Every two years I accompany a small group to Latin America.  There are eight of us; four of us who were at school together and our wives.  We are all in our late sixties and early 70s and over the last six years have covered Colombia, Chile and this year Uruguay and Argentina.  When I say covered I mean we have barely scratched the surface because these countries are so vast that it would take a lifetime to know and understand them.

Colonial Uruguay Colonial Uruguay

For me the trips have a dual purpose.  They keep me up to date with our destinations and partners in those destinations and I get to see the destinations through the eyes of clients who are also my friends - and they don’t pull punches if our service falters. These aren’t budget trips, so it’s hard to fault the hotels and and the logistics.  We use local agents and private guides.  With only two weeks to cover a lot of ground you need everything in place and an itinerary that combines soft adventure, relaxation and city visits.  With a considerable number of domestic flights, transfers and long road trips where necessary, the balance has to be right and Steve at our office has never let us down!

Montevideo waterfront, Uruguay Montevideo waterfront, Uruguay

So what were the highlights.  Montevideo was a real surprise. The city, with a population of 1.3 million, hugs the banks of the River Plate which at this point is 150 kilometres wide. Well kept beaches stretch along its waterfront.  The 2017 Mercer’s Guide on quality of life has placed Montevideo as the best city in which to live in South America and it has held this position since 2005. For excellent restaurants head for the port market.

Montevideo port market Montevideo port market
Seafood paella at a port market in Montevideo Seafood paella at a port market in Montevideo

A two and a half hour drive west along the river brings you to the Portuguese, seventeenth century town of Colonia. The town was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1995 and is the easiest crossing point to Buenos Aires, 50 kilometres and an hour and a quarter away across the River Plate which resembles a sea rather than a river.

Buenos Aires, Argentina Buenos Aires, Argentina

Buenos Aires is Paris, Lisbon,Madrid and London rolled into one with one or two colourful areas like La Boca to remind us we are not in Europe.  We always take a private guide in the cities and places of interest we visit. A good guide can make or break a holiday. A guide brings a city to life, emparting those small details and answering all the questions as to where, how and when.

La Boca, Buenos Aires La Boca, Buenos Aires

Everyone was looking forward to Mendoza and the wines.  We weren’t disappointed.  We did not want to leave the Cavas Wine Lodge with its comfortable cottages, mature gardens and panoramic views to the Andes. The city of Mendoza did not disappoint either or the selection of wineries we visited. Beef and lamb reigned supreme everywhere in Argentina and never once were we let down.

Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza, Argentina Cavas Wine Lodge, Mendoza, Argentina
Cookery class at Cavas Wine Lodge Cookery class at Cavas Wine Lodge

We then left sophistication behind and our next flight was to Posadas in the far north of the country and to the excellent Puerto Vale Estancia on the banks of yet another river that should be called a sea - The Parana. Birds, howler monkeys, cattle and the Ibera Wetlands. The wetlands are visible from space and with an area of 20,000 Sq Km (the size of Wales) the second largest in the world after the Pantanal wetlands (the size of England) in Brazil. Only accessible by boat, we saw capybara, caiman, marsh deer and birds and birds and birds. There was also a baby tarantula that lived underneath the door frame of my room - on the outside of course!

Horse riding at Puerto Valle Hotel, Corrientes Horse riding at Puerto Valle Hotel, Corrientes

The 350 kms road trip to the Iguasu Falls, north of Puerto Vale through the district of Misiones takes about 6 hours with a stop at the Jesuit Ruins at San Ignacio Mini. If you are ever in this part of Argentina do not miss a visit to these ruins, a symbol of the struggle of man and civilisation against the jungle - pure stuff that epic films are made of.

Iguasu Falls, Argentina Iguasu Falls, Argentina
Trying to keep dry at Devil's Throat, Iguasu Falls Trying to keep dry at Devil's Throat, Iguasu Falls

It’s the second time I have visited the falls and I will never tire of witnessing the power of those waters.  This must be one the greatest spectacles on earth.

All in all it was an unforgettable two weeks. Roll on 2020 and Bolivia and Brazil!

Noel Josephides

By Noel Josephides

23rd April 2018



Noel Josephides
Noel Josephides

Noel is Sunvil’s Chairman. Born in Cyprus in 1948, he joined John der Parthog at Sunvil in 1973. Before that and following university, he spent 3 years as a trainee buyer at C&A Modes and then worked for a large Cypriot builder and property developer for whom he set up a London Office buying electrical components for the Middle East and importing lemons from orchards in Cyprus. He still researches new destinations for Sunvil and is heavily involved in matters relating to the travel industry. He is the current ABTA Chairman, a long standing director and previous chairman of The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and the current chairman of The Travel Foundation - the travel industry’s sustainability charity.

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