Inspiring Stories Series: Eco Sustainable Travel in Galapagos Islands

Welcome to the Galapagos Islands! In 1835, Charles Darwin arrived in the Galapagos Islands aboard the H.M.S. Beagle. A trained naturalist, Darwin was blown away by the array of species on the archipelago’s 20+ islands. His observations lead him to his Theory of Evolution. Now, nearly 200 years later, travelers from around the world are visiting these unique islands.

Visionary Reyna Oleas Protects Habitat Where Giant Tortoises Roam

We caught up with eco-entrepreneur Reyna Oleas, who owns and operates Montemar, a collection of villas on land that is both a bio-dynamic farm and protected tortoise habitat. In the video below, Reyna reminds us that a connection with nature can be a life-changing experience – one that can open the door to a mindful life.

Sustainable Travel in Galapagos

Reyna’s initiatives are living proof that ecological farm practices and habitat protection can form an enlightened whole. They leverage profits from the cultivation of coffee, bananas, and guava (plus tourism) to finance the recovery and rehabilitation of giant tortoises.

Giant tortoises are the longest-lived of all vertebrates, the oldest on record having lived to 152. Once numbering a 1/4 million across the Galapagos, the giant tortoise was pushed close to extinction by overexploitation of the species, as well as habitat conversion to agriculture.

Today there are about 3,000 giant tortoises that visit Reyna’s farm on Santa Cruz Island alone.

Why Travel to Peru in 2020?

When people ask me what it’s like to travel to Peru and Machu Picchu for the first time, my response is simple, “Peru is a destination you could explore for the rest of your life and not see the same thing twice; in Peru you can expect a new adventure around every corner.”

With so many extraordinary regions and diverse landscapes to explore in this massively diverse country, choosing where to go for your first visit to Peru can be difficult. For that reason, we add value to our travelers by helping them customize an itinerary tailored to their desires. As an example, a lot of people know Peru mostly because of Machu Picchu, so that is number one on their list. Therefore, we typically recommend taking the classic route to Machu Picchu via Lima, Sacred Valley, Aguas Calientes, and finishing in Cusco on your first visit. At that point, you will be acclimatized to the Andean altitude and ready to adventure further.

Machu Picchu Adventure

“Exploring the Seventh Wonder of the World, Machu Picchu, radiates wisdom and wonder by inevitably making one visualize what life must have been like for the Royal Inca in the Pre-Columbian era while they were secluded from the entire world… in their own sanctuary where every stone and ruin is strategically placed to utilize the natural elements of this environment. If you are a lover of cultural adventures and amazing food, I recommend that you make a visit to Peru as soon as possible”

– Turney Maurer

Insider’s Guide – Travel to Peru in 2020:

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What to do in Peru if You Have Already Seen Machu Picchu?

Peru is a massive country where the Earth’s biggest jungle collides with the towering, ice-capped Andes mountains. Meanwhile, southern Peru has the Nazca Lines, the world’s second deepest canyon—Colca Canyon, and Lake Titicaca—the world’s highest navigable lake that can be seen from outer space. However, there is more! Northern Peru has some of the best waves to surf in the world where you can rest afterwards at a remote beachside wellness retreat. Meanwhile, one of the world’s biggest waterfalls in the world awaits your arrival. Dive further into the northern jungle to find Pre-Inca archaeological sites as big and well-preserved as Machu Picchu which have recently been introduced to tourism with the inclusion of a cable car at Kuelap.

With all of these magnificent sites to see, how are you supposed to choose which ones to see when you travel to Peru in 2020?

Colca Canyon PeruPeruvian Woman Overlooking Colca Canyon

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Where to Go in Peru for Your First Time?

As mentioned previously, let’s get you to Machu Picchu first when you travel to Peru in 2020. Depending on the time you and your group have to travel, your options of regions to visit after seeing Machu Picchu will be limited. It’s important to note, especially if you are arriving to Peru from the United States, your itinerary is going to be 6 Days / 5 Nights minimum in order to see Machu Picchu and spend an evening in Cusco. Altitude sickness is no joke, and if you try to see the Seventh Wonder of the World in a hurry, you are likely to become very ill and ruin many days of your journey. Here is why…

The only main international airport in Peru is in Lima, the seaside capital city. In order to get to Machu Picchu, one must fly domestically from Lima to Cusco, where the altitude is around 12,500 ft.. To prevent altitude sickness, we greet our travelers at the airport in Cusco for a driver and guide take them to the Sacred Valley of the Incas, where the altitude is around 9,800 ft.. Here, spend a few nights at a lovely hotel like Sol Y Luna Lodge & Spa or Inkaterra Hacienda Urubamba to become acclimatized and partake in some amazing day tours before continuing to Machu Picchu at around 7,800 ft. elevation.

Salt Mines Peru TourSalt Mines at Maras: A Lovely Experience in the Sacred Valley of the Incas

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Hike or Take a Train to Machu Picchu

Depending on whether you’d like to hike to Machu Picchu or take the train,  you will need to either spend a night in Aguas Calientes or return to Cusco via train. We certainly recommend taking the Hiram Bingham Train (pictured below) for an open bar with appetizers, 3-course meal, and live music along the way in a 1920’s style elegant train. When planning your journey with one of our trip designers, we will help you decide what is best. Check out our Top 8 Treks in Peru blog to learn about more options of hiking to Machu Picchu and other areas of Peru.

Singing and dancing on the Hiram Bingham Train

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What to do After Machu Picchu?

Finally, after exploring Machu Picchu, you will return to Cusco by train and stay the night. At this point of the journey, your body will be fully acclimatized and ready for the next destination when you rise the next day. Some destinations such as Manu National Park, Apu Ausangate (Rainbow Mountains), or adventure activities like white water rafting or mountain biking are a driving distance from Cusco. Otherwise, there are domestic flights to nearly any other region of Peru (some with a layover in Lima — see recommendations at the bottom of this blog). For example, consider flying from Cusco to Iquitos after visiting Machu Picchu for a Peruvian Amazon Cruise aboard the Delfin 1, where you and your loved ones can enjoy exploring the jungle in style.

Best Amazon CruisesA couple enjoying the hot tub on Delfin 1 in Iquitos, Peru

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When Should You Visit Peru?

The peak of the Dry season in Peru is from June – August which attracts the most tourist since you will likely not encounter rain at Machu Picchu. Although, Peru is a very diverse destination and while some areas of the country might be rainy or cold, some coastal areas are perfect to visit. The main takeaway is that the shoulder seasons (March – May) and (Sept-August) are great times to visit Machu Picchu during the transitions of the rainy and dry season. Sure, you might encounter some rain, but you will also experience sunshine and less people at the ancient Citadel.

Plaza de Armas: Cusco, Peru

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What to do in Peru if You’ve Already Seen Machu Picchu?

If you’re like me, after you see Machu Picchu and maybe one or two other regions of Peru, you will be itching to go back for more. Luckily for you, a second or even third journey to Peru can be as exciting or even more wonderful as the first. Below we have compiled a gallery of some of our favorite destinations to see in Peru beyond Machu Picchu.

For more interesting articles, make sure to visit https://blog.feedspot.com/travel_magazines/ and see why were chosen as one of the top travel publications on the worldwide web!

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Travel to Peru in 2020: Best Destinations Beyond Machu Picchu:

Lima

The Peruvian Amazon Gallery 

Lake Titicaca 

Southern Peru: Islas Ballestas, Pisco Region, Huacachina Oasis, Nazca Lines, Arequipa & Colca Canyon

Northern Peru: Máncora, Tumbes, Chachapoyas, the Lost City of Kuelap, & Gocta Falls

Galapagos Islands & Quito Ecuador

Did you know that visiting Machu Picchu & Galapagos Islands in the same journey is a great way to see both destinations conveniently? Due to direct flights from Lima to Guayaquil or Quito, Ecuador — this multi-destination journey links well. If you ask me, the best way to combine the two countries is by flying from Lima to Quito in the early afternoon, so that you arrive in Quito around 4:00 p.m.. From there, we will organize a private transfer from the airport to your hotel, and book a dinner at ZaZu Restaurant (part of the Relais & Chateaux collection) or similar for a taste of Quito’s finest cuisine. The following day spend a full-day exploring the city or going on a lovely trek with another overnight stay in Quito. The next morning, return to the airport and continue to Darwin’s Archipelago, the magical Galapagos Islands.

In Galapagos you will have to choose whether you want to explore via land, sea, or both? Read more about the Galapagos Great Debate to see which one suits you and your group the best.

Atacama, Chile

Due to a new flight offered by LATAM that runs directly from Lima to Calama (Atacama Desert, Chile), these two destinations are now fantastic to combine. Imagine yourself going from seeing one of the Seven Wonders of the World where ruins are covered in lush green vegetation among a towering mountain surrounded by a flowing river, to feeling like you’re walking on the moon and looking at flamingos in the distance? Sounds nice doesn’t it? If so, let us treat you to this multi-destination combo by contacting us today!

To learn more about this region of Chile, check out our Atacama Desert Experience page and consider staying at Awasi Atacama.

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.

Insider’s Guide: Uruguay Wine

When you think about the best wines in South America, often Argentina’s world-famous Malbec vines in Mendoza, or Chile’s verdant Central Wine Valley come instantly to mind. However, there’s a new kid on the block, a country whose winery scene is every bit as enticing as Chile or Argentina and there are boutique vineyards, rolling countryside and top South American culinary tours to back it up; that country is Uruguay. This country, often compared similarly to Wyoming in the United States, actually has been producing quality wines since the 18th century, so here’s our insider access advice for the best wine regions, grapes and gastronomic experiences in the country—you may be surprised by what this pocket-sized place provides!

montevideo wine tours

Montevideo: Uruguay Wine by the Sea

Magnificent Montevideo manages to beautifully balance all of the attractions you’d expect from a cosmopolitan capital city, with countryside, boutique vineyards, and tasting tours also on its doorstep. Such a mix makes Montevideo quite a unique South American city, and with wine country within close driving distance of town, you’ll soon notice that some of Uruguay’s finest wine labels and exclusive harvests find their way onto plenty of restaurant menus too.

Yet the best way to experience everything that the Montevideo wine region has to offer is always by participating in a unique tour and tasting the wines straight from the barrels themselves. This is usually accompanied by a multi-course lunch featured with a simple spread of artisan cheese, crusty bread and cured meats; delicious. Our expert trip designers will help plan the perfect tour and tasting for you and your group.

In particular, the wider Montevideo region is known for growing Tannat, Tempranillo, Albariño, Chardonnay and Merlot grapes on its mostly flat terroirs, thanks to several boutique cellars such as Bodegas Bouza, Spinoglio, Stagnari, Carrau, Santa Rosa, and the Pizzorno Winery among them. Even if visiting for a long weekend while staying in Buenos Aires on a tour of Argentina, you can easily squeeze in a Montevideo vineyard day trip while here and still have time to see the rest of the city’s many highlights, plus the beach, of course. A great way to see this region is by booking a custom-tailored private wine journey to Uruguay like our VIK and VINES program.

Canelones: Wineries in the Countryside 

North of Montevideo you find Canelones, an inland stretch of mixed soil types, mild winter weather, lots of rain and long sunny summers which help stand this region out as Uruguay’s top wine producing spot, for Tannat, the ‘National Grape’.

Whether on a day trip from Montevideo or staying a little longer, we recommend checking out one of the smaller vineyard tours. Unlike the more popular vineyards, these are typically hosted by the owners themselves which makes for an authentic and rare experience. There are too many great winemakers to mention across the entire region, though Artesana Winery, Juanicó, and Bodegas Marichal, Filgueira and Pisano are a good place to start. For more details or a proposal itinerary, reach out to us by phone or email to discuss your Uruguay trip ideas with one of our expert trip designers.

Wineries in Canelones, Uruguay

Maldonado: Uruguay Wine Growing Region

You may not have heard of it, but boutique Bodega Garzón in Uruguay’s coastal wine growing region of Maldonado, recently fell second in a list of the World’s Best Vineyards—no small accolade! It’s also been honored as the New World Winery of the Year and if that weren’t enough, Bodega Garzón also occupies a scenic hilltop setting, making the most of the perfect ballast soil plains which surround it. This is a true fine wine experience for sure, with their Albarino, Petit Verdot, Pinot Noir, Cabernet Franc and Tannat grapes being especially good, ideal with one of Bodega Garzón popular BBQ/firepit gourmet lunches during a vineyard tour.

Though there is far more to Maldonado than the recently recognized Bodega Garzón, as this picturesque part of Uruguay is home to plenty of equally refined growers and small-scale labels. Among them, Viña Eden is a good choice for quality Chardonnay and Cerro Negro varieties—accompanied by a great view, you can head to Altos de la Ballena Winery for Syrah, Merlot, Viognier and a long lunch close to Punta del Este, or Bodega Oceánica José Ignacio where striking onsite artworks, sculptures and displays are as important as the wines; to name a few. All of this, plus the rugged beauty of Uruguay’s southern coast to enjoy between tastings, makes a wine tour in Maldonado hard to resist.

best wine tours uruguay

Carmelo: The Oldest Vineyards and Uruguay Wine

For a real travel experience and some of the most boutique Uruguayan vineyards around, head to Carmelo, a sleepy town near the Rio de la Plata that’s primed for laidback tasting tours and cycling between the wineries. This region of Uruguay may be off the main tourist trail (for now), but they’ve been making wine here since the mid-19th century, as you’ll see with a visit to Almacén de la Capilla, home to some of the oldest vines in the country. Indeed Almacén de la Capilla has not changed much in its over 150-year history, so coming here is a real trip back in time too, on top of those great tasting wines.

Bodega El Legado is another must-visit while in Carmelo, known as it is for serving a full gastronomic experience of locally sourced bites, walnuts, creamy cheeses, chutneys and freshly baked bread to pair with each glass. Tannat is the main grape here, with the vines well adapted to Carmelo’s unique terroir, and producing award-winning labels as a result.

The rural pace of life, untouched countryside, gravel tracks and quiet bays of Carmelo seem to fit the idea of a Uruguay wine tour perfectly, with intimate experiences, privately guided vineyard tours, lunch with the owners, homecooked BBQs and some first-class labels here. Then, the prestigious Narbona Wine Lodge and CampTinto certainly take things up a notch in terms of luxury levels, though other Carmelo cellars such as Bodega Familia Irurtia, Bodega Zubizarreta and Bernardi are much humbler affairs that reflect a typical Carmelo spirit.

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Why Book a Uruguay Wine Tour with Latin Excursions?

In short, the secret of Uruguay being one of South America’s finest wine producing countries won’t be kept for long. Some of the grapes here create exquisite batches of world-beating boutique labels, and the scenery also speaks for itself. Given that Uruguay is still not on everybody’s radar (compared with similar experiences in Argentina or Chile, for example), you get an authentic experience with the locals and not as many tourist as other destinations in South America. This fact alone, is reason enough for any self-respecting wine-lover to book a trip to Uruguay, and let us organize lip-smacking tasting tours throughout your journey.

uruguay wine tours

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.

Active Uruguay Journey for Families

Known for its rolling plains that encompass mostly the entire country, to its extensive virgin beaches and rich nature areas to explore, Uruguay has a little bit of something for everyone. When you hear someone mention Uruguay, they likely know it as a ferry-ride over from Buenos Aires or a coastal holiday vacation spot. Well, we are here to tell you there is much more! This family-friendly journey to Uruguay features highlights of the country combined with biking, horseback riding, trekking, and cultural experiences for everyone to enjoy.

Visit our Uruguay Page
to learn a bit about Uruguay

Itinerary

Day1

Uruguay Flag

Day1

Arrival in Uruguay / Colonia del Sacramento

Welcome to Uruguay!

Upon arrival in Montevideo, transfer to your hotel in Colonia del Sacramento. From the hotel, your guide will take you on a walking city tour along the cobbled streets of Old Town. This walking tour will feature visits to Spanish and Portuguese Museums in this Old Portuguese City with artwork dating back to the XVII century – which has been declared Patrimony of Mankind by the UNESCO. Afterwards, enjoy a traditional “Mate” tasting to learn why nearly every local drinks this locally-popular beverage. If time allows, end the day with a bike ride along the riverside Rambla to witness the landscapes of rural colonia full of vineyards, olive plantations and lemon trees and finish at Finca La Primavera with an olive oil tasting.

Overnight Charco Hotel or Similar

Day2

colonia del sacramento

Day2

Colonia del Sacramento / Montevideo

After breakfast, private transfer to the bus terminal of Colonia to board a bus to the capital city of Montevideo. Upon arrival, meet your English-speaking guide and driver for a ride to your hotel with a stop at the lively port market for lunch. After you’ve settled into your hotel room, return to the lobby for a private walking tour of Old City featuring stops at the Carnival Museum to learn about the “murgas” and “candombe.” Although, if you’re in Uruguay during Carnvial season from late Feb to early March, you can participate in a rehearsal or parade! Continue to other sites such as the Cathedral and Cabildo, Columbian Art Museum, and Soils Theater before returning to your hotel.

Overnight Don Boutique Hotel or Similar

Meals B,L

Day3

bike tour montevideo

Day3

MONTEVIDEO / ROCHA, CASTILLOS

Enjoy a morning bike ride of Modern Montevideo including an exclusive invitation to the studio of highly respected drummer Lobo Núñez, who specializes in Candombe, a form of drumming made popular in the 18th century by the descendants of African slaves. It has since become a defining feature of Uruguay’s national identity and Lobo has found special acclaim since being visited by Mick Jagger in 2016. Onward to Estancia Guardia del Monte near Rocha, Castillos where you will spend the next two evenings.

Overnight Estancia Guardia del Monte

Meals B,D

Day4

Best Estancias in Uruguay

Day4

Estancia Guardia del Monte

Rise and shine at Estancia Guardia del Monte, a traditional Uruguayan Estancia for a day of exploration and wonder. Visit the local Ombu Forest and some quality birdwatching along the large area of marshlands and wetlands both of which are teeming with bird life (more than 400 species in this area), otters, coypus and capybaras. After a typical “asado lunch” enjoy some horseback riding to explore the Estancia surroundings. Dinner and accommodation at Guardia del Monte.

Overnight Estancia Guardia del Monte

Meals B,L,D

Day5

Sea Lion Uruguay

Day5

Cabo Polonio

Enjoy one last morning at the beautiful Estancia Guardia. After breakfast meet your local, English-speaking guide who will take you to the small village of Barra de Valzas. Begin a barefoot trek along the coastline and the incredible shifting sand dunes. Climb the “Buena Vista Hill” and appreciate the gorgeous view of the ocean before continuing to Cabo Polonio (3 hours trek). After a delicious lunch at a local seaside restaurant, visit the sea lions reserve (one of the biggest ones in South America!). Afternoon 4×4 truck-drive to the main entrance of Cabo Polonio where you will take a transfer to your hotel in the small town of La Paloma.

Overnight Hotel Proa Sur or Similar

Meals B,L

Day6

family travel to uruguay

Day6

LA PALOMA / LA BARRA

Today your guide takes you to the lighthouse of La Paloma via private transfer. Upon arrival, begin by biking to the Rocha Lagoon, a semi-freshwater lagoon of 72 km2 (28 sq mi) that happens to be a bird paradise during the winter months. This unique protected natural area is part of the “eastern Biosphere Reserve” which is internationally recognized within the framework of the Man and the Biosphere (MAP) of UNESCO since 1976. After the biking tour of La Rocha, cross the lagoon on kayak or boat for a picnic lunch on the shores of the other side and continue via private transfer to your hotel in La Barra.

Overnight Casa ZINC or similar

Meals B,L

Days7

Uruguay family active travel

Day7

La Barra

Morning tour of Punta del Este to visit Casapueblo and the most important historical and cultural attractions. Afterwards, a picnic lunch will be served followed by the choice of kayaking, horseback riding, or biking for the rest of the day.

Overnight Casa ZINC or similar

Meals B,L

Day8

uruguay family travel package

Day8

LA BARRA / MONTEVIDEO OR BUENOS AIRES / END OF TOUR

Depending on the location of your departing international or domestic flight, private transfer to the airport for your return home, or onward to your next destination.

Meals B

Best Places to Visit in South America for 2020

Latin Excursions: Central & South America Travel Planning Experts

As the end of 2019 approaches, we would like to take a moment to thank each of you for your ongoing support of Latin Excursions. We are continuously seeking out the most rare and unique experiences in South America to offer you, and this year we made great discoveries. That is why we have compiled some of our favorite finds for the new year. 

Ilha Grande Brazil

Central & South America Travel Ideas for 2020:

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Brazil’s Hidden Gems

Get ready for a journey through southern Brazil by entering the country through Rio de Janeiro and stopping in Paraty and São Paulo before reaching Pantanal. In November we visited this region to update our Hidden Gems of Brazil pre-designed journey and pave a new route. We discovered a unique blend of city visits, beach/island hopping, culinary outings, and wildlife viewing experiences starting in Rio de Janeiro and ending in Pantanal. Rio is a great introduction to Brazil, but the adventure really begins with a visit to Paraty — a true colonial gem. Idyllic and located on a fjord-like coastal area with tropical rain forests between São Paulo and Rio, this region is rich in history and one of the finest locations in Brazil. We combine this visit with a fascinating farming experience in the mountains, a visit to a private island in a spectacular setting and island tours that will dazzle you and leave you wanting to explore Brazil further.

After exploring Paraty we take you further south to São Paulo and continue via small plane to Caiman Ecological Refuge in Pantanal — the best destination for a South America safari where you can see jaguars and other unique animals in their wild habitat. Our Founder Eric Sheets described the remote region of Pantanal as:

“a unique wildlife gem that compares to Galapagos Islands in the sense of the proximity of getting close to wildlife. There are many opportunities for animal sightings here from the majestic jaguar to the blue hyacinth macaw. This is a region with potentially the best sightings on our planet to see a jaguar and is a rich prime safari experience on the continent of South America, so get ready to disconnect from the city and reconnect with nature in southern Brazil’s ecological treasure.”

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Galapagos Islands for Families and Groups of Friends

Are you ready for the ultimate family or reunion villa experience in Galapagos Islands? One of our most exciting new travel program in 2020 comes in the form of a seaside villa on San Cristobal Island in the Galapagos Islands. In October our sales team made a visit to this property, only to realize that it is now the top land-based accommodation in Darwin’s Archipelago. When you book a 5day/4night stay with us here, we include two full-day boat tours to neighboring islands on a private-charter yacht (12 passengers max) and a day of land excursions to the sites of your choice on Isla San Cristobal. making this a completely exclusive experience for your group. Visit our website to learn more about Villa Galapagos 4.

Villa Galapagos 4 is perfect for those coming off of a yacht charter, like the Grace or Passion — a few of our favorite boats in the archipelago. If you and your group would like an island-stay combined with a few nights at sea, consider the Elite boat 4day/3night itinerary to board after your stay at the villa. Traveling with a group in Galapagos is the way to go in 2020, so allow us to help create your dream journey to Galapagos and be prepared to see what the entire world was like two million years ago on this remote, exclusive adventure experience.

