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Monthly Archives: December 2015

The Best Places To travel In 2016

The New Year is almost upon us. In celebration here’s our pick of the best places to visit in Latin American in 2016.

South Georgia, Antarctic

As the variety of expeditions to the white continent get larger, so does the choice of which combination of islands to visit. Follow in Shackleton’s footsteps to one of the most beautiful wildlife havens on the planet. Breath-taking glaciers, deep fjords and huge colonies of penguins, particularly the king penguin.

Salta, Argentina

Thinking of visiting Argentina in 2016? Whilst most opt for the wilds of Patagonia, a visit to the colourful arid deserts of the north are just as scenic. Find relics of ancient civilizations, striking landscapes (try the terracotta canyons of Quebrada de Humahuaca), indigenous people with fascinating histories and some of the best wine in Latin America. Without trying to be too clichéd: it has it all.

Tour suggestion: Enchanting Northwest

The Cayes, Belize

Flickr: cloud2013

Flickr: cloud2013

The Cayes form a chain of coral islands off the coast of Belize. With year round sunshine and picture postcard white sand islands, there is no better place to go for a year round beach holiday. It’s also arguably the best place to scuba in the whole of Latin America – the Blue Hole is the most famous. Exclusive hotels and luxury getaway guesthouses await.

Tour suggestion: Sun kissed Belize

La Paz, Bolivia

Flickr: Yann Duarte

Flickr: Yann Duarte

Most travellers to Bolivia skip past La Paz rather quickly in favour of visiting Lake Titicaca, the Amazon or the stunning Uyuni Salt Flats. But for those who spend a little more time, there are plenty of gems to discover. Just a wander around the city will reveal colonial churches, museums and Indian street markets (the Witches Market is a must). Just outside the city is the highest golf course in the world, skiing opportunities, beautiful valleys and gorges for trekking and the ancient monument Tiwanaku.

Tour suggestion: Tiwanaku & Beyond

Minas Gerais, Brazil

This landlocked state north of Rio de Janeiro is a cultural gem waiting to be discovered. With a tendency for most to stick to Brazil’s gorgeous coastline and beaches, those who venture inland are treated to pretty colonial towns, baroque churches, excellent food and some of the friendliest people in Latin America. Best explored on a self-drive adventure.

Tour suggestion: Cultural Buzz of Brazil

Osa Peninsula, Costa Rica

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The Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica’s verdant south, covered with pristine primary rainforest, is a wildlife lover’s dream. From ocelots and tapirs to literally hundreds of species of exotic bird including hummingbirds, toucans, macaws. Whales, dolphins and turtles roam the waters around the peninsula. If you are lucky you may even see a jaguar.

Tour suggestion: Romance in Costa Rica

Cloud Forest, Ecuador

Another bird watchers mecca, the cloud forests of Bellavista and Mindo are located north west of the capital of Quito. Although the accommodation is fairly the rustic, albeit charming, the draw is the hummingbirds, toucans and parrots which inhabit the region. The trees are festooned with orchids, bromeliads, mosses and lichens and numerous species of colourful butterflies.

Tour suggestion: Hummingbirds & Turtles

Chichicastenango, Guatemala

Come to the largest and most colourful market in Central America. Also known as Chichi or Santa Tomas, the pretty white-washed highland town is most famous for its Sunday and Thursday markets where thousands of indigenous locals living in the surrounding countryside come to town to sell their wares. Get ready for some serious bartering.

Tour suggestion: Maya, Magic & Mystery

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

7 high cities in Latin America that will literally take your breath away

The important Andes Mountain Range is the spine of South America spanning the western side of the continent from Colombia to Chile. Most of Latin America’s high cities are dotted along this range – some you have most probably heard of, like the Inca empires capital, and some you may not of, like Potosi, the old mining town in Bolivia.

Cuzco, Peru

Perhaps the most well-known city in Latin America, Cuzco was once the capital of the Inca Empire. It sits at 3,399m, so it won’t be just the architecture that will take your breath away. Cuzco is often used as the base from which to visit Machu Picchu and taking high-altitude treks. Take at least two days in the city to acclimatize before doing any strenuous activities. 

Quito, Ecuador

San Francisco de Quito is the capital of Ecuador and officially the highest capital in the world, located at 2,850m above sea level in the heart of the Andes. In recent years Quito has had a resurgence of interest, many tourists visiting to wander the UNESCO World Heritage historic centre. Although this is the arriving point for most visiting Ecuador, if you are prone to altitude sickness, consider flying into the port city Guayaquil first and ending your trip in Quito.

