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Visit Uruguay for the longest carnival in the world

Entertainment at Uruguay’s annual carnival

Smaller and less well-known internationally than the festivities of their larger neighbour Brazil, the celebrations in Uruguay have the accolade of being the world’s longest carnival. Starting in January, the festivities last for 40 days and celebrate the diverse cultures of Uruguay.

In Montevideo, the Inaugural Parade takes place on 18 de Julio Avenue. This parade introduces the Queens of Carnival and features a large procession of floats, giant figures, and dancers accompanied by local music. Another popular parade, every February, is Desfile de Llamadas in the neighbourhoods of Barrio Sur and Palermo which celebrates candombe – an energetic rhythm and dance form with African roots performed by large groups of drummers. This exhilarating tradition of the Afro-River Plate community was declared part of the world’s ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity’ by UNESCO in 2009. 

Satirical musical theatre ensembles known as Murgas are also a major feature of Uruguay’s unique carnival – In a tradition originating from Cadiz (Spain) and introduced by immigrants, these groups compete on local stages throughout the carnival. Themes are often contemporary and political.

Useful dates for 2020:

Carnival Inaugural Parade: January 23

Las Llamadas Parade: February 07 & 08 (*Friday and Saturday NOT the traditional Thursday and Friday)

For more information on Uruguay’s Carnival Season please contact Andrea at Viajes Bueme’s :  acambon@buemes.com.uy.

Parintins Folklore Festival in Brazil

Parade at the festival

The festival of Boi-Bumba, also known as Parintins Folklore Festival, is held in Amazonas State and is considered the second biggest festival in Brazil. It takes place over three days at the end of June on an island 420km south of Manaus, on the edge of the magnificent Amazon River, next to wildlife and verdant rainforest.

This huge annual festival originates from 1913 and showcases the blend of local cultures, both those of indigenous people and those of the descendants of slaves who came to the area. The festival centres around a re-enactment of the legend of Boi-Bumba – when an ox, that is killed for its tongue to satisfy the cravings of a pregnant lady is then miraculously restored to life. Over the years the celebration has grown and since 1988 has taken place in the 35,000-seater purpose built Bumbódromo. Two historic local associations Caprichoso (blue) and Garantido (red) parade colourful floats, and compete through dance, music and elaborate costumes, impress the judges with their displays portraying the story of the ox, and rituals and legends of the local river and rainforest. Both sides are encouraged by their supporters in matching blue and red coloured seats. The festival is a glorious, theatrical spectacle – which is best seen to be believed!

For more information please contact BE Brazil by emailing Anna – annanagy@bebrazildmc.com.br

A Paraguayan pilgrimage to Caacupé

Caacupé pilgrimage

The city of Caacupé, located 54 km from Asunción, is considered the spiritual capital of Paraguay. The town gets its name from the virgin’s command “kaaguy kupepe”, which became Caacupé. On December the 8th, which is the date of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, Caacupé receives thousands of tourists on a pilgrimage to make vows and honour the Virgin for her miracles.

Several days before, over one million Paraguayans from all corners of the country begin their pilgrimage for their religious beliefs. This spiritual tradition is ascribed to the legend of a local Paraguayan, called José, who made the pilgrimage to thank the Virgin for a miracle. Paraguayans walk to thank the Virgin for the good things they received in the year or to make vows in exchange for better things next year.

Market vendors take to the streets and sell food, drinks, Caacupé t-shirts, and other memorabilia. The harp has been played since the epoch of the Jesuits and groups of harpists play in the Cathedral Basilica during mass.

The Caacupé pilgrimage is considered a national holiday, full of cultural identity and tradition.

For more information on trips to Paraguay, please contact Martin Travel – incoming03@martintravel.com.py

Experience an Argentine gaucho festival

Gauchos

The 10th of November was the chosen date to celebrate gaucho traditions in Argentina, to pay tribute to the writer and poet José Hernandez, the first author who became well known for stories and poems about gauchos. The poem ‘El Gaucho Martin Fierro’ recounts the experiences and lifestyle of a gaucho who defended the borders defending the borders of his lands.


During the festival, gauchos exhibited their finest horses and wore their wealth in goods made by silversmiths. This was their time to show off their elegance and dexterity on horseback. The first parades took place around the main square of San Antonio de Areco village back in 1939. The traditional Asado (BBQ) was served in the kitchen of the old Guerrico Hall, near the Arellano Square. This was also where the assembled gauchos played the guitar and danced.

