Brazil is big, lush and lively. Much of the country is focused on the 5,000 miles of coast including gorgeous beaches but the heartland is the home of the Amazon.
Did You Know
Rio de Janeiro
Also called Maravilhosa (the marvelous city), this city has 45 miles of coastline and 23 buzzing beaches. There are the famous Ipanema and Copacabana beaches for people watching , to Praihna for surfers, Barra de Tijuca for families and Praia do Dabo for the views. Guarding the city is the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer is one of the New 7 Wonders of the World and you can enjoy fabulous views of Rio from either here or, take the cable car up the equally scenic Sugar Loaf (Pao de Acucar). Rio’s extravagant and exuberant carnival takes place in February but cariocans (Rio citizens) live life to the fullest whenever.
Manaus and the Amazon
There’s no escaping the Amazon which makes up most of Brazil yet only a small amount of the population. Take a boat upriver with stops for wildlife viewing of spend at least five days in a jungle lodge. You can access the jungle from Belem in the north but the most popular starting off point is the interesting city of Manaus. In the 1800s this area supplied 90% of the world’s rubber and the commercialists invested their wealth in the buildings and culture of the city. The Teatro Amazonas hoses a philharmonic orchestra, and world class musicians, dancers and opera singers are attracted here to perform at the theatre in the middle of the jungle.
Iguazu and the South
This is the more pampas, cowboy-like area of Brazil. Where cattle ranches and the influence of Northern European settlers abound. Is a good place for horseback riding and for sampling German style beer in Blumenau. For beaches, Ilha de Santa Catalina has a mix of the quiet and the lively, and those around Florianopolis draw the surfers. The Curitiba- Prain ride covers 62 miles coastal mountain range, hugging the mountains on its way to the sea. Where Brazil meets with Uruguay and Argentina is the fantastic Iguazu Falls (see Argentina).
Brasilia and the Pantanal
The country’s capital is a futuristic planned city. Wide avenues and innovative architecture are the focus of this city and it’s so impressive it’s the only modern city with UNESCO World Heritage Status. Brasilia is often visited as the gateway to the Pantanal, a vast area of wetland that offers excellent opportunities for wildlife spotting vast open spaces make it easier to spot wildlife without all that foliage getting in the way. It has the highest concentration of wildlife in the New World and is very sparsely populated meaning the main form of transportation is by plane. Wildlife here includes giant river otters, anacondas, cougars, jaguars, iguanas, deer, crocodiles and anteaters, cayman, tapir, puma, ocelot and the capybara – the words largest rodent, armadillo and 650 species of birds especially water birds such as spoonbill, storks and ibises.
This metropolis of 25 million people is the cultural and economic heart of Brazil. The city is thoroughly cosmopolitan and this is a good place to sample the international arts and culture scene.
Wrecks for scuba divers, trails to waterfalls for hikers, international watersporsts competitions for adrenalin junkies and miles of sandy beaches for lazers make the island of Ilhabela outside of Sao Paolo a good choice for visitors.
Salvador and the North East
Miles of sandy beaches, backed by lush rainforest, islands of coral reefs, historical centers and a vibrant and fascinating cultures, make this part of Brazil a must see on the visitors list. Salvador is where Brazil began and is the center of Brazilian music thanks to the influence of the majority Afro-Brazilian population – making it a great place to see the carnival and any other festival for that matter. Salvador is also home to 300 historic churches and, somewhat incongruously, the Candomble religion which is a vibrant mix of African and Catholic beliefs. For these reasons and the hundreds of gorgeous beaches in the city’s environs, Salvador is dubbed Brazil’s capital of happiness.
Enough of sand and sea? The inland Parque Nacional da Chapada Diamantina has idyllic rivers, waterfalls, grottoes and caves amidst its trails. The fauna here has drawn studies by such bodies as the Royal Botanical Gardens in the UK. South of Salvador is Parque Nacional Marinho de Abrolhos. With 20m visibility in the clear waters of this coastal park, this is a top diving and snorkeling destination. Here are reefs of teaming with wildlife, migrating birds, humpback whales and very few people. Located offshore from the calm, mangrove lined fishing town of Caravelas.
Nature in the Pantanal, Iguazu and Rio.
10 Days US$2595+flights
Explore the Brazilian Amazon and Rio.
8 Days US$ 2595 + flights
See all the highlights of South America: Machu Picchu, Iguazu & Rio