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Looking for secret locales in South America well worth the trip?

Are you looking for secret locales in South America worth the trip? A BBC travel article mentions two places in South America:

A sky-high Colombian sanctuary in the town of Ipiales, Colombia called Las Lajas Sanctuary and Brazil’s northern coast where desert sand dunes meet crystal blue lagoons in Jericoacoara, a small fishing village located more than 300km west of Fortaleza.

 Ipiales, Colombia

Jericoacoara, Brazil

Let Turpial Travel help you organize an incredible adventure to these two destinations. Contact us today!


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Venezuela Pictures: Take Our Armchair Photography Tour Now

Turpial Travel - South and Central America

Turpial Travel books tours to some very photogenic places. Come see what your camera can capture!

Canaima National Park

Canaima National Park is a large area of mainly uninhabited wilderness in eastern Venezuela. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and boasts some beautiful and unusual topography as well as ancient archeological sites. The table mountain, or tepui formations, should definitely be included among your Venezuela pictures.

Canaima National Park is also the location of Angel Falls. At over 3,200 feet, Angel Falls is the world’s highest water fall. Waterfalls are great opportunities to practice many motion capture techniques, as well as practice photographing shadows, not to mention some great rainbows.

Also located in Canaima National Park, Mayupa Savannah, also known as Gran Sabana, provides opportunities for striking wide angle photos.

Auyantepuy is an example of one of the table rock formations. The same techniques used to photograph the southwestern United States or the western Sahara can be used in Venezuela pictures of this area.

Los Llanos and the Orinoco Delta

Los Llanos and the Orinoco Delta is another expansive savannah in southwestern Venezuela. Part of the year, the area is very dry, but it floods in the rainy season which attracts many species of animals, reptiles and birds.

Be sure to include wildlife in your Venezuela pictures. Andean Condors, capybaras, sloths and other unusual creatures can be part of your Venezuela pictures, either in the wild or at refuges.

Los Roques National Park

Los Roques National Park is located along the Caribbean coast in northern Venezuela. This area and others offer opportunities to photograph beaches, the rocky coastline and some gorgeous sunsets. Try your hand at snorkeling and add some underwater shots to your Venezuela pictures.

Other Scenic Spots

Although most of the Amazon Rainforest is located in Brazil, Venezuela has some lush jungle areas. Canoeing along the Caura River will provide some breath-taking photographic opportunities.

The capitol city of Caracas is an endless palette for shutterbugs. Historic buildings, street life, open air markets, sports and entertainment venues provide diverse and interesting subjects for pictures.

Many small and picturesque towns dot the Caribbean coastline of northern Venezuela. Make sure to ask permission before photographing residents and respect the answers they give you. Also, if you promise to send someone a copy of one of your Venezuela pictures, be sure to honor that promise. You are using their image, so hold up your end of the bargain.

Lake Maracaibo is an important shipping area and the location of the historic Battle of Lake Maracaibo during Venezuela’s war for independence in the 1820s. This enormous bay used to be an inland lake until a channel was dredged in the northern shore connecting it to the Caribbean Sea. The Maracaibo Basin is the center of Venezuela’s busy oil region and provides many opportunities for those who like to photograph machinery and industrial equipment.

The town of Merida is located south of Lake Maracaibo in the Venezuelan Andes and has the world’s longest and highest cable car ride. If you don’t mind heights, add some shots from the cable car to your Venezuela pictures.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News 3 Comments

South and Central America: Map Your Next Vacation Now

Turpial Travel - South and Central America

Turpial Travel can take you on an adventure. Some great destinations in South and Central America are described below.

Caracas, Venezuela

South America


If we begin at the southern end of Chile, one of the first stops along the route is Torres del Paine National Park, Visitors to the 500,000 acre park can hike, trek across glaciers or climb mountains in addition to kayaking, fishing and horseback riding. With the diversity of birds and animals found in the park, it is a great place for wildlife photography.

Continuing north on the South and Central America map, brings us into Chile’s wine-growing region. Since the 1980s, Chile’s wineries have been producing some well-respected wines, and many vineyards offer tours and other activities. Beyond the central valley wineries are the cities of Valaparaiso, on the west coast, and Santiago, Chile’s capitol. From Santiago, it is very easy to travel to other locations in Argentina, such as Iguazu National Park, which includes Iguazu Falls, and Los Glaciares National Park, where you can see the world’s third largest ice sheet.

