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Reserva do Ibitipoca

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.

Chayote Lodge

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.

Big hats, jade pendants and archaeologists

Big hats, jade pendants and archaeologists

by Julia

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.

Ramon’s Village

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.

Portofino Beach Resort

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.

Hicaktee Cottages

This small hotel, consisting of just six rooms, enjoys a wonderful jungle setting, superb hosting and delicious food. The rooms are simple, yet still elegant and wonderfully comfortable. Enjoy self guided jungle walks, cool off in the splash pool or relax on the veranda with a cool drink while listening to the resident Howler Monkey troop.

Cloud 9 at Kura

Cloud 9 at Kura

by Hilary

The drive up to Kura Design Suites was unnerving. 400m up a mountain side is not something that would normally phase me, but I am not normally driving a brand new Hyundai 4×4 that has only 9km on the clock and I had not appreciated how steep and uneven the terrain would be. And it was dark.

Finding the understated electric gate was a relief, but also a slight concern. Was this it? Where had I brought us? I definitely did not want to retrace the track down!

But then the gate opened and the wonderful haven hidden behind reassured us that we were unmistakably in the right place. Arriving at Kura at night meant that the view the following morning was the true sense of breath-taking. We woke up in our brand spanking new Junior Suite, perched on the edge overlooking the immense Pacific: 180⁰ ocean to the front, 180⁰ rainforest to the back, and toucans crossing playfully between the two. Nothing more. Utter privacy. We had had intentions to explore Bahia Ballena (Whale Bay) down below in the town of Uvita, but with the suite’s private heated infinity pool and cocktails and snacks being brought in (without us even noticing), we decided to stay put and watch the bay from our private paradise.

Amazon Star

The 31 passenger Amazon Star is indeed a shining star in the Peruvian Amazon cruise fleet, with her 8-day itinerary voted one of the ‘25 Greatest Adventures in the World’ by National Geographic Adventure Magazine. This newly constructed riverboat is not just a new place to stay; it offers you a new way to navigate the mysteries of the Amazon.

Hotel del Parque

Set in the exclusive district of Samborondón on the banks of the river Daule. Formally a Catholic hospice dating from the 19th Century, this 44 room luxury boutique hotel boasts Republican-era features such as fountains, courtyards, an ornate chapel and a bell tower that now houses the Spa.

Copal Tree Lodge

Nestled in the verdant hills above the Caribbean coast of southern Belize, Copal Tree Lodge is a self-contained sanctuary from the everyday world. The lodge offers 16 individual, privately sited suites with comfortable sleeping and relaxing spaces, screened fresh-air verandas, and luxurious spa-style baths.