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

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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

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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!

Trancoso, Brazil with Latin Excursions from Latin Excursions on Vimeo.

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:

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!

Iguazu-Waterfalls-Awasi-Iguazu-PH-Miguel-Cesar No Visa Required, Come to Brazil!

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

1) Km 82 Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

Where to plan travel in Latin America in February?

When to plan a trip in 2019?

I’m sure you’re thinking, “Wait did Latin Excursions say 2019 trip? I just got done with the holidays!” Well, the only reason we mention is that many key areas are filling up now for Xmas and New Year of this year and even Easter and next years festive depending on the destination.

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 for the 2019 holiday season and why.

Top 7 South America Holiday Experiences:

Best Time to Explore Patagonia

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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.

Patagonia Planning Process: The One Year Rule

Here is the equation: if you want to visit Patagonia in February 2020, plan and book in February 2019 to get the most out of the trip planning process with Latin Excursions. 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.

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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.

New Years Eve at Fasano Rio, Rio de Janeiro Hotel

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.

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…

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Book a Xmas or Easter Family Reunion in a Galapagos Private Villa

When considering a 2019 holiday 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. There is still availability for the 2019 holidays, but it won’t last long.

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

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 the holidays in 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.

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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.

New Years at Punta del Este

Looking for an exclusive, relaxing Christmas and New Years 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.

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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

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Top 7 Colombia Travel Tips:

What You Need To Know About Colombia

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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

Best Times To Visit Colombia

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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.

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!

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.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

isla-palenque-infinity-pool-latin-excursions Spring Break/Summer Trip Ideas for 2019

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

galapagos-magic-camp-treehouse-sunset-latin-excursions Spring Break/Summer Trip Ideas for 2019

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

galapagos-evolution-boat-night Spring Break/Summer Trip Ideas for 2019

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 

alta-atacama-swimming-pool-4b Spring Break/Summer Trip Ideas for 2019

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

day08-10-inkaterra-canopy-walk-latin-excursions Spring Break/Summer Trip Ideas for 2019

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.

lima Spring Break/Summer Trip Ideas for 2019

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.

wendy-perrin-eric-sheets-collage-300x300 We Made the Wendy Perrin 2019 WOW List of Trusted Travel Experts!

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.

South America Travel Planner

The Difference Between a Custom and a Pre-Designed Tour

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

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

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

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

Pre-Designed Tours

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

Custom Tours

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

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

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

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

How to fly to Galapagos Islands

All flights lead to Ecuador for travelers headed to the Galapagos 

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

Linger in Ecuador

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

Spend a few days in Quito

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

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

Spend a few days in Guayaquil

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

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

Fly to the Galapagos Islands

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

Galapagos Interisland Flights

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

Ecuador Tours that Discover the Lesser Known Side of Ecuador

Destination or Passing Through? Ecuador Tours are for Both Travelers

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

Lay of the Land

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

From Quito, Overnight in Banos or Riobamba

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

The Cacao Trail

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

Coastal Explorations from Guayaquil

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

South from Cuenca to Loja and Vilcabamba

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

Private Ecuador Tours

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

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:


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!


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.

el-tesoro-blog-sidebar Plan a Colombia Honeymoon
el-tesoro-literally Plan a Colombia Honeymoon

Traditional Vacation Tour vs. Private Tour

Do You Like to Go Your Own Way?

For as long as vacations have been taken the vacation tour, better known as a “group tour” has existed. There is a good reason for this; it’s far easier to let someone else plan all the logistics. The is especially true when traveling to foreign destinations. Until recently, private tours were only for the very well heeled. But all that has changed!

Group Tours versus Private Tours

Back in the 1980’s, after airline deregulation, the travel industry began to explode around the world. Baby boomers; those born after World War II, were coming of age, having children and hungry for new experiences. Vacation tour operators sprang up everywhere, usually emanating from the local travel agent down the street. Someone with a sharp pencil figured out that a bus could hold 35 people. Airlines and hotels offer a special rate for groups willing to travel together. Bingo! The local travel expert could lead their neighbors all around the world and make a business out of it. This grew and grew and grew! Many of those operators are some of the largest vacation companies in the world today. But somewhere along the line, people who had the where-with-all became tired of the cookie-cutter tour experience and began to seek out travel professionals who had the expertise to provide a more personal experience.

