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South America Odyssey

Welcome to the South America Odyssey Blog

Don’t miss a puma sighting because of your shoddy binoculars!

South America is home to scenes of dramatic landscapes, fascinating wildlife, colourful birds, beautiful cloud forests and all in all the great outdoors at its very best… The list could go on and on – it is so vast, with so much to see!

One thing is for sure, wherever you are travelling to on your South America adventure, the only way to make the most of it is to have some good binoculars – we can’t stress this enough…

From spotting the vibrant birds fluttering around Monteverde in Costa Rica, to glimpsing the specific quirks of the unique Galapagos wildlife, and to the ultimate South America wildlife spot of a rare puma in Patagonia –  you definitely don’t want to miss moments of a lifetime because you got a “bargain” pair of unfocused, blurry binos! Trust us – this is so important.

A good place to start when considering a good pair of binos is this article which gives all the info you need when choosing a perfect pair for your trip of a lifetime. In our opinion, not buying a good pair of binos for such an adventure is equal to going to Italy and not eating pasta or pizza… Something you will 100% look back on with regret.

A Tourist Guide to Brazil

An introduction to Brazil
Thank you for getting in touch and requesting information on Brazil. We have put together this guide to introduce Brazil to you knowing that is very easy to get bamboozled by too much information, therefore we hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed. As such it is not meant to be definitive – for further details we strongly recommend that you look at our website or get in touch as we would be delighted to talk to you all about Brazil.

Country summary and map

Brazil is a colossal country in size that makes up more than half of the continents land mass. In
This staggeringly diverse country you will find some of the continents finest beaches, remote lodges in
biodiverse Amazon and Pantanal, charming colonial towns and pulsating cities. Brazil offers so much
for everyone, and that’s why so many people fall in love with this special country and return regularly to continue their love affair.

Highlights of the county

Iguacu Falls
The Iguacu Falls is a collection of 280 waterfalls and without a doubt one of the “big 5” tourist attractions in South America. Many colourful bird species and small mammals call this extraordinary place home. As well as helicopter rides you can water-raft, take a short train ride to where the Parana and Iguazu rivers merge or take an exhilarating speed boat ride under the falls. The only hotel worth staying in for these excursions is Das Cataratas – a stunning hotel by Belmond is the only hotel located within the National Park.

Rio de Janeiro
Rio is one of South America’s most iconic cities. It looks down on world famous beaches, vibrant communities and is a passionate city whose heart beats that little faster once a year during carnival.
A place where glitzy malls back on to run down neighbourhoods and the Cariocas (Rios residents) live passionately amongst the marvelling tourists. It comes alive on weekends where there are a couple of notable street parties with local food vendors, cocktail makers, and you can’t mention Rio without mentioning its love affair with football.
A 5* stay is ensured at Belmond Copacabana Palace which looks over the famous beach – many stars have passed through its doors as noted by the “Hall of Fame” on the second floor.

Pantanal
Wildlife spotting in the Pantanal is surprisingly easy when the seasonal flooding subsides (April-September) and the ecosystem of ponds, streams and lakes where you can spot storks, capybara, caiman, parrots, puma and jaguars is at its most accessible. Most of the area is privately owned by large farm conglomerates or international conservation programs making it the best wildlife experience in Brazil.
One of these private reserves is home to Caiman Ecological Reserve – this will provide an informative and traditional, comfortable base to explore the region from.

Amazon Rainforest
The colossal tropical rainforest sweeps across over half of Brazil offering a sanctuary for a multitude of flora, fauna and indigenous tribes. A stay here is about being in a beautiful habitat, rather than seeing lots of wildlife- as the area is so vast, the animals don’t tend to congregate around the lodges and people. Although hard to get to as you have to fly before settling into your lodge, it is worth the visit if you want to be surrounded by this rare and threatened ecosystem.
Enjoy daily botanical excursions from the comfort of Cristalino Lodge – our favourite remote hideaway deep in the forest.

Paraty and Buzios
These two towns are picturesque stop offs near to Rio De Janeiro and great for families.
Paraty is a charming little town that floods daily and is a great spot where you can explore the forests, soak up some Brazilian rays or wonder around the preserved historical centre. A picturesque spot ideal for families and those looking for more than just a beach due to its close proximity to the forest where you can trek, kayak, snorkel and much more. Stay at the Casa Cairucu – a remote, tiny lodge with stunning views and many activities to be enjoyed.

In Buzios find an abundance of crystal clear waters and trendy eateries on this green peninsula a few hours north of Rio de Janeiro. Now trendy bars and up market boutique hotels litter this location that is used by urbanites to escape the hustle and bustle of Brazils cities at the weekend – the South of France of Brazil.
One of our favourites is located close to the peaceful waters of the Ferradura beach. The Insolito is a boutique property with lush green gardens, all the mod cons and great views out over the bay.

