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25 random but interesting facts about Latin America you probably didn’t know

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  1. Angel Falls in Venezuela is one of the largest waterfalls in the world with a height of almost 1 kilometre.
  2. Colombia produces more than 90% of the world’s emeralds.
  3. Mexico is sinking by around 10 inches every year.
  4. Bolivia was the first country to get rid of McDonalds.
  5. Latin America is the most urbanized continent in the world with almost 80% of its citizens living in cities.
  6. Mambo, salsa, cha-cha-cha, rumba and tango dances all come from Latin America.
  7. It has the shortest coastline, compared to its size, of any continent.
  8. The official name of for Mexico is the United Mexican States.
  9. The oldest university in North America is the National University of Mexico.
  10. Costa Rica translated to ‘rich coast’.
  11. The Amazon spans eight countries – Ecuador, Peru, Colombia, Peru, Bolivia, Brazil, Venezuela and Guyana.
  12. Rio de Janeiro carnival is the world’s largest street festival.
  13. 20% of the world’s oxygen is created from the Amazon jungle.
  14. There are 77 uncontacted tribes living in the Amazon Jungle.
  15. There are over 20 million inhabitants in Sao Paulo making it one of the world’s largest cities.
  16. The highest mountain in South America is Argentina’s Aconcagua and stands at over 6,961metres high.
  17. The world’s most southerly city is located at the tip of Argentina and is called Ushuaia. It has around 55,000 inhabitants.
  18. Lake Titicaca is the largest lake in South America and straddles both Peru and Bolivia.
  19. Costa Rica has been ranked as the happiest country in the world.
  20. Asia is Latin America’s second largest trading partner after the United States.
  21. Ecuador was the first country in the world to give nature constitutional rights and can be defended in court.
  22. After the Antarctic, the Atacama Desert in the north of Chile is considered the world’s driest.
  23. Bolivia was the first country to have a ski resort with a rope tow.
  24. Darwin came up with his theory of evolution while visiting the Galapagos Islands.
  25. The Uyuni in Bolivia is the world’s largest salt flats.

To start exploring Latin America yourself, give one of our specialists a call on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us a message here.

These are the only travel hacks you need to know

These simple travel hacks will save you time, money and energy. Give them a try and then let us know on Facebook what you think.

Use straws for your liquids

If you’re in need of shampoos, shower gels and cosmetics during your flight, straws make for excellent containers. Small enough to be under the 100ml limit, easy to carry and lightweight. To make, simply cut the desired length, fill and tape up the ends. Remember to label.

Go private when booking your flights online

When booking your flights online, be sure to have your private browser setting on. Flight booking engines can track if you have visited the site before and often put the price of flights up if you have returned. By searching on a private setting you will trick the flight search engine into thinking you are a new customer and provide you with the most competitive rates.

Pill containers are the best jewellery cases

Many people will carry a selection of jewellery when travelling. Those see through plastic weekly pill containers make perfect jewellery cases. Each section is large enough for a bracelet, small necklace or pair of earrings, keeping them safe and making them easy to find. Be sure to get a good quality pill box as the cheaper variety tend to open during transit.

Stuff your shirt collar with a rolled belt

If you’re travelling for a business meeting or just prefer to look smart, try rolling a belt and lining your shirt collar to keep it crisp. Unless you bring multiple belts, this only really works with one shirt which is best kept at the top of the clothing pile.

Stop clothes from wrinkling with tissue paper

One of the most common complaints is wrinkled clothes, particularly if you are travelling for an important occasion or for business. If your clothes have a tendency to wrinkle in luggage, layer tissue paper between the folds of the clothes which eliminates the problem.

Wrap your headphones around a bulldog clip

What is it about headphone cables getting tangled? You can guarantee that putting them in your pocket will ensure that you spend 5 minutes untangling them later. To solve the problem, try wrapping them around a bulldog clip which can then be clipped in a pocket or to your jacket. A useful hack anytime, not just when you are travelling.

Keep hair clips in a Tic Tac container

Keep hold of Tic Tac containers which have a hold load of uses, one of which is using them to store hair clips when you travel. Not only are they the perfect shape and size, the opener at the top means accessing your hair clips is super easy.

Stop chargers from breaking using pen springs

Wires, particularly phone chargers have a tendency to break, particularly during travelling when they receive heavy usage. It also often becomes much harder to find the correct replacement when you’re abroad. Try popping a pen spring over the wire which stops it from bending so easily, one of the main causes of wire breakage.

