Monthly Archives: March 2011

Dakar Rally to Finish in Lima

The Dakar Offroad Rally for 2011 is already over and we are looking forward to 2012 when the event will start in Argentina and finish in the Peruvian capital of Lima.  The tough route will cross the high Andes, the driest desert in the world before finishing in the main square of Lima on January 15th

Dakar Bike in Argentina

Dakar Motorbike in Aregentina

The Dakar Rally is really an offroad test of endurance.  Comptitors can take on the rally  2012in cars, trucks or various kinds of motorbikes  The vehicles cover a range of tough terrain that  tests their machines and drivers to the limit,  and is open to amateurs and professionals.  The race has taken place in South America since 2009 after security problems prevented it from following the traditional route from Paris to Dakar.  This will be the first time for the race to finish in Lima.

The competitors will start off from Mar del Plata; a seaside resort outside of Buenos Aires.  They will then cross the Aregtine pampa to get to the range of Andes mountains separating Chile and Argentina.  After entering Chile, the rally crosses the Atacama desert; the driest place on earth.

In Peru, the racers will enter via the southern city of Tacna before continuing across the desert to Peru?s second city of Arequipa.  Ica is also on the rally map; an area famous for some of the largest sand dunes in the world.  The final stage will take the cars, tucks and motorbikes into the Peruvian capital, Lima, for the prize ceremony in Lima?s historic main square (Plaza de Armas)

Dakar route for 2012

Dakar Route for 2012

With their combination of ocean, high mountains and desert; it?s no wonder the organizers chose Peru, Chile and Argentina for this exciting race.

Are you interested in seeing the Dakar Rally?  The benefit of travelling with Into Latin America is that we can completely customize your trip throughout South America.  Into Latin America can take you to different stages of the rally as and when you like.  Contact to find out how.

Photos from the official Dakar Rally website.


Argentina, Mendoza and Malbec. A perfect vacation combination.

For lovers of wine and travel, Mendoza, at the heart of Argentine wine country is a perfect travel destination.  Find out why Malbec has put Mendoza and Argentina on the wine lovers map.  See an example of a tour

Mendoza Malbec

A Bit of History

400 years ago the Spanish came to Argentina and brought with them their love of wine. Catholic monks and priests began to grown produce wine for serving at communion and so the Argentine wine industry was born.  It was in the 1800s, though, that European settlers arrived with wine expertise, more grape strains and, importantly, the railway.  One of the arrivals was a seemingly insignificant dark grape from the south of France.  This grape, called Malbec,  found its true home in the foothills of the Andes and flourished.  With ideal soil and climate in the valleys around Mendoza, Argentina, Malbec wines have become an international sensation, and Argentina is now acknowledged as the home of the best Malbecs.


Malbec red wines go best with red meats, grilled meats and pasta with tomato sauce.  It can’t be a coincidence that these foods also read like a list of Argentina’s favourite foods.  Malbecs are intense, complex and dark colored.  They grow well in the area around Mendoza in the foothills of the Andes.  The seasonal climate and low rainfall suit the grapes well.  Mendoza sits near the highest peak in the Americas so there is an amazing variety in altitude here too.  Higher up vineyards produce a greater balance between color, acidity and sweet tannins.  Visit Malbec coutry

MendozaMendoza Wine Tours

Go here for the wine and come away loving the scenery.  What could be more beautifully indulgent than sipping wine, surrounded by the vineyards where the grapes were grown, with the Argentine beef that the wine was born to go with.  In the distance the Andes soar up into Chile with multicolored rocks and snow capped peaks.  Outside of the beautiful, modern city of Mendoza there are a whole range of large and small vineyards to visit for personal tours and tastings.   All spread out across stunning mountain valleys.  You don’t have to love Malbec or even wine to love Mendoza.  The area also produces excellent Cabernet Sauvingon, Tempranillo and Chardonnay.  It also produces some excellent hiking, rafting and skiing!


Travel to Mendoza via Buenos Aires; the vibrant cultural capital of South America, flights take around 1 hour and 40 minutes.  Make the most of your trip to Argentina to discover some more of what the country has to offer.  From Mendoza there are easy connections to Iguazu, the most impressive waterfall in the world and to El Calafate; glaciers and wilderness trekking in southern Patagonia.  There are also direct flights to Lima, Peru making it easier than ever to combine your Argentine wine vacation with a trip to unforgettable Machu Picchu.

Bolivian Amazon: An Unusual Adventure

Where To Go?

Chalalan frog

Chalalan frog

The Madidi National Park covers 1.8 million hectares and is one of the most intact ecosystems in South America. There is a huge diversity of flora and fauna here thanks to the range in habitat, from the lowland rainforest to the mountains that reach 5500m. The park protects more species than any other in the world; there are over 45,000 different plant species and over 1,000 tropical bird species, making it a great place for your visit to the Amazon. Visit Bolivia Amazon

Where to Stay?
There are some superb projects in the Bolivian Amazon. One of the best is the Chalalan Lodge in Madidi National Park. In 2010 it was listed in the Lonely Planet’s Top 10 Sustainable travel experiences in the world. While these days many jungle lodges jump on the “Sustainable Tourism” band wagon this project really is worthy of the title.

