Top 5 Things to Do in Easter Island (and When to Go)

The ancient and mystical allure of Easter Island extends well beyond the Polynesian island’s iconic stone shrines (moai). Rapu Nui—the original name of the Chilean territory as well as its indigenous culture—is located in the South Pacific ocean, some 2,000 miles off of the Chilean coast and a five-hour flight from Santiago. Surrounded by an infinite blue, this tiny (163.6 km²) triangle-shaped island is one of the most isolated human settlements in the world—and yet is a cradle of history and adventure.

Walk whitesand beaches, climb volcanoes, meet its people, see historical relics and, of course, stand before the alluring human-faced carvings. Here are the top five things to do in Easter Island:

1. Cross Tongariki Off Your Bucket List

It wouldn’t be a proper list of top things to do in Easter Island without the inclusion of the Ahu Tongariki ancient ruins. While the name may not ring a bell, most global travelers are familiar with the image of 15 moai sculptures standing shoulder-to-shoulder with their backs to the Pacific Ocean. While there are said to be one thousand moai on the island, this group is particularly special.

Located near two extinct volcanoes (Poike and Rano Raraku), the moai were carved from volcanic ash using a toki ( a chisel made of rock). Researchers and anthropologists believe that Tongariki, the largest ahu (platform) on Easter Island, was the sociopolitical and religious center of one of the earliest and most powerful tribes, Hotu Iti.

As brawny as the moai of Tongariki may appear (in fact, the largest weighs 86 tonnes), they have been restored over time due to early civil wars and 20th century earthquakes. The mystery of how Rapu Nui managed to move these mammoth sculptures remains, though a common theory is that they were rolled on logs from the carving site to the ahu.

2. Bike the Entire Island—in Just One Day!

The sole urban center in Easter Island, Hanga Roa just so happens to be the main gateway to adventure experiences. A superb activity to get to know the miniscule island from a different perspective is on a scenic bike tour. Sounds intimidating? Keep in mind that the area of Easter island is just 163.6 km², which is slightly smaller than Washington, D.C.

Meaning “wide bay or long bay” in the Rapa Nui language, Hanga Roa is located between the Rano Kao and Terevaka volcanoes. Bike tours begin in the city and can follow various itineraries depending on travelers’ abilities and the weather. A rewarding 42 km-bike ride circles the entire island, taking cyclists to beautiful beaches (such as Anakena), important archaeological sites like Ahu Hanga Te’e, and eventually to Ahu Tongariki.

The freedom of setting the pace and taking stops when desired; the ocean breeze and generally flat roads—biking around the island is one of the top things to do in Easter Island as travelers can fully embrace the natural highlights and some of the lesser known areas too. Travelers can also opt for a horseback ride.

3. Hike Volcanoes for Impeccable Views

Compared to the towering Ojos del Salado (6,893 meters) on mainland Chile, Easter Island’s Maunga Terevaka and Rano Kau volcanoes are of miniscule height—and yet, the impressive views they offer make hiking these volcanic slopes one of the top things to do in Easter Island.

Despite measuring a mere 507 meters above sea level, Terevaka remains the highest point on the mountain-less island. Located on the northern point of triangle-shaped Easter Island, the inactive volcano is characterized by grassy undulating slopes that can be traversed by foot or upon horseback. At the trailhead of Terevaka is Ahu Akivi, an ancient ceremonial platform made up of seven moai. Having reached the top of Terevaka, travelers can take in a 360-degree view of the island.

Smaller yet arguably more beautiful, the 324-meter Rano Kau carries an awe-inspiring elliptical caldera filled with rainwater. One and a half kilometers wide and an estimated 10 meters deep, the lagoon of Rano Kau was once a main source of fresh water on the island; the body of water also led to the natural development of a microclimate upon the interior walls of the crater, allowing for the conservation of endemic plant species.

Located on the island’s southwest corner, Rano Kau is dotted with caves, petroglyphs, and remains of sacred platforms and houses. At the crest of Rano Kau is a viewpoint that provides views of Orongo, a striking ceremonial village of stone houses.

4. Unwind on Anakena Beach

The white sand beach known as Anakena makes for a paradisiacal destination post-hike or simply to relax. Fringed with palm trees, the postcard-worthy beach is met by stunning turquoise waters that gently wash up to the shoreline. Families can wade into the calm, clear waters that remain at a near-constant temperature of about 70ºF.

A beach fit for royalty, it is believed that Rapa Nui’s first king, Ariki Hotu Matu’a, landed here with his men when he first arrived on the island. For this reason you may hear locals refer to the beach as Kings Bay or Hang Rau Ariki.

As in other important villages on the island, the long-faced moai sculptures are present at Anakena Beach and can be seen while one sunbathes or comes up above the water’s surface after a scuba outing. Enjoy the clear, calm beach with a backdrop of centuries-old stone giants when you visit Anakena Beach.

5. Stay at Explora Rapa Nui Hotel

Taking full advantage of the silence, privacy, and spaciousness of the surrounding landscape, Explora Rapa Nui Hotel provides guests with the ability to disconnect from the outside world and delve into ancient mysteries.

Built on 9.6 hectares and just 8km from Hanga Roa, land and sea excursions abound at this eco-friendly hotel as do on-site activities. Indulge with a massage or spa treatment, soak in the pool or jacuzzi, and dine on locally sourced foods with a wide selection of Chilean wines. By day and night enjoy an excellent view in the company of your family or travel group, as all 30 private rooms are ocean-facing.

Surrounded by the intense blue of the Pacific Ocean, Explora Rapa Nui is ideal for travelers seeking an active and cultural experience. For that reason, rooms are not equipped with TVs or WiFi. Afterall, it’s not every day that one travels to Easter Island: the cradle of a unique and enigmatic culture.

When to Go:

Surrounded by the Pacific Ocean and kissed by a cool ocean breeze, visitors to Easter Island can enjoy a pleasant subtropical climate nearly all year round. That said, when deciding when to go to Easter Island travelers should bring a windbreaker or light raincoat as wind and rain can be unpredictable.

High tourism season on Easter Island is, unsurprisingly, during the dry summer months (December-March) when temperatures hover around 80ºF. Within this popular time frame is the Tapati Rapa Nui festival, an annual celebration of the island’s culture and heritage that is held during the first two weeks of February.

Come April, humidity levels rise and steady rainfall quenches the thirst of the island’s endemic flora. From July to September, winter temperatures rarely dip below 60ºF. Unlike the spring season in the northern hemisphere, primavera (October-December) marks the beginning of Rapa Nui’s dry season.

No matter what time of year you venture to Chile’s isolated Rapa Nui, enjoy the temperate climate and superb stargazing presented by this small and mysterious island.

 

For more information regarding a customized journey to Easter Island, contact our award-winning travel team.

Bespoke Patagonia Travel: What to See and Do

Divided by the Andes Mountains, South America’s Patagonia region stretches across southern Argentina and Chile, covering an impressive 402,704 square miles (just over 1 million square meters). It is considered to be one of the most breathtaking yet rugged places on Earth. Whatsmore, inhabiting this massive expanse of land, ice, and national parks is a sparse population, turning this awe-inspiring and isolated destination into an incredibly exclusive experience.

As remote as Patagonia may be, the logistics of getting there and planning an extraordinary journey should not keep you from going. Allow us to design your Patagonia travel experience and we will take care of every detail to ensure you and your family or friends have an unforgettable and safe journey.

To inspire your travel plans, check out the following unique things to see and do when you visit Patagonia.

Trek the Towers of Blue (Torres del Paine National Park)

Renowned amongst mountaineers, the Torres del Paine National Park (181,414 hectares) is home to one of the most challenging trekking sites in the world. In fact, the tallest of the three granite peaks of Torres del Paine––Cerro Paine Grande––reaches 2,884 meters high and its summit was first reached as recently as 1957. Since then, the area’s massive glaciers, arid plains and crystal clear glacial lakes have become a must-see for outdoor enthusiasts.

Located in southern Chilean Patagonia, there are various routes to explore the national park depending on each traveler’s physical ability and time allotment. The quickest trek and most popular is the W (so-called for its shape). Over the course of 3-5 days, travelers will cover some 50 miles (80 km) that include many of the iconic Torres del Paine sites: Grey glacier, the French Valley and the Towers’ Base Viewpoint.

