cu Chi Tunnels, enjoy a optional half day tour of the city or explore the city on your own at your leisure. You will also visit the incredible Halong Bay, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and see caves, grottos, islands, stalactites, stalagmites and waterfalls, to name a few! You will also have a full day in Hanoi to either leisurely explore the city or take optional tours that include the Museum of Ethnology and a Cyclo Ride/Water Puppet Show. This genuine country will win you over and you will enjoy every minute of it.
10. 8 Day Classic National Parks, Mt. Rushmore, Yellowstone & Grand Teton
What better way to see what the world has to offer than by visiting some of the planet’s best national parks? Although the Unites States doesn’t have a history as old as some other countries, they do have amazing sites, national parks, natural phenomenon and plenty of great cities with their own special elegance. On this tour you will see 3 national parks, stay in 6 different locations and have the experience of a lifetime, all in 8 days! Visit Rapid City, the gateway to South Dakota’s Black Hills and iconic Mount Rushmore and Crazy Horse Memorial. Experience the beauty of Yellowstone National Park, the first national park in the United States and home to “Old Faithful”, hot springs, thermal features, rock cliffs and more! You will also get to visit Grand Teton National Park, with its dense forests and rich wildlife and then continue to Salt Lake City, Utah. It’s time to see what the United States has to offer and explore some of our greatest treasures.
9. 14 Day Cambodia & Vietnam
This excellent tour gets you seeing two of the greatest countries of Southeast Asia and experiencing some of the greatest sites they have to offer. In just over two weeks you will experience 7 different cities and add two different countries to your list! While on tour, visit Siem Reap, home to some of the most famous sites in the world; Angkor Thom and Angkor Wat. Travel to Ho Chi Minh City and enjoy leisure time or take optional tours to get to know this fascinating city. During your Cambodia & Vietnam tour you will also see the city of Phnom Penh, Tonle Sap Lake in Cambodia, the ancient town of Hoi An, Hue; home to a wealth of palaces, temples, museums and libraries, Halong Bay and Hanoi. This tour covers so much of these two amazing countries that it is a truly unmissable experience.
8. 13 Day Turkish Treasures
Welcome to the true crossroads of Europe and Asia; Turkey. This country has history that dates back to B.C. and has ancient sites to see that are some of the oldest on earth! On your journey to Turkey you will tour the city of Istanbul and see the Blue Mosque, Hippodrome, Topkapi Palace and the Spice Market. Traverse the ancient city of Cappadocia with its surreal rock formations, rock-cut temples and plenty of hot air balloons in the sky, with an option to have your own hot air balloon ride! This extensive tour also includes visits to the classical city of Troy, the port city of Izmir, the resort town of Antalya and Ankara the modern capital of Turkey. Learn about the country and sites you have read about in books like The Illiad and venture to this country today.
7. 13 Day Kaleidoscope of Central Europe
Central Europe has so much to offer in such a small area of the world. On this tour you will visit 5 major cities with a few stops along the way, and potentially add 5 new countries to your list. You will travel to the medieval city of Krakow, Poland, a city that was greatly affected by WWII and see the Jewish Quarter and Ghetto of the city as well as taking a solemn visit to Auschwitz-Birkenau. Experience the former centre of the Hapsburg Empire; Vienna, Austria, where you will view Schonbrunn Palace, Empress Maria Theresia Monument, Votive Church, City Hall, Parliament and more. This tour will also bring you to more unforgettable places such as Warsaw, Czestochowa, Budapest, Bratislava and Prague. If you enjoy history, culture, music and experiencing unforgettable places, this tour is perfect for you.
6. 11 Day Affordable Croatia & Slovenia
Croatia is a travel location that is increasingly popular for good reason! This seaside country has excellent cities by the water and a neighbouring country of Slovenia that you will not want to miss. This tour includes stops in 7 towns and cities with optional tours to see even more. This extraordinary tour takes you to Dubrovnik, the walled and cobbled-street city that you have probably seen on Game of Thrones, as King’s Landing, and in many pictures. Also explore the lake-side city of Bled, set among the Julian Alps and one of Slovenia’s most popular resort towns. Opatija, Zadar, Split, Krka National Park, Vodice, Zagreb and Ljubjana, Slovania are all included on this fully-packed tour. Come see why so many people are visiting this country and discover many of your own reasons!
