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Top 5 things to do in Argentina

Argentina has to be one of the best countries in South America and so compiling the top 5 things to do in Argentina should be simple.  Unfortunately it’s not. This is because there isn’t a top 5 things to do in Argentina, but more like a top 40.  The hardest thing about this article is picking the top 5, so here we go and in no particular order!

 

  1. Watching ‘street tango’ on the back streets of Buenos Aires

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Sitting in a café in the historical district of San Telmo (you want to go to Plaza Dorrego) on a Sunday, sipping some excellent Argentinean coffee, you are bound to see it.  A lady, often old, will appear in the corner, place her battered speaker down, remove her coat and be joined by a similarly older gentleman and they will just tango in the plaza! Brilliant and not to be missed

 

  1. Walking on Perito Moreno Glacier

top 5 moreno

 

There are certain things in life that puts everything into perspective and this is one of them.  To walk on this enormous glacier, makes you realise just how small we are in the world and just how incredible this place is.  You will walk directly over rivers running through the middle of the glacier, crack ice off its side and drink whiskey and walk through deep ravines. The colours created from a million years of ice, tightly packed together have to be seen to be believed.

 

  1. Driving from Cachi to Salta at dawn

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This little visited corner of Argentina is what we call a repeat offenders destination. It’s where you come the second time you visit Argentina as you loved it so much the first time. As you depart Cachi the light is just starting to show on the multi-coloured canyons.  You drive up the Andes and through the Los Cardones National Park, which is covered in enormous cacti and finally reach the pass. As you look down, the early morning clouds are trapped in the valley below leaving the mighty Andean peaks poking out the top.

 

  1. Taking a speedboat ride up the Iguazu Falls

top 5 boat

 

Unquestionably they are the best waterfalls in the world. The main reason for this is that there so many ways to see the falls; boardwalks at various levels and on both the Argentinean and Brazilian sides, train rides around the back of the falls, jeep rides through the jungle to view the falls and a walkway through the river to the ‘Devil’s Throat’. The best though is the speedboat ride up the Iguazu River which allows you to see the falls from below which truly makes you appreciate just how special they are.

 

  1. Drinking Yerba maté with the locals and eating an asado

top 5 yerba

 

Yerba maté is the local tea which everyone drinks in Argentina. It is drunk in a gourda which is a small circular pot and drank through a stainless steel straw called a bombilla. The gourda is drunk, filled with water again and passed to the next person and this goes on for hours and is a great way to interact with the Argentineans. For meat eaters, having an asado is a highlight. It is basically a term used both for a range of barbecue techniques and the social event of having or attending a barbecue in Argentina and is delicious.

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Top 10 Things To Do In Peru

 

Peru

 

 

Here are our Top 10 things to do in Peru. Peru has a staggering variety of places to visit, which is what makes this a country ripe for exploring. So, whether you want to trek the mystical Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, weave your way deep into the Amazon in search of wild animals or experience its famous markets with vibrant weavings and fiery chilli ceviche – visiting Peru will leave you with bright memories for many years to come.
1. The Inca ruins of Pisac

Pisac ruins

Perched on a cliff top overlooking the Sacred Valley, these are some of the most scenic of all the Inca ruins in Peru. It involves a short walk from the entrance of the site to the actual ruins and if you have time you can walk all the way down to the local market of Pisac at the end. The ruins include a Temple to the Sun, baths, altars, water fountains, a ceremonial platform, and an inti watana which is a volcanic outcrop carved into a hitching post for the Sun. They also believe the ruins defended the southern entrance to the Sacred Valley.

 

 

2. Arequipa

Arequipa

This beautiful colonial town to the south of Lima is a must if you have the time.  At an altitude of 2,400 metres you won’t get soroche (altitude sickness) but you will acclimatise.  Definitely worth exploring this town on foot and visiting; the main plaza and the surrounding churches and cathedrals, the San Camillo farmers market, Casa del Moral and the impressive Santa Catalina monastery. The Convent of Santa Catalina opened to the public in 1970 after 400 years of cloistered religious life and is the most characteristic feature of the city.

 

3. Sacsaywaman

Sacsayawaman

Sacsayhuaman is a colossal structure of enormous stones, carved and fitted together with incredible precision and is situated on the hill overlooking Cuzco. This was the Inca fortress that protected the City and was first built by the Killke culture about 1100 and was expanded and added to by the Inca from the 13th century. The large plaza area is capable of holding thousands of people and still used today for a number of ceremonial activities. We recommend taking taxi to the ruins from Cuzco and walking back into town, which gives you a wonderful view into the local life that surrounds the city.

