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Category Archives: Mexico

This traveler captured all 147 underground stations in Mexico City

 

Mexico City is geographically one of the biggest cities in the world, and the largest metropolitan area in the western hemisphere. It’s an astonishing 1,485 square kilometres with more than 8 million inhabitants and it is surprisingly, sits at quite a high elevation of 2,250 metres above sea level. It’s one of Latin America’s most interesting cities, with baroque Cathedrals, museums, colonial squares, and galleries including the Palacio Nacional which holds artwork by Diego Rivera.

It’s no surprise then that it has many underground stations to help commuters and travelers cross this vast city. Mexico City underground, called the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo, in second in size only to the New York City metro. It also carries the ninth largest number of tourists for any subway with a staggering 1.6 billion travelers riding the trains every year.

The Mexico City Metro is known as the Sistema de Transporte Colectivo or STC, and is the largest second largest metro system in North America after New York’s subway. As of 2015 it also ranked 9th in the world for number of passengers with 1.623 billion travellers riding the rails.

Flickr: 16:9clue

In 2011, 31-year-old Australian expat Peter Davies from Australia decided to visit and record all 147 underground stations. After travelling to over 20 countries in the Americas, Davies settled in Mexico City for a while. During his travels he’d lived in Valparaiso, worked as a volunteer project in Granada and wrote about his travels in online publications.

Over a 6-month period, Davies got off and explored every single station on every line on the Mexico City underground. This meant a visit to 175 stations, but many of these crossed over and the actual number was 147. He recorded these stops in great detail on his blog mexicocitymetro.com. The site was popular with over 100,000 visiting and following his updates. Along the way, Davies visited and saw some pretty wacky things including being led through crowds by stray dogs, visiting a museum housed inside an enormous model of Benito Juarez as well as photographing some incredible street art. This much travelling is hungry work. Plenty of street tacos were eaten along the way.

18 months after the end of the project, Davies revisited Mexico City to complete the new lines. His very last station on Line 12 was Estacion Lomas Estrella. In his last piece, the blogger takes a look at the graffiti, tries a torta cubana (a sandwich filled with meat, eggs and accompaniments), wandered the districts streets, saw a circus and talked about the amenities of Lomos Estrella. For now, Davies has left Mexico City and is working on other projects, but we are looking forward to his return after the creation of new underground stops in the city.

Want to explore Mexico City? Take a look at our Mexico tour suggestions, speak to one of our travel experts at +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or contact us by email 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

Visit 5 UNESCO World Heritage sites on this Yucatan self-drive

Self drive map

The Yucatán peninsula in eastern Mexico borders both Belize and Guatemala and offers a diverse range of flora, fauna and vast host of UNESCO World Heritage sites including the Mayan ruin of Chichén Itzá, now one of the ‘New Seven Wonders of the World’. The best way to visit the UNESCO ruins and colonial cities is by self-drive which offers the chance to spend as long or as little in each place you visit.

Arrive in Cancun, pick up your car hire and begin the journey. The first drive to Chichén Itzá takes around three hours.

Chichén Itzá

Chichen Itza MexicoThe remarkably well-preserved Mayan ruins of Chichén Itzá are one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. It’s best known for the huge step pyramid known as El Castillo. This ancient city thrived between 600 A.D. and 1,200. The complex includes a ball court, the Temple of the Warriors and the Wall of the Skulls all of which have graphic stone carvings. Each night, a sound and light show illuminates the complex.

Drive west for two hours to Merida.

Mérida

Merida Mexico

Flickr: Luiz Eduardo

Mérida is the capital of the Yucatan and one of the largest cities in Mexico and has the highest percentage of indigenous people of any Mexican city with over half the population being of Maya ethnicity. Though the city is not a UNESCO World Heritage site, this colonial city is well worth taking some time to explore.

Drive south for two hours to the ruins of Uxmal.

Uxmal

Uxmal Mexico

This ancient Mayan town founded in 700 A.D. once had over 25,000 inhabitants. The complex which was built between 700 and 1000 A.D. reveals that the people had knowledge of astronomy and includes the Pyramid of the Soothsayer, the Quadrangle of the Nuns, the Governor’s Palace, the House of the Tortoises, the Ball Court and ceremonial sites.

Drive for three hours to the coastal down of Campeche.

Campeche

The fortified harbor town of Campeche is a fine example of Spanish colonial architecture. The old city is surrounded by walls and a system of fortifications which are deigned to defend against piracy and attacks from the sea. It was once the most important seaport in Mexico and played a major role in the conquest of the Yucanatan Peninsula and Guatemala from the Spanish conquistadors.

