America & Canada

America & Canada

DESTINATIONS

NORTH, SOUTH & CENTRAL AMERICA

North America’s scale and diversity is almost unimaginable. Whether you want to head out on a classic American road trip across vast western-style landscapes, shop ‘til you drop on NYC’s 5th Avenue, go searching for grizzlies in the Canadian wilderness or sip wine in a Californian vineyard – it’s all here, just waiting to be discovered.

Central and Southern America is often the last continent still to be visited by many travellers. Yet with its dramatic landscapes, incredible Andean scenery and Latin temperament, we highly recommend you add it to your travel wish list. It’s a continent of contrasts, from tropical Mexico to the glaciers of Argentina, the gateway to Antarctica. The national parks in Chile and the Galapagos rival those in Africa. And the mighty Amazon spans multiple countries and is the size of southern Africa.

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USA

The tallest skyscraper you’ll ever see, the best steak you’ll ever eat, the bluest lake, the deepest canyon and the most beautiful national park. In America, they don’t do things by halves.

For sheer drops, blue seas and undulating bends go for California’s Pacific Coast Highway between San Francisco and Los Angeles. For iconic Americana nothing beats Route 66’s roadside diners and vintage gas stations. All you need is the right playlist on the stereo and you’re away. Although, you don’t have to drive America to get a taste for it. Cities like New York, New Orleans, Miami, Los Angeles and San Francisco are all incredible destinations in their own right. It’s easy to lose two weeks in any one of them.

Outside the metropolises, there are National parks aplenty. Take a trek among Yosemite National Park’s granite domes and thundering waterfalls. Take a helicopter trip over the Grand Canyon. Take a hike to the thermal pools and geysers of Yellowstone National Park. Just be sure you take your camera: there are incredible photo opportunities everywhere. In the Deep South life moves to the insistent beat of music. The soundtrack is country in Nashville, blues and soul in Memphis and jazz in New Orleans. The stage is the Appalachian Mountains and the Mississippi Delta and the back-catalogue is history stretching from the civil war to civil rights.

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CANADA

Soaring, snow-covered peaks, turquoise lakes, fashionable cities filled with culture and colour. Canada is full of life, fun and adventures for all ages.

Canada is the great outdoors. It’s where grizzly bears pace on the banks of fast-flowing rivers during salmon spawning season. Where Niagara Falls plunges to depths of almost 60 metres. Where you can spot orca on a zodiac boat from Vancouver Island. And where you can spend days in Hudson Bay observing majestic polar bears.

Canada is rich in varied, cosmopolitan cities. Vancouver is where chic city life meets the great outdoors. It’s one of the only places we can think of where it’s possible to try your hand at skiing one day and take to the water in a sailboat the next.

Set between snow-capped mountains and the sea, you can take a canopy walk across Capilano Suspension Bridge, explore historic Gastown and indulge in Granville Island’s vibrant food scene. We also recommend getting a taste of the unique fusion of French and British cultures (and cuisines) in the cities of Quebec and Montreal.

No trip to Canada, however, is complete without a visit to Niagara Falls. There are few opportunities in life to get so close to the raw power of nature. Whether you cruise the waters at the foot of the Falls, soar above them in a helicopter, or simply stand as close to the thundering waters as you dare, it’s an experience we’re certain will stay with you forever.

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MEXICO

Conquer towering ancient pyramids. Dive into hidden pools deep in the jungle. Explore a famed cuisine and a lively coast that will stay with you for a lifetime.

Journey back in time and visit Chichen Itza. Discover graphic Mayan stone carvings, crumbling pillars and the towering step pyramids which dominate the skyline. Travel even further back to Monte Alban. Watching the sun set over this ancient ceremonial site is not to be missed. Explore Palenque in Chiapas and wander through ruins wreathed in verdant jungle. Finally, climb the mighty pyramids of Teotihuacan and take a seat at the top to let the history of the place sink in.

