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4 Latin American Sauce Recipes

Zingy, spicy and powerful, Latin American sauces are the go-to condiments when you’re looking to add some punch to barbecued meats, fish or stews. From the fresh coriander-packed Mexican salsas to fiery Peruvian aji amarillo, you’ll surely find a sauce here that fits the bill, whatever you’re cooking.

Aji Amarillo, Peru

This Peruvian condiment is a key component in pepping up anticuchos, barbecued meat found sizzling away over charcoal on almost every street corner across the country. The sauce is both fiery and creamy and compliments the smokiness of the meat perfectly. The key to making this recipe is finding good quality aji amarillo chillies.

Ingredients

3 dried aji amarillo chillies
50g cotija cheese, crumbled
1 squeeze of lemon juice
1 tsp sugar
4 cloves of garlic, minced
3 tbs oil
1 can of kidney beans, drained
1 handful of coriander, chopped

Method

Start by soaking the chillies in hot water for 15 minutes. Once rehydrated, place in a blender with a little water and blitz until smooth. Scoop out and push through a sieve to catch any seeds.

Place back in the blender and add the lemon juice, sugar and crumbled cheese and blend together into a paste.

Put a sauce pan over a medium heat and add the oil and garlic. Once browed, scoop the paste along with the kidney beans into pan and leave to simmer for 15 minutes.

Add everything back into the blender along with the coriander and blitz until smooth. Leave to cool before placing in the fridge ready for your barbecued food.

Chimichurri, Argentina

Roughly a cross between an Italian salsa verde and pesto, just without the cheese, chimichurri is one of Argentina’s most iconic sauces. If you’re lucky enough to try it in Argentina, you’ll likely have it drizzled over choripan, barbecued chorizo sausage. There’s really nothing better, particularly if it’s accompanied by a cold beer. A good sauce for livening up any cooked meats or even robust fish like salmon.

Ingredients

1 large handful of parsley, roughly chopped
6 cloves of garlic, minced
5 tbs white wine vinegar
5 tbs water
1 tsp salt
1 pinch of fresh oregano, finely chopped
1 tsp dried chilli flakes
½ tsp ground black pepper
100 ml olive oil

Method

Place the parsley and garlic into a processer and blitz until finely chopped.

Add to a large bowl along with the vinegar, salt, finely chopped oregano, water, chilli flakes and pepper and mix thoroughly.

Slowly add the olive oil and whisk until everything blends together.

Taste and add more seasoning if needed.

While chimichurri can be made in advance and kept for several days in the fridge, it quickly loses its vibrant green colour, so it’s best eaten within an hour or two.

Pebre, Chile

Pebre is the most southerly cousin of the salsa. While it might not be as well known as the others, it’s spicy, fresh and is perfect for giving most meat dishes the kick they need. The key to making the best pebre is buying the best quality ingredients you can afford. It’s never going to be the same if you make the dish with bland supermarket salad tomatoes.

Ingredients

2 large ripe tomatoes
2 Anaheim peppers
3 spring onions, trimmed
1 handful of coriander
200 ml olive oil
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbs salt
1 tbs ground pepper

Method

Add a pan of water onto a high heat and wait until it boils. Drop the tomatoes in for 30 seconds, then scoop them out carefully and plunge into cold water. Once cooled, carefully peel off the skin, cut in half and scoop out the seeds. Finely chop the tomatoes and add to a large bowl.

Finely cut the spring onions and Anaheim peppers. If you’re feeling lazy, you could always do this in a food processor. Add to the bowl with the tomatoes.

Finely chop the coriander leaves and add to the bowl along with the olive oil lemon juice, salt and pepper, then mix. Taste and add more seasoning if required. Place in the fridge until ready to eat.

Crema de Rocoto, Peruvian

This Peruvian sauce is both creamy and spicy. Works particularly well over smoky meats or barbecued vegetables. It’s also super simple to make and lasts in the fridge for more than a week.

