Frequently Asked Questions
1) When is the best time to travel to Brazil?
When is the best time to travel to the Amazon?
Each season in the Amazon has its advantages for tourism in terms of wildlife, weather and prices. Generally, the best time to travel to the Amazon depends on where exactly you are going and what you want to do and see while you are there. Of course, your relationship with rain is a big factor! Here are details on the seasons and activities possible in each one.
Weather and activities
The rainy season in the Amazon runs from the middle of December to the middle of May and the dry season runs from around mid – August to November. The temperature falls the closer you get to the coast and increases as you go further inland. This can range anywhere from 28°C on the coast of Pará to 40°C in deep western Amazonas. During the rainy season, the average daytime temperature in central Amazonas is 29°C, however the temperature falls at night and can reach as low as 20°C.
During the rainy season, the increased moisture means much of the Amazonian flora has already began to flower and fruit, which gives a vibrant color to the rainforest. Another advantage is if you decide to visit any of the cities during this time such as Belém or Manaus, the markets will be full of an incredible variety of fresh produce, it is guaranteed that you will find something you have never heard of before! The fact that the trees and plants have begun to fruit also attracts many animals that may not be as tempted to show themselves during the dry season. You can see monkeys, other primates, a huge variety of tropical birds and countless other rainforest dwellers out in search of food. The higher water level means that if you decide to take a cruise, you are much closer to the birds roosting in the rainforest canopy making it easier to spot them.
Although mosquitoes are present in the Amazon all year round, there are slightly more in the wetter seasons. The higher river levels (up to 10 meters in some places!) during the wetter seasons means you have more access to the rainforest. You can explore more of the jungle along the “Igarapés,” the flooded waterways that penetrate the forest. On the downside, during the wet season you may not see as many caimans, although you are still quite likely to see them and some hiking trails may become impassable. You can certainly travel to the Amazon during the rainy season – it has many advantages!
Something to remember about the dry season in the Amazon is that you may still get heavy rain! There are less mosquitoes during the dry season and you will have access to forest hikes and walking trails that would have been impossible to enjoy during the rainy season. Dry season is also the best time to spot reptiles. If you are hoping to see snakes and lizards during your time in the Amazon, then it is better to come during months of August, September, and October. It is easier to catch fish in the Amazon during the dry – season as well; piranha makes for a surprisingly tasty lunch! The abundance of fish attracts the fishing birds such as Jabiru Storks and Roseate Spoonbills.
Finally, you can see the famous Amazonian pink dolphins during both rainy and dry seasons (although you have more chance during the dry season).
If you plan to visit the city of Manaus, the rainy season runs from November to May. From June to October there is less rain. The month with the most rainfall is March with an average rainfall of 335.4mm. March also has the highest humidity with an average of 88%. The month with the least rainfall is August (47.3mm).
When is the best time to travel to Bahia?
The ideal time to visit Bahia is between December to March.
The state of Bahia has a tropical climate with a rainy season that runs from April to June.
Outside the rainy season, Bahia has ideal weather for the whole year. Sunny with temperatures around 30°C; the hottest month is March whilst the coldest is usually July. A refreshing breeze blows in from the Atlantic Ocean, which relieves the humidity.
Normally, the rainy season consists of short and light rain showers with sunny breaks, however although it is rare, it has been known to rain for several days in a row. Temperatures can reach as low as 18/20°C during the rainy season, it is best not to plan a beach holiday in Bahia during this time of the year.
The biggest “Carnaval” celebration in Brazil takes place in Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia and the ex – capital of Brazil. Official Carnaval dates in 2020 are from the 20/02/2020 – 26/02/2020 although with the events before such as “Précarnaval” and after the main party you can make it last as long as you want. Carnival in Salvador attracts millions of visitors from all over the world every year and is known as the biggest street party on the planet!
Outside the rainy season and carnival season, the only other thing to keep in mind in terms of when to visit Bahia are Christmas and New Year. The hotel prices go up and there are often “minimum night stay policies” where you have to stay in a hotel for a minimum number of nights, even if you don´t stay the whole time, you must pay the whole package.
When is the best time to travel to Belem and the North of Brazil?
If you are going to travel to Belém or the island of Marajó, it is better to go in the second half of the year. In Belém, the first half of the year (from January to June) is the rainy season and from July to December is the dry season. Although you can be sure to encounter heavy showers in Belém throughout the year.
When is the best time to travel to Brasilia?
The best time to travel to Brasilia is in May. In May the dry season has just begun, so the weather is improving and the shrubs, flowers and plants that form the many gardens in the city are blooming. Anytime between May and September, (known as the dry season) is a great time to visit the city. July and September are the hottest and most humid months in the city of Brasilia, and the temperature during this time normally drops sharply at night. From October to February is the rainy season so you may want to avoid these months if you want to avoid the rainfall. The average annual temperature in Brasilia is 21.2°C.
Festival de Brasília do Cinema Brasileiro (The Brasilia film festival) takes place in January and in 2020 will happen from 16/01/2020 until 26/01/2020. Winners are presented with the Troféu Candango and cash prizes for various categories of Brazilian films and short – films. The Porrao do Rock is a rock festival featuring national and international heavy rock and metal acts that takes place each year, usually in August.
When is the best time to travel to Iguassu Falls?
The best time to see Iguassu Falls is from December to February. This is when the falls are at their fullest and most majestic, but the local weather is hot, humid and there is more chance of rain. From April to September is the drier season, there is better weather and more tourists. Also, the islands and trails in the rainforest are more accessible during these months. Depending on what you want to see more, you will have to decide between seeing the falls at all their glory during the wetter weather or better access to the islands and walking trails during the warmer weather.
