When we say we’re passionate about Latin America, we mean it! Over the years Journey Latin America has seen its fair share of romance (including three inter-office weddings), and when it comes to popping the question it should come as no surprise that there’s a particular part of the world that has provided many a backdrop to a JLA proposal. And so, in no particular order, five staff members look back on all the anticipation and excitement – plus the odd hiccup – that led up to their ‘on location’ engagements.

1. Iguazú Falls, Brazil

Iguazu Falls

Even before Dan asked me to marry him, it was the best day of my life. We were staying in Das Cataratas hotel – the only one within the Brazilian national park – and had risen early to wander the jungle-shrouded walkways overlooking the falls before they opened to the public. Just a few paces away from the hotel entrance, there it was: a primeval scene of mist clouds rising and parting to reveal a gargantuan sprawl of cataracts. We were awestruck, both by the view and the fact that apart from one or two other hotel guests, we seemed to have the place completely to ourselves. As we delved deeper – occasionally having to step over huddles of dozing coatis to do so – the scenery only became more surreally beautiful: rainbows framed the crashing falls; butterflies were awoken by the first rays of sun on the jungle and fluttered skittishly around. You couldn’t have made it up.

We had walked the whole circuit before any other tourists arrived, so we headed back to the hotel to be met by a breakfast buffet so extravagant that it took up most of the poolside restaurant. As I looked out towards the cloudless blue sky, knowing we had the whole day free to enjoy the frankly amazing swimming pool before returning for another private viewing of Iguaçu at sunset, it seemed that life simply could not get any better.

Little did I know that, despite what would later appear to be my best efforts to thwart his plans, Dan had smuggled in a ring in his carry-on bag – the same bag that I had been trying to swap for my own, heavier one the whole journey; that I had been constantly rifling through; and of which I complained when I did get to swap that there was ‘a box poking into the small of my back’. His plan had been to propose by the falls at sunset on our first night, but we were checking in as the sun went down. By the time we’d got settled in our room, it seemed too late to go and walk around the park. Dan seemed strangely keen to go anyway but (and I cringe recounting it) I didn’t want to ‘have to put my shoes back on’…

Cut to our second and final sunset at Iguaçu and, still completely oblivious, I was scrambling around the walkways looking for the perfect vantage point for a photograph. Dan seemed very keen for some reason that we should go to a particular area, and I thought I was being helpful by saying that I really didn’t mind if he went there on his own as I was more than happy to stay on my own and get my sunset picture. Luckily we ended up in a great spot (OK, it wasn’t the one Dan had in mind…) as the sun finally hit the white-water horizon. I turned around, camera still in hand, and there was Dan, holding out an incredibly beautiful antique sapphire ring. He asked me to marry him; I said, “Of course”, and cried like a baby.

Julia Ross, Former JLA staff
Engaged to Dan in 2011.

2. Machu Picchu

Machu PIcchu

We were fortunate enough to have been given one of the master suites at the Inkaterra Machu Picchu hotel in Aguas Calientes, the small town nearest to Machu Picchu. There was a beautiful plunge pool naturally shaded by tropical foliage where hummingbirds were teasing the pollen from hibiscus flowers three times their size. All would have been perfect for a proposal had I not just accidently locked myself out of the safe with all our belongings in. My romantic intentions were rapidly dwindling as the hotel’s handyman swore under his breath while trying to remove the combination mechanism.

We headed up the winding road to the Inca citadel of Machu Picchu the following day and I was by now determined to pop the question. Before we had left for Peru my plan had been to wait until we got back and propose at home, but I knew the reality was that if I waited we would probably end up having a wet weekend in Wales and get stuck on the M4. The prospect of proposing at Membury services was not one I relished when Peru seemed such a perfect opportunity.

Machu Picchu is a spiritually beautiful place where the remains of the mountain-top Inca city appear and reappear as the mist rises and weaves its way between ancient stone structures. Although the setting was perfect there were, inevitably, lots of other people around, so we decided to walk to a vantage point called the Sun Gate, where the spectacular but tough Inca Trail officially finishes. The words, “Will you…” were just about to leave my lips when I got a firm slap on the back. “Christ, man. That’s a killer!”. The moment had been scuppered again – by an Aussie backpacker.

