From the great wilderness of Patagonia to the tiny treasure-trove of Belize, Latin America is somewhere that you should add to your bucket-list.
PURE PATAGONIA: EXPLORE EARTH’S LAST GREAT WILDERNESS
Patagonia is Earth’s last great wilderness, a dramatic landscape comprising of the Andes Mountains, lakes, fjords, and glacier in the west and deserts, tablelands and steppes to the east. Exploring this untamed wilderness and discovering its awe-inspiring beauty is a true bucket-list item. Latin Routes has recently unveiled a new 17-day tour titled ‘Pure Patagonia’ visiting both Argentine and Chilean Patagonia. Highlights include the stunning Argentine lake district of Bariloche, Puerto Vara, Puerto Natales and the iconic Torre del Paine National Park.
BELIZE FOR A DEEP DIVE INTO PARADISE
Belize is a tiny treasure-trove packed with natural beauty, famed for its stunning turquoise waters, incredible white sands and coral reefs home to a bounty of exotic marine life. Belize has a host of fascinating locations, but it is most famous for its rare and magnificent natural phenomenon, the Great Blue Hole. A circular drop of more than 400ft decorated with colourful coral formations and populated by Caribbean reef sharks, as well as nurse sharks, barracuda, and turtles, the Great Blue Hole is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Jacques Cousteau once named it one of the best dive sites in the world deeming it a true bucket-list item for those with a curiosity for what lies beneath the waves. Belize’s unique geographical position makes it a perfectly petite destination for travellers who want to pack a lot into their break, delivering beaches, rainforest, and Mayan ruins all in close proximity.
4X4 ACROSS THE ENDLESS BOLIVIAN SALT FLATS
Nowhere else on Earth can you find salt flats of comparable scale to Salar de Uyuni which covers 10,000 square kilometres. The landscape is otherworldly and seemingly infinite. Its vastness means that the concept of perspective wilts with creative visitors being able to capture amazing photographs. The Salar de Uyuni are a must-visit for any adventurous traveller and a comprehensive three-day 4WD tour reveals its multi-coloured lagoons, cacti islands and spouting geysers. Aside from the salt flats, Bolivia has a whole host to offer visitors including vibrant cities such as Sucre, Potosi and La Paz whose heritage were shaped by both the Incas and the Spanish Conquistadores. Towards the end of their bucket-list trip, travellers can wind down with a night in an eco-lodge on the Isla del Sol overlooking the deep, tranquil waters of Lake Titicaca – fringed by snow-capped peaks of the Cordillera Real.
RETRACE THE STEPS OF THE FATHER OF EVOLUTION ON THE GALAPAGOS
An indomitable explorer from his youth, Charles Darwin set foot in the Galapagos in 1835 and in just his first two months the astonishing discoveries changed modern science forever, transforming evolution into a fundamental pillar of biology virtually overnight. Guests with Golden Galapagos Cruises can follow in Darwin’s footsteps and have close-up intimate encounters with fearless wildlife found nowhere else on the planet. The Galapagos archipelago, located nearly 1,000 km off the Pacific coast of Ecuador, remains a fascinating living laboratory of evolution even today, making it an incredibly unique, isolated and safe destination for visitors from around the world. The breathtaking nature on the islands and the sheer abundance of life below the waves make the Galapagos a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.
PURA VIDA AND PURE NATURE IN COSTA RICA
Costa Rica, the crown jewel of Central America, has it all: biodiversity, pristine jungles, superb beaches, and ‘Pura Vida’. Pura Vida is more than a saying in Costa Rica, it’s a way of life that encourages joy-filled, stress-free living. Visitors to Costa Rica are immediately met with Pura Vida and carry it with them, leaving modern life behind, as they visit the countries astounding natural environments which are some of the most biodiverse on the planet. Tortuguero’s wildlife rich waterways are full of monkeys, toucans and other colourful birds while a hike on the slopes of the Arenal Volcano National Park presents a very different proposition. Costa Rica is full of cloud forests, emerald rainforests, smouldering volcanoes, steam-fed springs and bubbling mud pools.
