Tag Archives: columbia

Cruisin’ Baja with UnCruise Adventures

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Baja Caramba!

This week, WIT Agents Racheal & Barbara are going on an Uncruise Adventure to Baja. They’re joining UnCruise alumni for a week down to the Baja Peninsula to swim with the whale sharks and go island-hopping. The boat sails down to Mexico, cruising the Sea of Cortés UNESCO World Heritage Site. When they return, they’ll have to share their firsthand knowledge with you, our lovely clients, and give you pointers on what to expect on a cruise with reputable line UnCruise. We can’t wait to hear their stories!

The Sea of Cortés is a veritable natural aquarium. With bountiful marine life, from scores of dolphins and mobula rays, to sea lion pups and playful pelicans. If you’re lucky, you might even spot the august humpback whale. Dive into the thrill of exploration or relax on a warm beach. The coastline of Baja is bountiful with bird colonies, schools of dolphin and colorful reef fishes. Depending on the season you go, you’ll have the chance to see whale sharks in Bahía de La Paz (Nov to mid-Jan, Mar) or spot gray whales at Bahía Magdalena (mid-Jan to early-Mar).

Call your Willamette Intl Travel agent to find out more about UnCruise Adventures, what they offer and when. 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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What is UnCruise?

UnCruise Adventures is a small ship experience devoted to sharing untraditional, intimate itineraries that really delve deep into the heart of a destination. Their cruises are a great opportunity for travelers who want to explore well-known places like Mexico, Oregon, Hawaii and Alaska in a different and new perspective. Read more about Uncruise Adventures, their history-packed Oregon cruise, and our Alaska trip report.  Also be sure to check out the photos from our Clients’ the Dents, who sailed with UnCruise to Alaska

PLUS! There are themed departures available on certain dates.

  • Birding: Renowned bird experts – on March 25.
  • Chairman’s Cruise: Sail with the leaders and owners of the UnCruise Adventures! – on Jan 7.
  • Marine Biology: Learn all about the amazing aquatic world beneath the waves on excursions and onboard lectures. – Jan 21, Feb 18, Mar 18.
  • Photography: Join NatGeo travel photographer Christopher Baker to capture perfect shots on the boat and in the field – on January 28.

We love UnCruise Adventures! Let us tell you why. Call us up for a chat at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com. 

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Filed under Cruises, Europe, Mexico, Travel by Ship, Un-Cruise

Where in the World is the WIT Agent? – Armenia, Colombia

Today, Linda will take a flight to Armenia, the heart of the Coffee Triangle. She will be escorted to the charming hotel of Hacienda El Delirio, located just below the Andes—a prime base for spectacular views.

Officially known as the Colombian Coffee-Growers Axis or Eje Cafetero, this region is famous for the production of some of the best coffees in the world. Here visitors can tour the plantations, and learn about Colombia’s fine art of coffee harvesting and roasting. The tour is naturally followed with a tasting of delicious samples. You can also hike in the beautiful Cocora Valley and view the 200-foot wax palm tree. The lush Cocora valley is part of the Los Nevados National Natural Park, which covers 58,000 hectares and protects a number of endemic species: palms, toucans, sloths, pumas, tapirs, the Andean condor and many more. There’s some great hiking through the valley, especially via the Acaime route, 2 ½ hours walk starting from Salento. As this is a physically challenging walk, bring your gear—you can also opt for a guided horseback tour.

Stop in charming Salento for the colorful Antioquian architecture or to sip on the local anise-flavored liquor, Aguardiente. The region is famed for its food: from the Bandeja Paisa—a blend of rice, beans, meat, avocado, sausage, bacon and sweet plantains—to the buñuelos cheese balls and caramel wafers.

