Peru – Machu Picchu & Amazon Cruise

With a fusion of European, indigenous, Chinese, Japanese and African influences, Peru is the ultimate gastronomic destination.  In Lima alone you will find the acclaimed restaurants Astrid and Gaston by Chef Gaston Acurio, Central Restaurant by Michellin Star Chef Virgilio Martinez, Rafael by Chef Rafael Osterling and Malabar by Chef Pedro Miguel Schiaffino whose inspiration is found in exotic Amazonian ingredients. Combining Peru’s culinary delights with the iconic Inca cultural sites, this customizable itinerary offers an immersive experience that will not only excite your taste buds but also your sense of wonder and adventure.  Beginning in Lima and continuing on to the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu, Cusco and culminating in a four night Amazon Cruise on the luxury Aria, this 14 day journey is a trip of a lifetime.

Peru, Gastronomy & Culture

Discover Brazil Itinerary

Discover the rich cultural heritage of Brazil in a month long journey

I had the great pleasure of creating a month long magical journey this past holiday season. Ina and Sarantos wanted to focus on Brazil’s rich cultural heritage, art and architecture, as well as experience the great Amazon Rainforest.  The Discover Brazil Itinerary, was the natural outcome.   This in depth exploration of Brazil’s iconic destinations also includes the Colonial Towns of Minas Gerais–one of the countries most culturally rich regions.   This 24 day cultural adventure offers travelers a comprehensive and enchanting experience through Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Manaus, The Amazon Rainforest, Salvador da Bahia, Trancoso, Inhotim Art Park, Minas Gerais Colonial Towns – Ouro Preto, Congonhas, Tiradentes, Reserva do Ibitipoca, and Rio de Janeiro. Click here or on the image below and explore the possibilities.

“Ina and I are so happy from this wonderful journey you had prepared for us, that I cannot stop thinking about it.” – Sarantos

Discover Brazil Itinerary

Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa


Explore the majestic and jaw dropping beauty of Southern Chile at the Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa in our presentation above.

The operating season for the Tierra Patagonia Hotel & Spa 2017/2018 season is from October 1st until May 31st.

All Bookings made through South American Escapes receive a complimentary room upgrade based on availability as well as $100 Spa Credit.

For further information and reservations contact:  Jill Siegel.

The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest

The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest

The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest – an Ecological Eldorado

The Brazilian Amazon Rainforest is mankind’s heritage, an ecological Eldorado for environmentalists. It produces a fifth of the planet’s oxygen and contains a fifth of the earth’s fresh water.  There are 15,000 known animal species, 1800 species of butterflies, 2000 species of fish, and four types of big cats. One quarter of the world’s 8600 bird species live in the Amazon.  The Amazon River system is the planet’s largest body of fresh water, and besides the Amazon River, there are 1100 tributaries with over 48,000 miles of navigable rivers.

Explore traveling to the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest in this multi-media presentation.   Two of the top lodges are highlighted, The Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge and the Cristalino Lodge.

Travelers Say:

“We contacted Jill with a request for a vacation that would be very focused on the nature of the Amazon forest. She came back with a recommendation for a river cruise up the Rio Negro, which was a great match to our request. We had a terrific trip; all arrangements were well handled, and when bad weather threatened our departure, Jill was working with us on a back-up plan (fortunately unneeded, but reassuring to know there was one). We would love to work with Jill again for a trip to Brazil. We had a very special experience there.”
CRAIG OWENS (CFO Campbell’s Soup Company)

“I know of no one who has been involved longer or more successfully with ecotourism in the Amazon than Jill Siegel. I recommend her enthusiastically!”
Mark Plotkin, Ph.D. –  Author “Tale’s of A Shaman’s Apprentice”
Ethnobotanist and President,
Amazon Conservation Team

Feel free to contact Jill for a custom designed itinerary to the Amazon and beyond.

