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Jan 2017

Holiday prices.

Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Horse Riding Holidays, South America, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Holiday prices

Since June last year the GBP exchange rate has taken quite a knock, not because our national economy is failing, but for other reasons less easy to grasp. The result has been a real rise in the prices of holidays, air fares, car hire etc. But there’s hope in all this gloom!!


Argentina has taken the enlightened step to abolish VAT on hotel accommodation. Argentina is now on the same level playing field as other South American countries who exempt VAT for hotel stays for incoming tourism. It applies to all holidays booked after 2nd Jan 2017 – so now’s the right time to visit Patagonia or ride through the Andes.


There’s a bunch of red tape, such as the hotel has to be correctly registered, but we can assist with all that.


Interestingly enough Zambia has done the opposite and now applies VAT to accommodation for tourism. Perhaps the time is right to visit South America?

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Aug 2016

The Rainbow Hummingbird

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Horse Riding Holidays, South America, Tavistock Travel Agents, Traveller's Tales /

Rainbow hummingbird

Long time ago during the origin of the world all the insects on earth decided to meet at the rainbow’s end and stand on it. They were so many that they covered it completely and then the rainbow started to bend.  When Tupa (God) noticed this he asked the birds, that were colorless at this time, to remove the insects from the rainbow. Then all the birds flew to help and after a long and heavy work they were able to remove them by virtue of their beaks.

After such a hard work Tupa gave each bird a prize by providing beautiful colors to their feathers that they still show until now. But the first prize was given to the bravest and smart of the birds on this duty: the Hummingbird. It was so brave and worked so hard that it received the seven colors of the rainbow.

Legend sent to me by a young conservationist in Argentina

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Jul 2016

Horse riding holiday in a Spanish speaking country

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, Horse Riding Holidays, South America, Traveller's Tales /

Some people are put off horse riding holidays  in places such as Spain and Peru because they are worried about speaking Spanish, and finding it tricky to communicate with your guide.

The guides

 Patagonian Guide

Our Patagonian Guides

First of all, don’t panic because our guides speak English. Usually as a second language, but they are pretty good and know their trails, horses and local area really well.

Having said that, it is hallways a good idea to pick up a few words on the local language before you go on any trip, so here’s a horsey crib-sheet with a-hundred-and-one handy words:




Horse Riding Holiday crib-sheet


About the horse

Horse Caballo
Mare Yegua
Foal Potro
Gelding Caballo castrado
Stallion Caballo entero
Thoroughbred Purasangre
Pony Poni
Head Cabeza
Eyes Ojos
Ears Orejas
Nostril Nariz (ollar)
Withers Cruz
Croup (rear) Grupa
Neck Cuello
Mane Crines
Tail Cola
Legs Manos et Pies
Hoof Cascos
Walk Paso
Trot Trote
Canter Galope
Right Derecha
Left Izquierda
Limp Cojear
Stop Parar
Move on Avanzar
Fast Rapido
Slow Lento
Slowly Lentamente


About the tack

Tack Arreos
Saddle Silla
Girth Cincha
Bridle, snaffle Brida, bridon
Halter Cabestro, cabezada de cuadra
Rope Cuerda (lasso = Lazo)
To saddle Encillar
To unsaddle Desencillar
To girth Cinchar
To loosen the girth Aflojar
To shorten Acortar
To lengthen Alargar
Stirrup Estribo
Sweat blanket
Salva cruces
Brush Cepillo
Hoof-picks Limpia cascos
Horse shoe Herradura
Chaps Chaparreras
Half chaps Polainas
Helmet Casco
Hat Sombrero
Gloves Guantes
Martingale Gamarra, tijerillas
Bit Bocado
Flask Cantimplora
Spur Espuela
Boots Botas


During the journey

Hello Buenos Días
Please Por favor
Thank you Gracias
Sorry Perdón
Good evening Buenas Tardes
Good bye Adios
Drink Beber
Eat Comer
Sleep Dormir
Buy Comprar
How much / many Cuánto
When Cuándo
Where Dónde
Stable Cuadra
Field Campo
Stall Box
Toilets Servicios
Restaurant Restaurante
Bank Banco
Foreign exchange office Casa de cambio
Police Policía
Phone Llamar
Price Precio
Expensive Caro
Cheap Barato
Present Regalo
Bill Cuenta
Blanket Manta
Room Habitacion
Fork Tenedor
Spoon Cuchara
Knife Cuchillo
Plate Plato
Bottle Botella
Water Agua
Wine Vino
Beer Cerveza
Salt Sal
Pepper Pimienta
Camping Vivac
Tent Tienda
Sleeping pad Colchoneta
Sleeping bag Saco de dormir
Stakes Estacas


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Mar 2016

Tea and Time

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America, Traveller's Tales /

We Brits have our own special way of doing tea. Or at least my mum’s generation did; nowadays many of us just use a teabag and the whole tea-ceremony has disappeared. But back in the day when loose tea was the norm and collecting Brooke Bond cards was a passion, you had to warm the pot, give the tea 4 mins to brew and then decide milk first or second?

