Poison Dart Frog

Costa Rica is the happiest place on earth, according to the Happy Planet index. A statement that Llama Travel’s Travel Consultant Marianela, who has just come back from a 14 day trip to Costa Rica, is not about to contradict. From the dizzying heights of the Monteverde skywalks, to the dense jungles of Tortuguero and the calm flowing waters of the Tabacon Hot Springs, Marianela has put together her top 5 list of what makes Costa Rica such a blissful country to visit.

Tortuguero

TortugueroOne of the most incredible places I have ever been! I have to say, I wouldn’t have considered myself a jungle person. The idea of sleeping in jungle accommodation and making the beasties and bugs my best friends did not appeal to me at all. There is just something so captivating about the jungles of Tortuguero, brimming with lush vegetation and wildlife. The best way to explore the national park is by boat. If you are lucky like I was, you can even spot the sinister eyes of a Caiman peering out from the water. The grounds of the lodges in Tortuguero are full of surprises so if you feel adventurous, you can wonder around the forest that surrounds it, where you are likely to see toucans, frogs and monkeys.

Tabacon Hot Springs

Tabacon hot springsSpending a couple of hours submerged in the natural volcanic waters of the Tabacon Hot Springs is one of life’s true pleasures. Upon arrival you can see the steam that comes from the pools even from outside of the complex. The springs themselves are located on the hill of the property and are surrounded by vegetation. The ponds at the bottom of the hill are always the busiest ones, so if you are looking for privacy, walk further up and you will find the pools at the top of the property are virtually empty and beautifully secluded from the crowds. Each pool has a different temperature, I suggest to start from the hottest and end in the coolest pond. It is believed that the waters have medicinal properties, and help improve your circulation.

Monteverde Cloud Forest at night

Monterverde CloudforestVisiting the Cloud Forest at night time is especially exciting because a lot of the animals that inhabit the cloud forest are nocturnal. The forest becomes alive at night, pulsating with strange noises and the sense that the most outlandish creatures might wander from the foliage and cross your path. The trails at the Monteverde Cloud Forest are well preserved and the local guides are experts at spotting animals. Flashlights are provided upon arrival to the reserve. Among the animals that tourists are likely to spot at night time are snakes, spiders (especially tarantulas), coatimundis, a sleepy sloth, a wide-eyed kinkajou, an armadillo and bats.

 Poas Volcano

Poas VolcanoHome of some of the largest inactive craters in the world, Poas Volcano is one of the most visited sites in Costa Rica. The scenery and views around the area are splendid, and a clear view of the crater is a magnificent sight to behold. A walk to the Botos Lagoon is also a very scenic addition to the Paos Volcano. You are allowed at the viewpoint not more than 20 minutes due to smoke and fumaroles still coming out of its crater.

Sky Walk

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAA great opportunity to appreciate the cloud forest from a different perspective. The Sky Walk is a series of suspension bridges that start from the ground and take you high above the tree tops. The walk itself is a lovely nature walk where you will be able to appreciate a lot of plants and trees. Exotic flowers, a crow of coatis and huge ceibo trees make the walk particularly interesting. Our guide provided us with information about the forest and the efforts of the Costa Rican government to preserve it. Once you reach the highest bridge the different colours of the forest will take your breath away.

If you have been inspired by Marianela’s adventures in Costa Rica, you can take a look at our Best of Costa Rica program here, which includes three nights in the Costa Rican capital of San Jose, two nights amongst the jungle waterways of Tortuguero, two nights in Arenal under the shadow of the famous volcano, and two nights in Monteverde, home to the spectacularly bio diverse cloud forest. You also have the option to finish your holiday in style at either (or both) the stunningly beautiful beaches of Manuel Antonio or the exotic coastlines of Corcovado national park.

You can also find out more information on all our amazing Latin American holidays by visiting our website at www.llamatravel.com, ordering our brochure or giving us a call on 020 7263 3000.

