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Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

2018 is upon us, but have you thought about where you’ll be travelling this year? With a wealth of places to visit in Latin America, it can often be daunting to know where to start. Fortunately, our travel experts have come up with the top places to visit in 2018.

Guadalajara, Mexico

While most travellers fly in to explore Mexico City, those in the know are heading to Guadalajara. If you’re a fan of Mexican culture and cuisine, you’ll want to head here quick before the hordes arrive. The city was the birthplace of tequila, houses the largest market in Latin America and is home to the World Heritage Site of Hospicio Cabañas. Guadalajara is shaking off its past and emerging as one of the top nightlife spots in Mexico. Wander down the pretty streets of Colonia Lafayette.

Look at our sample tours of Mexico here.

Quito, Ecuador

2018 marks 40 years since Quito became one of the first UNESCO World Heritage sites. Now there are some good deals on flight prices, so there’s no better time to visit the Ecuadorian capital. Much of the old town’s 16th century architecture is well preserved or re-furbished. Don’t miss the San Francisco monastery, the Jesuit church or the soaring Cathedral. When you’ve had your fill of culture, you can access the rest of the diverse country. Take a flight to the Amazon or the Galapagos Islands, one of the world’s best wildlife regions.

Look at our sample tours of Quito and beyond here.

Papagayo Peninsula, Costa Rica

Travellers are discovering that the north western Papagayo Peninsula in Costa Rica is the place to go now. Hotel are catching on and the Four Seasons have opened their newest resort there. More hotels will open next year, but more than 70% of the land is protected to keep the region unspoiled. Drag yourself away from the gorgeous beaches to hike up volcanoes, cruise along the coast in catamarans, spot myriad wildlife or whiz through the canopy on zip-lines.

Look at our sample tours of Costa Rica here.

Trujillo, Peru

Machu Picchu is still drawing big crowds every year, but if you want to get off the beaten track, explore Peru’s other cultural wonders. Head north to the coastal city of Trujillo. The city is rich with beautiful Spanish colonial architecture and close to the ancient site of Chan Chan. This pre-Columbian mud city had a big maritime community. The adobe walls and structures are intact thanks to the dry desert landscape. Head for the northern mountains to see the Gocta Falls, one of the highest cascades in the Americas.

Look at our sample tours to Peru here.

La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz’s tourism scene is booming. There are new boutique hotels and trendy eateries celebrating Bolivian national cuisine. The high altitude will take your breath away, so will the soaring backdrop of Andes Mountains. Be sure to jump on the Mi Teleférico to get aerial views of the city and the surrounding scenery. If that isn’t enough to tempt you, the fact that the country is still one of the cheapest in the Americas will. 

Look at our sample tours of La Paz and Bolivia here.

Antarctica

Ok, so it’s not really Latin America, but accessing the White Continent is almost always via Argentina or Chile. It currently takes a 2-day cruise across, the often rough, Drake Passage to visit the Antarctic. In 2018 LADE is launching a regular commercial flight route meaning you can reach the vast icy wilderness in under 2 hours.

Look at our cruises to the Antarctica here.

San Pedro de Atacama, Chile

Chile is becoming one of the most popular spots for tourists visiting Latin America. The narrow country has a dizzying array of landscapes from towering mountains to forests and dry deserts to vineyards. If it’s your first time be sure to visit San Pedro de Atacama. You can explore natural wonders like salt flats, colourful lagoons and steamy geysers.

Look at our sample tours to San Pedro de Atacama and Chile here.

Ready to visit Latin America in 2018? Call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 to start planning your trip or email us here.

Bucket list worthy things to do in the Antarctic

While a trip to the Antarctic sits high in most travellers’ bucket lists, there is more to do than look at icebergs and spot penguins. Leave from Ushuaia, in southern Argentina, on an adventurous cruise. There are many extra things to do, from sea kayaking to helicopter rides. You can’t expect to do all these on one cruise. If any take your fancy, be sure to ask your Antarctic expert what is available before you book.

