South America

South America

South America

6 unforgettable honeymoon spots in the heart of South America


Your honeymoon is the chance for you and your soul mate to deepen your bond with each other as you begin your life together. To help you and your new spouse find the ultimate, most unforgettable experience for your postnuptial getaway, we have generated a short-list of six (6) of the most memorable, romantic and exotic honeymoon destinations in South America.

Honeymoon Ecuador-Galapagos

These are top-of-the-line honeymoon resorts where romance abounds, as you’ll find endless ways to enjoy your time together. These are places where you can stay in luxurious suites, go on sun-drenched cruises, share intimate candlelit diners under the heavens, as well as stroll hand-in-hand along pristine white-sand beaches or enjoy pampering-for-two amidst a rich panorama of tropical scenery.

But where are these destinations? You may be surprised that all of these can be found in the tiny South American nation of Ecuador (in its Andean and Amazon regions, as well as in its Galapagos Islands). Here, you can discover unparalleled romantic destinations that will be etched in your memories forever.

Let the honeymoon begin!


The stuff honeymoon fantasies are made of, the Galapagos Islands is a place where you’ll find crystal-clear waters filled with curious sea lions, picturesque highlands brimming with exotic wildlife, and luxury accommodations characterized by their style and sheer comfort. It’s no wonder that this archipelago was recently nominated as South America’s “Leading Travel Destination” for 2016 by the World Travel Awards. For honeymooning in the Galapagos Islands, we have two suggestions for your accommodations: One based on land, and a second on board a luxury motor catamaran.

1. Pikaia Lodge

Given its central location in the Galapagos archipelago, the Pikaia Lodge has developed a “land-based day-tour concept” whereby you spend your nights in distinctly upscale accommodations and travel by day to nearby islands to discover secluded white sandy beaches and outlandish wildlife.

Pikaia infinity-pool  surtrek photo bank...

As honeymooners, you can choose either 3-, 4- or 7-night “exploration packages” (in addition to an 11-day “Land & Sea Safari). Any one of these will allow you to explore everything from astounding lava tunnels to playful sea lions during your trip on board the lodge’s 100-ft luxury yacht while led by experienced and knowledgeable guides. Notwithstanding the lodge’s proximity to other islands, you and your new spouse can also share in the pristine white-sand beaches near the lodge itself. In addition, as the Pikaia Lodge has its own private tortoise reserve on its grounds, you will come face to face with wild Galapagos Giant tortoises just steps from your room.

2. Athala Motor-Catamaran Galapagos Cruise

As honeymooners, you will want to avoid the crowds but still enjoy lots of personalized attention, which means the luxury Athala catamaran is just the thing for your Galapagos cruise.

Athala alt

This intimate, 16-passenger luxury catamaran features eight incredibly spacious cabins – four with private balconies – which will make it feel a like you’re cruising on your own chartered yacht. All of the staterooms feature large picture windows and queen-sized beds, while the Athala II’s upper deck features a bar and an attractive open area for relaxation and al fresco dining. As a couple, you will find the sundeck great for dolphin- and whale-watching, or simply relaxing together in the Jacuzzi. And as the Athala II is one of the fastest ships in the islands, you will have more time to enjoy all the marvels the islands have to offer. In addition to daily hikes to some of the islands’ most spectacular spots, you are invited to paddle a two-seater sea kayak, snorkel with a host of aquatic Galapagos friends (penguins, sea lions and others), or simply stretch out together on the beach.


Visiting a jungle eco-community is a mesmerizing experience. For honeymooners who want to experience this – but without all the hassle – a handful of Amazonian lodges exit that provide high-end amenities and services that focus on the complete comfort of their guests. Two of the lodges that we suggest are the “easy-access” Hamadryade Lodge and the more remote, but top notch, Napo Wildlife Center.

3. Hamadryade Lodge

Hamadryade Lodge

This French-owned and managed lodge provides a great opportunity to combine an Amazonian experience with luxury and style. Situated at only a 3-1/2-hour drive from Ecuador’s capital city of Quito, here a couple can find adventure in the heart of the jungle while availing themselves of the pleasures of the lodge’s exclusive, imminently private and spacious bungalows. Though located in the Amazonian rainforest, the lodge’s ecosystem is very different than those in lower basin regions, as the climate remains pleasant all year round: 75°F on average. The bungalows’ spacious showers feature natural stones for a private and soothing experience, while large windows (with beautiful views), Italian linen and luxurious bathrooms all contribute to mixing style and comfort with adventure. Such adventure is found in unique opportunities to discover the Amazon rainforest through a wide range of activities – from hikes beneath the primary and secondary canopy, specialized tours (ornithology, entomology and others) to visits to Kichwa and Waorani communities, in addition to shorter walks to discover magnificent jungle waterfalls and lagoons, night walks to discover the nocturnal wildlife; and canoe, kayaking and whitewater rafting/tubing trips. After a long day spent rafting or exploring nearby caves and waterfalls, the lodge’s three-course candlelight dinner feels like fine dining though served in the middle of the world’s most famous jungle. And for those guests requiring deeper relaxation, there’s an on-site massage hut.

4. Napo Wildlife Center

The sole lodge on the majestic Napo River located within the famed Yasuni National Park (in northeastern Ecuador), the Napo Wildlife Lodge is an award-winning lakeside eco-lodge that’s owned and managed by the local Añangu Kichwa indigenous community.

Napo Wildlife

Though constructed according to traditional architectural principles — but with all the modern conveniences — the Napo Wildlife Center Lodge consists of 16 luxury thatched bungalows, each with a private bathroom, insect screens, mosquito nets, and lakefront and forest views. The lodge’s social areas include a large open-air restaurant/dining area, a reading room and a well-stocked bar. There’s even Internet access, which is remarkable given the location. To help get your head around the Amazon, there are also two observation towers: a15-meter-high (50-foot) viewing tower and a 36 meter (120-foot) stainless steel canopy tower, which both will allow the two of you to observe the wildlife above the forest floor.


For hopelessly romantic and adventurous couples, there’s no shortage of challenges in the Ecuadorian Andes. Trekking, horseback riding, mountain climbing, river rafting, birdwatching and countless other activities can be shared in one of the most awe-inspiring regions of South America. The two experiences we recommend are Hacienda Rumiloma (perched above Quito at an altitude of 2-miles above sea level) and San Agustin de Callo (a working hacienda located at the foot of the world’s largest active volcano).