Trancoso
This laid back beach location is slowly hitting the tourist radar due to its chilled out vibes, crystal clear waters and the friendly nature of the locals. Find a 17th century whitewashed church, stylish little bars, delicious seafood restaurants and miles upon miles of beach – an ideal spot for a romantic beach break.
Villas Trancosas is a fantastic place to stay if you are looking for a romantic and stylish boutique hotel – a great base to explore the region from.

Neighbouring countries to combine with Brazil itinerary
The Iguazu Falls is a convenient pathway into Argentina for most visitors if you want to explore this similarly vast and diverse country. There are also direct flights to Peru taking 5 hours, if you wish to also explore the famous Machu Picchu and other points of interest.

General information on Brazil

When is the best time to visit?
Brazil is an all year destination but as it is so expansive, it really depends on your itinerary. The hottest time of year is late December – March and is the local holiday season so can get very busy. Avoid The Pantanal during the wet seasons (Nov-March) as mosquitos can be a problem – but if you are after beaches, then this is the ideal time to visit.

How much dos a trip to Brazil cost?
There is no easy answer to this one as all of our itineraries are designed from scratch to suit your interest and budget. As a general guide then a two week trip to Brazil would start at $6,000 per person.

What is the currency?
Brazilian Real – notes can be taken out from many ATMs at airports and in larger towns. Some banks accept UK credit/debit cards in larger towns (Banco do Brasil) but the currency is also available from money exchange points.

What is the language?
Brazilian Portuguese

What is the time difference?
GMT -3 hours

How do I get there?
A few airlines offer direct flights, but others have European connections. Average flight time is 11 hours.

A Tourist Guide to Argentina

An introduction to Argentina

We have put together this guide to introduce Argentina to you knowing that is very easy to get bamboozled by too much information. We hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed. As such it is not meant to be definitive – for further details we strongly recommend that you look at southamericaodyssey.com/argentina or get in touch; we would be delighted to talk to you through the options.

Country summary
Argentina is the 8th largest country in the world which makes you spoilt for choice when deciding where you want to visit. Deep in the south is an outdoors lover’s paradise – Patagonia. Here you can don crampons and crunch along glaciers, trek or ride through national parks, visit penguin colonies or catch a boat to Antarctica. In the northern part of the country you will find some of the worlds most renowned and revered wineries. No trip to Argentina would be complete without a stint in Buenos Aires which you can explore by day before slicing into a succulent steak at a traditional parrilla before heading to a late night tango show.

Highlights of the county
Patagonia
Argentinian Patagonia is vast, remote, wild and breathtaking. It is made up of extremes in terrain and landscapes. Dotted in certain parts are different wildlife species so you must plan your trip carefully depending on what you want to see as it is such a huge region.
South, at the edge of the world, you can sail over to Antarctica from Ushuaia.
Take a boat from El Calafate to the impressive Perito Moreno glacier – the only advancing glacier in the world.
Further north you can visit the Fitzroy national park for beauty equalling the acclaimed Torres de Paine in Chile – though less visited than Torres. Here you will find jagged horizons, wildlife and flora over rolling hills and nestled in between these, crystal lakes. From the glaciers in the south to the snow tipped volcanoes in the north you will not be disappointed. It is such a huge region but we suggest you base yourself at Eolo Lodge for very comfortable accommodation to come back to after your excursions and adventures in the north of Argentinian Patagonia.

The Lake District
Here, you will find scenes of unparalleled beauty. Think crystal clear, glacier-fed lakes in between dramatic rolling hills, snow-capped mountains and lush green forests. Along with the spectacular sights, be enthralled with all the activities this fantastic region has to offer such as skiing in the winter, walking, horse riding, kayaking and fishing – endless things to do.
Bariloche is an ideal place to base yourself in whilst you travel around the Lake District – it is characteristic of the region in its beauty and sits just on the outskirts of the beautiful Nahuel Huapi Lake. Bariloche has varying styles of accommodation but all of which are excellently situated. Stay at Llao Llao Hotel for an activity based big hotel experience, or to the more intimate Las Balas for great views of the lake from your window.

Buenos Aires
This is Argentina’s vibrant capital and is known as the ‘Paris of South America’. The romance of this city is encapsulated by the Latino performers in the bustling squares, fantastic wine selections, interesting art and colourful barrios (neighbourhoods). It is thriving, stylish and nostalgic which contributes to the European feel of the city, but with the zest of South America. For a supremely luxurious stay look to the classic and stylish barrio of Recoleta, and within it Alvear Palace.

The Pampas
The endless plains of the Pampas are home to the classically Argentinian cowboys who wrestle and rodeo, make this a stop of point to ride horses and guzzle on fantastic wine and BBQ beef. Although not much there but a few nice towns, it has a definite atmosphere and authenticity to it – so we would recommend it as a good relaxing introductory stop to get a feel for the history of Argentina and its culture.
For a great Argentinian cowboy experience look no further than Estancia La Bamba – with its great views, very comfortable accommodation and array of activities it is an ideal base.

