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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

 

2171-72

 

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

 

DSC3210_veranda

 

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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Travel tips for South & Central America post Brexit

With Brexit, the financial fall out and the drop in the value of sterling, we thought it would be sensible to share some travel tips for South and Central America post brexit and how to get the most from your travel budget.  The problem of the weak pound is not just for travellers who want to holiday in the United States. Lots of countries –South and Central America as well as the Caribbean – have currencies which are pegged to the US dollar or use it as a parallel currency. So, if you love travel and want to do more of it read on to find out what you can do to make the best of the situation.

Travel tip #1: Flights

flights south and central america

 

There are certain inalienable truths; international flights cost money no matter what, as do internal flights.  So saying, international flights into Central America generally cost less than those to South America and there are fewer internal flights. So if you haven’t considered Central America before we strongly suggest you do.

 

 

 

Travel tip #2Great value throughout Guatemala and Belize

Guatemala Tikal

Combining both Guatemala and Belize offers you the best of both worlds.  Guatemala has the culture, whilst Belize has the adventure, though both have some of the most iconic sights to see in the world.  Highlights include the jungle clad Mayan ruins of Tikal in Guatemala and the second longest barrier reef in the world off the coast of Belize – so close you can kayak to it from your hotel.  Both countries offer excellent hotels in prime locations without blowing the budget.

 

 

Travel tip #3: Brazils changing economy

Rio de Janeiro Brazil

A few years ago when Brazil had the strongest economy in South America we saw hotel prices increase by 75% over a 2 year period.  Today, they find themselves in a rocky financial situation and as such their hotel prices have reverted back to what they were.  So once the Olympics have finished, our travel tip is to head out to Brazil to see some of the most famous places in the world: Rio de Janeiro, Iguazu Falls, the Pantanal and a coastline you can only dream of being on.

 

 

 

Travel tip #4: Peru on a budget

Lake Titicaca, Peru

Can you ‘do’ Peru on a budget? It’s tricky, but can be done. The new direct flights with British Airways into Lima have increased airline competition and made prices more affordable, similarly with hotels – more competition means more competitive pricing. When in a towns such as Arequipa or Cuzco, or areas such as the Sacred Valley, our travel tip is to go exploring on your own.  We will always give you an endless list of things to see and do, as well as explain how to do them and we’ll also give you all our insider info on the best local restaurants to eat at.

 

 

Travel tip #55% discount on your holiday

Mukul Resort, San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

 

Well this is not strickly a travel tip, more of a helping hand.. as we want you to continue to get out there exploring! Some hotels offer free nights, others offer complimentary spa treatments.  Yes they all add up, but do they offer a great discount, probably not.  That is why we are offering you a better deal.  Book any holiday with us between now and the 1st December 2016 and receive a 5% discount* off your holiday. *Discount does not include international or internal flights

 

 

 

 

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Travel Tips From Our Tour Guides In The Galapagos

The guides in the Galapagos Islands are some of the luckiest in the world. There is nowhere else quite like it in the world, though if you are guiding here you really need to know your stuff!  Today we focus on one of our guides in the Galapagos who has taken time out of her busy schedule to give you an insight into her world.

 

DSC_8294

 

About you

 

Name: Maria del Carmen Ramirez

Country you guide in: Ecuador

Area of the country you are a guide: The Galapagos Islands

 

 

  1. What inspired you to become a guide?

 

I started as a guide in the Amazonian rainforest in Ecuador and then went to the Galapagos Islands. What inspired me was nature and people. I am a “people´s person”, like to show my country around and I am very proud of all the cultural and natural highlights that Ecuador offers.

 

  1. What do like most about being a guide?

 

What I like the most of being a guide is that I get to meet interesting people and travel around.

 

  1. When guiding, what is the one thing you always have with you and why?

 

When guiding, I always have binoculars, a field guide, map of Galapagos, a radio and first aid kit. Field guide and map of Galapagos are very important to show the people in the group where are they and what are they seeing. I think that every guide should carry binoculars for some birds are found far away and for safety is mandatory to have a radio and first aid kit.

 

  1. Which areas of your country really stand out as must-visit destinations?

 

All of it!! If we consider a must, all of Ecuador is worth it because is so different and unique. Galapagos is a real highlight and it is the most visited are in the country, but as well as beautiful and natural is the Amazonian rainforest. The national parks in the highlands have amazing wildlife and natural resources. The country´s history and traditions are shown in our architecture and culture which reveals an amazing diversity in local markets, handicraft and artisans.

 

  1. Are there any seasonal events that you would recommend being in your country for, maybe even something most tourists wouldn’t know about?

 

A very important one is the Inti Raimi Festival, or “festival of the Sun”. This festival has its roots in the ancient Inca culture that once ruled most of the Andes, including Ecuador. In the festival, native Ecuadorians dress up in traditional clothes and celebrate the sun and the fertility of the “Pachamama”, mother Earth. It takes place every year on the summer solstice, June 22. They celebrate it in different places around Ecuador, including in the “Mitad del Mundo” monument, a big tourist attraction.

 

Another important event is the “Semana Santa” or holy week festivities which are a group of celebrations taking place all over the country. Holy Week (happening the last week of March) is the one event that allows visitors to witness Quito’s significant expressions of faith, while admiring liturgical rituals and traditions, which shed light on the cultural complexities of a mixed heritage. During Holy Week, visitors can also taste the delectable blend of indigenous and Spanish cuisines in the popular “fanesca” dish, a unique soup that combines flavours from both the Andes and the coast, an elaborate and hearty treat that will make this week in Quito truly unforgettable.

You must go to the historical part of the city and join the celebrations. There will be music, costumes, parades, processions and sacred music concerts.

 

  1. What do you think is the most amazing animal in Latin America and why?

 

For me, it is the giant tortoise from the Galapagos Islands. It represents longevity, serenity and adaptation.  It has through a large process of survival from its very beginning in the old sailor’s time till now days had to cope with the threats of introduced species that harm their lives

 

  1. What tips do you have for families hoping to go to Latin America? – e.g. when to go, things to bring

 

My best advice is just to come! Come whenever you can and bring a good camera. In Ecuador, any time of year is great. With a privilege weather, outdoor activities can be practiced almost anytime. Some foreigners think Latin America is a dangerous place, and parts of some countries are, but most of Latin America is safe and fun and full of people who love tourists. From Mexico to Argentina, there are literally thousands of spectacular things to see and do. Don’t wait! There are family activities to be enjoyed such as: hiking, biking, canopy, tubbing, zip line, birdwatching, train trips, hot springs, national parks,  just to name a few.

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