Latin America Guide 2019/2020

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LATIN AMERICA Travel Guide 2019/2020

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The Dominican Republic is home to great geographical diversity with a variety of different landscapes. This makes the country a true paradise for tourism close to nature, and for visitors who wish to experience nature far away from the usual tourist resorts. In the Dominican Republic there is a wide array of possibilities on offer and even in the case of accommodation in the heart of nature, you are spoiled for choice. If you have chosen somewhere to stay close to nature you will be able to discover the range of species surrounding you. You will come across numerous local bird and animal species in their spectacular habitat and take unforgettable experiences back home with you. The Dominican Republic boasts the highest mountains of the Antilles and the largest lake. The landscape is highly diverse and the source of extreme contrasts: lush, tropical forest and almost desert -like locations; the rugged Atlantic coast and peaceful, Caribbean coves. The turquoise, green water along the coast is just as spellbinding as the emerald green waters of the interior.

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Laura Gelder WRITERS

Adam Coulter, Stuart Forster, Andy Hoskins & Sasha Wood

Your journey to Latin America starts right here


Steve Hartridge PUBLISHER


Louisa Horton DESIGNER




Matt Bonner CEO

Martin Steady


elcome to Latin America! There’s no other continent quite like it, and in this guide – our ninth annual edition – you’ll discover what makes this colourful corner of the world so special. Whether you’re in need of ideas and inspiration or practical information to fine-tune a dream trip, these pages will help you do just that. From the Amazon Rainforest to the Galapagos Islands, this vast region is world-famous for its biodiversity and unique wildlife. It also encompasses every kind of landscape - hauntingly beautiful deserts, mighty mountain ranges, tropical coral cayes and even frozen glaciers making it ripe for exploration and adventure. But that’s not all. Its culture and history is equally beguiling, covering all aspects of civilisation, from ancient empires and traditional indigenous communities to cosmopolitan cities. As access to the region has improved with more flights, enhanced infrastructure and a greater selection of escorted tours, it’s no surprise that more UK visitors are travelling to the region than ever before •



Introduction ............................ Discover the region’s rich appeal Opening shots ......................... Latin America in pictures

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Q&A ........................................... Insight from LATA’s Colin Stewart


Adventures .............................. Action-packed experiences Iconic sights ............................. Not-to-be-missed attractions Luxury ........................................ Stylish places to see and stay

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Events ......................................... Vibrant carnivals and celebrations


Wildlife ....................................... Uncover this biodiversity hotspot



Itineraries ................................ Tailor tours for different durations



Cruise ......................................... Voyages around the continent


Country profiles ...................... Destinations in focus






Essential Info ......................... All the basics for planning a trip

Beach Life


6 Miles North of San Pedro Ambergris Caye, Belize +501-226-5096 US: 800-813-7880 Contents 3 Untitled-1Welcome_v2.indd 1

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1 • Peru 2 • Ecuador and the Galápagos 3 • Brazil 4 • Argentina 5 • Chile 6 • Costa Rica 7 • Mexico 8 • Guatemala 9 • Belize 10 • Panama


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There’s nowhere on earth quite like Latin America, as increasingly more visitors are discovering for themselves


atin America has a rich natural, cultural and historical bounty – a land bursting with unforgettable sights, activities and experiences. It is home to cosmopolitan cities, thriving indigenous communities and the impressive remnants of ancient empires. It also boasts colourful carnivals, celebrations and cultural traditions, not to mention a wide array of adventure activities. And the landscapes of this sprawling region range from Caribbean coves and steamy volcanoes in the north to windswept and rugged Patagonia in the south, and from the towering Andes mountain range in the west to the verdant Amazon rainforest in the east. Its natural highlights also include the Atacama Desert – the world’s driest – the towering Angel Falls in Venezuela and thundering Iguazu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina. Bolivia’s dazzling Salar de Uyuni salt flats, the wildlife-

rich Pantanal in Brazil, and Ecuador’s incomparable Galápagos Islands rank among the world’s top travel experiences. Its diverse landscapes mean a wide range of adventure activities are catered for, and its historical appeal is equally abundant. Ancient archaeological wonders such as Machu Picchu in Peru and Chichen Itza in Mexico are among the best-known tourist attractions, but Central America is littered with the remains of long-distant empires, and often overlooked northern Peru has a wealth of historic attractions too. Flamboyant Rio de Janeiro and sophisticated Buenos Aires deliver a sharp modern contrast to the indigenous handicraft markets and allure of colonial plazas constructed by the Spanish empire.


The region has grown in popularity with visitors in recent years, with increasing awareness of its many draws combining

with more airlift from the UK. There are now direct flights to more than 12 countries across Latin America. For some people Latin America represents a once-in-a-lifetime trip to tick off iconic sights, for others it’s about immersing themselves in the local culture – or even just relaxing on a beach. And while Peru, Brazil and the Galápagos Islands were once head and shoulders above their neighbours in terms of popularity, the likes of Argentina, Chile and Costa Rica are also positively mainstream destinations, with former no-go destinations such as Colombia now hot on their heels, and rising stars such as Bolivia and Guyana not far behind. Even trips to little-known Suriname and enigmatic Paraguay are offered by UK-based tour operators. Accommodation, meanwhile, comes in all forms, from top-class beach resorts and luxury estancias to rainforest lodges and boutique heritage hotels. •


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Opening shots: news & developments

Aurora Expeditions

FINAL FRONTIER One of the last frontiers of leisure travel, the frozen wilderness of Antarctica is now more accessible than ever thanks to new customdesigned ships launched by Aurora Expeditions. New one-off voyages include a solar eclipse experience with NASA scientists sailing in 2021 and a one-off cruise accompanied by world-renowned mountaineer Sir Chris Bonington retracing explorer Shackleton's steps.

Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica

BACK TO NATURE In the heart of the Peruvian Amazon, luxury eco-lodge Inkaterra Reserva Amazonica has added the brand new ENA Spa to its rustic retreat. Helping travellers get back to nature in every sense, the open-sided spa has been knitted into the banks of the Madre de Dios River, uses solely locallysourced, natural products and offers treatments derived from ancient Peruvian techniques.

Celebrity Cruises

NATURAL SELECTION A new state-of-the-art expedition ship, Celebrity Flora, has set sail among the Galápagos Islands, offering luxurious cruises through the extraordinary archipelago that helped shape Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Designed for the destination, the 100-suite ship includes oceanographic research equipment, on-board naturalists, and wildlife-watching excursions.


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Nobu Los Cabos

FLASH PAD The exclusive Nobu brand continues to grow with the opening of a new swanky outpost on Mexico's Baja California Peninsula. The country's first Nobu hotel, it is encircled by the Diamante golf course and features gourmet food from the world-renowned Japanese restaurant conceived by Robert De Niro and chef Nobu, where guests could find themselves hobnobbing with A-listers.

Anantara at the Tivoli

SPA PARTNERS Luxury hotelier Anantara has debuted a bespoke spa at sisterhotel brand Tivoli's Ecoresort Praia do Forte on Brazil's palmtufted Bahia coast. Created to be a soul-soothing sanctuary of relaxation, the tropical oasis includes over-water beds, cool pools, hot tubs, thermal features and offers restorative healing practices and beauty therapies across 11 treatment rooms.

KE Adventure

SECRET SPOTS For those who prefer the path less travelled, KE Adventure has introduced a new tour taking in a trio of little-visited Latin American countries - Suriname, Guyana, and French Guiana. Itineraries explore the region's rich biodiversity and include forays into Iwokrama Forest, one of the world's last untouched rainforests, where it's possible to spot the elusive jaguar.


