Just the name ‘Latin America’ conjures up images of colourful people, jungles and adventure! Such a melting pot of culture and extremes of geology make this a part of the world you can never tire of. From the stunning high Andes to the mighty Amazon or the fiestas of Brazil and Mexico … the vibrant Latin American heart beats strong through the whole continent …
There are some amazing facts and figures from Latin America, here are just some of them: The driest desert in the world is found here, parts of the Atacama Desert in Chile haven’t seen a drop of rain since records began! Stretching 600 miles along the Pacific coast to the border with Peru, the lunar landscape of the desert can be explored from the oasis town of San Pedro de Atacama. Into Bolivia, drive across the Salar de Uyuni, the largest (and highest altitude) salt flats in the world. Blinding white salt crust blends into bright blue sky, stay the night in a salt hotel!
One of the largest volcanic islands in the world rises from Lake Nicaragua forming Isla Ometepe in South America’s biggest freshwater lake. The largest single drop waterfall in the world is found in Guyana at Kaieteur Falls, five times larger than Niagara!
From Mexico on the USA border through Central America and the Panama Canal that splits the continent, right down the spine of the Andes through South America to Tierra del Fuego, there is a world of adventure to be experienced here.
Wildlife here is like no where else on the planet. Exotic and unique creatures such as the anteaters, new world monkeys, caiman and colourful toucans and macaws will amaze you in every country. The Galapagos islands of course are a unique and pre-historic environment which will be the highlight of any wildlife holiday to this region. The Pantanal of Brazil is a wetland haven for wildlife that covers a huge area, visit the Iguazu Falls on the Brazil – Argentina border. The tip of the continent is the jumping off point for Antarctica and the coastal areas of Chile, Argentina and Patagonia are also teeming with penguins, seals, seabirds and whales.
The Latin American culture is steeped in history with Mayan and Incan temples and monuments, the ethereal Machu Picchu in Peru is a must see and the archaeological sites in Guatemala and Belize are all to be wondered at.
The high altitude mountain scenery of Bolivia and Chile is for the keen adventurer – salt flats, awe inspiring vistas and extreme climates are experienced here. Argentina is famous for it’s cattle farms and is great horse riding country, plus of course, tasty steaks and red wines! For wildlife and tropical adventures head for the Orinoco Delta and the table top mountains of Guyana and Venezuela.
The ability to speak or understand Spanish is essential in this region and this is why I always recommend travelling in a small group with a local guide or letting us arrange a tailor made holiday for you, using local guides and ground handlers who know their territory inside out. Latin America suits the adventurous and independent traveller and flexibility is required to accommodate the vast distances involved and dramatic changes in climate from one end of the continent to the other.
Accommodation in rural parts of South and Central America can be quite basic but comfortable and I prefer to use traditional ‘pousadas’ – guest houses or homestays where possible. In the cities there are bigger hotels but it’s best to try and get one in the old quarters and take a wander round the authentic buildings and markets and get to know the locals. If you are looking for a honeymoon with a difference, what about a ‘floating lodge’ in the Amazon, a party in Rio or a luxury lodge in the Andes for starters?
So whether it’s a trip to see wildlife, meet the people, take in the stunning scenery or party at the carnivals, contact me for some independent ideas to make the most of your time in Latin America. There are hundreds of fabulous escorted tours, adventure tours, cruises and treks around this fascinating continent – contact me to plan the perfect Latin America experience for you.