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Category Archives: Belize

6 magnificent marine creatures you can see off Belize

The Belizean Cayes are a snorkeler and divers’ dream destination. The country is home to the second largest coral reef in the world, beaten only by Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. The waters are inhabited by far too many marine species to name in a list (over 600 different fish species and 40 different types of coral), but here are the highlights.

Manatees

Arguably the highlight of any visitor to the Cayes is seeing a manatee, the gentle giants of the sea. These intriguing looking creatures are large, reaching over 3 metres in length. Though they spend their whole life under the sea, they come to the surface every half an hour or so to breathe. They are herbivores and live entirely off aquatic plants. Manatees live in small groups and tend to give birth to a single calf.

Dolphins

No introduction is needed for the world’s most playful marine mammal. If you take a boat out to the snorkeling or diving site, they tend to follow and jump in the wake of the boat. Once in the water, dolphins are equally inquisitive and tend to circle and nudge. Who wouldn’t want to see a pod of these magnificent creatures.

Nurse sharks

Snorkelling with nurse sharks is often the highlight. Though it sounds daunting for many, jumping into shallow waters with sharks is adrenaline-inducing. Fear not, these nurse sharks are harmless and have no teeth. Almost all full day snorkeling tours visit Shark Alley where it’s possible to get into the water with dozens of these sharks.

Spotted eagle rays

The most graceful marine creature in the waters. Spotted eagle rays glide elegantly feeding on mollusks, shrimp, small fish, octopus and crustaceans. They are superb swimmers and have the ability to jump out of the water up to several metres when needed. The biggest can grow up to a 3 metre wingspan and 5 metres in length.

Whale sharks

Though most of the marine creatures are there all year round, whale sharks migrate during the spring. They visit the reef called Gladden Gladden Split off Placencia, an area which is used by dozens of Caribbean fish to release eggs. Snorkeling with whale sharks is truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. These harmless giants of the sea will happily allow swimmers to get close without reacting. April and May are the best months to see whale sharks in Belize.

Sea turtles

There are three main species of turtle in Belize – hawksbill, green and loggerhead turtles. Of the three, the hawksbill is the only one protected. Unfortunately, the others are hunted for their eggs and for their shells during the right season. One of the best places to see the huge loggerhead turtles is a the conch graveyard in the Hol Chan Marine Reserve. Here, enormous resident loggerheads wait for the fishermen’s’ conch and happily swim just feet away from eager swimmers.

To see the marine life in Belize for yourself, call one of our Belize experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or take a look at our suggested tours here.

10 places in Latin America that will take your breath away

Latin America is so full of wonders, it’s almost impossible to pick just 10. Our travels have taken us all around this varied continent and we’ve whittled it down to our absolute bucket list favourites.

Torres del Paine

Perhaps one of the most spectacular places on earth, the Torres del Paine National Park spans a large area of the Andes in southern Chile. Hiking through the park reveals some of the most exquisite scenery in South America as well as plenty of wildlife from roaming guanacos to circling condors. An absolute must.

Angel Falls

Flickr: ENT108

Angel falls are the tallest in the world. As water cascades over the edge it plunges 2,648 feet before heading the ground. Like something out of the movie Avatar, the falls remote location mean very few tourists visit so you’re likely to have the falls all to yourself. One of the best ways to see them is a scenic flight over the top.

Blue Hole

The Great Blue Hole is located off Belize’s Caye Caulker. Scuba divers from all over the world to visit this mecca to swim with manta rays, sharks and colourful exotic fish. To fully appreciate the shape of this sunken underwater cave, it’s best to take a light aircraft flight over the top. The nearby Hol Chan Marine Park and the three atolls of Glover, Lighthouse and Turneffe are all top notch scuba sites.

Cartagena

No other city exudes the charm of Cartagena. The colourful UNESCO city is flanked by the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. The best way to explore the city is by foot. This cultural hub is packed full of museums, galleries, and churches to explore. By night, head out to explore the excellent restaurants and nightlife.