Always milk first. The chemists tell me this is backed up by schoolboy chemistry: ‘acid to base’ and all that.

Around the world, during many of our rides, tea time is respected: not only because making tea from scratch creates a better brew, but because performing the tea-ritual provides time. So in Argentina we have the maté “ceremony”; that’s too grand a word, but even in the       remotest camp the vaqueros take pride in producing their brew. Hot water (never boiling) is added to the herb and the first couple of brews discarded; then the cup is circulated. Each little cup holds just two or three sips before being returned to the master of ceremony to be refill and passed to the next person. And you never say “Thank you” until the cup’s been around the group several times, and saying thank you indicates you have had your fill. There’s never any rush involved.


Maté is a bit of an acquired taste, but the maté ceremony is social and inclusive; a great way to end a day’s ride.

 Marrakech riad (25)

 On our Moroccan ride we have a close encounter with mint tea. This is a class apart from the garden mint grown in the UK and has a spearmint dimension. The brew is made in a silver kettle and the first two batches are, similar to maté, poured and returned to the kettle. Then the minty brew is served sweet and steamy, in small shot-glasses. Lovely! There’s never any rush involved.

Chai walah with terracota cups           chai walla1

And the fourth contender has to be chai from Rajasthan. Perhaps the most delightful brew of them all! But you mustn’t think “tea” when you first encounter it. We are accustomed to good ol’ Brooke Bond, or similar, and chai is nothing like that. True, chai starts out with the leaf of Orange Peko but a cocktail of spices is added, along with sugar and lots of milk, to create something that is distinctly different from anything Mr Brooke Bond ever brewed. At the end of a day’s ride chai is refreshing and re-invigorating, but it is proudly its own concoction. There’s never any rush involved.

In the Venture Co office we have a tea pot, maté (which does travel well from Argentina) and home-made chai using a recipe of spices brought home from Rajasthan. But I have never found a way to bring home Morocco’s mint – it just doesn’t travel. And there’s no doubt that all these forms of tea taste much better in their place of origin where there’s never any rush involved.

Mumbai Cutting Chai

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Jan 2016


Posted by / in Africa, Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America /

How to make your travel money last longer.

No-one likes getting burnt by excessively harsh bank fees while overseas and we all want to make the dollars, yen or pesos last a little longer. You can do something about the twin worries of running out of money and the charges your bank may apply for accessing sterling from within a foreign country. Here are our top 3 tips:


  1. Get a specialist credit card for overseas use.

If you prefer to pay with plastic, rather than carry a wad of foreign currency, you need to obtain a card that doesn’t apply a “foreign loading fee”. If the card you choose also provides protection against buying faulty items via “Section 75 of the Consumer Credit Act” so much the better. Which? Money see here Credit cards for overseas spending show a selection of cards that tick this box. Remember to clear the balance when you return home within the “free” period.


  1. Obtain a pre-paid card.

Think of the Oyster card people use on the London underground: you “load” it with a few pounds and then tap in/out without touching cast. Pre-paid cards work in the same way, pay-as-you-go. The exchange rate is established at the time you load the card and (so long as the currencies match one-another) there are no further foreign exchange fees. There are loads of this type of card around, and to mention five, take a look at Sainsbury’s Bank, Co-op, Moneycorp, Revolut and the good old Post Office.


  1. Timing!

Exchange rates yo-yo; most people don’t pay much attention, but if you know you’re heading overseas within the next six months, then it’ll pay you to obtain one of the cards mentioned in number 2, above and then watch the rates. Right now, for example, the pound is not doing well against the dollar (approx 1.42) compared to a few months ago when it was trading at approx 1.55. That’s equivalent to £13 extra for each £100 you buy. It’s impossible to predict exchange rates, and the best advice is not to be greedy: set a figure you’ll be happy with and as soon as the exchange rate hits it, purchase the currency.Explore India by Car

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Apr 2014

The Miguel de Cervantes Prize for Literature

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America, The Book Bus /

Looking for a good read while travelling in Latin America? Then tune in to this prize and see some of the best Spanish authors (don’t worry! Translations are generally available!)


Miguel de Cervantes Medal

The prize is named after the author of “Don Quixote” Miguel de Cervantes and was established in 1976 in response to the Booker Prize, or Mann Booker as it is known today. However, it differs from the Booker because it isn’t awarded for a single title, it is awarded for a lifetime’s body of work – so perhaps rather more similar to a “Nobel Prize for Literature”. It is open to any author writing in Spanish, and unlike the Booker, is only awarded to an individual once per lifetime! It is a rich prize, with a purse of 125,000 Euro.

Some previous winners are:

Elena Poniatowska, Mexico. Fuerte es el silencio (Strong is Silence) about the Mexico revolution.

José Manuel Caballero, Spain. Mar Adentro (The Sea Inside) 2002.

