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Journey Back In Time – Jesuit Missions

27 Aug

Landlocked Paraguay is officially South America’s least visited country.  Many travellers mistakenly assume Paraguay’s lack of big ticket attractions means there’s nothing to see so side-step the country entirely.  Paraguay’s location at the heart of the Continent certainly makes it difficult to get to but for those who want to get off the beaten track, it’s an ideal destination.  Travellers with an adventurous spirit will be rewarded with a wealth of things to see and do, plus a truly genuine South American experience.

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THIS is Salvador

9 Jul

A cacophony of drums pound out rhythmical African beats. This is Salvador. Muscular bodies soaked in sweat kick, flip and twist inside a Capoeira circle. This is Salvador. Parades of people holding religious statues aloft, march on ancient churches where singing and clapping congregations watch miracles performed. This is Salvador. Young boys with jet black skin and tight curly hair, tirelessly perform back flips on golden sandy beaches. This is Salvador. Baiana women wearing traditional Bahian dress weave along the old town’s cobbled alleyways and past colourful colonial buildings evoking imagery of African slaves. This is Salvador.

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Explore Beautiful Olinda

7 Jun

Olinda is a highlight of any trip to Brazil’s north-eastern Atlantic coast. It has bags of personality and looks to die for. The historic centre offers one of the largest and best preserved examples of colonial architecture in all of Brazil and earned Olinda UNESCO World Heritage status in 1982. The city is built into rolling green hills and is studded with beautiful painted houses, baroque churches and tree-lined plazas. The views out to the turquoise sea and back towards Recife from one of Olinda’s many look-out points are simply magnificent. Over past decades artists and creative types have settled in Olinda, making it a hotspot for art and creativity. The city is also home to one of Brazil’s most famous carnivals, rich in folklaw traditions.

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Ship wrecked in Tyrona National Park

17 May

If you were fortunate enough to be ship-wrecked on one of National Park Tyrona’s gorgeous beaches, you’d probably hide the flare gun and ignore passing ships offering to carry you back to civilisation, in favour of lingering a little longer to top up your tan. This park certainly ticks all the right boxes for becoming a real life Robinson Crusoe. There’s never been a better excuse to grow your beard long, let the sand exfoliate your bare skin, bathe in crystal clear waters, drink coconut milk and sleep under the stars. So without further ado, turn off the TV, put the newspaper down, hide your mobile phone and prepare to lose yourself in nature’s playground.

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Cartagena – A hot and steamy love affair

24 Apr

Cartagena de Indias is the jewel of Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The sophisticated lady of the north. A destination overflowing with romantic notions and rich history. Larger than life stories of colonisation, slavery, piracy and rebellion ooze down the streets and wash around the city walls. The colonial city is so beautiful and well preserved you begin to wonder if you’ve stepped onto the set of a movie. Freshly painted mansions with wooden balconies drip with Bougainvillea. Mosaics of neatly laid cobble-stones lead to plazas filled with shady palm trees where church bells ring out in chorus. Rosy cheeked lovers wander in flip-flops to dine alfresco in the evening breeze and clip-clop past in horse drawn carriages. To add to a permanent feeling of well being around the city, year round blue skies and rich Caribbean waters make it feel like someone has flicked a switch and turned everything into high-definition. The word is out that this is fast developing into Latin America’s most seductive destination.

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Exploring the tombs of Tierradentro

27 Feb

Surrounded by jaw dropping scenery, Tierradentro is considered to be one of the most important archaeological sites in the whole of Latin America and is a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s famous for beautifully decorated underground tombs and stone statues which were discovered in the hills around the tiny settlement of San Andres de Pisimbala. We were already sold on visiting Tierradentro, which translates as “inner land”, but when someone tipped us off that the site only receives a small number of visitors each year and it was likely we’d have the whole atmospheric place to ourselves, we were rushing to buy our bus tickets to take us there.

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The hidden treasures of Chachapoyas

18 Dec

We cut through the thick foliage with a machete and inched our way forward. We scanned the unusually quiet jungle with nervousness, readying ourselves for a prowling jaguar attack or a poisoned dart released from a blowpipe resting in the pursed lips of the indigenous hunters who tracked us. The ruined temple, shrowded in mist and overgrown with vines, came into view across a small clearing and we knew we were getting close to laying our hands on treasures beyond our wildest dreams. As we approached the intricately carved grey stone temple walls we saw that a huge boulder had been rolled to one side revealing a small, dark entrance and a set of stairs leading downwards. It all seemed too easy. Before we could stop him, the youngest in our group let out a triumphant yelp and ran forward through the entrance to collect his prize. With the ease of a well oiled machine, the boulder rolled itself back in front of the door. The last thing we heard from our friend was his screams as we tried hopelessly to force the door back open…and then a deathly silence. The site had been booby trapped…

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Huanchaco & Chan Chan

11 Dec

The distances and time it takes to travel on buses in Latin America never fails to astound us. You assume that half an inch on the map will take just a couple of hours but, in reality, your bus ride could take all day or longer. In these situations we’ve found that searching for a place to visit between your starting point and final destination will often form a pleasant break and help to save your sanity. Planning our 30 hour journey between Huaraz, a mountainous region North-East of Lima, to Chachapoyas, a jungle area of the Northern Highlands, we decided that just such an interlude was required.

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