Just back from…Brazil with Ben LineBen Line - Travel Expert
Our Real Latin America Expert
Ben Line - Travel Expert
Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.
What country/countries did you visit?
How did you get there?
We flew direct from Heathrow with British Airways to Rio de Janeiro and took one short internal flight to Foz do Iguaçu.
Whereabouts did you go?
We flew into Rio for a 3-night stay to give us enough time to see the main highlights before heading down the coast for a week near Paraty, an exquisite colonial port town surrounded by sub-tropical beaches that can only be reached by boat. Our final stop was Foz do Iguaçu where we spent 3 nights to see the majestic falls themselves of course, but also to enjoy a full day to lounge by the pool before flying home.
Had you been before?
My partner and I have been to Rio several times before, as well as to Iguaçu, but neither my 3 or 5yr old sons or the other family we travelled with had ever been to South America before.
If so, any notable differences?
In previous trips to Rio I haven’t spent much time on the beach but this time we spent the mornings sightseeing before heading to the beach for the late afternoons. It was great fun for all, with the kids playing in the sand and kicking a football about with some local kids while we grown-ups watched them from the comfort of our sun loungers whilst sipping on deliciously cool freshly made passion fruit caipirinhas! I loved the late afternoon atmosphere on the beach, which is buzzing even on weekdays!
Which was your favourite:
Place: I would have to say Praia Vermelha, a beach that can only be accessed by speedboat about 20mins from the villa we were staying at, Casa Cairuçu. It was pure bliss - a wonderful palm-lined golden sand beach with calm clear waters for the kids to splash around in and a few simple beach shacks serving up the tastiest fresh seafood and cold beers! Just what the doctor ordered after the last few years of Covid-related restrictions and lockdowns!
Hotel: Casa Caircuçu, a wonderful 3 bed villa with maid-service that is perched on a hillside overlooking the sea and surrounded by lush rainforest and stunning golden beaches. It is just a 20mins speedboat ride from the colonial port of Paraty so gives the best of both worlds – pure nature and beach life, but with the option to head into town to explore the cultural riches and excellent bars and restaurants that Paraty has to offer.
Excursion: For me it’s a tie between the day trips to isolated beaches from our villa near Paraty and walking around the Iguaçu Falls, which just blow my mind no matter how many times I have seen them. Much as the kids loved those excursions, they would probably say their favourite trips were to the huge waterpark near our Iguaçu hotel or the Iguaçu Bird Park where they got to feed macaws before choosing a soft toy in the shop at the end!
What was your most memorable moment?
Apart from finally boarding a flight to Latin America for the first time in 3 years (a record wait for me!), what was the most memorable would have to be seeing the kids excitement and pure joy at all the new the experiences they had each day – drinking from a fresh coconut on Ipanema beach, being greeted by a troupe of marmoset monkeys as we arrived at Casa Cairuçu, splashing around care free on all the idyllic beaches around Casa Cairuçu and their mix of trepidation and excitement as we approached the Devils Throat at Iguaçu Falls.
Were there any surprises along the way?
Yes, we couldn’t visit Christ the Redeemer because the whole site was closed in the morning for President Bolsonaro’s personal visit. We decided to go in the afternoon but the funicular railway was shut due to a fallen tree on the line! It’s a good reason for us all to go back again!
What tips do you have for travellers wanting to visit the same destinations?
Easter school holidays was a really great time to go as the weather is still great, with sunny days and blue skies but the temperatures have started to drop a little from the 30s into the high 20s making it perfect for families with young children and adults like me who don’t cope so well in sweltering heat and humidity!
Is there anything indispensible to pack or prepare for?
Travelling with young kids, I would say a tablet with downloaded films is essential for the few long road journeys. They were excited about the prospect of the 4hr journey from Rio to Paraty because they would get to watch 2 films!
Any local snacks, dishes or drinks that should be sampled?
When in Rio, do visit the Copacabana poolside bar for some evening cocktails!
Any restaurant or bar recommendations?
We had a wonderful lunch at Zaza Bistrot Tropical in Ipanema sitting out on the terrace under dappled sunlight listening to an incredibly talented samba-jazz band that happened to be playing across the street at the same time! The restaurant is quirky and does some incredibly delicious fresh fish platters and inventive tropical salads. Another must whilst in Rio is to head to the Copacabana Palace’s to sample some of their inventive cocktails which truly are something else!
Sum up your trip in a sentence?
A long time in the planning, there were some high expectations for our first family holiday with friends to Latin America. But Brazil did not disappoint - both the kids and grownups loved it in equal measure and we are already talking about when we can go back again!
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