Category: South America

Reasons to visit Brazil this April

April is a fantastic time of year to visit the South American country of Brazil. This massive country contains some of the most vibrant and colourful festivals on the planet and April is has its fair share dotted all over this tropical landscape. You’ll find stunning coastline, unique wildlife and friendly people everywhere you go in Brazil.

Why go in April?

Weather wise, Brazil’s “summer” runs from December to March and this is when you’ll find many Brazilians explore their country. Tourist destinations can become very busy so if you’re looking to avoid the hustle and bustle as well as avoid the bloated tourist prices then April is perfect. Catching the tail end of the summer and diminishing crowds gives you the best experience without the hassle. Expect temperatures in the mid 20s but of course this depends which part of Brazil you’re visiting. The north is nearer the equator so you can a expect hotter more humid climate. The south has cooler temperatures and being in the southern hemisphere winter is from June to September. You can find out more weather reports for Brazil here.

Where to go in Brazil?

Rio De Janerio

Such a vast country does of course have many destinations worth checking out but you’ll most likely want to start your exploration in Rio De Janeiro. One of the most iconic cities in the world and with Christ the Redeemer looking down from Sugar Loaf Mountain its one of the most scenic too. Spend a day on Ipanema beach for the traditional Brazilian past-time of people watching as both the men and women here love to show off their sun-tanned bodies. An excursion to the base of the Redeemer statue is a must and if you’re feeling adventurous I can highly recommend the paragliding experience from Pedra Bonita that offers spectacular views you won’t get any other way. You’ll land on Pepino beach and the trip is usually videoed to keep forever.

Sao Paulo

While definitely no where near as attractive architecturally speaking as Rio, Sao Paulo is the beating heart of Brazil’s culture and the place where you’ll really understand what makes Brazilian’s tick. It has more than its fair share of world class restaurants and some great cultural centres worth checking out. I’d recommend a visit to Museu do Ipiranga (Paulista Museum) where you can find out about the rich history of Brazil and understand more of its future too. Its also architecturally speaking one of the prettiest buildings in Brazil!

Salvador

For the ultimate mix of colonial history and colourful Brazilian culture Salvador is a must. One of the most photogenic places in Brazil the old town here is a UNESCO World Heritage site and due to the city’s slave history during colonial times there is a large cosmopolitan feel with some of the country’s most famous musicians discovered here. The best thing to do in Salvador is take a walk. The streets especially in the old town are so colourful you’ll be sure to take a lot of photos. You can also take a guided tour that will teach you all about the rich history here and explain more about the unique culture you’ll only find in Salvador.

Getting to Brazil

There are daily flights from most major airports thanks to TAM Brazil’s biggest airline. Flight time to Rio is around 11 hours 40 minutes from London. You’ll also want to fly domestically to places like Sao Paulo and Salvador so you can maximise your time at each destination. I’d highly recommend 2 or 3 weeks in Brazil and April is a great time to visit. You can beat the crowds and still make the most of this amazing country.

Best family activity holidays for the start of Summer

As the summer looms large, the thought of keeping the kids entertained and occupied begins to come around. There is a perfect alternative to worrying about planning a family break and that’s to book onto an activity holiday. With flights, accommodation and activities all planned out for you and your family, all that’s left is to enjoy yourself and relax. With flexible dates available, here’s my guide to the best holidays for your family this June.

Austria

Within the Austria’s Tyrol State lies the Oetz Valley, a mountainous haven filled with fun for the whole family to enjoy. With mountains, rivers, glaciers and a stunning terrain, you’ll be amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in Austria. Tyrol is famed for its ski resorts but it’s also fantastic in the summer too, with temperatures at a warm 16 degrees and seemingly endless hours of sunlight. Stay in some traditional accommodation to complete the ski resort feel to your trip.

Once you’ve arrived in Oetz, you’re quite literally spoilt for choice with activities.  There are many different options for rafting, canyoning and hiking, allowing you to explore and enjoy the peaks within the valley. Take off for a glacier safari to discover the history behind this frozen land and the wildlife that live here or take to the skies for a spot of paragliding! You can also relax whilst you’re here by visiting the water park or treating yourself to a thermal bath.

