2016 Year in Review

Dragon and Tiger Pagodas
2016 is gone, for better or for worse, and it is at this point that I traditionally recap the Trip Accomplice blog’s contributions in the past year (again, for better or for worse). Here’s a breakdown of what was covered, just in case you weren’t paying attention.


This year I was a little light on dedicated destination posts – covering 5 foreign countries (3 in South America and 2 in Asia) and 5 U.S. destinations.

South America

Check your straight-edge at the door at Casapueblo
I suppose I was feeling nostalgic for South America with three posts based on my 2008 Antarctic cruise. In Playful Patagonian Penguins: A Lesson in Chilean Alliteration, I had some grammatical fun recounting a trip to Seno Otway and its resident penguin colony in the remote city of Punta Arenas, Chile. Speaking of remote, I combined an obscure Pink Floyd Song with an even more obscure travel destination in Echoes of Pink Floyd in the Falkland Islands which details what to see and do on a visit to the Falkland Islands. It also lays the basis for a unique soundtrack when doing so. I also shared some tips for visiting a surreal Uruguayan locale in Straight Lines are Overrated in Punta del Este


Nighttime on Lotus Lake, Kaohsiung, Taiwan
During nearly the entire month of November 2016 I was off exploring Southeast Asia with my wife and parents. Despite a wealth of new material to cover, I only got around to two of the many destinations I visited. In Kaohsiung, Taiwan – The Nicest Little City You’ve Never Heard Of I provided practical advice for visiting this interesting ‘little’ city in Southern Taiwan. I also shared a review of a great hotel for a relaxing stay in Bali, Indonesia in the appropriately-titled post  Hotel Review: The Samata, Bali. You can be sure I’ll get around to some of the other spots in the months ahead.

U.S. Destinations

Come for the sand. Stay for the sunsets.
Within the United States I shared the beauty of the Gulf Coast in the post Brazos Bend: Stars Above, Gators Below for a look at this lovely wetland landscape. I also provided detailed information on visiting two of New Mexico’s greatest attractions in the posts Elevator Appreciation at Carlsbad Caverns National Park and White Sands: Sun, Sand &…Sledding? Lastly, I really enjoyed reflecting on a return to my childhood stomping grounds in A Travel Snob Returns to Disney World where I shared my thoughts on Disney’s progress versus preservation.

Top Tens and Other Lists

Anse Lazio, Praslin Island, Seychelles
The beginning of the year saw me attempting to summarize some of my favorite places in the ever-popular ‘Top Ten’ list format with My Top Ten Beaches, And Why They Should Be Yours and My Top Ten List of World Monuments (Who Said Anything About Dying?) I also went the list route with Safety Tips for the Skittish Traveler – a rundown of simple precautions to make sure your trip stays all about having fun, along with An Apology to the 14 Countries I’ve Visited More Than Once Without Doing Them Justice which highlights the sad fact that it’s nearly impossbile to see everything a destination has to offer on one (or even multiple) trips. Just as a side note, I now have to update that number from 14 to 17.

Pet Projects

globechatterlogo_edited-1 2016 also saw me widening out my repertoire to include some pet projects. I shared my passion for travel art and showcased some of my work in Putting the ‘Art’ into the Art of Travel. And I also announced my travel-themed  public speaking business in the post I Am the Globechatter…. Both then and now, I invite you to check them out if you haven’t already done so, and share these posts with anyone you might know that would be interested in the services offered.

The Year Ahead

As mentioned before, I still have lots to share from my recent trip to Asia. Keep an eye out for more on Bali, both as a general review and site specific posts. My return to Singapore and Hong Kong will result in updated posts in the coming months, and I look forward to sharing my take on places in the Philippines and Borneo, Malaysia. Other than that, I have nothing set in stone, as my own travel plans are wide open at this point. But as you well know by now, dear loyal readers, you can be sure of two things: 1) I’ll go somewhere, and 2) I’ll be sure to write about it. Wishing everyone the best in the days, months and years ahead; I thank you for another year of being my travel companions. Ben Pastore

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Playful Patagonian Penguins: A Lesson in Chilean Alliteration

Meeting the locals at Seno Otway Penguin Colony

Of all the possible wildlife encounters one could have in the lower Southern latitudes, perhaps the most sought-after – and definitely among the most charming – is seeing penguins in their native habitats; which aside from a small group of rebels in the Galapagos Islands, are exclusively found in the Southern hemisphere. Fortunately, they are quite social creatures, preferring to live in colonies that span icebergs, mountainsides and shorelines. A particularly accessible cluster is the Seno Otway Penguin Colony – a privately-owned piece of shoreline favored by the little critters – only about an hour’s ride from the port city of Punta Arenas in Chilean Patagonia. And if alliteration is your thing, you’ll find it super scintillating and satisfying.