5. Hacienda Rumiloma

Situated on a 100-acre estate in an Andean cloud forest, on the slopes of the Pichincha Volcano and overlooking the city of Quito, Hacienda Rumiloma is known for its electrifying mix of Ecuadorian tradition and sophisticated international tastes – qualities embodied in everything from its menu to its eclectic interiors, the personalities of the owners, and the warmth of the local staff.

Rumiloma Lodge - Quito

The hacienda has several cozy sitting rooms that are perfect for relaxing after a long day of touring the city’s historic district (only a 10-minute taxi ride away) or for just enjoying an after-dinner drink while gazing out over the lights of the city to the Amazon jungle beyond.

You can choose from among the Rumiloma’s seven spectacular suites, each featuring a unique mix of antiques, arts and crafts from the farthest corners of Ecuador. The bathrooms are stunning in that they possess antique bathtubs, bronze sinks and hand-painted lavatories. All suites have large bedrooms, sitting rooms, indoor gardens and/or terraces and of course the best views anywhere in Quito. The Rumilona is surrounded by nearly 100 acres of land with walking trails, flora and local animal life. The main building houses an outstanding restaurant featuring home-style fusion cuisine, though a private luxury dining room is available for serving up to 16 people. The bottom floor has been converted into an intimate Irish/Ecuadorian pub, complete with a walk-in fireplace, while the cellar holds more than 200 bottles of the finest selections from Argentinean, Spanish, Chilean and Italian vineyards.

6. Hacienda San Agustin de Callo

Just an hour from Quito near the entrance of Cotopaxi National Park, Hacienda San Augustin de Callo lies within its very own country estate and was built on the actual site of an Inca temple. Where else can a newlyweds dine within still-standing Inca walls, complete with the niches that held statues of their ancestral gods? In fact, this hacienda is the farthest point north of Cusco (Peru) that features “Imperial Style” Inca construction. In the main building (the Inca House) is the dining room and the lounge that looks out onto a beautifully tended garden; the rooms are located either around the courtyard or in separate lodges close by. Plus, there’s a lovely small chapel where weddings are held – which is also an option.

Ecuador Andes Honeymoon

On a clear day here, it seems as if you could stretch out and touch Cotopaxi Volcano, it looks so close. In addition, a vehicle can take you up to the Cotopaxi base camp situated at 4,800 meters (15,700 ft.) above sea level, where you can start an extraordinary downhill mountain-biking experience that ends at the park’s entrance. Similarly, the hacienda is surrounded by páramo (grassland highlands) that are ideal for hiking. Guided trekking tours can be arranged with professional guides up the rather steep ascent on the southern side of Cotopaxi. Likewise, one of the most exciting activities offered is horseback riding, suitable for novices as well as experienced riders, and nearby you can find romantic rose plantations that can be visited by foot or on bicycle.

Ecuadorian Highlands

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator.

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

Luxury in the wild: must dos in Patagonia


Patagonia is a land of unrivaled nature. A place where to find comfort in the tranquility of the great outdoors and a place to experience incomparable adventure. Its mix of glaciers, mountains, deserts, fjords, lakes, rivers, waterfalls, channels and oceans provide the opportunity to truly escape into a diverse selection of remoteness.

Patagonia - Torres del Paine mountains

It is a region that has been trodden by explorers like Ferdinand Magellan looking for a new way to circumnavigate the world, and Robert FitzRoy, captain of Charles Darwin’s vessel, HMS Beagle. Patagonia is also the perfect spot for the luxury traveler. Here is a list of my favourite unique epicurean ways to experience the region’s nature, wildlife, cuisine and culture.

Patagionia lakes region

Trekking in El Chalten and Aguas Arriba Lodge

In what many consider the world trekking capital, Aguas Arriba Lodge is El Chalten’s best kept secret. Recently built by a young couple on the edge of Lago del Desierto (Desert Lake) mirroring a rare view of the north face of Mount Fitz Roy, the Aguas Arribas Lodge provides a true home away from home. The owners of the lodge trekked the immense forest on foot looking for the perfect private plot of land to create a heap of comfort in the great outdoors. The lodge is reached either by a picturesque hike through the remote wilderness with ancient Nothofagus trees and South Andean deer, or by a private yacht charter arranged by the owners.

Aguas Arriba Lodge3

Our studly young skipper gave us a boat tour of the area showing us waterfalls and glaciers before arriving to what would be our luxurious nest of hand crafted wood for the next few days. There is a rare symbiosis between the nature and the lodge, with grand glass windows providing innumerable angles to view a complex conjunction of natural phenomena. While there are treks and activities to do around the lodge, it is the perfect place to rest your feet and absorb the area’s majesty after hitting the renowned trails of El Chalten in Los Glaciers National Park.

Aguas Arriba Lodge

March with penguins

There is nothing more luxurious than being in a place where no permanent human settlement exists. A visit to the isolated continent of Antarctica provides the opportunity to witness a majestic sea of white made of ice sheets, icebergs and sub-glacial lakes. Perhaps the most entertaining attraction in Antarctica is the combination of the absence of familiar organisms, and the presence of Empire penguins. Cruises to Antarctica depart from the city of Ushuaia in Argentina’s province of Tierra del Fuego, regarded as the southernmost city in the world. From Punta Arenas, Chile, there are also several excursion options to witness penguins, among them being a boat outing day trip to Magdalena Island to see hundreds of Magellanic penguins. While Antarctica is the only place on earth to see the tallest and heaviest of the penguin species, the Empire penguin, endemic to the region, another and relatively new excursion from Punta Arenas offers an opportunity to see a small “lost” colony of King penguins that arrived in Tierra del Fuego only a decade ago called Penguino Rey. A trip to South America isn’t complete without the bragging rights of seeing rare and adorable flightless birds!


Experience timelessness at the Cave of Hands

Located in a remote desert area of the Patagonia steppe, a tour of the Cave of Hands offers a rare glimpse of a timeless human presence. The Cave of Hands showcases thousands of hand prints dating as far back as an estimated 13,000 years. The artwork was stenciled into the volcanic rock over a period of 4 millennium using bone-made pipes for spraying the paint and mineral pigments for the melange of bright colors. The excursion to the artistic cave site drives through the Pinturas River Canyon with colorful rock formations and isolated salt flats, completely void of anything or anyone….the only evidence of a human presence being the ancient hand prints.

