Golf Course Design Selected for 2016 Rio Olympics

Hanse Golf Course Design, a US based company, has been selected to design the 2016 Olympics golf course in Rio. The company was selected out of eight finalists for their proposal that featured the best design features and that highlighted the natural dunes and land contours. This golf course will feature the first Olympic golf tournaments in 112 years.

President of Rio 2016™, Carlos Arthur Nuzman, stated “As it marks the return of golf to the Olympic games after over a century of absence, this course represents the beginning of a new chapter in the history of the sport.” Peter Dawson, president of the IGF stated “The IGF would like to thank all of the architects who worked hard on their bids and whose presentations demonstrated great vision. The selection process adopted by Rio 2016™ was extremely thorough and reflected the importance of the project. I am delighted Hanse Golf Course Design has been appointed to design the Olympic golf course which promises to provide an outstanding venue for the Games and a tremendous legacy for our sport in Brazil.”

The president of Hanse Golf Course Design has designed a number of renowned golf courses, and was voted “Architect of the Year” by Golf Magazine in 2009. Castle Stuart golf course in Scotland was also considered “Bes t New International Course” in the same year. Hanse will be working closely with LPGA and World Golf Hall of Famer, Amy Alcott, on the project. Close attention will also be paid to keep current environmental conditions and land as unchanged as possible. Gilbert Hanse will be relocation to Rio during the course’s build.

The Barra da Tijuca district of Rio will host the new golf course, which coincidentally is the where most of the 2016 games will be held. Once the Olympics in 2016 are over, the course will be used as a public facility in an attempt to increase golf’s popularity in Brazil.

Manaus: Perfect Combination of City Living and Outdoor Adventure

Located on the Rio Negro River on the northern branch of the Amazon, Manaus is a city with beautifully designed buildings and smatterings of trees lining the streets. The weather is hot, the residents are friendly, atmosphere is relaxed, and the food offers a true taste of Brazil. Manaus is the perfect Brazilian city to visit if you want something a little in between – a little bit of city life and a little bit of rainforest. A perfect combination.

Manaus is easily reached by plane from Sao Paolo and Rio de Jainero, and is also a major stopping point for boats traveling the Amazon River. Its presence on the Amazon River also makes it a departure point for tours on the river. Its position along the river also makes its port one of the most active and important ports in Brazil. If you travel a bit further down the river you can see something unique – the “Meeting of the Waters”, which is where the Rio Negro and the Rio Solimoes rivers meet together.

While in the city, there are a number of attractions and local delights to experience. The Teatro Amazonas, which is a copy of the Grand Opera de Paris, is the home of the annual Festival Amazonas de Opera and the Amazonas. There’s also the Palacio Rio Negro, which is a must-see arts center in the heart of Manaus. Interestingly, the city founders actually designed Manaus to be the tropical version of Paris, and you’ll notice touches here and there that really represent this concept.

Outside of the city is where you can experience some true Brazilian outdoor adventure. For starters, taking a visit to Ponta Negra Beach is always a good choice as this is a clean and popular beach that lies west of the city and features a choice of bars and restaurants. Paricatuba Waterfall is also a tourist hotspot, located on the Negro River, and can only be reached by boat – but definitely worth the trip.

The National Park of Jau is a sightseeing adventure that should be a definite stop on your Manaus adventure as well. It is one of the largest national parks in Brazil and features a great number of trees and beautiful canopies. If you’re looking for some true rainforest adventure, Manaus is definitely the place as its forest has some of the most beautiful foliage in Brazil and also some of the most intricate canals. There are fewer animals in this are than you will find in other parts of the Brazilian rainforest, but scenery alone makes up for this.

To get a guided tour of the rainforest area of Manaus is really the best way to experience it. There are several companies in the area you can make reservations with, such as Amazon BackPackers tour, the Amazon Juma Tour, or even the Amazon Tree Climbing Tour – which actually gives you the best chance of observing some wildlife close up.