Galapagos Catamaran

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Panama’s Caribbean: Sail to San Blas Islands

If Panama isn’t on your list of destinations to visit in 2020, then it is time to reconsider your travel plans because we have some great new offerings. Last June we joined our friends at El Otro Lado to find more insider access experiences near Portobelo and quickly realized that this region is highly overlooked in many aspects. Our new itinerary “Panama’s Caribbean by Catamaran” takes you through the through the same waters that English pirate Sir Francis Drake once navigated, from Portobelo Bay to San Blas Islands and back through Gatun Lake.

For centuries, the Guna Yala people have lived on the San Blas Islands, and their culture is still vibrant today. When planning your dream journey to Panama with one of our travel designers, make sure to ask us about this experience for a day of cultural immersion.

best way to get to san blas islands panama

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Panama to Cartagena by Catamaran

Imagine yourself navigating through the remote Caribbean alongside white-sand islands with healthy reefs to snorkel with your best friends or family. Sounds nice, right? We have created a new journey where you sail from Portobelo, Panama to Cartagena, Colombia on a private-charter catamaran with a captain, chef, and guide with you the entire time. From Our Panama’s Caribbean by Catamaran program combines perfectly with the following pre-designed journey in Colombia. Although, instead of arriving by plane in Cartagena, now you have the option to arrive via catamaran from San Blas Islands. Talk about showing up in style! For a glimpse of what this experience is like, view the attached video “Crossing the Caribbean by Catamaran

*The route we design for your itinerary will depend on the time of year you anticipate going. From December to April, we recommended that you go from Cartagena to Panama, and from May to November vise-versa.*

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Colombia’s Colonial Gem

Are you ready to explore Cartagena and one of Colombia’s colonial gems? Cartagena is an exciting entry to Colombia, similar to the vibe of New Orleans with live music, dancing, and art on every corner, you won’t have a hard time meeting the friendly locals. Barichara is a historic small town in the Colombian Andes with boutique hotels and villa opening the doors to sustainable tourism, helping benefit the locals and providing them with jobs.

These two destinations that combine well logistically and offer a variety of experiences from salsa dancing, rum tasting, culinary adventures, colonial city tours, hikes, and much more. Captivating colonial towns, exotic Caribbean islands and tantalizing cuisine; this luxury cultural tour of Colombia promises to be a feast for all the senses. There’s no end of cultural hotspots to discover across the country, but this sample itinerary focuses on two hubs in northern Colombia so you can really get under the skin of each region. This program is ideal for anyone looking to visit Colombia in style, while taking the road less traveled with excellent service, logistics and accommodations along the way.

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New Destinations Coming Soon:

Antarctica, Bolivia, & Costa Rica

We are excited to announce in 2020 we will be offering journeys to Antarctica, Costa Rica, and Bolivia all which will be on our website soon. Make sure to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Pinterest and stay tuned!

visit antarctica 20202

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.

Hidden Gems in Brazil: Paraty & Pantanal

Start your “Hidden Gems of Brazil” journey by entering the country through Rio de Janeiro and spending a few days enjoying the magic of the people. No other city in the world combines nature, art, and architecture with the city infrastructure quite like Rio. After a few days exploring Rio, the adventure really begins with a visit to Paraty — a true colonial gem! Paraty is ideally located on the tropical rain forest coast between São Paulo (south) and Rio d Janeiro (north) and is incredibly rich in history and food. We combine this city visit with private mountain, ocean, and island tours that will make any photographer jump at the bit. From here, continue to São Paulo, one of the most exciting cities in all of South America where you can explore the city and its artistic treasures before continuing to one of Earth’s most biodiverse regions, Pantanal. Here you will find the best jungle and wildlife safaris in the entire continent, similar to Galapagos Islands in the sense that animals aren’t intimidated by humans, allowing you to get unreal photos to share with your friends and family. By visiting Brazil with Latin Excursions, you are traveling sustainably to help preserve the environment and supporting the local people by providing them with work through tourism. We look forward to seeing you in Brazil!

Visit our Brazil Page
to learn a bit about Brazil

Itinerary

Day1

day08-rio-soccer-lesson-latin-excursions

Day1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro

Welcome to Brazil!

Upon arrival in Rio de Janeiro, meet your english-speaking guide and driver at the arrivals lounge, followed by a private transfer to your hotel for the evening.

Overnight Janeiro, Rio Fairmont, Palace Copacabana, or Fasano Rio

Meals None

Day2

Christ the Redeemer

Day2

Rio: Corcovado & Santa Teresa

Today your guide will lead you to the electric sky train as you board and hover over lush vegetation with views of the Atlantic Ocean and Rio from above. Afterwards, your private guide and driver will take you to the bohemian and picturesque Santa Teresa neighborhood for lunch at a local-favorite restaurant. After you satisfy your appetite, continue to the historic city centre of Rio to learn interesting historical facts of the region. This day allows you dive right into Rio’s most famous attractions by visiting the Corcovado Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer, one of the 7 Wonder’s of the World!

Overnight Janeiro, Rio Fairmont, Palace Copacabana, or Fasano Rio

Meals B,L

Day3

Best beach in Rio de Janeiro

Day3

A Carioca Day: Beaches, the forest, Samba and the Sugar Loaf

Take a glimpse into the soul of Rio de Janeiro by exploring the beaches, environment, and culture all in one day. Begin by exploring the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana by bicycle with your private, english-speaking guide before continuing via bike to Rio’s historical Botanical Gardens – recently labeled #1 Botanical Garden in the World by Wanderlust Travel Magazine.

Afterwards, visit “Samba City” for an insider private tour of where the Samba schools prepare and practice for next year’s Carnaval. It’s an extraordinary site to see the enormous floats being assembled and the seamstresses creating the costumes (which you can try on for yourself). To end the day, your guide will take you to catch a sunset from the Sugar Loaf before returning to your hotel.

Overnight Janeiro, Rio Fairmont, Palace Copacabana, or Fasano Rio

Meals B,L

Day4

UNESCO World Heritage Site Paraty

Day4

Rio de Janeiro to Paraty

Today you will meet your english-speaking driver at the hotel lobby for a ~4 hr. private transfer to your hotel in Paraty.

Overnight Literaria or Turquesa

Meals B

Day5

Best places to visit in Brazil

Day5

Paraty: A Day in the Bay

This morning, your guide will greet you at the lobby of your hotel and lead you to the nearby pier where you will board a boat for the day to visit Praia Vermelha along with Cotia and Algodão Islands. Along the way, your captain will give you the option to stop and snorkel or swim at destinations such as Saco de Velha. If time and weather allows, you will have the option to visi Saco do Mamanguá, a tropical fjord and a true hidden gem. For those more adventurous, ask your captain to stop at Pão de Acucar hilltop, a 1 hr steep climb to get an all-encompassing look of the Mamangua fjord. 

Overnight Literaria or Turquesa

Meals B

Day6

cachaca tasting in Brazil

Day6

Paraty: Waterfalls and Cachaça Tasting

Begin the day with a short Jeep transfer from Paraty to visit the Graúna region waterfalls. After a ~20 min. drive you will arrive at the starting point and begin a short 5 min trek to the first waterfall. The second waterfall is about a 20 min. walk, but well worth it! After visiting the falls, your private guide and driver will take you to Engenho D’ouro cachaça distillery (cachaça is a spirit made in Brazil) where the mill is still powered by a waterwheel. The cachaça is made from the local sugar cane field, harvested, naturally fermented and finally distilled, and stored in oak barrels. After tasting the homemade cachaça, continue to lunch at the restaurant Le Gite, which has an on-site waterfall that you can swim in before or after lunch (as long as you haven’t had too much cachaça). After lunch, you will return to Paraty with a stop at another local-favorite seaside cachaça distillery.

Overnight Literaria or Turquesa

Meals B

Days7

bike tour sao paulo

Day7

Paraty to São Paulo

Today you will meet your english-speaking driver at the hotel lobby for a ~4 hr. private transfer to your hotel in São Paulo.

Overnight Tivoli Mofarrej Sao Paulo, Fasano Sao Paulo, Oetker Sao Paulo

Meals B

Day8

beco do batman brazil

Day8

Signature São Paulo Tour

Today your english-speaking guide takes your to the city center to visit important sites such as Patio do Colégio, BOVESPA (the most important stock exchange in Latin America), the Municipal Theatre, and others. Afterwards, you will head to Trianon Park, a little tropical oasis next to Paulista Avenue and visit the MASP (Sao Paolo Museum of Art) a building easily recognized by its suspended glass structure supported by two red paralleled beams. From there, you will head to Ibirapuera Park to explore the lush tropical gardens and visit the MAC (contemporary Art Museum). To end the day, your guide will take you to Vila Madalena, famously known as the “Beco do Batman Alley” where you will find amazing street graffiti, contemporary art galleries and charming shops, cafes, and food stops.

Overnight Tivoli Mofarrej Sao Paulo, Fasano Sao Paulo, Oetker Sao Paulo

Meals B

Day9

Pantanal Birds

Day9

Flight from São Paulo to Pantanal; Onward to Caiman Ecological Refuge

At the arranged time, meet your driver at your São Paulo hotel’s lobby for a private transfer to the São Paulo airport. From here, you will catch your flight to Campo Grande Airport. Upon arrival in Pantanal, meet your english-speaking driver at the arrival’s lounge of the airport for a 3.5 hr. private transfer to Caiman Ecological Refuge (if you prefer to get there faster, we can arrange a private, small plane for an additional cost).

Pantanal is a unique wildlife gem that compares to Galapagos Islands in the sense that animals are fearless of human interaction. That being said, there are many opportunities for animal sightings here from the jaguar to the blue macaw that won’t disappoint. This region is the true safari area of the continent of South America, so get ready to disconnect from the city and reconnect with nature in southern Brazil’s ecological treasure.

Overnight Caiman Ecological Refuge)

Meals B,D

Day10-11

caiman brazil

Day10-11

Caiman Ecological Refuge Activities

Caiman Ecological Refuge is the first ecotourism operation in Pantanal, part of the Mato Grosso do Sul state in Brazil. This property sits on a vast 53 thousand hectare cattle farm and houses three independent lodges in different architectural and décor styles. Accessible by car all year round and by far the most luxurious hotel option in the Pantanal (although still rustic), Caiman boasts well qualified guides and services with all with the basic perks of a top-end country hotel. Some lodges may be rented out exclusively which is ideal for a family or group of friends, making it perfect for VIPs in addition to the fact that we can add private guides, vehicles and chefs for your group.

Enjoy these two days at leisure and partake in the activities/excursions offered by Caiman Ecological Refuge:

  • Photography

  • Safari

  • Walking tour

  • Canadian Canoe tour

  • Night Safari

  • Jeep Safari (4×4 car)

  • Caiman tour

Overnight Caiman Ecological Refuge

Meals B,L,D

Day12

best places to visit in pantanal brazil

Day12

Return Flight Home

At a previously scheduled time, meet your driver at the Caiman Refuge hotel lobby for a 3.5 hr. drive back to Campo Grande Airport (or we can arrange a small plane for an additional cost) then  board your domestic flight to Rio de Janeiro or São Paulo, depending on the airport for your international flight home.

Meals B

IMPORTANT: We reserve the right to omit any part of this itinerary, to change the order of the places visited, or to alter reservations without prior notice due to weather conditions or road closures, safety concerns, national park policies, or other outside forces that may necessitate revisions to the itinerary. These decisions are based on the traveler’s welfare or are made in the interest of conservation. Please travel with an open mind and a willingness to embrace the spontaneity of your adventure.

Overnight The Singular Santiago

Meals B

What Goes into Making the World’s Most Expensive Chocolate?

A few years ago while seeking out the most rare and unique experiences we can offer in Ecuador, I was invited to a chocolate tasting class in Cumbayá. This small mountain town is booming with inspired startups and modern expressions of the culture, like an Ecuadorian Williamsburg right outside of Quito.

cumbayá ecuador

Galapagos Safari Camp x To’ak Chocolate

Our excursion hosts at Galapagos Safari Camp took our group to their headquarters in Cumbayá and introduced us to the makers of To’ak Chocolate. GSC partnered with them to make the first ever Galapagos-sourced chocolate, so they provided us with a presentation of their product to explain what magic goes into the making of a $260 bar – perhaps the world’s priciest chocolate. This was not my first rodeo enjoying fine chocolate and my interest was piqued.

“Why would anyone pay that much money for a candy bar?”

chocolate tasting in ecuador

Elevating the Chocolate Tasting Experience

To’ak Chocolate’s mission statement is:

“Transforming the way the world experiences dark chocolate, elevating its making and tasting onto the level of vintage wine and aged whiskey.”

The presentation pace was designed at such a delectable rhythm as to pull you out of time and space as they wrap you fully in their journey and carefully, richly draw your taste buds into a full palette flavor. I quickly began to realize that I was in for a real treat.

Co-Founder Carl Schweizer told us that they began To’ak “to preserve a seriously endangered cacao species.” All of the cacao we consume has been rapidly produced at a rate that has caused different breeds of species to combine and form hybrids. It is incredibly rare to find a pure cacao tree, but Carl and the To’ak team managed to find this rare, purebred cacao species before it became extinct.

Finding the Ecuadorian Nacional Cacao

They searched far and wide throughout the cloud forests of Ecuador, going village to village in search of this tree. After a long exploration, they finally found Piedra de Plata, a remote land region in the cloud forest, seemingly disconnected from the rest of the country until the 1990’s. The Nacional cacao tree had been preserved by the locals; some of the trees were 100 years old when they discovered them. DNA analysis confirmed the tree’s pure genetics, allowing this small region to become To’ak’s source of divine history and opportunity. Of course, making sure that the locals benefit from this historic finding as well.

A Rare Experience for Your Taste Buds

Tasting the chocolate is an enlightening experience in itself. We first tried the raw cacao bean and tasted the shell. As expected, not much flavor, but certainly had a strange smokey-dry taste. Next, we tried their dark chocolate bar with absolutely no additives. Making sure to appreciate the unique aroma first, I took a bite and chased it with some of the most amazing Caribbean dark rum I had ever tried. This combination was quite an adventure for my taste buds, and I am confident that I will never taste anything like it.

The First Ever Single Origin Chocolate Bar from Galapagos

At that time, Galapagos Safari Camp was helping To’ak source the first ever Galapagos-based chocolate bar, but it had not been released yet. Fast-forward to now, this signature bar has officially been released and will be available to purchase online in the new year. This is the first single-origin chocolate ever produced from the unique region of Galapagos Islands. Thanks for the wonderful efforts Galapagos Safari Camp & To’ak, we are proud to work with those who preserve Ecuador’s environment and pave the way for sustainable tourism. 

If you are interested in trying To’ak chocolate before visiting us in Ecuador & Galapagos, check out https://toakchocolate.com  and order yours today!

The First Ever Single Origin Chocolate Bar from Galapagos

When planning your dream journey to Ecuador with Latin Excursions, ask us about staying at the Galapagos Safari Camp and incorporating this chocolate tasting experience into your itinerary. Although, instead of having the tasting at the Safari Camp’s office in Cumbayá, we will arrange it at the Guayasamín Foundation Museum – the former residence of Oswaldo Guayasamín, one of the most famous Ecuadorian artists, who died in 1999. As one can imagine, this house has a stunning gallery and a terrace overlooking Quito’s valley.

Fundacion Guayasamin

Awasi Iguazu

awasi iguazu is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in argentina

discover all of our argentina journeys

Welcome to Awasi Iguazu, a characterful, five-star boutique lodge in the Iguazu National Park, enveloped by lush jungle and just moments from the falls themselves. As a Relais & Chateaux favorite, this unique eco-lodge is recognized around the world as one of Argentina’s best luxury hotels. Awasi Iguazu has an enviable reputation; one which is well deserved.

YOUR OWN PRIVATE JUNGLE VILLA & POOL

With only a handful of private villas, all boasting their own rainforest-view plunge pools, deep soak bathtubs and lounge areas, you are all but guaranteed an intimate and supremely comfortable experience of Iguazu Falls while here, in the lap of luxury too. Those villas are in fact exquisite, both homely and unique while the award-winning cuisine is always seasonal, mostly grown onsite and presented to true fine dining effect. Then, with a long list of private excursions, personal guiding, exclusive 4×4 use and access to the wonderfully biodiverse Iguazu National Park, Awasi Iguazu really is hard to beat.

EXPERIENCE IGUAZU NATIONAL PARK IN DEPTH

The Iguazu Falls are undoubtedly one of the great natural wonders of the world, so to experience them with absolute ease and in such different ways, with the help of your private Awasi guide, is a privilege indeed. What’s more, in addition to the boat trips, nature trails and lookouts which surround the main falls, you’ll have our expert knowledge and exclusive access to much more. From off road drives to kayaking tours, birdwatching walks to remote wildlife hikes, see the best of this extraordinary and lesser visited national park during your stay at Awasi Iguazu.

AWARD-WINNING GASTRONOMY

As if your private plunge pool, luxurious terrace and irresistible villa were not enough, Awasi Iguazu also provides one of the ultimate gastronomic experiences at its world-class onsite restaurant too. Here, kaleidoscopic plates of seasonal produce, much of which is grown in the Awasi kitchen garden, are turned into fine dining masterpieces, presented like mini works of art each evening with flavor combinations to match.

Ideal forCouples seeking an exclusive, private and romantic stay near Iguazu Falls, though children over the age of 10 are welcome.

awasi iguazu is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in argentina

discover all of our argentina journeys

highlights

  • A private plunge pool for every villa
  • Mouth-watering cuisine served each day
  • A personal guide and access to the Iguazu National Park throughout your stay
  • Complete immersion into the rainforest, with lush trees and abundant wildlife all around

rooms

  • Villa: king or twin beds, 1,075sq ft floorplan, private plunge pool and furnished terrace; jungle views. Deep soak bathtub and comfortable lounge area as standard, air conditioning and mini bar
  • Master Villa: Two bedrooms with either 1 king bed each or 1 king and 1 twin setup, 1,5000sq ft floorplan, huge terrace, lounge area and kitchenette, air conditioning and minibar

services

  • Room Service
  • Onsite Bar + Restaurant
  • Private 4x4 use
  • Private guide and activities
  • Transfers included
  • Complimentary canoes and bicycles
  • Wi-Fi
  • National Park Entry
  • Parking Available

Insider Access Experiences from San Cristobal in Galapagos Islands

Latin Excursions: A Team of Galapagos Passionates

Planning a journey to Galapagos Islands is not a simple task. With the amount of information on the internet and nearly a dozen islands to choose from, it can quickly become overwhelming. At Latin Excursions, our trip designers will help you through every step of planning your dream journey to Darwin’s Archipelago. Our team is constantly doing site visits and meeting directly with the boat owners, property owners, guides and drivers to guarantee quality service from start to finish. We’re also on the hunt to find the most rare and unique experiences in Galapagos Islands.

What better place to do so than Galapagos Islands, where our Founder Eric Sheets first visited at the young age of 14 and later inspired him to create Latin Excursions. Twenty years later, Eric is still utilizing his passion of seeking out these unmapped experiences to share with the world. That’s exactly why we are excited to share with you a true gem of an experience that we’ve discovered on San Cristobal Island in Galapagos.

Experiences Only Available When Staying at Villa Galapagos 4

Before we begin listing these new adventure activities that we’ve discovered, it’s important to note that they are specifically designed for those staying at Villa Galapagos 4. If you haven’t already, check out Villa Galapagos 4 of our private Galapagos Villa Collection. Here, three neighboring oceanside Villas all with their own heated pool and jacuzzi await your arrival. This property is much more than a villa, they offer incredible adventure opportunities for snorkeling, scuba diving, free diving, catch & release fishing, surfing, and hiking all beginning and ending at your private villa! Allow us to visually break them down for you in this blog.

Surfing Galapagos Islands — San Cristobal

Surfing at Galapagos Islands is a unique adventure opportunity, to say the least. We invite you and your group to come stay at Villa Galapagos 4 of our private collection, where we provide travelers the opportunity to ride some of the best waves in the world. The only thing you will have to worry about is sharing your waves with friendly dolphins and sea lions!

Scuba Dive Kicker Rock

Scuba diving at Kicker Rock is a popular excursion especially for divers who want to scuba dive with schools of hammerhead sharks, without having to participate in a scuba diving liveaboard to visit Darwin & Wolf Islands. The main advantages of scuba diving Kicker Rock while staying at Villa Galapagos 4 is the strategic location, exclusivity (you and your group will be with a private guide and captain on your own boat), and the quality of service. Our diving guides are all highly trained and will make sure to follow the safest protocols and take you to the absolute best areas to view wildlife. This is a diving experience that will leave you wanting to come back for more!

Snorkel & Explore Isla Lobos

Isla Lobos is a tiny islet off the west coast of San Cristobal Island. If you are seeking to swim with as many playful sea lions as possible, make sure to ask us about this tour when we are helping you plan your dream journey to Galapagos Islands at Villa Galapagos 4.

Hike & Snorkel Tijeretas Hill in Galapagos Islands

Tijeretas Hill is located on San Cristobal Island and is only a 45 minute from the center of Puerto Boquerizo Moreno. Great for a fun hike with beautiful views, or a snorkeling adventure in the cove below with playful sea lions and sea turtles.

Scuba Dive a World War I Ship Wreck

Galapagos Islands is known for its magnificent marine and terrestrial biodiversity. Travelers from around the world visit Galapagos to scuba dive, snorkel, and enjoy nature. This unique diving experience features the Caragua Ship from World War I that was sunken over 100 years ago. It is one of the only shipwreck dives in the archipelago!

Eco Fishing Experience

Our Catch and Release fishing program from Villa Galapagos 4 helps support the local residents of the island by providing them with work outside of commercial fishing and allowing them to teach the best practices to travelers who are seeking this extraordinary experience.

Snorkel & Free Dive Punta Pitt

Punta Pitt is located on the northeast side of San Cristobal Island and is known for its fantastic volcano peaks. On this experience, we will take you there by boat for excellent scuba diving, snorkeling, or free diving in the waters beneath the island peaks.

Villa Galapagos 4 – San Cristobal

villa galapagos 4 preferred hotels when travelling in galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

Galapagos is a magical destination full of adventure opportunities to explore in one of the world’s most ecologically protected marine environments. We invite you to come see it for yourself at Villa Galapagos 4 on San Cristobal Island for a completely private stay with you and your group in a contemporary-style oceanside home.

Private Island-Based Stay for Groups

Villa Galapagos 4 consists of the best three beachfront villas in Ecuador. Ideal for those coming off a small ship cruise or those looking for a comfortable, exclusive stay on land before boarding a private yacht or catamaran. Also, you can visit Galapagos Islands via Villa Galapagos 4 on Isla San Cristobal for the entire duration of your trip if you and your group don’t prefer sleeping on a boat. Choose one three villas – the Santa Maria, La Pinta, & La Nina, all sleeping at least 12 adults and children.

Boating Options from Villa Galapagos 4

You can come off one of the multiple Galapagos Islands shared boat options (that we have vetted) or even charter one of our recommended boats. A new one to consider is the M/C Elite.

If you would like to charter a boat for the day only from Isla San Cristobal we have options beginning at $2,500 per day for the entire boat. Includes pick-up/drop-off at a dock walking distance to Villa Galapagos 4, snacks, drinks, lunch, snorkel gear, naturalist guide, and visits to nearby islands/beaches.

