South America

South America

South America

The top 5 must-see places in Peru


To determine the must-see places in Peru, we spoke to leading Peruvian tour operators, Machu Travel Peru. The company is committed to the highest levels of service as borne out by their reviews on Tripadvisor (an impressive 369 reviews stating ‘excellent’ out of 384 reviews). Machu Travel Peru also takes pride in giving back to the local community and, when we picked their brains on the places you shouldn’t miss, based on their customers’ feedback, the following were their top 5 suggestions.


Any first-time visitor to Peru should make sure Cusco is on their hit-list. The city is the most visited tourist destination in the country and is a very special place, both in terms of its architecture and population, as well as being a Cultural World Heritage Site. Walk the cobbled streets, marvel at the Incan buildings and take in the atmosphere of one of the many festivals – there are over 100 each year so there’s a good chance your visit will co-incide with one.


Machu Picchu

Visitors to Cusco would be missing out if they didn’t take time out to go to the Incan citadel of Machu Picchu, one of the new seven wonders in the modern world. Situated just over 100 kilometres from Cusco, and at a height of more than 2,400 metres above sea level, these historic ruins are the highlight of the trip for many visitors to Peru.

Machu Picchu

Lake Titicaca

Reputed to be the birthplace of the Incas, Lake Titicaca is home to extensive ruins and, according to Incan mythology, is also the birthplace of the sun, moon, stars and first human beings. Located between Peru and Bolivia, it is the largest lake in South America, one of the deepest lakes in the world and, at over 3,800 metres above sea level, also one of the highest commercially navigable bodies of water in the world.

Lake Titicaca

El Valle Sagrado de los Incas

Approximately 15 kilometres to the north of Cusco, the Sacred Valley of the Incas is worth visiting for its attractive colonial towns, numerous Incan sites, markets, occasional weaving villages and the citadels of Pisac and Ollantaytambo. A perfect area for trekkers, this lush area can also be enjoyed as part of an organised day tour.

The Sacred Valley of the Incas

Puerto Maldonado

The city of Puerto Maldonado is a chaotic one but the perfect location for accessing the Peruvian Amazon. Situated at the confluence of the Tambopata and Madre de Dios rivers, its proximity to the jungle provides you with one of the best opportunities to explore ecosystems brimming with wildlife, be it at the Manu National Park, the Tambopata National Reserve or the Bahuaaja-Sonene National Park, all of which are nearby and are home to some of the world’s most pristine rainforest.

Frog in the Peruvian Amazon

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South America

7 ways to spend a day in Buenos Aires


As an immense airport hub for flight connections, Buenos Aires allows layover travelers to get a taste of the vibrant, tango-crazed metropolis in South America. Aptly nicknamed “Paris of the South,” Buenos Aires is a Euro-flavored city where stylish residents eat well, party late and warmly embrace newcomers. Buenos Aires shouldn’t be a place you expect to simply kill time; the delight of exploring this charming city, even for a few hours, might even surpass that of your pending destination.

What to do

Head immediately to the Cementerio de la Recoleta (Recoleta Cemetery) and have your camera at the ready. The final resting place of Argentina’s dead Presidents (and famous poets, celebrities, and the like), the 14-acre plot hosts unbelievably beautiful monuments, mausoleums, and statues honoring their legacies. Considered one of the most beautiful cemeteries in the world, this captivating over-ground “crypt city” is truly a must-visit attraction.

Recoleta Cemetery

You can easily while away a few hours at Cementerio de la Recoleta, and the same can be said for the sprawled Bosques de Palermo (Palermo Woods), the “Central Park” of Buenos Aires. Loaded with ornate flower gardens, bird-rich lakes and lawns, it’s the city prime center for leisure and relaxation. You can paddleboat along the park’s man-made lagoon, lay out a blanket on a lawn and people-watch, but don’t miss visiting the colorful Paseo El Rosedal (Rose Garden Walk), which has 1,200 different rose varieties laid in impeccable arrangements.

Palermo Woods

Where to eat and drink

Meat-heavy parrillas (steakhouses) are ubiquitous in Buenos Aires – Don Julio, La Cabrera, and Cabaña Las Lilas being the city’s most iconic – but if you want premium seafood in the city, Oviedo is far and away your best bet. The classically-appointed, art-adorned restaurant provides fresh and finessed dishes from under the sea, and features one of the city’s most distinguished wine lists.


Any evening plans to eat a nice dinner and enjoy one of the city’s hottest bars? Proper dinnertime for portenos (citizens of Buenos Aires) is later than what you’re probably accustomed to, so it’s best to knock two birds with one speakeasy at Floreria Atlantico. The trendy bolthole’s a bit incongruous to old-money Recoleta – it would fit like a glove in the Palermo Soho neighborhood where all the young and hip commingle- and it only adds to Floreria’s intrigue. Enter the dainty flower shop and descend the staircase which leads you to what’s touted as Latin America’s best bar: housemade gin, smart cocktails, scrumptious tapas (and clientele) and bumpin’ DJ grooves awaits you.

Allot some time, however, to check out the brand-new restaurant Brasero Atlantico, Floreria’s sister site and next-door neighbor. The intimate, industrial-chic restaurant is more about traditional eats than mod cocktails, with a lengthy menu of Argentine favorites including thick, cheesy provoletas (a must-try for the uninitiated), assorted empanadas, and plenty of juicy, grilled meat cuts to satisfy your appetite.

Where to stay

If you’re on an overnight layover, the sophisticated Recoleta neighborhood has perhaps the finest collection of five-star hotels in the city. The elegant Sofitel Arroyo, housed in a neoclassical building that was once the city’s tallest skyscraper, feels as Parisian as the Old World-style, tree-lined streets of Arroyo on which it’s situated. For a more contemporary choice, the CasaSur Bellini in the modern-chic Palermo neighborhood provides spacious, fabulously-styled executive rooms and suites with private balconies and one of the city’s largest outdoor pools. Recently opened in 2014, CasaSur Bellini is also one of Buenos Aires’ best-value luxury hotels for your pesos.

Casasur Bellini

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South America

5 must-see birds in the Galapagos


Bird watchers who want a luxury vacation should set their sights on the Galápagos Islands. To fully appreciate these islands’ remote beauty, arrive on a luxurious cruiser. You can find beautifully appointed tour boats that provide ample space on deck for bird watching (as well as sunbathing, swimming in the built-in swimming pool, and sampling tropical cocktails).

