You can’t keep it out of the news, after the recent World Cup and Olympics, and this massive country is renowned for its vitality and lust for life. Rio, with its famous February Carnival, is a must-see city and the mighty Iguassu Falls and Amazon region high on a visitors list. For the best wildlife head to the Pantanal region and take time to enjoy the beaches on the 3000 km of coast.
Rio and the beaches
According to it’s inhabitants God created Rio on the eighth day – with its outstanding natural beauty it is hard to argue. There is a wealth of white sand beaches, jungles and bays which coupled with the vibrancy of its city life makes Rio a must-see stop for any holiday to Brazil. Explore the historic colonial centre or take in a football game at the rebuilt Maracana stadium – there is also a fantastic collection of museums and fine restaurants. Along the coast, either direction from Rio, are also some outstanding beach destinations for those looking for some R&R away from the city. Chic Buzios has a Mediterranean feel while to the west try Ilha Grande or pretty colonial Paraty with an increasing range of pousadas, restored colonial houses.
Amazon and Pantanal
The world’s largest forest can be visited from a number of Latin American countries but it is synonymous with Brazil. It is a vast area, the jungle city of Manaus is 1000 miles from the Atlantic, and a visitor is only likely to see the very smallest fraction. Travelling by boat gives you an idea of its enormity and brings you into contact with the riverine caboclo communities while staying in a rainforest lodge or camp and exploring with a guide on foot or by boat gives you that unique experience of being in the jungle, perhaps during the “flooded forest” period. Wildlife viewing can be hit or miss so if that is important then make sure you visit the Pantanal wetlands. An open swampland the size of France the birdlife is immense and there is a good chance of seeing armadillo, anteaters, otters, capybara, caimans, anacondas and even Jaguars.
Iguacu Falls and further afield
Iguacu is one of the world’s greatest natural phenomena with 275 separate cataracts set within a sub-tropical nature reserve. View them from the Brazilian side in a series of walkways or cross over into Argentina to get the view from below, under the cascading mists. Away in the North-East the region is famous for its beaches and laid-back life while the colonial splendour of historic Salvador de Bahia is a melting pot of Europe and Africa and home to capoeira and candomble. Brasilia is famous for its modern architecture or visit some of the beautiful colonial towns such as Ouro Preto.
Brazil is a good destination all year round and while the North is driest and hottest in November to March, The Amazon, being equatorial, stays humid and hot all year around.
To visit the Pantanal - try for the driest months of April and October, however, like in the Amazon, other months where there are rainshowers ( but not enough to spoil a trip) you'll see more wildlife.
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