Entertainment

11 Places to Do Extreme Sports in Latin America

Calling out all the high-adrenaline junkies: Latin America is waiting for you. Whether biking on Bolivia’s death road, piranha fishing in the Pantanal or snorkeling the coral reefs of Belize, Latin America is packed with exciting sports and other adventures for the extremes.

If you’re looking for an exceptional and extremely active experience backed by fascinating cultures, cheap prices, and stunning topography, we have found your perfect extreme sports playground.

Check out some of these destinations that will get your heart pumping as you enjoy your favorite hobby.

Piranha fishing in the Pantanal, Brazil

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The destination would have to be the best rated extreme playing ground with one of the deadliest fish in the world. The interesting part is that after having a wonderful experience sporting in the area, you can actually eat the fish afterward.

Credit: Instagram @bonitomsofficial

 Ignore the fact that the Piranha itself is the face of the Pantanal, and focus on getting yourself damp on this region that is perfect for extreme sports. You can cruise the area in a cruiser or embark on a long adventure by driving the 147 km journey across Mato Grosso.

Snorkeling in the Reefs of Belize

Credit: Instagram @energymindsetBelize may be small, but its coastline is lively with beautiful scenes. A third of the 900 km long Mesoamerican Reef is covered by coral reefs which are the main charm here. Take a stroll along the coastline while exploring the charming cayes (Caulker and Ambergris).

Credit: Instagram @lpnycmermaid

Grab the chance to swim with sharks in the beautiful Hol Chan Marine Reserve and dive into the Blue Hole as you enjoy the beautiful scenes of this region.

Mountain bike, Bolivia

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Probably the most dangerous road, Bolivia features tough tracks that are perfect for extreme biking experience. The steep and mostly bumpy route starts on the highest point of the Bolivian Andes at La Paz and stretches for about 40 miles across the sub-tropical Yungas all the way to the sleepy town of Coroico.

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 As you scale down, the road becomes narrow and you may want to be careful as it cuts through the walls of the sheer valley and passes beneath rocky overhangs and waterfalls.

Scuba Diving in Isla de Coiba, Panama

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Commonly known as “Panama’s Galapagos,” this iconic spot is challenging but quite rewarding. Most of the experienced divers who are ready to endure strong currents coupled by Pacific waters can find a safe haven in Isla de Coiba.

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Divers will also enjoy the amazing sights of manta rays, oversized sturgeon, turtles, and lots of sharks. These sharks are the reason why this region was once an outstanding prison colony as the prisoners were frightened to try to escape. The prison was later replaced with a National Park, but divers from all over the world flock the scene to have fun and for sports.

Volcano climbing, Costa Rica

Credit: Instagram @hampistravelserviceApart from its exploding flora and fauna, Costa Rica is also known for its frequent eruptions from the ground. Its volcano stretch is magnificently surrounded by the Arenal Volcano National Park. For several years, the fire has been regular and can still be seen emitting from the volcano. 

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The interesting thing is the wild animals that you can bump into while climbing the tough trails around the national park.

Kite Surfing in Cumbucco, Brazil

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If you enjoy kitesurfing in miles of empty beaches, windy environment, and tropical temperatures, then Cumbucco is your dream surfing paradise.

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The area is known for its wide variety of kiting options, with flat water lagoons and good wave spots. It’s a great sport for extreme sporting.

Avenue of volcanoes, Ecuador

Credit: Instagram @mipebraAmong the tallest active volcanoes across the globe is Cotopaxi. There is no better way to see its potential except by riding its slants either by horse riding or slumbering on its echoing belly.

Credit: Instagram @miguel_vm28

Just like the name, the Avenues of Volcanoes in Ecuador will make the sporting experience enjoyable as you cover the massive avenues of its walls. Set out on a memorable escapade to get a taste of the Ecuadorian life on the tough plains.

White Water Rafting, Costa Rica

Credit: Instagram @ecofitnessadventuresThere is, honestly, a fantastic whitewater rafting across Latin America. The southernmost area is characterized by increased water sports, from rafting through the dense jungles to sea-kayaking in the sparkling sea water.

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The Pacuare River stills stand out as the ideal place to get wet. Stretching over 12 miles across the pristine rainforest, the place will get you sweaty while you enjoy the adventure. Bordering the river is the Talamanca mountain range with a beautiful sight of wild animals such as monkeys, birds, sloths, and more. Get down there before the plan of building a hydroelectric plant in the vicinity becomes a reality.