Stay at a Local Estancia

Historically, estancias in the pampas (grasslands) of South America were large plots of land used to raise livestock. These days, a choice few in Argentina and Chile have been repurposed as luxurious guest ranches tucked in the ethereal Patagonian plains.

Nestled within the Nahuel Huapi National Park on the Argentinian side of Patagonia, the Peuma Hue Boutique Hotel offers guests a singular opportunity to connect with nature and find inner peace. Surrounded by mountains and resting at the south end of Lake Gutierrez, Peuma Hue (meaning ‘place of dreams’ in the native Mapuche language) balances body and soul with activities including yoga, massage, horseback riding, kayaking, hiking, skiing and snowboarding.

Meanwhile, in Puerto Natales, a port city that acts as Chile’s gateway to Torres del Paine, a cozy Patagonian ranch awaits. Estancia Bahia Esperanza is a tucked away private home surrounded by an organic orchard. Available on an all-inclusive basis, the estancia can provide those cherished moments of togetherness around the fireplace, and is within reach of full-day and half-day adventure activities.

Cruise the Fjords Glaciers

It’s a humbling experience to witness and comprehend how natural history has literally shaped our planet. Southern Patagonia, more specifically, that belonging to Chile, is characterized by glacial fjords—massive geological structures that give you a glimpse into the past.

Formed by slowly moving glaciers, these deep valleys known as fjords dot the southernmost coast of Chile. Thermal springs, lush vegetation, Andean waterfalls, volcanoes and of course icebergs will accompany your journey aboard a cruise to rarely explored corners of Patagonia.

Embrace Your Inner Gaucho

The nomadic horsemen and cowhands of Argentina (also present in Uruguay) known as gauchos are today considered folk heroes—much like North America’s cowboys of yore. And yet, this flourishing and colorful tribe of the 18th and 19th centuries lives on at the ranches of Patagonia.

Surrounded by stunning mountains in Argentina’s far northern Patagonia, gaucho culture reigns in the wide open grasslands, ripe for solitary and social horseback riding. The local estancias provide an authentic gaucho experience that goes beyond saddling up, including fishing, rafting and harvesting. Relishing the simple moments of nightcaps under the stars and conversations around a campfire make it simple to understand why this generation of gauchos have continued this traditional lifestyle.

Navigate the Seven Lakes Road

For the ultimate full-day Patagonia road trip, northern Argentina’s Route of the Seven Lakes (ruta de siete lagos) can’t be beat. A visual feast of pristine landscapes—multi-hued forests, tranquil lakes, looming peaks—follow tourists along Ruta 40 for an adventure that is more than satisfying.

Ruta 40 is a legendary road and the longest in Argentina. Though it runs the length of the South American nation, the winding mountain-and-lake 108-kilometer section of the Seven Lakes is ideal for a one-day excursion during a Patagonia trip. Cruising from the Swiss alpine-style architecture in Bariloche to serene Nahuel Huapi National Park and a refreshing pint at a San Martin pub, this unforgettable road trip is more than just sight-seeing seven (spectacular) lakes.

Listen to the Perito Moreno Glacier Calve

Rumbling, snapping and groaning, Perito Moreno is the noisiest and most famous glacier of Patagonia. Located in Los Glaciares National Park (Argentina), a visit to the strikingly blue Moreno is almost guaranteed to be a show of massive ice chunks falling some 70 meters and crashing through the surface of Lago Argentino. At times as loud as an explosion, it is a privilege to witness (and listen to) the force of nature that is glacial calving.

Boat tours, kayaking and glacier trekking can be performed in the national park, each offering a view of the mammoth glacier. Covering 97 square miles, the glacier can also be seen from the park’s extensive set of walkways and viewing points.

Visit the Serengeti of the Southern Cone

Patagonia is home to a staggering nine national parks, turning nearly any time-constricted outdoor enthusiast into an indecisive traveler. For first-time travelers to the region, we recommend a visit to the Parque Nacional Patagonia in Chile. The 690 square kilometer nature reserve stretches from the Río Baker to the Argentine border and includes mountains, lakes, lagoons and forests. An important wildlife corridor, the park is also home to a variety of fauna, including flamingo, puma, fox, viscacha and guanaco.

The vast and varied ecosystem of the Parque Nacional has earned it the nickname of the Serengeti of the Southern Cone. With an infrastructure of public trails and campgrounds, visitors can hike to their heart’s content in unspoiled nature.

 

Wondering how to travel to Patagonia? When to go? What the current travel restrictions and/or entry requirements may be? Don’t hesitate to contact us.

Top Reasons to Explore Antarctica

Known as Earth’s white continent, Antarctica provides travelers with a far more enriching experience than would be expected from a land covered by 90% ice. Not to mention that, as the source of 70% of our planet’s freshwater, Antarctica plays a significant role in terms of our planet’s survival and global well-being. Nonetheless, many globetrotters have blocked themselves from exploring the otherworldly beauty of Antarctica, be it for the frigid temperatures or the seemingly unfathomable distance.

An isolated playground for thrill-seekers and Zen-chasers alike, an unforgettable journey awaits in our planet’s southernmost continent. Read on to discover the top reasons to explore Antarctica with family and friends.

Remote and Only ‘Recently’ Discovered

Historically, only the truly intrepid explorers and travelers who appreciate the unique and yearn for the unknown have conquered the human psyche and ventured to Antarctica, a seemingly mythical land.

The Greeks in fact speculated that a massive landmass in the southern hemisphere existed in order to balance out the land in the north. Philosopher Aristotle (4th century BC) would term the fabled land ‘Antarktos,’ meaning ‘opposite bear’: a reference to the Great and Little Bear constellations that can only be seen in the northern hemisphere.

Speculation continued into the 15th century, with many referring to the southernmost continent as ‘Terra Australis Incognita’ (Unknown Southern Land). James Cook came within less than 130 kilometers of Antarctica’s coastline in 1773. Having not seen the land with his own eyes, he brazenly declared “that no man will ever venture farther than I have done and that the lands which may lie to the South will never be explored.”

Finally, after a millennium and then some of hypotheses, doubt and failed attempts, Antarctica was seen at the beginning of 1820 by members of a Russian expedition. One year later, American explorer and sealer John Davis became the first person to set foot on the icy terrain. The seventh continent was no longer a thing of myths.

As we traverse the globe in the early 21st century where seemingly every corner of the world has been discovered, Antarctica continues to be the last great untouched wilderness; a beacon for scientific research and adventure opportunities.

Where Wildlife Thrives and No Cities Exist

Unlike every other continent in the world, no great human population lives permanently on Antarctica. In fact, there are no cities or urban centers in Antarctica, only stations where researchers and scientists have set up camp. As a result, a range of wildlife have been able to adapt to the harsh climate, both on land and at sea.

Though penguins spend the majority of their lives in the ocean, seven of the 17 total penguin species can be spotted waddling across Antarctica’s ice and snow. These include the Chinstrap, Adélie, Emperor and King penguins––the latter two being synonymous with many traveler’s imaginings of Antarctica.

Emperor and King penguins are both marked by a magnificent ring of golden feathers on their heads, however the Emperor reaches an average weight twice that of the King (30kg and 15 kg, respectively). Recognized as the world’s largest penguin, Emperors can be found on a voyage to Weddell Sea while the King penguins can easily be spotted from the comfort of an Antarctic cruise when nearing South Georgia, Macquarie Island, Prince Edward Island and Heard Island.

Another common sight while aboard a boat or vessel are whales. Orcas can be found in every ocean on Earth, however the majority are based in the frigid waters surrounding Antarctica. Researchers have identified four subtypes of orcas, all of which can be found in Antarctica. Traverse the Antarctic Peninsula and Ross Sea during the summer season for a high probability of catching these majestic black and white creatures.

The quiet beauty of Antarctica is broken by the welcome appearance of a Blue Whale––the largest and loudest creature found on our planet. An average of 30 meters long and weighing up to 200 tonnes (200,000 kilograms), these large mammals are drawn to the nutrient-dense waters of the Antarctic from February-March, the peak of the southern hemisphere’s summer months. Unfortunately blue whales are considered critically endangered in the Antarctic, as less than 3,000 are believed to inhabit the area.