When is the best time to travel to Minas Gerais?
The best time to travel to Minas Gerais is between April and October when there is least rainfall. June and July are the most pleasant months to be in Minas Gerais in terms of weather – it is dry and sunny with average temperatures between 20 °C / 68°F and 25 °C / 77°F. It is warmer during the rainy season, with the warmest month being January, which means the scenery is lush, green and extremely beautiful, but if you would rather stay dry, then go outside the months from November to March.
When is the best time to travel to Northeast Brazil?
The best time to travel to the Northeast of Brazil is from June to February. The region has a semi – arid climate due to its proximity to the equator, meaning it is warm and sunny all year, however it does have a rainy season from March to May. The annual average temperature in the states of Ceará, Rio Grande do Norte, Alagoas, Pernambuco and Bahia is between 25°C and 30°C / 77°F and 86°F. If you intend on spending time on the beaches of Bahia or the city of Salvador then it is definitely recommended that you go outside the months of March to May.
When is the best time to travel to Pantanal?
The best time to visit Pantanal is from April to October, when there is less rain and the water levels come down. The best months for wildlife spotting are between July and October, when the lakes and rivers have started to dry out and shrink, so most of the wildlife moves towards the edge of the remaining water. At night during these months, temperatures can drop as far down as 10°C / 50 °F, so come equipped! The rainy season from November to May is the best time to see the flora in full bloom and to travel into the more inaccessible parts of the marshes by boat.
When is the best time to travel to Rio de Janeiro?
The best time to travel to Rio de Janeiro is between December and March, this is the summer season in the region, when the weather is hot and sunny, although there is slightly more rain. The average temperature in this season is 30°C / 86°F. In fact, anytime of the year is good to visit Rio de Janeiro although between June and August, you are likely to encounter cooler temperatures averaging 18.3°C / 64.9°F.
In 2020 the official carnival of Rio de Janeiro will run from Friday, 21/02/2020 until Wednesday, 26/02/2020. Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is one of the most extravagant parties in the world and if you want to part of it, you need to book your trip at the very least 4 months in advance (most people book their accommodation 6 months to a year in advance). Rio de Janeiro hosts the most famous carnival celebration in the country. The samba schools compete with massive floats and “baterias” (drum sections) to see who can put on the best show. If music and dancing are not your thing, you may be better visiting Rio de Janeiro outside the carnival dates.
Christmas and New Years
Rio de Janeiro is also a popular destination for New Years and Christmas but similar to carnival you need to book at least 4 months in advance to ensure you get accommodation at a fair price. During this time, the city lights up with festivals, parties and decoration and the Rio de Janeiro New Years Eve celebrations are broadcasted all over Brazil and the world. Hotels usually have a “minimum night stay” policy in place during this time, which means you can only book accommodation for at least a certain number of nights, this can make it difficult to find accommodation at a fair price unless you book early!
When is the best time to travel to Sao Paulo?
The best time to visit São Paulo is from March to May or from October to November. From March to May the temperature ranges from 18 °C / 65 °F. The days are sunny and there is less rain, also there are less tourists in the city so accommodation is usually cheaper. From October to November temperature can rise as high as 25 °C / 78°F. During this season, there are more tourists and accommodation can be slightly more expensive, if you plan on going to Sáo Paulo between October and November then is is advised that you book earlier!
Events in São Paulo
(Dates: 30/05/20 – 31/05/20)
The Virada Cultural Paulistina began in 2005 and is now the biggest 24-hour festival in the world! Featuring concerts, films, art exhibitions and theatre, it draws hundreds of thousands of national and international visitors to São Paulo every year in the month of May.
(Dates : 21/02/20 – 26/02/20)
Although São Paulo is not the most famous carnival destination in Brazil, it is growing every year. Anhembi Sambadrome hosts the carnival in São Paulo, this is where the Samba Schools go to compete and show off their costumes, floats and choreographed dances.
Festa de São Vito
(Dates: Weekends from June – Mid July)
Festa de São Vito is the biggest Italian celebration in the country. For almost two – months, there are stalls, traditional food, parties and music celebrating St Vito who was originally from Italy. An important time of the year for the huge Italian community in São Paulo.
São Paulo Fashion Week
(2020 Dates : TBC)
São Paulo fashion week takes place twice a year in São Paulo. It now now one of the most highly regarded fashion shows in the world, in line after London, Paris, Milan and New York.
São Paulo Gay Pride Parade
São Paulo also hosts the biggest LGBT Parade in the world! In June 2020, it is estimated that 3 million people will flock to the city to enjoy the events with entire bars, clubs and neighbourhoods swinging their doors open to welcome Brazilian and International guests.
São Paulo International Film Festival (Mostra)
(2020 Dates: TBC)
In 2020, the São Paulo International film festival will be in its 44th edition. The festival screens over 300 films a year and is the gateway between international viewers and Brazilian film.
Formula 1 – Brazilian Grand Prix
The biggest race in Brazilian F1 takes place on Autódromo José Carlos Pace, also known as Interlagos, in the Socorro district of São Paulo. Although Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro has claimed the 2020 will take place in Rio de Janeiro, Formula 1 authorities have denied this.
2) What do you need to travel to Brazil?
What do you need to travel to the Amazon?
