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Join the Fiesta de la Tradicion in Argentina

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A couple of hours east of Buenos Aires in the heart of the Pampas is the town of San Antonio de Areco. Since 1939 the town has played host to the Fiesta de la Tradicion, the oldest Gaucho festival in Argentina. Celebrated in November, this is one of the liveliest festivals in the country. Traditional dancing and music play a big part throughout the week, but most visit to see the impressive gaucho demonstrations and bronco riding. The parade attended by gauchos dressed in bombachas is a must. If this doesn’t sound quite like your thing, it’s worth visiting for the food alone. Huge asado barbeques cooking beef in the traditional way over fire takes place at the Parque Criollo each day.

Set in the peaceful countryside outside of San Antonio de Areco, the charming six room La Sofia Estancia is the perfect place to stay during your visit. It’s the personal touches like one to one polo lessons, beautiful food and wine that make this Estancia so special. Spanish colonial elegance and traditional style accommodation are the hall marks of the Estancia.

Select Latin America are running a package between the 6th and 8th November 2015 combining at stay at La Sofia Estancia with visits to the Fiesta de la Tradicion. During this two night package you can get involved in the activities of the festival, watching the gaucho demonstrations and parade, whilst also spending some private time away from the crowds, walking in the countryside, learning gaucho riding techniques and polo.

For more information about the festival, Estancia or package get in touch with us.

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5 Natural Wonders You Can See In Chile’s Atacama Desert

The Atacama Desert in the north of Chile covers an area of 1,000 kilometres of land between the Pacific coast and the Andes. It is the driest desert in the world other than the Polar regions. Most explore the region by using the little town of San Pedro de Atacama as the base. A visit should be for a least three full days and will include visits to the most of the following natural wonder.

El Tatio

Flickr: Jen Morgan

El Tatio Geysers

El Tatio Geysers is the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere and the third largest in the world, as well as being one of the highest at 4,350 metres above sea level. There are over eighty active geysers, the highest of which erupts steam to over six metres. The name means oven in the Quechua language. You’ll need to get up early to see this natural wonder, tours depart around six in the morning.

Valley of the Moon

Located very close to the town of San Pedro de Atacama is the Atacama Desert. This bizarre landscape made up from varying colours of stone and sand formations make it look somewhat like the surface of the moon, hence the name. This desert area is one of the driest places on earth. No rain has dropped here in over a hundred years. Interestingly the area was used for testing the Mars rover prototype. Tours here usually arrive in the afternoon allowing for some time to explore before watching the incredible daily sunset.

Puritama Hot Springs

After a day of exploration, the Termas Baños de Puritama is the perfect place to relax. Now owned by the Explora hotel chain, these eight hot pools created from geothermal spring waters from the Atacama Desert canyon and 30 kilometres of so from San Pedro de Atacama.

Atacama Salt Flats

Another one of Chile’s most amazing natural wonders, the Salar de Atacama (salt flats) are the largest Chile at over 3,000 square kilometres. Amazingly as the sunsets and the temperature drops sharply, the salt cracks forming clusters. It is also home to many species of birdlife. It is located within Los Flamencos National Reserve.

Flickr: Naturaleza

Flickr: Naturaleza

Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons

Two more lagoons in Los Flamencos National Reserve are the Miscanti and Miñiques Lagoons. There two lagoons were separated by a lava flow. Much wildlife can be seen in the area including Andean and Chilean flamingos, silvery grebe, Andean gulls, Andean foxes, vicuñas, Andean foxes and Darwin’s leaf-eared mouse.

Desert flowers

Arguably one of the best times to visit is during the desert flowering phenomenon that occurs between September and November. Although most of the region receives little to no rainfall, the El Niño causes a band of warm ocean weather along the coast which causes a little precipitation in the southern part of the desert. This germinates the dormant seeds producing a sea of wild flowers.

See our tours to the Atacama Desert here.

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6 Penguins That You Will See On An Antarctic Cruise

With the Antarctic cruise season almost upon us we will be producing a series of articles about the wildlife and landscapes of this incredible region.