Drive for four hours to Calakmal Municipality.

Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

The Calakmul Biosphere Reserve was only granted UNESCO World Heritage status in 2006. It remains the largest forest reserve in Mexico comprising of over 700,000 hectares of protected land. This is not untouched forest. The Mayans were some of the first group to live in the forests with the ruins of city complexes abandoned in 900 A.D. The group consists of the largest populations of flora and fauna in the country and includes the jaguar, puma, white-lipped peccary, howler monkey, king vulture, gray brocket deer and ornate hawk to name but a few.

Drive for four hours to Reserva de la Biósfera Sian-Ka’an.

Reserva de la Biósfera Sian-Ka’an

Flickr: DaseinDesign

Flickr: DaseinDesign

Sian-Ka-an means ‘Origin of the Sky’ in the language of the Mayan people who once inhabited the region. Located on the eastern coast of the Yucantan peninsula, the reserve is made up of a series of tropical forests, mangroves, marshes and a barrier reef. Inhabiting the reserve is a remarkable number of flora and fauna including 300 species of birds.

Drive an hour up the coast to Tulum.

Tulum

Tulum

The Mayan ruins of Tulum is not a UNESCO World Heritage site, but it’s well worth taking some time to explore them on the drive up the coast to Cancun. The ruins are situated on 12-metre high cliffs overlooking the ocean and were one of the last cities to be built by the Maya. It managed to hold off conquest by the Spanish for around 70 years but Old World diseases brought by the settlers resulted in the city being abandoned.

Continue up the coast for two hours to Cancun. Drop off the car hire and fly back home.

Want to take this self-drive? Get in touch with our Mexico travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to discuss your travel plans or see our example tours here.

10 prawn dishes you have to try on the Riviera Nayarit

The Riviera Nayarit lies along the western coast of Mexico. The beautiful region is known for its white sandy palm fringed beaches, laid back locals, luxurious hotels and most importantly, fresh seafood. It’s no surprise then that there are plenty of seafood dishes to try. If you love prawns, there’s simply no better place to eat. Here’s 10 prawn based dishes to try when you visit.

Tortitas de Camarón

Popular during Holy Week and Easter, this traditional dish of prawn patties cooked in a fresh spicy sauce made from chipotle chilies, tomatoes, garlic, onions and nopal cactus is delicious.

Empanadas de Camarón

Empanadas are popular throughout Latin America, the recipe and filling changing depending on the region visited. Similar to a Cornish pasty, these pockets of pastry are filled with prawns and cheese or a spicy casserole of prawns, tomatoes, onions and chili.

Camarones Zarandeados

This is a true Nayarit seafood classic. Prawns are cut in half and smoked using a secret recipe. It’s also common to find smoked octopus and other smoked fish.

Tamales de Camarón

Though tamales are sold on almost every street corner in Nayarit, head to the central coast of northern region of the state for the best.

Camarones a la Diabla

These deviled prawns are one of the simplest dishes, but pack a punch. Prawns are fried in butter and seasoning and then doused in ketchup and a spicy sauce. Perfect with a cold beer.

Coctel de Camarón

Most will have tried a prawn cocktail before, but in Nayarit its served spicy and hot. The prawn heads are ground down and added for extra flavor along with onions, tomatoes, cucumber and chilies.

Camarones a la Cucaracha

Though the name is unappealing (it translates to cockroach prawn), it’s got nothing to do with roaches! Prawns are coasted in seasoned flavor and fried until golden brown.

Ceviche de Camarón

A classic Latin American dish. Although this is not native to Nayarit, it’s one of the best places to try the dish. Raw prawns are marinated in lime juice, cucumber, onion, tomatoes and chili. Best served on a sunny afternoon near the beach.

Taxtihuil

This corn, prawn and chili stew is ancient. Originating from the Isla de Mexcanltitan, it’s been eaten in the region since pre-Hispanic times. It’s as popular now as it was then.

Aguachile

The origins of Aguachile is disputed between Nayarit and neighboring Sinaloa. A regional favourite, this recipe is created with lime, chili, garlic and seasoning which is poured over prawns, onions and cucumber.

If that’s not enough, we’ve got one more for you. We couldn’t create this list without mentioning tacos de camarón. There are plenty of varieties, but they all include tortillas heaped with prawns, mulata sauce, coriander, lime and habanero chilies.

Want to try any of these prawn dishes in the Riviera Nayarit? Get in touch with our Mexico travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to discuss your travel plans or see our example tours here.