Rio de Janeiro

While it may be unoriginal to put Rio de Janeiro on a bucket list of South America, we simply couldn’t leave it off. The gorgeous hedonistic city is surrounded by towering mountains, the biggest urban forest in the world, miles of golden sandy beach and the Atlantic. No trip to Brazil is complete without a visit to this fantastic city.

Tulum

The golden sandy beaches fringed by palm trees are spectacular, but what makes this beach so special is the Mayan temple which loams over the beach from its clifftop site.

Pantanal

For wildlife lovers, there is no better place on earth. This vast wetland that sits just below the Amazon in Brazil is home to hundreds of animal species, from colourful hyacinth macaws, jaguars, caiman, giant otters, monkeys, tapirs, herons, hawks, marsh deer and egrets.  Best explored from one of the many comfortable lodges in the park.

Uyuni

Truly one of the world’s natural wonders. This huge 12,000 sq km expanse of white salt seemingly stretches on forever, only punctuated by an island of giant cacti. Nearby, it’s possible to see a train cemetery of rusting steam trains, hot springs, geysers and workers piling up salt. Be sure to stay in one of the hotels made entirely from salt.

Bocas del Toro

For rustic luxury and Caribbean vibes, visit Bocas del Toro, an archipelago off the northern Panamanian coast. The capital Isla Colon is home to colourful wooden houses, preserving its original Caribbean flair. Stay in one of the many over-the-water bungalows and spend your days swimming, snorkeling, swinging in a hammock, eating lobster and beach dwelling.

For tailor made tours to Latin America, contact the experts here or call us on +44 (0) 207 407 1478

10 things you should eat in Belize

Flickr: regan76

Flickr: regan76

Belizean cuisine has not quite made it (yet!) onto the international food scene. This is surprising. Belizean food is a fusion of Caribbean, Spanish, Mexican, African, and native Mayan. Along the coast and on the islands, be sure to steer towards the catch of the day. In land, mouth-watering chicken and beef stews thick with dark spices are common in most restaurants. Here’s 10 dishes you simply can’t leave Belize without trying.

Salbutes

Flickr: Krista

Flickr: Krista

A seriously popular street food, these tasty little morsels are made with fried tortillas packed with cabbage, tomatoes, avocados and chicken. Depending on how spicy you like your food, try topping with plenty of Marie Sharp’s pepper sauce (you’ll see it on every table in the country).

Grilled lobster

Flickr: A Cromwell

Flickr: A Cromwell

The importance of lobster to Belize’s economy cannot be overstated. In season, spiny lobsters (a smaller cousin to the Atlantic lobster found off Canada and the US), are in abundance. Along the shores of Caye Caulker and Ambergris Caye, lobsters can be seen grilling on drum barbecues and are seriously good value. Grab a cold beer, stick your feet in the sand and tuck into a lobster covered in lemon garlic butter. Bliss. For the last ten years, the San Pedro Lobster Festival on Ambergris Caye kicks off lobster season and has been voted Belize’s best festival.

Boil ups

Flickr: Bernt Rostad

Flickr: Bernt Rostad

Boil ups are exactly what they say they are. Everything the cook has in from vegetables, fish, eggs and more are thrown into boiling chicken stock and served with bread dumplings. Simple, but really, really good.

Cochinita pibil

Flickr: Noonch

Flickr: Noonch

This ancient dish hasn’t changed much since the Mayans created it over a thousand years ago. Found on restaurant menus throughout the country, it’s made from marinated, slow-cooked pork and served with corn tortillas.

Fry jacks

Thiese puffed-up dough balls resemble something like a doughnut, albeit they are usually served as a savoury accompaniment to eggs and refried beans in the morning. Be sure to look out for stands selling stuffed fried jacks. These pockets of crispy good stuff are filled with everything from chicken, cheese, ham, eggs and beans, and at around US$2 make for a good value and filling breakfast.