Adventure Opportunities for All Levels

The varying landscapes and climates of Antarctica have garnered the seventh continent a range of exhilarating titles including the coldest place on Earth (average of -76 degrees Fahrenheit at the most elevated parts, 14 degrees along the coast) and the highest wind speeds (reaching over 200 MPH) which possibly have resulted in McMurdo Dry Valleys becoming the driest place in the world.

Throw into the mix two active volcanoes, a blood-red waterfall, Midnight Suns and Polar Nights, lakes under thick sheets of ice, and buried mountains and it is easy to understand why so many visitors have described Antarctica as otherworldly.

Thanks to the myriad of landscapes, the excursions and experiences to be enjoyed in Antarctica are just as diverse and adaptable to each traveler’s threshold for adventure.

Cruise around massive icebergs on a zodiac or get that much closer to the water’s surface by kayaking across ice-studded waters. Discover the Antarctic as pioneering polar explorers did centuries ago by mountaineering towards lofty summits or snowshoeing across icy spans. Venture below the frozen Arctic surface with a scuba diving plunge.

And when the body is tired or a new perspective is craved, a helicopter ride over Antarctica is an unmissable opportunity to witness wildlife and landscapes that can not otherwise be accessed.

Beacon of Hope During Global Warming

As our planet continues to grow warmer, scientists have begun to look towards the coldest continent as an impetus in safeguarding our future. No doubt it is a curious turn of events as Antarctica has been portrayed as the victim of global warming. And yet, that is precisely why the continent will play a key role in our future.

The two ice sheets––containing 70% of Earth’s fresh water––of Antarctica are melting before our eyes. Should they melt completely, global sea levels would rise by 56 meters, slowing down the global ocean circulation and shifting the southern hemisphere’s climate.

The world over has experienced the consequences of rising sea levels, with recent major storms in Florida and New York, and the increasing threat faced by low-lying Pacific islands. And as temperatures begin to rise the fate of our planet nears an irreversible status.

By exploring and experiencing Antarctica firsthand on an unforgettable journey, travelers will have more than just a vacation to remember: it will become incredibly clear just how precious this destination is and why it is worth protecting for future generations.

Most Efficient Way to Travel to Antarctica

As our planet continues to grow warmer, scientists have begun to look towards the coldest continent as an impetus in safeguarding our future. No doubt it is a curious turn of events as Antarctica has been portrayed as the victim of global warming. And yet, that is precisely why the continent will play a key role in our future.

The two ice sheets––containing 70% of Earth’s fresh water––of Antarctica are melting before our eyes. Should they melt completely, global sea levels would rise by 56 meters, slowing down the global ocean circulation and shifting the southern hemisphere’s climate.

If considering exploring Antarctica, planning ahead is essential. Currently the Latin Excursions team is booking into the 2022/23 season.

One of our favorite ways to take travelers to Antarctica is the Fly-Cruise option.

Depart from Punta Arenas (Chile) and take a two-hour flight to King George station in the Shetland Islands. From here you will board your expedition ship, eliminating a possible rough passage and the accompanying seasickness that might occur while traveling the approximate 36 hours through the Drake passage.

This method is not only faster in getting you to where you really want to be (Antarctica) but also follows a more efficient process. Your expedition ship has no more than 75 travelers which makes embarking and disembarking fast and smooth. Your connection to the places we visit is qualitatively different: less noise, less distraction, and a more intimate experience.

With a minimum of 12 polar expert guides you are ensured an unforgettable adventure.
Itineraries last from 5 nights to 16 nights ensuring options for all traveler types and their respective time limitations.

All meals and excursions (with the exception of kayaking) are included. Beer, wine and juice are served with lunch and dinner. Complimentary hot beverages are available all day.

If Time is Not an Issue: Boat Options

An adventurous option that harks back to the days of early explorers, Antarctica cruises typically depart from Ushuaia (located on Argentina’s Tierra del Fuego archipelago). From South America’s southernmost tip, travelers can pass through Drake Passage on an unforgettable two-day journey before spending a day exploring the glorious South Shetland Islands. It all leads up to the eventual and much anticipated arrival to Antarctica.

If opting for the scenic cruise option, discerning travelers will need to choose the vessel that best suits the needs of their travel group. To help narrow it down, we’ve selected two of our favorite boats for the 2022/2023 season: Island Sky and the MS Seaventure.

Exuding Old World charm, Island Sky has garnered a reputation since its 2017 debut as a superb platform for exploring Antarctica in comfort and style. Including three decks of private suites with sliding glass doors that open into the crisp Antarctic air, this ship brings passengers exclusive access to the White Continent in more ways than one.

Just over 100 passengers will be on board to enjoy world-class cuisine in between spotting whales, penguins and jaw-dropping icebergs. From this small expedition ship all guests can hop on Zodiacs to explore Antarctica by sea or to head ashore for an intrepid camping experience.

Awarded the 1-A Super ice class rating—the highest ice class awarded to passenger vessels—the MS Seaventure is designed to navigate difficult ice conditions, meaning those on board will have the opportunity to venture to places that would simply be impossible on other vessels. Indulgent amenities such as a sauna and heated saltwater pool will enhance your Antarctica cruise experience. For the truly inquisitive, be sure to check out the custom-built citizen science lab, which provides passengers with the opportunity to participate in on-going research (more info below).

When not lounging in the lush and open common areas, seek refuge in your MS Seaventure private suite, each fitted with large bay windows to admire the passing scenery. Note that the storage space has been upgraded in order to accommodate more outdoor gear, meaning more guests will be able to add snowshoeing, kayaking, or camping to their itineraries.

To this day Antarctica remains very much a mystery, drawing experts and researchers from around the globe. Both the Island Sky and MS Seaventure boats encourage passengers to get on board with observing and studying the natural phenomena that is Antarctica by including a Citizen Science Program. Focusing on the ecology and climate change aspects apparent in our seventh continent, travelers have a unique opportunity to gather data (via birdwatching, marine mammal identification, and more) that will contribute to answering some of our biggest questions.

 

For more information regarding exploring Antarctic and travel safety, contact us: info@latinexcursions.com

Galapagos Cruises: The Ultimate Experience for Privacy and Discovery

For visitors to the Ecuadorian archipelago, Galapagos cruises are the ultimate travel experience. Offering top comfort, privacy and personalization of your itinerary, a chartered or shared yacht will enhance your journey in one of the most pristine and unique places on Earth. The spark for Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, visiting the Galapagos––a collection of 60 islands and islets––is a rare opportunity to traverse ancient lava fields and white sand bays, and come into contact with endemic species of the plant and animal world that have yet to develop a fear of humans.

Match this infinitely intriguing destination with an extraordinary Galapagos cruise and you can be sure this will be one of the most rewarding travel experiences for your family or group of friends. From privacy and health, to comfort and flexibility, consider the following benefits and perks of Galapagos cruises––be it on a shared boat or private charter––for your upcoming adventure.

Maximize Privacy and Security

One of the perks of Galapagos cruises has always been the added amount of privacy to what is an already remote destination. Now more than ever, the idea of steering away from crowds and congested areas is not only attractive but important for health and security reasons.

Aboard a private Galapagos cruise your travel group can relish in indoor and outdoor spaces that are exclusively for your use. Let your group spread out, find your preferred nook and gather once again to share meals, impeccable sunsets and excursions on land or sea. Having your own vessel makes each day’s adventure a richer, truer reflection of who your group is. And with minimal distractions, you gain a privileged experience of the amazing and remote Galapagos Islands.

Chartered or shared Galapagos cruises are one of the safest travel options in the area as the assigned team of staff will ensure hygiene measures are strictly adhered to. In fact, all of our Galapagos partners––from boat to villa owners––are trusted professionals that we speak to regularly. Each of the recommended vessels used for Galapagos cruises are rigorously inspected and disinfected before and throughout your journey.

Be the Captain of Your Journey

Passengers aboard chartered Galapagos cruises are seemingly promoted to captain in terms of flexibility and personalization.

Opting for an exclusive Galapagos vessel means we can tailor an itinerary to suit the activity levels and needs of your group. By land and sea, there are numerous ways to experience the Galapagos Islands and we are more than happy to make recommendations based on our expertise and local contacts.

