South America Travel Planner

The Difference Between a Custom and a Pre-Designed Tour

As a traveler, you have a myriad of options to help you plan your next vacation or getaway. If you are like most people, you use a variety of tools to put together your plan. If you are a solo traveler you may do it one way. If you plan for a family or group you may do it another. In all cases you essentially have three options: 1) Do all the research, planning and booking yourself either through one or more online portals 2) Find and book a pre-designed tour from a travel company 3) Work with a professional travel specialist to create a one-of-a kind, customized and personalized journey.

Latin Excursions is a boutique travel specialist concentrating on Latin and South America travel experiences. We say “boutique” because we don’t send tens of thousands of people through ordinary cookie-cutter style tours each year. Instead, we serve a smaller slice of travelers who are seeking special, private travel experiences. Our clients don’t want to be on a bus tour with dozens of other travelers. They want to experience intimate moments that can only occur on a private tour.If this is you, we invite you to consider having Latin Excursions plan your own private travel adventure!

Our pre-designed and custom tours share a few similarities you will appreciate.

  • Meet, greet and transportation from the airport to your hotel
  • Personally selected hotels, inns, villas for lodging that we intimately know
  • Experienced and reputable activity, culture and entertainment providers
  • Local guides personally selected by us

Pre-Designed Tours

As you browse through our website, you will find dozens of tours categorized as Pre-Designed Tours. These itineraries evolved from many years of designing and planning custom tours. We noticed a growing request for certain tour lengths, accommodations and activities to the point where we integrated these preferences into our signature tours, or “Pre-Designed Journeys.” We have found a balance of local culture, guided activities and free time which works well for our travelers. Accommodations can be selected according to comfort level preference (which affects the tour rate); so keep this in mind with any pricing you see. We will provide you with a final quote once your lodging has been selected.

Custom Tours

As you peruse the destinations and tours on our website, you will find our Custom Journeys. With each custom tour, we’ve outlined a variety of recommended options to choose from each day. Essentially, our Custom Journeys pages are to be used as a starting point and to outline the possibilities in different regions.

For instance, maybe you have a particular interest in wine tasting, kitesurfing or bird watching. Or, perhaps you want to learn about the history and art of a specific destination, or you wish to learn to how to cook special dishes.

These are the ingredients of our custom tours. You tell us what you want to do and we design an itinerary to reflect your interests. From photography to fishing, and from trekking to local markets and more. And, keep in mind, our Custom Journeys are to be used as guides only. If you’re not quite finding what you have in mind, we will start from scratch–with a blank canvas and your imagination!

Someone once said, “your journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step.” We encourage you to take the first step by reviewing our collection here at Latin Excursions. Then, give us a call for your free, no obligation, trip assessment and to learn why travel experts like Wendy Perrin, Travel+Leisure and others recommend our services for private Latin America travel.

Villa Amarilla

villa amarilla preferred hotels when travelling in galapagos

galapagos-icon Villa Amarilla

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Villa Amarilla is a charming seaside villa with the character, comfort and class reminiscent of a European home in Tuscany. Characterized by classic island architecture, the villa is situated in Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz with a dramatic view to the island’s volcano. The villa is a labyrinth of beauty and elegance with five spacious bedrooms, all equipped with an ocean front terrace, two sweeping living rooms and the luxury amenities of a swimming pool, jacuzzi and outdoor BBQ for al fresco dining. Relax in poolside loungers, lose yourself a book while swaying gently in the hammock, or kick back on the plush terrace sofas after an adventurous day of exploration. This unique and private villa caters to the most discerning travelers, allowing you to explore the Enchanted Islands at your leisure and in a true “home away from home”.

AN IDEAL BASE FOR EXPLORATION

The villa is located in a strategic area that allows you to visit the same islands you would experience by boat, but to see and do much more than a traditional yacht excursion allows. Experience diverse wildlife by day and return to a gourmet meal on your seaside terrace, just in time to experience a breathtaking sunset or soak in the jacuzzi with a cocktail. Villa Amarilla is ideal for active families and groups interested in personalizing activities at their own pace. From your luxurious home base, experience the magic of the Galapagos with daily excursions such as snorkeling, diving, surfing, hiking, kayaking, catch and release fishing and horse riding.

EXCLUSIVE AND PERSONALIZED CARE

Included in your stay at Villa Amarilla are an in-home chef, maid and caretaker. Alejandro and Mariana will make you feel at home and share an authentic experience of local specialties. Mariana is a magician in the kitchen and can specialize in Ecuadorian or International food while Alejandro, the concierge of the villa, will help you will all logistics in the Puerto Ayora town with genuine local knowledge and a beaming smile. Your exclusive guide caters to your specific interests, allowing you the flexibility to modify your adventure according to group desires. It is the perfect balance between exciting activities like diving, hiking to the top of the volcano, cabling down one of the lava tunnels or swimming with penguins, and relaxation time in true decadence.

Please Note: There is a weekly mandatory tip for the staff associated with this property. For 1 to 6 guests – $300 US and for 7 to 12 guests – $450 US

Ideal forfamilies and those looking for a flexible program that is non-regimented

villa amarilla hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in galapagos

galapagos-icon Villa Amarilla

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highlights

  • Private terraces in all bedrooms
  • Swimming Pool
  • Jacuzzi
  • Outdoor BBQ
  • Fireplace
  • Strategically located for activities
  • In-home maid, chef and caretaker

rooms

  • Two bedrooms with king beds
  • Three bedrooms with double beds
  • 7 bathrooms
  • All bedrooms have private baths
  • Beautiful terraces in all bedrooms
  • Fully equipped kitchen
  • 2 living rooms
  • 12 guests maximum

services

  • DVD player
  • Multiple TV’s
  • 40" cable/satellite TV
  • Wireless Internet
  • Washer & Dryer
  • Safety deposit box
  • Kayaks
  • An in-home chef, maid and caretaker

Villa Beachscape

Villa Coffee Country preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Villa Beachscape

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This home has 4 rooms with 2 spacious rooms with private balcony and ensuite bathrooms. One of the rooms is designed for an entire family with 2 smaller bedrooms with a shared bathroom
An ample open kitchen with a free flowing living room will allow for a great space to enjoy great meals

The vila comes with a pool with easy access to a private beach , which is ideal for sunsets or simply taking a dip steps from the villa. Enjoy a barbeque next to the pool

**Included: in-house concierge + barman, 24-hours car, house cook (breakfast, lunch & dinner, groceries are not included), pool maintenance every day, direct TV in rooms.

**Please note: transfers to Barú will need to be made by a reservations specialist**

Ideal : for large family or groups of friends seeking a beach escape

Pricing:

Low season:$ USD 1,765.00

High season: $ USD 1,930.00
( March 25th to March 31st, November 19th to November 26th, December 25th to January 15th)

Ideal for large family or groups of friends seeking a beach escape

villa coffee country hotel is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Villa Beachscape

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highlights

  • 4 bedrooms, perfect for large groups
  • Ocean front pool and bbq
  • Outdoor swimming pool and terrace

rooms

  • 2 bedrooms, 2 with single beds
  • 1 bedroom with 2 small rooms

services

  • Daily cleaning lady
  • Breakfast
  • Welcome wine, cheese and fruit upon arrival
  • An English speaking concierge on call 24/7
  • At extra cost, the following are available: massages, private in house meals by a gourmet chef, activities in Cartagena City and private boat trips to the Rosario Islands

Casa Tejadillo

casa tejadillopreferred villas when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Casa Tejadillo

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Casa Tejadillo is a spectacular 5 bedroom villa with a very large terrace, ideal to soak the tropical sun and have views of Cartagena.

2 large living areas make the home ideal for socializing. Large dining spaces with many sleeping arrangements available

The price includes cleaning as well as breakfast and lunch preparation from the in house cook. Groceries are not included. Strict Cancellation policy for December

Pricing

Low season:
$ USD 1,790.00
Mid season:
$ USD 2,075.00

( March 25th to March 31st , June 16th to August 16th, November 5th to November 12th):

High season:
$ USD 3,145.00

( December 15th to January 15th)

Ideal forfamilies and groups of friends who would like a spacious stylish Caribbean villa (one of the largest villas in Cartagena)

Casa Tejadillo is one of our preferred villas when travelling in colombia

Circle_Icon_Colombia Casa Tejadillo

discover all of our colombia journeys

highlights

  • 5 bedrooms, perfect for large family or friends
  • Artistically decorated
  • Rooftop jacuzzi
  • Outdoor swimming pool and terrace

rooms

  • 5 bedrooms
  • 6 bathrooms
  • 2 large living rooms/lounge areas

services

  • Daily cleaning lady
  • Breakfast
  • Welcome wine, cheese and fruit upon arrival
  • An English speaking concierge on call 24/7
  • At extra cost, the following are available: massages, private in house meals by a gourmet chef, activities in Cartagena City and private boat trips to the Rosario Islands

How to fly to Galapagos Islands

All flights lead to Ecuador for travelers headed to the Galapagos 

Some of the most worthwhile destinations in the world are also a little harder to get to. No matter where in the world you are coming from, traveling to the Galapagos requires you to connect in Ecuador, either through Quito or Guayaquil. From there you fly to the Galapagos Islands which are roughly 550 miles off the coast of Ecuador. LATAM airlines (formerly LAN) has connecting flights from New York City and Miami. TAME airlines also offers connecting flights from Ft Lauderdale and NYC. For, perhaps, the smoothest flight itineraries these two carriers should be research starting points. Unless you love this kind of research, it could be best to employ a travel specialist to sort out all of the flight variables from your home city.

Linger in Ecuador

In today’s hurry-up world it can be hard to slow down. For the least stressful travel experience, flying to the Galapagos nearly demands that you do. Sure, you can try to book close connections and short overnights en-route. But unless you revel in travel stress, you would be best to plan a few days coming and going from the Galapagos in Ecuador itself. Many people tag on Machu Picchu or The Amazon with their Galapagos visit. Simply, though, spending time in Quito or Guayaquil can be very enjoyable as well. We recommend you allow a 2-day layover if you want a relaxing trip. With that sort of schedule you can handle any sort of travel hassle!

Spend a few days in Quito

While you may want to go straight to Guayaquil where nearly all the flights to the Galapagos depart from, a visit to Quito can be very worthwhile. After all, Quito (UIO) is the Capital of enigmatic Ecuador. It is placed in the high foothills of the Andes at about 8500 feet of elevation! The city is quite charming and has a very well preserved center composed of 16th and 17th century architecture. The combination of elevation and latitude conspire to offer an eternal springtime range of temperature. Major USA carriers like United, American and Delta all fly to Quito. The airport is about an hour away from the city. Just a couple of ideas for enjoying Quito include:

  • Horseback riding up in the Andes
  • Downhill mountain biking in the Andes
  • Otavalo Market
  • Cloudforest Hummingbird viewing
  • Culinary exploration

Spend a few days in Guayaquil

Guayaquil (GYE) is a port city and as such is found at sea level. It is at the equator just barely into the Southern Hemisphere and as such has tropical weather year around. It is a larger city than Quito with approximately 2.5 million people. Major USA carriers fly to here as well and the airport is quite close to the city. Most flights from Quito to the Galapagos connect through Guayaquil. So, we feel the perfect itinerary is 2 days in Quito on the way to the Galapagos and 2 days in Guayaquil on the way home. Just a few of our favorite things to do around Guayaquil include:

  • Whale watching tours
  • Surfing and surf lessons
  • Bird watching
  • Fruit markets

Fly to the Galapagos Islands

After a short break in either Quito or Guayaquil, it’s time for your final flight to the Galapagos Islands. As mentioned, if you stayed over in Quito, your flight from there will most likely stop in Guayaquil before heading to the islands. There are several flights a day offered. Most go to Baltra Island. But there are also Flights to Puerto Baquerizo Moreno on San Cristobal Island too. Where you fly to will be based on where you start your cruise or land-based island adventure. TAME, Avianca and LATAM (formerly LAN) are the air carriers who fly to the islands.  Read all our Galapagos Travel Tips Blog

Galapagos Interisland Flights

Depending on your interests you may want to fly within the Galapagos. There is one main air carrier called Emetebe which offers inter-island flights. There are four airports with commercial service; San Cristobal, Baltra, Santa Cruz and Isabela.

Ecuador Tours that Discover the Lesser Known Side of Ecuador

Destination or Passing Through? Ecuador Tours are for Both Travelers

Ecuador is the gateway to Galapagos Islands which are a part of Ecuador even though they lie over 500 miles off the coast of Ecuador. Because of this, people from all around the world pass through Quito and Guayaquil en route. But did you know Ecuador, itself, is a fascinating destination? I’m from Ecuador so have both a soft spot for the country in general as well as for several special areas which are relatively unknown still.

