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5 PLACES TO GET WINTER SUN IN LATIN AMERICA

The nights are long, cold grey skies loom and the scarves and hats are been pulled out. Winter is here. But the cold weather in the northern hemisphere, means warmth in the south. It’s summer in Latin America and one of the best times to discover the continent’s mountains, beaches, culture and food. Here’s our 7 picks for the best spots to get some winter sun in Latin America

BAHIA, BRAZIL

The northern state of Bahia in Brazil is blessed with some of the best weather in Latin America. Year-round temperatures between 25°C and 30°C and over 250 hours of sunshine every month create the perfect winter getaway. But it’s not just the weather that makes this region such a great place to travel. Wild national parks, hundreds of miles of white sandy beaches fringed with palms trees, sleepy fishing villages, beautiful pastel-coloured colony architecture and UNESCO World Heritage sites and tasty cuisine that perfectly blends the Afro-Brazilian culture. Try visiting Salvador, the capital of Bahia, in February for a unique alternative to Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival. Flying time 12 hrs via Lisbon.

CARTAGENA, COLOMBIA

The colourful city of Cartagena lies on the northern coast of Colombia overlooking the clear blue waters of the Caribbean Sea. Between December and March, the city sees almost no rain and bright sunny days. There’s a wealth of boutique hotels. Many are within old colonial palaces. The city has its fair share of museums, galleries, music venues and restaurants to keep your entertained. For those who prefer to spend their holidays away from cities, there are miles and miles of coastline. Off the beaten track is the Tayrona National Park. Hikers can head inland to walk the challenging trails to the Lost City. The sun-drenched islands of Baru and Rosario are only a short boat trip from the city.

JOSÉ IGNACIO, URUGUAY

Bahia Vik, Jose Ignacio (copyright David Horwell)

Uruguay doesn’t spring to mind for your typical summer holiday. Yet the country is less crowded and has better beaches than neighbouring Argentina. On the coast lies the small fishing village of Jose Ignacio. The town grew around a 19th century lighthouse. Now favoured by jet-setters, the area has become an escape for the super-rich and celebrities. Ultra-modern hotels abound. During the summer months the area booms with pop up bars, concerts and parties. Spend lazy days sunbathing on the beach and swimming in the refreshing Atlantic. At night dine in one of the restaurants or beach-shack bars. Further down the coast there are some even less developed spots. At Cabo Polonio isolated wooden cabins fringe the edge of deserted beaches, the only sound being the crashing of waves.

TULUM, MEXICO

Cliffside Mayan Ruins at Tulum ca. 2002 Tulum, Mexico

Tulum lies along the Riviera Maya on Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula south of Cancun. Comfortable temperatures hover around 28°C and enjoy a light sea breeze during December to February. An excellent choice for a winter getaway. The area is best known for its Mayan temple overlooking the ocean. This idyllic region has vast stretches of white sandy ocean and boutique accommodation. Snorkellers and scuba divers can enjoy exotic marine life. Nearby waters offer swimming with whale sharks, the big gentle giants.

BOCAS DEL TORO, PANAMA

Copyright David Horwell

Bocas del Toro is an archipelago of lush islands. They lie off the northern coast of Panama, near Costa Rica. Winter is the sunniest time. The islands have a distinct laid-back Caribbean vibe. Secluded wooden over-the-water bungalows sit off the coast from the tiny islands. The islands are excellent for hiking and bird-watching. The turquoise waters are great for diving, snorkelling, kayaking, surfing and swimming. Dolphins often jump above the sea and huge shoals of exotic fish inhabit the underwater world. Chill-out on a hammock, relax on one of the deserted beaches and gorge on fresh lobsters.

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

Guest Blog Brazil: A hard nut to crack or just a big pussycat?!

David and his team have been organising our trips to South America for nearly 20 years now. We have previously described them as ‘masterpieces’; each one excelling in the chosen area of travel. A big challenge faces them every time we book another holiday.
So, with the bar set high, could they reach it for Brazil?