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in conversation LATA Chairman Colin Stewart talks about new routes, sustainable growth and his favourite destinations

Latin America has grown in popularity in recent years. Describe the current state of the UK market. LATA conducted research with the support of travel trend experts Forward Keys and the results showed key growth areas to be Brazil, which has seen a 5.1% increase in arrivals from the UK year on year, Peru, which is up 3.7%, and Argentina, which has seen a 7.4% increase. How has improved airlift helped? Value-focused carriers are opening up the continent to an entirely new demographic. For example, Norwegian launched a Gatwick-Rio route in June 2019 following the success of its Gatwick-Buenos Aires route launched in 2018. Air Europa launched a four times a week service to Panama City and a thrice-weekly service to Colombia’s Medellin, also in June 2019. Has there also been an increase in the quality of tourism infrastructure? Absolutely, we are continually seeing advancements in quality tourism being made, with sustainability at the fore. For example Quasar Expeditions will be adding the M/V Conservation yacht to its fleet in December 2019, equipped with a comprehensive sustainability plan encompassing everything from design to daily operations. Another example is the Nayara Tented Camp, open in November 2019, with an on-site sloth sanctuary with 1,000 Cecropia trees.

Explain LATA’s ‘raison d’être’. We are a membership association that aims to promote Latin America as a tourism destination and stimulate growth in travel. We act as the authoritative body of travel to the continent, meaning that we have a duty to support sustainable travel in all aspects of our members’ work such as introducing our LATA sustainability charter. What are the top-selling destinations among LATA’s tour operator members in the UK market? And the ‘rising stars’? Chimu Adventures reports that the traditional best sellers have been popular so far this year with Antarctica, Argentina and Brazil all up 10% year on year. Original Travel and Journey Latin America have found that Argentina, Chile, Peru, Costa Rica and Mexico are performing well. In terms of ‘rising stars’, we have seen growth in niche destinations such as the Galápagos Islands (up 20.6%), Guyana (up 8.2%), and Guatemala (up 10.9%). Many travellers are

returning to Nicaragua since the positive change in FCO travel advice this year. Any trends that tour operators and hoteliers are tapping into? PEAK DMC has launched a range of accessible travel experiences in Peru in partnership with Wheel the World, which enable travellers with disabilities to visit iconic sites such as Machu Picchu. Digital detoxing has also become a big draw – The Latin America Travel Company has a digital detox tour in Costa Rica that visits isolated locations and includes stays in eco-lodges free of TV, phone signal and WiFi. Which are your favourite destinations or experiences in Latin America? Iguazu Falls is one of the true marvels of Latin America so I am very excited to be visiting on Air Europa’s new route. I am also hoping to see more of Central America with Air Europa’s new Panama route and codeshare with Copa Airlines. •

We are continually seeing advances in quality tourism offerings

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No company has more first-hand knowledge of its subject than Journey Latin America. Condé Nast Traveller

Sacred Valley of the Incas, Peru As the UK’s No1 specialist in travel to Latin America, we’ve been creating award-winning holidays to every corner of the region for 40 years. All our staff have lived, worked, or travelled extensively throughout Central and South America and have an unrivalled knowledge, and a passion for sharing it.

To speak with an expert please call 020 3733 2747 or email JOURNEYLATINAMERICA.CO.UK Untitled-1 1


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hiking in patagonia

Peak performance Latin America’s rich adventure opportunities – and the landscapes in which to enjoy them – are simply breathtaking


mages of dense Amazonian jungle and steep-sided Andean mountains may result in clients thinking that adventure travellers heading to Latin America require exceptional fitness, but that doesn’t have to be the case. Horse-riding with views of Patagonia’s pampas and glaciers, white-water rafting in Costa Rica, plus scuba diving or snorkelling in the likes of Ecuador’s incredible Galápagos Islands and Brazil’s Fernando de Noronha Marine Park can be enjoyed by adventure-seekers with moderate fitness. “Central America is one of the world’s leading adventure hotspots offering a range of activities, from hiking volcanoes, zip lining through steamy cloud forests, delving deep into subterranean cave systems or discovering ancient civilisations shrouded in mystery,” says Carolina Briones Pereyra, the Secretary General of the Central America Tourism Agency.

“The key to a great adventure holiday is variety. Central America provides the opportunity to combine an eclectic mix of adventure experiences across multiple destinations,” she adds. The prospect of combining adventure with immersive cultural discovery draws people further south too. “Colombia is on the up. Visitors are discovering its palmfringed Caribbean beaches, national parks, colourful colonial towns and strong coffee culture,” says Michael Pullman, Marketing Manager at Wild Frontiers.

HIKING new heights

Hiking the Inca Trail in Peru usually takes four days, ending with glorious views over the Sacred Valley and the opportunity to enter the 15th-century citadel of Machu Picchu through the Sun Gate. The 26-mile classic version of the trail begins northwest of Cusco, where visitors should spend at least a day to get used to

the altitude. Hikers should expect a challenging second day on steep, narrow trails with – in every sense – breathtaking views over the Andean landscape. The trail requires suitable outdoor clothing. Permits are also required to walk the Inca Trail and, with only a limited number available, arrangements should be made up to six months ahead of the busy high season (June to September). Tickets are also required to visit Machu Picchu. Photographers will appreciate the perspectives from the opposite peak, Huaynu Picchu, a demanding hike that’s ticketed separately. Wheel the World makes Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley accessible to wheelchair users by providing adapted equipment. Off-road driving tours are another way of exploring some areas. Alternative hiking routes in this region of Peru include the mountainous Salkantay Trek, the five-day Choquequirao Trail, and

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cycling in santa catarina, brazil rafting in bariloche, argentina

pico bonito national park, honduras

the Lares Trail, which passes through traditional villages. Walkers may also enjoy the W Trek in the valleys of Chile’s 60-year-old Torres del Paine National Park, Ecuador’s Quilotoa Loop, and the hike through the jungle of Colombia’s Sierra Nevada to the ‘Lost City’.

on your bike

Bolivia’s North Yungas Road, nicknamed the ‘Death Road’, runs northeast of La Paz for roughly 40 miles and is popular with thrill-seeking cyclists. Carved from a cliffside by prisoners of war, the road has been described as the world’s most dangerous. With blind corners, occasional traffic and sheer drops, cyclists have to stay alert. Keen cyclists may also enjoy the challenges posed by the Emerald Mountains of Colombia, a route that encompasses Cartagena and numerous Andean passes. A Malbec may appeal to

snorkelling in mexico

cyclists who enjoy a glass of wine after pedalling through the volcanic scenery and lakes of Alerce Andino National Park on the border of Chile and Argentina. Several tour operators offer group cycling tours to Latin America. The Andes mountains also present plenty of opportunities for whitewater rafting and even skiing, while Peru and Ecuador are popular surfing destinations. Horse-riding excursions are popular in Argentina. Visitors should be made aware that many travel insurance policies exclude higher risk activities such as trekking above 2,500 metres, mountain biking and horse-riding.