Lay of the Land

Ecuador gained independence from Spain in 1822 and functions as a Democratic Republic. The US State Department warns against travel in the far Northwest corner of the country that borders with Colombia due to increased crime. But for the most part, travelers planning Ecuador tours should exercise caution as one would anywhere in the world. Vaccines that are recommended or required before entering the country include: typhoid, hepatitis A, hepatitis B, yellow fever, rabies, and influenza. The country offers striking scenery rising from sea level to the tops of the Andes mountains. At lower elevations, you are in the equatorial tropics while the mountains offer eternal springtime.

From Quito, Overnight in Banos or Riobamba

If you are staying in Quito, enjoy a fun tour to Banos and/or Riobamba. Banos is 2.5 hours and Riobamba is 3 hours travel time from the capital city. This region is the active adventure hub of Ecuador. Traverse some of the most stunning Andean drops, even seeing waterfalls heading into the Amazon. Plan to stay two or three nights in Banos and add another night in Colta. This region around La Cordillera de los Llanganates is remarkable for outdoor enthusiasts including the Chimborazo, a mountain peak that dominates the view from the valley.

The Cacao Trail

If you have an interest in chocolate and how it’s produced from cacao beans, you can tour the plantations outside of Guayaquil en route to Cuenca. Visit the cacao plantations as a day trip day trip from Guayaquil–with two to three hours of travel time–or make it an overnight. This tour is one of the few places on the planet where, in less than three hours, you cover terrain from sea level to 12,000 feet. There is so much to see, like Cajas National park known as the “lakes district” of Ecuador, featuring spectacular alpine lakes. Cuenca is a city in Ecuador’s southern Andes mountains. The central square is a great place to buy handicrafts and for sightseers, the blue-domed Catedral Nueva and the 16th-century Catedral Vieja, now a religious museum, are not to be missed!

Coastal Explorations from Guayaquil

A great route from Guayaquil is to drive north along the Pacific coast to Salinas and Ayampe. Along the way, spot hummingbirds and revel in the unique dry, tropical coastal forests. A great experience for families, this region offers whale watching, snorkeling and scuba diving that’s reminiscent of the Galapagos Islands. Salinas is quite modern with popular beaches and outstanding seafood. Ayampe is a sleepy, rustic surf town along a beautiful, quiet beach–perfect for beachcombing walks.

South from Cuenca to Loja and Vilcabamba

For art and culture lovers, a visit to Loja is essential. The region is also known for orchids, superb coffee and an eternal Spring climate. The drive from Cuenca is about three hours. Accommodations are in posadas which are generally 3-star facilities (in other words, nothing fancy). But what it lacks in luxury it makes up for being off the well worn tourist path of other regions in Ecuador. The village of Vilcabamba is rumored to produce some of the oldest living people on the planet! Loja is very picturesque and known for its vibrant music scene. You can enjoy four distinct climates within a 45-minute drive from the town. This part of the country is very peaceful and distinctly pretty.

Private Ecuador Tours

We have several detailed itineraries for all four of these great Ecuador tours which you can request. They make great opportunities for those not in a hurry to and from the Galapagos. Plus, all of our tours are private. This means that we either plan your details and send you on your way, or we provide a guide who drives and walks you through these destinations. Our local guides are full of knowledge, folklore and tales. With a guide all you have to do is show up and enjoy! We customize your time to do just the things that interest you–unlike all the cookie-cutter options available out there!

The Atacama Desert Experience

The Atacama is not for everybody. But for adventurous travelers it is a must-do, bucket list destination. How can that be? Read on to learn more about Chile’s Atacama Desert which stretches from a high plateau of the Andes all the way down to the Pacific Ocean!

Calama

Most visits to The Atacama Desert begin at Calama by flying into the airport here, most likely, from Santiago. Set just above 7,400 feet, this city of 150,000+ residents is known as the gateway to the Atacama region. It is one of the driest cities in the world. Calama sprang to life as an oasis along the Loa River during the time of the Incas. Since then, it has thrived as the largest open-pit copper mine in the world.

San Pedro de Atacama

This small, desert town of 5,000 people is a good place to base your explorations of the region. It is unique, in that the local people are carrying on just like they have for thousands of years and you get a chance to witness it first-hand. Believe it or not, you will find one of the top 10 spas of Latin America near here, at Alto Atacama Hotel! The accommodations we work with in the Atacama region provide unexpected, unique luxury and offer tours, excursions and daily treks to the featured attractions found in the region.

Hard or Soft Adventure?

The best part about the Atacama Desert experience is the fact that it’s a great destination for all adventure travelers; not just for the hardcore climbers and adrenaline junkies. For those of you who thrive on the extreme, you’ll find activities like sand boarding, mountain biking and out-of-this-world hiking!  For the rest of us, who just like to get “out there” visiting the far-flung reaches of our planet, you will find tamer, yet no less adventurous experiences, such as hot air balloon rides, spotting flamingos, gazing at high altitude geysers or just enjoying the stars in some of the darkest skies found in the world.

Stay and Play

How much time you spend here is up to you. There are enough attractions and activities to make a complete vacation of 5-10 days. At a rough glance, we count a dozen things we would like to see and do that all take the better part of a day to experience, allowing for leisurely lunches, meandering through the villages and haggling for indigenous arts and crafts. On our Chile travel page we have created a 10-day pre-designed private tour and a sample 10-day custom-designed private tour to help you learn about the possibilities. When you choose a custom-designed private tour of the Atacama Desert, we start with a blank piece of paper. It gets filled in with only the kinds of experiences you want and none that you don’t!

Combine Atacama with Other Destinations

To get to the Atacama Desert is a long journey for anyone; so it makes sense to combine a visit there with another destination(s) as well. By far, the most popular combination we design for many travelers is Atacama and the Torres del Paine region of Patagonia. Allow at least ten days for this sort of itinerary. In Patagonia, you can experience a boat excursion, endless hiking opportunities, horseback riding and much more. You might also consider a side trip of a few days to Valparaiso on the Pacific coast. Or, hop on a plane to Buenos Aires in Argentina to include some Southern Hemisphere cosmopolitan time. We also combine journeys to either the beach or wine country of Uruguay with Atacama visits. If time permits, you could even do it all!

Top South America Honeymoon Destinations

The reward for a well planned wedding ceremony and reception is the honeymoon! It’s when you get to wave goodbye to everyone who celebrated the event with you. South America is a preferred choice for honeymooners. This is happening for a variety of reasons; not the least of which is the couples desire to get started with a new combined travel bucket list! What we like about planning South America honeymoon travel for clients are the wide variety of choices we can present. Some newlyweds want physical activities while others are looking for more passive pursuits. Some honeymooners want to stay in one place while others want to combine a few destinations. Here are the top 5 South America honeymoon destinations our clients have had us plan for them the past few years to help you get your own planning underway.

Galapagos Islands

Visiting the Galapagos is a once-in-a-lifetime experience! So, why not make it how you start your life together? It’s a little tough to get to but that is one of the reasons it is so rewarding a destination. With good planning it can be a magical journey and it is the #1 honeymoon destination we book!

A land-based Galapagos honeymoon can be ideal. The centrally located island of Santa Cruz is the best choice. It is the hub for many activities including sandy beaches and the approachable wildlife. There are few places in the world where beaches come alive with nature as happens here. With our decades of experience in the archipelago, we have developed a great relationship with three wonderful places to stay on the island. One of the most unique lodging experiences we have found in the world is the Safari Camp Hotel. If you are looking for more of a traditional luxury property, the Pikaia Lodge will provide a very enjoyable honeymoon base. If waterfront accommodations are what you are looking for, the Finch Bay Eco Hotel will fill that need and much more! Each one of these properties has a plethora of activities, tours and boats to help you explore.

If a cruise around the Galapagos islands is more to your liking, we personally know the small ships that cater well to honeymooners. MV Origin is a newly launched ship that accommodates just 10 passengers on two different 8-day itineraries. The classic MV Grace was once the personal yacht of  Princess Grace of Monaco. It underwent extensive refurbishment recently and accommodates 18 guests in 9 cabins for 8-day cruises. Both of these small ships offer a luxurious and intimate experience.

Brazil

If you dream of tropical beaches off the beaten path, the Bahia region of Brazil can’t be beat. Our top pick is the authentic UXUA experience in the UNESCO preserved beach town of Trancoso. It features one-of-a-kind accommodations, spa and fine dining. If we could only pick one beach destination for our honeymoon it would be this! We also have some very unique villas here if you are looking for the ultimate private beach honeymoon!

But you could also split your time between the peaceful quiet of UXUA and the vibrant city of Rio de Janeiro as well. Create a custom journey that includes both of these destinations for a full dose of relaxation and culture. Go one step further and combine Trancoso ,with Iguazu falls – Florianopolis, and Rio for an ideal Brazil itinerary between nature, relaxation, and intensely colorful culture.

Want to see and do even more? Its important to tell your travel planner what you both like to do on vacation. That way, the itinerary can be created exactly with those experiences!

Colombia 

Do you both like history and coffee? A honeymoon that includes Cartagena and Colombia’s coffee country will fill that bill and so much more! Start or end in Cartagena. It was an important port for Spain in the 1500’s. In 1984, Cartagena’s colonial walled city was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The mix of Spanish and Caribbean influences is romantically intoxicating! What’s more, you won’t have a long flight from the USA and the time zone will be familiar which means no jet lag!  There are many choices for accommodations in the city but we choose Casa San Agustin Hotel for its location in the old city and the services provided there. It was recently named the #1 hotel in Columbia by TripAdvisor too. It’s a small boutique hotel but has the services of a much larger luxury property with inhouse spa and dining. You can choose as much or as little structure to your Cartagena visit, including english speaking, private walking tours and activities like sailing, cooking lessons or art workshops.

After the city, its time to visit coffee country which we fly you to. We have chosen the Hacienda Bambusa for your  accommodations and unique farm to table experience. After a tour of the coffee plantation you will find many diverse types of experiences to enjoy like ziplining, hot air balloon rides, horseback riding, birding and more.

If you want more Colombia on this trip, we can whisk you off to Bogota, high up in the Andes mountains too. Or, maybe you want to save that for a return trip in the future? Either way, your honeymoon trip to Colombia or any of our destinations will include airport meet and greets, transfers from the airports to the hotels and really, anything you can think of that will make your travel that much more special to you.

Uruguay

If you are seeking pampas, wine and style, few places can offer such an amazing mix as Uruguay. This is a destination best visited in our winter season. Don’t stay in Punta del Este, unless nightlife is the principle reason for your visit. The good restaurants, shops, marina and golf course are easily reached from the other nearby beach spots should the need arise. The airport that is the gateway to the Uruguay coast is here.

Instead, we suggest the smaller and more romantic, Jose Ignacio, up the road a bit. There you can stay at Playa or Estancia Vik Jose Ignacio. The Viks are ideal for travelers and our favorites would be Playa or Bahia for honeymooners. Hotel features a spa and wide variety of activities like riding horses and wine tasting. That’s just the start. you will never want to leave!

The village of Garzon is a short drive from the fashionable beach village of Jose Ignacio, yet the village itself is set in rolling hills and Tuscan like countryside and it is away from the the party scene. Its here that South America’s best-known chef, Francis Mallmann, has chosen to locate his latest restaurant venture as part of a charming 5 bedroom country hotel which has been wildly praised from all corners. It is also home to one of Uruguays top wineries which is a must visit.

Chile

If your heart pounds for the outdoors, designing a trip with the Atacama desert will be a true bucket-list highlight for a honeymoon.

This region is known for some of the most dramatic scenery in the entire world. The Atacama air is the driest on the planet, which gives it a perfect transparency. Experiences such as floating effortlessly on the lagoons will be a life-long memory. A famous one is called “ojos de salar” which appears almost out of nowhere in the flat of a barren desert plain.

Experience a geothermal field located in the Andes Mountain range. The fumaroles of  these geysers, the highest on the planet, are produced by the high temperatures of their water. We will begin our excursion very early to arrive by dawn at the heights of the Andes that allows to observe great steam fumaroles and burning mud craters, originating from the deep depths of the Earth.

Other expeditions can be Desert dunes horseback riding through the big valley of Quebrada de Kari and arrive by surprise to the Moon Valley. We then return to San Pedro by a big open plain in front of the Andes Mountains and by the main oasis of San Pedro to conclude this adventure of a lifetime.

Endowed with one of the clearest skies in the world, Atacama offers a spectacular view of the stars. The high altitude and dryness create a privileged setting to see the constellations, stars, planets and galaxies in this dark sky location.