With thanks to Riviera Nayarit.

Authentic Mexican carne asado taco recipe

Tacos are synonymous with Mexico. This classic recipe for carne asado (barbequed meat) tacos is one of the best we’ve tried. Cold Corona beer works perfectly as an accompaniment to this spicy street food.

Ingredients:

10 tortillas
500g skirt steak, cut into thin slices
4 chilies, chopped finely
6 garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp vinegar
2 tsp cumin
½ tsp ground cloves
Oil
3 tomatoes
2 large onion, chopped finely
2 handful of coriander, chopped finely
4 limes, 3 cut into wedges and 1 juiced
Oil
Seasoning to taste

Method:

Take a blender and add 2 of the chopped chilies, 2 chopped garlic, vinegar, ½ of the chopped onions, 1 teaspoon of cumin, the ground cloves, seasoning and a little olive oil to bind everything together. Blend into a paste.

Put the steak slices into a mixing bowl and add the blended paste. Mix well together, cover with cling film and leave to marinade in the fridge for at least 2 hours.

Put the tomatoes, ½ chopped onion, 2 of the chopped chilies, the rest of the garlic, 1 teaspoon of cumin, a handful of coriander, juiced lime, 3 tablespoons of olive oil and seasoning. Mix well together, cover in cling film and leave in the fridge until ready to serve.

If possible, spark up the barbeque. Once the coals have greyed, place the slices of steak on and cook for a couple of minutes on both sides. If you don’t have a barbeque, heat a griddle pan to a high heat and cook the steak for a few minutes on both sides.

Heat a frying pan and heat each tortilla until warm. To serve, put a tortilla on a plate, top with some of the steak, coriander, some chopped white onion and a little of the sauce. Squeeze some lime juice and serve with extra lima wedges.

Want to try carne asado tacos in Mexico? Get in touch with our Mexico travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 to discuss your travel plans or see our example tours here.

2017 Latin America travel bucket list

Thinking of travelling to Latin America in 2017? With such a huge area spanning two continents, we thought we’d put together a handy list of the most bucket list worthy things to do in Latin America. From hiking through the Andes to watching turtles on the beaches of Costa Rica, the area really does have something for everyone.

Wander through Tikal, Guatemala

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The ancient ruins of Tikal were built and occupied by the Maya civilization for over a thousand years and is one of the most impressive ruins in all of Latin America. The sprawling complex has over 3,000 structures, some of which are in remarkable good condition. You’ll feel like Indiana Jones as you wander through the ancient site surrounded by thick jungle and the sounds of howling monkeys and birds.

See penguins in the Antarctic

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One of the most bucket list worthy travel adventures on the planet. Take to one of the limited expedition vessels and head out to explore the white continent. There are plenty of penguin species to see including the cheeky chinstraps and gentoos, and the more impressive kings and emperors, the latter usually requires an adventurous helicopter flight to reach them. There is no where on earth as pristine as the Antarctic. While breathtaking is an overused word, there really is no other way to describe the landscapes of towering icebergs, glistening glaciers and majestic fjords.

Hang glide over Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

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Most visit sun kissed Rio de Janeiro for the relaxed pace where the caipirinhas flow and the beach is always appealing. Inject a little adventure and see the city from a new perspective by taking a hang glide. Don’t worry, you won’t be doing it alone. Your guide will fly while you can take the time to take in the surroundings. Take off from the top of Tijuca National Park forest and glide around getting excellent views of the city, beaches and Christ the Redeemer before effortlessly landing on the beach below.

Hike the Salkantay, Peru

Flickr: vil.sandi

Flickr: vil.sandi

While the Inca Trail has become the most popular hiking route to reach Machu Picchu, visitors often forget that there are many other trails. The Salkantay Trek is much less hiked and arguably more scenic (it’s been voted one of the 25 best hikes in the world). It’s also challenging. Those who take on the trek will have to reach some of the highest parts of the Humantay Mountain crossing passes higher than 6,000 metres. But those who do are rewarded with some extraordinary views of snow-capped peaks.

See the wildlife in the Pantanal, Brazil

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The wildlife in the Pantanal rivals that of the Amazon. The difference is the wildlife in these vast wetlands are much easier to spot than the thick jungle. Visitors first drive down the famous Transpantaneira Road stopping to watch crossing caiman and nearby bird life. Once in the wetlands, visitors can stay at any one of the comfortable lodges and take daily excursions by foot, horseback, boat or 4×4 to see wildlife including giant otters, anacondas, caimans, monkeys, marsh deer, tapirs and many species of bird, herons and egrets to hawks and macaws. It’s even possible to see a jaguar from some of the deeper Pantanal lodges.