Book it

g adventures A 17-day Colombia Multisport and Lost City Trek starts in Bogota and ends in Santa Marta, and includes rafting in the Suarez Canyon, a bike tour of Medellin and five-day trek to Teyuna. Priced from £1,999pp. •

Go Guyana

“Guyana is the perfect destination for the adventurous traveller looking to get off the beaten track to one of the most abundant wildlife areas in Latin America. The interior of the country is largely pristine – perfect for in-depth and adventurous nature experiences” Jack Brooker, Rainbow Tours

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VICEROY LOS CABOS The look is minimal and stylish and the vibe is pure, sun-dappled luxury at this stunning Mexican resort


n the Sea of Cortés in Baja California, Mexico, a modern dreamscape promises anything but the predictable. Immerse yourself in the luxury of Viceroy Los Cabos. Guests can lose themselves and relax in the style and amenities that Viceroy is known for, including four amazing restaurants and lounges, a rooftop bar and a spa. The hotel presents a canvas of discovery, with cinematic views around every turn and evocative experiences that

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cater to guests’ every whim. Water surrounds the entire 192-room masterpiece, wrapping around the pure white buildings that are connected by elevated walkways taking you from the beach to five tranquil swimming pools and a breathtaking spa and fitness centre. Guests will find themselves in harmony with nature and modernity in their guestroom, designed for indoor/outdoor living with abundant natural light. The look is minimal and stylish and the vibe is pure, sun-dappled luxury.

Viceroy Los Cabos will entice guests and local residents with unforgettable culinary experiences designed to play off the vibrancy of the Los Cabos beachside locale. Indulge in classic Mexican dishes at Casero Restaurant, ceviche at Nido or cocktails at Nidito Beach + Poolside Bar and enjoy endless views from Cielomar Rooftop. Created using the freshest organic ingredients, our food and drinks will make guests rethink the possibilities of flavor and artistry.

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SIGHTS TO BEHOLD Six of the best historic monuments and natural wonders in Latin America

MACHU PICCHU, PERU This mountaintop Inca citadel has wowed visitors since it was found in 1911. Daily visitor numbers at the UNESCO World Heritage site are limited to protect it, as are permits to hike the Inca Trail – be sure to book in advance. Alternatively take a train ride through the Sacred Valley.

GALÁPAGOS ISLANDS, ECUADOR A cliche it might be but the Galapagos Islands are like no other place on earth. The volcanic archipelago is home to diverse wildlife and numerous endemic species that are unphased by humans, which inspired Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection. Explore by land or sea.

CHRIST THE REDEEMER, BRAZIL Rio de Janeiro’s giant Christ the Redeemer statue towers over this coastal city. Views from its foot are breathtaking, and include Rio icons Sugarloaf Mountain and Copacabana Beach. Visitors can catch a train or drive part of the route to the top, or simply hike it.

CHICHEN ITZA, MEXICO Chichen Itza on the Yucatan peninsula is one of the largest and best-preserved of Central America’s many impressive ruins from ancient civilisations. The Mayan City, a popular day trip from Cancun, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is considered to be one of the New Seven Wonders of the World.

TORRES DEL PAINE, CHILE Torres del Paine’s extreme, almost unreal landscape has earned it a reputation as one of the best national parks in all of Latin America. This Patagonian hiking haven is home to jagged Andean peaks, gushing rivers and shimmering lakes and glaciers, plus an abundance of flora and fauna.

IGUAZU FALLS, ARGENTINA Straddling Brazil and Argentina, these are not the tallest waterfalls in the world but together they make up the largest waterfall system. The Iguazu River tumbles over 250 drops, including Devil’s Throat Canyon. Explore either side of the falls on a network of paths and walkways.


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ponta dos ganchos, brazil

Sleep sensations From luxury lodges to top urban eateries, Latin America’s luxury line-up has blossomed in recent years


atin America is well known as a backpacking destination but visitors with bigger budgets can also travel in style - be it business class flights, luxury accommodation or the finest restaurants. Imagine getting a spa treatment while marvelling at breathtaking views while traversing the picturesque Peruvian Andes on a luxury train car? You can do just that on The Belmond Andean Explorer sleeper train that traverses the Peruvian Andes. Its spa car, Picaflor (hummingbird), specialises in treatments inspired by local ingredients.

No strain on the train

A number of luxury operators include this sleeper train in bespoke packages, for example Journey Latin America, which has designed a new 10-day luxury Peru holiday that incorporates many of the country’s highlights: Machu Picchu, Lake Titicaca and Arequipa as well as the sleeper train.

“Central and South America are often perceived as destinations for backpackers but don’t be fooled by this image: the finer things in life are extremely well represented here,” says Laura RendellDunn, PR & Business Development Manager, Journey Latin America. Lloyd Boutcher, Director of Sunvil Travel, adds: “Argentina is fast-becoming the country of choice for high-end travel in Latin America.” Boutcher points to the former Sheraton Hotel in Iguazu Falls, Argentina, which was recently taken over and completely refurbished by the Melia chain, and the Cuevas Wine Lodge in the country’s wine region, Mendoza. The luxury lodge is set in a 55-acre vineyard half an hour’s drive from Mendoza. And at the other end of the country, in the Lake District of Patagonia, is a restored 1940s lodge, Llao Llao, in Bariloche: “It has the most beautiful views and its own 18hole golf course,” says Boutcher.

best for foodies

Peruvian capital Lima is building a reputation for high-end gastronomy. Belmond has launched The Great Food Adventure: Peru, an 11-day epic tour encompassing the country’s most authentic foodie adventures. Highlights include learning to prepare Peruvian Ceviche in Lima with chefs from the fashionable Tragaluz restaurant; experiencing the ancient hot stone ‘Pachamanca’ cooking ceremony on the shores of the Urubamba River; harvesting potatoes and making Peruvian salsa with the local Willoq community near Cusco, and enjoying Champagne on a private island overlooking Lake Titicaca. Inkaterra, which has a portfolio of luxury eco-lodges in Peru, has recently opened a new canopy observation platform with a height of 124ft (38 metres), ten meters taller than its previous version. The tower offers visitors a view of treetops, the Madre

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hotel fasano, brazil

dining at Blancaneaux Lodge, Belize

nannai resort & Spa, Brazil

pestana convento, brazil

de Dios River and the Rolin Island facing Inkaterra Reserva Amazónica. In Brazil, the Belmond Copacabana Palace is the first hotel in the country to have two Michelin-starred restaurants – pan-Asian restaurant MEE has retained its Michelin star for the fifth consecutive year while Italian restaurant Cipriani was awarded its first Michelin star this year. In neighbouring Ecuador, Latin America specialist Latin Routes also features a luxury train experience – Tren Crucero. As Jess Dennison, Director and Head of Trade Relations at Latin Routes, explains: “This is a really great way to see the amazing scenery in style and comfort. You don’t stay overnight onboard the train, so it gives plenty of flexibility.”

Anyone for glamping?

Colombia is probably not the first country you would think of for luxury, but a luxury tented camp, Corocora, has opened in

explora rapa nui, easter island

explora patagonia, chile

Colombia’s Los Llanos jungle region. The camp has four luxury tents, all with double bed, private shower and bathroom, binoculars and wooden decking for wildlife viewing. Activities include trips by jeep, on horseback or on foot to spot giant anteaters, howler monkeys, anacondas and possibly pumas and jaguars. Costa Rica has opened a number of luxury eco-lodges, including Pacuare Lodge, a luxurious jungle hideaway which sits on the bend of the Pacuare river, surrounded by rainforest rich in birdlife. It’s included on an 8-day Luxury Adventures in Costa Rica holiday starting from £2,281 per person with Journey Latin America.

Book it

Abercrombie & Kent Has a 17-night trip to Brazil and Peru, including bucket-list wonders from Machu Picchu to the Iguazu Falls, from £7,195 pp.•

Life of luxury

“Whether your client’s ideal hotel is an indulgent countryside retreat, a boutique urban gem, a historical building converted to the highest modern standards or an idyllic beach resort, the possibilities are broad and varied” Laura Rendell-Dunn, Journey Latin America

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PARTY TIME! Six of the best festivals that bring the streets of Latin America to life

ORURO CARNIVAL, BOLIVIA A lofty mining town might not seem like an obvious party destination, but thousands of dancers and scores of marching bands, dressed in colourful costumes, bring the streets of Oruro to life every February. This riotous celebration has its origins in both indigenous traditions and religion.