Mendoza
Mendoza is a wine lover’s dream. Here, in the west of the country, some of the best wines in Argentina are produced. The feel of the region is pretty much encapsulated in its nickname as the “land of sunshine and wine”. You can also do activities from here if you are not content with sipping Malbec and soaking in the scenes of the Andes outside your window.
We would recommend staying in one of the vineyards like Cavas Wine Lodge which offers a super comfortable stay in a 60 acre private vineyard with dramatic views, and of course, excellent wine.

Iguazu Falls
The Iguazu Falls is a collection of 280 waterfalls and without a doubt one of the “big 5” tourist attractions in South America. Many colourful bird species and small mammals call this extraordinary place home. As well as helicopter rides you can water-raft, take a short train ride to where the Parana and Iguazu rivers merge or take an exhilarating speed boat ride under the falls. The only hotel worth staying in for these excursions is the Loi Suites. With its excellent location, this is the only option for fully immersing yourself in the wild close proximity of the falls.

The North-West
The North West provides an alternative and varied region, slightly off the beaten track. A great place to base your-self here is Salta. Find pre-Inca ruins, and historical museums, beautiful villages and architecture, and scenery ranging from salt flats, moonscapes, to huge mountains. We would recommend a stay at Legado Mitico, a colonial mansion whose individual rooms are dedicated to a local hero.

Ibera Wetlands
If you have not yet had your fill of wildlife spotting visit the Ibera Wetlands – the expansive marshes are home to over 300 bird species and a huge variety of mammals and fish. Go here for birding, horse riding and go on boat trips. Stay at the fantastically located Aguape Lodge – you will get a comfortable stay in a great location to explore the area from.

Neighbouring countries to combine with Argentina itinerary
This is a good opportunity to visit Chile, and see what the other side of the Andes has to offer. Cross in several different locations – in the north travel from Salta to the Atacama Desert, from Mendoza to the bright lights of Santiago, from Bariloche to Puerto Montt or from El Calafate to Torres del Paine.

General information on Argentina

When is the best time to visit?
Prime time to visit is between the months of December to March when most of the country is hot and dry. September, October and November are considered the shoulder seasons where the north is still basking in the sun, but the weather in Patagonia can be harsh. Those looking to try out the world class ski resorts should consider a trip in July and August.

How much dos a trip to Argentina cost?
There is no easy answer to this one as all of our itineraries are designed from scratch to suit your interest and budget. As a general guide then, a 22 day trip to Argentina staying in mid-range hotels would cost $8,000 per person excluding international flights. For  itinerary samples please see here.

Is the altitude a problem?
Whilst most regions are not high altitude, some Northern parts of Argentina, specifically on the mountainous road trips in the Andes can get up to very high altitudes . It is not a problem, but just something to be wary of and we always take altitude into consideration when designing trips. Even if you are very fit, keep in mind to always stay hydrated and hopefully you will acclimatise quickly. Talk to your GP if you have any medical conditions prior to your trip.

What is the currency?
Argentinian Peso is the currency. UK credit or debit cards are accepted in many hotels and for restaurant bills they are handy, but it is a good idea to have a bit of Pesos cash too before your visit. This is because it can prove tricky withdrawing Peso from ATMs there because of charges, limits and faulty machines. Generally, bringing US dollar is a good idea, as you can exchange these for Peso at a bank (notes less than US$50 are not generally accepted).

What is the language?
Spanish.

What is the time difference?
GMT -3 hours.

How do I get there?
There are direct flights from UK but some routes change aeroplanes in Brazil, Europe or the US. Average flight time is 16 hours.

A Tourist Guide to Chile

An introduction to Chile
We have put together this guide to introduce Chile to you knowing that is very easy to get bamboozled by too much information. We hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed. As such it is not meant to be definitive – for further details we strongly recommend that you look at southamericaodyssey.com/chile or get in touch as we would be delighted to talk to you all about Chile.

Country summary
Chile is an elongated country that measures 4,300km in length and only 177km wide. Chile is all about the great outdoors. In southern Chile you will find Patagonia and the world renowned National Park of Torres
Del Paine.

Contrastingly, in the north the arid deserts and salt flats make for a great combination. Surrounding Santiago there are a number of marvellous wineries and lodges for some rest and relaxation. For a lover of the outdoors in search of stunning and dramatic scenery then look no further and put this place on your list.

Highlights of the county
Patagonia
This is a wild and truly stunning area of Chile – a wilderness lover’s dream. Ice capped mountains make the skyline, whilst on the ground find vibrantly coloured lakes, hidden waterfalls, cool forests, meadows and roaming hardy wildlife.
Overlook the first class Torres Del Paine National Park out your bedroom window whilst staying Explora Patagonia , the only lodge located in the park. Or outside the park is the luxurious Awasi Pantagonia.

The Lake District
Sometimes the beauty of the Lake District gets overshadowed by the renowned Torres Del Paine National Park. However, this area is abundant in lakes, volcanoes and general natural splendour. It is still home to indigenous people, the Mapuches. The lush scenery makes for excellent mountaineering, hiking, water rafting, fishing and horseback riding. In this area, our pick of accommodation would be the Hotel Cabana Del Lago, which makes coming home from an outdoorsy day very comfortable with the pool, cosy rooms and lovely view of Lake Llanquihue.