When you are travelling in the Amazon, your main aim is to stay cool and dry; you also want to keep your belongings dry and undamaged! Of course, what you bring depends on the type of holiday you wish to have in the Amazon, whether you prefer to observe the rainforest from the comfort of one of the luxury lodges we propose on our trips or if you are a budding explorer itching to get out into the forest.
If you are planning to spend a lot of time travelling in the Amazon, then it is best you avoid hard – shell suitcases. Carrying on and off boats means unwanted scratches and marks, not to mention they are harder to store and tend to be brittle. Also, they take up more room which can be problematic if you happen to take a trip on a small Amazonian canoe. It is better you opt for lightweight and durable duffel bags and rucksacks, waterproof or with a waterproof cover is best.
The first item of clothing you will need for the Amazon is a waterproof jacket. Preferably light – weight but make sure it is 100% waterproof! One with Zip covers is best as it stops waters seeping in through the zips. Bring a number of loose – fitting, fast – drying long sleeve and short sleeve t- shirts, (remember long sleeves protect you from insect bites as well as the sun). Lightweight waterproof trousers are great for trekking in the jungle especially during the rainy season. A fleece or warm jumper is useful for the when the weather gets cooler in the evenings. A hat that keeps the sun out of your eyes is useful for hiking in the evening and watching the beautiful Amazonian sunsets! Fill the rest of your bag with plenty of spare socks and you are on your way to a comfortable stay in the jungle.
To travel to the Amazon, your best bet is to bring a pair of lightweight and waterproof hiking boots. In the dry season, or if you don´t plan on doing many excursions you may get away with hiking shoes. The lodges provide rubber wellingtons for the excursions in the rainforest during both seasons and it is advisable you wear those. Make sure the sole of the footwear has good grip. Also, don´t forget your flip flops for lounging in the evenings and for using around the common areas of the lodge!
A pair of sunglasses is useful for travelling in the Amazon as it can get sunny during the day. A pair of binoculars is excellent to have to spot wildlife and observe the wonderful landscapes. Bring spare chargers, memory cards, batteries etc. for your phones and cameras in case something gets lost or broken. It is also a great idea to bring waterproof zip – lock bags for small electrical items and make sure your documents (passports, boarding passes) are in plastic covers as well. You will definitely need plenty of insect – repellent and sunscreen; in fact, these are an absolute must! Talcum powder is also good for absorbing moisture and helping get your feet into rubber wellington boots!
What do you need to travel to Bahia?
Traveling in Bahia is relatively straight – forward and similar to travelling in the rest of Brazil. Throughout the year make sure you are well- equipped for sunny, tropical weather. Sun – screen, shades and light clothes should be at the top of your list. The only exception is if you plan to visit Chapada Diamantina or if you plan to visit Salvador during Carnaval.
Chapada Diamantina is a national park thousands of square kilometres in size. It is so big that it encompasses many different eco – systems including savannah, bush and tropical forest. Its main attractions are the Plateau Mountains or “Chapadas” from which the park derives its name and the many trails and hikes, which penetrate the landscape. The park is easily accessible by airplane from Salvador, flying into Lençóis Airport.
If you plan on visiting Chapada Diamantina then you may have to bring hiking equipment or at least a pair of good walking shoes. The extent to which you need prepare depends on the trails and hikes you decide to follow but as they get more challenging, you will need more equipment. Many of the trails are mellow and you can explore quite a lot of the park without specialized gear. If you are coming during the rainy season from April to June, then it would be advisable to bring some waterproof hiking gear so that a rainy day doesn´t put you off exploring.
Carnaval in Salvador
To visit Salvador de Bahia during Carnaval, you should book your trip at least 3 months in advance. Remember you can still enjoy the “folia” (frolicking) of Carnaval from January right through to March, so if the main party sounds too hectic, you can always come before or after to enjoy a similar atmosphere albeit more laid back.
Tips for enjoying Carnaval in Salvador
Abadá or fantasia
One way you can take part in Carnaval is to be part of one of the “blocos.” Blocos are the crowds of people who walk the circuits with the bands. To be part of a bloco, you need to purchase either an “abadá” or a “fantasia.” An abadá is a sleeveless t – shirt that you receive when you buy your ticket to one of the blocos. Wearing it, you can pass “under the chord” surrounding the bloco and have more space to dance in the cordoned off area. A fantasia serves the same purpose, except it is a full carnival fancy dress outfit, complete with all the trimmings! The abadá will have the bloco and day it is valid for marked on it, so you can duck in and out of the bloco as you wish. An abadá for the Ivete Sangalo bloco, one of the most sought after and popular parades is $175 for the 2020 carnaval.
A “camarote” is one of the viewing stands that line the streets during carnival. In Salvador, most of them are on the Barra-Ondina circuit. Some camarotes are more luxurious than others are and the prices reflect this. You could pay up to $500 dollars or more for a ticket to a camarote. The most simple camarotes will be a place to wind down and watch the carnival go by, somewhere with a bathroom a bar and perhaps a restaurant. Other more expensive camarotes offer spa services, luxury cocktails and massive TV screens to watch the carnival events unfold below!
What do you need to travel to Belem and the North of Brazil?
Travelling to Belém and the North of Brazil almost certainly means that you will encounter some rain. Depending on whether you go in the first half or second half of the year, you will have to prepare for heavier showers. From January to June is the rainy season, so you will need to bring waterproof clothes and shoes if you plan on going outside. Also, buy an umbrella when you arrive, you will see that all the local people in the city are equipped with umbrellas at all times! Don´t worry too much though, during the dry season, rain showers are usually quick burst of intense rain for about fifteen minutes then the water dries up almost as quick as it falls!