Using Google Maps with no data or Wi-Fi

Want to head out to explore a city by foot? You have two options here. Most people don’t know, but you can still see the little blue dot (where you are) on Google Maps without any data or Wi-Fi as it uses GPS. If you know where you are going, use the dot to navigate. Your second option is to plug into Google Maps where you are going before you leave the hotel. After it’s worked out the directions, it doesn’t require data or Wi-Fi any longer to get you to your destination.

Forgot your adaptor or wall plug?

travel hacking TV

No problem. If you have a TV or even a modern radio in your hotel room, they typically have a USB port which can be used to charge your device.

Stuff socks into your shoes

This one is surprisingly simple. Stuffing your socks into your shoes solves two problems. It saves precious space in your bag and helps to keep your shoes from becoming crushed.

Stuff your shoes into shower caps

Once your shoes have been stuffed with socks, pop them into shower caps to stop them making any of your clothes dirty. You don’t need to go and buy expensive shower caps, just take the free ones from your hotel room.

Would you love to travel to South America? For inspiration or advice, get in touch with one of our Latin American specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us a message here.

Source: Lifebuzz

The 20 Best UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Latin America

Best for Birding

Atlantic Rainforest

Name – Atlantic Forest Reserves
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 1999
Why it’s the best – Covering over 112,000 hectares of coastal forest, this area is a bird-watchers paradise. There are over 930 species of birds, of which 200 can be found nowhere else on earth. If that’s not enough over 8% of the world’s plant species and thousands of mammals and reptiles can also be found here.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best for Marine Life

Belize Reef

Name – Belize Barrier Reef
Country – Belize
Date of inscription – 1996
Why it’s the best – The Belize Barrier Reef is the largest in the northern hemisphere. Several offshore atolls, mangrove forests, coastal lagoons and several hundred sand cayes make up the protected reserve. There are over 106 hard and soft coral species and over 500 species of fish. With 90% of the reef that still hasn’t been researched yet it’s safe to assume that these figures only make up about 10% of species that call the reef their home.
Suggested tourSun-kissed Belize

Best from the Air

Nazca

Name – Nazca Lines
Country – Peru
Date of inscription – 1994
Why it’s the best – Located four hundred kilometres south of Lima in the dry deserts lie some of the most mysterious archaeological wonders ever uncovered. Between 500 B.C. and A.D. 500 vast geoglyphs of animals, people and flora were scratched into the surface of the ground, some of which are several kilometres in length. Best appreciated from up above.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best Phenomenon

Name – Monarch Butterfly Biosphere Reserve
Country – Mexico
Date of inscription – 2008
Why it’s the best – This 56,259 biosphere northwest of Mexico City is home to one of Earth’s most beautiful natural phenomenon’s. Ever autumn millions of butterflies from a huge area of North America return to this relatively small area of forest changing the landscape to hues of orange as they gather on the branches of trees, changing the landscape completely. In spring they return back to Canada, a journey which takes 8 months in which time four successive generations are born and die.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best for Whale-Watching

Valdes Peninsula

Name – Península Valdés
Country – Argentina
Date of inscription – 1999
Why it’s the best – Not only is this a hugely important breeding spot for the endangered southern right whale, but it’s one of the only places to see the unique hunting technique of orcas who almost beach themselves in an attempt to catch prey.
Suggested tour – Whales & Welsh in Patagonia

Best Town

Antigua

Name – Antigua
Country – Guatemala
Date of inscription – 1979
Why it’s the best – This truly beautiful town was founded in the early 16th century, only to be almost entirely destroyed by an earthquake in 1773. It was however rebuilt, inspired by the Italian Renaissance. It famous cobbled streets and archway are some of the most photographed in Central America and the town has a wealth of excellent hotels.
Suggested tourMaya, Magic & Mystery

Best for Modern Architecture

Brasilia

Name – Brasilia
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 1987
Why it’s the best – Built by the urban planner Lucio Costa and the word renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer, Brasilia was completed in 1956 to critical acclaim. Every part of the city from the official buildings to the homes was built in harmony with the overall design of the city. From above the city is often compared to the shape of a bird in flight.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best Historic Centre

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Name – Quito
Country – Ecuador
Date of inscription – 1978
Why it’s the best – Quito is the second highest capital in South America standing at an altitude of 2,850 metres (9252 feet). Its rich centre includes many historic buildings including monasteries, churches and colleges. The interiors are some of the most impressive on the continent – part of the ‘Baroque school of Quito’ which fuses Italian, Spanish, Moorish, Flemish and indigenous art.  Although there was a devastating earthquake in 1917, the city has managed to preserve the majority of its historic centre.
Suggested tourCotopaxi & the Devil’s Nose