Of course, your first and all-important decision will be choosing the vessel for your Galapagos cruise. And just as varied as the activities to be had on Galapagos cruises are the vessels themselves: from simpler, more economic options such as the first-class Nemo, to the apex of luxury like the spectacular Stella Maris and Grace yachts.

Trusted and award-winning, our first-hand knowledge of the best boats in the Galapagos means we can present the best fit for your budget and group. Afterall, embarking on a Galapagos cruise is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and every detail counts.

Exclusive Experiences

The luxurious experience on board one of our Galapagos cruises is matched by the land- and sea-based excursions that bring you closer to this natural paradise. Each day on the Galapagos archipelago can be as varied as the islands are different: from diving with sea lions and sharks, to hiking the world’s second largest caldera, to leisurely hiking through mangroves. It is plain to see why Galapagos cruises attract travelers of all ages, activity levels and interests.

We’ve visited just about every corner of the Galapagos since our founder and CEO, Eric Sheets, began crafting tailor-made itineraries of Darwin’s living laboratory since 1998. Because of our trusted relationships with the islands’ vendors, storytellers and eco-visionaries, we offer an array of mind-blowing, insider-access experiences that can not be found anywhere else.

Imagine swimming in the warm crystalline waters with sea lions around the perimeter of Santa Fe Island or penguins at Pinzon Island, unique wildlife experiences that allow you to interact with some of the islands’ most playful creatures. Not ready to jump in the waters just yet? Consider eco-sport fishing for Mahi Mahi or Yellow Fin Tuna, always accompanied by local fisherman committed to marine and species conservation. We can also connect you with a range of wellness activities, from yoga to food therapy.

Allow the transformative powers of this natural treasure and our expertise of Galapagos cruises to form an unforgettable travel experience filled with eco-adventure.

Comfort in a Natural Paradise

So much can be said about the exquisite natural beauty of the Galapagos Islands––but what is it actually like to take a Galapagos cruise?

A typical morning on a Galapagos cruise will begin with the soft sounds of nature, luring you out of bed and onto the deck. Accompanied by views of a dramatic volcano, coastal beaches and frigate birds soaring above, your group can convene over a warm breakfast. Once satiated, hop on a dinghy to partake in an up-close exploration of coastal ecosystems that include mangroves, crystalline waters, sea tortoise and sea lions. No Galapagos cruise would be complete without a scuba diving tour guided by a scuba master. Navigate through schools of brightly colored fish and coral habitat while attempting to play catch-up with marine iguanas and even dolphins.

And the best part of embarking on a Galapagos cruise? When the day is done you and yours have the privilege of returning to a welcoming vessel to regroup, recap and reconnect.

Sol y Luna: From France to Peru’s Sacred Valley, with Love

Straddling the Andes with one foot dipped in the Pacific Ocean and the other tangled in the wild Amazon rainforest, Peru is a nation where over 100 indigenous languages survive, Hispanic and native traditions intermix, and travelers can encounter 80% of the world’s ecosystems and nearly 90% of all climates found on Earth. 

As one of the world’s most megadiverse countries, the South American destination attracts a wide variety and style of travelers, some of whom even opt to stay and call Peru their adoptive country.

So goes the story of ‘Petit’ Marie Helene Miribel, a native of France who, together with her Swiss husband, would go on to found one of Peru’s most sought after luxury hotels, Sol y Luna.

Sacred Valley: Settling in the Heartland of the Incas

Having lived in Peru since the 1990s, Petite and her partner Franz decided to put down roots in the very heartland of the Incas, just two years shy of the turn of the century. 

The Sacred Valley of Peru is located in the Cusco region, protected by the Andes mountains and guided by the Urubamba River (also known as Vilcamayo River). For travelers, local towns like Urubamba and Ollantaytambo had once been considered mere gateways to Machu Picchu (1.5 hours by train from Ollantaytambo, a 30 minute drive from Sol y Luna).

Thanks to projects like Sol y Luna however, visitors are taking the time to slow down and enjoy the breathtaking landscapes, gastronomy, art and culture that abound in this mystical valley.

Afterall, the Valley, which rests at roughly 8,000 feet (over 2,400 meters above sea level), has historically held locals and visitors captive, dating back to the Incas––who fell for its proximity to Cusco, warmer climate and fertile land––and thereafter the Spanish.

Ayni: An Andean Philosophy of Reciprocity 

Rich as it may be in nature, Peru continues to be considered a developing country––the national educational system being one major point of concern. 

Inclined to get involved in community service projects, Petit soon became aware of the particular roadblocks that kept children of the Valley from receiving an education. Whether it was extreme distance that forced elementary-age children to walk for hours, lack of finances to provide materials or low standards of teaching that failed to capture the attention of and nurture young learners, the French entrepreneur took action to make education accessible for all in her adoptive Urubamba and surrounding areas.

In 1999, alongside Franz, Petit created an education project, Sol y Luna Foundation, and soon after founded the Relais & Chateau hotel, Sol y Luna. And while the latter was created to financially support their educational initiatives, it was working closely with local communities that would feed and influence the now renowned hotel. It’s an interdependence that has marked the philosophy of all Sol y Luna projects; one based on reciprocity or, as termed in the native Quechua language, ayni.

Since their first education project, Petit and Franz have not lost sight of their goal to create opportunities for the Sacred Valley youth. The hotel has allowed them to finance projects such as the Sol y Luna Intercultural School; provide training and employment opportunities for community members; as well as open four foster homes.

Luxury: Timeless Beauty and Experiences

Native materials, artisanal touches and authentic generosity bloom both within and outside of the hotel as freely as the site’s sprawling gardens. Hummingbirds seemingly guide guests from their private adobe cabins to on-site cooking classes or an intimate spa session. Stunning Andean landscapes are traversed by quad; high-altitude lakes skimmed aboard stand-up paddle boards.

Sol y Luna Hotel is categorized as luxury, but the charming qualities it presents and the experiences it offers cannot be summed up by a simple label. To visit this peaceful noon in the cradle of the Andes mountains, and to have Petit and Franz as hosts, is to gain a mindfulness of what luxury for the 21st century traveler truly means.

Montemar: Working with Nature Instead of Against It

Though largely untouched by human activity in its (geologically) young lifetime, the Galapagos archipelago is no stranger to environmental threats. In fact, less than 15 years ago the United Nations declared that the Ecuadorian islands were in danger, pointing to ecosystem degradation caused by modern-day activities such as deforestation, pollution, overfishing, mass tourism and more. 

Luckily, an environmental steward was as inspired by the Galapagos Islands’ possible decline as was Charles Darwin, nearly two centurias prior, by the area’s unique and evolutionary wildlife.

Born and raised on mainland Ecuador, Reyna Oleas would not head west 625 miles to the Galapagos until she was an adult. Newly arrived and equipped with a degree in Ecology and an MBA, she instinctually began to observe the relationship locals had with their environment—more specifically, to issues concerning unreliable and unsustainable sources of water, electricity, waste and food.

Deciding to take action, Reyna and her husband Roberto Plaza joined a team of intellectuals offering expertise in various areas to create the Montemar project: a set of eco-luxury villas built with the vision of becoming a benchmark in construction by using materials mostly sourced from the islands and with minimal use of energy.

Located upon part of the Galapagos Giant Tortoises Territory in the highlands of Santa Cruz, the 43-acre property has two private villas, both of which are named after native wildlife—Tortuga (Tortoise) and Lechuza (Owl). Spacious and full of natural light, each space within Montemar was built upon the foundation of the following components: construction with local materials; efficient generation and use of energy and, finally, harvesting and consuming of local food.

Considering that some 70% of imports to the islands are used for construction, that much of the food and energy is brought from the mainland, Reyna and her partners were creating what would become a model for sustainable tourism and hospitality in the Galapagos Islands.

Made of bamboo, lava and cedar, the buildings are not overly sophisticated, as the Montemar aimed to inspire onlookers who could, if desired, replicate the designs and use of materials. By using elements of the natural surroundings, the villas maintain the ecosystem’s natural balance. So in tune with the natural world are the houses, that they were strategically placed in the path of the sun and in the direction where wind would allow free flowing ventilation (an incredibly important component considering that the humidity levels on the Galapagos can reach 97%).