Cave of Hands

Indulge in savoury meat

It has been estimated that Argentinians eat roughly 60 kg of beef steak per year per capita. The quantities are not surprising after you taste the incredible variety of cuts and slow grilling method. One of the best steakhouses in Patagonia can be found in Argentina’s glamourous lakes region in San Martin de los Andes called Bamboo Brasas. There we tried an all-you-can-eat parrilla (grill) sampling of various types of steak, pork and deer meat. Lamb is also a big tradition in southern Patagonia. In a warm atmosphere at El Arriero in Punta Arenas, Chile we savoured a mouth-watering slow roasted lamb covered in a chestnut crème accompanied by fresh avocado and tomato salad. Good hearty food is a must in a region such as Patagonia which is flooded with challenging landscapes and climate.


Greg Grant is Owner of Hosted Villas.

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

Top 4 national parks in Brazil


Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, is a melting pot of colourful culture, diverse habitats and unique wildlife. From the vast swamp-like Pantanal, to white sandy beaches and deep, dark rainforest, there are some truly spectacular areas to visit. Luckily, for the rest of the world, Brazil takes great pride in its natural beauty and many of these special environments are protected by National Park status. But which ones should you make it a priority visit? Here’s my list of the top 4 National Parks in Brazil:

1. Lencois Maranhenses National Park

In north-eastern Brazil, the state of Maranhao boasts a bizarre and yet beautiful phenomenon where a large expanse of sand is frequently rained upon (mainly due to its location next to the amazon basin) and then carved into strange shapes by strong winds. You would be forgiven for mistaking the resulting idyllic pools of turquoise blue resting blissfully within white sand dunes as either a painting or a shot from a science fiction film. However, they are very real and the swirling pattern of water across the landscape is quite a sight to see – the name itself translates as ‘The Bedsheets of Maranhao’. Such is the unique nature of this spectacle, the region was given National Park status in 1991. Fishermen still use the pools to catch species such as the wolf fish and visitors to the park can enjoy an exhilarating 4×4 ride across the sand before taking a dip in these remarkable ‘ponds’.


2. Chapada Diamantina National Park

Endless sweeping valleys and towering flat topped mountains will take your breath away, but to truly see this National Park at its finest, adventurous visitors must head underground. Below the lush valleys and photogenic waterfalls, a huge network of caves and rivers create magical pools of crystal clear water. These aquamarine marvels will tempt anyone in for a dip, and the glittering walls are a clue to the richness of the land here – diamonds and gold are just a few of the minerals synonymous with the region. Located in the state of Bahia, Chapada Diamantina is most attractive to trekkers, photographers and birdwatchers. With such a varied selection of habitats, it is possible to hike through cactus filled canyons and spot colourful birds in verdant forest before taking a refreshing shower under a beautiful cascade of water – all in one day.


3. Iguassu National Park

One of the most well know National Parks in South America, mainly due to its unmistakable network of huge waterways that combine to create the stunning Iguassu Falls. Selfies aside, this is one extremely photogenic spot, and visitors flock here in their thousands to witness the thunderous roar as the river gushes over the aptly named ‘Devils Throat’. As easy as it is to spend the whole day with your eyes glued to the falls themselves, visitors will benefit from taking a look around other sections of the park too, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. The tropical rainforest that surrounds the main attraction is filled with colourful birds including toucans, parrots, tanagers and hummingbirds – over 400 species have been recorded within the park. Another prominent species is the extremely cute coati, a racoon like creature which is often seen sniffing around tourists in the hope of leftover food. Don’t be fooled by their butter-wouldn’t-melt appearance though – these critters have extremely sharp teeth (not to mention claws) and will devour a dropped sandwich in seconds. If wildlife isn’t your thing, don’t panic, it’s possible to take a thrilling helicopter ride over the falls to get a true feel for the scale of this impressive natural wonder.


4. Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park

Deemed a National Park in 1961, and also declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2001, this huge landscape is a far-flung paradise that few people know of. Among the unique cerrado habitat, unusual rock formations can be found, some of which date back an astonishing 1.8 billion years. That is not the only astonishing thing about this remarkable place however – it is recognised by Nasa as being the brightest point on planet earth due to the sheer quantity of quartz in the ground. Tourists who visit Chapada dos Veadeiros may not be able to see this spectacle from space, but can instead enjoy walking in untouched forest which macaws and toucans call home, stopping every hour or so for a peaceful swim in one of the countless waterfalls. An otherworldly experience that will impress even the most well-travelled visitor.


Simon Williams is Director of The Bespoke Travel Group.

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

An inside look at the Copacabana Palace, Rio de Janeiro


The Copacabana Palace in Rio de Janeiro is without doubt the most famous and iconic hotel in South America. Directly opposite Copacabana beach, the tall white building is a pretty spot, oozing glamour and style. Over the decades the hotel has welcomed film stars, musicians, politicians and royalty and the staff are expertly trained to ensure that anyone who walks through the door is treated to the highest level of service.


The lobby of the hotel is immediately striking, with gigantic flower displays and polished marble. Thick luxurious carpets cover the corridors and fresh flowers adorn every floor. One has the impression that the décor at the Copacabana Place has not changed much over the years and yet it is still pristine, the style here works as an icon of the golden age of hotels when service was everything and it was all about Copacabana.



The rooms themselves do not disappoint in this hotel. Marble bathrooms are equipped with luxurious robes, classic Gramado toiletries from Brazil’s oldest pharmacy and more towels than you know what to do with. The hardwood floors are polished to perfection and the beds are vast and extremely comfortable. If you are lucky enough to be staying in an ocean view room, the view speaks for itself.




The pool sits in the centre of the hotel surrounded by the restaurants, bars and some of the rooms. One of the largest hotel pools I have come across, it is a perfect spot for getting in some lengths or lounging with a cocktail. The bar at the Copacabana is as stylish as one would expect with a cocktail menu to match, all sumptuous red with leather booths and subtle lighting, it has echoes of the forties and fifties in its décor and feel.


Breakfast is served in the Pergula restaurant and guests can choose from a table inside or outside overlooking the pool. The buffet is enormous and offers everything from fresh tropical fruits to pastries, cooked breakfast, meats, cheeses and cereals and of course the essential Brazilian Pao de Queijo.

The real stars of dining at the Copacabana Place however are the two principle restaurants, the Italian Cipriani and Ken Hom’s Michelin-starred Mee. Dining in both is a very special experience and I have been lucky enough to eat in both of them.

