Want to follow in the footsteps of Jonathan Dimbleby and explore South America?

His journey took him from south to north through the continent, and enabled him to visit Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Venezuela and Brazil. It was the presenter’s second documentary series about this little understood continent – the first was aired in 1978, when the majority of countries were very different to the way they are now.

The series showed some of the most interesting and beautiful parts of these countries and the fascinating way of life of their peoples, and will hopefully dispel some of the misgivings that people who have not yet visited South America may have about going there. The image of Colombia and Brazil especially has been tainted by a reputation for drugs-related crime and violence, but as anyone who watched the series can see, all of the countries featured are fantastic places with fascinating histories and cultures and most are now safe and welcoming for tourists.

Whilst Jonathan Dimbleby enlisted the help of translators, anyone who visits these countries with some knowledge of Spanish (and Portuguese for Brazil) will arguably be able to get an even better insight into the way of life and culture.  Cactus offers Spanish and Portuguese courses in all five countries that he visited, and taking a course there would enable you not only to improve your language skills, but also to meet local people and benefit from their knowledge about the surroundings and the people who live there.

All three episodes will be available to watch on Iplayer for another few days (from 3rd October 2011), and anyone who is interested in learning more about this fantastic part of the world should definitely search them out.

Currently, Cactus offers courses in Pichilemu, Pucon, Santiago and Valparaiso in Chile, in Sucre in Bolivia and in Merida in Venezuela.  Spanish courses are available in Bogota, Cartagena, Leticia and Medellin in Colombia, and Brazilian Portuguese courses are offered in Maceio, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador de Bahia and Sao Paulo.

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