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The Jaguar Express Visit

© David Horwell

© David Horwell

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

© David Horwell

© David Horwell

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

© David Horwell

© David Horwell

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

© David Horwell

© David Horwell

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

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

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The Tin Tin straight line and the Bishop’s slope

Tin Tin straight

In Argentina’s arid and mountainous Northwest there are two striking roads. One is a nearly 20km straight road that follows an ancient Inca route near Cachí and is now part of Route 33. Tin-Tin is named after a nearby river and mountain (nothing to do with the Belgian detective). The road is surrounded by high Andes mountains and crosses the high plains through the Los Cardones National park. The tall Cardones candelabra cacti appear to watch like sentinels in their hundreds and thousands. These strange plants grow perfectly spaced over the wide valley. There is not much wildlife but guanacos (a kind of wild llama) can be seen grazing among the cacti. It is a wonder how the Incas created such a perfect straight line and some have suggested extra terrestrials visited the area and still do.

Bishops-slope

The Cuesta del Obispo by contrast is a very winding unpaved road that snakes down from Piedra de Molino pass at 3,348m down into the valley of the Escoipe river. This is truly one of the great drives of the World but not for the faint-hearted. With more hairpin bends than any road you can imagine. It is named after a Bishop Cortázar who had to spend a awestruck night here in 1622. There are great views of Cachí mountain and the Cafayate Gorge and with a bit of luck a condor or two.

Both roads are on the Salta – Cafayate circuit and feature in our tour The route is also ideal for a self drive tour of 2-3 days or part of a longer trip to the high Andean region of Salta.

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12 Delicious Things You Can Do With Dulce De Leche

Dulce de leche is a seriously addictive South American caramel that’s becoming increasingly popular in the UK. For the sweet-toothed there’s probably nothing better. Rich, sweet, sticky, creamy and versatile as you will see from the list of twelve things you can do with it below.

1. Classic alfajores from Argentina

Flickr: jamieanne

Flickr: jamieanne

2. Added to chocolate brownies

Flickr: Jessica Merz

Flickr: Jessica Merz

3. Used above the base in yogurt cheesecake

 

Flickr: Theresa

Flickr: Theresa

4. Simply spread on toast

5. Added to vanilla ice cream

Flickr: wenday :D

Flickr: wenday :D

6. Stirred into your morning porridge

Flickr: stu_spivack

Flickr: stu_spivack

7. As a dip for your churros

Flickr: Alpha

Flickr: Alpha

8. Slipped into a crepe

Flickr: Brett

Flickr: Brett

9. Add to banana bread

Flickr: Cher

Flickr: Cher

10. Made into a flan

Flickr: Miriam Ramos

Flickr: Miriam Ramos

11. Eaten on your Cheerios

Flickr: Mike Mozart

Flickr: Mike Mozart

12. Eaten with beignets or donuts

Anything we’ve missed? Let us know below.

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8 Amazing Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta And The Riviera Nayarit

Our product manager has just returned from the city of Puerto Vallarta located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Below he reports on the best things to do in the region.

Visit the Ocean grill

Ocean Grill

Head just south of Puerto Vallarta and you’ll find the Ocean Grill Restaurant. Not only is the seafood excellent, but this wooden structure is built on a cliff side overlooking a wonderful little bay. To reach the Ocean Grill drive thirty minutes south to the village of Boca de Tomatlan where they will take you by boat around the bay to the restaurant. Alternatively if you have the energy you can hike from Boca de Tomatlan through thick jungle for around an hour.

Go surfing in Sayulita

SurfFlickr: Villa Amor

The small town of Sayulita on the Riveria Nayarit offers great all year round surf. There are plenty of places to hire boards and if you are new to the sport there are some excellent schools. The surf breaks in two different places making it an excellent place to learn.

Eat oysters on Los Muertos Beach

OystersFlickr: Sharon Hahn Darlin

In Puerto Vallarta oysters are eaten in abundance. However, the best place to get them is down on Los Muertos Beach where three to four vendors compete for trade under the shade of the concrete pier. A dozen fresh oysters will set you back around 150 pesos (£6).

