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Five hundred journeys of a lifetime - Latin America

In our series of 500 Journeys of a Lifetime we visit Latin America. From the Inca Trail to Patagonia to Galapagos, here are the experiences you do not want to miss in South and Central America.

Galapagos Islands The undisputed highlight of Latin America is the Galapagos Archipelago, with their otherworldly volcanic landscapes and stunning array of wildlife. Snorkel with sea lions and penguins, come close to boobies and albatrosses, iguanas and tortoises and watch whales. Download our Ultimate Galapagos Planner here

Patagonia Squeezed between the depths of the Pacific and the volcanoes, peaks and glaciers of the Andes, Chile stretches from the driest desert in the north, to the icefields of the south. And it is in the south you will find the incredible spires of Torres del Paine, rising high up in the sky. On the Argentine side Perito Moreno is one of the easiest accessible ice fields in the world while the Fitzroy range offers worldclass hiking and ince climbing amidst equally spectacular mountain scenery as in Chile. For those less inclined to hiking there are also the cruises through the Fjords, either with One Ocean Expeditions or in luxury with Australis.

Rio Carnival Grab your masks, feathers and face paint and join in the fun of Rio Carnival. Find a street party and joingroups of revellers, all in costume, parading through the city, dancing singing and soaking up the atmosphere. The highlight of your stay will be the festivities at the Sambadrome, the most spectacular parade you will ever see. Ask us for a programme.

Hike the Inca Trail One of the most popular treks in the world, the Inca Trail follows ancient pathways to the mountaintop citadel of Machu Picchu. Beautiful scenery, ancient ruins and high passes are hallmarks of the trek. Permits go on sale at the end of each year for the following year - you should book that far ahead of time if you plan to trek in the busy summer season. Alternatives exist though, so if you cannot get a permit, let us help you find another great trek!

In to the Amazon Huge tracts of rainforest extend from the eastern flank of the Andes all the way to the Brazilian coast, and it is here that you can discover a biodiversity so rich it boggles the mind. Wildlife spotting, birdwatching, walks through the jungle and canoe trips to salt licks are but some of the activities on offer. Choose from a stay in a jungle lodge or on an expedition cruise boat. Ask about your options.

Pura Vida in Costa Rica Imagine staying in a lodge where when you step out, you are surrounded by nothing but nature. Birds sing in the trees, a troop of monkeys swings in the canopy and the vegetation is so lush you have to rub your eyes to make sure you are not dreaming. Home to 5% of the world's lifeforms, Costa Rica is one of the prime destinations for wildlife watching. Be it birds, mammals, insects or reptiles you are after, you will be not be disappointed. Monteverde and neighbouring Santa Elena is where Costa Rica's ecotourism began. It is here that you can hike through cloud forests in search of birdlife, while engaging in adventure activities such as ziplining. Elsewhere there is Tortuguero, a remote network of canals and waterways that intersect the lowland jungle, Corcovado 'the most biologically intense place in on earth' and one of the last great stands of tropical rainforest in Central America. Read more on Costa Rica

Cuba A country where the clock has stood still for 60 years, where road-side billboards declare "Socialism or Death" and where commercialism is still refreshingly absent. A land proud of its heritage where people greet you warmly on every corner. A place where old classic cars mingle with horse-drawn carts, where the beaches are pure white sand and palms and sugar cane sway in a gentle breeze. Throw in a beguiling mix of revolutionary music, salsa and decaying colonial towns and you have a country you do not want to miss.

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