Our Latin America expert, Olie, gives us the lowdown on his favourite destinations in this diverse continent.
1. Galapagos Islands
There are few places to rival the wildlife of the Galapagos Islands. Snorkel with playful sea lions, watch the amusing mating dance of the Blue-footed Booby and see wild Giant Tortoises in the Highlands. All from the comfort of a luxury yacht, the Galapagos works fantastically well for couples and families alike.
2. Chichen Itza Mayan Ruins, Mexico
Be Indiana Jones for the day and explore Chichen Itza, one of the new Seven Wonders of the World. This ancient Mayan capital is the most famous in Mexico with temples such as the imposing El Castillo are aligned to astronomical events such as the spring and autumn equinox which offer the chance to see the incredible shadow serpent of El Castillo.
3. Iguazu Falls, Argentina & Brazil
Taller and wider than Niagara, the thunderous Iguazu Falls is one of the most spectacular sights in South America. The 275 individual waterfalls spread across some 2 miles must be seen from the Argentine and Brazilian sides for contrasting vistas and by boat from the choppy waters below.
4. Torres del Paine, Chile
The Torres del Paine National Park in Chilean Patagonia is a beautiful area of snow-capped granite peaks, glaciers and wildlife easily explored from our favourite luxury lodges. For the more adventurous, world class trekking and horse riding across the pampas are not to be missed.
5. Salar de Uyuni, Bolivia
Travelling by 4×4 across the vast shimmering Uyuni salt flats is an awe-inspiring experience. A landscape of brilliant white contrasts beautifully with the deep blue sky above. The Salar, nearby volcanoes, desert and multi-coloured lagoons teeming with flamingos make this region the ultimate off-the-beaten-track destination.
6. Pantanal, Brazil
The Pantanal is the largest wetlands area in the world and the top wildlife destination in Latin America, the grasslands, swamps, forests, lakes and rivers are home to an incredible array of species. Spot hundreds of bird species, reptiles and unique mammals such as Giant Anteaters, Giant Otters and tapir, not forgetting the elusive jaguar.
7. Havana, Cuba
Havana has to be one of the most evocative of cities, still capital of one of the last remaining communist regimes. It oozes character, it has the crumbling colonial architecture, brightly coloured classic American cars and old ladies puffing away on homemade cigars. Nothing beats their lively bars to sip ice-cold mojitos and attempt a few salsa moves. It has so much to offer over a long weekend or as part of extensive Cuba trip.
8. Amazon Rainforest
The world’s largest rainforest, the Amazon covers a huge area of Brazil as well Peru and Ecuador among others. Take a luxury cruise up little-explored tributaries of the mighty Amazon River or stay at a luxury lodge to explore with an expert local Indian guide, fish for piranhas and spot the many birds, monkeys and cayman crocodiles.
9. Machu Picchu, Peru
Perched atop a jungle-covered mountain in the heart of the Andes, exploring the temples and palaces of this magnificent Incan citadel is an unforgettable experience. Whether reached by trekking the Inca Trail or travelling by luxury train the ruins are an awe-inspiring site, especially at sunrise when most visitors are still asleep!
10.Rio de Janeiro
One of the great cities of the world, Rio de Janeiro has it all – vibrant nightlife, iconic sights, beaches, rainforest and Carnival of course! Head up to the peaks of Sugarloaf Mountain and Corcovado’s Christ the Redeemer for magnificent views of Guanabara Bay and of course the famous beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana below.