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Ali Andino

San Diego Office

The experience that really piqued my curiosity and desire to see different cultures and to visit new places started out as a two year move to Caracas, Venezuela. Two years quickly turned into four. This was so inspiring that it sparked my interest to explore other corners of the globe.

In 2010 I spent an unforgettable time studying abroad in Barcelona and was lucky enough to be able to travel all over Western Europe (with the addition of some awesome weekend surfing in Morocco!).

After graduating from college, I still had Spain in my heart, and honestly, I wasn’t quite ready to face the “real world,” so I returned to Spain to teach English in a small city in Andalucia called Jaen. During this time, I took advantage of being there as much as possible, I road tripped around the country, slid down sand dunes in the Canary Islands and spent the Christmas vacations backpacking through Eastern Europe.

My absolute favorite travel experience has been backpacking through Guatemala. Four of my best girlfriends and I camped on a volcano, went spelunking in Semuc Champey, watched the sunrise over ancient ruins and floated down bright blue waters over limestone pools. The best part about this trip was that it was largely spontaneous and unplanned. Our ‘go with the flow’ approach made us get out of our comfort zones to get to know the area. And our trip wouldn’t have been the same if we hadn’t taken the time to talk to the locals. We were able to get an insiders perspective on Guatemala, which I think is the best way to truly experience a place.

I’ve had so many unforgettable travel experiences, and I knew that I eventually wanted to get back to Latin America to see even more of the continent. This inspired me to travel to Brazil, Peru, to backpack through Belize, and to pursue a career in travel. I've recently gone to Chile and Argentina, but there is still so much more that I need to see. Colombia is next on my list!

Travel nuggets

  • Mosquitos love the color black (I learned this the hard way)! Avoid wearing black pants and shirts while in the Amazon. Try to wear light colored clothing that can be layered.

  • When you’re going to visit the Christ Redeemer, I recommend getting there as soon as it opens to take the train up. You’ll be able to escape the crowds and snap a great picture without anyone else in the way!

  • The Pantanal in Brazil can be visited year round, but the best time of year to go for Jaguar spotting is July-October when the water levels are lowest!

  • If you’re heading out on Lake Titicaca, bring a hat and plenty of sunscreen! The sun is very strong at that altitude and the sun reflects off the lake increasing your chance of a sun burn.

  • If you’re traveling by yourself, leave your device at the hotel and post up in a local café with a book! It’s a great place to people watch and to enjoy the world go by.

My hot picks

Hotel Sol y Luna, Urubamba, Sacred Valley

The views here are insane! Sol y Luna has one of the best views of the Andes anywhere. They surround the hotel from every angle. It’s indescribably beautiful.

Patagonia Camp, Near Torres del Paine NP, Chile

This camp is so comfortbale and unique. It looks directly onto the lake and is close to the entrance of the National Park.

Pousada Literaria, Paraty, Brazil

Though the exterior of this hotel appears to be just a simple colonial building, inside is full of amazing surprises. The rooms are gorgeously decorated with a modern twist on Brazilian style and it even has its own kitschy little library!

The Vines Resort & Spa, Mendoza, Argentina

With cozy and luxurious rooms, this is the perfect place to unwind and enjoy some wine and spectacular views.

Uxua Casa Hotel, Trancoso, Brazil

This hotel is incredible! It was designed by (fashion label) Diesel’s former creative director, and stylish touches are everywhere, from its airy, clean aesthetic, to the organic use of reclaimed wood. When in Brazil, you have to stay here.

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