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Indy Lifestyle Online
RIO FOR pounds 540? In 1999, that sort of fare is preposterous. But when, a decade ago, The Independent asked Journey Latin America to come up with the 10 best deals to the Continent, this ticket topped the list. These days, the lowest fare is a good 50 per cent lower. Links to Mexico City, Buenos Aires and Santiago are also cheaper and more frequent.

Not every destination has fared so well. Caracas was traditionally the starting point for many tours of Latin America because the national airline, Viasa, offered the cheapest fares. It went out of business in 1995, since when - according to JLA - hardly anybody is bothering to visit the Venezuelan capital.

Instead, Bogota has moved to the fore as the low-cost gateway. The Colombian airline Avianca has three flights a week from London, with cheap connections across Latin America.

And near the top of any 1999 list would be Havana, which a decade ago was accessible only via Moscow, East Berlin, Prague or Caracas. Now it is arguably the most accessible city in Latin America.