Spend 3 or 4 days at Awasi Atacama located just outside of San Pedro near a pre-Inca fortress. Enjoy daily shared excursions as well as use of the spa, jacuzzi, sauna, pool, and sun deck, bicycles and transportation between the lodge and nearby village.

We suggest combining a visit to the Atacama of Chile with either Patagonias’ Torres del Paine or the Iguazu waterfall region that separates Brazil and Argentina. These three destinations in combination will satiate even the most adventurous couple!

Your Travel Guide To The Galapagos Islands

A trip to the Galapagos Islands is undoubtedly one of those experiences that will leave a lasting impression on your psyche. Famed for its variety of endemic wildlife as well as its impressive landscapes that range from volcanoes to stunning beaches, the Galapagos Islands are a must visit destination for lovers of the natural world. Here are the top 10 Galapagos Islands Travel Tips you need to know before you go.

What You Need To Know About The Galapagos Islands

The enchanting beauty of the Galapagos Islands makes it a destination many are eager to cross off their bucket lists, and it’s interesting geological past combined with lush, verdant scenery make it both an educational and recreational experience for travelers.

Part of the Republic of Ecuador, the Galapagos Islands form the Galapagos Province of Ecuador as well as the Galapagos National Park and the Galapagos Marine Reserve. The archipelago is comprised of 19 islands that are located approximately 1,000 km away from the Ecuadorian coast in the Pacific Ocean, and are volcanic in origin.

Explore Our Galapagos Islands Trip Options

To this day the islands feature a grand total of 13 volcanoes with eruptions occurring every couple of years. The landscape of the Galapagos has been formed in part by these eruptions, creating beautiful black sand beaches and other fascinating geological landmarks.

Perhaps one of the most notable aspects of the Galapagos Islands is its variety of native wildlife species. Because the Galapagos were formed by volcanic activity, the islands were never connected to a landmass, which means that all wildlife arrived to the islands either by air or sea.

For this reason, there are very few natural predators on the island and most animals are more than comfortable with up close and personal human interaction. Some of the native species you’ll enjoy seeing on the islands include the Galapagos Tortoise (which has an average lifespan of more than 150 years), the marine iguana, penguins, sea lions, and a number of bird species including the highly unique flightless cormorant.

Observing the native wildlife is perhaps one of the most exciting things about a trip to the Galapagos, and should no doubt be incorporated into your experience.

One important thing to note is that in order to preserve the natural ecology of the island, many of its areas are protected and require the accompaniment of a licensed guide. Another thing to note is that there are few ATMs on the island, and although many stores and boutique’s do accept credit cards, it’s advised to take out as much cash as you can in advance.

Best Times To Visit The Galapagos

Conditions in the Galapagos are ideal year-round for visitation, and temperatures generally range from 69°- 84°F. Despite the fact the islands are located close to the equator, the climate in the Galapagos is not tropical. The year is typically split into two seasons: the warm season, which ranges from January to June, and the dry season, which stretches from July to December.

During the warm season expect a unique mixture of warmth, sunshine, and some afternoon rain showers. Because the ocean temperatures are also warmer during this time, it is great for swimming and snorkeling. Average temperatures during the warm season range from 80°F to 90°F, and this is an excellent time of year to observe birds mating and to see sea turtles nest on the beaches.

The dry season is marked by cooler temperatures on both land and in water, as well as cloudier skies. The cooler weather provides the perfect breeding ground for plankton and other nutrients, making it the ideal time to observe sea birds and penguins feeding. The dry season is also the mating time for the Blue-Footed Boobies and short-eared owls.

The humpback whale is one of the Galapagos Island’s few migratory species, and they typically arrive in the surrounding ocean between the months of June to September. If tiny baby seals are what you’re after, arrive in August when they are born, or wait until November to watch them learn how to swim. For sea turtle lovers, arrive earlier on in the year to watch the mothers lay their eggs on the beach, or arrive two months later when they hatch to watch them crawl out to sea.

Visiting With Your Family

What better way to awaken your children to the magic of the animal kingdom and the beauty of the natural world than a trip to the Galapagos Islands? The Galapagos Islands make for an excellent family vacation because of the never-ending list of things to see and do and the variety of guided and educational tours.

The Galapagos Islands are a fantasy for many children, and being able to safely approach and interact with the wildlife makes it an experience they are not soon to forget. When booking your trip, bear in mind that there are excursions that cater specifically to families with children to make your experience more enjoyable.

For example, the “Best of Galapagos & Ecuador for Families” trip offered by Latin Excursions offers 15 days of uninterrupted fun, starting off with the “Galapagos Safari Day Adventure” complete with arts and crafts activities for the kids. The “Embark Galapagos Cruise” portion of the trip starts the next day and retraces Charles Darwin’s 8-day cruise to the western islands. If your kids are beach lovers, not to worry – there are plenty of opportunities to enjoy the pristine waters of the Galapagos while getting up close and personal with sea turtles, small rays, and sea lions.

Other fun activities for kids include kayaking, which gives children a way to safely explore the water while catching glimpses of wildlife beneath the ocean surface. The Charles Darwin Research Center is another great option for kids as it features an exhibition hall, native gardens, a public library, as well as staff members that are well versed on the variety of wildlife on the islands. The center has worked on conservation, restoration, and sustainable development on the archipelago for decades.

galapagos-islands-travel-tips Your Travel Guide To The Galapagos Islands

How To Get There

Commercial flights are the only way to get to the Galapagos Islands, and all visitors must fly to Ecuador first before arriving. Contrary to popular belief, there is no boat or cruise that takes visitors from the mainland to the islands.

The only flights available are from Quito or Guayaquil, both of which offer morning flights to the islands. Flights from Guayaquil are approximately two hours long, and are only half an hour from Quito.

An overnight stay in either city is recommended since flights leave in the morning. However, both Quito and Guayaquil are destinations in their own right, and offer plenty of sightseeing options and should you wish to stay longer.

Learn more about Flights to the Galapagos Islands.

The Best Way To Explore The Galapagos

Cruises are an excellent way to experience the Galapagos Islands as they provide you with a greater amount of time to explore without the hassle of having to travel to and from your hotel by boat each day.

On cruises, you can sit back, relax, and wake up each morning in a new exciting destination without needing to map out a plan.

The Galapagos National Park has restricted the number of passengers on each boat to 100 as to not overload the beaches. Luckily, Latin Excursions’ selection of small ships offer a more intimate and personalized experience for those traveling to the Galapagos.

When selecting your package, you can choose from variety of luxury yachts including the brand new Ocean Spray megayacht catamaran, which offers space for 16 guests in cabins that are spacious, and equipped with their own private balconies.

Larger expedition cruises, such as the National Geographic Islander,are only allowed to reach the maximum of 100 guests per ship, so while not as intimate as the smaller ships, they are still less crowded than more traditional cruises. The benefits of larger capacity boats are the number of onboard amenities, which can include medical facilities and guest lectures.

Discover the Top 10 Beaches in the Galapagos.

Lodging Options on Land

If you want to book lodging on land and explore the islands from your hotel, there are plenty of options for you to do just that.

Located on the remote island of Santa Cruz and across the bay from Puerto Ayora, the Finch Bay Eco hotel offers guests a luxurious stay that is close to nature. This award winning eco-friendly hotel provides beachfront access as well as plenty of day trips to nearby islands by yacht with experienced guides.

The hotel is located on the carless side of the island, so guests can get around comfortably on bicycle. Activities such as scuba diving, snorkeling, surfing, bird watching, sea kayaking, bay tours, and much more are available at this hotel.

Another excellent on-land option is the Galapagos Safari Camp Hotel, which is a great choice for families with children. This hotel is also located on Santa Cruz island and offers incredible sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean from its many balconies. Inspired by African safaris, the Galapagos Safari Camp Hotel is surrounded by nature and gives guests the feel of being completely in tune with nature.

Guests can choose to stay in either the unique “luxury safari tents,” which are raised on wooden platforms and offer ocean views, or if traveling with a large party they can book the family safari suite which offers three bedrooms and is located next to the main lodge.

The hotel offers excursions to wildlife reserves and volcanoes as well as opportunities to dive and hike.

Another lodging option is the Pikaia Lodge Hotel, also located on the island of Santa Cruz. The unique highlight of this hotel is that it features its very own 105-foot exploration yacht, offering guests the chance to explore surrounding islands that are less frequented by tourists. Guests can take a dive off of the yacht deck, relax in the hot tub, on the sundeck, or even take a fishing class from one of the trained local fishermen.

Additional features and amenities at the hotel include a private giant tortoise reserve on the premises, an infinity edge pool, spa, and art and photography exhibit.

Lastly, The Villa Amarilla on Santa Cruz is a great option for those who want an intimate seaside experience. Offering “old world” charm, the Villa Amarilla was built to resemble a Tuscan style villa, and offers five large bedrooms, each with an ocean front terrace. Amenities at the hotel include a swimming pool, Jacuzzi, and an outdoor BBQ among others.

Families can take daily excursions from the hotel including snorkeling, diving, kayaking, hiking, and more.

scuba-diving-galapagos-islands Your Travel Guide To The Galapagos Islands

Scuba Diving In The Galapagos

Because the Galapagos Islands are located at the intersection of three different ocean currents, the varying temperatures mix to create a nutrient rich water that attracts a variety of species unlike anywhere else on earth.

Scuba diving provides an excellent opportunity for visitors to experience the wealth of wildlife beneath the ocean surface and come into contact with some truly fascinating species.

A few animals divers can expect to see include marine iguanas, fur seals, penguins, and sea lions, depending on where they dive.

Another wonderful benefit of the diving in the Galapagos is the high visibility, making it one of the most sought after diving locations in the world.

Some islands are more well-known than others for their dives, and “El Arco” at Darwin Island definitely tops the list. This spot is home to massive schools of hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks, turtles, whale sharks, and manta rays.

Other great dives on Darwin Island include “El Arenal,” at Darwin’s Arch, which features an abundance of marine life including big-eye jacks, more hammerhead sharks, and blacktip sharks.

Roca Redonda, located off the north coast of Isabela Island is another favorite for divers in the Galapagos. Divers can look forward to seeing Galapagos sharks, barracudas, sea lions, and even sea horses at this site.

Be aware that all divers must be certified in open water scuba diving before they attempt to dive, and some recommend an Advanced Open Water Diver certificate in order to dive in the Galapagos.

Experiencing Wildlife

The wildlife on the Galapagos Islands is perhaps one of its best known attributes, and it continues to draw large numbers of tourists year after year. Because the islands are so remote, the number of endemic species on each individual island is unlike anywhere else on earth.

Many of the native species on the islands are either reptiles or birds due to the ease with which they were able to arrive to the islands, but be on the lookout for a few mammal species as well, including sea lions and the Galapagos fur seal.

The Galapagos Tortoise is one of the most iconic animals on the islands, and the islands themselves were actually named after the reptile, as the word “Galapagos” is taken from the old Spanish word for tortoise.

The Galapagos Tortoise is the world’s largest tortoise species and can reach an impressive 500 pounds. The largest diversity of Galapagos Tortoise subspecies can be found on Isabella Island, which is also home to the Giant Tortoise Breeding Center where visitors can get a close view of tortoises at various stages of life.

The marine iguana is another iconic species living on the Galapagos that visitors have come to know and love. It is the only species of iguana that is not based on land, and it adapted after many years on the island to be able to swim in the ocean in search of food. Visitors won’t have to go far to find a marine iguana as they inhabit every one of the Galapagos Islands.

More wildlife of interest includes Darwin’s Finches, also known as the Galapagos Finches, which are comprised of 13 species of finches native to the islands. The finches are widely known to have contributed to Darwin’s Theory of Evolution because of the unique features they developed due to their environmental conditions.

Be on the lookout for The Galapagos Penguin, the Blue Footed Booby, the Galapagos Green Turtle, as well as many other species on your Galapagos adventure. Keep in mind that the Galapagos Islands are a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and as such are highly protected. There are certain limitations required of visitors, including not being allowed to pick flowers or remove rocks, not feeding the animals, not handling or touching the animals, not taking any food to the islands, and other regulations. You can find a full list of park rules here.

Galapagos Points of Interest

There are so many things to do on the Galapagos Islands that its best to have a rough outline of where you want to go and what you want to do before you head there. While the number of things to do is truly endless, there are a few places and experiences you’re definitely going to want to check off your list before you leave.