Ingredients

300 ml good quality mayonnaise
4 tbs rocoto chilli pepper paste
1 lemon, juiced
1 tbs white wine vinegar
½ tsp mustard powder
1 tsp sugar
1 pinch of salt
1 pinch of ground black pepper

Method

Add the rocoto paste and the mayonnaise into a bowl and whisk together until smooth. Add all the other ingredients and blend together. Taste and add more seasoning if needed. Place in the fridge until ready to use.

RELATED: Peruvian Causa Rellena Recipe

Instead of making these sauces at home, why not head to Latin America and try the real thing? To start planning your holiday, call one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

Everything you need to know about turtle nesting in Tortuguero

The tiny settlement of Tortuguero lies along the Northern Caribbean coastline of Costa Rica just 50 miles or so from the port city of Limon. While there are plenty of things to do in the paradisal spot which is known for its tropical rainforest-backed golden sand beaches and shallow, turquoise waters, most come in season to catch of glimpse of the turtles who haul themselves onto the beach to lay their eggs safely in the sand. In fact, even the name translates to ‘Region of Turtles’.

Tortuguero Beach is one of the most important sites in the world for turtle nesting and sees hundreds of green, leatherback, loggerhead and hawksbill turtles returning year-on-year to nest on the same stripe of sand.

Unfortunately, during the ‘60s, the green turtle came dangerously close to extinction with much of the population caught and sold for the black market in turtle soup. Thankfully, an organization was set up to monitor the marine creatures every year and the population has grown since, in part due to the establishment of the Tortuguero National Park in the early ‘70s which helped to protect them.

When are the nesting seasons?

While nesting season can be hard to predict and changes with each species, typically green turtles lay their eggs between July and mid-October, while leatherback turtles visit between February and June. Some of the other species like the hawksbill can be very unpredictable and an encounter with one such nesting female is uncommon.

What does turtle nesting tour look like?

When deciding on a tour company to use, ensure that they are a responsible operator who is licensed and comes with an expert guide. It’s not possible to simply view the protected turtles by yourself, for obvious reasons.

Groups are typically no more than 8 people and private tours are common. After being picked up from your accommodation, you’ll be taken to the nesting sites which usually involves passing through several access points.

When you arrive on the beach, your guide will look out for sightings of turtles emerging from the sea. Once they do, you can watch as the female uses her flippers to drag themselves up over the sand to a safe spot. Then your guide will likely lead you closer to watch while she digs deep into the sand creating a large hole to deposit her eggs. As calmly as she arrived, the female turtle then brushes the sand back over her precious eggs and clambers back along the sand to the sea.

Who would enjoy the tour?

If you’re a wildlife enthusiast, it’s should be one of the most amazing encounters you can have. Watching nesting turtles isn’t just for those interested in wildlife though. Most find the experience to be a magical one including children.

Things to remember

By coming in season, you have a much better chance at capturing a nesting turtle, though like all wildlife watching, there are no guarantees. Giving yourself a couple of days will be your best bet if it’s an important part of the trip. Always listen to the instructions of your guide. They aren’t just there to show you a good time – their main job is to protect the endangered turtle species.

RELATED: 11 Experiences You Can Have In Costa Rica

Ready to organise your turtle nesting tour? Want to plan your next trip to Costa Rica? Get in contact with one of our Latin American travel experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

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.

SUMMER IN THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Copyright David Horwell

Every month is a wildlife delight in the Galapagos Islands, and the northern summer months are no exception. The giant tortoises on Santa Cruz island have begun to migrate to the highlands in preparation for nesting season, blue-footed boobies are particularly active and, if you’re lucky, you may get to see the curious courtship ritual of the flightless cormorants. Whales and dolphins are more active, especially off the western islands. It is also a good time to spot migrant shorebirds. In central islands you can observe sea lions starting to give birth and rearing their young.

We offer 4-nights, 5-nights and longer combinations on board our stylish Galapagos yachts that are designed to showcase the very best of this wondrous archipelago. Contact us to book your trip.