PANAMA JAZZ FESTIVAL Regularly heralded as one of the world’s top jazz festivals, this week-long event takes place in the capital every January, attracting big name jazz stars and over 30,000 visitors. It includes 50 concerts at a festival arena and in bars and venues across the city.

DAY OF THE DEAD, MEXICO Since it was featured in the opening scene of James Bond movie Spectre, November’s Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival has become even more popular. It celebrates the lives of deceased loved ones with gastronomic feasts, parties and colourful processions.

TANGO FESTIVAL, BUENOS AIRES Sit back and marvel at the moves of the world’s best tango dancers as they congregate in Buenos Aires for the World Championships every August. The contest is part of a two-week tango festival, during which visitors can try it for themselves at pop-up workshops.

SEMANA SANTA, GUATEMALA Semana Santa (Holy Week) celebrations take place across Latin America but are at their colourful best in the historic highland town of Antigua. Held in the days leading up to Easter, residents decorate their homes and streets as shrines are carried throughout this pretty UNESCO-listed city.

RIO CARNIVAL, BRAZIL It’s one of the world’s most flamboyant parties, bringing people from across the globe flocking to Rio de Janeiro every February/March. Book accommodation and tickets to the Sambadrome well in advance - or join the parties taking place elsewhere in Brazil, such as Salvador.


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This is a country which proudly shelters approximately 6.5% of the existing biodiversity in the world, boasting an abundance of unique wildlife and landscapes. THERE ARE SO MANY REASONS WHY COSTA RICA SHOULD BE ON EVERYONE’S BUCKET LIST, HERE ARE JUST A FEW: NATURE AND WILDLIFE


Costa Rica is home to 6.5% of the world’s biodiversity. From sloths to monkeys to jaguars to frogs, wildlife is part and parcel of a holiday here.

With a marine surface that is 10 times bigger than the terrestrial, Costa Rica is the perfect place for diving fanatics.

VOLCANOES Costa Rica´s volcanoes are among the most mesmerizing in the world and there are more than 290 of them.

WHALE-WATCHING Humpback whales spend eight months of the year in Costa Rican waters, offering great whale watching opportunities.

WHITE WATER RAFTING Year-round warm water and spectacular scenery combine to make for world-class rafting. The Pacuare River is considered one of the five best rivers in the world for rafting adventures.

BIRD-WATCHING There are over 900 species of birds in Costa Rica and around 220 migratory species.

SURFING It seems every surfer who visits the country agrees that Costa Rica is one of the best places in the world to surf; excellent year-round waves and warm water combine with friendly people and stunning landscapes.

BEACHES With two distinct coastlines, one on the Caribbean Sea and one on the Pacific Ocean and accommodation ranging from eco lodges to 5 star hotels, there is a beach holiday to suit everyone.

DIRECT FLIGHTS British Airways fly direct into San Jose and TUI fly direct into Liberia, making Costa Rica more accessible than ever before.

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birDwatching in belize

san peDro De atacama, chile


From deserts to rainforests, mountains to glaciers, Latin America is one of the world’s most biodiverse regions. The question is, where to start?


atin America may not have the big game experiences of Africa or Asia, but it does have an astonishing variety of nature and wildlife, often concentrated in a small area. The region is vast, almost 6,000 miles from Mexico to Ushuaia, at the very tip of Argentina, and incorporating The Galapagos Islands, the volcanoes of Central America, the deserts of Chile, the pampas of Patagonia and the jungles and wetlands of Brazil. So, unless your client has a couple of months free, it’s best to suggest a country – or two countries – rather than try and tick off everything on a bucket list. For example, in the Galapagos Islands, which lie 2.5 hours’ flight time from the coast of Ecuador, you’ll find an astonishing amount of iconic fauna across just a few tiny islands, both on land – blue footed boobies, giant tortoises, marine iguanas, herons and the iconic finches; and sea –

Galapagos sharks, whale sharks, sea lions, turtles and hammerheads.


While back on mainland Ecuador, you can stay in a five-star eco-lodge and explore the astonishing biodiversity of one of the world’s last remaining cloud forests, home to more than 1,500 species of birds as well as jaguars, sloths, howler monkeys, pumas and spectacled bears. Ecuador even shares a slice of the Amazon (see below). Costa Rica is another small country which punches way above its weight when it comes to wildlife, as Lloyd Boutcher, Director of Sunvil Holidays, explains: “I’d say to agents, where Latin America wins out over other areas is the concentration of wildlife in a small area. “Costa Rica, which is the size of Denmark, has an extraordinary amount of birdlife in a tiny area. It also has an

amazing selection of wildlife including turtles, macaws, caiman, basilisks, monkeys, armadillos and sloths.” Boutcher said Costa Rica is ideal for birders, honeymooners and families due to its unblemished safety record (Costa Rica is known as the Switzerland of Central America). According to Experience Latin America, the body which represents the region, while there has been a 2.2% decrease in UK visitors to Latin America compared to the first six months of 2018, there have been significant increases to specific countries – key growth areas (year on year) are Brazil (up 5.1%), Peru (up 3.7%), and Argentina (up 7.4%). Argentina’s top natural attraction is the Iguazu Falls, the breathtaking 2.7km-wide cascades on the border with Brazil made famous in the film, The Mission. Argentina Travel Partners DMC has a new tour which allows you to go to a small refuge 45


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turtle watching in nicaragua

mate, argentina

Jaguar, belize machu picchu, peru

whale shark encounters in the galÁpagos

minutes’ drive from the falls hidden in the heart of the jungle on the Parana River. The tour offers a range of activities such as trail walks, cultivating Yerba leaves for Mate with farmers, exploring hidden cascades and kayaking on the river.


In Chile, most clients will be drawn to the deserts of Atacama, high in the north of the country. These parched and arid landscapes hardly ever see rain, and offer some of the clearest skies in the world for star gazing. Little can live here except, famously, migrating Andean flamingos who converge on the salt flats. KMS Travel Chile has a series of new bespoke programmes focused on soft adventure, cultural immersions and learning from the destination in Chile’s extreme environments, which includes Atacama and the Andes. An increasingly popular add-on for clients in Chile (or Argentina) is a fournight cruise from Punta Arenas, Chile’s southernmost town, through the Chilean

fjords, to Ushuaia (or the reverse). Chilean cruise line Australis offers this unique experience, which also includes – weather permitting – the chance to step onto the southernmost tip of South America, Cabo de Horno (Cape Horn). An alternative add-on would be to neighbouring Peru, where the big draw is Machu Picchu, the former Inca settlement high in the Andes. PEAK DMC has launched a range of accessible travel experiences here in partnership with tour company Wheel the World. The tours enable travellers with disabilities not only to visit Machu Picchu, but to enjoy activities such as bike riding in the Sacred Valley with the help of specially-adapted equipment. You could combine this with a visit to the Peruvian Amazon. Heliconia Amazon River Lodge area has launched a new seven-day itinerary for birdwatchers with an expert guide. The new itinerary takes you into one of the world’s most biodiverse ecosystems, the Allpahuayo-Mishana National Reserve, containing more than 490 bird species, including some not found anywhere else.


Many clients might not be aware the Amazon stretches into Ecuador, and the rainforest is just a 25-minute flight from capital Quito. Most stays are in rainforest lodges that offer a fully inclusive experience, and wildlife that can be spotted here includes various types of monkey, pink dolphins, jaguars and capybaras as well as plenty of birdlife. And finally, Brazil’s Pantanal is the largest tropical wetland in the world, home to a breathtaking number of endemic species. For visitors looking for a local base, Pousada Rio Mutum comprises 22 bungalows, a lovely swimming pool, a restaurant and communal lounge area, in the heart of the Pantanal.

