Top Tips for Active Travel in Latin America in 2016
Latin America offers endless active opportunities but how do you sort out the best on offer? ATLAS has pulled together their top tips for 2016, a unique list of insider recommendations for the new, the best and the off-the-beaten path adventures.
ATLAS (Active Travel Latin America Specialists) is a consortium of 12 reputable and experienced active travel companies operating in 17 countries in Latin America. Whether it’s surfing, mountain biking, kayaking, birding, horse-riding, multi-sport activities, river-rafting, sports fishing, self-drive, trekking, stand up paddle boarding, climbing a volcano or cycling to wineries, dance classes or voluntourism we offer an exciting range of activities and destinations throughout the region for travellers of all ages with a focus on active, sustainable and responsible travel and a commitment to safety and customer service.
Our co-chairmen, Paul Cripps from Amazonas Explorer and Tony Thorne from Wilderness Explorers are attending the Adventure Travel Conference at Olympia on 22nd January 2016 and would love to meet you and tell you more about our group and our insider tips on what’s hot in Active Travel in 2016 in Latin America. To set up a meeting for Friday contact Claire Antell firstname.lastname@example.org or call on 07958 218784.
What’s Hot in Argentina – Kallpa Travel kallpatour.com
Street art and graffiti tours in Buenos Aires, tango lessons and milongas, wine tours, self-drives with pre-loaded GPS off the beaten track, glacier trekking, riding across the pampas, exploring the puna, skiing and snowboarding the Andes, discovering your inner gaucho and camping above the clouds are some of the must-do activities in Argentina this year. ‘Trekking to the Clouds’ in North-west Argentina is a 4 day trek of 45 kms above clouds, along ancient Inca trail and ruins, combining two natural landscapes: from the dry and arid Toro Gorge to the rainforest of San Lorenzo. Be delighted by the imposing flight of condors and share campfires with locals along the way.
What’s Hot in Brazil – Pure Brasil purebrasil.net
Recent improvements in infrastructure and transport following the World Cup and the forthcoming Olympics plus good reduction in currency rates makes Brazil even hotter than before. Not too far away from the pulsating music and rhythm of Rio, you can hike along the Gold Trail in the Atlantic Forest and sea kayak along the Atlantic coast in some of the beautiful bays from Rio to Sao Paulo including beautiful colonial Paraty. Or take a trek in the breath-taking Chapada Diamantina where you can stay in local homes along the way. Go to Jalapao in the heart of Brazil for an exhilarating combination of 4WD and rafting or explore the crystal clear waters of Bonito or the beautiful archipelago of Fernando do Noronha, Brazil’s top diving location and one of its most romantic locations. Brazil’s Pantanal and Amazon offer some of the region’s great wildlife-watching opportunities as well as the chance to go on a river expedition or do a tropical tree climbing course. For more information click here
What’s Hot in Costa Rica and beyond – Coast to Coast coastocoastadventures.com
New British Airways flights to Costa Rica make it the hottest destination in Central America this year. An epicentre of amazing wildlife and adrenalin-fuelled adventures, as well as some delightful boutique accommodation, Costa Rica can easily be explored by car, by foot and also by bike. Coast to Coast launched the first human-powered crossing of Costa Rica in 1996, a flagship trip combining biking and trekking with white water rafting and sea-kayaking.Click here for details of this trip or a new three country ride, beginning with the smoking volcanoes of Nicaragua, through the natural forests and relaxing beaches of Ometepe Island before making your way into the green rainforests of Costa Rica and its paradisiacal landscapes to end your trip with the view of the Panama Canal.
What’s Hot in Colombia – Neotropic Expeditions colombia-adventures.com
A tantalising combination of Andean foothills and coffee plantations, Amazon jungle and intoxicating cities such as Cartagena and wonderful beaches and coastlines on both the Pacific and the Atlantic, Colombia is becoming more and more established on the tourism map. For those wanting to experience the country in a more active way, Colombia Adventures offer a range of multi-sport itineraries, based in San Gil, Santander, Cartagena and Medellin. The Santander Essential Multisport tour includes mountain biking on the best downhill run in the country, rafting through the ‘grand canyon of South America’, trekking, paragliding over Chicamocha Gorge and swimming through an underground cave system.
