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When every second of a trip is a highlight, it’s hard to narrow down just 10 (highlights) to summarize a two week experience. Our recent DTour throughout Central and South America was absolutely packed full of adrenalin pumping adventure, incredible wildlife experiences, mouthwatering seafood and outrageously scenic views.

We rode Quad bikes across remote, secluded beaches in Costa Rica, rode horseback through volcanic landscapes, trekked far into the Panamanian jungle, parasailed in Paracas (Peru), took a flight over the Nazca lines, and discovered a world of skulls and bones in Catacombs underneath the city of Lima. This trip was my first assignment as a paid travel writer, the exposure for further establishing my travel blog was phenomenal, and of course, we were being paid to travel the world – pinch me please!

Though none of these experiences made it into our top 10 highlights. Here are the 10 which did.

#1 Machu Picchu

 

If you could discover an ancient civilization, would you?!

If you could discover an ancient civilization, would you?!

No visit to Peru is complete without a visit to Machu Picchu. Touristy? Yes. Tourists swarm Aguas Calientes like the plague. Difficult to reach? Definitely. Though we opted out of the 4 day Inca Trail hike and took a flight and a train. Absolutely unbelievable and completely worth the journey? You bet!

Despite miserable weather and absolutely horrid rain on the day we visited, it was one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The views were second to none, and I’m fairly certain we were standing on top of the world! Posts to come.

#2 Sandboarding in Huacachina

 

You haven’t known adventure until you have zipped down a 300 foot sand dune headfirst, screaming for your life, eating sand the entire way down. You haven’t known adventure until you have strapped yourself into a sand buggy and flown through “Everest of the Desert” at high speeds, clutching your seatbelt until your knuckles turn white.

You haven’t known adventure until you have visited Huacachina, Peru. Apparently we hadn’t known adventure until our DTour!

 

#3 The Amazing Hilton Hospitality

 

If you read our recent post about the time we were mistaken for VIP’s in Central and South America, you’ll know that we were treated like absolute royalty during our two weeks traveling for DoubleTree.

Treated to the best lunches, dinners and, in Panama’s case, ice-cream, with a personal supply of warm chocolate chip cookies and even warmer welcomes often from the entire hotel staff upon each new arrival, stunning suites, and access, recommendations and private drivers for some of the most adventurous activities in each area; the generosity of each property, and willingness of each staff member to go completely above and beyond what was expected of them means DoubleTree is now our first choice for accommodation for any and all future trips.

#4 Wildlife

 

We are absolute wildlife fanatics, so any opportunity to experience and photograph rare and exotic creatures, we’re there. And the strategic locations of each DoubleTree property did not disappoint.

From squirrel monkeys, toucans and crocodiles in Costa Rica, to sloths, howler monkeys and poison dart frogs in Panama, we were truly in our element!

#5 Carara National Park

 

Having already established our insane love of wildlife, there was no doubt that Carara National Park was going to be a highlight of our DTour.

#6 Learning to Surf

 

Picture miles upon miles of white sandy beaches, clean surf breaks, epic waves, and water so warm there’s no need for a wetsuit. Costa Rica was the perfect place to tick off this long awaited bucket list item!

#7 The Food

 

They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so here are a few thousand words about the food during our time with DoubleTree!

Needless to say, we didn’t find any need to eat off site as each property had their own fabulous menu which kept our taste buds well and truly satisfied!

#8 DoubleTree Cookies

 

Carrying on from #7, DoubleTree Cookies are a highlight in their own right! I mean, what more could a girl want than her own personal supply of warm chocolate chip cookies anywhere and everywhere she goes?!

The iconic DoubleTree by Hilton cookies were so good that when we hit the streets in Lima to spread the Cookie Care for National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, 200 of them disappeared in 10 minutes!!

#9 The Properties

 

A hotel should be more than just a room to crash in at the end of an action packed day; it should be part of your experience. And each of the DoubleTree properties we stayed at were an experience in themselves.

Gorgeous suites, stunning room views, extensive amenities and immaculate grounds – each property we visited was spectacular and displayed incredible attention to detail. Read our review of the Costa Rica property. Further reviews to come.

#10 Ziplining in Costa Rica

 

One of the top tourist attractions in Costa Rica, consisting of platforms connected by thick cables stretching across tree-ladden ravines, hillsides and valleys, we strapped ourselves into harnesses, clipped into the cables, and went flying from one platform to another! This was true adventure!

