(0)20 7407 1478

855 625 2753 US

8 incredible things you’ll do on a cruise in the Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands is arguably one of the finest wildlife spots in the world. With a high proportion of endemic creatures, this was famously the archipelago that Charles Darwin came up with his theory of evolution. It may not be known as much for its human history, but the tales of whalers, buccaneers and mysterious early settlers are just as fascinating.

Here we’ll run through 8 of the best things you will do on an 8-day cruise with us in the Galapagos. Would you like to walk with giant Galapagos tortoises in the wild or swim in the swallows with playful sea lion pups? Take a look at our list of Galapagos cruises and get booking today.

Snorkel with turtles

What could be better than donning a snorkelling mask and swimming with the warm clear waters alongside graceful turtles in the wild? These beautiful creatures live here in abundance, and with snorkelling opportunities every day on most of our cruises, you’ll be sure to spot plenty of them. Silently glide alongside these fearless marine creatures as they search for food.

Walk along the red beach of Rabida

The Galapagos never ceases to amaze in its diversity. On Rabida, a small central island near Santiago, the beaches are deep red, almost maroon coloured. Why? The high content of iron in the rock oxides, making it effectively go rusty. This doesn’t stop the wildlife of which you can see species aplenty. A colony of noisy sea lions bask along the beach, marine iguanas lounge, while brown pelicans and blue-footed boobies build their nest.

Watch the mating dance of the waved albatross

This one’s not only specific to the Galapagos Islands, it’s specific to one island, Española. During April and May the waved albatross return to the island to find a mate. Their curious mating dance of bill clapping, circling and sky pointing. We were lucky enough to see the display close up, a film of which you can see above.

See golden rays in Black Turtle Cove

One of our favourites. The mangroves of Black Turtle Cove are often done on the last morning before departing. Zip down through the secluded estuary on Santa Cruz Island on board dinghies at turn of the engines, after which the real magic begins. Turtles rise to the surface to breath and white tipped reef sharks dart past. However, the real highlight is the schools of golden rays, seen just under the water’s surface.

Post a letter a Post Office Bay

The Galapagos may be known for its wildlife, but humans have also made their mark. Whalers used Floreana Island as a stop off point since the early 19th century. Here they left a wooden barrel at the now named Post Office Bay, from which mail could be left and collected by passersby. When you visit, be sure to leave your piece of mail, and collect some unstamped mail to deliver or hand deliver on your return.

See marine life at the Devil’s Crown

The Devil’s Crown is perhaps the best dive site on the archipelago. The sunken volcanic crater, eroded by waves over thousands of years, is inhabited by a coral reef. This along with the currents, make an ideal home for marine life. Snorkellers are treated to the sight of colourful tropical fish, turtles, marine iguanas and small sharks. If you are a beginner, be sure to stay within the crown, as hammerheads often circle around the outside.

Walk with giant Galapagos tortoises

The iconic giant Galapagos tortoises (of which there are several species), are what gave the archipelago its name. Famously, the islands were home to lonesome George, the last of his species found alone on Pinta Island. He died in 2012, but it’s still possible to go to the highlands of Santa Cruz and walk, albeit slowly, with these gentle giants.

Take a dingy around Kicker Rock

Its Spanish name is Leon Dormido, which literally translates to ‘Sleeping Lion’, an apt name for the two rocky outcrops in the south east of the archipelago. Take a dingy through the narrow channel where an incredible variety of wildlife can be seen. On the cliffs above, nesting blue-footed boobies and frigatebirds can be seen.

Has this whetted the appetite for the Galapagos and the spectacular wildlife that can be seem? If you have any questions about visiting the islands or would like some advice on booking, get in touch with us today or have a look at our Galapagos tour suggestions.

The underground Salt Cathedral of Zipaquira in Colombia is simply awesome

There is something awe inspiring about this underground church – the simply carved naves lit with a neon blue light and decorated with marble sculptures, makes it look like a scene from a futuristic movie.