Inside, the private rooms are heated by solar panels, as is the water—100% of which is harvested rainwater. Nothing about the latter technique is new, as the first settlers to the Galapagos did much the same. However, Montemar is recovering and proving the validity of such eco-friendly and cost-effective efforts.

Similarly, Montemar promotes eating local by producing a portion of the food. Chickens, pineapple and banana trees, coffee (of which Latin Excursions founder Eric Sheets believes is the best tasting coffee in all of Ecuador) and a variety of other foods thrive on-site as Reyna and her team turn the organic waste of neighbors into 100,000 pounds of black gold (fertilizer) a year.

Now, years since the doors first opened to conscious travelers, Montemar is at the forefront of sustainable tourism in the unique archipelago. With experiences that include wellness, gastronomy and even adrenaline activities both on and off shore, Montemar is the ideal host for a unique family getaway that can be life changing in so many ways. An exclusive and privileged place, guests soon discover that sustainability does not have to be met with sacrifice. Not only that, but they just may be inspired to make a few green changes to their lifestyle back home.   

To craft a bespoke and private Galapagos tour and/or cruise it is essential to know what experiences await. Dive deeper into Ecuador’s remote islands here.

Belize: Thrilling Mayan Culture with a Caribbean Twist

While many Belize natives can be heard speaking a creole patois or even an indigenous Mayan language such as Yucatec, Mopán or Kekchí, the official  language of the Central American nation is English. And yet, despite the ease of communication between most travelers and locals, the natural beauty and living culture found in Belize is difficult to express in words.

Bordering Mexico’s southernmost tip, Belize is home to the northern hemisphere’s largest barrier reef system and thus, unsurprisingly, has become a top draw for scuba diving and snorkeling enthusiasts. The country’s under-water world is so biodiverse that UNESCO inscribed the natural system as a World Heritage Site in 1996. To match the kaleidoscope of sea creatures are the wild and raw Mayan ruins, nestled in the rainforest and tucked underground in ancient ceremonial caves. 

Sail across the crystalline Caribbean waters one day, and gain a thrilling cultural experience the next: Belize has it all.

Sail Towards Solitude

Whether shared with an intimate group of family or friends, a tailored sailing trip across the crystalline waters of the Caribbean is a luxurious adventure that rewards travelers with privileged views and private comfort.

Make the most of time spent in great company and mark the pace and focus—be it a sailing excursion that is solely sea-based or one that also incorporates land-based activities (think grand Mayan temples and uninhabited islands that dot the barrier reef). Use your chartered yacht as a gateway to world-class scuba diving, underwater meetups with nurse sharks and manta ray, kayak explorations of manatee reservations and more.

Don’t forget to take advantage of the private vessel by indulging in unparalleled relaxation. As the boat skims the azure waters that surround Belize, find time to sun on the deck or dine under the stars. Be sure to request the full range of chartered yachts that we offer, varying in size and amenities.

Underground and Back in Time

More than just underwater explorations, visiting Belize is an opportunity to explore the largest cave network in Central America. Stemming from the Maya Mountains of Belize to Guatemala, over 55 km of cave passages belong to a network of four caves known as the Chiquibul Cave System. And while walking along these seemingly never-ending archaic walls (originally formed by the Chiquibul River) is a thrill, Belize hosts a myriad of caves for every type of traveler to choose from.

The twisting passageways of Actun Tunichil Muknal (also known as Cave of the Stone Sepulcher) force visitors to walk, swim and climb their way through the narrow passages of a Mayan ceremonial center.

Laid-back yet just as unique, the Barton Creek Cave is explored via  a leisurely paddle session beneath twinkling calcite crystal formations. Typically used for ceremonial purposes, keep your eyes out for skeletons, ceramics and other Mayan artifacts in any of the aforementioned caves.

Flavors of a Multi-Cultural Land

Perhaps one of the most efficient and enjoyable ways to familiarize yourself with a new culture or destination is through local gastronomic offerings. And there is quite a bit to swallow in regards to the convoluted history of Belize, a coastal land that has gone through the hands of the Mayans and Europeans and numerous name changes. What has resulted in national kitchens is an amalgamation of varied ethnic influences

In between Caribbean staples of red beans and rice with savory stewed chicken,  Mayan-influenced snacks like salbutes (fried corn tortilla) and irrisistable fish panades (empanadas), be sure to save room for the traditional Garifuna cuisine. Of mixed African and indigenous Caribbean descent, the Garifuna people were exiled from their island of Saint Vincent in the late 18th century by European force, and sought refuge along the Caribbean coast of Central America.

Today, travelers can head to southern Belize to indulge in a variety of Garifuna-style dishes: from seafood chowders to the traditional cassava bread ereba. (Fun fact: Garifuna literally means “cassava-eating people.”)

For detailed information on travel restrictions and health requirements visit the Belize Tourism Board site here or email us directly: info@latinexcursions.com

The Galapagos Islands Need Your Help

Despite having reopened months ago for tourism, the remote Galapagos Islands continue to struggle economically in the wake of the global pandemic. In March 2020, when the spread of Covid-19 caused travel to come to a halt, families and local businesses felt the negative effects immediately.

For the Ecuadorian islands, where 90% of the economy is dependent on tourism, the sudden plummet in visitors was as if the archipelago’s backbone had vanished.

Be Part of the Solution

Lindblad Expeditions and Island Conservation have partnered with a local non-profit, FUNCAVID, to create a campaign of hope and solidarity with the Galapagos community. All funds will go directly to those affected in the form of community-based loans. Priority will be given to basic needs such as food security and education. 

Donations will also go towards wildlife conservation of the area famously documented by Charles Darwin in the 19th century. And it’s not only the consequence of ‘undertourism’ that threatens the ecosystems and wildlife of this World Heritage Site. To make matters worse, for much of 2020 a fleet of Chinese fishing vessels have been stationed at the edge of the islands’ marine preserve to snatch up wildlife and, perhaps unknowingly, pollute the waters of one of the last pristine places on earth.

What it Means to Us

As a travel company, Latin Excursions believes firmly in supporting this cause. We have supported environmental and sustainability causes in this destination since we began taking travelers on bespoke Galapagos journeys.

Whether you have experienced the Galapagos Islands yourself and share our fascination for the remote destination, or you have it on your places to visit in the near future, you have the power to help with a donation, no matter how big or small. Because tourism is fragile. We can’t expect it to take care of us. We need to take care of it. Learn more and donate here.

A destination dear to our hearts, we know that the Galapagos will once again thrive with the insistence and support of travelers like you.

Looking to experience the Galapagos? Talk with us: info@latinexcursions.com

Fruit Farms, Art and Vintage Cars: Private Half-Day Adventures in Colombia

You have probably seen photos of the dreamy Caribbean waters that brush the shoreline of Cartagena de Indias, and heard of the outstanding biodiversity shielded by the verdant Antioquian mountainsides—but to experience Colombia firsthand is to engage each of your senses in a singular way. From coast to jungle, a steady stream of vibrancy reaches every region of Colombia, especially in the lesser known corners where tourism has yet to hit a boom.

Be inspired to experience Colombia in an authentic and unique way with the following sensorial experiences—and know that you can contact us anytime to begin designing your bespoke journey or to learn more: info@latinexcursions.com

Artisanal flavors: Edible flower farm and distillery

An easy, one-hour drive from bustling Bogota, the tranquil countryside of Colombia welcomes you to spend the day exploring expansive organic farms and tasting artisan products. 

In the morning, you will visit an edible flower farm where the owners will discuss their sustainable practices and a guided tour will introduce you to plant species native to the Andean region. Surrounded by tantalizing colors and smells, you will be relieved to finally taste some of the flowers and herbs yourself and learn of—and perhaps even feel—their benefits. After exploring the grounds, enjoy lunch on the farm while taking in the 360º view of the crop fields. 

With your hunger satisfied, it will be time to quench your thirst. In the afternoon you will visit a small farm where production of distilled liquors—often incorporating Colombian fruit—takes place. Accompanied by the owner, you will discover how typical fruits like uchuva, or feijoa, and natural water coming from the moorland, are involved in the artisanal distilling process. No visit would be complete without a tasting, and you will have plenty of time to sip on special concoctions, such as the aromatic Agrarian Rum, created from sugar cane grown 850 meters above sea level.

