Harry Hastings

In 2005, I moved from the UK to Argentina in search of adventure. Following stints with the Buenos Aires Herald and Time Out Magazine, I launched a city concierge company, PlanBA. A passion for Argentina developed into a continent-wide fascination and, in 2009, Plan South America was born. I now live in London, but continue to explore Latin America as often and as widely as good sense permits.

Amazon Rainforest Holiday | Ecuador | South America Travel

Tell us about some recent adventures

I have just returned from driving the Carretera Austral, in southern Chile, which carves through some of Patagonia’s most pristine landscapes, with hanging glaciers, waterfalls, marble caves, condors, puma, guanaco, kilometre-deep lakes and rivers of viridian brimming with wild trout. Before that, I was exploring Venezuela, which we’re backing as the next big travel story in Latin America. I also spent an unforgettable week in the Ecuadorian Amazon with the Sapara community. The experience included jungle treks, long swims down the Rio Conambo, fishing with poisonous roots, hunting with blowpipes, meditation, dream interpretation, lessons in botany and traditional ceremonies. The journey forms part of our transformational travel experiences.

What’s your favourite restaurant in Latin America?

Good food and drink is a key component of our journeys. Don Julio in Buenos Aires was my second home when living there. I saw it transform from a word-of-mouth neighbourhood dive to one of the most highly regarded restaurants in Latin America. Lo de Pepina, in Cartagena’s Getsemani, is a family-run bolthole of 8 tables and stunning Caribbean food. Lucifer, in Garzón, Uruguay, run by Mallmann protégé Lucia Soria, is a gem. Long lunches at Rio’s buzzing Braseiro da Gávea. Lima and Bogota deserve their own chapters.

Salta Road | Argentina | South America

What do you think is the ultimate road trip?

I had always dreamt of driving the Pan American highway. In 2008, a friend and I bought a car and drove 11,000km from Buenos Aires to the northernmost tip of Colombia. The journey was not without incident. When faced with a burned out bridge in southern Colombia, we forded the rapids of a swollen river, to emerge with three punctured tyres and smoke billowing from the engine; we navigated into a minefield on Chile’s border with Bolivia; picked up an extraordinary assortment of hitchhikers and mounted an exhilarating escape from a besieged Peruvian village.

On a less indulgent timescale, the Andean route from Mendoza to Jujuy in Argentina’s northwest ranges through desert, subtropical jungle, high altitude vineyards, salt lakes, dusty market towns and huge fields of pungent red peppers drying in the sun. You may see the odd western tourist at the beginning and final third, but there’s a good 900kms in the middle where you’re very much off-piste.

What’s your favourite tipple from Latin America?

El vino! When living in Buenos Aires, I would always meet with a friend in the same bar every week to play chess, eat cheese and enjoy a bottle of Chilean Koyle Costa Pinot Noir or Argentine Tempus Alma Pleno. Cachaça and Mezcal also do good things for me.

South America Travel | Bolivia Holiday Specialists

Best souvenir?

Taxidermy. A friend traveling in Bolivia returned with a plump armadillo dressed in a natty sequin jacket. Otherwise, leather goods, art, ponchos, textiles, riding boots, panama hats, cowhides, hammocks, emeralds, a Brazilian sunga.

Where’s your next adventure?

Los Llanos. Colombia’s cowboy and anaconda country, up on the Venezuelan border. Then on to El Chocó on the Pacific coast and to the southern Amazon. I find it the most captivating country and am always finding excuses to return.

Mexico Holidays | Luxury Travel Consultancy | Mexico Specialists

Why PSA?

Because we pool all of our knowledge, resources and contacts into one glorious continent. I’m a great believer in being a specialist in something – the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker. Our combined experience in the region and local network are unmatched.

Must read before you travel?

We create reading lists for all of our clients ahead of their trips. Few Latin American writers match Gabriel Garcia Márquez’s powers of description and lyricism. I also like W H Hudson’s Far Away and Long Ago – a lyrical portrait of life in the Argentine pampas at the turn of the century. I’ve just finished Magdalena by Wade Davis, which I would recommend to anyone heading to Colombia. For guffaws and adventure, Peter Fleming’s Brazilian Adventure always delivers.

Harry’s Photos