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Interesting spots for art lovers in Latin America

The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

Flickr: Helen K

The Museo de Art Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (shortened to MALBA) is a World-class gallery. Located along Figueroa Alcorta Avenue in Palermo, the museum houses a wealth of Latin American art within a contemporary structure. Works from artists including Antonio Berni, Joaquin Torres Garcia, and Diego Rivera and amongst many others. The MALBA was inaugurated in 2001 with the mission to collect, preserve, and promote Latin American art. It receives well over a million visitors every year making it one of the highest visited museums on the continent.

The Blue House, Frida Kahlo Museum

Flickr: ::: Mer :::

More commonly known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul), the Frida Kahlo Museum is in Colonia del Carmen in Mexico City. The cobalt blue museum was the home of the artist. It was here she was born, created much of her art, lived with her husband Diego Rivera, and ultimately died. It chronicles her life, and has much of her artwork. Most of the building has be left exactly as it was when Frida lived there in the 1950’s.

The Last Supper in Cuzco

Wikipedia: Toño Zapata

Adorning the walls of the cathedral in Cuzco, there is a replica of The Last Supper. It was painting in the 18th century by a Peruvian artist called Marcos Zapata. The interesting thing about the painting is the Andean influence. You will notice that the table is filled with Peruvian foods including corn, peppers, different coloured potatoes, chicha (a fermented corn drink), and roasted cuy (guinea pig). At the forefront, Judas can be seen holding a bag of money, but this is commonly considered to be modelled on Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who executed the Inca Emperor hundreds of years before.

The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janerio

The Escadaria Selarón, more commonly called the Selaron Steps, are one of the most visited spots in Rio de Janeiro. Built by Chilean artist Jorge Selaron as a tribute to the Brazilian people, what started as a side project to his other work turned into an obsession that took years to create. There are 215 steps descending 125 metres and are covered with more than 2,000 tiles collected from around the world. Each step is unique creating an ever-evolving piece of art. 300 or so of the tiles are hand painted by Selaron.

The street art in Bogota

Flickr: McKay Savage

Street art has become popular across Latin America in recent years. One of the best places to see this modern art form is on the streets of Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Though you can see work adorning many of the streets, the best sports are along Calle 26 in the La Canderlaria neighbourhood, and Chapinero. The city has a dark history, and much of the work is about politics and social commentary. Local and international street artists like Banksy, Stinkfish, Vhils, and Toxicomano have all painted the walls here.

Want to see the art for yourself? Start planning your trip today by calling one of our Latin American experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

Things to do on Easter Island

While most know and visit Easter Island for the ancient Moai statues left by the Rapa Nui civilization, there are plenty of other activity options on offer for adventurous travelers, though many are connected to seeing the Moai as well. The island lies some 3,000 miles off the coast of Chile, and although part of the country, its culture is Polynesian. Here’s the top 10 things to do in on Easter Island.

See the Moai quarry

Rano Raraku is located on the slopes of Teravaku in the Rapa Nui National Park. It was formed from a volcanic crater and was used by the Rapa Nui culture for around 500 years as the main quarry for creating the Moai statues seen across the island. They Moai were built somewhere between 3,000 and 3,500 years ago and although they were built for the gods, ironically the felling of all the trees to transport the heavy statues led to a huge change in the environment and the downfall of the civilization. An enormous 21.6 metre incomplete statue weighing over 270 tonnes still sits at the quarry.

Swim at Anakena Beach

The white sand on Anakena beach is made from ground coral and is one of the best on the island. Though most visit to see the nearby statues, the beach is a highlight. While away an afternoon sunbathing or swim in the warm Pacific Ocean.

Join Tapati festival

The festival is over 40 years old and started to help maintain Rapa Nui culture and drawing in tourism. The two-week long festival starts at the beginning of February and is full of Rapa Nui dancing, singing and competitions. Every year, two females compete to become the Queen of Tapati and there are horse racing competitions on different parts of the island. It’s one of the best, albeit the most expensive time to visit.

