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Meet us at the Birdfair

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We are pleased to announce Select Latin America will be having a stand at the Birdfair taking place at Rutland Water Nature Reserve 21 August to 23 August 2015.

Described as the birdwatcher’s Glastonbury, Birdfair encompasses the whole spectrum of the bird-watching industry whilst at the same time supporting global bird conservation.

There are lectures, events and celebrities and hundreds of stands selling the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts.

This will be our 15th year, find us at Marquee 4 Stand 36. Our experts will be on hand to help plan your next wildlife adventure and our new brochure will be hot off the press.

This year David will also be doing a presentation – ‘Galapagos; A visitors Guide to these Enchanted Islands’ which will be on the 23th August in Lecture Marquee 3 between 3.30-3.50 pm
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We hope to see you all there.

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Get married on Easter Island

Easter_island_traditions

If you are looking for something unique for your wedding how about having it on the mysterious island of Rapa Nui (Easter Island), part of Chile but more geographically closer to Polynesia.

In true Polynesian style you’ll be presented with flower necklaces before being whisked away to the Explore Posada de Mike Rapu. During your time on the island you’ll visit some of the most famous sites including Rano Raraku Volcano and surrounding Moai statues. Spend time on the unspoiled beaches, snorkel in clear Pacific waters and horse ride through stunning island scenery.

The ceremony will take place according to local traditions on Anakena Beach. Both the bride and groom will have the opportunity to choose their outfit and traditional body painting. The ceremonial master will ask the gods for protection of the couple and there will be much ritual dancing and singing.

To begin your dream wedding on Easter Island get in touch.

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August kite flying festival in Villa de Leyva

Photo credit: Colombia Festiva

Photo credit: Colombia Festiva

During August the UNESCO town of Villa de Leyva in Colombia sees strong winds making it the perfect time for the Kite Flying Festival. Locals and tourists gather for three days to fill the sky with colourful kites. Throughout the festival there are plenty of competitions to keep everyone exciting including team flying, long-distance and night flights as well as contests for kids.

The festival dates back to the 70s when it was created to celebrate the Battle of Boyacá and since then it’s been a fixture ever since. If you want to visit you’ll need to book up fast – over 70,000 people are expected to attend this year.

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11 Things You Should Know About Potosi in Bolivia Before You Visit

Potosi

Flickr: Adam Jones

1. Indian Diego Gualpa stumbled was the first person to discover the mountain of silver in 1545.

2. From a small community to 3000 within 65 years the town had swelled to 160,000.

3. At 4,000 the town of Potosi is one of the highest in the world.

4. In Spanish it is also known as Cerro Rico or Rich Mountain.

5. Indigenous workers were paid very little but made much wealth for the city.They were called mitayos.

6. At its peak over 13,000 people a year were lost in the silver mines.

7. When the mitayos finally resisted, African slaves were brought across the  Atlantic to continue mining.

8. Over 300 years more than 62,000 tons of silver was mined from Cerro Rico with the cost of an estimated 8,000,000 African and indigenous were lost their lives.

9. The city’s motto is ‘I am rich Potosi. Treasure of the world. King of all mountains and the envy of all kings.’

10. Miners still risk their lives today in search of the big find, most barely scratching enough of a living to put food on the table.

11. UNESCO gave it World Heritage status in 1987.

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The Galapagos needs your help!

Excursion_giant_tortoises_galapagos

In June the Giant Tortoise Restoration Initiative (GTRI) along with the Galapagos National Park Directorate (GNPD) released 201 Española tortoises onto Santa Fe, Galapagos, and island where these tortoises haven’t roamed for over a hundred and fifty years.
However, more projects need funding and they need you’re help. To help fund these conservation projects visit their website. There are three high priority tortoise projects.

1. To rebuild the populations of Pinta and Floreana tortoises.In the autumn, a major expedition to recover the remaining Pinta and Floreana tortoises to begin a breeding program in order to repopulate their islands.

2. Research and monitor tortoises on Santa Cruz
A large scale project for a tortoise census on Santa Cruz Island to determine the size and range of Cerro Fatal tortoises and highlight the threats to their survival.

3. Monitoring the released tortoises on Santa Fe
Each of the 201 tortoises released on Santa Fe has been microchipped and a monitoring trip has been scheduled for next summer.

Any donations are appreciated, however small. Please donate on their website.