Swim with wild dolphins

Puerto VallartaFlickr: Ben Miller

Take a boat out to swim and snorkel with pods of wild dolphins. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Deep sea fishing in Banderas Bay

FishingFlickr: Harvey Barrison

The fishing around Banderas Bay is world-class. There’s a wide selection of fully-crewed fishing boats to choose, Likely catches including Pacific sailfish, marlin, dorado, tuna and red snapper. Afterwards you can take your catch back for a beach barbeque or to a local restaurant.

Whale watching

Whale watchingFlickr: Bruce Irschick

It’s well worth timing your holiday during the winter and spring months when you’ll have the opportunity to go whale watching. The warm ocean make it the perfect breeding ground for magnificent humpback whales and orcas.

Snorkel off the Marieta Islands

ScubaFlickr: ChrisDag

Famed for its hidden beach, this group of uninhabited Islands were used for military tests during the early 20th century. After an international outcry in the 1960s the islands were designated as a national park. Your likely to encounter thousands of tropical fish, octopus, manta rays, turtles and even whales when snorkelling or scuba diving.

Eating churros in Puerto Vallarta

There’s only one place you should be eating churros in Puerto Vallarta. Drop by the corner of Lazaro Cardenas and Aguacate after five in the afternoon and you won’t regret it. Churros is just 1 peso (4 pence) each.

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Film Review: Wild Tales

Wild Tales

Pedro Almodóvar presents Wild Tales, a series of six fables exploring the most extreme effects of the stresses of modern day. It starts on board a domestic flight in Argentina. Passengers begin to realise that they have been duped onto the flight with the lure of a free ticket given by a man that each has wronged in some way. A horrific end awaits that unfortunately mirrors the tragic events in the Alps earlier in the year. A further five vignettes follow, all running along the same themes of personal breakdown, revenge, violence and a struggle to stay in control. Darkly comic and thoroughly enjoyable throughout.

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10 Things You Must Do When Visiting Panama

Bocas del Toro

Bocas_del_toro_tour

The Bocas del Toro archipelago in the north west of the country is a must for any visitor to Panama. The town is worth spending a night or two – think laid back mix of open-air bars, music and beaches. The archipelagos islands contain numerous over-the-water style luxury bungalows to retreat to and spend days swimming in the calm waters, swinging in a hammock with a good book and a cold beer.

Visit the Finca Dracula

Finca Dracula
Flickr: Dick Culbert

Located on the surrounds of the world biosphere reserve of La Amistad, the Finca Dracula is home to over 2,200 species if rare orchid. It’s the largest in Latin America and one of the biggest in the world. It’s main objectives are the education, investigation and conservation of this wonderfully diverse family of flower.

White water rafting

white water rafting
Flickr: Ken Mayer

The white water rafting in Panama is superb, particularly in Boquete which offers a mix of beginner and expert rapids.

Eat like a local

Panama food
Flickr: Angela Rutherford

Panama is not known worldwide for its food, but for those who delve in there are some excellent local dishes that a simply a must. Panama is a melting pot of Latinos, Asians, Afro-Caribbeans and indigenous, and this reflects in the food. As everywhere in Latin America you’ll find plenty of delicious empanadas. Delicious soups and stews and fresh fish near the sea.

Pearl Islands

pearl islands
Flickr: Guillermo A. Durán

The Pearl Islands are an archipelago of over 200 islands, most of which are uninhabited, but all of which have incredible white sandy beaches. This is one of the best places in the country for marine life and scuba diving, snorkel and whale watching (when in season) are all excellent.

Panama Canal

Panama_canal_holiday

The famous Panama Canal is top of most people’s list. This feat of engineering was completed in 1914 and celebrated its 100 year anniversary last year.

Coiba Island National Park

Coiba
Flickr: LASZLO ILYES

Located in the Gulf of Chiriqui, this national park is one of the best marine reserves in Panama. The thirty eight islands that make up the park are a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The island was used as a penal colony which meant access was limited. This lack of human contact has allowed the region’s marine life to flourish.