5. 11 Day Enchanting Italy
Italy is always a great idea and this tour covers places you have always wanted to visit. If Venetian canals, the Leaning Tower of Pisa, Michelangelo’s David, and Pompeii are things you have dreamed about, this tour covers it all and so much more. Visit and stay in the city of Florence, where David, the Duomo, Ponte Vecchio and Signoria Square await you. Take a tour of ancient Rome, home of the Colosseum, excellent food and a tiny country called Vatican City. This tour will also take you to Venice, Tuscany, Pisa, Assisi, Pompeii, Sorrento, Bay of Naples and more! If a friendly culture, excellent food and beautiful sites are on your travel list, you will surely cross them off with this tour of Italy.
4. 8 Day Essential Greece
This country, in the heart of the Mediterranean, is home to some of the most famous landmarks in the world; the Acropolis, Olympia and Delphi. This tour has an unbeatable price and gets you all around Greece in just over a week! You will likely arrive in Athens, the capital of Greece and home to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Acropolis. Take a tour of the archaeological site of Olympia and see where the games were first held in 776 B.C. Visit the excavated site of Delphi, enjoy the coastal road to the mighty Corinth Canal and take an optional day tour to Hydra, Poros and Aegina Islands. Discover this ancient country that is the birthplace of democracy and the cradle of Western Civilisation on this unforgettable tour.
3. 12 Day Danube River Cruise with Prague
A river cruise through Europe is an excellent way to see many destinations while returning to the comfort of a ship between each. Being on a cruise means that while you are busy sleeping or enjoying the ship, you are being whisked away to a new and exciting destination. On your river cruise you will sail along the Danube river and visit Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, and Germany, you will also see the Czech Republic on this specific tour. Visit the essential Danube village town of Melk, Austria, where you will walk along medieval cobblestone streets leading to 16th century houses and wine taverns. You will also visit the city of Prague on this tour, where you will see the world-famous Astronomical Clock. The Town Hall, Jewish Quartre and many more sites. Other stops on this tour include Budapest, Bratislava, Vienna, Durnstein, Linz, Passau, Vilshofen and Regensberg. It’s time to experience Europe in one of the most unique and special ways; on a European river cruise with Gate 1 Travel!
2. 10 Day Affordable Peru
Seeing Machu Picchu is on the bucket list of many travel enthusiasts. If you are one of these fanatic explorers, this tour was made for you. Visit the city of Lima, the capital of Peru, and its excellent landmarks including the Palace of the Archbishop, the Government Palace and the Cathedral of Lima. You will, of course, experience the ancient capital of the Incan Empire, Cuzco, which contains some ruins of its own and will be your gateway to touring the incredible Machu Picchu. This tour also visits Sacred Valley, Ollantaytambo, Uros Islands, Puno and more! This exceptional tour brings you to some of the most photographed and visited places in the world and is affordable as well. Get out your comfortable walking shoes, because Peru awaits.
1. 13 Day Kaleidoscope of Morocco
If you have not been to Morocco yet, it is a must-visit! This up and coming country has been hugely popular this year thanks to its unique culture, vast array of things to do and excellent pricing! This tour offers many essential locations in Morocco including Fez, an ancient city with breathtaking views that you can decide to discover on your own or join the optional city tour. You will also visit Marrakesh where you will visit the Saadian Tombs, Koutoubia Minaret, the Medina and the Bahia Palace. On this Moroccan tour you will also visit Rabat, Erfoud, Rissani, Ouarzazate and Casablanca. There’s no better time than now to start seeing the world and all its beauty and culture. What better way to explore, than to enjoy our most popular tour of the year to beautiful Morocco?