The birds of the Galápagos offer a window into the biodiversity that has made this archipelago famous. 80 percent of the birds here are not found anywhere else in the world. Because of the absence of predators in the Galápagos, these birds are relatively easy to spot and photograph.

Below is a list of birds that you’re unlikely to see outside of the Galápagos, along with the island where you’re most likely to spot them. You can see some of the following birds on more than one island, but they tend to favor one island as their breeding ground.

1. Blue footed boobies on North Seymour Island

Blue-footed boobies have a floppy mating dance that initially earned the derision of 16th-century Spaniards. They named them “bobos,” which translates to “dummies” in English. It didn’t help that the blue-footted boobies were quite easy for the Spaniards to catch – these types of birds cannot move quickly on land, and have no predators in the Galápagos.

Blue Footed Boobies

Both the males and females have blue feet, but only males perform courting dances. Female birds are looking for the males with feet that are the brightest shade of blue. Once the female booby lays the eggs, the parents take turns straddling the eggs with their feet to keep them warm.

Blue-footed boobies spend most of their lives out at sea. They can spot tasty anchovies from as high as 80 feet (25 m). Their dives are so precise they barely make a splash when they enter the water.

2. Frigatebird on North Seymour Island

On North Seymour Island you can see two species of frigatebirds: the magnificent frigatebird and the great frigatebird. Female frigatebirds of both varieties have black and white feathers. Male frigatebirds are black, but male great frigatebirds have a green sheen to their black feathers, while male magnificent frigatebirds are more purplish.

Frigate Bird

Male frigatebirds have red sacks on their chests that they inflate to attract mates. As they inflate the red sac they also vibrate their wings. After mating, the males bring their mates materials to build nests. Mangroves are one of the preferred areas for nesting. Once the female finishes building the nest, the male frigatebird begins his role as the nest protector. He tilts his head back and puffs out his chest, and cries out a warning sound to other birds that might consider approaching.

Frigatebirds are seafaring birds that can eat a wide variety of Galápagos wildlife. Small fish, jellyfish, turtle eggs, crustaceans, and baby birds of different species are all on the menu. They don’t dive, but instead nip their prey from the surface of the water. These birds also get food by harassing other birds – once their unlucky target drops their prey, the frigatebird swoops in to steal it.

3. Flightless cormorant on Fernandina Island

The flightless cormorant lives primarily on the shores of the Fernandina Island, but you can also see it on the north and west coast of Isabela Island. Close to the shore, the birds venture into the water to hunt for fish, octopi, and eels.

Flightless Cormorant

Flightless cormorants are also known as Galápagos cormorants – every other species of cormorant found elsewhere in the world can fly. They have stubby wings and comparatively heavy bodies.

Males are larger than females, but their dark gray plumage is quite similar. If you can get close enough to a flightless cormorant, you will notice its one colorful feature – its sapphire-colored eyes.

4. Pink flamingo on Isabela Island

On Isabela Island you’ll find Flamingo Lagoon. It has saltwater and provides a shrimp-rich habitat for this population of around 300 birds. It’s a short trip to this lake from the town of Puerto Villamil.

Pink Flamingo

Pink flamingoes dip their beaks into the muddy bottoms of the lagoon to hunt for small fish, larvae, plankton, and shrimp. They use their webbed feet to churn up the mud and shake loose the small animals that they want to eat. Once they breed they pick out a cozy corner of the marsh to build a nest out of mud.

Flamingo chicks are fluffy and grey, and only turn pink after they’ve started eating shrimp.

5. Red billed tropicbird on Española Island

Red Billed Tropicbirds sBird watchers who want a luxury vacation should set their sights on the Galápagos Islands. To fully appreciate these islands’ remote beauty, arrive on a luxurious cruiser. You can find beautifully appointed tour boats that provide ample space on deck for bird watching (as well as sunbathing, swimming in the built-in swimming pool, and sampling tropical cocktails).

Red Billed Tropicbird

The birds of the Galápagos offer a window into the biodiversity that has made this archipelago famous. 80 percent of the birds here are not found anywhere else in the world. Because of the absence of predators in the Galápagos, these birds are relatively easy to spot and photograph.

Below is a list of birds that you’re unlikely to see outside of the Galápagos, along with the island where you’re most likely to spot them. You can see some of the following birds on more than one island, but they tend to favor one island as their breeding ground.

Zach Smith is CEO of Anywhere.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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South America

4 mythological destinations in Latin America


Visitors come to Latin America looking for incredible scenery. Long before globetrotting travelers came to snap photographs, the following destinations all inspired local legends. When you visit, you will share in the awe that the indigenous people felt for the unknowable depths of the nearby lakes, valleys, and volcanoes.

Lake Titicaca, Peru

Visitors will find Lake Titicaca high in the Andes, right on the border between Peru and Bolivia. This lake is 12,500 feet (3,810 m) above sea level, making it one of the highest lakes in the world.

Lake Titicaca

The Inca conquered the land surrounding Lake Titicaca in the 15th century, and blended their own mythology with that of the local community. Lake Titicaca became the place where Viracocha, the Inca creator god, created the sun and the moon. He is said to have crafted these celestial bodies while he was on an island in the middle of the lake. In the Inca origin story the first humans were also supposed to have emerged from the Lake Titicaca’s waters.

Lake Atitlán, Guatemala

Modern Maya villages and volcanoes surround Lake Atitlán. Maya and visitors alike have a strong response to the stirring atmosphere that is created by the deep blue water and the imposing volcanoes. Today the local Maya still consider the lake sacred, and it figures prominently in Maya legend. In the Maya language Atitlán means “the place where the rainbow gets its colors.”

Lake Atitlan

Lake Atitlán is quite deep, reaching a depth of at least 980 feet (300 m) near the middle. According to Maya legend, these deep waters provide a home for an enormous serpent. Every once in a while the serpent emerges, looking for hapless boaters to drag to the bottom of the lake. When the waters of the lake are choppy, they say that the serpent is stirring.

There is also a Maya legend of star-crossed lovers who avoided the marriages that their parents had planned by jumping into the lake together. Once again, choppy waters have special significance – when the surface of the Lake Atitlán moves, the locals say that the lovers are dancing.

Divers have bumped into strong evidence of the lake’s spiritual importance. In 1996, a diver discovered submerged altars near the edge of Lake Atitlán. Archaeologists believe that the site has been submerged since 250 AD, and served as a place of worship.

