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Category Archives: Peru

PISCO MASTERCLASS

Bar Pachamama

In the interests of research, I attended a masterclass on the fiery Peruvian spirit Pisco. The Peruvian tourist board are keen to promote the ‘Pisco route’. The first thing I learnt is the Peruvian Pisco differs from its Chilean rival in being distilled by traditional artisan methods. The fermented grape juice or must has no additives by law, not even water. It is a great source of national pride. The methods date back to the Spanish colonization in the 16th century. The name comes from a small town on the Pacific coastal desert, near to one of the oases where the grapes are grown. Legend has it that pre-columbian cultures over a thousand years ago honoured local birds, the pisku (probably small waders that are found in large numbers like sanderlings). Pure Pisco is made from a single grape variety such as Quebranta, with raisin and apple taste or Mollar with a herbal, honey flavour or Uvina with a touch of olive or Moscatel with sweeter peachy overtones. A mixed ‘acholado’ Pisco can be made to make a more complex beverage. The drink is not aged in wood nor in any material that can impart a flavour so traditionally in ceramic jars (also these came to be named piscos) and now stainless steel.

The history too is fascinating. Originally produced by the Jesuits it was sent to all corners of the Spanish empire. Pisco was exported to California during the Gold rush days as all cargo from eastern North America had to go around Cape Horn, making it a cheaper option. In the 1950’s Lima was popular with Hollywood stars. Orson Wells and Ava Gardner stayed at the Grand Hotel Bolivar, John Wayne at the Hotel Maury. Wayne married a Peruvian who became his lifelong companion, but that is another story. The most famous cocktail at the time was the Pisco sour, a mixture of Pisco, lime, sugar, ice, egg white and bitters. I tried an alternative cocktail called ‘The Pisco Punch’, which dates to 19th century San Francisco. This has pineapple, lime juice, sugar, and secret ingredient gum arabic, that allegedly delays the effect of the alcohol, cheers.
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WISH LIST FOR 2019

This time of year is ideal to dream about places to go in 2019 or beyond. Here is our list to inspire you. From sailing around the Galapagos Islands or cruising in Antarctica. Other wildlife adventures are to be had in the Amazon, or the coral reefs of Belize. For impressive natural wonders, it is hard to beat Iguazú Falls. To visit colourful indigenous people and their ancient past, our two top places would be Peru and Guatemala. Finally, for the best barbeques in the world washed down with Argentine Malbec you can’t do better than Mendoza.

CRUISE THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Galapagos is the dream trip for anyone interested in wildlife. Have your own Darwin moment discovering flightless cormorants and swimming iguanas. The joy is that most of the strange creatures are fearless of humans, so you get up-close and personal to albatrosses, giant tortoises and the iconic dancing blue-footed booby. Snorkel with sealion pups and the only tropical penguin not to mention unique fish, turtles and whales.

EXPLORE ANTARCTICA

You won’t forget the first giant iceberg that comes into view as you head across the Southern Ocean to Antarctica. Follow in the footsteps of the great explorers, but on a comfortable expedition cruise ship. Our expert scientists on board will help identify the wildlife and fill-in on the history of the Great White Continent. Have fun with penguins, fur seals and keep a watchful eye on the huge elephant seals

INTO THE MYSTIC MACHU PICCHU

Peru, Machu Picchu Copyright David Horwell

The ‘lost’ city of the Incas can be reached on foot or luxury train down through the Andes. This iconic World Heritage Site will live up to all the brochure photos you’ve seen on first sight. New regulations have been introduced at Machu Picchu to limit visitor impact, but we can still organize a second visit on your own if you wish to experience the ruins and meditate without being rushed.

FEEL THE POWER OF IGUAZÚ FALLS

The hundreds of cascades that make up Iguazú falls lie between Argentina and Brazil. We recommend visiting both sides. On the Brazil side you will get a spectacular panoramic view. Walk down to the base of the biggest drop and feel the power of the spray and marvel at rainbows created. You will get wet! On the Argentine side, explore trails into the jungle, with tropical birds, butterflies and a small train to the top of the Devil’s Throat.

DIVE INTO BELIZE’S CORAL REEF

Belize has the second longest coral reef in the World. Here you can snorkel or Scuba dive into another world. Get eyeball to eyeball with turtles, reef sharks and giant mantas. Spot multi-coloured tropical fish teeming around coral formations. You can even explore wrecks. If you tire of the underwater world head into the jungles and find hidden Mayan ruins.