Precious Vacation Time

Now, more than ever, people are looking to get the most out of their vacation time. It is precious and fleeting. We all have certain things we like to do when we are on vacation. It doesn’t coincide with the group vacation tour plan. What if you could enjoy the benefits and value of the traditional vacation tour without all the parts you don’t want? After all, traveling in a group always has the early bird and the tardy one and that’s just for starters!

A private tour begins with a destination, or a group of destinations. The logistics of getting to and from there is the next step. But after that, how you fill the days and nights is entirely up to you! Lovers of wine want to sample special bottles and talk with vintners about their craft. Foodies who also like to cook themselves are looking for an immersion experience that puts them in a hands-on situation. Hikers hike. Bikers bike. Shoppers shop. Any destination in South America can be personalized lightly or with gusto! It’s up to you. Split time between relaxation and activities you truly enjoy.

When you enlist the help of a private travel specialist, they have visited the hotels and villas, selecting only those they are proud to suggest in the itinerary. The already work with the local guides that have been fully vetted, sights not to be missed, artisans to visit along the way… even where to have lunch. These are the types of plans that come into play when planning a private tour. You can be involved as much as you like or leave it to the professionals to map out your time spent on vacation. Some people have the time to spend hours researching where to go and what to do. Those of us who do not have the time or like to do that sort of thing will find an extra bonus in having someone else do it all. You say, “Just tell me what to pack and when to be at the airport!”

How to Plan the Perfect Galapagos Island Honeymoon

Your Galapagos Honeymoon

Start your life together as a couple on a very special honeymoon experience in the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of South America’s Ecuador. Do only the things the two of you enjoy when you break free from the cookie-cutter honeymoon plan and create a custom, romantic vacation. It’s no secret that the top destination for honeymoons in South America is the Galapagos Islands. Your first step is to decide whether you want to explore from land-based accommodations or from aboard an intimate small ship. We’ve been helping travelers plan Galapagos honeymoons honeymooners for over a decade. Here are our top 5 Galapagos honeymoon experiences.

Two Land Based Galapagos Honeymoons

Chances are you are both a bit adventurous if you are considering the Galapagos for your honeymoon destination!

Why not consider glamping and fall asleep to the sounds of nature? The Galapagos Safari Camp Hotel is a one-of-a-kind accommodation to be sure. Here, you will find an African-style tent camp on the island of Santa Cruz, comprised of just nine eco-luxury tents, infinity pool and a panoramic lodge. This is a 5-star, luxury honeymoon experience like no other. Spend your days mountain biking, kayaking, trekking and boat excursions to other islands full of discovery! The farm-to-table cuisine from their own farm will top off an each memorable day.

The oceanfront Finch Bay Eco Hotel offers a somewhat more traditional style of accommodation with guest rooms and ocean view suites. Recognized as one of National Geographic’s Unique Lodges of the World, the hotel offers a myriad of activities including SCUBA certified diving excursions. There are no cars on this side of the island, so bicycling is carefree. Not only is this honeymoon hotel seriously committed to sustainability, you’ll find Galapagos inspired menus prepared by a Cordon Bleu Chef. Have dinner by candlelight on the beach or maybe in a cavernous lava tunnel! Each day, choose from naturalist guided tours, snorkeling, surfing, day-trips to nearby islands and much more.

Two Perfect Honeymoon Small Ship Cruises

Want to feel like royalty on your honeymoon? The 9-room motor yacht Grace, was once the private yacht of Princess Grace–but now she can be yours! Take an 8-day honeymoon cruise aboard this magnificent classic yacht. 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 your interests in cruising lean more towards modern than traditional, we invite you to consider the Origin, one of the newest small ships to enter the Galapagos cruising fleet. With only ten spacious staterooms, you’ll feel like the ship is all yours! With two naturalist guides on board, prepare to see all the flora, fauna and wildlife you’ve heard so much about. Amenities aboard include: fitness center, massage, jacuzzi, library, wet bar and more! Onboard equipment includes kayaks, snorkel gear, wetsuits and stand-up paddle boards. The cuisine is world-class. An eight-day honeymoon cruise aboard this special ship will provide memories that last a lifetime.