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The 20 Best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Latin America

Best for Birding

Atlantic Rainforest

Name – Atlantic Forest Reserves
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 1999
Why it’s the best – Covering over 112,000 hectares of coastal forest, this area is a bird-watchers paradise. There are over 930 species of birds, of which 200 can be found nowhere else on earth. If that’s not enough over 8% of the world’s plant species and thousands of mammals and reptiles can also be found here.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best for Marine Life

Belize Reef

Name – Belize Barrier Reef
Country – Belize
Date of inscription – 1996
Why it’s the best – The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest in the northern hemisphere. Several offshore atolls, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and several hundred sand cayes make up the protected reserve. There are over 106 hard and soft coral species and over 500 species of fish. With 90% of the reef that still hasn’t been researched yet it’s safe to assume that these figures only make up about 10% of species that call the reef their home.
Suggested tourSun-kissed Belize

Best from the Air

Nazca

Name – Nazca Lines
Country – Peru
Date of inscription – 1994
Why it’s the best – Located four hundred kilometres south of Lima in the dry deserts lie some of the most mysterious archaeological wonders ever uncovered. Between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500 vast geoglyphs of animals, people and flora were scratched into the surface of the ground, some of which are several kilometres in length. Best appreciated from up above.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best Phenomenon

Name – Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
Country – Mexico
Date of inscription – 2008
Why it’s the best – This 56,259 biosphere northwest of Mexico City is home to one of Earth’s most beautiful natural phenomenon’s. Ever autumn millions of butterflies from a huge area of North America return to this relatively small area of forest changing the landscape to hues of orange as they gather on the branches of trees, changing the landscape completely. In spring they return back to Canada, a journey which takes 8 months in which time four successive generations are born and die.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best for Whale-Watching

Valdes Peninsula

Name – Península Valdés
Country – Argentina
Date of inscription – 1999
Why it’s the best – Not only is this a hugely important breeding spot for the endangered southern right whale, but it’s one of the only places to see the unique hunting technique of orcas who almost beach themselves in an attempt to catch prey.
Suggested tour – Whales & Welsh in Patagonia

Best Town

Antigua

Name – Antigua
Country – Guatemala
Date of inscription – 1979
Why it’s the best – This truly beautiful town was founded in the early 16th century, only to be almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. It was however rebuilt, inspired by the Italian Renaissance. It famous cobbled streets and archway are some of the most photographed in Central America and the town has a wealth of excellent hotels.
Suggested tourMaya, Magic & Mystery

Best for Modern Architecture

Brasilia

Name – Brasilia
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 1987
Why it’s the best – Built by the urban planner Lucio Costa and the word renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, Brasilia was completed in 1956 to critical acclaim. Every part of the city from the official buildings to the homes was built in harmony with the overall design of the city. From above the city is often compared to the shape of a bird in flight.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best Historic Centre

MTE2098

Name – Quito
Country – Ecuador
Date of inscription – 1978
Why it’s the best – Quito is the second highest capital in South America standing at an altitude of 2,850 metres (9252 feet). Its rich centre includes many historic buildings including monasteries, churches and colleges. The interiors are some of the most impressive on the continent – part of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’ which fuses Italian, Spanish, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.  Although there was a devastating earthquake in 1917, the city has managed to preserve the majority of its historic centre.
Suggested tourCotopaxi & the Devil’s Nose

Best Spectacle

Iguazu

Name – Iguazú/Iguaçu Falls
Country – Argentina & Brazil
Date of inscription – 1984
Why it’s the best – Quite simply one of the most astounding natural wonders in Latin America. This semi-circular waterfall raising over 80 metres and almost 3 kilometre, bordering both Brazil and Argentina is rightly famous. The tropical rainforest that makes up the Iguazu National Park is over to over 2,000 species of plant and many species of wildlife including butterflies, monkeys, jaguars, cayman, anteaters and exotic birdlife.
Suggested tourBrazil Kaleidoscope

Best for Horse Riding

horse_back_riding_pantanal

Name – Pantanal Conservation Area
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 2000
Why it’s the best – This area of 187,818 hectares of freshwater wetland is a wildlife enthusiast dream. Often likened to safari in Africa, this region is one of the best places in the country to see large mammals including jaguars, giant anteaters and exotic bird life. The best way to see this wildlife is by horse, led by local guides.
Suggested tourBrazilian Safari

