Page 1

Latin America Travel trade guide 2017

DOMINICAN REPUBLICA WALK ON THE WILD SIDE As well as picture-perfect beaches and a cool Latin American flavour, the Dominican Republic has unparalleled natural beauty and a world of opportunities for outdoor adventure. As the most geographically diverse country in the region, the Dominican Republic has more to offer beyond decadent cocktails on porcelain-white sands. Go for a week, and there’s no telling where your travels will take you, be it mountain biking along remote dirt tracks, riding the best windsurfing waves in the hemisphere or heading out in a fishing boat to see humpback whales crashing about in the bay of Samaná. The country contains both the Caribbean’s highest peak, Pico Duarte, and its lowest point at Lago Enriquillo, so whether you want to challenge the tallest mount or dive to the deepest depths, the Dominican Republic’s landscape is a veritable rollercoaster for adventure. WILD WATERSPORTS Characterised by rocky coasts, mangrove ecosystems, wetlands and coral reefs, the northern province of Puerto Plata is also known for its sandy beaches, which carpet 115 miles of the shoreline. This area is home to the Master of the Ocean watersports competition. The 15th annual event will be held in February 2017, and will attract international athletes across four disciplines over five days. Pitch up and watch or be inspired to learn yourself – choose surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing or stand-up paddle; or, like the pros, try all four. MOUNTAIN CHALLENGES The Dominican Republic has no shortage of rocky ranges to challenge even the most intrepid of travellers. The Cordillera Central mountain range is home to Pico Duarte, the highest peak in the Caribbean at 3,087 metres. Climb it on a two- or four-day excursion through tropical forestry and alpine landscapes. If you’re still eager for adventure, try an exhilarating white-water raft ride down the Yaque del Norte River, then take the chance to paraglide, abseil or join a horseriding trek in the mountains. UNDERWATER TREASURES The crystal-clear waters of this island country are beautiful to look at from above, but what lies below the surface is equally enchanting: rare coral reefs and a rich marine life. Divers are drawn to Catalina Island, just of the south coast, where a 30-metre drop offers prime views of the aquatic wonders below. La Caleta National Marine Park is also known as a top diving spot, with shipwrecks and an underwater sculpture park to offset the fauna’s deep blue backdrop. Discover the Dominican Republic’s wild side and visit for more information

Call: 020 7242 7778 Like us on Go Dominican Republic

Published by BMI Publishing Ltd 2017 Suffolk House, George St, Croydon, Surrey, CR9 1SR, UK T 020 8649 7233 F 020 8649 7234 enquiries@bmipublishing.

welcome to


Publisher: Steve Thompson Editorial Director: Steve Hartridge Contributors: Andy Hoskins Laura Gelder Julie Baxter Cameron Roberts Creative Director: Matt Bonner


Designers: Louisa Horton Monica Notarnicola Ross Clifford

Tony Mason, CEO, Latin American Travel Association (LATA)

04 Introducing Latin America


fter a fantastic 2016 for Latin America, new tourism developments and airline routes are now paving the way to another successful year. The introduction of British Airways’ direct flights to Lima in Peru, San Jose in Costa Rica and to Santiago de Chile has given the destination a real accessibilty boost from the UK. Costa Rica, in particular, is feeling the benefits, with Cox & Kings reporting bookings up 25% for 2017. Meanwhile, ahead of the new flight to Santiago, Chile bookings were already up 10%. New flights, improving economic conditions and renewed promotional efforts all reflect a growing appetite for travel to Latin America and the region now tops the ‘must-see’ destinations for 2017. LATA is also seeing success with our airline, hotel, DMC and other travel membership up by 58 and our prestigious B2B travel conference ‘Experience Latin America’ (June 2017) experiencing an unprecedented number of registrations. Our annual flagship events also include The LATA Media Awards and a prestigious parliamentary networking reception held to promote better ties between the UK and Latin America, welcoming MPs, peers, senior Latin American diplomats and friends in travel, hospitality and tourism. All in all, things are looking very positive for the region and we look forward to working even more closely with the travel industry to help drive sustainable tourism growth to Latin America.

Wise up to the key attractions, history and special markets for Latin America

Junior Designer: Zoe Tarrant

09 Ones to watch

Production Manager: Clare Hunter

The big developments set to stimulate sales to Latin America in 2017

Managing Director: Martin Steady

10 Six of the best Check out the wow factors – from wildlife and iconic wonders to cultural colour and active adventure

We are members of: the Latin American Travel Association, the Caribbean Tourism Organisation, Visit USA Association, PATA, MENATA, SATOA, the Foreign Airlines Association and the Institute of Travel & Tourism.

13 Itinerary inspiration Classic itineraries and themed trips that tap into your clients’ personal passions

Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, BMI Publishing cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. © 2017.

17 Map Get your geographic bearings and prepare to start selling

Subscribe for free! subscriptions@ or visit

18 Country profiles Get the lowdown on the whole region, country by country, from Argentina to Venezuela






Tailor-made itineraries Wildlife, Walking, Photography, Fishing, Battlefield and General Interest.

The longest established tour operator in the Falklands

Photographs by Allan White and Joe Lange

Individual and group travel Internal flights, transfers, accommodation, guided tours and excursions. Offering a wealth of local knowledge of the Falkland Islands along with a personal, professional and friendly service, every step of the journey. For more information E: T: (00500) 22622 - F: (00500) 22623 - W:




