Discovering the Best of Brazil, Peru and Argentina
Sep04

Discovering the Best of Brazil, Peru and Argentina

South America is a vibrant, contrasting continent rich with wildlife, pristine landscapes, mind-blowing beaches and colourful cultures. It’s hard to put into words the absolute splendour of South America, and it’s even harder to narrow down must-visit countries in the continent of wonder. Planning a trip can be daunting because each area deserves lengthy periods of exploration time ! Do you just do the beaches of Brazil? Do you only visit the wildlife dense areas such as the Pantanal? Do you just enjoy the food and cultures of Argentina? Do you plan a hiking holiday to explore picturesque Patagonia? Do you So many places, so many questions and so little time ! When planning a holiday to South America, ask yourself one question : What is the aim of my holiday? Because – quite frankly – unless you have 6 months, you won’t be able to clock it all. We’ve compiled a list of the most popular, easy-to-travel to countries in South America and listed their highlights. The list is ideal for first-time travellers to South America, and showcases the best of Brazil, Peru and Argentina. With so much to do, you might have to select just one country instead of discovering the best of South America ! Brazil Viva Brazil ! An eclectic country rich in colour, wildlife and culture, there’s simply no stopping Brazil. Enjoy the party vibes of Rio carnival, soak up the exquisite atmosphere on the world-famous Ipanema beach flanked by protruding mountains, find jaguars and colourful birds in the Pantanal – the world’s largest tropical wetland area; stay in jungle huts in the Amazon, explore sultry Salvador and the romantic Bahia Coast; and trot around Sao Paulo, Brazil’s largest city and fashion capital. Don’t Miss : A few nights in Rio visiting Sugarloaf Mountain, Christ the Redeemer Statue and exploring Ipanema Beach. A stay at the iconic Copacabana Hotel is highly recommended. The island of Ilha Grande should not be missed – it’s remote beach paradise not far from from Rio. A trip to the romantic Salvador da Bahia coastline for beachside splendour. The 900 km coastline is fondly referred to as the “state of happiness”. Coconut palms fringe the white sandy beaches and inland the national parks house waterfalls, caves, natural swimming pools and hiking trails. Stay in jungle huts in the Amazon rainforest and explore the region via boat or river tour. Do a trip to Igauzu Falls, the world’s largest waterfall system in the world, bordering 3 countries. Find the elusive and mighty jaguars, adorable capybara and giant otters in the inland water system that is the Pantanal. Peru Ah picturesque...

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Birding in the Pantanal, Brazil : 6 Birds to Spot
Sep04

Birding in the Pantanal, Brazil : 6 Birds to Spot

Birding in the Pantanal is exceptional. Abundant aquatic birds and diverse avifauna make up the estimated 800 species of bird found in the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland area. This unique region spans kilometres of waterways across Brazil, Bolivia and Paraguay; and is one of the most attractive areas to enjoy a spot of birding. There are very few places in the world where you can view so many species of bird, so we recommend you head to the Brazilian state of Mato Grosso do Sul, where most of the Pantanal is located. The environment is pristine with crystal clear waters and lush emerald vegetation providing contrasting habitats for an array of unique birds. The below is our list of species to spot while birding in the Pantanal. Birding in the Pantanal : Scarlet Macaw The scarlet macaw is a bold and attractive South American parrot with a neatly arranged pattern of red, yellow and cobalt blue feathers. It’s an iconic species in both South and Central America, and is an absolute winner to see in the wild. It’s also very easy to spot and identify; and certainly doesn’t hold back when it comes to vocalising. You’ll probably hear the scarlet macaw squawking before you see it. This macaw is one of five species found in the area. Birding in the Pantanal : Hyacinth Macaw The hyacinth macaw is the largest and longest species of parrot, easily identifiable by its bright wintery blue plumage and yellow markings around the eyes. They’re one of the rare species of bird to spot in the Pantanal purely because of their rapidly declining numbers in the wold. Currently considered “Vulnerable” by the IUCN, the hyacinth unfortunately prized by exotic pet collectors. These macaws mate for life and are often seen in pairs, so if you do spot one, be sure to look around for its partner. Birding in the Pantanal : Toco Toucan The toco toucan is also just referred to as the toucan, and is probably one of the world’s most easily recognised birds ! It has a massive banana shaped and mango colour beak protruding proudly from its small black and white colour body, making it quite a striking bird to spot in the wild. Having graced cereal boxes and cartoon shows for years, the toucan is certainly the most famous bird to spot in the Pantanal.   Birding in the Pantanal : Jabiru The Jabiru is another iconic bird of the Pantanal and has a wide distribution across the Americas. This strange looking stork is the tallest flying bird in South America and boasts an impressive 2.3–2.8 m wingspan. This...