Santa María Volcano, Guatemala

The mountains surrounding Lake Atitlán also figure prominently in Maya legend. A Maya god called Yegua Ach’i is said to have arranged the volcanoes around the edge of the lake. He is said to have set down Santa María Volcano next to the lake on his way somewhere else, pausing in his journey to have a snack. When he went to pick up the volcano again, he found it would not budge. When visitors hike to the summit of Santa María Volcano they get a spectacular view of the other volcanoes in the area. Nearby Santiaguito Volcano still has regular eruptions, and on Santa María you can watch them from a safe distance.

Santa Maria Volcano

Vilcabamba Valley, Ecuador

Vilcabamba Valley is located in the Andes. It has fertile soil and an environment that provides beautifully for its residents. Plants grow year-round, and the temperature is almost always comfortable.

Vilcabamba Sleeping Inca

When the Inca settled here they told tales about the surrounding mountains. There is a mountain that overlooks the valley called El Mandango, or “the sleeping Inca.” Its peak is said to resemble a man in repose. According to the Inca, a spirit in the mountain that kept the residents of Vilcabamba safe from disaster.

In 1955, Reader’s Digest ran a story about the long lifespans of people who lived in the Villcabamba Valley, claiming that many of the area’s residents were upwards of 100 years old. Visitors flocked to the valley, looking for the secret to a long life span. Upon closer investigation, it turned out that the townspeople had exaggerated their ages.

Yet the residents of Vilcabamba do have long lifespans and good health, and there is a scientific explanation. Vilcabamba is also home to the huilco tree, which is believed to have health-giving properties. Huilco means “holy” in the Inca language of Quechua, Locals use the to treat respiratory illnesses, and its leaves are purported to help remove impurities from the air, making the air in the valley especially fresh.

Zach Smith is CEO of Anywhere.

If you would like to be a guest blogger on A Luxury Travel Blog in order to raise your profile, please contact us.

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South America

6 of the best hotels in the Galapagos Islands


Somewhere near the top of most people’s bucket list, the legendary Galapagos Islands is one of the most diverse and fantastic natural paradises on the planet. Formed more than five million years ago as a result of volcanic activity, the archipelago is the quintessence of nature in its most primitive and pure state.

On its islands and islets, endemic species survive  that have adapted to extreme conditions, immersed in a dream-world landscape with white sand beaches and bays with crystal clear water. The Galapagos Islands was declared a “Natural World Heritage Site” by UNESCO in 1978, and it now receives thousands of tourists from around the world each year, which has required that its hotels to develop over the years.

1-INTRO-Top-Galapagos Hotels

Currently, there is a hotel niche that offers a perfect balance between comfort, adventure and respect for the environment – exactly what many contemporary travelers seek. The dream of enjoying the “enchanted isles” as you contemplate the sea from an infinity pool, sample new and exotic gourmet flavors, or have a relaxing massage after a day of excursions may just be a reality.

Here is a list of some of the best hotels in the islands, places that offer comfort, family atmosphere, wonderful details, relaxation and, of course, the best excursions in the islands.

Pikaia Lodge

Are you a traveler who likes adventure and nature? Do you prefer places that are respectful to the environment, but that are also comfortable and provide excellent service? If so, the Pikaia Lodge is the perfect lodging for you. Its beautiful “green” facility is close to the white-sand beaches, with easy access to the main sites for wildlife watching in the Galapagos Islands. On a site that rises 450 meters above sea level, the hotel is situated on 31 hectares of private grounds on which its own Galapagos giant tortoises roam free.


All common areas and rooms have great views of extinct volcanic cones, rainforests, lush green farms, the arid savannah of the Galapagos National Park, nearby islands, and the blue horizon of the Pacific Ocean. The hotel was constructed on the small plateau of a crater, giving it a panoramic view of the island. Pikaia’s six first-floor suites, each with a shady terrace, are decorated in a warm contemporary style, have bamboo floors, and are supplied with all the creature comforts: two queen beds or one king-size bed, cotton sheets, duvets and hypoallergenic pillows. In the spacious bathrooms, guests will find a shower area overlooking the sea.


In addition, there are six beautiful upper-level rooms with private balconies, one room with access to gardens and one with its own private pool. All suites have wonderful views and are designed to offer maximum comfort, each with a LED TV, direct dial phone, DVD, an IPOD with speakers, a safety deposit box, natural cross ventilation, thermal insulation, and remote control to control the air conditioning. The bathrooms are spacious, have vanity sinks, mirrors for each guest, a line of biodegradable bathroom products, and showers with windows that, while maintaining privacy, give the feeling of taking a shower outdoors.

The hotel’s “Evolution” restaurant offers a menu that combines local products with imported ingredients in a fusion of Ecuadorian food with modern international dishes. Guests can also eat outdoors on the covered terrace or in the shade, enjoying panoramic views of the horizon from the infinity pool. International cocktails, local creations, natural juices, exotic liquors, wines, beer and a variety of drinks are served at the DNA bar, strategically located between the restaurant, the lobby-lounge, terraces and the indoor pool area.

For exploring the Galapagos Islands, the Pikaia Lodge has its own private 16-passenger yacht — the Pikaia I. Other exploration experiences offered by the Pikaia Lodge include hiking, kayaking, visits to beaches, lava tunnels, volcanic craters, watching giant turtles, visit the highlands and the Charles Darwin Center for Scientific Research.

And after a full day of exploring, there’s nothing like the hotel’s spa, is a luxurious environment for body treatments and massages, ideal for relaxing . Plus, the well-equipped gym is another favorite of Pikaia guests.

The concept of social responsibility is one that the management and staff of Pikaia Lodge take seriously. Their model of land-based tourism is designed to contribute to the conservation of the wildlife and the unique landscapes of the Galapagos Islands. The hotel also attempts to contribute to the development of local communities, as it has the goal of creating 70 permanent jobs for residents of Santa Cruz Island.

Royal Palm Hotel

“A sensational hotel. Very nice environment. We stayed in the villas. Very good service. They organized everything very well,” commented a Royal Palm Hotel guest on the TripAdvisor webpage.


Located on Santa Cruz Island, the highlands of the Galapagos, the hotel is designed as a haven of peace and quiet. Its landscaped gardens, pool, outdoor Jacuzzi, and fountains — as well as the longest lava tunnel in the islands (which is located on the hotel’s grounds) — form a part of the hotel’s magic and its exclusive surroundings.


