(0)20 7407 1478

855 625 2753 US

Category Archives: Belize

Luxury boltholes you won’t want to miss in Belize

Belize might not be the busiest Central American country on the travellers’ circuit, but the tiny Caribbean hotspot packs a serious luxurious punch. Here’s our top picks on the best places to stay during your adventure.

Victoria House

Victoria House lies just a few miles south of San Pedro among 10 acres of grounds teeming with exotic flowers. There are 42 rooms and suites, many of which overlook the glittering ocean and long stretch of beach. This is a place for some serious R&R where you can lounge around the private swimming pool and soak up the sunshine. There’s also an onsite restaurant and a beautiful beach bar.

Cayo Espanto

If you’ve got deep pockets, there isn’t anywhere quite as magical as the Cayo Espanto, a 5-star resort housed on a private island just a few miles off the coast. There are just six luxury villas limited to 16 guests who can bask on the private beaches, learn a new adrenaline-inducing water sport or simply swing in one of the hammocks.

Blancaneaux Lodge

The fact that the Blancaneaux Lodge is owned by the famous film director Francis Ford Coppola is just one of the reasons that you should visit this luxurious resort. It’s perched along the banks of the Priassion River and has 19 villas traditional built on stilts from local hardwoods and thatched roofs. You can feel all the worries of home melt away as you kick back in the hot tub or pamper yourself with an onsite spa treatment and massage.

Turtle Inn

The Indonesian-inspired Turtle Inn is another of Coppola’s resorts in Belize. There are several luxurious thatched cabanas with exotic private gardens, Japanese baths and hand-crafted artisanal furnishings. This understated beauty is just tiptoeing distance from a long stretch of white beach and the glistening Caribbean Sea.

Hamanasi

The secluded little boutique hideaway along the Caribbean Sea is just a stone’s throw from Hopkins. It has 22 spacious guestrooms decked out in hand-crafted Belizean hardwood furnishings and private porches overlooking the gorgeous views. You can spend your days stretched out on the sandy beach working on your tan or learning a new water sport.

Ready to begin your luxury break in Belize? Get in touch with one of our Belize travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning.

Latin America’s top football teams

boca juniors

Flickr: Sam Kelly

The beautiful game is by far the biggest sport in Latin America, nearing an obsession for many. Even if you’re not a fan of the sport, you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy the lively atmosphere. Try a match between some of the biggest rivals like Buenos Aires’ River Plate and Boca Juniors. Though the teams haven’t got the spending power of European clubs, managers keep an eye out for new talent. So, if you’re looking for a new club to support in the new world, here’s our list of the best there is.

River Plate, Buenos Aires

Let’s start with two of the biggest and well known. The Buenos Aires team River Plate has gained a serious following despite, a recent run of bad luck. They’ve notched-up 36 titles and two Libertadores Cups under their belt. Many of River Plate’s top players get nabbed by European teams.

Boca Juniors, Buenos Aires

The fierce Buenos Aires rivals of River Plate are the Boca Juniors who, over the years, have nurtured a wealth of talent and be named one of the top Latin America clubs of the 21st century. They’ve had similar success with River Plate with 30 titles and four Libertadores. Heard of Maradona? This was his team.

Corinthians, Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo’s Corinthians have gained a serious reputation. With a star-studded list of players over the years, they are Brazil’s largest club. Over the years have bagged a ton of titles including 5 Brasileiraos, a Libertador and even a FIFA World Cup when they beat the UK’s Chelsea. This is a club to look out for.

Penarol, Montevideo

Without a doubt, Penarol is Uruguay’s most followed and successful club. Located on the outskirts of Montevideo, this team have scored enough to gain almost 50 league titles and several Libertadores. The club has produced top players over the years and contributed to all Uruguay’s World Cup teams. Though they haven’t won a cup since the ’80’s, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Santos FC, Santos

Santos FC needs little introduction. This historic Brazilian club has set the football world on fire with the likes of Pele and Robinho. Pele is often considered the greatest player of all time. More recently, it was Neymar’s club before he moved on to play for Barcelona. If you’re looking to support a Brazilian club with pedigree, look no further than Santos.

