Did you enjoy the BBC series Brazil with Michael Palin in 2012 which showed a quirky travellers side to this huge country? There are lots of group tours to see the wildlife or I can get a private tailor made itinerary together for you.
Being the fifth largest country in the world, it’s a good idea to have several weeks at your disposal to explore Brazil! There is a good internal flight network but the distances mean you often have to stop over in the cities to make connections. There are 7000km of coastline and the largest jungle in the world here, plus vibrant cities, ancient and colonial towns and rural villages full of culture and fascination. Brazil can be visited all year but there are of course some seasonal variations. Rio is hot and wet between November and March but pleasant at other times. The Pantanal is best visited in the ‘dry’ season of April to October but can be visited all year, exploring the flooded areas by boat. The Amazon is hot and humid all year round and you can explore by river cruise or stay at a remote jungle lodge. The coastline is simply stunning and whether fiesta and flopping is your style or you enjoy the wild coast to the North East with it’s other worldly sand dunes, there is a wide choice of beach destinations in Brazil. Sao Paulo is the largest city in Brazil and many international flights operate from here.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the main attractions with wonderful mountains and beaches and the iconic Statue of Christ on top of Corcovado mountain. Take the cable car up Sugar Loaf mountain for amazing views. Copacabana and Ipanema are some of the most famous beaches in the world and several hours away are smaller beach resorts such as Paraty or Buzios. Popular hotels in Rio include the Copacabana Palace, Porto Bay International and Casas Brancas at the chic resort of Buzios. The Bohemian quarter of Santa Teresa is home to traditional bodegas and trams full of artists and academics. Explore Rio by jeep tours through the forested hills or helicopter rides and boat trips.
Looking for something quieter? Try Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort on the Emerald Coast in a small fishing village on a privately owned peninsula. This area represents the old-fashioned Brazil of colonial times. there are nature trails and scuba diving nearby or just relax in your private bungalow with sea views. Further south is Florianopolis on the coast a great base for whale watching (August to October).
North of Rio about half way up the coastline are Salvador and the state of Bahia – where Brazil meets Africa and the Caribbean – wander the atmospheric cobbled streets and listen to capoeira, candomble or traditional forro music, see baroque museums and churches and enjoy tasty Bahian cuisine. This whole region is full of sweeping beaches and swaying palms. The bay of Todos los Santos is close to beautiful beaches and the Pelourinho area in the city has many colonial buildings. On the Marau Peninsula is Kiaroa Eco Resort in a conservation area where you can enjoy Atlantic jungle, empty beaches and local culture. Inland here is Chapada Diamantina which is a little visited land of rocks, forests and pools perfect for walking in stunning scenery. Lencois is a colonial settlement here full of great restaurants, small hotels and craft outlets.
If you want a real adventure, head to the far north where few tourists travel. Belem is the capital of the north and the gateway to the Amazon and Atlantic coast. Along the north Atlantic coast you can stop in local fishing villages, wander old towns and marvel at the stunning landscapes and sand dunes around Jericoacoara (Jeri). Around the ‘corner’ of the coastline of Brazil you can explore Fortaleza, Natal and Olinda then from Recife (a major port and business centre) take a flight to visit the gorgeous Fernando de Noronha, a group of tiny islands in the ocean which are a nature lovers dream. Here is a marine national park with fabulous diving and a small number of hostels and boutique hotels.
Wildlife is a massive attraction in Brazil including the vast Amazon rainforest to the north and the Pantanal wetlands in the central-south of the country. The remote Amazon basin is home to unusual species of monkeys, giant otters and colourful Macaws with a variety of jungle lodges to make your time here comfortable. The Amazon river and it’s tributaries make up the largest water system on the planet and a birdwatchers paradise. Visit the local communities here and learn about their traditional ways of life – there are 300 indigenous tribes living here. Travel deep into the Amazon by boat from Manaus or fly into the heart of the jungle. There are a couple of good lodges including Amazon Eco-Park Jungle Lodge and Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge. Look out for the pink river dolphins along the way!
The Pantanal is an open grassland region (the largest wetland in the world) which floods to create swamps, rivers and lagoons and enables visitors to watch the wildlife by vehicle, on foot, by boat or horseback and is a great place to see Jaguar. Pousada do Rio Mutum is in the northern pantanal surrounded by birds and butterflies with breathtaking sunsets. Pousada Araras Eco Lodge offers amazing forest trekking and night tours with a rustic homely style.
In the far south take an amazing rail journey on the Serra Verde Railway descending 110km from Curitiba to the sub tropical coast in 4 hours, the journey takes you through 13 tunnels, 71 bridges and viaducts and winds its way through stunning panoramic views of mountains and cloud forests. Just before the end of the line is the pretty colonial town of Morretes, you can overnight at a lodge in the Marumbi State Park and explore forest trails here.
Iguassu Falls on the border with Argentina is one of South America’s most beautiful natural wonders. It is made up of no less than 275 separate waterfalls and there are walkways on both sides of the falls. You can also take a speedboat trip on the waters below for an exhilarating different perspective! There are hotels on both sides of the falls but the traditional colonial favourite inside the National Park is Das Cataratas.
Make sure you sample Brazil’s own cocktail the Caiparinha. This originates from Paraty and is made with one lime, 2 ounces of Cachaca, sugar and crushed ice. Relax by the pool and enjoy!