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There's more diversity packed into this space than in any other comparably sized area on earth- and that's just Central America. Before you even go south of the isthmus (aka the Panama Canal) there's every conceivable type of adventure to be had - fun, easy, bumpy, challenging, surprising, fulfilling - that will give you conversational topics for decades to come.
South America, however, is a much bigger story, overwhelming in scale and scope and offering the full gamut of experience, from alpine skiing in Patagonia to navigating the upper reaches of the Amazon.
Costa Rica Tours,
ARGENTINA Tours, Travel and Activities
Despite Argentina's recent economic woes, its pleasures - stunning natural wonders, an elegant capital with a European-flavored sophistication, and a passionate culture - are still as tempting as ever. The silver lining to the financial cloud is that it's now one of the best travel bargains going around.
This is one Latin American country where Europeans and North Americans can feel at ease and travel relatively inconspicuously. An interest in soccer and some nimble foot skills may be all you need to feel like a local.
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BELIZE Tours, Travel and Activities
Dabbling its toes in the Caribbean Sea, Belize has more in common with its island neighbours than with the fiery volatility of Central America. Its history is thoroughly coup-free.
Spanish and British influences remain: the population are English-speaking. Creole and Mestizos ethnic groups dominate, and this tiny country has an atmosphere so very laid-back it's almost comatose.
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BRAZIL Tours, Travel and Activities
For hundreds of years, Brazil has symbolized the great escape into a primordial, tropical paradise, igniting the Western imagination like no other South American country. From the mad passion of Carnaval to the immensity of the dark Amazon, it is a country of mythic proportions.
Perhaps it's not quite the Eden of popular imagination, but it's still a land of staggering beauty. There are stretches of unexplored rainforest, islands with pristine tropical beaches, and endless rivers. And there are the people themselves, who delight the visitor with their energy and joy.
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CHILE Tours, Travel and Activities
From salty-desert top to glacier-crowded bottom, Chile is a jaw-dropping reminder of nature's beauty and power. This narrow trickle of a country is jammed with enough geysers, mountains, beaches, forests and volcanoes to keep adventure nuts slavering for a lifetime.
Chile's mountainous geography spanning over 30° of latitude makes for some strange climatic variation.
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COSTA RICA Tours, Travel and Activities
Costa Rica is Central America's jewel. It's an oasis of calm among its turbulent neighbors and an ecotourism heaven, making it one of the best places to experience the tropics with minimal impact. It's also mostly coastline, which means great surfing, beaches galore and a climate built for laziness.
Costa Rica's enlightened approach to conservation has ensured that lush jungles are home to playful monkeys, languid sloths, crocodiles, countless lizards, poison-dart frogs and a mind-boggling assortment of exotic birds, insects and butterflies.
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ECUADOR Tours, Travel and Activities
Ecuador is the most diminutive of the Andean countries, yet it offers more physical and cultural diversity than almost any country on the planet.
Ecuador has an array of vibrant indigenous cultures, well-preserved colonial architecture, otherworldly volcanic landscapes and dense rainforest. And all that in a nation no bigger than the US state of Nevada.
Add to that an extensive user-friendly bus system and you end up with a country that is both exciting and easy to travel in.
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GUATEMALA Tours, Travel and Activities
Guatemala is one of those rare destinations that rewards even the most jaded traveler - a place where indigenous culture perserveres, and where no superlatives can accurately capture the grandeur of the landscape.
In the Highlands, it seems there's always a volcano looming over your shoulder, and beautiful lakes large and small are scattered among pine, cloud and rain forests. This fabulous geography means travelers can hike, bike, dive, ride, cave, kayak and play at outdoor adventures activities ad infinitum.
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PANAMA Tours, Travel and Activities
While Panama is known mostly for its famous canal, the country's natural attractions offer an irresistible lure to far-sighted travelers. This overlooked country offers some of the finest birding, snorkeling and deep-sea fishing in the Americas.
Panama has two seasons. The dry season lasts from January to mid-April and the rainy season from mid-April to December. Rainfall is heavier on the Caribbean side of the highlands, though most people live on or near the Pacific coast.
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