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Monthly Archives: October 2016

48 hours in La Paz

Flickr: Cliff hellis

Flickr: Cliff hellis

La Paz is the highest administrative capital city in the world. Your breath will literally be taken away by the lack of oxygen at this high altitude. But this is a city buzzing with life. Bustling markets, crowded streets, picturesque churches, boisterous bars and colourful locals. If you’re planning a flying visit in La Paz, here is how to spend your first 48 hours.

Day 1 – Morning

Let’s assume you’ve arrived in the night before and you’re ready to hit the streets and discover the city. Like they say, if you haven’t got lost in a city before, it’s because you have explored it enough. It’s time to get lost in the city’s labyrinthine side-streets and alleyways, making sure to tick off some of the major tourism hotspots along the way. Walk through Plaza de Murillo (the city’s main square), visit the San Francisco Church and the witches’ market.

DAY 1 – Afternoon

Flickr: k.d..did

Flickr: k.d..did

In the afternoon take a bus or taxi from the city to the ancient site of Tiwanaku, one of the continent’s most important pre-Incan ruins. This UNESCO World Heritage site is sometimes called ‘the Stonehenge of the Americas’ and doesn’t disappoint.

Day 1 – Evening

When you return back to La Paz, be sure to head up to the district of El Alto to watch the cholita wrestling (only available Sundays). These local female wrestlers take to the ring to battle it out against each other in traditional Aymara and Quechua costumes. Tickets are cheap and makes for a fascinating insight into this interesting sub-culture of empowered women. If you want to keep the night going, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs to explore. Thelonius Jazz Bar and Mongo’s are both excellent choices.

Day 2 – Morning

It may seem like a bad idea, but a morning of hurtling downhill on bikes along the so called ‘Death Road’ is a thrilling experience. Starting at almost 5,000 metres above sea level, cycling down Death Road involves descending more than 3,600 metres in just 40 miles. The winding, largely gravel road surface should be taken carefully to avoid plummeting off the cliff side drop to one side. Once you’ve reached the bottom, you’ll be brought back up along Death Road by car, an interesting experience in itself.

Day 2 – Afternoon

If time permits when you return, take a car 10 kilometres out to the stunning Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). This amazing lunar-like landscape of bizarre rock formations is similar to the valley of the same name in Chile. It’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset before returning back to the city.

DAY 2 – Evening

We’ve got two great choices for restaurants depending on your preference and budget. If you like simple, authentic and budget friendly street food, head to one of the four branchesof Paceña La Salteña. These outlets create some of the best Bolivian empanadas (meat encased in pastry, much like a Cornish pasty). For those looking for something a little more refined, head to Gusto. This restaurant is owned by the founder of Noma, rated second best in the world. Here you can try a taster menu that carefully balances the flavours of Peru and the Andes. Could there be a better to way to finish your time in La Paz?

To start planning your tour of La Paz and Bolivia, get in touch with one of our specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us an email here. Take a look at our suggested Bolivia tours here.

This man has been living alone in the Amazon for over 20 years

Imagine that all of your friends, family and anyone you have ever known have been massacred. No other speaks your language or practices the same customs. This is the life of one man who has lived in the Amazon alone for the past 20 years.

Very little is known about him. It’s guessed that his tribe were slaughtered by cattle ranchers who cut down the rainforest close to their homes. Although some contact has been made to try and help him, he is unsurprisingly scared of outsiders. So he survives in constant fear of human encounters.

Government officials have known about the man’s existence for many years. Specialists uncontacted tribes managed to trace his hut and discovered a small garden planted with corn and manioc. Inside they discovered a deep hole, something which has been found in all of the man’s shelters leading to him being nicknamed ‘the man of the hole’.

Though intentions of those trying to contact the man were good, encounters have often been tense and ended in anger. One agent who got to close was shot with an arrow. Whenever he feels he space is being encroached upon, which was often the case with loggers and ranchers in the past, the lone man moves on, finding shelter in a new part of the rainforest.

Having lived his entire life in the forest, he has all the skills to feed and provide shelter for himself. Some experts have said the markings he leaves on trees indicate a spiritual life, perhaps helping him manage psychologically with the extreme solitude and isolation.

In more recent years, the Brazilian government has learnt from the past tragedies that occurred when contacting tribes. They have been many attempts to assimilate people into modern life and ended in communities being wiped out by disease. Today, the government takes a policy of ‘no contact’ to the last remaining communities who inhabit the rainforests.

The ‘man of the hole’ has 31 square miles of protected land that is not supposed to be encroached. It is somewhat ironic that it is state -of-the-art satellite technology that will ensure this man’s primitive way of life is no disturbed and his lands are no encroached upon.

To visit the Amazon, call one of our specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here. You can also find suggest tours of Brazil here.

10 exotic creatures you’ll see in Costa Rica

Costa Rica is one of the most biodiverse places on earth and a must for wildlife enthusiasts. While it would be impossible to list every species of flora and fauna (there are over half a million species in the Central American country, more than 4% of the world’s plants, insects and animals) we’ve picked 10 of the most exotic, unique and intriguing.