Conch fritters

Flickr: Steve Grant

Flickr: Steve Grant

Another coastal favourite. Conch is roughly chopped and mixed with flour, pepper, onion, garlic, Habanero peppers. It’s then formed into little patties and fried until golden brown. Best eaten with Belize’s famous hot sauce.

Ceviche

Flickr: regan76

Flickr: regan76

Ceviche may be from Peru, but the Belizeans have taken it as their own. It also differs from its Peruvian counterpart. Almost like a chunky salsa – tomatoes, onions, sliced cucumber, coriander, lime juice and habanero peppers are mixed with par-boiled conch, shrimp, octopus or white fish, cooled and served with nachos. Though it can be found inland, it’s obviously best eaten near the sea on a sunny afternoon.

Johnny cakes

Flickr: stevemonty

Flickr: stevemonty

Johnny cakes are a stable of Belizean cuisine. These small savoury baked bread cakes made from flour and coconut milk are cut in half and filled with beans, eggs and cheese for breakfast. For a more filling lunch, try adding some chicken or beef. Though they are best eaten right out of the oven, they do last for several days giving them their other name, ‘Journey Cakes’.

Grilled fish

Flickr: Narisa

Flickr: Narisa

Belizeans know how to cook fish. It would be impossible to name every grilled fish eaten in Belize. Some to look out for include barracuda, snapper, grouper and lion fish. Depending on size, it’s usually served whole and accompanied by coleslaw, veg and rice and beans. On Caye Caulker, try Maggies, a tiny home restaurant near the northern Split.

Chimole

Chimole is also known as ‘Black Dinner’ due to its dark appearance. It’s a common homemade chicken stew made using spices and some black achiote paste.  It’s usually served with tortillas and boiled eggs.

Meat pies

Wiki: Alpha

Wiki: Alpha

Meat pies are a throwback to when Belize was a British colony. Light flaky pastry is filled with minced beef and gravy. Most top it with some of Belize’s famous hot sauce. They’re perfectly sized for mid-meal snack and can often be found on the carts of mobile street vendors.

Tamales

Flickr: ohocheese

Flickr: ohocheese

Tamales differ somewhat from their Mexican counterparts. Here, plantain leaves are used instead of traditional corn husks. Recipes vary depending on what part of the country you’re in, but are often served with cull, a thick gravy made from chicken stock. Mostly found inland, though they are occasionally found on the islands.

Want to try Belize food for real? Get in touch with our Belize travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to discuss your travel plans or see our example tours here.

Latin America’s most colourful festivals

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The world is full of colourful festivals and none come as colourful as those in Latin America. While Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, the world’s largest street party, is perhaps the best known (and for good reason), there are plenty of festivals throughout the continent and throughout the year. Here are 11 of our favourite festivals to look out for.

Carnival

carnival

Carnival is celebrated throughout the towns and villages of Brazil and the rest of Latin America, but the largest and best known is the celebrations in Rio de Janeiro. With millions of people hitting the streets in February, it’s the largest street party in the world. The city hosts over 500,000 foreign tourists who come to enjoy famed parade of colourful dancers and musicians in the sambodrome.

Tango championship

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Buenos Aires plays host to the annual World Tango Championship. This famous dance originated in the 19th century in the nightclubs around the district of River Plate. It’s quickly becoming one of Argentina’s most valued culture exports with more enthusiasm into the tango around the world than ever before. During the festival, every bar, ballroom and milonga throughout the city comes alive with dancers and the sound of tango music. Held in August, it’s one of the best times to visit the city.

Day of the Dead

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Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is often confused with Halloween as the dates are very close. However, the event which is celebrated throughout Mexico stems from an Aztec festival that honours the goddess Michacacihuatl. Mexicans believe that the souls of lost loved ones return to earth on the 2nd November to be with their family once more. Families visit the graves of lost ones to pay their respects and leave food and drink.