San Blas Islands

Panama_san_blas_holiday

The San Blas archipelago located in the north of the country consists of 378 islands, most of which are uninhabited. To make the most of your time stay with the local Kuna people and spend your days fishing, snorkelling and relaxing on the white sandy beaches.

Casco Viejo

antiguo_tour_panama

The old town of Panama City is where you should be staying when you visit the capital. The original old town was destroyed by pirates in 1671 and rebuilt a number of years later. It has been given UNESCO World Heritage status.

Sendero los Quetzales

quetzal
Flickr: vil.sandi – away

This is arguably one of the most stunning trails in the whole country. Stretching for just over 8 kilometres between Boquete and Cerro Punta. Along the way you have a good chance of seeing the allusive resplendent quetzal bird.

To start planning your trip to Panama take a look at our trip ideas.

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Just another reason to visit the Galapagos right now

If you haven’t already heard, a volcanic eruption is happening right now on Isabela, a large westerly island in the archipelago.

Wolf Volcano has been showing some seismic activity in recent months, and now after 33 years of inactivity it finally started erupting on the morning of the 25 May. Magma flow can now been seen running slowly down southeast. It hasn’t reached the coast yet and the activity now seems to be decreasing in intensity.

This may sound scary to some, but the new eruption poses no danger to Puerto Villamil, the nearest human settlement, and scientists from the Charles Darwin Research Station say the impact to the environment will be minimal. The small population of rare and endemic pink iguanas are also not at risk.

Guests visiting that region of the Galapagos at the moment will be lucky enough to see some spectacular views, particularly at night.

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38 Outrageously Luxurious Hotels In Brazil

Brazil has some of the finest hotels in the world. Here’s a rundown of the 38 most luxurious properties from all corners of the country in no particular order.

Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro

Capacabana Hotel Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Superbly positioned overlooking the sea, adjacent to Copacabana beach, this glamorous Belmond (formerly Orient-Express) landmark in Rio has been welcoming the rich and famous since its Art Deco doors swung open in 1923. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced here and the Rolling Stones tuned up in its grand salon before their concert on the beach.

Each room is individually designed with fine period furniture and original works of art, giving an elegant yet relaxed ambiance. Views are either of the world-famous Copacabana beach, or towards the city behind. The magnificent pool and adjacent super-cool Bar do Copa are the perfect place to try one of Brazil’s famous caipirinhas whilst soaking up the sun and mingling with Rio’s style-setters.

Fasano, Rio de Janeiro

Fasona Hotel Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Designed by French designer Philippe Starck and inspired by the Rio de Janiero of the 50’s and 60’s, this luxurious hotel sits on its own private stretch of fashionable Ipanema beach.

All the rooms and suites have a slick design with gorgeous hard wood floors and Dali-inspired mirrors. A large infinity pool on the roof boasts spectacular views across the ocean. The hotel has excellent food at the Al Maro restaurant, serving Italian and locally inspired cuisine with an emphasis on fresh seafood.

Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro

Santa Teresa, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Hotel Santa Teresa is considered one of the most beautiful hotels in South America. A historical coffee plantation mansion in the trendy area of the same name and now the cultural and historical heart of Rio de Janeiro.

This boutique hotel was restored with charm and sophistication. It’s surrounded by tropical gardens and includes panoramic pools, a natural spa, a lounge bar classified as the most romantic in Rio de Janeiro and Térèze Restaurant with Franco-Brazilian gastronomy by Chef Damien Montecer. Jaw-dropping views of the city, the harbour and the bay can be seen from all the rooms and garden.

Fasano, São Paulo

Fasano Sao Paulo, Brazil

Found in the heart of the exclusive Jardins neighbourhood, São Paulo’s most elegant hotel offers personal service, luxurious rooms and what is regarded as South America’s finest Italian cuisine. The hotel recreates classically detailed 1930´s style with contemporary aesthetics and conveniences. The spa and rooftop swimming pool are an oasis from the busy city.

