Luxury Holidays in New Zealand

There are few places in the world where you can stand in tranquillity atop a glacier that descends into a luscious, temperate rainforest before reaching out to spectacular beaches and a stunning coastline. This heli-hike to the top of Fox Glacier encapsulates just some of what New Zealand has to offer – dramatically changing landscapes that are played out within short distances of each other; big and beautiful scenery, as well as jaw dropping views, clean pure air and serenity.


New Zealand is a small country full of culture, friendliness and some of the most diverse environments in the world. Here are just a few reasons why the travel experts at New Zealand In Depth believe it is the place to go if you want to do and see it all:

Easy to Explore

New Zealand is smaller than the UK, the travel network is first class, and the population is small. Hop in a car and you can explore the whole country in under three weeks – discovering first class vineyards, incredible beaches, thermal hot springs and luxurious accommodation on route. Its open roads make it the perfect destination for self drive holidays – you can drive the seven-hour journey from Christchurch to Queenstown and meet only two roundabouts and no traffic lights! There are also some iconic railway journeys to enjoy and a good spread of regional airports making internal flights a very viable option. In fact, flying in New Zealand can be an unexpected treat with tiny airports, no queues through securities and incredible views.


Stunning Scenery

With its pristine beaches, breath taking mountains and spectacular lakes it is impossible to visit New Zealand and not be struck by its beauty. It boasts three World Heritage Areas, including Tongariro National Park, whose dramatic volcanic landscape was used to create the kingdom of Mordor in The Lord of the Rings. Elsewhere, in Fiordland you can spend an evening sailing the magnificent Milford Sound or Doubtful Sound, taking in snow capped mountains, rainforests, and tumbling waterfalls. The country is even stunning at night and the International Dark Sky Reserve above Lake Tekapo offers some of the best star gazing on the planet.

Doubtful Sound

Beautiful Beaches

New Zealand is a beach-lover’s paradise. Made up largely of two islands, you are never far from the sea. You can kayak hidden beaches in Northland, sand surf Ninety Mile beach, dig your own thermal spa on the Coromandel Peninsula or just bask in the golden sands and sheltered, clear waters of Abel Tasman.

Abel Tasman National Park


New Zealand offers a range of stylish, romantic and quirky places to stay. If you are looking for luxury accommodation there are hotels like Eagles Nest in the Bay of Islands, which features its own theatre systems, private pools and personal butler service. More imaginative options include the Hapuku Tree Houses in Kaikoura, or the clear glass rooms at PurePods on Banks Peninsula, where you can see the Southern Cross above you at night and the native plants surrounding you by day. There are also a growing number of boutique B&B’s and lodges that are supporting local conservation projects.

Hapuku Tree Houses


New Zealander’s love their food and their standards are high. Traditional roasts are part of the mix, but you will also enjoy some of the finest meals found anywhere in the world. New Zealand’s wide range of climates means that nearly every fruit and vegetable can be grown on its own shores – from olives to oranges – the chefs take full advantage of the high-quality, fresh ingredients. As you would expect from a nation surrounded by water, there is some spectacular seafood on offer. Local delicacies include Marlborough green-lipped mussels – famous for their health benefits, Bluff oysters, whitebait and scallops. For a truly authentic option there is the hangi, a traditional Maori style of cooking using heated rocks buried in a pit oven.

first class wines

New Zealand’s wines are world famous and in high demand. There are a number of winegrowing regions spread throughout the country. Within 45 minutes of Auckland you can be on Waihike Island, enjoying a critically acclaimed chardonnay at the Mudbrick Vineyard. For the most well-known vineyards, we recommend you visit the Marlborough region, which produces superb Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Gris, Riesling and increasingly good Pinot Noirs. Elsewhere, in Hawke’s Bay you can enjoy a day’s wining and dining experience with the experts at Odyssey NZ.

