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Category Archives: Culture

UNUSUAL URUGUAY FOR CHRISTMAS?

Punta del Este

Even during summer, it is never too early to plan for the winter hols. With Christmas and New Year 6 months away, it is a good time to secure flights and hotels. Consider Uruguay. It´s about time this little gem nestled between Argentina and Brazil came into the spotlight. A small country but has around 660 km. coastline along the River Plate, the world´s biggest estuary. In the bustling capital Montevideo, enjoy strolling through the lovely old town and dining in fine restaurants. A few hours away, lies Uruguay´s oldest city, Colonia del Sacramento. Founded in 1680, it feels like stepping back in time. The city has a charming colonial ambiance, and old classic cars abound like in Havana. Jose Ignacio, a small coastal town, is an international jet-setter destination and Punta del Este is the must-see for beach lovers. Further north the coast becomes wilder and ideal for nature lovers.

The classy Hyatt hotel Carmelo Resort & Spa, on the banks of Rio de la Plata. It has holiday packages with activities: yoga lessons, Spa, bikes, tennis courts and daily activities at the kid´s club. The packages are subject to a minimum of 3 (Christmas) or 4 (New Year) consecutive nights. More information and rates on request. Contact us for travel ideas and itineraries.

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

CITY OF THE MONTH MONTEVIDEO: AN ANTIQUE SHOPPER’s DREAM

Browsing flea markets of Montevideo

Montevideo is a great city to wander. Much of the centre takes you back to a bygone era when people took the time to slow down. The neoclassical and Art Nouveau architecture recalls those times. The leafy plazas, and riverside walkways, invite you to ramble. The streets are dotted with cafes, bookstores, and a large collection of antique stores. Auction houses like Bavastro or Castells are packed with fine vintage treasures. Montevideo also features a popular flea market on Tristán Narvaja Street, where every Sunday morning visitors may find first-edition books, 1900s Leicas and other hidden gems. The markets are also great places to eat scrumptious grilled meats and other local delicacies. If you would like to discover Montevideo and its secrets, please contact us for Uruguay travel ideas.

WIN a fabulous 8-day holiday for two to Nicaragua

The Colonial city of Granada

We have teamed up with The Travel Magazine to have the chance to enjoy a holiday of a lifetime touring Nicaragua. Known for its colonial cities, volcanoes and unspoilt beaches, Nicaragua is one of the region’s best kept secrets. Enjoy beautiful lakes, active volcanoes, nature reserves, inviting beaches and friendly locals.

Your tour (see full itinerary here) starts in the capital city of Managua where you can rub shoulders with locals in the street markets, then on to the beautiful colonial city of Leon Nicaragua’s historical, cultural and religious capital. You could even go boarding at the Cerro Negro volcano if you have the stomach for this exciting ride down the volcano. Then take the ferry to the Isla de Ometepe, situated on Lake Nicaragua, with two volcanoes, Concepcion and Maderas. Spend the night on a nature reserve by one of the most beautiful beaches in the country.

Then on to the vibrant colonial city of Granada believed to be the second oldest in Latin America and attacked many times by pirates. You will visit the city by horse-drawn carriage. Climb the bell tower of Merced church and enjoy spectacular views over Lake Nicaragua and Mombacho Volcano. The trip is for two and includes flights, hotels some meals and activities. Select Latin America has been offering quality trips to the Central America for over three decades.

To enter the competition, click here. Winner will be chosen at random on May 16th 2017.

Martín Chambi exhibition in Lima

Chambi

Hailed as Peru’s finest photographer, Martín Chambi was one of the first pioneers of indigenous photography. Now the Art Museum of Lima (MALI) is launching a retrospective exhibition of his work that documented the lives of Andean culture, people and landscapes.

Chambi was born into an indigenous family near the shores of Lake Titicaca. After the passing of his father he travelled to Arequipa where we began an apprenticeship in photography with his teacher Don Max T. Vargas, a rarity for someone with such humble beginnings. After training Chambi moved to Cuzco where we founded a portrait studio near the Plaza de Armas.