Itacimirim Beach

It’s a sign of a good holiday when your first thought upon returning home is ‘phew, I need a break’. It is the sign of an excellent holiday when a break is already built in. On our brand new Spirit of Brazil programme, we provide a three night beach break to act as a peaceful limbo between the dizzying excitement of Rio, the Iguaçu Falls and Salvador, and the humdrum of everyday life.

We believe that, just as there are different ways to seek adventures, there are different ways to relax and unwind. Some enjoy a quieter pace of life; strolling down a tranquil beach, eating out in the evening and watching the sun dip below the horizon. Whilst for others the ultimate fantasy of relaxation is escaping to an exotic island paradise where palm trees spout from the ground, and the beaches are golden, gloriously empty and yours to explore.

So, in recognition of these two district categories of R&R, we’ve decided to provide two beach getaway options. The first is a three night sojourn in the seaside town of Praia do Forte, on the glittering Bahian coast. The second is a three night retreat to the paradisiacal archipelago of Fernando De Noronha, in the Atlantic Ocean just off the coast of Brazil.  In continuation of our blog series celebrating the diversity of Brazil, we are going to compare, contrast and take a close look at these two stunning destinations.

Praia Do Forte

Praia Do Forte

Praia Do Forte

Dreamy, picturesque, tranquil. Praia do Forte is a pretty seaside town an hour north of Salvador in the north-eastern state of Bahia. Beloved by both holiday-makers and Salvador locals alike, the town retains a lovely low key-feel and is the perfect place to kick back and relax.

Everything in Praia do Forte is within walking distance. Spend your days ambling along the main Alameda do Sol walkway, passing by and perhaps popping into the pint-sized church, or the Tamar sea turtle preservation centre. In the evenings, enjoy seafood dishes and typical Brazilian cuisine in the various restaurants dotted around the town, and sip a refreshing caipirinha whilst watching the brilliant red sun setting on the horizon.

Stunning view of beach in Itacimirim

Stunning view of beach in Itacimirim

Wherever you are, day or night, the sea is never out of reach. The beaches of the sublime Bahian coast are renowned for their idyllic beauty and soft yellow sand, and home to picture book palm trees, migratory birds and even, in the right season, nesting sea turtles.

Your Llama Travel hotel is located in the village of Itacimirim, a short drive from Praia do Forte. A beautiful area in its own right, Itacimirim is quieter than its neighbouring town and offers an authentic insight into life in a traditional Brazilian fishing village.

Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of volcanic origin that lies over 200 miles from the north-east coast of Brazil. Blessed with turquoise waters, abundant marine life, stunning tropical landscapes, and pristine beaches – voted by Trip Advisor as amongst the most beautiful in the world – it is no surprise that Fernando de Noronha is considered the brightest jewel in Brazil’s crown.

Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha

Whereas Praia do Forte is quiet and peaceful, Fernando de Noronha is positively secluded. The majority of the island was made a marine national park in 1988, and tourism is closely restricted in order to preserve the local ecology. The beaches are never crowded, and it’s not a huge leap of the imagination to picture yourself as a member of the Swiss Family Robinson, all alone on your own small stretch of paradise. The wildlife of the Archipelago is of an equally out of this world and exotic quality. There are spinner dolphins, hawksbill turtles, coral reef fish and various endemic bird and reptile species that can be sighted all over the island.

Despite its sense of detachment, Fernando de Noronha has plenty of facilities and comforts.  The main island village of Vila dos Remédios has various good restaurants and even a couple of bars. Indeed, there is plenty to do other than just admire the general awe-inspiring splendour. Hike through the islands winding nature trails, explore the waters by boat tours through the archipelago and scuba dive and snorkel beneath the waves themselves amongst dolphins, turtles and fish every colour of the rainbow

Fernando de Noronha

So… Which beach break calls out your name? A few days beside the Brazilian seaside in Praia do Forte is already built in and included as part of our standard Brazil tour. A tropical retreat to Fernando de Noronha is available for a supplement, please ask us for details.