From its location, just a 20-minute drive from the pier of the dynamic city of Puerto Ayora, guests have wonderful views of the highlands and the ocean. In the eight (8) cabins and 13 exclusive villas of the hotel, you can enjoy privacy, space and a relaxing isolation. The villas are independent, while the cottages have been built around a fountain that faces the hotel. All rooms have luxury bedding and carefully chosen comfortable furniture. With the amenities of any five-star hotel, the Royal Palm Hotel provides Internet access, flat screen LCD TVs with satellite channels, private Jacuzzis, and safes in each room. The Royal Palm Restaurant and Bar combines colonial style with the traditional designs of the islands with facilities that allow guests to dine indoors or out.

The restaurant is open all day and in the evening for breakfast, lunch, dinner, drinks, cocktails and snacks. The fusion of Ecuadorian and international food is the hallmark of the hotel. Many products are derived from nearby fish farms and fishermen. In addition, the Royal Palm Restaurant and Bar offers a fine wine list from several South American countries. To rest up from a demanding excursion or to spend a relaxing day, the Royal Palm has a heated pool, a large Jacuzzi, a small gym, outdoor tennis courts and nature trails.

Villa Escalesia

Villa Escalesia is one of the few exclusive rental houses in the Galapagos Islands. But perhaps to call it a “house” is to fall short of fully describing this astonishing and luxurious beachfront villa, located on the Santa Cruz Island and overlooking Pelican Bay.   Ideal for a visit by a family or a group of friends to the Galapagos Islands, Villa Escalesia is clearly a better alternative to a hotel room if you are looking for a more home-like environment.


It must be said, of course, that this would be one of the most beautiful homes anyone could imagine, with its four large rooms with private bathrooms and sea views, an annex bedroom with bathroom, a garden with native plants, and a pool bar in the back – complete with a Jacuzzi, a steam bath and a terrace. And as if that weren’t enough, the villa comes with a number of services, including a chef, a housekeeper and a caretaker, who collaborate to make your stay a time of enjoyment and relaxation.


Also, your children will have ample space to play and have fun, without the stressing out other guests like in a traditional hotel. In the villa there is a master bedroom with a king-size bed, two other bedrooms with double beds, and three bathrooms (one for visitors). In addition, there is a kitchen, a living room, and a living room on the second floor. All bedrooms are air conditioned, and there is a guest house with two bedrooms and a bathroom.

Villa Escalesia belongs to Royal Palm Hotel Galapagos and, as such, shares the same philosophy of respecting the environment, with the villa using local resources as much as possible. In fact, fruits and vegetables are sourced from the gardens of the villas and the hotel, a practice that reduces the amount of carbon emissions generated by delivery trucks and ships transporting imported goods.

The house can be rented in three modes: bed and breakfast (self-catering), full board (fully catered), or partial board, for a vacation of a lifetime.

Galapagos Safari Camp

A luxury safari in the middle of a natural paradise? It seems like a dream vacation for adventurers who enjoy the comfort, and it’s something that can now be found in the Galapagos Islands! In a one-of-kind program in the archipelago, guests can enjoy all the comforts while experiencing a safari adventure and nature in its purest form.


For this, the Galapagos Safari Camp was designed with understated luxury and comfort — nothing ostentatious — and with a family touch. It was created for guests to feel that they have moved their home to one of the most beautiful places on earth.

Located on the Santa Cruz Island, next to the Galapagos National Park, the Galapagos Safari Camp sits at 480 meters above sea level. This means that from the terrace of its central building, beautiful views can be appreciated. The social area is complemented by a family suite and nine African-style luxury tents. Each of these spaces has a terrace, two twin beds that can become a double, a private bath with hot water, a fan, a desk and a balcony with hammocks. Likewise, each of the tents has three layers: one for protection from the sun, another for protection from rain, and an inner canvas shell.

The natural environment that surrounds the tents cannot be more beautiful and exotic. Forest and silence allow travelers to immerse themselves harmonically with nature, without disconnecting from everything, if they don’t want, as there is free wireless Internet access in the public areas. Additionally, this original hotel is located just 30 km from Puerto Ayora, the most dynamic and important city of Galapagos, and 25 km from Baltra airport. It is also 30 km are the beaches of Turtle Bay, Garrapatero and De los Alemanes.

In the central building of the Galapagos Safari Camp is a restaurant where the chef shines with meals that come directly from the “farmhouse to the table.” There is also a bar with a fireplace, comfortable seating areas and an infinity pool. The family suite is the perfect alternative for families with children, as it even has a playroom. This guest suite is located opposite the main building and can accommodate up to six guests.

In addition to all the amenities found in the cabins, the suite and the central building, the environment of the Galapagos Safari Camp offers a number of possibilities. You can, for example, walk while observing the variety of birds or turtles in their natural habitat. And from the observation points, you can see the sea horizon and several nearby islands. On foot, by bicycle or on horseback, you can visit the highlands of Santa Cruz or reach the Galapagos National Park. Then too, in the nearby white sand beaches and turquoise waters, you can go deep- or shallow-diving, surfing, swimming or kayaking.

The wonderful experience here was summed up well by an American guests who described it this way: “This place was awesome and a great way to experience the Galapagos for the first time. We had a very good trip here and felt very comfortable. The tents were fantastic and the views were out of this world! The sky at night was amazing too! The service and hospitality couldn’t have been better. Also we enjoyed every island we visited. Definitely a place to recommend to friends! Thank you!”

Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel

Located on one of the beaches of Isabela Island, near Puerto Villamil, the Iguana Crossing Boutique Hotel owes its name to one of the iconic animals of the Galapagos Islands: endemic Marine iguanas.


Local materials and labor on the island were used in the construction of this hotel, considered one of the best in the archipelago – and ideal for a dream honeymoon. Virtually surrounded by the Galapagos National Park, the Iguana Crossing is nestled in an idyllic setting: Isabela Island, on which live more than 60 percent of the flora and fauna of Galapagos Islands and where you can discover six volcanoes – five of them active.


The Iguana Crossing has 13 rooms, 10 of which have ocean views and three (3) overlook a volcano. In addition, there are junior suites and the master suite. All are provided with services and details that ensure comfort and convenience to guests in this wonderful natural setting.

