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Top Five: Total Luxury Lodges in South America  

A holiday in Latin America is the sort of thing many of us don’t get to do often – it’s why so many countries are popular honeymoon destinations.  Top-end all-inclusive hotels are a fantastic way to make the most of every moment, ensuring you’re in utter bliss throughout your stay.

 

You might be looking to live like royalty throughout your vacation, or  looking to mix-and-match to include one or two luxury highlights.  Here, we’ve chosen our five most outstanding places to stay across South America based on the exemplary quality in every inch of what’s on offer.

 

Each of the lodges below is a paragon of perfection – including even one in your itinerary is guaranteed to leave a lasting impression.  For that once-in-a-lifetime trip, look no further than these…

1. Cavas Wine Lodge, Argentina

The outside of a large lodge with whitewashed walls and vineyards outside, in the evening sun

Click for more images

 

Set deep in Argentina’s Mendoza region, famed the world over for its wine, the Cavas Wine Lodge sits against a stunning backdrop of the Andes mountains.  It’s impeccably stylish without being snooty; every guest room and individual bungalow has its own terrace, plunge pool and open fire.

 

Its all-inclusive stays cover both the lodge restaurant and four others within the area, giving you exceptional freedom and variety.  The spa includes some specially crafted ‘Wine Therapy’ as well as more traditional treatments.

2. Awasi Atacama, Chile

Small pool area surrounded by sunbeds, terracotta-coloured walls and a thatched lodge at the end.

Lounge area at Awasi (click for more images)

 

In the heart of the Atacama desert is one of the most gorgeous boutique hotels you’ll ever come across. Awasi, meaning ‘home’ in Quechua, is intimate and indulgent with 8 wood-built, thatched cabanas that feature private patios on top of the hotel’s comfortable social areas.

 

To offer excellent access to the stark beauty of the Atacama guests have a private 4×4 car and personal guide entirely at their disposal.

3. Lapostolle Residence, Chile

Two deck chairs at the edge of a deep blue infinity pool looking out across vineyards and mountains

Lounge area at Lapostolle (click for more images)

 

Exclusive and serene, the Lapostolle Residence is owned by the family who produce Grand-Marnier liquor and is at the heart of Chile’s wine industry – it’s a renowned winery itself.  You’ll stay in one of just four casitas (separate villas) looking out into the Apalta vineyards, decorated with contemporary taste with Chilean wood features, smooth leather and airy silks.

 

The menu is inspired by the wines and makes the most of local produce and seasonality – it’s an exquisite, memorable experience.

4. Titilaka, Peru

Two wooden chairs on a balcony looking out to a wide, serene lake

Balcony at Titilaka (click for more images)

 

If you’re heading to Lake Titicaca then this is where you’ll want to stay. Titilaka offers spectacular, uninterrupted views across the lake both from each of its 18 bedrooms and from the balconies that run around the exterior of the lodge.

 

It’s attuned to the region and prides itself on the experiences it offers for guests to explore the terrain – seasoned guides can take you hiking, boating, biking and riding through the Andean hills, including visiting local traditional communities.

 

5. Explora Patagonia, Chile

Looking across a rich turquoise lake, against the backdrop of high mountains, a hotel sits at the foothills on the shore.

Explora Patagonia from Lake Pehoe (click for more images)

 

This is undoubtedly the best place to stay in the Torres del Paine National Park and is perfectly situated for excursions into it.  The views across Lake Pehoe and the surrounding peaks are sublime, while the lodge itself is built using beautiful graduated woods and has every luxury amenity you’d expect – gourmet cuisine, a bathhouse and spa, sumptuous rooms.

 

Explora Patagonia is also the only lodge in the region with its own stables with specially-trained horses and expert handlers.

 

Contact Latin Odyssey to find out about staying in any of the above lodges.

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Top Five: Beach Honeymoon Destinations

Beaches are an absolute honeymoon staple for many couples.  South America and Central America have many incredible ones, but depending on your personal preferences some are better than others for access to what else is on offer.

 

Things to consider:

    • What else you’d like to see
    • How often or how far you’re willing to travel
    • Whether you want access to a beach throughout your honeymoon or just for part of it (and whether you’d prefer that at the beginning or end)
    • Whether you’re looking for somewhere with a bit of a buzz, or complete seclusion and privacy

 1. Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Tropical beach with deck chairs

Riviera Maya (click for more images)

The Yucatan Peninsula separates the Caribbean from the Gulf of Mexico and is right in between two of the warmest waters on Earth.  Look no further than the Riviera Maya for beaches of pure perfection under a gloriously hot sun – wide shores with white sand that stretch for miles on end, warm and shallow aqua waters, and the world’s second-biggest barrier reef.