Biking around Easter Island

Flickr: Helen K

Taking a self-guided or guided mountain biking tour around Easter Island can be a great way to introduce yourself to the Moai and the island scenery. There are plenty of routes including Hanga Roa to Orongo and Puna Pau to Tahai. There are some paved roads across the island, but many are trails and paths which can be quite challenging. Rentals cost around US $15 a day. Just check the quality of the bike before you hire it.

See the sunrise at Tongariki

A popular tour for visitors to the island. Head down to the site of Tangariki where 15 Moai statues stand on a ceremonial platform overlooking the ocean. During sunrise and sunset, the most amazing colours can be seen hitting the ocean, coastline and Moai. A magical experience, just remember to bring your camera!

Hit the surf

Flickr: anoldent

You might not know this, but Easter Island has some excellent surf. There are several hire shops and schools if you want to learn which are inexpensive and offer good quality equipment. After a morning of exploration, the Pacific swells are a great way to expend some energy.

Hike up Terevaka Volcano

The summit of Terevaka Volcano is the highest point on the island, towering over 500 metres above sea level and offering spectacular views across the island. Hiking to the top can be a rewarding experience that takes around four hours round trip. Few people decide to climb Terevaka, so those who do might very well have the summit all to themselves. For those who don’t want to trek, a horse riding tour to the top can be arranged.

Watch the Birdman ceremony

The Tangata Manu, also called the Birdman ceremony started sometime in the 18th century. Held in September every year, one man from each tribe contends in a dangerous competition to collect the first egg of the Easter Island (Manutara) seagull. To do so, the competitors must paddle across the rough ocean on floating reeds to the caves where the eggs are laid and then bring it back in tact to present it to the chief. The winner keeps the emptied egg Birdman’s house.

Gorge on seafood

Being an island, it’s not surprising that the main diet of the Easter Island community is seafood. There are plenty of great restaurants to gorge on fresh seafood including mahi mahi, tuna, swordfish, lobster and prawns. Look out for sea urchins which litter the beaches throughout the year. Eaten raw, these can be opened on a rock and the roe eaten right out the shell.

Want to visit Easter Island? Start planning your journey today. Take a look at our suggested Chile tours, call our Chilean travel expert on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

King Penguins in Tierra del Fuego

King Penguin

If you want to see King penguins but don’t want to go to Antarctica, go to Tierra del Fuego. A few years ago, a small colony of King Penguins started nesting at a local Estancia. This is the only place to find the second largest penguin within the American continent. We will be offering a day trip to see these graceful creatures. The itinerary starts in Punta Arenas and consists on a short flight to Porvenir and then a drive to the the reserve and then fly back. This is a perfect addition to any Torres del Paine itinerary with some idle time in Punta Arenas.

Tierra del Fuego means ‘Land of Fire’ after the fires the indigenous people kept going. The archipelago is shared between Chile and Argentina. Much of it is flat steppe grasslands, but a chain of rugged mountains runs down, covered in a permanent ice field. We also offer cruises that ply the islands’ fjords and include a stop at mythical Cape Horn.
Here are some Chilean holiday ideas.

5 cable cars to take in South America

Cable cars are, in our opinion, one of the best modes of transport. Quick, no traffic and it’s possible to take in the landscape or city from above. Many of the cities located along the Andes are, unsurprisingly, hilly, making transport difficult. Though some cable cars are being used for tourism, others are transforming parts of Latin American cities by making the areas more accessible.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

South America’s most well-known and oldest is Rio de Janeiro’s Sugarloaf Mountain cable car. Built in the early 20th century, it was designed for tourists to take in the city views from the mountain’s summit. The journey takes just a few minutes to reach the top.

La Paz, Bolivia

Flickr: Inhabitat

Flickr: Inhabitat

The highly successful state-run cable car that connects La Paz with El Alto is the highest in the world. Since its inauguration in 2014, millions of tourists and locals have used the cable car which costs just £0.25. The line can reportedly carry a staggering 18,000 people per hour. During the World Cup, some of the cars were painted to look like footballs.

