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Monthly Archives: June 2016

Evoke a bygone era of travel on board the luxury Anakonda Amazon cruise

Anakonda Amazon Cruises Short video from Anakonda Amazon Cruises on Vimeo.

Most people don’t know this, but Ecuadorian Amazon region is the one of the easiest and accessible to reach. A forty-five-minute flight from the capital Quito brings you to the steamy port town of Coca. From where several excellent lodges are just a canoe ride away.  However, one of the most immerseive ways to see the Amazon is by boat. Nothing quite evokes that feeling of a bygone era of travel that cruising through the Amazon and on board the Anakonda you can do it in serious luxury.

The Anakonda is the only luxury ship cruising the waterways of the Ecuadorian Amazon. Built for comfortable adventure cruising, the suites are equipped with modern facilities and panoramic windows from which guests can enjoy extraordinary views of the sunrise and sunset.  Other features on board include an observation deck, outdoor Jacuzzi, al fresco lounge and an excellent dining room offering fine cuisine and a variety of wine.

You won’t be spending all your time on board – much of the time will be spent on land exploring the rainforest. Venture out on dug-out canoes through the flooded forest and smaller tributaries, hike the trails, and meet and interact with the region’s 15 local communities. For keen birdwatchers there are over 500 species to discover. Guests can also enjoy close encounters with tapirs, macaws, giant ottters, sloths, monkeys, piranhas and of course, anacondas which inspired the name of the boat.

To book the Anakonda, or any tour of the Amazon, get in touch with us today.

RELATED: 10 things to do in the Amazon

Flying hacks to make long-haul flights just that little bit better

Let’s face it. Flying sucks. It’s a means to an end, the only viable way to travel long distances quickly. Even flying first class isn’t really enjoyable, it’s simply better than cattle class. There are however ways you can make flying just that little bit better, take the edge off how uncomfortable it can be.

Get yourself a lounge pass

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This is real no brainer, yet few people actually sign up for them. VIP lounges used to be for the super rich travelling first class, but now comfortable lounges are popping up in most major airports available to anyone. With costs starting at around £25 and with many including a free bar, snacks, decent WiFi, comfortable seating, showers and complimentary magazines, they’re a steel.

Ask for things

Flickr: yum9me

Flickr: yum9me

It’s becoming much harder to secure free upgrades than the good old days, but it’s still not impossible. Those who ask are much more likely to get. If it’s a birthday, special occasion or honeymoon, let the airline staff know and if there is room, you may just get lucky. There are a number of ways to increase your chances. Always join up to the loyalty scheme of the airline before you travel. Loyal customers are more likely to be upgraded. If you are travelling as a couple or single the chances are more in your favour than a family. Children and those travelling with them have zero chance of getting bumped up to first. Lastly, try to look as smart as possible. Turning up with a joggers and a hoodie is not going to see you get that golden ticket.

Go to the gym

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Many people have trouble sleeping on planes, and that’s not surprising given the uncomfortable seating and inability to lie flat. If possible, go to the gym a few hours before travelling. Your body will be much more tired and in need or rest and you’ll feel less stressed.

Be prepared for security

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Flickr: Bailey Cheng

The scrum as you go through security can be stressful, but the experience can be made a lot more pleasant with a little preparation. Pack your liquids in clear bags before you leave (it’s worth grabbing a bunch whenever you see free ones at an airport), don’t wear jewelry or watches (you can keep them in your carry on and put them on as soon as you are through security) and make sure your tablet computer and laptop are easily accessible. When you arrive at security, turn left. Research shows that the majority of people turn right, meaning the left lines should be more less busy on average. These few things will ensure that everything runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Bring your own food

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We all know airplane food tends to be fairly inedible. Cooking 250 people’s meals in a small space at the back of place isn’t conducive to tasty cuisine. But there is nothing to stop you bringing your own food (as long as it’s not liquid). Pop to the shops before you travel and pick up some tasty treats to enjoy on board. Cured meats, dried fruits and nuts are particularly easy to travel with and filling.

Wear more on board

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Airlines never quite manage to get the temperature right on flights. Wear extra layers, which not only allows you to bring more clothes with you if your luggage is nearing the weight limit, but it also allows you to regulate your temperature perfectly on board. If it’s too hot, you can always use the extra clothes as a pillow. If your luggage weight is an issue, wear your heaviest clothes.

Where to sit

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If you are a nervous flier, pick a seat near to the middle. The seats above the wings are better balanced and therefore the turbulence is not felt as much in this position. The worst place for turbulence is at the back of the plane.

Useful things on board

There are plenty of useful extras you should remember to bring on your next flight. Those little mini shampoos you took from your hotel stay are perfect for cosmetics. Baby wipes are an excellent way to clean and fresh up before you disembark the flight. If you wear contact lens, bring your glasses instead as the lens tend to dry out your eyes. If you invest a little in noise cancelling headphones, it drowns out the monotonous hum of the engines and can improve the journey immensely. And lastly, bring a pen. Everyone always needs a pen.

To start planning your tour of Latin America, get in touch with us today.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin Americ

Mexican menudo roja recipe

Menudo recipe

Menudo is a hearty Mexican soup made from tripe (beef stomach) and plenty of chili. While tripe is not the most popular or appealing of ingredients, it is cheap, nutritious and if prepared property, delicious. You can find both tripe and pigs trotters in all good butchers. Serve this with plenty of corn tortillas, and if possible leave the dish to cool overnight and reheat for better flavor.