RUB NOSES WITH EASTER ISLAND STATUES

Esater Isalnd Moai copyright David Horwell

Easter Island or RapaNui, as locals call it, lies thousands of miles out into the Pacific from Chile. This is surely a real trip of a lifetime. You will be rewarded by the hundreds of Moai or giant statues hewn from the volcanic rock. Explore the fascinating quarry where many statues lay abandoned, the ceremonial centre of Orongo or the caves where natives sought refuge. The best part is meeting the local people, we can arrange homestays, fishing trips or traditional stone cooking or visit during the annual Tapati festival.

DISCOVER THE AMAZON

The greatest rainforest in the world covers seven countries. For animal and bird-watching we suggest the upper amazon tributaries in Ecuador or Peru. Here there are accessible lodges or luxury small cruise boats. In Brazil the distances are far greater and the rivers much wider, but for the real wildlife enthusiast you get deep into the forest at Cristalino or Uakari lodges or take a cruise from Manaus, once the centre of the rubber boom.

WINE-TASTING IN MENDOZA

Mendoza’s relaxed atmosphere and fine dining make it an excellent choice to visit for rest and relaxation. A cycle in the afternoon sun around the many vineyards dotted just outside the city is a must, and of course a great way to try some of these top-notch wines. The hot days and cool nights of the region are the secret to the success of Mendoza’s wine region. If you’re not a city person why not stay at one of the many bodegas, learning more about the process of wine making and, in the harvesting season help collect the grapes: a lovely way to while away a few hours.

GUATEMALA A PHOTOGRAPHER’S PARADISE

Tikal – Guatemala

Guatemala is a country busting at the seams with a mix of colonial architecture, rich indigenous history and spectacular volcanic and tropical jungle scenery. Meander through the colourful local markets bartering with stall holders. Get lost in the lively festivals or spontaneous live music that bursts onto the streets and plazas. Delve deep in the steamy rainforest to discover vast Mayan cities, hop on your bike to cycle around shimmering lakes and towering volcanoes. Out of all the Latin American countries, this one has got to be one of our favourites

Best things to do in the Sacred Valley

The spectacular Sacred Valley lies along the banks of the winding Urubamba River around 10 miles north of Cuzco. It’s fertile land fed by the river led to it being a major agricultural centre for the Incas.

While farming has tapered off somewhat in modern times, today the Sacred Valley is a hotspot for those looking for adventure or to discover the history of one of South America’s most prolific and advanced civilizations.

It’s unthinkable to visit Cuzco and Machu Picchu without swinging by the Sacred Valley, even if it’s just to take photos of the meandering river, rural Peruvian life or the condors which circle on the morning thermals above the valley.

Here’s our list of the top things to do during a visit to the Sacred Valley.

Amble around Pisac Market

One of the Sacred Valley’s most charming attractions is Pisac Market. Every day, locals from the valley descend on the small town, which was founded by the Spanish conquistador Viceroy Toledo, to sell their colourful wares and handicrafts.

Whether you’re looking for a last-minute souvenir or stocking up on warm llama-hair clothing for your journey into the Andes, you won’t want to miss swinging by one of Peru’s most enchanting markets. Pro tip: though it opens every day, try visiting on Sundays, Tuesdays or Thursdays when the market is at it’s best and biggest.

Clamber up Ollantaytambo

This tiny Inca town lies in the heart of the Sacred Valley not far from Pisac and is often combined with a visit to the market. It’s a peaceful place filled with winding cobbled streets, white-washed Spanish townhouses and friendly locals.

However, the main reason to visit town is the spectacular Incan ruins that tumble down the valley cliff face. It was supposedly the royal residence of Emperor Pachacuti and other than Machu Picchu, these are, arguably, the most well-preserved Inca ruins. Plus, they’re a much more accessible than Machu Picchu.

Go on an adrenaline-inducing white-water rafting trip

If you’re feeling brave, consider donning your gear and safety helmet to hit the white-water rapids, some of the best in South America. There’s nothing quite as adrenaline inducing as hurtling down through Grade III rapids.

Don’t worry if you don’t have any rafting experience, the safety-conscience guides will look after you during the tour. You can even opt for one of the gentler rapids, great if you’re bringing the kids along for the ride.

