The sounds of the Ecuadorian Amazon and gentle rock of the canoe during the paddle upstream was lulling me to a dreamy sleep; so much so I grabbed a paddle to help Juan and Carlitos with what was actually quite a tiring task! The ‘wind storm’ approaching turned out to be Howler Monkeys (we were becoming accustomed to Juan’s sense of humour). And so engrossed we were watching them run through the treetops, we barely noticed the canoe glide out of the creek and on to the lake.
What a magical way to arrive at Napo Wildlife Centre. The three of us in the boat had of course all seen the pictures, but I don’t think any of us were prepared for such a tranquil and serene scene.
Juan’s radio suddenly came to life – his comrades at the lodge letting us know that Giant River Otters were there. We paddled as quickly as we could to try to catch a rare glimpse of this endangered species. We neared and slowed in time to hear the otters calling to each other as they disappeared and reappeared from the calm water. The munching noise was them gobbling their catch whole. Their teeth were indeed extremely large! It was amazing to see, and we couldn’t believe how lucky we had been to share the experience.
So, imagine my amazement when the family returned almost as soon as we got to our room. The most gorgeous sounds of splashing and playing. Becoming more vocal as they back-tracked in search of one of the three cubs who was hiding in the reeds. He bobbed out, and off they swam together, calling and diving and happy. This was proving to be a very special night in the jungle.
Set in the Miraflores district, this luxury modern hotel puts you close to many of the city’s main attractions and minutes from the beach. Its 30 guestrooms boast modern Peruvian themed décor and air-conditioning. The restaurant serves Peruvian specialities as well as international fare, while the bar serves cocktails.
Qualified film-maker Michaela, is the newest member of the team and uses her creative eye when working on sales, marketing, operations and social media for Distinctive.
Operations manager Anna’s hard working attitude and an eye for detail ensures our holidays operate seemlessly. She is always on hand to answers queries big or small.
Midway between the Andes and the coast, just over an hour from Guayaquil. Accommodation at Hacienda La Danesa provides a unique experience; situated on a 500 hectare cacao farm, surrounded by fruit plantations, owed to its year-round tropical climate. This comfortable and sustainable 6 bed guesthouse offers guests an idealistic rural retreat. La Dansa has an onsite bar, lounge and restaurant serving high quality, locally sourced offerings.
Just 3.5 hours from Rio de Janeiro, Ibitipoca Reserve is an inspiring, ambitious 4,000 hectare private conservation and sustainability initiative. The centrepiece is Fazenda do Engenho, one of Brazil’s finest small hotels. Dating from 1715, the traditional farmhouse was rebuilt in 2006 and has eight sumptuous guest rooms, restaurant, Spa, sauna and hydro-massage pool. The stable has Mangalarga and Anglo-Arabian horses and guests set off on horse, foot or 4 x 4 vehicle to explore the extraordinary natural surroundings.
Located 5,000ft above sea level, and surrounded by coffee fields and with amazing views to four volcanoes, the entire Central Valley and part of the Gulf of Nicoya, Chayote Lodge is strategically located to discover a Costa Rica off the beaten track. Its 12 suites are designed after coffee receiving stations with a unique decoration to provide a sense of local exploration.
Nim Li Punit is a small Maya ruin found in the jungle of the Toledo District. It is not as big as other sites found in Belize, however what it lacks in size it more than makes up for in beauty, artefacts found there, and shade!!
In the small museum you can find a range of pots, jewellery, and magnificent stones, or carved stelae illustrating the ancient city’s rulers. These rulers can be seen sporting rather fetching ‘big hats’ which gives the site its name – Nim Li Punit means Big Hat in Kekchi Maya.
The site has become famous due to one of its most stunning findings, a beautiful, and large, jade pendant found in 2015. Sadly the pendant can not be seen here, however we got the opportunity to speak to the team of archaeologists who were currently working on the site. Digging and sifting in the heat was no easy task, I think the archaeologist was quite grateful for the distraction our questions gave him. Being a smaller site, and a lesser known one, the archeology major from the US was able to enjoy the wonderful opportunity to dig here. He told of the secrets the site had already revealed, and the many secrets still to be solved. It is easy, in an area so rich in Maya history, to overlook these smaller lesser known sites. Especially with the likes of Xunantunich and Caracol in the Cayo District, however these smaller sites can afford quieter and more serene visits, and as we found, can sometimes offer fantastic opportunities.
With the best dive shop on the island, this resort is a mecca for all things water related. The rooms, nestled in tropical gardens, are styled after the Tahitian cottages on the Polynesian island of Bora Bora, and have been built from native materials. The service is warm and the beach is beautiful. It is the perfect place to relax after a day diving or snorkelling on the glorious reef. The resort is also fantastically located for exploring San Pedro, with its shops, restaurants and bars just a short walk away.
This beachfront resort is situated on the pristine and unspoiled northern coast of Ambergris Caye, one of the most beautiful islands in the world. Portofino is a remote and peaceful resort, mainly accessible by boat. The pace is unhurried, the beaches are white and the water amazingly azure. This small, boutique resort offers just 17 beautifully appointed rooms, ranging from charming beach cabanas to spacious suites, dotted amidst swaying palm trees.