The Atacama Desert
This eerie and awe-inspiring desert – the driest place on earth – is not a wasteland, but a peaceful location with fantastic star gazing, sunsets over “The Valley of the Moon” and rough edged horizons sitting on expansive flat plains. Enjoy this unique and ghostly setting from the back of a horse in an adventurous stay, or simply from the base of the village San Pedro de Atacama.
Choose from the stylish Alto Atacama which lies just outside San Perdo de Atacama for a remote stay, or the Tierra Atacama which boasts a luxurious and modern feel.

Santiago
Santiago is a fantastic cosmopolitan city overlooked by the snowy-peaked towering Andes and coastal mountain range. Although a fun stop of after you land, we believe that the beauty of Chile lives in the great outdoors beyond the bustle of Santiago.
We suggest staying in the contemporary Luciano K hotel which is perfect situated in the bustling Lastarria neighbourhood making it a great base to explore the city from.

More places to visit in Chile
The Wine Region and Valparasio
An hour and a half’s drive North-West of Santiago is the attractive and (quite literally) rainbow coloured bohemian city, Valparasio. It is nestled on a hillside resulting in its ever famous escalators which tirelessly scale up and down the city. Check out the social scene in Victoria Square, or bargain hunt for gems through O’Higgens Square’s cluttered and vibrant flea-markets.
After immersing yourself in this unique city, as you travel south you can spend the night at a boutique hotel in the Chilean Wine Valleys to sip on some vino whilst soaking in the brilliant views.

Easter Island
If you have time, pop over to Easter Island off the coast of Chile, which is home to the world’s largest open-air museum consisting of 600 Moai stone statues. We would recommend visiting here purely for those with an active interest in the statues – otherwise you may be disenchanted by the long 6 hour flight from Santiago to arrive at a tiny island with very cold beaches, and little shelter.
But for the keen historians, accommodation on Easter Island cannot beat the fantastic Explora Easter Island hotel.
Neighbouring countries to combine with Chile itinerary
Crossing the Andes from Chile into Argentina is possible at a number of points, though the scenery on the Argentinian side of the border is similar. One especially popular combination is to cross the border to visit the Glacier at Calafate and then fly up to the fantastic Buenos Aires and home.

General information on Chile

When is the best time to visit?
If you want to include Patagonia in your trip then the best time to visit is from October to March. During these months the weather is most agreeable, although you can still experience four seasons in one afternoon. Other areas of Chile can be visited year round.

How much dos a trip to Chile cost?
There is no easy answer to this one as all of our itineraries are designed from scratch to suit your interest and budget. As a general guide then, a two week trip to Chile staying in top range hotels would cost about £5,500 per person excluding international flights. For itinerary ideas please see here

Is the altitude a problem?
Some Northern parts of Chile such as areas in the Atacama Desert are in high altitude, which can cause altitude sickness. A holiday in Patagonia will not be so, but it is important to be aware of the altitude in your specific destinations as some of Chile’s attractions are over 3,000m. It is not a problem, but just something to be wary of. Even if you are very fit, keep in mind to always stay hydrated and hopefully you will acclimatise quickly. Talk to your GP if you have any medical conditions prior to your trip.

What is the currency?
Chilean Peso is the currency. UK credit or debit cards are accepted in larger towns and cities but limits may be lower than at home. You can also exchange US dollar cash in money exchanges but rates for euros and starling are harder to find. VAT is not included on drinks etc. in hotels if you pay in US$ cash or card.

What is the language?
Spanish.

What is the time difference?
GMT -4 hours.

How do I get there?
BA now fly direct to Santiago though the flight is just under 15 hours

A Tourist Guide to Ecuador

An introduction to Ecuador
We have put together this guide to introduce Ecuador to you knowing that is very easy to get bamboozled by too much information. We hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed. As such it is not meant to be definitive – for further details we strongly recommend that you look at our website or get in touch as we would be delighted to talk to you all about Ecuador.

Country summary
Ecuador is the 4th smallest country in South America,
yet it encapsulates so many of the continents finest attributes. The central region is dominated by towering Andean peaks and fiery volcanoes and exploring this region is all about traditional life that often centres
around weekly markets and town plazas. In the east is the biodiverse Amazon jungle where you can stay at a remote lodge and Learn about traditional indigenous life and spot a huge variety of wildlife. Last but not least, a flight to the enchanting, tamed and revered Galapagos Islands should be on everyone’s bucket list – it is the main reason people visit Ecuador.

Highlights of the county
The Galapagos Islands
The Galapagos Islands is in all honesty, the must see place in Ecuador. Travel via boat through the Islands gaping at this exotic and jam packed wildlife spectacle. The marine life is like nothing you will see, and you can get incredibly close to the animals who have no reason to fear you – it is unparalleled for wildlife viewing and really feels like the ‘enchanted islands’ which they are so aptly named. And if this isn’t enough, explore the island from different perspectives snorkelling, diving and in some parts, walking.
Most Galapagos Island cruises are about 7 days and the price depends on the size and type of boat – the smaller and more luxurious, the more expensive.