If you have been inspired by either of our beautiful beach options, take a look at our Spirit of Brazil holiday programme here, which includes three nights in the sensational city of Rio De Janeiro, three nights to admire the natural wonder of the Iguaçu Falls, two nights in the old colonial city of Salvador and of course three nights of R&R at the beach getaway of your choice.

You can also find out more information on all our amazing Latin American holidays by visiting our website at www.llamatravel.com, ordering our brochure or giving us a call on 020 7263 3000.

A huge region of stunning coastlines, dense jungle, open wetlands and scattered yet thriving cities, Brazil has long been a nut that Llama Travel has been keen to crack. We are therefore delighted to announce our brand new Spirit of Brazil holiday collection, which traverses the iconic hot spots and hidden secrets of this vast, varied and vibrant country.

So to celebrate the arrival of our brand new Brazilian holidays, and the magnificent diversity of Brazil itself, we are launching a series of blogs that shine a spotlight on the various cities, beaches, nature and amazing ways to experience all that Brazil has to offer. We begin with two very different cities:

Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer overlooking the stunning city of Rio de Janeiro

Christ the Redeemer overlooking the stunning city of Rio de Janeiro

At the mention of the word ‘Brazil’, the mind cannot help but conjure up an image of Christ the Redeemer, arms outstretched, looking out towards a magnificent kingdom of glittering lights, sparkling tropical beaches and hills rolling down into the ocean. Or perhaps it is the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, rising up out of the surf, which springs to mind, or laid back locals playing football on Copacabana beach. Rio de Janeiro may not be Brazil’s capital city (that honour goes to the lesser known Brasilia), but in terms of hype and and headlines, it is the capital of the world right now and one of the most well-known destinations in South America.

The bedrock of the city was first discovered by Portuguese sailors in 1502 who mistook it for the mouth of an enormous river, and named it Rio de Janeiro or ‘January River’ after the month of their arrival. With the discovery of gold in nearby Minas Gerais in the 1700s, Rio started to prosper and became a city with power, and it has not slowed down since.

What makes Rio a stand out city in South America is that it is ever-changing, with its eyes to the future rather than the past. Although some colonial architecture still stands in the old town, it is the comparatively contemporary phenomenons such as the art deco Christ the Redeemer, the striking modern cathedral, built in 1976, and the city’s status as a mecca of the beautiful game that make Rio de Janeiro so famous and iconic.

Rio’s global profile is set to rise even further, as the host of the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, and word is that the city is also campaigning to prolific movie director Woody Allen to consider Rio de Janeiro as the location for the next film in his renowned travelogue series.

If you have been inspired to pay a visit to Rio de Janeiro during its perfect moment, then take a look at our Samba, Tango and Iguazu FallsSpirit of Brazil and Wildlife, Waterfalls and Rio Holidays, all of which include a few days in this buzzing metropolis.

Salvador

the comely colonial streets if Salvador

the comely colonial streets of Salvador

Salvador, capital of Brazil’s sunshine state of Bahia, is a charmingly unadorned old town city that tells a very different story from that of Rio de Janeiro. It is not without its modern comforts and amenities, but unlike Rio, what makes Salvador special is its past and how strongly its colonial heritage still permeates its culture of today.

The magnificent capital of Portugal’s New World colony, Salvador was colonised by Portuguese merchants in the early 16th century and quickly established itself at the heart of the flourishing sugar trade. Today, Pelourinho, the historical centre of Salvador, is a living museum of 17th and 18th century architecture, with pastel coloured houses in the Portuguese style, narrow cobbled streets and imposing gold-laden churches.

Salvador may not be as loud as Rio, but it has its own kind of energy. Brazil’s biggest street carnival is held in Salvador each year, and wild festivals have been known to break out spontaneously on the streets. At night, capoeira circles form on plazas, while the scent of acarajé (bean and shrimp fritters) and other African delights fills the evening air.