Insider Access to Rare Experiences from Villa Galapagos 4

We have partnered with local guides who know the region like the back of their hand and live to share their passion of the natural beauty of these islands. Our company vision is supporting local guides and teams since we are big believers and contributors in sustainable travel in this destination. If you are into snorkeling and scuba diving, we will take you to the most exciting spots for a truly unrivaled underwater experience.

To learn more about the unique and rare adventure experiences offered from Villa Galapagos 4, check out our new blog page: Insider Access Experiences in Galapagos Islands from San Cristobal

Ideal forFamilies and private groups, either active travelers or nature enthusiasts who prefer to travel in style.

villa galapagos 4 is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

highlights

  • Private house
  • Amazing views and amenities
  • Private chef - unforgettable culinary experience
  • Private Adventure Experiences you can't find anywhere else
  • Each house has a private heated pool and jacuzzi

rooms

La Niña:
The smallest of the three houses at Villa GPS 4, this accommodation can sleep up to 12 guests in four bedrooms, each with a private bathroom (2 of the rooms have bunk beds).
La Pinta:
Sleeping up to 16 guests in five bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, La Pinta is the second biggest house at Villa GPS 4.
Santa Maria:
The biggest house of the three at Villa GPS 4, this superb accommodation comfortably sleeps up to 18 guests in five bedrooms, each with a private bathroom, and three of which with a magnificent ocean view.

services

  • All meals with private chef
  • Wi-Fi
  • Private transfers to/from airport
  • Household & cleaning services
  • Option to add snorkeling, surfing, or scuba diving excursions
  • Panoramic heated pool
  • Jacuzzi
  • Outdoor BBQ pit
  • Laundry Room
  • White Sand Beach On Site
  • >

Why Travel to Panama in 2020?

Panama, a land where the past and present intertwine magnificently. From remote beaches where howler monkeys wake you up with the rising sun, to historic neighborhoods that have unique cuisine on every corner, this destination has something to offer for everyone. High Season (with hot & sunny days) is from December- April, and availability at the best lodges become slim months in advance. Green Season refers to May-November when you’ll have higher humidity and rain. Pack your bags and get ready to visit Panama in 2020!

Travel to Panama

Insider’s Guide to Panama:

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New Extraordinary Journeys & Quick Escapes

We are continually seeking out the best unique and rare experiences to offer our travelers. Last June, I visited Panama to see what is new and happening for the 2020 Green Season. Since returning, our expert team of Trip Designers has created and updated our favorite Extraordinary Journeys & Quick Escapes. If you find yourself wanting to visit Panama and don’t have a week of time to spare, look no further than our option of a long weekend to Panama City.

Our Insider’s Journey Panama: City, Canal, and Wildlife is a great start for anyone who is interested in discovering more about the Panama Canal, but also wants a taste of adventure and history in a span of 5 days total. Learn about the fascinating Fort San Lorenzo in Colon, a major Spanish fort and now UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visit Soberania National Park a 55,000 acre area of protected rain forest where over 525 different species of birds have been identified. End the tour with a VIP tour of the Panama Canal. Discover the Frank Gehry Biodiversity Museum located at the entrance of the Panama canal. Prepare for the journey of a lifetime in a city that keeps the world functioning properly.

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Explore San Blas by Catamaran

The San Blas Islands are one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets. With little infrastructure on the islands and respect for the local indigenous Caribbean communities who inhabit the islands, travel to this destination can be quite difficult. That is why we have designed a Pirates of the Caribbean-type journey for you (also great for families) on our Panama’s Caribbean by Catamaran Extroardinary Journey. What better way to explore remote white-sand islands and turquoise Caribbean water than sailing the Dutch or Lemon keys? Our 40 ft. Catamaran can comfortably sleep 8 people and we include a chef, captain, and guide. Kayaks, snorkeling, fishing gear, non-alcholic refreshments and other activity gear are included.

Catamaran tours Panama

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Sail from Panama City to Cartagena

If you’re a fan of sailing and would like to explore further than the San Blas Islands, our sailing crew can guide you all the way to Cartagena, Colombia. This crossing takes approximately 36 hours depending on wind conditions. It’s important to note that from the months for December – May you will have to sail from Cartagena to Panama, and vise-versa for the months of June – November. An amazing experience for a honeymoon, group of adventurous friends, families, or multiple couples traveling together.

Rosario Islands Cartagena day trips

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Multi-Destination Travel Planning

Similar to sailing from Panama to Cartagena, we are able to include multiple destinations into one itinerary and organize all of the logistics to make it operate with ease from the moment you land to the moment you return home. For those traveling from the United States or Canada, Panama is a convenient stopping point. If visiting Patagonia is on your bucket list along with Panama, simply tell one of our trip designers and they will connect the two countries for you in the most logistically-sound way.

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El Otro Lado in Portobelo

Before or after sailing San Blas, we encourage travelers to spend at least 3 nights at El Otro Lado in Portobelo, Panama for a few reasons. First is easy accessibility, our Catamaran can pick you up or drop you off from their entry. The property is located across from Portobelo town, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site for it’s unique Congo culture, so it’s most easily accessible by boat and no roads actually lead to the property from the town.

Sailing in Panama

El Otro Lado is a true passion project and a cultural-gem thanks to excellent management from a group of owners who care to preserve it. Hundreds of years ago, Portobelo was a major port town for the Spanish where they would fill their ships with gold from the Aztec and Inca to bring back to Europe. This high demand brought slavery to Panama, and since being abolished, Portobelo is now a vibrant small town full of Caribbean music and dance. Our walking tour in Portobelo features a visit to a local music school where the children practice the drumming music of their ancient ancestors, and if you are lucky, you might be able to jump in a jam fest!

Portobelo, Panama

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Panama in Style – From Caribbean to the Pacific and Beyond

If you are looking to spend 9 days discovering the best of Panama, look no further. Our classic Panama In Style Extraordinary Journey offers the best of both worlds – unique cultural & historical experiences, along with adventure and barefoot luxury. Start by landing in Panama City and begin a day of discovery from the American Trade Hotel in the Casco Viejo neighborhood, another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Later on, visit the Miraflores Locks Museum and watch massive ships cross the canal, then continue to visit the native Embera tribe before relaxing in the cool highlands of Boquete. Here expect fun experiences like partaking in a cheese making class at an organic farm and taste some of the world’s best coffee at a plantation owned by locals. Last but certainly not least, you will end this journey at wonderful Isla Palenque.

Panama City Adventures

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Isla Palenque

Recently, Isla Palenque was announced “A Unique Lodge of the World” by National Geographic, Isla Palenque, is a private island resort on 400 acres adjacent to the Gulf of Chiriquí Marine Reserve. This luxury eco-resort offers a sophisticated hideaway for guests to relish endless opportunities for both adventure and relaxation. Dine on contemporary cuisine reminiscent of Panama’s cocina tipica. Rest in lavish rooms inspired by island life. Indulge in the soothing sounds of nature at this revered resort that quite literally means “sanctuary.” Take advantage of the 6-bedroom beachside villa estate, great for families or groups of friends traveling together. Who wouldn’t want to relax by this pool with Pacific views and fruquent wildlife visitors such as howler monkeys and sloths?

Your Travel Experience is Our Passion

At Latin Excursions, we have a team of travel designers, visionaries, and operations specialist who truly care about creating memorable experiences for you and getting you ready to travel to Panama. Our goal is to make travel meaningful and fun, so that you come home feeling inspired by the people and places you visited. Whether you want a quick escape to simply relax on a remote island in a beach side casita, or want to dance the night away in the Caribbean with a local Afro-drum circle and end the night in an astonishing ocean/pool-side villa, we have you covered for Panama. Contact us to begin planning your dream journey.

Portobelo Street Art Tour

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.

Insider’s Journey Panama: City, Canal, and Wildlife

From completing the Panama Canal after the French could not continue due to engineering issues and high mortality rates of workers, to helping Panama gain their independence from Colombia, the United States presence in Panama has helped the way we see this country today. Our Insider’s Tour of Panama City takes you through a journey where the past and present intertwine magnificently. Hike Ancon Hill for 360º views of the city and canal, explore historic buildings in Casco Viejo, take an insider’s look at the Miraflores Museum and locks, discover the surrounding rain forest, and take the original Transisthmian train to explore San Lorenzo fort – a fortress built in 1598 by the Spaniards to protect the Chagres River from pirate attacks. All this and more organized into 5 days of rare adventure for a quick escape in Panama.

Visit our Panama Page
to learn a bit about Panama

Itinerary

Day1

Travel Programs Panama City

Day1

Arrive Panama City, Panama

Welcome to Panama! Your private driver will be awaiting your arrival holding a Latin Excursions sign with your last name on it. Continue to the American Trade Hotel for check-in and a night of rest to prepare for you Insider’s Tour of Panama City.

Overnight American Trade Hotel

Meals None

Days2

Miraflores Locks Panama City Tours

Days2

Explore Panama City and The Canal

Begin the day by hiking 200 meters above sea level on Cerro Ancon (Ancon Hill), for a picturesque view of the entire city. Your private guide will explain the historical importance of this unique geographic location and how it allowed the Spanish to invade the Americas further. Continue to the local famous fish market for a ceviche tasting at lunch, and onward to the Casco Viejo neighborhood, a UNESCO World Heritage site founded by the Spaniards in 1673 after the First City of Panama was destroyed, for a privately guided walking tour. Finally, end your full day Panama City Tour at Miraflores Locks of the Panama canal featuring a tour of the Museum and locks to learn the history of this magnificent architectural wonder.

Overnight American Trade Hotel

Meals B,L

Day3

Rain Forest Tour Panama

Day3

Panama Jungle Adventures

Explore beyond Panama City today by visiting the nearby Soberania National Park a 55,000 acre area of protected rain forest where over 525 different species of birds have been identified. When you arrive, your guide will lead you through nature trail to sport howler monkeys, sloths, anteaters, white-faced capuchin monkeys and coatis. If you’re up to it, climb the 40 meter observation tower for a better view of the toucans and famous blue cotinga. After a picnic lunch at the park, continue to Gatun Lake to explore Barro Colorado Island via boat, a nature reserve protected by the U.S. Government since 1923 and one of the most important scientific research regions in the world.

Overnight American Trade Hotel

Meals B,L

Day4

Panama by Train

Day4

Transisthmian Train & Ghery Museum

Travel to the City of Colon on Panama’s Caribbean Coast today via the Transisthmian Train. Built in 1850 to transport goods from ocean to ocean, this railway vehicle eventually went bankrupt in 1877, and was revamped in 1999. Since then, it has improved canal logistics by transporting people and supplies from coast-to-coast efficiently. Upon arrival in Colon (train ride 1 hr.) your guide will help you to your private transfer for a 30 minute ride to San Lorenzo Fort, a fortress built by the Spanish (now a UNESCO World Heritage Site) to combat pirates from entering the Chagres River.

After exploring the fort, return to Panama City via private transfer and stop for lunch at a local-favorite restaurant along the way. Top the day off with a private insider-access tour of the Frank Gehry Biodiversity Museum located at the entrance of the Panama canal. Here, you will learn about the art and science that has influenced Panama and the country’s impact on our planet’s unique biodiversity.

Overnight American Trade Hotel

Meals B,L

Day5

Panama Hat Tours

Day5

Return to Panama City / End of Tour

Depending on the time of your flight, return via boat across the channel to Portobelo town where a private transfer will take you to the Panama City International Airpot for your return flight home, or extend your journey within Panama or other countries in the region.

Meals B

IMPORTANT: The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.

Overnight The Singular Santiago

Meals B

Panama’s Caribbean by Catamaran

Panama, a destination where the past and present are beautifully intertwined, offers a delightful combination of history, culture, and adventure experiences that you can pack into one week. On this family-friendly Catamaran adventure tour, we invite you to explore the region where English Naval Officer Sir Francis Drake (or El Draque the Pirate as the Spanish called him) blasted his way into Panama to disrupt the Spanish conquistadors search of gold. Starting in Panama City, you will begin with a tour of Old Town for an introduction to the country. The following day, begin your San Blas Catamaran tour for 2 nights until reaching Portobelo. In 1502, this town became the main point of trade for Spaniard ships between Europe and Central and South America who were gathering gold from the Incas and Aztecs as well as trading slaves. After a week of exploring the Caribbean and Panama City, you will have bragging rights for life to be able to say you sailed one of the original entry points to the new world, like the original Pirates of the Caribbean!

Visit our Panama Page
to learn a bit about Panama

Itinerary

Day1

walking tour casco viejo

Day1

Arrive Panama City, Panama

Upon arrival in Panama City, your private driver and guide will take you to La Concordia Hotel in Casco Viejo for lunch and a private walking tour of the lovely Caso Antiguo neighborhood with an expert, bilingual history guide. Explore multiple historic churches, street vendors filled with brightly colored textiles called molas, and plenty of vibrant colors all set along the Pacific Ocean.

Overnight La Concordia

Meals L

Days2-3

san blas catamaran tour

Days2-3

San Blas Catamaran Tour

After a delightful breakfast at La Concordia, continue via private ground transfer to El Porvenir or Albrook (depending on time of year) to board the Panama Catamaran for 2 nights of exploring the San Blas Archipelago. Lunch and dinner will be served on deck while you calmly sail along 300 islands with healthy coral reef formations.

The San Blas Archipelago, formerly known as “Guna Yala” is a remote region of the Caribbean due to its close proximity to the mainland and shallow water, making it difficult for large vessels to enter. Home to curious and colorful marine creatures such as dolphins, tropical fish, and sea turtles, this San Blas Catamaran tour will make you never want to leave these pristine paradisaical turquoise waters. Get ready for the Guna Yala’s way of life and a chance to disconnect from technology, only to reconnect with nature.

Overnight 40 ft. Catamaran Lagoon 400

Meals B,L,D

Day4

catamaran tours panama

Day4

Sailing from San Blas to Portobelo

After two days of sailing, this day will bring you back to land at one of America’s first Spanish port towns called Portobelo. Here, the Spaniards would trade slaves and gather the gold collected from the Aztecs and Inca before returning to their motherland. Word quickly spread about this small port town and the amount of gold coming through it, so that brought pirates from all over Europe.

The catamaran will drop you off at El Otro Lado, a hotel designed as a “passion project” allowing travelers from around the globe to experience true Portobelo. One of the most unique aspects of staying at this property is that they only hire locals and are focused on protecting the local Congo culture. This evening after dinner, students from a local school in Portobelo will do a Congo Dancing & Drum Performance. 

Overnight El Otro Lado

Meals B,L,D

Day5

Portobelo adventure tour

Day5

Explore Portobelo

This morning you can choose to relax at El Otro Lado and utilize the complimentary stand-up paddleboards, kayaks, pool, two nature trails, or simply read a book in a hammock. If none of those fancy your style then join an interactive art workshop with EOL’s local in-house artist, Anel! Later this morning, board a boat to explore Portobelo Bay and the Rustic Beach where a picnic lunch will be served (weather conditions may vary experiences for this day).

Overnight El Otro Lado

Meals B,L,D

Day6

CANOA EMBERA

Day6

Explore Gatun Lake by Boat & Visit Local Embera Tribe

Today will be a delightful, yet bizarre, change of scenery to Gatun Lake. At one point in time, it was the largest artificial lake in the world and is the reason that the Panama canal can operate to this day. You will board a pontoon boat equipped with kayaks, fishing gear, and birding gear for a day of exploration and scenic navigation. Surrounded by the flourishing rain forest, you can expect to observe and hear a great deal of tropical birds, monkeys, crocodiles, and other exotic animals.

Part of this navigation includes a visit to the Embera Village and community where an indigenous tribe lives and practices their original way of life. It is a promising, life-changing experience to witness for yourself! Afterwards, you will return to El Otro Lado for a final evening in cultural paradise, only to rise to the sound of howler monkeys in the distance.

Overnight El Otro Lado

Meals B,L, D

Day7

unique tours panama

Day7

Return to Panama City / End of Tour

Depending on the time of your flight, return via boat across the channel to Portobelo town where a private transfer will take you to the Panama City International Airpot for your return flight home, or extend your journey within Panama or other countries in the region.

Meals B

IMPORTANT: The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.

Overnight The Singular Santiago

Meals B

Elite Galapagos Mega Catamaran

The M/C Galapagos Elite is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruising the galapagos

The award-winning Galapagos Elite offers a nicely grown-up, suitably stylish option for your luxury Galapagos cruise. With only eight cabins, this is one of the most exclusive Galapagos vessels around—and it really feels it once onboard. In fact, even from the outside with its bright white and golden hull, there is no doubting the Galapagos Elite’s boutique credentials; you simply won’t see a better looking catamaran cruising through the archipelago. Inside, the story continues, as the observation deck, surrounding daybeds and outdoor Jacuzzi are all first-class, contemporary and sleek, more like a private luxury yacht than a Galapagos cruise vessel. The Galapagos Elite also shines when it comes to the cabins and suites, each of which enjoys a wall of glass and French windows, a private balcony, king-size (or twin) beds and a sparkling en suite bathroom with a rain shower and marble sinks too. Add in a lounge bar, fine restaurant and routes which take in the best of the Galapagos’ western, central or eastern islands, and the Elite speaks for itself.

BOUTIQUE GALAPAGOS CATAMARAN

If you’re looking for a small, boutique Galapagos vessel that enjoys all the major highlights, wildlife, snorkeling and on-land tours whilst in a contemporary-cool, sophisticated setting, then the Galapagos Elite is a great bet. Its lesser passenger numbers mean that each tour feels a little more intimate, and when you do want a quiet moment to simply sit on-deck and admire the majesty of this beautiful place, it’s easily done. Whether in the privacy of your cabin and balcony or up on one of two plush observation areas, perhaps from your sunbed or the Jacuzzi, moments of appreciation for these blissful surrounds go hand-in-hand with time spent aboard the Galapagos Elite. The décor is also something special, high-end and minimalist, though subtle and certainly not out of place in such a special natural environment.

LARGE CABINS AND SUITES

Another major draw of booking a tour with the Galapagos Elite is the size of their cabins and suites, with all but the one single cabin measuring nearly 400sq ft in size, which includes a super spacious bathroom and walk-in rain shower, plus your private furnished balcony too. Then with a wall of glass (providing lots of natural light) and color scheme of white, chrome and blonde wood, that sense of space is amplified even further within each cabin—which can only ever enhance both your day-to-day comfort and overall enjoyment of this, a once-in-a-lifetime Galapagos cruise with the Elite.

Ideal forCouples looking for a boutique luxury catamaran tour, of families/small groups who would like a private, luxury Galapagos mega catamaran experience

M/C Galapagos Elite is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruises in the galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

2019 Per Person USD Rates 4D/3N 5D/4N 7D/6N 11D/10N 12D/11N 14D/13N
Golden Suites $3,590 $4,650 $7,450 $10,245 $11,180 $13,970
Charter $53,650 $69,420 $111,220 $152,995 $166,895 $208,565

Additional rates available along with holiday rates and single supplement; contact us for details. Prices are subject to change at time of booking.

Capacity:
16
Number of Cabins:
8
Facilities:
Lounge bar and restaurant, observation and sundeck with loungers and daybeds, a Jacuzzi, BBQ area, Wi-Fi, snorkeling equipment and sea kayaks
Length:
123ft
Speed:
12 knots
All cabins feature:
Panoramic windows and a private furnished balcony, one king-size or two twin beds, spacious en suite bathrooms with shower and marble tops, air-conditioning and power points
Food Serving Style:
All-Inclusive with Private Chefs
Dietary Accomodations Served on Board:
n/a
Drinks:
All non-alcoholic drinks included
Single Cabin Supplement:
yes
Children Discount:
yes
Guide Languages:
English/Spanish

Villa Galapagos 2

villa galapagos 2 preferred hotels when travelling in galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

If you’re looking to visit the Galapagos Islands as a family or small group, and are looking for something luxurious, boutique, private, well-equipped and just a little bit different, then the four-bedroom Villa Galapagos 2 in Puerto Ayora, near Santa Cruz’s Pelican Bay, is your answer. The entire self-sufficient complex is only available for exclusive bookings, meaning you’ll have the whole mansion and its Annex to yourselves. This includes an outdoor pool with furnished sun patios and a Jacuzzi, four bedrooms, multiple bathrooms, plus a fully-equipped kitchen and beautiful lounge area. We include a private chef at mealtimes and personal concierge when required – the only other company you’ll have while at Villa Galapagos 2 – besides the local unique wildlife species, of course!

UNIQUE GALAPAGOS ACCOMMODATION

Villa Galapagos 2 really is among the most unique luxury accommodation options available in the Galapagos Islands, as few can compare to the level of independence and five-star facilities that guests here have exclusive use of—not to mention views of Pelican Bay from your garden and being less than a mile from El Garrapatero Beach too. If you are travelling to the Galapagos with children or additional family members, you will also have use of the mansion’s Annex which comprises two further bedrooms and bathrooms. Truly perfect for kids to keep their own space, leaving adults to enjoy the rest of the villa each evening.

PRIVATE CHEF AND CONCIERGE

Another entirely irresistible aspect of booking a stay at Villa Galapagos 2 is the one-to-one service which comes with it. As such, on arrival you’ll be introduced to your own private chef who will curate meals and snacks to suit the tastes of your group throughout, as well as a personal concierge to take care of everything else, from organizing watersports equipment to ensuring the mansion is kept spotless with the help of maids and housekeepers. The attention to detail and standard of care taken really makes Villa Galapagos 2 stand out among the best luxury Galapagos accommodation choices for families, and the privacy helps no end too.

Ideal forGroups and families, as Villa Galapagos 2 is completely self-contained and can sleep up to 8 guests in The House plus a further 4 in the Annex.

villa galapagos 2 is one of our preferred villas when travelling in galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

highlights

  • Private pool, Jacuzzi and sun decks
  • Personal concierge and chef who will create bespoke in-villa meals to your tastes
  • Top location overlooking Pelican Bay
  • Fully-equipped to accommodate 12 people in absolute comfort

rooms

The House:
The House at Villa Galapagos 2 is beautifully adorned in beach-chic stylings, with lots of exposed wood and beams, walls of glass and white-washed walls, lending an added sense of space. Within, you’ll be treated to four bedrooms (2 king and 2 double); four bathrooms; a living room, dining area and kitchen across multiple floors and balconies on the upper level too. There is then an outdoor swimming pool and Jacuzzi, hammocks, a sun patio, sundeck and outdoor lounge space, sea views and a poolside bar.
The Annex:
The Annex is a comfortable addition for children or extra guests, offering a main bedroom with two double and two single beds, plus a bathroom and instant access to the rest of the villa’s grounds.

services

  • All meals included and tailored to taste (private chef and concierge)
  • Swimming pool and Jacuzzi
  • Furnished sundeck, hammocks, gardens and patio
  • Housekeeping
  • Airport lounge access
  • Laundry service
  • Wi-Fi and air-conditioning
  • Sea kayaks, snorkeling equipment, paddle boards, wetsuits and bicycles available
  • Meals included (alcoholic drinks will be extra)
  • Laundry service
  • Housekeeping

El Otro Lado

el otro lado is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in panama

discover all of our panama journeys

Spanning three generations of the Eleta Family, well known in Panama for their long patronage of Panamanian arts & culture and for the renowned photography of Sandra Eleta, El Otro Lado can be explained as “a passion project.” Offering a combination of wonderful casitas/rooms, smooth logistics, cultural immersion, breathtaking views of turquoise waters from a Rustic Beach Club, jungle vibes, and a staff that makes you feel right at home, you won’t find an accommodation like EOL anywhere else in the world. Whether you are planning on traveling with your family, significant other, or even a solo-journey, El Otro Lado is the place for you to unwind and experience a world where the past and present are beautifully intertwined.