Emilianao, São Paulo

Emiliano Hotel Sao Paulo, Brazil

Located on Oscar Freire Street in the heart of the exclusive Jardin neighbourhood, the Emiliano is a modern and luxurious. The design of the hotel has been carefully thought about and has won awards for its architecture.

All the rooms are modern and spacious and the service is excellent. The spa located on the 22nd floor has panoramic views over the city and beyond and offers a range of treatments to help you unwind after a day of exploration.

Hotel Unique, São Paulo

Hotel Unique

This striking building designed by Ruy Ohtake is certainly unique. From the outside it looks like a giant boat, and on the inside some rooms have curved walls. The vast atrium is the ultimate in minimalistic modernity, though furnished with brightly coloured seating and an enigmatic statue of St. George.

Within the rooms window shutters, lamps and a folding glass wall dividing the bedroom from bathroom are controlled by electric gizmos. You can even watch the TV from the bathtub. Other facilities include a lobby bar complete with wall of wine bottles, the rooftop Skye Bar (popular with locals), and most unusual of all, an adjacent red swimming pool.

L’Hotel Porto Bay, São Paulo

L'Hotel Porto Bay Sao Paulo, Brazil

L’Hotel is a boutique hotel with a more classic than contemporary feel; think marble floors and a wrought-iron banister staircase in the lobby. Rococo styled furniture and huge flower displays complete the ambiance.

There are only 73 rooms on 15 floors so it is smaller than most hotels in the centre of São Paulo. The fine cotton Spanish bed linen and marble bathrooms give it a luxurious feel.  The staff are very attentive and the hotel well located just off the Avenue Paulista. You would be hard pushed to find a better option in the city.

Fasano Boa Vista, São Paulo state

Fasano Boa Vista Sao Paulo, Brazil

Fasano Boa Vista is this small luxury chains’ first country retreat. Located in São Paulo state, the hotel was designed by renowned Brazilian architect, Isay Weinfeld. It’s designed in a way that integrates into the spectacular surroundings.

The hotel has 27 deluxe rooms, 11 suites and 1 two-bedroom suite all of which have modern amenities such as Wi-Fi, 46” HD televisions, Ipod docks, Egyptian-cotton sheets, goose feather pillows and balconies. It also features three restaurants, a bar, tennis courts, a soccer field, a steam room, sauna, spa, four heated pools and a fully equipped fitness centre. If you’re looking for serious luxury in beautiful surroundings, this is the place for you.

Ponta dos Ganchos, Florianopolis

Ponta dos Ganchos, Florianopolis, Brazil

Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort is located on a privately-owned peninsula, surrounded by the Emerald Coast. The luxurious villas and bungalows set within this privileged location guarantees guests total privacy.

The hotel offers a state-of-the-art fitness centre, bar, lounge, games room, heated swimming pool, massage gazebos, spa and nature trails. The restaurant offers fine cuisine with locally sourced food some from within the hotels own organic garden. Additional boat trips can be arranged to Baía dos Golfinhos (Bay of Dolphins) and Arvoredo Island, the best site for scuba diving in South Brazil.

Convento do Carmo, Salvador

Pousada Convento do Carmo, grupo Pestana, Salvador, Bahia.

In the heart of Pelourinho a former Carmelite convent dating back to 1586 now hosts a gorgeous luxury hotel. Respecting every inch of its rich and spiritual past, the building was transformed to offer a charming boutique hotel with rooms arranged around cloisters and courtyards. A relaxing L’Occitane spa awaits after a day of exploring Salvador. Fine cuisine completes this multiple award-winning hotel.

UXUA, Bahia

UXUA Trancoso Brazil

UXUA Casa Hotel includes ten unique casas which blend seamlessly into the historic centre of Trancoso, a small fishing village on Brazil’s idyllic southern Bahian coast.

Four casas are restored fishermen’s homes on the 16th century town green called the Quadrado, while six others sit in a lush garden. The casas were created by designer Wilbert Das in collaboration with local artisans using traditional building methods, reclaimed materials, and Brazilian antiques and art. The design blends rustic elements with contemporary comfort and roominess, and fuses in an innovative way indoor and outdoor living spaces to take advantage of a year-round, tropical climate.