The restaurant offers a variety of regional food. The menu includes national delicacies such as shrimp ceviche, fish ceviche, and the “sancocho,” a traditional Ecuadorian soup made with fish and cassava. But undoubtedly the star of the menu is the lava stone grill. The vegetables used here are grown on the hotel’s farm, as are the fresh fruits and natural coffee beans. Bread is baked every morning at a local bakery and the seafood can’t be any fresher, as it comes from the day’s catch.

The pool, an ample seating area, a hot tub on the terrace, and a massage service make this the perfect choice if you prefer to rest or relax.

Golden Bay Hotel & Spa

The architects who designed the Golden Bay Hotel & Spa conceived the building as harmonizing with the surrounding nature, as it combines modernity with a fantastic natural environment to enhance the beauty of the bay, the port and the green hills of San Cristobal Island.


In a beautiful building, the 21-room hotel combines comfort with environmental requirements. It is located in a privileged location with spectacular views over the bay of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, the administrative capital of the Galapagos, situated on the northeast end of San Cristobal Island. A five-minute walk will take you into the town of Puerto Baquerizo Moreno, with all its touristic activities, while the airport is only 10 minutes away. In addition, the hotel has direct access to the Playa de Oro beach, where you can observe sea birds, iguanas and playful sea lions up close. San Cristobal has one of the five largest beaches in the archipelago. Possessing stunning landscapes and varied wildlife, it is also one of the oldest islands in terms of both its geology and its human settlements (dating back to the second half of the nineteenth century).


The Golden Bay Hotel & Spa offers a range of services, both inside and in the outdoor areas, which make the stay in a comfortable and pleasant experience. Just a few of the hotel’s services include: a restaurant that blends traditional and the international cuisine, a snack bar with panoramic terrace, a swimming pool built into a fantastic garden with local species of plants, a supervised children’s area, a panoramic terrace, and a spa with the most sophisticated treatments.

The Golden Bay Hotel & Spa has four types of rooms, all carefully decorated and equipped. The natural light that flows through the panoramic windows is part of the design and personality of the hotel. All rooms have balconies, private bathrooms, LED TVs, cable, minibar, safes and other amenities expected of a luxury hotel. On the lower floor, some of the rooms are specially outfitted for people with special needs.

Conceived as an ecological and sustainable project, the Golden Bay Hotel & Spa uses best practices to protect the environment. With everything from the materials used in its construction to its system of energy conservation, as well as a water treatment plant and wastewater recycling process, every effort has been taken to make sure that the hotel respects the fragile ecosystem of the islands. In addition, the hotel has an agreement with the municipality to work together in caring for Golden Beach. In the hotel’s kitchen, locally grown products are used, and a large percentage of the staff has been hired from the area.

Almost effortlessly, guests can go to the beach right off the hotel, where you will come face-to-face with the islands’ famous sea lions and other endemic species have made the archipelago famous. The Nautical Museum, Interpretation Centre of the National Park, the “Wolf Pack” (a sea lion colony), nature trails and hills nearby are some of the sites where you will appreciate the fantastic wildlife the islands. The visit to the fishing pier is also an interesting experience. In private or shared tours, you can find all these attractions, in addition to snorkeling, diving, surfing and fishing.

Scalesia Lodge

This is an option for those who prefer to neither spend too much time at sea nor within the four walls of a traditional hotel. The Scalesia Lodge is a luxury safari with beautiful tents that come with a full set of amenities and services for a comfortable stay. These tents are located in the midst of nature, with great views of the coast of Isabela Island and the Pacific Ocean.


The main house of the hotel is of a modern minimalist design, but with ample social space, a restaurant, various meeting areas, a conference room, a swimming pool and decks. Perfect, for example, for someone wanting to combine work and relaxation. Here, you can enjoy an adventure in nature and choose to completely disconnect yourself from the “rest of the world.”

The lodge is located in the highlands of Isabela Island, in the middle of 16 hectares of Scalesia forest (a forest composed of about 15 species of shrubs and trees endemic of the Galapagos Islands), and 20 minutes from the town of Puerto Villamil.

The Scalesia Lodge embodies a new concept of accommodation that summarizes comfort, flexibility and ecological principles. A cozy environment for children and with ample space for rest and observation of nature, the sixteen luxurious tents of Scalesia are designed with clean, contemporary lines. All have private bathrooms and incredible views of the coast and the highlands.

In addition, the lodge offers excellent cuisine, combining local ingredients with an international flair – all prepared with fresh food.

This safari hotel also offers a number of activities and tours around the islands. Evening programs and a range of daily activities, allowing you to explore Isabela Island, and learn about wildlife and endemic species that inhabit this island.

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator.

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South America

5 South America trips every luxury traveler should take


Just when you think you have seen it all, South America awaits. This wonderful continent in the South will provide the luxury traveller with something truly special. Each country has its own character and charm with some of the most amazing natural landscapes to be encountered anywhere in the world. Take a look at the following five activities just to wet your appetite and begin to explore your first, or next, great South America trip.

An amazing Amazon adventure

The Amazon rainforest and river may not automatically conjure images of luxury but rest assured a decadent Amazon Adventure is not only possible, but infinitely bucketlist worthy. As the Amazon River is among the biggest and most beautiful in the world and home to a surrounding rainforest resplendent with plant and animal biodiversity, the regions holds a distinct allure for the adventurous traveller or wildlife lovers. Consider navigating that stretch of water on a river cruise where no attention to detail has been spared. A boutique Amazon river cruise will offer you the very best in gourmet dining, activities geared for the active adult, and suites that will help you unwind after even the most adventurous of days in this pristine jungle. Luxury Amazon cruises such as the Aqua or the Delfin are available in the northern Peruvian Amazon basin (out of Iquitos) while the Anakonda navigates the Ecuadorian Amazon in style from its base in Coca.

Anakonda Amazon cruise

The Galapagos Islands are not to be missed

As far as places best explored by cruising in South America, the Galapagos Islands tops the list. As a luxury traveller, you will appreciate the uniqueness of the Galapagos wildlife and contrasting geography and its scientific and historic importance. A highly protected region of Ecuador, the islands themselves are off limits to those who can truly afford such a fascinating experience.

Galapagos cruise Sea Star journey Jacuzzi deck

With 13 major islands and 7 smaller ones, a small ship cruise allows you to visit several sites each day and with a range of vessels to choose from, there is literally something for everyone in this travel genre. The Sea Star Journey, the Cormorant and Ocean Spray are three boutique Galapagos Cruises that combine well appointed cabins with five star amenities and extras such as on board jacuzzis to make your exploration a true indulgence.

