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  • 16 pictures that show the colours of Panama | Travel Feature | Rough Guides
    Coasts islands Crafts and markets Cycling Deserts Discovery Diving snorkeling Everyday Life Extreme Adventure sports Family friendly Festivals events Food drink Heritage ruins Indigenous culture Leisure Luxury Mountains Museums art Music National parks reserves Nature Nightlife Novelty Off the beaten track People Photography Railway journeys Relaxation Road trips Romance Shopping Structures Surfing Tourist Trail Tradition Transport Walking trekking Wildlife Winter sports 16 pictures that show the colours of Panama By Nori Jemil December 30th 2015 View Comments After a recent trip to Central America travel photographer Nori Jemil shares some of her best pictures of Panama The geographically strategic isthmus of Panama bridges Central and South America Its high rise capital and canal are famously modern yet it s the UNESCO world heritage sites of Casco Viejo and Panama Viejo that lend character together with the country s diverse cultural background Having sailed the canal several years before I wanted to see things on the ground It s accessibly small only a short drive from the capital is biodiverse rainforest with some of the most idyllic beaches in all of Latin America not much further Most famous are those in the San Blas archipelago a collection of over 360 white sand islands and cays home to the Kuna Yala people Panama remains true to its multicultural past with colonial architecture artisanal traditions and distinct indigenous communities With lush coffee growing mountains and the tropical interior this relatively small country packs an enormous punch For me though it s the open warmth and humour of the people that will draw me back Hammock time in San Blas Islands Views before landing in Playón Chico Aerial views of Panama City An Embera woman on the banks of the Rio Chagres Cabanas on the San Blas islands A Kuna Yala woman proudly sewing

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/article/colourful-pictures-of-panama/ (2016-02-16)
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  • First Time Travel to Cuba | Cuba Travel Tips | Rough Guides
    ll probably need to use taxis If you find a venue you like stick with it 4 Know your pesos men and monuments The confusing dual currency system in Cuba has spawned a whole family of local scams so it pays to get to know one set of banknotes from the other Cubans get paid in pesos also referred to as national pesos the faces of peso banknotes are printed with head and shoulders pictures of Cuban heroes You ll pay for most goods and services in convertible pesos twenty four times more valuable than national pesos depicted on these banknotes are national monuments but their values are printed as pesos just like their counterparts The words pesos convertibles only appears in a smaller font below the value Paying in convertibles and getting change in nationals is the most popular trick and there are a few spin off scams along similar lines Just remember twenty four men equal one monument 5 Eat out in paladars Eating out in Cuba is no longer as bad as you ve probably heard The reputation for the same unimaginative mono flavoured cooking wherever you went was largely deserved until a few years ago when draconian restrictions on the opening and operating of privately run restaurants known as paladars were lifted A nation of sleeping chefs and restaurateurs have now awoken from their enforced slumber and unleashed a wave of mouth watering menus and creatively designed venues Stick to paladars rather than state run restaurants and you should eat well 6 It s going to be harder if you re from the US US sanctions have not embittered ordinary Cubans against Americans on the contrary as a US traveller in Cuba most of the locals you meet will be delighted to see you in their country However whilst President Obama may have done what he can to end the 55 year standoff between the two countries until Congress lifts the economic blockade of the island you ll need to be prepared for the practical consequences of visiting a country with which US companies are still in the most part forbidden to do business At the time of writing this means amongst other things travel is only permitted under the terms of a US travel license and there are no scheduled flights There s also a 10 percent fee for buying Cuban currency with US dollars your US credit and debit cards won t be usable and your US cell phone won t work either 7 Always stash some cash Cash is king in Cuba and you should never rely on credit or debit cards or travellers cheques for payments For the majority of goods services and businesses plastic is useless whilst for all private enterprise including paladars and casas particulares only the paper stuff will do Always withdraw money when you can Cash machines are scarce those accepting foreign cards even scarcer and problems with them are frequent not all banks can process foreign currency