Another stop on the route might be San Pedro de Atacama and the Atacama desert. Fascinating rock formations dotted with geysers, hot springs and lagoons make this a unique experience.

Before we leave Chile, consider a side trip to Rapa Nui National Park (Easter Island), home of the giant and mysterious stone heads.

Peru and Ecuador

Two of the world’s most famous sites lie to the north as we continue our route along the South and Central America map: Machu Picchu in Peru and the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador. The Lost City of the Incas was chosen as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in an internet poll in 2007 and is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as are the Galapagos Islands.


The eastern portion of Venezuela includes the Orinoco Delta and Los Llanos, a vast grassland on the eastern edge of the Andes. Traveling further east along the South and Central America map brings us to the Caura River and the small amount of the Amazon Rainforest that lies within the boundaries of Venezuela.

Canaima National Park is on the eastern border of Venezuela, and one of its main attractions is Angel Falls, the world’s highest waterfall. Also part of Canaima is Gran Sabana, a large grassy plain on the border of Venezuela and Guiana, which features table rock formations known as tepis.

Caracas, the capitol of Venezuela, is situated along the Caribbean Sea and is surrounded by many beautiful coastal towns and parks. Some places of interest include Margarita Island, Puerto Colombia and Choroni, and Morrocoy and Los Roques National Parks. Moving along the north coast to the west, we come to Lake Maracaibo and the town of Merida.

Central America

Panama and Costa Rica

This would be a perfect opportunity to continue up the South and Central American map to Panama, Costa Rica and points north. Central America has many fascinating archeological areas as well as lovely beaches and lush jungles.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News 3 Comments

Mochima National Park: Paradise in Venezuela’s North Coast

Mochima National Park

Turpial Travel can help you book your trip to Mochima National Park. Read on to learn more about this paradise in Venezuela.

Mochima National Park: Paradise in Venezuala

Founded in 1973, Mochima National Park is located on the Caribbean coast of Venezuela. At roughly 235,000 acres, the park is home to some spectacular scenery. From the white sand beaches and turquoise seas of the Caribbean to the cloud forests of the Turimiquire mountain range, visitors to the park consider it one of the most beautiful in Venezuela.

Mochima National Park was set aside in an attempt to protect the northeastern marine coastline and the water shed contained in the mountain forests. Named for the town of Mochima, which is included in its borders, the park stretches from Puerto la Cruz to Canama and includes 32 gulf islands off the Caribbean coast. The boundary extends westward to the Turimiquire Dam and the mountain range of the same name.

Diverse Geography

The area includes diverse habitats which range from coral reefs, mangrove swamps and jungle vegetation to desert areas. Many species of mammals and reptiles live in the park, including four species of endangered sea turtles. The area around the Turimiquire Dam at the southern end of the park is a favorite spot for bird watchers.

The climate varies from the coast to the mountains with temperatures ranging between 70 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. From November to May, the temperatures are hotter with regular trade winds on the coast, while June to October is cooler with higher humidity.

Things to Do

Mochima National Park is a great place to swim, snorkel, laze on the beach or go sailing. The mountain and forest areas offer hiking and some great views for photographing. Roads have been cut through the park making access to areas easier.

A wide variety of accommodations are available in Mochima National Park in some of the small towns located within the borders. This is one of the more populated of Venezuela’s parks, which has led some environmental groups to press the government for more restrictions in the park, especially in sea turtle nesting areas. Turpial Travel and Adventure’s tours are designed with responsible travel in mind. Tour groups use public transportation wherever possible to minimize environmental impact, and the number of visitors is kept small so as to reduce negative effects on the local area. Keeping groups small also allows tourists to interact with local residents and gain a greater cross-cultural understanding.

Especially in environmentally sensitive areas, like Mochima National Park, Turpial Travel and Adventure encourages tourists to purchase only locally-made souvenirs from resident artisans for a fair price, to frequent local businesses and, when possible, to eat locally-grown, organic food. Also, plan to pack reusable items rather than disposables and leave the outer packaging at home. You don’t want to contribute to the waste stream in an environmentally-fragile area like the Mochima National Park.