What do you need to travel to Iguassu Falls?
Not surprisingly, even if it is not raining, you will need a raincoat to travel to Iguassu Falls! Especially if you plan to walk the trails that bring you close to the water on the Argentinian side, you are likely to get splashed and sprayed. It is also advisable to bring waterproof covers for your belongings if you plan to take them out with you during the day. The Macuco Safari for example, will take you right up to the foot of the falls, waterproof clothing is a good idea if you plan on taking part. Good mosquito repellent is also advised, especially if you want to watch the sunset in peace! Do not forget to bring your passport when/if you are crossing the border between the Argentinian side of the falls and the Brazilian side!
What do you need to travel to Pantanal?
Remember that the Pantanal is a wetland. Your aim is to stay dry, cool and comfortable while keeping the mosquitos at bay. Depending on what time of the year you are going and which activities you plan on doing, you should prepare accordingly. If you go in the months between November and May (the rainy season) then you should have at least a good rain jacket, waterproof footwear and waterproof trousers. Make sure your footwear has good grip on the soles for walking on slippery ground or getting in and out of boats. During the dry season, you may not need to use your waterproof gear but it is best to have it anyway.
We recommend using rucksacks and duffle bags for travelling to Pantanal as oppose to hard – shell suitcases. First of all, hard – shell suitcases tend to damage easily, also they can be brittle and difficult to store when there is limited space, such as on a boat.
We recommend sunglasses and binoculars for traveling to Pantanal. Binoculars are useful for wildlife spotting and bird watching, as well as getting a closer look at some of the features of the magnificent landscape. Bring spare memory cards, chargers and batteries for phones and cameras in case something gets lost or broken.
It is also a great idea to bring waterproof zip – lock bags for small electrical items and make sure your documents (passports, boarding passes) are in plastic covers as well. You will definitely need plenty of insect – repellent and sunscreen.
3) What are the top places to see in Brazil?
What are the top places to see in the Amazon?
The Meeting of the Waters is one of the top natural attractions you will see in the Amazon. It is a wonderful sight, where the dark water of the Rio Negro and the milky sand – coloured water of the Amazon (Rio Solimões) run side by side for Kilometres, but never mix! It is a wonderful experience and a favourite amongst visitors to the region to swim with the friendly “botos” (the famous pink Amazonian dolphins). They are very friendly towards humans especially if you share some fish with them! You should also take some time to visit some of the Indigenous communities that live along the river´s edge known as “cablocos.” These visits are organized by your guide and are a very fulfilling experience, a great chance to experience a way of life completely different from your own. You may also learn some secrets of the rainforest, (plant and herb medicines for example) from your new friends!
Another favourite activity by visitors to the Amazon is to try your hand at piranha – fishing. Despite their ferocious behaviour, it is possible to safely fish for them and they make for a surprisingly tasty lunch! If you are feeling particularly courageous, take a night tour with your forest guide to see the caimans on the river, with the help of a bright light you can spot them, catch them and even hold them in your boat. Not to be missed!
To experience the rainforest in the best possible conditions, we would recommend staying in an Amazon rainforest lodge. Depending on your tastes, these range from eco – lodges with a focus on the preservation of the surrounding eco – systems to grand accommodations with high class facilities. The advantage of staying in a lodge is that you can safely and comfortably explore the rainforest with the qualified guides, also activities and excursions are tailored to your needs in terms of language and the time of the year.
One of our favourite lodges amongst others is the Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge. Situated on the famous Anavilhanas archipelago opposite the Rio Negro, this lodge combines luxury with ecology and uses materials from the surrounding forest for its decoration. One of our favourite features of the Anavilhanas jungle lodge are the fantastic wall – size windows, which really give the feeling of true immersion in the jungle. Watch the rainforest go by as you lounge in your Brazilian hammock! There are excellent excursions available from the lodges, most of which are included in your stay.
What are the top places to see in Bahia?
Salvador de Bahia
Salvador is the capital of the Bahian state. It was founded in the 1500´s and features fantastic colonial architecture, baroque churches and a tropical coastline. It is also the home of Afro – Brazilian culture in Brazil. If you plan on visiting Salvador, make sure you call in to “Pelourinho” the historic centre of the city. Here, you will see the famous pastel coloured houses and salesmen and women dressed in traditional Bahian clothes selling their crafts and traditional Bahian food such as “acarajé.” Be sure to catch a Capoeira “roda” as well, this is a traditional Afro – Brazilian fight disguised as a dance and an important part of Bahian culture especially.
Some of the most famous and beautiful churches to see whilst you are in Salvador include “Nossa Senhora do Bonfim” which is perhaps the most well known church in the city. Here you can experience Catholicism, but also learn about Candomblé, the other dominant religion in Salvador which came to Brazil with the slaves from West – Africa. The Catedral Basílica of Salvador is also worth a visit, whilst appearing modest on the outside, as soon as you step inside you are greeted by a sparkling gold interior! Finally, be sure to visit Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário dos Pretos. This was the church built by the slaves in the 18th century, its blue and white bell towers are featured in many Bahian postcards. Visitors and tourists can drop in on services, which are a mixture of Catholicism and Candomblé.
