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9 amazing places to visit in Bolivia

Bolivia remains one of the most isolated and misunderstood countries in Latin America. Completed landlocked and characterized by the towering Andes Mountains and the Amazon rainforest, Bolivia’s landscape is as diverse as its people. From the islands that dot Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, to the vast expanse of white salt crusted flats, Bolivia offers a wealth of unique natural wonders and experiences that would satisfy even the most travelled of individuals.

Explore Madidi, one of the most biodiverse places on earth

Flickr: Joe Lazarus

If may not be well known, but Madidi National Park certainly packs a punch. Spanning thousands of square miles of mountain and rainforest, the park is home to more than 11% of the world’s entire bird species. As you wander through the park, you’ll be treated to the sight of monkeys swinging in the trees, giant otters playfully swimming down the rivers and if you are really lucky, you may even spot an elusive jaguar. You won’t regret adding this one to your Bolivian itinerary.

Wander past the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos

There are six 18th century Jesuit Mission towns dotting the area, and while their counterparts in other 7countries have been left to fall into disrepair, in Bolivia they area rather well preserved. The biggest and most interesting is the town of San Jose de Chiquitos which boasts some spectacular colonial architecture. Watch the Robert de Nero film, “The Mission” to get a deeper understanding before you visit.

Bicycle down the Yungas Road

Flickr: wanderlasss

Often cited as the world’s most dangerous road, the Yungas Road (more commonly referred to as Death Road) winds its way down 15,000 feet to the town of Coroico. Riding down this steep gravel road flanked by a cliff on one side and a sheer vertical drop off the other will certainly get your heart pumping. Just be careful of the lorries which steam around the bends on their way up to the city.

Go down the Cerro Rico mines in Potosi

Literally translating to “Rich Mountain”, Cerro Rico once brought much wealth into the small city of Potosi. Controlled by the greedy Spanish Conquistadors, they plundered all the silver from the mountain leaving only tin which is still mined in much the same way today. Be sure to take a tour of the mine so you can see the conditions of the workers. The nearby Casa Nacional de Moneda is also fascinating and worth an afternoon of exploration.

Watch the colourful Oruro Carnival

Carnival is an important festival all over Latin America, but there are some particularly good places to see the event in action. Oruro comes alive each year in February which thousands of dancers dressed up in colourful garb as well as accompanying musicians. It’s an amazing sight to see.

Cross Lake Titicaca

One of the highest navigable bodies of water in the world, Lake Titicaca straddles both Bolivia and Peru. It considered by many historians as the origin of the Inca and other pre-Columbian cultures. The pretty shorefront town of Copacabana is well worth a little time to explore, as is Sun and Moon Island which have some fascinating historical attractions.

Admire the magnificent Tiwanaku

Tiwanaku lies south east of Lake Titicaca and represents one of the most important pre-Inca civilizations on the continent. The town thrived during the 8th century and it is estimated to have had between 15,000 – 30,000 inhabitants. While only a small part has been excavated, you can still see one of Bolivia’s greatest architectural achievements. It’s easily combined with a day or overnight trip to Lake Titicaca.

Drive across the vast salt flats of Uyuni

To most, the Salar de Uyuni needs no introduction. One of the most amazing natural wonders in Latin America, this 4,000-square-mile salt flat was formed from a prehistoric lake. At its centre is an island teeming with giant cacti. The best way to explore the salt flats is by a guided 4×4 tour which takes you from one end to the other. When it rains, the reflection of the ski in the water-logged salt is simply spectacular. You can even stay in a hotel built entirely out of salt.

Explore the City of Four Names

Flickr: Mundo Sussa

Sucre, a 500-year-old Spanish former colonial town is also known as La Plata, Chuquisaca and Charcas. Just a wander around the city will bring its history to life. Here, you can see Bolivia’s National Library, La Casa de la Libertad and many other relics from its rich historical past.

Want to explore Bolivia? Speak to one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning your trip today.

A guide to Uruguayan Food

The culinary delights of Uruguay have enjoyed somewhat of a resurgence in recent years. Like Argentina, the Uruguayan diet is meat heavy making it a little tricky for vegetarians, but a food paradise for carnivores. Here’s our rundown of the best things to eat during your visit.