Although this is a popular tourist attraction and somewhat of a pilgrimage for Catholics in Colombia, it is a functioning church, receiving hundreds, if not thousands of visitors on Sundays. Interestingly though, Zipaquira has not bishop, and is therefore not recognised as a cathedral in Catholicism.

Flickr: Mario Chavez

Flickr: Mario Chavez

Nevertheless, this place of worship has been heralded as one of the finest achievements in modern Colombian architecture, with some describing it a ‘jewel of modern architecture’. Most of the architectural details and the icons located in the naves are hand carved in the halite rock, although there are a few marble sculptures which compliment them.

The region has been mined since the pre-Columbian Muisca culture in the 5th century BC. Fast forward a couple of thousand years, and miners built a simple sanctuary and cross where they could pray and ask for protection each day before work. In 1950, the construction of a large cathedral began and inaugurated in 1954. It was dedicated to Our Lady of Rosary, the patron saint of miners. Comprising of three naves, some of which were originally carved out by the Muisca people, the large complex cost over $285 million to build and could house over 8,000 worshippers.

Flickr: Ben Bowes

Flickr: Ben Bowes

Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, the cathedral was shut in 1990, and the construction of a new cathedral began in 1991, 200 feet below the original. Opened in 1995, the new cathedral is part of a larger complex which houses the Parque de la Sal (Salt Park) and a museum of mining and geology. Although the project was far from simple, it was achieved by making changes and additions to the corridors and cavernous areas created by the mining operations.

There are three main features to the new cathedral. The first is the Station of the Crosses, a series of 14 small chapels which illustrate Jesus’ last journey. The next is the dome located at the end of the entrance ramp and from which visitors descend into the chambers. Lastly, there are three naves which are interconnected via a crack which symbolizes the birth and death of Christ. The main alter has a large lit cross above it, and behind an angel sculpture can be seen blowing a trumpet.

Also on offer is the Salt Park, a 79-acre area which include the Brine Museum, the Salt Auditorium, the Sacred Axis (a square 4-metre-high cross) and depictions of the mining process.

The cathedral is located in the town of Zipaquira, around 30 miles from Bogota. It can be reached either on the Tren Turistico de la Sabana or via car. We recommend visiting the cathedral en route to Villa de Leyva. To start planning your trip to Zipaquira, get in touch today, or see our suggested tours to Colombia.

Ceviche de Cameron, Ecuadorian prawn ceviche recipe

Fresh, zingy, delicious and perfect for a summers day. Ecuadorian ceviche differs from its Peruvian cousin with the inclusion of tomatoes and bell peppers. Ceviche is eaten all over Ecuador, but particular good (and fresh) in coastal areas. If you feel a little squeamish about making ceviche from raw fish, but would like to try the dish, this is the recipe for you as it uses already cooked prawns. And the best thing? It’s super simple to make.

Serves: 6 people main / 10 people for appetizers
Time: 1 hour 30 minutes

Ingredients

1kg prawns, peeled
5 tomatoes, diced
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
2 onions, thinly sliced
150mls tomato juice
1 orange, juiced
12 limes, juiced
1 handful of coriander, finely chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
Popcorn, salted (optional)

Method

Fill a large pan with water and add a little salt. Once boiling, add the prawns and cook for 1 minute or until just cooked. Drain and leave to cool. Add the juice of one lime to the thinly sliced onions and leave to marinate. Add all the ingredients together including the onions in a large bowl and add seasoning to taste. Leave in the fridge for 1 hour for the flavours to mix properly. Sprinkle a little more chopped coriander over the top and serve accompanied with salted popcorn and cold beer.

Want to try the real deal? Start planning your tour of Ecuador today.

Weird foods from around Latin America

When most people think of weird dishes, they look to Asia. But Latin America has its fair share of odd food stuffs from turtle eggs to fried insects.

