In December, South America is the place to head for with its balmy climate, diverse landscapes and hot Latin culture beckoning you away from the winter blues back home to an exotic and energetic break in the sun. In South America you can’t help but break out of the stultifying shell of old routines and habits and explore a whole raft of new and refreshing experiences. The vibrant countries here have much to offer, and it can pay you to do a little research into their lesser-known attractions to get the most out of your trip. We offer here a few suggestions to whet the appetite.
Easter Island is famous for its monumental stone heads, all pointing in one direction and defying interpretation even down to the present day. It lies just off the western coast of Chile, in the Pacific Ocean, and when you arrive here from the mainland you’ll set up base in the friendly town of Hanga Roa before setting out to explore the natural and man-made wonders of this strange island. The second day will include a look around Anakena and the famous stone heads, known here as ‘moai’, and an exploration of the ancient rock carvings at Rano Kau, which is a great volcanic crater and affords fabulous views across the island. There are also the nearby ruins of a ceremonial village, and groupings of other stone heads at Ahu Tahai and Ahu Akivi, where you can get a feel for the different sizes and types of carving, as they are by no means homogeneous. The 4-day trip to Easter Island ends at Hanga Roa, when you’ll appreciate the great antiquity and mystery of Easter Island far more than you ever could from books or TV documentaries.
Discover the Antarctic
December is the perfect month for taking a tour of the South Pole, when the ice is compact and visibility at its best. The calm waters at this time of year guarantee a safe passage in waters that can be treacherous in the southern winter, and you can see the native wildlife at its best. Tierra del Fuego is the starting point for this fabulous trip into Terra Incognita, as the old explorers used to call Antarctica. But fortunately there be no monsters here and you’re in expert hands as you view the amazing frozen landscapes and watch penguins, whales, seals and other native species. The crew draws on a wealth of local knowledge to guide you safely around the Drake Passage Islands and the Antarctic Peninsula in an 11-day cruise that ends in Ushuaia, with 9 nights on board ship and one in a hotel.
- Check out the full itinerary here
The Galapagos Islands are familiar to every child as home to the unique bird and reptile species that ignited Darwin’s imagination on the Beagle and led to his formulation of the revolutionary theory of evolution by natural selection in the 19th century. On this stimulating trip you can see the Galapagos islands for yourself and marvel at their wildlife. The bizarre lava formations set the tone for a prehistoric experience and if the marine iguanas were just a few times bigger you could easily imagine yourself back in the age of the dinosaurs. Apart from the iguanas and giant tortoises you’ll get up close and personal to the colony of Isla Lobos sea lions and hordes of boobies. Take a stroll along the pristine sands of the beach at Isla Mosquera and trek to the top of Punta Pitt’s volcanic hill for fabulous panoramic views across the islands and surrounding ocean. The Galapagos trip lasts 10 days and takes in all the main islands.