Although economically he did well from his commissioned portrait work, his passion was where his roots lay – the Andean indigenous culture, people and landscapes. He did many trips out of Cuzco to the Sacred Valley, capturing the lives of people many regarded as inferior. He left an archive of over 30,000 images.

Many newspapers including Peruvian La Cronica, the National in Buenos Aires and National Geographic published his photographic work.

“I have read that in Chile it is thought that Indians have no culture, that they are uncivilized, that they are intellectually and artistically inferior when compared to whites and Europeans. More eloquent than my opinion, however, are graphic testimonies. It is my hope that impartial and objective witnesses will examine this evidence. I feel that I am a representative of my race; my people speak through my photographs.”- Martín Chambi

The exhibition at MALI runs until the 14th February 2016. It is comprised of over 400 of Chambi’s photos including studio work, self-portraits, archaeological sites including Machu Picchu and indigenous photography.

To include a tour of his work start planning your tour of Peru today or call us on +44 (0) 207 407 1478.

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

MTE2098

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

MTCO0142

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

8 Amazing Things To Do in Puerto Vallarta And The Riviera Nayarit

Our product manager has just returned from the city of Puerto Vallarta located on the Pacific coast of Mexico. Below he reports on the best things to do in the region.

Visit the Ocean grill

Ocean Grill

Head just south of Puerto Vallarta and you’ll find the Ocean Grill Restaurant. Not only is the seafood excellent, but this wooden structure is built on a cliff side overlooking a wonderful little bay. To reach the Ocean Grill drive thirty minutes south to the village of Boca de Tomatlan where they will take you by boat around the bay to the restaurant. Alternatively if you have the energy you can hike from Boca de Tomatlan through thick jungle for around an hour.

Go surfing in Sayulita

SurfFlickr: Villa Amor

The small town of Sayulita on the Riveria Nayarit offers great all year round surf. There are plenty of places to hire boards and if you are new to the sport there are some excellent schools. The surf breaks in two different places making it an excellent place to learn.

Eat oysters on Los Muertos Beach

OystersFlickr: Sharon Hahn Darlin

In Puerto Vallarta oysters are eaten in abundance. However, the best place to get them is down on Los Muertos Beach where three to four vendors compete for trade under the shade of the concrete pier. A dozen fresh oysters will set you back around 150 pesos (£6).

Swim with wild dolphins

Puerto VallartaFlickr: Ben Miller

Take a boat out to swim and snorkel with pods of wild dolphins. A once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Deep sea fishing in Banderas Bay

FishingFlickr: Harvey Barrison

The fishing around Banderas Bay is world-class. There’s a wide selection of fully-crewed fishing boats to choose, Likely catches including Pacific sailfish, marlin, dorado, tuna and red snapper. Afterwards you can take your catch back for a beach barbeque or to a local restaurant.

Whale watching

Whale watchingFlickr: Bruce Irschick

It’s well worth timing your holiday during the winter and spring months when you’ll have the opportunity to go whale watching. The warm ocean make it the perfect breeding ground for magnificent humpback whales and orcas.

Snorkel off the Marieta Islands

ScubaFlickr: ChrisDag

Famed for its hidden beach, this group of uninhabited Islands were used for military tests during the early 20th century. After an international outcry in the 1960s the islands were designated as a national park. Your likely to encounter thousands of tropical fish, octopus, manta rays, turtles and even whales when snorkelling or scuba diving.

Eating churros in Puerto Vallarta

There’s only one place you should be eating churros in Puerto Vallarta. Drop by the corner of Lazaro Cardenas and Aguacate after five in the afternoon and you won’t regret it. Churros is just 1 peso (4 pence) each.

Celebrating Christmas Latin American Style

Argentina

Argentina ChristmasFlickr/N i c o l a

Christmas in Argentina has is heavily influenced by Europe and North America although there are a number of differences. Argentines lay more emphasis on Christmas Eve, attending mass before returning home to celebrate and eat dinner together. As the festival falls in their summer, dinner is often eaten al fresco with a particular focus on barbeques. Panettone, traditional Italian sweet bread filled with crystallized fruits is also particularly popular.  Christmas spirit and celebrations are held all the way through to the 6th January, called Three Kings Days. On the 5th evening children leave shoes outside the front door which are filled with gifts to be opened the next morning.

