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The Most Cinematic-Worthy Destinations in Latin America

Eight of the most anticipated films of the upcoming Latin America & Spain Film Festival, showcasing eight of the world’s most astonishing travel destinations – Discover the best of Latin America, one fantastic film at a time

Foreign films have a wonderfully evocative effect on the travel-addicted, offering glimpses into a side of local cultures we’d otherwise never get to witness. At Viva Expeditions, we think that one can learn so much about a country and its culture from watching one of its own cinematic productions and that’s why we are proud sponsors of this year’s Latin America & Spain Film Festival, bound to be a cultural experience as much as a visual one.

Need a reason to pack your bags and come explore Latin America?

Here are eight!

Peru – Old Friends

The Film:
Old Friends was Villarán’s debut film when it was first released in 2014 and is set in the Callao neighbourhood of his beloved hometown of Lima, Peru’s vibrant capital. The light-hearted yet touching film is a very moving tribute to friendships, childhood nostalgia and the passing of time, whilst it highlights the tremendous change which Lima has undergone in just a matter of a few decades.

The Destination:
As one of Latin America’s most visited destinations, Peru needs very little introduction. Its most famous highlight, the ancient Inca citadel of Machu Picchu, is what draws most first-time visitors yet the country’s stupendous array of treasures – usually discovered once there – is what keeps them coming back, time and again. Once primarily the domain of adventurous backpackers, Peru has gone through an evolution of its own accord, now offering softer’ and more sophisticated experiences for those of us who wish to travel in a little more comfort. From luxury train journeys to the Machu Picchu to 5* Amazon Jungle river cruises and sensational Andean lodge-stays (ideal for multi-day hiking trips), Peru offers a kaleidoscope of experiences, all doable in a relatively short amount of time and suitable for anyone of any age. It’s really no wonder Peru continues to top every Latin American travel must-visit list, especially when you consider that there are many lesser-visited regions (like the north) that are just as rewarding yet still way off the tourist trail.

See all of Viva Expeditions’ Tours of Peru

Startling early morning view of Machu Picchu

mexico – She is Ramona

The Film:
She Is Ramona is a fantastic film that follows the hilarious trials and tribulations of a protagonist who boasts ‘an abundance of kilos and deficit of luck’. The film is deeper than may appear at first glance, with Ramona’s arduous struggles against body-shaming and gender-biased seamlessly reflecting the struggles Mexico has itself undergone in the last few decades. There’s more to Ramona than her ample curves just like there’s more to Mexico than tacos and tequila.

The Destination:
Tired of being pigeonholed as a hedonistic destination with nothing more to offer than an admittedly dreamy stretch of Caribbean coastline, Mexico has emerged as Central America’s most rewarding cultural and historical powerhouse. Yes, the palm-fringed beaches, turquoise bays and taco stands are still here, of course, but if you look beyond the most obvious horizons you’ll also discover a stunning collection of ancient Mayan sites, magnificent colonial architecture and an abundance of natural splendours, like the breathtaking Copper Canyon which still manages to fly way below the mass-tourism radar. 

See all of Viva Expeditions’ Tours of Mexico

For an added culture-fix, make sure you plan your trip to Mexico to coincide with one of the country’s yearly festivals

Ecuador – Black Quixotes

The Film:
Every festival needs an enigmatic film that has elicited a cult-following in its home-country and, in the case of the 2019 LASFF, Black Quixotes is definitely it. This fantasy film is the brainchild of Ecuadorian director Sandino Burbano, who spent many years trying to bring his vision to reel-life against innumerable obstacles. This odd-ball, imaginary tale reflects Burbano’s views on Spanish colonialism and inter-racial mixing in Ecuador and is, essentially, an indigenous version of the fabled story of Don Quixote de la Mancha.

The Destination:
Ecuador itself can be considered Latin America’s odd-ball destination, a small and compact country that actually offers an overwhelming array of highlights yet one which has been overlooked for years. For those lucky enough to visit, the discoveries are innumerable, made all the more pleasurable by the distinct lack of tourist crowds. In Ecuador, you’ll discover a collection of exquisite colonial-era cities (check out Cuenca and swoon away), dozens of lesser-visited Inca sites that are just as gorgeous as Machu Picchu, a startling stretch of Andean peaks brimming with hiking trails and lastly – perhaps the most unmissable highlight of all – the magnificent Galapagos Islands, one of the world’s best wildlife-watching destinations.

See Viva Expeditions’ Tours of Ecuador

Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands are home to a unique array of endemic wildlife not seen anywhere else on earth

Cuba – why do my friends cry?

The Film:
Take four incredible women, one powerful storyline and a just a single shooting location in Cuba and you’ve got a recipe for one of the most thought-provoking and emotive films of this year’s LASFF. With its introspective views on modern Cuban society and interwoven life-lessons (we’d all do well to pay attention to) Why do my friends cry? is a wonderfully reflective film that is bound to strike a familiar chord with anyone over the age of 40.

The Destination:
The evolution of Cuba’s identity is one that’s been played out internationally over the years with the at-times off-limits country developing a mystical reputation among the travel-savvy Even today, as the curtains are slowly drawn back and foreigners are being welcomed with open arms in droves, the age of Cuban discovery – on our part – is only just beginning. A country that’s both avant-garde and wedged in an ever-evolving time-warp, Cuba is one of the most distinctive nations on earth and by far one of its most cinematic-worthy. Loud, proud, colourful and unique, Cuba makes for an exceptional travel experience that, dare we say, just can’t be found anywhere else. From the splendid architecture of Old Havana and Trinidad to the country’s sublime Caribbean beaches, picturesque rural scenes and effervescent locals, Cuba still exists in a world that’s all its own. Visit now, before it all changes.

See Viva Expeditions’ Tours of Cuba

Cuba’s wildlife-brimming Zapata Peninsula boasts the largest wetlands in all of Central America

Colombia – Gabo, the magic of reality

The Film:
A biographical film about Colombia’s most beloved author, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Gabo arrives in New Zealand with several international awards under its belt. The Nobel Prize literary winner famously penned One Hundred Years of Solitude as well as Love in the Time of Cholera and is often credited with putting Colombia ‘on the map’ and is widely regarded as one of the most influential writers of the 20th-century. He was certainly one of Latin America’s greatest literary giants and, five years after his passing, his crowd-pulling power is still undeniable. If you’re a lover of his musings, you’ll devour the movie and if Marquez’ writings have not yet convinced you to discover Colombia, perhaps watching Gabo is the event that’ll finally entice you to pack your bags.

The Destination:
Colombia is an exciting county to discover, primarily because it’s one of Latin America’s ‘newest’ hot-spots and that one country not many people know well. With a solid peace accord firmly in place between the Government and rebel fractions, Colombia’s political woes seem to be well and truly in the past, meaning that more and more of the country is becoming easily accessible. Given its enviable geographical location, Colombia is one of the most biodiverse nations on earth and boasts some of the most pristine jungles and mountain stretches in all of Latin America. For unrivalled wildlife spotting, mountain hiking, jungle exploring and beach-bumming, Colombia is absolutely unsurpassed and all of this, coupled with a local culture that’s been untarnished by mass tourism, makes it unmissable for true explorers.

See all of Viva Expeditions’ Tours of Colombia

Islas del Rosario is one of Colombia’s dreamiest island getaway destinations

Brazil – little secret

The Film:
Inspired by real-life events, Little Secret is that one flick that’s bound to tug at the heartstrings, perhaps more than any other film this year. A native of Florianopolis on the southern Brazilian coast, the film’s director, David Schurmann, makes full use of the sensational landscapes of his beloved Brazil. Schurmann has always been a consummate traveller and sailor and his links to New Zealand certainly don’t go unnoticed here.

The Destination:
Schurmann’s movies and documentaries elicit wanderlust like nothing else and his latest cinematic instalment is no different. Being one of the largest countries in the world, Brazil can be an overwhelming destination in which to plan a visit but with a bit of forethought and the right advice, you can soak up its most celebrated wonders with ease. Rio is an obvious and most glorious springboard, the eclectic city making for a fab introduction to the cultural and natural delights of the country. From here, you can do it all: hop on a short flight for a 3-day visit to eye-popping Iguazu Falls, head to the darkest depths of the Amazon for a unique jungle experience and pop in next door to the Pantanal wetlands for unrivalled wildlife spotting. Want more? Brazil has it! A whole cluster of remote paradisiacal islands that are still way off the well-trodden path and more hidden spots than you could ever visit in a lifetime. 

See all of Viva Expeditions’ Tours of Brazil

 Spotting giant anteaters in Brazil’s Pantanal Wetlands

Argentina – ten days without mum

The Film:
Ever fantasised about packing your bags and taking off for 10 days of ‘me’ time, leaving your tribe to fend for itself, just once? Yes, we hear you, same here! Vera takes our fantasy and runs wild with it in this hilarious film from Argentina, leaving behind a trail of absolute chaos as her husband, Victor, is left to step into her shoes and take care of their four children for 10 days. What could possibly go wrong, you ask?! How about everything!

The Destination:
Argentina may be South America’s second-largest country but considering the superb infrastructure and connectivity, there’s actually a lot you can do and see in just 10 days. Admittedly, you’ll be barely scratching the country’s surface but spending just over a week exploring romantic Buenos Aires, startling Iguazu Falls and the arresting mountainous landscapes of the northwest Salta region, would make for a fabulous entrée indeed. Want to extend the trip? Then head south and discover the jaw-dropping glaciers, lakes and snow-capped peaks of the Argentinian side of Patagonia, feasting your tastebuds (and eyes) on the picturesque hub of Bariloche and filling your days with hiking trips, horseback riding and plenty of wine tasting. 

Want to turn 10 days into 10 weeks? Oh yes, we can do that too…

See all of Viva Expedition’s Tours of Argentina

The Perito Moreno Glacier is the undisputed crown jewel of Argentina’s Patagonia region

Chile – broken panties

The Film:
Arnaldo Vassecchi’s dark comedy plays out in a wonderfully rural setting of outback Chile and deals with the kind of family ‘reunion’ you know could only result in a cacophony of hilarious dramas. With its own female empowerment issues and an impressive cast of over a dozen of the country’s most revered actors, Broken Panties is sure to be a crowd-favourite at this year’s LASFF.

The Destination:
The film was shot solely on an expansive estate in the O’Higgins Region of central Chile and highlights the incredible allure of the country’s rural countryside. Having long since emerged from its decades-long anonymity, Chile has swiftly risen among the ranks of Latin America’s most coveted destinations and for very good reason. This exceptionally long but narrow country showcases a mind-boggling array of ecosystems: from the dry and dramatic Atacama Desert in the north to the wine-growing regions of the Central Valleys and the remarkable fjords, lakes and snow-capped peaks of southern Patagonia, Chile is a powerhouse of attractions. With its strong economy, world-class infrastructure and divine foodie scene, Chile is also one of the easiest and most comprehensive Latin American countries you could visit – made easier by Air New Zealand’s direct flights to the capital, Santiago.

This is a wonderful place to start your Latin America tour de force!

See all of Viva Expedition’s Tours of Chile

Chile’s Torres del Paine National Park is Patagonia’s premier hiking destination

Viva Expeditions

New Zealand’s own Viva Expeditions are your Latin America travel experts: contact us at any time to speak to one of our experienced travel consultants and start planning your unforgettable trip of a lifetime.