La Paz is the highest administrative capital city in the world. Your breath will literally be taken away by the lack of oxygen at this high altitude. But this is a city buzzing with life. Bustling markets, crowded streets, picturesque churches, boisterous bars and colourful locals. If you’re planning a flying visit in La Paz, here is how to spend your first 48 hours.
Day 1 – Morning
Let’s assume you’ve arrived in the night before and you’re ready to hit the streets and discover the city. Like they say, if you haven’t got lost in a city before, it’s because you have explored it enough. It’s time to get lost in the city’s labyrinthine side-streets and alleyways, making sure to tick off some of the major tourism hotspots along the way. Walk through Plaza de Murillo (the city’s main square), visit the San Francisco Church and the witches’ market.
DAY 1 – Afternoon
In the afternoon take a bus or taxi from the city to the ancient site of Tiwanaku, one of the continent’s most important pre-Incan ruins. This UNESCO World Heritage site is sometimes called ‘the Stonehenge of the Americas’ and doesn’t disappoint.
Day 1 – Evening
When you return back to La Paz, be sure to head up to the district of El Alto to watch the cholita wrestling (only available Sundays). These local female wrestlers take to the ring to battle it out against each other in traditional Aymara and Quechua costumes. Tickets are cheap and makes for a fascinating insight into this interesting sub-culture of empowered women. If you want to keep the night going, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs to explore. Thelonius Jazz Bar and Mongo’s are both excellent choices.
Day 2 – Morning
It may seem like a bad idea, but a morning of hurtling downhill on bikes along the so called ‘Death Road’ is a thrilling experience. Starting at almost 5,000 metres above sea level, cycling down Death Road involves descending more than 3,600 metres in just 40 miles. The winding, largely gravel road surface should be taken carefully to avoid plummeting off the cliff side drop to one side. Once you’ve reached the bottom, you’ll be brought back up along Death Road by car, an interesting experience in itself.
Day 2 – Afternoon
If time permits when you return, take a car 10 kilometres out to the stunning Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). This amazing lunar-like landscape of bizarre rock formations is similar to the valley of the same name in Chile. It’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset before returning back to the city.
DAY 2 – Evening
We’ve got two great choices for restaurants depending on your preference and budget. If you like simple, authentic and budget friendly street food, head to one of the four branchesof Paceña La Salteña. These outlets create some of the best Bolivian empanadas (meat encased in pastry, much like a Cornish pasty). For those looking for something a little more refined, head to Gusto. This restaurant is owned by the founder of Noma, rated second best in the world. Here you can try a taster menu that carefully balances the flavours of Peru and the Andes. Could there be a better to way to finish your time in La Paz?
Imagine that all of your friends, family and anyone you have ever known have been massacred. No other speaks your language or practices the same customs. This is the life of one man who has lived in the Amazon alone for the past 20 years.
Very little is known about him. It’s guessed that his tribe were slaughtered by cattle ranchers who cut down the rainforest close to their homes. Although some contact has been made to try and help him, he is unsurprisingly scared of outsiders. So he survives in constant fear of human encounters.
Government officials have known about the man’s existence for many years. Specialists uncontacted tribes managed to trace his hut and discovered a small garden planted with corn and manioc. Inside they discovered a deep hole, something which has been found in all of the man’s shelters leading to him being nicknamed ‘the man of the hole’.
Though intentions of those trying to contact the man were good, encounters have often been tense and ended in anger. One agent who got to close was shot with an arrow. Whenever he feels he space is being encroached upon, which was often the case with loggers and ranchers in the past, the lone man moves on, finding shelter in a new part of the rainforest.
Having lived his entire life in the forest, he has all the skills to feed and provide shelter for himself. Some experts have said the markings he leaves on trees indicate a spiritual life, perhaps helping him manage psychologically with the extreme solitude and isolation.
In more recent years, the Brazilian government has learnt from the past tragedies that occurred when contacting tribes. They have been many attempts to assimilate people into modern life and ended in communities being wiped out by disease. Today, the government takes a policy of ‘no contact’ to the last remaining communities who inhabit the rainforests.