Tortuga Bay, located on Santa Cruz Island is a popular point of interest due to its beautiful white sand beaches as well as being a great spot for snorkeling. Here you’ll find calm, warm waters for swimming, as well as a variety of small sharks, iguanas, and other animals swimming in the clear waters. Visitors can either take the roughly one-hour walk to this beach from the main water taxi dock in town, or take a water taxi from Puerto Ayora, which costs $10.50 each way.

If you want to take a walk among the Galapagos Tortoises, the El Chato reserve is the perfect place to do it. Also located on Santa Cruz island, this reserves provides plenty of acreage for the iconic tortoise to roam freely. Admission to the reserve costs $3.000 and includes a guided tour, as well as access to the property’s lava tunnels. Feel free to approach the tortoises and be sure to take plenty of photographs.

Los Tuneles are another great point of interest for visitors, and most especially for those who want to scuba dive. This location is known as one of the best for diving, and provides crystal clear water to explore amidst a series of arcs and tunnels that were created from cooled lava. Snorkelers and divers alike can weave in and out of the tunnels and spot turtles, sea horses, and a number of sharks.

The best time to visit the tunnels are between the months of January and May when the waves are not as strong.

Read More: Top 5 Reasons to go to the Galapagos Islands

Side Trips To Ecuador and Peru

This final Galapagos Islands travel tip helps you get the most out of your journey. If you have time either before or after your Galapagos experience to explore further, Peru and Ecuador are easy side trips to make. Because all flights must pass through either Quito or Guayaquil before entering the Galapagos Islands, a trip to Ecuador is a highly convenient one to tack on.

If you want to explore Ecuador’s capital, Quito before you take off for the Galapagos, popular sites in this colonial city include the “Ciudad Mitad del Mundo,” which is located 26 km north of Quito, officially marking the exact location of the equator, the Pichincha Volcano, and the Basilica del Voto Nacional, which is the largest neo-Gothic basilica in the Americas. The historical center of Quito is a destination in its own right, and has been named one of the largest, least-altered, and and best preserved in the Americas.

Guayaquil meanwhile, is Ecuador’s largest and most populous city and offers an equally interesting mix of activities. While there, be sure to visit the famous “Malecon 2000,” a boardwalk that parallels the Rio Guayas, with food stands and a variety of historical and modern buildings along the way. Take a stroll through the historic Las Penas neighborhood while admiring the brightly colored houses, or stop by the Parque Historico to round out your stay.

A side trip to Peru, while a little further off track, is another way to make the most of your time in South America. The ruins of Machu Picchu are one of its most iconic landmarks, and are worthy of an extended visitation if time permits. If you’re looking to take a shorter trip, the capital and coastal city of Lima is filled with an eclectic mix of museums, historical landmarks, and of course, delicious Peruvian food.

Start Your Galapagos Islands Journey Here

Latin Excursions Selected for Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018

“Wendy Perrin shares her travel secrets, and it’s as close as you can get to vacation perfection.”  —Town&Country

Latin Excursions is delighted to be selected on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018, as one of her trusted travel experts for Latin America. Read on to find out more about the WOW List, Wendy Perrin and exactly why we have been handpicked as her go-to travel planner for the best travel experiences in Latin America.

Who is Wendy Perrin?

Wendy Perrin is an oracle in the world of luxury travel, having spent more than 25 years immersed in travel journalism. Wendy is highly respected in her field, working for Conde Nast Traveler, TripAdvisor (she is their first ever Travel Advocate for some 315 million monthly visitors) and more, winning awards along the way and making many TV appearances. Without a doubt, Wendy Perrin possesses unrivalled knowledge and secrets when it comes to getting the most out of your vacation, and her website is dedicated to sharing all of it with travelers who want to experience something out of the ordinary.

What is the WOW List?

The WOW List is Wendy Perrin’s black book of the very best travel contacts around the globe. Whether you’re looking for a safari in Africa or unforgettable South American adventure, Wendy has tried and tested it all for her readers and is unbeatably placed to recommend the best travel planners and experience makers in the industry. As she puts it herself, she has ‘thoroughly vetted’ them all and only endorses a travel expert if she would use them for her own vacation. There is no one more qualified than Wendy to curate the WOW List!

Latin Excursions on the 2018 WOW List

We are thrilled to feature on Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018, as her trusted travel planner for Colombia, Ecuador and Panama. While of course we at Latin Excursions specialize in destinations across South America–from the Galapagos to Patagonia, Cuba to Peru–Wendy’s experience of us is in these three particular countries; for now anyway! Wendy understands that Eric’s multicultural background (his father is American, his mother is Ecuadorian), his extensive travel experience from a young age, and his split bases in Miami and Ecuador, all play a huge part in his flair for customizing tours in Latin America. This is coupled with Eric’s passion for authentic travel experiences, looking beyond the cookie cutter destinations and digging deeper into local culture. It is a great privilege that our philosophy at Latin Excursions is recognized by such a prestigious and credible travel journalist like Wendy, as it really is our passion to create totally unique trips across Latin America.

Read Wendy Perrin’s verdict on Latin Excursions as her trusted travel expert:

Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama
Eric Sheets, Latin Excursions
“Eric has lived in six Latin American countries—he was exposed to the region from an early age by his globetrotting American father and Ecuadorian mother—and today he’s based in Miami and Ecuador, arranging everything from custom itineraries that highlight Colombia’s different local cultures to family reunions, exotic honeymoons, and even villa vacations, not only in Colombia but also in neighboring countries Panama and Ecuador. Travelers have their own private guide and vehicle—to allow maximum spontaneity and flexibility, not to mention rare access to places most travelers don’t see—and stay in top-drawer hotels that share Eric’s commitment to sustainability.”
Trips start at $800 per day for two travelers.

Click here to read Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018.

WENDY PERRIN – SAVING THE WORLD FROM MEDIOCRE TRIPS
Town&Country magazine calls Wendy “The Travel Whisperer” who will take you “as close as you can get to vacation perfection.” Condé Nast Traveler praises “The Wizardry of Wendy” and her “encyclopedic knowledge of all things travel.” After 25 years at the pinnacle of travel journalism, Wendy has amassed comprehensive knowledge of the world’s best travel solutions and fixers. She wants to share this knowledge and help people have the best trips possible.

Prior to founding WendyPerrin.com, she was the Director of Consumer News and Digital Community at Condé Nast Traveler, where she wrote her practical advice column, The Perrin Report, for 17 years and her award-winning blog, The Perrin Post, for eight years. She started out long ago as the magazine’s Ombudsman (consumer advocate), investigating reader complaints about travel companies and helping wronged travelers get compensation, and that led to her book Wendy Perrin’s Secrets Every Smart Traveler Should Know (Fodor’s).

Wendy is also TripAdvisor’s first-ever Travel Advocate, advising its more than 315 million monthly visitors—the world’s largest travel community. She has been a keynote speaker at conferences worldwide, on cruise ships, at Harvard University, and at the United Nations. Television appearances include The Today Show, Good Morning America, and many programs on CNN. She has won the Travel Journalist of the Year award, earned a Lowell Thomas award for investigative journalism, and been a finalist for a National Magazine Award—the magazine industry’s most prestigious editorial honor. She graduated cum laude from Harvard, where she majored in History and Literature.

Galapagos Cruises Versus Land-Based Tours

You have made the decision that you want to visit the Galapagos Islands. We understand! It is one of our favorite places in the world! Now, its time to decide between Galapagos cruises or land based tours. Or maybe a little of both! Read on to find out which of these three options would suit you best.

As long-time Galapagos vacation planners, we have created some very engaging Galapagos cruises and tours, personalized itineraries and custom routes. Lets take a look at the different ways you can explore this amazing, one-of-a-kind, bucket list destination

Galapagos Cruises

Cruising on small ships and luxury yachts has long been the popular way to experience the Galapagos. For a long time there just wasn’t much built on the islands themselves to accommodate tourists. Just as Charles Darwin did in 1835, traversing the waters around these magical islands is one of the great travel experiences on the planet. Highlights include:

  • Naturalists on board offering daily programs
  • Opportunity to visit several places during the trip
  • All inclusive meals

There is a myriad of ships and yachts to choose from. You could spend your time reading reviews and studying itineraries. Or, you can enlist the help of an expert who has seen the yachts and taken the trips. All you do is explain what you like to do, be it snorkeling, kayaking, photography, scuba, etc. Like all cruises there is variety in pricing and you can choose to cruise on yachts with as small as 12 total passengers up to small ships that carry 100.

Galapagos Cruise Boat Options

For many years, a Galapagos cruise was the only way to see the natural wonders and countless species that populate the region. It still is the most popular way to visit. Travel planning experts have chosen the cruise partners to work with to ensure you have the best experience possible. The Coral I and Coral II yachts, for example, are delightfully intimate and ideal for exploring the eastern and southern islands of San Cristobal, Espanola and Floreana, among their many available routes that also visit Isabela Island; the largest of all the Galapagos. If looking to uncover the remote wilderness of the western isles in islets such as Fernandina and Santiago, fine vessels including the Reina Silvia and Galapagos Legend operate both long and short journeys. These incorporate rugged coastline, volcanic craters and endless wildlife opportunities as well as a few historic highlights along the way. You can see all of the Galapagos ships right here on this website

The Galapagos Cruise Experience

Galapagos cruises can be arranged for as few as 4 days and as many as 14. You may be kayaking crystalline seas in the morning or enjoying a birdwatching walk, perhaps followed by a chance meeting in the afternoon with Giant Galapagos Tortoises in the Santa Cruz Highlands. Then, whereas one evening can be spent on a sunset Zodiac tour, you might find yourself hiking to a viewpoint the next, or simply enjoying the serenity of your luxury yacht’s observation deck, drink in hand. However you choose to spend each day during your cruise is up to you. But it will be stress free, filled with fun evenings and gourmet cuisine, friendly staff and abundant activities.

Land-based Galapagos Tours

Some people do not enjoy the cruising experience. That doesn’t mean they don’t get to enjoy this destination just as much now. Some of the benefits of choosing a land-based Galapagos experience are:

  • Can be more affordable than cruising
  • Only see the things you want to see and do specific activities
  • Enjoy day trips on the water and to other islands

 

Galapagos Lodges, Hotels and Villas

Like cruising, you have several choices of land based experiences in the Galapagos. One of our personal favorites is the luxurious Galapagos Safari Camp on Santa Cruz Island to be hidden amidst the forest, benefiting from authentic accommodation and stunning views. While here, you will not only feel at one with nature and have numerous expert guides onsite, but can also decide exactly how to spend your time. This is the real advantage of planning a land based visit. You will have the flexibility to enjoy the Galapagos at your pace. Pikaia Lodge and the Semilla Verde Hotel, also on Santa Cruz Island, are other examples of land-based experiences. Alternatively, staying at a villa is ideal for families or groups of friends. Your group can enjoy a custom designed Galapagos experience built around your group activity preference. The overall land based experience can be just as encompassing as a cruise, without the set schedule of one. You gain the best of both worlds; infinite wildlife encounters with ultimate flexibility.

Combine a Land-Based Galapagos Experience with a Cruise

If you want both, plan a cruise coupled with a land based stay on the islands too. That way you don’t have to decide between the two options. This option has become quite popular in recent years as the hospitality infrastructure has matured.

Ecuador Travel Extensions

You’ve come so far, why not spend some time discovering the gateway to the Galapagos: Ecuador! There are cities like Quito to see or combine the Galapagos with an Amazon jungle experience offering lodges or river cruises of varying lengths. Your travel expert can include several options in Ecuador before or after your Galapagos cruises or land-based tours.

Ecuador: Gateway to the Amazon and Galapagos

The Amazon Rainforest and Galapagos Islands are two of the world’s most exciting destinations for wildlife safaris and nature experiences, topping the bucket lists of many travelers around the globe. With their rich biodiversity, extraordinary landscapes and endemic species, this comes as no surprise – but did you know that it’s Ecuador that offers the fastest, most direct access to both destinations? Read on to find out how you can visit the Amazon and Galapagos Islands from their gateway; Ecuador

Accessing the Ecuadorian Amazon

The Amazon is a vast jungle, a pristine wilderness of trees, rivers and lakes that spills over 40% of the South American continent. While much of this mighty rainforest is untouched and inaccessible, there are particular access points in countries like Brazil, Peru and Ecuador that afford wide-eyed visitors the chance to experience the spectacular wilderness first-hand. However, while it is possible to reach Iquitos from Lima in Peru, and Manaus from Sao Paolo in Brazil, these flights take two and four hours respectively; yet it’s just a 30-minute journey from Quito to Amazonian Coca, in Ecuador. There’s even the possibility to drive to the Ecuadorian Amazon, if you so wish! This means that, with less time and energy spent on getting there, you have more moments to enjoy the delights of the Ecuadorian Amazon, whether that’s the Cuyabeno National Reserve, Yasuni National Park or the Achuar Territory.