Asado

Let’s start with the most famous and most popular. The asado is essentially a barbecue, but will be unlike any you’ve known back at home. Huge cuts of beef, pork and lamb along with sausages and offal are slow cooked over huge charcoal parrillas. Best washed down with plenty of Uruguayan red. Visiting Uruguay without trying an asado is unthinkable.

Asado con cuero

Similar to a normal asado, the only variation being the whole animal, skin and all, is cooked over the flames. Typically, a cow or sheep, the body is spread eagle and then slow cooked for hours. The sheer space required to cook this means you’re more likely to find it in the countryside than the city.

Choripán

Choripán is a favourite of ours. This spicy chorizo sausage is cooked over charcoal and usually served in a bread with lashings of chimichurri sauce. Often one of the first things to come off an asado barbecue.

Empanada

There is nothing quite as iconic as the empanada. Almost every Latin American country has their own variety and Uruguay is no different. Typically filled with minced beef and cheese, these crispy baked pastry morsels are delicious. Just remember to order more than one! For something a little different, try the empanadas Gallegas, a fishy version packed with tuna and peppers.

Morcilla dulce

Black pudding, boiled pork blood sausage, tends to divide people. Some love the earthy flavour and texture, others can’t stand the stuff. In Uruguay, their morcilla comes with added raisons and nuts to give it a slightly sweeter taste than other versions.

Milanesa

A popular dish all over Latin America with roots firmly in Italy. Beef or chicken is flattened before being breaded and fried until golden brown. For something more luxurious, go for a milanesa rellena which includes melted cheese and ham.

Ñoquis

Flickr: Vince Alongi

Also known as gnocchi, this potato based pasta from Italy has long been eaten on the 29th of every month in Uruguay when the average worker gets paid. You can’t beat a bowl of homemade gnocchi which sometimes has a coin or note placed below it which is supposed to attract prosperity.

Pancho

Flickr: Rix Arg

Take a frankfurter and place between a bun called a pan de viena. Add plenty of condiments, and you’ve got the South American version of a hot dog. Great at the end of a heavy night to help soak up the booze.

Pizza por metro

Flickr: Simon Law

Literally meaning ‘pizza by the metre’, here it’s sold in rectangles not circles. Usually cooked in a big wood fired clay oven, you can choose the ingredients you want it topped with.

Dulce de Leche

While not a dessert itself, it’s used in any manner of ways from spreading on toast to eating with your morning medialunas pastries. You won’t go far in Uruguay without seeing sweet, caramel-like dulce de leche.

Alfajores

Like Argentina, Uruguay have somewhat of an obsession with these short bread biscuits filled with sticky dulce de leche. We can see why. They are as delicious as they sound and best eaten with a strong black coffee.

Churros

These long star-shaped cylinders of fried dough covered in icing sugar have their origins in Spain, but they are just as popular in Uruguay. Look out for vendors setting up on street corners in the early evening and buy them as soon as they’ve come out the fryer.

Arroz con leche

Delicious, creamy rice pudding. Who wouldn’t like it.

Bizcochos

Usually served for breakfast, these little pastries of different sizes and shapes are eaten in the morning with strong black coffee. They can come as either sweet or savory, both of which are delicious.

Grappamiel

The national drink of Uruguay, grappamiel is made from distilled spirit mixed with honey. It’s strong, so be careful when you’re drinking it.

Mate

Flickr: kweez mcG

Like the gauchos in Argentina, the yerba herbal drink of mate is consumed in the sort of quantities the British drink tea. Many Uruguyan’s can be seen headed to work carrying a thermos flask of hot water and mate cups.

Want to try the food of Uruguay? Start planning your trip to the country today by calling one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

8 treks in Argentina you simply can’t miss

Argentina is as diverse as it is big. It’s a mecca for outdoorsy types who descend upon this Latin American country each summer to hike along the spectacular trails, from the towering snow-capped granite peaks of Patagonia to the dry deserts in the north. With such a choice, it’s hard to know where to start. Here’s our handy guide to the 8 best treks in the country.