Our first stay at Cordilheira, Caiman Ecological Refuge, brought us a sighting of Fera, a ‘re-wilded’ orphaned jaguar cub. Having watched a David Attenborough programme shortly before departure, ‘Jaguars in Brazil’, featuring this very same cub, it was like being in our own wildlife documentary. The afternoon we saw her, we watched her return to, and finish off, a previous kill of a giant anteater. We then tracked her in the hope that she might return to her two young cubs. As darkness fell we saw an armadillo scamper across the grass in the light of our guides torch. So too did Fera and, with mixed feelings, we watched as she caught and devoured her dessert! By the time she had finished it was too dark to continue tracking her, so we didn’t get to see the cubs, but we have heard they are doing well. During our stay however, we did encounter roadblocks, ‘jaguar style’, as a mating pair frequently chose to ‘rest’ on the highway through the park. One day, by the river bank, we found deep paw prints in the mud of an ‘unknown’ jaguar. Our guide made plaster casts as a memento of our trip, which we hope to eventually turn into bronze casts.

Jaguar paw print Pantanal

At Araras Lodge we saw Caiman at close quarters but kept a respectful distance having been told that a Japanese tourist once thought that because they were lying so still they weren’t alive. Upon kicking one, and losing three toes, he was very much proved wrong! This was a destination of the unexpected; a giant anteater in the swimming pool and nearly being capsized in our canoe by a Tapir. Not your everyday encounters!

Caiman Pantanal Brazil

Staying on a ‘Flotel’ out of Porto Jofre sounded like sheer luxury and indulgence, and it was. Not least of all because we were the only passengers on a 16-berth boat; our own captain, chef, maid, boatman and guide! Surreal, and all credit to them for not cancelling our booking due to the low occupancy. Our motorboat trips out brought sightings of 10 different jaguars, in varying locations and situations; with a cub, swimming in the river, retrieving a dead caiman and climbing up a tree, to name but a few. It would be unfair to focus on just the jaguars however and not mention all the other wonderful wildlife we saw; giant otters playing or eating fish, Caiman, Capybara, Howler monkeys, Capuchin monkeys, Jabiru stork and a wealth of birdlife. My only ‘reservation’ was the day I needed a ‘comfort stop’. The boatman pulled in by the shore. There, in the sand, was a jaguar paw print. A few feet away lay a Caiman – definitely alive! My bladder capacity increased almost instantaneously as I decided to wait for a more suitable/acceptable location for my needs.

Jabiru Storks Pantanal Brazil

At Cristalino Lodge we enjoyed the diversity of wildlife, walking through the forests, up the watch towers and boating along the river. More surprises waited for us here as we watched a pair of sun bitterns on the river bank. Suddenly an ornate hawk eagle shot swiftly out from the bush, took one of the sun bitterns in its talons, circled round behind us and back into the bush. For a few moments I think we were all in shock and I don’t think any of us could quite take on board what had happened. It was however quite incredible to witness such a snapshot of nature.

Giant anteater, Pantanal, Brazil

Ibitipoca was almost beyond description. If there is a Paradise here on earth, then this is most definitely a contender. A peaceful, tranquil location where just wandering around in the environs of the lodge you are engulfed by the most stunning scenery. There are sheltered spots where you can sit or lie and just absorb the ambience that surrounds you. Everything has been done so tastefully whilst embracing the eco environment and the regeneration of the area. On one of our excursions we even had the good fortune to have a rare sighting of a maned wolf. Walking up to the plateau and encountering the family of seven magnificent human metal sculptures, by Karen Cusolito, looking down the valley, is breath-taking. It is a very special place indeed.

Reserva do Ibitipoca_Tamarin

Our journey ended in Paraty, a delightful old colonial town with a fascinating history and the infrastructure of a bygone era still standing and inhabited to this day. Our stay at Casa Cairucu, on the shore looking out over the bay, provided us with an opportunity to relax and reflect on an incredible adventure. Another masterpiece if ever there was.

Paraty, Brazil

Gillian & Phil Moss

If you want us to create your own bespoke trip to Brazil, do get in touch.

Related: The Difference Between Paraty & Buzios

Top 11 things to do in Sao Paulo

Sao Paulo gets overshadowed by its neighbour Rio de Janeiro. Plenty of things reward those who make the effort to come to Brazil’s largest city. It might not have sandy beaches or Rio’s charm, but when you have a read of the things to do, you’ll wonder why not include it in your Brazilian itinerary.

Wander through Avenida Paulista

Let’s start with a biggie. It would be remiss not to spend at least an afternoon wandering along Avenida Paulista. Strolling along this wide boulevard you’ll pass luxury shops, top eateries and some of the city’s finest museums and concert venues.

