Introduction: Central & South America Guide 2012

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This article originally appeared in the Central & South America Guide. It has been extracted from its original format. To read the full guide, visit the digital edition.

Probably you know that Latin America is the land of the Maya and the Inca; the samba and the tango; sophisticated capital cities and charming colonial towns; nature reserves brilliant with flora and fauna; irresistible handicraft shopping and delicious dining. South of our border adventure abounds—from Central America’s Barrier Reef and network of national parks to South America’s Amazonia, Patagonia and the Galapagos Islands.

From top to bottom, Latin America fills the bill in new and involving experiences: for adventure- and nature-loving travelers who want to accent vacations with hiking and mountain biking, birding and garden touring, skiing during our summer months and scuba diving anytime; for history and culture buffs keen on exploring ancient cities and enjoying people-to-people encounters; for beachcombers and stargazers; for honeymooners or families discovering new horizons together.

Nowadays, such vacation treasures are more accessible. Thanks to major U.S. and Latin American airlines, North America is better connected than ever with nonstop flights to Central and South America capitals, while Avianca/TACA and Copa Airlines offer an extensive regional network in Central America, and LAN provides the greatest number of inter-country links in South America. And on the ground, the comfort level today is high. Clients can’t help but delight in the world-class and boutique hotels in the cities, as well as the chic beach resorts and spas, country inns and jungle lodges in the countryside.

Without doubt, when planning travel to the vast area of the “other” Americas, the Internet puts lots of destination material, accommodation and activities information right at your fingertips. On the other hand, it’s the tour operators focused on Central and South American travel who know where the resplendent quetzal nests in Costa Rica or when the train leaves for Machu Picchu in Peru, what’s prime  time for deep-sea fishing in Panama or when Carnaval is on in Brazil. Tailor-made vacations and well-priced packages are their specialty, benefitting both travel agents and their leisure travel clients.

As the saying goes among Latin American travel sellers: It’s Time to Go South, America.

Up next: Belize