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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.

9 amazing places to visit in Bolivia

Bolivia remains one of the most isolated and misunderstood countries in Latin America. Completely landlocked and characterized by the towering Andes Mountains and the Amazon rainforest, Bolivia’s landscape is as diverse as its people. From islands that dot Lake Titicaca, the highest navigable lake in the world, to the vast expanse of white salt -flats, Bolivia offers a wealth of unique natural wonders and experiences that would surely satisfy most travellers.

Explore Madidi, one of the most biodiverse places on earth

Flickr: Joe Lazarus

Madidi National Park won’t disappoint nature lovers. Spanning thousands of square miles of mountain and rainforest, the park is home to more than 11% of the world’s entire bird species. As you wander through the park, you’ll be treated to the sight of monkeys, giant otters playfully swimming down the rivers and if you are lucky, you may even spot an elusive jaguar. You won’t regret adding this one to your Bolivian itinerary.

Wander past the Jesuit Missions of Chiquitos

There are six 18th century Jesuit Mission towns dotting the area, and while their counterparts in other countries have been left to fall into disrepair, in Bolivia they area rather well preserved. The biggest and most interesting is the town of San Jose de Chiquitos which boasts some spectacular colonial architecture. Before you visit, watch the Robert de Nero film, “The Mission” to learn about their historical importance.

Bicycle down the Yungas Road

Flickr: wanderlasss

Often cited as the world’s most dangerous road, the Yungas Road (more commonly referred to as Death Road) winds its way down 15,000 feet to the town of Coroico. Riding down this steep gravel road flanked by a cliff on one side and a sheer vertical drop off the other will certainly get your heart-pumping. Just be careful of the lorries which steam around the bends on their way up to the city.

Go down the Cerro Rico mines in Potosi

Literally translating to “Rich Mountain”, Cerro Rico once brought much wealth into the small city of Potosi. Controlled by the greedy Spanish Conquistadors, they plundered all the silver from the mountain leaving only tin which is still mined in much the same way today. Be sure to take a tour of the mine so you can see the conditions of the workers. The nearby Casa Nacional de Moneda is also fascinating and worth an afternoon of exploration.

Watch the colourful Oruro Carnival

Carnival is an important festival all over Latin America, but there are some particularly good places to see the event in action. Oruro comes alive each year in February which thousands of dancers dressed up in colourful garb as well as accompanying musicians. It’s an amazing sight to see.

Cross Lake Titicaca

One of the highest navigable bodies of water in the world, Lake Titicaca straddles both Bolivia and Peru. It is considered to be the birth-place of the Inca and pre-Columbian cultures. The pretty shorefront town of Copacabana is well worth a little time to explore, as is Sun and Moon Island which have some fascinating historical attractions.

Admire the magnificent Tiwanaku

Tiwanaku lies south east of Lake Titicaca and represents one of the most important pre-Inca civilizations on the continent. The site thrived during the 8th century and it is estimated to have had between 15,000 – 30,000 inhabitants. While only a small part has been excavated, you can still see one of Bolivia’s greatest architectural achievements. It’s easily combined with a day or overnight trip to Lake Titicaca.

Drive across the vast salt flats of Uyuni

The Salar de Uyuni is one of the most amazing natural wonders in Latin America. This 4,000-square-mile salt flat was formed from a prehistoric lake. At its centre is an island teeming with giant cacti. The best way to explore the salt flats is by a guided 4×4 tour which takes you from one end to the other. When it rains, the reflection of the sky in the water-logged salt is simply spectacular. You can even stay in a hotel built entirely out of salt.

Explore the City of Four Names

Flickr: Mundo Sussa

Sucre, is a 500-year-old Spanish former colonial town also known as La Plata, Chuquisaca and Charcas. Just a wander around the city will bring its history to life. Here, you can see Bolivia’s National Library, La Casa de la Libertad and many other relics from its rich historical past. It is also the constitutional capital of the country.

Want to explore Bolivia? Speak to one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning your trip today.

RELATED: 9 amazing places to visit in Bolivia

48 hours in La Paz

Flickr: Cliff hellis

Flickr: Cliff hellis

La Paz is the highest administrative capital city in the world. Your breath will literally be taken away by the lack of oxygen at this high altitude. But this is a city buzzing with life. Bustling markets, crowded streets, picturesque churches, boisterous bars and colourful locals. If you’re planning a flying visit in La Paz, here is how to spend your first 48 hours.

Day 1 – Morning

Let’s assume you’ve arrived in the night before and you’re ready to hit the streets and discover the city. Like they say, if you haven’t got lost in a city before, it’s because you have explored it enough. It’s time to get lost in the city’s labyrinthine side-streets and alleyways, making sure to tick off some of the major tourism hotspots along the way. Walk through Plaza de Murillo (the city’s main square), visit the San Francisco Church and the witches’ market.

DAY 1 – Afternoon

Flickr: k.d..did

Flickr: k.d..did

In the afternoon take a bus or taxi from the city to the ancient site of Tiwanaku, one of the continent’s most important pre-Incan ruins. This UNESCO World Heritage site is sometimes called ‘the Stonehenge of the Americas’ and doesn’t disappoint.

Day 1 – Evening

When you return back to La Paz, be sure to head up to the district of El Alto to watch the cholita wrestling (only available Sundays). These local female wrestlers take to the ring to battle it out against each other in traditional Aymara and Quechua costumes. Tickets are cheap and makes for a fascinating insight into this interesting sub-culture of empowered women. If you want to keep the night going, there are plenty of bars and nightclubs to explore. Thelonius Jazz Bar and Mongo’s are both excellent choices.