Jaw-dropping sites, stunning scenery, beautiful beaches and cities full of vibrant colour mean this is a region that always leaves visitors wanting more




atin America’s appeal is as wide-ranging as the continent is vast. It bears the spectacular remnants of ancient empires and is littered with pretty colonial towns, but it is also rich in cosmopolitan culture, adventure experiences, fine dining and high-end accommodation. Its landscapes include the world’s most extensive rainforest, the driest desert and the longest mountain range – all of which provide plenty of opportunities for soft adventure – and it is abundant in exotic wildlife. No wonder Latin America can be such a daunting prospect for both visitors and travel agents alike. The region has grown rapidly in popularity in recent years with increasing numbers of UK operators issuing dedicated Latin America brochures. Former no-go destinations like Colombia are now considered mainstream and one operator has even introduced a standalone itinerary exploring mysterious Paraguay. And crucially, air access to the region has considerably improved in the last year alone. Travellers in the UK can now fly non-stop from London to the likes of Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Costa Rica, Colombia, Peru and Chile. For many potential visitors, Latin America represents a once-in-a-lifetime trip that will incorporate wellknown destinations such as Rio de Janeiro, in Brazil,

and Machu Picchu, in Peru, soaking up plenty of local culture along the way. For others it might simply mean an all-inclusive beach break on the shores of the Caribbean, while still others will be returning in search of an off-thebeaten-track experience. And for the uninitiated, tantalise them with tales of archeological wonders such as Chichen Itza in Mexico, Tikal in Guatemala and of course Machu Picchu, or sing the praises of sophisticated Buenos Aires in Argentina and flamboyant Brazilian carnivals. Browsing the handicraft markets of indigenous cultures and admiring the colonial architecture and churches of the Spanish will do it for some, while diving off Central America’s Caribbean coast or trekking the Inca Trail will tick the boxes for others. Clients with big budgets are also well catered for in terms of luxury accommodation and don’t forget niche markets such as bird-watching, wine tourism, diving, horse-riding and even astronomy. Visitors short on time are spoiled for choice when it comes to classic itineraries of the region’s top destinations: Peru, Brazil, Mexico, Ecuador, Argentina and Chile. They all have well-developed tourism infrastructure to suit all budgets, with the latter two nations considered the most Westernised.


Destinations once considered emerging, like Colombia, Bolivia and the Central American nations, now occupy their fair share of brochure pages too, such is the demand to discover every corner of this beguiling destination.


Modern Latin America is a melting pot of people, cultures and contrasting history that enrich the region’s appeal and charm. Over 1,000 languages and dialects are spoken across Latin America and though Spanish and Portuguese are most widely-spoken, there are many indigenous communities – large and small – that still thrive today. Over six million people speak Quechua in Peru and Ecuador and seven million Maya live in Mexico and Central America. There are smaller groups too, such as the Guarani people of Paraguay or the Andean Ayamara communities, plus remote tribes living in the Amazon rainforest. Some groups, such as the Kuna people in Panama’s San Blas islands and the Uros people of Lake Titicaca, actively welcome visitors into their communities to experience their way of life. The region’s complex make-up is further enriched by Afro-Caribbean culture in Brazil, Colombia and

Central America, plus British, French and even Dutch colonial influence in the northeast corner of South America. Each contributes to the cultural melting pot that makes Latin American what it is today, a land known for its flamboyant music and dance, rich cuisine, colourful handicrafts, historic traditions and welcoming people.


“Don’t forget niche markets such as birdwatching, horse-riding, diving, soft adventure and surfing”

The region may appear largely Spanish or Portuguese influenced, but before Europeans set foot in the region it was vast empires such as the Aztecs, Mayans and Incas that ruled large swathes of the continent. Today, the likes of Peru, Guatemala and Mexico are blessed with impressive archaeological sites and monuments, and the temples and cities of these civilisations remain among Latin America’s biggest tourist attractions today – none more so than the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu in Peru and the Mayan city complex of Chichen Itza in Mexico.



Wildlife is another significant draw for many visitors. Jaguars, ocelots and pumas; sloths, anteaters, armadillos and monkeys; anaconda, caiman and piranhas; penguins, whales, seals and turtles; and abundant birdlife – and that’s just a snap shot of what’s waiting to be discovered in Latin America. The Amazon rainforest, with its jungle lodges and guided excursions, and the Galapagos Islands are often a priority for wildlife enthusiasts, but fantastic animal

experiences are also available in the verdant national parks and reserves of Central America, Brazil’s Pantanal, the plains of Venezuela’s Los Llanos, Argentina’s Valdes Peninsula and the Falkland Islands, to name just a few.


The region’s colossal size and variety of landscapes means those with adventure on the mind are well catered for. Cycling, rock-climbing, surfing, kayaking and white-water rafting can all be enjoyed in the Andes, for example, while snorkellers and scuba-divers should head to the Galapagos Islands, Central Americas or the Caribbean. The famous Inca Trail to Machu Picchu, Peru, is probably the region’s most famous trek, but Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park also offers great hiking amid some spectacular scenery. If horse-riding is more like your client’s idea of adventure, then a trip to Argentina is a must. The gaucho lifestyle still thrives in the expansive pampas regions and many ranches and estancias offer good accommodation in beautiful settings that can be enjoyed from the comfort of the saddle. The Andean highlands, Uruguay and Chile hold similar opportunities. For skiing, Chile and Argentina are really the only options, with Andean resorts generally open from June to October – the southern hemisphere’s winter season.


Latin America’s classic beach destinations include Cancun and the Mayan Riviera in Mexico, Rio’s Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Brazil’s northeast coast, Costa Rica and the Caribbean islands of Cuba and Dominican Republic. While some of these may be known for their urban settings or large resort-style accommodation, there are no end of quieter, more laid back options too. Take the beaches of Brazil’s Emerald Coast, for example, or the many quiet corners of Central America’s tranquil Caribbean coastline. Meanwhile, divers should be directed to Belize, off whose coast lies the second-longest barrier reef in the world and the stunning Blue Hole. Other top spots for snorkelling and diving include Honduras’ Bay Islands, the Galapagos Islands, the Corn Islands in Nicaragua and Venezuela’s Los Roques.

I have nothing but praise for Mary – so helpful and great fun to work with. My clients have also raved about the service they received on their tours with Journey Latin America. PJC, Travel Counsellors

96% of our clients rated their experience with us as Good or Excellent. Machu Picchu, Peru

As the UK’s No1 specialists in travel to Latin America, we’re proud to have been working together with travel agents for over 36 years. Our expert consultants are on-hand to help create the perfect holiday for your clients.

4.9 / 5 Service Rating





The big developments that are set to stimulate sales to Latin America in 2017





Having introduced flights to both Lima and San Jose in 2016, British Airways has added to its Latin America connections in 2017 with the addition of flights from London Heathrow to Santiago in January – the only non-stop flights from the UK. The four-times-weekly service to the Chilean capital is operated by the airline’s new B787 Dreamliner aircraft and, with a journey time of 14 hours 40 minutes, becomes BA’s longest flight.