Service is provided in friendly, Bahian style, including two restaurants specializing in traditional local cuisine, a spa, a unique swimming pool of healing aventurine crystals, and a spectacular beach lounge created from old fishing boats.

Txai Resort, Bahia

txai resort brazil

This rustic-chic hotel is sat on a beautiful stretch of Bahia’s Cacoa coast. Simple but stylish guest rooms as well as individual bungalows on stilts with palm thatch roofs, some with Jacuzzis and private plunge pools are all just moments away from the turquoise blue waters of the sea.

Try visiting the fantastic hilltop spa offering a variety of treatments, a pool with stunning ocean views and sauna. Many local activities including water sports and horse riding can be arranged nearby.

Fazenda da Lagoa, Bahia

Fazenda de lagoa, Brazil

Stunning tranquil and remote eco-resort with fourteen colourful cabanas, on a pristine white-sand beach backed by rainforest. To reach the farm, where artist Mucki Skowronski and her husband have established this stylish resort within their 300-hectare property, you are ferried across a private lagoon through mangroves and monkeys. With a maximum of just twenty eight guests and no neighbouring properties you will feel as if you are in your own private slice of paradise.

Canto das Aguas, Lençóis

Canto das Aguas, Brazil

Built on the curve of the Rio Lencois, and designed by an architect using local stone and wood, in every room of this environmentally friendly hotel you can hear the sound of the nearby flowing river.

A place for meditation and relaxation with a hillside massage tent, sauna, an impressive pool and gardens full of native plant species. Solar energy provides hot water and social initiatives are supported by the hotel.

Estrela D’Agua, Trancoso

Estrela D’Agua, Brazil

Overlooking Nativos Beach, this laid back, hip hotel prides itself on its exceptional interior design inspired by the natural beauty of the area. Each of the seafront bungalows and suites are spacious, light and airy with elegant decor where rustic and luxury find harmony.

The hotel’s restaurant serves local dishes by candlelight in the evening. Relax and unwind on beach or in the hotel pool or explore the local area including the local fishing village of Trancoso with its boutique shops, restaurants and nightlife. Hiking, horse riding, diving, and boat trips can all be arranged nearby.

Villa Serano, Lençóis

Villa Serrano hotel

Designed by the owners to be environmentally sustainable, the pousada was recently built in 19th century Portuguese colonial style. All thirteen rooms have been individually decorated to create a peaceful and harmonious environment. The interior and furniture of the rooms were handcrafted by local artists. The guestrooms all have an attached veranda with hammock. Relax in the shade of the garden’s trees, have a massage or simply relax in the whirlpool of the open air mini spa.

Tivoli Eco-Resort, Praia do Forte

Tivoli Eco Resort, Brazil

A luxurious five-star hotel. The deluxe suites and selection of rooms with sea facing balconies offer a comfortable home-from-home in this haven of warm waters and white sands.

Try delicious delicacies direct from the sea or enjoy a cocktail from any of the three restaurants and two bars at your disposal. If you have a little extra energy to expend the hotel has a wide range of sports facilities, if you don’t relax within the well-appointed spa.

Toca da Coruja, Pipa

Toca da Coruja, Brazil

Lush tropical gardens surround the enchanting Toca da Coruja. Built in traditional colonial style this hotel consists of a series of wooden bungalows set within a jungle oasis within minutes of the stunning beach.

The bungalows, connected by wooden walkways, range in size, are decorated in bright Caribbean colours and are furnished with both contemporary and antique pieces. The award winning restaurant offers wonderfully crafted Brazilian food.

Nannai Resort & Spa, Porto de Galinhas

Nannai Resort, Brazil

The Nannai Resort & Spa is located around nine kilometres from Porto de Galinhas on a vast stretch of Muro Alto Beach. It’s a large hotel with plenty of rooms, each well designed with private balconies.