A luxury spin on marvellous Machu Picchu

While Machu Picchu tops most South America bucket lists, you can certainly distinguish your experience of it with some elegant touches. If the challenge of the Inca trail inspires but the thought of camping doesn’t, consider the 2 day Short Inca Trail journey which includes one intense day of hiking and an overnight stay at your choice of hotel in Aguas Calientes, the town below the ruins. Or for the more athletically inclined can opt for the 7 day Luxury Salkantay Trek, that makes its way through picturesque valleys whilst staying in charming mountain lodges. If the train to Machu Picchu is more your style, upgrade your experience with a ride on the Hiram Bingham Train, the first class rail journey in the romantic heritage style, affording you spectacular views on the way to the archaeological site with fine dining.

Hiram Bingham train to Machu Picchu

Patagonia – your luxury lodge stay or cruise at the end of the world

Now if you missed Patagonia on your first visit to South America, you must make it there next time around. Patagonia is the southernmost region of both Argentina and Chile, the very bottom tip. Why this area inspires so many is obvious, the incredible natural landscapes wonders, glaciers, fjords and stillness at the world’s extreme south. With equally magnificent attractions on either side of the border, a Patagonia travel experience is one not to be rushed as the distances are vast. You can unwind peacefully in luxury lodges with an interactive and inclusive philosophy such as Explora, Tierra Patagonia and the recently commissioned Awasi in Torres del Paine national park. In El Calafate in Argentina your stay at Eolo will immerse you in the local Gaucho tradition and if you’re game, can board a small ship expedition ship Australis for various navigation routes through the fjords, channels and straits including the Beagle Channel.

Stella Australis Patagonia Cruise

Iguazu Falls

Iguazu Falls translates to big water and it is by far the most impressive and majestic waterfall in the Americas and the world. Set on the border of Argentina and Brazil, there are nearly 300 individual waterfalls spanning nearly 3 kilometres and surrounded by dense forest, a truly natural wonder. A luxury traveller will enjoy staying in either the Sheraton Hotel on the Argentina side, where you can see views of the cataract from the falls view room and dining rooms, or relaxing in the Belmond Das Cataratas on the Brazilian side. There you will marvel at the properties sense of colonial style that reflects local traditions of the land from a privileged location closer to Iguazu and within the national park.

Hotel Das Cataratas Restaurant Exterior View

Katherine Garces is Founder at Boutique South America.

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South America

Photograph of the week: Machu Picchu


This 15th Century Inca site is one of the 7 New Wonders of the World and it’s truly breathtaking place. Most of the travelers say that this is the most memorable sight they have been to. Machu Picchu is one of the most familiar symbols of the Incan Empire and also one of the most famous and spectacular sets of ruins in the world. A visit to Peru would not be complete without seeing it.

Machu Picchu

Thank you to Piotr Kulczycki of for permission to reproduce the image.

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South America

Brazil's top 5 beach hotels


Brazil is easily the best destination in South America for beaches and with over 5000 miles of stunning coastline, it is easy to see why. There really is something to please everyone amongst Brazil’s beaches. Whether you want to relax on a secluded beach, off the beaten track, catch some waves kite surfing, dive in crystal clear waters, whale watch or people watch, you will be spoilt for choice. There are plenty of hotel options to satisfy even the most discerning traveller. Here we pick out our top 5 luxury beach hotels in Brazil.

Uxua Casa, Trancoso

Trancoso is a beautiful town in the state of Bahia on Brazil’s north coast. Bahia is known for its beaches and has many to choose from. Trancoso is one of the best; trendy, laid back and stunningly beautiful. The main attraction of the town itself is the quadrado, a beautiful UNESCO-protected main square surrounded by pretty pastel coloured buildings and with a beautiful church at the head. Uxua Casa is situated on the quadrado and, with a short walk to the beach it is this location that makes it stand out, combining the beautiful beach with the quant quadrado. This hotel is the ultimate in cool sophistication. Created by the renowned designer Wilbert Das it combines traditional techniques, antiques and local materials. Wilbert works with local artisans, using their products throughout the hotel.


There are 11 different residences known as ‘casas’ and each is individually designed. They all include large comfortable beds, in-door and out-door living areas, air-conditioning, flat screen TV and Wi-Fi. The pool was built using green aventurine which is believed by the locals to have relaxing and calming properties. If it is relaxation you are looking for, then head to the spa at Uxua Casa where they offer a range of treatments using local ingredients and combining the philosophy of the local cultures.

The staff at the hotel are all employed from the local area and all speak English. The food and drink is prepared using local ingredients and can be served at the beach bar or the restaurant on the quadrado. Our top tip-make sure you try the seafood skewers and the passionfruit Caipirinhas!

Uxua Casa really lives up to its name (Marvellous House) and is a must-see on any trip to Brazil.

Ponta dos Ganchos, Governador Celso Ramos

Ponta dos Ganchos is located on Brazil’s south coast, just north of Florianopolis and overlooking stunning forested coastline. Set on a privately-owned peninsula, this small hotel is considered one of Brazil’s most exclusive resorts and regularly wins the accolade of South America’s best beach hotel. The area is populated with picturesque fishing villages and steeped in history, the locals are descendants of the first Azorean immigrants to settle on the Santa Catarina coast.


The accommodation comprises 25 individual bungalows, in perfect harmony with the scenery, a beautiful mix of forest vegetation and waters of the emerald sea. Many of the bungalows jut out over the sea and all have beautiful views of the stunning and secluded scenery.

The hotel offers many opportunities for both relaxation and activity with a spa, massage bungalows, heated pool games room, cinema, state-of-the-art fitness suite and oceanfront tennis court and nature trails. The bar and lounge offer perfect places to relax with a caipirinha at any time of the day. The nearby Arvoredo island offers excellent scuba diving and you can also visit the local Dolphin Bay.

This flexibility is seen in the cuisine as well. All freshly prepared using local ingredients, many of which are grown organically in the gardens of the hotel, the dishes can be ordered at any time of day, wherever you are in the resort.

The final stamp of exclusivity is found in the Leading Hotels of the World seal of approval and the fact that the hotel only accepts guest aged 18 or over, to preserve the tranquillity of this stunning and unique resort.

Zorah Beach, Guajiru

Located on Brazil’s north-east coast, Zorah Beach is an Asian-inspired hotel tucked away on a remote and beautiful beach. Roughly 2 hours from Fortaleza this hotel really is away from it all and you are likely to share the beach with no more than a few kite surfers or fishermen.