Mexico’s ‘White City’ has been named the American Capital of Culture 2017 and, such is its charm, it is the first destination to have had the honour bestowed upon it twice. Brimming with colonial architecture, museums, galleries and live music and dance performances, the capital of Yucutan state is already a highlight on many itineraries. It can conveniently be incorporated with Chichen Itza and Cancun and, having been tipped for stardom in Lonely Planet’s influential Best in Travel 2017 report, you can expect an increase in enquiries.

Small boat cruises with special interest themes are on the rise in 2017. They include culinary themed and women-only sailings with Aqua Expeditions in Peru and a specialist photography cruise to Antarctica with polar operator One Ocean with workshops and field excursions. In the Galapagos, special departures on Evolution (pictured) include excursions and daily lectures from Dr Steven Pinker and Dr Rebecca Goldstein. All of which are available through Last Frontiers, among other specialist Latin America operators.




Luxury hotel and train operator Belmond launches the Andean Explorer in May – South America’s first luxury train journey with sleeper accommodation. The train will take passengers along one of the highest train routes in the world, traversing the Peruvian Andes from Cusco to Lake Titicaca and Arequipa on one and two-night trips. Four cabin categories are available – from bunk beds to deluxe doubles – each with its own bathroom and shower, and there are lounge, dining and observation carriages.

Spanish airline Air Europa continues to enhance its impressive network across Latin America – and not just to the key cities. The airline, which flies from London Gatwick with convenient connections in Madrid, operates flights to Buenos Aires, Lima, Bogota, Salvador de Bahia and Havana, as well as Montevideo (Uruguay), Asuncion (Paraguay), Santa Cruz (Bolivia) and, most recently, Guayaquil in Ecuador and Argentina’s second city, Cordoba. Next up is San Pedro Sula in Honduras, which launches in April 2017.


ICONIC ATTRACTIONS 1. Machu Picchu, Peru – the impressive mountaintop Inca fortress tops many bucket lists 2. Iguazu Falls, Brazil/Argentina – impressive, thundering waterfalls 3. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile – majestic and dramatic scenery in the south 4. Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – gaze out over Rio 5. Chichen Itza, Mexico – the bestknown remnants of the ancient Mayan empire 6. Easter Island, Chile – striking and intriguing stone statues line the isolated island

SIX OF THE BEST Latin America packs a punch when it comes to ‘wow’ factor attractions and bucket-list recommendations


BEACH DESTINATIONS 1. The Mayan Riviera, Mexico 2. Tayrona National Park, Colombia 3. Los Roques, Venezuela 4. Punta del Este, Jose Ignacio, Punta del Diablo – all waiting to be explored in Uruguay 5. Copacabana & Ipanema beaches, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil 6. Corn Islands, Nicaragua



1. Galapagos Islands, Ecuador – a unique wildlife haven 2. Amazon rainforest – the most biodiverse region on earth 3. The Pantanal, Brazil – the world’s largest wetlands 4. Costa Rica’s National Parks – from Tortuguero to Corcovado 5. Valdes Peninsula, Argentina – a wealth of marine life 6. Falkland Islands – famed for its penguins and wealth of bird species

1. Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (February) 2. Day of the Dead, Mexico (November) 3. Barranquilla Carnival, Colombia – almost rivals that of Rio’s (February) 4. Semana Santa Holy Week – celebrated region-wide (April) 5. Inti Raymi, Cusco, Peru – an Inca festival (June) 6. Mendoza Wine Harvest Festival, Argentina (March)




1. Trek in Peru and Chile – hit the Inca trail or visit a national park 2. Horse-riding in Argentina – jump in the saddle and travel like a gaucho 3. Diving in the Bay Islands, Honduras – lots of variety 4. Surfing in Peru and Ecuador – at renowned Pacific coast spots 5. White-water rafting – head to the Andean foothills and hold on tight! 6. Go volcano climbing in Central America – and then surf back down on a volcano board!

1. Stock up on unique souvenirs at handicrafts markets and see artisans at work 2. Sample Argentina’s finest wines and best cuts of meat 3. Dance the tango in Argentina and learn samba in Brazil 4. Soak up colonial architecture across the continent as the camera works overtime 5. Meet with indigenous communities in the Amazon to discover their skills and traditions 6. Enrol in a language school and learn the lingo


Guyana Tourism Authority


FROM top LEFT: A nicaraguan El Gueguense mask; Torres del Paine National Park in PATAGONIA; Kaieteur Falls, in guyana


Your go-to guide for classic itineraries, niche markets and themed trips across Latin America


There are too many trekking options to even begin naming, but Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is among the highlights. Trips commence in the capital city Santiago and require a flight south deep into Patagonia. From Puerto Natales, visitors head into the park and set forth on the iconic W Trek. They can complete a section each day from a central base or stay overnight in camps and refuges.


Compact Central America is the ideal multi-centre destination, with itineraries packing in several countries and a wealth of cultures and experiences on offer. In a 16 to 18-night itinerary it’s possible to fly into Panama City and on to Costa Rica, travel through Nicaragua and San Salvador, continue to Honduras and the Mayan ruins of Copan, and wind up in Guatemala, visiting Tikal, Flores and colonial Antigua!

Off the beaten track

Neighbouring Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana are only offered by a small number of UK operators and, as such, are relatively unknown gems. How about suggesting a two-week trip that combines the highlights of all three? Begin in Guyana’s capital city Georgetown and head south to explore Kaieteur Falls and the Rupununi savannah. Continue to Paramaribo in Suriname and on to French Guiana to visit Kourou and the former Iles du Salut penal colony before finishing up in capital city Cayenne.

Island isolation

Help clients get away from it all by suggesting two of the region’s most isolated island destinations: Easter Island, way out in the Pacific Ocean, is tacked on to many Chile itineraries; and, over in the South Atlantic, the Falkland Islands. The latter is regularly visited by cruise ships but can also be combined with visits to

clockwise FROM top LEFT: bolivia’s ‘road of death’; exploring the galapagos onboard Isabela II; Moray in Peru’s sacred valley; penguins in patagonia

Untitled-1 1

Chile and Argentina. Or, for something a bit different – and for bigger budgets – book a Falkands, South Georgia and Antarctica trip.


The spectacular Andes mountain range provides the perfect landscape for an array of adventure activities. In Peru, for example, get things underway by flying into Lima and on to Cusco. Trek the famed Inca Trail to Machu Picchu – or one of several alternatives – and then enjoy a series of day excursions from Cusco. Options include cycling tours and rafting adventures or more trekking in the surrounding area.


