I have many favourites throughout Latin America so wouldn’t be fair to pick just one, however every time I have been to Rio de Janeiro I have had an incredible time, so for this reason it has to be up there with some of the best. Rio is captivating, creative and bursting with Latino energy. Whilst famous spots like Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf are iconic and wonderfully impressive, one of the things that I love most about Rio is that if you scratch beneath the surface there are so many hidden gems just waiting to be discovered. The neighbourhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa are an excellent example of this and represent a hypnotic juxtaposition between colourful, colonial architecture with modern day rough and ready street art adorned alleyways. The famous ‘Arcos de Lapa’ are the remains of an 18th century aqueduct and is also the home to a raving street party on Friday and Saturday nights where you can sample the best caipirinhas the city has to offer.
If ever there was an opportunity to splurge and really treat yourself it would definitely be the Nayara Springs hotel in Arenal, Costa Rica for me. This place is heaven on earth and the ideal romantic hideaway for honeymooners or couples looking to soak up the beauty of Costa Rica, whilst being pampered to their hearts content. It is a stunning boutique property with luxurious villas surrounded by lush tropical gardens and even a plunge pool to take a dip in at the end of a busy day hiking, rafting, ziplining and exploring the nearby Arenal volcano. The food is incredible with various restaurants and bars to choose from and there is even a private dining option where you have your own private chef for that ultimate romantic dinner experience.
It’s hard to pick a favourite but the trek I made to Machu Picchu certainly ranks pretty high. I did an alternative to the typical Inca trail which incorporated a mixture of hiking, bike riding and ziplining throughout the mountains and jungles on the way up to Machu Picchu. We had a fantastic international group from all over the world and the opportunity to share this challenge and make memories with new people was something I will never forget. Visiting local villages and meeting some of the communities, trying their homecooked meals and using the typical guesthouses enabled me to really connect with my surroundings and heighten my senses. Machu Picchu itself is an absolutely jaw dropping landscape and is a bucket list favourite for good reason – it is particularly beautiful early morning when you sit above the clouds and can get some wonderfully eerie shots of the ruins with the occasional photobomb by a resident alpaca.
Top Travel Tip
Eat where the locals eat! Yes, it’s nice to have a meal at a top spot but for a more authentic dining experience I would highly recommend heading out to a more local joint. Some of my best meals have been served up in a backstreet café with a surprise ‘menu del dia’. Not only do these force you to try food you may not typically order, but being surrounded by the local people and the chatter of Spanish slang in the background you feel a deeper connection to the local culture and community and it really elevates the experience.
Top Packing Tip
Pack a disposable camera! Of course, these days we all have our trusty phone, digital camera or SLR when travelling to document our travels, but if like me and you are a little lazy these will often be uploaded to social media and then just sit hidden on our phones or the cloud never to be seen again. By chucking a disposable camera in your bag means that you can snap some great shots throughout your trip and capture random, special moments.