A Caribbean Cruise Port With Adventure Travelers In Mind

cruise portThe people that steer cruise ships to Caribbean cruise ports have been looking for new places to send ships for quite some time. Formerly satisfied with the standard fare of Western, Eastern or Southern Caribbean itineraries, cruise travelers are tired of the same old thing and want something different. Cruise lines are delivering, not by just sailing to new, exotic destinations but by building their own.

Banana Coast
is the newest western Caribbean cruise port destination at Trujillo, Honduras. One of the first to call, luxury line Silversea with 296-passenger Silver Cloud, scheduled to make its first visit in December 2014.

“We are pleased to have a high-end brand like Silversea Cruises be the first to commit to call at Banana Coast,” said Michael Greve, president of Global Destinations Development, one of the companies involved with developing the port, in a Travel Pulse report. “It’s a testament to how we have carefully created a destination that is culturally and historically appealing to the most sophisticated travelers.”

When the project is complete, the Banana Coast cruise destination will have a 50,000-square-foot shopping facility and transportation hub, and be far more than other cruise line made islands. Boasting “something for everyone,” it looks like this one really will be via its “Where the Rainforest Meets the Sea” theme.
“We have met with several other cruise lines and have hosted site inspections by cruise line executives,” said Greve. “We expect that several lines soon will commit to adding Banana Coast to their itineraries.”

Ten acres of beachfront land is just the start for the Banana Coast. Enabling travelers to experience the pristine area from air, land and sea, “shore excursions” are more than a ride around the island in a tour bus.

A VIP airplane trip to Mayan ruins, snorkeling, kayaking, ATV rides, a culinary tasting tour and more will be available to adventure travelers. Waterfalls, rivers, streams, mountains, a tropical rainforest, a nature reserve, coral reefs and crystal clear waters should make this destination one to visit.

This one just might have it all.

Oh, and there is some fair surfing there too, as we see in this video:


[Photo Credit - Flickr user Josiah Townsend]

Lost City Discovered In Honduras

A lost city hidden in the jungles of HondurasResearchers from the University of Houston have used a high-tech mapping system to discover a lost city hidden away in the jungles of Honduras. The discovery has led some archaeologists and historians to wonder if the legendary Ciudad Blanca, or White City, has been found after nearly five centuries of searching.

The team that made the discovery was using a sophisticated system of lasers attached to a low flying airplane to map the remote landscapes of Honduras. The system, which is accurate within inches, is able to penetrate the dense jungle canopy and create a detailed image of the topography below. While examining those images the researchers discovered the city, which features a number of structures surrounding a large open plaza. That plaza is flanked on both ends by pyramids, one large and one small.

The discovery has prompted some to speculate that the ruins could be the fabled Ciudad Blanca, which is well known in Central American folklore as the birthplace of the Aztec serpent-god Quetzalcoatl. The city is also said to have been fabulously wealthy and legends tell of intricately carved white statues that gleamed brilliantly in the sun, earning the place its name. The allure of Ciudad Blanca was so great that over the centuries many explorers went in search of its gold, including Spanish conquistador Hernando Cortes who first mentioned the city in his writing back in 1526.

In order to explore the site further archaeologists will now have to organize an expedition to visit the site in person. That journey will not be an easy one, however, as the dense jungle will make passage very difficult. What they find when they get there will remain a mystery for now, but it seems likely that it will be a fabulous discovery, with or without the gold.

[Photo credit: National Center for Airborne Laser Mapping/University of Houston]

Doomsday Bicycle Tour Lets You Ride To The End Of The World

Tour d'Afrique's Doomsday Tour of La Ruta Maya What do you want to be doing when the world ends in December? If your answer is exploring Mayan temples ruins, gazing upon volcanoes and waterfalls, and basking in Central America‘s warm autumn sun all from the seat of your mountain bike, then Tour d’Afrique has a pretty epic tour for you to consider.

Tour d’Afrique’s Doomsday Ride is a 2,300-kilometer (1,429-mile) transcontinental bike expedition along the “Ruta Maya” timed to coincide with the end of the world according to the Mayan Calendar. The trek begins in San Jose, Costa Rica, on November 17, 2012, and follows a winding, but well-scouted, route through Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala and Belize. It concludes at the Lamani Mayan Temple outside of Belize City, Belize, on December 21, 2012 – the supposed date of the apocalypse.

Along the way, participants will get to check out Mayan ruins at Tikal and Copan; the great colonial architecture in the city of Granada, Nicaragua’s erstwhile capital; and villages, markets, rainforests, volcanoes, crater lakes and many other slices of life and nature off of the tourist track. If you can’t take off for the full five weeks of the expedition, Tour d’Afrique offers three shorter sections that average between 10 days and two weeks.

To learn more about the tour, the route, rates and schedules, check out Tour d’Afrique’s La Ruta Maya – the Doomsday Ride Blog.

