Brazil is a huge country, spanning 8.5 million square kilometres. It stretches from the mighty Iguaçú Falls in the south, up to the vast and remote Amazon basin in the north. In total, it shares borders with 10 other South American countries. The climate in Brazil is generally warm/hot all the time and, therefore, it can make a great destination to visit any time of the year. The wettest months are from November to April (which are also the hottest time of year,) when temperatures can easily reach 40oc. With the 2016 Olympics looming, there really is no better time to head to Brazil. The country experienced redevelopments in light of the football World Cup in 2014. Many areas of the country were regenerated, as tourists were concerned about the safety of Brazil. Whilst there are areas that remain dangerous, it is still possible to have a fun and safe trip to Brazil by taking some sensible precautions and being self-aware.
Here are our top 5 recommended highlights of Brazil:
1) Rio de Janeiro
Rio is a stunning city. The skyline is breath-taking and even the most experienced traveller will find it hard to criticise. In the daytime, take a wander around the winding streets of Santa Teresa - a pretty district with impressive architecture in the hills above the city. It has a variety of independent shops to peruse and some good quality restaurants. The beaches in Rio are everything hoped for and more! Spend a day at the big and bustling Copacabana or Ipanema beaches relaxing and people watching. If it’s quieter beaches you’re looking for, visit Joatinga beach (hidden in the Joá neighbourhood, near Barra da Tijuca), Prainha and Grumari beach (both near Recreio dos Bandeirantes). Pay a trip up Sugarloaf Mountain or head to the Christ the Redeemer statue, both of which offer amazing views of the city. For nightlife, head to Lapa; you can eat traditional Brazilian food in the numerous restaurants and street vendors, then dance samba with the locals in the streets and party on until the early hours.
2) The Amazon
The Amazon basin is a vast, dense rainforest situated in the north of Brazil. To access the Brazilian Amazon, your best option is to fly to Manaus, the largest city in the north, and from here you can arrange a cruise down the Amazon River, where you can see plenty of wildlife including jaguars, monkeys, capybaras, dolphins, and a huge variety of exotic birds and reptiles. It is better to opt for a longer trip that takes you to regions that are more remote and away from the city, as your chance of spotting wildlife is far greater.
3) Iguaçú Falls
The falls are an UNESCO World Heritage site and are an outstanding example of natural beauty. They are located where the borders of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. At 2,700m wide and 80m high, they are one of the largest waterfalls in the world. The best way to access the falls is to stay in either Foz do Iguaçú (Brazil) or Puerto Iguazú (Argentina), both a short bus ride away. You can visit both sides of the falls; just remember to bring your passport!
4) The Pantanal
The Pantanal Wetlands is the largest wetlands in South America. It is home to a huge variety of animals and is a particularly good destination for bird watching, with over 600 species of bird calling it their home. It is better to view wildlife here than it is in the Amazon, as the dense forest in the Amazon makes it difficult to spot animals, particularly more elusive ones. The vast wetlands of the Pantanal offer wider open plains where animals can be seen easily. To get to Pantanal, fly to either Cuiabá (Mato Grosso) or Corumbá (also in Mato Grosso, but near the Bolivian border). From there, you can organise a multiple-day guided tour of the region that incorporates activities such as hiking and canoeing. Alternatively, you can arrange a stay in a ‘fazenda’ (ranch house), which will coordinate bird watching and wildlife spotting trips with local guides for you.
5) Florianópolis and the beaches of the south
Brazil is famous for having some of the best beaches in the world, and the beaches of southern Brazil do not disappoint. Florianópolis is the capital city of the state of Santa Catarina. It is a small and attractive city, located on an island accessible by a huge suspension bridge from the mainland. You can easily fly to Florianópolis from Rio (an hour and a half) or São Paulo (an hour and 15 mins), and there are numerous domestic flights daily. From Florianopolis, you can hire a car and take a drive to Praia do Rosa - an hour or so south. This beautiful and dramatic beach is a favourite amongst surfers. Stay in a ‘posada’ in the town where there are a number of small restaurants, bars and gift shops.
Staying safe in Brazil
- Avoid displaying expensive equipment such as cameras, smart phones and laptops in public. If you need to bring them out with you, keep them well hidden.
- Keep valuables locked in a safe at your hotel.
- Only ever carry a small amount of cash with you.
- Avoid walking around alone at night, and stick to main roads and well lit areas.
Ensure your vaccinations are in date by visiting our clinic prior to travel. All travellers should make sure their Hepatitis A and Tetanus vaccinations are up to date. If you are visiting inland parts of Brazil, including Iguaçú Falls, the Amazon and the Pantanal, then Yellow Fever vaccine is essential. There is a high risk of Malaria in the Amazon (including the city of Manaus) and anti-malarial medication is vital here. Whilst southern Brazil and the states of Rio and São Paulo have a low risk of Malaria, they often have outbreaks of Dengue Fever. Avoid contraction of Dengue, Malaria and other mosquito-borne diseases by using a DEET based mosquito repellent at all times. You can also find those in stock in our clinics.
Book your appointment with us now to discuss your South American adventure!