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Top 4 Luxury Hotels in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Sep03

Top 4 Luxury Hotels in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro is famous for its vibrant culture, sought after beaches and iconic landmarks. The Rio carnival brings in hoards of visitors during the sunny February months, and is considered to be the largest carnival in the world. The city pulsates with activity and there’s an overall atmosphere of absolute happiness washing over Rio! There’s a lot more to Rio than carnivals and parties. The city is home to the endless white beaches of Copacabana flanked by the famous towering Sugar Loaf mountain. Another popular beach region in Rio is the Ipanema beach and coastline, a place that draws in a hippie surfer crowd. The contrasting hilly region of Santa Teresa, a remote village defined by cobbled streets and magnificent views. These are our top 4 uxury hotels in the most popular regions in Rio de Janeiro. Belmond Copacabana Palace This classic landmark of a hotel is steeped in history, and lords over it surrounds. Resting on the shores of Copacabana Beach, the Belmond Copacabana Palace is most certainly a timeless hotel. The 239 roomed hotel opened its doors in 1923 and has certainly aged gracefully. It’s a glamorous destination once frequented by the Hollywood elite of the 1950s. It’s still home to an elite crowd in Brazil and is the perfect place to kick back and enjoy a caipirinha or two. This art deco masterpiece is home to a Michelin-starred restaurant and a massive swimming pool – two perfect places to unwind ! Hotel Fasano Rio de Janeiro Fasano is vastly different to Copacabana Palace in that it’s a modern, designer hotel with designer brands and stylish finishings everywhere you turn. Ideally located on the exquisite Ipanema Beach, Hotel Fasana is nothing short of exceptional. Ipanema Beach sees scores of surfers, sun worshippers and beach-goers lapping up the pristine beach lifestyle. This 89 roomed hotel is Philippe Starck’s first hotel in Brazil and is designed to reflect the 1950s and 60s era, where  bossa nova was in its heyday. Not only is Hotel Fasano located in one of Rio’s most coveted addresses, but it’s also an absolute design masterpiece created with flair. Each room has a balcony with sweeping views of Ipanema and when guests aren’t taking in the vistas of Brazil, they can enjoy indulgent spa treatments. Marina All Suites This is a luxury boutique designer hotel located in the Leblon area of Rio. Rumoured to be a favourite of supermodel Gisele Bundchen, the Marina All Suites is certainly aesthetically pleasing so we’re not surprised that it attracts a wealth of interest. The restaurant is the place to be and the be seen, and you’ll be...

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The best of South America: top traveller attractions, by region
Jun28

