Eric’s trip to South America!

Eric’s trip to South America!

Having travelled down to Brazil with work in the spring of 2008, I decided that I would love to go back to South America only this time with my family and to see more of a continent which in my view, is absolutely wonderful.

Our Air France flight from Manchester left on a very cold December evening and after a quick change in Paris we were soon on our way to Santiago in Chile. After a very comfortable and impressive flight with Air France we arrived some 13 hours later to a morning temperature of 80 degrees plus. Although tired we did what we had planned to do and that was take a city tour with our guide Mauricio so we had our bearings of the city. Recommendations on dining from Mauricio proved to be invaluable and over the course of three nights we had three superb restaurants – two being in the area of Bella Vista – an area of lovely chic shops and plenty of eating out opportunities. Our day time was taken up by visiting the old port of Valparaiso and the wineries south of Santiago.

Moving on we flew south to Puerto Montt and had a short transfer to Puerto Varas – a lakesdie resort with the Orsono Volcano reflecting on the water. This is the heart of the Chilean Lake District and the scenery is just what you would expect although we did have a problem convincing our 11 year old son!!!

He was a lot happier when we moved on through the Andes passing waterfalls and lakes. We had sleek coaches, 4 wheel drive coaches, boats, catamarans, more coaches but we finally arrived in Argentina and stayed at the resort of Bariloche on Lake Llanquihue.

There must have been more chocolate shops in Bariloche than Belgium and they were all wonderfully decorated for Christmas. This is where the Brazilians go ski-ing if you can imagine that!!

Three nights in Bariloche soon passed and our next flight took us to Buenos Aires, a place always on the ‘wish list’ for many years. It did not disappoint. The city tour was fascinating – a must for anybody. In our own time we visited the mausoleum of ‘Evita’ in the Ricoleta cemetery. It is only then that you realise how this woman was and still is worshipped by so many.  Buenos Aires is home to the Tango and we took in a live show which was superb!!

After Buenos Aires we took a 2 hour flight to Iguazzu and stayed at the Das Cataratas Hotel overlooking the Iguazzu Falls. The ‘Falls’ really are a sight to behold and they cover such a vast area. Most of the falls are within Argentina but the most spectacular are on the Brazilian side. You can walk on specially constructed bridges and walkways to view the falls and the views looking down some of the waterfalls are awesome!!  We also took a boat on the rapids and viewed the falls by helicopter. All in all, an amazing time at Iguazzu and the best hotel of the trip.

Our last internal flight took us to Rio de Janeiro where we stayed a week on Ipanema Beach. Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, Copacabana, you name it, we did it as you must in Rio.

The climax to the trip was the New Year celebration. Everybody dresses in white and heads towards Copcabana Beach for a firework display to end all firework displays. It is estimated that two million people head to the beaches on New Year’s Eve and with that number of people you can imagine the atmosphere. All in all a fantastic trip all-round. The people were so friendly and welcoming. The food was something else and we all agreed on the fact that we did not have a bad meal anywhere.

Brush up on your Spanish and Portuguese, it is not essential but it does help!!