Take it all in from above

While the views of the Sacred Valley from ground level are good, nothing compares to looking down over the winding rivers and steep valleys from a paraglide. Flights take off in good weather year-round and take you on a thrilling ride on the valley’s thermals.

You won’t be going alone. The experienced paragliders will be doing all the operating during the tandem flight leaving you to take in the views and nab some snaps. Just be sure to get that Instagram-worthy selfie!

Spend a night in the Skylodge

Talking of heights, if you’ve got a head for them, don’t miss spending a night at the Skylodge. Arguably one of the most unique hotels in the world, you’ll be staying in one of 3 Perspex pods attached to one of the valley’s cliff sides.

To reach you pod, you must first climb more than half a kilometre of iron rungs. Inside your transparent pod, you’ll find a comfortable space with a double bed and a toilet, both of which have fabulous views down over the valley. Your guide will bring you dinner and wine and, in the morning, you’ll drop back down to earth on zip lines.

Check out Moray and Maras

If you’re interested in Incan history, another must-do in the Sacred Valley is Moray, a circular terraced site which has kept scientists and historians baffled for decades. While no one can be quite sure, many believe it to be a nursery for cultivating crops.

Then there’s Maras which is famous for its salt-producing terraces which have been in continual use since the Incan times. It was here that salt was created from evaporation and sent out for use across the empire.

Lace up your boots to go hiking

If none of the above appeal, bring your walking boots to go rambling along the magnificent trails which range from gentle day hikes to more challenging multi-day treks. If you’ve got some trekking experience, you can head off on your own. Alternatively, join one of the daily guided hikes with expert local leaders.

Just remember to remember to bring your camera because you’re not going to want to miss catching snaps of the bread basket of the Incas.

RELATED: Everything You Need to Know About Inti Raymi

Ready to start planning your adventure in Peru? Call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

Everything you need to know about Inti Raymi

Well, it’s almost time for Inti Raymi, the largest festival in South America. This ancient Peruvian celebration of sun worship that goes back to before the days of the Incas. Inti Raymi has been the most important date in the Cuzco calendar for more than 500 years.  The Incas try to please Inti and Pachmama in the hope of a good annual harvest. It also coincides with the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year.

Lasting several days, the most important is the 24th June when old rituals are re-enacted as they did centuries ago. Carefully chosen actors (a great honour) play the Sun King and wife Mama Ocllo. A procession of Inca priests and nobleman carry the king up to the religious site of Sacsayhuaman. Here there is a fake ritual sacrifice of a llama to ensure a good crop during the coming season. Later, a large bonfire is lit, and the procession returns to the centre of Cuzco.

Sacsayhuaman are the ruins of a once large Inca temple and fortress outside of Cuzco built as high as possible to be closer to the sun. The first recorded Inti Raymi was in 1412, though evidence suggests it would be older than this. There was a pause for more than 300 years after the Spanish banned it, but it was reinstated in the mid 1940’s. The chariot used to carry the Sun King was originally made from solid gold.

Proceedings begin with a speech from the Sun King in Quechua, an ancient language still used by millions of people across the Andes. There’s still time to book up accommodation for the popular festival, but you’ll need to be quick to avoid disappointment. If you’re lucky enough to get tickets for the event, there are several places to watch it from. The first is at the gardens of the temple of Qurikancha. Arrive early if you want to get a good spot. You can also catch a glimpse of the festival from the Plaza de Armas, Cuzco’s main square. You can still stand in the colonial arcades that encircle it. Again, you’ll need to get here early if you don’t want to be behind crowd of 5 deep. Those in-the-know book tables on the second floor of the plaza’s restaurants where they can get a prime view while dining. For the main event at Sacsayhuaman you can buy tickets for the grandstand or arrive early to watch from one of the adjoining parks.

Wherever you decide to position yourself, be sure to bring everything you need for the day. The crowds make it difficult to move around the city and there is no public transport. Pack a picnic and plenty of water, nab one of the spots in the park early in the morning to soak up the atmosphere with the locals. If you want to make the most of the experience, we can arrange for a guide to join you who will explain the history of the event and the speeches.

The festival is best combined with a visit to Machu Picchu a few days earlier. Take the train service through the spectacular Andean scenery, or hike the 4-night Inca Trail led by experienced guides. Note that you will need to book up your Inca Trail several months in advance.

