Ilona

On the 14th November 2014 I set off on a trip of a lifetime to Brazil for three weeks. My bespoke holiday was arranged by Worldwide Holidays. Why this company? Well as a member of the Anglo Brazilian Society, Steamond travel was recommended to members. Worldwide Holidays are part of the Steamond group. I had contacted two other companies before deciding on using Worldwide Holidays. I had a budget of £5000 but this was exceeded because I chose to travel by premium class on BA which was well worth it as it was more comfortable. My consultant, Fiona, was excellent especially with her suggestions on hotels. As I was travelling on my own Fiona suggested that I should stay in hotels that had good restaurant facilities so that I wouldn’t have to go out at night looking for places to eat. She had my safety in mind. My first stop was Manaus gateway to the Amazon jungle and I was met and had a private transfer to the Tropical Hotel. My guide Andre accompanied me into the hotel and helped me to check in. The Tropical hotel was lovely, very quaint and the sunsets were fantastic. The breakfasts were amazing. The variety of food and drink was mind boggling. Making a choice was so difficult. The memorable items were the Acai fruit and watermelon drinks. I mustn’t forget the Caipirinhas which were strong and delicious! On the second day I booked a tour of the city which included the fish (what an array of amazing fish) and fruit markets and the famous Manaus opera house. The old buildings were lovely and so colourful. Many of the past residents were Freemasons as their symbols were on the gates and walls including the opera house. I did ask Andre where the piranha fish were. He informed me that people don’t eat piranha but make a soup of this fish. River sardines Gates with Freemason symbols Rubber baron’s house My guide Andre was really nice and treated me to a tender coconut drink in the market. He asked me if I wanted to try a sandwich called a Caboquinho which was made with the Tucumá fruit and cheese and I readily agreed. He took me to the restaurant that makes the best ones and the sandwich was delicious. I was told it was a mix of Portuguese and the Indian race called Caboclo. Next I visited a handicraft market that was housed in a building designed by Gustav Eiffel (of the Eiffel tower fame). The guide informed me that large fish called the Tambaqui found in the Amazon River which I had seen in the fish market was made into a special dish using just ribs. That night for dinner at the hotel I had Costelã de Tambaqui Grenlhada com Castanha de Amazonia (grilled Tambaqui fish ribs, served with rice, regional hearts of palm, toasted Uarini flour with vegetables chestnut and banana and Pacovan. It was one of the most delicious meals I have ever had. My dessert was Cupuaçu mousse. On day three I was transported by boat to the Amazon EcoPark Jungle Lodge for my three night stay. Lovely place to stay and I loved my rustic room which was really comfortable. It was wonderful to sit outside at night and listen to the jungle sounds. The food at all meals was scrumptious with lots of variety. The tours were great and I really enjoyed the meeting of the waters trip and the lunch provided on the Caboclo at Terra Nova Island. I took some fantastic photos of the capuchin and squirrel monkeys there. Capuchin monkey Squirrel monkey My guide Everaldo was very pleasant and very knowledgeable on all aspects of the jungle. Fishing for piranha was fun! There was a wild male scarlet macaw who resides at the lodge. When he lost his mate he decided to hang around the lodge coming and going as he wished. But every morning he visited the restaurant perched high up waiting for his piece of bread which he would accept from only one member of staff. He also had a perch in the bar and it was lovely to get a close up photo of him. Scarlet macaw after a tropical rain shower Next stop the Pantanal for a three night stay at the Rio Mutum lodge. What an amazing place to stay. I was housed in a bunglow which has two rooms each with an en suite bathroom. I loved my room which was decorated with Brazilian Indian artificats with all the mod cons one would want. There was a torch attached to the keyring and also umbrellas were provided for when it rained. The food was good with lots of variety and the piranha soup was indeed delicious. Caprinhas were very good here too. My guide Judy was a gem. She knew all the names of the birds we saw. As I was so interested in birds she furnished me with a sheet of all the birds that can be seen at Rio Mutum. I saw over 50 species of birds within two days that I was there including the endangered hycianth macaw. The lady owner of Rio Mutum pays somebody to guard these macaws. They all roost in one place. Also saw caimans, giant anteaters, giant otters, agoutis, capybaras. Marmosets