Book it

Sunvil – 020 8568 4499 is offering a 12-night “Classic Costa Rica” package including transfers accommodation with breakfast and direct flights from Gatwick with British Airways for £2,683 pp. Valid until January 2020. •

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Over 70% of the world’s Black-browed Albatross population

More than 220 species of birds, home to 5 species of penguins Imagine a place that is so far off the beaten track you have miles of stunning landscape, beaches and magnificent bird life all to yourself. Imagine a silence that is only broken by the call of the birds, and your own footsteps as you explore these beautiful islands in the South Atlantic Ocean. This is the Falkland Islands, one of the last great wilderness destinations where your trip becomes an adventure. Four wheel drives are our mode of transport, and our little planes will take you to islands abundant with penguins, albatrosses and petrels that are there for you alone to discover and enjoy. At the end of each day you can look forward to traditional cosy Falkland Islands hospitality in the hotels, lodges and guesthouses scattered around the islands.

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@FITB Tourism @FITB Tourism ilovethefalklands +500 22215

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Discover some of the most popular itineraries across Latin America


ith more than 20 nations, twice the land mass of Europe, and landscapes ranging from desert to glacial and from rainforest to tropical beaches, just where do you start? Those considering their first trip to Latin America can feel bewildered by the range of destinations and experiences that await, so establishing the sort of holiday required is the first step. Holidaymakers looking for rest and relaxation could consider a ‘fly and flop’ beach break at an all-inclusive resort in Mexico or the Dominican Republic. Or venture a little further for some ‘sand and the city’ in Rio de Janeiro or pair the city with a beach break on Brazil’s Atlantic coast, like the Rio and Beach Special trip from Latin Routes. Costa Rica presents more opportunities for sun-worshippers but also the potential to add an element of adventure by

exploring some of the country’s wonderful national parks. The diminutive nature of the Central American nations also means that two, three or even more can be comfortably combined in a single trip. Or go all-in with the 32-day Central American Journey from G Adventures, which visits six countries. Escorted tours offer a comfortable introduction to Latin America, says Shearings Holidays’ Matthew Herbert: “An escorted tour takes customers into the heart of a destination so they experience both local life and the top sights, but all with the comfort of knowing it is escorted by knowledgeable local guides and organised by a company with years of expertise. Put simply, it makes the difficult, easy.” Wildlife enthusiasts are spoiled for choice, with the Amazon, Brazil’s Pantanal and the Galápagos Islands high on many people’s lists. Thankfully, they feature on

many tour operators’ best-selling itineraries, such as Select Latin America’s Amazon & Islands tour of Ecuador. History and culture are a huge draw for many visitors and many will not look beyond Peru. A typical itinerary, such as Journey Latin America’s 12-day Taste of Peru private journey, visits capital city Lima, Cusco, various locations in the Sacred Valley and Machu Picchu.


Active travellers will find no shortage of trekking and cycling tours, as well as horse-riding, rafting and diving trips. Check out the likes of Exodus Travels’ Cycle Chile & Argentina tour. Two or three-nation itineraries are another popular option, with Peru and Ecuador, Chile and Argentina, and Argentina and Brazil frequently paired together in classic ‘highlights of’ itineraries. Take Rainbow Tours’ nine-day


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Essential Argentina and Brazil, for example, which visits Buenos Aires, the Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro, or Sunvil’s Journey through the Andes which visits Peru, Bolivia and Chile. Several operators offer tours or tailor-made travel to less-visited destinations such as the Guianas or Bolivia, both of which are growing in popularity and offer a wide array of attractions. High Lives offers a 13-day Bolivian Odyssey trip that takes travellers into the heart of the lofty country, while Last Frontiers operates a two-week trip through Guyana and Suriname. And then for visitors with some serious travel stamina there’s the ‘grand tour’ option – long trips dipping in and out of multiple countries, ticking off the bucket-list destinations as they go, such as Wendy Wu Tours’ four-week Ultimate South America trip which visits Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru. •

International Tours & Travel . tel +500 22041

Falkland Islands Photos & Design - Georgina Strange :: Design In Nature 2011

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Latin America

Unrivalled choice for 2020 from the UK’s largest Escorted tour provider Whether your customers dream of exploring the Inca Empire or sailing down the Amazon, a Shearings escorted tour provides them with the freedom, flexibility and opportunity to explore all corners of the world. Your customers can enjoy lazy days or take advantage of our full programme of included and optional excursions to tailor their holiday and truly make it unique.

With 46 expertly-planned itineraries across the world, visiting 24 countries across 5 continents, the world is waiting to be explored!


Best of Argentina & Brazil




From Argentina's tango and £2,509 PER PERSON vibrant and unique culture, to the jungle and impressive waterfalls that meet in the middle of these two countries to the wonderful beaches, carnival and samba of Brazil. Board a cog-train to ride through the Tijuca Forest to Corcovado Mountain and reach the steps of Christ the Redeemer. This tour takes you on a journey of South America's most rhythmic countries.


Argentina & Chile Highlights

• Guided city tour of Buenos Aires • Explore Tierra del Fuego National Park • Visit a penguin colony • Discover Torres del Paine National Park • See the sights on Santiago on a city tour















Peru Explorer

Costa Rica Adventure

Best of Brazil & the Amazon River

• See the UNESCO site of Machu Picchu • Explore ancient Inca settlements in the Sacred Valley • Discover Lima • Discover Pisac's market • Enjoy a drink of Chicha in a Chicheria

• Explore Monteverde Cloud Forest • Discover San Jose on a city tour • Visit volcanic Arenal National Park • Enjoy a horseback ride through the rainforest • Guided hike through Mirador 1968

• Stay at The Amazon Eco Lodge • Sail the Amazon River and the River Negro • Visit the Sambadrome • Discover Manaus on a city tour • Cog train ride through Tijuca Forest

JULY - NOV 2019 • JAN - NOV 2020



JULY - NOV 2019 • JAN - NOV 2020



Terms & conditions apply. Prices are per person based on 2 people sharing a standard double/twin room. Single/room/flight supplements may apply. Prices correct as of 21/06/19. E&OE.

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2020 BROC

The UK’s largest escorted tour company







Why choose Shearings? SHEARINGS

Over 100 years of experience

Award winning holidays

Low deposits, from £200pp

2020 BROC

This is Worldwide…

Handpicked accommodation throughout your tour

Carefully selected tours for Shearings holidaymakers with unique, authentic experiences

24-hour telephone helpline

Flight inclusive prices

Partnerships with trusted leading travel partners

Tour managers or local guides on every tour

Award Winning Holidays Need to talk to us online – visit and talk to us via webchat

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With a long, varied coastline and some extraordinary islands, it’s little wonder that Latin America cruises are growing in popularity


here are two distinct types of cruise in Latin America: the first is on large ships departing from Florida, Texas or West Coast USA and sailing down to Central America, or, with the likes of MSC Cruises and Costa Cruises on round-trip cruises from Buenos Aires and Rio; the second type of cruising is more adventurous, usually on smaller ships, travelling deep into the Amazon, or discovering extraordinary wildlife in the Galápagos. Also, Ushuaia, the southernmost town in Argentina, is the starting point for most Antarctica cruises. A number of cruise lines also offer stops in the Falkland Islands, South Georgia and the South Shetland Islands (though not via Ushuaia, as Argentina still disputes the Falklands’ sovereignty). The key ports of call on the Atlantic/ Caribbean coast are: Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize City, Banana Coast (Trujillo,

Honduras), Roatan (Honduras), Colon (Panama), Cartagena (Colombia), Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, Montevideo (Uruguay) and Ushuaia (Argentina). On the Pacific Coast the main ports are: Cabo de San Lucas, Puerto Quetzal (Guatemala), Acajutla (El Salvador), Puerto Limon (Costa Rica), San Juan del Sur (Nicaragua), Lima and Punta Arenas (Chile). Generally speaking, the larger cruise ships sail along the Caribbean/Atlantic coast while smaller, more luxury ships call at the more obscure cruise ports along the Pacific coast. You can roughly divide the Amazon into two halves – the Brazil section, where you enter from the ocean; and the less explored Peru stretch of the river. In the former, the river is so vast and deep that it can accommodate mid-sized ships from the likes of operators such as P&O Cruises, Princess Cruises and Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines.