There’s no short selection of great food to consume while in Manaus. Enjoy some savory local Paella, delicious and fresh seafood, and traditional Brazilian dishes like none you’ve ever tasted. Peixaria Morongueta is a highly recommended open air local restaurant that not only features some of the best traditional Brazilian dishes in the area, but also boasts a mesmerizing view of the “meeting of the waters”.

 

 

2016 Summer Olympics to be Held in Rio de Jainero

Start packing your bags and planning your trip to Rio now! In the summer of 2016, Rio de Jainero will proudly host the Olympics! This will actually be the first time the Olympics will be held in a South American country, and Brazilians couldn’t be more excited! Most of the Olympic events and the Olympic village will be hosted in the Barra da Tijuca district of Rio, while the rest will be featured in Copacabana Beach, Deodoro, and Marcana.

Note the pictures shown above – this will be the Rio 2016 Olympic torch! This is definitely one of the most unique and beautiful Olympic torches ever designed and is a sure sign of more great things to come as the city prepares for its guests.

All together 28 sports are on the schedule for the 2016 games, two of them being new to the roster: Golf and Rugby Sevens. Tiger Woods is even expected to compete. This should all make more some exciting competition!

Rio’s logo is noteworthy as well (see below) as it incorporates both the Olympics and Rio extremely well in its design. The logo was designed by an agency named Tatil, and represents contagious energy, harmonious diversity, Olympic spirit, and exuberant nature. The colors are yellow, green, and blue and display three figures embracing in a hug. It’s pretty neat how this was done because it also represents Sugarloaf Mountain.

Rio is sure not to disappoint as 2016 Olympic host city. Olympians and attendees the world over will be wowed by the superb hospitality found throughout Brazil, the energy and life felt in the streets of Rio, and the pure beauty of this city. Can’t wait to see what Rio has in store for us all!

Stay tuned for updates, news, and stories as we follow Rio’s preparation for the 2016 Olympic Games.

Pantanal: Adventure Awaits You

For the outdoor enthusiasts, the daring adventurers, and the nature and wildlife lovers – Pantanal is the place. A South American region, based mainly in Brazil, Pantanal is a freshwater wetland that is teeming with beautiful animals and lush landscapes. It’s actually thought to make up about 3 percent of Earths wetlands, and has been rumored to actually be an old inland sea. All this makes it one of Brazil’s most popular tourist attractions, and one of its most exciting!

To reach Pantanal in Brazil, you’ll need to get to the gateway city called Corumba. You can reach Corumba easily by plane, bus, train, or car. Once there, you can then catch a bus to Pantanal. You’re next step is to snag a local tour guide to lead you in to Pantanal. Your best bet is to hire a tracker from one of the trusted local tour companies here. They’ll be able to take you on a safe guided tour and help you truly experience all that this beautiful area has to offer.

Now get ready to see some unique and gorgeous wildlife up close and in person. Yacare Caiman (a type of crocodile), Capybara (giant rodents), otters, Howler Monkeys,  beautiful birds of all types, and even Piranha and Anaconda are just some of the animals you’ll get to experience on your tour. When you’re not staring in amazement at all the above ground animals, take a glimpse into the waters below you – there are actually over 263 known types of fish in Pantanal! Truly amazing. You may even be one of the lucky few to glimpse an undiscovered species for the first time.

Let us not forget the fishing! If you’re a fishing enthusiast, Pantanal is the place to be! Be sure to plan your trip during the months of March through October as this is the season for sport fishing (all catch and release) in the area. Some of the species you may see are: Jau, tiger cat fish, Dourado, Pacu, and Piranha. The fishing trip of a lifetime for any fisherman!  Pantanaltours.com can help you schedule your trip today

Adventure, excitement, breathtaking beauty, and even a splash of mystery – Pantanal is one of the most memorable and unique places you could visit in all of Brazil.

