Fort Lauderdale, Florida - Port Antonio - Cartagena, Colombia - Porto Belo - Panama Canal Transit - Darien Jungle - Puerto Lopez - Machala, Ecuador - Paita - Lobos de Tierra Island, Peru
With its heady mix of Creole culture and French sophistication, there is more than a pinch of je ne sais quoi in Fort de France. The capital of Martinique, and by far the biggest city in the whole of the French West Indies, if you are looking for Paris in the Caribbean, you’ll find it in Fort de France. The island has been under French govern since 1638 when the first governor of Martinique Jacques Dyel du Parquet commissioned a fort (from which the city takes its name) to keep out invaders. Not even an unsuccessful attack by the British in 1720, nor the French Revolution in 1789, has been able to shake the French govern of the island and today the city’s French and Creole heritage are impossible to untangle. The colonial past is everywhere, take a stroll down the narrow streets and enjoy the remarkable architecture of the Schœlcher Library, St. Louis Cathedral and the Old Town Hall. Among the many legacies Dyel du Parquet left on the island is sugarcane. A drive through the tropical forests will not only reward you with trees bending under the weight of papayas, mangoes and bananas, but will also afford superb vistas of the elegant plant swaying in the breeze. The arrival and subsequent export of sugar brought the French bourgeoisie in their droves and many of their mansions are still standing. Josephine de Beauharnais, the Napoleonic Empress of “not tonight” fame, hails from the island and those interested will find her childhood home, La Pagerie in nearby Trois Ilets.
04 Oct 2023
Port Antonio is a city on Jamaica’s northeast coast and the capital of Portland Parish. It’s known as a gateway to nearby tropical jungles, mountains and waterfalls. In the John Crow Mountains, Reach Falls flows into a river pool. Near Hope Bay, Somerset Falls flows on the grounds of a former plantation. In the east, the Blue Lagoon is known for its blue waters, fed by the Caribbean Sea and underground springs.
06 Oct 2023
Get your sunglasses ready, because Cartagena is a riot of colour, charisma and Caribbean charm. The best way of seeing the city is by foot and soaking up the uniquely South American atmosphere. Stroll through the jumble of cobbled streets, step back in time, and enjoy one of the Caribbean’s loveliest destinations. Cartagena was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 as a shining example of an extensive and complete system of military fortifications in South America. The city’s strategic location, on a secluded bay facing the Caribbean Sea, meant that it was an essential stop from Europe to the West Indies during the time of commercial and naval exploration. Vestiges of this time are still to be found on the walls of several of the beautiful buildings lining the streets of the old town. The magnificent city is a walled fortress that stretches for 11 kilometres, dating from 1533 and once played host to Sir Francis Drake, who passed through in 1586 (and set fire to 200 buildings during his visit). Despite its 16th century roots, Cartagena today is a modern and glorious riot of colour. Fuchsia pink bougainvillea tumbles down from turquoise painted balconies, while well-preserved colonial buildings painted in vibrant colours line the streets. Take shelter from the heat and enjoy the sensual atmosphere that is so exclusively Colombian by grabbing a seat in a local bar, ordering a plate of Empanadas and enjoying a Guaro—the colloquial name for aguardiente — the country’s national spirit.
07 Oct 2023
Porto Belo is a municipality in the state of Santa Catarina in the South region of Brazil.
08 Oct 2023
Panama Canal Transit
Enter the mighty Panama Canal, one of history’s most ambitious and spectacular stretches of waterway. Connecting the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, and slicing through the heart of a continent, the canal is a staggering engineering triumph, eliminating the need to traverse the treacherous waters of South America and Cape Horn. Sail one of the world’s great canals to appreciate the true scale of this achievement, as your ship manoeuvres between its vast, gushing locks and huge lakes. View less The French began construction in 1881, but the costly project was left abandoned and unfinished until the United States finally completed the work in 1914. Following the path of the Panama Railway of 1855, locks raise ships large and small 26 metres up above sea level to the canal’s elevated channel. New locks have recently been added, which allow the canal to accommodate ever bigger ships. Leaving the confinement of the locks, you will enter the canal’s channel, to sail through Panama’s core. Wide lakes are linked by painstakingly chiselled wedges of canal, which slice through the lush scenery. Look out for the Culebra Cut section, the most challenging stretch of the entire route to construct. The Bridge of the Americas is a vast arched landmark, which sweeps across the Pacific Entrance and was completed in 1962. It’s one of several huge bridges that you will sail below on the 51-mile journey, including the much newer Centennial Bridge, and the Atlantic Bridge, which spans the entrance close to Colon.