UNESCO "Cultural Heritage of Humanity"

One of the most unexpected aspects of staying at El Otro Lado is your chance to immerse into an incredibly unique cultural setting with amazing people. This property is located in Portobelo, Panama, a major port where Spanish settlers entered the new world, and soon after had to protect themselves from pirates invading their territory. With Spanish settlement, came slavery and people primarily from the Congo. After slavery was abolished, Portobelo became a town full of music, dancing, bright clothes, fishing, religion, and much more. UNESCO wisely chose this culture as a Heritage of Humanity to be preserved and celebrated.

At El Otro Lado, you will find yourself dancing the night away with locals to the sounds of African-inspired drums, whistles, and clapping. We provide each traveler an opportunity to visit the town of Portobelo and attend a musical class with students, explore original Spanish forts with abandoned cannons overlooking the Caribbean, and to even enter the home of a family and church who will serve you freshly-picked coconuts and bananas AKA “guineos.” Soon you’ll find yourself dancing and singing “Coco y Guineo!”

Simple Logistics & Included Adventures

Getting to El Otro Lado from Panama City requires 1.5 hr transfer by vehicle and about a 7-minute boat ride from Casa Congo in Portobelo. There are no roads that lead to El Otro Lado, which makes this property that much more spectacular. A great way to make the most out of your journey to El Otro Lado is to stop by the Panama Canal and view the Miraflores Locks to learn the history of this bizarre human invention. Once you arrive at El Otro Lado, be prepared for as much, or as little, adventure as you are seeking. Activities we can include are: paddle boarding, kayaking, two jungle hikes through historic forts, art-making class, athletic training at “the jungle gym,” Congo dancing presentation, mojito making and hot sauce making class, plus more!

Private Travel to Panama

Check out the video below from our YouTube channel for an insider’s look of exploring El Otro Lado and Portobelo! Feel free reach out to us at info@latinexcursions.com/wpress2020 or give us a call to start planning your dream journey to Panama today!

Ideal fortravelers who desire a luxury adventure on a pristine jungle island in Panama's Gulf of Chiriqui

el otro lado is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in panama

discover all of our panama journeys

highlights

  • EOL is a passion project spanning three generations of the Eleta Family
  • Simple logistics make this an easy sell to get travelers to discover Panama beyond the City and Canal
  • The Afro-Caribbean Congo Culture - which was just recognized by UNESCO as an essential part of the “Cultural Heritage of Humanity” - is richly celebrated at the hotel and through drumming and dance performances in Portobelo
  • Lovers of interior design will enjoy the architectural details created by local artists
  • El Otro Lado is affiliated with the nonprofit Bahia Portobelo Foundation
  • Easily combines with other destinations in Panama or Central/South America
  • Excellent Paddleboarding

rooms

  • Casa Grande (Three Suites Total): Suite 2: King Bed + Loft (two twin beds), Suite 3: Two Double Beds + Loft (two twin beds), Suite 4: Two Double Beds
  • One-Bedroom Casitas: Forest House, Sea House & Sun House all overlooking the Caribbean
  • Two-Bedroom Casitas: Spirit House

services

  • Accommodation
  • All meals included
  • Local boat transfer
  • Wi-Fi
  • Rustic Beach Club
  • 2 Nature Trails on the property to explore
  • Unlimited Non-Alcoholic Drinks
  • Complimentary Mini-bar (alcoholic beverage not included)
  • Complimentary use of Kayaks, SUP's and snorkeling equipment

Stella Maris

The Stella Maris is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruising the galapagos

A supremely comfortable luxury Galapagos yacht, the Stella Maris is undoubtedly among the best boats around. Fully available for private charter, highly exclusive and very easy on the eye, this is a fine boutique vessel that squeezes a lot of mod-cons and amenities into its communal spaces and cabins alike, from iPod docks to a deluxe walk-in shower, complimentary stand-up paddle boards and a fantastic restaurant to boot. The result is a chic and luxurious Galapagos boat equipped with a Jacuzzi and kayaks that, although feels more grown up than most, is perfectly family-friendly too.

Fine Dining Onboard the Stella Maris

Of the many highlights during a Galapagos Island tour aboard the Stella Maris, their fantastic gourmet restaurant certainly stands out. Here, whether al fresco on the deck during sunset or inside the dining room itself, fine dining cuisine of fresh seafood, Ecuadorian-inspired dishes, locally sourced ingredients and a specialized menu for vegetarians can be savored, day after day throughout your cruise. Such a gastronomic experience goes a long way to making the whole experience entirely memorable, as changeable menus and paired wine–sometimes an outdoor BBQ just for fun–make returning to the Stella Maris after every day of wildlife excursions even more exciting.

Chic Décor and Design

Stella Maris’ distinctively fashionable décor and interior design can’t be overlooked either. Inside each cabin, for example, expect plush beds and thickset patterned rugs, cream and honeycomb hues plus modern en suite bathrooms complete with an inviting walk-in rain shower. Then, elsewhere around the ship it’s all white sofas, perfectly polished decking and dark wood sun loungers, not to mention a stylish bar area and dining room that would not look out of place in any top restaurant.

Ideal forCouples with children or teens, and anyone seeking pure Galapagos luxury on a private yacht.

Stella Maris is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruises in the galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

2019 USD Rates for Entire Yacht Charter
5D / 4N From $138,000

Additional rates available along with holiday rates and single supplement; contact us for details. Prices are subject to change at time of booking.

Capacity:
14
Number of Cabins:
7
Facilities:
Al fresco dining area, restaurant, 24-hour room service, bar, two sundecks, Jacuzzi, snorkeling and scuba diving equipment, kayaks, stand-up paddle boards
Length:
125 ft
Speed:
14 knots
All cabins feature:
iPod docking station, TV, DVD player, air-conditioning, en suite bathroom, walk-in rain shower, closet, Wi-Fi
Food Serving Style:
All-Inclusive with Private Chefs
Dietary Accomodations Served on Board:
n/a
Drinks:
All non-alcoholic drinks included
Single Cabin Supplement:
no
Children Discount:
no
Guide Languages:
English

Why Travel to Brazil in 2020?

Picture pristine rainforests teeming with life, long crescents of powdery sand lapped by cerulean seas, hypnotic dances in the streets of preserved colonial towns and the energetic buzz of lively barrios at night; this is just a snapshot of what a Brazilian vacation looks like. This vast South American nation has long attracted visitors from far and wide, thanks to its enticing mix of culture and scenery, but why travel to Brazil in 2020? From visa-free entry to exciting new hotel openings, here is the lowdown on why you should start planning a Brazil trip for 2020.

US Citizens Can Now Visit Brazil Visa-free

Rio de Janiero trips

Did you miss our recent blog announcing the New Visa Requirements for United States Citizens Visiting Brazil? Well, if not, on June 17, 2019, the Brazilian government lifted visa restrictions for American and Canadian tourists, meaning that visitors from the USA and Canada can now stay for up to 90 days a year in Brazil. Not only does this make Brazil trips in 2020 more convenient, but also pocket friendly, as you no longer need to pay to enter this amazing South American country. Previously, it would have costed you $160 to do so.

Strong Currency Exchange Rate

Brazil’s currency (the Real) goes real far now against the dollar making the exchange rate is better than it has been in the last decade. So, now that it’s become even easier to visit Brazil, you can discover a true South American gem and its myriad delights in 2020—visa-free while getting the most “bang for your buck!”

Explore Paraty and Ilha Grande: Brazil’s newly established UNESCO World Heritage Site

Ilha Grande Brazil

UNESCO have just announced (in July 2019) that the Brazilian town of Paraty and nearby Ilha Grande have been selected as new World Heritage Sites, an amazing accomplishment for this beautiful corner of southern Brazil. Recognizing the rich heritage and natural wealth of Paraty and Ilha Grande, UNESCO has established the region as a mixed culture and biodiversity site, which is the first ever in Brazil—other UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country are either designated as cultural or biodiverse separately, as opposed to being part of both categories at once. With this new UNESCO status, the region can look forward to greater economic support to help preserve its exceptional colonial architecture and beautiful natural sites, meaning that Paraty and Ilha Grande will hold on to its inimitable charm and picturesque scenery.

Discover Paraty

Paraty is a gorgeous little colonial town clutching the shores of Brazil’s southern coast, with cobbled lanes flanked by pretty pastel facades dating back to the 17th and 18th centuries. Spend the day exploring the main square and ornate churches around town while popping into artisan boutiques, galleries, and outdoor cafes along the way. We are not surprised that this top Brazilian destination has been given such highly prestigious status, considering it was here that gold was shipped over to Europe, having been mined in nearby Minas Gerais. You’ll definitely be able to see the distinctive Portuguese influence through the architecture and art of that era that still is vibrant to this day!

UNESCO World Heritage Site Paraty

Aside from the cultural and historical aspect of this region in Brazil, it has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site thanks to its natural beauty. Wedged between the verdant Serra da Bocaina Mountains and sparkling Atlantic Ocean, Paraty flaunts a breathtaking backdrop that is simply stunning to witness, as tree-carpeted peaks rise above pristine crescents of sand and islands flung offshore. It makes up part of the Brazilian Atlantic Forest, which is one of the top five biodiversity locations in the world, sheltering a vast array of species including Jaguars, Woolly Spider Monkeys and White-lipped Peccaries, all of which are sadly under threat.

While here on holiday, you can go island-hopping to any of the 65 islets rising above azure waters, take your pick from 200 beaches and go hiking through the Atlantic Forest. Best of all, Paraty and Ilha Grande are just a four-hour drive from bustling Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, making them even more irresistible to explore.

Rio de Janeiro: World Capital of Architecture 2020

Rio de Janeiro Architecture

Another recent announcement from UNESCO is that Rio de Janeiro—South America’s most iconic city—will be the World Capital of Architecture in 2020. The theme for the year will be ‘All the worlds. Just one world’, with the city being expected to tie in a variety of events and celebrations to this particular theme, so anyone with a passion for architecture and art should seriously consider visiting Rio in 2020.

The aim of this designation is to provide ‘an international forum for debates about pressing global challenges from the perspectives of culture, cultural heritage, urban planning and architecture.’ Throughout the year, Rio will undoubtedly showcase its distinctive architecture and unmistakable culture, while promoting exciting creative projects as well as one of the key goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: ‘Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.’

Festive Season Highlights and Options

If you’re looking for another excuse to hotfoot it to Brazil in 2020, and you’ve always wanted to catch the famous Carnival festival, be sure to visit between February 21 and 26 when the main celebrations take place. New year’s Eve is also a highlight of the summer with with lavish parties thrown all over the country. Copacabana in Rio de Janeiro is definitely the most popular destination to visit, but if you are looking for a more secluded celebration, try Trancoso: Brazil’s rustic chic paradise with a great New Year celebration in store. All this and more, can be relished on a 2020 Brazil tour with Latin Excursions.

Enjoy an insider’s view of Trancoso in the video below with drone footage captured recently when I brought my family to see my birthplace of Brazil!

New Direct Flights to Brazil

Although the USA is already well-linked to Brazilian airports, American Airlines and LATAM are looking to team up to provide new direct routes between South America and the USA. Americans are now able to travel from Miami to Belo Horizonte or Recife, and rumor has it that flights will soon be available from Austin and San Jose to São Paulo; so stay tuned…

New Hotels in Brazil for 2020

In 2020 you could also be among the first visitors at highly anticipated boutique hotels opening up around the country, from the city of Salvador to the Amazon Rainforest. Here’s our pick of the top new hotels in Brazil to check into in 2020:

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1) Fasano Salvador

Salvador Fasano

One of Salvador’s few truly luxurious offerings in the heart of Pelourinho, the city’s old town, is the new Fasano hotel which treads the perfect balance between grandeur and understated five-star standards. Discreet but impeccable service is at the heart of this esteemed hotel group, and their Salvador outpost is no different. But what is novel about this particular property is its exquisite heritage, owed to the 1930s building in which it is encased—the former headquarters of A Tarde, the newspaper, rising into the skyline above Castro Alves Square to afford views of All Saints Bay. In fact, the building is Cultural Heritage-listed, so a real privilege to stay in.

Many of the 70 rooms and suites provide views of the bay, while elsewhere in the Fasano Salvador you could take advantage of a rooftop pool and terrace, spa, gym and Italian restaurant; that is, when you’re not stepping out to explore the Pelourinho and all its delights

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2) Fasano Belo Horizonte and Trancoso

Fasano Belo Horizante

Though that’s not all from Fasano, as yet more hotel openings can be expected from this first-class group. One has just opened in Belo Horizonte, which is actually the city’s first ever five-star hotel, spotlighting the amazing cultural offerings of this lesser-known Brazilian town through its events venue, live jazz music in the bar and Italian cuisine courtesy of the Gero Belo Horizonte restaurant. 

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3) Anantara Maraú Bahia

Also studded on Brazil’s north-eastern coast in the state of Bahia is the new Anantara hotel, a gorgeous beach retreat set between Atlantic Forest and swathes of sun-kissed sand. Anantara is a highly reputable hotel brand with properties all over Asia and the Indian Ocean, but it is just about to establish its first resort in the Americas—the Anantara Maraú Bahia, Brazil—which will throw open its doors at the end of 2019.

A stay here promises access to the stunning beach; fabulous facilities including a pool, tennis courts, Anantara Spa and gym; activities like horse riding, surfing, deep sea fishing and diving; plus the chance to tuck in to exquisite Bahian cuisine or sip cocktails at the bar. In addition, while based at the Anantara Maraú Bahia, you can experience the local Afro-Brazilian culture too, discover hidden waterfalls or sail to secret islands; it’s going to be a game-changer.

Insider Access: Combine Remote Sand Dunes and Untouched Amazon

Take a brief visual journey of one of natures most exotic sand dune parks called Lencois National Park in the video below. This destination is a great place for family, couples or friends to explore in 2020. It’s truly one of the next great frontiers in travel in South America, and we can combine with a private yacht experience through an untouched region of the remote Amazon jungle!

Brazil Amazon yacht

Villa Galapagos 3

villa galapagos 3 preferred hotels when travelling in galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

With just three villas accommodating up to eight guests, nature trails and tortoise ponds, 42 acres of private highland reserve and even a kitchen garden to service their supreme restaurant, Villa Galapagos 3 are as intimate and stylish as they are idyllically placed and well-equipped, in one. No doubt about it, this is one of the most exclusive luxury lodges on Santa Cruz Island in the Galapagos Islands. Prepare your tastebuds because their chefs will prepare showstopping cuisine each evening, for that pricelessly personal touch.

A GREAT GALAPAGOS LODGE FOR FAMILIES

One of the perks of booking a room at Villa Galapagos 3 is that you benefit from a wonderful combination of independence—thanks to each private abode’s multi-room layout, terraces, kitchen and lounge area—yet also all the trappings of a luxury Galapagos lodge such as yoga classes, massage treatments and all of your lip-smacking gourmet cuisine already included. This means that not only do you benefit from sizeable rooms and separate spaces for the kids to hang out in, but with meals taken care of and plenty to keep everyone entertained onsite, all that’s left is to sit back and enjoy the wonders of the Galapagos Islands while here.

AN INTIMATE ECO-FRIENDLY GALAPAGOS EXPERIENCE

Being family-run and hosting just a tiny handful of guests, you are guaranteed an intimate Galapagos experience while staying at Villa Galapagos 3, whether wandering the onsite nature trails, getting to know your hosts or enjoying a homecooked meal. Though that’s not all, as on top of everything else, this boutique lodge is also extremely environmentally conscious, with its water supply sourced from rainfall, electricity from solar panels, organic produce grown onsite and many of the materials used for construction coming from sustainable sources on the island itself.

Ideal forFamilies, also perfectly ideal for couples but particularly suited to family groups, with two of the three villas able to accommodate 4 people, and the third easily sleeping up to 8.

villa galapagos 3 is one of our preferred hotels when travelling in galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

highlights

  • Exclusive Galapagos Lodge
  • Acres of private grounds and nature trails onsite
  • Gourmet restaurant and kitchen garden
  • Lovely views as well as easy access to the rest of the island

rooms

Villa Tortuga:
The largest of all villas at Montemar, Villa Tortuga enjoys a floorplan of nearly 3,000sq ft, including four bedrooms (one with en suite and private deck); multiple bathrooms and a tub; fully-equipped kitchen; living room and patio doors; a wood-fired oven, BBQ and yoga room. The décor within this villa is decidedly modern, all bamboo beams and teak wood floors, stone walls, wicker and soft tones throughout.
Villa Lechuza:
Smaller than Villa Tortuga (829sq ft) though with the same contemporary décor, Villa Lechuza is a great option if travelling as a group of 2, 3 or 4, as you still benefit from a private deck; en suite bathrooms; queen-size beds in two bedrooms and an open-plan kitchen and lounge area.
Villa Pinzon:
At 700sq ft Villa Pinzon is the smallest of the three and décor is a little more modest, though the villa is still very private and can sleep 4, as well as coming with a kitchen; living room; main bathroom and small outdoor space.

services

  • Restaurant + bar plus breakfast ingredients provided for your villa
  • Wi-Fi
  • Boat trips and island-hopping tours
  • Yoga studio and classes
  • Relaxation area and outdoor massage available
  • Onsite nature trails, tortoise ponds and a coffee plantation
  • Bathrobes, slippers, reusable water bottles, organic toilettes included
  • Beach bag, towels, rubber boots, umbrellas, rain jackets and flashlights available
  • Meals included (alcoholic drinks will be extra)
  • Laundry service
  • Housekeeping

Travel to Central America and Mexico with Latin Excursions

For the past 15 years, we at Latin Excursions have been providing exceptional travel services in South America. First, beginning in the Galapagos, then expanding throughout all of South America and into Panama. Although these destinations have been our primary offerings, we in fact have stellar programs throughout Central America and Mexico too!

Costa Rica Travel Experts

One of our Travel Designers, Susan, is based in Costa Rica and has lived there over ten years and traveled extensively though Central America. Our Travel Visionary, Gordon, lives there and gains inspiration from the beautiful country to help fuel our company with creativity. Finally, because of our new product launch, we even moved part of our internal ops team to Costa Rica. This allows us to provide in-country service and 24×7 assistance for your journey. Check out the video below to get a glimpse of what you can expect to see in Costa Rica with Latin Excursions.

Brand New Quick Escapes to Central America and Mexico

Our Quick Escapes in Latin America are specifically designed for those seeking an authentic adventure experience with family and friends, but simply don’t have to the time to spend a week or more traveling. These programs are typically no more than 6 Days / 5 Nights long and include one destination easily accessible from most major airports in the United States and South America. Even though these are “quick escapes” we recommend contacting us at least 3 months in advance to book as the best villas and entry permits to remote ruins can sell out fast.

We selectively pre-design each of these itineraries to highlight the most unique accommodations, tours and experiences that these destinations have to offer within the timeframe. Keep in mind that each of these journeys are customizable if you reach out to us by email or phone. At that point one of our expert trip designers will help create a special itinerary catered to the experiences of your preference.

Explore Guatemala

A great destination full of rich Mayan culture, freshwater lakes, mountains, historic ruins, and of course, jungle experiences. Recently, we sent an experienced world traveler and his wife on an extraordinary journey to Guatemala. Here is what he had to say about their experience.

“We had a great trip! Thanks for everything… The Tikal tour was excellent. Our guide, Eduardo, was very knowledgeable and personable. We liked La Lancha very much. Not easy to reach by land (easier by boat from Flores), but well worth it. Great rooms with a beautiful view across the lake. Excellent meals and beverages. We had a great hike at Ixpanpahu… Blancaneaux was beautiful, very nice room with a deck beside the river. Here, we also took advantage of tubing down the river, which was a fun mini adventure.”

Guatemala with Latin Excursions

Better Belize It!

Are you a lover of the ocean, but also want to visit remote Mayan ruins in the jungle? If so, there is no better destination better to immerse in than Belize in Central America. Scuba diving and snorkeling here are absolutely world class and the country has done great efforts to protect the marine wildlife. The Great Blue Hole is located off of the coast here, which in fact is a difficult dive, but there are so many other great areas to explore if you are a beginner/intermediate diver such as Ambergis Caye,Hol Chan Marine Reserve, Half Moon Caye, The Elbow, Glover’s Reef Atoll, and Gladden Split! At Gladden Split, Whale Sharks are present during the full moon week of April, May and June to feed. Give us a call to book your Belize experience today.

Belize Tours Central America

Luxury Travel in Mexico

Mexico is a huge country and planning where to visit can be difficult. Give us a call and allow our trip designers to provide you with our exclusive experiences offered in the Yucatan Peninsula, Cabo San Lucas, Mexico City, and beyond. In the Yucatan, spend your morning swimming in a private cenote, or exploring Maya ruins without the crowds. In the afternoon, enjoy a candlelit dinner beneath the Mexico sky with the sound of waves crashing the sand in the background. Your experience in Mexico is our passion, contact us today to start planning your dream journey!

explore a cenote in mexico

Why Chartering in the Galapagos is Not Only for the Rich and Famous

At Latin Excursions, we take pride in making your journey a meaningful time with family and friends never to be forgotten. Visiting Galapagos Islands is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to experience Earth as it once was entirely before human civilization. Allow us to create an itinerary that is exactly catered to your interest. What better way than chartering a private yacht?

Charter a Yacht in the Galapagos Islands

Most people don’t know that there are small ship cruising options via small yachts and sailboats in the Galapagos that essentially cost the same amount for a family of 10 paying for small cabins on the boat.

The advantage of chartering a yacht is having absolute access to the right guide for your family, and not being shared with others or strangers, allowing us to customize an itinerary around your interest level in the Galapagos. The private time with family and friends is truly what makes this option unbeatable. Not to mention you are located on some of the most pristine and protected waters on the entire planet, completely away from any major noisy city.

Combine with a Land Tour or Machu Picchu Extension

Are you planning a journey to Machu Picchu, but also want to get a glimpse of the Galapagos? Considering the proximity and convenient flights from Lima to Guayaquil or Quito, chartering a private yacht is the perfect way to capture an all-encompassing glimpse of Darwin’s archipelago. Our expert Trip Designers are masters of crafting unique experiences catered to your interests, so allow them to help you select the perfect yacht and itinerary for your journey.

One way to keep costs down is to shorten the itinerary to 4 or 5 days, if you want to extend some land time in order to do more active adventures you can combine your yacht stay with a private villa, unique hotel, or even glamping stay! We recommend adding a few days before or after at the Galapagos Safari Camp or private Villa Amarilla.