Ecuador – Galapagos Combination Honeymoon

Combine pioneer adventuring with romantic luxury and artisanal character on a 12-day overland honeymoon tour of Ecuador and the Galapagos. Hacienda Zuleta, named one of “Top Ten Finds” in the world by Outside Magazine, treats guests to a mountainous sanctuary high in the Ecuadorian Andes. Ride horses through Zuleta’s scenic 4,000 acres, hike or mountain bike to the Caranqui archaeological sites on the property, and dine on traditional Ecuadorian cuisine prepared fresh from the garden and creamery. Following this Andean cultural retreat, jet set over to the Galapagos Islands for an eco-luxury cruise or land adventure!

Did you find the sort of Galapagos honeymoon plan here that you are seeking? We recommend you give us a call, 866-626-3750, where we can talk about all the possibilities for yours. Perhaps you want to combine a cruise with some time on land? Or, spend more time in Ecuador? The choice is yours and our travel consultants are here to help you decide about the details!

The Atacama Desert Experience

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


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

San Pedro de Atacama

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

Hard or Soft Adventure?

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

Stay and Play

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

Combine Atacama with Other Destinations

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

Top South America Honeymoon Destinations

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

Galapagos Islands

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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Your Travel Guide To The Galapagos Islands

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

Top 10 Galapagos Islands Travel Tips:

What You Need To Know About The Galapagos Islands

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

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

Explore Our Galapagos Islands Trip Options

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

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

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

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

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

Best Times To Visit The Galapagos

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

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

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

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

Visiting With Your Family

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

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

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

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

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

How To Get There

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

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

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

Learn more about Flights to the Galapagos Islands.

The Best Way To Explore The Galapagos

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

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

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

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

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

Discover the Top 10 Beaches in the Galapagos.

Lodging Options on Land

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Scuba Diving In The Galapagos

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Experiencing Wildlife

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Galapagos Points of Interest

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

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

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

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

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

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

Side Trips To Ecuador and Peru

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

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

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

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

Start Your Galapagos Islands Journey Here

Latin Excursions Selected for Wendy Perrin’s WOW List 2018

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

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

Who is Wendy Perrin?

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

What is the WOW List?

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

Latin Excursions on the 2018 WOW List

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Galapagos Cruises Versus Land-Based Tours

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

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

Galapagos Cruises

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

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

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

Galapagos Cruise Boat Options

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

The Galapagos Cruise Experience

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

Land-based Galapagos Tours

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

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


Galapagos Lodges, Hotels and Villas

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

Combine a Land-Based Galapagos Experience with a Cruise

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

Ecuador Travel Extensions

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

Ecuador: Gateway to the Amazon and Galapagos

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

Accessing the Ecuadorian Amazon

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

Ecuador: Gateway to the Galapagos Islands

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

Multi-center Trips to Ecuador, the Amazon and Galapagos

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

Private Alternatives to the Inca Trail With Latin Excursions

We at Latin Excursions love Peru, adore the Inca Trail and know all too well that visiting Machu Picchu is one of the most rewarding travel experiences in the world. So, imagine avoiding the crowds and enjoying this once-in-a-lifetime tour on a remote trail in the company of a private guide–keep reading to find out how!

The classic Inca Trail is a truly iconic, unforgettable adventure that leaves its mark on everybody lucky enough to do it; four days of scenic hiking through the mountains, which culminates at the Lost City. However, alternative routes to Machu Picchu do exist, are just as spectacular and, importantly, get you nicely off the beaten track, meaning an even more intimate and exclusive experience away from the sometimes busy campsites of the main trail. Because we live and breathe this part of the world, we know all of the different Inca Trail options. The Ancascocha Trek is our favorite because it can be done privately, making it even more of a meaningful bucket list experience than any other in the region.

Being so remote, Latin Excursions is one of the few companies who offer private Ancascocha Treks for just your party; great news for anyone seeking a private Inca Trail of their own. In fact, National Geographic have placed the Ancascocha Trek in their top 25 list of Best Hikes in the World. Thanks to the ever-changing landscapes, rural Andean settlements and ancient ruins you encounter along the way, it is a well deserved accolade.

Setting off from Cusco, the trailhead proper begins at Soqma, a traditional Peruvian village, aiming for the blissfully isolated Chancachuco Valley. Day one of the Ancascocha Trail leads you past the Perolniyoq waterfall and little-visited Inca ruins of Corimarca, through thick forest and out onto open, scenic plains during several hours of picturesque hiking. At the end of the day  you have a well-earned camp and warming meal at Qeuñacancha to look forward to, a great spot to admire the views and reflect on your first day of exploration.