The hotel is made of 22 individual accommodations comprising spacious suites through to luxury bungalows and even an exclusive beachfront villa. Each one contains Egyptian cotton bedding, L’occitane amenities, a Nespresso machine and Sky TV. In an effort to preserve the relaxing vibe, WIFI is only available in public areas.

The décor is a main feature of the hotel and all pieces were sourced or specially made for the hotel in India, Bali and the Middle East. The Asian influence extends to the restaurant which uses local ingredients to create Asian dishes with a unique twist.

The beaches surrounding the hotel are perfect for relaxing in complete tranquillity. If you would like to be more active there are opportunities on both land and sea. The dunes provide the perfect opportunity for sand boarding, buggy rides or horse riding. You can visit local lagoons or trek further into the surrounding vegetation. For those keen on water sports or wanting to give them a try there is kite surfing, wind surfing or SUP (stand up paddle boarding).

For a unique and secluded luxury hotel look no further than Zorah Beach.

Insolito Boutique Hotel, Buzios

Buzios is Brazil’s answer to St. Tropez. Made famous by Brigitte Bardot who fell in love the with the place in the 1960s, it retains its charm and sophistication to this day. Ideally located on the coast roughly 2 hours from Rio de Janeiro it is set on a beautiful peninsula surrounded by 17 beaches.


Insolito Boutique Hotel combines art and culture in charming decoration. The rooms range from superior up to suites and each one is uniquely decorated. Renowned artists from Brazil and France were involved in the decoration of this sophisticated hotel and it shows in every detail. With accolades such as South America’s Leading Beach Hotel for the past 4 years it is easy to see why this is such a sought-after destination.

The restaurant offers a delectable fusion of French and Brazilian cuisine and features contemporary art from artists all over the world. There is a bar and beach lounge, each offering perfect places to relax with a cocktail or light snack.

The spa offers total relaxation in an area of the hotel facing the sea and a mixture of Eastern and Western influenced treatments. If it is activity you are after then the hotel offers local hikes, bike tours of Buzios or buggy trips along the beaches. There is a nearby golf club and water sports such as surfing, kite surfing, paddle boarding and wind surfing. This is also one of the best areas in Brazil for sailing.

For an enchanting mix of modern chis and old-world sophistication, look no further than this luxury hotel in elegant Buzios.

Txai Resort, Itacaré

It says much for Bahia that this is the second hotel we have included from this state. Situated on Brazil’s Coconut Coast, in a stunning beachfront location it is a perfect paradise in one of Brazil’s most beautiful regions.


The design is a mixture of eco-friendly style and luxurious comfort. The accommodation is made up of 38 individual bungalows, scattered amongst a coconut grove and all facing the ocean. There are also 3 private villas for larger groups or families. Each bungalow is built using raw materials from the region and offers stunning view through the large windows.

The gastronomy uses local ingredients including the freshest fish (the resort is metres from the ocean) and with three restaurants you are spoilt for choice when it comes to location.The spa offers a range of treatments with their roots in ancient traditions and using a unique blend of spices from the Bahian region.

The focus at Txai is on responsible tourism, offering exclusive activities with minimal impact on the environment and local community. The ecotours include visits to secluded beaches, canoe trips upriver and hikes through trails to natural pools. The Txai Institute works with local communities to promote development and the preservation of biodiversity. There are unique opportunities to get involved in these projects while staying at the hotel.

Txai is an inspiring and captivating resort offering the best in luxury ecotourism in an idyllic location.

Simon Williams is Director of The Bespoke Travel Group.

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South America

The top 3 luxury hotels in Sao Paulo


São Paulo is primarily a business destination for most travellers to the city so often bypassed by tourists however it is a city with huge appeal, Brazil’s best restaurants and shopping and endless nightlife. Understandably it has an endless array of hotels including a number of excellent 5 star properties. Here’s our top three Luxury Hotels in São Paulo which we visited on a recent visit the city.

Hotel Unique

The Hotel Unique is one of the most visually stunning hotels in the world. Standing outside of the hotel you could be looking at a hotel, a ship or perhaps a giant game of Connect4!


Located at the edge of Ibirapuera Park, the Hotel Unique simply oozes style. As you enter the huge lobby area you are greeted by a long freestanding table which acts as the reception where attentive staff offer you champagne as you check into this bright and airy space.

Attached the lobby is the Wall bar with an imposing array of spirits climbing up the wall to the ceiling and neighbouring the small library with comfy design chairs you can easily fall asleep in.


Close to the library is access to the spa, fitness area and a swimming pool which comes complete with water slide with a TV placed above the end of the slide. If you go up and down enough, you could probably watch a whole football game…

The elevators and corridors are dimly lit to create mood which you may not enjoy if you are scared of the dark and lead you to the bedrooms. The rooms are stylish with portholes for windows and all rooms are designed the same with the suites just being that big bigger. We loved the bathrooms with the wall/window that raises up allowing you to be lying in the bath and conversing with your partner on the bed. All the suites are at the ends of the building and incorporate the curvy floors that are created by the building’s exterior design.


On the top floor is the restaurant and attached is the truly stunning Skye Bar which is one of the places to be seen in São Paulo. From here you can relax in the striking red swimming pool and enjoy a caipirinha overlooking the São Paulo skyline.


If you are looking for somewhere super cool to stay whilst on holiday in São Paulo then this will be it.

Hotel Fasano

The Hotel Fasano set the standard for all other luxury hotels in Sao Paulo to follow and still today, many years after it first opened, not much has changed. Located on a quiet road that runs parallel with the shopping delights offered on Rua Oscar Freire, its art deco exterior is home the most wonderful lobby, a large welcoming area with a long bar not to be confused with the reception desk! Immediately you get a feel for the hotels sophisticated design, dark woods and stylish leather seats.

The reception desk is hidden away around the corner and close to the Fasano restaurant which is one of the highlights of the hotel and it was the restaurant which made Rogerio Fasano famous, the hotels came secondary. The Fasano restaurant is regularly considered the best Italian restaurant in South America and a place to be seen. The restaurant accommodates up to 80 guests and includes a private room that can seat up to 26 people in a stylish design which is typical of the Fasano name.


Close to the restaurant is the fabulous Bar Baretto, an intimate live music and jazz bar, which was considered by the Wall Street Magazine as “the most beautiful bar in the world” and regularly hosts top performers.