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News, Our Trips Leave a comment

Travel fails: mistakes, mishaps and embarrassment on the road

At lunch today I was discussing with a colleague travel mistakes, mishaps and/or embarrassments while on the road. One that I can vividly remember is staying at a hotel in Venezuela and confusing the owner for the restaurant waiter. Later that evening, when the owner clarified he was the “owner not the waiter” I laughed thinking it was a joke. When I saw it was not a joke I felt so embarrassed and apologized for my mistake.

What travel mishaps have you experienced? The Lonely Planet published a funny article about this topic. You can read more about it at:

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News, Tales of Adventures Leave a comment

Santiago Metro: An underground museum

If you are visiting Santiago, the Chilean capital, take sometime to use it’s underground metro.  The Chilean government implemented the MetroArte project which consists of 33 art pieces spread over different terminals. Through them the Santiago Metro has acquired its own identity which in turn has earned a spot in the Lonely Planet (placing the Universidad de Chile Metro station as one of ten ‘must see’ stations to visit in the world). The Universidad de Chile station is an authentic museum which gives the feeling of being in an art gallery with works of different styles, from Soviet art to murals. The “Memoria Visual de una nación” mural is the work of national artist Mario Toral and reviews the history of Chile. In addition to the Universidad de Chile station, stop by the Santa Lucia station which features traditional Portuguese mosaics as well as The Parque Bustamante station which features the “Vida y Trabajo” (Life and Work) mural by renowned Chilean artist Alejandro González.

Source: Turismo Chile Newsletter.



Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Curiosities, Latest News, Recommendations, Travel Tips 2 Comments

Top waterfalls in Latin America

The Spanish newspaper “El Pais” highlights several amazing waterfalls in the world. In particular it highlights Latin American waterfalls found in Chile, Venezuela, Peru, Guyana and Brazil.

Guyana: Kaieteur Falls, located in Potaro-Siparuni forests in Guyana, double in height Victoria Falls, and it is five times higher than Niagara Falls. It’s drop reaches nearly 230 meters.

Venezuela: Angel Falls in Canaima National Park. The water falls is 979 meters from the edge of one of the geological formations, the plateaus known as tepuis – oldest in the world. It is named after Jimmy Angel, the American aviator who in 1937 managed to land on top.











Brazil: The Devil’s Throat is the largest of the 250 waterfalls spread over 2.5 kilometers, which exist in the Iguazu Falls located between Argentina and Brazil.

Chile: Hanging Glacier suspended between two mountains at the Queulat National Park in Chilean Patagonia.

Peru: Salto de Gocta also known as La Chorrera, in the Amazon region of Peru. Its fall 540 meters making it the fifth highest waterfall in the world.

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Chilean Wineries

Are you a wine lover? Will you be visiting Chile soon? Chile has unique and indisputable condition for growing grapes due to its mild climate. Here are a list of places to consider visiting:

North / Limarí Valley
Viña Tabalí
Winery tours and visits to the Valley of Enchantment. Tastings.

Central zone / Aconcagua Valley
Viña Errázuriz
Guided tours. Tastings. Wines and related products store. Sight views of the Aconcagua Valley.

Viña Sánchez de Loria
Guided tours of the old wineries dated back to 1890. Tastings. Grape harvest programme. Small-scale winery with traditional processes.

Visit to biodynamic vineyards. Ultra-premium wine tasting. Gourmet lunch at the Vineyard viewpoint (previous request and booking).

Central zone / Leyda Valley
Tastings, Equilibrio restaurant, winery visits and bike rides. Exclusive guest house. Wine Shop.

Casa Marín
It counts on the only wine bed & breakfast in Chile. Four types of tasting tours. Bicycle Tours by the Vineyard. It counts on a snow and wine programme in winter time in Valle Nevado. Picnic in places of their own vineyard. Wine Shop.

Central zone / Maipo Valley
Concha y Toro
A classic. Great store with wines that are no longer in the market. Wine Bar with first class cuisine.

Santa Rita
This vineyard owns the Andino Museum, which is a 1,500 m2 modern style building located in Alto Jahuel, with 1,800 pieces of pre-Columbian art. The restaurant Doña Paula, and the Hotel Casa Real have a more classic architecture. Wine store, vineyard tour and tastings.