The two main ports are Iquitos and Manaus. The Amazon is also popular with luxury lines, who with their smaller ships can penetrate further up river. The likes of Crystal, Regent, Seabourn and Silversea all offer Amazon cruises.


In Peru, the ships (and the lines) are far smaller: Aqua Expeditions has one small luxury ship, Aria Amazon, with a second launching in August 2020, Aqua Nera, offering three-, four- and seven-night cruises; International Expeditions has one ship, La Estrella Amazonica; and Lindblad offers cruises on Delfin II. Other expedition operators with Amazon ships include G Adventures and Anakonda. Most hold only around 30 passengers. On a voyage through the Amazon, expect to see monkeys, sloths, a vast array of tropical birds, jaguars, manatees, dolphins and otters.


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The best way to see the Galápagos Islands is on a cruise, and there are a multitude of small operators. So where do you start? You could recommend one of the two well-known lines, Celebrity Cruises and Silversea. The former has just launched Celebrity Flora, an all-suite ship which holds 100 passengers and has certified naturalists, a docking area for Zodiacs and oceanographic equipment onboard to carry out research. It also has anchorless technology and a 15% reduction of fuel consumption and fewer air emissions. Celebrity Cruises is offering 25% off selected 2019 and 2020 Celebrity Flora sailings. Silversea currently operates Silver Galapagos and has revealed new details of Silver Origin, the line’s first destinationspecific ship, sailing in the Gálapagos from the summer of 2020. One of the most environmentally-friendly cruise ships ever built, the 100-passenger Silver Origin will be the most luxurious ship in the region.

Ecuador-based Metropolitan Touring, one of the first tour operators to offer Gálapagos cruises, operates three ships in the islands: Santa Cruz II, La Pinta and Isabela II, all of which offer four-star levels of comfort or more.


In December, Quasar Expeditions launches the M/V Conservation yacht, which will have renewable energy components, biodegradable amenities and an entirely carbon neutral footprint. A number of large cruise lines offer cruises to Antarctica, including Silversea, Seabourn and Hurtigruten. There are also a number of smaller, specialist operators which operate exclusively in the region, such as One Ocean Expeditions and Aurora Expeditions. Aurora’s new ship, Greg Mortimer, begins its maiden voyage to Antarctica on 30 October 2019. Adventurer Sir Chris Bonington will be joining its ‘South Georgia & Antarctic Odyssey’ voyage from 10 to 31 March 2021 as a guest lecturer.


A second new ship of the same design will launch in Autumn 2021. The line has also formed a partnership with two NASA scientists for a once-in-a-lifetime ‘Solar Eclipse in Antarctica’ experience, in December 2021. Quark Expeditions’ first purpose-built polar vessel, launching in 2020/21, will feature dual helicopters, quick deploy zodiacs, a library-theatre and spa. Antarctica21’s third polar vessel, Magellan Explorer, will sail its maiden voyage on 28 November 2019. It will have private balconies in all cabins, an observation lounge, dining room, bar, library, meeting room, gym and sauna.


LATIN ROUTES – 020 8546 6222 is offering a nine-day itinerary onboard M/Y Passion exploring Galápagos’ western islands, which includes return flights from Heathrow via Bogota to Quito for £6,599 pp including two hotel nights in Quito, private airport transfers and internal flights to the Galapagos. •


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Authentic memories


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.

Visit us online for more information:

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Latin quarter Your visual guide to the colourful continent

El Paso








Cancun Tulum Belmopan


San Salvador







Guatemala Mexico City City




San Jose


Panama City







Georgetown Paramaribo Cayenne

Bogotá Cali


















Machu Picchu



La Paz

San Pedro de Atacama




BOLIVIA Salar de Uyuni


Rio de Janeiro


São Paulo


Iguazu Falls

Rosario Buenos Aires















Torres del Paine National Park Cape Horn

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Famous for: Buenos Aires • Iguazu Falls • Patagonia • Wineries • Gaucho culture • the Tango

Famous for: Caracol • Ambergris Caye • Caye Caulker • The Blue Hole • Wildlife

LATIN CHARM: Argentina is a melting pot of western and gaucho culture, which, combined with direct flights from the UK to capital city Buenos Aires – nicknamed ‘the Paris of South America’ – and luxury accommodation, makes it the perfect introduction to Latin America. It has many iconic natural attractions, including Iguazu Falls, while popular activities include horse-riding and trekking in the Pampas region and vineyard tours. BOOK IT: Imagine Latin America’s Taste of Argentina tour covers the country’s prime attractions over 9 days, visiting Buenos Aires, Iguazu Falls, Patagonia and more


wild caribbean: From its jungles packed with wildlife in the west to its idyllic white sandy beaches in the north, and from its Mayan ruins to the second longest barrier reef in the world, Belize has a remarkably diverse range of attractions for such a small country. Set between Mexico, Guatemala and the Caribbean, it’s unusual among Latin American states for its mix of British and Spanish heritage, shades of Mayan Empire and laid-back Caribbean vibe. BOOK IT: Intrepid runs an 8-day Land of Belize tour that showcases the country’s Mayan marvels and natural beauty, including a few days in the tropical Belize Cayes


Famous for: Carnival • Rio de Janeiro • Amazon rainforest • Iguazu Falls • Pantanal


Famous for: La Paz • Lake Titicaca • Salar de Uyuni • Jesuit missions • Cycling the ‘death road’

natural wonder: Having recently worked its way into tour programmes for its varied natural wonders and the warmth of its people, Bolivia is perhaps best known for its capital La Paz, the highest in the world, which has a spectacular setting amid a ring of 6,000-metre high mountain peaks, giant Lake Titicaca and its sacred Inca site Isla del Sol, and the Salar de Uyuni, the dazzling white salt flats, which are the largest in the world. BOOK IT: Exodus has a 17-day Highlights of Bolivia tour traversing the country from La Paz and the pre-Columbian ruins of El Fuerte to Lake Titicaca and Salar de Uyuni salt flats

The good life: Famed for its annual carnivals, the beaches of Rio – over which towers the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer – the Amazon rainforest and the Iguazu Falls, Brazil offers many more attractions, including coastal cities such as Salvador for a flavour of its African roots, the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha for snorkelling, and trendy Sao Paulo. Also, as an alternative to the Amazon, consider wildlife spotting in the Pantanal. BOOK IT: Wendy Wu’s 15-day guided Rhythms of Brazil tour encompasses historic Salvador, the Amazon Rainforest, Iguazu Falls and Rio de Janeiro

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Famous for: Atacama Desert • Valparaiso Torres del Paine • Easter Island • Vineyards

Famous for: Cartagena • The Coffee Triangle • Bogota Tayrona National Park • San Andres & Providencia