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6 THINGS TO DO IN URUGUAY

ENJOY MONTEVIDEO THE STRESS-FREE CITY

The nation’s capital is big enough to have plenty to see, but small enough to get around easily. Much of the city is along the seafront, where locals jog and families play ball games. The city is ranked as having the highest quality of life in Latin America and considering many offices don’t start until 10am it has a very relaxed ambience. I visited earlier this year and found the people friendly and happy. The Spanish historic centre is like walking back in time, and for those who like meat stop at the Mercado del Puerto for an asado, a mixed charcoal grill. For shopping an old prison at Punta Carretas is now a fashionable mall. Tango is also as popular here as in Buenos Aires. If you want some real peace and quiet go to La Baguela, a country hotel just 30 minutes away with its own deserted beach.

RIDE THE DUNES OF ROCHA

The department of Rocha in the East has some of the finest beaches and lagoons in the country. The sand dunes are sparsely inhabited, and you can even stay in a yurt or beach cabin at La Pedrera. This quiet area is great for bird-watching, horse-riding or as I chose, biking. There are amazing walks over the dunes to the old hippie colony of Cabo Polonia. Take plenty of water with you on any of these trips, as there are no refreshments on sale anywhere. You may stumble upon tiny fisherman’s villages, but the only living thing I came across was a donkey.

PLAY JAMES BOND AT JOSÉ IGNACIO

José Ignacio is a coastal point that attracts the wealthy jet-set. You can find ultra-modern architects dream hotels like the three glamourous Vik properties (Estancia, Bahia and Playa) each decorated with unique works of art or the Fasano hotel in nearby Punta del Este. The Awa boutique hotel also is in Punta del Este. The lagoon at Jose Ignacio is a fave spot for kite-boarders.

TASTE THE TANNAT

Uruguay has some great wines, with a heritage going back to Italian, Spanish and French immigrants. The grape that has been adopted here is Tannat, which produces a heady, strong and full-bodied wine suited to the harsh dry environment. It is only recently been discovered by importers and well worth trying with a good steak. Some of the bodegas or wineries are open to visitors and do tastings, (make sure that you are not the designated driver). A few of the estancias take in guests, I particularly liked Narbona, which was further to the west near Carmelo. We also stopped at the charming Aguaverde Wine Lodge near Punta del Este for lunch. The welcoming lodge has rooms and cottages for guests, a stunning infinity pool and a vineyard beyond the gardens.

WALK AROUND COLONIA DEL SACRAMENTO

Take a day trip to Colonia, a charming town steeped in Spanish and Portuguese historical monuments. Popular with trippers from Argentina too, as a 45-minute ferry connects with Buenos Aires. The town is dominated by the lighthouse and fortified walls, but there are many interesting museums, churches and art galleries. One of the main attractions for me are the old classic cars that can be seen dotted around the centre, some of which are no longer driven but make unique bar-rooms for a romantic drink. There are some nice boutique hotels such as El Charco, if you have time enough to linger a day or two.

WHALE WATCHING

Southern Right Whales head along the coastlines of South America. They mate and raise their calves before migrating towards Antarctica, where their main feeding grounds are. Uruguay has some prime spots for whale watching. The season stretches from June to December, depending on the weather. The best time to observe these graceful giants and their offspring is between August and October. The Atlantic coast has good vantage points at Rocha and Punta del Este. Boat tours should be approved by the Organization for the Conservation of Whales (OCC-Uruguay) to make sure that the whales are not disturbed. It is even possible to observe them from the beach, with a binoculars. Watch out for water sprays, churning water and flocks of sea gulls – these are sure indicators that whales are near. Chances are even better in the early morning or late afternoon. For more details about visiting Uruguay do contact us.
All pictures except whale are copyright David Horwell.

RELATED: 6 Things to do in Uruguay

REACH FOR THE STARS IN CHILE

Chile is probably the best place in the World for star-gazing. Whether you are a casual star-gazer, or a professional astronomer, Chile is hard to beat. Astronomy is gaining popularity as more people are interested in the wonders of the sky and the mysteries of the universe. Much of this long country are sparsely populated which reduces light pollution. The dry desert climate in the north creates some of the clearest nights in the world and its location provides an ideal view of the southern sky. In the 1960’s, ESO (European Southern Observatory) built its Observatory La Silla in the outskirts of the famous Atacama Desert. In 2019, La Silla will celebrate 50 years of operation. 2019 will also be the year of a total eclipse in Northern Chile on July 02nd 2019. The Moon will cover the Sun completely in the late afternoon and turn the day into night. La Silla is organizing a ‘2019 Total Solar Eclipse Event’. Tickets sold out immediately. Accommodation almost anywhere in the zone of the eclipse also sold out a while ago. All is not lost however, we can offer a Glamping Experience for a 4-day/ 3-night trip from La Serena to the Elqui Valley (1-4 July). You will stay in the heart of the desert and be able to sip cocktails around a bonfire. A trip will be made to a unique observation point. Visit villages and sample the local cuisine and Pisco beverage. Other activities include sightseeing and bathing in thermal springs.

