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Where to Go in Brazil

BRA Sl Brazil Pie Aerts

Where to Go in Brazil

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, so her astonishing array of attractions take some planning to combine in one trip. The Atlantic coastline covers some 7,500 kilometres and the southern areas of Florianopolis and Rio de Janeiro are hugely different to that of Salvador de Bahia or Ceara in the north. To the west, the vast wetland ecosystems of the Pantanal entice with their incredible density of wildlife and the steamy and atmospheric Amazon is the setting for some iconic explorations into the Latin American jungle. Many visitors will also want to include the fierce Iguassu Falls, which are located in the southwest corner of the country.

The Pantanal Floodplains is the best place in the world to see Jaguars.

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The Pantanal Floodplains

Wild and remote, the vast landlocked floodplains of the Pantanal are a lattice of waterways that swell and recede with the seasons. If you like to see animals in their natural environment, the Pantanal is an unmissable destination. Covering 230,000 square kilometres, this is the largest of the world’s greatest wetlands and is in many respects a last frontier of nature. These unique low-lying habitats are home to jaguars, giant anteaters, capybara, giant river otters, howler and capuchin monkeys, and green anacondas to name but a few. The area is also a birder’s paradise due to the abundant fish, insects and fruits, with almost 1,000 recorded species, including the endangered hyacinth macaw, parakeets and the jabiru stork. Whilst most of the wildlife viewing is enjoyed from boats that ply the many channels of the wetlands, depending on the area you are in horse riding safaris, jeep safaris and walking safaris can also be enjoyed as part of a varied and active itinerary.

Iguassu Falls

Of the world’s three biggest waterfalls (Niagara and Victoria being the other two) Iguassu Falls is regularly considered to be the most impressive. Set deep within a remote subtropical nature reserve and national park that straddles both Brazil and Argentina, these gargantuan falls were created from a geological fault, with 275 thundering cascades tumbling over a vast curved precipice to stunning effect. Iguassu National Park is comprised of 185,000 hectares of protected forest land and in 1986 UNESCO granted the park the title of 'Humankind Natural Heritage' setting it apart as a protected zone from the surrounding parkland. The park has an impressive range of biodiversity, with 257 species of butterfly, 18 species of fish, 12 species of amphibian, 41 snake species, 8 species of lizard and 45 mammals. The animals you may encounter include puma, tapir, deer and some more elusive and endangered animals such as jaguars, cayman, giant otters and giant anteaters. The symbol of Foz do Iguassu, the coati, is a protected species also seen within the park’s land. Amongst the 348 bird species in the park, you may see hummingbirds, toucans and macaws, parrots, harpy eagles and great dusky swifts - water birds that build their nests behind the falls.

The Amazon Rainforest

The Amazon is one of the world’s most intriguing nature and wildlife destinations to explore. Manaus is the capital of the state of Amazonas, formed at the confluence of the Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes rivers, where a distinct line separating the different water colours can be seen. Here, the Amazon experience becomes wilder and the more you progress by road and canoe to some delightfully far-flung lodges, the more rewarding the wildlife. Unlike some other areas of the Amazon basin in Peru and Ecuador, you will start your Brazilian Amazon experience with a connecting scheduled flight into the city of Manaus. Situated four hours by air from Rio de Janeiro, Manaus is – incongruously - known not only for being the gateway to the jungle.

The river itself is the largest in the world and generates a staggering one fifth of the planet’s total river flow. It begins in Peru in the height of the Andes and descends, weaving its way across the continent before reaching the Atlantic Ocean some 6,437 kilometres later. At Manaus the river is an astonishing 10 kilometres wide, but at times this is just 1.5 kilometres. During the rainy season, the width can rise to a staggering 40 kilometres and the depth of the river can amount to 40 metres, making a river of true superlatives. One in ten known species lives in the Amazon region and wildlife found includes the largest rodent in the world, the capybara, sluggish sloths, golden lion tamarin, the elusive and endangered jaguar, anaconda, pink dolphins, giant river otters and manatee.

Rio De Janeiro

One of the world’s most iconic and captivating sights that is easily recognised from countless breathtaking picture postcard images, the harbour of Rio de Janeiro (also known as Guanabara Bay), is flanked by stunning monolithic mountains that contains the world’s most infamous beaches and – some would say - the most stunningly set metropolis on earth. Whilst not Brazil’s capital, it is easily the country’s most widely known and hotly debated city and also hosts the world’s most notorious street carnival and spectacle, which its beautiful inhabitants embrace with vibrancy and gusto. Located within the wider state of Rio de Janeiro, the city is divided into distinct areas, of which the coastal resorts of Copacabana and Ipanema are most popular with tourists. Here you can enjoy the sea breeze and rolling waves with the sun setting behind the popular Christ the Redeemer in Corcovado and jungle-backed mountains. The colonial centre of downtown Rio is filled with grand buildings, from where you can also take the traditional tram up to the bohemian district of Santa Teresa, with its mansions that exude faded glory.