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Guest Blog Brazil: A hard nut to crack or just a big pussycat?!

David and his team have been organising our trips to South America for nearly 20 years now. We have previously described them as ‘masterpieces’; each one excelling in the chosen area of travel. A big challenge faces them every time we book another holiday.
So, with the bar set high, could they reach it for Brazil?

Our first stay at Cordilheira, Caiman Ecological Refuge, brought us a sighting of Fera, a ‘re-wilded’ orphaned jaguar cub. Having watched a David Attenborough programme shortly before departure, ‘Jaguars in Brazil’, featuring this very same cub, it was like being in our own wildlife documentary. The afternoon we saw her, we watched her return to, and finish off, a previous kill of a giant anteater. We then tracked her in the hope that she might return to her two young cubs. As darkness fell we saw an armadillo scamper across the grass in the light of our guides torch. So too did Fera and, with mixed feelings, we watched as she caught and devoured her dessert! By the time she had finished it was too dark to continue tracking her, so we didn’t get to see the cubs, but we have heard they are doing well. During our stay however, we did encounter roadblocks, ‘jaguar style’, as a mating pair frequently chose to ‘rest’ on the highway through the park. One day, by the river bank, we found deep paw prints in the mud of an ‘unknown’ jaguar. Our guide made plaster casts as a memento of our trip, which we hope to eventually turn into bronze casts.

Jaguar paw print Pantanal

At Araras Lodge we saw Caiman at close quarters but kept a respectful distance having been told that a Japanese tourist once thought that because they were lying so still they weren’t alive. Upon kicking one, and losing three toes, he was very much proved wrong! This was a destination of the unexpected; a giant anteater in the swimming pool and nearly being capsized in our canoe by a Tapir. Not your everyday encounters!

Caiman Pantanal Brazil

Staying on a ‘Flotel’ out of Porto Jofre sounded like sheer luxury and indulgence, and it was. Not least of all because we were the only passengers on a 16-berth boat; our own captain, chef, maid, boatman and guide! Surreal, and all credit to them for not cancelling our booking due to the low occupancy. Our motorboat trips out brought sightings of 10 different jaguars, in varying locations and situations; with a cub, swimming in the river, retrieving a dead caiman and climbing up a tree, to name but a few. It would be unfair to focus on just the jaguars however and not mention all the other wonderful wildlife we saw; giant otters playing or eating fish, Caiman, Capybara, Howler monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, Jabiru stork and a wealth of birdlife. My only ‘reservation’ was the day I needed a ‘comfort stop’. The boatman pulled in by the shore. There, in the sand, was a jaguar paw print. A few feet away lay a Caiman – definitely alive! My bladder capacity increased almost instantaneously as I decided to wait for a more suitable/acceptable location for my needs.

Jabiru Storks Pantanal Brazil

At Cristalino Lodge we enjoyed the diversity of wildlife, walking through the forests, up the watch towers and boating along the river. More surprises waited for us here as we watched a pair of sun bitterns on the river bank. Suddenly an ornate hawk eagle shot swiftly out from the bush, took one of the sun bitterns in its talons, circled round behind us and back into the bush. For a few moments I think we were all in shock and I don’t think any of us could quite take on board what had happened. It was however quite incredible to witness such a snapshot of nature.

Giant anteater, Pantanal, Brazil

Ibitipoca was almost beyond description. If there is a Paradise here on earth, then this is most definitely a contender. A peaceful, tranquil location where just wandering around in the environs of the lodge you are engulfed by the most stunning scenery. There are sheltered spots where you can sit or lie and just absorb the ambience that surrounds you. Everything has been done so tastefully whilst embracing the eco environment and the regeneration of the area. On one of our excursions we even had the good fortune to have a rare sighting of a maned wolf. Walking up to the plateau and encountering the family of seven magnificent human metal sculptures, by Karen Cusolito, looking down the valley, is breath-taking. It is a very special place indeed.

Reserva do Ibitipoca_Tamarin

Our journey ended in Paraty, a delightful old colonial town with a fascinating history and the infrastructure of a bygone era still standing and inhabited to this day. Our stay at Casa Cairucu, on the shore looking out over the bay, provided us with an opportunity to relax and reflect on an incredible adventure. Another masterpiece if ever there was.