Kayaking, Trinidad and Tobago

Credit: Instagram @canoekayakmagFor the modern enthusiast of kayaking, it would be great to engage in the sport while enjoying the unique azure of waters and bays sheltered by freshwater. 

Credit: Instagram @kayaktrinidad

Trinidad and Tobago is the ideal destination for saltwater and freshwater kayaking. Key scenes to note are the Godineau River and Bon Accord Lagoon that allows you to enjoy the tropical warmth while you take on your favorite spot.

Wakeboarding, Bahamas

Credit: Instagram @wakeboarding

Getting the chance to enjoy waterskiing and wakeboarding 12 months in a year coupled with good weather is extremely breathtaking.

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Remove featured imageThink of the stunning stretches of water that allows you to ride your motorboat at super speed, try a few tricks, and later bask on the beautiful beaches. The Bahamas offers it all in one package.

Sandboarding, Huacachina, Peru

Credit: Instagram @ overlandtourOnce you have experienced the all-sand version, you will have a hard time going back to the original. It’s among the world’s most famous adventure sports. In the small desert town of Huacachina, sandboarding is the main adrenaline sport to try.

Credit: Instagram @ joelbeteta

Get your board and begin the rough ride on a mission to reach the highest dunes. The residents use candlesticks at the bottom of their boards as a way to increase speed before tearing down the sandbanks. It’s an exciting experience.

This Team Of Synchronized Swimmers With Down Syndrome Were Denied Access To A Pool For Fear Of Contaminating Other Swimmers

Entertainment

This Team Of Synchronized Swimmers With Down Syndrome Were Denied Access To A Pool For Fear Of Contaminating Other Swimmers

sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Sirenas Especiales (Special Mermaids) is giving girls with Down Syndrome in Mexico a chance to show off their athletic abilities in synchronized swimming. The team and program were organized by Paloma Torres, a former synchronized swimmer from Peru, after she studied educational psychology. Her thesis was on the cognitive benefits of synchronized swimming. With that and a little patience, Sirenas Especiales was born.

Sirenas Especiales is tearing down the stigma and misinformation about people with Down Syndrome.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Coach Paloma Torres knew that people with Down Syndrome are often very creative and flexible. Those two characteristics are perfect for synchronized swimming so she knew that it would be a great idea to get a group of girls together.

However, Torres and Sirenas Especiales immediately faced pushback from local pools in Mexico City because of the girls’ Down Syndrome.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

“I had to find a swimming pool where we could organize regular practices. At first, I couldn’t find anywhere. One pool even refused entry to my swimmers, saying that they might contaminate other swimmers! It was really disheartening at first — both for me and for the girls’ parents,” Torres told France24. “Finally, I found the Alberca Olímpica Francisco Márquez pool, which is located in southern Mexico City. I’ve been training the group there since 2011.”

The team overcame the initial mistreatment from local pools and have been competing in national and international competitions.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Their Instagram is filled with photos of the team holding medal from the various competitions they have participated in. They’ve competed all over Mexico and were recently at the PanAm games to cheer on Mexico’s national synchronizing team.

The team continues to grow with more girls and boys wanting to participate in synchronized swimming.

Credit: sirenasespeciales / Instagram

Torres currently trains about 20 swimmers between 14 and 30. There are three boys who are part of the team and 17 girls, according to France24. It seems clear that the swimmers enjoy their chance to show off their own athletic abilities.

The sport is doing more than just giving them something to do.

Este día tan especial Sirenas Especiales darán entrevista en Capital 21 Canal 21 en TV abierta, no se lo pierdan a las 10:35am en VIVO!!!!! FELIZ DÍA MUNDIAL DEL SINDROME DE DOWN Edith Perez Rocio Hernández Martínez Paloma Torres Montserrat Vega Triny Turcio Blanca Olivia Fontes Machado Araceli Vazquez Loredo Beatriz Mendoza Castañón China Li Lourdes Castellanos Daniel Perez Martinez

Posted by Sirenas Especiales on Tuesday, March 21, 2017

This sport helps participants improve their concentration and memory,” Torres told France24. “However, most importantly, this activity helps them integrate socially. They participate regularly in competitions both nationally and internationally, which sometimes include swimmers without disabilities. Our team has won about 50 medals. They become more social and their work is applauded. It’s also important for their families because some of them don’t think that these girls will make something of their lives.”

One thing Sirenas Especiales is doing to changing the narrative around disabilities one synchronized swim at a time.

