Brazil is undeniably immense, and not only in the geographical sense. The 5th largest country in the world and largest in the continent, she dominates the map of South America, has the largest portion of the Amazon Jungle and River, and an Atlantic coastline spanning a staggering 7,500 kilometres. But what Brazil flaunts in size she equals in personality, and whilst it is true that each of the Latin American countries differs considerably, she is arguably the one with the most individual identity and iconic culture, one whose images are most evocative and celebrated.
Land of Diversity
Although Rio de Janeiro is not the capital city, it provides a great starting point for any itinerary; the distinctive Christ the Redeemer statue, spectacular world-famous beaches and their flamboyant residents (including a certain girl from Ipanema), vibrant carnivals filled with samba and some outstanding viewpoints. Venture beyond this however and you will discover a much more diverse land of preserved 16th Century colonial towns like Paraty and Ouro Preto, Afro-Brazilian energy and pounding tamborims (small Brazilian drums) in Salvador da Bahia, trekking in expansive interior lands and chapadas, the dazzling falls of Iguassu and the vast wetland or jungle areas that are alive with wildlife.
For ecotourism and wildlife adventures, Brazil is hard to beat. The Pantanal is without doubt a true highlight of Brazil and its lowlands contain many endangered species that inhabit what is the world’s largest wetland, roughly equivalent in size to the entire UK. Animals such as the elusive jaguar, caiman, giant river otters, tapir and armadillo are all found here, as well as the world’s largest rodent, the capybara. The world’s longest river, the Amazon, can also be enjoyed upon expedition from Manaus, with jungle treks and nocturnal wildlife tours.
The extraordinary melting pot of cultures and ethnicity goes some way to explain the mix of attractions that Brazil has to offer. Influences that range from African in Bahia, to Native American and Portuguese are reflected in the language, cuisine and friendly attitudes. Brazilians also love their beaches and with so many of them to enjoy, the components of sunshine, sand and caipirinha cocktails are certainly not to be overlooked on any visit. Luckily, excellent air and road connections and high quality of accommodation allow for an easy combination of different areas and styles into one varied itinerary that can be tailored to honeymooners, families, couples or single travellers.
The arrival of the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympics in 2016 are sure to force the spotlight on Brazil as it prepares to invest enormous amounts in its infrastructure and guarantee a future as bright as its carnival costumes. Now would be a great time to experience this fascinating country as she enters a new phase in her celebrity.
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