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Our Real Latin America Expert

Mary Anne Nelson
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert

Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.

Mary Anne Nelson in Chile

What country did you visit?

Chile

When did you visit?

March 2022

How did you get there?

I flew with Iberia via Madrid. Although I missed my connection to London on the way back, I was particularly impressed with Iberia’s efficient customer service. On arrival in Madrid an Iberia representative was waiting at the gate and handed me a new boarding pass for the next flight, which was about an hour later – no queues, arguments or fuss of any kind.

Whereabouts did you go?

I went to Santiago to visit my family and then flew down to Punta Arenas for a 4-night stay in Torres del Paine National Park.

Had you been before?

Yes, several times!

If so, any notable differences?

On this occasion, I stayed at hotel Las Torres but the first time I went to the park in the early 90s, I backpacked my way around the circuit, passing hotel Las Torres en route to the famous viewpoint of Las Torres. It was called Hosteria Torres back then and it was still a working cattle ranch but they had just started receiving paying guests. Its prime location meant that visitors kept asking for lodging and eventually the owners realised this would make a good business. The main house was small with only a handful of rooms and although I would have loved to have stayed there, I was as poor as a church mouse and could only look on longingly as I continued with my heavy bag, tent and food for two weeks… Fast forward 30 years and the hotel has grown both in size and splendour, still having an incredible location and, best of all, I finally managed to stay there before walking up to the Las Torres, which I’m relieved to say hasn’t changed in the slightest.

What was your most memorable moment?

Every moment and every trek in this part of the world is different and as memorable as the next. But the sunrises are something you won’t forget in a hurry.

Were there any surprises along the way?

I was hoping to spot a puma, but, sadly, they decided to stay away from me.

What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same destinations?

Take your time, don’t rush and try to go for at least 4 nights. There are too many gorgeous places to visit in this park.

Is there anything indispensable to pack or prepare for?

Good – and well worn- walking shoes and layers of clothing. It’s possible to have four seasons in one day.

Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?

Salmon and Patagonian lamb are all local to the region and after a long day, definitely treat yourself to a Pisco sour cocktail.

Expert tip:

If you can, try to sit on the left-hand side of the plane when you’re flying south to Punta Arenas or Puerto Natales and on the right-hand side going back north. You’ll be rewarded with dramatic views of volcanoes and lakes. The alternative, is the Pacific Ocean.

 

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

Meet the team