The prospect of a new year is always an ideal time to start thinking about, and organising, a trip for the coming months. After the excitement of Christmas has faded and the last box of chocolates has been eaten, what better to do than grab a map, a guidebook and your travel partner and start planning your next adventure. With more direct flights than ever before, Latin America is now easily accessible and boy, does it pack a punch for those wanting an unforgettable holiday in the new year.
Here is our inspirational guide to 6 of the best destinations to consider for travel in 2017;
1. Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
In 2017 British Airways will launch the first direct flight from London to Santiago, making this spectacular country more accessible than ever. From the vast Atacama desert in the north resting under star filled skies, to the mysterious temperate rainforest of the western coastline and the jagged glacier filled fjords in the far south, Chile has it all. One area that stands out more than most in this picturesque part of the world is Torres del Paine National Park, widely regarded as the jewel of Patagonia, and with another new flight opening soon between Santiago and the gateway town of Puerto Natales, this park will be closer than ever for the adventurous traveller. Vast windswept valleys, surreal turquoise blue lakes, steep towers of granite and ancient glaciers are just a few of the splendid features of this magnificent region. Rich greens, yellows and oranges of the foliage clash against blues and steely greys of the sky, rivers and mountains to create some of the most photogenic landscapes known to man. This is a paradise for trekkers who will enjoy the unspoilt terrain, mysterious forests and remarkable ice formations which can be found through the region’s most famous walk – ‘The W Trek’.
Bookings are now open for the 2017/18 season in Antarctica, and the popularity of this remote destination is ever increasing. With only a few ships allowed to visit Antarctic waters, places on cruises to the white continent are limited and sell out fast – and it’s easy to understand why. Antarctica is a pristine, untouched environment, which boasts incredible nature and a once-in-a-lifetime experience. Be it kayaking through towering icebergs or sleeping in a tent on the ice itself, this fascinating continent is sure to be a trip to top all trips. For wildlife enthusiasts, you can expect to see penguins galore and plenty of other birds including albatross and skuas, plus fur seals, leopard seals, orca, various baleen whales and the occasional dolphin. Cruises to this wintery wonderland are often combined with trips to the birding haven of the Falkland Islands and history-rich islands of South Georgia.
Fresh from its glory of being voted No. 2 on Lonely Planet’s list of best countries to travel to in 2017 and being named ‘Country of the Year’ by the Economist, Colombia is well and truly riding the wave of popularity. The number of foreign visitors is increasing year by year and this colourful, vibrant and friendly country is revelling in the attention. Our colleague Kim has just returned from her first trip to Colombia, and despite having spent a lot of time elsewhere in Latin America, she was blown away by the beauty of this region. Getting to Colombia is easy from the UK, with a direct 10-hour flight to Bogota, and once in country there are hundreds of internal flights which spread in every direction to choose from. You could take a journey through the spectacular coffee region visiting farms (locally known as haciendas), explore the lush rainforests of the Caribbean coastline, journey through the bizarre landscapes of the Tatacoa desert or chill out at a surf camp on the Pacific beaches.
4. Rio Carnival, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Brazil is all set to bounce back from what can only be described as an ‘interesting’ year in 2016. With the preparations for carnival 2017 well underway, it’s not too late to consider a trip to this bedazzling show of glitz and glamour. This unforgettable event is not the only draw to the city of Rio; take the cable car to the top of sugarloaf mountain, marvel at the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer and bask on the sandy beaches whilst sipping on an ice cold caipirinha; this city has lots of choice for visitors. New for 2017 is a jewel in the crown of this buzzing metropolis, a small boutique hotel situated on none other than Copacabana beach and boasting incredible views. There are 90 rooms in total at the Emiliano Rio – divided into eight categories that vary from 42 to 120sqm. All have a spacious feel and offer guests supreme comfort in the most modern surroundings. Superb design is featured throughout and natural light has been cleverly used to generate bright spaces. The Emiliano Rio’s design concept by Arthur de Mattos Casas pays tribute to Brazilian modernism, bringing together sophistication and comfort with the laid-back quality of Rio lifestyle. The Emiliano Rio offers an excellent 5-star luxury hotel option on Copacabana Beachfront, which will be perfect for carnival, new year or any other celebration and is without a doubt one of our favourites.
Uruguay is often overlooked as a destination in Latin America, a continent which boasts big countries with bigger personalities such as Brazil, Peru and Argentina. However, they say that less is often more, and this is certainly the case with Uruguay. Its perfect climate, pristine beaches and romantic old towns are an ideal setting for a truly relaxing holiday. Each year the exclusive beaches with their sophisticated bars and luxury shops of Punta del Este attract a handful of local and international celebrities looking to escape the normal retreats. This small country is a haven for those wishing to find all the classic South American touches, such as great steak, vineyard tours and rich culture, alongside modern day design. Glitzy hotels and glamorous beach-side villas are popping up along the coastline, making this ideal for a luxury escape in the new year. As the ideal time to visit Uruguay is between December and March, it could be a great alternative to the usual beach breaks that tempt tourists during this time.
6. Inti Raymi festival, Cusco, Peru
On June 21st each year, the streets of Cusco are filled with music and the residents dress up in colourful costumes to celebrate Inti Raymi. This religious ceremony is an ancient Incan tradition that translates as ‘Sun Festival’. Residents and tourists alike take to the streets to watch the parades and share feasts of delicious local food. Tourists will love the cheese stuffed empanadas, bags of giant Andean popcorn and locally brewed beers. For the adventurous, this is an ideal chance to try the local delicacy which is eaten during times of celebration; cuy, otherwise known as guinea pig! The outfits of the dancers and performers who take part in this huge street party are painstakingly handmade, and show off the embroidery skills of the Peruvian people. As this festival coincides with one of the more favourable times of the year to visit Machu Picchu or hike along the Inca Trail, this could be the perfect time to organise a luxury holiday to Peru.
We offer tailor made luxury holidays to Latin America and would love to be a part of helping you book your ideal trip for 2017.
Simply contact us to start planning your holiday today!
Want to meet us in person? We are exhibiting in London during January and February 2017 at the The Telegraph Travel Show and Destinations.