Potosi, Bolivia

Potosi is one of the highest cities in the world, teetering at just over 4,000m above sea level. It was once one of the richest cities in the Americas in the 16th and 17th century when silver was discovered nearby. Relentless mining for hundreds of years as decimated silver reserves leaving very little. If you visit the city, be sure to visit the mine where you can learn about the dangerous conditions the miners face, even to this day.

La Paz, Bolivia

La Paz is only the administrative capital, so unfortunately can’t be considered for the highest capital in the world. It’s a shame, because at more than 3,500m it is considerably higher than Quito. Located in a valley, La Paz is a high density city with buildings tumbling down the side of the valley walls. Looming over the city is the gigantic Mount Illimani. Interestingly La Paz was named as one of the New 7 Wonders Cities by the New 7 Wonders Foundation in 2014.

Bogota, Colombia

Although Colombia’s capital Bogota is located at a lower altitude than most on the list, it still 2,640m above sea level and the second highest capital in South America. This vibrant modern capital has shaken off its reputation as a dangerous place to visit and has flourished in recent years. The city is the cultural centre of the country and enjoys a spring like climate all year round.

Salta, Argentina

Flickr: Juan

Flickr: Juan

Salta is located at the lowest altitude on this list at 1,187m, but it still features in the top 30 highest cities on the continent. The city surrounded by the arid deserts of northern Argentina in the Lerma Valley in the foothills of the Andes. There is plenty of excellent sites within the city, but the real highlights are colourful nearby parks including the Quebrada de Humahuaca and the Train to the Clouds (which has recently closed but may open again in the future).

Puno, Peru

Most visitors come to Puno to visit Lake Titicaca, not the city itself. It’s high, sitting at an altitude of 3,800m above sea level. Make sure you have plenty of time to acclimatize. The nearby Lake Titicaca is the highest navigable lake in the world and includes the Uros reed islands and Taquile Island.

To start planning your tour to the high cities of Latin America get in touch today.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

Martín Chambi exhibition in Lima

Chambi

Hailed as Peru’s finest photographer, Martín Chambi was one of the first pioneers of indigenous photography. Now the Art Museum of Lima (MALI) is launching a retrospective exhibition of his work that documented the lives of Andean culture, people and landscapes.

Chambi was born into an indigenous family near the shores of Lake Titicaca. After the passing of his father he travelled to Arequipa where we began an apprenticeship in photography with his teacher Don Max T. Vargas, a rarity for someone with such humble beginnings. After training Chambi moved to Cuzco where we founded a portrait studio near the Plaza de Armas.

Although economically he did well from his commissioned portrait work, his passion was where his roots lay – the Andean indigenous culture, people and landscapes. He did many trips out of Cuzco to the Sacred Valley, capturing the lives of people many regarded as inferior. He left an archive of over 30,000 images.

Many newspapers including Peruvian La Cronica, the National in Buenos Aires and National Geographic published his photographic work.

“I have read that in Chile it is thought that Indians have no culture, that they are uncivilized, that they are intellectually and artistically inferior when compared to whites and Europeans. More eloquent than my opinion, however, are graphic testimonies. It is my hope that impartial and objective witnesses will examine this evidence. I feel that I am a representative of my race; my people speak through my photographs.”- Martín Chambi

The exhibition at MALI runs until the 14th February 2016. It is comprised of over 400 of Chambi’s photos including studio work, self-portraits, archaeological sites including Machu Picchu and indigenous photography.

To include a tour of his work start planning your tour of Peru today or call us on +44 (0) 207 407 1478.

RELATED: French artist projects faces of Amazon tribe onto rainforest canopy

The ultimate Brazilian chill out trip

rooms_txai_resort

What could be better than spending lazy days on the fabulous beaches in northern Brazil’s Bahian coastline?

Select Latin America are offering a 5-night stay in a double room at the boutique Txai Resort including a transfers and daily breakfast and dinner for just US $1,410.
This rustic chic hotel is sat on a beautiful stretch of Bahia’s Cacoa Coast. Simple but stylish guest rooms as well as individual bungalows on stilts with palm thatch roofs, some with Jacuzzis and private plunge pools are all just moments away from the turquoise blue waters of the sea.