Ecuador: Gateway to the Galapagos Islands

With its wildlife encounters and head-scratching geological formations, the Galapagos are extraordinary to say the least, leaving each and every visitor here utterly captivated. There are multiple ecosystems, varied landscapes and intriguing endemic species here, the same mix that led Charles Darwin to his Theory of Evolution. So, any cultured traveler will be in awe during their own Galapagos cruise or land-based vacation, it’s hard not to be. These islands make up part of Ecuador, so flights to this secluded Pacific Ocean archipelago are easily done from either Quito, the capital (taking around 2.5 hours), or Guayaquil, the country’s largest city and port town (a flight time of 1.5 hours). Ecuador really is the gateway to the Galapagos Islands!

Multi-center Trips to Ecuador, the Amazon and Galapagos

With such easy, direct access to the Amazon and Galapagos Islands, you can experience both on one amazing trip to Ecuador. After touching down in Quito, either take the time to explore the UNESCO-stamped Old Town of Ecuador’s capital city, its high Andean surrounds and cloud forests, or head straight for the Amazon on a short flight to immerse yourself in the jungle for a few days. Exploring the Ecuadorian Amazon is a great introduction to the immense biodiversity of this compact South American nation, before you then continue on to the Galapagos Islands, where an even greater variety of flora and fauna – not to mention beautiful beaches – lie in wait. Take a look at our sample Ecuador itineraries to get a flavor for Amazon and Galapagos trips, before getting in touch with us to start planning your own perfect vacation. You can also incorporate the fascinating mainland towns and villages, national parks and protected reserves into your trip too – talk to one of our expert travel designers to find out more.

Latin Excursions Launches New Website

Here at Latin Excursions, we know only too well that part of the experience in finding your perfect trip to South America is the way a website looks, and the level of expertise that your personal destination specialist demonstrates on the other end of the phone. So whilst our skilled team of enthusiastic, knowledgeable and professional travel experts may not have changed in recent weeks; our website certainly has and we could not be more proud of the results. This has all been done with you, the traveler, in mind.

When Latin Excursions began operating in 2004 our main focus was on providing you with travel to the Galapagos Islands. Since then, we have shown many travelers the special side of this wide and varied bucket list destination with handpicked small ships and yachts as well as unique land based accommodations and tours. in the following years we slowly added each country of South America to our offerings. It takes time to craft the perfect holiday for you. First we meet with local guides to find the ones we know will be a joy for you and your traveling companions. Then, we go and stay at the hotels, inns and retreats, ourselves, so we can recommend them to you with great knowledge. When I and my staff are not in the office talking with you about destinations, we are on the road looking for new experiences to share with you!

As a company, Latin Excursions has always placed the quality of our journeys and client experiences at the heart of everything we do, picking up industry awards and recognition for those efforts along the way. With this in mind, our new website has been designed to reflect that integrity, showcasing the unique routes, off-the-beaten-path South American adventures and unforgettable moments just waiting to be experienced by you across the continent.We think this is why organizations like Wendy Perrin and Travel & Leisure have recognized us through the years with quality awards.

Latin Excursions isn’t like any other tour operator in South America, because we put unrivaled, personal care and attention into each trip. So, whether you find yourself trekking through Patagonia; stargazing in the Atacama Desert; hiking Amazon Jungle trails en route to a world-class eco-lodge; enjoying the beaches of Rio de Janeiro; tango in Buenos Aires or colonial towns in Colombia; maybe discovering Peru’s ‘Lost City’ of Machu Picchu, a wonder of the ancient world; whatever it is, your once in a lifetime trip to South America is in safe, trusted hands.

As you click through our itineraries and trips, just remember: Latin Excursions only works with the most exclusive, boutique and experiential accommodation options in South America, encompassing everything from luxury Galapagos yachts to responsible Amazon eco-lodges – all experience providers we have vetted first-hand. You can choose one of our “pre-designed” tours we have built from our experiences or you can choose to have us “custom-design” a tour specifically for you based on your interests, available time as well as personal travel wants and needs. Unlike virtually every other tour operation in existence, all of our tours are “private.” This means you will not be sharing your experience with other people; only the ones who accompany you on your journey!

We hope you enjoy perusing the new Latin Excursions website and look forward to helping you plan your trip to South America and/or The Galapagos with you soon. Feel free to call us today, 866.626.3750, without any obligation to book at all. We love to talk travel and to delve into specific destinations to help you understand what awaits your discovery!

5 Reasons to Go to the Galapagos Islands

Not sure when you want to schedule your vacation to the Galapagos? The number of visitors to these far off islands in the middle of the Pacific increase every year. So, experience your own slice of paradise before the crowds get here and see Latin Excursions’ top 5 reasons to visit the Galapagos now rather than later!

1. The remoteness

Do you ever have one of those days when you wish you could disappear to a deserted island for just a while? Found more than 550 miles from mainland Ecuador in South America, the Galapagos presents reality to your daydreams. This archipelago is comprised of 13 major islands and 6 smaller ones you’re sure to find one you like! More than that, the population stands at only 25,000 across 3 of the major islands, so more often than not, you and your loved ones will be able to have a most exclusive and private holiday you always wanted.

2. The craters

There are few places on earth when you can get so up close and personal to both extinct and live volcanoes. From the vehicle-accessible Twin Craters on Santa Cruz islands to the Sierra Negra crater on Isabela island requiring a full day journey on horseback and foot, all members of your group will be able to witness these colossal creations by Mother Nature with their own eyes. Standing on the edge, we bet you’ll be tempted to shout out a victory call!

3. The open zoo

Envision going to a zoo where there are no cages and the animals are free to roam about around you that’s what awaits you in the Galapagos. Because the creatures on the islands proliferated over so many centuries free from human interaction until their discovery by the Spanish in 1535, they are not accustomed to fear people. That means you can lay out right next to sealions, approach birds head on, and swim as part of massive schools of fish. Keep in mind, however, while you are able to touch many of the animals without having them run away, it is against Galapagos National Park rules to do so.

4. The endemic species

Not only did the Galapagos’ many birds and other animals develop far from human civilization, they also did so without the natural interference of other species. Today, there are dozens of species unique to only the Galapagos such as the marine iguana, giant tortoise, lava lizards, blue footed booby, and more. So in more than one way, the Galapagos is truly unlike anywhere else on earth!

5. The diving

Ranked on countless world class diving destinations lists, the underwater world around the islands is undoubtedly one of the best places to go scuba diving. There are millions of kinds of marine creatures that call the Galapagos home, a place where marine turtles and hammerhead sharks and immense schools of small fish all live as neighbors. Because of strong currents and large rocks in some areas, it is recommended that travelers interested on diving on a trip to Galapagos have some prior experience.

Read More: Explore our Galapagos Travel Planer Tips

Safety & What it Means in Today’s Colombia

Having had such a tumultuous history in the 80’s and the 90’s due to violence arising from drug and revolutionary political groups, it is no secret that Colombia earned itself a reputation as being one of the more dangerous places in the world. However, the country has since renovated itself on all fronts, almost miraculously fast, to where it is today considered one of the safest, most modern, and breathtaking destinations in South America.

My name is Connie, and I’m a junior travel consultant at Latin Excursions. Recently I had the opportunity to travel throughout Colombia for 2.5 months (not to say that I wasn’t tempted to stay until the very last day permitted on my 3-month tourist visa!). Here, I’ll address some concerns that might be running through your mind while considering your Colombia vacation.

What is the FARC and terrorism situation like today,
and should I be worried?

The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia People’s Army, known as FARC, is a guerrilla group that has been promoting agrarianism and socialist rule in Colombia. They have been active since the early 80’s stretching into the 21st century. However, with the death of the FARC commander Mono Jojoy in 2010, who was regarded as the organization’s leading instigator and symbol of terror, the safety situation in Colombia has turned around entirely. In fact, in mid-2012, FARC leaders, and Colombian government officials met and engaged in peace talks that have slowly but surely making headway into hopefully nothing but brightness in the country’s future.

Today, even those Colombians who lived through the decades of FARC proudly consider their country to be as safe as any other in South America. Where one girl’s father once dared not walk the short distance between the nearby town and his coffee finca plantation, today she strolls with her two young sons admiring the countryside mountainscapes. As well, the more rural parts of southern Colombia were once the stronghold zones for the guerrilla group. These days, destinations such as the colonial “white city” of Popayan and the archeological parks of San Agustin are among the most popular in the country by both nationals and international visitors alike. If you’re visiting principle destinations such as Bogota, Medellin, and the Caribbean coast including Cartagena, you do not need to worry more than any other large city anywhere. The national government has invested millions of dollars in tourism and security, providing travelers with nothing to fear on its police- and military-patrolled streets besides maybe a sunburn and indecisiveness over the countless things to see and do.

However, there are still some areas considered unready for tourism. The Amazon region, Choco state on the Pacific coast, the large eastern Llanos state with its plains ultimately stretching until the Amazon, and rural areas just above the Ecuadorian border should be approached with caution.

What about the cocaine drug cartels?

By Lee Wagner

When Colombia is mentioned, perhaps no two themes pop up faster than cocaine and Pablo Escobar. Indeed, both came to power in Colombia in the 80’s and ultimately left their unforgettable legacy for the country to clean up after. Pablo Escobar, to this day, one of the world’s most notorious drug chiefs in history, led the Medellin cartel to international success at the expense of countless deaths of those involved in the cocaine trade. Unfortunately, there were also countless innocent victims. Battling his rival, the Cali cartel based in Colombia’s southern, third largest city, Escobar, unfortunately, made the country synonymous with drugs and criminal gang lawlessness.

Escobar was ultimately shot and killed on December 2, 1993 at the age of 43, a death that almost instantly crippled the Colombian cocaine trade. In the two decades since, the government has made it a priority never to allow drugs or gangs to rule the country again. Medellin, Cali, and Bogota are now regarded as showcase cities for internationals, attracting unprecedented numbers of foreign investors, innovators, and of course travelers. In fact, Medellin has recently been known as the rising technology capital in South America, exemplified not least by its modern public metro system and numerous startup companies.

While gang violence can still be found, as in any large city around the world, it is mostly confined to the impoverished neighborhoods. As basic travel sense dictates, it is not recommended to visit these areas in any case.

Understanding the state of modern Colombia, I had not a single hitch in my almost three months in the breathtaking country. Instead of a tense atmosphere, I was met with some of the most genuinely welcoming and hospitable individuals I have ever met, both while in the city and in the countryside. I wish I could have put the Colombians’ honesty, sincerity, and amicability on a postcard to be shared. Not to mention, an exponentially growing number of Colombians speak English, and they are more than patient enough to listen and help if you speak even a word or two in Spanish. This country is not forgetting but instead, quickly moving on past its painful recent history; it would be a shame not to see it now during its rise back into the positive international spotlight!

Can’t wait to discover one of South America’s most enchanting countries for yourself? Review our Colombia travel page and then contact us to start planning!

Galapagos Travel Tips

The Galapagos Islands is one of the most spectacular destinations in the world. Composed of 18 major islands and other islets, this Pacific archipelago dazzles visitors with its volcanic landscapes, fearless wildlife, pristine beaches and fascinating underwater world. Therefore, it is no wonder the Galapagos is on many travelers’ bucket list. However, with so many ways to see this extraordinary place, it can be dizzying trying to decide what is best for each group of travelers. Here are some Galapagos travel tips to consider when planning your visit to Ecuador and the Galapagos, from our travel experts:

Best time of the year to visit: the Galapagos is great to visit any time of the year, as the wildlife is the main attraction and there is always something interesting to see. Perhaps weather should be taken into consideration since during the cooler season water temperature may be cold for swimming, but wetsuits are always available for rental on many boats (and Latin Excursions provides them for our custom made land based programs as well). Sea conditions are more choppy in September, when water is murky and not good for snorkeling, so most boats go to dry dock during that month.

Waved albatrosses return to Espanola at the end of March and will remain until December, with April being the best time to see their massive arrival and mating dance. Humpback whales stay in Galapagos from June to September. So as you can see a visit to Galapagos can be done any month of the year. Also, good points:

• The hottest months are from December to May with temperatures ranging from the low 80s°F to the low 90s°C. The average water temperature is 75°F.

• The misty and cooler season is from June to September and the temperature ranges between the low 60s°F to high 70s°F, with the possibility of rain late in the afternoon or at night. The average water temperature is 69°F.