 

Also great for: Scuba diving, horseback riding, water sports, Mayan ruins

Stay at: The Viceroy Riviera Maya for ultimate indulgence and full 5-star service.  This luxury coastal hotel also boasts its own private area of jungle where many of the lodges are tucked away with their own plunge pools.

Read more about a Mexico honeymoon with Latin Odyssey

 2. San Juan del Sur, Nicaragua

 April belize large

This rural fishing village is idyllic, remote – and one of the most gorgeous parts of Nicaragua.  Not only are the beaches calm and serene, they’re also visited regularly by sea turtles (with the ‘La Flor’ nesting site nearby) and forest activities are within easy reach.

 

Also great for: Turtle nesting, sailing and fishing, canopy tours in the jungle.

Stay at: Morgans Rock, which seamlessly combines an immersive natural experience and excellent sustainability practices with gourmet food and service.

 Read more about a Nicaragua honeymoon with Latin Odyssey

3. Trancoso, Brazil

Wide shot of sunny sandy beach with palm trees

Trancoso (click for more images)

Despite being a bit of a celebrity hotspot Trancoso has kept its rustic personality, small-town feel and still sits within undeveloped forest.  These renowned beaches abound in natural features like little pools and groves, and of course have the classic soft, white sand, whilst the locals are famously warm and welcoming.

 

Also great for: Local culture, beach bars, kayaking

Stay at: Villas Trancoso, where the staff are ready to tend to your every need.  Rooms open directly onto the shore and come with gently swaying hammocks on personal balconies – go for the master villa for boutique perfection.

Read more about a Brazil honeymoon with Latin Odyssey

4. The Cayes, Belize

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More than 100 miniature islands in crystal-clear azure waters make up the Belizean Cayes.  The beaches are nothing short of flawless and feature a stunning array of tropical marine wildlife, with the coral reefs easily accessible from kayaks.  Both the reefs and the views stretch for miles, resulting in an atmosphere of utter serenity.

 

Also great for: Snorkelling, swimming, sailing, fishing, spotting rarer animals like the manatee and whale shark

Stay at: Mata Chica on the main island of Ambergris Caye.  Your thatched cabana will be airy and spacious with amazing service, food and wine; the resort is also optimised for all relevant beach/water activities.

 Read more about a Belize honeymoon with Latin Odyssey

5. Florianopolis, Brazil

White-sanded beach with forest hills in background

Florianopolis (click for more images)

Florianopolis (the state capital of Santa Catarina) is a peninsula in the south of Brazil stretching out into the south Atlantic Ocean. Popular with Brazilians and international visitors alike, its breezy beaches are in an ideal location for activities but have remained clean and golden.  Keep an eye on the local fishermen – they’ve formed an incredible relationship with dolphins that helps both with their catch!

 

Also great for: Whale watching, bird watching, beach sports like surfing

Stay at: Ponta dos Ganchos for the height of enjoyment in your own top-notch bungalow, most of which have Jacuzzis, verandas and open fires in addition to the extensive facilities and fabulous cuisine in the main hotel itself.

Read more about a Brazil honeymoon with Latin Odyssey

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Top Five: Colonial Towns in Latin America

To read the history of Central and South America is to hear tales of conquests and conquistadors meeting indigenous Mayans and Incas immersed in tropical jungles and atop Andean peaks.

 

While it’s a somewhat turbulent past, the colonisation of Latin America has produced towns and cities of stunning architecture – classical Spanish facades and Latin fronts blend with their tropical surroundings, Baroque buildings nestle among palm trees and exotic sun fills European-style squares.

 

These five cities are our favourite examples and surely worth a visit if you’re going to Latin America – almost all of them are UNESCO World Heritage sites.

 

1. Antigua, Guatemala

High aerial shot looking across city with mountain peak in the background and a crucifix in the right forerground

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Antigua nestles in a lush valley bordered by volcanoes and is still the cultural centre of Guatemala.

It’s a prime example of Spanish Baroque architecture, and also provides an excellent base from which to explore the surrounding terrain – climb the Pacaya volcano, visit local towns on market day and journey through the valley to enjoy the glorious landscape.

 

Hot spots: The Arco de Santa Catalina in the Parco Central, Las Capuchinas Convent (where the name of the monkey comes from), nearby town Comalapa.