Day two of this spectacular hike has you walking for a good 6 or 7 hours.  Your effort will be richly rewarded with more Inca ruins along the way. Plus, find stunning views of Mounts Huayanay and Salkantay, as well as several mountain passes to enjoy. Undoubtedly though, a real highlight of the trail comes when you reach that evening’s camp at Ancascocha Lagoon, a high-altitude lake of deep blue waters and still more of those unforgettable Andean vistas.

Day three of your Ancascocha trek, we swap aerial views and steep climbs for remote settlements and river gorges, during a day of descents along gentler, tree-lined trails. As native foliage leads the way, this penultimate day of the hike takes you past Veronica Peak, across the Sillque River and further into the Urubamba Valley, getting ever-closer to Machu Picchu itself, though you will still not see a fellow tourist in sight!

Day four starts early with a short hike to Chillca to catch the jaw-dropping train ride to km104 where you will disembark to hike a section of the classic Inca Trail seeing more preserved ruins and finishing at the Sun Gate for your first view of Machu Picchu from afar. You then hike down to the Lost City of the Inca itself. Followed by a bus ride to Aqua Calientes and well deserved night in a hotel.

Day five you return to Machu Picchu for a full immersive experience spent exploring the warren-like passages, rooms, lookouts and temples. A private tour of this wonder of the world is the only way to do it. There will be plenty of time for discoveries before returning to Aguas Calientes by bus and onward to Cusco.

Adventure Travel FAQ – While this trekking experience is not for everyone, fit hikers will find it a challenging and rewarding experience. A majority of the hiking is done above 10,000 feet, reaching as high as 15,419 feet. The total length of walking is 36 miles, or roughly 8 miles a day.

How much do you carry while trekking? The trek includes pack animals to carry tents, food and cooking equipment and personal gear up to a maximum of 9kg per person (including sleeping pad and sleeping bag). On day 4, we  include a porter to carry guest’s personal belongings directly to your hotel in Aguas Calientes. So for the most part you carry just your box lunch and personal items in a day pack.

What is the food like? Your trek chefs have been trained by several institutes in Lima, Cusco and also by chefs coming from the NY Culinary Institute. They have learned the HACCP method and their operation ensures maximum hygiene. Above all, be prepared to have a superb culinary experience during the trek, including generous and delicious breakfasts, snacks, lunches, tea services and dinners that can be adapted to your very specific requests. Menus include a variety of Peruvian and international food and also cater for vegetarian, vegan and special dietary requests.

What are the accommodations like? During the camping nights, we include personal tents: 2 people in each 4-people-capacity tent, to allow for higher comfort and a safe keeping of backpacks. Our tents are 3-season, highly maintained to ensure an excellent performance in field. Hotel nights will be from a choice of our recommended lodgings in Aquas Calientes and Cusco.

From its secluded camp sites to the timeless views, beautiful mountain scenery and no shortage of ancient ruins throughout, Ancascocha, the alternative Inca Trail, really is one of adventure travel’s best kept secrets, to be enjoyed by the hearty few like yourself.

Latin Excursions Launches New Website

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

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

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

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

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

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

el-tesoro-blog-sidebar Latin Excursions Launches New Website
el-tesoro-literally Latin Excursions Launches New Website

5 Reasons to Go to the Galapagos Islands

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

1. The remoteness

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

2. The craters

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

3. The open zoo

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

4. The endemic species

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

5. The diving

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

Read More: Explore our Galapagos Travel Planer Tips

Safety & What it Means in Today’s Colombia

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

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

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

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

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

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

What about the cocaine drug cartels?

By Lee Wagner

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

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

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

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

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

Galapagos Travel Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

• Land vs. Boat-Based and How to Choose

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

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

• Snorkeling vs. Diving

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

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

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

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

Top Events to Attend in Cartagena, Colombia

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

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

Christmas & the New Year

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Easter Week

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

Vallenato Music Festival, 5-day event in April

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

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


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

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

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

A recommended Colonia walking tour

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

New Year’s Eve in South America

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

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

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

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

10 Awesome Awasi Outings in the Atacama Desert

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5. Half-Day Hike to Kari Canyon:

