Fernweh: a craving for distant places 

Because I’ve always wanted to…

Issue 45 / November 2020

Word of the year – Fernweh – a craving for distant places! And some good news at last!

Greetings – I trust you and your families are all as well as can be expected in these trying times.  Many months have elapsed since last you heard from me but positive news has been hard to come by in the travel sector in recent months.  At long last though it looks like an effective vaccine will be with us soon with the expectation that we can start to make travel plans again. There are already glimmers of light beginning to show through in the world.  Africa as a continent is well and truly open, as long as, for the time being, you travel with a valid PCRS certificate.  Parts of Central and South America are also opening up, especially Brazil, Ecuador and Colombia. I appreciate that the current regulations on returning to the UK make family holidays almost impossible but I’m optimistic that very soon you’ll be able to get tested on arrival back into the UK thus reducing or eliminating quarantine times.  This combined with the vaccine should see the world of travel opening up again at last. “Practice what you preach” is a well-versed adage.  To that effect I have travelled to Kenya this week, strictly for business this time I should stress, which is permitted under the present rules, to recce a part of its coast between Lamu and Manda Bay and down to Diani beach south of Mombasa.  To experience personally all the many hurdles of getting from home to a foreign country is I feel an essential stepping-stone of what we at Laterallife are all about.  I promise that our Instagram feed will be full of cheerful photographic delights!  A detailed report of my findings will be forthcoming before Christmas thus laying down early foundations for travel inspiration and confidence in 2021. We at Laterallife have weathered the pandemic storm remarkably well, especially Nico who spent 10 weeks in Italy this summer researching every corner of her home territory.  Italy Laterally will be announced in early 2021.  I felt that a reminder of happier days by way of our 2019 trip to Argentina & Brazil was a suitable candidate to share with you all this month, and you can view this here.  Finally, I have pleasure in sharing some recent travel articles which I felt were rather poignant and encouraging; click here to see them.

More next month,

With our best wishes

Buenos Aires: Palacio Duhau/Jardin Escondido

Surely the most European of South American cities, BA as it’s known is a feast for the eyes.  You really will see locals dancing the Tango in the street and there’s lots more to see including Eva Peron’s family tomb in Recoleta Cemetery, the pink building from where she made her speeches and the atmospheric ‘Noteable Cafes’ where you can enjoy good coffee or a Submarino, a glass of hot milk into which you submerge and melt a chocolate bar.  Of the many places to stay I’d recommend the Palacio Duhau Park Hyatt for superb suites in the middle of the city, or in the cool Palermo district Jardin Escondido, a boutique hotel with just 6 rooms which feels like you’re staying in a private home.  It’s owned by the Coppola family of movie fame.

Ibera Wetlands: Puerto Valle

Puerto Valle is a luxury lodge set on a large estate at the gateway to the wildlife-rich Iberá National Park, the world’s second largest wetland.  It’s an authentic Argentine estancia built in 1868 on the Paraná River bank and has just 12 beautifully-designed rooms right beside the river. I enjoyed a brilliant boat trip from here as well as one of the most impressive birdwatching trips I’ve ever been on.  As you’d expect they also offer horse riding adventures.  Not far from here you can visit the San Ignacio Jesuit Ruins which are very atmospheric.

Iguazu Falls: Awasi/Gran Melia/Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas

The Iguazú Falls must surely be one of the true natural wonders of the world.  The deep flowing waters of the river tumble down 275 falls, the most famous of which is the Devil’s Throat. On the border with Brazil, it drops 230ft (70m), almost twice the height of Niagara Falls. The national park in which the Falls are situated is a huge subtropical rainforest covering 135,000 acres and is home to thousands of different species of flora and birds, including parrots, toucans and hummingbirds.  For jungle luxury and a uniquely personal experience stay at Awasi.  For the best view of the Argentinian side of the Falls it has to be the Gran Melia.  Across on the Brazilian side stay at the true classic which is the Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas.

