Category Archives: South America

Peru Festivals

La Fiesta Mama Negra in Ecuador

By Melissa Ruttanai

While the northern hemisphere hunkers down for cool autumn months, Ecuador blooms with warm breezes, clear skies, and the beginning of the festival season in October.

Peru FestivalsDown the spine of the Andes Mountains just one hour south of Quito, the city of Latacunga fills its streets with streamers and parades the cathedral’s statue of the Virgin and Child through several neighborhoods.

Locals and visitors alike gather in the main plaza. They snap pictures and dance to the bands. They buy snacks and pop open bottles of Pilsener beer. Horses enter the courtyard and astride one is the figure of Mama Negra, the city’s protector against volcanic eruptions and destructive weather. The band strikes a fast beat and Mama Negra herself unveils a black bottle and sprays the crowd in a ritual cleansing.

At the Fiesta of Mama Negra, prepare yourself for dancing in the streets and non-stop festivities.

On each plaza corner, bands whip up festival-goers with hip swinging music. All year long, musicians and townspeople have been saving up for this event.

And they don’t hold anything back. Pastel-hued colors burst across the promenade. Pink coats and blue skirts twirl to the melody. Costumed men carry portal altars on their backs, offering devout tokens of respect to the patroness that include a dozen bottles of whiskey, roasted chicken, smoked guinea pig, and one immense BBQ pig.

Ribbons decorate the spaces in between as each man hews the altar down the parade route. Even small boys get involved as each one carries a miniature sized offering.

While bands blast trumpets and beat drums, each parishioner dances euphorically through the streets of Latacunga. In between altars and bands, they strut their choreographed hips through the cobbled avenues.

With handkerchiefs men guide their partners through the routine, hollering and celebrating each step. The women purse pink lips, swirling with the beat and smiling with pride. At the Fiesta de Mama Negra, the parade snakes up and down the streets for miles.

For hours, the bands march and dancers dip and twirl their partners. Mama Negra sprays the crowd with alcohol and gangs of masked men cleanse innocent bystanders with branches of green leaves. In the crowd, onlookers share beer and whiskey. They cheer and push each other into the midst of the dancing parade. Amongst friends and family and strangers, they jest and joke from noon past midnight.

Latacunga, a city high in Ecuador’s Andes, offers an authentic insight into everyday life in the mountains and is a great cultural extension either in between the usual tours to the Galapagos and Machu Picchu.

5 travel adventures

5 adventurous destinations around the world

Adventurous destinations are the stuff of travel dreams. This week, Rebecca Kelly offers us plenty to imagine, work for, and dream of with five adventurous destinations from around the world.

Everest Base Camp, Nepal
Mount Everest is known by all as the highest peak in the world, it is known by climbers and adventurers however as an immense challenge that is best left to the professionals. A classic Himalayan trek with incredible views and rewards that can be enjoyed by all adventure enthusiasts is a trek to Everest Base Camp. Trek takes you through an exciting forest and over mountains giving you stunning views of the surrounding peaks whilst the dramatic landscape around you changes as you continue to climb higher and higher up the Khumbu Valley.

Grand Canyon, Colorado
For adventurers, the most exciting way to appreciate the Grand Canyon’s natural capacity and power is to raft through it; the Colorado River through canyon is one of the wildest stretches of white water in the United States. 5 travel adventuresThe full journey through the canyon (from Lees Ferry to Lake Mead) is 275 miles in length and makes for a challenging, fun adventure with some staggering scenery, white-water thrills, and magical hikes.

Masai Mara Safari, Kenya
For a safari with real-life, thrilling adventure try a Masai Mara Safari. The Masai Mara reserve is one of the best destinations in the world for viewing wildlife in its natural habitat and offers plenty to see. During the winter months, it’s easy to assume that all will be quiet on the reserve however you couldn’t be more wrong. Many tourists aim to target their trip to coincide with the migration season but there is life to be seen throughout the year. Between August and November, you can spot the two million wildebeest charge across the green-land as they migrate from the Serengeti in search of water, or in spring, experience the first sightings of new-born life. For frightening thrills, predators such as lions, cheetahs and leopards can be spotted prowling the terrain whilst graceful giraffes can be found flaunting their astonishing stature.

Inca Trail, Peru
Being the best-known and most popular hike on the South-American continent, the Inca Trail is an exhilarating, challenging and unforgettable experience. The journey starts in the village of Qorihuayrachina and takes three or four days of strenuous walking to complete. The trail is surrounded by breathtaking scenery, crossing the Andes mountain range and sections of the Peruvian jungle and rain forest  Ending at the old citadel of Machu Picchu provides a rewarding finale and time to discover the ancient citadel. Together, the Inca Trail and Machu Picchu make up one of the wonders of the world.

Great Barrier Reef, Australia
Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef, covering over 350,000 square kilometers of the sea and is the only living collection of organisms that are visible from Earth’s orbit. Most of the Reef’s diversity occurs in the top 4 meters of water and the best way to experience this is by snorkeling  The reef is believed to be the densest assemblage of living organisms to be found in any comparable area in the world thus the thousands of beautiful coral gardens and abundant marine life will leave you mesmerized.

best beaches in the world

Top 5 Beaches in the World You May Not Know – Sun Travel

A beach vacation is one of the most beautiful, relaxing and fun trips to have, and there certainly is no shortage of incredible beaches to visit in the world!

There are all kinds of beaches – private beaches, white beaches, coral beaches, black beaches, nude beaches, and pet beaches . Here, guest blogger Paul Johnson, gives his list of the five best beaches to visit in the world. These should not be taken as an official guide, however, as each person has their own unique personal preference. The decision as to which beach is the best is a judgment which can be made only by visiting in person. So, go to the beach!

5. Tulum Beach, Mexico

This beach has the specialty of housing one of the earliest resorts in Mexico. Estimates say that its history goes back to a few hundred years ago. Featuring a Mayan pyramid in the background (yes, a pyramid), this sparkling-white beach is very calm and peaceful, and is one of the best travel experiences you can get.

4. Horseshoe Bay, Bermuda

One of the most visited beaches in the world in spite of being high in cost to visit, Horseshoe Bay in Bermuda is a treat that truly deserves a place in the top 5. It has got everything you need: clear water, amazing weather and pink sand. It is incomparable to any other beach, and surely is a must visit.

Top beaches in the world3. Boracay, Philippines

Situated at a distance of around 200 miles from Manila and just about a mile from the north-western tip of the Panay Island in the Philippines, Boracay has had a history of being among the world’s best beaches, with BMW Tropical Beach Handbook naming it among the best beaches in the world twice.

2. The Maldives, Indian Ocean

Regarded as the number one “calm” beach in the world, the Maldives are located in the Indian Ocean and are very close to India and Sri Lanka. The islands, a country in themselves, are very beautiful and secluded too. Peace and quiet come by default with a visit to Maldives.

1. Fernando De Noronha, Brazil

Located at a distance of around 220 miles from the Brazilian shores, Fernando De Noronha is actually an archipelago of 21 different islands and islets which combined have some of the best beaches in the world in them. Fernando De Noronha is renowned for its selection by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site, and it is aptly described as “the most beautiful marine park in the World”.

To see more of Paul’s favorite beaches visit Sun Sea Adventures or to have your own guest post published submit it using the submit travel news or stories button at the top of the page.