Today, the festival takes place in the historic town centre, and in the heart of the vast Criollo Park, where the bravest gauchos compete during the jineteadas (rodeos), which are as dangerous as they are spectacular! The traditional gaucho festival has become a very popular event in Argentina and a unique sight that is not to be missed. It’s celebrated the weekend of the 10th November, which is an ideal time to see the different generations of gaucho’s parade through the town in all their finery.


Visting San Antonio de Areco during this festival is the best way to see the rural traditions that are still alive today. A visit combines well with a stay on an estancia (ranch), where gauchos still work the land on horseback, and some local towns seem unchanged since the 1880s.

For more information on trips to Argentina please contact our partners ATP DMC info@atpdmc.com

Experience the Uros Islands with Crillon Tours

In Bolivia, there is a vast indigenous population. One of these groups is ‘The Uros’ on Lake Titicaca, who have been around since 5000 BC and still live by the lake today.

A visit to Lake Titicaca offers travellers the opportunity to meet the indigenous people of the Uros islands and for the community to be introduced to the international travellers.

What makes the Uros people different is that their homes are on the water, protecting themselves from wild animals and other threats. They lived, and still do, on ‘Floating Islands’ that are made of totora reeds. 

Crillon Tours first met the community on the shores of the Desaguadeo River and offer a unique opportunity to meet with the survivors of the Urus Iruitos, consisting of 32 families, who work together and share their culture and traditional handicrafts with visitors.  

The islanders wish to progress, but in a way, that retains their identity, dignity, traditions, lifestyle and their cosmovision – to help with their understanding of the universe.

They have received much recognition, on the 5th July 2007, the government of La Paz officially declared that the Urus people were “Cultural and Intangible Heritage to the Living Human Treasures of the Department of La Paz”.

You can request this unforgettable visit to the ‘Uros Iruitos Floating Islands’ on the Bolivian side of Lake Titicaca. It can be added to any of Crillon Tours’ Lake Titicaca and La Paz programs; or as an extension to a bespoke itinerary with the exclusive ‘Deluxe Hydrofoil Cruise’.

For more information please contact Crillon Tours today on info@titicaca.com.  

A cultural immersion experience with the Brazilian Ribeirinho community

This day trip starts by departing Manaus by boat up the Rio Negro to arrive at Nova Esperança or Terra Preta. On arrival you will meet with the local leaders who guide you through the village, talking about their way of life, where they came from and the history of the people. You will visit the school to meet some students, the local church, and the small health center, to understand what life is like in the Amazon. 

BE Brazil has partnered with Amazon Ecosight in the Amazon,  to help develop several projects in Manaus, such as donation and installation of water filters, educational lectures, sports and competitions with children and young people, distribution of toothbrushes, toothpaste and fluoride application, clothes and shoes, especially for children. They also donate lines and sewing material for the mother’s club, reading glasses and basic medicines like aspirin, vitamins, first aid kit to help where required.

During the trip back to Manaus you can enjoy the beautiful landscapes of the area and visit one of the small Indian tribes of Tatuyo or Satere Maué, where you learn about their history, way of life, rich culture and rituals.

Please contact Anna Nagy at BE Brazil today for more information- annanagy@bebrazildmc.com.br

Local and sustainable tourism with ADSMundo

ADSMundo Chile has been developing new experiences geared towards cultural experiences and sustainable tourism with local communities, which seek the right balance between your guest’s experiences and the respect for the local indigenous communities.

Aymara, Kunza, Rapa Nui and Mapuche communities are the most represented in the Chilean territory and they all have a strong identity as well as real authentic cultural roots that are interesting to discover.

On a trip with ADSMundo, we can introduce you to one of the best possible cultural immersions into the Mapuche world, as well as the indigenous inhabitants of south-central Chile and southwestern Argentina.

The “People of the Earth” have a rich culture as well as a common social and religious structure oriented towards the belief in the strength of nature and its connection to their people via the role, amongst others, of the Machi (shaman).

Memories, stories, and beliefs, often very local and specific, are a significant part of the Mapuche traditional culture, which we want to discover through three days’ stay in the Bio Bio Region next to Concepción.

Sharing local activities with the Chilean inhabitants and discovering how they keep their lifestyle, traditions, and language alive (Mapudungun), which is now taught in rural schools of Bío-Bío, Araucanía and Los Lagos Regions again, which will certainly be a unique and unforgettable experience.

Please contact Claude Dumontet at ADSmundo for more information.

Peru – The essence of the Andes

Getting to know the locals in Peru

The richness of Peru can be enjoyed in many ways: walking through its impressive archaeological sites, trying the tasty ingredients of its varied cuisine, and even sailing among the rivers that cross its mysterious Amazon. However, this wealth is also lived by sharing with communities and appreciating their traditions, creating unique and unforgettable memories.

