(0)20 7407 1478

855 625 2753 US

Category Archives: Archaeology

Our 20 favourite places in Latin America

Latin America is a culturally and geographically diverse place. Here’s 20 places (in no particular order) you absolutely have to visit at least once in your lifetime.

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

Holiday_bolivia_adventure_Uyuni

Driving across this alien landscape of white salt crust dotted with cactus-studded black islands is a magical experience not to be missed.

Machu Picchu, Peru

private_tour_peru

One of the seven ancient wonders of the world, enough said!

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

tour_perito_moreno

The sight of vast pieces of ice carving of this glacier and smashing into the lake below is truly awesome.

Easter Island, Chile

Easter_island_break

Lying around 2,000 miles off the coast of Chile, this island has more in common with Polynesia than the Chileans who colonised it.

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

FOCA

Quite simply one of the best wildlife spotting regions on planet earth.

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

Brazil_holiday_fernando_do_noronha

This small archipelago off Brazil is often overlooked and fantastic for snorkelling and scuba.

Torres del Paine, Chile

MTC089

The snow capped mountains and lakes of the Torres del Paine National Park is best explored by foot.

Cartagena, Colombia

MTCO0123

It’s colourful, fun and exciting with wonderfully friendly people all overlooking the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea.

Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil

Brazil_holiday_the_north

Vast rolling sand dunes punctuated by hundreds of turquoise lagoons.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

chichen_itza

Probably the most famous pre-Columbian ruins in Latin America, built by the Maya people.

San Blas, Panama

Panama_san_blas_holiday

The pristine Archipelago includes picture-perfect coral islands with white sand and coconut trees surrounded by a sapphire sea..

Lake Titicaca, Peru & Bolivia

Peru_holiday_lake_titicaca

The highest navigable lake in the world, with its deep blue waters and interesting locals and history sandwiched between Bolivia and Peru.

Valdes Peninsula, Argentina

MTA210

Unmissable wildlife encounters, from colonies of sea lions, penguins and seals to orcas that come to feed near the shore.

Atacama Desert, Chile

Chilean_holiday_experts

The north of Chile is an arid but beautiful landscape, with fascinating wildlife that is protected in a series of national parks.

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

arenal_hot_springs

Watch the smoky, active volcano and natural fireworks of lava tumbling down its slopes from the hot springs of Tabacon.

Iguazu, Argentina and Brazil

Tailor_made_Iguacu_tour

One of the seven natural wonders of the world and not something to be missed lightly. Hear the thunder and feel the spray of water from the Devil’s throat walkway.

Amazon, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia

Vacation_brazil_amazon_canoe

Meet indigenous tribes in their home which boast more plant and animal species than any other ecosystem, and is the heart of our planet.

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

Guatemala_holiday_lake_atitlan

British novelist Aldous Huxley once called this lake ‘’the most beautiful in the world’’. Few can disagree.

Chan Chan, Peru

Chan_chan_peru_holiday

Often overlooked, Chan Chan is the  largest Pre-Columbian city in South America.

Pantanal, Brazil

Wildlife_holiday_brazil_pantanal

A vast wetland and wildlife haven where caiman nonchalantly cross the road and myriad birds, monkeys, armadillos and jaguars can be seen.

Want to visit any of these? Contact us here.

Oh My Gourd! Engraving from Peru

Peruvian gourds

The mate burilado or carved gourd, is one of the most skilful examples of Peruvian folk-art. Dating back hundreds of years this tradition comes from the small village of Cochas in the Andean highlands near Huancayo.

The technique has been passed down from generation to generation, each workshop is a family run business and crafted by men, women and children who learn from a very young age.

Most of the colours are natural earthy tints produced by dyeing with minerals and by burning with embers and polishing. Charcoal or chalk are rubbed in the carved lines to better show the designs.The sun-dried gourds are related to pumpkins and come from the lowlands and were traded for corn and beans.

Historically gourds were used as storage jars for salt, spices and drinking vessels for chicha (corn beer). The images depicted told stories, myths and recorded events like weddings. The intricate designs are often carved from memory, more recently with images showing birds, animals, people and dances. Archaeologists have found carved gourds dating back from over 4,000 years. They make a great memento from Peru and are light and easy to carry home.

Want to pick up a gourd for yourself? Why not visit Peru in 2015.

10 ancient South American wonders you absolutely need to visit

1. Machu Picchu
Machu PicchuPedro Szekely/Flickr

Where: Cuzco, Peru
What: Extremely well preserved (and restored) 15th century Inca settlement located in stunning mountainous surroundings.
How: In the Footsteps of Incas

2. Tiwanaku
TiwanakuFrançois Bianco/Flickr

Where: Lake Titicaca, Bolivia
What: Capital of a pre-Inca civilization which dominated a swathe of the southern Andes between 500 AD and 900 AD
How: Tiwanaku & Beyond

3. Kuelap Fortress
KuelapMihai/Flickr

Where: Chachapoyas, Peru
What: The remains of a vast walled complex that contained over 400 buildings dating back to the 6th century and occupied until the Spanish Invasion.
How: Warriors of the Clouds

4. Chan Chan
Chan ChanCarlos Adampol Galindo/Flickr

Where: Trujillo, Peru
What: Covering an area of over twenty 20 km², Chan Chan is biggest Pre-Columbian archaeological site in Latin America.
How: Warriors of the Clouds

5. Tierradentro
Tierradentroinyucho/Flickr

Where: Cauca, Colombia
What: Underground tombs and burial chambers decorated with motifs dating back to the 6th century.
How: In Search of El Dorado