Mount Fitz Roy

Flickr: Chris Ford

Mount Fitz Roy is Argentina’s answer to the Torres del Paine National Park. If you’re going to do just one trek, make it one of the trails which departs from El Chalten and winds around the Los Glaciers National Park. There’s something for all abilities here, with trips ranging from easy half day hikes to more challenging five-day camping adventures. There are few places in the world where you can walk in such awe-inspiring scenery. Think large granite peaks punctuated by turquoise mountain lakes.

Huemul Circuit

This one’s a toughie. The 45-mile takes at least 4 days and you’ll need to bring your own GPS and camping equipment, as well as harnesses to get across several river crossings. It’s well worth the effort though to see the Southern Patagonian Ice Fields. If you’re looking for a relaxed trek, this isn’t for you. If you want to push yourself and experience some of the most spectacular scenery in Latin America, lace up your boots.

Paso de las Nubes

Flickr: Sean Munson

Literally translating to ‘Path Through the Clouds’, this spectacular trek traverses a 14-mile route from the town of Pampa Linda through the forests and over Mount Tranador on the border with Chile. It’s a challenging trek which takes two days, so you’ll need to overnight in a refugio or bring camping equipment with you. One the second day, you’ll descend to the beautiful Laguna Frias where you can take a return boat journey.

Iguazu Falls

Flickr: seretide

There’s a reason why Iguazu Falls is part of Argentina’s well-trodden tourist path. The falls are truly awe-inspiring and there’s no better way to experience them than walking along the wooden boardwalks, getting so close you can feel the spray on your face. The upper and lower circuits are distinctly different, so try to do both if you have the time and be sure to visit the Devil’s Throat which brings you nearest to this natural wonder.

Refugio Frey Hike

Flickr: McKay Savage

The Frey Hike is popular throughout the summer due to the ski gondolas which takes hikers to the top of the mountain. Departing from here, you can either take a tough but shorter route which will see you clambering over boulders or a longer but easier walk through a landscape of forests. Along the way, you can overnight at the Refugio Frey which has comfortable beds and facilities or pitch your own tent. For reasons unknown, this trek is not as popular as the others, but those who take it on enjoy gorgeous scenery and uncrowded trails.

Perito Moreno Glacier

Flickr: Alex Berger

Short but sweet, to complete the Perito Moreno Glacier trek you’ll need to don crampons and cross over the lake by boat. From here, your guide will take you over the top of one of Latin America’s most beautiful glaciers. The trek lasts around an hour or two and at the end, you can enjoy a well-deserved glass of whisky served with ice carved off the glacier.

El Bolsón

While most travelers stick to Bariloche, those in the know head to the charming little town of El Bolsón. Here, you’ll find 13 mountain refuges dotting the wild landscape and linking a series of paths that work there way across valleys, around lakes and through lush forests. You can choose from a short overnighter or a long hike that could last more than a week. With challenging hikes to shorter walks, everyone can enjoy the hiking around El Bolsón.

Quebrada de Humahuaca

The desert northern region of Argentina is home to some of the country’s most colourful natural wonders. Be sure to visit The Hill of Seven Colours just a short distance from Purmamarca. There are plenty of hikes through the Quebrada de Humahuaca, best explored with the help of a local guide. The scenery, friendly locals and year-round good weather in Northern Argentina make it one of the most popular places to hike.

Want to hike through Argentina? Speak to one of our experts at +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning your journey today.

Join us at the Luxury Travel Fair

We are pleased to announce that next week from 2 – 5 November we shall be at the Luxury Travel fair at Olympia, London. Come & feel inspired by one of the talks which take place every day including, critic and TV presenter Giles Coren, Planet Earth 2 Producer, Chadden Hunter, The Natural Navigator Tristan Gooley & Author Lord Norwich who will be talking about their travel experiences in a Q&A with members of the Condé Nast Traveler Editorial Team. You can also come and talk to us on Stand E31 about planning your trip to the Galapagos, Antarctica or Latin America. For free entrance go to the Luxury Travel Fair website and use the code: LTEX062.

Should you pick Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker

Whether to visit Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker is a question that every travellers who goes to Belize faces. Both lie in the Caribbean Sea just a few miles from each other and the mainland of Belize, but they are a world apart from each other in many ways. It’s a tricky one as both have their merits, and it really comes down to personal taste, and perhaps budget. Some people will defend the smaller Caye Caulker for its laid back atmosphere, while others will push for the nightlife and things to do on Ambergris Caye. Here’s everything you need to know to make the right decision for you.