African customs play a huge part in Salvadorian culture. In the colonial era, Salvador was a capital of the slave trade, and thousands of men and women were brought from Africa to Brazil to work as slaves on the sugar plantations. Many of the city’s current inhabitants can trace their lineage back to the these early African communities, and the African influence is still strongly felt in the whole state of Bahia. The African Candomblé religion is still practiced today, and in the markets of Salvador, you are able to browse rows of garments, jewellery, figures, herbs and food used in Candomblé ceremonies. The African inspiration can also be found in Bahian cuisine, which is considered amongst the best food in Brazil, where African ingredients such as dendê palm oil, as well as seafood, coconut, fresh coriander and hot chillis form a big part of the typical Salvador diet.

If you have been inspired to walk the comely colonial streets of old Salvador da Bahia, then check out our brand new Spirit of Brazil Holiday program, which includes 2 nights in Salvador as well as visits to the the tropical coast north east of the city, the Iguaçu Falls, and of course Salvador’s counterpart city of Rio de Janeiro.

You can also find out more information on all our amazing Latin American holidays by visiting our website at www.llamatravel.com, ordering our brochure or giving us a call on 020 7263 3000.

Next week sees the release of Paddington, a film adaptation of the classic children’s book series about a speckled bear who journeys from “darkest Peru” to England, and throws himself and everyone around him into a whirlwind of adventures.

Here at Llama Travel, we do the reverse; whisking people away from their cosy firesides in good old Blighty and off to the teeming jungles, vast lakes, soaring mountains and faraway cities of Peru and the rest of the Americas. Someone who took the reverse Paddington journey with us quite recently is Llama Travel’s own Sales Manager Graeme, and he found it hard to imagine why anyone, bear in a duffle coat or otherwise, would ever want to leave Peru!

Paddington Bear

Paddington Bear visiting Museo Larco in Lima, Peru.

Check out the below for Graeme’s top 5 list of what in darkest Peru is worth shining a spotlight on…

Machu Picchu

The number one place to visit is without doubt the magnificent and wondrous Inca ruins at Machu Picchu. It’s origins and purpose are yet to be fully defined but what everyone can agree on is that your visit will leave you wanting to know more and more about the Inca people. Why do we love it so much? We love the different ways you can explore the ruins. Take the famous Inca Trail and arrive after a 4 day trek through amazing Inca villages while taking in spectacular mountain views. But be quick, spaces fill up quickly! You could also spend a night in the small town of Aguas Calientes at the foot of the ruins. My favourite hotel here is the Inkaterra Machu Picchu Pueblo Hotel. A beautiful rustic hotel, set in tropical gardens. A great place to relax for a night after a busy few days of exploring… If you’re going to treat yourself, this is the place to do it! Now that you’re relaxed, you can visit the ruins for a second time exploring at your own pace, or walk up Huayna Picchu – the sugar loaf mountain that overlooks Machu Picchu – for some of the best views and photo opportunities.

Machu Pichu

The People

The Peruvian people are some of the friendliest I’ve ever had the pleasure to meet. Everywhere I went, I was welcomed by the locals I met during our excursions, those at the hotels, and of course by the wonderful guides I had throughout my trip. We receive great feedback from customers about the guides that they met along the way. Look out for Elvis when visiting Machu Picchu. While everyone was friendly and welcoming, two occasions are particularly memorable. During our time on the Sacred Valley excursion, we stopped in the town of Chincheros to visit their local church, a fusion of Spanish and indigenous culture. The many frescos and paintings familiar to Christianity are displayed along with native local beliefs, subtly represented by golden suns and silver moons. Afterwards we were treated to a demonstration at a workshop on how the local women weave and dye clothing. An entertaining, relaxed and welcoming experience. We drank coca leaf tea, tried our hand at weaving and laughed with the local women who were all keen to show us their traditional way of living. In my opinion, the friendliest people live on the floating Uros islands at Lake Titicaca, where I met the youngest and most charming sales person in Peru. Three year old Stephanie, was making sure I didn’t leave without a pretty bracelet she had chosen herself. The local people open up their homes to tourists as way to earn money to help preserve their way of living and keeping their community together. A fascinating place to visit, made even more special by the people you meet.