One of the best ways to experience the Cipriani is at the Chef’s Table, something I have been lucky enough to try. This is located inside the kitchen of the Cipriani restaurant in a small booth directly in front of the serving shelves and so begins your exclusive experience. On arrival guests can choose from an aperitif in the restaurant or to head straight to the Chef’s Table in the kitchen. We were introduced to our waiter for the night, Fernando along with André our sommelier and perhaps most importantly to Luca Orini, the Head Chef. He told us how dinner would unfold and that we were ultimately in charge of the types of dishes he would present to us in the form of a tasting menu. He discussed whether we had any specific likes, dislikes or allergies so that we could get the most from our dining experience before André brought over our first drink of the evening, a bottle of Perrier Joet Grand Brut Champagne and Fernando followed up with an extensive bread board.


As the first dish was presented by Fernando our waiter, a carpaccio of beef with burrata, Chef Orini came over to explain the elements of the dish. André then appeared with a wine to pair with the dish, a crisp Chilean Marina Bravado Sauvignon Blanc.


This was to be how the remainder of the evening would pan out with the incredibly attentive and friendly Fernando and André returning with dish after dish, each paired with a beautiful wine to match. Each time chef Orini would take time out from the hotplate and come and speak to us about the dish. The service was attentive at all times however at no time did we feel as though we were being crowded as can often be the case when you are the only guests at a restaurant. I would say it was probably the best service I’ve ever experienced.



The tasting menu was broken down into 5 distinct sections with 2 light starters to begin, followed by 3 fish courses, 4 pasta dishes, the ‘main courses’ and then 4 different desserts. We sat down for dinner at 8pm and left the restaurant just after midnight having consumed 14 different dishes with 9 different wines all of which were truly superb. At the end of the meal we were presented with a signed menu by the head chef as a special memento of our evening.







Dining at Mee was a very different experience but excellent once more. We were seated in the restaurant this time which is decorated in an elegant Asian style. Guests dining here can choose from the a la carte or tasting menu. We chose the latter, known charmingly as the Meechelin Menu.


Each dish was carefully crafted to perfection, a perfect balance of flavours and delicious Asian fusion. Highlights were the dim sum, always a favourite of mine in Chinese restaurants, delicate, soft mouthfuls that slipped easily down the throat. The wagu beef was melt in the mouth tender and delicious and the scallops were beautifully presented and delicately flavoured.





The star of the show though, were the duck pancakes. Presented on the bone and then hand pulled at the table by the waiters, they came with all the trimmings and were as delicious as those served in the best Beijing eateries.


We ended the meal with a delicious sake, the perfect light finish to a superb menu.


The Copacabana Palace is one of those hotels that still remains an icon and a visit there will ensure that it remains in your memory for years to come.

Simon Williams is Director of The Bespoke Travel Group.

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

Ecuador's Imbabura Province: an art-filled Andean enclave


A small and beautiful region in the Ecuadorian Andes, Imbabura Province is an area whose crafts have become famous worldwide. The skill and business acumen of this area’s inhabitants – some 400,000 people – have been the basis for the development of this dynamic northern Ecuadorian region where artisans rise before the sun to engage their looms, turn on their old sewing machines, and begin using their chisels, lathes and brushes to cut, shape and create.


If you travel to Ecuador, don’t overlook this territory that has been blessed by Mother Nature. Also known as the “Province of Lakes,” you can be assured to find a wonderful environment with temperate valleys, snowcapped volcanoes, crystal-clear waterfalls, picturesque Andean villages and delicious cuisine. All of this combines to provide diverse tourist attractions and artistry full of contrasts. The following is just a small sample of the sites where such work is created in Imbabura.



This predominantly indigenous city, located 110 kilometers (about a two-hour drive) north of Ecuador’s capital of Quito, has one of the largest handicraft markets in Latin America. The market in the “Plaza de los Ponchos” comes alive every Saturday with the arrival of hundreds of artisans, vendors, tourists and local shoppers.


Ponchos, tapestries, all kinds of wool garments, fine embroidery (most made by hand), carved wooden pieces, jewelry, stone sculptures, accessories, paintings, “toquilla” items and musical instruments are some of the products exhibited in this square, where the “bargaining” is a common and accepted practice.

Home to the indigenous Otavalo Kichwa ethnic group, Otavalo has been declared the “Intercultural Capital Ecuador.” It is a small town, but one possessing a cosmopolitan flair given the large numbers of foreigners who visit this culturally rich destination.

In addition to its restaurants, hostels, nearby haciendas converted into beautiful hotels, clothing stores and streets illuminated with lanterns, Otavalo’s main attraction is undoubtedly the handicrafts market. To it comes visitors from all over the world, as tourists spend hours marveling at the work of artisans who have learned their crafts of their ancestors and hand these down to their descendants.

Added to Otavalo’s handicrafts market is another attraction: its animal market. Every Saturday, starting at 6:00 a.m., this exotic market features rabbits, guinea pigs, cows, sheep, goats, chickens, horses, and other animals. This all presents a scene that can hardly be seen elsewhere, as it is one that seems frozen in time.


Walking through the city of Cotacachi is like going window shopping. All kinds of leather goods (jackets, pants, belts, wallets, shoes, jackets, bags and more) are seen in the windows of dozens of shops in the streets of this town of 40,000 inhabitants.


Although many of the goods follow international fashion trends, Cotacachi’s own designs are also on display here. Every weekend, thousands of people are attracted by these distinctive styles – in addition to prices that are much more affordable than those in large cities – as shoppers walk through the town’s narrow streets in search of the perfect garment or accessory.

However, Cotacachi is not just leather. Visitors can also stop to visit the main church, with its six chapels, gilded altars, and works from the “Quito School” of art. Another point of attraction is the Las Athens scenic overlook. From there, you can view the stunning lakes of the Cotacachi Ecological Reserve, which is the largest conservation area in the western Ecuadorian Andes. In addition, hot springs, lush forests, nature reserves and snowy summits are features that you will discover in Cotacachi, along with the best leather production in the country.

San Antonio de Ibarra

Beautiful shapes emerge from walnut wood, thanks to the skillful hands of the artisans of San Antonio de Ibarra. In this small town in the middle of the Andean highlands of Ecuador, walking through the quiet streets means discovering that many houses are actually craft workshops. In these buildings can be found the precious wooden works that have made this place famous. Crafted using the techniques of the “Quito School,” and covered with gold leaf, these unique works stand out for their ravishing color and beauty.