Scuba dive off Fernando do Noronha, Brazil

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While South American isn’t known for its marine life as say Asia or Australasia, there are still some excellent spots. Fernando do Noronha Islands lies off the coast of northern Brazil. Here the marine life is abundant and its possible to scuba dive or snorkel with colourful schools of fish, lobsters, manta rays, baby sharks and octopus.

Swim with whale sharks off Holbox Island, Mexico

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Our top pick for things to do in Latin America. Whale sharks visit the Holbox Island off Mexico for just a couple of months each year. These huge behemoths are the largest fish in the world and while it may seem scary to snorkel with huge sharks, they are harmless to humans. These gentle giants open their large mouths to filter krill and plankton from the oceans.

Watch hatching baby turtles in Tortuguero, Costa Rica

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Tortuguero National Park on Costa Rica’s northern Caribbean coast are a nature-lovers’ paradise. Cut off from the rest of the country, a plane or boat is the only way to access the region. It’s one of the world’s best places to see green turtles as they come ashore at night to lay their eggs in the sand. Later in the year those young break out of their shells and make the brave journey along the beach to the sea.

Hike to the Lost City, Colombia

Flickr: Andrew Hyde

Flickr: Andrew Hyde

Machu Picchu is undoubtable the most recognizable of ruins in Latin America, but Colombia’s Lost City is just as impressive and with far fewer tourists. To reach the uncrowded ruins, one must take a 4 day hike through thick forest and climb 1,200 steps. Along the way sleep in hammocks in local villages. It’s not unusual to arrive at the Lost City and be the only ones there. Go before this Lost City doesn’t feel quite as lost.

Horse ride with Gauchos in Las Pampas, Argentina

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Whether you are a beginner or advanced rider, all are welcome to visit the Argentine grasslands of Las Pampas. Spend your days with the cowboys of South America, riding through the steppe, rounding cattle, listening to their folklore stories around campfires and sampling some hearty Argentine barbeques. There are plenty of luxurious homestays for those who want a little more comfort on their stay.

To start planning your ultimate bucket list tour of Latin America, speak to one of our travel experts on +(0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

Interesting facts about Mexico you probably didn’t know

Mexico City

  1. 31 states and Mexico City make up the country officially known as the United Mexican States (Estados Únidos Mexicanos)
  2. Mexico has over 117 million people making it the 11th most populated country
  3. In terms of land, Mexico is the 14th largest in the world
  4. There are over 30 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Mexico
  5. The national symbol of Mexico is the golden eagle
  6. Mexico has hosted the World Cup twice, once in 1970 and then again in 1986
  7. Tools found in Mexico suggest humans have inhabited the area for around 23,000 years
  8. The biggest cat in Mexico is the jaguar
  9. The world’s smallest dog is the Chihuahua and is named after the Mexican state
  10. Mexico City is built on a lake and is sinking at around 6 inches a year
  11. Modern Mexicans are made up of Olmec, Toltec, Maya, Aztec, Inca, Zapotec, French and Spanish among others
  12. The USA/Mexico border is the second longest in the world
  13. Mexico City is one of the largest cities in the world
  14. Mexico has the second most Catholics behind Brazil
  15. The Mayans used hornets’ nest to throw as their enemies during battles
  16. Mexico is home to the world’s smallest volcano, standing at just 13 metres tall
  17. The bloodythirsty Aztecs played a ballgame called tlachtli. The loser was sacrificed
  18. Chitchen Itza is named as one of the Seven Wonders of the World
  19. Over 50 different languages are spoken in Mexico
  20. The Great Pyramid of Cholula is the largest monument ever constructed
  21. The rare volcano rabbit lives near the volcanoes of Mexico
  22. Chocolate, chilies and corn all come from Mexico
  23. Texas was a part of Mexico until 1836 before declaring independence
  24. The Spanish Conquistador Hernan Cortés was believed to be a returning god when he arrived in 1519 and was offered hot chocolate
  25. The first printing press came from Mexico City in the early 16th century
  26. Mexican children receive gifts on the 6th January, not on Christmas Day
  27. The oldest university in North America is in Mexico City and was founded in 1551
  28. The country is located on one of the earth’s most volatile volcano and earthquake zones
  29. There are some similarities between the ancient Aztec language and English – avocados are ahuacatl, tomatoes are tomatl and chocolate is chocolatl
  30. Mexico was under the control of the Spanish for over 300 years

To discover Mexico for yourself, contact one of our travel experts on +(0) 207 407 1478 or email us 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.