Our favourite small boat for cruising around these islands is the MV Origin – an extremely stylish, luxury boat which is a very comfortable base for you to explore the islands from. Alternatively, the M/Y Eric and Letty duo of yachts are an attractive alternative – they are two exclusive, superior first-class motor yachts with the capacity for 20 guests and will explore the islands.

Quito
Quinto is the capital city of Ecuador and sits in high altitude in the midst of the Andean peaks and volcanoes. It is split in two parts – one side has a colonial feel to it with its cobbled streets and architecture, whereas the other side is the opposite – a cosmopolitan hub of busy urban dwellers. Take your time to explore museums, food markets, and historical sites such as the 16th century cathedral in Plaza de Independencia.
Discover the shiny new side of Quinto from the centrally located Hotel Plaza Grande with its rooftop bar, giving you a great view of the city from above. Or for a more historical stay go for Patio Andaluz in the heart of colonial Quinto.

The Amazon
The Ecuadorian Amazon is hugely expansive. Although it makes up almost half the country it is hardly inhabited with only 5% of the population living here. Visit here for fresh water dolphin spotting, monkeys, anacondas, armadillo, 1200 bird species and more. You can also have cultural village visits from here which is a great was to get a better feel for the country. Stay on the edge of a lagoon in amongst the wildlife at Sani Lodge – a remote eco lodge and a birders dream.

Cuenca
Here, you will find Ecuador’s colonial city and a UNESCO world heritage site. It is an ideal place to relax and wander around. The centre is the most attractive part but everywhere is draped with history and quirky features. It is a nice stop, but the draw of visiting this region is also the journey to get there through the Ecuadorian Highlands and the Valley of the Volcanoes which is a fantastic way to experience the mighty Andes. Stay at Mansion Alcazar with its fantastic location and colonial, elegant interiors fitting of the town as a whole.

Mindo
The Valley of Mindo is a very dense cloud forest. It is a very different area than others in Ecuador with its mossy foliage and hugely diverse populations of birds and frogs. The moisture in the clouds makes the forest a luscious green and packed with life – well worth a visit if you are spending time in Ecuador.
Mashpi Lodge, although not located in Mindo, is an excellent option for those seeking luxury in this unique location – unwind in the Jacuzzi after taking a trip along the canopy cables which wind through the forest from the lodge. Mindo is also possible to visit on a day trip from Quito

The Highlands
The Highlands of Ecuador stretch through the middle of the country and comprise of the Andes mountain range making this region a focal point for the country. The volcanoes are active and contain the highest in the world with Mount Cotapaxi, and there is an abundance of flora and fauna to be enjoyed. Enjoy this remarkable sight on your journey to the historical town Cuenca.

Neighbouring countries to combine with Ecuador itinerary
After exploring the Galapagos Islands and once you have exhausted Ecuador, Lima in Peru is only a short flight away from Quito or Guayaquil. Here, there is plenty to do with fantastic museums and internationally renowned restaurants – you will not get bored if you spend a few days here. For those of you with no time restraints, why not visit the legendary Machu Picchu and explore a bit more of Peru as well.

General information on Ecuador

When is the best time to visit?
There are several microclimates in Ecuador that influence the best time to visit. Take into consideration that the best time to visit the Galapagos Islands are from December to May, although outside of these months then we still recommend visiting the islands, apart from in September when the seas can be choppy. Down the central highlands of the country then the best time to visit are from June to September.

How much dos a trip to Ecuador cost?
There is no easy answer to this one as all of our itineraries are designed from scratch to suit your interest and budget. As a general guide then a two week trip to Ecuador, including a week in the Galapagos Islands starts from around $8000 per person. For a full itinerary ideas please see here.

Is the altitude a problem?
Some regions of Ecuador such as Quito at 2,850m can get up to very high altitudes. It is not a problem, but just something to be wary of. We always design our trips taking into account the altitudes that you will be experiencing.

What is the currency?
Ecuador uses the US dollar, and it can be withdrawn from ATMs in larger towns using UK credit/debit.

What is the language?
Spanish.

What is the time difference?
GMT -5 hours.

How do I get there?
There are no direct flights from the UK and popular change airports are Amsterdam, Paris and Madrid.

A Tourist Guide to Peru

An introduction to Peru
We have put together this guide to introduce Peru to you knowing that is very easy to get bamboozled by too much information. We hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed. As such it is not meant to be definitive – for further details we strongly recommend that you look at our website southamericaodyssey.com/peru or get in touch; we would be delighted to talk you through the options.

Country summary
The central highlands are jaw dropingly beautiful whether you are walking around an ancient Inca
fortress, cycling through the sleepy traditional farming communities or relaxing at a world class
hotel with view over the snow-capped volcanoes, whatever you are doing you can’t help but love it all.
In the east is the untamed and biodiverse Amazon Rainforest which offers escapism, unrivalled wildlife
viewing and a unique experience of this environment. Lima, the capital city, on the western Pacific
has some of the continents best museums and world class restaurants.

