Who’s made Round of 16 in World Cup of Travel

Sport supporters in South Africa

The World Cup of Travel opening round was filled with upsets, as several destinations missed their flights on the way to the round of 16.

Now things shift into high gear as proven players are set to go head-to-head on the road to travel stardom. Brazil vs. Spain will kick off a field full of close calls, while only 8 countries will go on for a chance to compete for the Top Travel Destination title!

Brazil vs. Spain

From beautiful beaches to bustling nightlife, at first these two sun-soaked countries appear evenly matched. Spain inches forward as visitors embark along the El Camino in the north, then cool down over sangria in Seville and relax in Barcelona with a glass of the region’s world-class wine. Brazil scores the winning goal, however, with its remarkable rainforest. An expansive jungle offering breathtaking views, challenging hikes and once-in-a-lifetime wildlife sightings, the Brazilian rainforest is truly something you need to see to believe.

Winner: Brazil

The breathtaking Amalfi Coast  Italy

The breathtaking Amalfi Coast – photo by James Johnson

Greece vs. Italy

On the sapphire shores of the Mediterranean, Greece and Italy boast some of the most scenic sailing adventures in the world. Cruise from Mykonos to Santorini or explore the Cyclades Islands and experience the wonder of Greece from the high seas. Or head over to Italy – the winning destination in this duel – for the trip of a lifetime. Sail the Amalfi Coast, stop on the island of Capri, cruise the canals of Venice and experience the rich history of Pompeii with the famous volcano on the skyline.

Winner: Italy

Ecuador vs. Iran

Iran proved itself as a tough competitor against Bosnia and Nigeria with its fascinating history and unique landscapes. However, it is the natural beauty and rich culture of Ecuador that ensure its top spot in this battle. Fall asleep to the sounds of the rainforest in an Amazon lodge or discover one of South America’s urban gems, the capital city of Quito. With fiery nightlife, scenic streets and a historic old-town, Quito is a city you can experience on a budget or in the lap of luxury.

Winner: Ecuador

The Grand Canyon United States

The Grand Canyon – photo by Jo Stewart

USA vs. Algeria

Two vastly different countries, United States and Algeria bring unique strengths to the field. While Algeria offers the great Sahara, the Grand Canyon is USA’s star player and leads the team to a brilliant victory. A landmark of American geography, the Grand Canyon can be endlessly explored. The awe-inspiring vistas represent a timeline of millions of years of geological growth, and this natural wonder remains a top destination for thrill-seekers, history buffs and nature-lovers alike.

Winner: USA

Chile vs. Mexico

Thinking beyond Chile’s borders, visitors can fly to the grassy hills of Easter Island for a truly unique experience. Sprinkled with statues, the mystery of Easter Island continues to baffle visitors, ensuring Chile holds strong against its competitor. Host to its own rich history, Mexico’s Mayan ruins feature stunning architecture located far beyond the bustling beaches and crowded resorts. The Ruins challenge travellers to seek adventure, ensuring a close win and Mexico’s spot in the next round.

Winner: Mexico

Beautiful Himeji Castle in full blossom Japan

Beautiful Himeji Castle in full blossom – photo by Paul Lumbewe

Costa Rica vs. Japan

Zip-lining through the cloud forest or cycling up winding mountain roads, Costa Rica is synonymous with epic outdoor adventures. Home to rare and endangered wildlife and a thriving eco-culture, the parks and forests of this Central American country are a big draw. But spin the globe to Japan and you’ll find one of the most culturally rich and historic destinations in the world. Hike Mt Fuji, stroll through ancient paths bursting with cherry blossoms or soak in natural hot springs and you will see that Japan won’t back down against the natural wonders of Costa Rica. With the dynamic city of Tokyo anchoring a strong offensive attack, Japan steals a close victory.

Winner: Japan

Argentina vs. France

France prevailed in the last round based on reputation alone, but pitted against one of South America’s most acclaimed travel destinations, they will need to pull out all the stops to escape with a victory. The country boasts world-renowned wineries, and cycling through the Loire Valley consistently scores with travellers. Argentina, on the other hand, has proven they’re no slouch when it comes to the culinary arts. They briskly pull ahead, with the pulse of Buenos Aires and the ferocity of the Perito Moreno Glacier leading the charge. While these two countries could easily take the game to extra time, Argentina receives a slight edge.

Winner: Argentina

Church of the Saviour Russia

Church of the Saviour – photo by Tanya Hogg

Russia vs. Ghana

Russia and Ghana offer unique travel experiences that would typically appeal to two very different types of traveller. Ghana surprises with the tropical rainforest of Kakum National Park and the rushing waters of Kintampo Falls, yet the destination still remains a mystery to many. In Russia, visitors stroll through the historic streets of Moscow or sleep in small Siberian villages. Though fans are cheering for an upset from Ghana, Russia rides two world-renowned railways to victory.

Winner: Russia

Stay tuned as we get to the pointy end of the competition for the quarterfinals!

Tell us who you think should win the World Cup of Travel

As the world goes soccer mad for 4 weeks, Intrepid is tapping into the football fever with a competition that will have you screaming “GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL” faster than Neymar out-running a fullback. All you have to do is tell us which World Cup country deserves to be the winning destination, then you could WIN a trip in your choice of selected World Cup countries! Enter here before 13 July, 2014!

* Photo by Petra Groot, for the Intrepid Photography Competition.

About the author

Michael Sadowski - Michael was hooked on travel at the age of 16 after spending a week playing soccer and eating roti in rural Trinidad. He maintains his best purchase to date was renting a stilt home for himself in a small fishing village outside Hong Kong. Michael currently works with the Intrepid Marketing Team in Canada, living life one hashtag at a time.

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