South American cruising means lots of fun in the sun
CRUISING from vibrant Rio de Janeiro to cosmopolitan Buenos Aires is a new itinerary to rival the islands of the Indian Ocean during the summer season. More and more cruise lines are realising that this stunningly beautiful stretch of South America offers more to see and do than most summer destinations for the ever-needy travellers from northern hemisphere countries which seem to be gripped by ever more severe winters each year. Add to this the benefit of better value for money in the southern hemisphere countries which offer attractive summer holiday playgrounds.
What better way to start a cruise than in Rio de Janeiro – located in one of the world’s most spectacular bays at the foot of Corcovado – and ending in Buenos Aires, the Paris of the southern hemisphere?
Rio de Janeiro lies at the foot of the Christ the Redeemer statue which looks down on t he golden beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, beaches which stretch as far as the eye can see – a playground for the rich and famous.
En route to Buenos Aires you can visit the charming fishing village of Buzios with splendid beaches made famous by Bridget Bardot who visited during the height of her fame, putting this sleepy village on the map. Sit in the lap of her statue located on the Orla Bardot for a photograph with this celebrity. Then on to Ilha Grande, a natural treasure with one of the l ast protected remnants of the Atlantic rainforest, a rich, diverse ecosystem. Visitors can snorkel in tranquil lagoons or hike one of the 16 jungle trails that wind through tropical forests amid pristine waterfalls.
Paraty is a colonial town on the coast of Brazil which is almost frozen in time, once one of the world’s most important ports during the gold rush era of the 18th century. The colonial structures remain untouched, making the town a popular destination because of its wellpreserved buildings. Paraty also has beautiful beaches.
Santos is usually the next port of call and the port of embarkation or debarka- tion for the shorter five to seven-night cruises. Made famous by the Santos Futebol Club, the home team of the legendary soccer player Pelé, Santos boasts the largest beachfront garden in world, more than five kilometres long. This is a modern cosmopolitan city once the coffee powerhouse of the world.
Rio Grande do Sol is the Rio of the south, one of the places many travellers want to add to their bucket list, mainly because of the 245km Praia do Cassino, one of the longest beaches in the world. Influenced by European cultures, mainly Portuguese and Spanish, the city is wonderfully infused with gaucho culture, rhythmic music and delicious cuisine.
Then travel from Brazil to Uruguay to find the city of Punta del Este, a favourite holiday spot for the rich and glamorous. Besides the exclusive casinos, hotels, restaurants and nightclubs, here too can sun worshippers enjoy many kilometres of beautiful beaches.
The last port of call on a typical 12night itinerary is the capital city of Uruguay: Montevideo. Legend has it that the name originated from the words “monte vide eu” meaning “I see a mountain” as exclaimed by an eager lookout when Magellan’s fleet first arrived in 1520. It is a beautiful Spanishinfluenced city located on the River Plates’ shore, also the grave of the wellknown German battleship, the Admiral Graf Spee.
The cruise ends in the vibrant shopping capital of South America, Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina. This is a wonderful city in which to spend an extra night or two after a cruise, enjoying the interesting and colourful attractions of Caminito, San Tel mo, Recoleta and shopping in the pedestri a n- onl y Florida Street, not to speak of dining at any of the excellent restaurants specialising in seafood and , in particular, succulent steaks which are considered to be the best in the world. And don’t miss a tango show in a formal dinner theatre environment or casually in Caminito. Buenos Aires is a wonderful end to a cruise.
This cruise can also be taken in reverse, with a variation of itineraries offered by Crystal Cruises, Oceania Cruises, Regent Seven Seas Cruises, Silversea Cruises, Royal Caribbean and MSC Cruises.
Why not join Cruises-for-Africa on a 12-day cruise from Rio de Janeiro aboard one of the world’s most luxurious ships, the Crystal Symphony, from December 9 to 21, 2013 starting from US$3 347 a person, including all meals, all drinks and gratuities. See the advertisement on this page.
SUN-DRENCHED: Copacabana beach.