Even if you are not an astronomy enthusiast, the breath-taking view of the star-filled sky is always worth a visit. Tip: If you are heading to the Atacama, avoid the full-moon, so stars will be more visible. Contact us for more information and star-gazing programs in Chile.

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SEE US AT THE BIRDFAIR IN RUTLAND

Once again Select Latin America will be having a stand at the Birdfair taking place at Rutland Water Nature Reserve 17 August to 19 August 2018.

Birdfair encompasses the whole spectrum of the bird-watching industry whilst at the same time supporting global bird conservation. There are lectures, events and celebrities and hundreds of stands selling the latest products for wildlife enthusiasts. You can try out camera lenses, binoculars or discuss holiday destinations with experts.

This will be our 18th year, find us at Marquee 7 Stand 36. Our experts will be on hand to help plan your next tailor-made wildlife adventure and our new brochure will be hot off the press.

We hope to see some old friends and make new ones there.

RELATED: 9 beautiful exotic birds from Latin America

9 REASONS TO VISIT QUITO

Quito is not just a stop en-route to the Galapagos Islands but one of the leading cities of South America,. Voted one of the Best Destinations to Discover, according to National Geographic Traveler magazine. Here are 9 reasons:

Quito is at the middle of the world

Quito is the capital city closest to the sun in both altitude and latitude. At a lofty 2,850 meters above sea level and is also near a place where you can straddle both Northern and Southern Hemispheres. A visitor site has sprung up at the “Centre of the World” where the equatorial line is drawn at Latitude 0 ° 0’0 ”. Despite the altitude Quito enjoys a spring-like climate, all year round.

An Unsurpassed Historical Centre

Quito was declared the first World Cultural Heritage site, with one of the best-preserved colonial centres in the Americas. Wander around restored gems such as La Compañía de Jesús, a baroque masterpiece; or the Plaza Grande, the main square surrounded by historical monuments; tour the religious complex of San Francisco. Ramble through La Ronda, a charming street that keeps traditional trades still alive. The historical centre is not just a museum, it is dynamic living place where inhabitants, religious devotees, public officials and merchants get on with their lives.

Quito’s Cuisine

Quito’s cuisine is one of the best kept secrets. Try traditional mestizo dishes that mix the pre-Columbian and colonial. A fusion of Andean and Iberian culture. Try locro: potato & avocado soup, fritada: fried pork, empanadas: tasty pasties, home-made chilli sauces, paila fruit ice cream, the list goes on. Other dishes are influenced from the Pacific with fish and prawns and coconut. Taste the gourmet chocolates made with finest cacao and the high-altitude coffee. Enjoy fresh fruits throughout the year: such as the tree tomato, naranjilla, cherimoya, granadilla and taxo, babaco and much more.

Handicrafts and art

Quito was an important cultural and artistic centre during colonial times. These skills have been passed down through the ages. You can still see artisans plying their trades in their workshops: drapers, hatters, tailors, goldsmiths and jewellers. Colonial Quito fostered religious art, its well-known Quiteña School, produced some of the most important colonial artists including the sculptors Bernardo de Legarda and Manuel Chili and the painter Miguel de Santiago; discover their works in the many museums and churches.

A Bit of Culture

Quito has many places with permanent and temporary exhibitions, theatre, music or film. Highlights are The Museum of the City, the Museum of El Alabado (with pre-Columbian treasures), a Wax Museum, the Sucre Theatre, the Centre of Contemporary Art and Music to name a few. For archaeology buffs, take a trip to the site museums in Tulipe, Rumipamba or La Florida. Children also have their spaces in the Yaku Park Museum, the Interactive Science Museum and the Train Museum.