Pantanal, Brazil: Caiman Lodge

Set within the boundaries of a 53 000-hectare ranch, the Caiman Ecological Refuge offers some of the best opportunities to view wildlife, especially to catch a sight of the elusive Jaguar, in the vast Southern Pantanal.   It takes a while to get here along mile after mile of bumpy mud Pantanal road but the effort is worth it – the wildlife you will see is extraordinary!  Also, the accommodation at Caiman Lodge is superb, especially for such a remote location.  The Jaguar project monitors the population at Caiman Lodge and I was lucky enough to see a female which the specialist guides tracked down by virtue of the animal’s collar.  This was a once in a lifetime experience which I shall never forget.  Another highlight is seeing so many noisy, bright Hyacinth Macaws who breed so successfully there, plus so many other animals and birds.  On a night drive we even saw an ocelot, very hard to spot!

Rio de Janeiro: Arpoador/Emiliano/ Janeiro

Rio is without a doubt one of my favourite cities in the world, with its breathtaking geography, stunning beaches, fabulous scenery, friendly ‘Cariocas’ and lively nightlife.  There are so many great places to stay in Rio.  Over the period of the trip I was lucky to stay at the chic Emiliano on Copacabana beach, the Janeiro which is well situated to enjoy not only Ipanema beach but the trendy restaurants and bars of Leblon, and the Arpoador which I liked the best of all the hotels I have seen and stayed at in Rio, and it’s the least expensive!

Ibitipoca Reserve: Reserva do Ibitipoca

For years I have been asked to visit and see for myself the amazing reserve called Comuna do Ibitipoca.  A 3.5 hour drive from Rio brings you to this eco-inspired private reserve in Minais Gerais state, aimed at the reforestation of native flora species and wildlife corridors.  This is a unique and deeply satisfying recipe of conservation, art, sustainability and rural regeneration, and for those lucky enough to visit, adventure with exceptional hospitality.  Guests stay in beautifully restored country accommodation with deeply nourishing organic wood cooked “Mineiro” cuisine.  Take time to explore the pristine waterfall, or walk, ride or mountain bike amongst contrasting landscapes of mountains, sand dunes and tropical forest.  Surprises at every turn, art installations to leave you speechless.

Paraty: Casa Turquesa

The small colonial town of Paraty 3 hours drive from Rio has long been on my radar.  I have been to Brazil many, many times – a dozen and counting and this is certainly, along with Trancoso, the most charming part of Brazil imaginable.  History and nature interact here in a precious landscape.    The beautifully preserved streets of the town, the former Gold Path on the coastal edge, lead on one side to the calm sea of Ilha Grande bay and a multitude of islands.  On the other side of town steep slopes rise up to mountains covered with Mata Atlantica forest cut by the gushing rivers and waterfalls.  Paraty for those with time is heavenly and Casa Turquesa the must-stay choice.

Buzios: Insolito Boutique Hotel & Spa

Buzios was made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s.  It’s a 2 hour drive from Rio.  If you are after a taste of buzzy Brazilian beach life with numerous superb fish restaurants scattered along its bays, then to my mind the Insolito hotel is the pick of the bunch.  A stunning pool overlooking the bay with a gorgeous beach just below the hotel.  Buzios will not be everyone’s cup of tea but it certainly beats a winter day in the UK!

Up Periscope: Fazenda Visto do Mar, Serra Grande

On our return trip to Brazil in March this year things didn’t go quite as planned.  Instead of winding our way southwards down the coast of Bahia the pandemic intervened and we spent the next 3 months in a remote corner of this wonderful state.  At the very end of our trip on a very interesting journey out of Brazil we spent a couple of relaxing days at this wonderful cocoa farm, Fazenda Visto do Mar, with its owners Suzy and Paulo.  Here, Paulo is taking me for a tour on his quadbike.  On the farm itself you can see the cacao plants and pods growing and the whole process up to and including making the most delicious chocolate.  There’s so much to see nearby too including lakes, mountains, forests and empty golden-sand beaches.  It’s off the beaten track and well worth making the time to visit.

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