WHEN TO GO: February
Going Bananas at the Tapati Festival on Easter Island
A homage to the island with a mix of carnival activities, sports, theatrical presentations. The sporting competitions are based on ancient sports, such as sliding down a cliff on a banana tree or racing around the lake at Rano Raraku in a reed raft balancing banana bunches over the shoulders. There are dance competitions, parades with floats and costumed figures, and the crowning of the queen of the festival. Combining a trip to Patagonia is recommended at this time as the weather patterns are the opposite to the UK allow us to create a tailor made trip in the area including El Calfate and the Petito Moreno glacier.
Whilst Carnival is celebrated throughout Latin America you can have a very different experience depending where you choose to be. Enjoy either the rich cultural traditions with the indigenous customs, dance and costumes of the smaller more traditional celebrations a perfect example being Oruro, Bolivia. Alternatively go to the biggest party in the world in Salvador or Rio in Brazil and eat, drink, dance and be merry for a 5 day fiesta. Traditionally held in the week before Lent, Carnival is the chance to let your hair down before giving up the little vices.
Valentine's day chocolate
The Mayan and Aztec civilizations would never have envisaged the massive industry that sprung up from their love of a hot drink, they used the beans of the cacao tree to make a beverage called xocolatl or as we now pronounce it chocolate. Valentines Day and chocolate go hand in hand but why not try handing over something far more original on the day than a box of Dairy Milk. Present your loved one the old favourite in a new way by seeing it made from plant to finished product and buying direct from the producers. A great place to do this is in Oaxaca. Here you can visit a factory to watch chocolate production and visit a plantation.