Inti Raymi

Another famous festival in Peru which sees thousands of people descend upon Cuzco to take the pilgrimage to the ruins of Sacsayhuaman. The festival lasts for nine days between the winter solstice and the Inca New Year. Inti Raymi means ‘Sun Festival’ in Quechuan, and that is exactly what this festival is about. Honouring the sun god and hoping for the quick return in the darker days as well as a good crop and harvest in the coming months. It’s now the second largest festival in Latin America with well over 200,000 visitors last year.

Qoyllur Rit’i

Q’oyllur Riti is one of the least know and intriguing festivals in the Andes. A combination of Pre-Columbian fertility ceremonies and Catholic processions with colorful dancers and Andean panpipe music make this festival special. The main ceremony is held at the foot of Mount Ausangate. At almost 5,000 metres above sea level, the temperatures plunge to below freezing at night. That doesn’t stop worshippers from turning up to gather at the shrine which is said to be where the infant Christ appeared to a young Indian boy.

Flower festival

August sees the annual flower festival called La Feria de los Flores in Medellin. The colourful fair is attended by visitors from all over the world who eagerly descend upon the ‘City of Eternal Spring’ to see the huge flower festivals, parades, dance performances and theatre. Each year the displays and events get larger and more impressive. The event was original planned for one year in 1957, but was such a success it’s now an annual fixture.

Tapati Rapa Nui festival

Easter Island has few cultural connections with Chile and more with the Polynesian islands that surround it. During Tapati Rapa Nui festival, the ancient ancestral traditions are recreated. These include Takona (body painting), singing competitions, Haka Pei (where people slide down the cliff on a banana tree) and Tau’a Rapa Nui (sports on Rano Raraku volcano). It’s one of the most interesting festivals anywhere in the world as well as being one of the most remote.

Santa Semana

Like Carnival, Santa Semana (Holy Week) has celebrations throughout Latin America (as well as many other parts of the world). One of the most colourful is Antigua in Gautemala. This pretty colonial town comes alive with colour. Intricate designs using petals and coloured sawdust carpet the cobbled streets. These are destroyed by bare-footed, purple-robed men carrying statues of Jesus and the Virgin Mary. Other excellent places to celebrate Santa Semana include Quito in Ecuador and Copacabana in Bolivia.

To visit any of the above festivals or any place in Latin America contact one of our travel experts on +(0) 207 407 1478 or email us here. Alternatively, can view some example tours here.

Best places to go surfing in Latin America

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The thousands of kilometres of coastline that make up South, Central and North America have some of the world’s best surf spots. They are particularly good along the Pacific coast with great waves being found everywhere from Peru to Costa Rica. Here are some of the best places to catch a break.

Mancora, Peru

Located right up in the north of Peru along the Pan-American Highway, Mancora is known for two things – excellent surf and lively nightlife. The excellent year-round sunny weather brings in floods of tourists who descend upon the small town for good surf and a good time. Mancora is home to the world’s largest left point break.

Montañita, Ecuador

Further up the coast in Ecuador is the town of Montañita. Like Mancora, Montañita is somewhat of a party town, but is also known for the excellent waves. The surf season tends to run between November to April with the largest waves hitting the coast between January and March. During carnival season in February, the town hosts an international surf competition.

Santa Catarina, Brazil

Over on the Atlantic coast, the Brazilian state of Santa Catarina is also well-known for the excellent Atlantic swells. Due to the varied wave sizes that can be found along the coast, this is an excellent for everyone from those looking to learn the sport to more experienced surfers. Although good waves can be found throughout the year, it’s best between April and October. An international completion is held near the city of Florianopolis each April.

Nuqui, Colombia

Colombia isn’t as well-known for its surf as some of the other countries on this list, but the Pacific coastal region of the country near Nuqui has some world-class surfing spots. As well as riding the excellent waves, if you visit between June and October you will have the chance to whale watch at the same time! What could be better?

Arica, Chile

Located as far up Chile as you can get, near to the Peruvian border is Arica. While Chile isn’t known for its surf, this particularly spot is excellent. Sitting on the edge of a desert, this isn’t the prettiest spot in Chile, but the high winds bring in some excellent swells between March and May. It’s also easy to combine this surfing adventure with a trip to San Pedro de Atacama or even up to Machu Picchu in Peru.