At Lima Tours, we encourage you to put skills with your hands into practice, by participating in a class guided by a local master craftsman. During this activity, you will paint a ‘Pucara bull’ – a typical figure of Andean folk art, synonymous with good luck – and learn two art techniques: Cusco’s colonial glass ceramics and gold leafing.

Chinchero, a town near Cusco, is famous for its beautiful weavings. Made with sheep or alpaca wool, the details you can see in the weaver’s work has a meaning – every flower, every colour, every stitch. Immerse yourself in the magic of this tradition and understand the process of creating each piece of garment: see them dye the fabric using plants, and how they use implements inherited from their ancestors, such as the loom.

Connect with the Inca essence of Cusco in Huilloc, in the heart of the Sacred Valley. You will be greeted with joy by the members of the community and then learn about their way of life. Share with them the tasks in the field, cook using traditional techniques, participate in the ‘minka’ or community work or teach at school. Let them all leave a mark in your life!

For more information please contact Lima Tours by emailing them today  marketing@limatours.com.pe.

Take a hike up Baru Volcano in Panama

Magnificent views from the volcano trek

Barú National Park, founded in 1976, protects the magnificent biodiversity as well as the thick forest on the mountainsides of the volcano. It lies to the south of the continental divide between North America and South America, near Talamanca’s mountain range.

The volcano hike takes around 8-10 hours and starts early in the morning to take you to the top of the mighty Barú Volcano, which at 3,475 metres is the highest point in Panama. It’s a strenuous day of walking, therefore it’s recommended that you have a good level of fitness. It starts with a steady uphill walk for 13.5km (8.5m), which takes 4-5 hours. The hike down then takes 3-4 hours.

From the top, and on a clear day, you can experience magnificent views of both the Caribbean Sea and the Pacific Ocean. The park is home to 250 species of birds which include hummingbirds, the yellow-thighed finch (Pselliophorus tibialis), black-cheeked warbler (Basileuterus melanogenys), crested eagle (Morphnus guianensis), bare-throated bellbird (Procnias nudicollis), sulphur-winged parakeet (Pyrrhura hoffmanni), and the mythological quetzal (Pharomachrus).

During the hike, you will be able to experience the lush flora, countless types of orchids – including some exotic ones, shiny bromeliads, giant oaks, and huge bamboos, as well as primary and secondary forests. In the first phase of the hike, you will see the vast valleys below and the small city of Boquete; before going deep into the thick forest, sometimes, you will be immersed in its characteristic mist, and when you arrive at the top, where you will enjoy the most magical views.

For more information on this tour, please contact Panama Journeys on marketing@panamajourneys.com

The top 3 adventure activities in Medellin, Colombia

Canyoning

With moderate temperatures, Medellín is regarded as Colombia’s city of ‘Eternal Spring’ and is located at the base of the Paisas Valley, which is overlooked by the Andes mountain range.

Medellín offers many activities for the adventurous traveller: hike in the surrounding hills and visit picture-perfect waterfalls, white water raft in Samana, or try canyoning – a truly exhilarating experience!

La Miel eco hike
This half-day hike takes visitors on the eco-trail to visit La Miel waterfall in the foothills of the Andes. The hike takes approximately 90 minutes and has a medium to low level of difficulty, and a good level of fitness is recommended, as there will be some rocks to climb on the route. The 20-meter waterfall is reached by following a small river trail through the Andean cloud forest. During the tour there is an ecological activity to learn about the flora and fauna, you can swim in natural pools and experience the biodiversity of the La Miel nature reserve.

Rafting in Samaná
You will be transferred from Medellín to Santa Bárbara (1½hour) for a two-hour guided rafting experience. Start with an incredible descent on class 4+ white water rapids through Colombia’s pristine rainforest. Travel on through a beautiful silver-blue rock canyon, where you will feel calm and tranquillity in nature. Witness rare birds, butterflies, and exotic plants in the lowland tropical rainforest. There is the option to camp overnight in sheltered hammocks in the rainforest, close to a secluded lagoon or you can return to your hotel after the tour.

Canyoning near Medellin
Canyoning is a fun adrenalin-inducing activity that takes place to the west of Medellin, in the village of San Felix. You will launch yourself into a stream or waterfall, using ropes to climb down into the canyon. The canyoning guide will explain the proper techniques before the tour and will also provide all the required equipment. The activity is for 90 minutes or 180 minutes – depending on how much adrenalin you can take in one day.

For more information on any of these fantastic activities contact Colombian Journeys today on marketing@colombianjourneys.com.