The ‘man of the hole’ has 31 square miles of protected land that is not supposed to be encroached. It is somewhat ironic that it is state -of-the-art satellite technology that will ensure this man’s primitive way of life is no disturbed and his lands are no encroached upon.
Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on earth and a must for wildlife enthusiasts. While it would be impossible to list every species of flora and fauna (there are over half a million species in the Central American country, more than 4% of the world’s plants, insects and animals) we’ve picked 10 of the most exotic, unique and intriguing.
This arboreal creature is native to the rainforests of Central and South America. These slow-moving tree dwellers move at a top speed of 35 metres per day. This isn’t surprising when you know that they spend almost their entire life sleeping. Interesting, these clean creatures descend to the forest floor to defecate, a dangerous move for a creature which moves at such a slow pace and something scientists still don’t understand.
Strawberry poison dart frogs
This colourful little frogs may look cute, but they are one of the most poisonous creatures on the planet. In many parts of South and Central America, local tribes rolled their blow-dart tips over the frogs’ skin coating it in poison and paralyzing any animal they hunt. Researchers have found many medicinal uses for the toxins including anesthetics. Their bright colours are there to ward of predators and they have the ability to morph colour.
This sleek nocturnal cats are found in almost every country in North, Central and South America with the exception of Chile. They are small, measuring in at around twice the size of a domestic cat. They are fairly elusive and certainly the hardest to spot on this list. They were once hunted for their fur which decimated the population, but today they are not considered as threatened.
White headed capuchin monkey
This medium sized new world monkey is native to the forests of Central and South America. It plays an important role in the rainforest ecology by helping to disperse seeds. They live in troops of over twenty males and females and eat fruit, insects and amphibians. This species of monkey is particularly smart creating and using tools and using plants for medicinal uses.
The chestnut-mandibled toucan can be found in Costa Rica in abundance. This large colourful birds most distinct feature is its elongated beak which it uses with precision to open fruit and nuts. They tend to move around in flocks of around 10 members and rarely fly further than 100 metres at a time. They can be heard yelping and singing in chorus during evening roosts.
Mexican tree frog
Another interesting frog to spot in Costa Rica also known as the Baudin’s tree frog. This nocturnal frog is interesting due to the deep sounds it makes at night. Unlike the poison dart frogs, the Mexican tree frog is not poisonous and is commonly found throughout forested areas of the country and other parts of North and Central America.
Golden orb weavers
If you suffer from arachnophobia, this won’t be a creature you’ll want to spot in Costa Rica. Found throughout the warmer countries of the world, the golden orb weavers are also called the banana spider due to its habit of hiding in bunches of bananas. They are expert hunters and their strength allows them to the occasional catch small birds and snakes. They are venomous, but it isn’t lethal to humans.
Also known as snookum bears or hog-nosed racoon, this coati is closely related to the racoon. They are fairly passive creatures, but when threatened they can lash out defending themselves with their sharp teeth and strong jaws. Interestingly, coatis walk plantigrade, which means they can walk upright on their legs, much like humans. They are not yet threatened, although their loss of habitat may start to have some detrimental effects to the population.
When most people think of vultures, they think of large birds crowding around a fresh kill, and this is correct. But what most people don’t know is, like their Andean and Californian condors, they are very graceful when they glide and circle overhead. The numbers are estimated to be 100,000 so they are not under threat and their wingspan can reach over 6 feet.
The American crocodile which is found throughout North, Central and South American, although they are now considered threatened with estimates of only a few thousand left in the wild. These crocs have become particularly large along the Tárcoles River in Costa Rica where locals and tourists feed them. Here they can reach up to 5-metres and over half a ton in weight.
While chicken and rice might sound boring, this Peruvian dish is anything but. A mouthwatering mix of rice, aji Amarillo paste, vegetables, coriander and golden fried chicken.