Best for Hiking

Inca Trail & Machu Picchu

Name – Qhapaq Ñan (Andean Road System) & Machu Picchu
Country – Peru
Date of inscription – 2014/1983
Why it’s the best – We’ve cheated a little here and included both the Qhapaq Ñan and Machu Picchu. Qhapaq Ñan is the Andean Road System which includes the well-known part of the Inca Trail. More than this, the Incas created a network of paths for trade, communication and defence which span over 30,000 kilometre that run through rainforests, valleys and desert. Machu Picchu will need no introduction and is perhaps one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Some truly stunning hiking opportunities.
Suggested tourJungle & Mountain Trek

Best for Colour

Quebrada

Name – Quebrada de Humahuaca
Country – Argentina
Date of inscription – 2003
Why it’s the best – This spectacular canyon in the northwest of Argentina follows a deep ravine cut by the Grande river through a range of geological strata. It is also culturally interesting having been used a trade route for 10,000 years by pre-Inca and the Inca Empire. The variety of rocks make this one of the most colourful places to visit. Best seen by hiking.
Suggested tour – Enchanting Northwest

Best pre-Inca Ruin

Chan Chan

Name – Chan Chan Archaeological Zone
Country – Peru
Date of inscription – 1986
Why it’s the best – Once the largest city in the Americas, and the biggest ever constructed out of adobe. Chan Chan was built by a Pre-Inca culture of the Chimú as their capital. As you wander through the site it’s possible to see the nine palaces which make up the citadel and imagine what it was like in its heyday.
Suggested tourWarriors of the Clouds

Best for Unspoiled Beauty

Amazon Basin

Name – Amazon Basin
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 2003
Why it’s the best – Specifically the Central Amazon Conservation Complex makes up a six million hectare area of the most unspoiled part of the Amazon basin made up from forests, lakes and channels. This is one of the most bio diverse spots on earth.  It protects some of the world’s most threatened species including the giant arapaima fish, the Amazonian manatee, the black caiman and two different species of river dolphin.
Suggested tourDeep into the Amazon

Best for Art

Cueva de los manos Santa Cruz

Name – Cueva de las Manos
Country – Argentina
Date of inscription – 1999
Why it’s the best – The Cave of the Hands contains an excellent assemblage of art that was created between thirteen and nine thousand years ago. It’s most famous is the stencilled hands but there are many others of animals and hunting scenes.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best for Wildlife

Galapagos

Name – Galápagos Islands
Country – Ecuador
Date of inscription – 1978
Why it’s the best – Made famous by Charles Darwin whose visit to the islands in 1835 helped form his theory of evolution by natural selection. The Galápagos Islands are located a thousand kilometres from the continent, and it’s here at the confluence of three ocean currents that some of the world’s most unusual wildlife has flourished in isolation from human contact. Endemic species are rife; Notable species including the land iguana, giant tortoise and many types of finch.
Suggested tourThe Full Galapágos

Best for Culture

Salvador

Name – Historic centre of Salvador de Bahia
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 1985
Why it’s the best – Salvador was the first capital of Brazil and the blend of European, African and Amerindian people such a fusion of cultures that can be seen today through their music, dance, art, buildings, and food.
Suggested tourCultural Buzz of Brazil

Best for Agriculture

Agave

Name – Agave landscapes of Tequila
Country – Mexico
Date of inscription – 2006
Why it’s the best – The agave plant has been farmed in this area for at least two thousand years used for drinks and cloth. The Teuchitlan cultures changed the landscape through the creation of agricultural terraces for the growth of the planet. More recently it has been farmed since the 16th century for the production of tequila. Many distilleries can be found in the area reflecting the growth of tequila’s popularity throughout the world.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best Jungle Ruins

Tikal

Name – Tikal
Country – Guatemala
Date of inscription – 1979
Why it’s the best – This is one of the best jungle ruins. This 6th century B.C. Mayan site is surrounded by lush forest that once engulfed the several pyramids. Today you can still see much wildlife in the forest including cats like the jaguarundi and ocelots. For its age it’s in surprisingly good condition, with temples, palaces, ceremonial centre, public squares and ramps. A must for any trip to Guatemala.
Suggested tourDynamic Guatemala

Best for Taste

MTCO0142

Name – Coffee Cultural Landscapes
Country – Colombia
Date of inscription – 2011
Why it’s the best – Located on the foothills of the western and central ranges of the Cordillera de los Andes, the tradition of growing coffee here is a long one. It’s an exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape and one that must be preserved. Colombia coffee is world renowned and of course, it’s best trying it at source.
Suggested tourCoffee Beans & Scenes

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What’s it like seeing the Nazca lines from above?

