THE ROUTE (TRANCOSO–RIO DE JANEIRO– IGUASSU FALLS–FLORIANOPOLIS)
THE BUDGET £20,000 PER PERSON
Brazil can come as a shock to the uninitiated. For a start, where do they hide all the ugly people? My advice is to get a self-tan, start doing the stomach crunches a month before, and fly down to São Paulo in BA's First cabin, so you can step off relaxed and ready to hit the beach.
No time to stop in the nation's powerhouse — you're flying straight up to balmy Porto Seguro, then hopping in a private helicopter to Trancoso, a town on a paradisiacal stretch of coast, where your only other companions are likely to be a lobster fisherman and a stray mutt dreaming in the shade of a coconut-laden palm tree.
Your home for five nights of ultimate privacy and pampering is Casa Azul at Praia dos Nativos, a house designed and built by Fabrizio Cacarelli. It sleeps 12, but with just two of you, there's oodles of space, plus a full-time maid, concierge and chef who can bring drinks and snacks to your beach cabana. You'll also have your own speedboat on hand for when the urge to picnic at a remote bay grabs you.
Next stop Rio de Janeiro, and three nights in an ocean-front, top-floor de-luxe suite at the Philippe Starck-designed Fasano hotel on Ipanema beach, where all the staff look like winners of Brazil's Next Top Model. This is where those sit-ups and self-tanning will come into their own. Or try a sightseeing flight by helicopter, over the Maracana football stadium, Corcovado, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Want to catch carioca spirit? Mingle with leggy locals on Dias Ferreira street in Leblon, which has more restaurants than you can shake a stick at. Try Quadrucci for contemporary Italian, Celeiro for a great salad, Venga! for Spanish tapas or Sushi Leblon for your carb fix. For a quality caipirinha back in Ipanema, head to Astor, and later chill at the Fasano's own Londra, a cosy spot where your chances of competing with the beautiful people are enhanced under subdued lights.
Now you've got the base tan under control, time to head south to Iguassu Falls, staying at the splendidly refurbished Hotel das Cataratas. Prepare to be gobsmacked at the sight of ten million litres of water per second plunging 82 metres over cliffs in the middle of 185,000 hectares of rainforest, close to where Brazil meets Argentina and Paraguay. Utterly amazing - and it's scary how close you can get to the thundering water.
To finish, there's another flight and three nights in your own private bungalow at Ponta dos Ganchos on the island of Florianópolis, where you can chill in a hammock, take a surf lesson or just indulge in your private wine cellar before transferring back to São Paulo for the flight home.
NEED TO KNOW
When you start spending big bucks, you'll get better deals going through a specialist operator, who can secure rates on top-end villas. Black Tomato (+44 (0)20 7426 9888, blacktomato.co.uk) can create a 14-night itinerary similar to the above from £20,499pp based on two sharing, including BA flights in First from Heathrow to São Paulo.
For more information, visit embratur.gov.br.
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