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

6. Half-Day Hike to Guatin and Gatchi:

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

7. Full-Day Hike to Patos Creek:

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

8. Half-Day Hike to Moon Valley:

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

9. Half-Day Bike Ride to Cejar: 

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

10. Half-Day Horseback Ride to Death Valley: 

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

Top 10 Galapagos Beaches

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

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

1. Tortuga Bay Beach, Santa Cruz Island

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

2. Gardner Bay Beach, Espanola Island

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

3. El Garrapatero, Santa Cruz Island

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

4. Puerto Villamil, Isabela Island

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

5. Conway Bay Beach

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

6. Bachas Beach

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

7. Rabida Island Red Beach

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

8. Bartolome Island Beach

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

9. Post Office Bay, Floreana Island

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

10. Puerto Egas, Santiago Island

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

Visiting the Charles Darwin Research Center

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

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

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

The Protected Galapagos Tortoise

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

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

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

Deciphering a Peruvian “Chifa” Menu

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Los Gemelos (The Twins)

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

gallery and shops walk on avenue charles darwin

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

puerto ayora fish market

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

charles darwin research center

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

Tortuga (Turtle) Bay

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

A Metal Flower, a Cemetery, and Dante’s Inferno: Welcome to Buenos Aires

What does a metal flower, a cemetery, and Dante’s Inferno all have in common?  The answer:  Buenos Aires.  A blooming 105-foot stainless steel flower comes to life every morning at sunrise; a spectacular cemetery of Greek pillars, grandiose mausoleums and Roman monoliths takes you back in time; and a building that descends from heaven to hell in a tribute to the Divine Comedy are just 3 of the many fascinating spectacles to see here in Buenos Aires.

A Flower that Blooms All Year

Built in 2002, the Floralis Genérica was a gift to the city of BA from Eduardo Catalano.  Standing over 75 feet tall and 105 feet wide, made of stainless steel and aluminum, this immortal flower opens and closes with the sun.  It sits inside a reflecting pool, within a park saddling the Law Library, in the neighborhood of Recoleta.  Its daily homage to the sun creates a giant reflection of the city, its surrounding park, and the open sky.  At night, it closes itself around a blue light.  This artistic tribute to eternal beauty is both mesmerizing and a photographer’s dream.

Photo by Lee Wagner

The Most Beautiful Cemetery in the World

The Recoleta Cemetery is in itself an art piece.  Just a few blocks away from the Floralis Genérica, this cemetery is a final resting place for politicians, military heroes, celebrities, and most of all, the wealthy.  It was the city’s first cemetery, built in 1822, and what started off as a traditional cemetery, soon took off as an architectural competition.  The area was designed like a mini city, with tree-lined walkways, stone streets, alleyways and plazas.  All 4,800 vaults are visible above ground, some occupying real estate 6 levels below the surface, but all of them housing caskets.  As BA revved up for its architectural boom in the 1880’s, this cemetery became a rivalry among the wealthy, each tomb built to out-shine the last.  Much of the materials used were brought over directly from Paris and Milan.

The grand entrance of neo-classical gates and Doric columns leads you into endless rows of Greek temples, fairytale grottoes, cathedral domes, and Gothic chapels.  The most famous grave, of course, is Eva Peron’s, whose body was exhumed 3 years after her death (due to her husband’s forced exit from the Presidential office) and placed in a secret hiding place in Europe for 20 years before being returned to her family’s mausoleum in the cemetery.  Quite possibly the most famous person in Argentine history, her casket is placed more than 15 feet below the surface under tight security.

One of the many sad but touching stories in the cemetery is of a young woman, Liliana Crociati de Szaszak, who was killed by an avalanche in Innsbruck, Austria at age 26.  Her parents constructed a life-size bronze statue of her in her wedding dress.  Shortly after, her beloved dog Sabú died and his statue was added next to hers as an eternal companion.  Her mausoleum is in Neo-Gothic style, a noticeable contradiction to those around it.

Photo by Lee Wagner

Palacio Barolo: Dante’s Inferno, etc.

One of the strangest and most interesting tours I’ve been on was of Palacio Barolo, BA’s first skyscraper built in the 1920’s.  Oddly enough, the building was constructed initially as a mausoleum for Dante Alighieri’s ashes, the author of the Divine Comedy.  The building’s owner, Barolo, was afraid all of Europe would be destroyed during WWI, and Dante’s ashes along with it. 