Bocas Del Toro, Panama.

Bocas del Toro is known for its luxury over-the-water bungalows. However, there are several beaches on the Caribbean archipelago in Panama that offer excellent surf. Water taxis are the easiest way to access the different reef breaks and secret surf spots. There are several places where beginners can take lessons and hire equipment.

Tamarindo, Costa Rica

Costa Rica’s wonderful climate, white sandy palm fringed beaches and lush countryside make it a particularly pleasant country to visit. It’s Nicoya and Guanacaste coast are also blessed with some of the best surf in Latin America. Most surfers descend upon Tamarindo where beginners can learn in in the smaller waves, while experience surfers can take the boats further out to larger breaks. Surfing trips can easily be combined with a visit to some of the country’s other natural wonders including Arenal Volcano and Monteverde cloud forest.

Popoyo, Nicaragua

Located a few hours south of Managua, the white sandy beach of Popoyo is hit by some excellent surf. Along the coastline, surfers find everything from smaller surf where beginners will be comfortable up to thrilling larger breaks for the experienced. There are a number of surf camps through Nicaragua which offer everything from meals, accommodation, surf hire and training. The ideal place to spend a couple of weeks learning this oceanic sport.

Puerto Escondido, Mexico

This area is known for its super powerful hollow barrels. It is therefore advised that only experienced surfers ride these waves. But those who know what they are doing will be treated to some of the world’s best and most powerful surf. Further along the coast, some small waves can be found which are more suitable for beginners. There are several international surf competitions here throughout the year.

To begin your surf adventure, give one of our Latin America specialists a call today on +44 (0) 207 407 1478. Whether you wish to explore just one surf spot or plan a longer multi-country surfing adventure our specialists will be able to help. Alternatively, you can send us a message here.

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.

6 scenic flights to take in Latin America

Such variety of landscapes makes Latin America an amazing place to see from above. Take a bird’s eye view down over the cities, high Andes and natural wonders. Here are 6 of the best way to see the continent from above.

Nazca Lines scenic flight

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Perhaps the most well-known scenic flight is the Nazca lines. These huge geoglyphs etched into the Peruvian desert thousands of years ago have baffled scientists for many years. Although some of the geoglyphs can be seen from a raised platform, there really isn’t a better way to see them than from a small plane. Flights last around 45 minutes. Take a look at this video of a flight over the Nazca lines.

Quito to Coca commercial flight

Many take this popular commercial scheduled flight from Ecuador’s capital (the second highest capital on the continent) down from the Andes and across the vast stretch of Amazon jungle to the steamy port town of Coca. If you are planning to stay at an Amazon lodge, you’ll most likely be taking this same route. Just ensure you book a window seat!

Iguazu Falls helicopter flight

Flickr: Marco Verch

Flickr: Marco Verch

This amazing natural wonder draws thousands of tourists each day. Many views of these huge falls can be seen from the raised walkways that span both the Argentine and Brazilian side. However, the sheer size of Iguazu can never be fully appreciated without seeing it from above. Escape the crowds and take a scenic helicopter fight to see the falls from a whole different angle.

Santiago to Puerto Arenas commercial flight

Another incredible scheduled flight. Travelling south in Chile from the capital Santiago to Punta Arenas in the heart of Patagonia, reveals some incredible aerial views of the snowy peaks of the Andes mountains. What better way to see the might of these towering mountains than from above?

Blue hole helicopter flight

Flickr: 2il org

Flickr: 2il org

Most people visit Belize’s Blue Hole to snorkel or scuba dive with the staggering variety of exotic fish. This is something not to be missed. However, if you have the time and the resources, a flight over the largest living barrier reef in the world won’t disappoint. This impressive natural wonder is usually combined with aerial views of the Turneffe Atolls.