Time: 1 hour
4 large organic chicken thighs
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g aji amarillo paste
A handful of spinach leaves
A handful of coriander
200g white rice
50g frozen peas
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 pepper, finely chopped
1 small can of sweet corn
500mls chicken stock
Salt & pepper
Wash the spinach and coriander and blend together with some water to create a paste.
Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and fry in a little oil on a medium heat until golden brown. Set aside.
In the same saucepan, add the onion, garlic and aji paste and cook until the onions are soft. Add the blended coriander and spinach paste add the chicken thighs.
Once you have brought everything to the boil reduce the heat and continue to simmer.
Take another pan and add the chicken stock, rice, carrots and corn. Cook for around 30 minutes until the rice has soaked up all the stock, but isn’t overcooked. Towards the end add in the peas for the final few minutes.
When the rice is cooked, add in the chicken thighs and aji paste mix and stir together. Plate everything up and add a little sliced purple onion and coriander over the top. To add a little zing, squeeze over some lemon juice and a few finely chopped chillies.
To try this dish in Peru, call on of our experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning your trip.
Many countries around the world love to erect religious monuments, but in Latin America they are particularly impressive. While most will have heard of Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer that towers over the city from Corcovado, there are plenty more throughout the continent.
Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro
This is arguably one of the world’s most iconic statues. Christ the Redeemer was created by French sculptor Paul Landowski in collaboration with Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa. It may not be the largest statue at 30 metres high, but it’s fantastic location on top of the 700-metre-high Corcovado Mountain mean that can be seen from almost anywhere in the city. Weighing 635 metric tons, it was built from reinforced concrete and soapstone between 1922 and 1931.
Virgin Mary, Santiago
Smaller than Chris the Redeemer, but no less important. Perched on San Cristóbal Hill in Chile’s capital Santiago, this 22-metre-high statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary sits alongside a chapel and an amphitheatre, all dedicated to the Immaculate Conception. It weighs 36 tons and stretches up 14 metres (or over 22 metres if you include the pedestal).
Cristo Rey, Guanajuato
This Mexican statue of Jesus on Cerro del Cubilete in Guanajuato is one of the country’s most important. Created by artists Nicholas Mariscal in 1944 and stands at 23-metres-high from its base.
Virgin of Quito, Quito
Another statue built to celebrate the mother of Jesus, the Virgin Mary statue in Ecuador’s capital Quito is perched on El Panecillo, a 200-metre-high mountain in the centre of the city. In 1976 the 45-metre tall statue was commissioned and built. Seven thousand pieces of aluminium were used in its construction and it’s possible to go inside the hollow structure.
El Gigante, Easter Island
Most will have heard of the mysterious Moai stone statues that inhabit all corners of Chile’s Easter Island. The largest is called ‘El Gigante’ which is almost 22-metres-tall and weighs over 200 tons. The statue was never quite finished and it is unclear whether it was ever intended to be or they realised that they would never be able to move it if completed.
Christ of the Pacific, Lima
Christ of the Pacific was built in 2011 making it the newest on the list. At 37-metres high it is also one of the largest. It was given to Lima (Peru’s capital) as a gift from a group of Brazilian companies under President Alan Garcia. Its installation has caused some controversy due to its similar to the Brazil’s own Christ the Redeemer as well as being seen as a government endorsement of Christianity.
Cristo de la Concorde, Cochacamba
When this was completed in 1994, the was the largest statues of Jesus Christ in the world. It has since been surpassed, but at over 40 metres it’s taller than Rio de Janeiro’s Christ the Redeemer. The statue sits on a 265-metre-high mountain overlooking the Bolivian city of Cochabamba.
To go and see these statues for yourself, call one of our specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or contact us via email here.
The thousands of kilometres of coastline that make up South, Central and North America have some of the world’s best surf spots. They are particularly good along the Pacific coast with great waves being found everywhere from Peru to Costa Rica. Here are some of the best places to catch a break.