One should always remember that we are not born with any particularly aversion to any food. Our likes and dislikes all come from nurture. While you might find the thought of eating something like a juicy grub rather disgusting, you may find that after trying you actually find them rather delicious.

Here we’re going to dive right in to show you the continent’s strangest foods.

Cuy, Andes region

Flickr: Jorge Gobbi

Flickr: Jorge Gobbi

Let’s start with one famously weird dish that most will have heard of. Cuy, or guinea pig in English. This little rodent is an Andean staple, slowly roasted whole over a barbeque and served with head and feet still attached. Once you get over the thought of eating your childhood pet and that it’s being served whole, it’s actually pretty tasty.

Chapulines, Mexico

While most people think of Thailand when they think of fried insects, the people of Oaxaca state in Mexico also love a fried grasshopper. Even though Chapulines are fried, their low fat content mean they are extremely good for you.

Chicha, Amazon region

Flickr: Ian Carvell

Flickr: Ian Carvell

There are plenty of varieties of this rough fermented beer drink, but the Amazonian variety sees women chew and spit out corn which is then left out to ferment, the saliva helping the process. Although this sour drink will not be to everyone’s taste, if offered, it’s rude to turn it town. So drink up!

Escamoles, Mexico

Escamoles are the edible larvae and pupae of ants. Known as Mexican caviar, the creamy texture and buttery taste are pretty tasty. Typically, they are cooked in with scrambled eggs and served with tortillas. It’s been eaten in Mexico for hundreds of years since Aztec times.

Caldo de Cardon, Bolivia

Bull penis. Do we need to say more?

Morcilla, Argentina

Morcilla is a sausage commonly found on the Argentine barbeque. Like British black pudding, morcilla is made from cooked pigs blood, sometimes mixed up with ground offal and a variety of extra ingredients including paprika, onion, garlic, breadcrumbs and nuts. Like Marmite, most find they either love it or hate it.

Hormigas culonas, Colombia

Hormigas culonas have been a delicacy in the Colombian town of Barichara for hundreds of years. Literally translating to ‘big-bottomed ants’, these high protein, low fat insects roasted with salt are as good for you as they are delicious. Visit the region between April and May when the ants are in season.

Sopa de mondongo, Colombia

This might look like a simple stew, but lurking in its depths is plenty of tripe, the stomach lining of a cow mixed in with potatoes and vegetables and meat stock. Depending on the where you are, other varieties include pork and even chicken tripe.

Palm grubs, Ecuador

These juicy fat grubs are packed full of nutrients. They are eaten in many countries around the world, but are commonly found in the Amazonia region of Ecuador. The recently hatched larvae are picked from palm trees and grilled.

Huevos de tortugas, Nicaragua

Before I begin, please be aware that eating turtle eggs can be illegal, as well as unethical. Just don’t eat them. They are somewhat of a delicacy in Nicaragua where the soft-shelled ping pong size eggs are blanched briefly in boiling water, and eaten with a little lemon juice.

Llama brain, Bolivia

Llama brain and tongue. Yum.

Curanto en hoyo, Chile

Flickr: Juan Cabrera

Flickr: Juan Cabrera

Probably the least brave to eat on this list, it is not so much the ingredients, but the way of cooking which is odd. A one and a half metre hole is dug in the ground, on which hot stones are laid. A mixture of shellfish, meat, vegetables and potatoes and layered, separated by Chilean rhubarb leaves. This is then topped with wet sacks and earth and left to cook for over an hour before being dug up and eaten.

Chuños, Bolivia

Flickr: David Stone

Flickr: David Stone

Chuño has fed the people of the Andes for thousands of years. The process is a little more complex than this, but potatoes, of which Peru is not short, are left to kind of freeze dry in the high altiplanos of Bolivia, after which they can be kept almost indefinitely.