The Amazon rainforest, Brazil’s Pantanal, the Galapagos Islands? It’s a tough decision, but there really is no place on earth like Ecuador’s Galapagos. Fly into the capital Quito for a day or two and then on to this isolated archipelago. Embark on either a land-based tour or cruise ship itinerary around the islands, getting up close and personal with their remarkable wildlife. Fly back to Guayaquil for the return flight home.

Grand tour

Visitors can check off the highlights in a two to threeweek trip across Peru, Bolivia, Argentina and Brazil.

23/01/2017 18:03


from left: Vineyards In Cafayate, ArgentiNA; copacabana beach, rio de janeiro

Fly into Lima and then on to Cusco, the Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu and Lake Titicaca before moving on to lofty La Paz, the Bolivian capital. Hop onboard a flight to Buenos Aires for a couple of nights and then another to Iguazu Falls before one last internal flight to Rio de Janeiro and the end of an epic tour.

Food and wine

If fine dining and great wines are the order of the day – and the next day – travellers should make for Argentina. Tuck into succulent steaks and explore the markets of Buenos Aires then head out of the city to visit an estancia. Fly north to Salta and/or west to Mendoza to

experience some of the country’s finest vineyards and include a luxury stay at a winery. Head back to Buenos Aires or head on to Chile for more vineyard visits!

Beach and city

Rio de Janeiro ticks both boxes here. Here visitors can enjoy the ‘Marvellous city’s’ Copacabana or Ipanema beaches by day and sample the nightlife once the sun sets – or tour the country’s Atlantic coast by hopping between Paraty, Salvador, Praia do Forte and Recife. Cancun and the Riviera Maya in Mexico offer a more ‘mainstream’ alternative for less adventurous beach lovers and are offered by a plethora of operators.

Machu Picchu - Peru

Galapagos Islands - Ecuador

For over 60 years, Metropolitan Touring has offered authentic local experiences, with best-in-class services that make the wonders of Latin America come alive. Cartagena - Colombia

Mashpi Reserve

Cultural sites

Live like a local

Quito - Ecuador Wendy McNeill

Mobile: 0789 901889




LATIN QUARTER Your country-by-country guide to Latin America



COUNTRY PROFILES 18........................ARGENTINA 18.................................BELIZE 19...............................BOLIVIA 19.................................BRAZIL 20..................................CHILE 20.........................COLOMBIA 21......................COSTA RICA 21.....................................CUBA 22...DOMINICAN REPUBLIC 22............................ECUADOR 23...................EL SALVADOR 23......FALKLAND ISLANDS

24.............FRENCH GUIANA 24.......................GUATEMALA 25...............................GUYANA 25.........................HONDURAS 27................................MEXICO 27........................NICARAGUA 28...............................PANAMA 28.........................PARAGUAY 29.....................................PERU 29..........................SURINAME 30............................URUGUAY 30.......................VENEZUELA

aRgentina fiRst time flaVouRs


famous foR...

los glaciaRes national paRk Buenos aiRes spanish peso Visa not RequiRed gmt -3hRs

Belize mayan mysteRy


elize might be small but it’s remarkably diverse, with the wildlife-rich steamy jungle of the west giving way to a Caribbean coast, offshore cayes and the second longest barrier reef in the world. Belize is unusual among Latin American nations for its mix of British and Spanish heritage, shades of the Mayan empire and laid-back Caribbean feel. Most visitors will set foot on Ambergris Caye or Caye Caulker in the north of the country, where white-sand beaches create an idyllic setting. Both offer access to the Lighthouse Reef and famous Blue Hole, a sinkhole in the ocean floor. Belize is littered with Mayan ruins, among those is Caracol, a site believed to be one of the ancient Mayan empire’s main settlements. For bird-watchers, there is Crooked Tree Wildlife Sanctuary, while Cockscomb Basin Wildlife Sanctuary is the world’s only dedicated jaguar reserve.

mix and match

Rainbow Tours’ Blissful Belize tour combines relaxing stays in the Cayo District and Ambergris Caye. The 12-day trip costs from £3,535 including flights.


• Buenos Aires • Iguazu Falls • Patagonia • Wineries • Gaucho culture

famous foR... • The Blue Hole • Ambergris Caye • Caye Caulker • Caracol • Wildlife

ith its high standard of living, direct flights from the UK and a distinct European flavour running through it, Argentina is the perfect introduction to Latin America for first-time visitors to the region. Those touching down in Argentina will discover perhaps Latin America’s most westernised culture, with fine-dining, luxury ranch and hacienda-style accommodation, plus stunning natural features like Iguazu Falls and Patagonia. Buenos Aires is often likened to Paris such is its aesthetic appeal. And while urban life will appeal to some, the country’s gaucho culture will hold sway with others, with horse-riding and trekking expeditions proving popular in the central Pampas region. In the far south of the country, spectacular Patagonia features in the itineraries of many UK visitors, while the country’s excellent vineyards and wineries – and their accommodation – are a big draw too.

taking off

GOL Airlines, the largest low-cost carrier in Latin America, has launched a direct weekly flight between Buenos Aires and Manaus, operated by a B737-800.

placencia Belmopan spanish, english, indigenous Belize dollaR Visa not RequiRed gmt -6hRs


BoliVia neW heights


famous foR...

lagoa coloRada la paz/sucRe spanish, indigenous BoliViano Visa not RequiRed gmt -4hRs

BRazil fan’s faVouRite


razil is known for its extravagant annual carnivals, the majestically-set city of Rio de Janeiro, the sprawling wildlife-rich Amazon rainforest and a diverse, fun-loving and football-mad population. Brazil’s role as host to both the 2014 FIFA World Cup and 2016 Olympic Games has undoubtedly helped cement its position as Latin America’s jewel in the crown for the near future. Most first-time visitors to Brazil will spend a few days in Rio, but city-slickers should also try a trip to trendy São Paulo where working and playing hard is the name of the game, or Brasilia the purpose-built capital city admired for its striking architecture and fashion scene. Slower paced coastal Brazil shows off the destination’s African roots. The charming archipelago of Fernando de Noronha and the Atol das Rocas are popular with divers and snorkellers, while wildlife enthusiasts can choose from the Amazon rainforest or the Pantanal.

netWoRk coVeRage

GOL Airlines’ network covers 50 destinations within Brazil. Its main hubs are Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Brasilia, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte, Salvador and Recife.