 

4. Machu Picchu

Machu Picchu

One of the Seven Wonders of the World, Machu Picchu, has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, and is the country’s main travel destination. Introduced to the world a century ago as the Lost City of the Incas by the American Hiram Bingham, the city still guards the secret of the reasons why the Incas had it built. Was it a retreat for the royal family? Or was it intended to be a sacred place devoted to Sun worship, inhabited by acllas or Sun virgins? Or was it a defence fortress built to impede the possible advance of the Amazon jungle dwellers that threatened the empire? Beyond these reasons, what intrigues one and all is the fact that this marvel of architectural and engineering was built in such an inaccessible spot, surrounded by untamed nature.

 

5. Sleeping at Phuyupatamarca on the Inca Trail

Phuyupatamarca

There are numerous ways to walk the Inca Trail, 4 days 3 nights, 4 days 4 nights, 2 days 1 night or the longer 5 days 4 nights.  On the 5 day 4 night trek, you will avoid the large majority of other walkers as it is slightly longer and certainly more expensive (this eliminates a lot of the backpackers). Your third night of camping is unquestionably the best as you camp above a small Inca ruin called Phuyupatamarca – which translates as city in the clouds – and is perched on a ledge offering a 180 degree of the Andes, in the centre of which is the holy Inca mountain of Salcantay (6,271 m).  Watching the sunrise and sunset here, knowing you have conquered the bulk of the Inca trail and will be seeing Machu Picchu at the end of the day is simply magical.

 

6. The Inca Ruins of Ollantaytambo

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Ollantaytambo is one of the last remaining Incan towns, which was once fiercely guarded by a massive fortress. This enormous archaeological complex was the royal estate of Emperor Pachacuti who conquered the region, though it also used to serve as a wayside inn for royal delegations on long journeys. Surviving structures here include multiple walls and towers that were used to protect the citadel from possible invasions as well as an impressive stairway and baths.

 

7. Pisac Market

Pisac market

Pisac is famous for its Mass and market. The Mass is attended by the ‘mayors’ of the neighbouring villages, complete in typical dress and carrying their traditional ‘varayoc’ or staff of office and can only be seen on a Sunday. The market is an assault of the senses with colourful weavings, local leather, local food, touristy artefacts, fruit, veg and local meats all on display in the numerous stalls.  The Pisac market also runs smaller market days on a Tuesday and Thursday, but is best on a Sunday.

 

 

8. Cuzco

Cuzco cathedral

No visit to Peru is complete without some time in this incredible city which is a blend of Inca and Spanish Cultures. It is surrounded by Inca and pre-Inca ruins such as Tambomachay, Quenko and Sacsaywaman.  The city also has some superb churches and plazas as well as hidden cobbled streets lined with artisan shops making it an ideal place to explore on foot. It is also worth visiting Korikancha or the Temple of the Sun, the main Cathedral and the San Pedro Market. If that is not enough it is also teeming with top quality restaurants and a vibrant nightlife.

 

9. Walking up Huayna Picchu Mountain at Machu Picchu

Huayna picchu

Standing in front of Machu Picchu as a careful guardian is Huayna Picchu, a hill where you will find the remains of what was considered to be the Temple of the Moon. This steep walk up takes about 45 minutes and offers a different view of this incredible city, from the top you can see that the site was built in the shape of a Condor – one of the sacred animals of the Incas.

 

10. Eating the local dish of Peru – Guinea Pig!

Guinea pig

One of the delicacies of the country’s gastronomic order is the small animal some of you had as a pet when you were young – guinea pig. It can be served one of two ways; roasted, in which case it comes to your table standing on its hind legs with a tomato in its mouth and you will find the meat falls off very easily, or fried, in which case it looks like it has been run over and arrives with all 4 legs spread out, is tougher to eat but with a crispier skin.  Either way, order a larger starter as there is not too much meat to fill you up, bon provecho!

 

Get in touch and we will help you escape from the ordinary and plan your next adventure. What you waiting for? There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

 

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Holiday destinations for 2017

Holiday destinations for 2017

 

Where to go on holiday in 2017? Well, after many years of airlines prioritising other destinations in the world over Latin America for their direct service, they have finally come to their senses. 2017 will be the year that airline travel in Latin America becomes more straightforward and some of the world’s most iconic sights become easier to reach.

 

In 2017 British Airways will offer direct flights from the UK to; Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Buenos Aires, Cancun, Mexico City, Lima, Santiago and San Jose in Costa Rica.  We only hope they continue to expand to make the worlds’ greatest continent even more accessible for us all!

 

So, now we know the easiest way to get to South America’s best holiday destinations in 2017, let’s look at what makes these places so incredible.

 

Holiday destination #1 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

 

Rio

 

The iconic city of Rio de Janeiro is on most peoples’ bucket list and if it isn’t then it should be.  Walking the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema on a weekend when all the carioca’s (the locals) are on the beach playing football and volleyball is one of the most beautiful human peacock displays you’ll ever see. Once you have had your fill of Rio, the rest of the country is simply breath-taking.  There is the wildlife wonderland of the Pantanal – the only place on earth where an encounter with the majestic jaguar is more probable than possible. Trekking in the remote Chapada Diamantina national park – the backdrop for some of the wildest eco-adventures in Brazil. Or you can simply relax on the coolest beaches the continent has to offer.