Coração de Frango, Brazil

Widely eaten through Brazil and loved by the rich and poor alike, Coração de Frango are simply chicken hearts which are grilled or barbecued and seasoned with a little salt. Delicious although somewhat chewy, they make an excellent snack to an accompanying beer.

Evoke a bygone era of travel on board the luxury Anakonda Amazon cruise

Anakonda Amazon Cruises Short video from Anakonda Amazon Cruises on Vimeo.

Most people don’t know this, but Ecuadorian Amazon region is the one of the easiest and accessible to reach. A forty-five-minute flight from the capital Quito brings you to the steamy port town of Coca. From where several excellent lodges are just a canoe ride away.  However, one of the most immerseive ways to see the Amazon is by boat. Nothing quite evokes that feeling of a bygone era of travel that cruising through the Amazon and on board the Anakonda you can do it in serious luxury.

The Anakonda is the only luxury ship cruising the waterways of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Built for comfortable adventure cruising, the suites are equipped with modern facilities and panoramic windows from which guests can enjoy extraordinary views of the sunrise and sunset.  Other features on board include an observation deck, outdoor Jacuzzi, al fresco lounge and an excellent dining room offering fine cuisine and a variety of wine.

You won’t be spending all your time on board – much of the time will be spent on land exploring the rainforest. Venture out on dug-out canoes through the flooded forest and smaller tributaries, hike the trails, and meet and interact with the region’s 15 local communities. For keen birdwatchers there are over 500 species to discover. Guests can also enjoy close encounters with tapirs, macaws, giant ottters, sloths, monkeys, piranhas and of course, anacondas which inspired the name of the boat.

To book the Anakonda, or any tour of the Amazon, get in touch with us today.

Flying hacks to make long-haul flights just that little bit better

Let’s face it. Flying sucks. It’s a means to an end, the only viable way to travel long distances quickly. Even flying first class isn’t really enjoyable, it’s simply better than cattle class. There are however ways you can make flying just that little bit better, take the edge off how uncomfortable it can be.

Get yourself a lounge pass

airport-441508_1280

This is real no brainer, yet few people actually sign up for them. VIP lounges used to be for the super rich travelling first class, but now comfortable lounges are popping up in most major airports available to anyone. With costs starting at around £25 and with many including a free bar, snacks, decent WiFi, comfortable seating, showers and complimentary magazines, they’re a steel.

Ask for things

Flickr: yum9me

Flickr: yum9me

It’s becoming much harder to secure free upgrades than the good old days, but it’s still not impossible. Those who ask are much more likely to get. If it’s a birthday, special occasion or honeymoon, let the airline staff know and if there is room, you may just get lucky. There are a number of ways to increase your chances. Always join up to the loyalty scheme of the airline before you travel. Loyal customers are more likely to be upgraded. If you are travelling as a couple or single the chances are more in your favour than a family. Children and those travelling with them have zero chance of getting bumped up to first. Lastly, try to look as smart as possible. Turning up with a joggers and a hoodie is not going to see you get that golden ticket.

Go to the gym

gym-455164_640

Many people have trouble sleeping on planes, and that’s not surprising given the uncomfortable seating and inability to lie flat. If possible, go to the gym a few hours before travelling. Your body will be much more tired and in need or rest and you’ll feel less stressed.

Be prepared for security

5223323962_2cc1aef974_z

Flickr: Bailey Cheng

The scrum as you go through security can be stressful, but the experience can be made a lot more pleasant with a little preparation. Pack your liquids in clear bags before you leave (it’s worth grabbing a bunch whenever you see free ones at an airport), don’t wear jewelry or watches (you can keep them in your carry on and put them on as soon as you are through security) and make sure your tablet computer and laptop are easily accessible. When you arrive at security, turn left. Research shows that the majority of people turn right, meaning the left lines should be more less busy on average. These few things will ensure that everything runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Bring your own food

dried-fruit-700030_1280

We all know airplane food tends to be fairly inedible. Cooking 250 people’s meals in a small space at the back of place isn’t conducive to tasty cuisine. But there is nothing to stop you bringing your own food (as long as it’s not liquid). Pop to the shops before you travel and pick up some tasty treats to enjoy on board. Cured meats, dried fruits and nuts are particularly easy to travel with and filling.