Bolivia

Bolivia ChristmasFlickr/Rowan Robinson

With over 90% of the population Roman Catholic it’s no wonder that Christmas is such an important time in Bolivia. Like Argentina, Bolivians tend to visit mass before returning home for celebrations which often last until the wee hours of Christmas day. Traditionally picana, a stew made from roasted pork, lamb and veal, is eaten and hot chocolate and pastries are served in the morning.  The nativity scene plays an important role at Christmas with almost every home using one as the centrepiece decoration.

Brazil

Brazil ChristmasFlickr/Alison Johnstone

Like most South American counties, many Brazilians visit midnight mass. It is often referred to as Missa do Galo (rooster) due to the time they arrive back home. A huge dinner is served when returning that includes ham, turkey, vegetable and fruit, often washed down with glasses of fizz. Papai Noel (Father Christmas) brings gifts to children and fireworks are let off throughout the night. On Christmas Day many families have a lie-in or visit the beach (remember it is their summer) before going back to church in the afternoon. Interestingly the word for turkey in Brazil is ‘Peru’.

Chile

Chile ChristmasFlickr/Nicole Rogers

Chileans visit midnight mass less than other counties, although it still plays an important role in religious traditions. Most Chilean families stay awake and enjoy a late dinner on Christmas Eve before opening presents at midnight. Traditional meals include turkey and depending on the area, lamb, pork or beef, which is usually barbequed. Cola de Mono (monkey’s tail), a drink made from milk, coffee and aguardiente (fire water) is particularly popular. Christmas Day is a relaxed affair with more food, family and friends, often in the countryside or at the beach.

Colombia

Colombia ChristmasFlickr/Mario Carvajal

The official start of Christmas celebrations in Colombia is the Day of the Candles on the 7th December, although decorations are often put up well in advance. Throughout the country candles are places everywhere from street corners, driveways and balconies which illuminate the cities and towns. Christmas Eve is the most important day in the calendar with large gatherings of families and friends who stay up late for present opening and parties which often last until sunrise on Christmas Day.  Presents are given to children by the baby Jesus rather than Santa Claus.

Costa Rica
Flickr/Claudio Toledo

Costa Ricans like to decorate their homes with tropical flowers during the Christmas season. The nativity scene is also an important element of the decorations. After midnight mass on Christmas Eve, Costa Ricans return to their homes for food, drink and celebrations. Traditionally tamales made from grounded corn, vegetables and meat wrapped in a plantain leaf are eaten. Eggnog, made from egg, milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, coconut and rum, is drunk.

Ecuador

Ecuador ChristmasFlickr/Matt Lingard

Although celebrations are held throughout December, the most important is the Pase del Niño Viajero (the travelling infant child) on Christmas Eve. This all day event with parades shows the journey of Joseph and Mary and other biblical characters, with local carols sung by neighbourhood parties. Homes are decorated with a crib; the figures surrounding the manger often are made of painted bread dough that are only made in the town of Calderon. A traditional meal is eaten after midnight, whilst Christmas Day is often spent quietly recovering from the festivities. For a country that produces sugarcane, sweets are abundant everywhere.

Guatemala

Guatemala ChristmasFlickr/Gabriel White

The mix of Catholicism brought by the Spanish and ancient Mayan culture make for some interesting Christmas traditions. For nine days before Christmas, religious processions with statues go through the streets of Guatemala. These often turn into festive street parties with punch, food, dancing and music. German immigrant influence brought the Christmas tree which is now very popular as decorations at home. Children open gifts on Christmas morning whilst adults don’t exchange gifts until New Year’s Day. During Christmas celebrations many people dress in a hat called a puritina.