Juan Gelman, Argentina. Poet

Carlos Fuentes, Spain. La voluntad y la fortuna (Destiny and Desire) (2008), ISBN 978-1400068807

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Aug 2013

Five minutes with Jane Edwards

Posted by / in Blog, South America /

Dressage aficionado Jane Edwards joined VentureCo and the British Horse Society (BHS) on the Trail of the Incas ride in 2012. Here she shares her philosophy of horses, riders and The High Andes:


Can you tell us a bit about your working life in the Surrey countryside?

I am a BHSII (registered) instructor, and run a small friendly training establishment on the Surrey/Sussex border called Fernhill Riding. I specialise in training the rider to improve their skills in feel, balance and harmony. This not only furthers the training of themselves and their mounts, but also ensures horse welfare and promotes longevity in their ridden careers. Fernhill Riding has a good base of well-schooled horses to use for instruction as well as catering for those with their own horses. All training here is in the form of private sessions to encourage steady progress in a relaxed environment.

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Aug 2013

How to be a tour guide in Mongolia

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, frontpage, South America /

Jacqueline Wigglesworth is currently in Mongolia leading our horse riding trip with the British Horse Society but can most often be found leading VentureCo tours in South America. In the past she has led our 15 week Inca & Amazon Venture through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Chile and Argentina as well as Inca Summer Venture in Peru and the 12 week Patagonia Venture. She helped set up The Book Bus and later worked on running it in Zambia, Malawi and Ecuador.  Jackie is also the person behind our Inti World Yoga adventure trips. We caught up with her before her latest adventure to find out what life’s like on the move…

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Feb 2013

15 steps to help save the Galapagos Islands

Posted by / in Blog, Featured Posts, South America /

Please join us to get Galapagos on the right path.

Island Restoration

Conservation methods evolve just like the wildlife. In order to succeed, projects need to link everything from species management to habitat restoration and tackling the human issues.

*Ecosystem restoration
*Tackling invasive species
*Species specific projects
*Supporting cutting edge research
*Promoting Galapagos as a model for the world

Climate Change

As an island archipelago located where several currents meet, Galapagos is at particular risk from the impacts of climate change. Endemic species such as the Galapagos penguin could become extinct. Yet 50 years of research in the Islands could also provide vital insights into the nature of these changes and ways to manage and reduce their impact not just in Galapagos but for the world.

*Monitoring indicator species
*Marine management
*Waste and resource management issues
*Building a first class data bank & knowledge resource
*Minimising GCT’s own environmental impact

Social Issues

People are an established species within Galapagos and hold the key to its future. We need to ensure that the systems are in place to guarantee a sustainable future for the Islands and to find ways for people and nature to live and work in harmony.

*Regulating development
*Engaging the Local Community
*Sustainable employment
*Responsible tourism
*Education in the UK about Galapagos

Help save the Galapagos and join our conservation project on the Galapagos island of San Cristobal.

If you are unable to reach these enchanted islands then please make a donation to the Galapagos Conservation Trust

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Feb 2013

10 reasons to go to South America

Posted by / in Blog, South America /

Look at the back of all the travel guide books you can, and you’ll notice that the only one that says “the most exciting continent on the planet” is the one for South America. It goes on to say that if you’re jaded or bored with life, it’s the place to go.
Having been to 10 of the 13 South American countries, (and being half Venezuela so I’m a bit biased) I completely agree.
Here’s 10 reasons why:

1) It’s a super colourful continent: the people, their clothes, the food, the views, life itself there is in full colour.
2) The music: whether its Tango, Salsa, Merengue, pan pipes, drums or a mix, music fills the air wherever you go.
3) The Andes: the longest mountain range on earth; Stunning, high mountains to be looked at, trekked on, climbed, feared or admired.
4) Waterfalls: The Angel falls, Venezuela (world’s highest) and Iguassu falls, Argentina/Brazil border (huge.) Both very impressive.
5) The Amazon: The largest rain forest on earth; enormous, wild, the most diverse ecosystem there is, the Amazon river itself, anacondas, monkeys, morpho butterflies, tribal people, medicinal plants, canoe trips………
6) Islands: Los Roques, Venezuela is a Caribbean paradise. The Galapagos islands off Ecuador are renowned for the tame wildlife and Darwin’s theory of evolution, and Easter island in the remote Pacific off Chile is famous for its carved head statues with mysterious origins.
7)Beaches: Caribbean, Pacific, Atlantic. Miles and miles of beaches for all tastes, from chilled and calm with thatched huts, to big wave surfing, to the much feared Cape horn at the end of the world!
8) Crazy politics; no continent has a more fascinating political history, filled with revolutions, wars for independence and larger than life characters like Che Guevara and Evita.
9) The vast diversity of landscape: You can experience coast, mountains, desert and jungle all within a few days. It’s got it all!
10) The X factor: South America just seems to put a spell on people; an undefinable, infectious magnetic pull which draws you back to it again and again, and may be incurable requiring several return visits!
11) One for luck: 2 new ‘wonders of the world’: Machu Picchu, Peru and Rio’s Christ statue, Brazil. In fact, when it comes to ancient cultures and sites to explore Indiana Jones style, nowhere comes close.

Tempted? Why not go and find out for yourself.

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