Wear more on board

airport-731196_1280

Airlines never quite manage to get the temperature right on flights. Wear extra layers, which not only allows you to bring more clothes with you if your luggage is nearing the weight limit, but it also allows you to regulate your temperature perfectly on board. If it’s too hot, you can always use the extra clothes as a pillow. If your luggage weight is an issue, wear your heaviest clothes.

Where to sit

plane-841441_1280

If you are a nervous flier, pick a seat near to the middle. The seats above the wings are better balanced and therefore the turbulence is not felt as much in this position. The worst place for turbulence is at the back of the plane.

Useful things on board

There are plenty of useful extras you should remember to bring on your next flight. Those little mini shampoos you took from your hotel stay are perfect for cosmetics. Baby wipes are an excellent way to clean and fresh up before you disembark the flight. If you wear contact lens, bring your glasses instead as the lens tend to dry out your eyes. If you invest a little in noise cancelling headphones, it drowns out the monotonous hum of the engines and can improve the journey immensely. And lastly, bring a pen. Everyone always needs a pen.

To start planning your tour of Latin America, get in touch with us today.

Mexican menudo roja recipe

Menudo recipe

Menudo is a hearty Mexican soup made from tripe (beef stomach) and plenty of chili. While tripe is not the most popular or appealing of ingredients, it is cheap, nutritious and if prepared property, delicious. You can find both tripe and pigs trotters in all good butchers. Serve this with plenty of corn tortillas, and if possible leave the dish to cool overnight and reheat for better flavor.

Serves: 6
Time: 4 hours

Ingredients

1kg tripe
2 pig trotters
2 lts water
1 onion
1 garlic bulb
1 handful of coriander with roots
1 tbs peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 tps cumin seeds
3 tps dried oregano
5 small red chilies
salt
4 tbs vinegar
2 cans of hominy
1 handful dried guajillo chilies
1 tbs sugar

Method

Clean you tripe thoroughly in cold water and trim any excess fat away. In a large pot add cold water and bring to the boil before adding the pig trotters and tripe. After 10 minutes, pour away the water and add more water, chopped onion, garlic bulb, coriander, peppercorns, bay leaves, half the cumin, half the oregano, half the vinegar and the red chillies. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours before allowing it to cool.

Next remove the tripe and cut into strips. Take the meat off the trotters and discard the bones and fat. Strain the liquid through a sieve, keeping for future use, and discarding the solids. Add the meat, tripe and strained liquid back to the pot. Take the dried chillies and with a little salt grind them in a pestle and mortar until a paste has formed. Add to the pot along with the canned hominy. Add the remaining spices, vinegar, a little crushed garlic and season to taste. Simmer for another couple of hours until the soup is thickened.

Serve with plenty of hot corn tortillas and some wedges of lime.

Want to try the real deal? Take a look at our suggested tours of Mexico.

9 insanely luxurious hotels around Latin America

Alvear Palace, Argentina

cigar_bar_alvear_palace

The elegant Alvear Palace, located in the upmarket Recoleta district in Buenos Aires, was built in the early 20th century and combines European style along with modern technology. No other hotel in Buenos Aires exudes luxury like the Alvear Palace. Each suite is tastefully decorated with art by well-known Argentine artists adorning the walls. Just outside the doors lies an amazing city to explore, but the luxury spa, indoor pool and French restaurant La Borgogne may keep you from exploring it, as will afternoon patisseries and tea at Jardin d’Hiver.

See our suggested tours of Argentina.

Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize

blancaneaux_bedroom

Owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola, this beautiful lodge located on the banks of the Priassion River consists of nineteen luxury villas are built from hardwoods and woven thatches. Private villas overlook the surrounding jungle from their stilted location. Soak in the large Jacuzzi at the riverside spa or indulge in a traditional massage.

See our suggested tours of Belize.

Hotel Das Cataratas, Brazil

Luxury_hotel_iguazu

One of Latin America’s most iconic hotels, the Das Cataratas is the only hotel located inside Iguazu Falls National Park. When all the tourists have left, guests have exclusive access to the falls all to themselves. Part of the Belmond hotel group (formerly Orient Express), this Portuguese-colonial manor house harks back to a bygone era of travel. After exploration of the falls, return for a lazy afternoon under the palsm on the veranda or refreshing swim in the outdoor pool.

See our suggested tours of Brazil.

Lastarria, Chile

lastarria_hotel_vacation

Built in the early 20th century, this stunning residence located in Santiago’s most bohemian district, is one the city’s most elegant hotels. The Lastarria is situated near the museums, galleries, shops and restaurants in the heart of the city. Each suite is beautifully decorated and spacious, while the restaurant offers cuisine cooked from locally sourced ingredients in an elegant lounge.

See our suggested tours of Chile.

La Passion, Colombia

best_hotel_in_cartagena

While Cartagena is packed with boutique hotels, the 19th century restored house La Passion stands out. The charming hotel has plenty of original features including high ceilings, chequered marble floors, mural paintings and wooden doors as well as an impressive array of colonial, republican and modern furniture. Located in the heart of historic Cartagena other features as this luxury boutique include a lovely terrace and bar, Jacuzzi and a rooftop outdoor pool.

See our suggested tours of Colombia.

Finca Rosa Blanca, Costa Rica

coffee_hotels_costa_rica

While San Jose may not be known for its abundance of luxury hotels, the Central Valley located a half hour away has plenty of boutiques. One of the best is the Finca Rosa Blanca, a small luxury hotel nestled amidst lush gardens and the rolling countryside of orchids and coffee plantations. All of the rooms are beautifully constructed offering a choice of veranda or private terrace overlooking the serene landscapes of valleys and mountains. After a day of hiking or horse riding, guests return for delicious homemade cuisine in the restaurant made from organic produce from the hotel’s gardens.

See our suggested tours of Costa Rica.

Plaza Grande, Ecuador

5_star_hotel_quito

The Plaza Grande was one of the first hotels built in Quito, and what a hotel. Extensively renovated and remodeled, this fine hotel located on the central square, the Plaza del la Independencia, it’s within walking distance to Quito’s highlights. Fine suites, excellent service and a serious level of comfort define this luxurious boutique property.

See our suggested tours of Ecuador.

El Convento, Guatemala

boutique_hotel_antigua

The colonial town Antigua has arguably one of the highest concentration of luxury hotels in Latin America. Our favourite, El Convento, is housed within an 18th century Capuchin convent. Stepping into the property from the famed cobblestone streets of Antigua, a beautifully constructed hotel awaits – artisanal brick vaulted ceilings, exposed stone walls and hand-crafted doors with the simple elegance of contemporary design. Chef Arelene served up excellent cuisine at the hotel’s Siltz restaurant, one of the best eateries in the city.

See our suggested tours of Guatemala.

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, Mexico

las_ventanas_al_paraiso_mexico

This ocean front property located on the Baja California peninsula in northwest Mexico, the name literally translates to “the windows to paradise”. Part of the Rosewood Resorts, this is one of the best hotels in the world. The property boosts a selection of luxurious suites and villas, all of which overlook the ocean. Personal telescopes are provided from whale and dolphin spotting during the day and star gazing at night. There is an excellent indoor and outdoor spa offering plenty of treatments and a world-class restaurant to while away the evenings.

See our suggested tours of Mexico.

To start planning your luxury holiday to Latin America, get in touch today.