Best of Brazil – A New Year’s Journey

Best of Brazil

Best of Brazil Itinerary – A New Year’s Journey

Itinerary Details:  Suggested length – 12 to 15 Days
Itinerary Highlights: Manaus, The Amazon, Salvador da Bahia, Trancoso, Rio de Janeiro.

Your journey will be a private, customized travel experience, based on your individual schedule,
interests and budget.  
Now is the time to start planning your trip to ring in the year 2018!

Contact Jill and begin planning your journey: Click Here

Caiman Ecological Refuge


The Caiman Ecological Refuge is a sustainable eco-lodge located on a 53,000 hectare ranch in the heart of the Brazilian wetlands called the Pantanal.  The flood plane is a birdwatcher’s paradise, home to more than 650 species, thousands of varieties of butterflies, 80 species of mammals and more than 250 species of fish.  In 2000, the Pantanal wetland was designated a World Natural Heritage and World Biosphere Reserve by UNESCO.

Caiman Lodge macaw


Guests staying at the Caiman Lodge have the unique opportunity to see the elusive jaguars.  Projeto Onçafari is a non-profit conservation initiative that aims to promote ecotourism in the Pantanal by habituating Jaguars in order for guests to witness the fascinating behavior of these beautiful animals from a safari vehicle.

Jaquar Caiman Lodge

Jaguar Caiman Lodge

Most recently, clients of mine saw four jaguars on their very first day at the lodge and I was thrilled to receive the following photo from them.

Jaguar at Caiman Lodge by Steve Ice

The Caiman Ecological Refuge is considered the premier lodge in the region and is a must stop on any wildlife enthusiasts’ itinerary.  I recommend at least 3 nights and 4 days at the lodge.

Baiazinha Caiman Lodge

Contact Jill for itinerary planning and reservations.

The Vines Resort & Spa – Mendoza

Have you ever dreamed of owning a private vineyard? The Vines of Mendoza, set amidst 1,500 acres in the Uco Valley, has been making this dream come true for wine lovers since 2004. The Vines Resort & Spa affords guests the opportunity to enjoy everything The Vines has to offer while comfortably accommodated in one of their rustic chic one bedroom, one bedroom deluxe or two bedroom private villas. With views of the Andes Mountains from the floor to ceiling panoramic windows or enjoyed from your outdoor clay tub on your private deck, the setting could not be more spectacular.

The Vines Resort and Spa Deck View

World renowned Argentina master chef Francis Mallmann is at the helm of the Siete Fuegos Restaurant that features regional inspired fare including traditional asado feasts–of course paired with the Vines own Malbec wines.

The Vines Resort and Spa Francis Mallman Siete Fuegos Mendoza

Spend your days learning about wine making from decorated expert Santiago Achaval or set out on horseback with one of the Vines’ resident gauchos. Relax with a massage in the spa or take a yoga class followed by a dip in the infinity pool. You can fly fish on the Rio Mendoza or hit the Andes slopes heli-skiing. The Vines resident concierge will help you create the perfect balance of activities and relaxation.

The Vines Resort & Spa Pool

Many of my clients enjoy experiencing a combination itinerary including Brazil, Argentina and Chile. Mendoza is the perfect stop over destination between Buenos Aires and Santiago de Chile. This type of itinerary can begin in Rio de Janeiro then move on to Iguacu Falls, Buenos Aires, Mendoza and finally Santiago. In this way it is not necessary to back track to any of the destinations for air connections.

Call Jill Siegel and have her create the perfect custom designed itinerary for you.

Condé Nast Traveler Top Travel Specialists


MONTCLAIR, NJ – December 2016– JILL SIEGEL, owner of South American Escapes has been named one of the 164 Top Travel Specialists by Condé Nast Traveler magazine for the 8th consecutive year.  By combining firsthand experience and 30 years of knowledge within the Brazilian Travel Industry, Jill provides the type of expertise needed to create seamless and unique travel experiences for her clients.  Out of thousands of candidates, 164 made the list this year.