• Lake Titicaca • La Paz/Sucre • Salar de Uyuni • Jesuit missions • The ‘death road’

famous foR... • Rio de Janeiro • Amazon rainforest • Carnival • Iguazu Falls • Pantanal

andlocked Bolivia is slowly working its way into the programmes of mainstream tour operators, and rightly so. The country’s varied natural wonders and the warmth of its people more than make up for its developing infrastructure. The country’s capital city, La Paz, is the highest in the world and is set amid a ring of 6,000metre-high mountain peaks. Straddling the border with Peru is the giant Lake Titicaca and the pretty town of Copacabana where boat trips depart for visits to the Isla del Sol, a sacred Inca site. Many visitors will pass through the colonial city of Potosi on their way to the Salar de Uyuni. These bright white salt flats stretch for mile upon mile, fringed by desert and otherworldly rock formations. The east of Bolivia drops steeply away from the Andes, merging into the Amazon basin, with steamy Santa Cruz – the country’s second city – located in the Andean foothills.

Rising high

HighLives’ 13-day Bolivian Odyssey tour visits Santa Cruz, Sucre, Potosi, the Salar de Uyuni, La Paz and Lake Titicaca. The tour costs from £2,995.

Rio de JaneiRo BRasilia poRtuguese Visa not RequiRed gmt -5hRs



land of extRemes



famous foR...

san pedRo de atacama santiago chilean peso Visa not RequiRed

spanish gmt -4hRs

colomBia top of the pops


olombia is Latin America’s rising star. While it was once something of a no-go destination, it is now featured by over 60 UK tour operators. The rise in Colombia’s popularity is testament to its beguiling colonial cities, Andean towns and cities, widespread coffee plantations, lush rainforest and both a Caribbean and a Pacific coastline. Capital city Bogota is a bustling metropolis with shiny skyscrapers, international hotel brands and the biggest network of parks in Latin America. Colombia’s best-known region surrounds beautiful Cartagena on the country’s Caribbean coast. Founded in 1533, the city’s old quarter is today a UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site. On the western slopes of the Andes is the Coffee Triangle. At its heart are the cities of Armenia, Manizales and Pereira, but it is the rural areas, parks and coffee plantations that are the real attractions.

non-stop action

Avianca operates a daily non-stop flight between London Heathrow and Bogota with connections to over 60 destinations across Latin America.


• The Atacama • Valparaiso • Torres del Paine • Easter Island • Vineyards

famous foR... • Cartagena • The Coffee Triangle • Tayrona National Park • Bogota

haped like no other country on earth, Chile lies between the Andes and the Pacific Ocean, and is over 2,600 miles long but just 100 miles wide. The country is home to four distinct locations: the northern Atacama region, Santiago and the Central Valleys, the Lakes District, and Patagonia in the far south of the country. Capital city Santiago is the key arrival and departure point. The Andes loom over the city and are home to a number of good ski resorts just a short ride away. The Atacama Desert’s rugged and surreal landscapes make its main settlement, San Pedro de Atacama, a hub for adventure activities and sightseeing trips. Torres del Paine National Park, in Chilean Patagonia, features on many itineraries while remote Easter Island – some 2,000 miles west of mainland Chile, out in the Pacific Ocean – is a truly once-in-a-lifetime destination and famous for its mysterious ‘moai’ stone statues.

making connections

COPA Airlines operates five flights a day from its hub at Panama Tocumen Airport to Santigao de Chile. All flights are available on GDS systems.

san andRes y pRoVidencia Bogota colomBian peso Visa not RequiRed

spanish gmt -5hRs


COSTA RICA going green



Red eyed tree frog san JosÉ colon VISA not required

spanish gmt -6hrs


Caribbean charm


uba’s charms are many: it offers a mixture of cities and scenic natural landscapes, a heady mix of sensual dances and music, and a coastline lapped by the tranquil waters of the Caribbean. Cuba has many charms and diverse attractions, from its colonial-style towns and cities like Havana, Trinidad and Santiago – full of parks and architectural interest – to its magnificent countryside, attractive coastline, and charming people, The cultural heritage of Cuba is enormous and varied too. The island is also home to several UNESCO biosphere reserves, parks and ecological reserves, each keenly focused on conservation and sustainable tourism. Cuba has a wealth of popular beach destinations – including the renowned Varadero, Cayo Santa Maria and Holguin – meaning it attracts both those who want to simply ‘fly and flop’ and visitors looking for a more cultural experience.


Interpid’s 15-day Best of Cuba tour spends time in Havana and Trinidad and includes a salsa class. The price is from £1,425 not including international flights. intrepidtravel,com

• Tortuguero National Park • Arenal volcano • The Osa Peninsula • Pacific coast

FAMOUS FOR... • Havana • Lively nightlife • Colonial Trinidad • Beach resorts • Cigars

other Nature was clearly in a good mood when she dealt Costa Rica’s hand. It is a land of simmering volcanoes, thermal waters, lush rainforest and golden beaches. Centrally located capital city San José welcomes the majority of flights from Europe and North America but Liberia is an alternative option, offering access to the country’s Pacific coast. Tortuguero is among the country’s best-loved national parks. Its turtle-breeding grounds and diverse wildlife draw visitors from afar. In the northern highlands to the west, the Arenal volcano is a ‘must’ for many visitors, while the nearby Monteverde Cloudforest and the surf beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula are also popular. On the southern Pacific coast, Manuel Antonio is one of the country’s most popular national parks, but a more remote option is the little-visited Osa Peninsula.

easy access

COPA Airlines operates nine flights a day from its hub at Panama Tocumen Airport to San Jose, Costa Rica. All flights are available on GDS systems.