Santiago, Chile

Flickr: Robert Cutts

Flickr: Robert Cutts

The Teleférico Metropolitano was built in 1980, but has since been refurbished and reopened late last year. It takes tourists and locals up to the huge Metropolitan Park, one of the largest in Chile. Some of the cabins have been adapted to fit bikes, a popular sport in the park.

Medellín, Colombia

Another highly successful transport system, the Medellín Metrocable opened almost fifteen years ago, and has helped to connect the cities hilly districts. More lines have since been added, the latest being in 2016.  The city one an award for innovation in 2012.

Quito, Ecuador

Flickr: Stuart King

Flickr: Stuart King

The Quito Teleférico hasn’t been created as a mode of transport to get around the city. The cable car starts are 2,950 metres above sea level and arrives in the heady heights of Cruz Loma at 4,050 metres. Fantastic views over the city and the adjacent Pichincha Volcano can be seen from the top. It’s also possible to spot Antisana, Cotopaxi and Rumiñahui on clear days.

If you’d like to take any of the cable cars in South America, or visit anywhere else on the continent, speak to one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478.

9 beautiful exotic birds from Latin America

The thousands of species and sub-species of birds and the high concentration of endemics in Latin America makes it one of the best continents in the world for bird watching. Here are nine of the most spectacular:

Quetzal

Flickr: lgb06

Flickr: lgb06

These shy colourful birds are often considered one of the world’s most beautiful. Part of the trogon family of birds, they are several sub-species found throughout South and Central America. Those who are interested in birding will certainly have heard of the resplendent quetzal, found in Mexico, Costa Rica, Panama and Guatemala (who even have the image of a quetzal on their flag). Other than the vibrant colours, the resplendent quetzal’s most prominent feature is their long tail plumes.

Lear’s macaw

Flickr: Joao Quental

Flickr: Joao Quental

Also known as the indigo macaw, this parrot is best known for its brightly colour plumage. Found through the Amazonian region of Brazil, the Lear’s macaw can reach up to 75 cms, almost a kilo in weight and can live up to 50 years.

Keel-billed toucan

This iconic bird will be the most familiar, even to those who take little interest in birding. While there are several species of toucan, the keel-billed toucan’s brightly coloured bill make it the most spectacular. Though the large bill may look cumbersome, it’s actually hollow and extremely light making it easy to collect their diet of fruit and eggs.  They are commonly found in Panama and Costa Rica.

Andean cock-of-the-rock

Found in the misty cloud forests on the slopes of the Andes, the bright orange coloured cock-of-the-rock display a very prominent fan-shaped crest. The males gather in groups to create noisy displays in the hope of attracting a female. One of the best spots to see the cock-of-the-rock is in Peru’s Manu region.

Andean condor

Watching the condors glide above and below you in the Colca Canyon is one of South America’s most amazing experiences. It’s an impressive size, with a wingspan of over 3.3 metres. This black new world vulture is a scavenger feeding on the carcasses of dead cattle or deer. Interestingly, the Andean condor is one of the world’s longest living birds reaching over 70 years.

Inca tern

The Inca tern is a seabird that lives along the Pacific coast of Latin America, primarily Peru and Chile, although it can occasionally be found in Ecuador. It’s most distinctive feature is the white moustache and red-orange coloured feet and beak. It’s one of the larger species of terns reaching around 40 cms.

Capped heron

The capped heron is found throughout the rivers, lakes and mangroves of Latin America from Bolivia to Suriname. This almost all-white heron features a black cap and blue facial features and bill. It mainly feeds on frogs, fish and insects which it captures using a slow walking technique.

Waved albatross

Also known as the Galapagos albatross, these large birds have a wingspan ranging from 2.2-2.5 metres. During mating season, usually May, the entire population of waved albatross descend upon Espanola Island in the Galapagos archipelago. Their unique courtship ritual evolves plenty of in bill-circling, sky-pointing, drunken swagger and bill-clapping. The rest of the time they spend along the coast of Peru and Ecuador and live to 45 years.