Nightlife

Ask our local guide to recommend one of the many restaurants, cafes, bars and clubs in the sectors of La Mariscal, La Floresta, Guápulo and La Carolina. There you will find music, local and international cuisine and, above all meet the locals having fun.

Take a Train

From the district of Chimbacalle, in Quito, you can embark on a journey in “the most difficult railroad in the world”. An ambitious work of engineering linking the coast with the Andes, built the beginning of twentieth century. Now it has become a heritage tourist train, including the famous Devil’s Nose zig-zag through the Andes. Today you can take upscale pullman on a four-day journey or take the local one-day train. The slow pace better to appreciate the Andean scenery.

Shopping

Quito is ideal for retail therapy, you will find a variety of choice for all tastes and budgets. From modern shopping centres such as Quicentro Shopping or Mall El Jardín, or stores of Ecuadorian contemporary design in La Floresta district or La Mariscal; likewise in the Historical Centre you can look at handicraft shops such as El Quinde, with Andean alpaca clothing, gold, silver, filigree jewellery, leather goods and weavings. Unique products are vegetable ivory (tagua) from the Amazon and the famous straw hats (misnamed Panama Hats). In Quito you will find paintings, sculptures in street markets and in La Mariscal there are galleries and antique shops.

The Paramo and the Cloud Forest

Just an hour or two away from Quito, you can enjoy two different environments. Firstly, the haciendas located in the Andean moorland. Enjoy thermal waters, horseback riding, hiking, mountaineering, flower plantations and more. Alternatively head to the Northwest, you can discover the subtropical cloud forest, a paradise for bird watching, with more than 500 species. One of the best places to see dozens of species of hummingbirds and butterflies. Two completely opposite worlds, one warm and one cold.
To visit Quito as part of a tailor-made tour please see our journey ideas at Select Latin America.

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Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up

Frida-Kahlo-with-Olmec-figurine-1939-photograph-by-Nickolas-Muray©-Nickolas-Muray-Photo-Archives

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up is at the V&A museum in London. This is the first exhibition outside of México to display clothes and intimate possessions belonging to the iconic Mexican artist. This offers a fresh perspective on her compelling life story. The exhibition displays personal possessions from La Casa Azul (the Blue House), such as self-portraits, photographs, distinctive colourful Tehuana garments, pre-Columbian necklaces, hand painted corsets, letters, prosthetics, among other objects that will offer a visual narrative of her life. Tristram Hunt, director of the V&A, said: “Frida Kahlo is one of the most iconic and recognisable artists of the last century. We are very excited to bring together Frida’s fashion, medical corsets, make-up and other personal items with her self-portraits to better understand and celebrate this remarkable artist.”

Frida Kahlo: Making Her Self Up runs from 16 June – 4 November 2018 at the V&A. Sponsored by Grosvenor Britain & Ireland. Aeromexico, Mexico’s global airline, is supporting this exhibition.
Tickets are now available. Admission £15 (concessions available). V&A members go free. Advance booking is advised – this can be done in person at the V&A; online at vam.ac.uk/FridaKahlo; or by calling +44 (0)20 7942 2000 (booking fee applies).
To arrange a bespoke trip to Mexico please contact Select Latin America.

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PADDLE YOUR OWN CANOE ON LEGENDARY LAKE TITICACA

Canoeing Lake Titicaca

Try something altogether new and exciting by rowing Polynesian canoes across Lake Titicaca. Known as the world’s highest navigable lake. At a height of 3,812 meters above sea level Titicaca covers a surface area of 8,500sq km. This is a one-off adventure. Don the gear provided, hop aboard our canoes and make for the floating islands of Uros. Photograph these extraordinary landscapes where a cobalt sky merges with sapphire waters. A backdrop of snow-capped peaks stand guard over these tranquil scenes. Stop to admire uninhabited beaches and resident wildlife. Enjoy peaceful views by taking routes that avoid local boats. Row along canals flanked by totora reeds to moor up at one of the Uros Islands. Contact us for more information on Peru Tours.

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

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