Would you like to take a once in a lifetime adventure to Machu Picchu and enjoy the festivities and ancient ceremonies at the Inti Raymi festival? Start planning your adventure by contacting one of our Peru experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here. Just be quick, you haven’t got long before the Inca festival kicks off.

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

The most luxurious things to do in Latin America

Those lucky few with deep pockets can experience Latin America in extraordinary ways. And why not? There’s been plenty of studies that show that experiences making you happier than things. So, if you are a big spender, why not book up one of these unique things to do.

Grab a drink at the Copacabana Palace

Copacabana Palace in Rio has seen many of the world’s rich and famous walk through its Art Deco doors. The hotel opened in the early ‘20s. Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers danced here and the Rolling Stones band had a drink at the Grand Salon before their concert on the beach. Magnificent guestrooms overlook the famous strip of golden sand. They drip with antique furnishings and original artwork. Be sure to swing by the uber-cool Bar do Copa where the city’s trend-setters come for sun-downers.

Take a tour of the Uyuni Salt Flats in a private air stream

While the crowds head out onto the Uyuni Salt Flats on 4x4s, why not book a tour of the iconic natural wonder on the only vintage Airstream in Bolivia. This shiny, metal campervan includes a bedroom area, living space and bathroom with hot shower. You’ll attended by a personal chef, a support vehicle and guide who’ll help you make the most of your time there. The best part is enjoying dinner below the starry night sky.

Cruise the Galapagos on board the Grace

If you want to see the Galapagos in style, there’s no better way than on board the Grace. Named after its former owner Grace Kelly,  the motor yacht has everything you’d expect that’s fit for a princess. Available for private bookings for up to 18 passengers and attended by 2 naturalist guides and 10 crew. On board, you’ll find a spacious sundeck, a Jacuzzi and buffet-style dining. The vessel has seen a long list of famous passengers including Winston Churchill, Aristotle Onassis and Sir George Tilley.

Swim with whale sharks off Holbox Island

To enjoy the ultimate underwater experience, head to the tiny island of Holbox just off the coast of Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. Here, you can book a private tour between May and September to snorkel with whale sharks. These gentle behemoths of the sea can reach up to 15 metres in length and more than 15 tons making them the biggest fish in the seas. There are few things that match up to the once-and-a-lifetime experience of swimming with these harmless beasts of the sea.

Ride the Andean Explorer sleeper train

The Belmond Andean Explorer is the first luxury sleeper train in South America. It provides a unique way to get up close to the mountainous scenery in absolute comfort. The train plies the tracks between Cuzco and Lake Titicaca on a 2 or 3-day overnight adventure. You’ll find deluxe double cabins with panoramic windows, an en suite bathroom and living area. You can mingle with your fellow guests in the Piano Bar lounge car. Sip cocktails and enjoy live music to go with the Andean views. Taste seasonal Peruvian flavours in the luxury dining car or enjoy a treatment and massage in the on-board spa.

Fly over Rio de Janeiro

Avoid the throngs of tourists on the beach or around Christ the Redeemer, see it all from above from one of the private helicopter flights over the city. After boarding, you’ll be flown over the beaches, circle the iconic statue and enjoy views of Sugarloaf Mountain and Tijuca Forest from high up. A guide accompanies you to help spot the city’s landmarks and the flight lasts anywhere from 15 minutes to an hour. An incredible way to see the city from a unique perspective.

Catch a glimpse of Machu Picchu after the crowds have disappeared

In Peru it’s unthinkable not to visit the ancient Inka ruins of Machu Picchu that lies perched on the top of a mountain near Cuzco. That said, there are more than 5,000 people that mill around the site every day. If you want to splurge, book a night at the luxurious Sanctuary Lodge next to the citadel. From your private guestroom terrace, you’ll be able to look over the ruins, when the crowds have all disappeared.

Cruise along the Amazon on the luxury Aria

Want to experience the Amazon without sticky, humid nights in basic lodging? Try one of the 3, 4 or 7-night cruises on board the state-of-the-art Aria. The 45-metre long boat, designed by celebrated Peruvian architect Jordi Puig, includes 16 glass-fronted suites. Enjoy gourmet Peruvian cuisine in the dining room.  Spot Amazonian wildlife from the observation deck. At night the myriad stars. Dedicated naturalist guides, private chefs and crew will ensure a comfortable adventure.

