The 2014 World Cup has shone an additional spotlight on Brazil, the fifth largest country in world that sprawls across half of South America. Its coastline is dotted by charming colonial towns, sandy beaches and tropical paradises, in addition to magnificent natural attractions filled with a diverse mix of wildlife and plants. With a diverse ethnic fabric that stems partially from indigenous tribes and minority groups, like African-Brazilians, Brazilian is a must for those wanting to expand their cultural horizons.
As evidenced by the downpours in Natal during this year’s World Cup, the weather in Brazil isn’t always travel-friendly. If you prefer somewhere sunny and warm, then the Northeastern coastal cities like Fortaleza have about 300 days of sunshine a year. Brazilian winters are marked by cool sunrises, bright days and chilly nights. Your accommodation options would include rainforest lodges, if you happen to be exploring the verdant marvels of the Amazon, and hotels or pousada for all budgets.
Brazil’s shoreline is lined with over 2,000 beaches and more than 1,000 islands, many of which are ecological sanctuaries. Visit Salvador, capital to the state of Bahia for exceptional beaches or the Northeastern island of Fernando de Noronha, a breath-taking archipelago filled with Dutch, French and Portuguese influences from its colonial past. The surrounding warm waters are generally popular for diving and snorkeling.
Brazil has 62 National Parks and hundreds of conservation units, making it a record-holder for its wildlife count and natural diversity. The Amazon River and Rainforest and the Iguaçu Falls are the country’s most famous natural attractions. As a tourist, you are advised to book your rainforest tour from a certified tour operator. Have fun wildlife spotting as your guide points out sloths, howler monkeys, macaws, tamarins, tree frogs and giant crickets! Small, tourist-standard boats can take you down narrow tributaries of the Rio Negro and Amazon River deep into the heart of the forest; there, you’ll be able to see plenty of aquatic life, like river dolphins, otters and piranha. Another interesting sight in this area is the Teatro Amazonas (“Amazon Theatre”) located in Manaus, in the center of the Amazon, is an opera house that was built during the days of the rubber trade in Brazil. Its dome-shaped exterior was covered with 36,000 decorated ceramic tiles in the colours of the Brazilian national flag.
Accessible from the city of Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil, the Iguaçu Falls sit on the border between Brazil and Argentina. It’s a vast waterfall system comprising of 275 falls along the Iguaçu River, with the most awe-inspiring being the 82-meter high Devil’s Throat.
Also, you should not miss the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, located at the 700 meter-high peak of Corcovado mountain in Rio de Janeiro, will give you a panoramic view from the interior of the Northern Guanabara Bay, to the Southern Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas.
History buffs should pay a visit to Ouro Preto (“black gold”), one of Brazil’s best-preserved colonial towns and also a tourist hotspot because if it’s ornate 18th- and 19th- century churches embellished with gold, while displaying the works of the sculptor, Aleijadinho.
Brazil is known for its lively carnival celebrations, especially in Recife, Olinda and Salvador. The most well-known carnival, however, is the four-day Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro, which draws in a crowd of 2 million a day and nearly half a million foreigners. It’s a sprawling procession that concludes with the spectacular Rio Samba Parade at the Sambadrome.
Hungry? Then tuck into a traditional Brazilian barbecue, an international culinary phenomenon that’s gone from open fire pits tended by gaúchos, the South American cowboys, to restaurants all over the world. Brazil’s many food festivals is one of the best ways to experience the different flavours of the country’s cuisine.
Many airlines from all parts of the world fly to the largest international airport in Brazil, São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport. Air service also covers most of Brazil. Find and compare cheap flights on Skyscanner! Make your bookings with airlines and online tour agencies at no extra charge.
Some Dos and Don’ts
Did you know…?
While Brazilian beef is world-famous, locals also relish delicacies like barbecued chicken hearts and cow-foot soup.
Images by Flickr\Phillia Casablanca
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