Located right up in the north of Peru along the Pan-American Highway, Mancora is known for two things – excellent surf and lively nightlife. The excellent year-round sunny weather brings in floods of tourists who descend upon the small town for good surf and a good time. Mancora is home to the world’s largest left point break.
Further up the coast in Ecuador is the town of Montañita. Like Mancora, Montañita is somewhat of a party town, but is also known for the excellent waves. The surf season tends to run between November to April with the largest waves hitting the coast between January and March. During carnival season in February, the town hosts an international surf competition.
Santa Catarina, Brazil
Over on the Atlantic coast, the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina is also well-known for the excellent Atlantic swells. Due to the varied wave sizes that can be found along the coast, this is an excellent for everyone from those looking to learn the sport to more experienced surfers. Although good waves can be found throughout the year, it’s best between April and October. An international completion is held near the city of Florianopolis each April.
Colombia isn’t as well-known for its surf as some of the other countries on this list, but the Pacific coastal region of the country near Nuqui has some world-class surfing spots. As well as riding the excellent waves, if you visit between June and October you will have the chance to whale watch at the same time! What could be better?
Located as far up Chile as you can get, near to the Peruvian border is Arica. While Chile isn’t known for its surf, this particularly spot is excellent. Sitting on the edge of a desert, this isn’t the prettiest spot in Chile, but the high winds bring in some excellent swells between March and May. It’s also easy to combine this surfing adventure with a trip to San Pedro de Atacama or even up to Machu Picchu in Peru.
Bocas Del Toro, Panama.
Bocas del Toro is known for its luxury over-the-water bungalows. However, there are several beaches on the Caribbean archipelago in Panama that offer excellent surf. Water taxis are the easiest way to access the different reef breaks and secret surf spots. There are several places where beginners can take lessons and hire equipment.
Tamarindo, Costa Rica
Costa Rica’s wonderful climate, white sandy palm fringed beaches and lush countryside make it a particularly pleasant country to visit. It’s Nicoya and Guanacaste coast are also blessed with some of the best surf in Latin America. Most surfers descend upon Tamarindo where beginners can learn in in the smaller waves, while experience surfers can take the boats further out to larger breaks. Surfing trips can easily be combined with a visit to some of the country’s other natural wonders including Arenal Volcano and Monteverde cloud forest.
Located a few hours south of Managua, the white sandy beach of Popoyo is hit by some excellent surf. Along the coastline, surfers find everything from smaller surf where beginners will be comfortable up to thrilling larger breaks for the experienced. There are a number of surf camps through Nicaragua which offer everything from meals, accommodation, surf hire and training. The ideal place to spend a couple of weeks learning this oceanic sport.
Puerto Escondido, Mexico
This area is known for its super powerful hollow barrels. It is therefore advised that only experienced surfers ride these waves. But those who know what they are doing will be treated to some of the world’s best and most powerful surf. Further along the coast, some small waves can be found which are more suitable for beginners. There are several international surf competitions here throughout the year.
To begin your surf adventure, give one of our Latin America specialists a call today on +44 (0) 207 407 1478. Whether you wish to explore just one surf spot or plan a longer multi-country surfing adventure our specialists will be able to help. Alternatively, you can send us a message here.
Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and the 5th largest country in the world. Thousands of miles of unspoilt tropical beach, the bulk of the Amazon rainforest, the Pantanal the world’s largest wetland, table-topped mountains with unique plants and waterfalls, colonial mining towns resplendent with baroque churches, the huge metropolis of Sâo Paulo and the seductive charm of Rio.
Its sheer size makes it difficult to decide where to start. Of course, there are the iconic spots of Rio de Janeiro and the Amazon, but there is so much more to explore. Here are 5 very different tours which give you an idea of what can be done in two to three weeks.