Paraty, Brazil

Gillian & Phil Moss

If you want us to create your own bespoke trip to Brazil, do get in touch.

Related: The Difference Between Paraty & Buzios

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.

RELATED: 9 beautiful exotic birds from Latin America

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

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

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.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

If you are a wildlife lover you shouldn’t miss out on these amazing experiences

Latin America is full of wonders. The diverse landscapes make for an equally diverse set of species. Roaming jaguars, gentle whale sharks, lazy sloths and colourful quetzals, to name just a few. Here are videos of some of the most amazing wildlife experiences you can have in Latin America.

Flamingos at Laguna Colorado, Bolivia

This high altiplano lakes are commonly visited after a tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats in southern Bolivia. The bright red lake is home to a huge flock of flamingos which often break out into mass flight. The mountainous backdrop and vivid lake make for excellent photography opportunities.

Colourful quetzals in Boquete, Panama

Part of the trogon family, these colourful birds are found in the humid highland forests in Central America. One of the best places to spot quetzals is along the Quetzal Trail in Boquete, a highland town in western Panama. They are largely solitary and relatively hard to spot, making them all the more satisfying when seeing one for the first time.

Snorkelling with whale sharks in Isle Holbox, Mexico

Whale sharks come to Holbox Island off Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula in numbers reaching 800 to feed on the water rich plankton and krill. A rarity, as whale sharks are generally solitary creatures. Whales sharks are the largest fish in the world reaching lengths of up to 15 metres and a weight of up to 15 tons. Snorkelling with these gentle giants, which are harmless to humans, is a magical experience. To snorkel with whale sharks, visit between mid-May and mid-September.

Watching the mating dance of the waved albatross in the Galapagos, Ecuador

Every April almost the entire adult population of the waved albatross return to Española (Hood Island), Galapagos in order to breed. At the visitor site of Punta Suarez, you can see their amusing courtship display including ‘bill-circling’, ‘sky-pointing’, ‘drunken swagger’ and ‘bill-clapping’. This flamboyant ritual dancing enables the birds to re-establish their pairs or the young to find their partner. It is the only time the birds come ashore.

Riding water buffalo on Marajó Island, Brazil

Marajó is a huge island, roughly the size of Switzerland, located where the Amazon meets the Atlantic.This is cowboy country, but instead of horses, large herds of water buffalo have been domesticated. These docile creatures are not native to South America, coming originally from Asia. Riding water buffalos is an excellent way to explore the island, but it isn’t just for tourists. The creatures are used for farming, transporting goods and even by the police to patrol the streets. An essential part of Marajó life.

See condors gliding below you at Colca Canyon, Peru

An unmissable wildlife experience in Peru, this majestic creatures sit on the rocks around Cruz del Condor and circle above and inside Colca Canyon catching the morning thermals. The experience has the bonus of also being able to look over the views of the Colca Canyon, which is deeper than the Grand Canyon in the US.

Noisy howler monkeys in the Amazon

Howler monkeys are found throughout the Amazon, but the most accessible spots are the lodges near Puerto Maldonado in Peru, near Manaus in Brazil and near Coca in Ecuador. The are considered the loudest land animal in the world, their sound can be heard for up to three miles. It is thought their howling is used for territory protection and mating calls.

Attacking orcas on the beaches of the Valdes Peninsula, Argentina

In Argentina’s Valdes Peninsula in Patagonia, orcas attack basking sea lion pups on the beaches between February and March. This spectacular hunting technique puts the orcas at risk of permanently beaching themselves. The area is also excellent for spotting dolphins and southern right whales.

Roaming jaguars in the Pantanal, Brazil

Jaguars are elusive creatures, but Porto Jofre in the Brazil’s Pantanal wetlands are one of the best places to see them. They often roam the river banks in search of prey such as caiman or capybaras. Although spotting jaguars here cannot be guaranteed, a day or two spent on boats along the river here often leads to sightings.

Whale watching in Baja California, Mexico

The warm, krill rich waters around Baja California, a peninsula in Mexico’s north west is home to many species of whale. However, the highlight is the curious gray whale which often comes up close to the boat and allows visitors to pat it. Other whales seen fluking are blue, fin, humpback, sperm, Bryde’s, and pilot whales. Dolphins are also a common sighting here.

