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Join us at the Birdfair

Toucan Barbet

We are pleased to announce Select Latin America will be having a stand at the Birdfair taking place at Rutland Water Nature Reserve Friday 15th – Sunday 17th August.  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 14th. year, find us at Marquee 1 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. The bird illustrated is a toucan barbet from Ecuador.

Launching our New Brochure

Brochure Cover
We are pleased to announce the publication of new brochure. This beautiful 96 page full colour booklet is packed full of our favourite hotels, country information, tours and maps to give you itchy feet and help with the planning of your next adventure in Latin America. To order you free copy, please get in touch.

Central American and Caribbean Short Stories

C Am Short Stories

If you want some entertaining holiday reading I suggest ‘Central American and Caribbean Short Stories’ by Eduardo de Benito. This collection has recently been published by Pegasus. I had the pleasure of meeting the author at the launch in London’s Belgravia. Eduardo worked for many years in London as a broadcaster and writer for the BBC World Service and as correspondent of Spanish political weeklies. He certainly has had an interesting life in both the tropics and Europe. Now a bearded, bespectacled, grey-haired writer he was the son of Spanish exiles from Franco’s fascist regime in Spain, then brought up in Bogota, Mexico City, and Paris. He now based in North Norfolk where he is a keen sailor and walker. From his stories one can gather that he has had some hair-raising experiences and he admits the boundary between fiction and fact is far from clear.

Each of the five stories takes unexpected twists from the traumatic shock experienced by a young Scottish woman while she stays with the peaceful Kuna Indians on the archipelago of San Blas to the unplanned adventures of a French petit-bourgeois couple in Venezuela, Tobago, and Belize. These are sometimes based on real people; sometimes they are simply the product of the author’s imagination. All the stories have political undertones and touch on attitudes to class and race ‘The Table’ is about a well-to-do couple forced to flee from Europe in 1939, but share a boat with working-class compatriots and things get tricky when the drunken captain strands the boat in the middle of the jungle. Eduardo has a mischievous sense of humour too. ‘Of Urban Three-toed Sloths’ sees two bungling friends who are allegedly going to Costa Rica to do bird-watching, but end up embroiled in espionage among the swamps along the Nicaraguan border. The stories have a dark side none more so than ‘To be dead or alive is the same here’ which begins and ends in torture of a hapless journalist under Nicaragua’s Somoza dictatorship. ‘Don’t mention Coral reefs’ features the aforementioned French couple whose marriage undergoes a renaissance after bribing cops in Venezuela, the wife having an affair with a tour guide in Tobago, and the husband visiting a brothel in Belize. The book is an ideal summer read. Copies can be purchased direct from the publisher.

Patagonia Overland Safari Our New Product

Fancy a different way of exploring Patagonia? Why not trying our new Patagonia Overland Safari tour?

This can be either an eight or six days program where you will discover the most amazing corners of Patagonia on both the Argentinean and Chilean sides, including the mighty Perito Moreno Glacier, Torres del Paine National Park with the fascinating Grey glacier and Los Glaciares National Park which provides stunning views of Mount Fitz Roy.

Both programs can be combined with a visit to the vibrant city of Buenos Aires, the imposing Iguazú falls and with a Malbec wine tasting in Mendoza. At the same time we can include a few days exploring the marvelous Atacama Desert in Chile.

To start organizing your visit to Patagonia get in touch.

The Last Supper with a Guinea Pig

Last Supper

Photo credit: Toño Zapata/Wikipedia

If you’ve ever visited the Cathedral in Cuzco you may have noticed a painting depicting Jesus and his disciples at The Last Supper. Although it looks like a piece of religious European art it was painted by a Peruvian man called Marcos Zapata in the 18th century. After the Spanish conquered the Inca Empire in 1534 they tried to convert the remaining Incas to Catholics and one of the ways they tried to do this was through art.  Religious artists from Spain were sent to Cuzco to open the Escuela Cuzqueña (Cuzco School) and teach indigenous Quechua people and mestizos how to draw and paint. What’s interesting about Zapata’s painting are the Andean cultural influences that may not be immediately apparent. Native Peruvian foods including peppers, corn and different coloured potatoes adorns the table as well as cuy (guinea pig), a typical Andean staple. It’s commonly considered that the drink is either chicha (fermented corn) or the local fire-water Pisco. To the forefront of the painting Judas can be seen holding a bag of money below the table. Some say that this figure looks very similar to Francisco Pizarro, the Conquistador who captured and murdered the Inca Emperor Athualpa.

Want to see the painting for yourself? Get in touch.

22 species of wildlife you will see in the Pantanal

1. Capuchin Monkey

Capuchin MonkeyTambako The Jaguar/Flickr

2. Capybara

CapybaraTambako The Jaguar/Flickr

3. Coatimundi

CoatimundiNeil McIntosh/Flickr

4. Crab Eating Fox

Crab Eating FoxTambako The Jaguar/Flickr

5. Giant Anteater

Giant Anteaterdany13/Flickr

6. Giant River Otter

Giant River OtterTambako The Jaguar/Flickr

7. Howler Monkey

Howler MonkeysTambako The Jaguar/Flickr

8. Jaguar

JaguarTambako The Jaguar/Flickr

9. Tapir

TapirTambako The Jaguar/Flickr

10. Collared Peccary

Collared PeccaryJason Langlois/Flickr

11. Caiman

CaimanTambako The Jaguar/Flickr

12. Tegu Lizard

Tegu LizardRob Milsom/Flickr

13. Blue & Yellow Macaw

Blue & Yellow MacawDigo_Souza/Flickr

14. Piranha

PiranhaMartin Fisch/Flickr

15. Greater Rhea

SONY DSCRoovuu/Flickr

16. Hyacinth Macaw

Hyacinth macawsGeoff Gallice/Flickr

17. Yellow Armadillo

ArmadillosSu Neko/Flickr

18. Female Anhinga

Female AnhingaHeather Paul/Flickr

19. Great Black Hawk

Great Black HawkRon Knight/Flickr

20. Jabiru Stork

jabiru storkFernando Flores/Flickr

21. Toco Toucan

Toco ToucanTim Strater/Flickr

22. Anaconda

AnacondaJeff Kubina/Flickr

Want to see some of the wildlife in the Pantanal? Start planning your trip here.