Hot Air Balloon Flight over the Colombian coffee region

Flickr: CIAT

Flickr: CIAT

The lush green valleys and rolling countryside of the coffee region in Colombia has now be included on the UNESCO World Heritage list. Of course, it’s a wonderful place to explore by 4×4 or by hiking the trails, but this landscape is best seen from a hot air balloon.

Hang glide over Rio de Janeiro

Flickr: alobos Life

Flickr: alobos Life

Need a little adventure? How about seeing Rio de Janeiro from above during a hang glide? Soar like a bird above the city and take in the amazing views of Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado, Sugar Loaf Mountain and Rocinha Favela. Most flights launch from a platform high up in Tijuca Forest National Park (the largest urban forest in the world) and touch down gently on the beach.

To take your scenic flight over Latin America, give one of our specialists a call on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us a message here.

9 insanely luxurious hotels around Latin America

Alvear Palace, Argentina

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The elegant Alvear Palace, located in the upmarket Recoleta district in Buenos Aires, was built in the early 20th century and combines European style along with modern technology. No other hotel in Buenos Aires exudes luxury like the Alvear Palace. Each suite is tastefully decorated with art by well-known Argentine artists adorning the walls. Just outside the doors lies an amazing city to explore, but the luxury spa, indoor pool and French restaurant La Borgogne may keep you from exploring it, as will afternoon patisseries and tea at Jardin d’Hiver.

See our suggested tours of Argentina.

Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize

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Owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola, this beautiful lodge located on the banks of the Priassion River consists of nineteen luxury villas are built from hardwoods and woven thatches. Private villas overlook the surrounding jungle from their stilted location. Soak in the large Jacuzzi at the riverside spa or indulge in a traditional massage.

See our suggested tours of Belize.

Hotel Das Cataratas, Brazil

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One of Latin America’s most iconic hotels, the Das Cataratas is the only hotel located inside Iguazu Falls National Park. When all the tourists have left, guests have exclusive access to the falls all to themselves. Part of the Belmond hotel group (formerly Orient Express), this Portuguese-colonial manor house harks back to a bygone era of travel. After exploration of the falls, return for a lazy afternoon under the palsm on the veranda or refreshing swim in the outdoor pool.

See our suggested tours of Brazil.

Lastarria, Chile

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Built in the early 20th century, this stunning residence located in Santiago’s most bohemian district, is one the city’s most elegant hotels. The Lastarria is situated near the museums, galleries, shops and restaurants in the heart of the city. Each suite is beautifully decorated and spacious, while the restaurant offers cuisine cooked from locally sourced ingredients in an elegant lounge.

See our suggested tours of Chile.

La Passion, Colombia

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While Cartagena is packed with boutique hotels, the 19th century restored house La Passion stands out. The charming hotel has plenty of original features including high ceilings, chequered marble floors, mural paintings and wooden doors as well as an impressive array of colonial, republican and modern furniture. Located in the heart of historic Cartagena other features as this luxury boutique include a lovely terrace and bar, Jacuzzi and a rooftop outdoor pool.

See our suggested tours of Colombia.

Finca Rosa Blanca, Costa Rica

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While San Jose may not be known for its abundance of luxury hotels, the Central Valley located a half hour away has plenty of boutiques. One of the best is the Finca Rosa Blanca, a small luxury hotel nestled amidst lush gardens and the rolling countryside of orchids and coffee plantations. All of the rooms are beautifully constructed offering a choice of veranda or private terrace overlooking the serene landscapes of valleys and mountains. After a day of hiking or horse riding, guests return for delicious homemade cuisine in the restaurant made from organic produce from the hotel’s gardens.

See our suggested tours of Costa Rica.

Plaza Grande, Ecuador

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The Plaza Grande was one of the first hotels built in Quito, and what a hotel. Extensively renovated and remodeled, this fine hotel located on the central square, the Plaza del la Independencia, it’s within walking distance to Quito’s highlights. Fine suites, excellent service and a serious level of comfort define this luxurious boutique property.

See our suggested tours of Ecuador.