Out of the seventeen species of penguin on earth, only two actually survive in the inhospitable conditions of the Antarctic. Most other species live either on the Antarctic Peninsula or the Southern Hemisphere islands like South Georgia. There are around seven species that you are likely to see on an Antarctic cruise.

The Emperor Penguin

Perhaps the most famous of the penguin species, the Emperor are the largest of the all penguins. They also breed the further south, forming huge colonies on the sea ice that surrounds the continent. For a species which breeds in the harshest conditions they also have the highest survival rate standing at 95% and can live up to 20 years. Interestingly, some never actually set foot on the continent, preferring to live and breed on the frozen sea.

The Chinstrap Penguin

The Chinstrap Penguin is found in the South Georgia Islands, the Antarctic Peninsula, South Shetland, South Orkneys and more. Their name comes from the black line below their heads which make them appear to be wearing a black helmet. They are common with an estimated eight million pairs, found in colonies of over 100,000 at a time. Chinstrap penguins return to the same nesting site each year to mate with the same partner.

Flickr: Chadica

Flickr: Chadica

The Adélie Penguin

The Adélie penguin is the only penguin species along with the Emperor penguin which lives on the Antarctic with rookeries found all along the Antarctic coastline. They are named after Adélie Pepin, the wife of Jules Dumont d’Urville, the French explorer who discovered the penguins in 1840. They are some of the smallest penguins and can dive up to one hundred and seventy metres to catch their food.

The Gentoo Penguin

The Gentoo penguin is closely related to the Adélie and the chinstrap. They can be distingused from the other species by the wide stripe across the top of their heads and their bright orange bill. They also have the most prominent of tails of all the penguin species. As the penguin moves on land it sticks this tail out moving it from side-to-side which gave it its scientific name – Pygoscelis meaning rump-tailed. They don’t form the same size colonies as other species tending to stick together in smaller groups.

Flickr: Liam Quinn

Flickr: Liam Quinn

The King Penguin

The King penguin is the second largest species after the Emperor which it is closely related. They can often reach a metre tall and weigh up to 16 kgs. They are mostly found on the Subantarctic island of South Georgia and do not live on the continent itself. The King penguins are excellent divers often reaching one hundred metres, although records show depths of over three hundred.

Flickr: Liam Quinn

Flickr: Liam Quinn

The Macaroni Penguin

The name of the Macaroni are found are mostly found on the Subantarctic islands, although one colony is found on the Antarctic Peninsula. Expects estimate there are around eighteen million individuals making it one of the largest species, although sadly there numbers are shrinking. They are a small, around 70 cms in length and have a distinct feature is the yellow crest that extends back from the centre of their forehead. Interesting the Macaroni penguin always lays two eggs, one slightly smaller than the other. However, the small egg almost never produces a chick, only hatching if the larger of the two is lost.

To see all of these penguin species and the amazing world that they inhabit, why not visit them on an Antarctic cruise. To view all 2015/16 cruises along with prices visit out Antarctic cruise list.

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6 Gastronomic Experiences in Mexico

Much of the Mexican food one eats outside the country is a mixture of the many dishes that make up this rich culinary landscape. More often than not, it’s not even close replica of what you’ll find in Mexico.

With influences from the ancient civilizations including the Maya and Aztecs as well as the Spanish who brought the recipes and blended them with the exotic ingredients – tomatoes, avocados and cacao. Believe it or not, Mexico gastronomy has been recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage due to the preservation of the recipes and diversity of cooking techniques.

There are many ways to experience the gastronomy of Mexico. Just head out onto the streets of any town or city and you’ll find plenty of great food to explore. Here are six amazing food and drink experiences that shouldn’t be missed.


Flickr: jay8085

Taste tequila in tequila

Tequila has become phenomenally popular over the last few years, but nearly all the distillation of this spirit comes from the town of Tequila and the surrounding Jalisco state. The agricultural land that grows the agave plant that is used to create the drink is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. The easiest way to see the region is by taking the Tequila Express, a train that runs passengers through the countryside (complete with mariachi bands). Of course, in Tequila you can visit some of the world’s best known Tequila brands to sample the drink and learn about its production.