Highlights of the county
Lima
Lima is an interesting mix of old history and new development. It’s location on the Pacific Coast means picturesque views and opportunities for day trips to nearby islands if time allows. Among the historical intrigue of the city is the Museo Larco which has more than 45,000 Ancient Peruvian pieces including old treasures and mysterious artefacts to goggle at on your stop here. There is much to see in these world class museums, and also lots to eat with some of the world’s best restaurants.
We suggest staying in the fitting former colonial mansion Hotel B, a boutique hotel which is a perfect base to explore the city from.

Cuzco, The Sacred Valley & Machu Picchu
Cuzco is a fantastic location for wandering around and soaking in the interesting atmosphere is provides. As the former capital of the Inca Empire, Cuzco is seeping with old history and hidden gems. With its cobbled streets, markets and nearby Inca Ruins it makes for an extremely interesting city.
For a 5 star experience look no further than the Hotel Monasterio – seeping with history it perfectly encapsulates the vibe of the city.

For a more activity based experience a short drive from Cuzco, The Sacred Valley is the place to be. It has everything – culture, colourful markets including Pisac (the best in South America), horse riding, water rafting, mountain biking, trekking and even more historical sites.
For an authentic experience with a picturesque view of the Andean Mountain, we recommend staying at the Explora Sacred Valley or Sol y Luna

Finally, you will not find a more dramatic backdrop than the infamous Machu Picchu – the main reason to visit Peru. It is 120km south of Cuzco, and can be accessed through the popular Inca trail (a 4/5 day trek), or alternatively via train and bus – you can basically decide how long your trip there will take. Whatever your transport mode, this historical mystery is sure not to disappoint and is a serious must see.
For the best exclusive location to stay whilst exploring look at Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge which is at Machu Picchu itself or El Mapi in nearby Aguas Clientes.

The Peruvian Amazon
This area is what you’d expect from the name. Hugely dense with 20,000 different plant species and one of the most biodiverse pockets in the world, the nature and wildlife here is unparalleled. This is a fantastic opportunity to see a different side of Peru, and a nice contrast to the other places you will visit. We recommend that you immerse yourself in this wild environment by staying in the better located but more basic lodges such as Tambopata Research Centre. There is also the more luxurious option of Reserva Amazonica for those looking to enjoy the finer things in life.

More places to visit in Peru
Arequipa, Colca & Lake Titicaca
If you have time go and see the ‘white city’ (Arequipa), aptly named for its buildings of white volcanic rock which makes this world heritage site a possible attraction along with its view of El Misti volcano. Colca is another option for the culture keen – it is a canyon surrounded by picturesque towns, with an authentic Peruvian feel as many of the women still dress in traditional clothing. Cola Lodge is a wonderful, charming and lush place to stay as you can enjoy their natural hot springs whilst drinking a cocktail under the stars. Close to the Bolivian border sits Lake Titicaca, a big body of water with fascinating islands dotted around it. It is a great place to go if you are looking for a raw and scenic experience.

Even more places in Peru
Nazca Chiclayo and Trujillo are also options if you are on your trip for the long haul. Please contact us for any more information on the above.

Neighbouring countries to combine with a Peru itinerary
Visiting Peru is also a fantastic opportunity to branch out to Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands for nature lovers. Or even Chile for a more diverse experience – visit Patagonia, one of the most beautiful and isolated areas in the world or hit up the lights of Santiago; there really are lots of options. It just depends on what kind of holiday interests you the most.

General information on Peru

When is the best time to visit?
The three main regions of Peru all have their own microclimates, meaning that the best time to visit one area doesn’t necessarily make it the best time to visit another. That being said, for most the highlights of Peru are focused around the southern highlands which are best visited between April and September. During these months the weather in the highlands will be dry and sunny during the day and very cool in the evenings due to the altitude. If you want to spend an extended amount of time in Lima then the best months are from December to March.

How much dos a trip to Peru cost?
There is no easy answer to this one as all of our itineraries are designed from scratch to suit your interest and budget. As a general guide then a two week trip to Peru staying in mid-range hotels would cost £4,200 per person excluding international flights. For sample itineraries see here.

Is the altitude a problem?
Many of the sites in Peru are in high altitude, which can cause altitude sickness. It is not a problem, but just something to be wary of. Even if you are very fit, keep in mind to always stay hydrated and hopefully you will acclimatise quickly. Talk to your GP if you have any medical conditions prior to your trip.

What is the currency?
Peruvian Nuevo Sol is the currency. US dollars can be withdrawn and UK credit/debit cards are accepted at many ATMs. Many money exchange offices exchange US dollars cash (not many accept euros or sterling and the rate may be bad).

What is the language?
Spanish.

What is the time difference?
GMT -5 hours.