Curl-crested aracari

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Flickr: Heather Paul

One of the lesser-known toucan species, the curl-crested aracari can be found along the south-western section of the Amazon basin, the Tambopata National Reserve, the Noel Kempff Mercado National Park and the Cristalino State Park. It’s one of the most colourful of the smaller toucan species and one of only three to have red feathers on the nape and shoulders.

To begin organising your birding tour of Latin America, give one of our specialists a call on +44 (0) 207 407 1478, send us a message here.

These 21 quotes prove that Chilean poet Pablo Neruda was a hopeless romantic

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1.
“I love you as certain dark things are to be loved, in secret, between the shadow and the soul.” 

2.
“Tonight I can write the saddest lines
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.”

3.
“You can cut all the flowers but you cannot keep Spring from coming.”

4.
“You are like nobody since I love you.”

5. 
“Through nights like this one I held her in my arms. I kissed her again and again under the endless sky.”

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7. 

“To feel the love of people whom we love is a fire that feeds our life.”

8.
“I am no longer in love with her, that’s certain, but maybe I love her. Love is so short, forgetting is so long.”

9. 
“Who writes your name in letters of smoke among the stars of the south?
Oh let me remember you as you were before you existed.”

10. 
“If nothing saves us from death, at least love should save us from life”

11. 
“I want to do with you what spring does with the cherry trees.”

Lake
13.

“My soul is an empty carousel at sunset.”

14. 
“I have forgotten your love, yet I seem to glimpse you in every window.”

15. 
“Well, now,
if little by little you stop loving me
I shall stop loving you little by little.”

16.
“In love you loosened yourself like sea water.”

17. 
“Like a jar you housed infinite tenderness
And the infinite tenderness shattered you like a jar.”

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19.
“I searched, but no one else had your rhythms, your light, the shady day you brought from the forest;
Nobody had your tiny ears.”

20. 
“I love you without knowing how, or when, or from where. I love you simply, without problems or pride: I love you in this way because I do not know any other way of loving but this”

21. 
“From your hips down to your feet
I want to make a long journey.”

To begin planning your tour of South America, do get in touch.

The messy completo is Chile’s finest fast food

Flickr: James

Flickr: James

Everyone knows the American hotdog. New York’s full of vendors plying the streets with the cheap snack, but did you know that the Chileans do a hot dog, and it’s a whole lot better.

If you spend any length of time in Santiago it’s impossible not to try the completo. Like their American cousin it begins with the basic hotdog between bun, but that’s all they share in common. It’s then loaded up with chopped tomato, mayonnaise and salsa.

There are plenty of variants on the basic recipe. You’ll commonly find the Italiano that includes mash avocado which along with tomatoes and mayonnaise looks like the Italian flag. If the inclusion of all that avocado and tomato seems to healthy, you can have them loaded with French fries, strips of beef and fried eggs. There is a growing number of gourmet completo joints including organic ingredients and German bratwurst sausages which are more expensive, but worth the extra.

Although the completo can be enjoyed any time of day, it’s best enjoyed after a few cold beers or a night of pisco sours, limited any potential hangover the following day. It’s also incredibly good value, starting at around $2.

They are loaded so high that tackling your first completo can be a daunting prospect. Don’t let this put you off, just embrace the mess. Once started you’ll soon forget you’re ruined your t-shirt and jeans and most has been lost to the table and floor. Order a second.

It isn’t hard to find a complete kiosk, but some of the best include Hogs on Merced 299 which offer upmarket completes or the stalls around Pio Nono and Bellavista where the hot dogs are cheap and plentiful.

To try a completo for yourself start planning your trip to Chile today.