Machu Picchu Latin Excursion

Scuba Dive the Galapagos in Private

Another big advantage of chartering a yacht in the Galapagos is the option to have a professional diving team meet you and your group for the day (or multiple days at various locations)! The way it works is that we coordinate with our diving team and have them greet your yacht in the morning with a small dive boat, then they will take you to certain dive locations privately. Talk about exclusivity!

You can expect to see plenty of playful sea lions, if you’re lucky they might come do a dance for you and your crew!

Scuba dive galapagos with sea lions

Maximize Your Galapagos Experience with Latin Excursions

Imagine seeing a school of 1000 dolphins jump out of the water, since the boat is yours, call the captain to stop and take some photos! The world is yours when you privately charter a yacht in the Galapagos with us. For more information about this option or traveling to the Galapagos in general, Contact Us and sign up for our newsletter to stay up-to-date with our latest promotions!

Havana Escape

Nowhere else evokes the same infectious energy as Havana, and no two tours of Cuba’s capital are ever the same. Escape to this Caribbean gem for a short escape packed with exciting experiences from touchdown to take-off, incorporating tours that go behind-the-scenes of artist studios, musicians’ homes, cigar establishments, vintage car workshops and so much more. Dine at authentic paradores (local restaurants), sip daiquiris at iconic bars and dance shoulder-to-shoulder with locals in Jazz clubs. The famous highlights of Havana await. Then, in terms of where to stay on your short Havana break, we will set you up in a private villa.

Visiting a vintage car workshop

Meeting one of Cuba’s most talented musicians at her home and learning the origins of Cuban rhythms

Exploring a typical food market and savoring delicious Cuban fare

Learning the secrets behind the art of cigar-rolling

Sipping cocktails at Hotel Nacional, an iconic site in Havana

Visit our Cuba Page
to learn a bit about Cuba

Itinerary

Day1

Havana City

Day1

ARRIVE / HAVANA

Touch down in Havana and enjoy VIP assistance through customs before meeting your private guide and driver, who take you into the city by vintage car; beginning your Cuba vacation in style. A private concierge then greets you at your luxury hotel or boutique apartment to go through the itinerary and ensure you have everything you need.

After settling in, step out for a guided city tour of Old Havana and get your first introduction to this extraordinary UNESCO World Heritage Site, over the course of two insightful hours. Then, spend the rest of your first day in Havana however you please; maybe sipping drinks at the boho El Dandy bar in the Old Town, sampling creole cuisine at Doña Eutimia, or perhaps catching a dazzling cabaret show at the Tropicana—a quintessential Cuban experience.

Overnight Private Villa

Meals None

Day2

Havana City Tours

Day2

ARTIST STUDIOS / E-BIKE TOUR

This morning, glimpse the artistic side of Havana by exploring two local studios, going behind the scenes with the artists themselves. Whether you’re most interested in photography, painting or sculpture, established or new artists, this experience is tailored to your tastes and is then followed by a visit to the Fine Art Museum.

In the afternoon, a cycling tour packs in many of Havana’s highlights as you pedal through the city with a guide. Best of all, the e-bikes help you along the way; particularly up any hills! Later, a perfect way to conclude the day is by savoring cocktails at the iconic Hotel Nacional, before dinner at another excellent restaurant such as La Guarida. Relish a meal in this classic parador then do as the locals do and join a Jazz night in town—Havana has plenty to choose from.

Overnight Private Villa

Meals B

Day3

local smoking cigar Cuba

Day3

CIGAR ROLLING / FOOD TOUR / VINTAGE CAR TOUR

Cuba is renowned for its cigar industry, so this morning take a closer look at how they are rolled at one of the Casas de Habanos in Old Town. Learn from the masters when it comes to forming the perfect cigar, then head on for a guided foodie tour of Havana. Browse the colorful produce on display at a local market, then stop by a typical store to glimpse the daily routines of everyday Cubans.

Sit down for lunch at Grados, choosing from a menu filled with family favorites of the owner and chef, Raulito, who talks warmly with his patrons while whipping up dishes like slow-cooked lamb and ‘farm-style eggs’ with corn. Fully sated, it’s then time to let your vintage car take the strain while you sit back and admire more Havana highlights during the drive, including the Havana Almendares Forest, Cristobal Colon Cemetery, Hotel Nacional and Riviera, to name a few. Later on, dine at another fantastic restaurant such as Tierra in the Cuban Art Factory, then stay for music and dancing—perhaps a film or art exhibition—in the same location.

Overnight Private Villa

Meals B, L

Day4

Classic Car tour of Cuba

Day4

VINTAGE CAR WORKSHOP / CUBAN MUSIC

As the cars of Cuba are so old—dating back to the mid-20th century—maintaining them is crucial. Today, see how the experts restore these vintage vehicles at a private workshop, perhaps picking up a few tips along the way!

In the afternoon, delve deeper into the music scene of Havana by visiting a famous local artist, Brenda, who welcomes you into her home. Take a seat on the leafy terrace as Brenda demonstrates how to play one of Cuba’s most distinctive musical instruments, the Bata, and also how best to dance to it! Following this music-filled afternoon, enjoy your last dinner in Havana at a celebrated seafood restaurant, Cinco Sentidos, and maybe finish up at a local bar for more dancing (now you known the moves) before heading home tomorrow.

Overnight Private Villa

Meals B

Day5

Havana (Habana) in sunset, Cuba

Day5

HAVANA / FLIGHT HOME

After breakfast, your driver transfers you to the airport by vintage car, in plenty of time for your flight home.

Meals B

NOTE: The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.

Insider’s Tour: Santiago de Cuba

Soak up the addictive rhythms and fascinating heritage of Cuba on this cultural tour of Santiago, one of the country’s two biggest cities set on opposite sides of the island. Spend a few days in Santiago de Cuba in the south, understanding the important role it played in The Revolution, exploring beautiful landscapes outside the city and getting to know its Afro-Caribbean heritage too. Then, if you decide to add our Insider’s Havana Tour to your itinerary, head north to Havana for tours that go behind-the-scenes of artist studios, musicians’ homes, cigar establishments, vintage car workshops and so much more. Keep in mind that you are also able to visit Havana first, and Santiago de Cuba second.

Understanding Santiago de Cuba’s revolutionary past

Discovering the natural scenery of the Sierra Madre

Visit our Cuba Page
to learn a bit about Cuba

Itinerary

Day1

Cuba Music Experience Santiago de Cuba

Day1

ARRIVE / SANTIAGO DE CUBA

Having landed at Santiago de Cuba Airport, your driver-guide meets you and whisks you off to your accomodation in the city: La Hiedra. This ivy-clad casa particular is among Cuba’s best, bedecked with a patio, garden, roof terrace and just four tastefully decorated rooms. After checking in and meeting your friendly hosts, head for the city’s famous El Morro fortress to watch the sunset over the bay and get a grasp of Santiago’s past. This UNESCO World Heritage Site, built during the days of Spanish Empire, was crucial for defending the city against threatening pirates, today standing as a real-life testament to the past.

In the evening, sample some local cuisine at restaurants such as La Brassa, then perhaps soak up some live music at Casa de la Trova, watching (or joining) the dancers.

Overnight La Hiedra

Meals None

Day2

Church in El Cobre village, Cuba

Day2

SANTIAGO CITY TOUR / VISIT TO COBRE

Your first full day in Santiago de Cuba is a great time to go under the skin of the city on a guided tour, getting a closer look at important sites such as the Moncada Barracks (where Fidel Castro led the guerrillas’ first armed attack against the government), Revolution Square and Cespedes Park, among others.

Following lunch, venture to the outskirts of Santiago to discover the Church of La Virgen de la Caridad del Cobre, a treasured religious site that’s dedicated to the patron saint of Cuba. After your guide explains all about this iconic figure, continue to the Cimarron monument and learn more about what this beautiful bronze and iron statue stands for: the 17th century slave revolt, and the fight against oppression in Cuba. Set high up on the hills of Cobre, it’s also a wonderful place to take in sweeping views of the sea. Return to Santiago for dinner in town, perhaps at the highly acclaimed St. Pauli, serving creative dishes with a distinct Cuban flavor.

Overnight La Hiedra

Meals B

Day3

Visit the Sierra Maestra Mountains with Latin Excursions

Day3

GRAN PIEDRA / REVOLUTIONARY TOUR

Today, head out of the city again, this time to Gran Piedra in the Sierra Maestra Mountain Range, at 1,200m above sea level. This lush place is home to intriguing native plants and wildlife, as well as superlative coffee estates, a botanical garden and La Isabelica Museum, not to mention the ‘Big Rock’ that the region is named after.

Returning to Santiago de Cuba in the afternoon, prepare for an insightful few hours learning about the city’s revolutionary heritage. Expert guides explain the role Santiago played in the Cuban Revolution as you visit important sites like Villa Blanca, and the legacy this has left on the country as a whole. In the evening, relish your final night here with a delicious meal; we recommend Palenquito, specializing in BBQ delights and flavorful desserts.

Overnight La Hiedra

Meals B

Day4

cuba music

Day4

End of Tour or Continue to Havana

After breakfast, a private transfer takes you from La Hiedra to the airport, for your return flight home, or continue your journey to Havana with our Insider’s Havana Escape program.

Meals B

NOTE: The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.

Galapagos: By Land, Boat, or Both? – The “Great Debate”

17 Years of Custom Trip Planning to the Galapagos

There are many truths and myths about this controversy that can be found on the internet. The information cited below is compiled from more than 17 years designing custom trips to the Galapagos. I use the term, “custom” because travelers can actually create their own fully-personalized trip to the Galapagos when planning with Latin Excursions. Although some companies offer trips that sound “cookie cutter” in design, there are various ways to personalize your trip in order to maximize your excursion around your interests.

Here are a few questions one should ask when considering between different types of trips to the Galapagos:

  • Do you want to incorporate some relaxation on your adventure?

    – For example, would you enjoy having a long walk on the beach and being surprised by how close animals approach you? Every animal in the Galapagos thinks you are their best friend! This is one reason that makes staying on land quite the unique experience.

  • How much time do you see yourself in the water?

    – Galapagos is world-famous for swimming up close with sea lions, penguins, turtles and more! Watch our Marketing and Sales Specialist, Turney Maurer, snorkel with a sea lion gracefully along Isla Daphne Minor.

Galapagos Tour: Snorkel with Sea Lions and Dolphins from Latin Excursions on Vimeo.

  • How active would you like this trip to be?

    – This is a big question one must take in consideration, if you would like to remain more land-based. Most Small Ships definitely have more relaxed day-by-day itineraries.

  • Are you or anyone in your party prone to motion sickness?

    – This is important to consider when entertaining large amounts of time on the water.

What month can you travel?

– This determines which islands you should consider or if you’re better off choosing a land-based stay or extension.


Boat Options: Pros & Cons

Pros:

More exposure and viewing of islands, better snorkeling opportunities, and the fact that you travel to new islands while you are asleep.

Cons:

Costlier in general and less exclusive unless opting for private yacht charter. It can feel regimented with strict National Park rules on the timings of the itineraries. Also, dependent on the time of year, if prone to motion sickness, boats can be more challenging than other months of the year.

Celebrity FLORA from Latin Excursions on Vimeo.

Island Options: Pros & Cons

Pros:

More flexibility with active adventure, more space and privacy, and depending on selected island, you can stay an unlimited amount of time exploring without being limited, compared to a boat itinerary.

Cons:

Less areas covered and less diversity of nature if you have little time

SUP & Snorkel Galapagos

Pro-Tips from Latin Excursions to Maximize Your Galapagos Experience

Boat/Island Combination:

If you want a good mix of the two, the combination is arguably the most thorough way to visit to get the full bodied experience of the island to fully sense all it has to offer.

Private Villas:

Ideal for multi-gen families wanting privacy and time together. Villas we partner with come equipped with speedboats, fishing experiences, a chef and the ability to select from a variety of tours depending on the activity and age level. This option can also be added as an amazing downtime ending if coming off a boat option.

Make sure to check our Private Villas and contact us for inside access to specific ones in the Galapagos that we exclusively work with.


Private Yachts:

Lastly, this option offers full privacy and exclusivity to the consumer and their guests. Although not inexpensive, if the group size is right (12 passengers or more) the cost can ultimately be less than being on a larger vessel . We provide our years of guide expertise in matching the right guide with the right traveling group to make for one of the most unforgettable experiences.

Combined Ecuador and the Galapagos: Best of Land and Sea

Combining the best of Ecuador’s mainland with a land-based tour of the Galapagos Islands is a unique and memorable alternative to the traditional Galapagos cruise options. This combined Ecuador and Galapagos itinerary will first explore the highlights of Quito including its Old Town and equatorial line museum, followed by the pristine Mindo Cloud Forest. Here you can enjoy nature walks, birdwatching trails and elevated viewpoints aplenty as a scenic introduction to what comes next, a land-based Galapagos adventure. Visiting Santa Cruz Island and its closest neighbors North Seymour and Bartolome Island, time will be spent admiring pristine beaches, observing Sea Lion colonies, families of Blue-footed Boobies, Herons and countless other native Galapagos species as well as the depleted volcanic craters, nature reserves and the Charles Darwin Research Center. Then you head back to Mainland Ecuador and the dramatic High-Andean wilderness to meet local communities, visit traditional villages and craft markets, explore stunning valleys and even enjoy the chance to see Giant Andean Condors close-up, before returning to Quito and home.

Visit our Ecuador Page
to learn a bit about Ecuador

Visit our Galapagos Page
to learn a bit about Galapagos

Itinerary

Day1

Patio Andaluz

Day1

Arrive Quito, Ecuador

Having been greeted at Quito Airport by your guide on touchdown, a private transfer will take you straight to your hotel in Quito Old Town for check-in; a fitting start to this combined Ecuador and Galapagos vacation. Once here, you are ideally placed to explore the atmospheric streets, bars and restaurants of Old Quito this evening, as well as already being onsite for tomorrow’s walking tour.

Overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz or similar

Day2

quito`

Day2

Walking Tour of Quito

Spend the early morning at leisure, starting with a wholesome breakfast at your hotel before a private walking tour of Quito’s Old Town, which provides a fascinating introduction to Ecuador’s capital. The city’s historical center has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1978, and it’s not hard to see why, with its exquisite colonial architecture comprising sublime churches, the Cathedral, Presidential Palace and Municipal Building. All of this stands proudly alongside cobblestone streets and the grand Independence Square, making Quito Old Town a marvel to behold.

After lunch, a further delve into Ecuadorian life comes this afternoon at the Intiñan Solar Museum. This fun-filled Quito attraction is located on the line of the equator and exhibits artefacts from various cultures and tribes around the country, as well as hands-on science experiments and a planetarium. Here you can also visit the Mitad del Mundo (‘Middle of the World’) Monument and gardens, located on the very spot where a French explorer calculated the equatorial line’s location back in 1736!

Overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz or similar

Meals B

Day3

Rustic looking bridge with a thatch roof crossing a river in a cloud forest near Mindo, Ecuador

Day3

Mindo Cloud Forest

Day three of this combined Ecuador and Galapagos tour takes you to the ethereal Mindo Cloud Forest, a biodiverse haven that’s brimming with birdlife, abundant plant species and fun activities too. The drive to Mindo takes roughly one hour 30 minutes, though it’s a gentle journey along country roads with scenic lookout points along the way.

On arrival, you are treated to one of Ecuador’s natural highlights, a unique ecosystem covering nearly 50,000 subtropical acres that are home to around 400 different bird species, lush trees, orchids and waterfalls. You can visit them all with a guided tour plus time at leisure to explore Mindo’s many nature trails, butterfly gardens, treetop cable cars and, for those brave enough, an adrenaline-packed zip-line adventure.

Overnight Hotel Patio Andaluz or similar

Meals B,L

Day4

Room at Semilla Verde

Day4

Santa Cruz Island

Next up, your Galapagos land adventure package begins, as you fly from Guayaquil on Ecuador’s western coast to Baltra Island Airport, where our guides assist with any luggage, before crossing the crystalline Itabaca Channel to Santa Cruz Island. Your destination is Semilla Verde Boutique Hotel, a homely Galapagos eco-retreat big on yoga, conservation, and exploring the best of the archipelago.

This afternoon is spent at leisure, maybe unwinding on the lawn, strolling along one of the nearby nature trails or trying a spot of yoga. Why not pay a visit to the harborfront streets of Puerto Ayora and the all-important Charles Darwin Research Center? Here, exciting exhibits and interactive displays go together with real-life conservation projects, including Giant Tortoise breeding programs. A suitable start as you witness the legacy left on the Galapagos Islands by Darwin himself.

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B

Day5

galapagos land turtle

Day5

Santa Cruz Island

The Santa Cruz Highlands are a pleasure to explore, with their endemic wildlife, roaming Giant Galapagos Tortoises and, of course, the Los Gemelos craters; two colossal sinkholes which must be seen to be believed. This all makes for a highlight of your Galapagos land-based vacation and provides a great snapshot of the wider archipelago, so is the focus of this morning’s tour. First a pleasant wildlife walk; keep an eye out for Santa Cruz Highlands’ many bird species and varied plant-life. On arrival at Los Gemelos, gaze out over lush foliage filling each of the two huge caverns–one stretching nearly 1,300ft across and 2,300ft deep.

Time can then be spent exploring an eerie world of underground lava tunnels here, or seeking out more of those Giant Galapagos Tortoises for one perfectly captured photograph to take home. After lunch your Santa Cruz tour continues by heading east. First enjoy the verdant Cerro Mesa Nature Reserve where the scenic viewpoints are as impressive as the variety of flora that fills this once active volcanic crater, and later to Garrapatero Beach, where mangroves and coastal vegetation open up onto bright white beaches and crystalline seas.

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B,L,D

Day6

galapagos-destination-penguins-latin-excursions

Day6

Santa Cruz Island / Bartolome Island

Today’s Galapagos wildlife tour focuses on Bartolome Island; its lookout spots and rugged coastline. First, moor up at a wooden walkway and begin your ascent to one of the best viewpoints in the Galapagos. The reason is that although Bartolome itself is relatively barren, all volcanic rock and petrified lava flows, from this angle you get a 360-degree panoramic look at the wider archipelago; a completely different perspective on the formation of these islands.

This then makes a Zodiac boat ride–the next part of your excursion–all the more enjoyable, as you glide past families of Galapagos Penguins, Herons and Hawks, before the golden beaches and Sea Lion colony of Pinnacle Rock. The waters which border these sands teem with marine life, making them perfect for snorkeling just off the adjacent ancient lava fields of Sullivan Bay; a real-life Galapagos highlight.

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B,L,D

Days7

Blue-Footed Boobies on Grand Seymore Island, Galapagos Islands,

Day7

North Seymour Island / Bachas Beach

Swap land for sea as you board the Sea Finch vessel once more. First up is North Seymour Island, where you can hike through a forest of Palo Santo trees–a favorite nesting place for Blue-footed Boobies–and follow coastal trails that provide a privileged view of Brown Pelicans, Frigate Birds and Yellow Land Iguanas. Then, swim with an astonishing array of marine life, such as Rays, White-tipped Reef Sharks and King Angelfish.

The final stop is at Las Bachas, a pair of impeccable beaches with white coral sands. Watch Blue-footed Boobies patrolling the shore, or Pink Flamingos, Great Blue Herons and White-cheeked Pintails wading the waters of a nearby lagoon. After swimming in warm seas, sail back to the Itabaca Channel and return to Semilla Verde for your penultimate night at this luxury Galapagos lodge.

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B,L,D

Days8

Semilla Verde Pool

Day8

Santa Cruz Island

The final day of your Galapagos adventure takes you to the lesser-visited hidden coves and dramatic coastline of Santa Cruz Island, alive as they are with wildlife and easily accessed from Semilla Verde. Begin with the picturesque islets of Daphne Major and Minor. Among other things, these small islands are well-known for their abundance of native bird species including Galapagos Martins, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Short-eared Owls and Red-billed Tropic Birds.

You can explore the shoreline and coastal nature trails here, keeping an eye out for Sea Lions and Reef sharks in the water, before lunch either onboard the boat or beach, and a final stop at Bahia Borrero, a pristine stretch of chalk-white sands and one of the ultimate places to finish this exciting Galapagos tour.

Overnight Semilla Verde

Meals B,L,D

Days9

Hacienda Cusin Fountain

Day9

Ecuadorian Andes

The diverse landscapes, ecosystems and environments of Ecuador keep coming today, as you first fly back to the mainland before driving towards the serene Ecuadorian Andes in the company of your private guide. On arrival at your rural Hacienda, check-in and enjoy a first afternoon of crisp mountain air in this timeless, beautifully scenic region.

Overnight Hacienda Cusin or Similar

Meals B,L,D

Days10

Haciend Cusin Staff

Day10

Ecuadorian Andes

Day ten of your combined Ecuador and Galapagos land package provides an unforgettable opportunity to admire picturesque, pristine scenery here in the Ecuadorian Andes, as well as visiting some of its traditional highland communities. Driving between stops is a joy in itself, such is the splendor of this mountainous region of towering peaks and sweeping valleys, as can be seen on the way to San Antonio de Ibarra, the provincial capital famous for its incredibly ornate woodworking and tradition of sculpture.

From here, it’s on to Peguche where more local culture and an authentic High-Andean way of life can be glimpsed, such as the town’s markets, traditional weaving, music and dance performances as well as a love for celebratory festivals! Picturesque Peguche is also surrounded by stunning scenery, hidden waterfalls and verdant valleys which, time permitting, can also feature as part of your Andean day trip.

Overnight Hacienda Cusin or similar

Meals B,L,D

Days11

Condor Ecuador

Day11

Condor Park / La Esperanza

A further exploration of the Ecuadorian Andes continues today, as you venture deeper into the landscape to meet some native wildlife as well as the rural communities who dwell here. Begin at Parque del Condor (‘Condor Park’), where not only Giant Andean Condors but Hawks, Owls, Eagles and Falcons are protected and cared for in a semi-natural environment, some of which have been rehabilitated from their perilous position in the wild.

Having seen these impressive native birds first-hand, and witnessed a live flight demonstration too, the next stop on day eleven of your Mainland Ecuador adventure is a visit to the indigenous San Clemente Community in nearby La Esperanza. Here there’s the chance to meet locals and share lunch together, learn the community’s traditions and customs as well as enjoying an informative nature walk with them, to see what life is like living among such wilderness. Finally, make your way back to the hotel for one last evening with your Ecuadorian hosts.

Overnight Hacienda Cusin or similar

Meals B,L,D

Days12

otavalo-market-latin-excursions

Day12

Cuicocha Crater Lake / Otavalo Market

As your combined Ecuador and Galapagos land tour draws to a close, there is still time to see one or two more Andean highlights before traveling back to Quito, depending on the exact time of your departing flight. First, some last-minute souvenirs can be picked up from the small town of Cotacachi, a village particularly famous for its fine leatherwork and crafts. Then, a last-minute nature walk through the forests to Cuicocha Crater Lake, a stunning site, the main attraction of the Ecuadorian Andes and well worthy finale to your tour.