The best of South America: top traveller attractions, by region

South America is a continent simultaneously erupting with ancient history and vibrant, modern culture. It flows from the frosty peaks of the Andes Mountains, to desert landscapes that look like the surface of the moon. It has a vast tropical jungle basin, Caribbean shores, wine country, bohemian port towns, and exotic wildlife. With so much to offer, the biggest question of all is where to begin? It is easiest to break South America down into its four portions, each offering something iconic and different. There’s SO much to choose from and we recommend getting in touch with Liselle, our South America expert, to ask questions about the continent and what will best suit you. Below are some of our top traveller attractions, by region. The North Coast On the Caribbean coastline is the North Coast and the northernmost reaches of the rainforest, where you’ll find Colombia and Venezuela, palm-fringed beaches, the hard evidence of European colonisation and residual African settlements that stem back to the days of slavery. Lifestyles seem lackadaisical, colours are vibrant, history is everywhere, and nature is close by.   Museo del Oro, Bogotá, Colombia: The home of Colombia’s gold heritage. The museum is a testament to the country’s metalwork expertise of the old days when gold was extracted from the earth, reworked into figurines and jewellery and then buried as a gift to the Earth. While much of the south was plundered for gold treasure, Colombia was overlooked for many years and managed to retain its treasures for longer. Today, what remains – some 36 000 pieces – is on display in Museo del Oro where it is guarded by the bank. A truly exquisite exhibition. The Caribbean Coast, Santa Marta, Colombia: This city is the gateway to the northern attractions, including the tropical, sensual coast and El Rodadero beach. Stroll the popular promenade, sit at pavement restaurants and watch the comings and goings of locals and tourists alike. Salsa dancing is present everywhere you look – a part of the culture. Visit the Cathedral Basilicá, which is built on the ground where the oldest Catholic cathedral in Colombia used to stand after it was founded in 1951. Tairona National Park is easily accessed from Santa Marta and is popular because of its sparsely populated, white, sandy beaches and tropical jungle, which spans out below the jagged Sierra Nevada mountains. The Southern Cone The Southern Cone is the name given to the part of South America that has the most European influence and is most frequently travelled. This is where you’ll find Patagonia and its mountainous hiking routes and windswept shores. Chile – wedged between the Pacific Ocean...

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Patagonia Hiking Guide: Day Hikes in Torres del Paine
Jun10

Patagonia Hiking Guide: Day Hikes in Torres del Paine

Patagonia is one of the world’s most renowned hiking and trekking destinations. A place for adventurers and nature lovers where the elements can be challenging, but the scenery and landscape majestic… staggeringly so. Torres del Paine is Patagonia’s most famous trekking hotspot and it is where you will find a variety of different day-hikes and multi-day trekking excursions among a host of other outdoor activities, such as boat cruises, kayaking, horse-riding, glacier trekking, etc. We’ve got an article dedicated to the experience of puma trekking in Torres del Paine, and in this article we’re highlighting two of the region’s best hikes for day-packing – one easy and one not so easy! First things first: Weather First, it is important to know that Patagonia is almost as famous for its weather as it is for its rugged landscape. The wind can be very gusty and icy cold, and from about May to October, the winter season takes hold and everything turns white – this is not the time to hike! We recommend hiking in the seasons in between, when the cold is manageable, and in summer when the days are long and pleasantly warm. There is always a chance of rainfall, even during the summer months from December to February, and the wind pumps regularly, so there is no avoiding that altogether, but that’s all part and parcel of a visit to Patagonia! The Autumn months of March and April are also a very pleasant time to be in Patagonia and it is less busy with tourist traffic, so that’s a bonus if you are looking for more privacy and exclusivity. Summer is very busy in terms of visitors and your hiking trails are going to be bustling with other hikers. March and April are better for quieter visits and the wind blows less vigourously, which is nice for campers, but it is a bit colder and the closer to winter you go, the higher the chance of rainfall, so April-May is risky. Spring in October and November is also a favourable time of year, but it still packs that winter chill, so make sure to bundle up and keep warm. Rainfall is less likely to put a damper on things at this time of year, and there are no crowds comparable with summer, so, bonus! Gear Patagonia is an incredibly social place and it is very popular with young couples and groups of friends, as well as solo travellers who are on a soulful mission to realign with nature. Backpackers and hitchhikers are seen all over the quaint little towns in southern Chile, and especially in Puerto Natales, which...

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Let Us Organise Your Beach Honeymoon in Brazil
Mar24