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is the smallest of the two, at just 5 miles long and 1 mile wide, though in parts just100 metres wide or so. When you arrive on the island, you have a couple of choices for getting to your hotel – walk or golf buggy taxis. No vehicles are allowed on the island. During the high season, there are around 40 little hotels and guest houses, as well as a couple of dozen restaurants and bars, which close fairly early. It’s got a laid back atmosphere, with tiny little beaches flanked by shallow and calm aquamarine waters. Though it’s 5 miles long, much of the island is inaccessible due to dense mangroves. The island buildings are colourful wooden Caribbean shacks. Days can be spent on the little spits on beach, swimming or snorkelling in the ocean, paddle boarding or sea kayaking, or eating in the local restaurants. Towards the top of main island, there is ‘the split’, a break in the island caused by a hurricane in the 70’s. There are only 1,500 or so permanent residents on the island, though this swells with tourists during the high season.

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is much larger, with a population 10 times the size of Caye Caulker. It stretches for 25 miles and is up to a mile wide. The main town of San Pedro is much bigger than its Caye Caulker counterpart with hundreds of hotels and guest houses on offer. There are also countless bars and restaurants offering everything from Belizean to Italian cuisine. Ambergris Caye doesn’t have any cars either, but unlike Caye Caulker, the distances can be far, so it’s worth hiring a golf buggy to get around. Ambergris Caye is much more built up with large concrete buildings. The clubs and bars teem with tourists that spill out onto the beach and offer live music and cold drinks.

Both cayes offer access to the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, so this shouldn’t sway your decision. In conclusion, if you are looking for a quiet holiday in a more charming location, and don’t mind the lack of beaches or the limited variety of restaurants and bars, Caye Caulker is your island. If more choice for restaurants and nightlife is important, and you don’t mind the quicker pace, later nights, and noise, then stay on Ambergris Caye.

To visit either Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, or any other part of Belize, call or travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

How to spend the perfect day in Puerto Vallarta

The sleepy city of Puerto Vallarta has been drawing in tourists for more than 50 years. It was brought to international attention during the filming of John Huston’s ‘The Night of the Iguana’. The beautiful colonial architecture, cobbled streets, white sandy beaches, and friendly locals have been charming visitors since the 1960s, and has largely managed to stay fairy undeveloped compared to other Mexican coastal cities. If you find yourself in the city, here’s how to spend the perfect day.

9 a.m.

Start the day right with a visit to Coco’s Kitchen located in the old town. This Puerto Vallarta institution serves up some of the best breakfasts in town including crispy churros, omelettes stuffed with ham, cheese, mushrooms, and sausage. Be sure to try the huevos rancheros, a hearty plate of fried tortillas, fried eggs, refried beans, and salsa. Wash everything down with the restaurant’s signature mimosas.

10 a.m.

Flickr: smcgee

After breakfast, hop in the rental car or taxi and drive out to the Puerto Vallarta Botanical Gardens, a half hour drive outside the city. Nestled in the Sierra Madre mountains, these beautiful gardens are teeming with rare orchids, hummingbirds, and butterflies. Wander through the sunny gardens. It’s a wonderful way to while away the morning.

1 p.m.

Arrive back in the old town. By this time, you will have worked up a bit of an appetite. Dotted across Puerto Vallarta are little taco stands. Pull up a pew and order a couple of the meat tacos. Little flour tortillas are topped with shredded beef, salsa, chili, fresh cheese, and sauce. It’s going to get messy. There is no way to eat these politely, but they are delicious. Most sell refrescos, icy cold fruit juices. Hungry afterwards? Order another or head for the nearest seafood taco stand.

2 p.m.

After all that food, it’s time for a little rest and relaxation. Head down to Olas Altas or Los Muertos, the two nearest beaches to town, and work on the tan or swim in the sea. The beaches in Puerto Vallarta never get busy, so you’ll always be able to find a private little spot. Have a siesta or cool off in the Pacific Ocean. If you are feeling a little more energetic, you can rent some surf boards or body boards nearby and hit the waves. Alternatively, if you are not a beach dweller, head off the explore the beautiful architecture of the old town.