Finally, the world-famous Otavalo Market. Otavalo is known across South America for its craftwork, such as weaving and musical instruments, though its most prized asset is their colorful market that has attracted local artisans, buyers and sellers for centuries. It’s a vibrant scene of locals wearing traditional outfits, and stalls topped high with rainbows of fruit, vegetables and textiles. Time permitting, you can pick up some treasures and enjoy lunch here before being driven back to Quito International Airport and home.

Meals B,L

IMPORTANT: We reserve the right to omit any part of this itinerary, to change the order of the places visited, or to alter reservations without prior notice due to weather conditions or road closures, safety concerns, national park policies, or other outside forces that may necessitate revisions to the itinerary. These decisions are based on the traveler’s welfare or are made in the interest of conservation. Please travel with an open mind and a willingness to embrace the spontaneity of your adventure.

Overnight The Singular Santiago

Meals B

No Visa Required, Come to Brazil!

No Visa? No Problem!

Brazil is a unique and extraordinary place offering a staggering array of exotic, colorful and sensual experiences that range from the fascinating natural sanctuaries to the contagious rhythms of Bahia and sprawling sophistication of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Unfortunately, for the last decade travelers from the United States and other certain countries have had to obtain a Visa in order to visit Brazil.

Today, for the first time since 2008, Brazil has officially announced the waiver of Visa requirements for citizens of the United States, Australia, Canada, and Japan which will go into effect on June 17, 2019.

Brazil Tourism on the Rise

The decision to waive visas is due to the success of an electronic visa pilot program launched on January 25, 2018. The results of this move by the Brazilian government were astonishing. There has been a 35.23% increase of overall visa’s emitted, while the World Travel Organization projected 25% of potential visits to arise from this decision. The impact on Brazil’s economy was huge too, bringing in over 1 billion USD from completed travelers who were visa recipients. Now, the Brazilian Ministry of Tourism hopes to reach a goal of 12 million foreign visitors by 2022, in contrary to the 6 million they had originally planned with the electronic Visas.

Visitors from the group of countries listed above are now eligible to stay in Brazil up to 90 days, extendable for an equal period provided such visit doesn’t exceed 180 days in a year, with days counted from the first entry in Brazil. If limits are exceeded penalties will apply. The benefit extends to current visitors in transit with valid passports for trips for leisure and business tourism, artistic or sporting activities or in exceptional situations for national interest.

Visit Brazil with Latin Excursions

For 15 years Latin Excursions has been creating unique travel experiences for adventurers looking to discover beautiful Brazil. We are excited to represent quality tourism to Brazil for citizens of the United States and Canada. There are plenty of great tour operators in Australia and Japan who can help get their citizens to Brazil as well. Overall this is a grand move in terms of global tourism. Advances in technology have made it possible for companies like us to find some of the most unique areas with reputable companies who provide quality assurance with their services for hotels, guides, drivers, adventure equipment, culinary, culture, and of course, safety.

Our Founder Was Born in Brazil

Did I mention Latin Excursions CEO/Founder, Eric Sheets, was born in the Brazil? In the first capital of Brazil to be exact – the city of Salvador in the state of Bahia. He recently took his wife and children to the region to explore the remote beaches of Trancoso, but also further north to the State of Maranhao to explore the white-sand beaches and dunes of Lençóis Maranhenses National Park to teach his family a little bit more about the unique area he grew up in and to also see how it has changed. He was pleased with what he saw to say the least and understands there is a need for tourism in these ecologically-rich coastal areas. Get a glimpse of these wild dunes in the video below (Eric took the drone footage himself)!

Lencois National Park, Brazil from Latin Excursions on Vimeo.

Below is another video of Eric and his family exploring the unique region of Trancoso, in the State of Bahia that I mentioned previously. Miles of remote beach and crystal-clear water for as far as the eye can see! This region can be discovered on our Journey to Brazil tour with international flights arriving in Rio de Janeiro, then domestic round-trip flights to Salvador. Our itineraries online are all examples of what we recommend, but please keep in mind that we are able to customize any tour to your preferences!

Custom Brazil Journeys with Latin Excursions: Learn More

To learn more about our offerings in Brazil, check out our destination page by clicking the link: https://latinexcursions.com/wpress2020/destinations/brazil/

Now that the United States doesn’t need a visa to enter the country, it’s easy to combine destinations such as our Extraordinary Journey to Brazil & Argentina! On this journey you will discover Iguazu Falls which lies on the border of the two magnificent countries.

Of course, if you are looking to explore the rainforest of Brazil, make sure to check out our Journey to the Brazilian Amazon or reach out to us for a multi-day small ship excursion of the Amazon. Whether you are considering a visit to Brazil and don’t know where to start, or have a bucket list destination in the country you have long wanted to visit, don’t hesitate to Contact Us to learn more and begin your dream journey today! The gates have opened, so allow us to get you there. The time is now!

Top 8 Treks to Machu Picchu

Hike or Take the Train

If you are not taking the train to Machu Picchu, understand that your only other option is hiking. There are no roads that lead to Machu Picchu; the entry hub to the Seventh Wonder of the world is Ollantaytambo. Whether you are taking the train, the single day hike to Machu Picchu, or a multi-day trek, every person must have a permit to enter Machu Picchu and you will not be granted entry without one; that goes for each trail system too. One cannot simply arrive in Peru and start walking a trail to the ancient citadel; it must be planned prior, and for most, it must be planned up to a year in advance.

Deciding which route to take can be a difficult process to begin- as there are many options to choose from, so planning can become confusing fast. That’s why we at Latin Excursions offer prospective travelers a free consultation with one of our Travel Designers to help alleviate the stress and create the perfect trip for you. Aside from taking the train to Aguas Calientes and doing the many different options of day hikes from there, hiking is the only other option to arrive at Machu Picchu. Therefore, we have broken down the eight best options of hiking to the Seventh Wonder of the World for you.

Top 8 Hikes to Machu Picchu

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1) Km 82 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

Inca Trail Hike

Coming in at number one, this classic four day, three night trekking journey from Km 82 is truly astonishing. Considering this trail was actually the original route for the Inca Royalty to arrive at Machu Picchu, you can expect to discover a variety of ancient ruins from outposts to storage houses, and unfortunately, many tourists and campers. Due to the rising popularity of travelers wanting to mark this off of their bucket list, the trail has become increasingly more difficult to experience in peace year after year. Because of that, the Peruvian government has limited the selling of permits for this particular hike, and they sell out almost more than a year in advance from the departure date and have a strict deadline for when travel companies are able to purchase them.

That being said, this can cause overbookings and chaos with shared excursions. At Latin Excursions, we specialize in private travel for this very reason. We will take you and your group along the Inca Trail unbothered so that you can fully soak in the spirit of the Inca and not be distracted by the outer chaos. Specifically for this Peruvian journey, we highly recommend reaching out to us more than a year in advance with a full head count for your party. By doing so, we are able to book private campsites away from the mass crowds, offer private chefs, portable bathrooms, a masseuse, extra guides, elevated beds and upgraded tents, along with peace-of-mind knowing that we have secured your permits and can remain unbothered by outside travelers joining your journey.

*Plenty of Other Trekking Options Available*

Don’t get me wrong, the Inca Trail is a once in a lifetime opportunity, but if you aren’t able to plan a year in advance, don’t like camping, or would like a more adventurous route, there are plenty of alternatives to choose from!

Inca Trail Campsites

 

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2) Km 104 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

A personal favorite, this route is certainly the way-to-go if you are seeking a thrill of an entry to the Seventh Wonder of the World, but still prefer the comfort of sleeping in a bed with a roof over your head, opposed to a tent for the evening. From the beginning of the trail, you will begin an immediate ascent as the view of the Urubamba River flowing to Machu Picchu below becomes smaller and smaller. After about 2 hours of steep hiking, the trail planes out for about 1 hour until reaching the ruins of Wiñay Wayna – a station for Inca soldiers to manage who enters the royal Machu Picchu ruins. From there, you will make one final climb before entering the cloud forest region.

Once in the cloud forest, you will experience a cool breeze and a final descent to Inti Punku (the Sun Gate) for your first glimpse of the magical Machu Picchu. Separate from the main crowds that enter by bus, the Sun Gate allows travelers to truly soak in the remoteness of this ancient kingdom.

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3) Choquequirao

Choquequirao is a sublime archaeological site in its own right, tucked away in the Apurimac River Valley of the Willkapamba Mountains some 60 miles from Cusco. Translating to ‘Cradle of God’, this lesser-known Inca ruin dates back to the 15th century though it was only re-discovered around 50 years ago; to this day, much of the site still remains unexcavated. Hiking to Choquequirao rewards trekkers with access to a beautifully secluded, ancient Inca city that few others get to experience (the only way to reach it is by hiking from Cachora). You can either embark on a four-day trek to Choquequirao, or opt for a longer hike that incorporates Machu Picchu as well. This nine-day adventure begins with a drive from Cusco to Cachora, then walking to Chiquisca and onward to Choquequirao the following day. After soaking up this mystical ruin, the remaining five days are spent trekking to Aguas Calientes, finishing up at the one and only Machu Picchu.

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4) Salkantay Lodge-to-Lodge Trek

The seven-day Salkantay Trek is a little different to other Machu Picchu hikes as, instead of camping each night, adventurers stopover in boutique mountain lodges along the way, with opportunities for extra activities too. This means that your hard work can be rewarded each evening with a peaceful night’s sleep in comfortable beds, delicious cuisine and even dips in bubbling hot tubs. The trek itself varies each day, starting with an easy/moderate hike to the Salkantay Lodge, a circular route to Lake Humantay on the second day, with the option to enjoy a horseback ride in the afternoon as well. Day three sees you hiking the Salkantay Pass–a challenging trek taking around seven hours, with views of the majestic Salkantay Mountain. Stay at Wayra Lodge before continuing on day four through the cloud forest to Colpa Lodge, then on day five pick from a mix of activity options: visit a coffee plantation, go zip-lining or try a biking adventure, finishing up at Lucma Lodge. You reach Machu Picchu on day seven, where you can soak up the magical citadel on a guided tour before taking the train back to Cusco.

Salkantay Trek

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5) Inca Jungle Trek: For Adrenaline Junkies

Love the sound of the Inca Trail but want to inject a big dose of adrenaline into your experience? Then the Inca Jungle Trek is just the ticket! This four-day hike to Machu Picchu incorporates thrilling activities like mountain biking, white-water rafting and zip-lining, all enjoyed en route to the Lost City of the Incas. From Cusco, adrenaline junkies are driven to the Abra Malaga Pass (at an altitude of 4,316m) where an all down-hill, hair-raising bike ride of 60km awaits, with the option to go white-water rafting in the afternoon. Having stayed overnight in Santa Maria, the second day involves a 15km trek through low-lying jungle towards the hot springs of Cocalmayo, and onwards to Santa Teresa. Day three offers the chance to try some zip-lining, soaring up to 150m above the ground, before carrying on to Aguas Calientes on foot or by train, depending on your energy levels! Afterwards, your fourth and final day is dedicated to exploring Machu Picchu itself, with plenty more exhilarating activities here to also take advantage of.

Abra Malagra

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6) Vilcabamba Trek

For a more rigorous Peruvian hike, strap on your walking boots and make way for the Vilcabamba Trek. This five-day route to Machu Picchu is certainly not for the fainthearted and does require a good level of fitness. Efforts are compensated by remote trails, isolated viewpoints, and little-known archaeological sites that are rarely visited by those in Peru to walk the Inca Trail. Even day one has its physical challenges- trekkers begin from Ollantaytambo in a varied–albeit relatively short–afternoon of hiking. Early ancient sites come at Rosaspata o Vitcos and Ñusta Hispana, before a lengthy uphill climb of five straight hours on day two, reaching 3,915m above sea level at the Asuntina Pass, and fantastic valley views as a result. Adventurers hike through quaint villages and rural pastures on the Vilcabamba Trek, as well as witnessing Yanococha Lake and the Tullu Tacanca Pass, a full 4,500m above sea level. Finally, having conquered four full days of extreme undulations and varied terrain, passing dilapidated ruins and small settlements, ‘journey’s end’ comes on arrival at Aguas Calientes, and a visit to Machu Picchu the following day.

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7) Lares Trek

The Lares Trek is one of the more versatile hiking routes to Machu Picchu, still relatively popular though drawing in far fewer visitors than the Classic Inca Trail. There are in fact several different hiking options that each takes alternative directions. All routes are accompanied by their own memorable highlights, striking views, ruins and remote regions. Importantly though, your end point is always the same: finishing up at the Sacred Valley’s Lost City itself. Depending on exactly which Lares route you choose, this wondrous trail will see you trek for up to six hours per day over a three or four-day itinerary. You get the chance to take a dip in thermal springs, stop at the traditional weaving community of Huacahuasi, reach passes such as Ipsaycocha that sit upwards of 4,400m above sea level, perhaps the scenic sights of Ipsaycocha Lake or elevated views from the Huilquijasa Pass. Along the way, there is a real sense of isolation while savoring the Lares trek, though you do come across more than one traditional settlement which certainly helps keep things interesting, before concluding the adventure at Machu Picchu, of course.

Lares Trek

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8) Ausangate Trek: The Rainbow Mountains

The Lares Trek is one of the more versatile hiking routes to Machu Picchu, still relatively popular though drawing in far fewer visitors than the Classic Inca Trail. There are in fact several different hiking options that each takes alternative directions. All routes are accompanied by their own memorable highlights, striking views, ruins and remote regions. Importantly though, your end point is always the same: finishing up at the Sacred Valley’s Lost City itself. Depending on exactly which Lares route you choose, this wondrous trail will see you trek for up to six hours per day over a three or four-day itinerary. You get the chance to take a dip in thermal springs, stop at the traditional weaving community of Huacahuasi, reach passes such as Ipsaycocha that sit upwards of 4,400m above sea level, perhaps the scenic sights of Ipsaycocha Lake or elevated views from the Huilquijasa Pass. Along the way, there is a real sense of isolation while savoring the Lares trek, though you do come across more than one traditional settlement which certainly helps keep things interesting, before concluding the adventure at Machu Picchu, of course.

Rainbow Mountain Peru

Hopefully now you have a better idea of what to expect when planning a hike to Machu Picchu! The options are far and wide, but there is definitely something for everyone. To begin planning your dream journey, fill out the this form and schedule a free consultation with one of our trip designers. We look forward to meeting you there!

Celebrity Flora

The Celebrity Flora is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruising the galapagos

The Celebrity Flora Galapagos yacht offers a unique, luxurious and ethical way of exploring the wondrous Galapagos Island Archipelago, a boat that allows you to experience the height of onboard comforts while also traveling guilt-free. This extraordinary all-suite vessel has been constructed and designed solely with the Galapagos in mind, aiming to minimize any footprint left by each and every voyage. In addition to the glamorous onboard restaurant and bar, observation deck, library, Jacuzzi and sumptuous balconied-suites, the Celebrity Flora also boasts anchor-less technology to protect the seabed, a solar paneled energy supply, plus ingenious purifiers that turn sea water and even air-conditioning condensation into perfect drinking water.

ENVIRONMENTALLY-FRIENDLY LUXURY GALAPAGOS YACHT

Cruising the Galapagos Islands is an unforgettable travel experience, one which is made even sweeter by the environmentally conscious technology aboard the Celebrity Flora. From energy-supplying solar panels to reusing waste water, improved fuel economy and a state-of-the-art system that means the vessel never has to drop anchor onto the delicate seabed below–they really have thought of everything! The end result is a stunningly stylish luxury Galapagos yacht that lets you cruise between islands, enjoy on-land excursions and take in all of the Galapagos highlights, safe in the knowledge that your presence here is causing the minimal environmental impact possible.

MODERN DESIGN AND COMFORT IN MIND

There are many reasons to book a cabin on the Celebrity Flora Galapagos. If you’re wowed by cutting-edge technology, the kind of style and decor usually reserved for boutique design hotels and every possible comfort having been carefully considered, then this is the luxury Galapagos boat for you. The interior design of each space is both modern and minimalist: think glossy lightwood, sleek curved sofas and occasional Art Deco touches. The story continues out on deck where shell-shaped daybeds and a glitzy bar area would not be out of place in any five-star beachside resort. The suites are also larger than most and, depending on which category you choose, can include a king-size bed, spa bath, furnished veranda and even a separate lounge area–all styled to the same irresistible standard as the rest of Celebrity Flora, of course.

Galapagos Glamping Experience

Aside from the luxurious amenities and atmosphere of Celebrity Flora, this wonderful cruise ship offers unique experiences for all ages as well. They created the “Galaapgos Glamping experience” and bring it to life on this new-era cruise through the Galapagos. A first for the Galapagos Islands, this ship includes two lavish cabanas (one for sleeping and one for dining) where one can make s’mores underneath the seemingly endless stars of the Galapagos sky. Adults can choose from locally-inspired cocktails and sip South American wines while soaking in the sounds of Galapagueño wildlife and the ocean swiftly moving along the ship. Nature experiences like this combined with unrivaled service make the Celebrity Flora an experience you do not want to miss out on.

Ideal forCouples and anyone seeking a mixture of pure comfort and sustainability.

Celebrity Flora is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruises in the galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

2019 Per Person USD Rates
8D / 7N From $7,399

Additional rates available along with holiday rates and single supplement; contact us for details. Prices are subject to change at time of booking.

Capacity:
100
Number of Cabins:
50
Facilities:
Lounge bar and restaurant, observation and sundeck with loungers and daybeds, a Jacuzzi and plunge pool, library, spa treatments, Wi-Fi, snorkeling and scuba diving equipment plus Zodiac boats.
Length:
333 ft
Speed:
10-12 knots
All cabins feature:
Panoramic windows and a balcony, en suite bathrooms with rain shower, large deluxe beds, a TV, and some suites also come with separate lounge areas and spa bathtub
Food Serving Style:
All-Inclusive with World-Class Chefs
Dietary Accomodations Served on Board:
n/a
Drinks:
All non-alcoholic drinks included
Single Cabin Supplement:
no
Children Discount:
no
Guide Languages:
English

Celebrity Xpedition

The Celebrity Xpedition is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruising the galapagos

The Galapagos vessel of renowned cruise group Celebrity was always going to be an impressive, luxurious ship, and as such the Celebrity Xpedition boat certainly does not disappoint. Although small compared to the group’s other cruises around the world, the Xpedition is one of the Galapagos’ larger vessels. With capacity for up to 100 guests, multiple drinking and dining haunts, a sundeck with Jacuzzi and even a gym and massage room, there are plenty of distractions when you’re not out exploring the archipelago on exciting excursions in style.

TWICE-DAILY ACTIVITIES IN THE GALAPAGOS

Celebrity Xpedition prides itself on providing fantastic tours of the Galapagos, taking place twice a day and always in the presence of an expert naturalist guide. To ensure that there is something to suit everyone’s tastes and abilities, excursions range from relaxed strolls to more challenging treks, gentle Zodiac rides to enthralling snorkeling experiences. There’s always an opportunity to catch sight (and even get up close to) some of the islands’ most extraordinary wildlife, leaving each and every visitor captivated by this special place. What’s more, naturalist seminars are held daily to keep you informed about the wildlife and changing environment of the Galapagos.

ALL-INCLUSIVE, HASSLE-FREE

For peace of mind, the Celebrity Xpedition offers a convenient all-inclusive policy. This means that meals and drinks can be enjoyed throughout the day and evening at either the Darwin Restaurant, Blue Finch Bar, Discover Lounge or Beagle Grill; even room service is complimentary. All your excursions are included as part of the package, along with necessary equipment, and so are the tips, national park entrance fees and onboard Wi-Fi. This ensures that your Galapagos cruise is hassle-free, leaving you to think about nothing else but the wildlife encounters and luxurious experiences to be had on such a special special trip.

Ideal forCouples, solo travelers and those who want everything included

Celebrity Xpedition is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruises in the galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

2019 Per Person USD Rates
8D / 7N From $5,299

Additional rates available along with holiday rates and single supplement; contact us for details. Prices are subject to change at time of booking.

Capacity:
100
Number of Cabins:
49
Facilities:
Gym, Wi-Fi, massage room, indoor and outdoor restaurants, lounge, bar, sundeck, hot tub, gift shop, library, internet cafe
Length:
296 ft
Speed:
15 kts
All cabins feature:
En suite bathroom, workstation, Wi-Fi, closet, queen or twin beds, flat-screen TV with DVD player, direct-dial telephone, safe, air conditioning, refrigerator, MP3 docking station, hairdryer, bathrobes and binoculars
Food Serving Style:
All-Inclusive with World-Class Chefs
Dietary Accomodations Served on Board:
n/a
Drinks:
Complimentary beer, wine, spirits, soft drinks, coffee, teas and bottled water
Single Cabin Supplement:
no
Children Discount:
no
Guide Languages:
English

Where to plan travel in South America?

Start Planning Now

Waiting until the last minute to plan a South America journey will certainly put you in a bind due to slim availability for the best lodgings, guides, trekking permits, National Parks, and UNESCO Heritage sites being booked months/years in advance. Allow us to breakdown which destinations, experiences and hotels you should consider booking now in order to get the best specials, excursions, guides, and accommodations!

Top 7 South America Holiday Experiences:

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Best Time to Explore Patagonia

Explore remote Patgonia

Patagonia is located at the southern tip of the continent and is split between Chile and Argentina. Needless to say, it is a huge area of land to cover, making the logistics of traveling rather difficult. We at Latin Excursions are South America travel experts and truly care about your experience with us. When visiting Patagonia, you are traveling to the ends of the earth where weather can at times be extremely cold with high-speed winds.

Therefore, the best views of Torres del Paine, Perito Moreno Glacier, and El Fitz Roy are offered in the Summer months from November – April. Although, if you wait until May or even sooner to begin planning with us, then we may find ourselves out of luck regarding availability at the best lodges. Take note that the high season is during Christmas and New Years Eve, all the way into February.

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Patagonia Planning Process: The One Year Rule

Here is the equation: if you want to visit Patagonia, its best to plan 10 months out or more. You can also plan now for a trip in 2020 Below are a few of our recommended custom-journeys for Argentina, Chile, and Patagonia:

Land of Fire & Ice: Journey to Chilean Patagonia

Combine two of Chile’s most spectacular regions – the stark beauty of the Atacama Desert mixed with the glaciers and imposing peaks of Torres del Paine in Patagonia – into one spectacular trip filled with adventurous excursions and luxurious accommodations to relax in after days of exploring, then you get the Fire & Ice journey to Chilean Patagonia by Latin Excursions.

Atacama and Patagonia Tours

Argentina & Chile’s Patagonia

In a unique fusion of culture and wilderness, this 12-day journey through Argentina and Chile sweeps you off your feet into a world of enchantment and luxury. Travel through Patagonia, an area known to be one of the most rugged and beautiful landscapes on Earth, while also visiting distinctly charming cities full of culture, performing arts, cobblestone streets and artist ateliers.

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New Years Eve & Other Festivals in Rio! No Visa Necessary!

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. Also, learn more about how the Brazilian Government is now allowing U.S., Canada, Australia, and Japan citizens to now visit without a Visa!