Make your way to Tulum for rest and relaxation and find the archetypal coastal paradise. Laze on white sands, plunge into the turquoise Caribbean Sea and sip on tequila cocktails as the balmy breeze takes the edge off the heat. Tulum is a world away from the busy beaches of Cancun, yet just an hour or so south in case you’re curious to visit them both. Head further north and dive and snorkel in the pristine waters around Isla Holbox to swim alongside whale sharks.

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COSTA RICA

The happiest country in the world; a paradise for peace and biodiversity; a green beacon. Costa Rica is a country of many accolades. But Costa Rica’s history and culture extend far beyond the reach of international recognition. The small Central American nation is home to incredible biodiversity and rich cultures, a passion for freedom, and a history of democracy, equality, and education for all.

‘Costa Rica’ is Spanish for ‘Rich Coast’ and the name is used to refer to the central American country that borders Nicaragua to the north, Panama to the southeast, the Pacific Ocean to the west, and the Caribbean Sea to the east.

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ARGENTINA

From the Mendoza wine regions in the Andean foothills to the heady thrill of Buenos Aires, Argentina is an intoxicating mix of natural wonders, traditional culture and boundless energy.

This Latin American magic can be found in every corner of Argentina. We’re talking volcanoes, lagoons and alpine meadows in the Lake District, desertscapes in Salta and the marshlands of Iberia, perfect for a wildlife safari with a difference. If the heat really isn’t for you, then how about the icy wilds of Patagonia? Here you can see the huge icebergs at Los Glaciares National Park or watch whales in Puerto Madryn, one of the best spots to catch a glimpse of Southern Right Whales with their young.

We can’t talk about Argentina without mentioning the traditions that have helped shaped it. Gaucho culture is still very much alive, especially in the northwest regions. In fact, you can experience cowboy culture first-hand with a stay on a working estancia. After a hard day in the saddle, tucking into a hearty Argentine parrilla (grill) complete with dinosaur-sized steaks, morcilla (blood sausage) and chinchulines (intestines) is a meal not for the fainthearted.

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BRAZIL

Put on your dancing shoes and move to the beat of Brazil: the definitive country of carnivals, tropical rainforests and crumbling colonial-era cities.

Salvador is one of Brazil’s most culturally vibrant cities and music, religion, food, dance and martial-arts are all very much part of its life flow. You can wander the cobblestone streets of Salvador de Bahia’s UNESCO world heritage site one day and watch descendants of African slaves reconnect with their gods at a Candomblé ceremony the next.

There are plenty of activities to keep you busy in Brazil. The beaches on the Costa Verde, especially around Buzios, among the finest we’ve ever seen – the Fernando do Noronha archipelago is a diver’s paradise. You can hike in Chapada Diamantina, one of the country’s top ecotourism hotspots and the best place for forests, caves, underground lakes and waterfalls. Head into Manaus, the heart of the rainforest and jumping-off point to some the Amazon, home to several of the jungle’s most luxurious lodges. Further south, go jaguar spotting in the Pantanal wetlands, where the wide-open savannahs make for easy wildlife viewing. Finally in Rio, gaze up at the humbling magnificence of the Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains.

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CHILE

Soak up the buena onda (good vibes) in Chile: a country where the wine flows freely and exploring the great outdoors is a way of life.

It’s home to some of the driest and highest deserts on earth – the Atacama Desert is one of the best places for star gazing and catching glimpses of faraway galaxies. The Lake District is excellent for family holidays filled with trekking and fly fishing. Torres del Paine is where you’ll find the southern ice fields and the famous W Trek, a five-day hike along frozen-in-time valleys flanked by ginormous granite towers. The horse riding here can be some of the best in the world.

Take a short hop from the capital city, Santiago, and you’ll find yourself in paradise for wine lovers. The Central Valley is famous for its Carmenere and Syrah wine and a bottle of either makes the best accompaniment to a traditional Chilean meal of Empanadas (filled pastries), Cazuela (chicken or beef stew with rice and potatoes) or Asado (barbecued beef, chicken or pork).