Let Us Organise Your Beach Honeymoon in Brazil

Newlywed sun worshippers and lovers of sugar-white beach sand framed by turquoise oceans, absolutely must book a beach honeymoon in Brazil. Sophisticated bays, snazzy yacht cruises, and a hint of classic celeb life in the once famous Copacabana region is exactly what beach lovers require from a honeymoon. We can smell the coconut oil from here, taste the fresh mint of refreshing caipirinhas and feel the mild sandy breeze wafting through from the azure oceans. Of course, you can’t fly all the way to Brazil without exploring the major highlights, culture, landscape and bustle of surrounding areas. Our tailor-made beach honeymoon in Brazil package has been tried and tested by one of our own, and she certainly enjoyed all that paradise had to offer. Armed with an arsenal of knowledge, we decided to create this perfect Brazil honeymoon package. Of course, this is merely our suggested itinerary – we can add in a few extra days and destinations. Here are the main regions highlighted in our beach honeymoon in Brazil suggested itinerary : Copacabana Beach : The Place Musicians Write Songs About. Copacabana beach is Rio’s beach paradise, and is a pulsating beach destination that adds a bustling beach dimension to your otherwise peaceful honeymoon. The region experience a golden-age many years ago, but it still maintains its reputation of being a go-to destination for a sophisticated, yet party style beach holiday. During the ever famous Rio carnival, the beach and its cafes burst at the seams with life and the atmosphere is electric. Copacabana is always full of life, but if you’re chasing a more tranquil honeymoon experience, then head there outside of carnival season. Night markets on the promenades and cocktail bars provide plenty of entertainment should you tire of tranquility. And the accommodation? You will stay at the famous palatial Belmond Copacabana Beach, which adorns the shores of the beach. It’s a classic hotel built in 1923, and is currently ranked as one of the great beach hotels of nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Búzios : Quaint Bays, Cobbled Village Streets, and Upscale Beaches. This is one of the top destinations on the sunny Costa do Sol Brazil coast, and comprises a stretch of upscale resorts located in pristine bays. The area is ideal for an array of water sports, and the calm horseshoe bay of Ferradura is famous for water-based activities. The quaint villages of Búzios are lined with cobbled streets (Rua das Pedras) with traditional restaurants and bars knitted into the street corners. Known as the Brazilian St Tropez, Buzios certainly holds its own in terms of being a sought-after luxury beach destination. The area...

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Three fun things to do in El Chaltén, Patagonia Argentina
Feb28

Three fun things to do in El Chaltén, Patagonia Argentina

El Chaltén is a small town – probably more accurately described as a village – at the foot of a looming icy peak in Patagonia Argentina. This isn’t to say it’s a dozy, quiet place for reflection in the mountains. It is a hub for hikers and backpackers and it’s bustling with tourist activity. El Chaltén, in Argentina’s Los Glaciares National Park. is the centre of adventurous excursions, hiking trails, glacial melt lakes, water rafting, and ice trekking. It’s surrounded by rises and valleys, peaks and turquoise rivers, waterfalls, and smooth, rocky, rapids. In the village itself, tarred roads are lined with cosy cafes and restaurants, craft breweries, and traditional barbecues. Adventure centres and outdoor stores are well signposted so that wandering travellers know where to go to book their activities in the mountains. If there is anything you do in El Chaltén, make sure it’s at least one of these things… Hike Mount Fitz Roy El Chalten has the unmistakable air of back-backer heaven and just about everything is within walking distance. It’s the trekking capital of southern Patagonia, and there’s no doubt you’ll fall in love with its energy. There is so much on offer, starting with hiking the icon of El Chaltén: Cerro Fitz Roy. This jagged peak stands tall above the little town at its feet and it is the first thing you’ll see as you approach El Chaltén. Most often, the peak is shrouded in cloud, so you won’t even see it in all its glory, but in good weather when the granite tower is fully revealed, there is no question why it is one of the best-known mountains in the Deep South of the continent. Climbing Mount Fitz Roy is a challenge plenty of hikers take on, but the last stretch of vertical rock climbing is reserved for the most experienced of cliff-scalers, and not ordinary trekkers without proper experience and gear. The ascent to the foot of the tower is, however, a challenging full day excursion most keen hikers conquer happily. Fitz Roy was named after the captain of the HMS Beagle, who navigated South America in the early 1800s with Charles Darwin in tow! After that, the avid climber who started the clothing brand, Patagonia, used the image of this peak to illustrate his logo after he successfully scaled Fitz Roy in the 1960s. So, this imposing mountain at El Chaltén really is worth the effort! It’s a full day excursion to get to the base, where a magnificent, blue lake shimmers between the granitic rocks, and return to El Chalten. The hike takes you through green forests full of birds, like...

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