The bedrooms are nothing but elegant all with beautiful panoramic views over the leafy Jardins neighbourhood. The elegant, subdued décor is enhanced by the best and most luxurious amenities. The rooms offer king size beds with 300-thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets and white goose down pillows. Linen curtains, Persian Kilim rugs, white marble bathrooms, Venetian-framed paintings and Murano vases echo the Italian traditions of the Fasano family. The suites, with rooms separated by wooden sliding doors, are located on the top floors of the hotel, with unique city views.


There is a fitness area with massage rooms offering a variety of treatments and perhaps our favourite space, the stunning indoor pool with large windows looking out on Sao Paulo.


Hotel Emiliano

The Hotel Emiliano seems rather unassuming at first when seen from outside. Despite its excellent location in the heart of Sao Paulo’s best shopping on Rua Oscar Freire as you enter the hotel it feels relatively unimpressive compared to the Hotel Unique with its reception desk tucked away. Despite the very comfortable leather chairs in reception, the staff seemed less sharp and less attentive but perhaps I was being harsh.


There’s a small bar leading on to the restaurant which serves an excellent a la carte breakfast.


All guests staying at the Emiliano for business or on holiday receive a welcome massage. A bottle of wine and fruits are also placed in the rooms which are by far the best feature of the hotel. Indeed it is the rooms are what makes the Hotel Emiliano so fabulous. There are only 3 rooms to a floor and they all offer large spaces with incredibly comfortable beds and an exceptional eye for detail with wonderful personal touches. The bathrooms are stylish and intriguing in the same measure with a crazy looking Japanese toilet which also doubles as a bidet which the switch of a bed, all very sci-fi.


The hotel has only a small fitness centre which is excellently equipped and a couple of ofuros outside for relaxing in. The hotel lacks a swimming pool sadly unless you want pay the £3000 a night cost for the Presidential suite which features its own pool and dining room!


If you are visiting Sao Paulo for business or are looking for a luxury hotel, purely to rest your head then this is it and if you are doing serious business in Sao Paulo then the Hotel Emiliano offers a helipad, ideal for avoiding the renowned traffic of the city, and is the only hotel in the city with such a facility.

Our favourite?

It’s a tough choice but for the all-round package, the location and the style, it has to be the Fasano. The perfect place to stay on a luxury holiday or whilst on business in Sao Paulo.

Simon Williams is Director of The Bespoke Travel Group.

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South America

4 hard-to-reach destinations that are worth the trek


Some corners of the world defy human interference. These remote locations aren’t easy to reach, but they are well worth the extra effort. To get to the spots on this list you have to take a plane, a boat, or a ride in an all-terrain vehicle down a rough road. These are sights that will stay with you the longest, and after the journey you’ll have a greater appreciation for smooth rides.

Semuc Champey, Guatemala

To reach the limestone bridge called Semuc Champey you will need to take a 5.5-mile (9-km) drive down an extremely bumpy road. Natural pools brimming with perfectly clear, bright blue water have formed in the limestone. Semuc Champey’s pools form a series of steps, and as the water flows from one pool to the next it creates a trail of waterfalls.

Semuc Champey

Because of the increasing popularity of the area, the roads are being steadily improved. But there are plenty of challenges even after you arrive. Go on a hike to the viewing platform on the side of a mountain – this path is quite steep, and nearly a mile (1.2 km) long. There are guides in the area, and a rope to help you ascend the slope. From this vantage point you can see the complete network of pools.

Lubaantun, Belize

Lubaantun is a Maya city in the rainforest outside of Punta Gorda. It was at its height from the 8th to the 9th century. Punta Gorda’s rainforest has made significant progress toward reclaiming this site, and there are trees growing out of the tops of the crumbling temples. The road here is 7 miles (12 km) over bumpy terrain, and it gets particularly tricky during the rainy season.


Indiana Jones fans, take note: this is the site where the legend of the crystal skull originated. Archaeologist Frederick A. Mitchel-Hedges claimed to have found a crystal skull at Lubaantun in 1924. There is no proof to support the idea that such an object was ever discovered here, or that the Maya made it. Nevertheless, Jaime Awe, the director of Belize’s Institute of Archaeology, is suing the current owner of the skull to return the artifact to Belize.

Archaeologists have noted the buildings at this site for their lack of mortar. Maya architects found stones that fit together perfectly, eliminating the need for a bonding agent. Archaeologists have found a good deal of ceramics scattered throughout the site, including figurines sculpted to look like Maya ball players.

Ballestas Islands, Peru

To get to the Ballestas Islands visitors take a boat ride across a choppy sea. It’s recommended that you wear a hat for the duration of the boat ride, to protect yourself from the bright sun as well as bird droppings. Birds completely cover some parts of Ballestas’ shores. Common species here include terns, boobies, and Humboldt penguins. At certain times of year you may also spot flamingos. Sea lions flop around on the rocks near the shore.

Ballestas Island

These islands are off the coast of the Nasca Desert, which is famous for the Nasca lines. There are similar lines on the rocky coast of the Ballestas Islands. From your boat you will see the Candelabro – an 800-foot (243-m) long design that was carved into one of the island’s hillsides.

Ballestas Island Carving

Archaeologists believe that the Chavín people may have created this geoglyph. No one is quite sure what this design is supposed to depict. It may represent a cactus, or a constellation.

Coiba National Park, Panama

To reach Coiba National Park you must take a 90-minute boat ride. This national park protects Coiba Island and 38 smaller islands in the Gulf of Chiriquí. There are some overnight facilities at the Coiba ranger station.

Coiba National Park

Coiba Island served as a penal colony for 80 years, finally closing in 2005. At its height, it held 3,000 prisoners. Because of this, no visitors could come to the island and it never developed any tourist infrastructure. The prison’s troubled reputation was so well known that it kept people away from the nearby islands. You can still see the prison buildings here. They are in the process of succumbing to relentless tropical growth.

There are more than 700 species of fish in the surrounding waters, and 20 species of whale, and 33 species of shark. This tremendous diversity makes it an incredible destination for scuba diving, fishing, and kayaking. Granito Oro Island is part of Coiba National Park, and has become one of the top stops for divers and snorkelers.

While you’re on land, make sure to do some bird watching. There are nearly 150 species of birds on the island. Much like on the Galápagos, the island has very few predators, and some of the species of birds have evolved into subspecies that do not exist anywhere else in the world.

Zach Smith is CEO of Anywhere.

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