El Convento, Guatemala

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The colonial town Antigua has arguably one of the highest concentration of luxury hotels in Latin America. Our favourite, El Convento, is housed within an 18th century Capuchin convent. Stepping into the property from the famed cobblestone streets of Antigua, a beautifully constructed hotel awaits – artisanal brick vaulted ceilings, exposed stone walls and hand-crafted doors with the simple elegance of contemporary design. Chef Arelene served up excellent cuisine at the hotel’s Siltz restaurant, one of the best eateries in the city.

See our suggested tours of Guatemala.

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, Mexico

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This ocean front property located on the Baja California peninsula in northwest Mexico, the name literally translates to “the windows to paradise”. Part of the Rosewood Resorts, this is one of the best hotels in the world. The property boosts a selection of luxurious suites and villas, all of which overlook the ocean. Personal telescopes are provided from whale and dolphin spotting during the day and star gazing at night. There is an excellent indoor and outdoor spa offering plenty of treatments and a world-class restaurant to while away the evenings.

See our suggested tours of Mexico.

To start planning your luxury holiday to Latin America, get in touch today.

The Best Places To travel In 2016

The New Year is almost upon us. In celebration here’s our pick of the best places to visit in Latin American in 2016.

South Georgia, Antarctic

As the variety of expeditions to the white continent get larger, so does the choice of which combination of islands to visit. Follow in Shackleton’s footsteps to one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on the planet. Breath-taking glaciers, deep fjords and huge colonies of penguins, particularly the king penguin.

Salta, Argentina

Thinking of visiting Argentina in 2016? Whilst most opt for the wilds of Patagonia, a visit to the colourful arid deserts of the north are just as scenic. Find relics of ancient civilizations, striking landscapes (try the terracotta canyons of Quebrada de Humahuaca), indigenous people with fascinating histories and some of the best wine in Latin America. Without trying to be too clichéd: it has it all.

Tour suggestion: Enchanting Northwest

The Cayes, Belize

Flickr: cloud2013

Flickr: cloud2013

The Cayes form a chain of coral islands off the coast of Belize. With year round sunshine and picture postcard white sand islands, there is no better place to go for a year round beach holiday. It’s also arguably the best place to scuba in the whole of Latin America – the Blue Hole is the most famous. Exclusive hotels and luxury getaway guesthouses await.

Tour suggestion: Sun kissed Belize

La Paz, Bolivia

Flickr: Yann Duarte

Flickr: Yann Duarte

Most travellers to Bolivia skip past La Paz rather quickly in favour of visiting Lake Titicaca, the Amazon or the stunning Uyuni Salt Flats. But for those who spend a little more time, there are plenty of gems to discover. Just a wander around the city will reveal colonial churches, museums and Indian street markets (the Witches Market is a must). Just outside the city is the highest golf course in the world, skiing opportunities, beautiful valleys and gorges for trekking and the ancient monument Tiwanaku.

Tour suggestion: Tiwanaku & Beyond

Minas Gerais, Brazil

This landlocked state north of Rio de Janeiro is a cultural gem waiting to be discovered. With a tendency for most to stick to Brazil’s gorgeous coastline and beaches, those who venture inland are treated to pretty colonial towns, baroque churches, excellent food and some of the friendliest people in Latin America. Best explored on a self-drive adventure.

Tour suggestion: Cultural Buzz of Brazil

Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

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The Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica’s verdant south, covered with pristine primary rainforest, is a wildlife lover’s dream. From ocelots and tapirs to literally hundreds of species of exotic bird including hummingbirds, toucans, macaws. Whales, dolphins and turtles roam the waters around the peninsula. If you are lucky you may even see a jaguar.

Tour suggestion: Romance in Costa Rica

Cloud Forest, Ecuador

Another bird watchers mecca, the cloud forests of Bellavista and Mindo are located north west of the capital of Quito. Although the accommodation is fairly the rustic, albeit charming, the draw is the hummingbirds, toucans and parrots which inhabit the region. The trees are festooned with orchids, bromeliads, mosses and lichens and numerous species of colourful butterflies.