The building itself took on symbolic expressions and analogies from Dante’s poem.  As you walk in, the lobby itself represents Hell, with serpents and dragons peering down from the corners.  The place where Dante’s ashes would have been stored is in a marble box under a condor in the center of the lobby (they never did get ahold of his ashes).  Floors 1-14 represent Purgatory, and 15-22 represent Heaven.  The dark lobby of Hell eventually raises up to the natural light (on the top floors) of Heaven.  The address represents the years it was written, 1308-1320 (it’s on the 1300 block), and the building height (100 meters) matches the number of cantos in the poem.

The view from the glass tower on the highest floor is worth the trip in itself, allowing you to peer out over Plaza Mayo, National Congress, and the French architecture that fills the city.  On a clear day, you can see almost all of Buenos Aires from the renowned lighthouse that mimics a true celestial sphere, just like Paradise described in the poem.  Dante would be proud.

Well, Hello There, Buenos Aires: Discovering a city that feels like home

Buenos Aires is immediately charming.  It feels warm, accessible, clean… and incredibly familiar.  It looks like Paris, it looks like New York City, it feels like Rome and Madrid.  Yet it’s none of these cities, and every one of them, all at once.

We pulled into BA on a bus from Córdoba, and as I looked out of my window, noticed a Chelsea sign alongside red subway circles for the 1, 2, 3 and 9 in addition to the green line’s 4, 5, and 6… was I in New York City?  Turns out I was just outside of the Plaza Holanda, or a smaller version of Central Park, complete with 2 ponds and pedal boats, geese, a road for cars and joggers, and plenty of grass and trees.  I haven’t been able to find these signs since, and can only assume they were posted for a party or film, but they were appropriate all the same.

This marks the edge of Palermo, where I live now, and which could easily be the West Village or SoHo, in New York City.  In fact, they call this specific section of the neighborhood Palermo SoHo for that very reason.  Plenty of expats roam the streets.  Nondescript cafes and restaurants pepper the blocks next to mini bodegas, laundromats, and apartment buildings with caged-in terraces (which remind me more of Tel Aviv than New York City).  Brick buildings, French baroque architecture, modern square apartments, and street art fill in the side view as you walk down the street.  The food is great, the cafes are beautiful, and you can tell that you’re in a well-kept tree-lined city with giant parks just a stone’s throw away.  Random alleys cut paths occasionally and cobblestone streets alternate blocks.  The subway (the Subte) resembles New York City’s, but with much less grime and chaos.  And it’s a city where you just want to walk and walk… and walk. 

Buenos Aires is a European City in South America.  It’s a refined New York City, with more 18th Century French architecture and less people on the streets (though I have been squished in subway cars, caught in pedestrian traffic at corners, and slammed in gridlock traffic… it still is a city, after all). 

As a tour guide once said: the locals are -for the most part- Italian immigrants, influenced by the Spanish, who desperately want to be French.  They have their own Spanish ‘vos’ slang (which has the tones and stresses of Italian), and are taller and lighter skinned than their neighbors to the north.  In fact, the majority of the population doesn’t look or sound South American in the least bit.

When it’s nice out, the sky is a deep blue, just like in Córdoba.  Cloudless and solid.  It’s July now, the dead of winter, yet the average temperature is 53.  It’s humid, though, so when it’s grey, it can feel 10 degrees colder and on the verge of rain.

Walking the city is refreshing, like walking the streets of New York City.  The neighborhoods meld together and are filled with one alluring block after another.  The architecture varies, but in the downtown neighborhoods, the city is filled with classical and neoclassical French styles, most built in the early 20th Century.

BA’s heyday was 1880-1930, right around when this city became the country’s capital, and when agriculture money brought the land owners in Argentina to Dubai status.  That’s right, Dubai.  The locals claim Argentina was the wealthiest country in the world at that time.  Like Dubai today, the city went into a frantic building boom and instead of looking towards Spain for inspiration, the city replicated Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s Parisian layout.

The main square, Plaza de Mayo, was adjusted so that spectacular boulevards could fan out like rays of the sun. The square’s government building, the Cabildo, which remains as one of the few colonial structures still standing, was cut in half to make way for one of the boulevards.  The square’s park, like many in the city, is a Parisian design.  Casa Rosada, BA’s version of the White House (though the President does not reside here and the building is pink, which is -some say- a result of bull blood mixed in with the sealant on the building) directly faces the Cabildo.  These two heads at either end of the square mark one of the most important spots in the city, being where the city began in 1580.  The square itself, however, only provides a glimpse into the city’s beauty, design, and personality.