Large and small wooden sculptures, altarpieces, altars for churches, and motifs of all kinds are carved in walnut, naranjillo, cedar and laurel. In the center of the village, works crafted by men, women and even children are sold in each house.

There is also a street named Ramon Teanga (known as “the Street of Art”), where sculptures of monumental size are created. These are made not only of wood, but also from stone, cement and concrete. There, on Saturday nights, exhibitions and demonstration workshops are held to promote the work of local artisans.


On more than one occasion at international summits and meetings, Ecuadorian president Rafael Correa has appeared wearing shirts embroidered with pre-Columbian designs. These garments originate from the predominantly indigenous community of Zuleta, which is also located in Ecuador’s Imbabura Province.


 The tradition of this meticulous work using thread, thimbles and fabrics is old; but the trade took on an important role in 1940s at the hacienda of former Ecuadorian president Galo Plaza Lasso. This was when the leader’s wife created an embroidery workshop for area women to create and sale beautiful garments, thus bringing in extra income to their households.

Dresses, blouses, tablecloths, rugs, towels and other items with fine finishes that reflect the features of the local physical environment and the indigenous worldview are created by the skilled hands of more than 300 embroiderers. Every two weeks, these garments are displayed at the Zuleta Embroidery Market, which has been held for the last eleven years.

Many public figures wear these highly original embroidered garments, but what many people don’t know is that Pope Francis received two of these embroidered shirts during a presidential visit to the Vatican.


The town of Atuntaqui – located just 10 minutes from Ibarra, and now with a population of 21,000 inhabitant – was rebuilt on the ruins of an earthquake that destroyed that village back in 1868. In its reconstruction, major roles were played by the arrival of a railroad stop in a nearby village, but also the development of a textile factory in Atuntaqui itself. That historic textile factory, in which antique English and German machinery is still preserved, was declared Cultural Heritage Site of Ecuador. To visit this site allows one to learn about the origin of an activity that is currently the main source of income of this community, as every year the textile fair organized in this small town attracts almost 150,000 visitors.


This small colonial city, whose indigenous name means “big drum” and whose architecture and layout reflects Spanish influences, has a pleasant climate, breathtaking scenery, and is located in the foothills of the Imbabura Volcano. The very quiet pace of life here has made many people choose this town as a retirement destination. But even if that’s not your intention, a visit to Atuntaqui will permit you to learn about the craftsmanship of its inhabitants. We can almost assure you that you won’t leave without picking up one of the beautiful garments on display in the windows on almost every street in the center of Atuntaqui.

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator.

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 secret South American sites (and sights)


South America’s popularity as a luxury destination shows no sign of slowing down and, if anything, visitors seem to be wanting to get ever further off the beaten track to explore the less well-trodden corners of this cracking continent. So in the self-same spirit of exploration, here are seven South American secrets that may not all be that luxurious, but which will almost certainly afford you the luxury of being the only person in the room to have been there.

The Lost City Trek, Colombia

If you want to unleash your inner Indiana Jones then try your hand (or walking boot clad feet) at the five day round-trip trek to the Ciudad Perdida (or Lost City in Spanish), an archaeological site in the Sierra Nevada region believed to be some 650 years older than Machu Picchu. The trek involves long uphill walks through dense vegetation, wading through rivers and sleeping in hammocks, but for those who complete it, the memories will last a lifetime.

Colombia's Lost City

Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

The beach resorts of Punta del Este and Jose Ignacio may attract the beautiful people from neighbouring Argentina and Brazil, but 60 miles along the coast the vibe in Cabo Polonia is decidedly more mellow. Still at heart a hippie community and sitting surrounded by sand dunes and a National Park, the village is not on Uruguay’s electric grid so the bohemian residents and dialled in discerning visitors enjoy a supremely peaceful existence relaxing on the beach, exploring the National Park and eating by candelight at hip beach shack restaurants.

Sand dunes in Cabo Polonio, Uruguay

North West Argentina

The varied pleasures of Argentina are well-known to most, be they buzzing Buenos Aires, gaucho living in the Pampas, the wine regions of Mendoza or the dramatic landscapes of Patagonia, but there’s another – equally wonderful – region that rarely garners the headlines. Welcome to North West Argentina, home to the charming city of Salta, the extraordinary rock formations of the Humahuaca Gorge (recently awarded UNESCO World Heritage status), the high altitude vineyards of Cafayate (famed for their Torrontes grape whites) and salt flats and moonscape scenery to rival those in neighbouring Peru and Bolivia, both of which – incidentally – can be combined in a world class road trip.

Lagoon Brava, La Rioja, Argentina

Chiloe Island, Chile

Famed for its UNESCO World Heritage Jesuit churches and now home to a delicious new property from Tierra (one of Latin America’s leading luxury hotel groups), Chiloe Island is right up there in terms of holiday brag-ability. Spend your days walking, biking, boating or riding and visiting the many charming fishing villages before returning to the geometric delights of the hotel and the barman’s already famous pisco sours.

Chiloe Island - Chile

Ibitipoca, Brazil

Minas Gerais State lies inland en route between Rio and Salvador, meaning many bypass what is a fascinating region. At its heart lies the magical Ibitipoca, a 7,500 acre reserve that’s home to the eponymous lodge that just happens to be one of the finest places to stay in Brazil. Owned by a wealthy Brazilian mining magnate and self-confessed Amanjunkie, the lodge offers exceptional hospitality, comfort, cuisine and eco-credentials that are the perfect antidote to the raw energy of Rio.


Mancora, Peru

Mention Peru and most people think dramatic Andean scenery, the lost Inca city of Machu Picchu or the mysterious Nazca lines. What they almost certainly won’t be thinking is hip and happening beach resorts and a surfing and social scene to rival that in other Latin American hotspots such as Brazil’s Buzios. So take a bow, Mancora, somewhere that shouldn’t be nearly as secret as it is given that the Pan- American Highway basically runs through the middle of town. Stay in a clutch of cool new boutique hotels and have a few surf lessons before taking on the cool kids.

Mancora, beach and surf town in Peru

Tom Barber is Co-Founder of Original Travel.

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

Top 5 restaurants in Guayaquil, Ecuador


A city is many things: its landscapes, its people, and their daily lives… But for many, a city is above all its flavors. A traveler knows that a culinary experience of a place can make the difference between a good memory and one that they’d rather forget.

