I’ve become obsessed with Latin American countries. In recent months I’ve traveled to Nicaragua and Ecuador, and have arranged client trips to Argentina, Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Mexico and Peru. In the process, I have three revelations to share that might be helpful if you’re considering travel to Central and/or South America.
Ecuador is about more than the Galapagos Islands. That’s not to say the Galapagos aren’t exceptional. They are a fantastic destination, for so many reasons. But there are other parts of the country that also should be on your “must see” list: Quito, a UNESCO world heritage site, is a city that beautifully blends Spanish, Moorish and indigenous features in its historic center; Cuenca, is a peaceful city with a maze of picturesque streets and colonial churches and shopping; and the Ecuadorian cloud forest is a refuge where you’ll see colorful birds, ocelots, tree frogs and lush greenery. There’s even a new train between Quito and Guayaquil that allows you to witness Ecuador from the rails. Visit the Galapagos. But then stay in Ecuador to see more. You can see Peru on your next visit.
Nicaragua is not what you think. I don’t know about you, but until my visit there (with my husband Luther and daughters Katie and Sara), the word “Nicaragua” conjured up images of rebels and Sandinistas and some US Congressional hearings. Not anymore. Now I think of a lovely, friendly country referred to fondly as “The Land of Lakes and Volcanoes.” There is tremendous diversity in Nicaragua…ranging from rainforests with coffee plantations, to charming colonial towns, to sun washed beaches with luxury accommodations. Some say Nicaragua today is like Costa Rica was 25 years ago. I wouldn’t know, but I am positive that Nicaragua is a great destination for the adventurous traveler who is looking for friendly locals, natural beauty, nice accommodations and good food. And yes, I felt safe throughout our visit.
Combine Peru’s Machu Picchu with a visit to the Peruvian Amazon. Machu Picchu is to Peru what Galapagos is to Ecuador. Don’t miss Machu Picchu, Sacred Valley or Cusco (or is it Cuzco? Read this article if you’d like to know which spelling is “correct”). But, consider adding a trip to the Amazon to complete your visit to Peru. We’re taking this trip soon…and will be able to give you a personal report on Aqua Expeditions’ 32-person MV Aria, which makes three-, four-, and seven-night trips down a Peruvian stretch of the Amazon River to see wildlife of the Pacaya Samiria National Reserve and to learn more about local Amazonian culture. Email me if you’re interested in finding out more.