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/article/cuba-travel-tips/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Cocoa loco: a guide to chocolate tourism in Trinidad and Tobago | Travel Feature | Rough Guides
    chocolate tourism in Trinidad and Tobago By Rough Guides Editors November 23rd 2015 View Comments Our authors have travelled the length and breadth of Trinidad and Tobago shimmying through the streets at Carnival body surfing at the beaches and gorging on street food yet chocolate remains one of their highlights Some of the world s best cocoa is grown in this twin island republic and there are plenty of ways to sample it You can take home a taste of T T home via a bar a box of divine chocolates or some brewing cocoa or visit an estate for a bean to bar introduction to cacao production With a resurgence in cocoa production and an industry starting to embrace ethical fair trade models we ve picked five our our favourite places to indulge 1 Explore the cocoa groves at Velaja Estate For those interested in learning about cacao production a visit to Velaja Estate in central Trinidad is a must The tours here take you through the whole process starting with a walk around the cocoa groves and finishing with tastings of cocoa nibs hot chocolate tea Along the way you ll learn about how the beans are harvested fermented and processed plus there are additional opportunities to find out about organic farming and traditional agriculture 2 Go back to basics in Brasso Seco A low key ecotourism destination in the heart of the mountains Brasso is a must for hikers birdwatchers relaxation seekers and chocolate lovers alike You can learn more about traditional ways of life here and indulge your sweet tooth at the nearby Manchuria Estate The fifteen acres are being developed as an organic cocoa and coffee plantation head to the cocoa house to watch beans being dried roasted shelled and grinded 3 Pick up some local bars at the San Antonio Cocoa Estate To see a larger scale operation in action head to the 250 acre San Antonio Cocoa Estate in central Trinidad s Montserrat Hills they supply Belgian chocolatiers among their export markets As well as taking tours of the plantation you can also pick up excellent chocolate bars from the Montserrat Cocoa Farmers Co Operative Society who use the facilities here for processing There s a growing buzz around local initiatives like this who are helping to build sustainable business models for cocoa production 4 Book a tour and tasting at Tobago Cocoa Estate Touring Tobago Cocoa Estate is a popular day trip with visitors to the republic s smaller island The estate was the first on Tobago to produce their own bars playing a key role in the cocoa production renaissance and they ve picked up a host of awards for their chocolate Go all out and book a meal on top of the tour as well as finding out about the history of cocoa and the production process you ll also get a chocolate or rum tasting 5 Try handmade chocolates in Port of Spain The handmade chocolates at Port of

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/article/cocoa-loco-a-guide-to-chocolate-tourism-in-trinidad-and-tobago/ (2016-02-16)
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  • The Best Beaches In Cuba | Rough Guides
    Cuba s newest tourist resorts The cays are linked to the mainland by an impressive 48km causeway making the trip here all part of the adventure At the far end of the chain lies Cayo Santa María home to Playa Perla Blanca one of the most splendid beaches in the area It s charm lies in its remote untouched feel it s accessible yet it has no facilities and is a bit of a trek to get to But the journey a total of 52km from the mainland is worth it the sand is as fine as it gets in Cuba Varadero Varadero is undoubtedly the package holiday resort in Cuba and the glut of all inclusive hotels restaurants and tour operators are all here for one reason the beach Cuba s longest and one of the best in the Caribbean It may be popular but thanks to its sheer size there s enough space for everyone to indulge in a few days stress free sloth Stretching almost the entire length of a 25km peninsula that shoots out from the mainland Varadero fits the classic Caribbean image downy sand that forms a runway between palm trees along one edge and unruffled sparkling waters along the other Playa Los Pinos Astoundingly beautiful and yet still deserted Cayo Sabinal is so paradisiacal it s almost eerie It s remained untouched thanks to it s geographical isolation to get here you have to drive 7km down a very bumpy dirt track some of which is a causeway a journey that no public transport and very few cars bother to make A number of beaches await you at the north side of the 30km long coral key the longest of which is Playa Los Pinos a blindingly white beach that s perfect for a few days of complete tranquillity Here sugary sands stretch out to meet the transparent waters while wild horses and deer roam through the woodland that borders the sand giving the beach an almost magical feel Playa Ancón Playa Ancón is often touted as the best beach on Cuba s south coast and it s easy to see why it s one of the longest in the area and boasts a dazzling sweep of sand that arcs around glittering turquoise waters The beach may have put the area on the tourist map but it has managed to keep a natural feel with trees and shrubs creeping down to the shoreline It s a good jumping off point for snorkelling and diving in the reefs around the shoreline plus Trinidad Cuba s colonial gem is just a stone s throw away Playa Ancón by neiljs CC license Playa Turquesa Simply translated as turquoise beach it comes as no surprise to find that Playa Turquesa is one of the most beautiful beaches in the region Filled with golden sand and bordered by mangrove forest at its eastern boundary the shallow bay has a small coral reef a short swim offshore while a strip

