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Monthly Archives: October 2012

Rio for New Year!

Some stores in London have already got Christmas departments. Why not avoid the chilly festive season altogether and head to tropical Brazil? New Year in Rio de Janeiro is for those who like to party big-time. Rio is the only place in the world where 2 million people gather in a gorgeous setting, Copacabana beach, to celebrate the past and the future year with music, dance and a spectacular firework display. The skies will light up whilst bands play until the early hours of the morning. You could be one of those on the 31st of December, to live a magic moment, that is just….quintessential Rio!

Bahian Fish Stew

Moqueca, also spelled muqueca, is a tasty Brazilian seafood stew based on fish, onions, garlic, tomatoes and coriander. This traditional dish is cooked slowly. There are two variants: moqueca capixaba from Espírito Santo state in the Southeast, and moqueca baiana from Bahia state in the Northeast. The main difference is palm oil is used in the northern version (which is influenced by African cuisine) and olive oil in the southern one. The use of coconut milk ensures this is a rich and flavoursome dish. In brief: fry some onions, chillies, peppers in olive oil then when softened add chopped tomatoes and season. Stir in coconut milk and fish or shrimp stock and simmer for a few minutes. Stir in palm oil then add pieces of fish such as grouper, snapper or even salmon (you can use any fish cut into bite sizes). Some cooks marinate the fish first in salt, garlic and lime. Once boiling simmer gently for 25 minutes or more until all is tender. Serve with rice, fresh coriander, farofa (manioc flour) and fried plantains.

Family travel to the Galapagos

As we recently mentioned Brad and Angelina travelled with their brood to Galapagos this has resulted in growth in interest for family travel. A select few of the boats that we offer have special family departures. “Our surveys show that parents want to give their children authentic experiences over hedonistic escapes,” said one operator spokeswoman Doris Welsh. “We help them do this by providing accommodations on 20-passenger, environmentally certified motor yachts and then adding to the mix eco-sensitive programs led by top naturalist guides.” Welsh said that in particular its family departures for teenagers, which began in 2003, have withstood the recession. It also helps that at least one of their yachts (Eric, Flamingo or Letty) is designated exclusively for families on every school break. On family teen departures guides offer longer, more challenging guided walks on the trails and take advantage of every opportunity to snorkel from the beach and also in deeper water. Several companies in Galapagos do offer family departures; however these are often geared towards younger children and they offer limited departure dates. Please contact us for details of discounts for families.

Where does Tequila come from?

The fiery drink of Tequila has been rapidly gaining international popularity for years now. The town of Tequila, birthplace of the most famous beverage in Mexico has also been gaining more attention. This town sits against the Tequila Volcano which overlooks the valley full of perfectly lined blue agave plants. Built around Tequila’s main square with its beautiful fountains and fresh flowers are the distilleries of popular producers such as Sauza and Jose Cuervo. Visiting the town of Tequila in Jalisco state, is a journey to the past, where the traditions and the most authentic aspects of Mexico are still alive and prevalent. What many people do not know is that tequila is not something that should be taken as a quick shot and lime and salt are frowned upon. Rather it should be treated as a fine wine, sensing the various aromas and savouring ever nuance in flavour like a good malt whiskey. Look for ‘100% agave’ on the bottle. You can take tours of the distilleries and the National Tequila Museum where, through its collections, gain an even deeper understanding regarding the cultural values of the tequila region, which was recently declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.

Hidden Peru – Sillustani

One of the hidden gems of Peru, Sillustani is a pre-Incan burial ground on the shores of Lake Umayo near Puno in Peru. The enigmatic tombs are built in round tower-like structures called chullpas, by the Kolla group of Aymara who were conquered by the Inca in the 15th century. The structures housed the remains of complete family groups, probably nobility. Many of the tombs have been dynamited by grave robbers, while others were left unfinished. Ancestor worship were integral parts of Aymara culture, and the huge 10m high stone towers were locally known as ‘houses of the soul’. Corpses were not intentionally mummified, but in the cold dry environment they survived for centuries. Some of the tombs also have various animal shapes carved into the stone. Recently archaeologists have found the bodies of children thought to have been sacrificed between 600 and 700 years ago, buried in pairs in baskets placed around the towers. All the bodies had a volcanic stone placed on their chest, and were surrounded by a variety of offerings, including animals, food, dishes and pitchers. Researchers at the site say ceramics with paintings of scenes of war found with the bodies suggest the children were sacrificed during a period of conflict between the Kolla and a rival culture. Visit Sillustani on our Conquistador tour to experience the fantastic setting.

Santiago, the gateway to Chile

Chile’s capital Santiago is worth a day or two before heading off the wilderness. Santiago is located in Chile’s Central Valley, with the majestic backdrop of the Andes. The city has elements of French classic baroque and Spanish colonial architecture which are side-by-side with modern high-rise buildings. Santiago boasts a pleasant Mediterranean climate, and one of the few places that you can go skiing one day in the nearby mountains and the next go surfing on the Pacific Ocean. The beautiful and fertile valleys that surround the city give rise to famous Chilean wines. Select can organize wine-tasting yours and itineraries that travel the whole length of Chile. In the past months charming new elegant hotels have open their doors, from the new fashionable Lastarria to the sophisticated Vitacura.

Among the Clouds in Costa Rica

For nature lovers Costa Rica’s flourishing green rainforest, palm fringed white-sand beaches, an abundance of birdlife and monkeys in the trees is like a garden of Eden. The cloud forest reserves like Monteverde, with a combination of mist-shrouded trees, climate and altitude make the experience of hiking a true adventure. Our naturalist guides will explain about the natural history from the tiny poison-arrow frogs to the giant buttress-rooted trees. The more active can go on canopy walks and zip-lines through the trees. Costa Rica is a safe and welcoming country where English is widely spoken, and protecting the natural resources is high on the agenda. Try our small group tour Discover Costa Rica to see the country’s lesser known places.

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