What NOT to take on an Adventure – Top 10 Mistakes

My Top 10 Travel Kit Mistakes

  1. Electric toothbrush – I love my ultrasonic toothbrush. My dentist loves my ultrasonic toothbrush. But the charger didn’t fit in my new “global” adaptor, and so I was stuck carrying a dead toothbrush for 5 weeks. Take a small normal toothbrush.
  2. Silk sleep sack – A useful piece of kit for couchsurfing or backpacking, but if you are planning to AirBnB, leave it behind.
  3. Towel – Only take the micro size. Like the sleep sack, most places have towels, but i did use the micro towel once or twice.
  4. Travel money – If you don’t take much cash with you, which can be safer, be prepared to be stung at the cash machines. Even my sensible Post Office travel card was charging me on transactions and didn’t work so well. You need a good travel money card.
  5. Shoes – I love Vivo Barefoot shoes. They’re basically the only shoes I wear at home. But my summer slip-ons were never designed to be sturdy travel shoes, and they  lasted two weeks of travel. I’d like to try their cross trainer model next time. Continue reading

Fighting for Peace in Rio

On a stormy afternoon in Rio, one of my last days in the country, I was lucky to be invited to an NGO called Fight For Peace. I learnt more about the social enterprise clothing brand that has sprung up from inside it.

In one of favelas that has not yet been pacified by government and military operations, I met founder and CEO, Luke Dowdney.

The following is a preview of article that I was asked to write about my social enterprise experience in Brazil for the Guardian.  Continue reading

The Soul of Brazil – Forest, Favela and Food in Rio

Three years ago, Caroline Neutzling started a blog about the favelas in Brazil. She was studying in Rio, and couldn’t find a good source of information for what was really happening in the poor communities, so she started finding out her self: “I really needed to know what was going on, from the people living there, so I started to find out and write about it. I thought other people might be interested too”. They were.

Enquiries started coming in through the blog, and for one and a half years, Caroline, or Caca as she prefers to be called, has been running a new, better kind of favela tour.

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Coworking in Brazil – Accelerators, Incubators, Hubs, and yes, they have pools

What does coworking look like in Brazil?  Is it trendy, colourful, work spaces?  Do they have pools?  Yes. Yes they do.  I work in a coworking space in London, and I’ve looked around a good few of the other coworking spaces we have here, and as far as I can tell, no pools.  This is why Brazil is a growing economy.  I have found the secret.

It’s not because more than 22 million people have been raised out of extreme poverty in the last 2 years (as the government claims), and it’s not because the World Cup and the Olympics are coming.  It’s because their colour coworking spaces have pools.

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Education is the key to Conservation – Parque Das Aves

Part of the success of Parque Das Aves is down to the amazing the staff they employ.  The Environmental Education Coordinator for the park, Juliana Ebling, is also the President of the Brazilian Environmental Educators Association, and affiliated with the Government policy makers.

Along with Park Director, Carmel Croukamp, I found out more about how education is key to conservation and sustainability.  Continue reading

How to fund a bird park – Ask a 13 year old

My connection with Parque Das Aves goes all the way back to my school days.  I didn’t know it then, but at 13 years old, I had an influence on the fortunes of what is now the largest bird park in Latin America.

In 1995, two years into following his dream to set up a bird park in Brazil, Dennis Croukamp was looking for more investment.

At the time, Dennis and his wife, Anna lived on the Isle of Man. As you might know already, or perhaps heard me mention in my Iguassu video, I’m also from the Isle of Man – that lovely little island in the Irish Sea, between England and Ireland.

To raise money, Dennis was selling his Mercedes-Benz.  And who was interested in it, apart from a 13 year Richard?  My father was, and he invited me along for the test drive… Continue reading

Iguassu Falls – A place like no other

The first thing that hits you is the water.  No, you are not literally washed away in a huge torrent the moment you get the falls.  But it’s the scale of it – all that water. And it just keeps coming.  And coming. And coming.  Where does it all come from?  Does it ever stop? Isn’t it beautiful… And just when you’ve been blown away by the mass of water in front of you, you take a little walk and realize that the waterfall stretches for miles. And miles. And miles.  And your jaw just hits the ground. It’s a force of nature. Maybe you can get a sense of it from the video below.  Some people might say there should be more waterfall and less Richard in the video, but I’ll let you decide. Continue reading

Eco Bonito – Ecotourism entrepreneurs

Bonito – it’s not just about the water.

There is at least one attraction that involves none of the wet stuff.

Ecotourism entrepreneur, Senor Modesto Sampaio used to be a farmer. In 1986 he acquired an unusual piece of land.  Part of the land included a giant sink hole, a natural sandstone crater with it’s own unique ecosystem. The largest sink hole in South America, and second largest in the world.  Of course, engineers advised him to cover or fill it somehow, so that he could use all the land for farming, but Modesto, now in his 70s, realised its unique potential.

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Eco Bonito – The most fun you can have in a wet suit

Bonito is the centre of responsible travel and ecotourism in Brazil.

It’s a small, fast growing town in the central region of Brazil, and it was my home for 3 days.

Thanks to the recommendation of Fabio Pellegrini, I was able to connect with one of the leading tour operators of Responsible Tourism in Bonito – Ygarape.

Ygarape’s founder, Juca Ygarape, really seems to be the father of eco-tourism in Bonito.  He discovered many of the attractions of Bonito over the last 20 years. Juca is the man that the Discovery Channel or National Geographic call when they need a local expert.  (Juca showed me his videos, where he tracked a huge wild anaconda in the water, and introduced it to scientists and professional photo-journalists).

Over the years Juca and his friends have also been responsible for designing many of the guiding principles to keep the tourist trade here sustainable.

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What is Agro EcoTourism? Finding out in San Francisco

San Francisco. The home of Agro EcoTourism?

Not the San Francisco with the Goldengate Bridge or all those tech start-ups. This is the San Fransico Lodge in the Pantanal region.

What does Agro EcoTourism mean?  I asked owner Robert Coelho the same question.

“Agro because we teach people about farming, and Eco because we introduce people to our unique wildlife and nature.