Peru, Sacred Valley

The Food

One of the best experiences while travelling is tasting new and delicious food along the way. Peru is going through a food revolution right now and you will be spoiled for choice. Particularly in Lima and Cusco where you will find everything from local restaurants to Michelin star quality.The ceviche at the El Pardo Doubletree Hilton hotel in Lima is particularly tasty and always made fresh in front of you. I recommend doing your research before you go to make sure you hit the good spots during your free time. Peruvians enjoy large lunches and have smaller meals in the evening and remember to eat light when first arriving in Cusco to help combat the effects of high altitude. Expect lots of tasty soups, chicken, sea food, potatoes and quinoa during your stay. You’ll learn a lot about how fresh produce is cultivated in Peru and how the Incas experimented using microclimates to their advantage during our optional excursion to Maras and Moray.

Pisco Sour

The Amazon Jungle
Much of Peru lies in the Amazon rainforest and the town of Puerto Maldonado is where we begin our journey into the jungle. Easily accessed from Lima or Cusco, I enjoyed three wonderful nights here immersed in the jungle – but in comfort also. The tiny airport is not Heathrow (thankfully!) but can be busy with tourists all arriving on the same flight. Our guide was waiting outside with a sign and took us to the local office to process our paperwork, and offered us a refreshing cool towel and welcome drink, before we headed to the river port. After a short canoe journey upriver we came to the Hacienda Concepcion, our lodge for the next 3 nights. I’ll be honest, I had some slight trepidation about what the jungle would be like. Would there be many insects? What do you mean there is no internet?! Limited electricity? I quickly discovered that these trepidations were unfounded. There are insects, but a long sleeve top and some mosquito spray is good enough when you’re out exploring and the rooms and cabañas are fully enclosed. The limited electricity is not an issue. There was plenty of time to charge my devices and enough light and hot water when needed. The peaceful surroundings, the jungle noises and the excursions make you forget about emails, facebook and indeed the outside world in general. It can all wait. I’d recommend taking a cabañas for extra privacy at the Hacienda Concepcion or stay at The Reserva Amazonica for even more comfort and to take advantage of a wider selection of excursions. After a worthwhile 3km trek and visit to Lake Sandoval, spotting caiman along the way a hot shower, a drink at the bar or a relaxing massage is very welcome. Or for those who want to go deeper into the jungle, try the Refugio Amazonas or Tambopata Research Lodge.

The Amazon

Cusco
The perfect base to explore the surrounding region including Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley. Modern day Cusco its self is a busy place, full of restaurants, museums, churches, markets and festivals. It is a blend of colonial Spanish and Inca architecture and the perfect place to spend a few days exploring on your own. You’ll be glad of a few days here to adjust to the high altitude. You should find Cusco a perfectly safe place to walk around, visit one of the many places of interest or buy some souvenirs. I had lunch at a lovely pizzeria overlooking Plaza De Armas, the main square in Cusco where I spent a few hours just watching everyone go about their business. The uber trendy Fallen Angel restaurant is where I found myself one evening for dinner. Our Peru holidays allow you enough time to acclimatise to the altitude, visit many of the places of interest including the famous Qorikancha, the main temple of the Inca Empire and free time to take in all that Cusco has to offer.

Cusco
If you have been inspired by Graeme’s adventures to trace back the steps of Paddington Bear all the way to darkest Peru on your own holiday of a lifetime, you can see a list of all our Peru Holidays here. You can also see more information on all our amazing Latin America holidays by visiting www.llamatravel.com or ordering our brochure. You can also give the Llama Travel office a call at 020 7263 3000.

The capital of Argentina is one of the largest and most populous of South America’s cities. Set amongst fertile pampas, Buenos Aires is an urban expanse of stylish European architecture, wide boulevards and leafy parks. The city has the reputation of being one of the most elegant cities in South America, boasting not only grand architecture, but an equally impressive cultural scene; it has a higher concentration of theatres than any other city in the world, and is also considered a gastronomic tour de force, with culinary enthusiasts flocking to Buenos Aires to dine on classic Argentinean steak, farmed from local estancias on the pampas.