Mexico

Mexico ChristmasFlickr/Doug Knuth

Like Guatemala, the festive season starts nine days before Christmas Day when Mexicans go from door to door to symbolise Mary and Joseph looking for shelter. Often they are invited inside to break a piñata, a bag filled with treats. Although presents are given to children on Christmas Day, they receive further gifts on the Feast of the Epiphany on the 6th January. The Three Wise Men will fill the children’s shoes with sweets, nuts and money to signify what baby Jesus was given in the bible.

Peru

Peru ChristmasFlickr/Rainbowasi

Like most other countries in Latin America, for Peruvians the most important day of the festive season is Christmas Eve, sometimes referred to as Noche Buena or Good Night. Mass is usually at the slightly earlier time around 10pm, after which families return home to a feast of turkey, tamales and fizzy wine. For desert Peruvians usually eat a Peruvian fruit cake called paneton. After the children have opened their presents and gone to bed, the adults usually have long parties that last through to the morning.

Latin America is an amazing place to visit all year around. Start planning your 2015 adventure today.

To The End Of The World And Back, A Masterpiece

Guest Blog: Philip & Gillian Moss came on a four week bespoke adventure through Argentina and Chile. Below they write about their experience.

To the end of the world and back – the title David and staff chose for our trip of a lifetime to Argentina/Chile. Despite having discussed the trip in detail, made some adjustments and received a detailed personalised itinerary in a wonderful glossy picture brochure, little did we really imagine what awaited us.

Our first stop was Puerto Piramides on the Valdes Peninsula. We walked into our room at Las Restingas, situated on the beach, and there, from our balcony, we saw southern right whales out in the bay. Our adventure had really begun. Two trips out on the whaling boats brought us not just sightings but incredibly close encounters with mothers and their calves. Words cannot express the emotions at such an experience.

Las Restingas© Philip Moss

Puerto Piramides was referred to by some as a one-horse town, with nothing going on. Yes, it was isolated, the electricity may go off, the water may occasionally not heat up (neither happened to us) but you know what, the best time of day was when the day trippers went home and we were left to enjoy the lovely sandy bay – and the whales – all by ourselves!

Whales Valdes© Philip Moss

Onwards to Ushuaia, ‘Fin del Mundo’, a small but wonderfully characterful city – sporting many brightly coloured dwellings of varied constructions, including corrugated iron. A trip to the Harberton Ranch, where Tommy Goodall, great- grandson of Thomas Bridges, still manages the estate, enabled  close ups with Magellanic and Gentoo Penguins and a visit to a fascinating maritime museum set up by Natalie Prosser, Tommy’s wife. Cruising round Cape Horn on the Stella Australis brought adventures all of its own – clambering on and off zodiacs to land on remote shores – inc Cape Horn, where the weather changed from pleasant sunshine to snowstorm in the blink of an eye. Standing at the top of Cape Horn – if you could call a stoop ‘standing’, having had to crouch down to avoid being blown off, clothed in several warm layers of clothing and waterproofs, you could only wonder and admire explorers of bygone ages, especially when back on board enjoying the warm comforts of the ship.

After four days we disembarked in Chile where our highlight was a visit to the Torres del Paine National Park. A gloriously sunny day made the scenery clear, crisp and bright. The park itself was pristine, but I guess a 4million pesos fine and jail sentence provides a good incentive to take your rubbish away with you!

Torres del Paine© Philip Moss

Back into Argentina and El Calafate and a tour to the Moreno Glacier – awesome. Standing on the deck of a boat or strolling along the walkways you cannot help but be spellbound by the sheer size, the ice blue coloured streaking or the sudden ‘crack’ and calving as chunks of ice fall into the depths below.

Perito Moreno Glacier© Philip Moss

Another sunny day and we are in Bariloche touring the Lake District, one minute reminiscent of Switzerland, next of our own namesake in the UK, yet not ignoring the charm all of its own. An extended stay, due to the airport being unexpectedly ‘snowbound’ for two days, is not to be recommended but was expertly dealt with by SLA and its agents and made what was a difficult situation bearable. Finally away we flew to the Iguazú falls. Our first experience was from the Brazilian side. It was jaw dropping and we were doubtful the Argentinian side could compete the following day. However, with sunshine thrown in there was certainly no disappointment to even consider.