Easter Island, or Rapa Nui as it’s known to its Polynesian inhabitants, is a lonely volcanic island in the Pacific Ocean 3,700km to the west of Chile. It features some 300 statues (called moais) and other stonework whose origins still puzzle scientists to this day.

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COLOMBIA

Modern day Colombia is a vibrant and exciting country that reaches from the Amazon and the Orinoco in the south over the Andes to its Pacific and Caribbean coasts in the north.

Modern day Colombia is a vibrant and exciting country that reaches from the Amazon and the Orinoco in the south over the Andes to its Pacific and Caribbean coasts in the north. After a troubled past, that’s been well documented in TV dramas, Colombia these days is easy to get to, with direct flights, and easy to fall in love with.

With more scenic variety than many of its neighbours the new Colombia is flourishing, offering fairy tale-like colonial cities on the Caribbean coast and whale watching on the Pacific. Up in the Andes the diversity continues with buzzing cities, picturesque coffee plantations and even a unique five-day trek to a remote Lost City.

The capital Bogota is the gateway city for most new arrivals and it offers some attractive colonial architecture alongside world class galleries such as the Gold Museum and the Museo Botero and an emerging Colombian cuisine. From here head out west to the colourful valleys of the coffee region, or south to the isolated plains of the Orinoco and Corocora Camp for a taste of “wild Colombia”, the Llanero cowboy culture and a horse-riding safari.

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ECUADOR & THE GALAPAGOS ISLANDS

Follow in the footsteps of Charles Darwin in Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands, where high Andean mountains meet Amazonian rainforests.

This is what memories are made of. In a country the size of England and Wales, Ecuador and the Galapagos Islands succeed in packing the most extraordinary wildlife, cities and scenery you’re ever likely to experience.

We recommend starting in Quito, the capital city high in the Andes. Quito is over 500 years old and offers cobbled streets, indigenous markets, gold-filled churches and Andean rainy downpours that are capable of taking your breath away.

It’s a short hop from Quito to the cloud forests, the biodiverse green lands that tower 1,000 metres above sea level and are home to countless plants and animal communities. The Valley of the Volcanoes runs north from Quito up the Pan American Highway with dramatic volcanoes either side of the road. The Andean scenery here is a great backdrop for horse riding, trekking and visiting indigenous villages and market towns such as Otavalo.

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PERU

In Peru, ancient cities come wreathed in cloud. Snow-capped mountains sit beside emerald green lakes. And the freshest ceviche lingers long on the tongue in the bustling streets of the capital. Its journey into endless cloud forest and sub-tropical jungle, meandering past Inca ruins and through hidden tunnels.

Watch the sun rise over the ‘Lost City of the Incas’ after trekking the Inca Trail and realise every minute of the slog was worth it. Otherwise arrive by luxurious Belmond Pullman train and ask your guide to take you up to the same unique viewpoint. This crumbling ancient city perched high in the Andes is possibly South America’s biggest attraction and it’s easy to see why.

There’s much more to Peru than Machu Picchu however. Explore the mountain ruins of Kuelap and Chavin De Huantar without the crowds and discover intricate engravings that have survived for centuries. Travel even further back into Peruvian history and take to the sky to witness the mysterious Nazca lines. Etched into desert, these mammoth geoglyphs are a must see. Some of the world’s best hiking trails are found in Peru. The dramatic landscape of the Lares Valley will see you conquer towering mountains and discover hidden villages that remain largely untouched. Cordillera Blanca will bring you face-to-face with vast glaciers, sparkling lakes and the odd Inca ruin too.

And then there’s the jungle. The colossal Amazon, covering much of eastern Peru, is a world away from the dizzying heights of the Andes. Venture up secluded waterways, unbroken trees lining the banks. Catch a glimpse of a jaguar, see colourful macaws erupt from the canopy or howler monkeys swing between branches. There’s nowhere else quite like it.