The beautiful beaches:
The Brazilians LOVE the beach – and with good reason. Brazil is blessed with exquisite beaches – golden sands, long sweeping bays… you get the picture. One thing to note about Brazilian beaches is that when it comes to swimming attire, the Brazilians believe the smaller the better! Think speedos and itsy bitsy teeny weeny bikinis and you can’t go wrong! Another important thing to note is that in Brazil, the equivalent expression to ‘that’s not my cup of tea’ is ‘that’s not my (type of) beach’…enough said!
One of the more upscale beach resorts is the very pretty Buzios, about 100 miles from Rio. Formerly a fishing village, it is now a sophisticated resort with 20 glorious white sandy beaches to choose from and a great selection of upmarket restaurants and boutiques. Praia do Forte in Bahia has also become a very popular luxury beach resort and when in Rio, you must visit the famous Copacabana beach for a real slice of Brazilian beach life.
The vibrant cities:
With its dazzling beaches on one side, juxtaposed with rainforest clad mountains on the other, Rio de Janeiro is arguably one of the most spectacular cities in the world. From the minute you arrive in Rio, you can sense a unique atmosphere – excitement bordering on the frenetic – but one thing is for sure, you won’t be bored in Rio! ‘Must sees’ are the Christ the Redeemer Statue and the panoramic views from the landmark Sugar Loaf Mountain. Salvador is Brazil’s oldest city and is a treasure trove of cultural heritage with its ornate architecture and cobbled streets – none more so than in the city’s historical Pelourinho district, which is often buzzing with live street musicians. Brasilia, Brazil’s capital city is almost the complete opposite of Salvador – having only existed since the 1950s with each of its organised streets filled with modern architecture and futuristic buildings and is an equally fascinating place to visit.
The stunning waterfalls:
Brazil’s most impressive waterfall is the simply breath-taking Iguacu Falls – situated on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. Made up of 247 separate falls and spanning 1.7 miles of river, the most incredible of the many cascades is the aptly named ‘Devil’s Throat’ – the tallest and most majestic of all the falls. Other stunning waterfalls in Brazil include the Cascata do Caracol in the Parque Estadual do Caracol which can be viewed from one of the park’s cable cars or from the 100 foot observation tower and the waterfalls situated in the Serra do Cipo National Park.
Colourful carnival time:
Just before Lent each year, every town and city in Brazil becomes enveloped by carnival fever, with the largest and most lavish of all celebrations famously taking place in Rio De Janeiro. With samba parades, balls, parties, live music, music, dancing and flamboyant costumes it is one of the greatest artistic spectacles you will probably ever witness – and a great reason to visit Brazil during this time of year.
The delectable cuisine:
Brazilian cuisine is a mix of European, African and Indigenous influences. Some firm favourites are Feijoada (black beans and pork stew) and ‘Churrasco’ (barbecued meat) often served on an all-you-can-eat basis – great for those with big appetites! Brazil’s national drink is the Caipirinha – a heady cocktail of cachaca, sugar and lime which although delicious, can be served very strong!
The mighty Amazon and stunning Panantal:
Brazil can cater for everyone – including the most adventurous. For those seeking a little bit more excitement, a trip to Brazil isn’t complete without a trip to the Amazon rainforest or a visit to Panantal, the world’s largest tropical wetlands. You can enjoy the beauty of the Amazon in a forest lodge, or take a river cruise along the life-force of the rainforest: the Amazon river. For those who want to get a better view of the wildlife without the density of the rainforest, a visit to the vast wetlands of Panantal is a must. Visitors can spot a huge variety of animals in their natural environment including the jaguar and capybara.
The vivacious people:
Brazilians are notoriously open, sociable, friendly and welcoming. As a Portuguese-speaking country they get offended if tourists try to speak to them in Spanish – so before you go, try to learn some of the lingo! As a passionate nation, the Brazilians can be very tactile, and personal space is much less of a concern than it is for us prudish Brits – this may well stem from the fact that almost everyone can dance – samba being the nation’s main dance. Oh, and not surprisingly, football is high up on the agenda for conversation in Brazil!
And so, with its amazingly varied cities and landscapes, beautiful beaches, delicious cuisine, lively atmosphere… and of course the football, it is not hard to see why Brazil is ‘a destination to watch’ this year. Without doubt, the best way to get the most out of Brazil is by taking a multi-centre holiday, allowing you to combine all the sights into one incredible holiday.