HAVANA havana spanish cuban peso tourist cards required gmt -5hrs

DOMINICAN REPUBLIC tropical cocktail


El Salto de Limon waterfall santo domingo dominican peso tourist cards required

spanish gmt -4hrs

ECUADOR Old meets new


cuador is slightly larger than the UK, and is neatly divided into four very different regions: the Amazon rainforest, the highland Andes, the coast and the Galapagos Islands. The country’s capital city, Quito, is both a gateway to the delights of the Andes and to Ecuador’s share of the Amazon rainforest. Thanks to its historical buildings and cobbled streets, the city enjoys UNESCO World Heritage status. Guayaquil is a modern, bustling destination that has been subject to major government investment, helping it become more than just a departure point for trips to the Galapagos Islands. Cruises are still the most popular way of experiencing the Galapagos archipelago but can be expensive. Wildlife enthusiasts will be in their element in the islands, where the teeming wildlife population is generally undaunted by the presence of humans.

consider this

Klein Tours specialises in travel to the Galapagos Islands ( For amazing rainforest experiences, consider La Selva ( and Napo ( ecolodges.


• Santo Domingo • Beach resorts • Dominican Alps • Parks/reserves

FAMOUS FOR... • The Galapagos Islands • Amazon rainforest • Colonial towns • Quito

he Dominican Republic is a land of diversity, demonstrated by its diverse people, culture, cuisine and music, all projected onto one of the most varied and biodiverse landscapes in the Caribbean region. The country offers visitors more than 400 kilometres of tropical shoreline, the Caribbean’s highest peak in the Dominican Alps, cactus-studded deserts and the colonial streets of the capital city, Santo Domingo. Those who like to savour the taste of local produce, dance to the country’s distinct Latin sounds or experience the warmth of the Dominican people, are likely to become repeat clients in search of further Latin American experiences.

fly and flop

British Airways Holidays offers a seven-day holiday staying at the Barcelo Bavaro Palace hotel. The price is from £979 per person.

Las Peñas, guayaquil quito VISA not required gmt -5hrs


us dollar


EL SALVADOR Trend setter



Izalco Volcano SAN SALVADOR US DOLLAR VISA not required

SPANISH gmt -6hrs



he 740-island archipelago that is the Falklands is a home away from home for British visitors, with its red telephone boxes and Union Flags. Often referred to as ‘The Galapagos of the South’, the Falklands Islands’ natural history and wildlife is the main draw for many, with the Carcass, Bleaker and Sea Lion Islands home to huge king penguin colonies and elephant seals. Bird life also includes the inquisitive striated caracara, the endemic Cobb’s wren and the Falklands steamer duck. Traditionally the islands have thrived from the large number of cruise ships that visit, with the land-based market being limited in capacity. Clients wishing to see the popular sites should book in advance.

Smooth operators

Check out Falkland Islands Holidays (falklandislands, Falkland Island Tours ( and Falkland Islands Tourist Board (falklandislands,coM)

• Lago de Coatepeque • El Imposible National Park • San Salvador • Surfing

FAMOUS FOR... • Penguins • Wildlife • Bird watching • Stanley • Outdoor activities

hose searching for an ‘off-the-beaten-track’ destination should be directed to El Salvador, with its rugged interior landscapes. Capital San Salvador is busy and brash, but also cosmopolitan, with a good line-up of trendy night spots, colourful markets and a vibrant arts scene. The country’s Parque Nacional El Imposible is so named because of the dramatic gorge through which coffee growers once had to transport their crops. Endangered species such as pumas and eagles are native to the area. Between the park and San Salvador is Lago de Coatepeque, a lake formed in the crater of an ancient volcano, complete with hot springs. Tazumal and Joya de Ceren are among the country’s best Mayan ruins. The latter having been described as the ‘Pompeii of the Americas’ after being buried under volcanic ash some 1,400 years ago and only rediscovered in the 1970s.

el salvador in bloom

The 15-day Back Roads of Central America tour by Cox and Kings spends three day on El Salvador’s Route of Flowers. It costs from £2,995.

King Penguins stanley english Falkland island pound VISA not required

gmt -3hrs

fRench guiana Joie de ViVRe

a famous foR...

poison daRt fRog

cayenne euRo

fRench, fRench guianese, cReole Visa not RequiRed gmt -3hR

guatemala ancient odyssey


s the centre of the Mayan world, visitors to Guatemala can look forward to ancient monuments as well as magnificent landscapes, colourful markets and pretty colonial towns. Guatemala City is big and fast-paced and visitors tend to either fall for its raffish charm and stay longer than planned or move on to the highlands or colonial Antigua, with its plazas and cobbled streets. Not far from Antigua is the volcano-flanked Lake Atitlan which serves as the country’s activity centre. Highland towns regularly visited include Quetzaltenango and Chichicastenango, the latter home to the largest, oldest and probably most colourful market in Central America. The majority of Guatemala’s impressive Mayan heritage is to be found in the north of the country – in a region known as El Petén – including the UNESCO-listed World Heritage Site, Tikal.

temple exploReR

Select Latin America offers a nine-day Dynamic Guatemala tour that visits Antigua and Lake Atitlan, with prices from £2,025pp.


• Saul • The Kaw and Tresor Nature Reserves • Isle du Salut • Kourou

famous foR... • Mayan Tikal • Lake Atitlan • Antigua • Guatemala City • Highlands

s an overseas territory of France, French Guiana has the unique distinction among Latin American countries of being part of the EU. There remains a strong colonial influence. Capital city, Cayenne, is a veritable melting pot of cultures from across South America, the Caribbean and Europe. Not far to the south of Cayenne, the Kaw and Tresor nature reserves are two of the most popular and accessible destinations for eco-tourism, with bountiful birdlife and a large reptilian population too. Along the coast northwest of Cayenne is French Guiana’s second-biggest city, Kourou, home to a major space centre operated in collaboration with the European Space Agency.

off the Beaten tRack

Journey Latin America’s Trailblazing the Guianas tour begins in Venezuela and ends in French Guiana. It costs from £4,538pp.

good fRiday caRpet in antigua guatemala city spanish quetzal Visa not RequiRed gmt -6hRs


guyana tWo WoRlds


famous foR...

guyana’s giant VictoRia lilies uRdu guyanese dollaR

geoRgetoWn english, hindu, Visa not RequiRed gmt -4hRs

honduRas Wild WondeR


entral America’s second largest country is so sparsely populated that it’s one of the region’s wildest. Tourism is concentrated in the Bay Islands, where Utila and Roatan are visited for diving as well as beaches and nightlife. Capital city, Tegucigalpa, pulses with traffic and is a maze of markets, plazas and cathedrals, but the pace is slower in the heartlands. The interior is mountainous and trekking is popular in the Central Highlands. Culture lovers should be directed to the Mayan ruins at Copan and towns like Gracias, where colonial churches sit in an incongruous cloud forest setting. Pico Bonito National Park is often featured by operators thanks to its cloudforest, rich biodiversity and activities like white-water rafting. In the east, untamed La Mosquitia is Honduras’ ‘Amazon’, with pristine jungle and indigenous tribes.

meet the maya

The Kingdom Of The Maya tour by Explore includes a visit to Copan Valley as well as other Mayan sites. It costs from £2,759pp including flights.