• From October to December, the temperature ranges from 70°F to 80°F. The average water temperature is 70°F / 20°C

• Land vs. Boat-Based and How to Choose

• The main advantage of a boat based cruise excursion is the variety of islands visited because boats do the long cruising at night and a short cruise to another site usually after lunch, giving passengers time to relax on board. Usually a cruise will visit at least two destinations each day, with snorkeling included most days. All boats have plenty of space to relax on a sun deck.

Land-based trips offer more opportunity to relax, after coming off a boat excursion at a mountain or beach front hotel. Other advantages are having close contact with the local population and to experience the ambiance of Galapagos villages without sacrificing visits to great sites. It allows for the possibility of doing more flexible land tours on the same island, or full-day excursions to neighboring islands, about 2 hours away and reached by small vessels with a maximum capacity of 16 passengers. It is also the perfect alternative for families with small children or for visitors who tend to get seasick. It also gives the possibility of diving for some family members without affecting the others.

• Snorkeling vs. Diving

Snorkeling: Since almost all islands have specific places with very calm waters, snorkeling is possible for anyone who can swim; it is practiced from the beach or from a dinghy, available during cruises or with land-based programs. Adult-sized snorkel equipment is available on cruises; for children it must be requested in advance to make sure they have the right size on board. During cold season, wetsuits are recommended (usually shorties). Snorkeling equipment is available for rental during land-based programs.

• Diving in the Galapagos is for experienced divers only. It is best from June to November, with more marine life to be seen, though divers have to suffer rougher and cooler sea conditions at this time of year. The huge whale sharks are found near Wolf and Darwin islands only from around June to November. However, there are more hammerhead sharks about in the warm season than the cool. A minimum number of certified dives (by PADI or similar) is requested depending on the destination. Regardless of the number of dives registered by a diver, the dive master on board has the final decision about the ability of the diver to participate. The best diving, around Wolf and Darwin islands, requires a long trip and no chance to land on the islands, only advanced diving cruises go to that destination and they don’t include land visits.

• Land Extension to Isabela Island and Best Time of Year to Visit Isabela: There are two ways to reach Isabela Island, by small plane, 30 min from Baltra airport (unreliable frequencies), or by shared public boat that takes about 2 hours from Puerto Ayora, on Santa Cruz Island. The best time to do the crossing by boat is from January to May, as the seas tend to be calmer. Other than this consideration, the same criteria as for Galapagos weather in general should apply. Plenty of wildlife can be seen all year round. Strong currents in November and December make for difficult boat rides from/to Puerto Ayora. It is also usually not possible to explore the Tunnels due to currents during these months.Volcan Sierra Negra is also difficult to reach from December to March due to rain and therefore muddy trail.

Easy daily diving tours from Isabela go to Isla Tortuga and Cuatro Hermanos (Four Brothers), with maximum depth of 20 meters, but it is not advisable in November and December due to strong currents.

Top Events to Attend in Cartagena, Colombia

On the northern coast of Colombia, it seems as if the sights and sounds of the Caribbean-Latino lifestyle never cease. Cartagena de Indias is the gem of the coast in this country known for its coffee and its passion, a port city which has long been the ideal hidden vacation spot for nationals but has only recently come into the spotlight for travelers from all over the world!

Due to its pleasant climate all year round, there is never a bad time to plan a trip to Cartagena. However, there are certainly some dates in which local events may add even more spice to your Colombia vacation. Here are Latin Excursions’ top recommendations for when to best visit Cartagena for an unforgettable time!

Christmas & the New Year

This is the high winter and holiday season when the beaches and hotels fill up and everyone is ready to ring in the New Year in paradise! Whether you are traveling with your family, friends, or significant other, the colonial port city has much to offer such as visits to historic fortresses and the city wall; nearby mud volcanoes; sparkling azure beaches; top restaurants, bars, and cafes; curious museums; and much more.

Hay Arts & Literature Festival, 4-day event in late January

This is an event that is held in major cities throughout the world whose main focus is to bring together intellectuals and storytellers with appreciative audiences in order to indulge in the world of literature and the arts. Top historians, film-makers, novelists, philosophers, environmentalists, poets, scientists, and more are only some of the demographics who will be attending. Take part in workshops, events, lectures, fairs, and much more during this 4-day cultural event.

Cartagena International Film Festival, 6-day event in February and March

This annual festival, known locally as FICCI, the Festival Internacional de Cine de Cartagena de los Indios, has been held for over 50 years with the first installation held in 1960. Is it the oldest film festival on the continent and is the prime showcase for filmmakers, actors, producers, and other industry professionals in South America. Different Hollywood guests of honor such as Harvey Keitel and Clive Owen attend the event each year. See more here.

Annual Barranquilla Carnival, 4-day event at the beginning of March

Carnival is one of the world’s most colorful and raucous spectacles! The event precludes the period of Lent according to the Catholic calendar. In the Caribbean, Trinidad & Tobago is the star destination; in Mexico one would opt to go to Veracruz; in South America, the ideal place to be for Carnival is in Barranquilla. Barranquilla is about 3 hours east of Cartagena along the Caribbean cost, a place known for the heat in the air, its music, its people, and its dance. There is no going wrong celebrating Carnival in Barranquilla!

Easter Week

Easter is a dear period in Colombia, a predominantly Catholic country. In Cartagena, Easter is honored with traditional processions held throughout the old city. This is also a time when many people opt to go to church all week.

Vallenato Music Festival, 5-day event in April

Vallenato is one of the most traditional styles Colombian music This type of music is folk Colombian and originated along the coast. The usual instruments include a small drum called a caja vallentata, ribbed stick called a guacharaca, and boisterous accordion. During the Vallenato Music Festival, top groups come together in contest and audiences can dance along. This 5-day event seems never to end!

Do you know of an event that should be on this list of best events in Cartagena? Let us know. Want to visit Cartagena for one of these events, or any other? Contact us, and one of our Travel Designers can create a custom itinerary designed for your exact needs and interests.

Colonia

Founded by the Portuguese in 1680 on the tip of a peninsula on the Río de la Plata estuary, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. Colonia’s cobblestone streets are reminiscent of old Lisbon, lined with small museums, tiny bars, fine restaurants and arts and crafts shops.

Colonia Uruguay (population 30,000) is a lovely historic city.

It is one of the destinations we highly recommend you plan on visiting when you travel to South America. Uruguay is a magical travel destination in and of itself! Join our founder, Eric Sheets, on this self-guided walking tour of Colonia to step back into time.

A recommended Colonia walking tour

Start by the eastern end of the Historic District (Barrio Historico) at Puerta de Campo, the restored city gate in greystone (1754) and drawbridge. If you arrive by ferry, simply take the waterfront street to the left of the harbor (Florida) and walk to the end of the street. There, on the right-hand side is a narrow alley that leads across the lawn to the drawbridge of the Puerta de Campo. Cross the bridge and gate (note the Portuguese Coat of Arms), and take the first street to the left (San Miguel), the one that borders the Wall, and then right and right again by the lovely Calle de los Suspiros with bougainvillaea. You will reach the Main Square (Plaza Mayor), where you shouldn’t miss the Portuguese Museum (to the left, on Manuel Lobo), the lighthouse dating from 1857 (left) and Casa Nacarello (corner of Manuel Lobo and del Comercio), at least, so that you can have an idea of the Spanish and Portuguese influence. Walk the surrounding streets and just savor stepping back into the 16th Century.

New Year’s Eve in South America

The New Year is celebrated with “gusto” across South America, but it’s hard to think of more lively and sensational celebrations than those in Cartagena, Colombia, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, and Punta del Este, Uruguay. If you plan to visit these cities at the end of December, be prepared for crowds, road closures, and holiday premiums; but you can also expect world-class festivities with local panache.

Cartagena is as much of a New Year’s Eve destination for Colombian families as it is for energetic international travelers. People come from all over the country to occupy Cartagena’s streets, and many set up for the night with plastic tables and chairs, and perhaps a bottle of local rum or Aguardiente, as well as savory food from curbside vendors. The weather is ripe for parties in the streets, and fireworks help to ring in the New Year. Decadent parties are thrown at many of the hotels, such as the Charleston Santa Teresa and the Sofitel Santa Clara, and nightclubs like Bendito host musical gatherings for young and glamorous crowds from mid-December until mid-January. The ultimate place to be on New Year’s Eve could very well be Cafe del Mar on the ramparts of the city, sponsored by Moet & Chandon, beckons guests with not only champagne but also an extensive DJ line-up and Parisian decor.

Rio de Janeiro offers a New Year’s party that rivals Carnival in scale and splendor. The fireworks display at Copacabana is the main event, and millions of locals and tourists combined gather on the beach to watch the midnight show and revel until the early hours of the morning. Many Brazilians light candles for the Afro-American goddess of the sea, Yemanja, and place them in the sand, as they make wishes for the coming year. High-class parties happen throughout the city, and the most notable are those at the Copacabana Palace Hotel, the Fasano Hotel, the Museum of Modern Art on Flamengo Beach, and the Jockey Club. And for those not willing to shell out up to $1,500 on a ticket that includes dinner, drinks, and entertainment, one of the most popular free parties is Lual Arpoador, where many young cariocas watch the fireworks and dance till the sun rises.

Punta del Este is a place to see and be seen, popular with the rich and famous from Buenos Aires and Brazil, and frequently compared to the Hamptons. Celebrities migrate to Punta del Este for Christmas and New Year’s, and lavish private homes and trendy clubs are the places to be on December 31st. Unlike Cartagena and Rio, where there are ample festivities for the masses, Punta del Este is highly exclusive, and many of the soirees are invitation-only. Some merry-makers head to the Our Lady of Candelaria harbor for the fireworks display at midnight, but the crowd clears quickly, bound, perhaps, for tireless clubs in La Barra, 24-hour casinos, or luxurious hotels that sell out months in advance.

10 Awesome Awasi Outings in the Atacama Desert

Awasi is a classy, cozy and colorful lodge from which to explore the highlights of the enchanting Atacama Desert of northern Chile. Beyond its luxurious features and exquisite cuisine, Awasi’s private and personalized excursions make it stand out among the rest; each group of guests gets its own 4×4 jeep and private expert guide at its disposal throughout its stay in order to visit the particular places it wants to see and participate in the activities it would like to experience, all free from schedules, time limitations or other restrictions. Awasi has a long list of half-day and full-day excursions to choose from, reachable by 4×4, bike, horse or foot; they bring guests to the desert’s salt flats, unique rock formations, sand dunes, mountain ranges, geysers, lagoons, cultural towns, historical fortresses, and more.

Here are 10 possible outings that can be arranged from Awasi to get a taste of its extensive menu of experiences:

1. Half-Day Atacama History Tour by 4×4 Jeep:

This three-hour tour begins with a drive to the Quitor Pukara, an Atacama fortress dating back to 1,000 AD. After ascending the ruins, you will be treated to a privileged view of the Andes Mountains and surroundings. The drive continues to the town of Tulor, one of the first and most important settlements in the Atacama Desert, where you will visit the ruins, excavation site and the reconstruction of original homes. The tour ends with an optional visit to an archaeological museum.

2. Half-Day Excursion to Toconao and Atacama Salt Flats by 4×4 Jeep:

First, you will stop at Toconao town, which is famed for its buildings made of volcanic stone. Here, you can visit the town’s church and crafts market in the main square, before heading to the nearby Jere creek. Afterwards, visit Chaxa Pond, which is a National Reserve at the Atacama Salt Flat, where you can observe flamingos and other native bird species while enjoying views of the surrounding mountain ranging.

3. Full-Day Excursion to Tatio Geyser by 4×4 Jeep:

Departing at dawn, you will arrive at the Geothermic Camp of Tatio, underground springs that spray out steam and hot water in intermittent spurts. You will enjoy breakfast while watching the sun rise, observing the landscape and its fumaroles. Afterwards, visit the town of Machuca or stop at the Puritama hot springs for a relaxing dip in naturally heated volcanic pools.

4. Full-Day Excursion to Tara Salt Flat by 4×4 Jeep:

Heading towards Bolivia and Argentina, you will first reach two impressive volcanoes: Licancabur Volcano and Juriques Volcano. Continuing on, you will drive through the altiplano where you will sight vicuas and flamencos before reaching the extraordinary rock formations of Pakana Monk. Following a trail off the paved road, you will arrive at enormous rock cliffs that surround the Tara Salt Flat, where you will have lunch while enjoying a striking view of Lake Tara and its surroundings.

5. Half-Day Hike to Kari Canyon:

You will be driven to a lookout point near the lodge, from where you will view the Salt Range before starting on your hike on a narrow trail with a ravine on one side. You will descend down the dunes and walk through Kari Canyon to explore caves, caverns and more. The hike can continue on to Moon Valley if desired.