Recife: The Business Professional’s Retreat

Holding the stake as of one of Brazil’s largest and most important business centers, Recife stays pretty busy. With two international ports, an international airport, and a large information technology district (“Porto Digital”) that features locations for technology giants such as Microsoft, IBM, Samsung, and Dell, this is truly a booming and ever-expanding city. The Federal University of Pernambuco, the Brazilian state in which Recife is capital, even has what is considered the best computer-science departments in Latin America. You’ll also find that the industrial area of Recife is busy manufacturing textiles, automotive parts, and even chocolate. Recife certainly isn’t “all work and no play”, however. Locals traveling business professionals play just as hard as they work.

There always seems to be a celebration of some sort in Recife, including extensive and widely popular Carnival celebrations. The parties and preparations for Carnival begin in December here, and last all the way until the week before Ash Wednesday – then the real Carnival celebration begins. The time leading up to Carnival consists of bands practicing in local clubs, bars, and in the streets, balls, and festive parties. When official Carnival time approaches, downtown Recife hosts a giant party to kick off the celebration called Galo da Madrugada. If you truly want to experience a grand and exciting Carnival, book a room at one of Recife’s many wonderful hotels and experience the party of a lifetime!

Museums, shopping, restaurants, and other cultural hotspots are also in abundance in this beautiful city. For a unique sightseeing experience, check out the Sinagoga Kahal Zur Israel, the America’s oldest known synagogue. The Gilberto Freyre Foundation is also a worthwhile visit as it features book collections and arts and crafts from this famous Brazilian writer all located in his old home. All in all there are 38 art galleries, 40 cinema theatres, 25 museums, and 1 opera house located in Recife and surrounding areas. Enough to keep any tourist busy!

The cuisine found in Recife is truly phenomenal. You’ll taste a variety of flavors in the local dishes offered here that boast delightful culinary touches inherited from Recife’s Portuguese, Dutch, Spanish, and Africans history. Typical ingredients found in popular dishes range from coconut, corn, and yams to lobster, goat, and beef. Many of these dishes are served with Farofa, a flour mixture containing a range of delicious spices. With over 1500 bars and restaurants to choose from you’re sure to get your fill of the array of delicious traditional and regional specialties found here!

Recife doesn’t lack in the beautiful and relaxing beach department either with 3 beaches to choose from: Boa Viagem Beach, Brasilia Teimosa Beach, and Pina Beach. Boa Viagem Beach, being the most popular of the 3 beaches, is one of the most urban beaches in Brazil. Vendors selling delicious food and local delicious coconut water are plenty. Taking a swim in the beautiful waters, mostly protected by a coral reef wall, is something you’ll want to be sure and do. Be careful not to swim past the coral reef, however, as there have been reports of Bull sharks in the area.

Recife is certainly a cultural, business, and tourism mecca. With all it has to offer, it shouldn’t be passed up during your Brazilian adventures.

Salvador – Welcome to Old World Charm

If you’re looking for some true old world charm in your travels, Salvador is the place to go. Simply follow the cobblestone streets of this friendly city to fun and adventure. Whether you’re looking to take in some rich Brazilian culture, dance the night away to some local Samba, sample some Brazilian gourmet food, explore the Amazon rainforest, or simply relax on the beautiful sandy beach – you can do it all in Salvador.

 

A great way to be introduced to the city before exploring on your own is to hire a “guia de Salvador”, or a Brazilian tour guide or to catch a ride on the Salvador tour bus. Once you have your bearings, you can choose from an abundance of attractions, such as the Igreja Sao Francisco, which is a beautiful church decorated with precious stones, gold, silver, and features beautiful ceiling art. Or maybe check out the Mam Museu de Arte Moderna, which is a modern art museum featured in multiple colonial buildings and is highly rated by tourists. One recommendation if you are still unsure where to start is to visit Salvador’s old city center, Pelourinho, and work your way out in the direction of the shore.

