Last Call for Carnival 2012

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Coming up almost immediately in Brazil is carnival time, that zany, free-style, fabulous festival taking place this year Feb. 17-21. And hotel space for Carnival is going, going—not quite gone, according to Allison Tilton of award-winning Yampu Tours.

“Well, time’s run out on selling a completely customized Carnival tour,” Tilton reports. However, for Rio and Salvador, “we have some availability on packages that include hotels and transfers only. And these are very date-specific packages: clients flying on down to both Rio and Salvador must check in on Friday, Feb. 17.” (All prices to follow are pp dbl.)

A 6-day/5-night Carnival in Rio package is priced at $2,509 in a three-star room and $2,699 in a four-star room at the Astoria Palace; booking a five-star room at the Fasano, the cost is $4,469.

According to Tilton, Carnival in Salvador can be even more riotous than Rio. During the nonstop festivities, the city closes 15 miles of city streets to make way for large floats and moving states bearing popular bands. A 6-day/5-night Carnival in Salvador package is priced at $1,739 in a three-star room and $1,959 in a four-star room at the Catussaba Resort; a five-star room is priced at $2,929 and a deluxe room at $3,549 at Casa Amarelindo.

Brazil, of course, is not the only Latin American destination to go wild at Carnival time. Argentina celebrates carnivals all over the country, particularly in the states of Entre Rios and Corrientes, where celebrations are Brazilian in style with grand parades and elaborate feathered costumes. The largest of these, known as the Carnival del Pais or Carnival of the Nation, takes place over 40 days in the near-unpronounceable town of Gualeguaychu, just across the border from Uruguay.

In Panama, each year the otherwise sleepy town of Las Tablas erupts into a riot of merry-making as two rival factions—Calle Arriba (uptown) and Calle Abajo (downtown)—compete in a dance-off. Parades, fireworks and music bring the party to life, while the carnival queens in their astonishing costumes compete to be named the most beautiful of all.

In the days preceding Ash Wednesday, visitors to Bolivia encounter a very different Carnival in Oruro, one characterized by a dance style known at La Diablada, or the Dance of the Devil. Parades of men dressed in demonic costumes whirl through the streets.

Carnival in Uruguay adds up to a month-long party. At the beginning of February, the season opens in Montevideo with a parade along “main street,” Avenida 18 of Julio, while the more popular  Llamadas parades take place along the narrow streets of Palermo and Sur neighborhoods and close the month. Yampu Tours markets a 5-day Carnival in Montevideo tour, where right from day one your clients are introduced to the roots of the Afro-American people in Uruguay and the birth of their candombe music. Other tours include a city tour showcasing street markets, the Gaucho Museum and the historic quarter, as well as special carnival events—such as street theater—showing customs and traditions in action. On another day, travelers enjoy the seaside sights and pleasures of  Punta del Este, returning to the capital for a tango and condombe show at the Milongon.

Carnival in Montevideo is priced from $1,269 to $1,499, depending on hotel selection, and include private tours with local English-speaking guide, 4-night accommodations and transfers. Note that all carnival packages can be combined with a Yampu Highlight Tour.

For more information, call (888) 926-7801 or visit yampu.com.