Rio is one of those cities of the world with a real wow factor, thanks to its spectacular natural setting (in the same league as Hong Kong and Cape Town) and cultural diversity. In 48 hours you can cover the main highlights but you will have to hire a personal driver/guide. I recommend Marco Tedesco for his in-depth knowledge about Rio, kindness and flexibility (you can contact him at [email protected]). It’s funny how the landscape changes on your way through the city, from beaches to tropical forest, always guided by the Cristo Rendentor that can be seen from almost anywhere. Let’s find out what are the places to put on your bucket-list and how to spend 48 hours in this truly amazing city.
That’s the big question when you plan to visit Iguazu. The answer ain’t easy and depends a lot on the time you have. I arrived on the Argentinian side, visited the falls there, transferred to Belmond das Cataratas on the Brazilian side and visited the falls there the next day. What’s nice on the Argentinian side is that you get many different viewpoints, but on the other hand you need a lot more time than on the Brazilian side. Main paths are located far from the park’s entrance and you need to take a small train to reach their starting points. Begin with the Devil’s Throat which is at the furthest. You will see it from above, after walking for about 15 minutes on a footbridge set on top of the river. Look down on your way and you may see different animals in the river, like caimans, turtles and fishes. The view from the observation deck is impressive, but the place is crowded… Then take another path to get different views, like the Upper Circuit that meanders through the jungle with many different observation decks towards the falls. Look up to spot beautiful birds (toucans, vultures, condors…). On the Brazilian side it’s different. The path to the falls starts right in front of the Belmond hotel and quickly reaches them. At the end there is a nice footbridge to get close to the falls (and wet). The view of the Devil’s Throat from below is spectacular (and a lot more enjoyable without the crowds!). All in all, if you don’t have a lot of time and want to get a nice touch of the falls I recommend the Brazilian side. But is it worth travelling all the way there and not getting all of it? So allow yourself 2 days in Iguazu, start with the Argentinian side as early as possible on day 1, then spend some relaxing time at the Belmond and proceed on day 2 with the Brazilian side before the national park opens to the public.
Enjoy Iguazu falls, they are just as gorgeous as you can imagine!
Buenos Aires has the right size for a nice few days’ city break. Quite European (especially for the architecture), yet with a very South American soul. I recently spent there 3 days and hired a guide (Jessica) from BuenosTours. Can’t but recommend her! Let’s see the places I discovered.
The Magdalen islands are fascinating. Located right in the middle of the Gulf of Saint Lawrence, they are not easy to reach but totally rewarding and worth the effort. So take the plane (expensive but fast) or a ferry-boat from Montreal (expensive and slow), from Chandler (giving you the opportunity to also visit beautiful Gaspesia) or from Souris on Prince Edward Island (the least expensive option and fastest boat connection). Try to spend a week there to fully enjoy the laid-back atmosphere of these very special and highly photogenic islands.
St Petersburg or “Peter” as the locals call it surely is one of the most interesting big cities in Europe. No skyscrapers but extravagant palaces, magnificent cathedrals and vast museums. What surprised me most is how clean and modern St Petersburg is! Pulkovo airport stands out as impressive as Hong Kong’s Chek Lap Kok airport and there is no trash in the streets of the city center. Roads are in good condition and traffic isn’t the mad hell you had imagined. Visiting in winter is a nice way to discover the city with less tourists, and I was lucky to have the best possible weather (snow on the ground, freezing temperatures and some beautiful sunlight!). You need to spend at least a few days in the city to experience a major part of what it has to offer.