5 p.m.

The Malecon is a series of boardwalks which span a mile or so along the coast. It makes for a beautiful walk as you watch the sun setting and are cooled by the sea breeze. There are some interesting sculptures to see along the way, as well as little shops, bars, and restaurants. Towards the end of the boardwalk, there is a concrete pier underneath which a vendor sells seafood. Pick from the huge pile of fresh oysters, cover in lime juice and chili sauce, bury your feet into the sand and dig in.

8 p.m.

Flickr: sadaqah

Head up to La Palapa Restaurant nearby. Not only does the beachfront restaurant enjoy some particularly good views over the beach and ocean, they also serve up some incredibly fresh seafood from grilled lobster tails, barbecued tuna steaks covered in lime juice, or prawn tacos. The cocktails here are pretty good as well.

10 p.m.

Wander back to Mango’s Beach Club. As the name suggests, the bar is nestled right on the sand. Here they have an extensive cocktail menu (the margaritas are particularly good), as well as having live music at weekends. If you visit between Monday and Thursday, they often have two for one drinks available. The perfect way to finish your day in Puerto Vallarta.

Staying for more than one day? There is plenty more to do in the surrounding area. The little town of Sayulita is located around a half hour up the road and offers some of the best surfing in the area. There are several surf schools if you want to learn. The Islas Marietas National Park are some 8 miles of the mainland. Daily excursions will take you out to snorkel with the rich marine life or explore the underground beach. For a restaurant with a view, look up the Ocean Grill, a wooden restaurant built onto the side of a cliff edge overlooking the sea. To reach it, you will need to either hike across a thick bit of jungle or take the restaurant’s water taxi around the bay from Boca de Tomatlan.

Want to go to Puerto Vallarta? Start planning your tour by calling one of our Mexican travel experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email here with your request here.

Authentic Mexican steak quesadilla recipe

Flickr: Hungry Dudes

Quesadillas are a street food favourite in Mexico. The basic recipe are floury tortillas toasted with cheese, but they can be filled with everything at the back of the fridge. Their origins stem back to the colonial Mexico, though the recipe has changed and evolved somewhat over the years. Here’s our authentic recipe including steak, a luxurious version of the humble quesadilla.

Serves: 4
Time: 30 minutes

Ingredients

8 flour tortillas
½ kilo sirloin steak
1 medium onion, finely chopped
400 grams Mexican cheese
2 avocados
1 lime
Vegetable oil
Salt & pepper

Method

Add a little of the oil to a frying pan and heat over a medium flame. Add the chopped onion and fry until soft and translucent.

While the onions are cooking, chop the steak into thin slices and season with salt and pepper. Add the meat to the frying pan and cook with the onions for a few minutes until the meat has browned.

Grate the cheese. Lay out four of the tortillas on a clean surface. Add one quarter of the steak and onion mix onto each tortillas, and top each one with a quarter of the grated cheese. Add the other tortillas on top.

Clean at the frying pan and place back on the heat. Don’t add oil this time. When the frying pan has heated, carefully life the quesadilla onto the frying pan and leave to toast on one side. It should take a couple of minutes. Flip carefully with a spatula and toast the other side allowing the cheese to fully melt. You can press the tortilla gently on the top to help it cook and seal everything together. Take out when the cheese starts to ooze out.

Quickly cut in half and top with a squeeze of lime and top with sliced avocado. Eat immediately while the melted cheese is hot. Optional extras include topping the quesadilla with fresh zingy salsa and Mexican cream.

Interesting spots for art lovers in Latin America

The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

Flickr: Helen K

The Museo de Art Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (shortened to MALBA) is a World-class gallery. Located along Figueroa Alcorta Avenue in Palermo, the museum houses a wealth of Latin American art within a contemporary structure. Works from artists including Antonio Berni, Joaquin Torres Garcia, and Diego Rivera and amongst many others. The MALBA was inaugurated in 2001 with the mission to collect, preserve, and promote Latin American art. It receives well over a million visitors every year making it one of the highest visited museums on the continent.