Why you’ll love it: For those who appreciate great taste and an even better story, this tour allows you to spend some 7 hours getting close to nature and  meeting small producers dedicated to developing high-quality products while preserving natural resources and artisanal techniques.

For your eyes only: Private collection and Botero’s museum

Begin your art tour in a private home in Medellin, where a by-appointment-only gallery space hosts around 500 works of classical, modern and contemporary art by established and emerging artists from all over the world. Founded in 1991, the private collection revives the history of Colombian and international art, thus offering collectors and art lovers an enriching and cultural sphere. 

You’ll spend just a couple of hours in the art house, but the projects you see will stay with you for the rest of your time in Colombia—and perhaps beyond.

Now it’s time to relish in the unique chance to have a private, after-hours visit to the most important museum of Medellin: Museo de Antioquia. The grand museum overlooks Plaza Botero, and inside you will understand a bit more about the artist himself, Fernando Botero, and what his exaggerated representations aim to communicate to the viewer.  

Why you’ll love it: An exclusive experience perfect for art lovers, the impressive collections will offer insight of Colombia’s past, present and future from the perspective of true storytellers. Worried you’ll miss the details or the big picture? No worries, an expert in Colombian art will accompany you.

Feeling nostalgic: A vintage ride to the best of Cartagena 

Hop into a vintage car from the 1950s and hold onto your sombrero vueltiao (traditional Colombian hat) as you cruise through an afternoon sightseeing the most emblematic places of Cartagena de las Indias.  

From the historic center, you will head to the impressively intact San Felipe de Barajas Castle: just short of celebrating its quincentenary, this hilltop fortress has a fascinating history that begins with protecting Cartagena from the likes of pirates. Meanwhile, the Convent of Santa Cruz de La Popa takes things even higher, offering up singular panoramic views of the colorful city below.

Continuing on to other gems, such as the cheerful Getsemaì area, characterized by beautiful murals, your tour will finish with a cocktail at the iconic Café del Mar, overlooking the bay of Cartagena.

Why you’ll love it: A truly unique way to experience one of Colombia’s Caribbean gems, your private ride through Cartagena in a vintage car will be an unforgettable highlight to your trip.

Colombia has eliminated Covid-19 test requirements for travelers, meaning your visit can be quick and easy. However, that’s not to say that countrywide health and hygiene precautions have been minimized. Prior to departure, tourists will need to fill out this online form and show no signs of fever or respiratory problems; as well, newly arrived travelers will be monitored upon arrival by their insurance company as part of the Ministry of Health’s Testing, Tracking and Sustainable Selective Isolation strategy (PRASS).

Ready to experience Colombia? Talk with us: info@latinexcursions.com

Galapagos Travel Experiences: As Unique as the Islands are Remote

If you and yours are looking for a relaxing and incredibly private getaway in a pristine destination, let us remind you that the Galapagos Archipelago—situated 600 miles west of mainland Ecuador—is an incredibly untouched, visually stunning part for the world. Unlike Bishop Tomas de Berlanga’s, accidentally arrived on the remote islands in 1535, your journey to the islands would be marked by exquisite  intention.

While the islands offer countless activities for every type of traveller,  we highlight two stand-out experiences here—to give you a taste of what awaits in the Galapagos—however, do keep in mind that these islands offer an array of activities.

Paddle Alongside Wildlife in the Itabaca Channel

Perhaps the best way to get to know the distinct islands is by finding your rhythm paddling down the calm turquoise waters or testing your balance for a laidback stand up paddle session. Separating the Baltra and Santa Cruz islands, the clarity of the Itabaca Channel reveals the marine biodiversity found beneath the liquid surface—including white tipped reef sharks—while the picturesque surrounding environment of red mangrove forests and lava cliffs stun you with their natural beauty.

Families traveling with younger children will revel in strengthening their bond through adventure as they share a two-seat ocean kayak and witness a display of wildlife unique to this remote pocket of the world. And while it may seem daunting to the unaccustomed, stand up paddleboard is a great way to build focus and strength—not to mention, gain a new perspective of the natural world.

Rich with wildlife on land and sea, venturing down these waters will give you the privileged opportunity to spot numerous curious creatures year round, such as the blue-footed boobies, who have yet to develop a fear of humans.

Private Yacht to the Iconic Bartolome Islands

As you head to Bartolome Islands aboard the comfortable and swift Windrose—the only luxury boat that provides such navigable tours—this part of the journey will become a memorable moment for both you and your family.

As you head to Bartolome Islands aboard the comfortable and swift Windrose—the only luxury boat that provides such navigable tours—this part of the journey will become a memorable moment for both you and your family.

Disembark upon the islet (an area of just .5 square miles) and hike up its volcanic cone to take in one of the most scenic views of the surrounding Galapagos Islands and the breathtaking landscapes of Bartolome. Accompanied by a local guide, it is also an opportune moment to learn about the volcanic origins of the Galapagos Islands. Afterwards, a dingy ride along the crystal clear coastline of Bartolome is a sure moment to witness the Galapagos penguin, an exciting way to wrap up the day before heading back to the yacht for a gourmet meal.

An Adventure that is Exclusively Yours

The best way to island-hop the Galapagos Islands is to do it aboard a chartered yacht. What a way to take in thee islands. Your itinerary is totally customizable and your crew will enjoy the privacy. Ask us about our preferred boats. They include affordable catamarans!

For the latest on our health and safety protocols and the adaptive measures taken by the Galapagos Islands, please contact us—info@latinexcursions.com —and one of our travel designers will contact you directly.

Not Yet Ready to Pack Your Bags?

Bring the taste of the Pacific to your home with Maito de Pescado, just one of the many dishes inspired by the sea that you will sample while staying at the ecoluxury villas of Montemar in the Galapagos. Meaning “wrapped fish,” maito is a traditional Ecuadorian dish that highlights the natural flavors of the fish. Typically accompanied by rice or root vegetables such as yuca, give the recipe a try:

Ingredients

– Tilapia Filets
– Salt
– Banana leaves (3 per fish filet)
– Natural fiber (for securing packaging)

Process

1. Light your grill.
2. Clean tilapia then season with salt on both sides.
3. Clean banana leaves. These will be used to wrap the fish, so if they need to be made more flexible simply heat over the fire until they bend more easily.
4. Using three banana leaves per filet, wrap each piece of fish then tie securely with natural fiber. Place on the grill for 20-25 minutes, allowing heat to steam fish.

Six Pristine & Private Getaways

Travel makes real what videos and blogs can only represent: travel allows us to be fully immersed in other cultures and parts of the world; to taste, feel and see something new, while strengthening our bond to nature and those who accompany us on the journey—including ourselves. In short, travel is what connects us.

With the power to be transformative and long lasting, these connections accumulate energy, recharging our souls with inspiration, wonder and compassion. And considering the last few months, we could all use a bit of each.

With a deep understanding of your concerns for health and safety, we’ve gathered a thoughtful list of pristine and private getaways in Latin America for you to enjoy with friends and family when the time is right.

Colombia

Corocora Camp, Llanos Orientales

An exclusive tented camp in the vast tropical grassland plain of Llanos Orientales, Corocora Camp allows visitors to connect to nature without forgoing quality service or comfort. There are just four deluxe sleeping tents available, which means the site can be bought out by a family or group of friends for a truly exclusive experience.

Situated to the east of the Andes in Colombia, next to the Orinoco River basin, a brilliant array of wildlife will accompany you as you delve into the authentic ranch culture and cattle herding, go horseback riding or birdwatching and learn about Corocora Camp’s very own conservation projects.

Arriving at this secluded spot is a short flight from the Bogota international airport. As well, we can arrange a private jet charter to take you swiftly to the remote private reserve.

La Rocca, Tierra Bomba Island

Though just 20 minutes by boat from the buoyant city of Cartagena, this private seaside villa from Nahbu is worlds away from the crowds and typical touristic sites that frequent the Walled City. Located on the island of Tierra Bomba, you will find absolute comfort in this 4-bedroom paradisiacal beachfront villa, complete with an infinity pool overlooking the azure Caribbean.

Rosario Islands Cartagena day trips

Make this intimate and serene setting feel like home as you spend your days relaxing poolside, walking along the soft sandy beach, kayaking and enjoying the local cuisine. From the Rafael Núñez International Airport in Cartagena, Colombia, this seaside villa can be reached by a private boat in under half an hour.