Bulgaria

June is a fantastic month to visit Bulgaria, with the summer season just getting into full swing. Temperatures average 19 degrees and you’ll benefit from over 8 hours of pure sunshine. June also sees the country host many festivals, including the Folklore Festival in Kyusendil. To capture the very essence of the beauty of this country, you simply have to visit Rila and its National Park.

Located an hour south of the capital Sofia, Rila really is a haven. It’s most popular attraction, and arguably it’s most beautiful, is the UNESCO listed 7 Lakes of Rila. During your stay, you’ll be able to use the park as your playground. There are a host of water activities available on Lake Iskar, including wakeboarding and waterskiing. If you’re more comfortable on solid ground, then mountain biking and horse riding are also fantastic activities to enjoy here. You can even explore further and visit the Rila Monastery, one of the most famous Orthodox sites in the country.

Galapagos Islands

The Galapagos Islands offer the beautiful scenic landscape but also adds in a magical touch of the animal world, with the country home to the iconic Iguana and Giant tortoises. June marks both the end of the warm season and the start of the dry season so you’ll get the best of both worlds. Temperatures average 23 degrees and the sea temperature is perfect for diving from June onwards.

Here you are quite literally spoilt for choice, especially for animal lovers and the best thing of all is that the land is unspoilt. See the giant tortoises in their natural habitat at Santa Cruz Island and visit Charles Darwin bay for a spot of snorkelling to see the amazing world beneath the waves.  You must visit the Charles Darwin Research Station to discover how this beautiful landscape is being preserved.  During your stay, you’ll be able to hike through forest, amongst the volcanos and amongst lava tunnels. It all makes for an exciting trip that will definitely get the heart racing.

Peru

This iconic destination is extra special in June as the summer solstice is celebrated at the magical Machu Picchu. June marks the start of the dry season and also the start of the popular tourist season in Peru. Any trip here is a trip of a lifetime, with the opportunity to explore these ancient sacred sites nestled amongst a beautiful tropical landscape.

It goes without saying that you must visit Machu Picchu and the Sacred Valley but there are many other activities to keep your whole family entertained during your stay here. Stay deep within the heart of the Amazon Rainforest and explore! Trek, travel along the river by boat and hike, you’ll even be able to climb up high into the trees to see the jungle from on high or fly through it on a zipline! All the while, keep your eyes peeled for the many animals that live here especially the famed piranhas!

Best March cruise holidays around the world

There aren’t many holidays in life that feel more luxurious than stepping onto a cruise ship, ready to be whisked off for a few days at sea exploring the area. With a wide range of destinations and cruises available, here’s my guide to the best cruises you should book onto for your holiday in March.

Cruise Australia

Southern Australia is magnificent in March as you can enjoy the warm climate of Autumn. Temperatures remain around 22 degrees and the sun continues to shine, meaning you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings without the searing heat or blazing sunshine of the summer.

For your perfect cruise, choose Crystal Cruises Australia for your choice of liner. This award-winning company will take you on a trip of a lifetime on board their luxurious ships, complete with ballrooms, theatres, bars and opulent rooms. Their three-week cruise around Southern Australia starts in Auckland, New Zealand where you can explore this exciting city on the North Island. Aboard your ship, set sail along the western coast down to Tauranga, Napier, Wellington, Christchurch and finally Dunedin before making your way over to Australia. Cruise across the Tasman Sea before you see Sydney and its iconic skyline appear on the horizon. Believe me, it’s an emotional, unforgettable experience. Spend time exploring this fantastic city before making your way to Melbourne, where you must visit the set of Neighbours! From here it’s along the coast to Perth and Fremantle, your final destination. It’ll be three weeks you’ll never forget.

Cruise Singapore

Singapore is possibly the most suitable place to take a cruise from, with many of the cities buildings taking you back to a time when boarding a liner was the only way to explore far off destinations. March is ideal for a trip here as the monsoon season comes to an end and the temperature is cooler than the humid months that follow.

Board Crystal Cruises’ 2 week round trip to Singapore which will take you deep into the Indian Ocean. Explore the city before you depart, visiting iconic sites such as Raffles to sample a ‘Singapore Sling’, The Majestic and the Zoological Gardens. Once aboard your ship, set off south and start ticking off all the countries you’re visiting. Malaysia, Thailand, Myanmar and even India all in the space of two weeks of sheer unadulterated beauty and excitement before landing back where you started.

