As one grows older so do one's tastes in travel change.  In the sixties, heading off to Greece to sleep on the beaches of Ios and other Greek islands was de rigueur and we didn’t have the money or the mobile phones to ring home to ease our mothers’ worries - unlike the backpackers of today. 

However, just the thought of sleeping on a beach to be eaten alive by mosquitoes and other bugs now fills me with dread. But that does not mean that I still don’t enjoy an adventure or two and being a tour operator since 1970 I’ve had many to recount.

One very memorable business trip/holiday was to explore Brazil in 2002. I often took my family with me on trips because very often it was the only chance I had of being with them for a while -‘quality time’ it’s called, although I hate that expression. In the UK I was always in the office.

Anyway, at Sunvil we had decided to expand our Latin America programme into Brazil and this was an exploratory trip. I took all four children, the eldest being 20 and the youngest twins 16 - two boys and two girls.

I can’t remember how long the trip was but we covered Rio de Janeiro, Recife, The Pantanal, Parati and Salvador at an enormous pace.

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro

The atmosphere throughout was electric.  It was all about the sights, the sounds, the music, the food and the sheer excitement of seeing one of the most spectacular countries in the world. There was never a hint of wanting to stay by a beach; we were all there to learn and I was proud to see that they were game to explore, observe and discover. Four children after my own heart. 

It was the Pantanal that stood out for them. Rio they had read about and Salvador reminiscent of the many Portuguese towns they had visited but, the Pantanal was something else.

Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro
The Pantanal, Brazil The Pantanal, Brazil

If you ever decide to go to Brazil, then make sure you go to the Amazon first and then to the Pantanal for the grand finale because, in the Pantanal, you will see life in the raw, especially in the dry season. Eighteen years ago, tourism to the Pantanal was in its infancy and the lodge we stayed in primitive to say the least. But, in the Pantanal you see everything, from pythons, caymans, Jabiru giant storks, hyacinth macaws, capybaras, giant anteaters, Maned wolves, giant snails and of course jaguars; all in a wetland landscape of 70,000 square miles, 27% larger than England.

Amazon Brazil Amazon Brazil
Jaguar, The Pantanal Jaguar, The Pantanal

I remember being in my room which was next to that of an American lady.  I heard her scream in the morning and came out to see a Cayman with its jaws wide open outside the door of her room. Such is the Pantanal. 

I told the children that there was no time to see the Iguazu Falls but, so thrilled were they with everything Brazil, that they persuaded me to let the four of them fly for a day to see the falls while I remained in Rio to finalise Sunvil’s holiday programme.  Bad weather intervened and they ended up having to spend a night there so we almost missed our flights back to the UK. 

I remember It was their excitement which made the holiday so special; an excitement heightened by the people we met, the food we ate and a world so different from our own.

 

PS Even if it’s expensive, I always like to take a guide when I am visiting a new city because a good guide brings a destination alive.  In many ways, our reps in resort perform the same service for our guests. Their local knowledge - many of them have been with us for years - enhances our guests’ experience.

 

Noel Josephides

By Noel Josephides

15th April 2020



Noel Josephides
Noel Josephides

Noel is Sunvil’s Chairman. Born in Cyprus in 1948, he joined John der Parthog at Sunvil in 1973. Before that and following university, he spent 3 years as a trainee buyer at C&A Modes and then worked for a large Cypriot builder and property developer for whom he set up a London Office buying electrical components for the Middle East and importing lemons from orchards in Cyprus. He still researches new destinations for Sunvil and is heavily involved in matters relating to the travel industry. He is a previous chairman of ABTA, a long standing director and previous chairman of The Association of Independent Tour Operators (AITO) and the current chairman of The Travel Foundation - the travel industry’s sustainability charity.

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