Now we get to the best part – the food. Salvador is widely known in Brazil to have some of the best cuisine and the best restaurants. Even the street vendors offer food so delicious that you’ll reconsider what you’ve been eating all your life until this point. Restaurants serving delicious local dishes are abound, but if you really want a memorable experience visit the Babagula dinner theatre. Not only are you presented with delicious meats one after the other by skilled waiters, but you can take in a show featuring Afro-Brazilian traditional dancing and Capoeira (Brazilian dance fighting). Delicious food and a show experience right from your table!

Of course you can’t forget about Salvador’s gorgeous beaches. The most popular are Flamengo beach and Stella Maris beach. These both are excellent spots to relax on the sand, grab a cold beer, take in the scenery, and maybe catch a decent wave or two. The waters surrounding these two beaches are actually excellent for surfing. If you prefer some calmer waters, though, and more Brazilian locals than tourists you can visit one of the other three popular beaches – Jaguaribe, Itapoa, and Piata.

Salvador is one of the most ideal vacation spots Brazil has to offer, simply because it has everything: Great food, beautiful scenery, plenty of culture and entertainment, and beautiful beaches. Not to mention the Salvador locals are thought to be among the friendliest and most laidback in all of Brazil. Who knows? You may decide to take up permanent residency yourself after your visit!

5 “Must Do” Things in São Paulo

Sao Paulo is a giant city, there’s no arguing that. For the traveler that has limited time this can be a nightmare, especially with all the attractions, museums, and events Sao Paulo has to offer. So, what to do in this busy urban city? Here’s five things that are definitely worth your while.

1. Banco Santander Building – The layout of this city is truly a thing to behold. Seeing it from ground level is one thing, but seeing it from a birds eye view is something completely different. If you don’t want to fork out the money for a helicopter ride, go to the Banco Santander building. When you arrive, take the elevator all the way to the top. The view is simply amazing, especially if you go at sunset. You’ll truly find it hard to believe that there was no admission fee.

2. Oscar Freire – Some would say Oscar Freire in São Paolo blows Rodeo Drive out of the water. Oscar Freire is a street that features all the big name designers and displays all the latest in Brazilian style. Even if you’re not a fashion enthusiast, simply go here to people watch.

3. Art Fairs– Various art fairs have a habit of springing up randomly all over the city. One of the oldest and most regular art fairs is held on weekends in a parking lot adjacent to Praça Republica , downtown São Paulo. Keep your eyes and ears open and you are sure to find more. Catching one of these is definitely worth your time.

4. Sala São Paulo – Originally built between 1926 and 1938 for use as an import/export railway terminal, the Sala São Paulo was eventually converted into a cultural center which now houses the São Paulo Symphony Orchestra. Not only is this building architecturally gorgeous, but the beautiful sounds one can experience here are phenomenal. It’s actually thought to boast the best acoustics in South America.

5. Mercado Municipal – Don’t forget about the food! Exotic foods and spices, miscellaneous merchandise, vendor samples, and people watching all under one roof! Not to mention the beautiful building. You are sure to see foods here you didn’t even know existed, some even fresh in from the Amazonian rainforest! The Mercado Municipal is a great way to spend an afternoon.

Brazil Hotel Recommendations

While Brazil certainly doesn’t lack in things to do, like their beautiful sandy beaches, exciting nightlife, tropical rainforests, and delicious food, eventually you’ll need to put your feet up. Brazil has an abundance of luxury and affordable hotels to help you do just that! If you’ve never been to Brazil, though, finding the right hotel can be a daunting task. Here are some recommendations, sorted by city, that can help make it easier.

Rio de Janeiro

Porto Bay Rio Internacional Hotel (4 Star): This 117 room hotel is nestled right in the famous Copacabana district and is right on the waterfront. Kick your feet up and enjoy the hotel’s rooftop leisure facilities, private beach service, and abundant wining and dining options. The Porto Bay Rio is well known for its personalized service and high level security to ensure your safety. For the women, they even provide a special touch: fresh flowers, chocolates, bathrobes, and slippers.