 Interested in visiting Colombia? Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

photo by Joshua Heller

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Spotlight on the Wax Palm Tree

Known alternately as Ceroxylon quindiuense and Palma de cera del quindio, the wax palm is native to the Cocora Valley and Colombia’s national tree. Until recently it was widely used in the making of candles, timber, food and in celebrations of Palm Sunday. The Colombian government has since declared the trees under federal protection, and they grow relatively unharmed in the mountains—much to the benefit of several other species, including the endangered Loro Orejiamarillo (yellow-eared parrot), who make wax palms their homes.

Palm trees are often associated with sand and sun, but this subspecies only grows in the high altitude of the Andes, making for beautiful frontispieces against the backdrop of rolling clouds and lush mountains. Reaching up to 50 m tall, the wax is the tallest palm in the world and can live up to 100 years. The journals of famous German explorer and naturalist Alexander von Humboldt describe it in 1801.

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Where in the World is the WIT Agent? – Bogota, Colombia

We just celebrated the return of Pam, but we have yet another agent heading off for fresh research!  In the next week Linda will tour Colombia’s cities and coffee plantations with some of our local partners.

As a tourist destination, Colombia hasn’t always had the best reputation. However, due to improvements in infrastructure and security, the country is opening up—and there are plentiful vistas, cultural centers, and heritage sites for travelers to see.

Over the weekend Linda boarded a flight to Miami, where she caught a connection to Bogota, the country’s charming capital. Bogota is a bustling city with 8 million people, a model mass transit system, and the world’s largest bicycling network. She was met upon arrival and escorted to the JW Marriot Bogota, an excellent 5 star-hotel located at the heart of the entertainment and financial district.

Linda spent a fun and fast-paced Sunday inspecting the historic quarter of La Candelaria, the Gold Museum (with its El Dorado exhibits) and the art collections in the Fernando Botero Museum. The district has retained its colonial houses and cobblestone streets that lead to its charm. After lunch, she took a cable car up to Montserrat and enjoyed panoramic vistas and a visit to a pilgrimage church. Visitors to Bogota can also visit the large botanical garden, the planetarium, the Catedral Primada, and the flea market at Usaquén.

Today, Linda will also get to tour Zipaquira, about an hour north of Bogota. The town’s main tourist attraction is its Salt Cathedral, a church constructed almost entirely of salt that lies 200 meters underground.

Stay tuned until Wednesday, when Linda will head over to the world-famous Coffee Triangle and beautiful Cartagena!

Interested in visiting Colombia? Call us at 503.224.0180 or email info@wittravel.com.

photo by Pedro Szekely

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RECIPES FROM THE ANDES

Ajiaco is the definitive dish from Bogota. It’s a heavy soup made up of chicken, three types of potatoes, corn, and the guascas herb. Said to have derived from the Taino word aji, or hot pepper, it covers a range of tasty regional variants. The stars of this show are the buttery papas Criollas, yellow and tender potatoes. You can substitute the herb for bay leaves and parsley and the golden papas for Yukon Golds. Garnish with a blend of sour cream and heavy cream, and serve with cilantro, capers and avocado (in soup or on the side).

photo by Mauricio Giraldo

Ajiaco Bogatano

Time: 4.5 hours

Ingredients:

3 lbs chicken breast on bone with skin
6 quarts water
3 lbs russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
6 lbs new red potatoes, peeled and cut into 1” chunks
3 lbs papas criollas, cut into 1” chunks
4 ears corn on the cob, cut into 3” pieces
2 handfuls of quascas

Preparation:

1. Stick the chicken and a handful of quascas into a large stock pot, add water and bring to a boil. When the meat is tender, remove chicken and set aside in foil to keep warm.

2. Add the potatoes, bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 2-4 hours. The tiny yellows should start to break up in the soup—you can help this process along by mashing some of them.

3. Remove the skin and bones of the chicken. Cut the meat into small pieces and put them back into the pot.

4. About 5 minutes before serving, add remaining guascas.

5. Serve in deep bowls, making sure that each bowl gets some chicken and a piece of corn on the cob. Garnish and serve with rice.

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