The resort recently won the Conde Nast Johansens ‘Best Spa Award 2014’. The Nannai Spa by L’Occitane offers everything you would imagine from a world class spa – Jacuzzis, saunas, hydrotherapy, gym and a wealth of treatments. The resort also features over six thousand square metres of pool which surround the hotel and feature swimming lanes, Jacuzzis and even a water volleyball area.

There are plenty of other activities on offer from the use of laser boats, kayaks, snorkelling, stand up paddles, tennis courts, beach volleyball courts, pitch and putt golf and a games room.

Kenoa Resort & Spa, Barra de São Miguel

Kenoa Resort & Spa, Brazil

The Kenoa enjoys a spectacular location on Barra de São Miguel beach and next to a nature reserve. There are just twenty three suites and villas, each of which is tastefully decorated and extremely comfortable.

The resort also features a spa, fitness centre, pool, driving range, business and conference centre, lounge, wine bar and a restaurant where you can dine on excellent cuisine.

Anavilhanas Lodge, near Manaus

Anavilhanas, Amazon, Brazil

This charming lodge cleverly combines comfort with the surrounding nature. Located on the Rio Negro River which opens up to reveal over 400 islands, each adorned with thick virgin rainforest and seasonal river beaches. This really is a nature lover’s paradise with countless birds, tree-dwelling animals and aquatic life, including the pink river dolphin.

Each of the sixteen cabins are decorated with local arts and crafts, each with a private veranda and hammock and are surprisingly luxurious even having air conditioning. The lodge has a pool and decked area with stunning views over the surrounding area. During your stay you can take part in many of the activities including jungle hikes, sunrise and nocturnal canoe tours.

Cristalino Jungle Lodge, near Alta Floresta

Cristalino Amazon Brazil

The Cristalino is located in a private natural heritage reserve adjacent to the 456,800 acre Cristalino State Park and is easily the most luxurious of jungle lodges in Latin America. Pioneering in their approach to sustainable conservation, much of the profits are reinvested back into projects in the Alta Floresta Region.

The surrounding area is rich in over 580 species of bird, many butterfly species, capybaras, anteaters, river otters and many varieties of monkeys. During your stay you can enjoy many of the activities on offer including hikes, canoe rides and trips to the excellent fifty metre high observation platform.

Hotel Das Cataratas, Iguaçu Falls

Das Cataratas, Iguaçu Brazil

The only hotel located within the Iguassu National Park, Hotel das Cataratas enjoys an unrivalled location just a short stroll from the sensational waterfalls. Guests enjoy exclusive access to this magnificent sight in the evening and at dawn, when the park is closed to other visitors.

A Portuguese-colonial residence, this classic Belmond (formerly Orient-Express) hotel is redolent with the atmosphere of lazy days lounging on a veranda or beneath sub-tropical palms. All rooms are spacious and beautifully decorated, some with views overlooking the falls.

Araras Lodge, Pantanal

Araras Lodge, Pantanal, Brazil

Along the Transpantaneira park road, 132 kms from Cuibá, this lodge offers rustic homely charm and a relaxing environment from which to enjoy the sights and sounds of the Pantanal. The nineteen rooms are comfortable and decorated using local materials.

Known for its hyacinth macaw and being particular good for birding during the dry season with many species crowding around the watering holes. Activities include horse riding, nocturnal tours, hiking and canoe rides, all with expert local guides.

Solar do Rosario, Ouro Preto

Solar do Rosario, Brazil

Located just a short walk from the centre, this elegant hotel is a converted 19th century building opposite the Rosario Church. The hotels’ rooms are comfortable, spacious and packed with bags of character. It boasts two pools, one which is heated and another set within a gorgeous outdoor terraced area.

Solar do Ponte, Tiradentes

Solar do Ponte, Brazil

Voted one of the ‘101 best hotels in the world’ by Tatler magazine, this hotel is welcoming and friendly, making you feel more like you’re at home. Located in the historic centre of Tiradentes, it’s a great base to use for exploring the area.

