Mike Gasparovic

mm

Mike is a freelance travel writer based in Lima, Peru. In addition to writing several book-length guides about his adoptive hometown, he’s traveled throughout the Americas and written extensively about history and culture.

The Condor Passes: A Guide To Peru’s Majestic Colca Canyon

On the ledge below the overlook, the three birds huddle: a slate-gray mass.  One stands slightly aloof, gazing into the distance, while a second, officious, pecks under the wing of the third.  Above them the canyon air is warm, with a rising early-morning wind.  Rufflike plumes ripple with the breeze. After a moment, bird three […]

Read More

¡Viva La Revolución!: Eating Out In Cuba’s New Culinary Climate

“Do not come to Cuba for fine dining.” “Meals in Cuba are not a gastronomic delight.” “Many a mediocre meal in state-owned restaurants.” So begin the “Food” sections in several best-selling guidebooks on Cuba. And for many flavorless years, they were right. Under socialist rationing, eating out on the Pearl of the Antilles was…well, what […]

Read More

Ecuadorian Food: A Boom Waiting To Happen?

It’s Holy Week in Quito, and that means Alberto Alava is looking serious. The dark, mustachioed chef has his cap tilted back, concentrating intently on his work. That work includes peeling a multitude of different grains (including fava beans and chochos, a thick-skinned legume typical of the Andes), soaking strips of salt cod in milk, […]

Read More

In Ushuaia, Argentina, Discovering A Land Of Extreme Beauty

Polar winds whip snow against me as I stand beneath the looming mountain.  Gray afternoon half-light.  It’s the end of the line. Granted, “end” in Ushuaia, Argentina, is a word that long ago passed beyond cliché, considering every empanadería, Claro cell-phone kiosk, and leather-goods outlet in town has seen fit to append “del fin del […]

Read More

Seven Things To Do In Puno, Peru

Puno, Peru suffers from a case of bad PR. Ask most travelers about the windswept Andean town, and you’ll likely get a lot of blank stares. “Puno—where exactly is that?” Those same travelers will prick up their ears at the mention of neighboring Lake Titicaca, or of the Islands of the Sun on the Bolivian […]

Read More

Six Things To Do In Bariloche, Argentina

Sapphire lakes that are absolutely still, mirroring the silent peaks around them.  Cascades, like liquid smoke, plunging into icy rivers.  A branching network of sandy trails, leading ever deeper into towering forests of thousand-year-old alerce trees… This is Argentina’s Lake District, a vast, primeval wilderness huddled at the foot of the Andes in northwestern Patagonia, […]

Read More

Sex, Mayhem, And Snacks In Lima’s Pre-Colombian Museo Larco

Lima, Peru. It’s a quiet weekday morning at the Museo Larco, in the peaceful historic district of Pueblo Libre. Warm sunlight glints off the white manorial façade. In the café, a waiter is laying tablecloths for lunch, while off the deserted courtyard, purple and red azaleas nod in the pre-noon languor. Meanwhile, oblivious to all […]

Read More

Fusing Colonial And African Pasts In Salvador Da Bahia, Brazil

When the dreadlocked guy in front of me launches into a fusillade of back flips, that’s when I wonder if I’m doing something wrong. Okay, maybe not wrong exactly, but given the volleys of joyful activity all around me—samba dancers shimmying, youth with side-slung drums rapping out infectious tropical beats—my saunter down Av. Lafayete Coutinho […]

Read More

Unspoiled Nature in Panama’s Darién National Park

On the great planetary picture window that is Google Earth, at coordinates 7.75, -77.5, there is a large swath of undifferentiated green. Undifferentiated, as in, virginally unmarked. Pristine. If you use the controls to scroll around and zoom in, names of villages and other landmarks will pop up on the surrounding terrain. But on this […]

Read More

Day Two At Machu Picchu: Four Top Options

So you’ve finally done it. You’ve bought your PeruRail tickets, your entrance pass, and your chuyo, and you’re on your way to Machu Picchu. Mission accomplished—at least the first stage. By now your envious friends are blowing up your Facebook page with “OMG! How exciting!” posts and asking you to fill up your memory card […]

Read More

In Mendoza, Argentina’s Wine Country, A Diverse Crop Of Tours

Sitting and sampling a glass of Malbec in the tasting room at La Rural winery in Mendoza, Argentina, I’m definitely feeling rather small. And I don’t just mean metaphorically small, owing to the fact that my technical knowledge when it comes to wine encompasses exactly two concepts, “red” and “white.” I mean literally small, owing […]

Read More

Pagan Myths And Wild Nature In Chile’s Isla Chiloé

“Now this story—this may well have something inexplicable about it.” José Rogel is wagging his finger like a professor, dubious but open to persuasion. “My father told me he’d seen the caleuche.  He’d recently married my mother, and one day he went to a funeral.  It was dark, lots of gray clouds over the sea.  […]

Read More

Pisac: Cuzco’s Most Mysterious Ruin

High above the Andean town of Pisac, carved into a rock face that looks out over a valley of soft green terraces, there is a tunnel. A slender, teardrop-shaped slit arrived at via a narrow pass. This tunnel extends for 16 meters through an outcrop of solid granite, and is just wide enough for one […]

Read More

The Many Marvels Of Chile’s Atacama Desert

Oscar, the guide, has his watch ready.  He stares at it intently, then lifts his eyes to the crowd. “Twenty seconds.” The visitors are still bleary-eyed from the early hour (6:30 a.m., departure time 4:30), but the sun just now clearing the snow-dappled peaks is gradually dispelling the sleepiness.  One girl taps at a smoking […]

Read More

La Ronda: A Stroll Down Quito’s Most Beautiful Street

“Ten years ago nobody dared to buy a house around here. And now look. It’s full of people every night.” Miguel Mafla is gesticulating with his keys as he talks. At 73, the white-haired proprietor of one of Quito’s best-loved restaurants is vigorous and effusive, his conversation becoming especially animated when he talks about La […]

Read More