The Nazca lines are huge geoglyphs scratched into this arid Southern Peruvian desert between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500. Some stretch for several kilometres. This video although a little shaky does give you a feel for what it’s like to see these huge see this mysterious artworks from up above.

To start planning your trip to the Nazca lines get in contact with us.

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New flight opens between Iguazu and El Calafate

Iguazu and Perito

Great news! Aerolineas Argentinas has recently launched direct flights between Iguazu and El Calafate. This joins two of Latin America’s most famous and awe inspiring UNESCO World Heritage sites – Iguazu Falls and the Perito Moreno Glacier. The flights operate on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.

If you would like to start planning your tour of Buenos Aires, Iguazu and Perito Moreno Glacier get in touch with one of our experts.

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The Fray Bentos factory in Uruguay gets UNESCO status

Remember Fray Bentos? The food manufacturer whose signature product is pie-in-a-can? If you don’t we hope this doesn’t jog any unfortunate memories of corned beef fritters at school.

The name Fray Bentos comes from the name of the town in which the meat supplied for its pies was sourced, processed and packed in Uruguay. This ruin of a factory has now been given World Heritage status by UNESCO.

The empty meatpacking factory on the banks of the River Uruguay certainly looks impressive, and to some I’m sure it’s history is fascinating, however it’s debatable whether it is worthy of such an accolade. It will certainly bring in a welcome increase in tourism to the region.

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The Jaguar Express Visit

© David Horwell

© David Horwell

I recently travelled to Brazil’s northern Pantanal and took a short trip to spot Jaguars. Brazil’s Pantanal is probably the best place in the world to see these elusive cats, but a lot of luck is needed too. For wildlife buffs spotting a jaguar (America’s largest cat) is up there on most bucket lists. The majority of visitors who go in search of Jaguars stay on houseboats that are found on the Cuiabá river east of Port Jofre, which lies at the end of the Transpantaneira road. The last 20 or so kilometres are also good for encounters with the cats and many other creatures. There is also a small but expensive hotel by the river from whence you can take speed-boats.

© David Horwell

© David Horwell

I was staying at Araras lodge in the north of the transpantaneira, and was short on time so took advantage of a one day ‘Jaguar-express’ visit and kept my fingers crossed. We set off early at dawn to travel a couple of hours south along the bumpy dirt road. There seemed to be a bridge every kilometre or so, some of them in bad need of repair. I hope it will remain like that to keep away more traffic and give the wildlife a greater chance of survival. There was plenty to see along the road strange birds like the ostrich-like rhea, the huge jabiru stork, the divine roseate spoonbill and the odd raptor like a snail kite and scavenging caracara. I also saw an anaconda, tortoise, capybaras and opossum.

© David Horwell

© David Horwell

At Porto Jofre we went down to the dock and just a young boy walked over the wooden jetty a caiman alligator glided below, both oblivious to each other. I set off with a Brazilian family in a small speedboat. I was glad that ours had a sun roof, and noted that many of the other boats did not. As the temperature was about 40C., the roof was much appreciated. We sped off along the jungle-clad river and took smaller creeks to where jaguar sightings are more likely. We were lucky enough to see a family of giant otters fishing and making peculiar sounds.

© David Horwell

© David Horwell

For an hour or so we saw little except aquatic birds then suddenly our boatman accelerated, he had received a message, Jaguar! All the guides communicate by radio and let each other know of a sighting, so it is not an exclusive experience. As we were on the way to join other boats already in position on the opposite bank, we saw a young male jaguar calmly walking along the bank. I managed to get a reasonable shot which was lucky as later views were partially obscured by vegetation. The majestic feline was totally unconcerned about the dozen or so boats full of paparazzi-like cameramen with huge lenses. A capybara walked between the boats but all eyes were in the direction of the big cat that soon walked off, and the boats went their separate ways. We saw another jaguar sleeping in the shade under some trees, but after waiting about 45 minutes decided that it would not move, and as the heat was getting to the youngsters the guide decided to call it a day, but what a day…

You can visit the Pantanal on a bespoke trip such as our Brazilian Safari

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