We traveled on behalf of Doubletree by Hilton DTour; a whole new way to plan – and share – your travels. We were hosted by Doubletree by Hilton Resort Central Pacific, Doubletree by Hilton Panama CityEl Pardo DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel, and Doubletree Resort by Hilton Paracas.

 About Megan Claire

Megan is an Australian Journalist who has been travelling and blogging around the world for the last 7 years to inspire others to embark on their own worldwide adventure!  Her husband Mike is an American travel photographer, and together they have made the world their home.

Follow their journey on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter.

    20 Comments

  1. wow, this sounds like an epic journey :) Loved your photos, and oh the food looks delicious! Thanks for sharing :)

    • We had a pretty phenomenal time – the trip definitely wasn’t void of adventure! Just revisiting the food photos is making my stomach rumble lol!

    • Thanks Zoe! Hoping this will just be the start!

  2. Awesome Megan! I got really sick the night before MP in Peru so I missed it but more than made up for it, with a thrilling trip through Costa Rica. We saw 7 separate sloths in Manuel Antonio, along with Jesus Christ lizards, monkeys, etc, etc…lol….Nice pictures ;) Thanks!

    • Thanks Ryan! Sorry to hear you missed MP – though Costa Rica is definitely a pretty awesome consolation! We didn’t get to Manuel Antonio, and actually didn’t see many sloths in Costa Rica – more in Panama! Will have to make sure we do Manuel Antonio if we’re ever lucky enough to return!

  3. Sounds like it has been a blast! Really how could it not, you’ve been to some amazing places. Love the videos, gives me a closer look at the places.

    • Thanks Jen! Glad you enjoyed the videos – I have so much fun putting them together; kind of a great way to remember a trip after the fact!

  4. Wonderful highlights from what has been an amazing adventure for you two. Question is what was the no. 1 highlight?!

    I love the pictures especially the monkeys. I also want to get to MP some day, just not sure yet when it will happen.

    • Number 1 highlight would have to be Machu Picchu – was pretty much the first item I added to my bucket list way back when I decided I wanted to start traveling and seeing the world.

      Keep MP in your sights. It’s a little out of the way to get to, but so, so worth it!

  5. Can I say that all 10 of these easily easily make my to do list! The food looks really good (Costa Rica has the best seafood in the world)! lol I think I would like to go sand boarding most though…have you ever been snowboarding or wake boarding? Is it similar at all?

    • We haven’t been snowboarding or wakeboarding (both on the very long and ever growing bucket list!), however there were two girls in our group who were professional snowboarders.

      They did the first two dunes standing strapped into their boards, however I guess there was no traction (I think you’re too heavy standing up)and they weren’t really getting far before getting stuck. They joined us in the stomach, head first position pretty quickly!

  6. Looks like you had some amazing trip!

    • It was absolutely phenomenal. As with everything great, the time flew by way too quickly!

    • OMG I know! I actually discovered the recipe for them while staying at the Paracas property – I’ll have to dig it out of our photo archive :D!

  7. What fun! Those sand dunes look amazing and now I want to try Sandboarding! One note: the video from Carara National Park is not loading…says “video does not exist.” :( Aside from that, what an awesome fun time!

    • Thanks Rob! Glad you enjoyed the videos – thanks for pointing out the Carara Nat Park video – not sure how but for some reason looks like it has been completely removed from my YouTube channel – will look at re uploading it asap. Thanks for letting me know!

  8. Hi. Megan! Lovely list and cool activities here! I loved Costa Rica and Nepal. Did white water rafting in Zambia on the Zambezi (with some class V rapids) and was terrified (but I survived, yay!). Would love to visit New Zealand and Chile, they’re on my bucket list, for sure!
    Wouldn’t know about the Mt.Huashan climb, though..I’d like to do that, but I think that maybe I wouldn’t be able to – even though I don’t have a fear of heights. It’s absolutely horrifying! Have you done it?

    • Hi Pritta! I haven’t done the Mt.Huashan climb yet myself … I’m fairly certain that even without a fear of heights, it’s still going to give me the heeby jeebies when I get to it!!

      Sounds like you’ve racked up some amazing adventures along your travels … white water rafting in Zambia on the Zambezi sounds amazing!! Clicking through to your post to check it out now :)

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