Soak up the food scene in the Mercadão

Flickr: Wally Gobetz

The Mercadão, like most cities, is key to discovering the food scene in Sao Paulo. Every inch of its 12,500-square metres is brimming with produce. Navigate towering piles of colourful fruit and vegetables to meat and seafood. Be sure to drop into one of the little eateries and grab one of the famous mortadella sandwiches.

Pack up a picnic and head to Parque Villa Lobos

Parque villa lopez

Flickr: fefeio

If the big city’s getting a little much, pack up a picnic and head to Villa Lobos, a lush green park that serves as oasis from Sao Paulo’s bustle. Admire the views, people watch, gorge on Brazilian treats or hire a bike to explore the park on two wheels. If you’re lucky, they might even have some live music at the weekends.

Marvel at the graffiti in Beco do Batman

Beco do Batman is at the epicentre of Sao Paulo’s graffiti scene. The little street draws tourists who come to marvel at some of the city’s finest street art. Wander through on foot and be sure to remember your camera. Many artists have made homes here and have mini-exhibitions in their front rooms.

Dance Saturday nights away in the city’s bars

On Saturday nights you’ll hear live samba music emanating onto the streets from the local bars. If you’re in the mood, dive in to join the Paulistanos for an impromptu jam, which may continue into the wee hours. You won’t regret it.

Catch a performance at the Theatro Municipal

Theatro Municipal sao paulo

Flickr: Adam Jones

The opulent early 20th-century Theatro Municipal is truly beautiful. By day, you can amble through its luxurious interior and take a peek inside the theatre itself. At night, you can swing by to catch some of the best musicals and dance performances in the city. It’s popular, so grab your tickets early to avoid disappointment.

Check out Sao Paulo’s most iconic building

You shouldn’t miss taking a look at Copan, one of Sao Paulo’s most iconic buildings. The 1960’s wave design by Niemeyer, was built to house residents from all walks of life. Inside are apartments which range from tiny studios to palatial penthouses. It has seen better days, but impressive nonetheless.

Gawp at the art in the Pinacoteca do Estado

Art lovers should make a beeline for the Pinacoteca do Estado, a gallery housed in a fine late 19th-century building. Even if you’re not into art, the exposed brick building is worth a visit alone. Be sure to get in early to avoid the queue if you’re visiting in high season.

Admire more art in the MASP

MASP

Flickr: mari_aquino

For more art, you’ve got thousands of works from some of the biggest names in the Museu de Arte de São Paulo. Expect to admire art painted by the likes of Van Gogh, Degas and Picasso to name just a few. The brutalist suspended modern glass structure is a piece of art all itself.

Visit the Catedral da Sé

Catedral da Sé

Flickr: Caio Schiavo

The soaring Catedral da Sé is the largest catholic church in the city. It’s foundation dates back to the 16th century, but the current building took half a century to construct, starting in 1913. Taking a tour of the neo-gothic structure will take a couple of hours. It has enough room for 8,000 worshippers.

Calling all football fans

Museu do Futebol

Flickr: Alex Vieira

If you’re a fan of the beautiful game, you can’t miss dropping into the Museu do Futebol. This houses photography and memorabilia stretching back throughout Brazil’s history with the sport. You can even have a go at striking a ball in the games room.

Itching to visit Sao Paulo? Give one of our experts a call on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here to beginning planning your adventure.

RELATED: Top 5 holidays in Brazil

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

Brazilian coconut egg custard recipe

One of the easiest and most delicious Brazilian desserts, Quindim is popular across the country and makes a fine ending to a heavy meal. Like Spanish flan, the dessert is essentially an egg custard made from yolks, sugar and vanilla with added coconut for that tropical touch. Perfect for a dinner party, make well in advance and leave in the fridge until ready to serve.

Serves: 4

Ingredients

12 egg yolks
250g granulated sugar
250ml water
100g shredded coconut
3 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon natural vanilla essence

Method

First, preheat the oven to 180°C. Put a small saucepan over a low heat and melt the butter. Take a large mixing bowl and add all the ingredients including the melted butter. Mix well until fully combined. Take four ramakins and grease the inside with a little extra melted butter or a touch of oil. Pour the mixture equally into each. They will rise slightly, so it should take up around a third to three quarters of the ramakins. Put a baking tray with deep sides and fill with water until around a third full. Add the ramakins in. They should be almost fully submerged in the water. Place the water bath in the oven for around 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and leave to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge until ready to serve. Enjoy.