Sea kayaking through Antarctic waterways

Imagine boarding sea kayaks and floating along the waterways in the Antarctic peninsula. Paddle calm waters, beside icebergs, from which little Gentoo penguins jump off as you pass. You may also spot leopard seals basking on little ice floes. Most vessels have a limited number of kayaks, so it’s worth booking ahead to take part in this activity.

Brave the polar plunge

Dine out for months with tales of swimming in the sub-zero waters of the Antarctic. It might sound insane to throw yourself into cold ocean, it is safe and very refreshing with the help of expert guides. Are you brave enough to take the polar plunge? If not, wait until you visit a place where volcanic activity warms up the water (see Deception Island below).

Camp on the white continent

Become one of the few brave explorers to camp on the ice shelf of the Antarctic. Not every cruise offers this, so check before booking. You’ll leave from the boat onto the ice in the late afternoon. Reach a campsite which will have already been set up for you. Whilst you enjoy a hot drink in your cosy tent, you’ll enjoy complete silence broken only by the call of penguins.

Board zodiacs to spot wildlife

All expedition tour activities involve inflatable zodiac tours. Speed around the icy bays, whilst the guide spots seals, waddling penguins and magnificent whales. You’ll often be able to disembark on the white continent to get up close to some of the fascinating wildlife. Sometimes whales or orcas arrive to take a look at you.

Send a letter from Port Lockroy

Did you know that you can send a letter or postcard from the Antarctic? If you visit Port Lockroy, you can get stamps and postmarked envelopes. The resident staff are on hand to explain about the British research. There is a small historical museum to browse. Other nationalities bases also sell stamps, like the Ukrainian one.

Take a helicopter to an emperor penguin rookery

Those with (very) deep pockets can join one of the exclusive helicopter flights to Snow Hill to see the huge rookery of emperor penguins. The 4,000-strong colony of breeding penguins are a magnificent sight, as are the aerial views of the icy wilderness from the helicopter. This is only available from one of our expedition cruises, so get in touch to book a place!

Cruise through the Lemaire Channel

One of the most beautiful places in the Antarctic Peninsula is the Lemaire Channel. It’s one of the top places for photographers who line up on deck. Characterized by steep cliffs flanking the iceberg-filled waterway, it’s truly spectacular. If the weather is calm the reflections are stunning. Not to be missed.

Cross the Drake Passage

To reach the white continent involves a 48-hour crossing of the Drake Passage. It can often be choppy, or calm as a lake. The excitement builds as you spot your first iceberg as the Antarctic approaches. For some passengers it is the most exciting part. You can watch the many seabirds from the deck, or listen to the fascinating lectures presented by expert polar guides. There are cruises which fly over this stretch of ocean from Chile, but these are for those short on time and deep of pocket.

Watch fluking whales

There are few places in the world quite as magical as the Antarctic when you see a huge whale gently fluke out of the water. Many species can be seen in these waters both baleen and toothed whales. You are likely to have several sightings during an expedition cruise, though nothing beats seeing one close from the zodiac boats.

Soak in Deception Island’s hot springs

Flickr: Robert Nunn

Believe it or not, Deception Island in the Antarctic has natural hot springs. Strip down and jump into the steamy waters which looks over the calm bay around the island. Most people just swim right out into the sea, but it’s also possible to dig down into the soil and create your own natural jacuzzi pool. The perfect way to finish your Antarctic expedition.

To start planning your cruise in the Antarctic, call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

Watch this mesmerising penguin colony timelapse

This video may be a few years old now, but it is still just as fascinating. Over a three-month period, an Adelie penguin colony was filmed in the Ross Sea. Every 45-minutes, a photo was taken and then stitched together to create a memorizing timelapse. The footage was taken by Jean Pennycook from the National Science Foundation and was shared on the Armed with Science blog.

It’s not the Adelie penguins waddling that is interesting to watch. Throughout the film, the ice can be seen ‘breathing’ as the tide rolls in and pushes it up and down.  Over the three months, the ice begins to shift, break away and then finally melt into the sea.