A Marlborough Winery


New Zealand rewards the intrepid and Kiwis are known for their sense of adventure – but don’t just think jet boating, kayaking, bungy jumping, sky diving, and rafting. A huge amount has been invested in cycle routes and trekking. There are also some fabulous golf courses – many are at international standard and are attracting the big names. Kauri Cliffs in Northland has its own helicopter for easy transfers to or from Auckland. As for skiing and boarding, the snowfields in the South Island are crowd free and good for all abilities. All this and they’re not too bad at rugby either.


New Zealand’s diverse habitats support some of the world’s most rare wildlife; from the national emblem, the little brown kiwi, to the yellow eyed penguin, all the way to the world’s only alpine parrot, the Kea. One town in particular, Kaikoura, is almost exploding with marine wildlife. From here you can go whale watching, swim with dolphins and seals or spot gannets and albatross. It is just a three hour drive from Christchurch airport, or three hours on the iconic Coastal Pacific train.
A sperm Whale diving in Kaikoura


Maori culture is part of everyday life in New Zealand and there are plenty of opportunities to learn about the rich heritage. Te Papa, the national museum in Wellington, offers a complete insight into the human and natural history of the country. You can also visit the living Maori village, Whakarewarewa, in Rotorua.


New Zealand In Depth has been creating tailor-made holidays to New Zealand for 11 years. Our bespoke service is arranged with care and expertise and is backed by a genuinely personal service. We have built personal relationships with all our suppliers and partners on the ground in New Zealand to ensure our clients get the very best. With us there are no fixed itineraries and everything is possible. Come and visit us at stand F7.

Behind the Lens with Doug Allan

In your 25 years of experience what is the most exciting thing you have captured on camera?

For sheer adrenaline, it would be hard to beat the occasion in the Antarctic when a three meter long Leopard Seal swam up to me, opened its jaws wide in a threat display, then took the whole of the front end of my camera’s lens into its mouth. I could hear the scrape of the seal’s teeth on the lens, and looking down the viewfinder I was able to able to focus on its tonsils. It held that position for about five seconds, then opened its jaws and swam off.

At the other pole, in the Arctic, I found a different kind of excitement. A more super glowing satisfaction kind of feeling. A Bowhead whale was swimming in this crack in the ice, maybe 50m wide. I slipped in, gin clear water, looked down and there way below me was a big dark shape. I followed it with the video camera, back and forth during a couple of passes, but it was so far down and so dim that I held little hope for the footage. But when I cranked up the brightness of the pictures later, I realised the whale was feeding – its mouth was wide open, baleen plates fully exposed. That was in 1994 and those shots still keep being sold by National Geographic. They’re just the best around of a baleen whale filter feeding. The water’s clear whereas usually it’s pea soup for them to feed in that way.

Doug Allan on location in Canadian Arctic. June 2002

Doug Allan on location in Canadian Arctic. June 2002

Is there something that you really want to film/photograph but haven’t had the chance to yet?

The narwhal is a small whale about 6m long that lives in the Arctic. But the males have a single tusk that can be 3m long coming out of the front of their head. Underwater unicorns. Give me 30 minutes underwater in the company of a tusked male and I’d be a truly happy man. It’s a hell of a challenge, because they just seem to be one of these animals where they’re all – well the males at least – very very wary. I’ve glimpsed them out on the limits of visibility, cruising past, checking me out, but always just a vague shadowy shape, impossible to film. But somewhere out there there’s a friendly one, it’s just a matter of spending time in the water.

Doug Allan on location, Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific, during filming for Planet Earth, Sept 2005.

Doug Allan on location, Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific, during filming for Planet Earth, Sept 2005.

Doug Allan filming Humpback whale mother and calf (Megaptera novaeangliae), Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific, during filming for Planet Earth, Sept 2005.

Doug Allan filming Humpback whale mother and calf (Megaptera novaeangliae), Kingdom of Tonga, South Pacific, during filming for Planet Earth, Sept 2005.

What have you been busy with lately? What is next for you?

