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In 2012 it was possible to fly to Rio De Janeiro and stay for 7 nights for under R10 000 pp. Now, flights alone will cost you at least R14000 pp, going up to R23 000 in peak season. How I wish I’d travelled there when it was still cheap. Alas, it was not to be. But, with my heart set on visiting the continent of South America anyway, I began looking for reasonable flight deals. After much research, I got a quote from Discovery Vitality, which has special rates for Emirates, British Airways and Qantas. As Diamond level members, we get 35% off flights.
Now travelling to Rio De Janeiro via Dubai is not the quickest or easiest way to do it. But it was the cheapest for us. I booked flights to Rio De Janeiro and returning from Buenos Aires. Then we decided that since we were travelling via Dubai , we may as well do a stopover there and visit Abu Dhabi too. It was over 10 years since we had last visited Dubai and I had never been to Abu Dhabi - except for the airport. There was no additional cost for the flights and we just had to pay for visas as most of my accommodation and entertainment would be sponsored.
Fortunately, we didn't need visas for any of the South American countries we visited, which made country-hopping so much easier. It was so unusual to go to countries where South African passport holders don't need visas but US passport-holders do.
Weather-wise, it was summer in South America and winter in UAE, but the temperatures were similar. This made packing easier.
It is not possible to book multi-leg flights on Discovery rates online yourself, so I had to email them to do it for me. I had to make bookings for December in September as flights got more expensive the later one booked. Then I added on internal flights to Iguazu Falls which I booked through Expedia (via Skyscanner) which was the cheapest.
In the end our South America Itinerary looked like this:
3 days in Rio
3 days in Iguazu Falls (including a short visit to Paraguay)
3 days in Buenos Aires (including a day visit to Uruguay)
3 days in Dubai (UAE)
6 days in Abu Dhabi (UAE)
The rest of the time was spent flying between continents and time zones.
It was a hectic itinerary and we averaged 13000 steps a day, according to my step counter. On some days, it went up to 20000 steps a day. But we had amazing experiences and memories and I will be writing about all of them and posting photos on Instagram. I didn't get much time to do this while travelling!
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View from Corcovado Mountain , Rio De Janeiro