 

Visit Antigua with Latin Odyssey

2. Granada, Nicaragua

Looking between two red-roofed buildings at second-floor level with Moorish church behind

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Situated on the shores of Lake Nicaragua, overseen by the Mombacho volcano, Granada has a rich history and is an integral part of Nicaragua’s past – it’s officially the oldest city built on the Latin American mainland during the Spanish conquests.

 

Moorish influences can be seen in colourful exteriors and elegant, simple features, and the gorgeous architecture proclaims the city’s incredible wealth acquired by being on the region’s main trade route (prior to the Panama Canal).

 

Hot spots: The volcanic national parks of both Mombacho and Masaya are close, and the Masaya market is vividly colourful.  The city is now internationally renowned as a gastronomical centre – you’ll want to get a good taste of the food!

 

Visit Granada with Latin Odyssey

3. Cuzco, Peru

Aerial image of city in valley with high hills behind; text written into hillside reads 'El Peru; Cuzco'

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Cuzco: the capital of the Incan empire.  The Spanish tried to remove all traces of the city’s previous inhabitants, but an earthquake tore down their buildings leaving only the Inca stonework.  This now serves as a reminder of the past civilisations here.

 

Inca culture remains inextricable from Cuzco’s nature, though from above the central city’s red-tiled rooftops look like a typical Tuscan scene.  The traditional Inca Trail to Machu Picchu begins here, so it’s also a great place to settle briefly before jetting off into the hills.

 

Hot spots: The Plaza de Armas, adorned by two amazing churches (the city cathedral and La Compania de Jesus).  The Inca Museum unearths the myriad history of the region.

 

Visit Cuzco with Latin Odyssey

4. Cuenca, Ecuador

An ornate cathedral corner with blue dome behind

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In the highlands of Ecuador lies Cuenca – renowned for its cultural significance and numerous historical buildings, though there have been settlers here since 8000 BC.

 

It’s magnificently colonial with lots of Neo-Gothic features, blue-domed spires and charming cobbled streets – scale the Turi hill for sweeping views across the city.

 

Hot spots: The Plaza Rotary has a bustling daily market, and both the El Cajas National Park and the ruined city of Ingapirca (the country’s largest Incan site) are a short drive away.

 

Visit Cuenca with Latin Odyssey

5. Ouro Preto, Brazil

Ouro Preto (black gold) boomed during the Brazilian Gold Rush of the 18th century and is named for its integral part in industry.  Though its influence waned with the decline of the mines, the city is a true step back in time and retains an authentic, Baroque nature.

 

Its thirteen churches indicate the importance of religion at the height of the city’s glory, which is also celebrated in many ornate fountains, bridges and embellishing features – all set against a backdrop of the Serra do Espinhaço mountains.

 

Hot spots: Our Lady of Carmo, Pilar and Antônio Dias are some of the most outstanding churches, while close by the town of Mariana is magically picturesque.  The Serra de Cipo National Park is also near enough to visit if you’re based in the city.

 

Visit Ouro Preto with Latin Odyssey

 

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Top Five: Top Things to Do in the Rainforest (part 2)

When we started writing this piece we realised we couldn’t stop at 5 – we simply had to keep going!  Here we continue the list of our favourite rainforest activities.

 

Contact us to discuss these activities further, or to create your own itinerary that includes them.

1. Discover a hidden paradise

Rio Celeste in Costa Rica (click for more images)

Rio Celeste in Costa Rica (click for more images)

Central and South America rainforests offer both grand sweeping views and little secret gems – wherever you stay, be sure to ask about any magical secluded sites that would be worth visiting (many lodges have gorgeous settings themselves).  They’ll be worth a bit of a walk to get there!

 

Where to do it: Paraty, and the Cristalino Lodge in Brazil, the Osa Peninsula and the Pacuare Lodge in Costa Rica, and the Rio Indio Lodge in Nicaragua.

2. Soothe your soul

Woman lying prone with round stones on her back

Hot stone massage (click for more images)

Part of the charm of tropical rainforests is the chance to escape city life and have some ‘me’ time.  Several lodges and hotels recognise this, and help you indulge with some excellent spa treatments that make the most of the lush surroundings, such as yoga classes and meditation.

 

Where to do it: The Reserva Amazonica in Peru, Lapa Rios and Nicuesa Lodge in Costa Rica.

3. Go eco

Small rustic lodge in the middle of the rainforest, surrounded by plants

Nicuesa Lodge (click for more images)

Conservation and sustainability are huge issues for rainforest habitats, and while all locations are up to standards there are a few that offer a real escape from modern life, allowing you to reconnect with the natural world.