Alto Maipo Wine Route.
This route considers the following vineyards: Domus, Haras de Pirque, El Principal, Portal del Alto, Huelquén, Pérez Cruz, and La Montaña. Hacienda Chada.

Cousiño Macul.
Tour by the vineyard, tastings and wine shop. Old harvests for sale.

Central Zone / Cachapoal Valley
Viña Gracia
Guided tours by the vineyard with a wine expert, with tastings and lunch at the “kitchen-restaurant ” where a chef prepares a special menu for visitors.

Viña Anakena
Tastings, winery visits, horseback riding and picnic in the vineyards.

Central Zone / Casablanca Valley
Restaurant. Wine Shop. Great view of the Casablanca Valley.

Casas del Bosque
Tanino Restaurant. Horseback riding by the Vineyard. Tastings. Wine Shop. Harvesting Experience, (activity during the harvest period in which visitors can harvest the grapes).

Emiliana Organic Vineyards
Organic and Biodynamic Tour. Picnic and tastings.

South Zone / Colchagua Valley
Viña La Playa
The hotel is a manor house with games room, tennis court, restaurant, pool and spa.

Casa Lapostolle
Clos Apalta Lodge. It is four luxury “cabins” and a guest house. Swimming pool. Trekking circuits. Horseback riding and biking.

Viña La Posada
Veta Bistro Restaurant.

Viña Casa Silva
Small hotel with seven rooms. Restaurant. Clothing boutique and gourmet products Store. Wine bar. Rodeo arena. Carriage rides.

Viña Viu Manent
Restaurant. Wine shop and tastings. Equestrian Club and carriage rides.

Viña Santa Cruz
Traditional Mapuche dwelling or Ruca. Cable car facility. Astronomical Center. local wines shop at the Hotel Santa Cruz Plaza.

Viña Neyén
Three types of tours. Horseback ride to a waterfall. Winery visit and tasting day or night (in summer).

South zone / Curico Valley
Viña Miguel Torres
Restaurant, tasting, vineyard tour and wine shop.

Viña San Pedro
Tour, tastings, sales room and tour around the largest vineyard in South America.

Curico Wine Route
Curico Valleys, Wine Route is called the association that brings together 14 wineries, most of them family businesses.

South Zone / Maule Valley
Casa Donoso
Wine Picnic. Horseback riding. Tastings. Guest house with four deluxe rooms.

Tabonkö (Viña Gillmore)
Guest house. Chapel and small zoo. Spa and wine therapy. Tastings and wine-derived cosmetic products store.

Maule Wine Route
15 vineyards associated.

Do not forget to taste the Carmenère! Even though this variety has been considered extinct for many years, in 1995 a French ampelographer rediscovered it in a vineyard located in the central valley.

We are more than happy to help you arrange one of these trips. Do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions.

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Pack for a Purpose and put your luggage to work for a good cause

Interested in putting your luggage to work for a good cause? Why not positively impact communities in South America by bringing meaningful contributions to the destinations you visit?  All it takes is extra room in your luggage (2.27 kilograms) and a willingness to bring in what’s needed. is a brilliant organization that pairs travelers with destinations that need supplies. “You can make a big impact on children around the world.”

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News, Travel Tips 5 Comments

Easter Island is among the world’s 10 most popular islands

Trip Advisor’s Travelers Choice’ 2013 names Easter Island as one of the world’s 10 most popular islands and I couldn’t agree more. Rapa Nui is just mesmerizing. As the New York Time states The most remote of all places on earth, Easter Island has changed little since Thor Heyerdahl described it in “Aku-Aku,” an account of his 1955-56 voyage. See Mois – giant stones 30 to 40 feet tall and weighing up to 70 tons – that have tantalized scientists for decades! See an extraordinary collection of archaeological sites, visit Rano Kau (the ‘nursery’ of the moais), Orongo ceremonial village, Rano Raraku, Anakena Beach, Costa Oeste – Ahu te Peu, and Terevaka. It is a fascinating cultural and archaeological paradise which combines the ancient traditions of a society that, until its discovery in 1722, was unknown to the West for more than a millennium.

Learn more about our trips by visiting: Easter Island Mysteries or our Independent Rapa Nui

Posted on by Joanne Castillo in Latest News 1 Comment