Ready to start your luxury getaway to South America? Call one of our travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email here to start planning.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

What to pack for a visit to the jungle

The Amazon is a wonderous place teeming with exotic flora and fauna. It’s one of South America’s most iconic destinations. The tropical rainforest spans from the cloud forests of the foothills of the Andes to the Atlantic forests of Brazil’s East coast. The steamy port city of Manaus, once of the centre of the rubber tapping boom and is home to the famous Teatro Amazonas opera house.  Belem, the coastal Amazon city lies on the banks of the Amazon River as it flows out to sea. In the rainforest, you can stay with indigenous locals in they thatched villages or in one of the few boutique luxury wildlife lodges.

It all makes for an extraordinary adventure, but it’s also hot and humid.  A question we always get asked is:  What to pack for the jungle? It’s an important one that can make the difference between a fun, wildlife-packed holiday or a miserable insect-bitten one. In the Amazon, pack thoughtfully to have a comfortable adventure. Many of the lodges have provisions for you to use, but it’s worth bringing at least the following.

Clothing

One of the most important aspects of your packing lit is what you’re going to wear. When hiking through the jungle, it’s a good idea to wear long trousers and tops to protect your arms.  We recommend clothes made from a breathable material e.g. 100% cotton, so you don’t feel too hot or get rashes.

Raincoat – It’s likely to rain at least once during your rainforest adventure and the heavy tropical rain can soak within seconds. A lightweight waterproof raincoat or poncho is a must. Many lodges provide ponchos, which have the advantage of covering your camera bag and let air circulate.

Footwear – It’s well worth investing in a good pair of walking boots. Try to buy them in advance and wear them in a little to avoid getting blisters. Many lodges will provide rubber boots, which give you more protection.

Socks – Comfortable breathable socks that are thick enough to allow your feet to sit snuggly in your boots. By the end of your trip, they’ll likely be wet and muddy, so bring multiple pairs or expect to wash them daily.

Sandals – After you’ve best the day hiking in walking boots, it’s a good idea to allow your feet a bit of breathing room back at the lodge. Do not use flip-flops which can be slippery and dangerous, but sandals with straps or Velcro.

Hat – A wide brim hat is a must by protecting your face from stray plants and insects on the hiking trails and from the sun which beats down, particularly on open areas like rivers.

Trousers – Though there are there all sorts of fancy high-tech materials, several pairs of 100% cotton trousers do the job nicely. They are inexpensive, protect your legs and dry quickly. When wet, jeans are the worst type of trousers. You might also want to consider bringing a pair of shorts to wear back at base. Trousers that convert to shorts are a good idea too.

Shirts – Light-coloured, long sleeve shirts made from 100% breathable cotton area ideal for adventures in the Amazon. They protect your arms from insects and the strong sun, while keeping you cool.

Swimming shorts or costume – There are several places where swimming is safe in the Amazon. You’re guides will let you know when. Bring a good pair of swimming shorts or costume to cool off in the rivers or lakes.

Underwear – Comfortable, 100% cotton underwear that doesn’t rub. Plenty of changes.

Headscarf or bandanas – These can be useful for many scenarios, not just protecting your head and mobbing up your forehead sweat.

Health

Bring any personal medicine or items of a personal nature you might need as you won’t find any shops around these parts. Though the lodge where you’re staying might have supplies of these on hand, it’s worth bringing the following just in case.

Sun cream – A high factor sun cream is a must to protect your skin from the strong sun. Though much of the walking is through dense jungle, you’ll often find yourself exposed on canoes going down the rivers and lakes.

Insect repellent – Some prefer the heavy DEET repellent, others like the more natural citronella-based repellents. Either way, find what works for you and bring plenty. You could also consider burning coils for your room.

Insect bite relief – With all the will in the world, you’re still going to receive the odd bite. To stop it itching and becoming infected, a good quality insect relief product is vital.

Lip balm – The hot weather can dry you out quickly, so a soothing lip balm can help to prevent painful cracked lips.

Talcum powder – Throwing a little talc on your body before you put on your clothes can help to prevent rashes during days out hiking along the trails. It helps to get boots on and off too.

Moisturiser – A great way to relieve any rashes you might get and to stop your skin drying out.

Hand sanitizer – It’s a good idea to sanitize your hands whenever you’re in a new place. Use before you eat anything, particularly if you’re hands have been exposed to any of the river or lake water.