Love wildlife? Want to start planning a wildlife adventure in Latin America? Get in touch with us today.

RELATED: If you are a wildlife lover you shouldn’t miss out on these amazing experiences

The best drone footage of Latin America

Aerial footage from drones is fast becoming the most creative way to make short travel films. Capturing Latin America’s diverse landscapes, iconic monuments and natural wonders up close and from above adds a new perspective not seen in more tradition handheld camera films. Here are some of the best drone films from Latin America.

Peru

Iguazu – Argentina, Brazil

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro – Brazil

Mexico

Whale watching, Baja California – Mexico

Patagonia – Chile, Argentina

Galapagos – Ecuador

Easter Island – Chile

Orcas, Valdes Peninsula – Argentina

Guatemala

Costa Rica

Panama City – Panama

South America

To begin making your film of Latin America, get in touch today.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

Best Birding Locations in Central & South America

Latin America is simply one of the best continents for birding on earth. In total there are over 3,000 species roughly equating to thirty two percent of the world’s bird species. There are so many good birding spots in every country in Central and South America that it would be impossible for us to list them all here, but below you will find 10 of the highlights.

Flickr: putneymark

Flickr: putneymark

Galapagos Islands – Ecuador

Although there are only 56 native bird species in the Galapagos, its draw is that 45 of these are endemic to the archipelago – they are found nowhere else on earth. There are 29 more migratory species that come and go depending on the season and another 64 that have been spotted very occasionally. Most will be familiar with the iconic blue-footed booby, with their brightly coloured feet and funny mating dance, but did you there are two other types of booby – the red-footed and Nazca? One of the best times to visit the Galapagos is during May when nearly the entire world’s population of waved albatrosses (around 30,000) return to Española Island to breed. There elaborate dance can last for days and includes much beak-fencing.

Flickr: dany13

Flickr: dany13

Pantanal – Brazil

The Panatanal is a wildlife enthusiast’s dream location. The ecosystem is home to over a thousand different species of bird life. Although some of the birds here are endangered, its isolated location has allowed most species to flourish. Highlights include seeing jabiru, greater rheas and viewing over 24 different species of hawks, eagles and kites. In recent years it has been possible to see nesting harpy eagles, an absolute must for keen birders.

Colca Canyon – Peru

Colca Canyon may not have the largest list of bird species, but it is the best place to see the Andean Condor. From the Cruz del Condor viewpoint located on the canyon rim over 1,200 metres up it is possible to see these majestic birds close up. Get there early in the morning and for the opportunity to see them gliding above and around the canyon walls below. If you explore the canyon a little more you will find hummingbirds, Chilean flamingos, mountain caracaras and Andean goose as well.

South Georgia

If numbers was the best measure, South Georgia would surely win. The tiny inhospitable island between Argentina and the Antarctic Peninsula is home to over thirty million nesting birds. Over 80 species have been recorded but 31 of these breed and bring up their young here. Species include grey headed albatross, white chinned petrels, prions, blue-eyed shag, pintails and much more. However, most visit to view the large colonies of penguins. There are 6,000 pairs of chinstraps, 100,000 pairs of gentoo, almost half a million pairs of king penguin and over 2 million pairs of macaroni penguins. Unfortunately although the numbers of king penguins increase year or year, the macaroni penguin population has decreased over 50% in the last twenty five years.

Flickr: vil.sandi

Flickr: vil.sandi

Manu National Park – Peru

Manu National Park is easily accessible from Cuzco in Peru. This 15,000 km² biosphere reserve that tumble down the eastern slopes of the Andes to the Amazon is home to over a thousand different species of bird, about ten percent of the entire world’s species. It even holds the record of the most number of species seen in one day – 331. Of course it would be impossible for us to list ever species here, but highlights include the many clay licks used by parrots and macaws and is one of the best places to spot the mating dance of the cock-of-the-rock. There are plenty of excellent birding lodges with knowledgeable birding guides in the region.

Atlantic Coast – Brazil

The hundred kilometre wide strip of the Serra do Mar forests that run along the Atlantic coast in Southern Brazil are a mecca for birdwatchers. The varied altitudes ranging from the shrubby lower levels at sea level to the 1,500 metre mountain forests allow for a vast array of bird life. There are over 500 species to be found, of which almost 200 are endemic and can be found nowhere else on earth. This incidentally is the highest number of endemics in one region.