Credit: Sirenas Especiales / Facebook

The swimmers are showing everyone that you can do anything you set your mind to. There is nothing that can keep them from participating in the sport that they love and enjoy.

Congratulations, swimmers.

We can’t wait to see what you do next.

READ: The Internet Was Having A Collective Sob Fest After A Video Of Young Disabled Man’s Reaction To Getting His First Job Goes Viral

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

Culture

Puerto Vallarta Has Long Been An LGBTQ-Friendly Travel Destination And Here’s Why

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Puerto Vallarta is one of the favorite Mexican tourist destinations of the LGBT community. There are hotels, bars, nightclubs, beaches, and even drinks specifically for LGBT travelers, and due to the safety and welcoming environment for these guests, it is the first city in Mexico to receive the Gay Travel Approved distinction by GayTravel.com.

But why PV? What made Vallarta Mexico’s top gay destination?

Let’s start back at the beginning.

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In the south of Puerto Vallarta you will find the “Old Town,” also called “The Romantic Zone,” the tourist area favored by expats and foreigners who want to soak up local traditions. The Old Puerto Vallarta is also considered the gay neighborhood since 1980, when the gay community and retired Canadians and Americans bought land and properties in order to create gay-friendly businesses. Today there’s a wide variety of attractions with this focus, including bars, restaurants, stores, nightclubs, and both budget and boutique hotels.

In this zone is nestled the popular beach Playa de los Muertos, which, although not exclusively gay, for the last 20 years has been known as a gay-friendly beach (also called Blue Chairs, because of the many blue chairs placed by a gay resort which bears the same name), mainly in the high season, from November to March.

Why is this pristine beach the LBGT meeting point? Because the gay-friendly beachfront hotels in the area causes—and guarantees—a concentration of LGBT tourists, bringing a multicultural ambience where members of this community will be respected without discrimination. In the morning they can socialize and enjoy the party atmosphere, and in the afternoon walk holding hands under the dazzling sunset, in a romantic atmosphere free of hostility. Such is the high demand for LGBT-friendly vacation spots that the area has been extended to include the green chairs and as far as the north coast, in the elegant Oceano Sapphire Beach Club, owned by gays.

But it’s about more than just the beach.

Credit: David Stanley / Flickr

Unlike certain countries, laws against homosexuality never existed in Mexico. There is, however, a strong macho culture and religious influence which disapproves it—nonetheless the locals show respect. Under these circumstances, the growing community has led LGBT organizations to work to promote a change of culture in the pursuit of equality. Their work has gotten results: they have achieved recognition of gay rights, and implemented laws against the provocation and incitement of hate or violence against LGBTs, and also to guarantee equality in employment and public accomodation and services. Even more, in 2013 Puerto Vallarta legalized civil union between LGBT couples, followed by same-sex marriage in 2016.

This city organized its first Gay Pride March, and has hosted the Pink & Proud Women’s Party—the equivalent lesbian celebration—for the last four years, with assistance from the local Canadian and American communities. The multiple events in support of the LGBT community have marked out Puerto Vallarta as the “Mexican San Francisco.”

Now, there’s a giant and flourishing LGBTQ tourism industry that welcomes people from around the world.

Credit: Kristopher Roller / Unsplash

For the last 10 years, the number of LGBT visitors has increased in Puerto Vallarta and Jalisco, and in order to meet demand, the number of LGBT-friendly resorts and touristic attractions has also increased. Now three of every 10 hotels in Puerto Vallarta are LGBT-friendly, and most also offer weddings and other symbolic ceremonies.

Bars, nightclubs and other amenities are already focused on this market, and there are also tours—like the Gay VIP Bars Tour—and even drinks—like the Gay Tequila and the Gay Energy Drink—to make these guests feel extra welcome. As a result, Puerto Vallarta now hosts International LGBT Business Expos, with important conferences and events, including fashions shows, beach parties and music festivals to celebrate this booming market.

Puerto Vallarta remains the gateway to Mexico for many LGBTQ travelers.

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Some other cities have recognized the demand, and are now attempting to attract LGBT tourism to their destinations. Puerto Vallarta is not letting it happen: diverse businesses—no matter the sexual preference—are joining forces to create organizations to promote this targeted brand of tourism. The market gives consumers what they want, and they have identified this growing target and will not let it go.

Beyond the marketing, Puerto Vallarta became a platform to support gay rights, and the LGBT community knows it and feels welcome here. What really keeps the LGBT community hitting Puerto Vallarta is the activism, respect, and freedom they find in this beautiful paradise.

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