I don’t have anything specific in the pipeline right now, having just had a very busy five months. I’ve been on shoots in Chagos in the Indian Ocean working with scientists looking at the effects of climate change on the coral reefs, then Newfoundland (twice) filming under icebergs for a new Brian Cox series coming out next year, and then with the Living Oceans Foundation doing part of a film about overfishing. A quick trip to Scotland trying for seals underwater, a longer one to South Africa working with Monty Halls and a shark tagging team, to Svalbard in the Arctic as the ice broke up looking for polar bears, and finally, best of all, to Iceland where I dived a spectacular undersea vent, that rose up from the sea floor at 80m depth like a giant tapering pillar, with boiling hot water shimmering out of cracks on its flanks. Truly unworldly!

Next? Well I’d really like to tell the story of climate change in the Arctic, make a film about what’s happening up there and what the future holds for polar bears and other animals. But as you can imagine – it’s a hard sell!

Doug Allan on Lake Baykal

You have spent multiple winters and summers on both poles.  Tell us about your biggest scare.

I was grabbed by a walrus while I was snorkeling off the ice edge in the Canadian Arctic. He came up from right below me without warning, hugged my thighs with his flippers just as they do when catching seals in the same way. I looked down, hit his head with my fist, he let go and I swam back to the solid ice. Took less time to happen than it has done for you to read this. Now if he’d held on and taken me down …… well no more Doug I guess. I was especially interested in what my Inuit guides told me afterwards – that the usual way the walrus actually kills the seal is by putting its lips against the seal’s head, and basically sucking its brains out.

It’s true that as wildlife film makers, we do face situations when animals are potentially dangerous. White sharks in the water, wolf packs on the tundra, that sort of thing. But experience and a ‘feel’ for the animal will often let you know when it’s ok to approach, and when it’s time to back off.

Doug Allan and husky, Greenland

Cameraman Doug Allan on location in Svabard, Norwegian Arctic, filming arctic fox.  April 2000 Cameraman Doug Allan on location in Svabard, Norwegian Arctic, filming arctic fox. April 2000

Five lesser-known destinations to visit in Vietnam

So you know all about the major sights – from frenetic Saigon and Hanoi, stunning Halong Bay, the ancient port of Hoi An and the imperial city of Hue. But what about Vietnam’s lesser-known destinations?

The following are our pick of Vietnam’s lesser-known locations (we won’t say “B” destinations, because there’s absolutely nothing “B” about any of these gems), to put on your wish list. And there are many more just waiting to be discovered!

Mai Chau

Located in Hòa Bình Province in Vietnam’s northwest, Mai Chau is a fantastic place to discover rural Vietnamese life. Home to the White Thai and Black Thai tribes, the region is surrounded by stunning scenery and makes the perfect base to begin your exploration of the country’s beautiful highlands.

Mai Chau

Ninh Binh

 Called “dry Halong Bay” for its similar scenery, Ninh Binh is a dramatic landscape of towering karst pinnacles, lush rice paddies, and rivers snaking through flat, green valleys. We recommend appreciating the scenery as you drift along the waterways in a traditional longtail boat.

Ninh Binh

Phu Quoc

 For a little slice of paradise, Phu Quoc Island is one of our absolute favourites destinations. Prepare of 22 islands of stereotypical tropical beauty: white sand, thick jungle, clear waters and precious little major development.

Harry Sveta Vietnam trip Nov 2013, Highlights

Cat Tien

 Cat Tien National Park consists of 72,000 hectares of grassland and dense lowland rainforest – a habitat that shelters a vast diversity of flora and fauna, including elephants, leopards, bears, monkeys and even tigers. Spend the night in a lovely eco lodge overlooking the river for the chance to really reconnect with nature.

Cat Tien

Phong Nha

 Both National Park and World Heritage Site, Phong Nha is home to some of the world’s most incredible caves – including the world’s largest: Son Doong. Many of the caves have only recently been discovered, and so are completely untouched by mass tourism.