Best Spectacle

Iguazu

Name – Iguazú/Iguaçu Falls
Country – Argentina & Brazil
Date of inscription – 1984
Why it’s the best – Quite simply one of the most astounding natural wonders in Latin America. This semi-circular waterfall raising over 80 metres and almost 3 kilometre, bordering both Brazil and Argentina is rightly famous. The tropical rainforest that makes up the Iguazu National Park is over to over 2,000 species of plant and many species of wildlife including butterflies, monkeys, jaguars, cayman, anteaters and exotic birdlife.
Suggested tourBrazil Kaleidoscope

Best for Horse Riding

horse_back_riding_pantanal

Name – Pantanal Conservation Area
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 2000
Why it’s the best – This area of 187,818 hectares of freshwater wetland is a wildlife enthusiast dream. Often likened to safari in Africa, this region is one of the best places in the country to see large mammals including jaguars, giant anteaters and exotic bird life. The best way to see this wildlife is by horse, led by local guides.
Suggested tourBrazilian Safari

Best for Hiking

Inca Trail & Machu Picchu

Name – Qhapaq Ñan (Andean Road System) & Machu Picchu
Country – Peru
Date of inscription – 2014/1983
Why it’s the best – We’ve cheated a little here and included both the Qhapaq Ñan and Machu Picchu. Qhapaq Ñan is the Andean Road System which includes the well-known part of the Inca Trail. More than this, the Incas created a network of paths for trade, communication and defence which span over 30,000 kilometre that run through rainforests, valleys and desert. Machu Picchu will need no introduction and is perhaps one of the most famous landmarks in the world. Some truly stunning hiking opportunities.
Suggested tourJungle & Mountain Trek

Best for Colour

Quebrada

Name – Quebrada de Humahuaca
Country – Argentina
Date of inscription – 2003
Why it’s the best – This spectacular canyon in the northwest of Argentina follows a deep ravine cut by the Grande river through a range of geological strata. It is also culturally interesting having been used a trade route for 10,000 years by pre-Inca and the Inca Empire. The variety of rocks make this one of the most colourful places to visit. Best seen by hiking.
Suggested tour – Enchanting Northwest

Best pre-Inca Ruin

Chan Chan

Name – Chan Chan Archaeological Zone
Country – Peru
Date of inscription – 1986
Why it’s the best – Once the largest city in the Americas, and the biggest ever constructed out of adobe. Chan Chan was built by a Pre-Inca culture of the Chimú as their capital. As you wander through the site it’s possible to see the nine palaces which make up the citadel and imagine what it was like in its heyday.
Suggested tourWarriors of the Clouds

Best for Unspoiled Beauty

Amazon Basin

Name – Amazon Basin
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 2003
Why it’s the best – Specifically the Central Amazon Conservation Complex makes up a six million hectare area of the most unspoiled part of the Amazon basin made up from forests, lakes and channels. This is one of the most bio diverse spots on earth.  It protects some of the world’s most threatened species including the giant arapaima fish, the Amazonian manatee, the black caiman and two different species of river dolphin.
Suggested tourDeep into the Amazon

Best for Art

Cueva de los manos Santa Cruz

Name – Cueva de las Manos
Country – Argentina
Date of inscription – 1999
Why it’s the best – The Cave of the Hands contains an excellent assemblage of art that was created between thirteen and nine thousand years ago. It’s most famous is the stencilled hands but there are many others of animals and hunting scenes.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best for Wildlife

Galapagos

Name – Galápagos Islands
Country – Ecuador
Date of inscription – 1978
Why it’s the best – Made famous by Charles Darwin whose visit to the islands in 1835 helped form his theory of evolution by natural selection. The Galápagos Islands are located a thousand kilometres from the continent, and it’s here at the confluence of three ocean currents that some of the world’s most unusual wildlife has flourished in isolation from human contact. Endemic species are rife; Notable species including the land iguana, giant tortoise and many types of finch.
Suggested tourThe Full Galapágos

Best for Culture

Salvador

Name – Historic centre of Salvador de Bahia
Country – Brazil
Date of inscription – 1985
Why it’s the best – Salvador was the first capital of Brazil and the blend of European, African and Amerindian people such a fusion of cultures that can be seen today through their music, dance, art, buildings, and food.
Suggested tourCultural Buzz of Brazil

