TRAVEL / Where worlds collide: Travel Notes

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The Independent Culture
BRAZIL makes up half the total area of South America; tropical in the north, temperate in the south, its combination of palm-fringed beaches, jungle eco-trips and city nightlife has made it the world's most fashionable destination for travellers under 35.

One of the biggest and most spectacular Brazilian carnivals takes place in Rio de Janeiro the week before Lent. In smaller towns there is more chance for tourists to take part. Copacabana and Ipanema beaches are in Rio, as well as the Sugarloaf mountain, accessible by cable-car, and the statue of Christ the Redeemer on top of Corcovado peak. Book return flights to Rio with Journey Latin America (081-747 8315) from pounds 468 via Lisbon with Air Portugal or pounds 567 direct with Varig; with British Airways (081-897 4000) from pounds 986 PEX return; or with Trailfinders (071-938 3366) from pounds 484. Sao Paulo is one of the other main international airports. Return flights from pounds 468 via Lisbon with Air Portugal, from pounds 567 direct with Varig (book with Journey Latin America); from pounds 1,015 PEX return with British Airways; or book with Trailfinders, from pounds 495.

The best beaches are on the north-east coast, from Salvador along to Fortaleza. Fly to Recife with Trailfinders from pounds 484 return or with British Airways from pounds 908 PEX return. Because of the huge distances, the most practical and cheapest way to tour Brazil is with a Brazil Airpass, available from Journey Latin America, Trailfinders and other travel agents. A 21-day pass, with coupons for five separate internal flights costs dollars 440 (about pounds 300), with a maximum of four extra coupons available for dollars 100 each.

Eco-tourism is rapidly growing in Brazil, from centres like Manaus; today it is famous for Amazon safari cruises; other wildlife reserves are to be found in the Mato Grosso marshlands to the south-west.

As well as tailor-made tours, Journey Latin America offers the following package tours (prices include flights): Pica-Pau, 24 days backpacking/hotels, including Rio, Sao Paulo, Amazon trips, Salvador and Recife, from pounds 1,580; Tuyuyu, 16 days hotel accommodation, Rio, Ouro Preto, the spectacular Iguacu falls on the Argentine border, Manaus, Brasilia and Salvador, from pounds 1,655; Chupaflor, 24 days hotel accommodation, Rio, Ouro Preto, Iguacu falls, Manaus, three-day Amazon cruise, from pounds 2,895.

Explore Worldwide (0252 319448) has a 24-day Mato Grosso and Amazon cruise tour taking in Rio and going on to Peru, from pounds 2,160, including flights. Exodus Expeditions (081-675 7996) offers a seven-week Amazon tour as part of its complete circuit of South America, travelling by jeep and including camping, from pounds 930 (not including flights). Steamond Travel (071-978 5500) specialises in tailor-made tours, from approximately pounds 800 to pounds 2,000 for two weeks.

Further information from the Tourist Section of the Brazilian Embassy, 32 Green Street, London W1Y 4AT (071-499 0877).