How do I get there?
To Lima most flights are around 12.5 hours long. Hop on the direct flight from London Gatwick or other non-direct routes which include changes in Amsterdam, Paris or Madrid.

A Tourist Guide to Costa Rica

An introduction to Costa Rica
We have put together this guide to introduce Costa Rica to you knowing that is very easy to get bamboozled by too much information. We hope this short guide will be enough to set you on the right course, without being too detailed. As such it is not meant to be definitive – for further details we strongly recommend that you look at southamericaodyssey.com/costa-rica or get in touch as we would be delighted to talk to you all about Costa Rica.

Country summary
Costa Rica is a small and compact country about the same size as Switzerland in Europe. Visiting this carbon neutral and eco-friendly country is all about the outdoors. Whether you are relaxing by the beach in a cool surfery town, trekking through pristine rainforest in search of jaguar or twitching in the cloud forest. Costa Rica is tranquil, fun loving and a perfect getaway for those searching tranquillity, nature experiences and fantastic hospitality.

Highlights of the county

San Jose
Costa Rica is all about the great outdoors, so instead of stopping overnight in the city, we think it is worth staying on the outskirts at a beautiful coffee hacienda like Xandari .

Tortuguero
The main attraction here not the beach but the sea turtles, Caribbean jungle channels and exotic fauna the bushy mangrove forests have to offer.
Our favourite places to stay here include both smaller and slightly more intimate lodges such as Manatus or larger equally pleasing lodges; Mawamba Lodge or Aninga.

Arenal
Staying at Arenal National Park means picturesque views of Arenal Volcano, hanging bridges over dramatic waterfalls, heated springs and an abundance of adventure activities from zip wiring to abseiling and river rafting.
There is a wealth of accommodation options here and again your stay depends on your preference; an intimate, tranquil experience in Lost Iguana which is remotely located and the multi award winning and centrally located Nayara or an more basic, yet good option such as Lomas del Volcan.

Monteverde
A perfect example of a cloud forest, Monteverde is ram-packed with life and a birders dream. A huge attraction here is the environment itself which is incomparable to anything else and feels truly timeless.
Experience this park from the comfort of Belmar, remotely placed with amazing views.

North Pacific Coast- The Nicoya Peninsula
There are three areas here, all with very different styles and accommodation. In the north is Peninsula Papagayo, where you can find accommodation similar to our favourite, El Mangroove – a big hotel in close proximity of luscious sunbathing beaches. Further south find Tamarindo; a cool surfery bustling province with nightlife and long beaches. Our favourite accommodation is Capitan Suzio, a boutique hotel right on the beach or the relaxed Cala Luna (15 minutes drive away). South again, and you get to the gorgeous Santa Teresa Beach with our favourite romantic hideaway Flor Blanca , and the dramatic view from Punta Islitta.

The Osa Peninsula
Nestled in the remote corner of Costa Rica, the Osa Peninsula is the wildest part of the country. Here is the place for exciting exotic jungle wildlife such as tapirs and jaguars, or go to sea for whale watching and fantastic marine life.
Experience our favourite accommodation in the luxury of Copa De Arbol, or the magnificent open views of Lapa Rios.

General Information on Peru

The best time to visit?
The best time to visit Costa Rica is from December to April when it is dry and hot in most places. A typical day would have temperature averages of 27° Celsius. During the “green season” that runs from April to November it rains regularly and at times you win need to put a poncho on. The rewards are that there are fewer tourists, the forests are lush and green and if you head to the coast you can watch turtles laying their eggs in an annual spectacle.

How much dos a trip to Costa Rica cost?
There is no easy answer to this one as all of our itineraries are designed from scratch to suit your interest and budget. As an idea, the itinerary below would cost roughly $4,800/£3,555 per person. See these sample itineraries for more details.

What is the currency?
Cash withdrawal of Colón Notes is easy as many ATMs are UK credit/debit card friendly and can be found in most towns. Maybe contact your bank first and tell them where you are going, as it is possible there may be a limit on your cash outtakes. US dollars can be exchanged in banks and are accepted there.

What is the language?
Spanish.

What is the time difference?
GMT -5 hours.

How do I get there?
Hop on a direct flight from London Gatwick to San José (11 hrs) or a non-direct flight via U.S and European cities.

What can I combine with my trip to Costa Rica?
Visit nearby Nicaragua or Panama. There is access over land or flying

Peru’s Food Revolution

The juggernaut that is the Peruvian food revolution shows no sign of slowing as Lima, the capital city, now boasts three of the “World’s Top 50 Restaurants”.

What Peruvian restaurants made the top 50?

Astrid y Gaston, the pioneering restaurant of contemporary Peruvian cuisine was listed in position 33. This leading restaurant run by wife Astrid Gutsche and husband, Gaston Acurio, is a Peruvian food institution based in a leafy and affluent neighborhood of Lima.

Maido, a Japanese-Peruvian fine dining restaurant by Mitsuharu ‘Micha’ Tsumura was listed in position 8. Micha names his distant Japanese ancestry as a main influence on his palate and style.

