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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

 

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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

 

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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.

 

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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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Our tour guides in Ecuador

Latin Odyssey will be shining a spotlight on the best guides in South & Central America to give you an insight into what a holiday with a great tour guide is like and today we focus on our tour guides in Ecuador & the Galapagos.

Being rich in wildlife and culture our tour guides in Ecuador need to be some of the best in the world in order to deliver and from their answers below, you can see they are!

 

 

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ANDREA DARQUEA, who guides for us in mainland Ecuador

 

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  1. What inspired you to become a guide?

I grew up in a family with profound cultural roots and ever since I was a little girl my father in particular taught me to love our music, our landscapes, and our people which made me fall in love with my country.

When I was 14 years old, I went on a school trip to the coast of Ecuador and our guide was a very enthusiastic woman and through her eyes I was able to interpret all the magical places and interesting characters. From this moment on I was inspired to become a tourist guide…

 

 

 

  1. What do like most about being a guide?

Being able to use a smile, a hug, the proper communication and create interest as simple tools to make people happy…

When we work we are surrounded by human beings, like tourists, our fellow workmate the driver, the craftsman, the artist, the museum guide, etc this gives us the opportunity to develop qualities while we work, such qualities undeniably help us become better human beings.

 

 

 

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

A first aid kit is what I never forget to bring, having it or not could make a huge difference.

 

 

 

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

Ecuador is an extremely diverse country, each region is special. Personally, I enjoy the mountains and I believe anyone who travels must visit the Andean region as a connection to other regions.

 

 

 

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

The cultural, aboriginal and religious festivities are the ones that would be on the top of my list. Those are the events in which all the beautiful and colourful costumes get combined to represent the nature, the crops and the people. Additionally, there are typical dances which bring connection to the essence of the party and finally, the religion which seals the fused cultural expressions.

 

 

 

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

Our Andean Condor which is the biggest continental bird, although its colours are not as bright as the beautiful hummingbirds, it’s delightful glide makes all of our feelings and emotions fly as high as they do. I have never felt such silence as the silence there is when a group of tourists admire a Condor glide.

 

 

 

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

Latin America has a very nice and pleasant weather, and for the most part of the year on most regions the weather is not a limitation. Even more, for being in the equator, our country does not have seasons therefore it makes traveling more enjoyable all year round. What I do recommend is to dress in light layers and be ready for any sudden changes in weather.

 

The most important element that attracts visitors to our countries is the nature, for this reason and depending on the ecosystem they get to visit, they have to bring the adequate clothing. Also not to forget the picture camera, I recommend a waterproof camera to catch amazing pictures while taking a dip in any of the Islands of the Galapagos and also, binoculars to not miss any of the fascinating and colourful one of a kind birds.

 

But above all things, to have an open spirit, open to the adventure of getting to know more from within, to understand human realities and to be ready to submerge in unique areas of our planet.

 

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Javier Eduardo Guerrero Balarezo, who guides for us in mainland Ecuador

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  1. What inspired you to become a guide?

I don’t like to be trap between four walls. I like outdoors. I like people. I like to help. I love my country. I can’t think of myself doing anything else except guiding.

 

 

  1. What do like most about being a guide?

To communicate little things like a small flower here or a nice bird there. I love to tell people the greatness of this country.

 

 

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

I take with me always a backpack with a raincoat, binoculars, map of Ecuador, sunblock, mosquito repellent, pocket knife, hat and water. I like to be prepared for guiding in any type of condition always.

 

 

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

Definitely the Andes is the must visit in Ecuador and of course the Galapagos.

 

 

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

There is so many things I would recommend to visit in Ecuador such as eastern areas of  Quito and the processions, the Mama Negra at Latacunga in September, the Baby Jesus parade on Christmas in Cuenca, just to say a few.

 

 

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

Again it is so many animals deserve to be seen or consider in Latin America but there is 3 I love Condor, the lord of the skies, the Puma, the best hunter of all time and the Snakes, the warriors of the underworld. I am sorry but I can’t refer to just one.

 

 

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

Bring everything! Expect anything!! Always smile and say hello to us locals!!!

 

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