8 Amazing Journeys You Should Take In Chile

Chile is spectacular although often overlooked as a Latin American destination. It is however rising in popularity so we thought it was time to but a handy guide together for 8 incredible mini-journeys you can take in the country from the dry northern desert of Atacama to the snow-capped mountains and peaks of Torres del Paine and the mysterious Polynesian island Easter Island. Many of these can be combined to make much larger itineraries.

1. Arica to Lauca

Out of all of Chile’s destinations, this is perhaps the most overlooked. However, this isolated region of Northern Chile located near the borders of Peru and Bolivia have much to offer. Begin in the coastal town of Arica, easily reachable from a direct flight from Santiago. This small city has a wonderfully warm climate all year round. As well as good quality beaches, it also has some of the best surf available in the country. From here you can visit the Azapa Valley from which you can see some ancient mummies. Just a couple of hours by road inland lies the Lauca National Park located in the Central Andean dry puna ecoregion. Between 3,300 and 6,300 metres above sea level it won’t just be the scenery that leaves you feeling breathless. Hiking is the best way to see this national park. Along the way there are plenty of opportunities to see llamas, guanacos, vicuñas and maybe even cougars. There are plenty of bird species including Andean goose, Chilean flamingos and Andean condors to name just a few.

2. Atacama to Altiplano

What the Northern desert of Atacama lacks in flora (although there are some regions towards the coast that have colourful wild desert flowers) it certainly makes up for in landscapes. Most base themselves at in the small town of San Pedro de Atacama. There are plenty of places to stay from budget to seriously luxurious. From here take day trips out into the wilderness. Must see places include Moon and Death Valley whose landscapes have been compared to Mars (in fact is has been used for as a location for many films) and is best seen during the evening when you watch the famous sunset. The geyser field of El Tatio does require an early start but doesn’t disappoint. Over 80 geysers shooting steam up to 6 metres high make this the largest geyser field in the southern hemisphere. Although the Atacama salt flats are not as large as the Uyuni salt flats in Bolivia, they are no less impressive. Lastly a visit to Miscanti and Miñique lagoons in the high Altiplano in Los Flamencos National Reserve reveal some fantastic wildlife including Chilean flamingos (hence the name).

3. Santiago to Valparaiso

The capital of Santiago is the entrance point to Chile for most and is well worth a few days. The district of Recoleta has a large variety of luxury and boutique hotels from which to base yourself. A guided tour from a local is one of the best ways to see the city and usually include visits to the Recoleta cemetery where Eva Peron is buried, Santa Lucia Hill, the Cathedral and Plaza de Armas. There are plenty of excellent restaurants and the nightlife is as good as Buenos Aires’. After you’ve had your fill of Santiago head East to the port city of Valpairaiso a journey of around two hours. This colourful, gritty port city has had a resurgence in recent years, many spending more time here than the capital. The UNESCO World Heritage historic quarter is a fine example of 9th century of urban development in Latin America.

4. Wine tasting in Rosario

From Santiago head to the Rosario Valley region located between Casablanca and San Antonio, one of the world’s best wine growing regions. This 9,000 hectare enclosed valley has the ideal climate and topographic conditions for red and white wines. This spring-like climate makes it an ideal place to stay, even in the height of summer. Spend four nights at the seriously comfortable Matetic vineyards. Spend each day hiking, horse riding or biking through the beautiful countryside whilst enjoying superb cuisine, of coursed paired with excellent wines. As well as activities and wine there is also much flora and wildlife to be seen in the area. The dry coastal zone makes it perfect for wild flowers like the red Chilean bellflowers and there are plenty of mammals such as foxes and birdlife including thrushes, birds of prey and parrots.