La Recoleta Cemetery

La Recoleta Cemetery

Perhaps Buenos Aires’ most interesting cultural heritage is as the birthplace of Tango. The story goes that in nineteenth century Argentina, gauchos from the lowland estancias would ride into the city at night to dance with the local girls. The gauchos, sore from a day in the saddle, danced with flexed knees whilst the ladies danced with their heads reclined right back to avoid the stench of the ranch men, who would go for weeks on end without bathing. Tango is still a celebrated part of Argentinean culture, and it can be seen performed all over the city, from the streets of working class La Boca to the stages of the city’s many professional Tango houses.

Tango

Tango

Modern day Buenos Aires is divided into barrios (neighbourhoods), each unique and full of character. The colourful buildings of the quirky La Boca district contrast with the grand Plaza de Mayo, Argentina’s premier square dominated by the pink presidential building. The bohemian San Telmo district, Buenos Aires’ oldest neighborhood and historical centre, transforms into a bustling market on Sundays. Elegant La Recoleta is a barrio of great historical and architectural importance and is home to the extravagant La Recoleta Cemetery, the final resting place of many of Argentina’s most acclaimed citizens, including Eva “Evita” Peron. The trendy boulevards and leafy parks of Palermo are perfect for people-watching, while the gentrified Puerto Madero dockland barrio is full of restaurants and bars, with fantastic views overlooking the River Plate.

La Boca

La Boca

If you have been inspired to discover Buenos Aires for yourself, check out our ‘Samba, Tango & Iguazu Falls’ Buenos Aires holiday, which also includes a visit to the vibrant Brazilian city of Rio de Janeiro and the spectacular Jungle clad waterfalls of the Iguazu Falls. Also take a look at our “Best of Argentina and Chile” holiday which combines Argentina’s beautiful capital city with the breathtaking Perito Moreno glacier in Argentinean Patagonia and Chile’s trekking paradise of Torres del Paine National Park. You can also see a full list of all our amazing Latin America holidays by visiting www.llamatravel.com or by ordering our brochure.

 

Wulaia Bay

Wulaia Bay

Tierra del Fuego, the archipelago at the end of the world, has been a beacon to explorers since the days of Magellan and Darwin. Lying off the southernmost tip of Patagonia, Tierra del Fuego encompasses a scattering of islands across the stormy South Atlantic and the Strait of Magellan. The islands of Tierra del Fuego, including the desolate Cape Horn and the Diego Ramírez Islands, are the forerunners to the frozen expanses of Antarctica, and exist in very harsh subpolar conditions. The largest island in the archipelago is Isla Grande de Tierra del Fuego, a rugged region of mountain ranges and steppe, fringed with glaciers and dramatic coastlines.

Cape Horn Cruise

Cape Horn Cruise

This land was once home to the Yahgan people, commonly believed to be the southernmost tribe in the world. These amazing people were able to successfully etch out a living in the harsh climate, hunting sea lions, diving for shellfish and traveling by canoe between islands to collect food. They kept warm by huddling around small fires, the rising smoke and embers of which were spotted by sailors on passing ships, who consequently referred to the island as the “The land of fire”. The Yahgan left strong impressions on all who encountered them, including Ferdinand Magellan, Charles Darwin, and the HMS Beagle captain himself, Robert FitzRoy. FitzRoy even went so far as to capture four Yahgan in an attempt to “civilise the savage.” He succeeded to the extent that the tribesmen were presented at court in London, but on return to their homeland they were quick to return to their former life style.

