The best luxury retreats in Latin America for photographers


With landmasses than span mountain ranges, deserts, icefields, rainforest, salt-plains, rivers and savannahs, Latin America’s natural diversity is one of the region’s greatest attractions. Speckled with sophisticated modern metropolises and older towns of crumbling colonial charm, the human element is equally as compelling. For those with a keen interest in photography, the cocktail of cultural influences, the geographical grandeur and the incongruous mishmash of old and new make Latin America one of the most inspiring places to travel on earth. Here is some of our favourite hotel and destination combinations for a truly unforgettable photography trip:

Awasi Patagonia, Torres del Paine, Chile

This stunning collection of private villas perched on the rolling Patagonian steppe offer breath-taking views towards the magnificent Torres del Paine National Park, and a striking vista of the park’s main attraction: the three ‘torres’ or ‘towers’ that lend it its name. Situated on a private reserve, guests of Awasi are treated to perhaps the best hotel service in all of South America. Each luxurious villa has exclusive use of its own private guide and 4WD vehicle so that visitors are able to enjoy this spectacular wilderness in an entirely personalised fashion.

During a stay at Awasi Patagonia, guests will have the opportunity to explore the magical landscapes that make this part of Chile so famous. Winding park trails dart between native lenga forests, cobalt blue-glacial lakes, the icy peaks of the Paine Massif, lush valleys, never-ending steppes, and enormous glaciers. For those keen on photography, the limitless flexibility of your stay at Awasi and the tranquillity of the hotel’s private land will allow you time and space to capture every possible angle of this unique natural splendour.

Fasano Salvador, Salvador de Bahia, Brazil

Perhaps one of the most aesthetically interesting cities in Brazil for keen photographers, Salvador de Bahia’s fascinating human history makes it a compelling destination. A cocktail of European, indigenous and African influences, the colourful traditions and architecture of Brazil’s northern state of Bahia are seen at their best in this crumbling colonial hub. Recently opened, the newest hotel in the elegant Fasano group offers some of the best accommodation in the city. Fasano Salvador occupies a historic building on the seafront, offering sweeping views of the All-Saints Bay.

Head out from your hotel into the Pelourinho, the extremely well-preserved colonial centre of the city, and photograph the exuberant African-influenced traditional dress of the street vendors alongside the opulent baroque architecture of the Portuguese Empire. In the evening, return to the sophisticated art-deco interiors of the Fasano and enjoy a classy cocktail at the bar.

Cayena Beach Villa, Santa Marta, Colombia

Cayena offers a boho-chic retreat on Colombia’s exotic Caribbean Coast, near the sleepy seaside town of Santa Marta and the verdant Tayrona National Park. This relaxed luxury hideaway brings the outside in, with a delicate tropical design that reflects the extravagant beauty of the surrounding rainforest. Enjoy a delicious breakfast buffet of tropical fruit from the region and sip exotic cocktails by the stunning pool during sunset over the Caribbean Sea.

The Santa Marta region abounds in fabulous nature and culture. Keen photographers can venture onto the trails of the forested Tayrona National Park to capture stunning pictures of monkeys and a dizzying variety of tropical birdlife. One of the most unique coastal regions on planet earth brings together the lush rainforest of the park with the resplendent blue of the Caribbean Sea and the distant snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta. Lovers of unique scenery will be enchanted by this odd combination and can fill their stay visiting indigenous tribes in the jungle and charming local villages in the mountains of Minca.

Gran Hotel Manzana Kempinski, Havana, Cuba

Few travellers will be unfamiliar with the quaint images of vintage cars and crumbling colonial edifices associated with a trip to Havana, the capital of Cuba. This fascinating city where the dynamism of modern Cuban art and culture meets the decaying vestiges of colonial power is a photographer’s dream. Situated in the heart of Old Havana, this grandiose Kempinski property offers true international luxury in a unique location. With 246 elegant rooms and a full range of enticing dining options, this stylish property treats guests to panoramic views of Old Havana and the quality-guarantee of an international luxury brand.

Wandering the cobbled streets and alleyways of the old city gives photographers the opportunity to try and capture the unique character of this capital frozen in time. An artistic and surprisingly forward-thinking city, Havana oozes creative energy. Photograph artists at work in the streets, merengue dancers and cigar rollers in front of glorious pastel-coloured facades before returning to your hotel for an evening relaxing in the sea breeze.

Arakur, Ushuaia, Argentina

Boasting breath-taking views over the Beagle Channel and Ushuaia, the City at the End of the World, Arakur is a striking location for the aesthetically inclined. This 5-star luxury property offers an alluring blend of homely Patagonian warmth and sleek, modern style with elegant interiors of local wood and marble. Enjoy world-class international cuisine alongside sumptuous Argentine specialities in the hotel restaurant with panoramic views of the icy south and relax through the frosty Patagonian evenings in the cosy hotel lounge.

Nowhere in Argentina is the scenery more dramatic than here, at the southern point of the continent. Step outside into the crisp Patagonian air and soak up enchanting views of jagged mountains, icefields and the stunning Tierra del Fuego National Park. The human history here is intriguing too and keen photographers may be interested in visiting remote outposts which once served for scientific research, naval bases or even the ex-prisoners camp, where inmates were subjected to hard labour in chilling conditions up until its closure in 1947.

Simon Williams is Director of Humboldt Travel. Humboldt Travel is a luxury travel company specialising in tailor made holidays to Latin America.

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Comments (7)

  1. Tony says:

    What’s that old saying, “Take nothing but photos.” I’ve always been an avid traveller. I’ve been to so many places now that the only way that I remember some of the early places is by looking back through my photo albums. Going away on a photographic pilgrimage through Latin America, taking in a couple of these luxury retreats would be an excellent way in improving my eye for a picture and my photographic skills.

  2. Jeff G says:

    I’ve got an ambition to get down to Tierra Del Fuego. The scenery must be fantastic. Also I read an inspirational book about a man in his seventies who drove a pizza delivery moped from the southern tip of the continent to the USA. If he can do that then the least I can do is stay in a Luxury retreat and take some brilliant photos.

    • Claire Marston says:

      That’s one impressive 70 year old. Did he deliver pizzas before he took that trip, or did he just borrow the moped from the company? It’s definitely an interesting way to travel!

  3. Nick says:

    Some nice landscape and wildlife shots here though in my opinion you can’t beat a great people portrait. Some of the local people around these retreats will have faces that tell a lot of stories. Usually if you ask politely more people are happy to
    be photographed than not. Maybe it’s just my way of doing things but I always like to get a lot of portraits especially if people are doing local things like agriculture or crafts or cooking.

  4. Fiona says:

    Although I enjoy my photography I’m just an enthusiastic amateur. I have seen some great shots of Havana and a lot of them have featured grand American cars from long ago. To be honest I’m amazed that they haven’t rusted away by now. Must have some very careful owners looking after them. I’d like to make it to Cuba to take some photographs like the one in the post.

  5. Fred says:

    Wow – something for everyone here. Wild, urban, beaches, mountains – the works. Very tempting.

    Imagine taking a quarter-life gap year, money no option, to stay at all of these luxury retreats? No, you’re right. It ain’t going to happen.

  6. Claire Marston says:

    I read a few blogs by people living in America who have written about their vacations in Latin America, and I remember Cuba and Chile being mentioned a few times. I’d be interested in checking out the Torres del Paine National Park and staying in a villa to get an authentic exploration of the wilderness, it sounds like it would be a breathe of fresh air as far as holidays go. I can see why Brazil is so appealing, there are definitely some very Instagrammable buildings to be seen!

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