Getting There

Punta Arenas can be reached by air (quickest), road (accessible only via Argentina)  or sea (arguably the most scenic). As the main city of the Magellanes region, Punta Arenas is a popular port of call for cruise ships running the ‘Round the Horn’ or Antarctic Peninsula itineraries. Once in town there are various activities available, but if you’ve come this far and haven’t spent time with any of those adorable locals, then a trip to Seno Otway is an easy day tour that can be arranged via your cruise line or hotel desk. Be advised that there is an entrance fee, so make sure that’s included (or at least disclosed) in your tour. You won’t want to chance any cheating charges.

What You’ll See

Off for the day shift

Seno Otway is a large sound in the intricate maze of Chile’s southern coastline. Every year (mainly September through March) thousands of Magellanic Penguins arrive to breed and feed in the grassy tussock that lines the shore. As one of the only penguin species known to burrow, they make their nests and take shifts caring for their extra-fuzzy babies. There’s a loop trail meandering through the site, and while you’re not permitted to interfere with the penguins, you’ll be plenty close to observe them and their endearing waddling between the nesting area and the shore.

A highlight is an overlook of the shoreline where the penguins cluster with all their awkward movements and social interactions. This is where you’ll see the penguins in greater numbers, and therefore will want to make sure you have an appropriate zoom lens for this great photo op. Your efforts here may just bag you the spectacular, scenic snapshot that will become the highlight of your album.

Cluster of Cuteness, Seno Otway, Chile

In Summary

Patagonia – Chilean or Argentinian, is a ruggedly beautiful, relatively unspoiled part of the world. From the Beagle Channel to the National Parks to the windswept Pampas, you can go silly with alliterative terms to describe its bountiful, bucolic beauty; majestic, mountainous montages; and pleasant, pristine panoramas. But no list would be complete without seeing the playful, peregrinating penguins that populate the penultimate piece of property prior to the perilous, southernmost point of South America.

Walking the winding, windswept walkways, Seno Otway, Chile

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A Day At The End Of The World

Beautiful Bahia Ensenada, Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Argentina
Beautiful Bahia Ensenada, Tierra Del Fuego National Park, Argentina

If asked as to where in the world one would expect to see such alpine scenery as shown here, no doubt the usual suspects would come to mind: The Alps. The Rockies. Maybe New Zealand. But the answer lies both across and down in a seven letter word for ‘the end of the world’—Ushuaia.


Please note that the end of the world to which I refer here is not the battle of Armageddon but rather the tip—or end—of the South American continent. Calling itself the world’s southernmost city (made possible by ignoring the tiny town of Puerto Williams, Chile just across the channel) Ushuaia is the main tourist base for exploring the Tierra del Fuego area and is a far more pleasant destination than worldwide cataclysm. It’s even prettier than Armageddon too.


Ushuaia is most notably the primary departure port for vessels heading down to the frigid waters of the Antarctic Peninsula. It is here that most of the relatively few visitors to the White Continent get onboard for the often-dicey crossing of the Drake Passage. Flights to Antarctica are technically possible as well, but besides the hefty price tag ($1500 to $2000 roundtrip for a day excursion to a research base), rapidly changing weather conditions and gale force winds often prevent the flights from ever leaving the ground. Fortunately, there’s plenty to see and do nearby—and in temperate conditions as well.


IMG_2909A main attraction is the lovely Tierra del Fuego National Park, located at the end of Route 3, the Argentinean incarnation of the Pan-American Highway which ends somewhere in the neighborhood of Fairbanks, Alaska. The scenery is rather Alaska-esque as well, with snowcapped mountains and clear lakes amidst verdant forest. Bahia Ensenada is reachable via an easy trail and offers great views of the trailing edge of the mighty Andes Range.


The Beagle Channel, Chile
The Beagle Channel, Chile

Nearby and possible on a day excursion as well is a trip through the Beagle Channel, named after Darwin’s ship. This waterway of forests, mountains and magnificent glaciers would give any of the usual suspects a run for their money in terms of sheer beauty. The undeveloped vistas and remoteness are impressed upon you here, and this is where you realize the term ‘fin del mundo’ is not just a marketing phrase for the tourists.


So if your travels have taken you just about everywhere else, Ushuaia is a worthy destination. I’m certain that both the end of the road and the end of the world will be far more pleasant than you ever imagined.