09 Oct 2023
Remote, roadless and some say terrifying, the Darien Jungle is one of the last true undiscovered places left on Earth. The Darien has an almost mythical quality to it; it is the only break in the 30,000-mile Pan-American Highway, which passes through 14 countries as it winds from Alaska to Argentina. The Jungle’s reputation precedes it; one of dangerous paramilitary groups, poisonous frogs and impenetrable vegetation. Certainly the Darien has to be undertaken with caution. But the beauty of this forgotten 60-mile stretch of land is that it is largely untouched by modern society. Plant life is rife, wildlife (yes, even those poisonous frogs) is wildly exotic, and with no roads, transport is by dugout canoe. Unsurprisingly, it is one of the world’s top ten birding sites: the colourful Crimson-collared Tanager, Chestnut-fronted Macaws and Snow-bellied Hummingbirds all call the Darien home, as does the endangered Great-green Macaw. Mammals include black-headed spider monkeys flying from treetop to treetop and stealthy Pumas padding silently in the shadows. The exceptionally ecologically diverse flora and fauna earnt the Darien National Park its place as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The park welcomes fewer than 1,000 annual visitors, so those who have stepped foot on this hallowed land are considered very, very special. The park can and does sustain human life, with three tribes, the Embera, the Kuna and the Wounaan living traditionally in open-sided thatched huts along the side of the river.
11 Oct 2023
12 Oct 2023
13 Oct 2023
Paita is a city in northwestern Peru. It is the capital of the Paita Province which is in the Piura Region. It is a leading seaport in that region. It is located 1,089 km northwest of the country’s capital Lima and 57 km northwest of the regional capital of Piura.
14 Oct 2023
Lobos de Tierra Island, Peru
15 Oct 2023
Salaverry is the port for Trujillo, Peru’s third largest city. Located about nine hours north of Lima, Trujillo was founded in 1534 by the Spanish conquistador Pizarro. The attractive, colonial city retains much of its original charm with elegant casonas, or mansions, lining the streets.
16 Oct 2023
Splashing colour and culture into the arid Peruvian landscape, Lima is a city bedecked with grand colonial splendour. Founded in 1535, this sprawling capital enjoys a breezy oceanfront location and forms one of the world’s largest desert cities. A place of sharp contrasts, almost 10 million people are packed into the city, occupying vastly different living conditions. Visit for an unfiltered experience of this richly layered place of ancient history, colonial relics and dazzling flavours. View less Rising from the misty blanket of the garua – a persistent fog that cloaks Lima during winter – you’ll find one of South America’s most culturally vibrant cities. The former capital of the Spanish colonists – head to Plaza de Armas to immerse yourself in the heart of the old city. The Basilica Cathedral of Lima watches over Plaza Mayor – listen out for the stomps of boots outside, as the pomp and ceremony of the Changing of the Guards draws crowds to the Government Palace. The history of this area runs much deeper, however, and pre-Colombian cities and temples emerge from the dusty earth nearby. Grand museums showcase unearthed treasures from the extraordinary civilisations who built vast mud adobe cities across Peru’s coastline, and incredible settlements in the country’s valleys and mountains. The Barranco district is Lima’s artsy area, and you can walk from modern art galleries to see the local muse, the Bridge of Sighs. This wooden bridge is an artist’s favourite, and one of the city’s most romantic spots. Afterwards, sample some of Lima’s cuisine, and the zingy flavours of spicy, lime-marinated fish ceviche. So revered in these parts, ceviche even has its own national day on June 28th. Sipping a Pisco Sour is the perfect way to round off your visit to this engrossing, multi-layered city.