The Elevador Lacerda was built in 1873. It is a public elevator connects the higher part of Salvador with the lower coastal area and a ride in it offers fantastic views of the ocean. Another place to enjoy the coastal view is at Baía de todos os Santos, this is the name of the bay in which Salvador was built. With many viewpoints, it is the perfect place to enjoy a sunrise in the morning or sunset in the evening. Whilst in Baía de todos os Santos, you should pay a visit to the Farol de Barra, which is Salvador´s famous black and white lighthouse, here you can enjoy a coffee in the café and explore the nautical museum. Take the elevador lacerda back up to the higher part of town to see the majestic Rio Branco Palace.
All of these sites are included on a city tour of Salvador, or on a panoramic city tour.
Chapada Diamantina is a national park in Bahia. It is known for its flat-topped plateaus divided by huge valleys where clear rivers run. You can explore underground caves, breath – taking waterfalls and amazing viewpoints with the help of a local guide.
Grotte de Lapa Doce is an immense underground cave that consists of 900m of trails. You need a lamp to explore its dark depths, as you wind your way through the stalagmites and stalactites. Mucugezinho is a nearby river where you can enjoy the view from the top of a 22 meter high waterfall, which plunges into a pool called the “The devil´s well” ideal for a refreshing swim. An ideal end to the day would be a visit to Morro do Pai Inácio for sunset, here you can see out across the national park for a real picture postcard view. “Poço Encantado” is one of the top attractions in the national park. A descent of 100m will bring into another world! The deep pool emits a radiant turquoise light as it refracts the sunlight entering the cave via a hole in the rock.
Also, whilst in the area, you can take the time to visit the small town Mucugé where you can mingle with the locals and visit the national park. Here you can also discover an extremely rare plant on the brink of extinction called “Sempre Viva.” You can also learn all about the diamond miners of the 19th century by visiting the “Garimpo museum.” Make sure to visit “Cachoiera do Mosquito” a huge 50-meter waterfall between two cliffs. From the top there is an excellent panoramic view and looking up from the bottom makes you really ponder the forces of nature!
Praia do Forte, Morro de São Paulo and Txai Itacré
Another excellent destination in Bahia is Praia do Forte, an excellent choice for anyone who is interested in marine life and conservation. It is known as “The Brazilian Polynesia” due to its vast landscape of coconut trees and pools of shimmering blue water that form on the shallow reefs of the coast. This area is also known as a hotspot for wale watching! If you do decide to visit Praia dos Forte, an interesting stop is at the TAMAR project and the Baleia Jubarte institute who lead local conservation and research efforts for sea turtles and wales respectively.
Morro de São Paulo is a village just north of Tinharé Island. It is a charming little island separated by the mainland by a shallow channel of water. On the island, it is prohibited to use private cars so horse and cart or bus will be your main mode of transport, which only adds to its charm. As well as five heavenly beaches the island features Forte da Ponta and Fonte Grande, two forts dating back to the Portuguese colonization of Brazil which will appeal to those interested in Brazilian history. The village itself is small and traditional and features some delicious restaurants serving local cuisine as well as international dishes. Be sure to try some freshly caught fish before enjoying the lively nightlife!
If you are the kind of person, who likes to spend a relaxing time in the most luxurious of surroundings then the Txai Resort Itacaré is for you. Located on the estuary of the Rio de Contas River, this resort is a truly exquisite experience, surrounded by palm trees and white sands you can visit the local town or if you are feeling adventurous take a surf or capoeira lesson or head out for a trek into the largest Atlantic Forest Reserve in Brazil. A combination of luxury, adventure and nature, ideal to wind down after visiting the other attractions in Bahia.
What are the top places to see in Belem and the North of Brazil?
Belém is often known as the “entrance to the Amazon.” A city of 1.5 million inhabitants, it has harboured many merchants who roamed these regions in the past in search for valuable resources from the jungle. Now it has a strong cultural identity in Brazil as well as an interesting architectural history with Belle Époque attractions.
Some of the main attractions in the city include the Carmo church, the Sé Cathedral, the Teatro da Paz and the old town. “Círio de nossa Senhora de Nazaré” is a huge annual Catholic event in Belém with millions of visitors every year. “Ver – o -Peso” is one of the biggest markets in Brazil and it is crammed full of mysterious forest produce, definitely worth a visit!
From Belém, you can also visit the island of Marajó – this is the largest delta island in Pará. The island of Marajó is the size of Switzerland and has a very interesting history. It is home to cowboys who farm buffalo, which also are one of the main modes of transport on the island! Also on the island, you can get your very own piece of authentic Marajó pottery.
What are the top places to see in Brasilia?
Brasilia is a city known for its architecture and futuristic design and atmosphere. Much of the famous work worth seeing is located in the Plano Piloto area of the city. The Plano Piloto is the centre of the city of Brasilia and originally the city was designed within these confines. Here you can see the Eixo Monumental or the Monumental Axis, which is one of the widest avenues in the world featuring a six-lane boulevard at 250m wide. At one side of the Eixo Monumental you will find the National Congress, Planalto Palace and the Federal Supreme Court on the Praça dos Três Poderes (The Square of Three Powers). Designed by Oscar Niemeyer, the massive twin towers, the white dome made of concrete and the white concrete bowl are famous architectural symbols of the city.
Whilst in Brasilia it is worth paying a visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral (Our Lady of the Apparition of Brasilia). On the square outside you can see the 3m tall bronze statues of the four evangelists. Whilst entering the cathedral through a dark tunnel you will pass under a 12-meter wide reflecting pool that surrounds the roof of the cathedral, this serves to cool the cathedral during hot weather! There are many points of interest that surround the cathedral and your guide will be able to inform you on the history of the different pieces that make up this majestic space. The Palácio da Alvorada is a beautiful building that serves as the official residence of the president of Brazil.