Best for Agriculture

Agave

Name – Agave landscapes of Tequila
Country – Mexico
Date of inscription – 2006
Why it’s the best – The agave plant has been farmed in this area for at least two thousand years used for drinks and cloth. The Teuchitlan cultures changed the landscape through the creation of agricultural terraces for the growth of the planet. More recently it has been farmed since the 16th century for the production of tequila. Many distilleries can be found in the area reflecting the growth of tequila’s popularity throughout the world.
Suggested tourBespoke tour

Best Jungle Ruins

Tikal

Name – Tikal
Country – Guatemala
Date of inscription – 1979
Why it’s the best – This is one of the best jungle ruins. This 6th century B.C. Mayan site is surrounded by lush forest that once engulfed the several pyramids. Today you can still see much wildlife in the forest including cats like the jaguarundi and ocelots. For its age it’s in surprisingly good condition, with temples, palaces, ceremonial centre, public squares and ramps. A must for any trip to Guatemala.
Suggested tourDynamic Guatemala

Best for Taste

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Name – Coffee Cultural Landscapes
Country – Colombia
Date of inscription – 2011
Why it’s the best – Located on the foothills of the western and central ranges of the Cordillera de los Andes, the tradition of growing coffee here is a long one. It’s an exceptional example of a sustainable and productive cultural landscape and one that must be preserved. Colombia coffee is world renowned and of course, it’s best trying it at source.
Suggested tourCoffee Beans & Scenes

The Fray Bentos factory in Uruguay gets UNESCO status

Remember Fray Bentos? The food manufacturer whose signature product is pie-in-a-can? If you don’t we hope this doesn’t jog any unfortunate memories of corned beef fritters at school.

The name Fray Bentos comes from the name of the town in which the meat supplied for its pies was sourced, processed and packed in Uruguay. This ruin of a factory has now been given World Heritage status by UNESCO.

The empty meatpacking factory on the banks of the River Uruguay certainly looks impressive, and to some I’m sure it’s history is fascinating, however it’s debatable whether it is worthy of such an accolade. It will certainly bring in a welcome increase in tourism to the region.

Preserving Lonesome George [VID]

This fascinating documentary takes you through the taxidermy process of Lomesome George, the last known Pinta Island Tortoise, at the American Museum of Natural History. Lomesome George has always been an icon of conservation around the world since finding him alone on Pinta Island in the Galapagos Islands in the early 70s. He was thought to be over 100 years old at the time of his death in 2012.

The South American Herb Map

The South American Herb Map

A graphic look at medicinal and edible herbs found through South America. Use this chart for a remedy to just about any illness (although we suggest modern medicine for malaria!). It’s interesting that coca which is used as a tea in many parts of the Andes for hunger, energy and altitude sickness hasn’t been featured.

8 Things You Didn’t Know About Rio de Janeiro

1. Rio de Janeiro has 56 miles of beaches

Beaches Rio Flickr/Alex Schwab

2. Corcovado, the mountain on which Christ the Redeemer sits, is over double the height of the Shard

CorcovadoFlickr/Rodrigo Soldon

3. A person from Rio de Janeiro is known as a Carioca

CariocaFlickr/Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

4. Christ the Redeemer is considered as one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World

Christ the redeemerFlickr/Mike Vondran

5. Copacabana beach hosted the world’s largest rock concert when the Rolling Stones played to over 1.5 million people there in February 2006

6. Rio de Janeiro will be the first South American city to host the Olympics

Rio 2016Flickr/Jorge from Brazil

7. Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in the Southern Hemisphere

Rio travelFlickr/Mike Vondran

8. The first explorers arrived on 1 January and assumed it was the mouth of the great river so called it River of January or Rio de Janeiro

Rio de JaneiroFlickr/Brian Snelson
Got you in the mood to visit Rio de Janeiro? Start planning your trip today.

11 Experiences You Can Have In Costa Rica

1. Scale a volcano

Arenal

Every fancied hiking around a volcano? Costa Rica’s Arenal Volcano is one of the best for hiking in the world. You can even do a night hike should you wish.

2. Smell the coffee

Coffee tourFlickr/Andy Rusch

Costa Rican coffee is considered some of the best in the world. They produce over 168,000 tons of the stuff each year, most of which is exported. Try the Doka Coffee Estate for an excellent introduction to Costa Rican coffee production.