Phong Nha

Post by InsideVietnam Tours. Stand B27

Top 5 Luxury Hotels in Brazil

Brazil is a country blessed with unique cultures, spectacular sights, diverse habitats and hundreds of miles of unspoilt beaches. For many visitors, this land of colour and beauty is best enjoyed from a luxury hotel base, and Brazil has a fabulous selection to suit all tastes. Some boast infinity pools, while others are proud of their eco-credentials and exclusive location. Remote boutiques and jungle lodges ensure guests are treated to wonderful wildlife encounters and many city spots have a host of A-list celebrities who are regular visitors. From taking part in the famous Rio Carnival, to spotting jaguar in the Pantanal or just relaxing on a white sand beach there is a luxurious hotel to match every style of holiday in this marvellous country.

Choosing just 5 for this list wasn’t easy but here’s our selection. Enjoy.

Ponta dos Ganchos

Ponta dos Ganchos Resort is a small but special hotel. Surrounded by the verdant Emerald Coast. The hotel is situated next to a traditional fishing village overlooking stunning, forested coastline just north of Florianopolis on a privately-owned peninsula. The hotel is regarded as one of the most exclusive beach resorts in Brazil, and it regularly wins the title of the best beach hotel in South America. The hotel is exclusively for adults, perfect for those looking for romance and luxury, and is a major honeymoon destination. Ponta dos Ganchos is part of the Leading Hotels of the World group which act as a seal of testament to its impeccable facilities. 25 sophisticated bungalows are set in amazingly lush vegetation by the rainforest creating a dazzling display of light and colour. This is the perfect place to relax offering a cinema, a state-of-the-art fitness centre, bar, restaurant, oceanfront tennis court, Spa, Massage gazebos, heated swimming pool and some wonderful nature trails to follow. In addition there are numerous water based activities which can be enjoyed close the resort including boat trips out to see dolphins, excellent scuba diving and it’s also close to the best whale watching area in Brazil.

Ponta dos Ganchos


The Hotel Unique lives up to its name due to its remarkable design. Styled on the shape of a ship, this property is a real eye-catcher and located opposite the city’s Ibirapuera Park in the upmarket area of Jardins. The hotel Unique is a destination where art, architecture, design, fashion, music, gastronomy and exquisite service combine to create ground-breaking hotel culture. The hotel has a mix of rooms and suites all offering contemporary and sophisticated décor, high-technology amenities and maximum comfort furnished with Brazilian hardwood floors, and oversized, round windows which mimic the portholes of a boat and allow for natural light to flood in. The suites also incorporate the curve of the building with “infinity floors” that gently slope into the walls, providing architectural drama. The hotel also boasts the best views of the city skyline and on the roof you can find the aptly named ‘Skye’ bar, an area which contains a crimson red pool with an underwater sound system, lounge area and bar with stunning vistas over Ibirapuera Park and the entire São Paulo skyline.

Hotel Unique


UXUA Casa is an extraordinary place to stay. So much so that in 2014 it was declared the best hotel in the world by the hotel website Mr and Mrs Smith. It’s quite a claim, but once you’ve stayed there it’s easy to see why. Situated next to the famous Quadrado the hotels has 10 exclusive residences (casas), each with their own unique design. The casas vary in size and are perfect for honeymooners or families. All of the 10 casas are carefully styled with art from the Trancoso area and set in stunning natural surroundings. Our particular favourite is the Casa da Arvore, the tree house, which is a favourite for honeymooners. All casas benefit from large comfortable beds, indoor and outdoor living areas, flatscreen TV, air-conditioning and wifi. This really is the place to be seen on holiday in Trancoso. UXUA Casa translates as ‘Marvellous House’ and is the creation of renowned designer Wilbert Das, formerly of the Diesel clothing label, who is regularly seen in the hotel engaging with guests. The pool located next the restaurant was designed to have lake-like quality, built incorporating beautiful green aventurine stone, which the locals consider that they have therapeutic power, helping to calm the mind and reduce stress. The restaurant is one of the best in Trancoso and a short stroll to the beach will take you to the fabulous beach bar in the form of a semi-sunken boat in the sand serving great seafood and caipirinhas which are far too easy to drink. For those wanting an authentic experience, cooking classes can be arranged on site.