• The Kaieteur Falls • Georgetown • Shell Beach • The Rupununi Savannah

famous foR... • Bay Islands • Mayan ruins at Copan • Pico Bonito National Park • La Mosquitia

et between the Caribbean and the Amazon rainforest, Guyana presents an intriguing mix of cultures and a staggeringly varied topography. Inland are rugged mountains, tumbling waterfalls and vast swathes of wild jungle that are home to giant otters, black caiman and the elusive jaguar. Meanwhile, Guyana’s coastline is dotted with unspoilt beaches and sugar plantations. The capital city Georgetown presents an unusual cultural cocktail, where British colonial architecture and Hindu temples co-exist. Eco-tourism is popular and visitors can travel into the jungle by boat on Guyana’s rivers, in order to spot wildlife and visit the Kaieteur Falls, a single-drop waterfall five times the height of Niagara Falls. Also popular is the Rupununi Savannah region, home to Amerindian villages and the Pakaraima Mountains and cloud-covered plateau, Mount Roraima.

call of the Wild

The Guyana Wildlife: South America’s Wild Frontier tour by Journey Latin America is a great choice for wildlife fanatics. It costs from £3,913.

Roatan island tegucigalpa lempiRa Visa not RequiRed

spanish, english gmt -6hRs

RESORTS & CRUISES Desire, our clothing-optional, couples-only collection, offers two unique resorts in the Riviera Maya, as well as magnificent cruises setting sail from Venice and Barcelona.


UK: (44) 800 084 3496 | Ph: 52 (998) 193 2389




Redefining Cancun’s Skyline We will take your vacations to a whole new level with our new vibrant playgrounds.

Grand Opening, August 2017! Book Now! Ph: 52 (998) 848 7941


mexico all in one


famous foR...

ik-kil cenote mexico city mexican peso Visa not RequiRed

spanish gmt -6hRs

nicaRagua coast to coast


ouching both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean, Nicaragua has plenty of natural, cultural and historical highlights to offer the adventurous visitor, and for great value too. Central America’s oldest colonial city, Granada, sits at the bottom of Mombacho volcano on the shores of Lake Nicaragua. This is Central America’s largest body of water and has over 300 islands, including the popular Ometepe island, formed from the cones of two volcanoes. Capital city Managua is mostly a jumping-off point but bohemian second city León is a UNESCO World Heritage Site located in Nicaragua’s most volcanic region. Visitors can even try ‘volcano surfing’ on the slopes of nearby Cerro Negro. On Nicaragua’s Pacific coast are lively towns like San Juan del Sur with great surfing. Popular with UK tour operators are the Caribbean Corn Islands for their undeveloped beaches and excellent diving.

heating up

Journey Latin America offers an Active Costa Rica and Nicaragua tour which includes a hike up Maderas volcano. It costs from £3,356.

• Chichen Itza • Riviera Maya • Copper Canyon • Puebla • Merida

famous foR... • Granada & León • Pacific coast • Surfing & diving • Volcanoes

ith its mix of luxury beach resorts, deserts, historical ruins and intriguing cities, it’s no wonder Mexico is top of many travellers’ lists. It is archaeologically rich, with monuments from the Olmec, Mayan and Aztec empires found across the country. The Mayan pyramid of Chichen Itza is easily reached from the beaches of the Yucatan Peninsula. Mexico’s beach resorts range from the bright lights and international vibe of Cancun and the Riviera Maya to the Pacific coast and classic resorts like Acapulco or celebrity haunts such as Cabo San Lucas. The landscapes of the Sierra Madre in the north are popular with bikers, trekkers and climbers, while the Copper Canyon railway offers a more relaxed view. Those seeking colonial culture will love towns like Puebla, Merida and Oaxaca or, towards the border with Guatemala, the Chipas Highlands offer a greener, more tropical side to Mexico.

on youR Bike!

Exodus offers an 11-day Cycling in Mexico tour which includes a visit to Chichen Itza and colonial cities. The tour is priced from £2,249pp.

catedRal de gRanada managua spanish coRdoBa Visa not RequiRed gmt -6hRs

PANAMA meeting place



traditional pollera dress panama city spanish, english balboa VISA not required gmt -5hrs

PARAGUAY under the radar


araguay is an enigma among South American countries. It is bordered by two of the continent’s biggest destinations – Brazil and Argentina – yet it is rarely featured by UK tour operators. That very fact will be an incentive for some travellers to visit this low-key country, where extremes of wealth range from the designer malls and slick sports cars found in European-style capital city Asuncion, to the indigenous tribes that still live as they did long before the conquistadors swept in from Europe. The country is a crossroads for overland travel, despite much of Paraguay’s northwest presenting a tough test for regular road vehicles. Southern Paraguay is home to historic sites such as the ruins of Jesuit settlements La Santisima Trinidad de Paraná and Jesús de Tavarangue. The country’s national parks include Cerro Cora with its ancient petroglyphs inscribed in rock shelters.

The highlights

The Signature Paraguay tour from Journey Latin America visits Jesuit missions, historic towns and the Gran Chaco. Prices start from £3,619pp.


• Bocas del Toro • Panama City and Canal • Chiriqui highlands • Portobelo

FAMOUS FOR... • Gran Chaco • Cerro Cora • Itaipu Dam • Asuncion • Jesuit settlements

ocated at the southern extreme of the Central American isthmus, Panama is an international crossroads, with great beaches, indigenous culture and pristine wilderness. Cosmopolitan capital Panama City is where pretty colonial buildings sit alongside towering skyscrapers. It’s also home to the Museum of Biodiversity, designed by renowned architect Frank Gehry. Nearby is the famous Panama Canal and visitors can watch the ships at Miraflores Lock or venture further into Gatun lake for wildlife watching. Close to the canal’s Caribbean side is fortified Portobelo, a UNESCO site where the Spanish hid their bounty. Off the Caribbean coast is the San Blas Archipelago, where stunning white-sand islands and the culture of the indigenous Kuna people draw visitors. Beach lovers can also head to Bocas del Toro which boasts both eco-retreats and great nightlife.