Try visiting the fantastic hilltop spa offering a variety of treatments, a pool with stunning ocean views and sauna. Many local activities including water sports and horse riding can be arranged nearby.

Bookings must be made before the 20 June 2016 and can be for anytime between the 4 Jan 2016 and the 14 Dec 2016. This can be combined into a larger tour of Brazil should you wish.

To book your place or start planning your trip to Brazil, get in touch with us today.

RELATED: Top 5 holidays in Brazil

Time to vote in the Wanderlust Travel Awards

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It’s that time of year again. If you’ve travelled with us this year we’d really appreciate if you could take a little time to rate us, the places you visited in Latin America and the airlines you flew with. This gives you the opportunity to share your impressions with the travel trade and to share your experiences with the travel community as a whole.

As an extra incentive Wanderlust are offering the chance to win one of ten copies of the brand new book – Wanderlust 100 Greatest Travel Experiences.

To take part click here.

We would like to take the opportunity to thank you all again and we look forward to creating your adventures in Latin America in 2016.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

10 bizarre travel accessories to take on your next trip

Virtual Laser Projected Keyboard

Virtual Keyboard
Can’t leave your tablet or phone behind? Now you can take this tiny gadget that projects a 78-key laser keyboard or mouse track pad onto any flat surface allowing for easy typing. It’s easy to use and volume and brightness can be easily adjusted. Connects via Bluetooth or USB.

Ostrich Pillow

Ostrich Pillow

The Ostrich Pillow is possibly the quirkiest travel device we’ve ever seen. A cross between a pillow and balaclava, this pillow completely envelops your head and hands offering complete privacy from the outside world. Perfect for airports and flights. The makers state “Catching some comfortable rest on the go has never been easier.” We completely agree.

SteriPEN Adventurer UV Water Purifier

Steripen Water purifier

This essential piece of travel hear for hikers features patent-pending technology for purifying water through UV light. It’s small enough to be portable and the long-lasting UV lamp will purify up to 8,000 litres of water. Neat design.

Re-timer Goggles

goggle

Reduce jetlag with the re-timer goggles that shine a green light into the eyes to help trigger hormones that balance the human body clock. Scientifically proven and built by scientist from an Australian University, the googles aren’t cheap but highly effective. Wear for just thirty minutes day to help sleep better and get the most from your holiday time.

The Original Shewee

Shewee

This simple but ingenious device allows women to urinate whilst standing or sitting without the need to take off their clothes. An absolute essential for adventure travel to remote locations or those who don’t like sitting on public toilets.

Scrubba Wash Bag

Wash Bag

The world’s smallest and most portable washing machine. The Scrubba Wash Bag gives you the opportunity to achieve machine quality washing in minutes. Ideal for travellers visiting remote locations, the Scrubba weighs just 145g and folds up to pocket size.

Air-conditioned Jacket

Air conditioned jacket

This clever jacket is perfect from humid but wet climates works from cooling fans on the lower back that drive cool air into the inner section. Although we agree that it’s not the most stylish of outer wear, that won’t matter in the sticky conditions of the Amazon rainforest. You can change the settings depending on the temperature.

Plane Seat Cover

Plane Sheets

Airline seats are used by thousands each year becoming less sanitary. PlaneSheets offers a practical and innovative way to stay hygienic whilst staying stylish. They come in both economy and business class sizes in a variety of designs. They cheap price means you can dispose of them after the flight but if you wish you can wash and reuse.

The Tugo Cup Holder

Tugo-Luggage-Cup-Holder

This clever little device suspends you hot drink between the top handles of your wheely bag. It turns to keep your drink at the right level even as you move. It is easy to attach and remove and collapses to fit into your pocket.

Stash Flip Flops

Stash

SlotFlop sandals have a storage component in the sole large enough to carry a variety of essentials including credit cards, keys, bottle openers, licenses and more. They are comfortable, secure, stylish and perfect for time at the beach.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

A concise summary of the slow-moving sloth

Flickr: ricardo

Flickr: ricardo

Sloths can be found inhabiting the rainforests of South and Central America. These tree-dwelling mammals are seriously slow moving creatures. At top speed they move around 35 metres a day grazing on leaves as they go and sleeping for around 15-20 hours a day. Interesting sloths are related to anteaters.