6. Chavín de Huántar
Chavininyucho/Flickr

Where: Ancash Region, Peru
What: A place of worship and one of the oldest pre-Columbian sites dating back to 1500 BC located in the high Andes.
How: Contact us

7. Ingapirca
SANYO DIGITAL CAMERAJulia Rubini/Flickr

Where: Cañar Province, Ecuador
What: One of the only and largest Inca complexes built in southern Ecuador and used as a military outpost.
How: Cotopaxi & the Devil’s Nose

8. Ciudad Perdida
Ciudad PerdidaSarah Tz/Flickr

Where: Sierra Nevada, Colombia
What: The ‘Lost City’ founded around 800 AD and rediscovered in the early 70s by a group of local treasure looters.
How: Contact us

9. Nazca Lines
Nazca LinesVéronique Debord-Lazaro/Flickr

Where: Nasca, Peru
What: Gigantic geoglyphs etched into the desert between 500 BC and 500 AD and still a mystery to archaeologists.
How: Contact us

10. Moai Statues
MaoiArian Zwegers/Flickr

Where: Easter Island, Chile
What: Human statues created by the Rapa Nui people between the 13th and 16th century some of which weigh up to 82 tons.
How: Origins of Chile

New Inca Path to Machu Picchu discovered

Photo: Dirección Desconcentrada de Cultura de Cusco/El Comercio

Photo: Dirección Desconcentrada de Cultura de Cusco/El Comercio

The Incas themselves may have provided Peruvian tourism officials with a partial solution to help alleviate Machu Picchu’s overcrowding problem. Archaeologists have found a new Inca path that leads right to the fabled citadel of Machu Picchu. Under the dense vegetation lies an Inca ‘road’ from Wayraqtambo, at least one and a half kilometres long ends at a viewing platform over the ruins. This offers and impressive view of the dwelling areas of the citadel and could offer visitors a new aspect of the well known ruins. Local news sources say that part of the route is through a man-made tunnel this is still in a good state despite being over 500 years old. The Inca engineers crafted in stone and were built to survive earthquakes. If you are interested in Peru’s civilizations we suggest our Luxury Peru trip.

Sixe Paredes Futurismo Ancestral: An Offering To Peru

Futurismo Ancestral photo © David Horwell

Futurismo Ancestral photo © David Horwell

From today a magical exhibition of Peru will be exhibited at Somerset House. Inside this historic venue alongside London’s river Thames I was transported by the spirits of the Andes and Nazca desert. In an extraordinary show Futurismo Ancestral, the Spanish street artist Sixe Paredes has blended elements of Pre-Colombian culture with modern elements. At first I was disappointed with the first room which has a few large abstract tapestries and weavings, but on entering into the bowels of Somerset house through a series of trapezoidal arches one enters an underworld like no other art gallery. In these cave-like passages replete with drainage pipes and doors leading to who-knows where. In what is called the ‘Deadhouse’ I  arrived at colourful modern versions of Quipus the ancient Peruvian counting strings that glowed in the dark chambers. My favourite was the multi-coloured knitted masks, these reminded me of the festival of Paucartambo which is held every July in a remote Andean village; I had once visited this festival as a young backpacker. It was Sixte’s travels too that inspired him. Undoubtedly the almost fluorescent colours of the patterned tapestries will stick in the mind. In the subterranean vaults there are carefully lit modern versions of ceramics that held ancestral importance as vessels for ‘chicha’ the sacred drink of the Incas. There are daily events including Peruvian music, food, performance and film. Paredes had a team of other artists and volunteers helping him build this unique show. If you miss this but would like to visit Peru for yourself please contact us. Click HERE for more information on this exhibition.

How Did Easter Island Get Named?

Copyright David Horwell

Copyright David Horwell

Easter Island was named by European Jacob Roggeveen who first saw the island on Easter Sunday, 1722 whilst leading a Dutch expedition to the South Seas. Of course the Polynesians had found it centuries before and they called it Rapanui. This small island is the most remote inhabited island in the World, being over 2,000km from Pitcairn its nearest neighbour to the north-west, Chile lies even further to the east.  This small volcanic island was annexed to Chile in 1888, and until 1965 the Chileans kept the natives as interns on their own island and used it as a big sheep farm. In 1996, Easter Island made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Archaeologists have long wondered about the construction and transport of the long-faced statues or moai that are scattered all over the island. It is thought that the statues may have ‘walked’ by rocking them from side to side vertically with teams of workers with ropes over wooden rollers. Later statues were toppled as it was thought their power no longer worked. This coincided with the arrival of the Europeans. Today the island has become a Mecca for those seeking the ultimate escape and several boutique hotels and lodges can be found, the real attraction are the wonderful people, descendents of the Polynesian seafarers who found the island against all odds over a thousand years ago. Contact us for details of how to get there.

Destination of the month – Huanchaco & Chan Chan

huanchaco
Flickr/Geraint Rowland

Just down the coast from the northern Peruvian city of Trujillo is the town of Huanchaco. Once a small fishing village, it’s now grown to accommodate the travellers that come attracted by the beaches, surf and climate. In 2012 the town was designated a World Surfing Reserve, the first in South America. Not only are the waves consistently ideal for surfing but the caballito de totora (little reed horses), a type of reed surfing boat has been used here for over 3,000 years.

City of mud

If you can drag yourself away from the beach there are plenty of archaeological ruins to see nearby. Most impressive of these is Chan Chan, the ancient capital of the Chimus and the largest pre-Columbian city in the whole of South America. If you a visiting this region of Peru, you simply can’t not stop by. Its vast walls and statues are incredibly well preserved and offer a unique look at life over 1000 years ago. Why not try our Warrier of the Clouds tour to visit the site.

make-an-enquiry

create-your-journey