The best markets in South America

Otavalo Market, Otavalo

Located in the northern Ecuadorian town of the same name, Otavalo is perhaps one of the most famous markets in South America. Although the market operates every day, the largest is on Saturdays when thousands of indigenous locals descend upon the town to sell their colourful wares. Poncho clad locals barter over panama hats, the backdrop of snow-clad mountains in the background.

Witches’ Market, La Paz

Flickr: Yan Boechat

Flickr: Yan Boechat

Don’t miss the Witches’ Market in La Paz, a strange place for amulets, potions and herbs. Indigenous Aymara women in traditional bowler hats and colourful skirts barter and sell their wares, the summit of Huayna looming in the background. Dried llama fetuses are one of the most unusual products sold and found on every stall. Traditional they are buried under new houses to help bring wealth and luck.

Mercado del Puerto, Montevideo

Flickr: Jorge Gobbi

Flickr: Jorge Gobbi

A visit to Montevideo, the capital of Uruguay, wouldn’t be complete without a visit to Mercado del Puerto. Filled with restaurants and shops, this is an excellent place for people watching and trying the huge portions of asados (barbeques). Street performers and musicians set the mood as you tuck into delicious Uruguayan meats and seafood.

San Telmo Market, Buenos Aires

One of the best bric-a-brac and antique markets in the continent and one that offers a glimpse of old Argentina. Best visited on Sunday when market stalls line the Calle Defensa with piles of vintage cameras and old paintings. As you wander slowly along the street, stop to watch the tango dancers perform.

Mercado Central, Santiago

One of the best fish markets in the country. Not only is it a great place to discover Chile’s abundant fish produce, but also a great place to sample some in the one of the many restaurants and cafes. Try one of the local cafes that surround the market, instead of the touristy central restaurants. Even if you don’t plan to eat, it worth visiting for the architecture alone. The market building was constructed in the late 19th century, primarily from cast-iron produced in Glasgow.

Tarabuco Market, Nr. Sucre

This indigenous Sunday market located an hour or so from Sucre is an excellent place to pick up textiles, colourful bags, sweaters and hats. Take the early morning bus from Sucre and discover the unique indigenous Yampara culture, delicious cuisine, and pick up some souvenirs to take home.

Mercado Adolpho Lisboa, Manaus

Located in the steamy port city of Manaus in the middle of the Amazon, the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa (or Mercado Municipal). The large open market sells everything from fresh produce, spices and indigenous medicines and was constructed in the late 19th century modelled on Les Halles in Paris, France. Most of the buildings structure was even built in Paris and transported to Manaus by ship.

Pisac Market, Pisac

Pisac is another of South America’s most famous markets. The Sunday market is visited by thousands of tourists who come to barter for colourful handcrafts and textiles. Like Otavalo, many come vendors come from far and wide to see their products. The market is an excellent place to try classic Peruvian dishes and is best combined with a visit to Ollantaytambo, the last remaining town inhabited by Incas.

To start planning your tour of Latin America, get in touch.

12 amazing things to do in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is full of exciting experiences, an adventure playground of hiking trails, mountains, waterfalls, surf and white water rivers. Here are 13 amazing things to do in Costa Rica. This is the pure vida after all.

Horse ride to La Fortuna falls

 

Flickr: Nikki T

Flickr: Nikki T

This short horse ride takes you from the town to the 80m high La Fortuna waterfalls, a journey that takes around an hour to complete. The easy ride is perfect for beginners and along the way much wildlife can be spotting including monkeys, coatis, peccaries and toucans. Enjoy a refreshing dip before returning back to town.

Soak in the hot springs in Arenal

Natural hot springs are abundant in Arenal where the volcano keeps the bubbling geological wonders hot. Although there are plenty to choose from, try the Tabacon Springs, a luxurious spa surrounded by natural jungle and fed by a series of small cascades. Visiting a hot spring is best combined with a lengthy hike around the base of Arenal Volcano.