Three-toed sloth

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Flickr: Martha

This arboreal creature is native to the rainforests of Central and South America. These slow-moving tree dwellers move at a top speed of 35 metres per day. This isn’t surprising when you know that they spend almost their entire life sleeping. Interesting, these clean creatures descend to the forest floor to defecate, a dangerous move for a creature which moves at such a slow pace and something scientists still don’t understand.

Strawberry poison dart frogs

This colourful little frogs may look cute, but they are one of the most poisonous creatures on the planet. In many parts of South and Central America, local tribes rolled their blow-dart tips over the frogs’ skin coating it in poison and paralyzing any animal they hunt. Researchers have found many medicinal uses for the toxins including anesthetics. Their bright colours are there to ward of predators and they have the ability to morph colour.

Ocelot

Flickr: Valerie

Flickr: Valerie

This sleek nocturnal cats are found in almost every country in North, Central and South America with the exception of Chile. They are small, measuring in at around twice the size of a domestic cat. They are fairly elusive and certainly the hardest to spot on this list. They were once hunted for their fur which decimated the population, but today they are not considered as threatened.

White headed capuchin monkey

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Flickr: Alias 0591

This medium sized new world monkey is native to the forests of Central and South America. It plays an important role in the rainforest ecology by helping to disperse seeds. They live in troops of over twenty males and females and eat fruit, insects and amphibians. This species of monkey is particularly smart creating and using tools and using plants for medicinal uses.

Chestnut-mandibled toucan

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Flickr: Don Faulkner

The chestnut-mandibled toucan can be found in Costa Rica in abundance. This large colourful birds most distinct feature is its elongated beak which it uses with precision to open fruit and nuts. They tend to move around in flocks of around 10 members and rarely fly further than 100 metres at a time. They can be heard yelping and singing in chorus during evening roosts.

Mexican tree frog

Another interesting frog to spot in Costa Rica also known as the Baudin’s tree frog. This nocturnal frog is interesting due to the deep sounds it makes at night. Unlike the poison dart frogs, the Mexican tree frog is not poisonous and is commonly found throughout forested areas of the country and other parts of North and Central America.

Golden orb weavers

If you suffer from arachnophobia, this won’t be a creature you’ll want to spot in Costa Rica. Found throughout the warmer countries of the world, the golden orb weavers are also called the banana spider due to its habit of hiding in bunches of bananas. They are expert hunters and their strength allows them to the occasional catch small birds and snakes. They are venomous, but it isn’t lethal to humans.

Coati

Flickr: Neil Turner

Flickr: Neil Turner

Also known as snookum bears or hog-nosed racoon, this coati is closely related to the racoon. They are fairly passive creatures, but when threatened they can lash out defending themselves with their sharp teeth and strong jaws.  Interestingly, coatis walk plantigrade, which means they can walk upright on their legs, much like humans. They are not yet threatened, although their loss of habitat may start to have some detrimental effects to the population.

King vulture

Flickr: patries71

Flickr: patries71

When most people think of vultures, they think of large birds crowding around a fresh kill, and this is correct. But what most people don’t know is, like their Andean and Californian condors, they are very graceful when they glide and circle overhead. The numbers are estimated to be 100,000 so they are not under threat and their wingspan can reach over 6 feet.

American crocodile

The American crocodile which is found throughout North, Central and South American, although they are now considered threatened with estimates of only a few thousand left in the wild. These crocs have become particularly large along the Tárcoles River in Costa Rica where locals and tourists feed them. Here they can reach up to 5-metres and over half a ton in weight.

To see Costa Rica’s wildlife for yourself, call one of our specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here. Take a look at our Costa Rica suggested tours here.

Peruvian arroz con pollo (chicken and rice) recipe

Flickr: canelita0306

Flickr: canelita0306

While chicken and rice might sound boring, this Peruvian dish is anything but. A mouthwatering mix of rice, aji Amarillo paste, vegetables, coriander and golden fried chicken.

Serves: 4
Time: 1 hour

Ingredients

4 large organic chicken thighs
1 large onion, finely chopped
2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
100g aji amarillo paste
A handful of spinach leaves
A handful of coriander
200g white rice
50g frozen peas
2 carrots, finely chopped
1 pepper, finely chopped
1 small can of sweet corn
500mls chicken stock
Vegetable oil
Salt & pepper
Method

Wash the spinach and coriander and blend together with some water to create a paste.

Season the chicken thighs with salt and pepper and fry in a little oil on a medium heat until golden brown. Set aside.

In the same saucepan, add the onion, garlic and aji paste and cook until the onions are soft. Add the blended coriander and spinach paste add the chicken thighs.

Once you have brought everything to the boil reduce the heat and continue to simmer.

Take another pan and add the chicken stock, rice, carrots and corn. Cook for around 30 minutes until the rice has soaked up all the stock, but isn’t overcooked. Towards the end add in the peas for the final few minutes.

When the rice is cooked, add in the chicken thighs and aji paste mix and stir together. Plate everything up and add a little sliced purple onion and coriander over the top. To add a little zing, squeeze over some lemon juice and a few finely chopped chillies.

To try this dish in Peru, call on of our experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning your trip.

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