PERU IN AN IMMERSIVE OFF-ROAD ADVENTURE
There is no better way to experience Peru than with an off-road adventure from the coast to the Andean mountains. Lima Tours offers an eight-day escape like no other, as passengers ride a 4×4, driven by a professional driver, from the capital city, Lima, to the impressive Paracas National Reserve, an extensive territory of beautiful geological formations. From there, adventurers head to the Ballestas Islands, a natural reserve home to sea lions, penguins, and many other species, before passing the extraordinary Nasca Lines. Once in Cusco, the 4×4 will pass through the spectacular Sacred Valley, with its amazing countryside, local communities, picturesque towns, and many archaeological sites. The trip ends with the grand finale at the citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the Eight Wonders of the World and a true bucket-list item.
GET OFF-GRID IN THE GUYANESE AMAZON
Travellers looking for a sense of seclusion from the outside world should look no further than the remote, uncharted lands of Guyana. Over 80% of Guyana’s territory is dense, pristine rainforest where human contact is seldom and total immersion in raw nature is an inevitability. Guyana’s eco-systems have evolved over millennia undisturbed by human development meaning that even the most impressive landmarks such as Kaieteur Falls, the world’s largest single-drop waterfall, is free of hordes of tourists. Reef and Rainforest’s tour ‘Natural Guyana Off The Beaten Track’ takes travellers into a variety of ecosystems including tropical rainforest, savannahs, wetlands, mighty rivers, mangroves and mountains. Visitors will have the chance to spot iconic wildlife such as black caiman, giant anteater, giant river otter, arapaima, harpy eagle, capybara and green anaconda.
KICK BACK IN TIME IN VINTAGE CUBA
In timeless Cuba, fifties-style American cadillacs roll through the faded colonial streets while in the music halls rum flows freely. Away from its iconic cities, Cuba has a wild side with a variety of landscapes from dramatic limestone hills to dense forests to stunning Caribbean coastlines. Cuba is a country that is rapidly changing as it moves into the modern area. To see it in its vintage glory, travellers are encouraged to make this top of their travel wish lists. Explore’s ‘Cuba Libre’ tour takes visitors to see the best of vintage Cuba including highlights a little off the beaten track such as Colonial Trinidad with music and colour around every corner, the Escambray Mountains perfect for hiking and swimming in freshwater pools, and learning about Revolutionary history at the Bay of Pigs.
STARRY SKYS AND DRAMATIC SCENARY
For a true journey of contrasts, Chile blends the dramatic mountains of the Andes, with the sparkling lakes of Pucón, the deserts of the Atacama and glaciers of Patagonia.
Chile specialist TravelArt offers a new 12-day tour entitled the “Heartbeat of Chile“, which journeys from Santiago, to the Elqui Valley; known for its dramatic starry skies and viticulture, Isla Damas, the UNESCO World Heritage Site Sewell; an uninhabited Chilean mining town located on the slopes of the Andes, and the dramatic Torres del Paine National Park. Guests will experience the starry skies on an astronomical tour, observe penguins in the Southern coast, spot condors in the central valleys and follow the tracks of pumas in Patagonia. This trip transports visitors from the north to the south and also features a visit to one of Chile’s most outstanding wineries.
GIVE BACK TO LATIN AMERICA
There has never been a time when the communities in Latin America that rely so heavily on tourism need your help. To help raise funds for essential causes, LATA’s official charity, the LATA Foundation, has created a collection of Christmas gift certificates to suit every budget. For example, £5 will cover a pair of ballet shoes for a child attending Projeto Vidançar; a dance school for underprivileged children in one of Brazil’s favelas. Or for bigger budgets, £100 would cover one month’s worth of PPE equipment for five Mayan midwives operating in remote areas of Guatemala.