The Pedro Calmon Theater is also a splendid piece of architecture, well worth seeing on your trip to Brasilia. For those who want to find more green amongst the utopian atmosphere head to the Botanical Gardens and Parque da cidade Dona Sarah Kubitschek, one of the largest urban parks in the world at 42,000,000 m². Whilst in Brasilia, be sure to visit the famous works of art such as Bruno Giorgi’s “Os Candangos” and the UNESCO monument.
What is there to see at Iguassu Falls?
Iguassu Falls from the Brazilian side
There are five main falls to visit from the Brazilian side, which provides the best overall view of the falls. Here, you can really take in the majesty of the natural site and see the horse – shoe shape of the falls. The falls on the Brazilian side are 900m wide and the waterways are dotted with small islands, each with their own micro – ecosystems. You can explore these islands with your guide who will tell you all about the plants and animals who live on them including capuchin monkeys, howler monkeys and toucans alongside hundreds of other bird species. Also, you can visit the Itaipu Dam, one of the largest in the world!
Iguassu Falls from the Argentinian side
Most of the Iguaçu falls lie on the Argentinian side of the border so it is definitely advisable to take a day or at least half a day to explore them. Also, the paths and footbridges on the Argentinian side are more developed than those on the Brazilian side so you have better access to the falls for those who like to get close up to the action! There is a choice between the upper walkway, which is about 650 metres long, and the lower walkway where you can experience the might of the falls closer to the base. Garganta del Diablo (The devil´s throat) also lies on the Argentinian side of the falls. The largest and most impressive of the cascades it is 80m high and about 700m wide!
The Macuco Safari is an excellent option for those who really want to explore and get up close to the falls. You start off at the Macuco Safari base and cross the subtropical jungle for about 3km in purpose built electrical vehicles. This is an excellent opportunity to learn about the various plant and animal species present in the region. After this first part, you dismount and continue to the jetty by foot (about 500m away), where you will climb aboard a powerful RIB boat. (It is possible to complete the last 500m by vehicle if you wish). The boat will set off up the river heading towards the foot of the falls. Here, if you have chosen the “all thrills” option, the driver will bring you right up to the foot of the falls, as close as you can possibly be. The “less thrills” option keeps a certain distance from the falls so you are less likely to get wet, this is a more suitable option for taking pictures!
“Parque das Aves,” the bird park in Iguassu is a conservation centre for the hundreds of species of bird that call the Atlantic forest home. Here, you can immerse yourself in the atmosphere and get close to the birds in large purpose built aviaries. Many of these birds are close to extinction, so it is unlikely that you will have the opportunity to see them anywhere else. Get to know the colourful, parrots and toucans as well as rare species such as King Vulture and Southern Screamer. Here you can also enjoy a wonderful butterfly garden with hundreds of species of butterfly as well as hummingbirds and other smaller creatures. Make sure to stop off at the reptile enclosure to see the alligators, snakes, caiman and crocodiles!
Belmond das Cataratas
Belmond das Cataratas is an excellent hotel on the Brazilian side of the Iguassu falls. If Iguassu is a stop on a tour of Brazil, most people only stay for 1 or 2 nights, as this is enough to visit the national park and its surrounding attractions. It is definitely worth considering staying in Belmond das Cataratas, to experience Iguassu in a very special way. The decoration of the hotel is colonial and very grand and its services are high – end. The most impressive feature of this establishment is the fact that it offers access to the falls outside the opening hours of the national park. You can enjoy a sunset whilst taking in the majesty of the falls, a truly special experience.
What are the top places to see in Minas Gerais?
Belo Horizonte is the capital of the state of Minas Gerais and known for excellent cuisine. Apart from taking enough time to sample the local gastronomy you should stop off at “Pope´s Square” (originally Israel Pinheiro but renamed after the visit of John Paul II in 1980). Here you can enjoy one of the best landscape views of the city. Take a walk around “Liberty Square” and bask in calm ambience among walkways lined with trees, beautiful ponds and old buildings that have been refurbished and reformed into cultural centers and museums.
“Pampulha” is the area that boasts extensive and impressive architecture conceived by Oscar Niemeyer, the world – renowned Brazilian architect, definitely worth a look! If you are interested in contemporary art then you must take some time to visit Inhotim Park, about 60km outside Belo Horizonte, it is the largest outdoor contemporary art museum in the world! Look out for “FIT – Festival Internacional de Teatro Palco e Rua de Belo Horizonte” the theatre and arts festival that happens every two years.
When in Minas Gerais, Mariana is an essential stop. Mariana is the oldest city in Minas Gerais, so it attracts national and international visitors. Its streets are “picture postcard Minas Gerais” and have a very colonial feel. “Catedral Sé da Mariana” is the cathedral in the city and one of the top tourist attractions. Head over to Minas Gerais square, perched on the side of a mountain, the “Casa da Câmara and Cadeia”, an important colonial historic site is nearby. Also in the area, you will find “São Francisco de Assis” and “Nossa Senhora do Carmo” churches. They are beautifully decorated on the inside and for a small visitor´s fee, you can go in and look around. Remember, most of these tourists sites are closed on Mondays.