“If you read Condé Nast Traveler, chances are you want to go somewhere and do something most people haven’t. And to turn a vacation into an I’ll-tell-my-grandkids-about-this lifetime high point, you need an “experience maker,” as we refer to them here at Traveler. These on-the-ground fixers don’t dole out canned itineraries.” said Condé Nast Traveler Senior Editor Paul Brady.

Brazil Travel Specialist Jill Siegel focuses on exclusive out of the way places that provide the very best in the Brazilian hospitality and tourism sector.  From coordinating travel for world class photographers to the Amazon or arranging private travel arrangements for clients as diverse as Susan Sarandon and Charles Darwin’s great great grandson, Jill’s eclectic network of contacts throughout Brazil has allowed her to create rave worthy itineraries.

Condé Nast Traveler’s annual Travel Specialists list began as a service travel directory 12 years ago, yet it has turned into a must-have list of the most impressive, knowledgeable, and experienced travel specialists in the world.

Each year, Condé Nast Traveler Senior Editor Paul Brady leads a team of editors in evaluating applicants.  Listed travel specialists have undergone a rigorous screening process that includes a 47-question application with sample itineraries and client references, and then continues with phone interviews and, in most cases, road-testing by Condé Nast Traveler staff.  Brady receives hundreds of letters annually from around the world reporting back on the trips that were planned by these specialists.

About Condé Nast Traveler

Condé Nast Traveler does not accept free travel and accommodations, and its correspondents, as far as possible, travel anonymously.  The result is travel the way consumers experience it — good and bad, with reporting that is fair and honest.  Condé Nast Traveler has a circulation of over 800,000 and is published by Condé Nast Publications, Inc.

#ExperienceMakers @cntraveler @JillBrazil

Read Article on CN Traveler.


Jill’s page on Conde Nast Traveler’s website: Click here

A Multi-Generational Brazilian Journey

Designing a perfect Brazilian vacation for clients is similar to cooking my favorite Brazilian dish for close friends, which happens to be a Bahian Moqueca de Camarao! A moqueca is a seafood stew of coconut milk, dende oil, tomatoes, peppers, cilantro, garlic, fresh lime juice, onions and served with rice and farofa. Ingredients have to be perfectly balanced, exotic, a little spicy but not overpowering and leave everyone feeling happy, and satisfied.

Moqueca de Camarao
The first time I heard of a moqueca was in the pages of one of my favorite books, “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands” by the famous Brazilian novelist, Jorge Amado. I devoured Amado’s books while studying flute performance at Berklee College of Music in Boston. The book eventually became a film and Sonia Braga the beautiful Brazilian actress played Dona Flor perfectly embodying the sensuality of Amado’s heroine.

Many years later, while on a trip to Brazil with the Latin American novelist—Isabel Allende, we had the great fortune of sharing a moqueca with Jorge Amado in the heart of Bahia at the wonderful Sorriso da Dada Restaurant in Pelourinho. Just as in the magical realism of Gabriel Garcia’s “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, it seems that all things eventually come full circle. This past year the magical thread continued as I planned an itinerary for the Strauss family, based around the life of the great Pulitzer Prize winning poet—Elizabeth Bishop who lived in Brazil for 15 years in the 40s and 50s.

Last year, Bruno Barreto—the acclaimed director of “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands”, directed an award winning film about Elizabeth’s relationship with famed Brazilian architect Lota de Macedo de Soares called “Reaching for the Moon.” The Strauss family had seen the film and felt inspired to visit Brazil.  Dr. Ron Strauss had been studying the poetry and life of Bishop for the past twenty years, so the trip would be particularly meaningful for him.

South American Escapes

Bruno Barreto’s “Reaching for the Moon”
Of course I wanted the Strauss Family to experience something special during their visit to Brazil, but as fate would have it, I didn’t realize just how very special this trip would eventually become! Dr. Strauss wanted to visit the famous residence that Bishop shared with Soares that is located in the hills above Rio de Janeiro, and is now owned by a wealthy shipping magnate, Dona Zuleika Borges Torrealba. The beautiful architectural masterpiece that was designed together by the Brazilian architect Sergio Bernardes and Bishop’s partner, Lota de Macedo Soares sits on a vast estate behind impenetrable stone gates and rarely has outside visitors. Needless to say, I spent weeks trying to find anyone that could help me find a way to get Dona Zuleika to open her estate to the Strauss family.