The Blue House, Frida Kahlo Museum

Flickr: ::: Mer :::

More commonly known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul), the Frida Kahlo Museum is in Colonia del Carmen in Mexico City. The cobalt blue museum was the home of the artist. It was here she was born, created much of her art, lived with her husband Diego Rivera, and ultimately died. It chronicles her life, and has much of her artwork. Most of the building has be left exactly as it was when Frida lived there in the 1950’s.

The Last Supper in Cuzco

Wikipedia: Toño Zapata

Adorning the walls of the cathedral in Cuzco, there is a replica of The Last Supper. It was painting in the 18th century by a Peruvian artist called Marcos Zapata. The interesting thing about the painting is the Andean influence. You will notice that the table is filled with Peruvian foods including corn, peppers, different coloured potatoes, chicha (a fermented corn drink), and roasted cuy (guinea pig). At the forefront, Judas can be seen holding a bag of money, but this is commonly considered to be modelled on Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who executed the Inca Emperor hundreds of years before.

The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janerio

The Escadaria Selarón, more commonly called the Selaron Steps, are one of the most visited spots in Rio de Janeiro. Built by Chilean artist Jorge Selaron as a tribute to the Brazilian people, what started as a side project to his other work turned into an obsession that took years to create. There are 215 steps descending 125 metres and are covered with more than 2,000 tiles collected from around the world. Each step is unique creating an ever-evolving piece of art. 300 or so of the tiles are hand painted by Selaron.

The street art in Bogota

Flickr: McKay Savage

Street art has become popular across Latin America in recent years. One of the best places to see this modern art form is on the streets of Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Though you can see work adorning many of the streets, the best sports are along Calle 26 in the La Canderlaria neighbourhood, and Chapinero. The city has a dark history, and much of the work is about politics and social commentary. Local and international street artists like Banksy, Stinkfish, Vhils, and Toxicomano have all painted the walls here.

Want to see the art for yourself? Start planning your trip today by calling one of our Latin American experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

What to eat in Nicaragua

Flickr: Adam Cohn

Nicaragua is fast becoming to hottest destination in Latin America. The Central American country is flanked on both sides by the Caribbean and Pacific Oceans, and is known for its dramatic landscapes of towering smoky volcanoes, golden sand beaches, and glistening lakes. It also has a rich history, and glorious Spanish colonial architecture, particularly in the southern city of Granada. We’ve just launched the country as a new destination, so to celebrate we’ll be publishing a series of articles on the culture and history. Most are unsure about what Nicaraguan food is all about, so here’s a typical day in food.

Breakfast in Nicaragua

Flickr: hollykathryn

Breakfast in Nicaragua is a hearty affair. Typically, gallo pinto is the stable breakfast dish found in very restaurant across the land. Translating to ‘spotted roster’, gallo pinto is simply rice and beans cooked with fried onions and garlic. On the Caribbean coast, the rice is cooked in coconut milk. It’s served with fried or scrambled eggs, and sometimes comes with Nicaraguan cheese, fried plantain, and tortillas. On Sundays, be sure to try nacatamales, traditional cornmeal tamales wrapped in banana leaves and filled with pork, rice, and vegetables. They are usually found being sold from people’s homes. If you’re staying in a hotel or you visit an upmarket restaurant, your breakfast will usually come with plenty of exotic fresh fruit and juices. Wash everything down with plenty of Nicaraguan black coffee.

Lunch in Nicaragua

Nicaraguans take the time for a big lunch, and there are plenty of dishes to choose from. If you’re near the coast or Lake Ometepe, try the guapote, deep fried while fish covered in mango, tomatoes, and lime. Alternatively, try vigorón, shredded cabbage mixed with tomatoes, onions, chilis, vinegar, and salt. This is topped with boiled yuca and chicharones (fried pork belly). Corn is another stable in Nicaragua, so if you’re looking for something light for lunch, try the grilled corn on the cob sold from vendors on every street corner, delicious covered with lime salt. Quesadillas, tortillas stuffed with cheese, are also popular street snacks.