Guayaquil by Night

Guayaquil – the second largest city in Ecuador and the jump-off city for visiting its Galapagos Islands – is rich in fine cuisine. It is well known for its “huecos” (small “holes in the wall” where actually some of the best traditional food is served). However, being a cosmopolitan and modern city, Guayaquil also boasts amazing international cuisine. Food from many places around the world, fusion cuisine and a stylized version of national plates are some of the culinary offerings of this port city of great touristic and commercial potential.

If you want to discover Guayaquil through its best restaurants, here is our short list of the “Top 5.” Visit them and turn the “Pearl of the Pacific” (as many people call this city) into a place that you’ll want to return to for many reasons …but above all for its amazing food.

1. Restaurant Le Gourmet

Specialty: signature cuisine

Hotel Oro Verde’s Le Gourmet Restaurant is recognized as one of the best in the country. Its concept is clear: signature meals in a classic and elegant atmosphere. Dishes with personal touches, resulting from the blend of experience and creativity of the chef, are the trademark of this restaurant, which is ideal for romantic or business dinners.

Le Gourmet  Restaurant

“Art in the kitchen” is what you could call what is prepared here. Imagine an entree of Pangora chocolates, or bluefin tuna ceviche with coconut milk, or naranjilla, or chochos and lemon. Think of a main course of roast duck magret with mashed quinoa, pickled beans and pears sautéed in gastrique naranjilla. Or a dessert of organic honey curd, crujiente de sésamos and tangerine ice cream. This is just a fraction of the restaurant’s extensive and varied menu, which combines local ingredients with the most sophisticated techniques. And in addition to excellent food, restaurant’s service are of the highest quality, making every lunch or dinner an excellent experience for customers.

The Le Gourmet restaurant is also the scene of dining experiences throughout the year, as occurred recently when it focused on French food. The film Ratotouille, which is about a French restaurant, inspired several dishes named after its leading characters: “Remy Soup,” “Gusteau’s Delight” and “Luingüini’s Inspiration.” And, of course, the “Ratatouille” specialty excelled on the tables that night.

And ince Le Gourmet is one of the best restaurants in the country, you’ll find all the amenities offered at any five-star hotel. In addition to being awarded the Certificate of Excellence from TripAdvisor, this restaurant is also conveniently located close to the airport and several of the major tourist spots of the city, including Centennial Park, the Civic Center, City Hall, the Municipal Library and Iguana Park.

2. Marrecife

Specialty: seafood

It all started as a small family business, but with big ambitions. The dream of a mother and her children was to turn that diner into the best local seafood restaurant in Guayaquil, which was a vision that was realized, as Marrecife is now the restaurant of choice for those people looking for the very best in seafood.

Shrimp guayaquil

“Seafood in Every Way Imaginable”: This could be the slogan of Marrecife. Traditional dishes influenced by international cuisine predominate on the menu. Here you can find a piqueo, a risotto, seafood crepes, various types casseroles, grilled or steamed seafood, seafood omelets, salads, ceviches, soups and rice dishes …In short, it’s a paradise for those who like sea food – always with fresh ingredients, which is one of the Marrecife’s secrets.

This restaurant, located in the commercial area of the city, is known for the freshness of its ingredients and the thorough attention of its staff. Its popularity ensures that it almost always is full, so we recommend that you make a reservation ahead of time. Otherwise, Marrecife is an excellent choice for those who don’t want to leave Guayaquil without trying the best of its seafood.

3. La Canoa

Specialty: Food typical of Ecuador’s Pacific coast

If your goal is to savor authentic traditional guayaquileña food, the best choice is definitely the La Canoa restaurant. It is said that this is the perfect place for locals and visitors who want to a delicious local meal at any time of the day or night, as it’s open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. However, this schedule has an explanation.

Coastal dish - Ecuador

In the 1960s, people liked to dine outside facing the river. In the early morning hours, you could find travelers enjoying dishes while exchanging the most interesting travel tales and tips. Nonetheless, when the city built the new Malecon 2000 boardwalk, this custom was banned. This was when the idea emerged of providing a place for riverfront dining so that this tradition would not be lost. Thus was born the restaurant La Canoa, which over time has become one of the favorite restaurants for typical food on the docks of Guayaquil.

Traditional recipes, with a modern twist in technique and presentation, are served on the tables of La Canoa. The star of the menu is a dish called “Ecuadorian Flag,” which combines several specialties, including ceviche, seco de chivo (goat stew), casserole, fried banana, avocado and La Fritada (fried chunks of pork served with several accompaniments).

From breakfast to dinner plates, there are several options you can try at any time of day. So, if you’re traveling in Guayaquil and don’t want to miss this dining experience, prepare your day’s itinerary near this restaurant, including visits to Iguana Park, the Malecon 2000, and the Municipal and the Nahim Isaiah museums. So, when lunch time comes, go to the Hotel Continental and make yourself comfortable at a table at the La Canoa Restaurant.

4. Pier 41

Specialty: Peruvian gourmet food

In the early 2000s, through the hands of some of the most renowned chefs, Peruvian cuisine staged a revolution intended to seduce the palates of the world. The city of Guayaquil was no exception, as the Pier 41 restaurant was very well received and is now one of the dining spots most appreciated by locals and visitors who enjoy good food.

Embarcadero 41.

In this restaurant, traditional Peruvian cuisine is fused with modern techniques to achieve fantastic dishes, mostly based on fish and other seafood, as can be seen in its exquisite menu.

Here you will find a relaxed atmosphere, good value for the money, and a chance to sample the best of Peruvian cuisine, which evidences pre-Inca, Inca and Spanish heritages, combined with the flavors brought here by Asian and Italian immigrants.

In addition, the restaurant is located near the most important sights of the city, so you can plan a one-day visit and have a delicious stop at Embarcadero 41.

5. Café de Tere

Specialty: Traditional guayaquilena food

Tigrillos, bolones (with several accompaniments), empanadas, piqueos. If you’re from outside of Ecuador, these names might not mean much to you. But if you’re Ecuadorian, these names will probably remind you of the best coastal food.

El Cafe de Tere

In either case, don’t miss out on a chance to visit “El Café de Tere,” a cozy family restaurant located just two minutes from the city of Guayaquil’s international airport.

A more classic version of traditional Ecuadorian cuisine, with the recipes and ingredients of a lifetime, is what is served at this restaurant.