Flickr: sharloch

Flickr: sharloch

5. Lake District, Pucon to Puerto Varas

The Lake District is located about half way from Santiago to the very south, between Temuco and Puerto Montt. This area is rich in forests, volcanos and of course, lakes. Popular with German, Swiss and Austrian immigrants in the 19th century was probably due to its similarity to the Alpine region of Europe. After flying to Temuco from Santiago transfer to Pucon. The town sits right on the edge of Villarrica Lake and Villarrica Volcano. It’s one of the hot spots of adventure sports in the country, so as well as hiking, there is plenty of kayaking, rafting, horse riding, canyoning and climbing. In the winter it’s also an excellent place for skiing and snowboarding. Head further south to Puerto Varas, another adventure sport playground, but somewhat quieter than Pucon. Towering over the town are Osorno and Calbuco volcanoes. Here you can fish, hiking, ski and climb. We recommend taking a guided tour of Osorno and visiting some of the local hot springs.

Flickr: Bitterroot

Flickr: Bitterroot

6. Lake Crossing to Argentina

The lake crossing between Chile and Argentina is certainly a more scenic way to cross the border. Beginning in Puerto Varas you will be transferred to Petrohue bordering Lake Llanquihue. Along the way take in the impressive sights of Osorno and Calbuco Volcanoes. Visit the impressive Petrohue Falls in Vicentre Perez National Park. Set sail to Peulla crossing over Todos los Santos Lake. Once you arrive take some time to relax and enjoy lunch before boarding a bus to Puerto Frias passing through the border. Arrive and take your second board across Lake Frias before boarding bus to Puerto Blest. Here you will take your last boat navigation across Puerto Nahuel Huapi Lake arrive in Puerto Pañuelo where you will continue by bus to Bariloche.

Torres del Paine

7. Torres del Paine

After flying into Punta Arenas and travelling through the town of Puerto Natales, you’ll reach the spectacular Torres del Paine National Park. Located in the far south in the heart of Patagonia between the Magellanic subpolar forests and the Patagonia Steppes, this is truly one of our favourite places in Latin America (if not the world). There are just a handful of places to stay within the national park. For luxurious glamping try the EcoCamp that is not only located in a fantastic location but provides easy access to some of the best trails and makes for a very comfortable base. Although horse riding and biking can be arranged, the best way to see the park is by foot, either with days trips, or on the five day W Trek staying in refuges or camping. Taking a boat trip to Balmaceda and Serrano Glaciers will not leave you disappointed and is included on most trips to the region.

Easter Island

8. Easter Island

One of the most remote islands in the world. The six hour flight from Santiago puts many of visiting this Polynesian Island, but those who make the long journey are treated to interesting scenery, a culture very different from that of mainland Chile and some of the most mysterious histories on earth. It’s most famous for the 887 Moai statues created by the early Rapa Nui people who to begin with thrived on the island, but overpopulation, the introduction of rats and extensive deforestation severely reduced the Rapa Nui’s community. Excellent local guides will help you discover about the fascinating history of the Rapa Nui as well as offering excellent hiking and horse riding. There are also plenty of tropical white sandy beaches to relax on.

To start arranging your bespoke tour of Chile do get in touch with us or take a look at some of our example tours.

Cola de Mono Recipe: A Delicious Chilean Christmas Drink

Colemonkey

This unusual and traditional Chilean Christmas drink is a favourite right across the country.  Although there are now different versions, the simplest and most common recipe combines milk, coffee and aguardiente (fire water). The literal translation of the drink is ‘monkey’s tail’. There are few theories about its name, one of them is linked to the former president Pedro Montt and another theory is that it’s delicious taste will have you swinging like a real monkey.

Serving: 2 litres
Time: 25 minutes

Ingredients
5 cloves, whole
1 nutmeg, grated
2 cinnamon sticks
½ cup of water
3 tbs instant coffee
2000 ml milk
12 tbs sugar
250 ml aguardiente

Method
Place the cloves, nutmeg, the cinnamon sticks and water together in a pot, bring to the boil and then simmer for 10 minutes with the lid on top. Add half of the coffee in the hot water with the spices, half of the milk and the sugar, stir until the sugar and coffee are dissolved. In a separate container mix the remaining coffee with the cold milk, once the coffee is dissolved add to the main mixture together with the aguaardiente and stir for a couple of minutes. Remove the cinnamon and cloves, put the drink into a bottle and store in the fridge.

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