Zip line in Monteverde National Park

There is no better place to experience the exhilaration of zip lining than in the Monteverde National Park. Hike along the canopy walkways spotting toucans, monkeys and exotic birdlife before gliding through treetops in a series of zip lines which bring you back down to earth.

Catamaran cruise in Manuel Antonio National Park

What better way to connect with the ocean than via a catamaran cruise, best taken from Manuel Antonio National Park. As you cruise spot dolphins jumping in the yacht’s wake. The boat stops multiple times for snorkelling with the rich marine life – think turtles, parrotfish and damselfish. Alternatively, take an afternoon cruise to watch the sun melt into the ocean’s horizon.

Scuba Diving in Cocos Island

Flickr: Barry Peters

Flickr: Barry Peters

Located almost 350 miles off the coast of Costa Rica, the uninhabited UNESCO Cocos Island is the best place for scuba diving in the country. Not only will you see schools of colourful exotic fish, you’ll also see some of the larger marine creatures including white-tip sharks, manta rays, hammerhead sharks and sometimes even whale sharks. Best experienced on a live aboard cruise.

Surf in Playa Jaco

Costa Rica has some of the best waves in Latin America. The beaches that fringe the country on the Pacific side are a surfer’s paradise. Beginner? No problem, there are plenty of surf schools to help you get started. Try the Nicoya Peninsula or Playa Jaco for the best surf. If that isn’t your thing, then try paddle boarding instead.

Visit Poas Volcano

volcano-poas-1246159_1280A day trip to see Poás Volcano is well worth the journey. Located at almost 9,000ft above sea level, it’s possible to hike around the rim of the volcano’s crater, and look down 500ft into its active core which bubbles and spits, emitting sulfur fumes. Surrounded by lush tropical cloud forest, it’s also a wildlife haven. Best combined with a coffee farm tour and a visit to La Paz waterfalls.

Eat gallo pinto

Flickr: Olaf

Flickr: Olaf

The national dish of Costa Rica, gallo pinto is simple hearty fare. Rice and beans, typically served with some meat or even fish, or eggs at breakfast. Most probably originating from African slaves, the dish literally translates to ‘spotted roster’ due to its speckled appearance created when white rice is cooked with dark-coloured beans.

Go whale watching in the Nicoya Penisula

humpback-whale-431904_1280December to March is the best time to whale watch in Costa Rica, when humpback whales migrate through the region. Best places are Guanacaste & North Pacific, the Nicoya Peninsula, the Central Pacific and the Osa Peninsula. As well as fluking whales, orcas and bottlenose dolphins are also commonly sighted.

White water raft on the Pacuare River

Flickr: Nick G 77

Flickr: Nick G 77

Adrenaline junkie? Try white water rafting down the Pacuare, almost 20 miles of excellent Class III-IV rapids and cascading waterfalls. Fringing the river is a lush rainforest inhabited by a variety of wildlife including monkeys, butterflies, ocelots, jaguars, parrots, toucans and much more.

Observe Olive Ridley turtles in Guanacaste

One of the smallest species of turtle, the Olive Ridley nests in the beaches around Guanacaste. Although they can be found nesting throughout the year, the best time to see them is between July and November. You can also see leatherbacks and greens in different parts of the country.

See monkeys in the Manuel Antonio National Park

capuchin-monkey-1187570_1280Manuel Antonio on Costa Rica’s southern Pacific coastline has plenty of wildlife (over 100 species of mammals and almost 200 species of birds), but perhaps the most exciting are the monkeys of which there are three species – the mantled howler monkey, the white-headed capuchin monkey and the Central American squirrel monkey. It’s also possible to see three-toed and two-toed sloths.

To begin planning your tour of Costa Rica, get in touch with us today. Take a look at our Costa Rica suggested tours or fill in our Costa Rica Trip Planner.

make-an-enquiry

create-your-journey