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Posts Tagged ‘Brazil’

Getaway Dossier: The side of South America you should see

Machu Picchu

We added three new South American tours to the Friendly Planet mix last week, so for my next Getaway Dossier, I thought I’d share my knowledge about all things South America to help you plan your next trip, whether you’ve already booked it or are considering one.

The most recognizable landmark on this continent is probably the Amazon River, but there’s much more of South America’s natural beauty and ancient history worth seeing. Here are my recommendations for the best things to see, do, and know about South America before the plane leaves the tarmac.

Weather: Opposites attract. Since South America is on the opposite side of the equator from us in the U.S., the seasons are a mirror of ours. When it’s summer here, it’s winter in South America, and vice versa. The most temperate times to visit South America are the spring and the fall, which is when the temperatures are the mildest.

The rainy season is in the summer (December to March). However, the rain doesn’t normally last long on any given day. Lima, located on the western coast, has moderate weather year-round with mild temperatures and cloudy skies. Rio de Janeiro, located on the east coast, is also temperate 12 months out of the year, making it a great place to visit.

In Machu Picchu on the southwest side of the country, and at the Iguazu Falls on the eastern side, the days are warm and humid. If you’re traveling anywhere with higher altitudes, dressing in layers is a must because temperatures will drop significantly at night.

Food: BBQ can’t be beat. South America boasts fantastic tropical fruits, such as coconut, mango, guava, pineapple, papaya, and more. And its seafood can’t be missed, especially in coastal towns. My absolute favorite thing to eat when I’m in Brazil is churrasco, also known as Brazilian barbecue.

Meat is cooked on huge skewers over an open fire. Then, waiters come by your table and slice it hot off the skewer right onto your plate. If your stomach is a bottomless pit, you’ll love this: When you’re ready for seconds, thirds, or fourths, just hit the button on your table and a waiter will be at your side with fresh, hot meat.

Restaurants that serve churrasco appear most typically in Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu, but can be found all over the country as well. If you’re not much of a meat eater, most metropolitan areas offer a varied range of cuisine.

Currency: Tip the right way. Three of the most common countries to visit in South America are Peru, Argentina, and Brazil, and each has its own currency. The currency in Peru is the nuevo sol; in Argentina, it’s the peso; and in Brazil, it’s the real.

In restaurants in Peru, an 18 percent service charge is included in the bill if you pay with a credit card. If you’re paying in cash, there isn’t a fee so you should tip between 5 and 10 percent. In Argentinean restaurants, tip 5 percent of the bill if your service charge was added and 10 percent if it wasn’t. Tip movie ushers and bus terminal porters 1 peso, and air terminal porters 2 pesos per suitcase. As for tipping in Brazil, a 10 percent tip is usually included in the restaurant bill, but you can leave more if your service was especially good.

Tip cab drivers no more than 10 percent, and tip bellboys, porters, or concierges about 1 real per luggage item or for any help they provided.

Iguazu Falls

Landmarks: It’s all about the falls. Iguazu Falls straddles the border of Argentina and Brazil, and consists of 275 smaller falls and islands. They’re believed to be 200,000 years old and are absolutely breathtaking. Be sure to see the falls from both sides. The Argentinian side at Devil’s Throat is the most famous place to take in the spectacular views. There are also boat and helicopter rides that take you up close and personal with this natural beauty (weather permitting). The falls might be the main attraction, but be sure to visit a fantastic bird sanctuary nearby. You can see dozens of exotic species of birds, as well as butterfly and hummingbird exhibits.

Culture: Appreciate the modern and the ancient. South America is a fantastic mix of old and new. It’s inspired by the traditions of its historical culture while keeping in step with modern society. This is one of the aspects that makes the continent so beautiful. When you visit, you’ll see wonderfully modern cities with every imaginable amenity. Then you’ll visit places like Sacred Valley, where the people still honor the traditions of their ancestors in their everyday life.

Don’t forget: Layers, layers, layers. You’ll probably be experiencing significant weather changes from one location to the next, so I’d say the most important thing to remember when traveling to South America is to dress in layers. Make sure you wear good walking shoes, and bring sunscreen and bug repellent. Much of South America is in the rainforest, so you’ll definitely be happy you brought these along!

The tours we offer to these destinations highlight the history and wonder of ancient South America, and the emerging culture of its cities. It’s a beautiful continent and different from anything here in the U.S. — that’s what makes it so special.

For the full itineraries on our three new tours, visit our website. And if you have any questions, write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team.

Mark Machu Picchu’s 100th anniversary on Friendly Planet’s new South America tour

Machu Picchu

Next year will mark the 100th anniversary of the rediscovery of Machu Picchu, also known as the lost city of the Incas. American historian Hiram Bingham is credited with bringing South America’s most iconic archeological site to the world’s attention in 1911. And travelers have been flocking to Peru ever since to see the Inca’s architectural masterpiece.