Eight Peruvian Dishes you have to try

1. Ceviche

CevicheJorge Gobbi/Flickr

The coastline of Peru offers some superb seafood. Probably Peru’s most famous dish is ceviche, made from raw fish marinated in lime juice. Although the dish varies from region to region its typically served with peppers, red onion and white corn. We suggest only eating ceviche whilst travelling near to the coast as the fish will be considerably fresher. Those who are feeling brave can drink the citrus juice left over which is known locally as tiger’s milk. Take a look at our recipe here.

2. Lomo Saltado

Lomo SaltadoRon Dollete/Flickr

Another classic Peruvian dish invented using Asian methods of cooking brought by Chinese immigrants. Sliced beef, red onions, aji chillies, soy sauce and coriander are stir fried and then mixed with fried potatoes and served with white rice. Delicious. Take a look at our online recipe here.

3. Cuy

CuyJorge Gobbi/Flickr

Probably not for those who are squeamish about their food (or serious pet lovers). Cuy is grilled guinea pig usually served whole. This really is a staple of the Andean communities and is much tastier than it looks.

4. Salchipapas

SalchipapasGary Stevens/Flickr

A popular fast food throughout many counties in Latin America, Salchipapas is a simple dish of fried hot dog sausages and French fries served with a variety of sauces and condiments. This inexpensive filling dish is found at small restaurants and street stalls all over the country.

5. Aji de Gallina

Aji de GallinaKrista/Flickr

Although its appearance won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, it’s worth a try. Succulent chicken, hard-boiled eggs and slices of boiled potato are covered in a rich sauce made from cheese, milk, chillies and nuts. Typically served with heaps of steamed white rice.  Take a look at our recipe here.

6. Anticuchos

AnticuchosPaul Lowry/Flickr

Anticuchos are basically kebabs of grilled meat, typically beef heart. The meat is first marinated in Peruvian spices before being grilled over charcoal and served with corn and boiled potato. Antichuchos can be found being grilled on street stalls all over the country.

7. Pollo a la Brasa

Pollo de la BrasaKrista/Flickr

A simple but mouth-watering dish. Take a whole chicken and marinate with a mixture of seasoning, chili, cumin, paprika, vinegar and soy sauce before being grilled over charcoal. Excellent served with a cold Peruvian beer. Pollo a la Brasa can be found in many small restaurants all over Peru.

8. Papa Rellena

Pollo RellenaJason Lam/Flickr

Papa Rellena is a popular street food. Mashed potato is formed into balls before being stuffed with a mixture of minced beef, onions, tomatoes, garlic and cumin as well as black olives and egg. The balls are sealed up and deep-fried to give a crispy outer coating.

To start your culinary adventure through Peru, contact us or take a look at our tours.

The Galapagos Affair – Satan Came to Eden

Galapagos_small
Most of the visitors who have the good fortune to visit the ‘enchanted islands’ of the Galapagos archipelago know precious little about the human history. I have taken tour groups there over the years and many of them believed that the only inhabitants were reptiles, birds and a few sea lions. Those that did their reading knew about Darwin and his short, but hugely significant visit on the Beagle, some knew perhaps about the pirates and the whalers – but few knew of the true pioneers – the first settlers who eked out a living on these inhospitable arid volcanic shores. Not to mention brutal penal colonies which are all Ecuador thought that the islands were good for until the late 20th century.

I arrived in 1978, when tourism was just taking off. In those days the boats were Spartan affairs, our yacht had no fridge and a shower was a shared trickle of rusty brackish water. It took 5 hours to get there in a propeller aircraft from Ecuador. (Today it is only an hour and a half in one of several daily jets). The yachts now rival those found in many sophisticated marinas and hotels are springing up on all of the four inhabited islands.

One of the non-wildlife visits we did was to a place called Black Beach on the island of Floreana, here was a tiny naval base and a handful of settlers and farmers. One of these was a little old lady called Mrs Wittmer who ran a basic guest house and restaurant. She had been there since the early 1930’s and must have been in her 70’s when I knew her. She certainly had a lot of stories to tell, with a mischievous twinkle in her eye as she gave us her home-made orange wine and cookies; she was the first woman to give birth on Floreana, her now grown-up son was captain of one of the first tour boats; but only the brave would mention the Baroness and the scandalous events of half a century earlier… I don’t want to spoil the story told in the film – but as they say: truth is stranger than fiction – no Agatha Christie novel could compete with this tale.

Imagine a desert island; put ashore 3 disparate families each with their own stubborn ideas of what island life should amount to and add a generous dose of ego-mania and the result is an unhappy end, as sexual intrigue, jealousy and unsolved murder take place, with the mysterious disappearances of the aforementioned Baroness. Less ‘Swiss Family Robinson’ and more ‘Lord of the Flies’ for adults. Galapagos Affair: Satan Came To Eden opens 25th July in UK cinemas, with myself introducing the film and partaking in a Q & A session afterwards. There will be other UK screenings and a DVD/Blue-Ray out in September.

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