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/article/the-best-beaches-in-cuba/ (2016-02-16)
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  • 10 Things To Do In Panama | Rough Guides
    Panama including the Kuna Guna Wounaan Bokota and the Ngobe among others A little piece of paradise the San Blas Islands are home to the Kuna people who have maintained political autonomy from the mainland Panama Vacations can organise day trips spent with a local guide from the community 3 Experience Panama s past present and future through food Panama City is having a culinary renaissance of sorts with Casco Viejo hotspot Donde José leading the pack The restaurant seats only sixteen patrons at a time and reservations fill up fast Head chef Jose Carles breaks the menu into sixteen courses each using Panamanian ingredients and cooking styles many of the dishes are smoked because cooking over fire is common in rural Panama and he endeavours to use the entire animal as is customary throughout the country There s also a drink menu that goes alongside several of the dishes ranging from wines to craft cocktails 4 Walk inside a bat cave Panama s biodiversity is astounding and as well as in the skies and under the seas where thousands of different species can be seen in their natural habitats it also extends to the underground Enter the Nivida Bat Cave located on Isla Bastimentos which is about ten minutes from Bocas del Toro by boat Once inside the cavern there are hundreds of bats so come prepared for the pungent smell Even better The Spanish language school Habla Ya leads tours 5 Tour the Panama Canal by train Forget the boat opt for a train tour instead While many tourists do wind up sailing along the Panama Canal it s pretty much downhill after the first lock In fact this might very well be the lowlight of your trip Instead hop on the Panama Canal Railway that dates back to the early nineteenth century and travel back in time 6 Take a tour led by former gang members Not only is Casco Viejo a World Heritage Site and the most picturesque part of the city it s also a window into Panama City s past A tour group called Fortaleza Tours takes travellers beyond the monuments and deep into the heart of the city As former gang members these tour leaders have a story for every street You ll see first hand how the neighbourhood has completely transformed from a hotbed of crime into a same place 7 Celebrate Mardi Gras Sure Rio de Janeiro is a safe bet for experiencing Carnival madness but don t rule out Panama As the country s most celebrated festival there is plenty in store for first time partiers The heart of the action think decadent costume loud music and plenty of dancing tends to take place in a town called Las Tablas There s a bit of rivalry between the High Street and the Low Street when it comes to flats and costumes so expect the best of the best If staying in Panama City there s plenty going on there as

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/article/10-things-you-didnt-know-you-could-do-in-panama/ (2016-02-16)
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  • The Allure Of Old Havana Captured On Film | Rough Guides
    Sweden Switzerland Turkey Ukraine United Kingdom Wales Middle East Abu Dhabi Dubai Iran Israel Jordan Oman Qatar Saudi Arabia North America Canada Greenland Mexico USA South America Argentina Bolivia Brazil Chile Colombia Ecuador Guyana Peru Uruguay Venezuela UK View by Theme Activity Architecture Beaches Belief Boats sailing Budget travel Coasts islands Crafts and markets Cycling Deserts Discovery Diving snorkeling Everyday Life Extreme Adventure sports Family friendly Festivals events Food drink Heritage ruins Indigenous culture Leisure Luxury Mountains Museums art Music National parks reserves Nature Nightlife Novelty Off the beaten track People Photography Railway journeys Relaxation Road trips Romance Shopping Structures Surfing Tourist Trail Tradition Transport Walking trekking Wildlife Winter sports The allure of Old Havana captured on film By Emma Henderson August 28th 2015 View Comments Old Havana or Habana Vieja oozes history There s nowhere else quite like this living museum of Cuban culture a city where time stopped short and you ll find stop and stare images everywhere you turn 1950s American cars in blazing colours are parked on the edge of the road Cycle rickshaws glide swiftly through the traffic Narrow side streets hide buildings painted in every shade of pastel Plants tumble over the side of crumbling balconies The area is a photographer s dream but it lends itself even better to film In our video of the week below Roland Cadieux expertly captures its energy and colour There s a place I go to where no one knows me but it s not lonely Matt Simons lyrics ring out as the film begins we can t think of a better introduction to Cuba s beguiling capital Havana Cuba from Roland Cadieux on Vimeo Tags Central America the Caribbean Cuba Tourist Trail Everyday Life Photography Previous Feature Next Feature Related Articles Old cars and cigars a