It is worth traveling to Congonhas so you can see the famous work of sculptor “Aleijadinho.” The “Basilica de Bom Jesus Matozinhos” and the “Chapel of the Prophets” are highlights and truly show the extraordinary talent of the renowned Brazilian. Famous works include the sculptures of the 12 prophets of the Bible in front of Santuário do Bom Jesus de Matosinhos. São João del Rei is about 100 km away from Congonhas and is worth visiting to see “The Church of St Francis of Assisi.” It features grand decoration in a rococo style with baroque features sculpted by Aleijadinho as well. Finally, we recommend visiting Tiradentes, a charming and welcoming village where you can learn the story of Brazilian rebel after whom the town was named. This colonial town gives the impression that time has stood still for 300 years and you will be amazed at the gold leaf covered interior of the local “Matriz Santo Antonio church”.
What are the top places to see in the Northeast of Brazil?
Fortaleza, known as “terra da luz” or the land of light is considered the gateway to the beautiful beaches of the Northeast. It is one of the fastest growing cities in Brazil and a top tourist destination for national visitors. Brazilians love to come to Fortaleza on holiday and branch out to the surrounding beaches and small fishing towns. Despite this, the city itself has many attractions and sites including the José de Alancar Theatre, a historic building in the city centre that boasts impressive art nouveau architecture. Dragão do Mar is a vast cultural centre with museums, art displays, cafés, theatres and cinemas. At night, the establishments in the surrounding area get quite lively as well. Close-by is Beira – mar, the avenue on the oceanfront that features a number of viewpoints, bars, restaurants and clubs. There is something for everyone in Fortaleza!
Not far from Fortaleza is Canoa Quebrada, a small village perched atop the ocher cliffs facing out to the ocean. Here is an ideal place to practice sports including kitesurfing, paragliding, windsurfing and zip – chording. The town was popularized in the 60´s and 70´s by backpackers and hippies who came here to get away from the big cities and enjoy the serenity and natural beauty. It now has quite a lively nightlife with revellers descending on “Broadway” the main strip, to enjoy the local music.
Fernando de Noronha is an ecological paradise that forms part of the state of Pernambuco although it is some 354km off the Brazilian coast. It is an exclusive destination as there are only a limited number of visitors allowed on the island at any one time. The wildlife of the island is the main attraction: dolphins, rays, sharks and tropical fish all call the archipelago home. Also, the highly endangered hawksbill turtle use the island to nest and hatch their young, you may encounter one whilst diving with one of the schools! Also, make sure to check the “Sancho” beach, which Brazilians regard as one of the most beautiful in the world.
If you travel as far as Recife, we recommend that you also pay a visit to nearby Olinda. It has an incredibly well – preserved colonial architecture that earned it UNESCO World Heritage status in 1982. Olinda is also a fantastic carnival destination because of its local “Frevo” music and dance which is traditional in the area and differs from what you would hear at carnival in Rio de Janeiro for example. If luxury and upmarket resorts are to your taste, the Kenoa resort a short way from Maceió is a must. Designed by Osvaldo Tenorio it is an exclusive site, designed with eco – sustainability in mind on the end of a deserted white sand beach. Frequented by celebrities and tourists alike, it is the perfect end to a holiday in the Northeast!
What are the top places to see in Pantanal?
Most people come to Pantanal to see the extraordinary display of wildlife. The diversity of fauna and flora here is unlike anywhere else in the world. Due to the exceptional environment, UNESCO made Pantanal a World Biosphere Reserve in 2000.
Northern Pantanal is an ecological and wildlife sanctuary. You can reach northern Pantanal by flying to Cuiabá than taking a transfer to Poconé. This is where the Transpantaneira begins, the only track that crosses the Pantanal national park. From your accommodation, you can leave by 4×4 or on horseback to discover one of the richest eco systems on the planet. You can spot caimans and giant otters from the river banks as well as tapirs, deer, capybara and parrots. Take a trek at dawn as well to witness the sunset and go nocturnal wildlife spotting!
If you are traveling in the Pantanal, it is likely that you will want to spot the most sought after beast in the area – the mythical jaguar. Luckily, there are special jaguar safaris that you can do just that, most guarantee quite a high chance of seeing a jaguar in the wild. In addition, the guides will help you spot much more of the wildlife along the riverbanks as well as advising you on the best techniques for spotting the animals. This part of Brazil has very little people living there and is in fact one of the most wild and untamed regions in the country. You may come across “Terena” Indigenous communities, who live here in unison with nature. Ask to arrange a visit to learn more from the locals. Also, speak to the people at your pousada, most of them have lived here their whole lives so will be able to share exciting tales of living in the wild!
To discover South Pantanal you need to fly into Campo Grande. Similar to the rest of the region it is heaven for animal lovers, nature enthusiasts and photographers. In South Pantanal we recommend staying on a local fazenda (farm) so you can really immerse yourself in the unspoiled environment by sampling the local way of life. Get around on horseback and by boat and feast on the regions fresh produce at your accommodation.
Campo Grande is the capital of Mato Grosso do Sul and has one of the most multi – cultural backgrounds in the country. Here is the land of travellers and settlers, a mix of Lebanese, Portuguese, Japanese and local influences create an eclectic atmosphere that is not to be missed. Generations of immigrants have allowed a fantastic gastronomical culture to evolve. Lovers of meat and barbeque especially enjoy the city, Mato Grosso do Sul produces the most meat in Brazil and local chefs certainly take advantage of this!
What are the top places to see in Rio de Janeiro?