Atletico Nacional, Medellín

Atletico Nacional, based in Colombia’s city of Medellin, are having a good run, bagging plenty of league titles over the last 10 years. They’re becoming the powerhouse not just in Colombia, but the whole of Latin America. The most famous player to come out of the club is Rene Higuita, a goalkeeper known for his unique style.

Colo-Colo, Santiago

Let’s face it, Colo-Colo is Chile’s most successful team. They’ve many cups and a Libertadores under their belt. Famed for producing players with a fast and offensive style; the big European clubs keep an eye of for talent.

Olimpia, Asunción

Olimpia continues to do well with almost 40 league titles among other cups. It’s best known for bagging the Intercontinental Cup, the Copa Interamerica, the Libertadore and the League Title all in 1979, the peak year for the club. A good solid team with a strong history and one to keep an eye on.

Want to go and watch the beautiful game in Latin America? Call one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here to start planning your adventure.

10 off grid hotels in Latin America

Want to get away from the bustle of the city and truly understand a new culture or place? To do so, you’ll need to leave the distractions of home behind. Dump the laptop and mobile phone and immerse yourself. You likely return having had a more fulfilling trip. Here’s 10 hotels in Latin America where you can do that.

La Sofia, Argentina

It may only be a couple of hours from the metropolis of Buenos Aires, but it couldn’t be any different. Here, you’ll stay with a local family at a charming 6-bedroom estancia. Spend your days learning to horse ride with gauchos, play polo, sip Argentine wine and gorge on delicious home-cooked food. Relax in the Spanish colonial surroundings of the farm. It’s not hard to detach and get away from it all here.

Pook’s Hill, Belize

Nestled at the foothills of the Maya Mountains in Belize, Pook’s Hill is set in a gorgeous private reserve. It was once a sacred site to the ancient Maya people. Enjoy walking through the beautiful trails spotting wildlife. Relax at night in your simple thatched cabin made from locally sourced materials.

Palacio de Sal, Bolivia

A couple of nights at the remote Palacio de Sal will do wonders in helping you digital de-tox. While you won’t want to spend your whole holiday here it is ideal for a stop in this wilderness. Made entirely of salt and surrounded by the vast Uyuni salt flats, you won’t be able to pick up WiFi. Have fun playing a round of golf on the world’s only salt course.

Uxua Casa, Brazil

The idyllic fishing village of Trancoso is rarely visited by tourists. On cliff overlooking an endless beach. At its centre you’ll find ten beautifully restored 16th century fishermen’s homes. The rustic but chic individual cabins, created by designer Wilbert Das and local artists. They use reclaimed materials and traditional building methods. With a year-round tropical climate and the beach moments away, it’s an ideal place to get away from it all.

Eco Camp, Chile

If trekking is your thing, there are few places which match up to the Eco Camp located deep in the Patagonian wilderness. The remote hotel of individual domes resembling igloos. Don’t think for a minute they’re basic though. These comfortable glamping tents are anything but. During the day, you can head out to explore the awe-inspiring Torres del Paine National Park with the help of expert local guides.

Ecohabs, Colombia

For something a little more tropical, try the Ecohabs. These are a group of wooden cabins nestled on the side of a hill overlooking the azure Caribbean Sea. Tip-toe barefoot down to white sandy beaches nearby to spend your days reading books, working on your tan or cooling off in the sea. If you’re not a beach dweller, you can head off along the hiking trails in the Tayrona National Park to spot wildlife.

Lapa Rios Ecolodge, Costa Rica

If you want to get away from it all without leaving the comforts of home, try the Lapa Rios Ecolodge in Corcovado. The views from your room are astounding. The hotel sits atop a hill overlooking a pristine jungle reserve and the sea below. Drag yourself away from your private balcony, to spend days hiking along the trails, going dolphin spotting or swimming in the ocean.