Cruise China

Spring heralds the best time of year to visit China, with temperatures at a steady and comfortable level. With the weather great across the country, there’s no better time to take a cruise along the Chinese coast. Passing through the South China, East China and Yellow Sea, take a cruise from Hong Kong to Beijing. Here you’ll start and end in one of China’s most iconic destinations and will take in Shanghai on your way north. I found it simply remarkable just how many legendary sites this stretch of coastline holds. Being a culture lover, I was in awe of see Tiananmen Square, the Great Wall, Huangpu River and The Peninsula all in the space of a fortnight. Simply spectacular.

Cruise the Caribbean

The Caribbean almost feels as if it was made for cruising around. With a cluster of tropical islands in such a relatively small space, cruising is the ideal way to explore this lush region of the world. March is definitely the best time of year to do so as well, with weather at its sunniest, warmest and driest. It’s a popular time of year for tourists wanting to escape the winter.

Take a 14 day Caribbean cruise that will see you start and finish in Florida. Take time to explore Fort Lauderdale and Key West which are both beautiful coastal cities. Your first stop in the Caribbean is the Bahamas, where life really does feel like it’s begun to slow down. After a day exploring, you feel immediately relaxed and in Jamaica, the clock might as well just stop! Your cruise will take you onto the Cayman Islands, Turks and Caicos, Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands, and the most remarkable thing is that you’ll only have scratched the surface as to what the Caribbean has to offer.

Activity holidays for groups in April

April is a fantastic month to get out into the world and explore. What better way than to get together with a group of people and partake in some fun activities amongst some of the world’s most picturesque and iconic locations. Here’s our guide to the best activity holidays available.

Family activity holidays

Obviously the key to getting this type of holiday right is making sure that the whole family is kept entertained. This means getting the right balance with culture, activity and adventure and of course throwing in the odd animal adventure will certainly fire the imagination.

If you don’t mind the cold, why not try dog sledding in Lapland. Not only will this be an utterly unique experience but it will certainly capture the young ones’ imagination. For something a little warmer, head to Vancouver Island, Canada to explore the rugged landscape on a kayaking tour. Here you can take to the waters and see bears, orca whales and elk in their natural environment before camping out at night and live the prairie lifestyle.

If your family wants to head for warmer climes, take a trip to the Galapagos islands for a truly unforgettable trip. Here you can snorkel and dive to explore this natural wonder and see the unique eco-system. Spot sharks, manta rays and sea tortoises as you take to the waters.

Activity holidays with close friends

I find that visiting an iconic location is often made all the more magical by sharing that experience with close friends. Perfect for this then is a walking holiday at the Great Wall of China which stretches over 2700 miles, though obviously you won’t be walking the whole distance!  Take a trip to Sinai in Egypt where you can explore some of Egypt’s iconic sites. Climb Mount Sinai where Moses received the ten commandments, snorkel in the Red Sea and camp out underneath the stars.

Visit Morocco for a desert adventure. Here you’ll be assigned your own camel to ride your way through the desert, exploring this stunning landscape as you go through the Draa Valley. When night draws in, camp out in bedouin style and end your trip with a journey to unforgettable Marrakesh.

Activity holidays for large groups

There are a number of fantastic trips that are perfect for large groups. Take an unforgettable journey to the east and to explore India. Start with sightseeing in Delhi and the Taj Mahal before heading to the wilderness of the Himalaya foothills. Here you can climb peaks, visit temples and have overnight stays in mountain lodges. You’ll also be able to visit one of the many national parks to take part in a safari to see some of the country’s iconic animals. I would also detour to Rishikesh to explore the spiritual side of India and indulge in some eastern mysticism.

Mexico is also a wonderful place to explore with a large group, again with many iconic historical sites to see. Visit the ancient Mayan cities at Chichen Itza to explore the ruins and at Uxmal, a truly spectacular archeological site. You’ll also be able to explore underground caves and climb into the mountains. Take to San Cristobel for a speedboat tour along the river and to see crocodiles in their natural world.

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