Promenade Casa del Mar Hotel(3 Star): This hotel is perfect for those looking to spend less but not lose the comfort of a superb hotel. Located in the Barra da Tijuca district, this hotel overlooks the ocean. With its many amenities, such as a gym, sauna, pool, internet access, barbecue area, and coffee shop, you’re sure to enjoy your stay.

Sao Paulo

Maksoud Plaza Hotel (5 Star): Right in the heart of Sao Paulo, this business class hotel screams convenience and comfort. All guestrooms are equipped with satellite television and internet access and voicemail service. You’ll find they offer superb personal services, such as babysitting services, 24 hour room service, laundry and dry cleaning services, salon, and others. In need of some relaxation? Try their massage services, jacuzzi, spa, and indoor pool. The Maksoud Plaza hotel is perfect for business trips or vacations.

Brasilia

Naoum Plaza Hotel (5 Star):

The Naoum Plaza Hotel has certainly earned its 5 star rating. If you don’t fall in love with the beautiful guest rooms, you are sure to enjoy their world class services, such as massage, jacuzzi, laundry service, salon, hotel bar and restaurant, sauna, and hotel shops.

Amazon Rainforest

The Ariau Amazon Towers: If you’re looking to get out of the city and explore some of Brazil’s breathtaking Amazon rainforest, this hotel is sure to enhance your experience even more. The Ariau is the world’s largest tree top hotel and is simply stunning. Not only do you get to sleep in an incredibly unique hotel, but they offer one of a kind services: Canoe trips, piranha fishing, swimming with pink dolphins, helicopter rides, and much more! Plus, you can’t beat their fabulous Brazilian wining and dining!

Welcome to Rio de Jainero – Paradise Among Paradises

Rio de Janeiro may not be the capital of Brazil, but it’s certainly the place to be. Famous for its laidback beach culture, thriving night life, beautiful landscape, and annual Carnival, you don’t want to pass up experiencing this amazing city! You’re guaranteed to have the experience of a lifetime.

First on the list of must-see Rio attractions is the harbor. The harbor is so unique that it’s actually one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World! Rio’s harbor features a unique entry from the ocean and several distinct geographical locations outdoor adventurers won’t want to miss, including Sugar Loaf Mountains and Corcovado Peak. Trips up Corcovado by train cost about R$43, but the price is worth the view – especially if you want to see the Cristo up close and personal.  Sugar Loaf Mountains, or Pão de Açúcar, is comprised of 2 mountains (one taller and one shorter) that make up Brazil’s top landmark. The beautiful view is a truly unique experience, especially at sunset. For the more adventurous travelers, there are also hiking options for both the Sugar Loaf Mountains and Corcovado.

Next stop – downtown! Historic buildings, interesting sights, shopping, and the most delicious food are found in downtown Rio and its surrounding areas. Stop for lunch at one of Rio de Janeiro’s “comida a kilo”, or buffet style, restaurants where you pay by the amount of food on your plate! And it’s not just any ole’ buffet food, it’s authentic and delicious Brazilian food! Be sure to try Brazil’s most famous dish fejoada, a black bean stew filled with sausages, pork, and beef. Yum! Once you’re belly’s full, head over to one of Rio’s many museums and cultural buildings, including The Paco Imperial, Museo Caso do Pontal (collection of local arts and crafts), and even the Museu Carmem Miranda (yes, there is a Carmem Miranda museum!). Don’t forget to grab a trinket or two along the way from one of the many local stores!