Serves: 6
Time: 4 hours

Ingredients

1kg tripe
2 pig trotters
2 lts water
1 onion
1 garlic bulb
1 handful of coriander with roots
1 tbs peppercorns
2 bay leaves
2 tps cumin seeds
3 tps dried oregano
5 small red chilies
salt
4 tbs vinegar
2 cans of hominy
1 handful dried guajillo chilies
1 tbs sugar

Method

Clean you tripe thoroughly in cold water and trim any excess fat away. In a large pot add cold water and bring to the boil before adding the pig trotters and tripe. After 10 minutes, pour away the water and add more water, chopped onion, garlic bulb, coriander, peppercorns, bay leaves, half the cumin, half the oregano, half the vinegar and the red chillies. Cover the pot and simmer for 2 hours before allowing it to cool.

Next remove the tripe and cut into strips. Take the meat off the trotters and discard the bones and fat. Strain the liquid through a sieve, keeping for future use, and discarding the solids. Add the meat, tripe and strained liquid back to the pot. Take the dried chillies and with a little salt grind them in a pestle and mortar until a paste has formed. Add to the pot along with the canned hominy. Add the remaining spices, vinegar, a little crushed garlic and season to taste. Simmer for another couple of hours until the soup is thickened.

Serve with plenty of hot corn tortillas and some wedges of lime.

Want to try the real deal? Take a look at our suggested tours of Mexico.

RELATED: 6 Gastronomic Experiences in Mexico

9 insanely luxurious hotels around Latin America

Alvear Palace, Argentina

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The elegant Alvear Palace, located in the upmarket Recoleta district in Buenos Aires, was built in the early 20th century and combines European style along with modern technology. No other hotel in Buenos Aires exudes luxury like the Alvear Palace. Each suite is tastefully decorated with art by well-known Argentine artists adorning the walls. Just outside the doors lies an amazing city to explore, but the luxury spa, indoor pool and French restaurant La Borgogne may keep you from exploring it, as will afternoon patisseries and tea at Jardin d’Hiver.

See our suggested tours of Argentina.

Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize

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Owned by film director Francis Ford Coppola, this beautiful lodge located on the banks of the Priassion River consists of nineteen luxury villas are built from hardwoods and woven thatches. Private villas overlook the surrounding jungle from their stilted location. Soak in the large Jacuzzi at the riverside spa or indulge in a traditional massage.

See our suggested tours of Belize.

Hotel Das Cataratas, Brazil

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One of Latin America’s most iconic hotels, the Das Cataratas is the only hotel located inside Iguazu Falls National Park. When all the tourists have left, guests have exclusive access to the falls all to themselves. Part of the Belmond hotel group (formerly Orient Express), this Portuguese-colonial manor house harks back to a bygone era of travel. After exploration of the falls, return for a lazy afternoon under the palsm on the veranda or refreshing swim in the outdoor pool.

See our suggested tours of Brazil.

Lastarria, Chile

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Built in the early 20th century, this stunning residence located in Santiago’s most bohemian district, is one the city’s most elegant hotels. The Lastarria is situated near the museums, galleries, shops and restaurants in the heart of the city. Each suite is beautifully decorated and spacious, while the restaurant offers cuisine cooked from locally sourced ingredients in an elegant lounge.

See our suggested tours of Chile.

La Passion, Colombia

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While Cartagena is packed with boutique hotels, the 19th century restored house La Passion stands out. The charming hotel has plenty of original features including high ceilings, chequered marble floors, mural paintings and wooden doors as well as an impressive array of colonial, republican and modern furniture. Located in the heart of historic Cartagena other features as this luxury boutique include a lovely terrace and bar, Jacuzzi and a rooftop outdoor pool.

See our suggested tours of Colombia.

Finca Rosa Blanca, Costa Rica

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While San Jose may not be known for its abundance of luxury hotels, the Central Valley located a half hour away has plenty of boutiques. One of the best is the Finca Rosa Blanca, a small luxury hotel nestled amidst lush gardens and the rolling countryside of orchids and coffee plantations. All of the rooms are beautifully constructed offering a choice of veranda or private terrace overlooking the serene landscapes of valleys and mountains. After a day of hiking or horse riding, guests return for delicious homemade cuisine in the restaurant made from organic produce from the hotel’s gardens.

See our suggested tours of Costa Rica.

Plaza Grande, Ecuador

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The Plaza Grande was one of the first hotels built in Quito, and what a hotel. Extensively renovated and remodeled, this fine hotel located on the central square, the Plaza del la Independencia, it’s within walking distance to Quito’s highlights. Fine suites, excellent service and a serious level of comfort define this luxurious boutique property.

See our suggested tours of Ecuador.

El Convento, Guatemala

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The colonial town Antigua has arguably one of the highest concentration of luxury hotels in Latin America. Our favourite, El Convento, is housed within an 18th century Capuchin convent. Stepping into the property from the famed cobblestone streets of Antigua, a beautifully constructed hotel awaits – artisanal brick vaulted ceilings, exposed stone walls and hand-crafted doors with the simple elegance of contemporary design. Chef Arelene served up excellent cuisine at the hotel’s Siltz restaurant, one of the best eateries in the city.

See our suggested tours of Guatemala.

Las Ventanas Al Paraiso, Mexico

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This ocean front property located on the Baja California peninsula in northwest Mexico, the name literally translates to “the windows to paradise”. Part of the Rosewood Resorts, this is one of the best hotels in the world. The property boosts a selection of luxurious suites and villas, all of which overlook the ocean. Personal telescopes are provided from whale and dolphin spotting during the day and star gazing at night. There is an excellent indoor and outdoor spa offering plenty of treatments and a world-class restaurant to while away the evenings.

See our suggested tours of Mexico.

To start planning your luxury holiday to Latin America, get in touch today.

RELATED: 10 classic things to do on your first time in Peru

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