The history of this place, which is already part of the history of the city, came from the hands of a woman who started a small business that she saw grow thanks to her passionate work and dedication to customer service. Today, this famous restaurant that she continues to run is a thriving business that is especially appreciated by locals and others who want to sample its delicacies.

The specialty of Café de Tere is its breakfasts – bolón mixto, with café pasado, soft-boiled eggs and orange juice, for example. Why not try a hearty breakfast of a Guayaquil resident? It can be an excellent source of energy for a day-tour of this coastal city that offers so many attractions.

Alfonso Tandazo is President and CEO at Surtrek Tour Operator.

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

10 unusual islands you need to see


We all want to find a private island paradise. But it’s hard to keep a white sand beach secret for too long, and after a while all those pristine beaches start to look the same. And besides, there’s so much more to island living than finding your own Eden. This is a list of islands with wildlife, strange histories, and intriguing native culture. Set sail for these islands to see some truly rare sites.

The Galápagos, Ecuador

Ecuador takes the prize for the most interesting chain of islands — the Galápagos Islands are in such isolation that they have many species that don’t exist anywhere else in the world. Animals like the blue-footed boobie live in peace because of the lack of any natural predators — otherwise its awkward gait would make it an easy meal.

Here are a couple of islands that your cruise ship might miss. Make a special trip out of your way to see some of these gems.

1. Bartolomé, Ecuador

From January to March, green sea turtles come to nest on Bartolome’s beach. You can go snorkeling to see reef sharks near the sharply jutting Pinnacle Rock. Year-round you’ll have the opportunity to see Galápagos penguins, which are the only penguins to live north of the equator.


2. North Seymour Island, Ecuador

North Seymour Island is one of the top islands in the Galápagos for bird watching. While you’re here you can see the strange mating dance of the blue-footed booby, and the graceful flight of the island’s huge population of frigatebirds.


3. Floreana Island, Ecuador

Although this island’s wildlife has suffered from human (and goat) interference, it has the strangest history of all the Galápagos Islands. Some European settlers arrived here in the 1930s, and a few years later one of the couples disappeared under mysterious circumstances. The air of mystery remains, as does the old mailbox that visitors still stuff with postcards. If you find a card addressed to somewhere where you can deliver, take it with you.



4. Turneffe Islands, Belize

Belize’s Turneffe Islands offer an exclusive peek into Belize’s underwater ecosystem. This island has two populations: Resort guests and fishermen. Visitors who stay here can take a 1.5-hour boar ride to the incredible dive site of the Belize Blue Hole. These islands are surrounded by protected coral reefs and sand flats where you can go fly-fishing.



5. Isla Contadora, Pearl Islands

In the Gulf of Panama you’ll find the Pearl Islands, which covers a cluster of over 90 islands. They have white sands and aquamarine water. Many of these islands are undeveloped, and have untouched nature.

Isla Contadora is one of the islands that has attracted a lot of resorts, and visitors congregate on the white sands of Cacique Beach. As you stroll the beach you’ll see the splendid mansions that line the shore.


6. Carti Island, San Blas Islands

Panama’s San Blas Islands are home to the Guna Yala people. Visitors come here for the unblemished tropical beaches, but on Carti Island you can a significant population of Guna Yala people. They have a museum on the island that has a few unusual artifacts from their past.


7. Taboga Island, near Panama City

Take a short boat ride from the Panama City Canal to Taboga Island. Its know for atmospheric conditions that allow flowers to bloom in abundance. In addition to the flowers that grow along the side of the road, this island has a cemetery with above ground tombs where you’ll see clusters of colorful bouquets.


Costa Rica

8. Isla del Coco

Isla del Coco, much like the Galápagos, has animals that have evolved in isolation. There are species here you can’t find anywhere else in the world, including species of flycatcher and cuckoo. On this island you’ll find a thick jungle, and there is a rich variety of marine life in the surrounding water.


9. Isla Tortuga

Isla Tortuga is a sizable island off the south coast of the Nicoya Peninsula. You can get to it via a 90-minute boat ride. Explore the vibrant coastline in a kayak or a glass-floor boat – look down to see spinner dolphins, angel fish, and rays.



10. Flores Island

Flores is jumping off point for exploring nearby caves and Maya artifacts. It has a small-town feel and colorful rows of houses. You can travel quickly from Flores to Santa Elena by a thin causeway, and have access to lots of travel services. This island is in Petén Itzá Lake, and you can rent kayaks to explore it on your own, or sign up for a boating tour.


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

10 must-see beaches you've probably never heard of


This Summer, don’t settle for a quick cannonball into the chlorinated waters of your local pool. Step out of your Summer routine and visit a beach that’s far from your usual Summertime destinations.  This guide will help you find your coastal oasis with blue water, untouched sand and lush palm trees swaying in the breeze.

Uvita, Costa Rica

Costa Rica has some hugely popular beach destinations– some complain that places like Tamarindo can feel overcrowded with the influx of visitors. Not so with Uvita! This beach has yet to become a popular destination, and has more than its fair share of laidback charm.


Uvita is home to Marino Ballena National Park, which has some of Uvita’s nicest beaches. At low tide you can walk along a sandy bar that’s shaped like a whale’s tale. Humpback whales can be seen swimming near Uvita from late December until April, and Olive Ridley and hawksbill sea turtles lay their eggs on shore between May and November. (Sea turtles are an endangered species, so it’s important not to disturb them.)

Carate, Costa Rica

Carate is on the shore of Costa Rica’s Osa Peninsula. The Osa Peninsula is an isolated area with many miles of virgin rainforest. Along the coast you’ll find beaches like Playa Madrigal, where you can swim in the brisk Pacific water and listen for the sounds of monkeys and birds chattering in the jungle near the beach.


Boca del Drago, Panama

Boca del Drago is on Isla Colón, which is one of the islands of Panama’s Bocas del Toro archipelago. This archipelago is commonly referred to as the “poor man’s Galápagos” because of its rich biodiversity. The surf at Boca del Drago can get a little rough, but you’ll typically find tranquil, shallow water that makes this a great spot for swimming. Keep an eye out for the starfish that like to congregate near the shore.

Bocas Del Drago

Coiba National Park, Panama 

Off the shore of Coiba National Park you’ll see 38 small islands. In the crystal-clear waters surrounding these islands you can swim and snorkel with some of the area’s 700-plus species of fish, 33 types of sharks, and 20 species of whales and dolphins. Many of the fish that swim in these waters are brightly colored and make underwater adventures near Coiba’s beaches particularly memorable.