6. Half-Day Hike to Guatin and Gatchi:

You will be taken in 4×4 to Guatin Valley, or “Valley of the Cacti”,starting the hike inside a creek along the Vilcama River. This attraction has an abundance of cacti, various geological formations, small waterfalls, and brooks, keeping the entire hike interesting. After the first hour along the river bed, you will begin walking toward the archaeological site of Gatchi, an old pastoral range.

7. Full-Day Hike to Patos Creek:

This five-hour hike begins from the town of Talabre, from where you will follow an old road used by shepherds in the past. On the way, you will cross several ravines and will see ancient cave paintings that depict the lives of shepherds from thousands of years ago. After lunch along a creek, you will reach Patos, which has its own unique history and is home to well-preserved stone constructions.

8. Half-Day Hike to Moon Valley:

Especially recommended in the afternoon, so that you can watch the sun set at this place of incredible beauty and solitude, this excursion includes a 3.1-mile hike through abandoned salt mines. You will hike over salt layers, sand dunes and clay before arriving to an impressive dune in the middle of the Salt Range.

9. Half-Day Bike Ride to Cejar: 

This 11.25-bike ride is entirely flat, though most of the route is on dirt road. The final destination is Cejar, which is comprised of three turquoise lakes, one of which you can swim in; the salt concentration is so high in the lakes that you can easily float. Along the way, you will be treated to beautiful views of three surrounding mountain ranged: the Andes, the Domeyko and the Salt Range.

10. Half-Day Horseback Ride to Death Valley: 

On this excursion, you will horseback ride for approximately three hours, starting towards the Quitor Oasis on narrow dirt roads and continuing on to Death Valley. Huge clay formations, large dunes and the Salt Range will serve as the backdrop.

Top 10 Galapagos Beaches

The beaches of the Galapagos are not the stereotypical beaches you will find in other parts of the world; here, you can find white sand beaches surrounded by mangroves, black lava beaches and hidden coves, all abundant with wildlife like sea lions, pelicans, iguanas and so many more. Check out our top 10 beaches in the Galapagos.

Though the Galapagos aren’t particularly known for their beaches, there are hundreds and hundreds of world class beaches that dot the lava rock strewn coastlines. Here’s some of the best that can be visited either as part of a Galapagos land tour or in many cases only as part of a Galapagos cruise. Contact us to visit one, or several, of these amazing works of nature on your own Galapagos vacation!

1. Tortuga Bay Beach, Santa Cruz Island

Tortuga Bay is one of the largest and most famous beaches of the Galapagos Islands. This beautiful white coral sand beach lies about a 2.5 km walk from Puerto Ayora and behind the main beach is a natural bay that is an excellent spot for sea kayaking and snorkeling. Discover the amazing underwater world of the Galapagos, including sea turtles, sea lions, and white-tipped sharks. Watch birds like pelicans, flamingos, and lava gulls, which come to this beach in search of food.

2. Gardner Bay Beach, Espanola Island

This beautiful beach is famous for the multitudes sea lions you’ll find lying around in the sand. You can meet these friendly animals up-close while witnessing amazing sunsets. Another great beach for snorkeling, with a diversity of tropical fish, and white-tipped reef sharks.

3. El Garrapatero, Santa Cruz Island

Lined by mangroves and Manzanillo trees, this white sand beach is visited by pelicans, marine iguanas, ghost crab, shrimp, and penguins. This 3 km long beach lies about 20 km northeast of Puerto Ayora and is a great place to enjoy snorkeling, sunbathing and picnics.

4. Puerto Villamil, Isabela Island

This white sandy beach, in front of the town Puerto Villamil, is shaded by coconut palms and dry tropical forest and offers shelter to wildlife like marine iguanas, sea lions, boobies and many different kinds of birds. There are several other beaches nearby Puerto Villamil, but those are only accessible by cruise ship.

5. Conway Bay Beach

This beautiful secluded beach is somewhat off the beaten track, as most cruises do not stop here. You can reach the beach with local boats for hire, and it is definitely worth it; once you are there you will feel like you have reached Paradise. Here you can find sea lions and land iguanas and because this beach is so secluded, you will have it all to yourself. Contact us if you’re interested in visiting this beach, we’ll be happy to arrange a boat.

6. Bachas Beach

If you’re lucky, or actually make a point of choosing a cruise that lands at this official visitor’s spot, you’ll be treated to white sand beaches where large numbers of sea turtles nest, and a brackish lagoon behind the beach that is home to colorful flamingos. The snorkeling here is good as well. The name of the beach is actually a misnomer or rather a Spanish mispronunciation of “barge” for the wrecked US military barge nearby.

7. Rabida Island Red Beach

Strewn with sea lions and marine iguanas, the only authorized visitor’s spot on Rabida Island, is a brightly colored red beach with a brackish lagoon that at times hosts flamingos. An excellent hike featuring palo santo forests and Galapagos finches is to the left of the beach, while to the right is excellent snorkeling.

8. Bartolome Island Beach

The view from the volcanic peak above the beach looking down is likely the most famously photographed scene in the Galapagos Islands. At beach level, the view is also spectacular where a massive vertical rock formation surges from the water. It’s also one of the few places in the world where it is common to be able to snorkel with penguins. Yes, you read that correctly. Snorkel with penguins!

9. Post Office Bay, Floreana Island

It’s not the most picturesque beach in Galapagos, but it’s the most historically relevant beach. It gets its name from a barrel that whalers and pirates placed on the beach back in the 19th century that acts as a “post office”, where visitors leave mail without a stamp, and other visitors take it upon themselves to deliver the mail to recipients near their hometown. Darwin also visited this beach and it’s the site of the mysterious “Galapagos Affair” where several early settlers were famously murdered by other settlers in the 1930’s. A feature-length documentary was made about the mystery in 2014.

10. Puerto Egas, Santiago Island

This beautiful white sand beach is home to numerous sea lions and is an excellent spot for snorkeling with sea turtles and tropical fish. To the right of the beach are lava rock outcroppings dotted with marine iguanas, birds, and other wildlife. The infamous “Darwin’s Toilet”, a bizarre tidal phenomenon that resembles a gigantic toilet is a big attraction. Just don’t fall in!

Visiting the Charles Darwin Research Center

There is perhaps no other name more synonymous with the Galapagos Islands than Charles Darwin.

The author of the 1859 book On the Origin of Species, Darwin ignited what would turn out to be a forever debate about the merits of evolutions against the traditional ideas of creation based on religious testaments. As he traversed the waters around the archipelago more than 150 years ago, Darwin came to define his observations of the local finch birds and their specific beak attributes. His idea was that birds and other animals may have evolved from their ancient forms into their current states based on what is now known as the survival of the fittest and adaptation to their environment.

Darwin’s theory of evolution aside, he was also a dedicated and passionate natural scientist who was deeply passionate about the world around him. The Charles Darwin Research Center, established in 1964 and found in the outskirts of Puerto Ayora on Santa Cruz island,is run by the Charles Darwin Foundation and continues to respect and honor the Galapagos natural distinctions. It should be part of your Galapagos travel plan.

The Protected Galapagos Tortoise

The top reason many visitors go to the center today is to observe the giant Galapagos tortoises that are bred and protected on its grounds. These immense creatures are endemic to the Galapagos which means they are not found anywhere else in the world. Some can weigh more than 880 pounds and live more than 100 years! The most famous tortoise was named Lonesome George, a Pinta Island native and a very specific subspecies who was the last of his kind. Unfortunately Lonesome George passed away on June 24, 2012, but to this day he remains a beloved character of the Galapagos.

The Charles Darwin Research Center is also a great place to see baby turtles as they grow and before they are released back onto their respective native islands. Watch as they move surprisingly fast under rocks and into the shade, and also climbing on top of each other! Various exhibits throughout the grounds offer more background about the different animals found on the islands, not to mention many endemicOpuntia cacti (cacti that grow with trunks like trees), and colorful lizards that dart back and forth in front of your feet.

When visiting the Charles Darwin Research Center, be sure to bring a hat, sunglasses, and plenty of sunscreen because the walking paths can be difficult under the harsh Pacific sun.

Deciphering a Peruvian “Chifa” Menu

When the first wave of Chinese immigrants first came to Peru in the late 1800s, they were considered part of the lowest working class, seeking work in mines and sugar plantations after the country outlawed slavery.

When the first wave of Chinese immigrants first came to Peru in the late 1800s, they were considered part of the lowest working class, seeking work in mines and sugar plantations after the country outlawed slavery. The nature of the work meant that more than 95% of these incoming groups were male, and they were mostly from the Canton region of southeastern China. Later in the mid 1900s as political situations shifted in Asia, more people arrived in Peru seeking safety and work in a new world. Today, Peruvian Chinese citizens make up more than 4% of the country’s population.

A result of this cultural blend can be seen in Peru’s “chifa” restaurants, merging traditional coastal and Andean flavors with those that the Chinese brought with them. Each local chifa has essentially the same basic collection of dishes served in a fast and casual style, although higher end chifas incorporate harder-to-find ingredients imported from China. Don’t miss trying some of these classics when you’re looking for a quick meal during your travels in Peru:

Chaufa: Just as it is in many areas of the world, fried rice is the most popular staple of adopted Chinese food. Chaufa found in Peru usually comes with 2 variations: with chicken, or with thin beef strips. Intermixed within are a medley of vegetables.

Tallarin saltado: If you are not in the mood for rice, then try the stir fried noodles. Similar to chaufa, tallarin saltado includes a fresh mix of your choice of meat with vegetables, all tossed around in each chifa’s special sauce blend.

Aeropuerto: It is still a mystery why this dish is named “airport”. However, it is an ideal choice for the indecisive, as it is a combination of both chaufa fried rice and saucy noodles-literally! The two components are made together rather than set on separate halves of the plate.

Tipakay: For a more substantial meal after a long walk or day on the town, tipakay will be sure to fill you up. Pan fried pieces of chicken or beef (sometimes both) are lathered in a rich and sweet tamarind sauce, all of which is laid over a bed of white rice.

Sopa wantan: Quench your thirst after eating so many savory delicacies with a hot, comforting bowl of wonton soup. The soup is a mixture of simple flavored spices and stock. Swimming inside is usually 1 or 2 pieces of boiled wontons filled with small pieces of meat. Diced green onions used as a garnish complete this simple but delicious side.

We would love to hear back about your favorite chifa dish!

Not-to-Miss Attractions on Santa Cruz Island, Galapagos

Whenever timing and schedules permit, it is a good idea to arrive at the Galapagos Islands at least 1 day before your cruise begins, allowing some flexibility in case are any travel complications along the way. This is particularly recommended if you are flying in from faraway international cities, where delays and weather conditions may affect your timely arrival into the islands.

So now that you’ve arrive safely and soundly (and hopefully full of excitement) into Santa Cruz Island, with the town of Puerto Ayora being the closest center of interest and resources from Baltra airport, the largest in Galapagos, what is there to do?

Here are some suggestions for a fun filled time on Santa Cruz Island, whether you choose to appreciate it all in one exciting day or over a period of a few relaxed days during your Galapagos vacation.

Los Gemelos (The Twins)

The intense sceneries of the Galapagos are a result of millions of years of volcanic action. On Santa Cruz, the best place to see evidence of this dramatic geological history is the Los Gemelos crater site. Its name, which translates into The Twins, refers to the two brother craters found on each side of the roadway that links Baltra airport with Puerto Ayora town. They are the result of the collapse of a large magma chamber. While it is not possible to circumnavigate the giant, deep holes, there are some short and simple trails in the area.

gallery and shops walk on avenue charles darwin

Puerto Ayora is the most populated urban center in the Galapagos, although it is still very much the sleepy town it has always been. Avenue Charles Darwin runs west to east and is the main visitor thruway, dotted with typical restaurants and fine boutiques on both sides. Dip into the artisanal shops offering locally made goods, of course with Galapagos themes, and various galleries showcasing the works of some of the most remotely located artists in the world. Says Alvares Martinez, a local of Puerto Ayora:

puerto ayora fish market

Located right on Avenue Charles Darwin, the fish market is a delightful stop for admiring just where that pescado encocado (fish cooked in a coconut sauce) you ate last night came from. To this day, fishermen bring in their catches of the day to this small dock market, and vendors masterfully slice the produce up as buyers request. Large pelicans swoop in and out or wait patiently on the simple roof, waiting for any spoils, while locals cheerfully pass the afternoon with each other on the sidelines. The Puerto Ayora fish market is a great place to experience a bit of typical Galapagos island life.

charles darwin research center

The most famous resident that ever lived at the Charles Darwin Research Center, a place dedicated to preserving and supporting turtle and various flora life found on the Galapagos Islands, was Lonesome George. The giant tortoise who called Pinta Island its home was the last of his subspecies, making him perhaps the rarest animal on earth before his death on June 24, 2012. He was more than 100 years old. His image continues to serves as the symbol of the importance of conservation and respect for nature in Galapagos, and the research center maintains its goals of helping repopulate the various islands with their turtle populations. Animal lovers will really enjoy the many baby turtles on the site, as well as the famous giant Galapagos tortoises wandering their natural habitat.