3. Stay in a luxury jungle lodge

Lapa Rios Room

Costa Rica has no shortage of luxury jungle lodges. Head south to Corcovado on the Osa Peninsula and stay at the Lapa Rios Eco Lodge for the best. The sixteen private bungalows are nestled along ridges that overlook the thousand acres of private natural lowland rainforest. Not only is this wonderfully luxurious, it’s also a wildlife lover’s paradise.

4. Learn to surf

SurfFlickr/Petey

The Nicoya Peninsula in the west of the country is one of the best places to surf in the world. Try Playa Santa Teresa, Playa Carmen and Malpaís which have many surf schools.

5. Help protect sea turtles

TurtlesFlickr/Steven Gerner

Conservation of the endangered sea turtles in Costa Rica continues. Tortuguero, located in the east of the country has the largest green turtle rookery in the Western Hemisphere. Leatherbacks and hawksbill turtles also nest here.

6. White-water raft

White waterFlickr/David Berkowitz

Costa Rica has some excellent white water rafting opportunities. We suggest visiting the Pacuare River, which blends great white water rafting and stunning scenery.

7. Search for the resplendent quetzal

QuetzalFlickr/vil.sandi

One of the most beautiful birds on the planet can be found in Costa Rica…….if you know where to look.

8. Visit a national park

National parkFlickr/Beth and Anth

There are currently 50 national parks in Costa Rica and over 25% of the land mass is protected by the Sistema Nacional de Areas de Conservacion.

9. Visit a sloth sanctuary

SlothFlickr/Jenny Jozwiak

Love wildlife? There’s is no better place to see the sloths, both in the wild and in sanctuaries. We suggest a visit to Aviarios del Caribe Sloth Sanctuary which looks after sloths which have been injured or orphaned.

10. Take soak in a hot spring

Hot SpringsFlickr/Jeremy Vandel

After all those activities, take a nice long soak in one of the many hot springs dotted around Arenal Volcano. Tabacon Hot Springs is one of the best.

To start planning your holiday to Costa Rica get in touch with us here.

This Bizarre Orchid Looks Like A Monkey’s Face

Monkey Face Orchid 1
Flickr/Dick Culbert

The Dracula simian is an epiphytic orchid which, due to its features, is more commonly referred to as the monkey face orchid. The beautiful and strangely lifelike orchids can only be found in the southern Ecuadorian and Peruvian cloud forests between elevations of 1,000 and 2,000 metres. These rare orchids are part of a family of 120 species and are difficult to cultivate at home, although some have managed. They are not season specific and therefore can flower at any time of year.  They fragrance smells strongly of ripe oranges, which is a shame as bananas may be more appropriate. To see a huge photo collection of these wonderful flowers Monkey Orchids flickr album.

Would you like to see the monkey face orchid in the wild? Get in touch to start planning your trip.

12 Fascinating Facts About Brazil You Probably Didn’t Know

1. 93% of new cars sold in Brazil run from an ethanol created from sugar cane

carsFlickr/Belenos Govannon

2. Brazil has the world’s best beach according to TripAdvisor – Baia do Sancho on the archipelago of  Fernando de Noronha

beach_brazilFlickr/Almir de Freitas

3. There are around two million Brazilians of Japanese descent in Brazil

JapanFlickr/Eduardo M.

4. Rio de Janeiro’s famous statue, Christ the Redeemer, stands more than thirty 38 metres high and weighs over 635 tonnes

Christ the RedeemerFlickr/Christian Haugen

5. The ‘favela’ of Santa Marta in Rio de Janeiro has been visited by many celebrities including Madonna and Michael Jackson

santa martaFlickr/Alexander Fns

6. Brazil has the fifth largest population in the world

busyFlickr/Diego Torres Silvestre

7. According to a recent report there are at least 70 uncontacted tribes left in the Brazilian Amazon

amazon tribesFlickr/Rodrigo Soldon

8. Some prisoners in Brazil can reduce their sentences by four days for every book they read, a program dubbed “Redemption through Reading”

prisoner booksFlickr/Ali

9. The fisherman in southeast Brazil use dolphins to herd fish towards their nets

dolphin fishing

10. Over 82% of Salvador’s population is of African descent

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAFlickr/zapstratosphere

11. Brazil was the first country in the world to ban tanning beds

tanningFlickr/Whatsername?

12. Brazil’s capital Brasilia was built in under 4 years between 1956 and 1960 and is shaped like an aeroplane

Brasilia_planWikipedia/Uri Rosenheck

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