 

Holiday destination #2 – Buenos Aires, Argentina

 

Buenos-Aires

 

There is something special about the city of Buenos Aires. There are different neighbourhoods to explore.  There is stunning European-style architecture. Then there’s the beautiful tree-lined streets. Its diverse and colourful neighbourhoods with back street tango bars and superb restaurants mean you are never going to tire of the place. Buenos Aires is without a doubt the best city in South America. Beyond the city limits lies a land filled with history, stunning scenery, glaciers, gauchos, wines, wildlife and high Andean peaks.  There is something for everyone in this most welcoming of countries.

 

Holiday destination #3 – Cancun, Mexico

 

Mexico

 

Cancun is really the entrance/exit point to the Yucatan Peninsula, and in our opinion, its real beauty lies on the bohemian beaches away from the high rise hotels. To the south is the sleepy town of Tulum which has a laid-back, modern-day-hippie vibe, soft, bleach-white sand and a warm crystal-clear ocean. It’s also the start of the second longest barrier reef in the world and home to some famous cenotes (natural sinkholes that form when the roof of a cave collapses) which are perfect for snorkelling, scuba diving and swimming.  To the west lie the magnificent Mayan ruins of Chichen Itza and the colonial market town of Merida. South of Merida are the lesser (but no less impressive) Mayan ruins of Uxmal and the coastal town of Campeche and the best way to get around is to hire a car giving you the freedom to explore.

 

Holiday destination #4 – Lima, Peru

 

Lima

 

Much like Cancun, Lima is really an entrance and exit city. Although if you have half a day here time is well spent exploring the colonial quarter and sampling the exquisite food (Peru’s capital is slowly but surely becoming the foodie capital of South America). The best way to travel around Peru is in an anticlockwise direction from Lima.  The reason for this is these destinations are lower in altitude and hence allow you to acclimatise to the altitude gradually.  It is also the best way to see the Inca world as the majority of the pre-Inca ruins are here as well, so your holiday becomes a magical journey through time.  You end your trip with a visit to the awe-inspiring, ancient Inca city of Machu Picchu, a long-anticipated highlight for most people.

 

Holiday destination #5 – Santiago, Chile

 

Santiago

 

Getting to Santiago will involve the longest non-stop flight in the world from London – 14 hrs 40 min, but it’s worth it. Chile has become one of the most popular holiday destinations in the world in recent years and rightly so.  It is a long and thin country, so expect a certain amount of internal flying; but when you arrive you’ll simply wonder why you’ve taken so long to come here. To the north is the Atacama Desert, the driest place on earth and an area surrounded by lunar like landscapes, salt flats and 6,000 m volcanoes. The far south is Patagonia and the Torres del Paine national park, offering the best walking and trekking on the continent and to end your holiday why not relax in a vineyard wine tasting in the Chilean wine valleys. A land of startling extremes, a holiday in Chile is heaven for those with a sense of adventure.

 

Holiday destination #6 – San Jose, Costa Rica

 

San-Jose

 

When you visit Costa Rica, it’s as if nature is putting on a show. And experiencing the wildlife is a thrill in more ways than one as on a Costa Rica holiday wildlife watching and adventure activities blend perfectly into one.  Nowhere else in Latin America has a lodge which you reach by white water rafting and you bound across a private suspension bridge to your Canopy suite. (This is Pacuare Lodge located in the middle of a cloud forest teeming with exotic birdlife). There are many different areas of the country too, so whatever you are after there is something here for you; beaches, cloud forest, rainforest, mountains, waterfalls, coffee plantations, remote islands, wildlife and world class birding.  On top of this, the Tico’s (Costa Ricans) are so friendly, that whenever you ask ‘how are you’ they reply with ‘Pura Vida’ which means Pure Life!

 

Get in touch and we will help you escape from the ordinary and plan your next adventure. What you waiting for? There’s a whole world out there waiting to be discovered.

 

Latin Odyssey

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A Holiday In Chile With Glaciers, Deserts And Vineyards

Holiday in Chile

 

Due to its geographical layout, a holiday in Chile can have it all. It is long and thin so any holiday to Chile will involve a certain amount of flying, but the rewards are limitless. If you have the time you can do it all in one visit, but we would recommend 3 to 4 weeks of travelling in Chile to accomplish this.

If time is limited, then pick your areas well and perhaps consider combining it with a holiday in Argentina.  The Atacama Desert in the far north can be combined with Salta and the north west of Argentina, whilst Chile Patagonia can be combined with El Calafate and Bariloche in Argentina.

