Tudo bem! Brazil will absolutely charm you and you’ll want to return time and again. The relaxed culture is definitely catching and you will find yourself wishing you had spent another two or more nights in Rio than you thought and then included another week or more. Rio de Janeiro, with its never-ending stretches of beaches including the famous Copacabana is a must, and World Journeys can assist in suggestions of great local venues to try out and the best hotels available for your budget. There’s nothing worse than finally making it to a destination like Rio and ending up with a hotel in the wrong location! The city of Salvador, with its amazing colourful old city and African heritage is well worth including on your itinerary. Brazil’s other highlights include, without question, the Amazon where you can stay in a jungle lodge or cruise the rivers, the magnificent Iguacu Falls, and the Pantanal Wetlands – definitely Brazil’s premier wildlife destination. Beach destinations such as Paraty and Buzios should also be considered if you want to end a busy South American holiday with a bit of R&R before returning to the rat race at home.
Rio de Janeiro
With its never-ending stretches of beaches (great for people watching) Rio de Janeiro is notorious for its breathtaking scenery and location, nestled between lush-green mountains and crystal clear seas. You can even partake in the famous Rio Carnival!
Base yourself in a jungle lodge or boat cruise and explore the Brazilian Amazon in comfort and style. You’ll venture along hidden and uninhabited rivers, journeying deep into the jungle and exploring small villages.
One of the worlds most spectacular and panoramic falls in the world bordering Argentina & Brazil, it is worth visiting both sides of the falls for the full experience!
The Pantanal Wetlands Brazil’s premier wildlife destination the Pantanal is the largest continuous wetland on the planet, containing elements of the Amazon forest, the Brazilian Savannah, the Atlantic Rainforest and the Paraguayan Chaco. Open marshes make it ideal for wildlife observation – from jaguars to jabiru storks – there is immense variety.
Salvador da Bahia
One of Brazil’s great historical destinations the city is filled with churches, homes and forts that reflect stunning Portuguese architecture from the Baroque period. This colourful old city with African heritage is well worth including on your itinerary.
Brazil being almost the size of the United States, has varying climate regions. The Amazon and the Pantanal Wetlands have a summer rainy season Jan – May, so these areas are best travelled outside of these months.
The North East region and Rio de Janeiro enjoy good temperatures year-round with the hottest and most crowded months being Dec – Feb.
In my experience, no other race of people are more fun loving than the Brazilians and they are at their splendid best in beautiful Rio de Janeiro. I always stay at one of the beach suburbs, Copacabana or Ipanema are probably the best, and here you can rub shoulders with the friendly locals on the beach or in the bars and cafes… Rated as one of the wonders of the modern world, I love visiting Corcovado, the statue of Christ, who stands 700 metres on top one of the many granite peaks and looking out across his city. Another fabulous view is from the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, which you reach by cable car and from here you may admire the panoramic sweep of Copacabana and the beaches beyond.
A number of years back I was fortunate enough to visit Rio during the carnival, several days (and nights!) of complete madness filled with music, samba, parades and colour. The Cariocas, as people from Rio are known, certainly know how to party! If you are there at other times of the year make sure you visit the Rio Scenarium in the Lapa district – not far from Copacabana. This nightclub has several levels each offering a different flavour of music and dancing…it is fantastic and an authentic experience not to be missed! Rio at times has some bad press, much of it often unwarranted. Just follow a few simple rules from our local guides and you will safely enjoy this remarkable city.
But there is so much more to Brazil than Rio. Sharing a southern border with Argentina are the incredible Iguassu Falls and despite being there often, each time I return they still take my breath away – having seen Niagara and Victoria Falls, Iguassu leaves them for dead! Make sure you view the falls from both sides as the perspective is totally different. There is also a wonderful bird park there which is beautifully presented and well worth a visit. The coastal cities in the north-eastern part of the country; Maceio, San Luis and especially Salvador Bahia are fantastic. Here there is a strong African influence – descendents of the slaves brought from West Africa and they have influenced the culture strongly in a really colourful way. Great music, wonderful food, outstanding beaches make this region really appealing. The Carnival that we so closely associate with Rio actually started in Salvador and is the annual highlight there as well.
And finally there is the Amazon. I was really surprised by Manaus, the capital of Amazonia and some 2000km from the sea. A large bustling city, it became enormously wealthy during the 19th century rubber boom and remnants of that time include one of the world’s great opera houses. It is from Manuas that I took an Amazon cruise, one of the great travel experiences of my life. Exploring dense jungle tributaries by small boat, beautiful birds, pink coloured Amazon freshwater dolphins, monkeys, fishing for piranha, visiting Indian river communities…the trip has it all. Brazil is an enormous country, beautiful and diverse, with perhaps the most outgoing people anywhere. If you enjoy a fun time – then go. I guarantee you won’t be disappointed. Chris
Currency Brazilian Real
Language Portuguese is the official language with more than 180 languages and dialects spoken by the indigenous peoples.
Why we love it Brazil is a destination in itself – quite unique and worthy of a journey on its own. Brazil may get into your blood and you might have to return again and again, a big part of this is due to the “love life” attitude of the Brazilians. Brazil is passion. Just being in Rio de Janeiro, enjoying its nightlife and famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema is something you’ll never forget. Ensure you check out Maracena Football Stadium and go to a local game – even if you’re not a huge fan you will be swept away with the passion of the locals! Also make sure you indulge in the national drink – the caipirinha – be prepared though, it is pretty strong!
Head up to the Amazon to explore the largest tropical forest in the world containing a third of the world’s species and holding nearly a quarter of the earth’s fresh water. Another favourite place of ours is Salvador da Bahia. Salvador city itself is an eclectic mixture of African, Portuguese and Latin cultures intertwined and the gateway to Bahia, home to some of the most glorious beaches to be found anywhere.
Weather Brazil being almost the size of the United States, has varying climate regions. The Amazon and the Pantanal Wetlands have a summer rainy season Jan – May, so these areas are best travelled outside of these months. The North East region and Rio de Janeiro enjoy good temperatures year-round with the hottest and most crowded months being Dec – Feb.
Social customs & quirks Brazil has three main groups of peoples each with their own customs. The smallest group are the original tribal Indians speaking around 180 different languages and occupying 10% of the country, living their preserved lifestyle. The Portuguese make up the majority of the foreign influx to Brazil and Africans were brought to Brazil in the 16th century – hence the great cultural mix in the Bahia region today. Rio de Janeiro’s inhabitants are fondly known as “cariocas” – exuberant for life and the amongst the friendliest people in the world.
Festivals & events The world famous Carnival of Rio de Janeiro is held usually in February each year, with the dates changing to coincide with Ash Wednesday. In fact, this is carnival time throughout Brazil and another even more authentic Carnival is held in Salvador da Bahia. Rio also hosts a spectacular New Year and thousands of people around the world flock to the beaches of Copacabana to join in the festivities.
Health* Brazil authorities require that a Yellow Fever certificate is presented if arriving from a Yellow Fever affected country within 10 days. Malaria precautions are recommended for certain destinations in Brazil. Please contact your health practitioner for full and current details.
Notes *Please be aware that Health information is subject to change at any time and you should always double check these requirements at the time of booking and before travel.
My Grand Tour of South America was everything I had dreamed it would be and more. The stay in the Amazon was magical. The only place in the world where I have been able to see more stars at night than in New Zealand.