OPPOSITES ATTRACT: From the capital Santiago in the north you can go skiing in the Andes, visit some of Chile’s finest vineyards or drive to coastal Valparaiso. Meanwhile, the rugged Atacama Desert offers sightseeing and adventure tours, accessible from San Pedro, and the south offers the fjords and rainforests of Patagonia’s Torres del Paine National Park. Some 2,000 miles off the coast is Easter Island and its mysterious ‘moai’ stone statues. BOOK IT: Rainbow Tours offers a 13-day Highlights of Chile tour taking in the magnificent landscapes of the Atacama, Lake District and Torres del Paine National Park

RISING STAR: One of Latin America’s fastest-growing country’s in terms of overseas visitors, Colombia boasts colonial cities, interesting Andean towns, vast coffee plantations, lush rainforests and both a Caribbean and Pacific coastline. Its capital Bogota is a bustling metropolis with an historic old town, La Candelaria, but the jewel in its crown is Cartagena on the Caribbean coast and its UNESCO-listed historic quarter. BOOK IT: Chimu Adventures has a 10-day Classic Colombia small group tour covering Bogota, Cartegena and Tayrona National Park, which boasts the region’s most beautiful coast

costa rica


Famous for: Arenal volcano • Tortuguero National Park The Osa Peninsula • Pacific coast

Famous for: Havana • Lively nightlife • Cigars Colonial Trinidad • Beach resorts

natural highs: A land of volcanoes, rainforests with abundant wildlife and golden beaches, Costa Rica is also a shining example of responsible tourism with nearly 30 national parks, biological reserves and protected areas. The wildlife and turtle-breeding grounds of Tortuguero are a key draw, as are Arenal volcano, the Monteverde Cloud Forest, the surf beaches of the Nicoya Peninsula and Manuel Antonio National Park on the South Pacific coast. BOOK IT: Shearings offers an 8-day Costa Rica Adventure covering highlights such as Monteverde Cloud Forest and Arenal volcano with a variety of wildlife tours

CARIBBEAN CHARM: One of the most culturally-rich islands of the Caribbean, Cuba is the ideal two-centre destination for those who want a beach and city combo. Its coastline is home to numerous beach resorts, from lively Varadero to quieter Santa Lucia, while its historic cities like Havana, Trinidad and Santiago boast picturepostcard scenes of classic 1950s cars against the backdrop of colonial architecture, salsa clubs and lively bars. BOOK IT: Audley Travel’s 12-day Classic Cuba tour gives a great overview of the country, visiting vibrant Havana, historic Trinidad, picturesque Vinales and idyllic northern caye beaches


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dominican republic


Famous for: Santo Domingo • Beach resorts Dominican Alps • Parks & reserves

TROPICAL COCKTAIL: Say Dominican Republic and most people will think fly-and-flop holidays, but in addition to its 400 kilometres of tropical shoreline, it boasts the Caribbean’s highest peak, Pico Duarte, cactus-studded deserts and the colonial architecture of the capital, Santo Domingo. It is also easily accessible thanks to the numerous scheduled and charter flights from the UK and a plethora of all-inclusive hotel packages. BOOK IT: Kenwood Travel offers beach holiday packages to the Dominican Republic, staying at hotels around Punta Cana, within easy reach of Santo Domingo

Famous for: The Galapagos Islands • Quito Amazon rainforest • Colonial towns

HIGH & MIGHTY: Ecuador is a microcosm of all of Latin America’s best assets – soaring mountains, wonderful wildlife, historic sites, distinct gastronomy and swathes of beaches. Its UNESCO-listed capital Quito, famed for its colonial architecture, is a gateway to both the Andes and to the Amazon rainforest, while modern Guayaquil is the departure point for cruises to the unique Galápagos islands, which are teeming with unique wildlife. BOOK IT: Exodus’ Galápagos & Amazon tour takes in the extraordinary ecosystems of the Amazon rainforest and the Galápagos Islands on a 16-day tour with a naturalist guide

el salvador

falkland islands

OFF THE BEATEN TRACK: This tiny Central American nation is home to rugged mountains, volcanoes, cloud forest, coffee plantations, impressive Mayan ruins and colonial towns, all fringed by a coastline of sandy beaches, some of which are top surfing haunts. Its capital San Salvador is frenetic and cosmopolitan, while a must-see attraction is the dramatic gorge of the Parque Nacional El Imposible, home to endangered pumas and eagles. BOOK IT: Intrepid has an 8-day Best of El Salvador tour visiting San Salvador, nature reserves, quiet colonial towns, and the surf hub of El Tunco, ending on a tropical beach

NATURE’S HOME: A home away from home, with distinctive British hallmarks including incongruous red telephone boxes, the Falklands are also often referred to as ‘the Galapagos of the South’ as Caracass, Bleaker and Sea Lion Islands are home to huge king penguin colonies and elephant seals, while the region’s abundant bird life also includes the inquisitive striated caracara, the endemic Cobb’s wren and the Falklands steamer duck. BOOK IT: Rainbow Tours offers an 8-day Falklands Wildlife tour exploring the archipelago’s rich diversity that includes penguins, elephant seals, sealions and whales to name a few

Famous for: Lago de Coatepeque • Surfing El Imposible National Park • San Salvador

Famous for: Penguins • Wildlife • Bird watching Outdoor activities • Stanley •

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french guiana


Famous for: Saul • The Kaw and Tresor Nature Reserves Isles du Salut • Kourou


Famous for: Mayan Tikal • Lake Atitlan • Antigua Guatemala City • Highlands

a taste of france: Part of the European Union due to its status as an overseas territory of France, but French Guiana could hardly be more different to its motherland. The south is smothered by Amazonian rainforest, while capital city Cayenne is a mix of South America, Caribbean and European cultures. Kaw and Tresor nature reserves are two of the most popular destinations for eco-tourism, with bountiful birdlife and large reptilian populations. BOOK IT: Journey Latin America has a 16-day tour, Trailblazing the Guianas, that takes travellers off the beaten track to French Guiana, neighbouring Suriname and Guyana

Mayan Kingdom: The bulk of Guatemala’s impressive Mayan heritage, including UNESCO-listed Tikal, lies in El Petén in the north, where you’ll also find highland towns like Chichicastenango, home to the largest and oldest market in Central America. Its big, brash capital, Guatemala City, is in the more densely populated south. Three volcanoes flank the cobbled streets of colonial Antigua while close by is the volcano-flanked Lake Atitlan. BOOK IT: Tucan Travel’s Guatemala Encompassed tour covers all the bases in two weeks, visiting Antigua, the Tikal Mayan ruins and Lake Atitlan with a short stop in Honduras



Famous for: Kaieteur Falls • Georgetown Shell Beach • The Rupununi Savannah

Famous for: Bay Islands • Copan ruins Pico Bonito National Park • La Mosquitia

WONDERFUL WILDERNESS: Guyana presents an intriguing mix of cultures, with Hindu temples and British colonial architecture co-existing in the capital Georgetown, as well as a staggeringly varied topography, from rugged mountains, tumbling waterfalls and vast swathes of jungle that are home to giant otter, black caiman and the elusive jaguar, to a coastline dotted with unspoilt beaches, wildlife reserves, mangroves and sugar plantations. BOOK IT: KE Adventure’s new tour Discovering the Hidden Guianas combines the hidden gems of Guyana, Suriname and French Guiana, including a flight over Kaieteur Falls