Flickr: Joe Driscoll

Flickr: Joe Driscoll

Coffee tasting in Chiapas

When most think of coffee Mexico is not usual a country which is associated with the drink. But Mexico has a rich coffee growing heritage which can be seen in the state of Chiapas. After leaving the town of San Cristóbal de las Casas the lush green surrounding countryside has many local family run coffee plantations to explore. Mexican coffee tends to be medium body and milder than its counterparts. Learn about the production from harvest to cup and sample a few really good brews.


Flickr: Karen

Street food in Oaxaca

Although street food is food throughout the country, most agree that the finest comes from the city of Oaxaca. This is a city that is obsessed with food. Taking a tour with an expert local foodie is the best way to try the food, but if you decide to go it alone you won’t be disappointed. As well as the usual suspects – tacos and tamales (which are excellent here), a few things to look out for include tlayudas (sometimes nicknamed Oaxacan pizza), enfrijoladas and the meat barbeques. Oaxaca is known as the land of the seven moles.

Flickr: Everjean

Flickr: Everjean

Eat the sacred Cacao

Mexico has a rich history of cacao production which goes as far back as 1900 BC. It was originally served as a hot bitter drink mixed with spices and corn puree. Sugar wasn’t added until the Europeans arrived in the 16th century. Around Tabasco there are many small cacao farms settled deep in the forest area. Here you can learn about the chocolate making process. After the green grains are fermented they are washed, toasted and the shell removed before being ground slowly into a smooth paste. This is then mixed with other ingredients like sugar before being molded. As well as trying your hand at making chocolate there will be plenty of samples to try.

Wine tasting 

Many don’t know that Mexico produces wine. Although it isn’t considered as a top producing nation, the country still produces a small amount of very drinkable wine. There are three different wine producing regions, but 90% comes from the peninsula of Baja California. Mexican wine began with the arrival of the Spanish in the 16th century who brought vines from Europe. One of the most important wineries is Casa Madero founded in 1597 and has varietals including chardonnay, syrah and chenin blanc.

Eat seafood in Puerto Vallarta

Puerto Vallarta is located on the Western Pacific coast. It is arguably one of the best places to eat seafood in the country. Lined all the way along the beach are fish stalls selling very cheap barbequed seafood. Shrimps and fish marinated in Mexican spices and cooked over an open grill are extraordinarily delicious, and the setting looking over the Pacific Ocean is fantastic. Walk along the Playa los Muertos until you see the small concrete pier. Below this you will find three shellfish vendors, there table stacked full of oysters and clams. Incredibly fresh and served with plenty of chili sauces and lime, this is an experience not to be missed.

To start your gastronomic journey through Mexico, get in touch.

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A Quick 5 Minute Guide to Brasilia

A little history…

Brasilia is the capital of Brazil. It is located inland and is somewhat unique in the country and is was fully planned and created from scratch in the 1960s. Behind the city’s design is urban planner Lucio Costa and the architect Oscar Niemeyer and the artist Athos Bulcão. It’s often overshadowed by the more touristy coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and Recife, but those who decide to visit find a wealth of attractions, restaurants, nightlife and culture.

Fast facts

- The city was founded on the 21st April 1960
- The population is 2.5 million
- It was designated a UNESCO World Heritage city in 1987
- It played host to the world cup in 2014
- It is the fourth most populous city in Brazil
- If looked at from above, the city is shaped like a bird

Getting there

Due to the city’s relative isolation from other parts of the country, the only practical way to get there is by flight. Flights from Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo and Salvador take roughly two hours.


Where to stay

Try the Melia Brasil 21, probably the finest hotel in the city. Located between the Television Tower and City Park, it’s also in the best location for exploring Brasilia. All the rooms at this 5* property are spacious and include all the features of a luxury modern hotel. The Norton Grill serves up delicious grilled meats and international cuisine and the Churchill lobby bar serves a wide range of wines and cigars. Other on-site amenities include a fitness centre, sauna and a stunning rooftop swimming pool with incredible views over the city.