Buenos Aires is enchanting, but familiar.  There’s an acute feeling of being on the other side of the world, way down here in the Southern Hemisphere, yet the city’s welcoming people and stunning architecture makes it feel like home. 

Photo by Lee Wagner

Wellness: Bogotá Discovered

Bogotá is inundated by the great outdoors.  Live walls and parks are sprinkled throughout the city, bike paths dominate sidewalks, and mountains covered in hiking trails and jungle are at your backdoor.  There’s no excuse, it’s time to be active and get outside. 

The city of Bogotá sits in what was once Lake Humboldt, at 8,660 ft., in the Andes mountain range.  The savanna, as it’s called, has 2 rainy seasons, each 3-4 months long, so it’s not a matter of if it’s going to rain, it’s a matter of when.  Carry an umbrella with you at all times, or at minimum a hat.  The rain doesn’t stop locals, but it may make most visitors hesitate before going outside.  Such is life in Bogotá.  The good news is that everything is green, lush and clean.  And when the sun comes out, you’ll find yourself whispering ‘what is this… Gorillas in the Mist?’ as the clouds rise and show off the jungle mountain range alongside the sprawling city.

Photo by Lee Wagner

You have multiple hike options from almost anywhere you’re staying in Bogotá.  In North Bogotá, you’ll find the beautiful hike of Sendero Quebrada La Vieja.  Off of downtown, you’ll find Monserrate and trails to Lady Guadalupe.  All 3 of these famous hikes have gorgeous views of the city (assuming there’s no cloud cover).  Monserrate is the most popular with visitors and is a pilgrimage destination.  Hiking the trail on a Sunday, you may pass people making the trek on their knees.  There is a funicular and gondola option, however, and at the top are the 14 stages of the cross, a church, restaurants and an outdoor market. 

Just an hour and a half outside the city is the tiny town of Suesca: Colombia’s most famous area for rock climbing.  We went hiking, bouldering, and cave exploring in this area with 3 guides.  It was my first time bouldering in a cave.  Careful hand and feet placement are crucial as you work to avoid falling into the numerous cave ponds, holding on to sharp rocks with just the tips of your fingers.  How deep are these ponds, you ask?  If you’re 5’2″, they’re chest deep.  Yup, I took a plunge on my first attempt.  Other than being a bit wet and cold the rest of the day, the scenery, views, professional rock climbers and high-liners were all spell-binding.  Most hikers are trailed by a few happy dogs who find their way up the cliffs and, amazingly, over narrow swing bridges.  At the end of the day, the community of hikers and climbers all congregate at the 4 shack restaurants in town to relax, refuel, and tell the gripping tales of that day.  

 Aside from the Gold Museum and Andrés Carne de Res restaurant, a visit to one of the Flower Farms here in Bogota is almost a requirement.  Because of the biodiversity of this country and the wet climate, Colombia is the world’s 2nd largest flower exporter.  We went to Bacata Finca’s mum farm, just one of 5 farms they own on the outskirts of Bogotá.  You’ll gain a whole new appreciation for buying flowers at the store after walking through the hand-planting, watering, and tending that is required for the growth of 70,000 flowers per day.  During Mother’s Day week, they ship 5 million mums alone overseas.

Ciclovia: Sundays and holidays are for biking in this city.  Major roads are closed to pedestrian-only traffic, and the streets line with sliced fruit and juice vendors.  Take Carrera 15 downtown to La Candelaria on a bike (about 6 miles each way from Zona T) and experience the excitement and chaos of downtown.  Street performers consist of Michael Jackson look-a-likes  dancing to Thriller, silver painted men singing the blues, and Alien vs Predator characters posing for pictures (among many other eyebrow-raising scenes).  And alongside all of this, couples have no problem dancing Tango and Salsa next to 1980’s boomboxes blasting music.

Bogotá may be the city your mom told you to avoid in the ’90’s, but it’s blossomed into a safe, affordable capital with access to the path less traveled.  Discover the great outdoors of the new Colombia before everyone else does.

Chile Travel Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Brazil Travel Tips

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

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

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

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

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

Discovering the Ancient Figures of San Agustin by Foot or Horseback

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

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

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

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

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

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

3 Things That Might Surprise You on a Galapagos Trip

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

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

1. It is very, very hot.

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

2. The animals do not fear you.

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

3. It is not overly touristy.

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

Argentina Travel Tips

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

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

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

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

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

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

Finding Paradise in Corumbau, Brazil

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

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

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

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

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