Fasano Rio

Oozing super cool sophistication and laid back luxury, this trendy hotel is a magnet for young celebrities who love to stay in this fashionable hot spot. From its privileged location opposite Ipanema Beach, guests can take a short stroll to Posto 8 which is the place to be seen on the sand in Rio. The hotel was designed by celebrated designer by Phillipe Starck and is a place where luxury abounds, illustrated from the white goose down pillows to the spectacular rooftop infinity pool looking out over the ocean. To satisfy a demanding clientele all the rooms possess private balconies, separated by mirror screens making privacy and discretion a hallmark of the property. The Fasano family made their name with their restaurants and so it is unsurprising that the Al Mare restaurant is one of the best dining experiences in Rio with a menu focusing on a Mediterranean style seafood cuisine whilst the Baretto-Londra lounge offers award-winning signature cocktails and is one of the most coveted bars in Rio.

Fasano Rio Hotel


Insolito Boutique Hotel in Buzios is at the top of the pile for luxury hotels in this sophisticated town and in 2012 was voted as the Best Beach Hotel in South America at the World Travel Awards. Insolitos is located on Ferradura beach, one of the best in Buzios, and was designed to perfectly integrate with its natural surroundings. Its owner has lovingly created the unique themes which vary throughout the hotel. The thoughtful use of local Brazilian arts and crafts have created 20 individually styled and welcoming rooms, with photos and paintings adorning the walls which have all been personally chosen by the owner. All rooms come with panoramic views of the ocean and some include a veranda with whirlpool. The hotel features two pools, a dry sauna, a steam sauna, plus jacuzzi and an Ofurô. Two speedboats are available for guests to explore the surrounding waters, and water sports, fishing and picnics can easily be arranged. The trendy beach lounge and restaurant, featuring a delicious Franco-Brazilian menu, is the place to be wined and dined in the exclusive area.


Post by Bespoke Brazil. Stand C40.

Luxury in Bolivia

Bolivia offers unique luxury travel experiences and some of South America’s most stunning natural and cultural attractions. The country’s main cities of La Paz and Santa Cruz boast high-end infrastructure at far more affordable prices than other major urban centres across the continent. Santa Cruz has tropical weather all year around and great opportunities to stay in comfortable hotels with swimming pools and sports areas to relax perhaps for a few days before or after your travels in the highlands.

La Paz is undergoing something of a culinary revolution, led by the opening of Gustu Restaurant in the city’s southern district by Claus Meyer, co-founder of Copenhagen’s world-beating Noma. Gustu opened over a year ago with the aim of lifting Bolivia’s native ingredients to gourmet cuisine, and features the best wine and spirits the country has to offer. It has already won plaudits from locals and critics alike.

There are also some great places to stay in La Paz, the capital city on the roof of the world, from boutique-type accommodations in colonial mansions or a more traditional full-service hotel experience with rooftop views to the high Andes. There is plenty to explore within the city, which is within easy reach of the pre-Inca ruins of Tiwanacu or a day trip by private boat on Lake Titicaca with lunch on the iconic Sun Island.
There are also some of the world’s best high altitude trekking opportunities for which La Paz serves as an excellent place to acclimatise and prepare.

Lake Titicaca

Further afield is perhaps Bolivia’s standout feature- the dazzling white desert of the Uyuni Salt Flats. As a specialist in Bolivia, Luxury Travel Fair exhibitor, HighLives, work with the best hotels in this remote and rugged region and offer great photographic opportunities in their 4X4 tours of the region.

Uyuni Salt Flats -island

You can also explore the magical highlands of the altiplano, flamingos-filled coloured lagoons and lonely volcanic peaks. Extend your trip down to Chile’s Atacama desert and the Pacific coast beyond or transfer to the gentler climes of Argentina’s northern wine-growing region.