Chile

Estancia Bahía Esperanza, Puerto Natales

Not your standard hotel by any conventional means, Estancia Bahia Esperanza is a private home with three bedrooms, making it ideal for large families, small groups of friends or even couples who are interested in reserving the entire space for a private getaway. In fact, it can only be booked on a whole-house, all-inclusive service basis anyways.

Tuck into this secluded Patagonian ranch, complete with an organic orchard and cozy fireplace, for an authentic experience and enjoy the luxury of silence. Full-day and half-day trips to nearby scenic sites such as Torres del Paine National Park can be arranged, as well as hiking, biking or horseback riding along remote trails.

Awasi Patagonia

Situated in a private reserve overlooking Lake Sarmiento, nearby forest, pampas and Torres del Paine, the unique design of Awasi Patagonia perfectly blends with nature, as the villas were inspired by old Patagonian shelters and ranching outposts. Completely carbon neutral, each of the 14 private villas are assigned a private guide and 4WD so you can explore at your own pace. You will have access to off-the-beaten path hiking trails, superb wildlife viewing points, incredibly fresh and gourmet meals and more—all to draw you into the untamed beauty that is Patagonia.

Awasi Patagonia can be reached by private transportation from the international airport Presidente Carlos Ibáñez del Campo airport in Punta Arenas, Chile (a 5-hour drive).

Uruguay

Sacromonte, Pueblo Eden

A coalescence of great wine and enchanting nature, Sacramonte is a remote destination that will be relished by oenophiles and sybarites. Located in Maldonado, it is just 90 minutes west of Montevideo’s Carrasco International Airport.

After a delicious breakfast served in the privacy of your refuge, enjoy a hike to Lote8 Olive Oil Boutique Plant to visit the production facilities followed by a tasting of their olive oil. Afterwards, drive to Viña Eden Winery to enjoy lunch. During the afternoon, we suggest a yoga class overlooking the vineyards in the privacy of your refuge. Private Dinner at “La Casona” in Pueblo Eden hosted by Sacromonte can also be arranged.

La Bendición Lodge, Durazno

If you are into horseback riding, fly fishing or golf, then the remote La Bendición Lodge would be an ideal fit. Located in the beautiful countryside of Uruguay and hugged by the Rio Negro, this large ranch allows guests to partake in a variety of nautical and landbased activities.

The charming decor preserves the history of this family-owned farm and lodge, while elements such as the giant fireplace will make you feel perfectly at home. Near the main house are two renovated train wagons outfitted to become your favorite reading space, the Stone Bar for an afternoon of cocktails and pool, and of course the white sand beach that presents striking sunsets night after night.

Ready to experience one of these pristine & private getaways for yourself? Talk with us: info@latinexcursions.com

Exclusive Colombia Experiences

Long revered for producing some of the best coffee in the world, Colombia is a reenergizing destination for many reasons that go beyond the irresistible caffeine buzz: a bustling capital city; sightseeing excursions that take you up emerald mountains by bike or foot; the pulse of vallenato (traditional folk music); attractive beaches; strong aguardiente and, of course, a colorful and magical culture. Its diversity in scenery, pace and activities makes Colombia a year-round welcome destination for any kind of traveler.

After social distancing for what has seemed like an eternity, what better way to reconnect with that special someone than by accompanying each other on a safe and carefully curated journey? We suggest some inspirational stays in Colombia. Private villas and nature-immersed lodges offer safe and exclusive accommodations.

Chartered Flights to Remote Regions

A country of vast biodiversity, it would seem nearly impossible to see all regions of Colombia in less than two weeks—and yet, onboard a private charter flight with just your family or close circle of friends, this type of exploration can become a safe and exclusive reality.

Go horseback riding in Los Llanos, the tropical grasslands east of the Andes; trek along the Crystal Channel on the edge of the Amazon; venture to the Caribbean coast to get a taste of the vibrant port city, Cartagena, then (between September-October) head into the Pacific waters for an exciting afternoon of whale watching.

If this is your pace—spending a few days in each region before hopping on a private plane for a new adventure—contact us for details and to begin planning.

Two Private Villas – Ideal for Families

When traveling with little ones, it is best to keep the logistics to a bare minimum—perhaps now more than ever. Escape with ease to the fully-furnished villas Casa Yahri and Casa La Rocca. Located in the quaint town of Barichara in northern Colombia, Casa Yahri offers privileged views of lush gardens and plenty of private spaces, from refreshing pools to secluded balconies.

Just beyond your private villa’s premises, the town’s cobbled streets, nearby coffee farms and immersive workshops make for alluring excursions to get a taste of local life. Considered to be a hotspot for outdoor adventure activities, Barichara will get your heart pumping with options for hiking, rafting, paragliding and more.

Whereas Casa Yahri offers absolute comfort with a cozy sensibility, Casa la Rocca takes exclusivity to an entirely new level of luxury. Venture to the paradisiacal villa situated upon Tierra Bomba Island by way of a swift 20-minute boat ride from the shores of Colombia’s colonial gem, Cartagena de Indias. This private, 4-bedroom seaside villa is tastefully decorated in earthen tones which allow the azure Caribbean waters to take center stage. Step from the infinity pool to the private beach or request a private boat trip to the Rosario Islands and explore the archipelago’s crystal clear waters and white sand beaches.

Reconnecting with Nature – 3 Stunning Eco-lodges

Bogota, Colombia’s capital, is a sprawling city with wide open plazas, public parks and colonial charm. As the nation’s cultural hub, secluded stays and nearby nature-based excursions abound.

Begin your journey at the boutique hotel, Casa Legado. Sweet and family-inspired, you will quickly feel like you belong in this luxurious mid-century home surrounded by gardens that will seduce you into believing you are in a remote country cottage. Just as colorful and quirky as the neighborhood in which it resides, Quinta Camacho, you can request a massage or private yoga class in the atrium or outdoors spaces of Casa Legado.

A two-hour drive west, venture deep into nature for a side trip into coffee paradise at La Palma y El Tucán. Less than a dozen private cabins are sprinkled across the expansive coffee fields in Zipacón, meaning you have an absolutely unique opportunity to connect with nature and follow the process behind one of Colombia’s greatest claims to fame.

A short domestic flight north to Tayrona lands you at an exceptional stay at Villa Playa Tayrona, pictured above. Surrounded by river, sea and gardens, this boutique hotel is just 2 kilometers from the Tayrona National Park, a protected area at the convergence of the mountains and Carribean coast. Stunningly picturesque, you will be filled with gratitude for rewarded yourself with such an experience.

Ready to experience Colombia for yourself? Talk with us: info@latinexcursions.com

Newly Re-opened, Be Among the First to Visit Costa Rica

If we told you there is a nation with intensely rich volcanic soil from which some of the finest coffee beans in the world are grown, where a coastline of some 800 miles is hugged by both the Caribbean Sea and Pacific Ocean, and where 25% of its land is protected as a park or natural reserve, would you believe us?

Costa Rica has long been deemed a paradisiacal destination for ecotourism as its unparalleled biodiversity is a match for the incredibly hospitable and enthusiastic people who call this Central American gem home. No larger than Lake Michigan, Costa Rica has a population just under 5 million people, yet counts with over 600 species of fauna per 10,000 square miles (as opposed to 100 species in the U.S.). With such an incredible display of natural beauty, environmental stewardship tends to be as common as the phrase ‘pura vida’ in Costa Rica—and such importance on protection and preservation has allowed this destination to remain ripe for responsible travelers in need of a change of scenery.

Here are a few reasons why we consider Costa Rica a timeless, go-to natural sanctuary now more than ever:

Quick and Easy to Get to

Both of the main international airports in Costa Rica—Daniel Oduber, Liberia (LIR) and San Jose (SJO)—are open and operating.

From Miami, Florida, Costa Rica’s SJO International Airport can be reached by a three-hour flight; from New York City in less than five hours; Austin, Texas in less than four hours, and Los Angelers in six hours. In other words, it is perfectly feasible to plan an extended weekend that finds a balance of lazing on the soft sand beaches of Guanacaste with kayaking through a jungle of mangroves.