Feitico Mineiro

Where to eat

The restaurant Feitiço Mineiro celebrates the cuisine of Minas Gerais. The food here is delicious. Think suckling pig with creamy spiced beans and farofa or grilled chicken accompanied by okra and corn mash. The restaurant was created by Jorge Ferreira in the late 80s. His passion for culture, music and literature shows in the restaurants décor. Although Ferreira sadly passed away in 2013, the restaurant continues the traditional of live shows and music concerts at the venue.

What to do

There are plenty of things to do in Brasilia. Tours can be organized by bike, car or by foot. One of the best ways to see the city is on an architectural masterpieces circuit tour with a local English speaking guide, photographer or artist. During the tour you can explore the avenues, gardens and buildings that make this city so fascinating. Brasilia is located next to the Chapada dos Veadeiros, an amazing landscape to explore. Try taking a scenic flight over the national park in a hot air balloon.

Bar Brasilia


The Bar Brasilia is a favourite amongst locals. Known for having the best draft beer in town, it’s the perfect meeting point after a day of exploration. Although (like everything in the city), the bar is relatively new, it’s traditional wooden bar and tiled floor will transport you back to a bygone era. If you’re feeling hungry try the delicious cod cakes.

To begin your adventure to Brasilia get in touch.

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Mistura Food Festival in Lima


If you happen to be travelling in Peru in September we highly recommend the 8th edition of the ten-day Mistura Food Festival in Lima and the biggest food festival in South America. A wonderful mistura of Peru’s diverse culinary landscape, highlighting what is one of the world’s great but largely undiscovered cuisines. If you consider yourself a foodie, this is the place to be.

Peru can be roughly split into three different culinary areas – the highlands and Andes, the coastal region and the Amazon. Each has its own distinct set of flavours only made more varied by the introduction of Japanese, Chinese, African and other communities that have played their part in the evolution of Peruvian cuisine. If this is your first time to Peru, there is no better a starting point to get a good hold over the different food the country has to offer. On top of the more common (but nonetheless delicious) ceviches and pisco sours, there is plenty more to get your teeth stuck into.

Held in Exposition Park, the festival is expecting around a half a million people to visit including many top chefs from around the world. It is open each day from 9am until 11pm. This year it runs from the 4-13 September 2015. For more information visit mistura.pe.

To begin your gastronomic tour of Peru get in touch.

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Searching for Sugarman: the ‘70’s Rock Icon Who Never Was

Searching for Sugarman is an Oscar winning true-life documentary about a Mexican-American folk musician who lived in poverty and obscurity in Detroit whilst unknowingly achieving huge commercial success in South Africa. It has become one the most enjoyable documentaries of the last ten years.

Sixto Diaz Rodriguez was the sixth child (hence the name) of Mexican parents who had immigrated to Detroit for work. Despite coming from a poor background Rodriguez earned himself a Bachelor of Philosophy at Wayne State University. His music talent was first discovered by two producers when he was playing in a basement bar, called The Sewer, in 1967. They backed him and he released two albums in the US, but these did not sell well; though he did tour Australia, he left the music industry and worked in construction. Somehow his album made it out to South Africa selling hundreds of thousands of albums, even outstripping Elvis in sales without his knowledge. In seems that in apartheid South Africa, they felt a connection with his left-leaning, anti-establishment songs.

Rumours about the star’s apparent suicide has spread, assuming he was dead no one came looking for him. The documentary follows the story of two fans from Cape Town in the late 90’s – Stephen Segerman a record shop owner and Craig Bartholomew-Strydom, who starting searching for what had happened to Rodriguez and discovered him still alive in Detroit. He lived in such obscurity in the United States that a local barman thought he was a homeless man. There are many questions raised about how this happened including the royalties which he never received.

Critics were quick to praise this bitter-sweet, soulful documentary. Its only downfall was not mentioning that Rodriguez actually enjoying some success in Australia and New Zealand as well. So what’s happened since the documentary? After the release of the film a surge of interest throughout the United States and Europe led to a revival in his music career. He appeared as a guest on the David Letterman show, CNN, Later with Jools Holland and tours much of the world including playing at Glastonbury Festival and the Beacon Theatre in New York. He still lives in the same derelict Detroit house that he bought in auction in the 70’s and actively tries to help improve the lives of if Detroit’s working class. Interesting Rodriguez turned down the invitation to the Oscars and apparently slept right through the ceremony.