All the rooms are beautifully decorated, combining modern comfort with traditional style. The public spaces, gardens and verandas, pool and sauna, create a relaxed atmosphere among flowers and birds.

Ibitipoca, Minas Gerais

Ibitipoca, Brazil

This large three thousand hectare reserve is made up of over one hundred properties. It is also part of the greater State Park in Minas Gerais offering more protection to the natural environment and wildlife that inhabits it.

There are a number of different options for accommodation here. The farmhouse was established in the 70’s was completely rebuilt in 2006 in a traditional way. There are just right suites, all of which have been tastefully decorated and none offering televisions. The reserve says this is ‘in an attempt to forget about the external world and live each moment at the Reserva do Ibitipoca intensely and slowly’. During your stay you can also enjoy the spa, sauna and hydro.

There are three more properties on the reserve. Viradouro’s House has just three rooms and is powered primarily through renewable energy. It has a stunning location, near to the river where one can swim in the natural rock pools. If you feel adventurous, they why not try out one of the reserve’s two mountain houses. Offering much more privacy in the wild setting, perfect for those who like the great outdoors.

Casa Cairuçu, Paraty

Casa Cairuçu, Brazil

This isolated beach villa takes its name from the location, on the shores of the calm Paraty Bay, within the Cairuçu environmental protection area.

The villa is surrounded by pristine beaches, sea views and swathes of rainforest. There are no roads to disturb you, only the sounds of the sea. This is not a hotel it is a home away from home, yours to do as you please but with wonderful staff who come and look after all your needs as and when you want. Arrival is exclusively by boat.

Pousada Picinguaba, Paraty

Pousada Picinguaba, Brazil

A charming pousada in a natural forest setting just a few metres from a delightfully unspoilt beach. Here you can interact with nature and the local life, such as the fishermen repairing their nets on the beach.

The few rooms makes Picinguaba a very special hideaway with privileged service, and the possibility to book the whole hotel for special occasions for families or groups of friends. At Picinguaba, luxury means tranquillity, nature and authenticity. Trips can be taken by boat to uninhabited islands and bays, to waterfalls and forest trails.

Pousada do Sandi, Paraty

Pousada do Sandi, Paraty, Brazil

A charming and colourful 18th century pousada located in the historical centre of Paraty. This UNESCO site is one of the most important examples of colonial architecture. There are great activities in the area include hiking, snorkelling, boat trips or just relaxing on one of the gorgeous beaches nearby.

The service at the hotel is welcoming and friendly and the atmosphere informal.  All rooms are decorated in a traditional style and are comfortable and spacious. The pool, sauna or steam room are the perfect place to relax after a day of exploring the surrounding area whilst the restaurant serves excellent local food.

Casa Turquesa, Paraty

Casa Turquesa, Paraty, Brazil

Located by the pier in the historic centre of Paraty, this cosy pousada oozes charm, whilst having modern facilities. Each of the nine rooms have been carefully designed with attention to detail and all with postcard views of the bay, the mountains and the dome of Santa Rita Church. The hotel has many social areas where a glass of red from the wine cellar can be enjoyed. All in all a perfect blend of historical beauty and contemporary comforts.

Insolito, Búzios

Insolito, Brazil

Set next to Ferradura beach on the Búzios Peninsula, this boutique hotel offers guests a sophisticated and sleek option in this fashionable resort. Away from the crowds, but close enough to get to the vibrant restaurants and nightlife and 20 something beaches in the nearby area, this is the perfect base from which to explore.

The hotel has a wellness centre offering a number of treatments to help recharge your batteries and a rooftop restaurant where you can dine on fresh Brazilian-French cuisine while admiring the gorgeous sea views and sunset.

Villa Rasa Marina, Búzios

Villa Rasa Marina

Opening its doors in 2008, the hotel provides a relaxing atmosphere away from the tourist areas of the Búzios Peninsula. Located on the peaceful Praia Rasa beach but within easy reach of the twenty something beaches on the peninsula, this is the perfect place from which to explore the surrounding area. Rustic rooms are mixed with luxurious facilities including a spa offering a number of treatments, and a restaurant offering delicious meals.