Machu Picchu’s history is quite remarkable. It remained hidden from the outside world in the mist-covered green mountains above the rushing Urubamba River for centuries. The complex consists of giant walls, terraces, and ramps constructed from precisely cut rock formations. Current historians believe it served as a country retreat town for Inca nobility.

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate this milestone then to see it in person, along with South America’s iconic natural wonder, Iguazu Falls. For the first time ever, Friendly Planet Travel is packaging two of South America’s most significant destinations together on the nine-day Jewels of South America tour.

The distance between Iguazu Falls and Machu Picchu has historically made it difficult to link them together inexpensively on one tour. But we’re now able to thanks to LAN Airlines new flight route between Lima, Peru and Iguazu, Brazil. LAN also introduced a new flight route from Peru to Easter Island, which lets us offer a four-day extension to the island for the first time.

Iguazu Falls

The Jewels of South America tour begins on the border of Argentina and Brazil at Iguazu Falls. The Falls consist of 275 inlets and cataracts cascading down 250 feet, framed by multiple rainbows and mist that rise up to 500 feet in the air.

The next afternoon, jump over to the Brazilian side of the Falls. Walk along the pathways through the sub-tropical rainforest into the canyon on the Falls for an incredible, up-close view. That evening you depart for Lima, Peru where you travel through the magnificent Urubamba River Valley to the picturesque Andean village of Chinchero. By train you proceed to Machu Picchu. It is undoubtedly one of the most spectacular and enigmatic archeological sites in the world.

Continue to Cuzco for a walking tour of the capital of the Inca Empire that is located 11,000 feet above sea level. Spend your last day in Lima, the City of Kings and the country’s capital where you enjoy an authentic farewell dinner.

If want to spend more time in South America, we have two extensions you can take advantage of. You can start your tour early with a four-day, pre-tour extension in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Also known as the Paris of the South, Buenos Aires is a city of neighborhoods, each with its own flavor, but everywhere the people are warm and welcoming.

Easter Island

Or opt for the four-day, post-tour extension to Easter Island, Chile. It is one of the most exotic, isolated islands in the world and is best known for the incredible moai built out of volcanic rock.

Packaged in the price, from just $1,899, are roundtrip flights from Miami via LAN Airlines, including fuel surcharges; all intra-South America flights and transfers; accommodations in superior hotels with private bath; daily breakfast and one farewell dinner; comprehensive guided sightseeing tours including entrance fees; and professional, English-speaking tour directors and guides.

See for yourself why travelers agree that among all the glorious and inspiring sites of South America, Machu Picchu and Iguazu Falls stand out as jewels of the continent. Book the Jewels of South America tour for $1,899 by Dec. 15.

For the full itinerary, visit our website. And if you have any question write to me or call 1-800-555-5765 and speak to our reservations team.

All fun and no crowds: Skip Rio and head to Olinda, Brazil for Carnaval!

Everyone’s heard of Carnaval in Brazil, just like everyone has heard of Mardi Gras in Louisiana. When you think of Mardi Gras, you think New Orleans. And when you think Carnaval, you think Rio.

Now I’m about to change how you think.

Carnaval just doesn’t happen in Rio. It happens all over Brazil, and there are many ways to participate. Many people say that a lesser-known city, Olinda, has one of the most traditional Carnaval observances. In addition, Olinda’s Carnaval doesn’t have the overwhelming crowds, which gets you closer to this Brazilian experience.

These points were recently driven home to me by our webmaster, Cameron Clark and his equally talented photographer girlfriend, Amy Steinfeld, who went there this February. It was his first Carnaval. He flew into Saõ Paulo, and traveled to Olinda, Recife, Trancoso, and back to Saõ Paulo in 10 days. Four out of the 10 days were spent celebrating in the streets of Olinda. Cameron captured some amazing photos that I’m about to share with you here.

In his slideshow (below), he gives us some background on his trip, including a bit of the history of the frevo. The soundtrack to the slideshow is a recording of the frevo, which originated in Olinda. Grab a cold drink (trust me, you’ll want one) and start the show. You’ll be transported to the rosy pink colonial homes and sun-kissed beaches of Brazil.

CARNAVAL: Olinda, Brazil

We don’t have a tour to Olinda (at least not yet). But that’s no reason not to share this fabulous destination and Cameron’s experiences with you. After you’re done watching the slideshow, if you find yourself interested in a South American experience, we do have the Patagonian Explorer — one of my personal favorites — Incredible Argentina, Exotic Ecuador, and three other tours to choose from. Meanwhile, enjoy Carnaval!

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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