Claire's passion for Latin America was sparked while studying geography at Cambridge. She was particularly intrigued by Central America, as it seemed like such a melting pot of diverse cultures, histories, natural wonders and environments, ("and all within an area smaller than France!" she told anyone that would listen).
After university she decided to explore this mysterious part of the world and has never looked back. She spent over half a year travelling around Latin America, where she fell head over heels in love with the place, the people and its wildlife.
Her personal highlights include splashing her way (extremely ungracefully) through the ATM cave in Belize, spotting her first kinkajou in Costa Rica's Gandoca-Manzanillo National Park, learning the difference between salsa, son and trova in colonial Trinidad (music capital of Cuba) and boogying her way through Utila, Honduras on a float in the annual carnival dressed like an hibiscus flower.
My Most Memorable Experience
My last visit to Costa Rica coincided with the prehistoric natural phenomenon of the green turtle nesting season in Tortuguero National Park. I had been desperate to witness this for years, yet a little concerned about the reports of tourists swamping the beach and disturbing the females during this critical time.
I need not have worried. Tortuguero National Park carefully manage the number of visitors to the beaches each evening (early sign up required!!) which meant that I shared this experience with just the turtle, the guide and approximately 12 other interested visitors like myself.
We watched in amazement as she laid over 100 eggs with a steadfast determination, before spraying us all with sand as she haphazardly covered her treasure trove with her flippers. The female turtles play a fascinating trick on any would-be predators of their nest, but I won’t spoil the surprise for you, I will let you find out about it for yourself when you go!
My Favourite Destination
Out of all the places I have travelled, Lake Atitlan in Guatemala remains one of my firm favourites.
There is nothing quite like waking up to the calm, blue vista of the lake with the three majestic volcanoes almost floating in the background. The numerous little villages dotted around the lake are easily accessed by boat and are a joy to visit.
Each village has its own character, identified by the colour of clothes the villagers wear and the art that they specialise in. My personal favourite is sleepy San Juan, with some of the friendliest people I have ever met and truly beautiful artwork to enjoy.
My Favourite Accommodation
Costa Rica has a wealth of amazing accommodation, with everything from five star resorts to secluded rainforest hideaways. However, even with all that on offer, the Hidden Canopy Treehouses really stood out to me.
The four tree houses are individually designed with huge windows providing a constant reminder that yes, you really are staying in a tree. With most of the furniture expertly handcrafted on site it feels like there is a piece of the forest inside the tree-house too.
Monteverde is one big natural adventure playground, and after a day of exploring the area the owners Jennifer and Christhiam will welcome you for afternoon tea (with delicious cakes!) on their verandah with spectacular views over the gulf of Nicoya. Bliss!