I’d given up hope and was almost thinking that it was a sure sign that my planned proposal wasn’t to be, but as we walked back to the ruins we found ourselves alone (save for an inquisitive llama). The sun was setting and the time was right. I had no ring, but I found myself saying, ‘”Will you marry me”, as I produced a llama finger puppet. Alison, my wife, initially asked, “Are you serious?”, before saying, “Yes” – but who can blame her for checking!

Rafe Stone, Product Manager
Engaged to Alison in 2006.

3. Providencia, Colombia

Tayrona National Park

It was a hot sunny day in Providencia but that didn’t put us off climbing El Pico, the conical volcano which forms the centrepiece of this little Caribbean Island. It is just off the coast of Nicaragua, but the mainly Afro-Caribbean population voted to become part of the state of Colombia, although they take pride in their English-speaking, reggae-rasta culture. It was once a base for the famous pirate, Henry Morgan.

Quirky then, yes; but also outrageously beautiful, and extraordinarily still unspoilt: there are pocket-handkerchief sized beaches shaded by coconut palms, lapped by glassy turquoise waters; a reef offering good snorkelling and diving, and few hotels or other buildings: well there isn’t much flat land, for starters. A few family-run guest houses and restaurants, some British colonial style churches, a few homesteads and that’s it.

We loved it; from the scenic, solitary road ringing the island to the wooden shack that comprised the airport building. So Jim must have been in a good mood when we got to the top and were presented with a 360-degree panoramic view of the island and sparkling sea. Anyway, armed with and emboldened by the fact that he was carrying the only bottle of water, he proposed. Of course I accepted. It would have been a long walk down otherwise, the silence only permeated by the rustle of electric blue lizards crossing our path. And after all, he had the water…

Claire Milner, Client Information Manager
Engaged to Jim in 1993.

4. Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Rio de Janeiro

It was October 2006, and faced with the prospect of freezing nights and gloomy days for the next few months, Chris and I were planning our winter escape. As usual it wasn’t a difficult decision for us really, as we both work for Journey Latin America and have strong ties to Peru, where Chris was born and grew up, and Brazil, where my mother comes from and where much of my family still lives. October marks the start of the rainy season in the Andean countries so that was Peru out of the equation, but Brazil is a year-round destination and would have an average temperature of around 30 degrees… so it wasn’t long before my knee-high boots were replaced with Havaiana flip-flops. We had meticulously planned (probably more so than our actual wedding day!) a two-week holiday taking in three stunning beach islands just off the coast of Brazil: Fernando de Noronha, Morro de São Paulo and Ilha Grande.

On our last night we treated ourselves to a stay in Rio’s most prestigious hotel, the Copacabana Palace. I can’t overstate our excitement when the lady at reception informed us that we had been upgraded to an ocean-view deluxe room with a balcony overlooking the world-famous Copacabana beach! We calmly inspected the room with the concierge and then as soon as the door shut we were jumping around in complete disbelief at our incredible room and the stunning location.

Fast forward to the next morning. It was our last day in Rio, and Chris made an excuse to leave the hotel without me. Attempting to hide a bag as he entered the room, he soon realised that the game was up. He reached for my hand and, squeezing it a little tighter than normal, presented me with the most beautiful ring I had ever seen. And it was at that moment that he told me that he would like to spend the rest of his life with me. I never did ask if he had actually been planning to propose to me all along or if he just got carried away with the excitement of the room upgrade!

Laura Rendell-Dunn, Press Manger and Chris Rendell-Dunn, Flights Reservation Supervisor
Engaged in 2006

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Real Latin american experts

  • Sallly
    Sally Dodge - Travel Expert

    A former Journey Latin America tour leader, Sally spent 7 years working, travelling and living throughout Latin America before returning to the UK to help people arrange their own adventures to this wonderful destination.

  • Millie
    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

  • Maggie
    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

  • Lina
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Kathryn
    Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert

    Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.

  • Charlotte
    Charlotte Daubeney - Travel Expert

    Charlotte's fascination with Latin America began with a family holiday to Belize. She went on to study Spanish in school and at university before spending a year living in Santiago, Chile.

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