Napo Wildlife Centre, Ecuador

When there’s no road to a hotel and the only way to reach it is by boat, you know that you’re truly getting away from it all. Deep in Ecuador’s Yasuni National Park, the Napo Wildlife Centre has a dozen comfortable cabins. During your stay, you’ll hike through the jungle to spot wildlife with naturalist guides. Climb tree towers, visit the local Anangu community and watch parrots at clay licks.

Chiminos Lodge Tikal, Guatemala

This tiny lodge is on an island in the Petexbatun Lagoon in Guatemala’s Peten jungle region. This is a real hide-away. With just 6 rustic bungalows, the accommodation never gets overcrowded. allowing you to appreciate the surrounding private forest and lake. Only monkeys and parrots to disturb you.

Manu Wildlife Centre, Peru

To reach the Manu Wildlife Centre, you take a 35-minute flight to Boca Manu and then a 90-minute journey by motorized canoe down the Madre de Dios River. The rustic lodge has 22 double bungalows crafted from bamboo and palm fronds harvested from the local area. At this lodge, you can hike out into the forests which has unparalleled wildlife watching.

Want to get away from it all on a Latin American adventure? Start planning your trip today by calling one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or emailing us here.

Should you pick Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker

Whether to visit Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker is a question that every travellers who goes to Belize faces. Both lie in the Caribbean Sea just a few miles from each other and the mainland of Belize, but they are a world apart from each other in many ways. It’s a tricky one as both have their merits, and it really comes down to personal taste, and perhaps budget. Some people will defend the smaller Caye Caulker for its laid back atmosphere, while others will push for the nightlife and things to do on Ambergris Caye. Here’s everything you need to know to make the right decision for you.

Caye Caulker

Caye Caulker is the smallest of the two, at just 5 miles long and 1 mile wide, though in parts just100 metres wide or so. When you arrive on the island, you have a couple of choices for getting to your hotel – walk or golf buggy taxis. No vehicles are allowed on the island. During the high season, there are around 40 little hotels and guest houses, as well as a couple of dozen restaurants and bars, which close fairly early. It’s got a laid back atmosphere, with tiny little beaches flanked by shallow and calm aquamarine waters. Though it’s 5 miles long, much of the island is inaccessible due to dense mangroves. The island buildings are colourful wooden Caribbean shacks. Days can be spent on the little spits on beach, swimming or snorkelling in the ocean, paddle boarding or sea kayaking, or eating in the local restaurants. Towards the top of main island, there is ‘the split’, a break in the island caused by a hurricane in the 70’s. There are only 1,500 or so permanent residents on the island, though this swells with tourists during the high season.

Ambergris Caye

Ambergris Caye is much larger, with a population 10 times the size of Caye Caulker. It stretches for 25 miles and is up to a mile wide. The main town of San Pedro is much bigger than its Caye Caulker counterpart with hundreds of hotels and guest houses on offer. There are also countless bars and restaurants offering everything from Belizean to Italian cuisine. Ambergris Caye doesn’t have any cars either, but unlike Caye Caulker, the distances can be far, so it’s worth hiring a golf buggy to get around. Ambergris Caye is much more built up with large concrete buildings. The clubs and bars teem with tourists that spill out onto the beach and offer live music and cold drinks.

Both cayes offer access to the Belize Barrier Reef, the second largest reef in the world after Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, so this shouldn’t sway your decision. In conclusion, if you are looking for a quiet holiday in a more charming location, and don’t mind the lack of beaches or the limited variety of restaurants and bars, Caye Caulker is your island. If more choice for restaurants and nightlife is important, and you don’t mind the quicker pace, later nights, and noise, then stay on Ambergris Caye.