Deep into the Amazon – Belem, Marajo, Amazon, Manaus and Tefe
The Amazon takes up 30% of the continent and holds a staggering array of wildlife. It’s therefore unsurprising that some want to spend the majority of their travels here. If so, this is the trip for you. This 14-day Amazon tour takes visitors from Belem located at the great mouth of the Amazon river all the way to Manaus and Tefe in the heart of the rainforest. Along the way, ride water buffalo in Marajo, see parrots and macaws at the clay licks, visit the Amazon Theatre, get up close to monkeys and sloths and take in unique jungle lodges including the Uakari.
To find out more about Deep into the Amazon or book, click here.
Rhythms of Latin America – Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu, Buenos Aires, Pampas
This short 11-day tour is an absolute classic and combines the best of Brazil and Argentina. Begin in the hedonistic city of Rio de Janeiro. As well as having time to discover the iconic sites of Corcovado, Sugar Loaf and Christ the Redeemer, you’ll have plenty of time to explore at your own pace. Hike up through Santa Teresa, spend lazy days on Ipanema Beach and learn about the cities interesting history. Next you’ll fly on to Iguazu Falls where you’ll hike along the walkways and see this mighty natural wonder from all angles. Fly on to Buenos Aires to spend a number of days exploring the capital and visit the Pampas to horse ride and stay on a estancia.
To find out more about Rhythms of Latin America or book, click here.
Cultural Buzz of Brazil – Rio de Janeiro, Paraty, Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, Olinda, Salvador
This tour of Brazil is for the culture vultures. After a day or two discovering the sites of Rio de Janeiro you’ll be transferred along the Green Coast to the pretty colonial town of Paraty. Here you’ll take schooner sailing trips for snorkelling and cultural tours of the area. Next, fly up to Belo Horizonte and pick up your hire car. Over the next few days you’ll hit the road in Minas Gerais jumping from town to town. Along the way visit Ouro Preto, Mariana, Congonhas, Sao Joao del Rei and Tiradentes. Each of these beautiful places have interesting baroque churches and architecture. Fly up to Recife in the north and spend a day or two in neighbouring Olinda. Spend your final days in Bahia’s capital Salvador. Here you’ll learn about Afro-Brazilian heritage and take a tour of the city.
To find out more about Cultural Buzz of Brazil or book, click here.
Brazil Blissout – Rio de Janeiro, Paraty, Salvador, Praia do Forte, Recife, Fernando do Noronha
Brazil’s boasts some of the most stunning tropical beaches in the Americas. Discover hidden coves with crystal-clear tropical waters and idyllic beaches, each with its unique charm. Visit Brazil’s magical coastline, from verdant archipelagos to coral reefs. Take the obligatory few days to discover Rio de Janeiro including a visit to Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf. Transfer along the coast to stay in Paraty, a spectacular colonial town of white washed houses and cobbled streets. Return to Rio de Janeiro and fly north to Recife. Here you’ll stay in historic Olinda overlooking the coast. Fly on to Fernando do Noronha Island. This island offers some of South America’s finest snorkelling and scuba opportunities. Take to the water to swim amongst the coral and exotic marine life.
To find out more about Brazil Blissout or to book, click here.
Brazilian Safari – Amazon, Pantanal
Experience Brazil’s best wildlife spot’s in the Amazon and Pantanal. Stay in lodges in the three finest places for tropical nature in Brazil and probably in Latin America: the archipelagos of the Amazon, the northern Pantanal wetlands and Alta Floresta of Mato Grosso. In all three regions you will come up close to some of the continent’s most interesting wildlife – monkeys, sloths, anacondas, hummingbirds, jaguars, ocelots, toucans, tapirs and caiman to name but a few.
To find out more about Brazilian safari or to book, click here.
If you would like to speak with one of our Brazilian specialists, call us on +44 (0) 207 408 1478 and start planning your trip of a lifetime today.
- Angel Falls in Venezuela is one of the largest waterfalls in the world with a height of almost 1 kilometre.
- Colombia produces more than 90% of the world’s emeralds.
- Mexico is sinking by around 10 inches every year.
- Bolivia was the first country to get rid of McDonalds.
