At Imagine we receive a huge range of briefs, from people who know exactly where they want to go and what they want to do, to people who have a vague dream of an exotic holiday but haven’t given it much more thought. Whether you have something very specific in mind or want one of our specialists to guide you every step of the way, we can design a trip to meet your every need. Below you can see an example of a holiday brief received by our specialists, and read on as they go head-to-head to design a trip that will win the client’s heart…
Can you help? We’re a family of four with a 13-year-old daughter and a son aged 15. We’re an active family and like the idea of a trek. We love wildlife but don’t want it to be the main focus because our last family holiday was an African Safari. We’re planning to travel for 2 weeks in the summer and it will probably coincide with our daughter’s birthday, so we’d like to do something special on that day. She loves horse riding. We haven’t been to Latin America, so that is a possibility. We haven’t set a budget – if it’s the right holiday, and it takes our fancy, we’ll go with it.
The Expert Solutions
Grant says consider Costa Rica
One of the wonderful things about Costa Rica is that this relatively tiny country is packed with activity – gorgeous beaches, wildlife and fantastic hotels – you name it, Costa Rica has it.
In addition, it’s easy to get around, English is widely spoken and it’s the safest country in Latin America – three huge pluses when planning a family holiday. There’s a small caveat, though. July through to mid-August is what’s called the ‘green season’. But don’t panic, although you’re planning to travel right in the middle of the wet season, it’s when much of the country enjoys a ‘mini-dry season’ and respite from the rains. As well as the much desired Latin American sunshine, this period also benefits from the rivers running higher, the rainforest feeling a little more mystical and even the dry forests of Guanacaste turning green and lush.
Your flight will most likely land in San José in the early evening, so I would recommend grabbing some dinner and then getting an early night so you’re ready for the adventure to begin bright and early the next day. From San José you can head to Tortuguero on the Caribbean coast. Most people visit this idyllic village to see turtles nesting on the beach, and July and August is the prime time to do so. This isn’t the only thing it offers though; nestled between lagoons and the sea, you’ll see lots of wildlife on boat rides out from the lodge. As you’re quite an active family, I’d recommend heading out deeper into the lagoon in kayaks with your guide so you can access the protected areas where motorboats can’t go. The experience is very special – it’s unlikely you’ll see or hear anyone else, just the animals around you, both in the treetops and within touching distance from your kayak.
After a couple of nights in Tortuguero, your journey continues to the fantastic Pacuare Lodge. Not only is this a top-quality and quite beautiful eco-lodge perched right on the banks of the Pacuare River, there are lots of activities on offer: you can hike to waterfalls, tour the canopy, and enjoy a day’s horse riding. Just when you think the fun is coming to an end, you actually leave the lodge by rafting down the river and negotiating your way through 3 and 4 class rapids. The activity-hub of Arenal is the next stop on the agenda: you can spend your days here trekking on the volcano, horse riding, swimming in waterfalls, mountain biking around the lake or, for the real thrill seekers, zip lining over the canopy. Plus, there’s nothing better after an adrenaline-filled day than relaxing in the natural thermal pools at the Tabacon Grand Spa.
A drive north takes you to Guanacaste, home to Rincon de la Vieja National Park. Here you can explore forests, including sections of montane and dwarf cloud forest that span the park’s base, providing a safe haven for a host of flora and fauna, including monkeys, sloths, and tapirs. Walking trails lead to a number of waterfalls with perfect swimming holes and bubbling hot springs. Another compelling reason to end your trip in Guanacaste is that it has some of the most beautiful, golden beaches in the country and great Pacific surf. Refreshed and bronzed, you’re then really handy for Liberia airport and your flight home.
Katherine plumps for Peru
For the more adventurous family who want to visit a fascinating country and learn about ancient civilisations, local customs and culture, plus explore one of the most biologically diverse rainforests on earth, my homeland Peru is the perfect destination!
Peru is the heart of the ancient Inca civilisation and home to Machu Picchu, one of South America’s most iconic cultural sites. In a recent internet poll, it was voted one of the Seven New Wonders of the World. It is a land of vast biodiversity and one of the few places on earth that can offer travellers everything from sunny coastlines, snow-capped mountains and tropical rainforests all year round. The stunning scenery ranges from vast Andean landscapes and volcanoes, to deserts and canyons. Peru can also claim the deepest canyon in the world, Cotahuasi, and the highest navigable lake, Lake Titicaca. It is also home to the Peruvian Amazon.
Most adventures to Peru start in the bustling and lively capital Lima. I recommend spending a couple of days there to explore the markets and soak up the street life, before taking a flight to Cuzco, an exciting city with Spanish colonial architecture, built on Inca foundations high in the Andes. It has lots of bustling markets and a chocolate museum where you can take part in a chocolate-making workshop – perfect for budding chocolatiers.
From Cuzco you will be able to explore the Sacred Valley of the Incas, as well as visiting colourful craft markets, weaving communities and the impressive Inca fortress, Ollantaytambo. Here, you can ride Peruvian Paso horses, a unique breed directly descended from horses brought from Spain by the Conquistadores. They have an inherited four-beat lateral gait that make them the smoothest riding horses in the world. This would make a very special birthday treat for your daughter. There are many hiking trails in the Sacred Valley where you and your family can visit fascinating archaeological sites, and if you’re feeling adventurous there is white water rafting on the Urubamba River.
A spectacular two-hour train ride from the Sacred Valley lies one of the most impressive sights in Peru – the incredible Machu Picchu, which is situated on a mountain ridge nearly 8,000 feet above sea level. These spectacular temples remained unknown to the outside world until they were brought to international attention by the American explorer Hiram Bingham in 1911. “It fairly took my breath away,” he wrote of his first encounter and I guarantee your reaction will be the same.
I would suggest finishing the perfect holiday to Peru with a trip to the Peruvian Amazon. More than half of Peru is covered by dense, tropical rainforest and it is one of the most bio-diverse regions on Earth. With its abundance of unique flora and fauna and indigenous tribes, the Amazon will provide a truly unforgettable end to this journey.