Photographs from Mr. Harper's visit to Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio, Maldonado, Uruguay.
There is an irrepressible energy in South America drawing all eyes below the equator. Maybe it's the spark that comes from hosting both the World Cup and the Olympics, as Brazil will be doing in 2014 and 2016, respectively.
Shared between Chile and Argentina, southern Patagonia is chiefly a land of vast, desolate steppes. High precipitation and cold air combine to create huge glaciers that spill into numerous fjords.
Playa Vik Jose Ignacio is the work of Uruguayan architect Carlos Ott, who also designed the Contemporary Arts Center in Cincinnati and the Opera Bastille in Paris.
With the opening of several dramatic new hotels in and around the small, strikingly beautiful Atlantic beach town of Jose Ignacio, Uruguay has emerged as a discreetly glamorous destination.
Driving north from Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio, it was a pleasure to putter through the Uruguayan countryside, where rolling pastures are dotted with lean horses and piebald cows and punctuated by stands of oak and eucalyptus trees.
Many visitors to Uruguay skip Montevideo, perhaps because of its lack of quality hotels or because they're in a hurry to get to the beach. This is a mistake. Montevideo (meaning "I see a hill") is a polite, attractive city with some superb architecture and excellent restaurants; it easily warrants a night or two on either side of a beach holiday.
The June 2012 Hideaway Report focuses on my recent visits to Uruguay and Nicaragua. With the opening of several dramatic new hotels in and