Palacio de Sal Hotel

Palacio de Sal Hotel - Salon

About HighLives
HighLives is a UK-based tour operator founded by Bolivian-born Bibiana Garside. They take care to tailor experiences that can include South America’s most spectacular sights as well as places that offer adventure or tranquillity and always with the peace of mind that they will take good care of all the details. HighLives offers gourmet tours to Bolivia, offering you the opportunity to explore and experience Bolivia’s food and wine by visiting the towns of Tarija, La Paz and Uyuni, and ending with a 12 -course dinner at Gustu Restaurant. Visit them at the Fair on stand A17.

Discover Scotland

When thinking of Scotland, impressions and expectations are often created by the numerous films which capitalised on the stunning scenery; Skyfall, Braveheart, Monty Python and the Holy Grail, Chariots of Fire, Local Hero, The Da Vinci Code, and Harry Potter are among the many created in Scotland.

MacLean & Bruce

Many visitors come to Scotland to indulge in sport; from fishing and shooting to golf in the natural and spiritual home of the game. While these are among the more obvious attractions to Scotland, a wide range of other activities can also be organised. Off-road driving, cycling, sailing and quad-biking are among the more adventurous. Spa days, shopping, food and drink pairings and tastings or cultural pursuits for a more relaxing experience.

MacLean & Bruce

The continually rising global popularity of whisky also plays a large part in attracting visitors, and with the number of distilleries steadily growing there is no shortage of producers to visit or produce to enjoy. The phrase ‘It’s not what you know, but who you know’, applies when it comes to enjoying ‘The Water of Life’. Personal introductions to the distillers, tastings of rare drams, and mentoring with world-leading expert Charles MacLean of MacLean & Bruce are as much fun and illuminating for the well-practiced palate as for the uninitiated.

MacLean & Bruce

The natural landscape plays a crucial part in the abundant natural produce which is best enjoyed locally, but recognised for it’s premium quality all over the world. Seafood, beef, game, artisan cheeses, fruit and vegetables, honey, oils – the list goes on – are all treated with great skill by an ever increasing number of Michelin starred chefs in Scotland. Scotland’s fine culinary heritage continues to evolve, and superb food can be found even in the most remote locations.

MacLean & Bruce

Scores of castles on both the mainland and islands, ruined as well as inhabited, are visual reminders of Scotland’s history of violent wars and affluent peace. Guests can enjoy a truly unforgettable experience by staying in their own castle; castles which combine tradition with comfort, antiquity with the mod cons expected by today’s discerning traveller. Whether arriving by helicopter, sea plane, boat or by road, a warm welcome will be always be waiting, and a relaxed country house-party atmosphere created. Time amongst friends.

MacLean & Bruce

As a luxury destination which is just a short flight from London, Scotland has much to offer. With privileged access to experiences in Scotland that no other company can reach, MacLean & Bruce , stand D32 at the Fair, welcome guests to savour the finest that Scotland has to offer. Exclusive-use properties, luxury travel, great entertainment; all tailored in a bespoke itinerary and delivered in style. Don’t miss Charles MacLean in The Meet the Experts Theatre with Celebrity Cruises on Friday 7th November (15.15-16.00) for a truly unique insight into Scotch Whisky (sponsored by Adelphi Distillery).

MacLean & Bruce

MacLean & Bruce

The Sambadrome Parade at Rio Carnival

I am hot, sweaty and with aching feet but with a huge smile on my face from ear to ear that won’t go away. I’ve just taken part in the Sambadrome parade at Rio Carnival which can only be described as the best experience of my life! I have been lucky enough to attend Rio Carnival for the last 4 years and absolutely adore the city which in my opinion is the most beautiful in the world. Aside from carnival the city has so much to offer the visitor and its natural landscapes have recently been declared a World Heritage area by UNESCO.  The views from the top of Corcovado Mountain or Sugar Loaf Mountain are simply sublime with the rolling hills mixing with forests, the city and beaches for as far as the eye can see. The beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema are world renowned, on both of which you could spend a day just strolling along and people watching. Beach volleyball in Rio isn’t just an Olympic sport…it’s a way of life!