The most famous landmark in Rio de Janeiro is certainly “Christo Redentor” or “Christ the Redeemer.” The famous statue of Jesus Christ with his arms outstretched sits atop the mountain of Corcovado and looks out over Guanabara bay. You cross the immense Tijuca forest to reach Corcovado Park, then you can take the funicular train to the top to witness the statue close up. From this position, 710 metres above sea level you also have one of the best views of the city. An essential stop for any visit to Rio de Janeiro.
Another popular mountain for tourists is “Pão de Açucar” or “Sugarloaf” mountain in English. To reach the summit you start at “Praia Vermelha” in the Urca quarter. The first stage of the climb takes you up Urca hill at 224 metres during the first cable car ride. After your first ride, there is a museum telling the story of the cable car installation with some restaurants, cafés and souvenir shops. After that, you take the cable car to the top of Pão de Açucar where you can see the whole coastline, as well as the other side of the bay, the Zona Sul and most of the Zona Norte. It is an incredible view and a very special place from which to enjoy a sunset.
One of the other most famous landmarks of Rio de Janeiro is the “Escadaria Selarón.” The mesmerizing multi – colored staircase was decorated by Chilean born artist Jorge Selarón as his “tribute to the Brazilian people”. It features tiles from over 60 countries of the world and draws visitors every day to its location between the neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Theresa. These are the more bohemian neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro where you will find plenty of bars, clubs and restaurants to enjoy.
The Botanical Gardens of Rio de Janeiro exhibits an impressive display of Brazilian flora. The many greenhouses hold over 6500 species of plant, some of which are native and some of which are foreign. The Botanical Garden is also home to pieces of architectural and cultural significance as well as the biggest library/research centre dedicated to botany in the country with over 32,000 books! A great day out in Rio de Janeiro.
For people who want to be close to nature whilst in Rio de Janeiro then a visit to Tijuca forest is a must, one of the biggest urban forests on the planet, its main sights include Vista Chinesa and Taunay Waterfall, but there are many options for hikes to visit the caves and waterfalls within the park. Vista Chinesa is particularly interesting for those who do not wish to go hiking, as it is accessible by car. It features an impressive Chinese structure built as a tribute to the Chinese tea planters who came to Brazil and a magnificent view said to be a favourite picnic spot of Emperor Dom. Pedro II.
Rio de Janeiro´s beaches!
What is a trip to Rio de Janeiro without a day at one of the city´s famous beaches? Ipanema is where you will find the postcard Rio de Janeiro: white sand, a relaxed environment and beautiful people. It is known as the more “upmarket” beach, where people go to have drinks, relax and socialize. If you want to join in with the local games of football, “futevolley” and “frescoball” then you should head over to Copacabana. In comparison to Ipanema, it is more fun and down to earth. If you want to get away from the more crowded beaches then Joatinga is the beach for you, during the week there are few visitors here and it is also known as the beach with the cleanest water in Rio. For the surfers, the best waves break on Leblon, just next to Ipanema. Prainha is also a surf hotspot in Rio and one of the beaches with the best views in the city. You can see the mountains and the jungle in the background and it generally attracts a more laid-back crowd. Just be careful swimming here as the rip – currents can be strong and difficult to see.
What are the top places to see in Sao Paulo?
São Paulo has a growing number of international visitors every year and is the largest city in the southern hemisphere. It is a modern city with an eclectic mix of cultures and ethnicities, due to the influx of migrants and workers flocking to the many multinational corporations headquartered here. The famous Avenida Paulista is the financial center of the city and is also home to large designer shops and towering glass skyscrapers. This is the center of “busy” São Paulo, where you will feel the “buzz” of the city. If you are interested in architecture, don´t miss out on “Solar da Marquesa de Santos” a heritage museum showcasing the evolution of architectural design from the 18th century.
The historical center of the city has experienced something of a revival in recent years, with more restaurants, bars and shops springing up in the area all the time. Praça da Sé is home to the biggest cathedral in São Paulo – Sé Cathedral, an alluring gothic style building with one of the largest organs on the continent. Not far from the cathedral is Pátio do Colégio. This is where it all began – the site that the Portuguese Jesuit priests built the first building in the city and founded São Paulo in 1554. The Teatro Municipal was built in 1911 and features architectural work inspired by the French Palais Garnier. It was designed by Brazilian architect Ramos de Azevedo and hosts regular opera concerts. Whilst in the area you can check two of São Paulo´s most famous skyscrapers: the Martinelli Building and Edifício Itália. The former was opened in 1929 and was the biggest skyscraper in the country at the time. Its inauguration is considered a turning point in the history of São Paulo, marking a significant step from regular city to giant metropolis. The latter offers one of the best 360° views of the city from the rooftop observation deck, and an exquisite Italian restaurant “Terraço Italia”.
The Jardins District is an upmarket and greener area of the city. The concrete skyscrapers give way to lower houses and trees line the streets and gardens. In “Jardins” you will find many restaurants and shops for the opulent residents of the area as well as upscale hotels such as the well – known Fasano. If you are in the neighborhood, it is worth checking out Xingu museum, a small but infinitely interesting Indigenous museum. Jardins is also a favourite area for foreign investors, with prices ranging as high as 40 000BRL per square meter. A short walk from Jardins will bring you back to Avenida Paulista.
Ibirapuera Park is one of the largest urban parks in Latin America, as well as the most visited park in South America with millions of visitors every year. It is located in the Vila Mariana district of São Paulo and perfect to enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon walking through the park or sitting by the lake. Also, the Vila Mariana has a trendy nightlife and bars frequented by São Paulo´s students.