Central, a restaurant by Virgilio Martinez, was the highest ranked Latin America restaurant coming in 5th place at the annual awards. Martinez also won the Chefs’ Choice Award for representing the biodiversity, history and culture of Peru. If a food pilgrimage to Lima is too long for your taste buds to wait then try one of his London based restaurants, Lima Floral and Lima.

Other noteworthy winners at the acclaimed awards went to the experimental Heston Blumenthal whose restaurant Dinner came 36th. Heston Blumenthal was also recognized with the Diners Club Lifetime Achievement Award.

What is Peruvian food?

The three distinct geographical region of Peru, combined with a diverse demographic influences create eclectic tastes and recipes. The coastal region supplies Peru with fresh fish from the Pacific Ocean; the fertile Andean mountain range is the birthplace of the potato, of which there are over 3,000 varieties, and the Amazon in the east boasts tropical fruits.

Japanese and Chinese influences mixed with traditional Peruvian staples have led to the creation of innovative fusion dishes known locally as Nikkei and Chifa. Nikkei and Chifa combine with Peruvian house hold ingredients such as corn, potato, chili and citrus fruits to create light, delicate and fresh dishes, often with a little kick.

Did any other Latin American restaurants make the list?

There were only three other Latin American restaurants on the prestigious list:

· Pujol in Mexico City which came in 20th. For reservations follow this link to their website. https://www.pujol.com.mx/

· Quintonil also Mexico City based came 22nd. For reservations follow this link to their website. http://www.quintonil.com/en/

· Borgao in Santiago de Chile came in 42nd. For reservations follow this link to their website https://www.borago.cl/

South America Odyssey has teamed up with Lima’s best chefs to offer a private Lima food tour as part of a bespoke Peru tour.

Currently offering high quality Peruvian imported foods and drinks, Viva Peru aims brings you access to everything Peru.

 

Galapagos Boat Deck Plans

Please see below a pdfs for the deck plans for various boats:

MY Eric and Letty Deck plan

MV Sky

 

 

 

 

Foodies and Art in Lima

Lima, the only oceanfront capital city in Latin America and gateway to Peru`s mi- llenary culture, will be the starting point of this extraordinary voyage of artistic and culinary discovery.
When in Lima, it is a must to immerse your- self in a genuine, local cevicheria experience. To delve deep in the understan- ding of Peru´s trademark dish we share the table with re-nowned chef Diego Alcantara, who enthusiastically recounts the history of ceviche and explains how its modern ver- sion has a tremendous Japanese influence.
What better way to understand 3,000 years of Peruvian history than through 1,200 sam- ples of the country´s finest art, ranging from pre-Columbian and Inca ceramics, textiles and metallury, up to modern abstract works. On a private tour with the curator, we explo- re the newly reopened Art Museum of Lima, known as MALI, which holds one of the most important art collections in Latin America, housed in an ironwork palace originally built by the Eiffel Company.
“Back in the 1500`s this was prime real state“ states Maru de Aliaga, after a warm greeting and a soothing pisco sour. Maru, who belongs to the 17th generation of the Aliaga family, hosts our private dinner in this oldest colonial mansion in Lima, and perhaps all of South America.
The Casa Aliaga was built in 1536 on a piece of land given by Francisco Pizarro to Geróni- mo de Aliaga, his main lieutenant. Maru has lived in the house since she was 7 years old, and knowing its past inside out, she master- fully intertwines Peruvian history with that of her own family.
Maru guides us on a 500-year journey back in time, exploring the mansion’s luxurious interior with rich decorative wood and trim carving, elaborated sculptures, as well as elegant colonial art and furniture.

We explore our Bohemian side and walk around Lima’s artistic Barranco district, arriving at the stunning bright blue historic residence that houses Las Pallas art gallery. This quality collection, founded 27 years ago by the charismatic Welsh immigrant Mari Solari, displays traditional crafts and folk art from the three major regions of Peru: coast, Andes and Amazon.
We stay in Barranco to dine on criollo cuisine at the stylish 1906-renovated tavern Isolina Taberna Peruana, gifted with the company of Jorge Riveros-Cayo, award-winning journalist and self-declared incurable foodie.
Criollo cuisine is inherited from the Spanish
and African slaves who cooked in their kit- chens, yet this food is found far more frequent- ly in the kitchens of Limeña grandmothers than in restaurants, making Isolina a rare
treat of home-style cooking. The owner, José del Castillo, who named the restaurant after his mother, has resurrected traditional fami- ly recipes such as cuchareo, slang for tender,
slow-cooked meats eaten with a spoon, like the rich osso buco estofado cooked for four hours in red wine and herbs.
A short drive takes us to the very traditional neighborhood of San Isidro, where we disco- ver one of the worlds most exquisite private colonial art collections in the residence of the

late Eduardo Barbosa and his wife Silvia Stern. Silvia and son Aldo personally guide us through the myriad of Vice-regal master- pieces of painting, sculptures, silverware and art objects that elucidate more than four cen- turies of Spanish art.

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