Ibera Wetlands – Argentina

The Ibera wetlands covers a region roughly the size of Belgium in the northern region of Argentina. This series of swamps, lakes and lagoons is 13,000 km2, the largest protected area in Argentina, and the second largest wetland area in the world (after the Pantanal in Brazil). There are over 325 species of birds that nest or migrate through the area. Trips are mostly taken by small boat or horseback and bird highlights include kingfishers, kestrels, nightjars, hawks, storks, tanagers, jaribus, hummingbirds and herons. The best place to stay is Rincon del Socorro which over very comfortable accommodation and excellent birding guides.

Cloud Forest – Ecuador

There are a number of different reserves including Bellavista and Mindo that make up the cloud forests on the western slopes of the Andes, a couple of hours north-west of Quito in Ecuador. Each one is busting with bird life. At 1,300 metres it lies at a midway point between the coast and the high Andes offering a greater diversity of species – over 550 in total. It’s a great place for toucans, cock-of-the-rock, antpittas, manakins, ducks, however, most come for the variety of beautiful hummingbirds. Most lodges are comfortable but basic and offer very knowledgeable birding guides. Pick one like Bellavista Cloud Forest Lodge which hang feeders near to the lodge attracting hummingbirds right to you.

Flickr: vil.sandi

Flickr: vil.sandi

Boquete – Panama

Panama is often overlooked for birdwatching, however the country boasts over a thousand species. One of the best areas to visit is the cloud forests around the Boquete highlands. There are plenty well marked trails making it easy to explore by yourself should you wish. During the dry season there are over 400 species of bird to spot. Highlights include the emerald toucan, sulfur-winged parakeet and plenty of hummingbird species. Many come to the region to hike the famous Quetzal Trail which offers one of the best opportunities to spot the resplendent quetzal, one of the world’s most beautiful birds.

Flickr: Don Henise

Flickr: Don Henise

La Selva Biological Station – Costa Rica

Costa Rica has so many good birding locations, its tough singling out just one. However, the 1,500 hectares of lowland rainforest is one of the best. Owned by a consortium of research institutions and universities there are over 300 scientists which venture to the area each year to explore the rich biodiversity. On the latest count there are 467 species of birds making it one of the largest in Central America including native and migratory species.

To begin your birding tour anywhere in Latin America get in touch today.

RELATED: 9 beautiful exotic birds from Latin America

Meet us at the Birdfair

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We are pleased to announce Select Latin America will be having a stand at the Birdfair taking place at Rutland Water Nature Reserve 21 August to 23 August 2015.

Described as the birdwatcher’s Glastonbury, Birdfair encompasses the whole spectrum of the bird-watching industry whilst at the same time supporting global bird conservation.

There are lectures, events and celebrities and hundreds of stands selling the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts.

This will be our 15th year, find us at Marquee 7 Stand 36. Our experts will be on hand to help plan your next wildlife adventure and our new brochure will be hot off the press.

This year David will also be doing a presentation – ‘Galapagos; A visitors Guide to these Enchanted Islands’ which will be on the 23th August in Lecture Marquee 3 between 3.30-3.50 pm
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We hope to see you all there.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

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

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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

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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

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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

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

Our 20 favourite places in Latin America

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

Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia

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

Machu Picchu, Peru

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

Perito Moreno Glacier, Argentina

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

Easter Island, Chile

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

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

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

Fernando de Noronha, Brazil

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

Torres del Paine, Chile

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

Cartagena, Colombia

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

Lençóis Maranhenses, Brazil

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Vast rolling sand dunes punctuated by hundreds of turquoise lagoons.

Chichen Itza, Mexico

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

San Blas, Panama

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

Lake Titicaca, Peru & Bolivia

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

Valdes Peninsula, Argentina

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

Atacama Desert, Chile

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

Arenal Volcano, Costa Rica

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

Iguazu, Argentina and Brazil

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

Amazon, Brazil, Peru, Ecuador and Bolivia

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

Lake Atitlan, Guatemala

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

Chan Chan, Peru

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

Pantanal, Brazil

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

Want to visit any of these? Contact us here.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

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