Carnival – Bespoke Brazil

During Carnival the city changes dramatically with the arrival of an estimated extra 2 million visitors and the whole of Rio stops work to party with family and friends. In 2014 there were over 600 blocos (street parties) which take place over a 5 day period in various parts of the city. These are often localised community events through to the outlandish large blocos such as the Banda de Ipanema which attracts over a million revellers. Everyone is welcome though and neighbourhoods come alive and residents dress up in all manner of weird, wonderful and irreverent costumes with many men dressing up as women. Alcohol is abundant, the music is loud and the dancing is infectious!


Carnival – Bespoke Brazil

Whilst Carnival is a celebration, it is also a competition. Rio’s top 12 samba schools battle it out on the Sunday and Monday night in the Sambadrome, a purpose built parade area which holds up to 80,000 spectators. The Sambadrome is a 700 metre long runway with stands either side along which the Samba schools parade in vast numbers. Each samba school has between 65 and 82 minutes to get roughly 5,000 dancers, drummers and enormous floats from the start to the finish line in a style, rhythm and harmony which will score the most points with the judges. Watching the Sambadrome parades is an incredible sight as the noise and colour is overwhelming. The parades begin at 9pm and finish anytime between 5am and 6am with most people doing their best to stay until the end. As each parade goes past the crowds get to their feet, singing, dancing and cheering on their favourite samba school!


Carnival – Bespoke Brazil

Rio Carnival

Rio Carnival – Bespoke Brazil

Although watching the parades is a fabulous experience, dressing up and taking part in the parade is something else! That’s exactly what I had the chance to do a couple of years ago as an honorary member for the night of the União da Ilha Samba School… and it is a night I’ll never forget. Each year every samba school chooses a different theme for the parade and for União da Ilha it was Darwinism. This led to me being in a section of the parade with about 80 others, all dressed as peacocks, parading behind a 20 foot high tortoise! The costumes were delivered to my hotel and we headed for the Sambadrome.  We travelled to central station via the metro which is an experience in itself but squeezing into crammed carriages in a large costume is a lot of fun when everyone is in a party mood. On arrival at the Sambadrome we were kept in a holding area and shown what to do which involved some simple samba moves and the importance of keeping in line with the dancers to your side and in front.

Peacock Costume

Peacock Costume – Simon from Bespoke Brazil

As we entered the arena my overriding memory was of a wall of light and a cacophony of sound from 80,000 people which increased the further along we went. All the crowds were singing, chanting and taking photos of us whilst the sweat was pouring off me as I focused on my footwork. As I crossed the finished line I had been dancing non-stop for 40 minutes and didn’t want to stop. Everyone was cheering and hugging each other in jubilation and the constant buzz continued as we headed to find a bar still wearing the costume which I got to keep. I have travelled all over the world but this, without doubt, was the best experience of my life!

Sambadrome parade

Sambadrome parade – Bespoke Brazil

Simon Williams is the founder of Bespoke Brazil, a UK based specialist tour operator which creates tailor-made holidays to Brazil and are Rio carnival specialists. They will be at the Fair in November on stand E23.
Bespoke Brazil has recently launched a luxury holiday to Rio Carnival. It offers you the chance to experience Rio Carnival in style featuring luxury ocean front accommodation at the iconic Copacabana Palace, private guided tours of Rio’s famous sights as well as experiencing the vast street parties. The trip includes fantastic front row seats at the Sambadrome parade plus the chance to actually take part in the parade itself, a real once in a lifetime bucket list experience. After the excitement of Rio de Janeiro you can fly to the awe inspiring Iguassu Falls where you will stay in luxury at the Hotel Das Cataratas, the only hotel located inside the Brazilian national park allowing 24 hour access to the falls and enjoy a day trip to the Argentinean side of the falls with an exhilarating ride on a speedboat for a close up view! End your stay in the stylish beach tranquility of Buzios at the stunning Insolito Boutique Resort, regularly voted as Brazil’s best beach hotel. If you only visit Brazil once in your lifetime, do it at carnival time! Rio Carnival takes place from 13th – 17th February 2015.