RELATED: Argentine empanada recipe

Interesting spots for art lovers in Latin America

The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

Flickr: Helen K

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

The Blue House, Frida Kahlo Museum

Flickr: ::: Mer :::

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

The Last Supper in Cuzco

Wikipedia: Toño Zapata

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

The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janerio

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

The street art in Bogota

Flickr: McKay Savage

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

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

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

New tour visit the Carnival and Amazon

It might only seem like the last Carnival was just yesterday, but we’re quickly racing towards 2018. If you want to visit the famous Carnival, now’s the time book, as hotels and flights only get more expensive.

If you’re going to take part in the Carnival, why not combine it with some of Brazil’s other highlights? We’ve created a new tour which takes visitors to the Carnival, the might Iguaçu Falls and takes a comfortable, but adventurous cruise down the Amazon in search of some amazing wildlife – Carnival & Cruise.

After arriving in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll be picked up and taken to your hotel. We suggest you stay at the Arena Leme Hotel, though if you book early there are plenty of options to choose from. Head down to the beach, grab an icy cold caipirinha, dig you toes into the sand and soak up the atmosphere – the perfect introduction to Brazil.

The next four days, you’re going to quickly pick up how to party like a carioca at the world’s largest street party. Get a seat at the Sambadrome and watch the colourful parade of dancers and performers. The parade has been a tradition for almost 90 years and there are over 70 samba schools that take party. 90,000 spectators pile into the 2,300 foot-long stadium to watch the extraordinary dancing and floats.

The parade might be fun, but there are other things to do in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. Blocos are 24-hour street parties that pop up throughout the city. People con costumes and here is plenty of beer and Brazilian cachaça. Numbers can quickly reach the thousands when live music arrives. For something a little more exclusive, there are several balls going on throughout the event. The Copacabana Palace Hotel on Rio’s seafront, hosts an annual ball where guests dress up in evening gowns and tuxedos.

If this is your first time in Brazil, don’t worry. You won’t miss out on the bucket list activities during your stay. During the tour, we’ll arrange for you in visit the Christ Redeemer, Tijuca National Park, Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountain. After five days, you’ll almost be able to call yourself a carioca!

After the festivities are over, we’ll whisk you away to see Iguaçu Falls where you will stay at the Falls Iguazu Hotel on the Argentine side.The Indians believed that the falls were the mouth of the gods, and when you see them, you’ll releaze why. The falls were made famous in Robert De Niro’s film, The Mission, in which you see him teeter over the edge strapped to a crucifix.

For the next two days, you’ll explore every side of this huge natural wonder. Cross over to the Argentine side to see the falls from the wooden walkways. One of the biggest thrills is walking over the suspended platform that traverses The Devil’s Throat, a gurgling, spitting, rampaging flurry of water. We can even arrange for you to stay a boat trip into the heart of the falls, where you get so close you can feel the spray on your face.

Lastly, you’ll fly north to Manaus, a city in the centre of the Amazon. The city boomed in the late 19th century when it was used as a base for rubber-tapping. We’ll take you to see the huge 18th century Amazonas Theatre, an impressive piece of architecture. Afterwards you will board the comfortable Amazon Odyssey expedition cruise boat, your home for the next four nights. Venture into the Rio Negro and along the Amazon River. Hike through the forest in search of exotic bird life and mammals including many species of monkey. You’ll be accompanied by expert guides which ensure you make the most of your time here.

To book Carnival & Cruise, call us today or +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here. You can find out more about the tour here.

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TROPICANA BIRD PARK IGUAÇU

Toucan in the Bird Park

Brazil’s Iguaçu Falls National Park is full of exotic wildlife. Exploring the tropical waterfalls is a real ‘bucket-list’ experience, but there’s much more to discover. Often overlooked, is the Parque das Aves or ‘Bird Park’, an ornithological sanctuary. Here rescued birds are find a home. This attraction is a bonus for any wildlife enthusiast. Our private excursion will take a behind the scenes look at the park. You will spend time in the company of chattering songbirds, start at either 7.30am, 10.30am or 2pm. Though we recommend the early morning slot for keen twitchers.

You will have the chance to see staff at work, watch feeding and see rare species up close. Learn how passionate park rangers care for these beautiful, vulnerable creatures. Parque das Aves is also home to a blissful butterfly garden, and a resident boa constrictor. Round the visit off by enjoying some light refreshments and fresh fruit from the region. A delicious, sweet end to this insightful birding experience. This can be booked as part of any tour of the region.

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