Dinner in Nicaragua

In the evening try indio viejo, a mouth watering stew of meat, onions, tomatoes, peppers, and mint. Usually mobbed up with plenty of warm tortillas. Sopa de mondongo is a hearty soup made from cow tripe, onions, achiote chilies, ayote, garlic, yucca, and sour oranges. Even if you aren’t a fan of tripe (stomach lining), give this a go. It might just change your mind. Wash all this down with cold cervezas. Try the local Nicaraguan Tona or La Victoria Bufalo, both of which are excellent. Alternatively, el macua is a popular cocktail made from rum, lemon juice, guavas, and sugar. A must try for an visit to the country. Before you go to bed, try a pinolillo, a hot chocolate drink made from toasted corn, cacao power, milk, sugar, and spiced with cinnamon and cloves.

Would you like to try the food in Nicaragua? To start planning your trip to the country, take a look at our Nicaraguan suggested tours, call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478, or email us here.

Videos of the most magnificent birds in Latin America

Latin America has the most diverse range of avifauna on earth. More than 3,000 different species of birdlife can be found from the mountains down to the coast. Notably places birders should visit are the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, the cloud forests of Peru, the Atlantic coastal forest in Brazil, the Iberá Wetlands in Argentina, and the Boquete Highlands in Panama. Here’s a rundown of the most magnificent birds in Latin America that all birders should tick off their lists.

Hyacinth macaws

The hyacinth macaw is part of the parrot family and is native to the rainforests of South America. It is characterized by its cobalt blue feathers. It is the largest of the parrot family at maturity can reach up to a metre long from its head to the bottom of its tail. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade, hyacinth macaws are listed as vulnerable. We can recommend spots in the Pantanal where you will definitely see them.

Andean condors

Andean condors inhabit much of the high Andes Mountains. It’s large, with a wingspan off well over 3 metres and is part of the vulture family. They circle on the thermals looking out for dead animals to scavenge. It has one of the longest lives of any bird, with some living to over 70 years. Perhaps one of the best places to see this impressive bird is in Peru’s Colca Canyon.

Cock of the Rock

Though small, the cock of the rock is one of the most colourful birds in Latin America. Inhabiting the misty cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes, these birds are characterized by bright orange feathers including a prominent fan-shaped crest. They congregate in leks where the males display in the hope of attracting a mate. If you want to see a cock of the rock, be sure to visit the cloud forests of Ecuador or Manu in Peru.

Waved albatross

These huge 2.5 metre birds descend upon Espanola island in the Galapagos during the mating season in May. Most visit the island to view the majestic birds’ mating ritual of bill circling, sky pointing, and bill clapping. The rest of the year they spend along the coast of Peru and Ecuador. Interestingly, the waved albatross can live up to 45 years.

Resplendent quetzal

The resplendent quetzal is found in the cloud forests of Panama, Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica. There are several different sub-species, and they are often considered by many as the most beautiful birds in the world. These solitary creatures are part of the trogon family and are usually found on their own or very small groups.

Magnificent frigatebirds

Magnificent frigatebirds have a large wingspan and are known for stealing the food from other birds. This has led to the Spanish calling the pirate birds. The males have a layer of shiny black feathers along their body and a large red throat pouch which they inflate during mating season to attract a mate. Females are large then the males, and have white breast and shoulder feathers.

Blue footed boobies

Though blue footed boobies can be found along the coast of Ecuador and Peru, the biggest populations are on the Galapagos Islands, and are one of the archipelago’s biggest draws. They are easily recognised by their blue feet which they stamp up and down to impress a female. They reach almost a metre in height (the females are generally taller) and they have a wingspan of up to 1.5 metres.

King penguins

Most of the population of king penguins are found in the Antarctic, but there is a small population of king penguins on the Falkland Islands and another in Tierra del Fuego. King penguins are around a metre tall and are expert swimmers. While looking for prey like small fish and quid, they often dive down to over 100 metres, though some reach depths three times this.

Harpy eagles

The beautiful harpy eagle is found throughout the Americas and is one of the most powerful raptor species. They can be seen in parts of the lowland rainforests in Brazil and Central America gliding around on the morning thermal. They have huge talons which they use to grab prey and can lift animals that are as heavy as they are.

Capuchinbird

This funny looking bird is found in Northern Brazil and Guyana. It’s part of the cotingidae family and is famous among birders as having one of the most unique vocalisations, a low rumble like a cow. It’s got a strange head formation which makes it easy to spot.

Want to see the bird life of Latin America? To start planning, call one of our birding experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

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