Casas Brancas, Búzios

Casas Brancas

This elegant boutique hotel and spa is nestled in the hills overlooking the stunning bay of Búzios. With thirty-two individually decorated rooms, the hotel boasts Mediterranean architecture, accommodating multilingual staff, and a refined, laid-back atmosphere.

Within the premises are an ocean view spa, two restaurants, a trendy beach lounge, an aerobic gym and many chic and pristine open spaces. Bask in the warm glow of unforgettable sunsets, stretch, and unwind. You’ve found paradise.

Porto Bay Glenzhaus, Búzios

Porto Bay Glenzhaus

Born as a small fishing village, today Búzios is a paradise for those who love gastronomy, art and ecology while at the same time boasting amazing night life. Porto Bay Glenzhaus is a boutique lodge in the city centre of Búzios. Seventeen suites in a sumptuous tropical setting are a certain recipe for peace and quiet.

This boutique lodge is near the beaches that surround the peninsula and a few steps from the famous Rua das Pedras. Here you will find a huge variety of traditional stores, different art galleries, traditional handcraft and some amazing restaurants where you can appreciate the simple pleasures of great food.

Abracadabra, Búzios

Abracadabra

With just sixteen rooms, this charming pousada is perfect for your intimate escape in Búzios. Set just off Rua das Pedras, in the middle of Búzios but not far from the twenty something beaches on the peninsula, this hotel has shops, restaurants and nightlife right on its doorstep. With comfortable and spacious rooms and views over the ocean and harbour from the pool deck you can sit back and relax in this wonderful corner of Brazil.

Vila D’Este, Búzios

Villa D’Este

Set in an excellent location with fabulous views over the sea and the town and with plentiful beaches within walking distance this is a great option for your stay. All fifteen rooms are individually decorated in a light, modern style and the restaurant offers a mix of Mediterranean and Brazilian cuisine. Relax in the hotel steam room, sauna or enjoy the panoramic views over the bay from the pool deck. Art galleries, restaurants and nightlife are only a short distance away.

Villa Chiara, Búzios

Villa Chiara

The Villa Chiara is a grand mansion located on a hill overlooking Búzios peninsula with fantastic views of Geriba Beach and Búzios town. Surrounded by palms the peaceful gardens provide a private and relaxing environment. The artistic decor and interesting architecture show a variety of cultural influences.

With space for only sixteen guests in seven suites, the hotel provides luxurious space and intimacy at the same time. Four-poster beds and private terraces add to the romance. Villa Chiara Hotel contains a tasteful balance of antique and contemporary furnishings. Its garden and swimming pool are surrounded by exotic fruit trees. Bliss.

Are there any you feel we’ve missed? Have you stayed in any of these hotels? Let us know below.

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8 Best Beaches In Latin America

Ipanema Beach, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Ipanema
Flickr/Daniel Amariles

Best city beach.

Sancho Beach, Fernando de Noronha, Brazil
Fernando de Noronha
Flickr/Jorge Pindorama

Best for diving.

Gardner Bay, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

Gardner Bay
Flickr/putneymark

Best for wildlife.

Anakena Beach, Easter Island, Chile

Anakena
Flickr/travelwayoflife

Best for history.

Tulum Beach, Yucatan, Mexico

Tulum
Flickr/Lars Plougmann

Best for archeology.

Punta Norte, Valdes Peninsula, Argentina

Valdes Peninsula
Flickr/doriana del sarto

Best for marine wildlife.

Jericoacoara, Brazil
Jericoacoara
Flickr/G B

Best for walking.

Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Tayrona
Flickr/Eli Duke

Best for nature.

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Getting up close with whales in Argentina [VID]

This wonderful footage was taken by two of our clients on their trip near to the Valdes Peninsula in Argentina. Continue to the end and you’ll be treated to the site of southern right whales basking under a setting sun.

To start planning your whale watching adventure in Argentina get in touch today.

Courtesy of Phil & Gill Moss

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