Community Owned Sustainable Tourism

Chalalan caiman

Chalalan caiman

The lodge was established and is owned by Quechua-Tacana people who live in the San José de Uchupiamonas community. The Quechua-Tacana whose people have lived in harmony with the surrounding jungle for over 300 years. 20 years ago they realised that Eco-Tourism was a way of protecting their land and traditions from the threats of deforestation and the migration of young people to the cities. The lodge is owned and run 100% by the local community and benefits already include clean drinking water, and improved health, education and training standards. 5 Day Trip for $795

What is the Accommodation Like?
It is often difficult in such a project to get the balance right between the needs of the community and local environment and the demands of tourists who want to visit the area. Here the staff have excelled in providing clean, comfortable accommodation, expert local guides and a very welcoming environment. The passion for their environment and project show in every detail which is probably what makes Chalalan so special. Rooms are simple but clean and comfortable with cold water showers (but with temperatures high they are welcome!). Your stay includes 3 delicious meals a day so you get to try many local specialities.

How to Get There?

Amazon transport

Amazon transport

Most people fly from La Paz to Rurrenebaque, a jungle town on the river Yacuma. From here a motorised canoe takes you upstream for a few hours. Lodge staff meet are waiting to help with luggage leaving you free to follow your guide through along the forest path to the lodge. La Paz is an easy flight from Cusco, Peru. This means that you can easily combine a visit to the Bolivian Amazon with a trip to Machu Picchu.

What Can You See and Do There?

Chalalan sloth

Chalalan sloth

Activities include; nature walks, bird spotting, night canoe trips, nature talks, hikes, handicraft demonstrations, canoe trips and a goodbye ceremony on the last night where you get to try the local drink “leche de tigre” (“Tiger’s milk”). Madidi is home to 340 species of birds including parakeets, parrots, toucans, wild turkeys, woodpeckers. Animals include the spectacled bear, Andean cat, Andean deer, white-tailed deer , puma, jaguar, white-lipped peccary, spider monkey and the red howler monkey; not to mention more bugs and frogs than you can shake a stick at.

For more information about visiting Chalalan Lodge

Richard Gere on Family Holiday to Machu Picchu

Richard Gere Machu Picchu

Richard Gere in Machu Picchu

Richard Gere was spotted today exploring the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, Peru. He said he was on a family holiday and was accompanied by his wife; actress Carey Lowell.

He will go on to take in the beautiful Sacred Valley and stay in Cusco until Thursday. We hope Richard Gere and family have an excellent holiday!

Galapagos Cruise Last Minute: From $650

Cruise the Galapagos Islands in March

Galapagos Islands

Observing Sea Lions in the Galapagos

Special Offers for March.  On Board Angelique; Tourist Superior Class.  CONTACT

Dates Available:

17-24 March

17-21 March

21-28 March

21-24 March

24-31 March

24-28 March

28-31 March

$1.200 (8 days)

$800 (5 days)

$650  (4 days)  CONTACT

Last Minute Luxury Galapagos: $1100

Take a trip of a lifetime on a fantastic cruise around the Galapagos Islands

Anahi Deluxe Ship Galapagos
Anahi Deluxe Boat Galapagos

3 Nights on the Deluxe Boat Anahi only $1100.  March 22 – 25th  Contact

7 Nights Deluxe Anahi $2300 March 25- April st $2300 / May 13-May 20th $2800

Includes all excursions, meals and snacks and expert guide.

Flight to / from Galapags not included

Fair Trade Fortnight in The UK

It’s fairtrade fortnight in the UK and Into Latin America’s Steph has been getting involved.  Her arduous tasks involved taking part in a fashion show and drinking delicious coffee; all aimed at promoting fair-trade products and showing how fairtrade really can make a difference in the developing world.

March 8th’s events were tied into International women’s day with a fashion show of fairtrade clothes and a collection of other fairly traded products organized by Into Latin America friend, Louise Whitaker.

Louise Whitaker has been involved in Fairtrade for many years.  Her latest project is helping womens groups in Peru and Bolivia by commissioning them to produce exquisite gloves, scarves and baby blankets made from Alpaca wool.  The women knit at home when they have time between the daily demands of life looking after their children and land.   Louise commented “this is connecting women across the globe through fairtrade,  these women are highly skilled but live in remote areas, they do not have the means or knowledge to promote or sell their products themselves”.  For more information contact whitakersenior@gmail.

Anoter participant was Jitzy of FEM (Fundacion Entre Mujeres) a women’s organisation in Nicaragua that produces fairtrade coffee.   Jitzy was able to complete her accounting studies having received twice the amount for her fairtrade coffee than she would have earned otherwise.  The organisation also produces wine, tea and medicinal plant products providing income and education and improving quality of life of many women.  FEM was set up in 1995 with the aim of improving the life of women in rural areas where domestic violence is common and women have little or no rights at all.

South American gold has been sought after for centuries, long before the Spanish conquistadors arrived.  Fairtrade and Fairmined certified gold, the world’s first independent ethical certification system for gold, will offer the guarantee of a product which has been responsibly mined.  Fairtrade and Fairmined gold is exclusively available from artisanal and small scale mining organisations across Latin America.  John Titcombe who works with ethical gold from Peru and has shops in Bristol and Cirencester.

At Into Latin America we are always looking for ways to work with communities in Latin America and support responsible travel. Have you tried shopping Fairtrade?  It really can make a difference.