They are six different species of sloth – the pygmy three-toed sloth, the pale-throated sloth, the brown-throated sloth, maned sloth, Hoffman’s two toed sloth and Linnaeus’s two-toed sloth. Most have relatively high numbers by the pygmy sloth is critically endangered. There are also a number of extinct species which include aquatic sloths and giant sloths which some believe were the size of elephants.

Sloths are folivores – a type of mammal that specialises in eating leaves, although some of the two-toed sloths have been known to eat insects, some reptiles and even birds. Leaves do not provide a huge amount of nutrients but they have evolved to have slow-acted stomachs which can take up to a month to breakdown their food. To survive on the little energy provided by leaves sloths have a very low metabolic rate which is half of most mammals their size.

Sloths make for an excellent home for other creatures including cockroaches, beetles, fungi and moths which leave in their fur. They are surprisingly clean animals, dropping down from their arboreal homes in the trees to defecate and urinate about once a week in the same spot. They dig a whole with their claws and cover it over afterwards, returning again a week later. This is the time when sloths are most vulnerable to attack from predators.

Females usually bear one baby a year. However, their slow movement does affect their chances of finding a mate at all. Infants cling to the fur of their mother. Occasionally they falls from the trees although the fall rarely results in death due to their solid body structure.

A number of initiatives to save endangered species have been founded including the Aviarios Sloth Sanctuary in Costa Rica that looks after abandoned sloths and reintroduces them into the wild.

To see a sloth for yourself starting planning your trip to the rainforest today.

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

The Life of Mexican Artist Frida Kahlo

Frida Kahlo (1)

Frida Kahlo has been hailed by many as Mexico’s greatest artist.

She was born in 1907 in Mexico City to a German photographer called Wilhelm and a Mexican mother called Matilde. She was the third of four daughters the couple had. When she was little she contacted polio which left her bedridden for the best part of a year as well as leaving her with permanent damage in her right leg.

During her time at college she studied the Mexican artist Diego Rivera who was working on a mural project at the time. He became a source of inspiration in her future work. Later she became romantically involved with another student called Alejandro Gómez Arias. In 1925 they couple were in a serious bus crash in which a steel rail went through Kalho’s abdomen and left her with a broken pelvis, fractures in her leg and a dislocated shoulder. This damage prevented Kalho from ever having children. It was during her long recovery that Kalho began painting, one of which was a self-portrait.

In the late 20’s Kalho met Diego Rivera again and the couple later married. They moved often to allow Rivera to work on commissions. During the early 30’s they lived in San Francisco, New York and Detroit. During this time Kalho’s work became more graphic often referencing her miscarriages and pain.

Their marriage became increasingly troubled. Both Kahlo and Rivera had numerous affairs, for Kahlo this included a number of women. Although Rivera tolerated her relationships with women, the men she has affairs with made him jealous and irritable. This led to Rivera having an affair with Kalho’s younger sister Cristina. She had a brief romance with the exiled Soviet communist Leon Trotsky. Eventually in 1939 Kalho and Rivera divorced only to remarry again a year later. Even after remarrying they lead almost separate lives, living in adjacent rooms.

Frida Kahlo (2)

Throughout her artistic career Kahlo produced over 140 paintings, many of which were self-portraits. She once said “I never painted dreams, I painted my own reality.” She was heavily influenced by indigenous Mexican culture – the bold colours and simplistic style can be seen throughout her work. She often included a monkey which is the symbol of lust in Mexican mythology.

In the late 30’s Kahlo had an exhibition at the Julien Levy Gallery after which she was invited by André Breton to exhibit in Paris. During this exhibition the Louvre purchased on painting The Frame, the first 20th century Mexican piece the gallery had ever bought.

By the 50’s her health was deteriorating. In 1952 her right leg was amputated due to gangrene at which time she also suffered from a serious bout of bronchopneumonia. Throughout 1954 she had a serious of anxiety attacks and increased her morphine consumption to deal with the pain of her health. Her last self-portrait was called “No moon at all” in which she looks extremely frail.

On 13 July 1954 at the age of 47 Kahlo died. This was not unexpected and in one of her last diary notes she says “I hope the exit is joyful and I hope never to return”. Although officially she died of pulmonary embolism some believe she died of an overdose. Her ashes are kept in a pre-Columbian urn at her home – La Casa Azul (The Blue House) in Coyoacan, Mexico City. The house is now a museum showing a selection of her work.

To visit The Blue House and learn about Frida Kahlo start planning your trip today.

RELATED: French artist projects faces of Amazon tribe onto rainforest canopy

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