Unfortunately, Dona Zuleika was unreachable and everyone said that she was very private and rarely allowed outside visitors. I finally reached out to a friend, who happens to be the mother of Marisa Monte, one of Brazil’s top singers. Sylvia also just happens to be close friends with the great director Bruno Barreto! Sylvia asked if I thought perhaps the Strauss Family would enjoy a lunch with the director. Of course they would! So with the help of Sylvia, I was able to arrange a wonderful lunch with Bruno, but I was still unable to get them into seeing the famous Elizabeth Bishop house on the Zuleika estate. This was so important to Ron Strauss so I continued to look for a way to gain access.

Elizabeth Bishop House Brazil
A week before the trip everything was set for the Strauss’ arrival in Brazil, an itinerary with all kinds of Elizabeth Bishop related visits but still no entrance to “the house” — when out of the blue I received a message from one of my private guides in Rio. Valeria had attended a party in Rio over the weekend with one of her friends who just happened to be close friends with Dona Zuleika’s daughter! A phone call was placed and not only did Dona Zuleika give permission for a visit, she invited the Strauss Family to have lunch with her on the estate! The Strauss family would spend the day on the enormous estate high in the mountains above Rio, and visit the famous Bishop House known as Samambaia. Finally this itinerary was complete and probably one of the most memorable I have ever arranged for a client.

Here is the letter I received from Irene Strauss upon their return from Brazil.

“Without Jill Siegel, our trip to Brazil would not have been the all-encompassing experience it was. It would be so simple to say that Jill worked her “magic”, because she made it seem so effortless. However, her clear understanding of her clients’ (at this point, I’d say friends) wishes, combined with an amazing attention to detail — always completed in a prompt and gracious manner — would be far more accurate.

Our trip presented a real challenge. Three generations (69, 43, 11) all of whom had different visions. Being a history teacher, I wanted to discover Brazil’s past and culture. My son, a physician and student of poetry, hoped to visit all the places where Elizabeth Bishop, the Pulitzer prize winning poet, had lived during her sixteen years in Brazil. My granddaughter, a typical eleven year old, wished for it all — places to see, people to talk to and some shopping thrown in along the way.

Jill fulfilled every request — and more. Our stops in Rio de Janeiro, Ouro Preto and the Amazon region were perfect. Every day we experienced the diversity of Brazil’s history, culture, people, and food, as each of our wonderful tour guides (thank you Valeria, Celia and Anavilhanas staff) shared her/his knowledgeable, yet personal, perspective of the country. Aside from the landmark visits, we discovered the cashew fruit, which gave Bishop an asthma attack and caused her unplanned stop in Rio, several games of foot volley at Ipanema, feijoada (yummy!) at a local lunch stop, baroque churches and oratorios in beautiful Ouro Preto, and a two room school in a small village on the Rio Negro, where we learned of the problems and hopes of Brazil’s future. And these are only a few of our unique memories.

But the most amazing feat Jill achieved were the connections to Elizabeth Bishop. Before contacting Jill, the best we hoped for was to discover the locations of Bishop’s houses and take photos. However, we not only toured the homes where she lived (which are privately owned and not open to the public,) but we also were invited to lunch and spent the day with a recognized Brazilian mogul, who shared her perspective on Bishop. Jill also arranged a luncheon with Bruno Barreto, the director of the 2013 film about Bishop, Reaching for the Moon, and this incredibly kind and unassuming man discussed his research for and message of the film.

None of this, and so much more of our trip, would have been possible without Jill. I guess she really is a magician.”  Irene Strauss

For planning your next multi-generational trip or to set up a phone consultation, contact Jill: Click Here


Dining at Samambaia

Dining at Samambaia