Day 2 – Morning

It may seem like a bad idea, but a morning of hurtling downhill on bikes along the so called ‘Death Road’ is a thrilling experience. Starting at almost 5,000 metres above sea level, cycling down Death Road involves descending more than 3,600 metres in just 40 miles. The winding, largely gravel road surface should be taken carefully to avoid plummeting off the cliff side drop to one side. Once you’ve reached the bottom, you’ll be brought back up along Death Road by car, an interesting experience in itself.

Day 2 – Afternoon

If time permits when you return, take a car 10 kilometres out to the stunning Valle de la Luna (Valley of the Moon). This amazing lunar-like landscape of bizarre rock formations is similar to the valley of the same name in Chile. It’s a beautiful place to watch the sunset before returning back to the city.

DAY 2 – Evening

We’ve got two great choices for restaurants depending on your preference and budget. If you like simple, authentic and budget friendly street food, head to one of the four branchesof Paceña La Salteña. These outlets create some of the best Bolivian empanadas (meat encased in pastry, much like a Cornish pasty). For those looking for something a little more refined, head to Gusto. This restaurant is owned by the founder of Noma, rated second best in the world. Here you can try a taster menu that carefully balances the flavours of Peru and the Andes. Could there be a better to way to finish your time in La Paz?

To start planning your tour of La Paz and Bolivia, get in touch with one of our specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us an email here. Take a look at our suggested Bolivia tours here.

RELATED: 9 amazing places to visit in Bolivia

this is what it looks like to cycle down death road [vid]

Death RoadMarco Antonio/Flickr

For anyone who’s ever wondered what cycling down death road in Bolivia is like, here’s your chance. This POV video perfectly captures the ride. You’ll notice how the roads look well paved as the video starts and no doubt you’ll be asking yourself what all the fuss is about but as it progresses the road (if it can even be called that) gets much tougher and much narrower. Cycling death road isn’t for the faint-hearted but it is rewarding experience for those who dare.

Cycling tours in Bolivia can be arranged as part of a larger bespoke tour. To begin creating yours, please get in touch.

RELATED: 9 amazing places to visit in Bolivia

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.

ORURO CARNIVAL BOLIVIA

Oruro_Carnival

The Carnival of Oruro is a religious festival dating back more than 2000 years that takes place in the highlands of Bolivia. Originally an indigenous festival, the celebration merged with a Christian ritual around the Virgin of Candelaria, which takes place in February. The traditional ‘Llama llama’ or ‘Diablada’ became the leading traditional dances of the festival. It is one of UNESCO’s Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The modern festival demonstrates the ongoing pagan-Catholic blend common in the Altiplano region. The carnival starts with a ceremony dedicated to the Virgen del Socavon. Marching bands compete simultaneously in the greeting to the Virgin the grotto of Pie de Gallo. The highlight of the festival is the three day and three night parade of 48 groups of folk dancers over a four kilometre route to the sanctuary of the tunnel. In different regions of Bolivia and Peru, the locals wear colourful masks and dance to the rhythm of lively music, liberally inebriated by aguadiente, the local firewater.

RELATED: 9 amazing places to visit in Bolivia

BOLIVIAN WETLANDS

Bolivia_wetalnds

The World Wildlife Fund has recognised the Bolivian government in recognition of its commitment to conservation. This followed the designation of a 6.9 million-hectare area in the Llanos de Moxos, in the lowlands of the Amazon basin, as protected wetlands. Under the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands, Llanos de Moxos is now the largest area of Wetlands of International Importance in the world. Yolanda Kakabadse, the Ecuadorian President of WWF International, presented representatives of the government of Boliviawith a WWF Gift to the Earth, the global conservation organization’s most prestigious award. In total, Bolivia has committed to designate 15 million hectares of its wetland area as Ramsar sites, demonstrating the government’s political support for freshwater conservation – while contributing significantly to the conservation of the wider Amazon basin. “WWF recognizes Bolivia as a conservation leader for its pledge to ensure the conservation and wise use of its freshwater resources, clearly stated also in the country’s laudable environmental policies,” said Luís Pabon, Director of WWF-Bolivia. “There will be challenges ahead but we stand ready to support the Bolivian government in taking the next steps necessary to honour their bold commitment.” Visiting Bolivia’s Amazon is not for everyone, as the infrastructure is fairly basic, but if you want to get well off-the-beaten track we can organize just the trip.

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

Bolivia, the Authentic Latin America

festivals_of_bolivia

Flavour of the month is Bolivia, not without good reason, it is the heart of South America and one of its best kept secrets. Bolivia still feels very unspoiled exactly how you would imagine life in South America to be. Here you can journey through the large areas of pristine wilderness and see indigenous cultures, traditions and beliefs that haven’t changed for centuries. The country is not only well-known for its geographical and cultural diversity, but it is also one of the world’s most biologically diverse countries. Being beyond most tour routes means you will not be harassed on every corner. You should be prepared for some long, bumpy road journeys and hotels in the more remote places are simple, but usually set within fantastic landscapes. Try a hotel made entirely from salt near Uyuni. All our tailor made Bolivia holidays are individually designed, but as a guide we can arrange a 15 day itinerary from £3,500 including flights such as our Tiwanaku & Beyond tour. This private customized journey is offering a beautiful insight into the unique landscapes, natural and cultural highlights of Bolivia. The tour starts in Santa Cruz and continues to Sucre, Potosí, La Paz, and beautiful Lake Titicaca. This is the highest navigable lake on Earth and the largest fresh water lake in South America. Contact us for more information on this and other extraordinary Bolivia trips.

RELATED: 9 amazing places to visit in Bolivia

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