A rooftop New Year’s Eve celebration at Fasano Rio is one of the most elegant atmosphere’s you can find in all of Rio for the evening. After appetizers and drinks in the lobby, you will have dinner at Fasano Al Mare then proceed to the rooftop for a champagne toast and midnight kiss to bring in the new year! I mean, just imagine watching fireworks overlooking Copacabana from this poolside balcony…

Rio, Brazil HotelsRio de Janeiro New Year's Eve

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Plan a Family Reunion in a Galapagos Private Villa

When considering an excursion to South America, don’t forget about the Galápagos Islands! For a truly private experience unlike anywhere else in the world, bring your family to Villa Amarilla, a charming seaside villa with the character, comfort and class reminiscent of a European home in Tuscany. An in-home chef, maid and caretaker are included with your stay at Villa Amarilla. Alejandro and Mariana will make you feel at home and share an authentic experience of local specialties. 

Villa Amarilla – Galapagos Private Home from Latin Excursions on Vimeo.

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Charter a Yacht in the Galapagos

Do you want to get away with your family for the holidays, but don’t want to stay in a hotel or resort? Then perhaps consider bringing the family aboard the exclusive 9-room motor yacht Grace, which happened to be the private yacht of Princess Grace–but now she can be for the entire family or crew for an 8-day cruise. Due to her smaller size, MV Grace can access certain Galapagos island sites that larger ships cannot! Enjoy fine dining al fresco, a sun deck, jacuzzi, sea kayaks and daily adventures. Go snorkeling with sea lions, linger with Blue-footed Boobies on a sand beach and watch Frigate birds soar overhead. There will be time spent with the Giant Tortoises and iguanas as well as penguins too.

If you decide that chartering the Grace, or any small ship in Galapagos, make sure to contact us at least one year in advance. The boat owners must create a gap in their monthly departures to guarantee the availability for your group. Even if you aren’t chartering a boat in Galapagos, it is wise to book your room far in advance. Unlike many cruises around the world, in the Galapagos there are only small ship vessels, so the best ones fill up quickly especially during the holiday time of year. There are also a plethora to choose from, so it may take time to decide which one is right for you (our trip designers will help find the perfect fit)!

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Belmond Cataratas Hotel, Iguazu Falls Hotel

Iguazu (or Iguassu) Falls is a hot destination for Brazil and Argentina, families from all over the Americas come to see this beaut. Being located in such a confined area for tourism, there are only a few hotels to choose from. Belmond Cataratas Hotel is an excellent choice for anyone seeking a private experience in this region. If you book your Iguazu adventure plenty time in advance, our travel designers will have a much greater chance of reserving the perfect waterfall view room and finding private experiences such as a helicopter flyover featuring panoramic views of Iguazu Falls, led by expert naturalist guides.

Luxury Hotel Iguazu Falls

We also work with the new Awasi Lodge, Awasi Iguazu on the Argentine side of these magnificent waterfalls. They provide opportunities for the locals to share experiences beyond Iguazu, since the region has such an amazing portfolio of tours to offer with its unique environment. Enjoy the video from our Vimeo page!

Awasi Iguazu Experience with Latin Excursions from Latin Excursions on Vimeo.

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Visit Punta del Este / Jose Ignacio 

Looking for an exclusive, relaxing beachside vacation in Uruguay? Doesn’t sound bad if you ask me! 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. It’s a place to see and be seen, popular with the rich and famous from Buenos Aires and Brazil, and frequently compared to the Hamptons of New York.

Stay away from the tireless 24-hour casinos and party scene of La Barra, instead, allow us to set you up at Playa VIK Jose Ignacio, a strikingly contemporary property nearby Playa Mansa. For Christmas or New Years Eve, we can arrange a private transfer to Punta del Este (40 mins drive), for an elegant celebration, champagne toast, and fireworks. Return to Playa VIK that evening and wake up the next morning only to begin the new year by wind-surfing, horseback riding, sailing, surfing, or playing golf.

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. Playa VIK is one of Uruguay’s finest properties, so it typically is at capacity sometimes up to a year in advance for holiday dates.

Luxury Hotel Punta del Este

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.

We Made the Wendy Perrin 2019 WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts!

What is Wendy’s WOW List?

We have great news to share with you: We’ve been named to Wendy Perrin’s 2019 WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts in Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama for the 5th year in a row!

Many of our travelers found us because of Wendy Perrin, whose annual WOW List remains a uniquely useful resource for sophisticated travelers seeking the world’s best trip-planning specialists. Wendy calls us “the most well-connected travel fixers and custom itinerary designers in the world.” When you’re looking for somebody like us, only for a destination we don’t operate in, you’ll find that somebody on The WOW List.

Insider Access Traveling

You know how passionate we are about maximizing each traveler’s experience, and Wendy shares that vision. If you’re not sure who is the right fixer for a trip you have in mind, or you’re not even sure what is the right destination for you, we suggest you write to  Ask Wendy. We also recommend signing up for her weekly newsletter to stay up-to-date on travel news and solutions.

Thanks Wendy Perrin

We look forward to working with Wendy and helping you plan your next trip to Panama, Colombia, or Ecuador. Our team has years of experience designing the best travel programs in Latin America and we are happy to answer any of your questions. To see what travelers who found us through Wendy Perrin have to say, check out her Trusted Reviews of Latin Excursions Founder, Eric Sheets.

Eric Sheets Latin Excursions

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.

Travel to Colombia with Latin Excursions

Wendy Perrin WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts for Colombia

Our founder, Eric Sheets, is on Wendy’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts for his expertise and connections in Colombia, Ecuador, and Panama. At Latin Excursions, we arrange everything from custom itineraries that highlight Colombia’s different local cultures to family reunions, exotic honeymoons, and even villa vacations.

When you travel to Colombia with us, we treat you to insider-access experiences you won’t find anywhere else. Eric’s Insider Guide to Colombia by Wendy Perrin will provide perspective on hidden gems and touristy areas where you will want to avoid. We hope this Colombia travel guide will help you plan your next trip this wonderful country! See reviews from travelers who booked us through Wendy Perrin previously: Latin Excursions Colombia Reviews

Top 7 Colombia Travel Tips:

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What You Need To Know About Colombia

At Latin Excursions we always like to showcase the very best travel destinations in South America, its famous sites, iconic cities and many natural wonders, as well as some of the countless lesser-known spots and handful of hidden gems too.

On the face of it, Colombia hasn’t exactly been hidden from view for the past few centuries, with prominent pre-Columbian ancient cultures, 16th century Spanish Conquistadores and infamous 1970-90s cartels among its noteworthy residents. Yet the country has not necessarily been a go-to tourist spot over the years, Colombia’s current emergence as the up-and-coming place to visit in Latin America is something we certainly embrace.

Today, your private tour of Colombia with Latin Excursions will be one of picturesque plantations in the country’s western coffee region, the lively cosmopolitan spirit and party atmosphere of Medellin and one of the best-preserved colonial towns in the Americas, Cartagena, found further up the coast.

There are heavenly beaches here, idyllic islands hosting five-star resorts, fantastic scuba-diving, boat tours and the ever-enchanting Tayrona National Park with its wildlife, watersports, eco-lodges and hidden ancient ruins. When it comes to people, you’ll soon discover that Colombia’s turbulent past is truly confined to the history books, as locals will welcome you with open arms, proud to show off their beloved, long-overlooked country.

Explore Our Insider’s Tour of Colombia: Cartagena + Colonial Gem

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Best Times To Visit Colombia

colombia sunset

There are two seasons in Colombia that divide the year, the hot and dry season generally runs from December to January and again between July and August. The wetter seasons are in April and May, October and November.

Colombia sees its biggest tourist numbers between December and March because–across the country as a whole–it tends to rain less during these months

In between these peaks the climate is spring-like, milder and less humid. The climate does then change as you move around the country, with the coffee region tending to be warmer thanks to its surrounding hills, and high-altitude Bogotá being cold at night. In truth, many see this as a year-round destination, simply one that has slightly changeable climate conditions between its varying landscapes and altitudes.

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Visiting With Your Family

The country’s problems may have been immortalized in countless films and television series, though they really are a thing of the past, as 21st-century Colombia is today one of the ultimate South American travel destinations. It’s perfect for anyone seeking an authentic cultural experience–whether in the rural areas or vibrant cities–plus main attractions that are still relatively unaffected by huge groups of tourists.

There are far-flung paradise islands in Colombia such as San Andres, Isla de Providencia and Baru, boutique hotels and slick resorts that honeymooners will simply love and no shortage of outdoor adventure sports too.

That said, although Colombia is perfectly family-friendly, the country’s infrastructure is generally not as polished as their neighbors in Peru. Just ask our friend Clark Kotula and his son about their adventure to Hacienda Bambusa, Colombia’s finest adventure coffee-lodge!

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How To Get There

From the USA, popular direct flight routes include departures from Atlanta, Los Angeles, Dallas, Houston, New York, Miami, and Orlando almost always into the capital Bogotá and often Medellín or Cartagena as well. When it comes to your personal private tour of Colombia with Latin Excursions, the country is easily explored by road though one or two domestic flights linking the coastal regions with Bogotá is always advisable; the southern Amazonian areas still not being entirely set up and ready for large tourist numbers.

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The Best Way To Explore Colombia

Once here, further flights will be needed if traveling to many of Colombia’s remote island getaways, though no matter where your Colombian itinerary takes you there is a fantastic range of design hotels in the cities, authentic rural retreats in the countryside, boutique properties and eco-lodges to stay in along the way. To see all sides of Colombia a 10-day or two-week trip is advisable, as this will allow the opportunity to explore the country, its cities and more remote areas while also finding time for the beach.

Of course, any journey with Latin Excursions is tailor-made to suit your personal preferences, though unmissable highlights of Colombia include colonial Cartagena, the coffee region, Tayrona National Park and the islands, if possible. Comfortable clothing and sports shoes are suitable for walking tours and swimwear for time on the beach, though it can get cold in Bogotá so we always advise packing at least a couple of warm layers, plus hiking boots if looking to delve into Tayrona or any of the country’s more remote areas.

Colombia city tours

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The Geography of Colombia

The main tourist regions in Colombia begin in the capital Bogotá, a sprawling metropolis of busy streets, bohemian neighborhoods and no shortage of entertaining nightspots. The country’s history can be glimpsed in some of Bogotá’s best museums such as Museo del Oro, as well as the grand Plaza Bolívar with its colonial buildings and monuments. The Cathedral and Botanical Gardens of Bogotá are also well worth a visit if needing to escape the city’s hustle and bustle, though sanctuary can also be found by heading west to Colombia’s famed coffee region.

Here the pace of life could not be more different, as the rolling hills of Caldas, Risaralda and Quindio Provinces are home to authentic villages, small farms and coffee plantations; some of the best in the world. The countryside here is beautiful and makes for some of Colombia’s most picturesque walking trails, while further north lies an altogether more upbeat experience in Medellin, once a haven for Pablo Escobar though today an intoxicating city of street art, commerce and restaurant culture.

Then there’s Cartagena, an absolute must for anyone visiting South America for its preserved colonial architecture. These colorful cobbled streets have not changed in hundreds of years, with their atmospheric alleyways, flower laden balconies and horse-drawn carts showing lucky tourists the town’s main sites.

Off the coast of Cartagena, you also have the Rosario Islands, where boat tours and beach BBQs are the best addition to an afternoon of scuba diving and snorkeling here, while further around Colombia’s northern coast lies Tayrona National Park. Eco-lodges overlooking the bay, day-long treks to long-lost ancient ruins through the forest and deserted stretches of sand, rolling on for mile after glorious mile, characterize this iconic Colombian highlight.

cartagena boat tours

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Scuba Diving In Colombia

Unbeknownst to most people, scuba diving in Cartagena and along Colombia’s Caribbean Coast is some of the best in all of South America. Believe it or not, the coral reefs along this coastline and its nearby islands are still healthy, yet, in danger of becoming dredged for new shipping channels.

When scuba diving with Latin Excursions, you are going with companies who are involved in helping the island communities become involved in coral reef restoration and studies. Depending on where you dive, some of our diving operators provide the option for travelers to donate gear, or pitch in a few extra dollars to allow a local volunteer or two to tag along for the day and practice his/hers diving skills. It’s truly a special experience to dive in Colombia and see the efforts they are putting forward to preserve its marine environment. The people care and make the experience one you will never forget.

Beyond coral reefs, be prepared to see hundreds of tropical fish, moray eels, starfish, underwater architecture (artificial reefs), and ancient shipwrecks. The video below provides an insider’s view on exploring a shipwreck about .5 miles off the shore of Baru Island:

Scuba Diving Cartagena, Colombia – Baru Islands from Latin Excursions on Vimeo.

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.

Plan a Colombia Honeymoon

Beaches, History and Coffee

A Colombia honeymoon has become one of the most popular destinations for such travel over the past decade for many reasons. The diversity of options for adventure activities abounds from the Caribbean coast to the coffee regions, as well as the cultural and historical cities found throughout this country. It also shares the same time zone as the East coast of the USA, so no need to worry about jet lag!

The value of a Colombia honeymoon begins to add up quickly for a couple. From the moment you are greeted at your arrival airport you will be bathed in the friendliness of the locals that is genuine and perhaps, a bit surprising to some. Combine this with the actual costs of accommodations, dining and activities and you will quickly see why honeymooners are flocking to Colombia from everywhere! While Colombia is a Spanish speaking country, it is not imperative for you to speak the language fluently to travel there. Although, if you know a little Spanish it will go a long way. Having an English speaking guide at times will also ease your tensions.

The final piece of the puzzle when planning your honeymoon in Colombia will come down to time and what you both want to do within that time frame. Some honeymooners simply want to be left alone in a romantic place to unwind after all the stress leading up to wedding day. If you two want to be active that is easily accommodated as well. You could simply visit two destinations in a one week honeymoon. If you plan two weeks you can see the beaches, the cities, the jungle and the mountains without rushing.

We have two Colombia proposals that can fit well for a private honeymoon, all interchangeable to fit your desires! Please find them below to learn more:

Cartagena

Many couples choose Cartagena as a honeymoon getaway destination because the city is very romantic and full of history on the Caribbean coast. We highly recommend escaping the city for a few days to enjoy one of many turquoise-water islands. The old walled city is especially romantic and is known for music, dancing, exotic cocktails and intriguing dining. Set aside at least one day just for a walking tour for a fascinating way to experience the history and culture. There are many wonderful properties, large or small, offering romantic accommodations that will meet or exceed your expectations. One we definitely recommend visiting is Casa de Indias! You can also choose to take day trips to the Rosario Islands if you would like to venture outside the city into the Caribbean without the overnight hotel.

Coffee Country

If you are both coffee lovers, combining a city stay with a couple days in the Coffee Country of Colombia will make for an unforgettable honeymoon experience. Waterfalls, the jungle, snow-capped mountains with hiking trails and of course, visits to coffee farms are on tap if you choose this part of Colombia for all or part of your honeymoon. There are several haciendas like Hacienda Bambusa for accommodations. You can also find some spectacular villas, like Villa Coffee Country, which is part of a coffee farm itself!

Bogota

You will find Bogota in the Eastern Cordillera of the Andes mountains at an elevation of 8600′. Even though you are near the equator, because of the altitude, the climate is eternally Spring! This is Colombia’s capital and its’ largest city. As such, it is very cosmopolitan and you will hear English spoken almost as much as Spanish. If you two are cyclists you will revel in the way everyone celebrates biking every Sunday! A visit to the underground Salt Cathedral is also something you won’t see anywhere else. It’s quite possible to include Bogota with Coffee Country and/or Cartagena in the same honeymoon trip too!

Exotic, attractive and easy to get to! What more could you ask for in a honeymoon destination? Spend some time talking with one of our honeymoon travel specialists about the possibilities and what travel interests you both have and you will see why there is all this buzz going on about Colombia these days.

Remote Colombia Experience

When most people hear Colombia, the last thing they think about is cowboys. Well, if you venture far outside of the major cities you will find just that. Consider visiting the Corocora Camp at Los Llanos (the plains) located in the northeast sector of this beautiful country. Here, you will have access to authentic ranch culture and cattle herding, horseback riding, birdwatching and photo safaris, as well as Corocora Camp’s very own conservation projects. So, for something truly different while staying in Colombia, a wildlife experience full of blissful isolation at Corocora Tented Camp is definitely the answer. If you’re a Texas cowboy, then you better come here and see what the remote Colombia cowboys are all about.

Exotic, attractive and easy to get to! What more could you ask for in a honeymoon destination? Spend some time talking with one of our honeymoon travel specialists about the possibilities and what travel interests you both have and you will see why there is all this buzz going on about Colombia these days. Our team can accommodate any and all of your honeymoon needs while removing the time consuming, trip planning stress. All you do is book your flights and pack your bags, we will take care of the rest!

To learn more about our expertise in Colombia, visit Wendy Perrin’s WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts and see why Latin Excursions’ owner Eric Sheets is highly-acclaimed for his knowledge and trust in the area.

Insider’s Tour of Colombia: Cartagena + Colonial Gem

Captivating colonial towns, exotic Caribbean islands and tantalizing cuisine; a luxury cultural tour of Colombia promises to be a feast for all the senses. There’s no end of cultural hotspots to discover across the country, but this sample itinerary focuses on two hubs in northern Colombia so you can really get under the skin of each region. First, spend five nights based in the famous Walled City on the Caribbean Coast, Cartagena, a stunning place that’s awash with brightly colored facades and cobbled streets, where flowers tumble from centuries-old balconies and romance lingers in the air. As well as discovering the city itself, head out on a day trip to the Rosario Islands in the Caribbean Sea and meet fishing communities at La Boquilla, before flying south to the Santander province and using Barichara, a picturesque colonial village, as your base. Here, gentle hikes, coffee tasting, a canyon tour and cookery class await, as well as plenty of downtime in this relaxed corner of culturally-rich Colombia.

Visit our Colombia Page
to learn a bit about Colombia

Itinerary

Day1

Luxury Cartagena Trip

Day1

Arrival in Cartagena; Begin Cultural Colombia Tour

Touchdown in Cartagena where your cultural Colombian tour begins. A private transfer will be waiting to take you to the Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa for check-in, before you set off on a private walking tour of Cartagena’s Old Town in the afternoon.

Kaleidoscopic streets painted in a rainbow of colors await in Cartagena’s carefully preserved Walled City, where colonial buildings stand side-by-side down cobblestone streets, just a stone’s throw from the Caribbean Sea. Listen to your guide as they regale you with stories of pirates, conquistadors and battles over 500 tumultuous years, detailing a complex past that can be witnessed through the Old Town’s fortresses, Inquisition Palace and Gold Museum.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals None

Day2

colonial market cartagena

Day2

Visit the Bazurto Market

After breakfast this morning, savor the sights, sounds, aromas and flavors of Cartagena’s renowned Bazurto Market; an unmissable experience that few tourists even know about. This hidden gem of a place is buzzing with activity, as market stalls wind their way through a warren of alleys brimming with all manner of wares: from fruit and vegetables to fish and meat, even clothes and artwork. With a private guide by your side, navigate this brilliant bazaar and have your senses aroused by all the bustle of such a traditional, authentic market.

In the afternoon, enjoy time at leisure to either explore more of Cartagena or unwind in your boutique hotel. There’s a host of fine dining restaurants to try out, as well as street food vendors where you can sample local snacks while roaming the city’s beautiful streets.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals B

Day3

colombia island tours

Day3

Cartagena Island Tours

Having been introduced to beautiful Cartagena, day three of your Colombia culture tour offers something a little different, taking a break from urban delights and immersing you into the splendor of the Caribbean. Step aboard a private motorboat and speed off to the Rosario Archipelago, a cluster of picturesque islands strewn along turquoise Caribbean waters, where swimming, sunbathing and drinking in the exotic scenery is order of the day.

This full-day tour offers the chance to see a few of the Rosario Islands, with a picnic lunch whipped up by your private chef too. Sip cocktails, snack on tropical fruit and finger food–when you’re not snorkeling the coral reef or relaxing on pristine beaches, that is. Later in the afternoon, make the return journey to Cartagena and your city hotel, having relished a slice of the blissful Caribbean.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals B,L

Day4

Colombia Fishing Tour

Day4

Visit a Fishing Community in La Boquilla

Day four of this fascinating Colombia trip brings more opportunity to see an alternative face of Cartagena, this time at La Boquilla which, although just a short drive from the city center, is a world away from the grand colonial architecture and urban sprawl of town. La Boquilla is an authentic fishing community found amidst the mangroves and swamps east of Cartagena, and you can witness the fishermen’s way of life here by gliding over the waters in a small canoe, even having a go at catching something for yourself! A guide will act as an interpreter between you and the locals, as they explain how to use the fishing line and nets to best capture awaiting shrimp and crawfish. Along the way, learn more about the fishermen’s culture and traditions, which have remained the same for many generations.

After 2-3 hours, hopefully having been lucky enough to make a catch, return to Cartagena and spend the afternoon at leisure.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals B

Day5

cartagena hotels with pools

Day5

Explore Cartagena

Today is yours to enjoy as you please, so why not make time to enjoy the hotel’s spa and rooftop pool? Take a dip while soaking up the sweeping panoramas of Cartagena’s rooftops, while staff bring you fruit and ice cream to help keep you cool under the hot Colombian sun. Stop for lunch at Charleston Santa Teresa’s restaurant, where an open-air terrace invites you to linger over a delectable meal, or take your pick from one of the many eateries found right on your doorstep.

Overnight Hotel Charleston Santa Teresa

Meals B

Day6

northern colombia tours

Day6

Bucaramanga / Hacienda El Roble / Chicamocha Canyon / Barichara

This morning, a private vehicle transfers you to Cartagena Airport for a short flight to Bucaramanga in the province of Santander, one hour 20 minutes south of the Colombian coast. From Bucaramanga Airport another transfer and private guide will be waiting to collect you, beginning the next chapter of your cultural Colombian tour.

The first stop is made at Hacienda El Roble in Mesa de Los Santos, where you can see (and taste) first-hand why Colombian coffee is so revered around the world. This picturesque estate is home to a coffee plantation, sprawling for 300 hectares and much-loved by local birdlife, so be sure to take a relaxing stroll and drink it all in. Sit down for a typical local lunch, then bid farewell and hot-foot it to your next destination of the day: Chicamocha Canyon. The best way to view this staggering 2,000m-deep gorge is from the air, so float up in a cable car and lap up the sweeping panoramas as you glide over it; spectacular.

Overnight Casa Barichara

Meals B,L

Day7

Colombia Barichara Tours

Day7

Tour of Barichara and Guane

Wake up in your delightful boutique hotel, Casa Barichara, and tuck into breakfast on their terrace while looking out over the beautiful surrounding valley. Fueled up, it’s then time to embark on a hike to the little village of Guane, by taking the 9km-long Camino Real (‘Royal Road’) from Barichara through pretty countryside. The route–which was carved out in the 19th century as part of a wider network connecting villages in Santander–affords views of the surrounding valley, as well as Spanish moss hanging from trees and cacti lining the path. You might pass the odd local farmer or two, before reaching Guane itself after a couple of hours, where time can be spent feasting on lunch and enjoying the somnolent atmosphere all around.

