Wish you were here in Rio

Rio de JanieroHere’s something new to our Blog which we hope you will enjoy. Every Wednesday we will be taking a look at some of the wonderful destinations around the world that can be reached on escorted tours where we think you’d rather wish you were instead of the boring hum drum routine of daily life. For each destination, we will be highlighting the reasons why you should go there and if you’ve already been, we’d welcome your suggestions of places that are worth a visit. For our first Wish You Were Here, and because it was Carnival Time last weekend, we’ve chosen the beautiful resort of Rio de Janeiro. Take a look at our reasons why you’ll wish you were here…

Sun, sea & sand – and plenty of it!
Brazil is quite simply famous for two things, Carnival Time and being home to two of the world’s most famous beaches – Copacabana and Ipanema. Up and down the thousands of miles of Brazilian
coastline lie literally thousands of beaches, from the internationally famous to the seductively secluded. When in Rio, you can’t fail to miss an opportunity to hang out on Copacabana Beach, the 4km strip of beach serves up an interesting array of activities for any visitor to Rio de Janeiro. Take a dip in the crystal blue waters, do a spot of tanning in its sun-baked white sand, kick a football around with the locals or sit back and relax with a cool coconut water and watch the world go by. Just up the coast from Copacabana sits the more upscale, chic and equally lively Ipanema Beach and it’s here where you’ll undoubtedly be able to spot the body conscious fashionistas, after all this beach was the birthplace of the tanga (tiny bikini). The water here is a lot calmer compared to its other famous counterpart but the activities available are roughly the same so sit back, sip a caipirinha and let the tanning commence!

The Rio Carnival
Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World and it’s easy to see why as hundreds of
dancers and performers take to the Sambadrome Stadium to show off their moves and costumes in front of tens of thousands of spectators. Here’s your chance to see some of the city’s elite samba schools compete against one another as judges score the troupes on their dancing, costume, floats and musical performances. Themes at this year’s festival ranged from ‘London’ and ‘Fairytales’ to the ‘Olympics’ which will take place in Rio in 2016. Every year, over 2 million people crowd the streets of Rio de Janeiro making the Rio Carnival one of the world’s largest street parties. As well as the main competition in the Sambadrome, hundreds of other parades take place throughout Brazil drawing in crowds from across the world to see this visual masterpiece.

Sugar Loaf Mountain
It’s fair to say that Sugarloaf Mountain or ‘Pot de Sucre’ is one of the most easily recognisable and sought after attraction in Rio. Across centuries, navigators would be able to recognise the mountain as the entrance to Guanabara
. Today, tourists enjoy the ease and comfort of a cable car ride to the top of Sugarloaf which was first installed in 1912. Believe it or not, but the ascent to the top of Sugarloaf is actually completed in two stages. The first car ascends over 700 feet up Urca Hill providing wonderful views of Corcovado Mountain, the Niteroi Bridge and Guanabara Bay. You then transfer to a second car that takes you up another 1300 feet to the top where the views of Copacabana Beach are just amazing. Those of you feeling more adventurous could possibly hike your way up the Mountain instead of using the cable cars but be advised this is a very rugged climb and is not suitable for the un-informed. Also, make sure that you buy your one way ticket for the cable-car before you head off on your hike because once you reach the top of the Mountain, you won’t want to hike back down again and tickets cannot be bought at the top. Quite simply, Sugarloaf Mountain is a timeless attraction that should be taken advantage of by all you visit Rio. The views are wonderful, the photo opportunities are endless and most of all it’ll be difficult to beat this experience that’s for sure. Here’s a tip, get up before sunrise and watch the golden sun rise above Sugarloaf Mountain or perhaps wait until it sets – either way, you’re guaranteed a memorable moment to treasure forever!

Cristo Redentor
Here’s another memorable figure that you surely will not want to miss on your visit to Rio de Janeiro. Standing upright
over 100 feet tall, with his arms outstretched is the mighty Christo Redentor (Christ The Redeemer) statue. The idea of a religious statue first came to thought back in 1921 by Carlos Oswaldo who sketched out a design of Christ carrying a cross. When engineer Heitor de Silva Costa was commissioned to construct the statue, the design was changed and in 1931, after many years of construction, the monument was finally completed. A trip to the top is a must for any traveller to Rio de Janeiro so start your journey by train through the colourful urban forest until you get to the base where escalators have now replaced the 220 something steps that visitors were once required to climb to reach the top. Before you begin your journey to the top, check out the chapel and souvenir shop that are both located at the base of the monument. Now hop on board the escalators for the ascent to the viewing area which is extremely popular with all visitors and it’s easy to see why because the view is nothing but spectacular! On a clear day, you can enjoy a 360° panorama of the entire city including the beaches, forests, mountains & favelas and see if you can be the first one in your party to spot Maracana Stadium, Rio Niteroi Bridge, the Jockey Club or the beautiful Botanic Gardens. One things for certain, plan your visit to include sunset and you really won’t be disappointed with the view!
Have you ever been to Rio? If so, what did you think and what would you consider to be the highlights of your trip?