Basic first aid kit – The lodge will have one, but it’s never a bad idea to carry your own, just in case.

Other stuff

There are plenty of miscellaneous things that are useful to bring to make your trip as comfortable as possible.

Ear plugs – The sounds of the jungle at night are one of the most amazing things to hear, but if you’re a light sleeper, a good pair of ear plugs may help.

Day pack – A good quality day pack that’s comfortable on the shoulders and preferably has a water pack attached is useful. Ideally a waterproof one, or line it with a plastic bag.

Binoculars – Many of the lodges have binoculars for guests to use, but they are of varying quality, so bringing a small pair for yourself might be the difference between spotting one of the rare birds and not.

Sunglasses – They don’t need to be expensive so long as they have UV protection.

Torch / flashlight – Hand held torches are good, but one you can attach to your head is more comfortable. Perfect for night time hikes through the jungle.

Chargers – Any chargers and leads that you might use. Most lodges have a generator providing electricity some of the day and night.

Cameras – All the camera equipment you might need. Overdo it when it comes to memory cards as you won’t have anywhere to buy more should you run out.

Mosquito net – Most lodges include nets over the bed, but they vary in quality. To be on the safe side consider bringing your own to double up.

Ready to start exploring the Amazon? Contact one of our South American experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to start planning your adventure.

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

Peruvian Causa Rellena Recipe

This Peruvian classic looks like a throw-back to the 80s. For comfort food you can’t beat this creamy yellow potato stuffed with everything from seafood to corn. Make these tasty little morsels in advance and keep in the fridge, a time-saver when you’re hosting a dinner party.

Serves: 4
Time: 45 minutes

Ingredients

6 floury potatoes
4 large peppers, blended
3 limes, juiced
100ml vegetable oil
Salt and pepper to taste

Filling

2 chicken breasts
500ml chicken stocked, warmed
½ celery stick, finely chopped
2 spring onions, finely chopped
200ml mayonnaise
Salt and pepper to taste

Salsa

1 red onion, finely chopped
1 spicy pepper, finely chopped
2 limes, squeezed
1tbs olive oil
1 small handful of parsley, roughly chopped
Salt and pepper to taste

Garnish

8 chicken / quail eggs, boiled
1 avocado, sliced
8 green olives

Method

Peel the potatoes and place in a pan of cold water. Bring the water to the boil on a high heat and let the potatoes cook until soft. Be sure not to overcook them. Drain the water and put them through a potato ricer into a large mixing bowl while they are still hot. Add the blended peppers, lime juice, a little vegetable oil and seasoning to taste, before mixing them well. Leave to cool, then cover with cling film and place in the fridge.

Put the chicken stock in a saucepan and bring to the boil before turning down the heat to medium. Poach the chicken breasts in the stock along with a little salt and pepper to taste. Leave to cool in stock before shredding with a fork. Place into a bowl with the mayonnaise, spring onions, chopped celery and a little seasoning. Cover and leave in the fridge until ready to use.

Make the salsa by mixing the red onions, peppers, lime juice, olive oil and parsley with a little seasoning. Put in the fridge until ready to use.

Take a pastry ring and fill the bottom with a layer of the potato mix. Add the chicken mayonnaise filling and the top with another layer of potato. Carefully remove the pastry ring and top the causa rellena with the eggs, a few slices of avocado and some green olives. Keep covered in the fridge until you are ready to serve with the salsa on the side. Enjoy!

Want to try causa rellenas in Peru? Give one of our travel experts a call on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here to start planning your adventure today.

RELATED: Argentine empanada recipe

Latin America’s top football teams

boca juniors

Flickr: Sam Kelly

The beautiful game is by far the biggest sport in Latin America, nearing an obsession for many. Even if you’re not a fan of the sport, you’d be hard pressed not to enjoy the lively atmosphere. Try a match between some of the biggest rivals like Buenos Aires’ River Plate and Boca Juniors. Though the teams haven’t got the spending power of European clubs, managers keep an eye out for new talent. So, if you’re looking for a new club to support in the new world, here’s our list of the best there is.

River Plate, Buenos Aires

Let’s start with two of the biggest and well known. The Buenos Aires team River Plate has gained a serious following despite, a recent run of bad luck. They’ve notched-up 36 titles and two Libertadores Cups under their belt. Many of River Plate’s top players get nabbed by European teams.