Local hotspots

G Adventures has an eight-day Best of Panama tour which includes four days exploring Bocas del Toro. Prices start at £665 not including flights.

Presidential Palace Asuncion spanish & guarani guarani VISA not required gmt -3hrs



Colonial classic



lake TITICACA lima spanish, quechua nuevo sol VISA not required gmt -5hrs

SURINAME Hidden gem


former Dutch colony and a wonderful mishmash of Caribbean, European, South American and Asian influences, Suriname is unique. The capital Paramaribo’s historic centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and visitors will marvel at the mix of colourful Dutch-style houses, wooden churches, mosque minarets and even a synagogue. Its many markets may be small but are very diverse. On Suriname’s coast the 4,000-hectare Galibi Nature Reserve is home to endangered turtles, while heading inland leads to dense jungle. For more wildlife, visitors should be go to the Central Suriname Nature Reserve which supports giant sloth, tapir and armadillo. Deep in the jungle are a number of Amerindian villages where visitors can discover ancient ways of life. Remote Kwamalasamutu is home to nine indigenous communities as well as offering the chance to discover ancient petroglyphs hidden in the rainforest.


Explore’s 14-day Guyana and Suriname Explorer trip visits Paramaribo and provides the opportunity to stay with locals. It costs from £3,845 with flights.

• Machu Picchu • Sacred valley • Cusco • Lake Titicaca • Nazca Lines • Colca canyon

FAMOUS FOR... • Galibi Nature Reserve • Paramaribo • Amerindian communities • Wildlife

eru is quintessentially Latin American, with its thriving Quechua heritage, crumbling colonial towns and abundant wildlife. The capital of Lima is not just a gateway – it has one of the region’s best gastronomy scenes, colonial architecture and great shopping. Few people visit Peru without visiting the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, reached via the four-day Inca Trail or by train. The train leaves from the scenic colonial city Cuzco, with its Inca ruins, and travels through the Sacred Valley, which offers great boutique, luxury hotels. Popular points in the valley include historic Ollantaytambo and Pisac’s Sunday market. In southern Peru lies vast Lake Titicaca, the enormous Colca Canyon and the mysterious Nazca lines, closer to the coast. To the north east is the wildlife of the Amazon, with Puerto Maldonado and Iquitos acting as gateways for rainforest visits.


Contact Metropolitan Touring for tailor-made travel and accommodation ideas ( or explore the Amazon with Delfin (

SQUIRREL MONKEY suriname dollar

Paramaribo visa required

dutch gmt -3hrs

URUGUAY Gaucho style



Plaza independencia, montevideo Montevideo Uruguay peso VISA not required

spanish gmt -3hrs

VENEZUELA the lost world


aying claim to the world’s highest waterfalls, the region’s largest lake, a Caribbean coastline and the the Andes, Venezuela is an explorer’s dream. Its capital city, Caracas, can be daunting for the firsttime visitor, although few fail to be impressed by the dramatic mountain vistas. From the western city of Merida, passengers can head into the Andes for soft adventure or to the biodiverse Los Llanos area, and in the east lies the vast Canaima National Park. Venezuela’s headline attraction, however, is the towering Angel Falls, usually visited by light aircraft or a combination of motorised canoe and trekking through the Gran Sabana in Venezuela’s south-east. On the country’s Caribbean coast, the island of Margarita is the number one beach destination. The Los Roques archipelago is an idyllic alternative – a collection of over 300 small islands, coral reefs and pristine waters, which makes it ideal for beach lovers as well as snorkellers and divers.

venezuelan highlights

A ten-night Essential Venezuela tour from Sunvil Traveller visits Caracas, Merida, Los Llanos and Canaima, and costs from £2,814 including flights.


• Colonia del Sacramento • Punta del Este • Montevideo • Jose Ignacio • Rio de la Plata

FAMOUS FOR... • Angel Falls • Merida and the Andes • Los Roques archipelago • Los Llanos

lamorous beach resorts, sophisticated cities and rustic gaucho towns are part of the experience that visitors can look forward to in Uruguay. The capital, Montevideo, features exclusive suburbs, high-rise beach communities and art deco and neoclassical buildings. Entertainment varies from vibrant carnivals to classical theatre, and night owls can tango the night away in classy cafés or dance into the early hours at a beach disco. The country has 400 miles of coastline, with the socalled ‘St. Tropez of the south’, Punta del Este east of Montevideo. But visitors are also heading to more lowkey resorts like José Ignacio, a former fishing village. To experience the ‘real’ Uruguay, direct visitors up the Rio de la Plata, to the likes of Colonia del Sacramento – with its cobbled streets, cottages and low-key nightlife – or the rolling hills and plains of Cuchilla Grande for a taste of the gaucho lifestyle.

saddle up

Select Latin America’s At Home With The Gauchos tour costs from £2,460 and includes horse-riding, winetasting and trekking in Uruguay.

Gran Roque Island VISA not required

Caracas gmt -4.5hrs



Delfin Amazon Cruises Presents


Authentic Expedition Cruising Bespoke luxury travel awaits you Deep in the Peruvian Amazon, Delfin Amazon Cruises will take you into one of the world´s largest protected flooded forests, the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve. Experienced naturalists will show you the immense biodiversity of the area. In this bird-watching haven, be ready to native villages, kayaking, stand up paddle boarding, swimming near pink river dolphins, fishing, daytime hiking, and night safaris. On board, guests can enjoy exquisite Amazonian cuisine in an authentic, intimate setting with the right amount of elegance and comfort.












Latin America closer than ever.


Fly from LONDON Gatwick to Caracas, Bogota, Guayaquil, Salvador de Bahia, Sao Paulo, Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Lima, Asuncion, Cordoba, Montevideo and Buenos Aires.

All flights are via Madrid. Cordoba is via Madrid and Asuncion For more information visit us at: or call: 08714230717

Latin America Guide 2017  
Latin America Guide 2017