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/article/the-allure-of-old-havana-captured-on-film/ (2016-02-16)
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  • 10 Of The Best Beaches In The Caribbean | Rough Guides
    coast like this lengthy one help make the Cayman Islands known for more than just offshore banking Actually only five and a half miles long its wide powder soft sands that curl around the west side of the island with generally calm warm and crystal clear waters offshore The slope heading out to sea is an easy and gradual one ideal for swimming or just wading 2 Pink Sand Beach Harbour Island Bahamas The spectacular Pink Sand Beach runs the length of the Atlantic side of the small Harbour Island two miles off the northeast side of Eleuthera Tourism is more prevalent on this tidy green island but it won t stop you enjoying the beauty of the beach s famous pink sand Footprints on the sand at Pink Sands Beach on Harbour Island in the Bahamas by Mike s Birds via Flickr CC license 3 Half Moon Bay Antigua Antigua is said to boast 365 beaches one for every day of the year Frankly you re spoilt for choice here One of best stretches of inviting sand and prettiest spots on Antigua is Half Moon Bay This half mile semicircle of white sand beach partially encloses a deep blue bay where the Atlantic surf normally offers top class body surfing opportunities 4 The Baths Virgin Gorda A bizarre landscape of volcanic house sized boulders stretching from wooded slopes behind the beach and into the clear aquamarine sea this otherworldly playground of grottoes caves and pools is unmissable The snorkelling is excellent although not surprisingly it can get very crowded in high season 5 Eagle Beach Aruba Aruba s best beaches are found on the northwest side of the island where seven kilometres of fine white sand and turquoise waters stretch between Eagle Beach and Palm beach Eagle Beach is the largest and most popular on the island with plenty of shade and watersports aplenty Stormy sunny and hot weather over Aruba Eagle Beach by atramos via Flickr CC license 6 Playa Rinco n Dominican Republic A clear contender for the island s best beach Playa Rinco n boasts three kilometres of sand backed by a coconut forest of swaying palms It s also one of our top 14 things not to miss in the Dominican Republic Perfect by Brent via Flickr CC license 7 Negril beach Jamaica Jamaica s shrine to permissive indulgence Negril metamorphosed from a deserted fishing beach to full blown resort town in little over two decades If you re after some time to yourself this might not be the beach for you but you can t beat watching the sun go down here with a cocktail in hand Negril by eric molina via Flickr CC license 8 Puerto Mosquito Vieques Puerto Rico One of the highlights of any visit to Puerto Rico is a night time trip to La Reserva Natural de la Bahi a Bioluminiscente at Puerto Mosquito or just bio bay said to contain the highest degree of bioluminescence in the world This

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/article/10-of-the-best-beaches-in-the-caribbean/ (2016-02-16)
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  • Nicaragua's Tourism Revolution: This Is The Year To Visit | Rough Guides
    hotspot with 17 percent of its landmass devoted to nature reserves where you can explore steamy rainforest and mist shrouded cloud forest home to howler monkeys jaguars and sloths as well as a multitude of tropical birds Need more action Hike up still rumbling volcanoes speed along zip lines dive pristine reefs and surf the Pacific breakers And while it has retained its off the beaten track feel it s still good value No longer the preserve of budget conscious backpackers there are luxurious eco friendly lodges sprouting up around the country conserving forests and beaches and protecting endangered wildlife For now herons and ibis wade in the shallows and cormorants and kingfishers still nosedive for breakfast The only potential blot on the landscape is the controversial transoceanic canal project The Nicaragua Grand Canal would be three times the length and twice as deep as its Panamanian rival spanning the country from the Pacific to the Atlantic and turning it into a hub for global trade It s predicted the canal could create more than 250 000 jobs and bring in much needed investment but it would have a potentially devastating impact on the environment with the destruction of a massive swathe of pristine rainforest and wetlands and the displacement of indigenous communities and wildlife There remain a lot of questions hanging over the canal especially its impact on Lago de Nicaragua but for now herons and ibis wade in the shallows and cormorants and kingfishers still nosedive for breakfast Wander colonial streets drink award winning rum and salsa the tropical night away Aside from wildlife Nicaragua s highlights are many Postcard pretty Granada founded by buccaneers and conquistadors is one of the oldest cities in the Americas Its cobbled colonial streets are lined with a growing number of sophisticated eateries where you can feast on local produce drink award winning rum salsa the tropical night away and wake up and taste the organic coffee It makes the ideal base to explore Masaya s volcanic park and meet the skilled artisans at its colourful handicraft market zip line over Mombacho s cloud forest and cool off with a swim in the crystalline crater lake of Laguna de Apoyo León has the livelier lived in feel of a university city a hotbed of revolution and poetry where bullet holes still scar the buildings It s the starting point for climbing the Maribios volcanic chain where you can snowboard down the black ash slopes of Cerro Negro Search for petroglyphs and lounge on lakeshore beaches If you want to get to know the locals try your hand at picking coffee in the temperate northern highlands around Matagalpa and Jinotego Or help bring home the catch of the day on twin coned Ometepe Island rising out of Lago de Nicaragua populated by farmers and fishermen You can also stay in one of the island s family run eco lodges climb steep Concepción or the easier Maderas search for petroglyphs or just lounge on

    Original URL path: http://www.roughguides.com/article/nicaraguas-tourism-revolution-this-is-the-year-to-visit/ (2016-02-16)
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