Panama Cruise and South America Cruise
Always exotic and more accessible then ever, South America has always moved to its own, distinct rhythm. From the soul stirring strains of tango on the boulevards of stately Buenos Aires to the frenetic, samba fuelled boardwalks of Rio, Latin America delivers up a whole raft of sights, sounds and experiences with flair, verve and gusto.
The snow capped fjords of Chile and Patagonia echo their distant Norwegian counterparts, though generally with much more agreeable weather. Jagged mountain ranges are perfectly reflected in glassy, silent lakes and fjords. By contrast, Angel Falls is a roaring, teeming cacophony of boiling water and flying spray, thundering down its colossal façade that never fails to inspire awe and wonder.
Like some exotic water creature, the mighty Amazon winds thousands of miles through the Brazilian hinterland. Vast tracts of jungle tumble down to its edges, alive with the sounds of a conga line of different, diverse wildlife. Oxen graze the banks while, around a bend, incredible cities like Manaus emerge from beneath dense shrouds of undergrowth.
Thousands of feet up in Peru's hinterland, vast, fabled Machu Picchu unfolds like something from an Indiana Jones movie. Unyielding and defiant, Tierra Del Fuego is the gateway to the rolling, remote Falklands, the scene of a major naval battle as far back as 1914.
Yet South America is so much more than this raft of natural wonders. Approaching fabled Rio by sea is unforgettable, with the statue of Christ the Redeemer welcoming you to the city of Copacabana, carnival and the eponymous girl from Ipanema. Montevideo is an often overlooked beauty, a city with a distinctly European vibe sprawling along the estuary of the mighty Rio de la Plata. Buenos Aires has a very definite Parisian air in its wide, tree lined boulevards leading to the fabled Casa Rosado.
Panama is a monument to human achievement and determination, flanked by countries where nature and eco friendly tourism go hand in hand. Costa Rica has stunning natural rainforests and tracts of fabulous fauna, plus swathes of sunlit, surreal beaches where the only footprints are often your own. Belize has gorgeous underwater coral and is a true diver's nirvana.
The canal itself is one of the great wonders of the world, cutting transit time between Atlantic and Pacific to as little as eight hours. Beetling shore side trains shepherd all forms of maritime life from cruise ships to container ships through a series of stepped, jungle shrouded locks that rise and fall over a full eighty feet over its entire length. On either side, the ether is full of the cries of hundreds of exotic species of wildlife as your ship moves slowly through what feels like a very vivid dream.
South America realises so many passions, and invariably unlocks so many more, that each visit merely increases the urge to return, like some half remembered song playing on the senses. Sights of nature range from the primitive to the profoundly powerful, and combine with vibrant, world famous legends like Rio and Buenos Aires, to serve up a stunning natural brew which is arguably the single most compelling playground on earth.