The best street food you can get for under $5 in Latin America

Latin America isn’t short on street snacks. Like much of the world, some of the tastiest cuisine gets cooked on the fryers and planchas that line the streets on vendors’ carts. South America is not the cheapest continent, but plenty of cheap eats can be found if one knows what to look for.

Tacos – Mexico

Arguably the most iconic snack from Latin America. Though the recipe has been changed and adapted outside of Mexico, the true taco found on almost every street corner in Mexico is a small wheat tortilla topped with meat, fresh cheese, avocados, fish and/or salsa. Wrap them up yourself and get messy. Cost depends on filling and location, but typically they cost a dollar and most will need 2-3 as a meal.

Tamales – Ecuador

Flickr: verovera78

Flickr: verovera78

The Ecuadorian tamale is one of the tastiest street snacks. Wrapped inside a banana leaf, one finds a stable of cornmeal mixed with all manner of extras including vegetables, fried meats, spices, eggs and occasionally shrimp. It costs a couple of dollars, but one should be sufficient as a meal.

Carne y patata kebab – Peru

Flickr: Paul Lowry

Flickr: Paul Lowry

The cold nights in Peru’s high Andes means hearty fare is the order of the day. On most street corners, Andean women dressed in traditional garb patiently sear meat on a plancha. Look out for antichucho signs. $2 will get you enough mixed meats and fried potatoes to fill you up.

Empanadas – Argentina

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A stable street snack across South America. Like the UK’s Cornish pasty, the empanada is a baked (or fried) pastry filled with meat, cheese, vegetables or occasionally seafood. You’ll probably need two or three to fill up, but at around $1 each, it’s still going to be a cheap meal. Look out for special street carts selling empanadas or go into any bakery.

Tlayudas con carne – Mexico

While most visitors chow down on tacos (and why not, they are seriously good), those in the know also seek out tlayudas con carne. Crispy tortilla discs are topped with cheese, meats, avocado, salsa and a spicy dressing. They are a little more expensive then tacos, but larger and well worth the extra cost. Originating in Oaxaca, tlayudas con carne can now be found all over.

Buñuelos – Guatemala

Flickr: Matthew

Flickr: Matthew

Latin America’s love sweet food, especially the Guatemalans. Buñuelos are small fried doughnut-like balls covered in sugar and syrup. They are particularly popular around Christmas time and cost a dollar or two for a plate of several. They might not be enough to fill you up, but make for the perfect finish to your street food dinner.

Pastel – Brazil

Flickr: Wally Gobetz

Flickr: Wally Gobetz

Brazil tends to be more expensive than its neighbours, so finding those cheap eats is going to save you a heap of cash. Fortunatly, Brazilians have one of the world’s great street snacks – the pastel. A pocket of thin pastry is filled with all sorts of fillings, typically cheese, eggs, meat or seafood and fried to perfection. Yum. Each costs around a dollar, so they’re cheap enough to indulge on a few should you be hungry.

Carimañolas – Panama

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Flickr: luiseblanco

Carimañolas are seriously popular all over Panama. Yucca is boiled, mashed, shaped into oval balls and stuffed with meat and eggs before being fried until crisp. Their popularity mean these little fried balls are easy to find and cost under a dollar.

Arepas – Venezuela

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Arepas are a national institution in Venezuela. Street carts are packed with hungry workers throughout the day. Flat baked rolls made from ground maize are cut in half and filled with grilled meats, chicken, avocados, cheese, fish or vegetables. Sometimes they are toasted or fried to add texture. At around $3 for an arepa, they are one of the more expensive street snacks in Latin America, but they are also more substantial.

Chorizo – Argentina

Argentina is not known for its vegetarianism. You’ll be hard pushed to find vegetables or salad in such a meat-loving country. Perhaps the best-known street snack in Argentina is chorizo, a slightly spicy sausage, grilled over a parilla barbeque and often served in a bun along with chimichurri sauce. For under $3, they won’t break the budget either.

Chicharrón – Colombia

Though it may not sound that good, and it’s certainly not very good for your health, chicharróns are delicious. Much like pork scratchings in the UK, chicharróns are fried pork rinds. Salty, greasy and tasty, these scrumptious morsels cost just a dollar or two and make for a quick snack on the run.

To start planning your tour of Latin America, get in touch with one of our specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us an email here.

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