Every man wants to be him; every woman wants to be his. James Bond has been around for a while now – 50 years this year – yet the franchise is stronger than ever, with new film Skyfall’s opening expected to be the highest grossing in Bond history. When we think of 007, it’s impossible to shake images of bikini-clad supermodels glistening on white beaches, dinner jackets and long dresses, dramatic scenery and death-defying stunts. It’s not surprising, then, that some of the most famous Bond scenes were filmed in South America, where exoticism blends seamlessly into everyday life. Although being James Bond, or indeed a Bond Girl, may be a long-lost childhood dream, we’re revisiting some of the secret agent’s finest moments on the continent, whilst finding ways to revive that imagination…
Bond and Jaws grapple on Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio
Moonraker (1979) – Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Roger Moore’s face-off with Jaws in a cable car suspended hundreds of feet about the ‘Marvellous City’ seems a reasonable place to start. The scene has everything an aficionado could possibly want: gratuitous violence, a stunning backdrop (Bond Girl included) and a slick exit. The first of its kind in Brazil, the Sugarloaf cable car is also celebrating a milestone this year, having been running for a century (during which time it has been modernised on several occasions, we might add.) Whilst zip-wiring down the cable may be best left to 007, there are other ways to do Sugarloaf in style. Dehouche organise helicopter tours of the city, which include a touch-down on the mountain itself. How’s that for a getaway? Things get even slicker with our famous Caipirinha mixing lesson atop the giant rock, 400 metres above the Atlantic and with spectacular views along the coastline. Bond may have famously liked his Martini, but we reckon he enjoyed a Caipirinha or two when no-one was looking.
Moonraker (1979) – Amazon Rainforest, Brazil
Our next stop is the largest and best-known tropical forest in the world – the Amazon. The scene begins with Bond cruising downriver in a slender-looking speedboat. By this point something of a nuisance, our villain, Jaws, sets out in hot pursuit of the secret agent in a boat of his own. Bond remains cool amidst the explosions and gunfire, barely breaking a sweat. For those of you who would rather explore the Amazon in comfort but still with a touch of bond-like swagger, Dehouche will put you aboard a luxury yacht for your own, private Amazon river cruise. Our flagship yacht may not have hidden torpedo launchers, but at 120 feet long and with 5 bedroom suites (all with cable TV and deluxe bathrooms), it’s enough to have any Bond girl swooning. Dehouche’s very own agents will tailor the itinerary to make sure you get exactly what you want to out of your own Amazon experience, whether it be a good dose of adventure, speedboating down narrow tributaries and slinging a hammock for the night, sport fishing for Peacock Bass on the upper reaches of the Rio Negro, or a life changing encounter with some of the indigenous communities that still populate the forest.
Quantum of Solace (2008) – Atacama Desert, Chile
From old to new, Moore to Craig, we arrive in a place drier even than the best Martini (shaken or stirred). The Atacama Desert is among the driest places on Earth. Some parts have not seen rainfall for hundreds of years, (for fact boffins the actual driest place on Earth is in Antarctica – watch more QI) and it plays host to the final scenes of the 2008 installment, Quantum of Solace. Bond finally sees that the villain, Dominic Greene, gets his come-uppance when he leaves him stranded and without water to the mercy of the desert.
The savage beauty of the location left a strong impression on Daniel Craig, who cited it in several interviews. Beyond the landscape, Atacama has several other claims to fame: it is the home of the European Southern Observatory (which takes advantage of some of the world’s clearest night skies) and whose building was used as the set for the Atacama hotel in the film, as well as the mysterious Atacama Glyphs, giant etchings that can only truly be appreciated from the air. Our speciality is arranging aerial tours of this spectacular landscape, although we’ve swapped the WWII bomber for a light passenger aircraft, and the pursuing villain for an experienced tour guide. Sorry James. The striking and varied landscape of Northern Chile is a playground for explorers, with its salt plains, mountains and lagoons. The lodges we work with have struck the perfect balance between luxury and adventure. The Awasi lodge in San Pedro de Atacama provide beautiful accommodation and food (both traditionally Altiplano), along with tailor-made excursions, from thermal spas to mountain treks, or stargazing with the resident astronomer.
Other Bond filming destinations in Latin America include Mexico, Panama, and the magnificent Iguaçu falls that cascade over the border of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
Without a doubt, South America is the ultimate mission location, whether you’re on Her Majesty’s Secret Service or not. And Bond has left his mark on the continent, it seems. When a casting director for Quantum of Solace in Panama approached members of the Embera tribe to play extras wearing bowler-hats, they did not seem to have heard of James Bond at all. Their immediate reaction was to start chanting “King Kong! King Kong!” Then one of them piped up, “Oh, that’s the guy who has lots of cars, lots of weapons and lots of women.”
Sounds about right.