 

Holiday in Chile

 

To help you plan a holiday in Chile, here is a brief guide to the main areas of the country;

 

Its capital is Santiago, which although nice enough is really an entrance and exit city and we would recommend spending time either at the beginning or end of your holiday in Chile in either Valparaiso or the Chilean wine valleys.  Both are located a 2 hour drive away from the airport and the UNESCO town of Valparaiso with its multi coloured houses is certainly worth a couple of nights.  The Chilean wine valleys are probably worth 3 nights as not only are the wines world class, but it is also a great way to have some down time at the end of your holiday in Chile.

 

Holiday in Chile

 

The far north contains the driest place on earth, the Atacama Desert.  This part of your holiday in Chile will involve soaking in hot springs, driving across salt flats, watching geysers explode with the early morning sun, horse riding, walking across lunar like landscapes and all in the shadows of towering 6,000 metre volcanoes. It is an area where you can be as active as you wish, though to see the spectacular scenery you should expect some long drives.

 

Holiday in Chile

 

Off its coastline is the mysterious Easter Island. It is nearly 3,700 km away from Santiago and as such it is a place where few people get to.  This tiny island is covered in nearly 900 Moai statutes, some of which have to be seen to be believed as they were built at a time when the wheel did not exist. 3 nights is about right for being on the island and if you have had enough of Moai searching, then island also has a couple of superb beaches.

 

Holiday in Chile

 

Heading south from Santiago you land in The Lake District of Chile.  This is an area of outstanding natural beauty and where you will find Azul blue lakes backed by snow-capped volcanoes and as well as high Andean peaks. The Lake District of Chile can be what you want it to be and by this we mean if you want to trek for 8 hours, no problem, if you want to uncover the history of the Mapuche people, no problem, see colonial towns with colourful markets, no problem!

 

Holiday in Chile

 

Where Chile ends is where the Andes meet the Pacific and the mystical Tierra del Fuego is located and where no holiday in Chile’s Patagonia is complete without visiting.  The first Europeans came upon it in Ferdinand Magellan’s expedition of 1520 and it has lost none of its allure since. The land here is incredible and within it lies the best national park in South America; Torres del Paine.  At the centre of the park is a massif containing lakes from glacial run off and a rock formation of both granite and basalt.  Over the years the extreme weather has carved some of the most beautiful peaks, which you have to see to believe and where you will find some of the best trekking in the whole of South America.

 

Holiday in Chile

 

Don’t think, just go.  A holiday to Chile is one that you will remember forever, so make sure you do it the right way.  We’ve been there, a lot, so let us help you create a holiday of lifetime.

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Top 5 Wine Lodges in South America

Wine tasting in South America is becoming increasingly popular, partly because they have emerged as a world class producer of wines, but also because the lodges offer a great place to relax, so here are our top five wine lodges in South America – in no particular order

 

Casa Lapostolle Residence, Santa Cruz, Chile

 

casa de huespedes

 

 

We say in no particular order, but this is probably the best.  Wine tasting in Chile at the Casa Lapostolle is an experience unto itself as you have access to the owner’s private cellar and with only 4 casitas the staff can dote on your every need.  Their all-inclusive package also includes a 4 course tasting menu, which is delicious!

 

Cavas wine Lodge, Mendoza, Argentina

 

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The rooms at the Cavas Wine lodge are simply beautiful; large, open, views to the vineyards, marble bathrooms, private plunge pools and a private roof top area with an open fire offering views over not only the surrounding vineyards, but also the snow-capped Andes. Wine tasting in Argentina is excellent and the surrounding vineyards include some of the best Malbec in the country

 

 

Vina MateticLa Casona, Rosario Valley, Chile

 

instalaciones2

 

Vina Matetic is a traditional colonial country home nestled in the Rosario valley, surrounded by vineyards.  The 7 rooms are all small but cosy and in keeping with the buildings history.  Staying here you understand what it would have been like 100 years ago working the vines, but with all the modern amenities you would expect as well as a large outdoor pool.

 

Vina VIK, VIK wine lodge, Millahue Valley, Chile

 

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A relatively new addition to the lodges in the wine valleys of Chile, Vina Vik brings a truly modern infrastructure to an old world. Everything about this places screams boutique, from the main building to the 22 suites to the living areas and restaurant.  What Vina VIK offers though is an unparalleled level of service, where everything is tailored around what you want to do

 

Club Tapiz, Mendoza, Argentina

 

entrance

 

This charming lodge is the perfect place to go wine tasting in Argentina. The house dates from the 1890’s and they have retained all of its original charm. The 7 rooms are simple but elegant, the restaurant is fantastic, so much so, you actually need to book even if you are staying there and they have their own bodega where every evening at 20:00 the guests meet for wine tasting.

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