Travel in South America is often dominated by the big players: your Brazils, Argentinas, Perus and Chiles. But little Ecuador, sandwiched between the white caps of the Pacific and the humid lowlands of the Amazon basin, is the equal of any of them.
Rice, beans, plantain, tortillas, quesadilla, guacamole, salsa, tequila…need we go on? Food in Central America is one (very prominent!) reason we love this part of the world so much.
Here, we share some cuisine which may have gone under the radar in the past. Move over Mexico, your neighbours have some pretty sensational tastebud pleasers of their own.
Travel to Colombia and you’re sure to come back talking of the country’s stupendous beauty.
It’s the only South American nation with access to both Caribbean and Pacific coastlines, contains sectors of both the Amazon and Andes, and is said to pack in higher levels of biodiversity per square kilometre than any other country. Add into the mix its stately Spanish architecture, a temperate year-round climate and the infectious local exuberance for living life, and you have a country that despite its previous hardships is a place that’s unrivalled.
Ok, so we know there’s a heap of amazing places to travel to, so why choose to explore Guatemala over all the others?
8. Really cool ruins
If you’ve ever fantasised about being Indiana Jones for a day or just love old, stone things, Guatemala’s ruins will blow you away. The most famous is coastal Tikal, which will impress even the most jaded traveller. Then you’ve got the remarkable ruins of Yaxha, Uaxactan and Quirigua scattered around the country looking fabulous. And if you’re up for a 5-day hike and a bit of roughing it, then El Mirador lies deep within the jungle and is believed to be the cradle of Maya civilisation.
It’s only in the last five or so years that mezcal has become well known outside of Mexico. And within this fiery nation it was seen as the drink of miners and Mexican cowboys (charros) for many years, so not considered very hip.
When you travel to Peru, there’s no excuse to buy a standard soft drink when you’re out and about or to stick to the old vodka and soda when you’re at a bar. Peru has a unique variety of rehydrating beverages – here are the top five drinks you must try in Peru…
Pisco is to Peru what Vodka is to Russia – it is the national spirit. Pisco is distilled from grapes and is primarily produced in the towns of Pisco and Ica. You’ll find a Pisco Sour on any cocktail list in Peru and it’s a delightful mix of Pisco, lime juice, egg white and sugar syrup, shaken up with ice then topped with a few drops of bitters. You can even learn how to concoct the legendary cocktail on our Lima Pisco Making day tour. The combination of bitter/sour/sweet works very well… go easy though, the local bartenders are very liberal with their Pisco pouring!
Central and South America will whet any traveller’s appetite for real adventure with its jungle-clad ruins, steamy rainforests and wildly rugged landscapes. It’s the ultimate destination for the curious and daring, so we’ve tracked down the most intriguing lost cities of this legend-fuelled land…
5. The City of Caesars
Thousands of kilometers of uncharted plains, lonely lakes and ancient forests that were once roamed by dinosaurs – if you were looking to hide a lost city, Patagonia would be the place to do it. But if you’re lucky enough to find yourself exploring this pristine wilderness, chances are you’ve heard the words ‘City of Caesars’ echoing through Patagonia’s glacier filled passes. Typically, the legend speaks of a remote fort filled with unimaginable treasures hidden deep within the Andes.
From tacos to tostadas; from chipotle to chorizo – Mexico’s culinary delights are world-renowned as some of the hottest dishes around.
But there’s more to this country than just its food: don’t overlook its much-underrated accompaniment: tequila! Few are as clued-up on the subject as our very own Intrepid Foodie, Thomasina Miers. We caught up with Tommi on all things tequila, and even discovered a pretty unusual way to use it in our cooking!…
“When life gives you lemons, break out the tequila and salt!”
The tantalising dance of the tango originated in Argentina and today is synonymous with the country’s sultry culture and passionate traditions. Summer Davis ditched the hiking boots for a day and stepped up for the tango a la porteno challenge…
“I was booked for a tango lesson in Buenos Aires and wanted to learn the dance properly. Thanks to local advice, I made my way into one of the city’s famous shoe stores to shop like a dancing queen – slipping into, twirling around and posing in pair after pair of gorgeous leather dance shoes. Which ones would be appropriate for my neophyte shimmying?