New Year’s resolutions are like making plans to catch up with an old acquaintance. You bump into them on NYE, smile with too many teeth and say, ‘Oh my god, we should totally do coffee soon. How have we let it get this long? We’ll text. Ciao!’ Then weeks go by and that resolution just sits there gathering dust, rather like those dumbbells you bought two Januaries ago. But Intrepid is here to help. We reckon most resolutions just need a little spice, a twist of lemon or a dollop of chimichurri – and we’ve got just the continent for the job: South America.
Stick to your guns in style with our easy-to-follow guide below. Pick your New Year’s resolution and we’ll show you how you can make it happen in a land of feisty Latin culture, bone-white beaches and sultry salsa. Viva 2015!
I will go to the gym this year
For those who want to lose some weight without losing their mind, we have a couple of South American workouts that might just fit the bill. First, the Inca Trail – an iconic blend of green valleys and mist-shrouded peaks with the crumbling ruins of Machu Picchu waiting at the end. Try finding that on a Stairmaster. The second is definitely in Chilean Patagonia: towering granite cliffs knifing 2,8000 metres into the sky, cobalt blue glaciers and friendly guanacos nibbling on the slopes.
I’m going to learn something new
Start with a tango class in the steamy barrios of Buenos Aires (the secret’s in the hips – keep that posture straight). Follow that up with a cocktail masterclass in Peru and learn to mix the perfect pisco sour (a tangy blend of Peruvian pisco, egg whites, bitters, syrup and lime juice). To finish, how about some horse riding tips from the original cowboys of Argentina, gauchos. Head to gorgeous old estancias out on the Pampas and learn to herd cattle like a pro.
I’m going to expand my menu
First, barbecue. If you like your meat, you haven’t lived until you’ve tried proper flame-grilled South American BBQ. People will tell you Argentina is the king of succulent steaks, but head to Montevideo or Punta del Este in Uruguay for an equally succulent experience.
Second, empanadas. If you haven’t tried South America’s answer to the dumpling, just get on a plane right now and go. Usually baked or fried, they’re small pastries folded over a finger-licking savoury filling, usually some mix of beef, spices, currants and onion.
Third, wine. Europe is probably the world’s wine capital, but Argrentina’s wine lands produce some superb vintages that are world-renowned. For a brilliant day out, head to Mendoza and set out to explore the region’s rolling vineyards, country lanes and top vino.
I will quit smoking
A worthy resolution, but a tricky one to stick to. Maybe you just need a little inspiration to really let the cigarettes go. You need to show your lungs an alternative: the delicious taste of pure, clean air. This is a resource that South America has in abundance. Travel to the depths of the Ecuadorian Amazon and taste that sweet, raw oxygen as it travels straight from the rainforest to you.
Or perhaps head to the cloud forests of Costa Rica for your cigarette detox. We guarantee you haven’t tasted air like the stuff you find in Monteverde: filtered through the forest canopy and damp with soft Costa Rican mist, it’s a world away from the smoggy cities back home.
I will spend more time with my family
Nothing unites a family like a holiday. With a pocket full of dreams and a camera full of memory you can get away from the routine of school and home life and explore a brave new world together. South America doesn’t have to be a mountain-scaling, death-defying destination either (unless you’re up for that sort of thing) – there’s plenty of family friendly fun to be had as well.
Why not get the kids out of the classroom and head to the Galapagos Islands. There are iguanas, turtles, birds and crabs aplenty to keep them occupied, and the snorkelling and stunning island backdrop doesn’t hurt either. Or introduce them to the drama and spectacle of Iguazu Falls on a family odyssey through Argentina and Brazil. It’s the perfect excuse to get away from all the stress of home and reconnect with good old-fashioned nature.
Feature image c/o Geraint Rowland, Flickr