Tag Archive for Brazil Trek and Kayak

Valentine’s Day all around the world

It’s that time of the year again! For many people, St Valentine’s day can feel monotonous and commercial, all fluffy pink love hearts and cherubs, and teenagers sending each other Justin Bieber themed E-cards! However, outside of the UK and the US, there are still places where the festival of love is celebrated in more traditional, unique and frankly bizarre ways! So if you’re looking for inspiration for new ways to mark the ‘day of lovers’, then read on…

In Brazil, Valentine’s day is not traditionally celebrated on February 14th, since the nation is still in the throes of the Rio Carnival. Instead, they celebrate the “Dia dos Namoradas”, otherwise known as the “Day of Lovers” on June 12th, on this day a feast and parties are held to celebrate the patron saint of romance and matchmaking.

If your approach to St Valentines day mirrors Brazil’s work hard, party harder ethic, then you should check out our Brazil Trek and Kayak Challenge! This is one of our most unique and varied challenge – the combined elements of rainforest trekking and sea kayaking make this a very tough challenge! But on the completion of your challenge in Rio, you will definitely have reason to celebrate! And of course, what better place to celebrate with your Valentine than underneath a Rio sunset?

Romanians also don’t traditionally celebrate Valentine’s Day, they instead celebrate “Dragobete”, a more earthy rural festival on February 24th that denotes a celebration of lovers, spring and new life. It’s a day when traditionally “birds get betrothed” i.e. Start building their nests’, girls collect snow to melt for magic potions and children sing songs of spring. It is also said that if during a couple’s dance, one lover steps over the foot of another, then that lover will play the dominant role in the relationship! So if you’re planning on going out clubbing this evening to celebrate St Valentines, take note!

If you find these medieval notions of magic potions and rural living romantic, then you should defiantly check out our Trek Transylvania, where you and your beloved one could journey through rugged landscapes in a tough challenge that culminates in a visit to the enigmatic Dracula’s Castle.

China celebrates two Valentine’s Days, the first being the 14th of February St Valentines Day that we all know and love (or hate!). The second day of celebration of love is a little more unusual and falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar. This day – known as “Qi Xi” or “Magpie Festival” comes from a Chinese legend over 2000 years old – and is the ultimate story of star crossed lovers! Like all folk tales, there are many variations of the Qixi Festival legend, but the basic story is usually the same: Niulang – a cow herder, and Zhinv – a weaver girl who is also the daughter of the Goddess of Heavan, meet on earth and get married. When the Goddess discovers this she orders her daughter back to heaven. The cowherd followed her there and in anger the Goddess cuts a river into the sky – the Milky Way, thus separating the two lovers. But once a year, all the magpies of the world fly up to the Milky Way to bridge the river and allow the two lovers to meet.

To celebrate this day, lovers visit the Temple of the Matchmaker and pray for love, happiness, and marriage. Singles also visit the temple to ask for luck in love. It is also traditional for young girls to carve melons and offer up fruit to the deities on this day.

If legends of star crossed lovers inspire you, then take a look at our Great Wall Discovery Challenge, where you and your lover will have to overcome 1000s of steps to reach your destiny.

In Scandinavia, couples here will exchange “lover’s cards” on February 14, and like us, indulge in the commercial St Valentines day. But they do have a poetic and quirky card tradition known as the “gaekkebrev”, whereby the man sending this special card will write a rhyme for the lady to whom he’s sending it, but instead of writing his name he will sign off with a dot for each letter of his name. The puzzle is then for the lady receiving the card to guess the name of the sender. If she can guess correctly, her prize will be an Easter egg at Easter. But if she doesn’t guess, she owes the sender an Easter egg instead!

If this puzzling addition to Valentine’s Day brings out your competitive side, then check out our Dog Sledding Challenge in Sweden, where you’ll need to figure out how to successfully drive your own team of huskies, mushing over 200kms through beautiful, frozen landscapes. And as our Swedish Ground handler Jordana puts it “What could be more romantic than cuddling together on reindeer pelts by open fire whilst hearing the sleddogs howl to the northern lights and full moon!”

So there really is 100 different words and ways to say “I love you!”

Here at charity challenge, we think there is nothing more romantic or love affirming than taking on a challenge of a lifetime together – supporting each other up the mountains, sleeping together under the stars, taking in the most beautiful views in the world! You can see the top 5 list of Charity Challenges most romantic challenges here.

To see the many other amazing challenges we offer, you can visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com. To keep up to date on all Charity Challenge news, please enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list.

Rio Carnival – the biggest party in the world!

Charity Challenge veteran team leader, Trevor Gibbs gives us his personal slant on the Rio Carnival

Long regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World, Rio de Janeiro plays host to one of the world’s most famous and colourful parties, attracting around half a million visitors to its city streets each year. First introduced into Brazil by the colonial Portuguese, the Rio Carnival has evolved into a unique mix of African and Amerindian cultures, with music, parades and samba schools turning the streets into a dazzling visual celebration of Brazilian culture.

This year’s celebrations take place between 8-13 February; a four day extravaganza that provides a stunning backdrop of outrageous costumes and a pulsating samba beat to one of the most spectacular artistic events on the planet. The carnival officially starts on the Saturday, going through to ‘Fat Tuesday’ and the beginning of Lent. Traditionally it is seen as a last farewell to the excesses of the body, before the abstinence of Ash Wednesday begins. For many though, it is simply the best party in the world!

Months in the planning, the carnival begins with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo), after which the celebrations can begin in earnest. Each of Rio’s neighbourhoods provide carnival bands (more than 300 at the last count) and the local samba schools provide a continuous stream of entertainment over the four days, culminating in the Samba Parade on the final evening. A vital element of the Rio Carnival, many of the samba schools represent the poorer neighbourhoods of the city; the working class communities that live in the slums (favelas). Each school chooses a theme for the carnival and competes with its neighbours to create the best costumes and the best floats, before joining the throngs of party goers, drag queens and bands on the streets. Some of the bands have been known to attract up to 10,000 participants, closing down streets and gridlocking traffic, leaving drivers with little choice but to sit back and enjoy the moment.

Today, the famous parade takes place in the purpose-built Sambodromo stadium, the venue for the opening ceremony of the 2016 Olympics. Designed by the famous Brazilian architect, Oscar Niemeyer, it is capable of holding over 90,000 people and is located at what is believed to be the birthplace of the samba, in the heart of the favelas. There are no hard and fast rules as to what to wear for the party (residents of Rio will even attend weddings and funerals in colourful shorts), but be prepared for a long night, as the celebrations go on until sunrise. And remember, if you really want to get into the party spirit, you can even join in on one of the main parades…All you need is a costume and a little rhythm. For more information, check out the official Carnival website: http://www.rio-carnival.net/

If your liking the sound of Brazil, then check out our Brazilian Trek and Kayak Challenge, an exciting challenge that combines trekking in the Serra da Bocaina National Park, part of a substantial swathe of rainforest between Rio and São Paulo, with kayaking in the tropical Bay of Paraty.

The Brazil trek and kayak is one of our most unique and varied challenge, and although we cannot guarantee that it will be plain sailing from beginning to end – the combined elements of rainforest trekking and sea kayaking make this a very tough challenge! But on the completion of your challenge in Rio, you will definately have reason to celebrate! If you want to learn more about this challenges and the many other amazing challenges we offer, you can visit our website at www.charitychallenge.com. To keep up to date on all Charity Challenge news, please enter your email address into the adjacent box to subscribe to our mailing list. And for more of Trevor’s view on the world, check out his blog at: