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THE ANDESRebecca Profit raises her glass to vineyard scenery, boutique wine-lodge stays and delicious long lunches In a nutshell Owing to rich soils fed by glacier melt and a temperate climate, the foothills of the Andes provide some of the best wine-growing condi ons in the world and are the perfect place to combine a  ip of a life me with a quali  pple or two.Mendoza in Argen na is known as the 'land of sunshine and wine'. Further north, Cafayate and nearby towns have an array of charming vineyards. In Chile, the Maipo, Colchagua and Casablanca Valleys o er some of the world's best  pples.In both the Chilean and Argen nian wine regions, you can either take a day  ip to a vineyard or, for an ex a  eat, base yourself at one of the many beau ful wine lodges to spend a li le longer admiring the scenery and enjoying the produce too.What's new? A sparkling new addi on to the bou que wine lodge scene, Viña Vik in Chile's Millahue Valley is already winning accolades for its low-key luxury, enviable se ng amid rolling valleys and, of course, its wine.  e lodge is only a two-hour drive south of Chile's capital, San ago, so is a great extension to even a short  ip to the coun y.Favourite experience Mendoza o ers one of the most drama c landscapes: vines s etch into the distance  anked by desert, while the foothills of the Andes rise to snow-capped peaks.  e lodges in the area o en serve tas ng lunches, each course accompanied by a glass of wine, allowing  me to soak up the wonderful views.Don't miss the mighty icebergs of Patagonia's vast ice-field saysRichard Wise In a nutshell Covering nearly 17,000 square kilome es, the southern Patagonian ice- eld is the world's third largest reserve of  esh water and feeds some of the region's best-known glaciers. One of our favourites is the Grey Glacier in Torres del Paine, where an a ernoon's naviga on across the lake will take you past impossibly blue icebergs bobbing in the water.  e 5km-long, 60m-high Perito Moreno (pictured below) is the most impressive and is visited  om El Calafate. Step away  om the main routes, though, and you can see some equally SECTION BY SECTIONimpressive examples without another soul in sight such as the Balmaceda, Amala and El Brujo glaciers (El Brujo pictured above); these can only be accessed on longer boat  ips.What's new? Not en rely new but certainly not that well known is the Skorpios III, which you can board for three-night cruises  om Puerto Natales up to the Amala and El Brujo glaciers.  e boat sails through stunning  ords to areas that only this vessel can access.  erefore, you can get up-close to impressive glaciers with only a handful of other  avellers.Favourite experience What be er way to experience spectacular Perito Moreno glacier than donning a pair of crampons and  ekking its icy exterior?  e  ekking itself is surprisingly easy going. As you climb the glacial curves, each turn o ers a di erent view of the surrounding mountains and rich-red rock while the con as ng milky-white waters of the lake and ice-blue glacier make it a postcard des na on. A er a few hours of explora on, and having reached the glacier's highest point, the guides invite you to sit and enjoy the view while they pour you a whisky - just  y asking for it without ice! GLACIERSnutshellGET STARTEDA ten day trip to Peru taking in Machu Picchu starts from £2,285pp. A ten day trip to Chile including Torres del Paine starts from £2,595pp. A twelve day trip to Argentina with time in Mendoza starts from £2,595pp. For more information on these or any other trips featured in this article please call our South America team on 01993 838 650.WINEBoard a cruise to get up-close to El Brujo glacier 42 | AUDLEY TRAVELLER | www.audley.co.uk/south-america

www.audleytravel.co.uk | www.audley.co.uk | AUDLEY TRAVELLER | 43Travellers' Tales | Q&A | Final WordOver to youWe're always keen to read your stories and see photographs of your travels - do get in touch at www.audley.co.uk/shareLesley and Peter travelled to Sri Lanka with AudleyT he hotel restaurant hadn't yet opened for breakfast when we climbed yawning into our safari jeep, and headed off towards Yala National Park in Sri Lanka for our second safari into this park.Our first trip there the day before had ended in a torrential tropical downpour, accompanied by thunder and lightning. Our guide had pointed out that leopards - like all cats - don't like the rain so our chances of seeing one was not likely. I was glad it wasn't a self-drive trip; I certainly wouldn't have liked to have driven back in the cascading rain. What we didn't know was that the previous evening's rain was actually going to work in our favour. Our chauffeur/guide Shantha, who was escorting us around Sri Lanka, sat in the front cab with the driver. Peter and I sat in the back of our eight-seater vehicle with the park guide, who had to accompany us on all our trips there. Our driver was not one to follow the others, so we soon went off on our own route. We'd only been in the Park for about ten minutes when, from the bushes at the side of the road, appeared a male leopard; I hadn't even had time to check the camera was set up properly. Our driver immediately turned the jeep for a better view. I just snapped away, not knowing how long the cat would stay there. But this chap was in no hurry to disappear. Last night's rain had washed away where he'd marked his territory, so he was going to re-mark it no matter who was watching.He sniffed, he sprayed, he rolled around in the grass and lay in the middle of the road in front of the jeep, but he stayed with us for a magical 15 to 20 minutes. As he walked up along the road our driver carefully followed him. As there was only the two of us in the vehicle (thanks to private vehicles) we were able to move around easily to see what he was up to. Looking at my images of the leopard now it seems that while he was there, he had kept his eye on us all the whole time. Then another jeep came up along the track behind us, our driver and guide tried to signal to them to slow down. But the leopard decided that the show was over and disappeared in to the shrubs - two steps into the undergrowth and it was invisible.But boy were we popular with the other drivers and guides when we stopped later that morning on the beach to eat our breakfasts. They crowded round to see my photos and the video Peter had taken of himOur third and last trip into Yala was later that afternoon, we saw lots of other animals and birds but no leopards - or so we thought. As we had left the park, in the failing light one walked boldly across the road in front of us. So our trip to Yala had rewarded us with two sightings of that elusive leopard. What a fantastic day.sri Lanka"Our Yala trip rewarded us with leopards"Looking backLesley's photographs of one of Yala's leopards