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There is something at once familiar and foreign about the southern reaches of South America. From the magnificent beachside Brazilian metropolis of Rio de Janeiro, southward to Patagonian Argentina and beautiful Chile, a fascinating and intoxicating blend of cultures and vistas are both recognizable and exotic. Wide-open plains and a gaucho culture echo the American west. Soaring snow-capped Andean peaks might make you think you've landed in the Rockies or the Himalayas. And while the sophistication and bustle of its cities might remind you of a large U.S. capital, the samba-stepping street performers and European-style architecture with Spanish colonial accents quickly remind you that you're not in Kansas anymore.
This is South America through and through, where the civility of fine wines meets untamed Patagonia, where the controlled passion of the tango collides with the unbridled torrent of Iguassu Falls, where Rio's Christ the Redeemer statue peers down upon scantily-clad Ipanema beach-goers. Reverential and wild, it all must be seen to be believed. And Gate 1 Travel provides ample options to Brazil, Argentina and Chile so you can do just that.
Brazil: Sultry City, Fantastic Falls
Brazil was named for brazilwood, a tree that once grew up and down its shores. The timber from this tree produced a red dye, and so it became a valued commodity to supplement the 16th-century European cloth trade. Once the indigenous Tupi people caught on to the overseas demand, they put the trees up for sale in exchange for European goods.
Brazil went on to become the largest Portuguese-speaking nation in the world, and the only one in the Americas. Surrounded by Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountains and brimming with big-city energy, Rio de Janeiro—the unofficial cultural capital—wears its largesse on its sleeve.
Indeed, Brazil seems ready for its close-up. This summer, the country hosted the 2014 FIFA World Cup, with soccer matches held throughout the country. It was the most watched sporting event in the world, and a successful trial run for the 2016 Summer Olympics. With two international events happening here in just a two-year period, it is the undisputed sporting capital of the world, not to mention a sought-after destination for travelers.
For the next two years, Rio de Janeiro will be center stage among sports enthusiasts and curious travelers alike. From atop its monolithic hills, Rio's beauty unfolds before you in magnificent splendor: crescent beaches (including the famous Ipanema and Copacabana), glittering skyscrapers, and densely forested mountains form an intoxicating hive of activity. Corcovado is topped by the famed Christ the Redeemer, a 124-foot statue of Christ, with his arms outstretched as if embracing the city below. A steep passenger train ride gets you to the summit. On the other side of the city, all-glass cable cars bring you to the top of Sugar Loaf.
Rio certainly leaves the impression that Brazil embraces its natural beauty, even in its largest cities. Along the Argentinean border, another spectacular site awaits. Iguazu Falls, a thundering cascade of 275 cataracts that stretch two and half miles in a horseshoe shape, straddles the two countries' borders. These incredible falls are wider than Victoria Falls in Zimbabwe and higher than Niagara. Eleanor Roosevelt herself is said to have exclaimed, upon seeing this natural wonder, "Poor Niagara!" They are a stunning sight to behold, and that's just from the Brazilian side.
9 Day Classic Argentina & Chile with Mendoza Wine Country
15 Day Classic Brazil, Argentina & Chile with Bariloche
14 Day South American Glaciers, Forests & Lakes with 4 Day Patagonia Cruise
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|All prices are per person based on twin occupancy. Prices are valid as of August 21, 2014 and subject to change without notice. Book by September 4, 2014. Not valid on existing reservations.|
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13 Day Classic Brazil, Argentina & Chile
Our trip was incredible. It was beyond perfect. When the people on our trip asked one another what was the highlight of the trip we all agreed it was Vicky, our remarkable guide. She was intelligent, informed, caring, organized and above all passionate about her work. When we went to restaurants she would go over to everyone and explain the menu and help them order. The guides in all the cities were good. I particularly liked Patricia in Chile.
-- Dorothy K. New York, NY
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