The person behind the project was Jean Pennycook, an Albert Einstein Distinguished Educator Fellow for the National Science Foundation. She was a school teacher for over 25 years and her website Penguin Science provides resources to school children around the world. This includes lesson plans, call-ins and teaching and learning forums with a focus on penguins and the Antarctic. Throughout her time in the Antarctic, she broadcast daily updates around the penguin colonies and at its peak during breeding season, her website was receiving over a million users a month.

Adelie penguins are a fascinating species. They only live along the fringes of the Antarctic coast, preferring to be close to the water. Along with animals like emperor penguins and snow petrels, they make up some of the most southerly living seabirds. To get technical, they are part of the Pygoscelis family which split more than 38 million years ago into three subspecies. Research suggests there are more almost 4 million breeding pairs of Adelie penguins in 250 colonies. Colonies are decreasing in numbers on the Antarctic peninsula but increasing in East Antarctica. This has led to an increase of over 50% since the last census was completing, suggesting that they are not at risk as a species.

The penguins breed between October and February and build their nests from stones found along the edge of the Antarctic. Both parents take turns to incubate the eggs over a month and once hatched, they stay in the nest for a further month. Within 2 months of being born, the chicks have dropped their juvenile plumage and take off into the sea. They are some of the smallest of penguin species and reach around 50 cms and 5 kg in weight.  They have distinctive black and white marks around their eyes and along their body which gives them the appearance of wearing a tuxedo. They have a red bill, but long head feathers cover most of it. They can swim up to 5 miles per hour. They feed on krill, squid and silverfish, but they are in turn preyed on by orcas, skuas and leopard seals.

Would you like to go and see Adelie penguins? Take a look at our Antarctic cruises, get in touch with one of our Polar experts at +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or contact us here.

We have launched our new brochure. Get it hot off the press

Brochure Cover
We are pleased to announce the publication of new brochure. This beautiful 96 page full colour booklet is packed full of our favourite hotels, country information, tours and maps to give you itchy feet and help with the planning of your next adventure in Latin America. To order you free copy, please get in touch.

Metallica play gig in the Antarctic

Flickr/Saad Faruque

Flickr/Saad Faruque

The ice-strengthened vessel Ortelius is heading south with the rock band Metallica for their first concert on Antarctica. The concert will take place on the 8th December on the Argentinean base Carlini in the South Shetland Islands.

“After 30 years as a band, we have been unbelievably fortunate to visit just about every corner of the earth, except for one,” says the band on their website. “That is all about to change as we are set to travel to Antarctica, the only continent that Metallica has never played until now…We’ll be playing inside a dome on the base and in another twist, the show will be transmitted to the aurdience via headphones with no amplification…a real first for us”.

A contest will take place to decide on which fans will travel to see the gig but will consist of nationals from Argentina, Chile, Colombia, Costa Rica and Mexico and the cruise will depart from Ushuaia on the 3rd December.  Much preparation is needed to organise the project including  an Environment Impact Assessment in line with the Antarctic Protection Protocol (Madrid Protocol).

Although tickets for this event are not available we can still organise a cruise to the Antarctic on board the same Ortelius vessel between November and March each year.

SEBASTIÃO SALGADO’S GENESIS

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Sebastião Salgado’s Genesis is a photographic exploration of the World’s wilderness areas. The photographer spent eight years spent travelling the earth, 35 countries and countless images later, Genesis, has now arrived in London. The exhibition is at the Natural History Museum, but he began shooting in 2004, documenting rare corners of the world untarnished by modern life. From the prehistoric creatures of the Galapagos Islands, to the sculptured icebergs of Antarctica, Genesis is celebration of the diversity found on planet Earth. Genesis reminds us that humans are responsible for the deterioration of the planet. A subject close to the Brazilian’s heart are threatened tribes, which Salgado spent time living with, and he seeks to highlight their plight. Many of these face persecution by governments, the theft of their lands and resources, or the threat of devastating epidemics.Salgado’s awe-inspiring prints represent natural landscapes and their relation to human life.
Sebastião Salgado: ‘Genesis’ is on 11 April – 8 September 2013, in the Waterhouse Gallery at the Natural History Museum,Cromwell Road, London SW7 www.nhm.ac.uk

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