Then, return to Barichara in a tuk-tuk (a typical means of transport here) and explore the village further on a walking tour. Discover the cobblestone streets, wood-beamed houses and monuments dotted across town; Barichara is a beautiful gem of a place in Colombia, with art and a laidback ambience at the heart of everything.

Overnight Casa Barichara

Meals B,L

Day8

cooking classes in colombia

Day8

Cooking Class in Barichara

This morning, treat your senses to a private cookery class at Casa Barichara, as there’s no better way to delve into local culture than with a taste of traditional cuisine. First, explore Barichara’s food market with a guide, observing the conversations and exchanges between traders and customers while also perusing the tempting produce on display. Then, return to the hotel kitchen and pull on an apron, ready to learn the chef’s secret recipes for traditional local dishes, before savoring each creation at the end; a just reward for your efforts!

After lunch, take the rest of the day at leisure to explore Barichara or unwind at your hotel. There’s a tempting pool to cool off in here, as well as hammocks on the terrace that are perfect for lazing with a book, and perhaps a cup of freshly brewed coffee in-hand.

Overnight Casa Barichara

Meals B,L

Day9

colombia colonial towns

Day9

Bucaramanga / Flight Home

Having relished your last few hours in this charming boutique hotel, at the appropriate time bid farewell to Barichara and head to the airport at Bucaramanga via private transfer, for your flight home.

Meals B

NOTE: The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.

Spring Break/Summer Trip Ideas for 2019

Exciting Travel Opportunities with Latin Excursions

With the holidays coming to an end, it’s time to begin making those New Year’s resolutions. Take a second to reflect on this year and what it meant to you. Maybe you wanted to be more active, perhaps you wanted to spend more time with family, or who knows maybe you accomplished all of your hopes and dreams. Either way, we at Latin Excursions believe 2019 is going to be an exciting time to explore the best luxury adventure travel experiences on the market. From beachfront bungalows in Panama to treehouses among giant turtles in Galapagos, we have you covered. Our goal is to allow each one of our travelers to have a unique travel experience that makes you feel connected to a new country and culture for life.

Our Latin Excursions’ trip specialists have come up with a handful of different destinations and accommodations that we recommend visiting for Spring Break or Summer in 2019. Enjoy!

Isla Palenque, Panama

A few months ago, Latin Excursions owner Eric Sheets visited Costa Rica to attend Remote Latin America travel show. One of the guest speakers was Hans Pfister, owner of the Cayuga Collection which Isla Palenque Hotel happens to be a part of. Hans advocated for everyone to make at least one change in our daily lives to make our world more sustainable. It’s easier said than done, but I’m confident that a visit to this amazing island-jungle lodge can change your perspective…

Only 5% of the island has been carefully & sustainably developed so guests at Isla Palenque will find plenty of serenity and seclusion. Accommodations include just eight gorgeous beachfront casitas and a six-bedroom villa perfect for families or groups of friends.

Galapagos Magic Camp

What if I told you that Latin Excursions could provide you with the opportunity to stay in a treehouse, in the Galapagos Islands, with giant Galapagos turtles awaiting your arrival? You probably would think I was crazy, but I would tell you to pack your bags because it’s time to go. This property on Santa Cruz Island is a true gem for travelers looking to discover Galapagos off the beaten path.

If you plan to visit Machu Picchu in a hurry, or find yourself on Ecuador’s mainland, a stay at the Galapagos Magic Camp can enable a quick, but truly meaningful journey to Santa Cruz Island without breaking the bank. The owners manage a private yacht only available to guests of the camp, so opportunities to snorkel and visit nearby islands are possible.

This lodge fits best with our Galapagos Magic Camp Explorer itinerary and combines well with a Coral I or II Cruise.

Galapagos Cruise – Evolution

One of our favorite spring break or summer options is to board the 32-passenger Galapagos Evolution luxury yacht. Starting from either San Cristobal Island or Baltra Island, this 8 day/7-night cruise is the perfect way for families or couples to get a firsthand, private glimpse of Darwin’s brilliant theory or natural selection by snorkeling, hiking, kayaking or simply wildlife watching from the deck, daily.

From the outside, Galapagos Evolution is instantly recognizable with its tall sail masts, vintage-style wooden balconies and dramatic narrowing hull, while within, the cabin décor is decidedly contemporary, lounge areas are comfortable and an outdoor sundeck with Jacuzzi will surely keep you coming back for more. All of this, plus plenty of onboard excursion equipment, kayaks, dinghies and guides, help the Evolution stand out among the more unique luxury Galapagos cruise vessels.

Route and Itinerary from Isla San Cristobal
Route and Itinerary from Isla Baltra

Alto Atacama – Desert Lodge & Spa in the Chilean Altiplano 

For a more bizarre land-based luxury adventure tour in South America, consider heading south to San Pedro de Atacama in Chile and leave the world for a while. The Alto Atacama Desert Lodge & Spa combines luxury with traditional design in charming terracotta that blends seamlessly with the deep red rock of the surrounding landscape. At this desert lodge, it’s inevitable but to notice the drifting silent sands of the Atacama Desert while they reveal ancient remains of lost indigenous civilizations.

It may be a challenge to tear yourself away from the Alto Atacama with its natural thermal pools and several swimming pools nestled in beautifully landscapes gardens, but it is worth it! Enjoy the company of other travelers for daily excursions in the breathtaking Atacama Desert, where high altitude mountain lakes and otherworldly landscapes leave you in awe. Highlights include the Tatio geysers, the highest and third largest geothermal field in the world, as well as the eerie Moon Valley, the Atacama Salt Lake, fascinating archaeological sites and quaint adobe villages. We recommend visiting our Pre-designed Journey to Chile itinerary to learn more about visiting the Atacama Desert with Latin Excursions!

If you haven’t already, take a look at our Atacama Desert Experience

Peru Adventure Tour: Journey to Machu Picchu and the Peruvian Amazon

The mystical country of Peru stretches from the northwestern coast of South America over the spine of the Andes and into the dense tropical jungle of the Amazon basin. From its eternal coastal deserts to the highest navigable lake in the world, Peru’s landscapes are as diverse as they are spectacular. We recommend this itinerary particularly for the months of March and April for a few particular reasons.

March and early April are in the shoulder season for Peru’s climate and it seemingly intertwines with the number of travelers that visit as well. During this time, it’s expected that you will experience occasional rainstorms at Machu Picchu and in the Amazon, but it is soon followed by sunshine and cool winds depending on your location and altitude.

This journey is custom-tailored for travelers looking to experience Machu Picchu and the Amazon all in one trip. The terrain of Peru is wild, and this itinerary is designed to give you a taste of its many different microclimates. Don’t worry, the food follows along with the microclimates and you can find fusion cuisine in nearly every city you visit. Over the span of nine days, you will be overlooking the Pacific Ocean from the shore in Lima, descending into the Sacred Valley of the Incas from 12,000 ft. in Cusco’s Andes, discovering the Seventh Wonder of the World, and entering the world’s largest rainforest!

For a day-by-day itinerary and more information, visit The Peru Adventure Tour.

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.

New Luxury Eco Lodge in Bolivia

“Glamping” Now Available in Bolivia

Glamping seems to be an up and coming trend in the travel industry recently, extraordinary lodges such as Galapagos Safari Camp in the highlands of Santa Cruz Island and Corocora Tented Camp in Colombia are popping up left and right. This is because well-traveled adventurers are beginning to realize the unique experience that each of these properties offer. Most of these ‘glamping’ destinations don’t have wi-fi and encourage their guests to detach from technology and reconnect with nature. They are all strategically placed to benefit the surrounding environment and provide the best views possible. Overall, the goal of these new-age lodging options are to preserve some of Earth’s most precious ecosystems, and Kachi Lodge is fully prepared to do just that.

Kachi Lodge Opening February 2019

We at Latin Excursions are excited to announce that Kachi Lodge, a new addition to the Amazing Escapes Luxury Camping Experience collection, will be opening for business in February 2019 at the mysterious Uyuni Salt Flats. Whether you plan on spending time in La Paz, Bolivia and are craving a quick visit to the world’s largest salt flat, or want to spend a month on a luxury South America adventure tour, we can accommodate your travel needs and get you to this new space age, out of this world lodge in Bolivia.

Tour the Uyuni Salt Flats

Set on the very Salar, Dome camp is somewhat of a Mad Max Adventure. From a distance, the white pods look like a space station designed by extraterrestials. The dome camp also has something of an observatory, or a folly built for a passionate astrophysicist. We will be cruising down south on easy wide dirt roads across never ending plains surrounded by volcanoes. Along the way, you’ll discover the first lagunas and their famous residents, the pink flamingos. On the last part, you’ll spot the giant cactus which can grow up to 10 meters high!

Its extreme geographical variations and culture can all be appreciated as part of a tailor-made luxury-travel journey in Bolivia. Take part in an adventurous journey through one of the wildest and most incredible lands on the planet, the surreal Uyuni Salt Flats. Experience our first-class services at exclusive spots in La Paz & Uyuni. Stay in luxury glamping domes with full camping equipment and private operation in Uyuni Salt Flat region, ending in La Paz, the highest capital on the planet. 

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.

Galapagos Cruise – Evolution from Baltra Island

Travel aboard the

Evolution

Refreshingly elegant and well-equipped too, the 32-passenger Galapagos Evolution is a real standout cruise vessel, both for its nostalgic appearance and the quality of itineraries it offers, with this particular route beginning from Baltra Island being no different. The Evolution itself boasts two sundecks, a Jacuzzi, lounge bar and modern interiors in addition to its expert crew and guides; plus, throughout this Galapagos tour you’ll also be treated to some truly iconic sights. From Baltra Island and sunset around the Daphne Major Islet on day one, early Galapagos highlights then come in the form of Vicente Roca Point off Isabela Island and abundant wildlife on Fernandina Island. Both of these are known for their populations of Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, Pelicans and Penguins, then Iguanas and Flightless Cormorants once you reach Fernandina. Panoramic views, snorkeling and plenty of marine life come with voyages between Bartolome, Santiago and Santa Cruz Islands, finishing up on the pristine sandy shores of Gardner Bay on Espanola Island; a classic Galapagos itinerary.

Visit our Galapagos page
to learn a bit about Galapagos

Itinerary

Day1

baltra-Ithabaca-canal-copy

Day1

BALTRA ISLAND / DAPHNE MAJOR ISLET

Having flown in from either Quito or Guayaquil, touchdown on Baltra Island where your guide is waiting at the airport to assist with any belongings and whisk you off to the dock and awaiting Galapagos Evolution cruise vessel. Once aboard, settle into your cabin and prepare for an early introduction to this Galapagos adventure, as the Evolution makes way for the picturesque islets of Daphne Major and Minor. Among other things, these small islands are well-known for their abundance of native bird species including Galapagos Martins, Blue-footed Boobies, Nazca Boobies, Short-eared Owls and Red-billed Tropic Birds.

Day2

Marine iguana with blue footed boobies, booby, Sula nebouxii and Amblyrhynchus cristatus, on Isabela Island, Galapagos, Ecuador, South America

Day2

ISABELA ISLAND / FERNANDINA ISLAND

Snorkeling these crystalline waters is a truly iconic experience, and some of the best in the Galapagos comes at Vicente Roca Point in the Bolivar Channel, Isabela Island. Day two of your Galapagos Evolution cruise begins by traversing the coastline on your way there, on the lookout for nesting seabirds, Nazca and Blue-footed Boobies, Pelicans and Penguins, before entering the ancient volcanic coves of Vicente Roca Point itself. Once here you can swim and snorkel admiring the colorful marine life, tropical fish and Sea Lions as you go.

Next, think Iguanas, Iguanas, and more Iguanas–both of the Land and Marine variety–as you moor up at Espinoza Point on Fernandina Island, a relatively recent volcanic outcrop to the Galapagos Archipelago’s far west, for this afternoon’s nature walk. Despite its barren and dramatic appearance, life does exist here, not only the native Iguana population but also Flightless Cormorants, Galapagos Penguins and Hawks, with a peppering of sturdy cacti and occasional mangroves too; Galapagos wilderness at its primitive best.

Day3

galapagos-Evolution-Al-Fresco-Dining

Day3

ISABELA ISLAND / URBINA BAY / TAGUS COVE

Visiting Isabela Island is often a highlight of any Galapagos tour, awash with varied species and its fair share of natural wonders, rich biodiversity and distinctive, dramatic scenery. This is characterized by its great craters such as Sierra Negra, Volcan Chico, and the charred shores of Urbina Bay which lie in the shadow of Alcedo Volcano, your first stop of the day. A dramatic stretch of dark sand coastline buffeted by volcanic rock and foliage, Urbina Bay is also heavily populated with Land Iguanas and, at certain times of the year, Giant Galapagos Tortoises, which all makes for quite a sight.

From here, head to one of the most atmospheric and iconic Galapagos spots: Tagus Cove, a former pirate hangout which was visited by Charles Darwin, though for very different reasons. Today, Tagus Cove is a great location to hike and snorkel, thanks to an abundance of Flightless Cormorants, Penguins, Finches and Yellow Warblers above ground; Sea Turtles and innumerable tropical fish below it.

Day4

Galapagos Islands. Ecuador. Bartolome Island.

Day4

BARTOLOME ISLAND / SANTIAGO ISLAND / SULLIVAN BAY

Start today at Bartolome Island, navigating wooden walkways to ascend to one of the best lookout points in the Galapagos. From this angle you get a 360-degree panoramic view of the wider archipelago, offering a visual perspective on how these islands were originally formed–particularly Santiago Island, Sullivan Bay and Pinnacle Rock.

This afternoon, the Evolution ventures north to Santiago Island and anchors in Sullivan Bay, an extraordinary place sheltering unusual wildlife and a distinctive Galapagos icon: Pinnacle Rock. Spend the afternoon exploring jet-black lava fields in search of kaleidoscopic Locusts and Lava Lizards, mollugo and cacti plants, before jumping aboard the pangas for a boat safari through waters where Penguins, Eagle Rays and Sea Turtles are commonly sighted. Finally, return to the Galapagos Evolution vessel for another evening under the stars.

Day5

galapagos-evolution-hot-tub

Day5

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND / RABIDA ISLAND

Having enjoyed another memorable evening aboard the Galapagos Evolution, first up on day five is Santa Cruz Island and Las Bachas, a pair of impeccable beaches with white coral sands found to the north of the island. In this paradise-like backdrop, all manner of creatures thrive, from Blue-footed Boobies patrolling the shore to Pink Flamingos, Great Blue Herons and White-cheeked Pintails wading the waters of a nearby lagoon.

The afternoon takes you to Rabida Island, awash as it is with flaming red sands populated by Blue-footed Boobies, Sea Lions and Starfish. Take a short walk inland to spot more Pink Flamingos gracing the shores of a yellow lagoon and Brown Pelicans nesting, as well as panoramas of the surrounding crimson cliffs. Afterwards, paddle around Rabida’s eastern peninsula by kayak, seeking Sea Turtles, Striped Salemas, Galapagos Sharks and Yellowtail Surgeon Fish.

Day6

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Day6

SANTA CRUZ ISLAND / CHARLES DARWIN RESEARCH CENTRE

Your final full day on this versatile Galapagos itinerary begins, quite rightly, with a visit to the all-important Charles Darwin Research Center at Puerto Ayora. Here, exciting exhibits and interactive displays go together with real-life conservation projects, including Giant Tortoise breeding and rehabilitation programs, allowing you to witness the legacy of Charles Darwin first-hand.

Learn more about these gentle creatures in the Wild Tortoise Reserve up in the highlands of Santa Cruz, a place of dense, green forests awash with moss and lichen. Then, after a nature hike through subterranean lava tunnels and a Scalesia forest frequented by Darwin’s Finches, spend the rest of the day at leisure. As one of the most diverse of all the Galapagos Islands there are many highlights of Santa Cruz to explore, so take stroll along the paradise-like Tortuga Bay, or maybe a bicycle tour in Puerto Ayora, if you’re feeling active.

Day7

espanola

Day7

Espanola Island

Your voyage on the Galapagos Evolution continues in fine fashion today, courtesy of the many nature and wildlife highlights that await you on Espanola Island, beginning at Punta Suarez. Look out for Sea Lions frolicking in the water, Marine Iguanas gripping the rocks, and intriguing bird species such as Masked and Nazca Boobies, Lava Herons, Waved Albatrosses and Swallow-tailed Gulls. The vast array of birdlife here gives Espanola a reputation for extraordinary biodiversity.

This afternoon, the Espanola experience continues at Gardner Bay, a pristine stretch of ivory-white beach. Armed with a snorkel or kayak, swim or paddle through the bay’s blue waters to see tropical fish like Yellow-tailed Surgeon and King Angelfish; larger marine life such as White-tipped Reef Sharks, Turtles and Sea Lions are also known to inhabit the bay. This is one of the most enchanting days of Galapagos wildlife encounters during your Galapagos cruise tour.

Day8

day01-Magnificent-Frigatebird-latin-excursions

Day8

SAN CRISTOBAL ISLAND / FLIGHT HOME

Your last day in the Galapagos with Evolution involves a visit to San Cristobal Island and the informative Interpretation Center nearby. Then, a hike up Cerro Tijeretas, or ‘Frigate Bird Hill’; a popular nesting site for both the Great and Magnificent species of Frigate.

Afterwards, it’s farewell to the Galapagos as your guides escort you to the airport and assist with any luggage, in plenty of time for your onward flight.

NOTE: The above itinerary reflects an intended program, however, it should be read purely as a guide. This is because weather conditions, wildlife encounters, and any unforeseen circumstances beyond the operator’s control on the day may affect the eventual itinerary, and route.

Galapagos Evolution

Evolution is one of our preferred luxury yachts for Galapagos cruises

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Both elegant and beautifully adorned, the 32-guest Galapagos Evolution Yacht fuses a nostalgic appearance similar to turn of the century steamboats with a modern, 21st century interior. From the outside, Galapagos Evolution is instantly recognizable with its tall sail masts, vintage-style wooden balconies and dramatic narrowing hull, while within, the cabin décor is decidedly contemporary, lounge areas are comfortable and an outdoor sundeck with Jacuzzi will surely keep you coming back for more. All of this, plus plenty of onboard excursion equipment, kayaks, dinghies and guides, help the Evolution stand out among the more unique luxury Galapagos cruise vessels.

Exclusive Galapagos Experience

With space for just 32 passengers, Evolution is certainly a boutique Galapagos yacht, a fact which enhances your experience of the archipelago no end. It means that there is a crew member for every two passengers, plus guides, so the service is always personal and excursions are intimate–there are no big group outings here! Then, between your Galapagos wildlife walks and snorkeling adventures, you also have plenty of space to unwind, either taking in the view from either of two sundecks, that irresistible Jacuzzi or the lounge bar; making for a gentler pace of life onboard the Galapagos Evolution Yacht.

Family-friendly Galapagos Boat

With slightly larger than average cabins available, comfortably fitting up to three or four people, the Galapagos Evolution is a good family-friendly option if travelling with the kids. Little ones will also love the games console room and tailored menu, plus certain excursions can be geared up towards sharing them with children, such as the two-person kayaks, child-friendly guides, special stargazing lessons and Explorers Kids Club too. What’s more, if traveling as a large or extended group, the entire Galapagos Evolution can be chartered privately, for something extra special.

Ideal forcouples and families

Evolution is one of our preferred luxury yachts for cruising in the galapagos

discover all of our galapagos journeys

2019 Per Person USD Rates Master Suite: A1 Suites: A2 & A3 Premium Saterooms: C1-C3 & C5-C9 Premium Stateroom: C4 Deluxe Staterooms: D1-D4 CHARTER - All Cabins (Max 32 guests)
8D / 7N Sat $7,950 $7,550 $6,600 $6,200 $6,200 $203,000

Prices are subject to change at time of booking.

Single Supplement: 75% for suites, 50% for all other cabins. 100% Single Supplement applies in all cabins and no discounts for children in Christmas and New Year's cruises.
Child Rates: 15% discount off regular cruise rates for children 15 years old and younger. Maximum of 3 children discounts per family, per booking (no exceptions)
An additional $500-$700 per person holiday surcharge applies for FIT (individual passengers) for Christmas and New Years cruises. Private charter surcharges apply for Christmas and New Years cruises. Please inquire for details.

Category:
Luxury
Capacity:
12
Number of Cabins:
6
Facilities:
Panoramic Sky Lounge and Bar, Dining Room, Sun Decks for Al Fresco Dining, Secluded Sun Deck with Jacuzzi
Length:
159 ft
Speed:
10 knots
All cabins feature:
Own private bathroom with bathtub, air condition, hair dryers, usb charger
Food Serving Style:
Al fresco dining
Dietary Accomodations Served on Board:
Vegetarian, Vegan
Drinks:
Water, Coffee, Tea, Natural Juices; not included alcoholic and bottled beverages
Single Cabin Supplement:
yes
Children Discount:
yes
Guide Languages:
Spanish, English - with supplement - German, French & Italian

Itineraries

Corocora Camp

Corocora Camp one of our preferred hotels when traveling in Colombia

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Situated in the surrounding plains of Colombia’s lush Orinoco River basin, Corocora Camp in Llanos Orientales offers a rare glimpse into the country’s cowboy culture and traditions, plus so much more during your stay. This is as exclusive and remote as it gets, with just four deluxe tents available, no Wi-Fi or mod-cons and very little phone coverage, though there is a great restaurant and bar, serviced by a friendly team of staff and guides. Instead, you have access to authentic ranch culture and cattle herding, horseback riding, birdwatching and photo safaris, as well as Corocora Camp’s very own conservation projects. So, for something truly different while staying in Colombia, a wildlife experience to remember and sense of blissful isolation while here, booking your stay at Corocora Tented Camp is the answer.

Real-life ranch in Colombia

Corocora is the real deal when it comes to experiencing authentic cowboy life in Colombia, with the chance to spend time with local llaneros (cowboys of the Orientales Region), learn the tricks of cattle herding, lassoing and of course, the all-important ranch BBQ! The history and traditions of this rural Colombian culture extends not only to the exciting cowboy pursuits themselves, but also a love of the land and wildlife within it, as can be seen while riding out into the countryside on one of Corocora’s well-trained and much-loved horses.

Exclusive wildlife experience

The available sleeping tents at Corocora Camp, plus a social tent full of books, sofas and games, feel every bit the safari wildlife lodge, with their simple though comfortable décor, vintage-style travel chests and hammocks outside; ideal for enjoying each picturesque sunset. When it comes to the surrounding wildlife then, whether being enjoyed on a nature trail, birdwatching walk or horse ride, there’s plenty of opportunities to immerse yourself into the action. Vast marshlands and Orinoco River estuaries here hide everything from White-tailed Deer to Jaguars, Monkeys, Pumas, Anacondas and even Pink River Dolphins! With numerous bird species, owls and herons to spot too, the daily sunrise walks, afternoon wildlife tours and nocturnal discoveries of Corocora Tented Camp are simply a must for nature-lovers visiting Colombia.

Ideal for Couples seeking a remote wildlife experience in Colombia, authentic cowboy culture and plenty of excursions, as well as a truly exclusive and authentic, rustic accommodation.

Corocora Camp is one of our preferred hotels when traveling in colombia

discover all of our colombia journeys