Oxbridge educated, self-deprecating and with a complexion that looks as if it would pink-up faster than a lobster in a kettle, Michael Palin seems to epitomise the ultimate Englishman.
Perhaps this is why his series of travel programs have been such a big and enduring hit. Watching Michael Palin tackle the Sahara, dance with native tribes in Africa or eat shredded cobra in China, somehow makes the world a warmer and friendlier place.
In fact Michael Palin is so good at showing the friendly and fascinating side of a country that he has inspired a phenomenon known as the “Palin Effect”: whichever destination he visits soon soars in popularity.
The same will surely be true of the former python’s latest series, 'Brazil with Michael Palin'. From the very first episode it is clear that this giant of a country has captured the heart of “the nicest man in England”. Exotic, sensuous and bathed in tropical sunlight, Brazil seems to be everything that Britain isn’t.
Palin begins his journey in the North-East of the country, the area first colonised by European settlers. After visiting the cities of Sao Luis and Recife, he travels south to Salvador.
Set around the Baia de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay) the city was once the capital of Brazil. Although it has since lost this title to Rio de Janeiro and then Brasilia, it remains the country’s the third largest city and a major cultural centre.
With the majority of its citizens descended from African slaves brought to Brazil by Europeans, Salvador encompasses much of the vibrant, mixed culture that Brazil is famous for. It was the birthplace of Capoeira, the martial art–dance hybrid that is taking the world by storm, and its spicy cuisine is famous throughout the country.
With the majority of Brazil’s population concentrated in its coastal regions, the vast interior forms one of the world’s last great wildernesses. The Pantanal Wildlife Reserve covers more than 30,000 square miles of the Brazilian heartland, forming a haven for wetland creatures. And the Amazon Rainforest, 60% of which lies within Brazil’s borders, is home to almost 70 uncontacted tribes.
Of course, Brazil is too big and too complex to describe in a few hundred words. From Rio to the Amazon and Capoeira to samba, you would need a lifetime to see it all. Even Michael Palin is taking his time – four whole episodes – to get to grips with this behemoth of South America.
But with Brazil hosting the upcoming World Cup and the next Olympic Games (and with the Palin Effect due to kick in at anytime) now is the perfect time to shake those hips and head across the Atlantic to see what Brazil’s Latin rhythms could hold for you.
How to do it:
Our 15-day Buenos Aires to Rio overland tour, which includes in Brazil the Iguazu Falls, colonial Paraty, the tropical island of Ilha Grande and Rio de Janeiro.
On our 22-day Santiago to Rio Explorer tour we travel through Chile and Argentina before visiting the Iguazu Falls, Curitiba, Paraty and Rio de Janeiro in Brazil.
We can also offer you your very own Tailormade Brazil Holidays - customised to go where you want and to fit your budget.