- Latin America is the most urbanized continent in the world with almost 80% of its citizens living in cities.
- Mambo, salsa, cha-cha-cha, rumba and tango dances all come from Latin America.
- It has the shortest coastline, compared to its size, of any continent.
- The official name of for Mexico is the United Mexican States.
- The oldest university in North America is the National University of Mexico.
- Costa Rica translated to ‘rich coast’.
- The Amazon spans eight countries – Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana.
- Rio de Janeiro carnival is the world’s largest street festival.
- 20% of the world’s oxygen is created from the Amazon jungle.
- There are 77 uncontacted tribes living in the Amazon Jungle.
- There are over 20 million inhabitants in Sao Paulo making it one of the world’s largest cities.
- The highest mountain in South America is Argentina’s Aconcagua and stands at over 6,961metres high.
- The world’s most southerly city is located at the tip of Argentina and is called Ushuaia. It has around 55,000 inhabitants.
- Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and straddles both Peru and Bolivia.
- Costa Rica has been ranked as the happiest country in the world.
- Asia is Latin America’s second largest trading partner after the United States.
- Ecuador was the first country in the world to give nature constitutional rights and can be defended in court.
- After the Antarctic, the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile is considered the world’s driest.
- Bolivia was the first country to have a ski resort with a rope tow.
- Darwin came up with his theory of evolution while visiting the Galapagos Islands.
- The Uyuni in Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flats.
To start exploring Latin America yourself, give one of our specialists a call on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us a message here.
Such variety of landscapes makes Latin America an amazing place to see from above. Take a bird’s eye view down over the cities, high Andes and natural wonders. Here are 6 of the best way to see the continent from above.
Nazca Lines scenic flight
Perhaps the most well-known scenic flight is the Nazca lines. These huge geoglyphs etched into the Peruvian desert thousands of years ago have baffled scientists for many years. Although some of the geoglyphs can be seen from a raised platform, there really isn’t a better way to see them than from a small plane. Flights last around 45 minutes. Take a look at this video of a flight over the Nazca lines.
Quito to Coca commercial flight
Many take this popular commercial scheduled flight from Ecuador’s capital (the second highest capital on the continent) down from the Andes and across the vast stretch of Amazon jungle to the steamy port town of Coca. If you are planning to stay at an Amazon lodge, you’ll most likely be taking this same route. Just ensure you book a window seat!
Iguazu Falls helicopter flight
This amazing natural wonder draws thousands of tourists each day. Many views of these huge falls can be seen from the raised walkways that span both the Argentine and Brazilian side. However, the sheer size of Iguazu can never be fully appreciated without seeing it from above. Escape the crowds and take a scenic helicopter fight to see the falls from a whole different angle.
Santiago to Puerto Arenas commercial flight
Another incredible scheduled flight. Travelling south in Chile from the capital Santiago to Punta Arenas in the heart of Patagonia, reveals some incredible aerial views of the snowy peaks of the Andes mountains. What better way to see the might of these towering mountains than from above?
Blue hole helicopter flight
Most people visit Belize’s Blue Hole to snorkel or scuba dive with the staggering variety of exotic fish. This is something not to be missed. However, if you have the time and the resources, a flight over the largest living barrier reef in the world won’t disappoint. This impressive natural wonder is usually combined with aerial views of the Turneffe Atolls.
Hot Air Balloon Flight over the Colombian coffee region
The lush green valleys and rolling countryside of the coffee region in Colombia has now be included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Of course, it’s a wonderful place to explore by 4×4 or by hiking the trails, but this landscape is best seen from a hot air balloon.
Hang glide over Rio de Janeiro
Need a little adventure? How about seeing Rio de Janeiro from above during a hang glide? Soar like a bird above the city and take in the amazing views of Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Rocinha Favela. Most flights launch from a platform high up in Tijuca Forest National Park (the largest urban forest in the world) and touch down gently on the beach.
To take your scenic flight over Latin America, give one of our specialists a call on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us a message here.