What’s Hot in Ecuador and the Galapagos – Neotropic Expeditions ecuador-adventures.com
A perennial favourite, this compact and quintessential South American country continues to attract people to its wonderful markets and indigenous villages, nostalgic rail journeys, cloud forest lodges, colonial cities and the amazing wildlife of the rainforest and the Galapagos. Explore the islands by kayak for a truly different way to see the wildlife and experience the local cuisine on a brand new unique Galapagos expedition, the ‘Galapagos Wildlife for Active Foodies’. Discover the wildlife and natural history of the Galapagos in a fun and dynamic way! The chef, host, and naturalist guide will share his insight while creating gourmet dishes with local and organic products. Learn, snorkel, bike, swim, kayak and cook to stimulate your senses and savour the finest products of one of the best-preserved places on earth on the only sustainable slow food experience in the Galapagos.
What’s Hot in French Guiana – Wilderness Explorers wilderness-explorers.com
For something totally out of this world what about seeing a rocket being launched? Most European satellites are launched from the jungle spaceport at Kourou in French Guiana. Arianespace operates the Ariane 5, Soyuz and Vega launch vehicles and in 2015 they launched 12 rockets with carrying 21 satellites. Wilderness Explorers can offer travel based around likely launch dates that also include visits to its capital Cayenne and Devil’s Island where the story of Papillon was based. This little known outpost of France offers a complete contrast to its Dutch-speaking neighbour Suriname and English-speaking Guyana which can be easily combined in one trip. Click here for more information
What’s Hot in Guyana – Wilderness Explorers wilderness-explorers.com
Guyana will be abuzz with a country wide celebration of 50 years of Independence in 2016. Whilst there will be activities throughout the year the main focus is in May and in particular the 26th May, the day British Guiana became Guyana in 1966. During the month you can enjoy the Guyana Festival, an Arts and Craft Festival, horse racing, float parade and T20 cricket. On the night of the 25th there will be a grand celebration with music, dance and an address by President Granger culminating in fireworks at midnight. Wilderness Explorers can design a blend of Jubilee celebrations with the opportunity to explore one of Latin America’s last true wilderness areas with the chance to see amazing wildlife like giant anteaters, jaguar, giant rivers otters and harpy eagle. The Amerindian community of Surama currently have an active nest and the harpy chick normally stays on or near the nest for six to twelve months, offering a great opportunity to travel in early 2016 to get close to this majestic raptor. Click here for more information
What’s Hot in Mexico – Journey Mexico journeymexico.com
Apart from its outstanding natural and historical attractions and wildlife experiences such as whale-watching in Baja California, Mexico City was recently voted the number 1 place to visit in 2016 by the New York Times. Journey Mexico can enhance a visit to the capital with experiences such as a private after-hours visit of the National Museum of Anthropology, hot air ballooning over the Teotihuacan archeological site followed by pre-Hispanic canapés and champagne in a cactus garden, insider access to art galleries and art studios with owners and the artists and much more! Beyond the busy capital, families and small groups are combining extreme adventure and luxury for the ultimate family holiday, staying at exclusive villas and doing thrilling adventure-based activities such as swimming with whale sharks or sea turtles, cenote diving and local community visits. Los Cabos has recovered after Hurricane Odile and has seen numerous hotel openings and renovations and increased air connectivity making Mexico more popular than ever this year. Click here for more information
What’s Hot in Peru – Amazonas Explorer amazonas-explorer.com
Often seen as the essential first-time destination in South America, Peru never fails to disappoint with its Andean trails, Amazon lodges, Incan and colonial history and wonderfully colourful local life. The jewel of the continent’s crown, Machu Picchu is the iconic site to visit in Peru. To enjoy this world-class site properly, Amazonas Explorer’s award-winning Wanderlust Guide of 2014 suggest that clients wishing to walk the Inca Trail take it slowly and acclimatise properly, by taking Amazonas Explorers’ 9 day Ultimate Inca Trail which allows you to acclimatise properly before the trek. By taking 5 days instead of the normal 4 days on the Inca Trail you are not rushing past great Inca sites and are out of sync with the other groups so you can have the trail and campsites to yourself and see Machu Picchu twice! Family travellers are also increasingly coming to Peru where they can do action-packed and fun itineraries, cooking a Pachamanca, making pottery and chocolate, feeding llamas and alpacas, rafting and stand up paddle boarding as well as biking and trekking the Inca Trail. Permits are selling fast so planning early is essential.
