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The Best of South America's Haciendas

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Photo: David Nicolas

Bolivia

Hacienda Cayara, Potosí

Its rich collection of colonial buildings earned Potosí World Heritage Site status from UNESCO; at 13,000 feet above sea level, it is also one of the world's highest cities. After wandering the cobblestone streets and visiting the city's many churches and silver mines, travelers can catch their breath at Hacienda Cayara. Located in rugged red Andean foothills, the estate was built in 1557 and is one of the few in Bolivia of that age that remain intact. Twin iron lamps atop stone pillars frame the massive wooden doorway that leads into the hacienda, where most guest rooms open onto two courtyards; the exception is a newly renovated suite that overlooks the hotel's gardens. Although the rooms are spare, the colonial antiques in the common areas are museum-quality. Getting There Cayara is 12 miles by car from Potosí. 591-2/622-6380; cayarahostal.com; doubles from $50, including breakfast.

Chile

Hacienda Tres Lagos, Patagonia

Patagonia's contemporary wood-and-stone Hacienda Tres Lagos ("three lakes") sits on the shore of Black Lake and is a stone's throw from Lake Bertrand and the vast Lake General Carrera. Guests can choose among hiking, horseback riding, fishing, rafting, sailing, and mountain biking to fill their days. Excursions farther afield include visits to natural wonders such as the Fuentes Glacier, the Tamango National Reserve, Explorers Valley, and the limestone caves known as the Marble Caverns. Adventure activities are complemented by opportunities to unwind: afternoon tea, dips in the hot tub, and massages at the hotel's spa. The two restaurants offer local treats such as lamb, rabbit, pheasant, and salmon. Getting There Guests are picked up at the Balmaceda airport (a three-hour flight from Santiago) and transported to the hotel along the winding Southern Highway, a five-hour journey through rugged countryside with a stop for a picnic lunch. 56-2/333-4122; haciendatreslagos.com; doubles from $240, including breakfast.

Peru

Hacienda San José, Chincha

Everything feels oversize here. Whitewashed arches tower above wide porches. King-size beds and massive armoires don't begin to fill the vast rooms. Although San José is a simple hotel, its amenities—an attractive pool, tasty food, and pleasant service—add flair. The hacienda was built in 1688, and its sugarcane plantation was originally run by Jesuits, until it was sold in 1767. Its current owners, the Cillóniz family, purchased San José in 1913, and it is one of the few haciendas in Peru to have survived the land reform measures of the 1960's. Tour guides explain the antique farming and household implements in the common areas and lead guests through the eerie catacombs. Chincha itself is a predominantly Afro-Peruvian community, where traditional music and dance are performed on holiday weekends. Getting There San José is 130 miles south of Lima, off the Pan-American Highway. 51-1/444-5242; haciendasanjose.com.pe; doubles from $57, including breakfast.

Royal Inka Pisac, Sacred Valley

This cheery hotel offers an agreeable combination of comfort and convenience—and spectacular views of the Pisac ruins. The buildings are a rainbow of mustard yellow, tomato red, and turquoise; the chapel is painted a deep rose. A giant fire roars in the cozy sitting room near the lobby, and the third floor "special rooms" have individual fireplaces with quirky iron screens depicting Incan gods. Like many other haciendas, the Royal Inka offers horseback riding and biking, but guests can also take classes in wood carving and ceramics taught by local artisans. Getting There Pisac is 45 minutes from Cuzco; some packages include transfers to and from the city center or airport. 866/554-6028 or 51-84/222-284; royalinkahotel.com; doubles from $52.

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