Isla Coiba

Monterrico, Guatemala

This park is a protected area, where sea turtles come ashore to nest between July and December. You’ll find that the beach only has a few visitors on weekdays, but is becoming an increasingly popular weekend destination. There are some waves, and an undertow that should make you cautious while you’re swimming, but the views of the Pacific from the beach are definitely worth a sunny afternoon.


Huanchaco, Peru

The people of Huanchaco used to eke out their living fishing in the rich waters of the Pacific. Now this beach has become one of the most interesting beach destinations in northern Peru. Fishermen used to take to the water in handmade reed boats, and you can see still see these traditional boats lining the shore. Interested visitors can also sign up for a fishing trip with one of the local fishermen on one of these traditional seafaring vessels.


Playa Roja, Peru

Cold Pacific waters means that this isn’t a good destination for swimming, but exploring the beach is quite an adventure. In order to reach Playa Roja you’ll need to take a buggy ride over the steep dunes. You’ll see wildlife like sea lions and cormorants. Visitors will also have the chance to see Humboldt penguins —these tufted birds are a rare sight, and definitely worth a day trip.

Playa Roja

Puerto Lopez, Ecuador

Come to the beach at Puerto Lopez for whale watching from late June until early October. Humpback whales come here to rear their newborn calves. On a whale watching tour you’ll get to keep an eye out for baby whales, and see enormous full-grown whales breeching and slapping the surface of the water with their fins.

Puerto Lopez

Bay of Pigs, Cuba

The Bay of Pigs is the site of the attempted CIA invasion of Cuba in 1961. It’s known as Playa Girón in Cuba, and is within the borders of the Ciénega de Zapata National Park. Like so many beaches in Cuba, the Bay of Pigs has incredibly clear water. Visitors come here for scuba diving and snorkeling. Barracudas, lionfish, and moray eels are common sights in these waters. You can go farther offshore to find excellent dive sites near coral reefs and shipwrecks.

Bay of Pigs

Playa Ancón, Cuba

We saved the best for last. Playa Ancón has some of the most breathtakingly turquoise water and bright white sand you’ll see anywhere in the Caribbean. It’s right outside the city of Trinidad, which is best known for its well-preserved Cuban architecture. Bring bug spray, and try not to visit in the morning or dusk, as pesky sand flies can disrupt you beachside bliss.

Playa Ancon

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

Top 10 adventure vacations


Feeling a little daring? On your next vacation, try something new. You haven’t really travelled until you’ve left your comfort zone. Even in remote corners of the world you can find expert guides ready to supply you with everything you need for an adventure. Make your trip as easy or intense as you want — you can find challenging whitewater rapids, or go on easy snorkeling outings. No matter what you do, find something that you’ll remember long after you return home and unpack your bags.

1. Trekking in the Colca Canyon, Peru

Take a multi-day trek through the Colca Canyon to see Peru’s most remote and breathtaking scenery. Small villages surround the canyon, and the river has intense rapids. Crane your neck upward to keep an eye out for the outstretched wings of an Andean condor. This is an exceptionally rare bird, and bird watchers come here just to catch a glimpse.

Colca Canyon

2. Rafting the Cahabón River in Guatemala

Along long stretches of the Cahabón River you can find advanced Class III and Class IV rapids. As you raft down calm parts of the river you’ll have the chance to see toucans flitting between the trees on the banks of the river. You can find tours that leave from the town of Lanquín, and local guides can help you safely navigate the rapids of your choosing. Near the lower gorge you can also explore caves, waterfalls, and hot springs.

Cahabon Rafting

3. Zip lining in Monteverde, Costa Rica

People come to Monteverde to see the incredible wildlife that make in the uppermost branches of a rare cloud forest. Keep your eyes peeled for colorful birds and butterflies. Visit the Selvatura Park for a zip-lining adventure that covers two miles (3.2 km) of the Monteverde canopy. One your way through the rainforest you can glide across 15 different cables.

Zip Lining Monteverde

4. Sand Boarding near Paracas, Peru

Dune Surfing Paracas

Near the coastal town of Paracas you can visit Peru’s California Desert and explore the sand dunes. The smooth sand and endless blue sky will make you feel like you’re on another planet. You can find tours that will take you over the dunes in a buggy. Mount a sand board (you can stand or sit) and coast along the smooth slopes of ancient sands.

Dune Buggy Paracas

5. Surfing in Máncora, Peru

Máncora was a fishing village in northern Peru before it started getting popular as a surfing destination. No matter what time of year it is, this beach in northern Peru has excellent surfing conditions, with warm waters and waves that typically reach around 10 feet (3 m).

Mancora Surfing

6. Kayaking in the Gulf of Chiriquí, Panama

The Gulf of Chiriquí has diverse wildlife and idyllic beaches. You can paddle from one island to the next, and see mangrove forests and coral reefs along the way. While you’re here you can visit marine parks like the Coiba National Park, which protects virgin rainforest on the gulf’s bio-diverse islands.

Boquete Kayak

7. Spelunking in the Candelaria Caves, Guatemala

Put on your hard hat for some memorable spelunking in Guatemala. Candelaria Cave is made up of 7 separate caves, all of which are connected by a river. All together the caves cover 14 miles (22 km) and have ceilings that reach as high as 200 feet (60 m). At certain points the sunlight streams through and opening in the cave ceilings, giving you chance to see the inside of the caves illuminated.

Caving Candelaria

8. Snorkeling at Mexico Rocks, Belize 

Go snorkeling around Mexico Rocks for an easy snorkeling adventure near Ambergris Caye. There are interesting diving and snorkeling sites all over Belize, but this is a good spot for beginners because the water here does not get very deep. While you’re here you can peek into the crevices between the rocks. In addition to colorful tropical fish you’ll also have the chance to see sand sharks and barracuda.

Snorkel Mexico Rocks

9. Canoeing through Barton Creek Cave, Belize

Take a canoe through the Barton Creek Cave to see elaborate stalagmites and stalactites. Your guide will tell you about the Maya history of the cave, as well as some of the interesting Maya artifacts that archaeologists have found here.

Xunantunich Caonoing

10. Horseback riding near Salinas Bay, Costa Rica

Make a four-legged friend and head into the hills near Salinas Bay. Animals like peccaries and agoutis may cross your path, and different species of monkeys live in the surrounding trees. You’ll come to sweeping views where you’ll see the waves crashing on the beach in the distance.

Horseback Riding Salinas Bay

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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