There is one final ironic twist to the story. The skillful director Malik Bendjelloul sadly committed suicide a year after the release of Searching for Sugarman. Bendjelloul’s finest piece of work helped to give Rodriguez the recognition and fame that had been missing for 40 years.

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Ecuador’s Liberty Train from Ibarra to Salinas


I recently rode on this fun train that winds through the Andes of northern Ecuador. The train starts right in the middle of the town of Ibarra, the streets stop and the people wave as you go along right through the bustling market. The bright red carriages are like something out of Thomas the Tank Engine, but sadly no longer steam driven.

Ecuador’s train network began in the late 19th century; however it wasn’t until 26 August 1957 that the route from Ibarra to San Lorenzo opened. This gave the indigenous communities an outlet to the Pacific which in turn brought them closer to the Panama Canal, one of the world’s commercial hubs. I first took this route in the mid-80s, but it was already falling into disrepair and I remember the ‘bus on rails’ that frequently came off the tracks and had to be levered back. Quicker roads and lack of Government support meant a slow decline.

The last ten years have seen a resurgence in the Ecuadorian train network, partly due to the number of tourists rising and the fantastic routes on offer and the personal vision of the president. The Ibarra to Salinas route is now called the Tren de la Libertad (Liberty Train) is named after the struggle from independence from Spain two hundred years ago and the freedom of the slaves who ancestors still inhabit the region. This route was originally a commercial one, mainly used to carry goods such as wool, cotton and fabrics down to the ports for exportation to faraway lands.

Open again, it now takes tourists on a wonderful 30 kilometre journey from Ibarra to the town of Salinas and then back again. From Ibarra we passed rugged Andean countryside, along river valleys, crossed wooden bridges and through farms. The most exciting was through tunnels carved through the mountains; this must have been a particularly arduous job for the workmen who just had pick-axes and dynamite.

On arrival in Salinas we were welcomed by dancers from the local lively Afro-Ecuadorians community, descendants of the workers who were brought to the area to build the railway lines. There was time to visit the salt museum, a plaza with handicrafts and have a local lunch before returning back into the Andes. The journey takes around an hour and a half each way, with a stop for local coffee or ice-cream at Yachay. In Salinas I tried a local version of a piña colada using the local sugar-cane rum. It hit the spot.

If you would like to book the Ibarra to Salinas train journey or would like to incorporate it into your bespoke Ecuador holiday then do get in touch. The ideal of choice for accommodation would be the Hacienda Piman.

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The red frogs of Bocas del Toro

This video, brought to you by the Red Frog Island Resort & Spa, perfectly illustrates the luxury paradise that is the Island Bastimentos in the Bocas del Toro Archipelago, often called the “Galapagos of the Caribbean”. As soon as you arrive in the Marina Village you’ll be whisked away on unpaved dirt roads straight into nature and the resort. Along the way you’ll most probably see exotic bird life and maybe even a sloth or two.

Bastimentos Island is just twenty four square miles large and with a population of under 2,000. Although it is one of the larger islands in the archipelago it is the more relaxed alternative to others. The National Marine Park covers the majority of the island. Over the last ten years a reforestation program on Isla Bastimentos has helped the plant and animal life to flourish.

There are a number of beaches on the island including Turtle Beach, Playa Larga, North Beach and Wizard Beach, but perhaps the most famous is Red Frog Beach. Although there is much wildlife including titi monkeys, sloths, marine wildlife and exotic birds, most come to see the famous red poison dart frog.

This species of frog is only found in Central America. They are highly poisonous (hence the bright red colour) and will kill any predator that ingests one. Their toxin comes from their diet of ants and termites and interesting they are immune to their own poison. They are small growing to a maximum size of around 22 milometres. The males are extremely territorial whereas the females are more sociable. The species comes in a number of different colour morphs. One of the most common is the blue jeans morph where the frog’s limbs are blue.

Want to see the red frogs? Get in touch to start creating your bespoke tour to the region.

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Meet us at the Birdfair


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 7 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
We hope to see you all there.

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