Ah, the beaches of Rio. There’s an unbelievable fifteen to choose from, all beautiful (and one is even nude). These Brazilian beaches feature a unique and inviting “beach culture” where you are sure to have some fun in the sun. Catch a wave, rent a beach chair and relax in the sun, or purchase some refreshments from one of the thousands of walking vendors. If you’re unsure which beach location you should visit, the Copacabana (Brazil’s most famous beach) is sure not to disappoint, or you can soak up some rays at Leme beach or Barra da Tijuca. Rio’s beaches and boardwalks are also where you can expect to find some of the best night life.

So grab a towel and a Portuguese language book, bring your appetite and your sense of adventure, and experience Rio de Janeiro!

Amazon National Park

Known as the “Green Inferno”, the Amazonia (Amazon) National Park covers almost 40% of Brazil’s entire landmass. It reaches into parts of 7 of Brazil’s 27 states. The Amazon is breathtaking and massive, home to thousands of species of animals and birds, plants and vegetation. It’s truly breathtaking and quite an experience to see. 


Although the Amazon mostly spreads through Brazil, it also reaches into bordering countries, including Bolivia, Columbia and Peru. Whether you love nature, or you don’t, you will surely find the Amazon to be captivating and unique. You can bird watch, hike, participate in extreme activities (zip-lining, mountain climbing etc.) or take boat trips down the river right into the wild rainforest. It’s something you need to see and experience to really be able to understand how breathtaking this natural paradise is. You will never forget this incredible experience.

There are several national parks throughout the Amazon rainforest. There are so many places to see in the rainforest that the parks are a great start. The ones listed below are the Brazilian parks, there are also some in the neighboring countries of Bolivia, Columbia, and Peru. A few of the best ones are listed below.

Serra do Divisor National Park
The Serra do Divisor National Park shares a border with Peru. The park is deep inside the Amazon Rain Forest and is can be a little hard to reach. Serra do Divisor National Park is very important for the West Indian Manatee conservation.

Cabo Orange National Park
Cabo Orange is the only national park that resides on the Atlantic coast. The wildlife and vegetation found here are a little different than all the other parks because of the Atlantic Ocean’s influence. You can only get to the park by boat, hop on at the Oiapuque City in the Amapa state. If you’re interested in ecosystems, this park will surely please, as you can see the influences of the rainforest meet the ocean.

Tumucumaque Mountains National Park
This landmass is very sacred and is preserved and protected well. As of recent, there has been no official visitor center yet because the area just opened for tourism in 2002. The majority of the park is in Brazil and spreads to French Guiana on the north. To visit Tumucumaque Mountains National Park you have two choices to start your journey, either from Macapa (capital of the Amapa state) or Oiapoque, the same city that serves as a base for the Cabo Orange National Park .

Cantão State Park
This state protected national park is located in the Brazilian state of Tocantins. The park is at the entrance of the Amazon rainforest, and shows the transition from the Cerrado ecosystem (a savanna-like ecosystem in middle of Brazil ) and the rainforest. This is one of the newest national parks in Brazil, but has a tourist center to help with maps and information. To visit the park, make your way to the Tocantins state capital of Palmas.

Jau National Park
This park near the city of Manaus, which is a full service, busy and bustling city with any accommodations and services a tourist could need. Jau National Park is well developed, and has plenty of transportation options and activities. There are rivers you can explore by canoes and boats. If you have a large enough group you can even rent your own private boat for day or overnight trips.

Mamiraua
A full service tourist destination, Mamiraua is breathtaking and unique, offering a floating hotel! This area of the rainforest is arguably its most beautiful area. The whole region is on a flooded forest, you can either enter on a canoe, or if you don’t mind getting a little dirty, wear proper shes and you can walk down a marked trail. To get to Mamiraua, go to the City of Tefe , in the Amazonas State.

There are endless places that you can visit in the Amazon’s National Parks. In addition there’s the Iguassu Falls nearby, including the tallest waterfall in the world, ‘Salto Angel; on the Colombian side. There are also still present day authentic indigenous tribes in some places and you can observe their rituals live. There’s plenty to see and experience no matter where you choose to go.