BACK TO NATURE: One of the region’s most sparsely populated and wildest destinations, Honduras has a long coastline of ivory beaches, the most popular of which are Utila and Roatan for diving and nightlife. Inland you’ll find cloud forests and lofty colonial towns, such as Gracias. Trekking is popular in the Central Highlands, Pico Bonito National Park offers activities such as whitewater rafting, while culture lovers head to the Mayan ruins at Copan. BOOK IT: Journey Latin America offers a combined Guatemala and Honduras Uncovered itinerary, with a week exploring the natural and cultural sites of each nation

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Famous for: Merida • Chichen Itza • Riviera Maya Copper Canyon • Puebla

Famous for: Volcanoes • Granada & León • Pacific coastline Surfing & diving • Ometepe

cultural fiesta: Mexico combines fiery food, ancient marvels and colourful rituals with the stunning landscapes of Copper Canyon and the enchanting cenotes and beaches of Riviera Maya forming the backdrop for countless adventures. Its cuisine and off-beat Day of the Dead Festival have become world famous, while its collection of Mayan and Aztec temples such as Chichen Itza, and pretty colonial towns such as Merida, are easily accessible. BOOK IT: Tucan Travel’s Wonders of Mexico tour features an 11-day itinerary that visits the Riviera Maya, Merida, Oaxaca and the canyons, waterfalls and mountains of Chiapas

coast to coast: Stretching from the Pacific Ocean to the Caribbean Sea, Nicaragua has both pristine beaches in the Caribbean Corn Islands and surfing havens like San Juan del Sur on the Pacific coast. The country also features Central America’s largest body of water, Lake Nicaragua, with the region’s oldest colonial city, Granada, lying on its shores. Pitted with volcanoes, Ometepe island is formed from lava cones, and ‘volcano surfing’ has become a popular sport. BOOK IT: Journey Latin America’s 18-day Cotinga: Off the Beaten Track Nicaragua tour explores the country’s volcanoes, wildlife and culture plus its Caribbean and Pacific coasts



Famous for: Bocas del Toro • Panama City and Canal Chiriqui Highlands • Portobelo •

Famous for: Gran Chaco • Cerro Cora • Jesuit settlements Itaipu Dam • Asuncion

more than a canal: More than its eponymous canal, Panama is the geographical link between Central and South America. From the idyllic tropical islands of the San Blas archipelago to the coffee plantations of the Chiriqui Highlands, the country has much to offer travellers. Panama City, blessed with pretty colonial architecture, and the atmospheric ruins of UNESCO-listed Portobelo, where the Spanish hid their bounty, are well worth a visit. BOOK IT: Intrepid’s 13-day Costa Rica and Panama Discovery covers Panama City, Bocas del Toro, lush Boquete and surfy Santa Catalina with a few days in Costa Rica too

land of mystery: Paraguay is much less visited than its popular neighbours, Argentina and Brazil, but that makes it all the more fascinating. Its European-style capital Asuncion, on the banks of the River Paraguay, sits in sharp contrast to the indigenous tribes who still live as they did long before the conquistadors arrived. Jaguar roam the UNESCO-listed Pantanal wetlands, ancient pertroglyphs can be found in Cerro Cora, and historic Jesuit ruins pepper the south. BOOK IT: Chimu Adventures offers a 6-day itinerary covering Paraguay’s top attractions from UNESCO World Heritage Sites to national parks, including capital city Asuncion

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Famous for: Cusco • Machu Picchu • Sacred Valley Lake Titicaca • Nazca Lines


Famous for: Wildlife • Paramaribo • Galibi Nature Reserve Amerindian communities

Colonial classic: Crowned by the ancient Andean citadel of Machu Picchu, with steamy rainforest, abundant wildlife, and thriving Quechua heritage, Peru is perhaps the quintessential Latin American destination. The Inca Trail or train to Machu Picchu via the Sacred Valley and scenic colonial city of Cusco is on countless travel bucket-lists; capital Lima is a leader in gastronomy; and southern Peru boasts vast Lake Titicaca and the mysterious Nazca lines. BOOK IT: Shearings has a comprehensive 8-day Peru Explorer tour including capital Lima, plus the Incan ruins of Machu Picchu, the Sacred Valley and Cusco

going dutch: Diminutive Suriname packs a lot in, from dense jaguar-haunted tracts of Amazon rainforest to protected Caribbean shores frequented by endangered turtles. Capital Paramaribo’s UNESCO-listed centre features historic churches, mosques and a synagogue alongside colourful Dutch colonial houses, pointing to the nation’s wonderful mishmash of influences. Amerindian villages deep in the Amazon offer a glimpse of traditional life. BOOK IT: Last Frontiers has a 14-day itinerary covering the highlights of Suriname and Guyana, including amazing wildlife, waterfalls and unique Amerindian communities



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

Famous for: Angel Falls • Merida and the Andes Los Roques • Los Llanos

southern style: One of South America’s smallest countries, Uruguay nevertheless has big appeal. Travellers can experience sophisticated cities such as Montevideo, where tango, succulent steaks and good wines feature strongly, and seaside playgrounds such as Punta del Este, nicknamed the St Tropez of the South. Must-visit colonial towns include Colonia del Sacramento, or head for the rustic gaucho ranches of the Cuchilla Grande. BOOK IT: Latin Routes has an 8-day Highlights of Uruguay tour exploring Montevideo, UNESCO-listed Colonia del Sacramento and the Atlantic beaches of Punta del Este

a lost world: The world’s highest waterfalls, the region’s largest lake, a Caribbean coast and the Andes make Venezuela an explorer’s dream. From the mountain gateway town of Merida to the biodiverse Los Llanos and Canaima National Park, the country is packed with impressive destinations. The headline attraction is Angel Falls, while Margarita island is the number one beach spot and Los Roques archipelago is an idyllic alternative. BOOK IT: Audley has a Classic Venezuela tour exploring Angel Falls, Los Llanos and Canaima National Park, the Los Roques archipelago and much more over 14 days

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Essential info Planning to travel to Latin America? Be prepared and make sure you’re familiar with all the essential info…

language & currency

time zone & visas Time zones: Time zones range from GMT -6hrs (in some Central America nations) to GMT -3hrs (in Brazil, Uruguay and Argentina).

VISAS: British passport holders do not require visas for entry to most – but not all – countries in Latin America, but always check with your tour operator or the relevant embassy.

latin american travel association

language: An understanding of Spanish will get visitors a long way, as it’s the main language in the majority of Latin America. Portuguese is the official language of Brazil, whereas French is spoken in French Guiana and Dutch in Suriname. English will get you by in Belize and Guyana.

The Latin American Travel Association (LATA) is a UK-based membership association, comprising more than 340 companies including tourist boards, airlines, hotels, tour operators and travel media. LATA operates a Safety Scheme to improve safety standards in accommodation and transport across Latin America. Charitable arm, the LATA Foundation, supports social and environmental projects throughout Latin America. For more info, visit:

Currency: Each nation has its own currency. Most use the peso, with a few exceptions.

getting there

health and safety

There are more direct flights between the UK and Latin America than ever before. British Airways offers non-stop services from London to key cities across the continent. LATAM flies direct from London to Sao Paulo; Avianca to Bogota; and Aeromexico to Mexico City. Virgin Atlantic operates flights to Cancun and Havana, and adds services to Sao Paulo in 2020. Norwegian also flies from London to both Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro, while Thomas Cook and TUI Airways fly from UK airports to destinations including Punta Cana and Cancun.

Certain inoculations are advised when travelling to some Latin American countries – visit or for further advice. For the latest travel and safety advice, visit:

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Together, further.

Connecting the UK to more than 120 destinations across Latin America.

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Daily direct flights from London Heathrow to São Paulo Guarulhos. The most extensive flight network in Latin America.

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