Boca Juniors, Buenos Aires

The fierce Buenos Aires rivals of River Plate are the Boca Juniors who, over the years, have nurtured a wealth of talent and be named one of the top Latin America clubs of the 21st century. They’ve had similar success with River Plate with 30 titles and four Libertadores. Heard of Maradona? This was his team.

Corinthians, Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo’s Corinthians have gained a serious reputation. With a star-studded list of players over the years, they are Brazil’s largest club. Over the years have bagged a ton of titles including 5 Brasileiraos, a Libertador and even a FIFA World Cup when they beat the UK’s Chelsea. This is a club to look out for.

Penarol, Montevideo

Without a doubt, Penarol is Uruguay’s most followed and successful club. Located on the outskirts of Montevideo, this team have scored enough to gain almost 50 league titles and several Libertadores. The club has produced top players over the years and contributed to all Uruguay’s World Cup teams. Though they haven’t won a cup since the ’80’s, they are still a force to be reckoned with.

Santos FC, Santos

Santos FC needs little introduction. This historic Brazilian club has set the football world on fire with the likes of Pele and Robinho. Pele is often considered the greatest player of all time. More recently, it was Neymar’s club before he moved on to play for Barcelona. If you’re looking to support a Brazilian club with pedigree, look no further than Santos.

Atletico Nacional, Medellín

Atletico Nacional, based in Colombia’s city of Medellin, are having a good run, bagging plenty of league titles over the last 10 years. They’re becoming the powerhouse not just in Colombia, but the whole of Latin America. The most famous player to come out of the club is Rene Higuita, a goalkeeper known for his unique style.

Colo-Colo, Santiago

Let’s face it, Colo-Colo is Chile’s most successful team. They’ve many cups and a Libertadores under their belt. Famed for producing players with a fast and offensive style; the big European clubs keep an eye of for talent.

Olimpia, Asunción

Olimpia continues to do well with almost 40 league titles among other cups. It’s best known for bagging the Intercontinental Cup, the Copa Interamerica, the Libertadore and the League Title all in 1979, the peak year for the club. A good solid team with a strong history and one to keep an eye on.

Want to go and watch the beautiful game in Latin America? Call one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here to start planning your adventure.

RELATED: This guy is the world’s biggest football fan!

Where to watch Latin America’s famously melting sunset

Who doesn’t like a good sunset? One of life’s great joys is watching the melting ball of orange light dropping behind the horizon, while colouring the sky. Whether you are on a honeymoon or on a romantic getaway, be sure to not miss one of these sunset places. In Latin America they don’t all revolve around the beach and sea, it could be desert or mountain.

Valley of the Moon, San Pedro de Atacama

This spectacular lunar-like landscape lies in the Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Towering red rock formations would look more at home on the surface of Mars than they do in Latin America. Scamper up to the viewpoint at the end of the afternoon to enjoy a special sunset. As the sun drops down behind the arid scenery, the rock colours transform.

Tamarindo, Guanacaste

Tamarindo

Flickr: Duane Storey

We mentioned that few of these spots are beaches, but we’re making an exception with Tamarindo. This surf town and strip of sand overlooks the Pacific on Costa Rica’s western coast. Ideal honeymoon territory. Spend you days swimming, snorkelling or wildlife watching before taking your seat on the powdery sand. Watch the sun setting over the ocean’s horizon, a picture-perfect sight. Spend the evening with travellers splashing around in the sea.

Machu Picchu, Cuzco

Machu Picchu

Flickr: Todd Gehman

If you’ve got deep pockets, spend a night at the Sanctuary Lodge, the only hotel next to the Inca ruins of Machu Picchu. When the throngs of crowds have all, you’ll have the perfect uninterrupted view of the sun setting over the citadel from your private terrace. A completely different way to experience one of the New 7 Wonders of the World.

The Galapagos, Ecuador

galapagos sunset

Flickr: Steve

The Galapagos Islands are famous for wildlife, but few mention the spectacular sunsets. If you take a cruise around the islands it can be tiring spotting the archipelago’s animals. At the end of the day, enjoy a glass of something fizzy and some mouth-watering food, with the sun setting behind the ocean horizon. Then argue with fellow traveller’s if you’ve seen the ‘green flash’.

Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro

Sugarloaf Mountain

Flickr: duncan c

Climb Rio’s Sugarloaf Mountain to take in the spectacular views across the bays but be sure to stay up there until the late afternoon. There are few places on earth that measure up to watching the sun setting over the Marvellous City. Lights twinkle among forested mountain scenery, spot the towering Christ de Redeemer. Just perfect.

The Salt Flats, Uyuni

The Uyuni Salt Flats lie on the high plateau of Bolivia are one of the world’s great natural wonders. A vast expanse of snow-white salt broken only be the odd cacti-laden island. Stay in one of the unique salt hotels out in the wilderness. Here you’ll witness the sight of the sunset’s light bouncing off the salty crust. Ready your camera, you’re not going to want to miss snapping this.

To start planning your honeymoon or romantic break in Latin America, call on of our experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin America

Latin America’s culinary capitals

Calling all foodies. More travellers are picking their holiday spots based on gastronomy than ever before. Latin America boasts some of the world’s culinary capitals, such as Lima. The Peruvian capital is at the epicentre of Peru’s thriving food scene. Whether it’s the diverse landscapes or the varied people and cultures, Latin America is doing something right when it comes to cuisine. If you don’t know your completo from your choripan, you’ve come to the right place. From years of Latin American food exploration, we’ve compiled a handy list of the gastronomic hotspots.

Mexico City, Mexico

mexico city food

Flickr: The DLC

While Oaxaca is often tipped as the centre of Mexico’s most complex food, they’re pipped to the post by the metropolis of Mexico City. Its streets are brimming with foods from all corners of this magnificent country. The sights and smells are almost intoxicating and can’t fail to get you salivating. While not all street food is equal, it’s hard to find one that’s bad. Grab a pew at any humble taco stand and tuck into tortillas topped with juicy grilled meat, queso blanco and spicy salsas. If you’ve got an accompanying cold beer, all the better.

Cartagena, Colombia

When you look around online, you’ll find eager bloggers waxing lyrical about Cartagena’s colourful streets and people, and it’s true that this coastal city is a little gem. However, few mention how good the food is here. It’s teeming with good restaurants serving up fresh seafood and cafes knocking out humble (but delicious fare), but it’s the street food where the city really shines. Wander into almost any plaza or cobbled street and you’ll find vendors plying everything from cornbread arepas and grilled meats over coal to Colombia-style ceviche.

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazilian food is fusion food, a lip-smacking blend of Italian, African and indigenous. Expert hearty stews, pasta dishes, seafood soups and crispy salgados. Rio’s Carioca’s know how to live the good life, with weekends spent on the sun-drenched sand, cooling off in the ocean and pauses to munch on tasty treats. Try one of the waterfront restaurants, bag a cheap street food snack or indulge in some fine dining. The Marvellous City has got you covered. For a healthy start sample exotic tropical fruits, fresh or blended into a ‘vitamina’ (smoothie).

Lima, Peru

Lima has carved out a spot as one of the gastronomy centres of Latin America. No small part down to 9 entries in the 50 Best Restaurants. It’s not all fine dining and innovative gastronomy. At its heart is the humble fare which helped inspire its more lavish counterparts. The food has influences coming from Asia, Europe and the Moors, and its ancient civilizations. Together a bounty of fine produce coming from the mountains, desert coast and rainforest. No wonder that it’s achieved global recognition today.

Buenos Aires, Argentina

Another culinary heavyweight, the capital of Argentina has got an impressive list of entries in the 50 Best. As you enjoy the food, you’ll taste its Italian roots – rich pasta dishes, breaded milanesa and long list of creamy cheeses. Yet the undisputed champion of Argentine cuisine is beef and they know how to cook it. Forget vegetables or dainty salads, slabs of the best beef on the continent char-grilled are the order of the day. Breakfasts are also a treat, with buttery pastries washed down with plenty of milky coffee.

São Paulo, Brazil

Sao Paulo is still crowned as Brazil’s top foodie hotspot. In part due to the successful restaurants like Alex Atala’s D.O.M. He uses Amazonian ingredients to produce new dishes. Italian immigrants also brought European techniques which rubbed off with today’s Brazilian cuisine. With the highest population of Japanese of any city outside Tokyo, good sushi is not hard to find.

Are you ready to explore Latin America’s culinary heavyweights? Want to head off with our guides to discover the best hidden street eats or let us book you an exclusive table in one of the capital’s top restaurants? Get in touch with one of our Latin America experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

RELATED: Argentine empanada recipe

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