and howler monkeys. Some of the birds seen were the road runner, giant horned owl, burrowing owl, snake bird, southern screamer, chaco chahalaca, jabiru, the roadside and the black-collared hawks, red shouldered macaw,ringed, amazon and green kingfishers, giant cowbird, kiskadees, cattle tyrants various ducks, ibisis, herons and woodcreepers. Black-collared hawk Hyacinth macaw Burrowing owl Amazon kingfisher My guide Judy and I I would definitely go back to the Pantanal and Rio Mutum but for a week as there was so much to see. I flew to Iguassu for my next three night stay at the lovely Hotel das Cataratas which is set inside the Brazilian Iguacu national park. Fiona gave me options of other hotels outside the park but recommended the hotel das Cataratas if my budget would allow. I am so glad that I booked the hotel as it was in an amazing setting. On arrival in Iguassu on the way from the airport I asked my guide if I could go on the helicopter ride which flies over the falls and national park. I also saw my hotel from the air. It was an enjoyable ride and I took some good photos (try and sit by the window or next to the pilot to gain the best views). Cars are not allowed in the national park and guests for the hotel have to be checked in at the gate. The guide had to drive very slowly as there are animals crossing the roads. It was my good fortune to see an armadillo on the way up to the hotel. The view of the Iguaçu waterfalls from the entrance of the hotel was lovely. My room was big and airy and the tiles in the bathroom were very Portuguese in style. The staff were very welcoming and friendly. The breakfast and dinners which were buffet style delicious. The range of dishes was mind boggling. I just couldn’t make up my mind what to have as everything looked so good. The desserts were artistic and mouth watering. The ones that I liked best were Acerola mousse, Caju Mousse and Pumpkin trifle. My full day shared tour to the Argentinean falls turned out to be just me with the guide. Lucky me! Unfortunately it rained and was a bit overcast but warm. My guide suggested that I should do the boat tour and afterwards I wished I hadn’t been on it as even though I had waterproofs on I got throughly wet. The falls were awe inspiring. I saw lots of coatis, monkeys and caiman. Falls Argentina Coatis My guide took me to a very good eating place which was a buffet style lunch which was very reasonably priced. He suggested that I should try the BBQ chicken as it was very well done in this restaurant. In my whole life I have never tasted such delicious BBQ chicken. I went up for seconds! On my third day my guide took me round the Brazilian side of the falls which was also fantastic. Falls Brazil For lunch he took me to his favourite restaurant in town. He asked the owner to cook me fish even though it wasn’t on his menu as I didn’t eat red meat. What a kind man the owner was. The fish was very tasty and the BBQ pineapple was scrumptious. After that he suggested the bird park in Iguassu town. I had an interesting walk round the bird park. The highlight of the walk culuminated in a photograph taken with a blue and yellow macaw sitting on my arm. This very naughty macaw got bored with the guy who was trying to take the photo with my camera so it swooped on my watch and took off the glass with its beak. It chewed it and then spat it out broken in half and one of the hands was bent so I didn’thave a working watch. It cost me £50 to have it repaired so the above photo is a very expensive one! I was able to get a cup of tea in their restaurant so I was really happy. It is very difficult to get a cup of tea in Brazilian restaurants! Even the hotel didn’t have tea. After this episode my guide asked if I would like to go to Paraguay as watches were cheaper there than in Brazil. I agreed and off we went and I came away with a nice Fossil watch at a very good price. On our return the guide had booked me on a tour of the forest with a boat trip on a lake. There were only eight of us on this tour and we had a good forest guide. The boat ride was lovely and we were offered a chance to do some paddling in a canoe. Six of the group did. I sat on the boat and took photos of the lovely skies. After the tour the forest guide very kindly escorted me back to the hotel in the tourist bus. My guide had asked him to accompany me back to the hotel. What a nice guide! Brazilian Iguaçu National park On day four I flew to Rio and my tour ended with Worldwide holidays as I have a friend there. To summarise my holiday was fantastic. All the ground staff in Brazil were amazing people and went the extra mile to ensure that all my tours and airport transfers went off smoothly. I would definitely use Worldwide Holidays again and I have recommended them to other friends. Capybara in the Pantanal