Tortuga (Turtle) Bay

The 1.5 hour flat walk to Tortuga (Turtle) Bay can be a steamy challenge during the hottest hours of the day (10 a.m. to 3 p.m.), so it is best to get there earlier or later. Along the paved walk, try spotting the many small lizards that dash back and forth before your feet. Also, take time to appreciate the candelabra cactuses, the only tree-like cactus species in the world. The first beach that you reach looks as if the heavens swiped a thick brush across the land, creating a vast white sand paradise. The waters here are a bit rougher, although great for surfing. As such, swimmers and loungers are encouraged to walk another 15 minutes to the right to a much calmer bay where mangroves lurk mysteriously on the sides and marine iguanas dive with humans. If snorkeling in these turquoise blue waters, the lucky can spot white tip reef sharks and rainbow colored Galapagos crabs. Close out your day with a sunset seen from Tortuga Bay, where the sky turns into a beautiful painting.

Chile Travel Tips

Will your trip to Chile be your first, or a return to an old favorite? Whichever the case, be sure to keep these top 3 Chile travel tips in mind for an unforgettable and well-prepared vacation!

Will your trip to Chile be your first, or a return to an old favorite? Whichever the case, be sure to keep these top 3 Chile travel tips in mind for an unforgettable and well-prepared vacation!

1. Learn Chileno: Standard Spanish might be the official language, but colloquially, Chilenan Spanish is what you’ll find on the streets. This unique dialect has its own special blend of vocabulary, pronunciation, grammar, slang, and loanwords inspired by indigenous language such as Quechua in the Andes and Mapudungun in the south. Chileans are very proud of their speak, so don’t hesitate to ask them what they mean!

2. Toast to Great Wine Itself: Chile is one of South America’s most prominent wine producers, famous in particular for its red flows. The local cabernet sauvignon is a frequent hit, and those wanting to see the fruitful wineries for themselves should plan to visit Chile’s fertile central region.

3. Pack Well: This geographically lanky country includes environments such as the high Andes, the dry Atacama desert, verdant wine country, sunny beaches, and the colder portions of Patagonia in the far south. It is important to consider the various climate zones you might be visiting on your trip to Chile as you carefully pack so you aren’t left at a loss in its magical, remote destinations!

Brazil Travel Tips

Although South America consists of 13 unique countries, the behemoth Brazil geographically comprises about half of the land area. That´s a large destination! For your next trip to see some of the most famous landscapes, festivals and beaches in the world, take note of these helpful tips to get you make the most of the opportunity!

Go in the Summer: One of the best times to visit Brazil is during the Northern Hemisphere’s summer from May to August. This is the low travel season, meaning there are fewer tourists, lower prices, and more availability. Also, June hosts one of the country’s most celebrated festivals named Festas Juninas throughout Brazil, a rural and religious gala full of costumes, music, and dancing.

• Seek Peace in the Amazon: While the New Years and Carnival seasons are in the very high season and full of crowds, you can still find peace and quiet in Brazil in the Amazon during that time. The jungle is still a burgeoning and exciting destination, and you can obtain a wide variety of options without paying the premium of high season rates.

Have Fun in the Sun: Want to go somewhere with guaranteed sun? Fernando Noronha, a set of 21 islands about 220 miles from the mainland known as Brazil’s Galapagos, can be visited all year round with certain sun. The archipelago is a declared UNESCO World Heritage Site and is ideal for spotting exceptional birds, sea tortoises, dolphins, and more. Diving is also world class here, with wetsuit not needed and visibility often reaching as far as 160 feet.

• Find Something New at Lençóis Maranhenses: If you are looking for a destination out of the ordinary in Brazil, look no further than Lençóis Maranhenses. This national park is not technically a desert, but the immense sand dune landscape sure alludes to Saharan dreams. In fact, it is due to the many showers in the rainy season that allow for the juxtaposition of sand dunes alongside crisp freshwater lakes! Try going on a 4×4 or quad bikes tour, or perhaps even a jaunt by boat.

Discovering the Ancient Figures of San Agustin by Foot or Horseback

Deep in southern Colombia is a mysterious destination that few visitors have ventured to discover in the last 30 years. This is because this region was once the stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC. Today, this small town with a population of about 30,000 is free from the risks of yesteryears and the San Agustin Archaeological Park is one of the most alluring reasons to visit Colombia.

Deep in southern Colombia is a mysterious destination that few visitors have ventured to discover in the last 30 years. This is because this region was once the stronghold of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, also known as FARC. Today, this small town with a population of about 30,000 is free from the risks of yesteryears and the San Agustin Archaeological Park is one of the most alluring reasons to visit Colombia.

Getting to San Agustin is not the easiest. About 140 miles from Neiva, the capital of the Huila department, and 85 miles from Popayan, the country’s white city known for its gastronomical flair, it is a long though breathtaking journey to the deep countryside. Coming from Neiva, the Tatacoa Desert makes for a grand stopover, while coming from Popayan, the Andean highlands and their endless fields of high altitude flora such as frailejón set the mood for what feels like traveling to the ends of the world.

The town itself is modest and unassuming, with few nods to targeted tourism besides the handful of crafts shops and signs pointing towards the archaeological park. A short 15 minute ride outside of the city, you will have your first decisions to make. Should you visit the official San Agustin Archaeological Park with carpark and well groomed trails, or take a more adventurous route and see some of the pre-Colombian statues still unearthed in the area?

If you choose to go horseback riding, then be sure to wear your active gear! This is a great option for those interested in archaeology as well as being amid nature. The horses will take you gracefully up and over mountain rides and through rarely used paths almost as if on autopilot. Your expert local guide will point out where to direct your eye, explaining the history and significance of the stone figures.

The government funded and volunteer supported San Agustin Archaeological Park, a recognized UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most impressive historical sites in Colombia. Studies are still being conducted to fully understand the ancient burial sites which are prefaced with delicately carved stone figures in human and animal forms. A highlight is La Fuente de Lavapatas, an intricate network of carvings and canals in a stream’s bedrock that brings together earth and water. At the end of the marked walking path is an outlook that peers over the entire San Agustin valley. It is well worth bringing a picnic or snack to rest and soak up the prehistoric energies in this area of remote Colombia.

3 Things That Might Surprise You on a Galapagos Trip

Looking back on the first time that I went to the Galapagos, I realized that I had no idea what I was getting myself into (as is often the case when we look behind us!).

Looking back on the first time that I went to the Galapagos, I realized that I had no idea what I was getting myself into (as is often the case when we look behind us!). I had expected to see a few animals here and there, maybe a good sunset every night, and having to battle large groups of people in order to get a dinner table in the evenings. Here are some lessons I learned on my Galapagos trip:

1. It is very, very hot.

Set in the middle of the Pacific Ocean about 500 nautical miles west of mainland Ecuador, the climate of the Galapagos Islands is comparable to that of other oceanic lands. From June to November, temperatures are relatively low during what is known as the rainy season. Rains tend to be scattered throughout the afternoons or sometimes last all day. Cooler winds also pass by. From December to May, it is the dry season, at the height of which it is also incredibly hot and humid. Especially from January to April, it is vital to bring lots of sunscreen, a hat, long sleeves and pants, sunglasses, and any other personal items that may help against the sun’s heavy rays. And not only is there a lot of sun, powerful UV rays reflect off the ocean waters as well as the black volcanic rock seen on hikes and beaches. During this season, it may be unbearably hot in the early afternoon, so often cruise itineraries schedule these hours for transit rather than activities.

2. The animals do not fear you.

When I heard that the Galapagos resembles an open zoo, I wasn’t sure what to think. On my 4 day cruise, however, I quickly found out what that meant. Because the Galapagos is so remote and have historically been free of human contact, the creatures that call the archipelago home have not come to fear people. From the playful sea lions to the rainbow colored Sally Lightfoot crabs, and from the giant marine tortoises to the blue footed boobies, none of them shy from your approach. With that said, it is important to remember not to get too close in order to respect each animal’s personal space and safely.

3. It is not overly touristy.

The Galapagos is on the Must See list of many travelers, so I figured that many of them would be there the same time I was. And while the islands are growing exponentially more popular by the year, only about 170,000 visitors reached this top destination in 2012 (to give you an idea, more than 1 million visited Machu Picchu the same year, and more than 1.2 million visited Rio de Janeiro for its Carnaval celebrations also in 2012). Puerto Ayora remains the largest urban center among the islands with a population of less than 10,000. This means that the Galapagos still retains its ancient natural charm and tranquility, and that personal connections with the myriad of animals, the local people, and mystical energy of the vast landscapes can still be felt out in what truly often feels like the middle of nowhere.

Argentina Travel Tips

A trip to Argentina can start in the most unassuming of places-a stroll through wine country known as Mendoza, a bike ride through the tango capital Buenos Aires, or perhaps a boat ride at the imposing Iguazu Falls-but take you to the far ends of the world known as Patagonia.

A trip to Argentina can start in the most unassuming of places – a stroll through wine country known as Mendoza, a bike ride through the tango capital Buenos Aires, or perhaps a boat ride at the imposing Iguazu Falls – but take you to the far ends of the world known as Patagonia. There are large distances to cover if you plan on gaining a comprehensive understanding of Argentina’s geographical, natural, and cultural personalities. Through it all, these tips are worth keeping in mind for a journey you won’t soon forget.

Leave Your Worries in the Snow: If you are looking for more than sea and surf on your trip to South America, then keep in mind the many ski opportunities in Argentina in particular. The areas around San Juan de Bariloche in the central region right next to Chile are prime for getting your fill of adventure. The steep Andes mountains make for great adrenaline rushes whether you wish to ski or hike in the scenic, snowy landscapes. One of our favorite base hotels in this area is the Hotel Llao Llao.

Visit the?Traslasierra Valley for Guaranteed Sun: Nobody wants rain and clouds to dominate their holiday photos or memories. Stop by the countryside Traslasierra Valley in the Cordoba province to be sure that it is always sunny wherever you go. Beautiful haciendas pave the way for you to go horseback riding, hiking, and do other activities, but one of the main charms in this region is also to just sit back and relax.

Surprise Your Taste Buds: In Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, an experience you should not miss out on is a visit to a closed door restaurant, in Spanish known as “puertas cerradas.” These restaurants vary in their styles-some have many tables and some just a few, some have fixed menus while others are a la carte, some might be lavish but others are simple and homestyle, some serve only Argentine food while others take influence from regions around the world-and it is particularly these kinds of varied details that make dining at these establishments such a delightful pleasure.

Walk up to a Growing Glacier: While much of the world is changing due to adjusting global climates, there are still 3 glaciers in Patagonia (South America’s far south) that are still growing, and the Perito Moreno Glacier is one of them. The face of this ancient, icy body is more than 3 miles wide, where pieces regularly calve into Lake Argentino. The adventurous can even trek across its surface!

Finding Paradise in Corumbau, Brazil

Sometimes, it is necessary to take a vacation from vacation.

Whether you are looking for some time off from bouncing between numerous destinations in South America or need a break from the roar and rumble of Rio in June and July 2013 due to the World Cup, Brazil’s Corumbau is perhaps the ultimate escape. It is geographically exclusive, historically rich, and seems to be the result of Mother Nature’s creative streak.

The nearest airport to Corumbau is found in Prado about 45 minutes to the south. From there, only private transfers can get you to this little corner of heaven on earth.

Flush with sparkling clear waters and picture perfect tropical flora, exclusivity and privacy are the keywords here. Each luxury pousada offers visitors ample space from the rest of the world, a hidden nook where it is just the sun, the sand, and your loved ones.

One of the most popular reasons to make the trip out to Corumbau is to seek out humpback whales in the open ocean – the southern Bahia state is infamous for these majestic creatures not to mentionboat trips to observe vibrant coral reefs and expertly led excursions into the nearby Monte Pascoal National Park. Hiking, bike rides by the water, and kayaking complete your vacation whether it’s a romantic getaway or family trip. Looking back into history, it was here that the Portuguese first landed in Brazil in 1500; we are not surprised they were charmed into staying!