What’s Hot in Suriname – Wilderness Explorers wilderness-explorers.com
Wedged between Guyana and the overseas department of France that is French Guiana, Suriname is the smallest country in South America and the only place you can visit where the locals speak Dutch. Paramaribo is a UNESCO World Heritage site full of beautiful buildings, churches and temples and where the synagogue shares a car park with the main mosque. Outside the city you can maybe have a sloth smile at you. At Monique Pool’s house, just outside of Paramaribo, you can get up close and personal with both two-toed and three-toed sloths. Monique, founder of the Green Heritage Fund Suriname, looks after sloths that have lost their habitat or orphaned and rehabilitates them to the wild. Wilderness Explorers can design an adventure in Suriname combining the unique Maroon culture, untouched rainforest, sea turtle nesting and a visit to Monique’s home to cuddle a sloth. Click here for more information
What’s Hot in Uruguay – Lares Tours lares.com.uy
Just a short catamaran or ferry ride away from Buenos Aires, Uruguay is becoming more and more popular for travellers looking to explore the unknown South America. The pretty colonial town of Colonia is worth more than just a couple of hours on a day-trip from Argentina, with its delightful restaurants and boutique accommodation like El Charco. Pick up a hire car and explore the country with your GPS, including Fray Bentos which has just become a UNESCO World Heritage site. Stop off at delightful estancias and hotels to sample the local cuisine or take a bike and ride the coast and eastern vineyards of Punta del Este into gaucho country. Discover the area of Garzón, also known as Uruguayan Tuscany, which was recently included in the NY Times ‘52 places to go to in 2016’, which is just 30 minutes´ drive from trendy José Ignacio where you can find a beautiful valley with almond trees, olive trees and vineyards. At “Colinas de Garzón”, learn about the production of Extra Virgin Olive Oil followed by a tour through the plantations and a tasting of 3 different varieties. Continue to Bodega Garzón for a wine tasting and delicious lunch accompanied by stunning views over the rolling vineyard, and then finish the day with a bike tour back to José Ignacio. Or for the essential Uruguayan experience go on a riding trip on wonderful horses in a variety of landscapes with great food and fine wine at the end of the day.
What’s Hot in Venezuela – Natoura natoura.com
A new government will hopefully help Venezuela bounce back in terms of its tourism numbers. With stunning sights such as Angel Falls at 979 metres, the vast expanses of La Gran Sabana, the incredible blue waters of Los Roques National Park and multi-sport options such as tandem paragliding, rafting, kayaking and canyoning, Venezuela is a great destination for the active traveller. For a truly electrifying adventure, imagine a dazzling light show presented by Mother Nature 10 hours nightly, 180 out of 365 days, with some 1.2 million spectacular lightning flashes yearly. You can experience it in the area where the Catatumbo River enters Lake Maracaibo in the southern extreme of Venezuela’s Zulia State. This “Catatumbo Lightning” entered the 2015 Guinness Book of Records for the most intense and predictable quantity of strikes in the world.
Written and collated by: Claire Antell