From Latin America

Galapagos Islands Tightens Restrictions.

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on August 9, 2011

Great BBC video explaining the restrictions of visiting one of our best selling destinations, the Galapagos Islands.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/programmes/fast_track/9554939.stm

Responsible Tourism – Visit The Path Less Travelled

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on June 26, 2010

It is no great secret that globally, many internationally recognized tourist sites are being damagedby the increasing influx of tourists. The Mayan temples of Tulum in Mexico are steadily attracting hotel construction and amusement parks as the once quiet fishing community is transformed into a city. Thousands of miles across the globe, the ancient hilltop fort of Jaisalmer in India is straining to bear the demands of 300,000tourists annuallywith an antique sewerage system. Once autonomously living, a third of its population now survives onincome based on tourism.

In the advancing age of tourism as some agencies shuttle as many people as possible through their package routes, there has never been a better time to take the initiative and get off the beaten track.Why not consider a tailor made trip rather than a group tour?In case you needed a little motivation, consider the following benefits for being one ofthe only foreigners in town:

1) Less impact on the country and communities involved
A fewvisitorswill be regarded with curiosity as people go about their daily business. One thousand visitors are daily business. To avoid irreversible change to the ways that people live, we should all be trying to remember that we are visitors to other places, not the reason for those places to exist.

2) More unique experiences
Most people probably dream of the romantic solitude ofstrolling alone down a palm-fringed beach, or wandering in tranquility amongst ancient ruins. Crowds of tourists pulling up in air conditioned buses in search of the perfect photo and browsingthrough boutiques filled with identical souvenirs don't figure heavily in ideal scenarios.

3) More chance of resources getting to locals
Many large international tour companies tend to keep much ofthe money that you spend with them and oftenlittle finds its way into the local economy. To genuinely bring the benefits of tourism, you should pick an agency that promises to pay local service providers. Agencies based in the country or region you are to visit will of course funnel much more of your cash into the local economy.

4) Not allowing a place to be defined by a tour company
Somelarge tour operators market locations as a product, based on a mental image. Drinking tea in the shade of the towering sandstone walls of Jaisalmer fort, skimming across the crystal waters of the Yangshuo lakes in China in a motorboat, overlooking the white sand beaches of Tulum with a cold mojito in-hand. None of these images are a true representation of the place; choose an agent that knows the region and the destinations that you are to visit. A company in New York  is not going to as knowledgeable on cultural and archeological sites in Mexico as a company based in the region.

So, where do you start with a unique trip? First of all, do your research. find out where in the world you'd like to go, without focusing too much on the detail, like specific sites or attractions. Criteria such as indigenous culture, traditions, and flora and fauna can give you a basis without putting you on same path as thousands of other tourists. Once you've got a country in mind consider working with a smaller agency to design a custom tour for your country of choice. They will be able to research options for you away from the crowds and ensure that the impact of your travels remains positive, paying service providers in communities where appropriate.

The more time you spend researching your trip, the more you'll get out of it. Don't be sold on glossy brochure photos, get online and start hunting!

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America

6 Ways to Banish Travel Fear Factor – It's Not All Danger In Latin America

Posted in Uncategorized by escapedtoperu on June 26, 2010

A brief glance at the international news is often enough to persuade you to stay inside and lock your doors, let alone leave the borders of your own country. Volcanoes exploding in Guatemala, earthquakes flattening Haiti, Mexican drug wars, military coups in Honduras, viruses sweeping Latin America…we're certainly not safe anymore. Any Government Foreign Office or State Department website has a long list of countries to avoid, and even if they give the all clear, you'll be confronted with a sobering list of potential dangers and disasters to prepare for.

Of course, if we listened to these dire warnings, we'd never go anywhere. The trick is balancing the well-meaning and slightly overbearing advice with enough common sense so that your trip doesn't turn out badly. Here's some tips to get a realistic appraisal of your future travel destination.

1) Speak to travel businesses that operate in your destination of choice
If travel pessimism is getting to you, speak to a professional. Travel agencies or tour operators are never going to send you into a war zone, and as long as they are offering trips in your country of choice, let them sell it to you! You'll be showered with all the wonderful aspects of your destination, and if the business is reputable with a good selection of testimonials, you can be sure that the agents or operators will be genuinely and honestly trying to give you the trip of a lifetime.

2) Speak to someone who has recently been to the same country or area
If you don't have a friend or member of the family who can give you an eye-witness update, get advice from the horse's mouth online; there are a ton of travel forums and travel social networking sites out there. Thorn Tree forums, wayn.com, tripconnect.com and realtravel.com all provide hundreds and thousands of users who have recently travelled all over the world and one of them is bound to be able to fill you in about the state of the country.

3) Read any online media from your destination country
An Internet search will often reveal current affairs websites for your country of choice. Ex-pat run options will often be presented in English giving up to date information about the country or their community. Failing that, you could try using Google Translate to change the web page into English or get a friend who is confident in the language to assist you. Make sure that nothing gets lost in translation!

4) Separate what could happen anywhere, and what is specific to your destination
Are there road accidents in your country? Yup. Do people get food poisoning? Yes, they do. What about getting robbed? Well…yes…

It's easy to think that for all the dire warnings, everything bad that happens is 'out there'. Try to remember when considering the risks of travel that many of them are relevant to your own country as well – you can't eliminate risk from your life.

5) Evaluate warnings against common sense
For the risks specific to your destination country, how easily can they be avoided by simple application of common sense? Taking the advice of a locally based travel company. Not walking around alone in a bad neighborhood at night, not flashing jewellery in unknown public places, not drinking untreated water…you wouldn't instinctively do any of these things at home, so why would it be any different abroad?

6) If anything does go wrong, have it covered
Plenty of travel insurance packages exist to cater for a wide range of different trips. There's something out there for you, it's just a case of searching. Knowing that a missed flight, lost luggage or an accident won't cost you the Earth will doubtless remove some travel-worry. The travel company you choose should have a 24 hour helpline in your native language and plenty of information before, during and after the booking process, this ensures you are always looked after and can feel reassured at all times.

Feel good about your next Latin American trip? Book it and go! If you want to smooth the first steps of your self-planned vacation, a huge amount of pre-bookable options and reviews for accommodation, restaurants and other facilities worldwide are available on tripadvisor.com. If an agent or tour operator did a good job at step 1 and you want to take them up on their proposal – go with what feels right! Remember you can't protect yourself against everything, so don't be a slave to it. Enjoy your next trip!

Author: Gary Sargent – Escaped to Peru / Escaped to Latin America