Ushuaia

Ushuaia

According to a survey in 2002, there are still approximately 2000 Yaghan in the area, but they are no longer the sole occupants of the archipelago. The capital of Tierra del Fuego, and the southernmost city in the world, is Ushuaia. The city is spectacularly bounded in the north by jagged and snow-covered mountains and on the south by the Beagle Channel, and acts as both the terminus of the world’s most southerly highway and the gateway to Antarctica. Originally built in the late 19th century by European explorers, Ushuaia still has a laid-back pioneer-town atmosphere, particularly evident in its charming houses, constructed with colourful timber and tin roofing. Despite its isolation, Ushuaia offers ample modern amenities and services making it an ideal base for exploring the epic Tierra del Fuego.

Tierra del Fuego

Tierra del Fuego

If you have been inspired to explore Tierra del Fuego yourself, you can find out more information here about our ‘Splendours of Argentina + Tierra del Fuego’, ‘Ultimate ‘Patagonia + Cape Horn Cruise’ and ‘Best of Argentina & Chile +Tierra del Fuego’ holidays. You can also see a full list of all our amazing Latin America holidays by visiting www.llamatravel.com or by ordering our brochure.

 

Happy New Year everyone! A new year means another 365 days to explore the world. Below are some of our top holiday choices for 2014. Colombia.

Beach in Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Beach in Tayrona National Park, Colombia

Colombia is set to be one of the brightest lights in travel in 2014. With its dark days now firmly in the past, the country is at last becoming better known for its many and varied positive attributes. The cities, coastlines and countryside of Colombia is truly spectacular. From  the snow-capped Andean mountains that rise up on the horizon, with the bustling capital city Bogotá nestled high amongst the peaks, to the lush green rolling hills of the Coffee region and the exotic Caribbean coastlines, where the vibrant city of Cartagena sits like a jewel.  You definitely get your money’s worth in terms of variety when you visit Colombia! At the moment Colombia is in that sweet spot where the streets and countryside are safe and beautiful, the prices are reasonable and tourists are not around every corner. So if you are looking for a great value authentic (not tourist-y) holiday in 2014 with stunning scenery, vibrant cities and fascinating culture – both past and present – then Colombia is the place for you. To see details of our holidays to Colombia, click here. Chile.

Torres Del Paine National Park, Chile

If your new year’s resolution is to see a slice of the wild, and you want more than just lazing on a beach for your 2014 holiday, then Chile may just be the perfect location for you. A long, thin slither on the coast of South America, Chile is flanked by the Andes to the east and the Pacific Ocean to the west. Chile may be only a hundred miles wide on average, but it has the diversity of landscapes of a much larger country, from the world’s driest desert in the north to the sparkling ice fields of Cape Horn in the south, and the enigmatic and totally unique Easter Island lying 3,700 km off it’s west coast. Chile is also home to Torres Del Paine National Park, a stunningly beautiful wilderness full of soaring peaks and glacial valleys that is fast becoming a mecca for trekking enthusiasts and nature lovers. To see a full a list of holidays to Chile please click here. Rio de Janiero, Brazil. All eyes will be on Rio in 2014, as it hosts the 20th FIFA World Cup, and continues expansive preparations for the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, when it will become South America’s first Olympic host city. A colourful city beautifully set on Guanabara Bay, Rio de Janiero is world renowned for its spectacular natural setting, vibrant carnival celebrations, beautiful beaches, lively nightlife and as the home of ‘Christ the Redeemer’, one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio may not be new to the spotlight like Colombia, but Brazil’s most famous city has been – and still is – undergoing some massive construction projects as it prepares to welcome the millions of tourists and athletes who will descend on the country over the next few years. New restaurants and hotels are being built, it’s once notoriously dangerous favelas are getting safer, and its infrastructure and economy is getting stronger. Big changes and big crowds are coming to Rio de Janiero very soon, so visit in 2014 to beat the Olympic crowds and experience the amazing atmosphere of a city on the rise. To see a full list of our holidays that include a visit to Rio de Janiero, please click here. Wherever in the world the year takes you, here at llama travel we are wishing you the very best for 2014. To see a full range of our holidays, and to order our brand new brochure, you can visit our website at www.llamatravel.com.

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