 

Where to do it: The Tambopata Research Centre in Peru is simple and rustic with no mains electricity supply.  Visit Nicuesa Lodge in Costa Rica, the Chalalan Lodge in Bolivia, Hacienda Concepcion in Peru and Rio Indio in Nicaragua to immerse yourself in nature without compromising on comfort.

4. Zip-line, abseiling and sky canyoning

Man dangling from a rope in mid-air with rainforest waterfalls behind

Abseiling at the Iguazu Falls (click for more images)

 

Get up close and personal with rainforest peaks and canopies using a few pulse-racing activities!  It’s actually possible to abseil down parts of the world-renowned Iguazu Falls, for example, and there are several areas that offer zip-lining in a stunning setting.

 

Where to do it: Pacuare Lodge and the Monte Verde cloud forest in Costa Rica, the Iguazu Falls (bordering Argentina and Brazil).

5. Become a water baby

People swimming in a rainforest pool with a small waterfall behind

Trancoso, Brazil (click for more images)

Almost all rainforest regions in South and Central America will include places where you can actually swim in natural waters.  Hidden waterfalls, serene lagoons and lush rivers abound – you can even swim in piranha-filled waters in certain conditions!

 

Where to do it: All of the above, and particularly the Mountain Pine Ridge area in Belize & the Marau Peninsula in Brazil.

 

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Top Five: Things to Do in the Rainforest (part 1)

If you’re looking to travel in South America or Central America, chances are you’ll be headed into a part of the continent’s lush rainforest.

 

From the Brazilian Amazon to the cloud forests of Ecuador the landscapes are not only unbelievably beautiful, but also hold within them a world of wildlife, waterfalls and hidden treasures.

 

There’s a wealth of ways to explore rainforest terrain – here are some of our favourite activities for everyone from adrenaline junkies to leisurely loungers.  (Look out for the second instalment of this – there were too many options to just have five options!)

 

1. White water rafting and kayaking

Two kayaks in white water with waterfall behind

White water rafting at the Iguazu Falls (click for more images)

For a taste of adventure, head to the water for rafting and kayaking down lush canyons.  Engage with fast-flowing rapids, and meet the tropical rainforest from a different angle – and don’t worry if you’re a novice!  Waters are graded from 1 to 6 – level 1 requires only minimal manoeuvring and wouldn’t include any particularly rough areas.

 

Where to do it:  Peru (particularly the Tambopata river), Costa Rica, Argentina, Belize.

2. Walking tours

People walking down extremely steep steps in a mountain ravine

The Inca Trail in Peru (click for more images)

South America in particular is one of the best continents to walk around, with the Andes mountain range running its full length.  Every level of exertion from short afternoon/morning strolls to extensive trekking holidays can be accommodated, and canopy walkways will fully immerse you in the rainforest.

 

Where to do it:  Brazil, Peru, Ecuador, Panama, Belize and Bolivia will offer the best selection of both high altitude and lowland hiking.

3. Horseback trekking

Three people on horseback in the rainforest with a waterfall behind

Trekking in Arenal (click for more images)

Argentina is famous for its ranches, but horse riding can also be a fantastic way to explore forest regions.  Lodges and hotels offering horseback activities will have excellent stables and sure-footed steeds that are comfortable with their terrain, and will cater to all abilities.

 

Where to do it: Argentina (of course), but also Belize, Ecuador, Brazil and Nicaragua.

4. Uncover ruined cities

Sunny rainforest clearing with ancient Incan pyramid temple

Tikal (click for more images)

Exploring the ancient ruins of Mayan and Incan civilisations is a given in Latin America.  The rainforest ruins are particularly mesmerising and will give you a real ‘Lost World Explorer’ feeling as you turn a corner, scale a hill, push past branches or come to sudden clearings to be faced with majestic stone pyramids.

The trail to Machu Picchu requires stamina, but there are many other sites closer to sea level that won’t be quite so punishing.

 

Where to do it: The city of Tikal in Guatemala, Xunantunich in Belize, Machu Picchu and the Inca trail in Peru.

5. Watch the wildlife

People looking out from a rainforest viewing platform surrounded by jungle

Many lodges have viewing balconies (click for more images)

You won’t just see great wildlife when horse riding or walking – in the rainforest you’ll be right next to an incredible abundance of species in your hotel or lodge, so keep your eyes peeled at your bedroom window too.

 

Animals that you’re likely to see (and hear!) closer to human habitat are frogs, monkeys and a cross-section of birdlife.

 

Where to do it: Both the Pantanal and Amazon regions of Brazil, Peru (especially the Tambopata Research Centre), Ecuador, Panama, Belize and Bolivia.

Contact us to find out more about a holiday combining these activities!

 

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