Tour suggestion: Hummingbirds & Turtles

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Come to the largest and most colourful market in Central America. Also known as Chichi or Santa Tomas, the pretty white-washed highland town is most famous for its Sunday and Thursday markets where thousands of indigenous locals living in the surrounding countryside come to town to sell their wares. Get ready for some serious bartering.

Tour suggestion: Maya, Magic & Mystery

What To Eat For Breakfast In Each Latin American Country

Breakfast in Latin America varies immensely between countries and also regions. You’re not going to, for example, find the same breakfast in the Andes to that which you will find on the coast, even in the same country. Below is just an example of some of the best things you can start you day on in each country.

Argentina – Medialunas

MedialunasFlickr/David

Argentinians, like many parts of Europe, prefer something small and sweet for breakfast. Medialunas are much like croissants, buttery crescent-shaped pastries that are perfect when smothered in rich dulce de leche and served with milky coffee.

Chile – Tostada con manjar

Manjar - ChileFlickr/Germán Poo-Caamaño

In Chile, the humble breakfast is simple fare. Typically Chileans will have tostadas covered with jam or caramel manjar.

Brazil – Bolo de Laranjá and tropical fruits

Fruit and cake - brazilFlickr/Turismo Bahia

Brazilians have a wide variety of breakfast foods. Delicious exotic fruits are always on offer but it may surprise you to know that cake is often eaten in the morning. An orange cake called Bolo de Laranjá is delicious and one of the most common.

Bolivia – Salteñas

saltenasFlickr/Rodrigo Galindez

Salteñas are basically smaller versions of their Argentine cousin, the empanada. Delicious baked pastries filled with a beef, pork or chicken and sometimes vegetables like peas. Vendors start selling these tasty morsels at 7am and they can quickly sell out.

Peru – Ceviche

CevicheFlickr/Ron Dollete

The classic Peruvian dish of ceviche is popular on the coast. A variety of raw fish marinated in lime and other citrus juices, chilli and onions and served with corn-on-the-cob and sweet potato.

Ecuador – Tigrillo

Tigrillo - ecuadorFlickr/Rinaldo Wurglitsch

A hearty mix of mashed green plantain, scrambled eggs and cheese, sometimes served with avocado and lime wedges.

Colombia – Changua

ChanguaFlickr/manuela y Daniel

Changua is a typical breakfast dish of the Colombian Andes and particularly good in Bogota. This simple soup of milk, spring onions, coriander, bread and poached eggs is an excellent way to start the day.

Uruguay – Bizcochos

Bizcochos Uruguay

Bizcochos is a term used for pastries in Spanish, and in Uruguay this usually means the croissant-like pastries that are very popular for breakfast. Similarly to Argentina these are accompanied by sweet milky coffee.

Panama – Tortilla Con Bistec

panama_tortillasWikipedia/Jdvillalobos

Panamanian cuisine is a reflection of its position between two continents and its diverse population. It draws influence from many of the countries that surround it. Typically breakfast includes corn tortillas with beef and onions.

Costa Rica – Gallo Pinto

Gallo PintoFlickr/regan76

Gallo pinto is the most commonly eaten breakfast in Costa Rica. A simply but delicious dish of rice and beans cooked in chicken stock and served with toast and eggs.

Guatemala – Desayuno Chapín

desayuno chapínFlickr/Phil

Desayuno Chapín (Chapín being the nickname for Guatemala) is a scrumptious hearty medley of scrambled eggs, refried beans, chirmol (tomato sauce), fried plantains, cheese and bread served with plenty of coffee.

Mexico – Huevos Rancheros

huevos rancherosFlickr/Kevin

This is typical of rural Mexico, usually served in the mid-morning. Fried eggs laid on corn tortillas are topped with plenty of extras including refried beans, avocado, chili sauce, rice and more.

Belize – Fry Jack

fry jacksFlickr/Larnie Fox

Fry Jacks are a stable of Belizean breakfasts.  These deep fried crispy dough pieces are often served with eggs, beans or jam and honey.

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