My love for Latin America began when my family was posted to Brazil, and school vacations were spent on adventures exploring the country from Recife to Rio and from the Pantanal to the Amazon. During my degree in Latin American Studies, I spent time living in Chile using it as a base to explore the rest of South America.
A career in the travel industry was the obvious choice and 17 years on including a sabbatical in Costa Rica and Nicaragua I still find a reason to travel to Latin America over other destinations. Favourite place? Waking up at the Explora hotel in Chilean Patagonia with dawn breaking over the Torres del Paine National Park. Favourite experience? Swimming with sea lions in the Galapagos. Where next? Colombia.
What my guests have said
"Katie was brilliant - I had a very rough idea of what we wanted to do and she had loads of good suggestions. She also didn't seem to mind rewriting the itinerary about a hundred times for me! All of the places/activities she suggested were wonderful - and we felt very confident that every place we stayed would be great, which they all were. It was lovely that she phoned to check we'd arrived safely given the alarming plane crash that took place at SFO just before we landed."
"Both Jules Maury and Katie Aston were excellent. They were knowledgeable, helpful, approachable and efficient. They went to a lot of trouble to ensure that our trip was seamless and we were well looked after. And that was very much appreciated."
"This was the first time we had used Scott Dunn but from the moment of the first contact to the final preparation of our vacation the Consultant (Katie) provided excellent information regarding all aspects of our vacation and provided many suggestions that we had not thought about. She was very flexible and the result was everything we had hoped for."
Favourite places I've been
- Less is more. There is a particular tendency with South & North America to cram all the 'highlights' into one trip and spend longer on the move than soaking up the individuality and character of each place.
- Use the time difference to your advantage when traveling west and get up to enjoy dawn and witness beautiful sunrises, wildlife and communities coming to life.
- To blend in, carry a local newspaper.
My hot picks
I drew my curtains to reveal dawn breaking over the granite towers of the Torres del Paine National Park, tinged with purples and fiery pink - gobsmacking, as was the service, scenery, guiding and activies - and I was lucky enough to glimplse a puma.
Epitomising New York cool, the Soho Grand does industrial chic brilliantly, has beautiful hipster staff and a lively atmosphere. Its location is ideal for Soho’s boutiques and restaurants and Tribeca which is leafier and calmer.