Though both international airports will be open, national authorities will reopen the borders mindfully. By October 1, nearly half of the US states will have permission for entry, and gradually more states will gain access over the following weeks.

Our Preferred Properties

Based on our insider knowledge and personal experience, we consider the following properties to be among the best in the country. They have been carefully selected for their outstanding service, amenities and naturally relaxing environments that promote a safe and rejuvenating travel experience.

Nayara Tented Camp

Don’t let the name fool you—this safari-inspired property boasts a “tented camp” that is unlike any sort of outdoor stay you’ve known before. The luxurious, clifftop accommodations of Nayara fully immerse guests in the vibrant and wild nature that makes up the nearly 30,000 acre Arenal Volcano National Park, without forgoing any sense of comfort or tranquility.

Perched on a hill and remotely setback from the other 21 tents, the private tents have a privileged view of the site’s namesake volcano and are complete with a signature plunge pool.

Nayara promotes wellness and self-care, offering calming activities such as yoga and relaxing soaks in the private onsite hot springs. Families will enjoy the connectable tents of two bedrooms, providing plenty of private time and safe space, as well as the impeccable staff. At the core of it all is being immersed in the soothing rainforest that surrounds.

Las Catalinas

In the unique northwestern town of Guanacaste, surrounded by tropical land and sea, are the private vacation rentals of Las Catalinas. With a focus on healthy and sustainable living, this fully walkable beach destination will reward you with a fulfilling weekend getaway or rejuvenating long-term stay.

Over 22km trails lush with foliage will enrapture you as you take a morning stroll or, perhaps, as you chase an adrenaline rush while mountain biking through the dry forest slopes and valleys. Water-based activities abound, as the year-round warm Pacific waters are prime for snorkeling, kayaking and stand up paddleboarding.

After a day spent reconnecting to nature, it’s time to unwind in a spacious and private villa with your family or an exclusive flat with that special someone. You feel at home in no time, as you dine on local seafood and farm-to-table creations while gazing upon an unmatched sunset.

Alejandro Monge, our Operations Manager and a Costa Rica native, gave us some local insight based on his experience of traveling around his marvelous country recently:

“I’ve visited several of our destinations during this pandemic and have enjoyed an overall positive experience that I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend to travelers who are ready to get back to exploring,” comments Alejandro. “Most beaches are open until 2:30pm, meaning you have plenty of time during the day to take a refreshing dip and catch some sun on beaches that are far less crowded than usual. My personal favorite beach getaway in the last few weeks has been Nosara beach in the Nicoya Península as it offers a secluded environment, great yoga, meditation and wellness activities and uncrowded beaches.”

Alejandro assured us that all restaurants are open at 50% capacity and that extensive cleaning and disinfection protocols are carried out and staff are required to wear masks.

“You, as a patron, will need to wash your hands upon entry and wear a mask until you sit down at your table, but your memorable experience of chifrijo (typical bar food) will not be diminished!”

Hotel staff, tour guides and drivers always are required to wear masks as well as wash their hands and use hand sanitizer frequently, informs Alejandro. And while tourism remains low and has surely taken a toll on the local economy, there are definite perks to traveling before the industry gets back to normal:

“You’ll find discounted rates in hotels and tours to help reactivate the economy,” points out Alejandro. “Costa Rica hotels are typically small and spread out, so people will find themselves more secluded than in other destinations.”

Safety Protocols

Upon arrival to Costa Rica, foreign visitors will need to complete a Health Pass, have proof of testing negative for coronavirus in the 72 hours leading up to departure and have travel insurance that covers COVID-19 medical and accommodation expenses. Unlike many other countries, Costa Rica does not enforce mandatory quarantine upon entering, allowing you to savour every moment of your trip. Standard protocols such as social distancing and use of masks are mandatory.

A message from the tourism board of Costa Rica:

Ready to experience Costa Rica for yourself? Talk with us: info@latinexcursions.com

Congo Culture: On the “Other Side” of Panama

Most often associated with the eponymous canal that, when completed in 1914, would speed up and cut costs for transporting cargo between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, Panama has given travelers who seek comfort and exclusivity plenty of reason to slow down in the last few years. Slightly smaller than Ireland, Panama’s 29,000 square miles are painted with a vibrant array of indigenous and international cultures—which may seem curious for such a small strip of land if it were not for the rich human history that marks this transcontinental link between Central and South America

Panama – The Transcontinental Link

In fact, it was in Panama city where Spain would erect the first settlement (on the Pacific side) in 1519. From here, the Spanish conquest of the Americas ensued—resulting in insurmountable riches for the conquerors and, consequently, the dark beginning of slavery and rivalries as the small isthmus grew increasingly significant and valuable for the New World.

A Variety of Culture and Worldly Influences

Today, indigenous communities belonging to Panama thrive alongside fellow countrymen and women whose roots derive from distant lands: from the Guna Yala people of the San Blas archipelago dotting the Atlantic Ocean, the Emberá along the Chagres River, to the Afro-Panamanian population of the tropical coastal town of Portobelo.

It is the later port town (also referred to as Puerto Bello, or “beautiful harbor”) in which we find a particular sense of mystique and singularity when visiting Panama. Once a principal Caribbean port—and temporary storage site for treasures looted from the Incas—, Portobello today is as much a historian’s playground as it is a traveler’s retreat.

Portobelo, Panama: Entry to the New World

Spanish fortification ruins dating back to the 17th and 18th century stare out over Portobelo Bay and towards the lush Portobelo National Park. Here, footed by pristine beaches and nestled in the rejuvenating tropical rainforests of north-central Panama, a unique Congo culture is preserved.

The ancestry of the Afro-Panamanian population that calls this dreamlike jungle home can be drawn back to the Cimarrones—enslaved Africans from the Spanish colonial period who proved to be not only rebellious but quite valiant. Alliances with the likes of English admiral Sir Francis Drake were used as leverage to eventually gain their freedom and establish their own communities.Travelers today can immerse themselves in the Congo culture—considered an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO—while relishing the pristine and natural setting of El Otro Lado.

Fundacion Bahia de Portobelo: Support for the Afro-Panamanian Heritage

To celebrate the area’s traditional and spirited Afro-Panamanian heritage, Aurora Eleta (owner of El Otro Lado) co-created the non-profit Fundacion Bahia de Portobelo. Through festivals, shows and on-going activities, local culture is preserved and social and economic development is encouraged. (Currently, you can support the local community during the COVID-19 pandemic through this fundraiser).

In June 2019, our marketing & sales pro Turney Maurer visited Portobelo and stayed at El Otro Lado to learn more about this fantastic destination. We asked him what his favorite part of the visit was and this was his reply:

Visiting Portobelo and staying at El Otro Lado was a completely unbelievable experience. While I anticipated turquoise Caribbean waters and exciting outdoor activities such as kayaking and hiking, I quickly realized that the most beautiful facet of this destination was the people. The locals are very proud of their heritage and you can discover it through their song, dance, and friendly personalities. My greatest memories were having the opportunity to teach a few of the staff members how to wakeboard, dancing through the night with a performance from local music students, and paddleboarding into the sunset. I now have friends in Portobelo that I will always hope to visit and enjoy time with. The beautiful thing about traveling internationally is realizing that regardless of where we are from or what we believe, we can always relate and enjoy each others company through exploring new areas of the world and trying new things.

Victor, staff member at El Otro Lado gearing up to wakeboard on the left, Turney on the right.

Come See Portobelo for Yourself

By effortlessly merging nature, comfort, and the surrounding community, the unique essence of this Caribbean culture is maintained within the grounds of the private retreat as well. Custodians of the local culture fill guests’ stay with authentic dance, gastronomy, and more, which can be shared through workshops; the retreat itself is enlivened with a vibrant showcase of artworks and a steady playlist of Afro-Caribbean beats (created by Gladys Palmera, sister to Aurora and co-creator of Fundacion Bahia de Portobelo).

This retreat is less than a two-hour drive from Panama City’s Tocumen International Airport. With plenty of non-stop flights from the U.S., this is an ideal weekend getaway for families looking to connect to nature.

You can read more about El Otro Lado here. To arrange an escape to Panama contact us at info@latinexcursions.com (or call 305 356 8488). We are designing quick escapes for later in the summer and beyond.

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 of itineraries, hotels, villas, and ships to choose from 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.