To visit either Caye Caulker, Ambergris Caye, or any other part of Belize, call or travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

Videos of the most magnificent birds in Latin America

Latin America has the most diverse range of avifauna on earth. More than 3,000 different species of birdlife can be found from the mountains down to the coast. Notably places birders should visit are the Galapagos Islands in Ecuador, the cloud forests of Peru, the Atlantic coastal forest in Brazil, the Iberá Wetlands in Argentina, and the Boquete Highlands in Panama. Here’s a rundown of the most magnificent birds in Latin America that all birders should tick off their lists.

Hyacinth macaws

The hyacinth macaw is part of the parrot family and is native to the rainforests of South America. It is characterized by its cobalt blue feathers. It is the largest of the parrot family at maturity can reach up to a metre long from its head to the bottom of its tail. Unfortunately, due to habitat loss and the illegal pet trade, hyacinth macaws are listed as vulnerable. We can recommend spots in the Pantanal where you will definitely see them.

Andean condors

Andean condors inhabit much of the high Andes Mountains. It’s large, with a wingspan off well over 3 metres and is part of the vulture family. They circle on the thermals looking out for dead animals to scavenge. It has one of the longest lives of any bird, with some living to over 70 years. Perhaps one of the best places to see this impressive bird is in Peru’s Colca Canyon.

Cock of the Rock

Though small, the cock of the rock is one of the most colourful birds in Latin America. Inhabiting the misty cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes, these birds are characterized by bright orange feathers including a prominent fan-shaped crest. They congregate in leks where the males display in the hope of attracting a mate. If you want to see a cock of the rock, be sure to visit the cloud forests of Ecuador or Manu in Peru.

Waved albatross

These huge 2.5 metre birds descend upon Espanola island in the Galapagos during the mating season in May. Most visit the island to view the majestic birds’ mating ritual of bill circling, sky pointing, and bill clapping. The rest of the year they spend along the coast of Peru and Ecuador. Interestingly, the waved albatross can live up to 45 years.

Resplendent quetzal

The resplendent quetzal is found in the cloud forests of Panama, Guatemala, Mexico, and Costa Rica. There are several different sub-species, and they are often considered by many as the most beautiful birds in the world. These solitary creatures are part of the trogon family and are usually found on their own or very small groups.

Magnificent frigatebirds

Magnificent frigatebirds have a large wingspan and are known for stealing the food from other birds. This has led to the Spanish calling the pirate birds. The males have a layer of shiny black feathers along their body and a large red throat pouch which they inflate during mating season to attract a mate. Females are large then the males, and have white breast and shoulder feathers.

Blue footed boobies

Though blue footed boobies can be found along the coast of Ecuador and Peru, the biggest populations are on the Galapagos Islands, and are one of the archipelago’s biggest draws. They are easily recognised by their blue feet which they stamp up and down to impress a female. They reach almost a metre in height (the females are generally taller) and they have a wingspan of up to 1.5 metres.

King penguins

Most of the population of king penguins are found in the Antarctic, but there is a small population of king penguins on the Falkland Islands and another in Tierra del Fuego. King penguins are around a metre tall and are expert swimmers. While looking for prey like small fish and quid, they often dive down to over 100 metres, though some reach depths three times this.

Harpy eagles

The beautiful harpy eagle is found throughout the Americas and is one of the most powerful raptor species. They can be seen in parts of the lowland rainforests in Brazil and Central America gliding around on the morning thermal. They have huge talons which they use to grab prey and can lift animals that are as heavy as they are.

Capuchinbird

This funny looking bird is found in Northern Brazil and Guyana. It’s part of the cotingidae family and is famous among birders as having one of the most unique vocalisations, a low rumble like a cow. It’s got a strange head formation which makes it easy to spot.

Want to see the bird life of Latin America? To start planning, call one of our birding experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

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

brazil-1708773_960_720

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

dance-238263_960_720

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

day-of-the-dead-568012_960_720

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

surfing-1208255_960_720

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.

make-an-enquiry

create-your-journey