Iguazu Falls© Philip Moss

And so to the close of our trip – a five hour bus ride and then four hour car transfer to Estancia Rincon del Socorro in the Iberá wetlands. Going that distance we knew it had to be worth it; and it was. Not surprisingly it was out in the middle of nowhere so you were surrounded by nature in the raw and bird life and wildlife abounded, not only around the estancia but in the extensive surrounding grounds, where we witnessed a snake peeing and lagoons where birds and cayman flourished.

Ibera© Philip Moss

Our accommodation throughout was first class and our ‘alternative’ title for the trip was ‘Rooms with a View’. A phenomenal trip, well organised, managed and ‘executed’. A true masterpiece.

To start planning your tour of Latin America, get in touch with us here.

12 Classic Films Set In Latin America You Have To Watch At Least Once

1. Diarios De Motocicleta  / The Motorcycle Diaries (2004)

The Motorcycle Diaries follows the account of the young Che Guevara before he became a Marxist revolutionary. With his friend Alberto Granado, they travelled over 8,000km through Argentina, Chile and Peru, some of which was on a 1939 Norton 500cc called The Mighty One.

2. Cidade de Deus / City of God (2002)

City of God tells the story of the favelas of Rio de Janeiro between the 60s and 80s. A number of storylines intertwine including that of a young man called Rocket whose dream to become a photographer comes true when he begins supplying a newspaper with photos of criminal activity in the favelas.

3. Mi Mejor  Enemigo / My Best Enemy (2005)

My Best Enemy is set in the 1979 Beagle conflict between Chile and Argentina. Two small patrol units from both sides who have become lost in the Patagonian steppes begin interacting with each other whilst searching for the border.

4. Fitzcarraldo (1982)

Fitzcarraldo is based on the true story of an Irish adventurer in the early 20th century who tries to access rubber in a hidden valley in the Amazon. His outlandish plan involved hauling a boat from one river to another with grave consequences.

5. Aguirre, Wrath of God (1972)

Aguirre, Wrath of God is West German film loosely based on a conquistador’s search of el dorado in between the Andes and Amazon in what is now known as Peru.  The film’s opening sequence shot of armour-clad Spaniards on the side of Huayna Picchu is breathtaking.

6. Amores Perros (2000)

Amores Perros is often referred to as the ‘Mexican Pulp Fiction’. Three different stories become intertwined and connected by a car crash in Mexico City. It was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film in the year of its release.

7. María Llena Eres De Gracia / Maria Full of Grace (2004)

Maria Full of Grace is the story of a Colombian teenager who, after becoming pregnant, takes the risky decision of becoming a heroin drug mule and flying to New York.

8. The Mission (1986)

The Mission is a British drama about a Jesuit missionary in South America during the 18th century whose aim was to convert the local Guaraní community to Christianity. Set with the mighty Iguazú falls as the backdrop and starring Robert de Niro, this is a must for any film fan.

9. Tropa de Elite / Elite Squad (2007)

Elite Squad semi-fictional account of the highly trained BOPE police squad whose dangerous job is  to clean up the crime ridden streets of Rio de Janeiro’s favelas and a captains search for a replacement for his job. The film also has an excellent sequel – Elite Squad: The Enemy Within which was released in 2010.

10. Frida (2002)

Frida is the biography of the Mexican artist Frida Kahlo, her tangled relationships including her affair with the Marxist revolutionary and theorist Leon Trotsky, political stance, illness and of course, her art. The film stars Salma Hayek.

11. No (2012)

After coming under international pressure, Augusto Pinochet is forced to call a referendum on his Chilean presidency. The ‘No’ campaigners enlist the help of Rene Saavedra, an advertising executive, to help create a plan to win the election.

12. The Galapagos Affair (2014)

This recent full length documentary tells of the mysterious goings on amongst the first inhabitants of Floreana Island in the Galapagos. Using rare archive footage and interviews with the islanders today it tells of the murder and disappearances that remain a riddle to this day. Cate Blanchett narrates.

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