Cheesey Street Foods Of Latin America

With the possible exception of Argentina, most people don’t associate Central or South America with cheese. Like all of Latin America, these countries are a mix of indigenous cultures, colonizing forces, immigrant influences, and varied terroir, climatic extremes, and levels of industrialization. They possess some of the most biologically and geographically diverse habitats on earth. As a result, the cuisine and agricultural practices of each country have developed accordingly.

The use of dairy may not be particularly diverse in this part of the world, especially when it comes to styles of cheese, but it’s an important source of nutrition and income in rural areas, and a part of nearly every meal.

While writing a book on cheese during the course of this past year, I tapped into my rather obsessive love of both street food and South America for inspiration. As I learned during my research, the sheer variety of cheesey street snacks from Mexico to Tierra del Fuego are as varied as the ethnic influences responsible for their creation. Read on for a tasty tribute to queso.

Arepas: These flat little corn or flour cakes from Colombia, Venezuela and Panama may be grilled, baked, boiled, or fried. They’re usually stuffed or topped with a melting cheese, but may also feature meat, chicken, seafood, egg, or vegetables.

Anafres: Essentially Honduran nachos, composed of giant tortilla chips, refried beans and melted cheese. Named for an anafre, the coal-fired clay pot the dish is served in.

Pupusas: This Salvadorean staple is similar to an arepa: a thick, griddled corn cake stuffed with meat, cheese–usually a mild melting variety known as quesillo–chicarrones (pork cracklings), or queso con loroco (cheese with the buds or flowers of a vine native to Central America).street food vendorChoclo con queso: Boiled corn with slices or a chunk of mild, milky, fresh white cheese may not sound like much, but this roadside and market staple of Peru and Ecuador is irresistible. The secret is the corn, which is an indigenous Andean variety with large, white, nutty, starchy kernels. It’s satisfying as a snack all by itself, but it’s even better between bites of slightly salty queso.

Empanadas (empadinhas in Brazil): Perhaps the most ubiquitous Latin American street food, riffs on these baked or fried, stuffed pastries can be found from Argentina (where they’re practically a religion) and Chile to Costa Rica and El Salvador. The dough, which is usually lard-based, may be made from wheat, corn or plantain, with fillings ranging from melted, mild white cheese to meat, seafood, corn, or vegetables. In Ecuador, empanadas de viento (“wind”) are everywhere; they’re fried until airy,filled with sweetened queso fresco and dusted with powdered sugar.

Quesadillas: Nearly everyone loves these crisp little tortilla and cheese “sandwiches.” Traditionally cooked on a comal (a flat, cast-iron pan used as a griddle), they’re a popular street food and equally beloved Stateside.

Provoleta: This Argentinean and Uruguayan favorite is made from a domestic provolone cheese. It’s often seasoned with oregano or crushed chile, and grilled or placed on hot stones until caramelized and crispy on the exterior, and melted on the inside. It’s often served at asados (barbecues) as an appetizer, and accompanied by chimmichuri (an oil, herb, and spice sauce).
provoleta
Queijo coaljo: A firm, white, salty, squeaky cheese from Brazil; it’s most commonly sold on the beach on a stick, after being cooked over coals or in handheld charcoal ovens; also known as queijo assado.

Croquettes de Queijo: Cheese croquettes, a favorite appetizer or street food in Brazil.

Coxinhas: A type of Brazilian salgado (snack), these are popular late-night fare. Typically, coxinhas are shredded chicken coated in wheat or manioc flour that have been shaped into a drumstick, and fried. A variation is stuffed with catupiry, a gooey white melting cheese reminiscent of Laughing Cow. Like crack. Crack.

Queijadinhas: These irresistable little cheese custards are a popular snack in Brazil. Like Pringles, stopping at just one is nearly impossible.

Pão de queijo: Made with tapioca or wheat flour, these light, cheesy rolls are among the most popular breads in Brazil.

[Photo credit: Empanada, Flickr user ci_polla; food vendor, Provoleta, Laurel Miller]

Photo Of The Day: Copan Carpet In Honduras

This Sunday marks the Easter Holiday in much of the world, and worshippers everywhere are marking the day with uniquely local traditions. As evidence check out this photo taken by Flickr user Aldaberto.H.Vega in Honduras. As part of Semana Santa locals lay out brilliant “carpets” on the streets composed of colorful sawdust and flowers documenting the Stations of the Cross. The Gadling team liked the eye-catching visuals of the scene so much that fellow blogger Meg Nesterov used almost exactly the same image in a photo during Easter 2011. Seems like quite a sight to see, whether you’re a practicing Christian or simply curious about the world.

Have any great photos to share from your own travels? Why not upload them to our Gadling group on Flickr? We might just pick one of yours as our Photo of the Day.