Tropical islands, lush rainforests, marvelous cities and picture-perfect beaches set the scene for the great Brazilian adventure.
PÃO DE AÇÚCAR, RIO DE JANEIRO
Some say to come around sunset for the best views from this absurd confection of a mountain. But in truth, it doesn’t matter when you come; you’re unlikely to look at Rio (or your own comparatively lackluster city) the same way. From here the landscape is pure undulating green hills and golden beaches lapped by blue sea, with rows of skyscrapers sprouting along the shore. The ride up is good fun: all-glass aerial trams that whisk you up to the top. The adventurous can rock climb their way to the summit.
No matter the number of waterfalls you’ve checked off your bucket list, no matter how many times you have thought to yourself you’d be just fine never seeing another waterfall again, Iguaçu Falls will stomp all over your idea of water trickling over the edge of a cliff. The thunderous roar of 275 falls crashing across the Brazil and Argentina border floors even the most jaded traveller. Loud, angry, unstoppable and impossibly gorgeous, Iguaçu will leave you stunned and slack-jawed at the absolute power of Mother Nature.
The world capital of Afro-Brazil, Salvador is famous for capoeira, Candomblé, Olodum, colonial Portuguese architecture, African street food and one of the oldest lighthouses in the Americas. The city’s past, marked by gritty stories of Portuguese seafaring and the heartbreaking history of the African slave trade, is characterized by hardship. But today’s lively Bahian capital offers a unique fusion of two vibrant cultures. The festive music and nightlife scene culminates every February when Salvador hosts one of the best Carnivals in Brazil.
CARNIVAL IN RIO
Get plenty of sleep before you board the plane, because once you land, it’s nonstop revelry until Ash Wednesday (sort of) brings it all to a close. With nearly 500 street parties happening all over town, you will not lack for options. For the full experience, join a samba school and parade amid pounding drum corps and mechanized smoke-breathing dragons before thousands of roaring fans in the Sambódromo. Or assemble a costume and hit one of the Carnival balls around town. The build-up starts weeks in advance.
Needless to say, the best reason to visit the Amazon is to get out into the jungle: to ply the winding waterways in a canoe, hike lush leafy trails, and scan the canopy for monkeys, sloths and other creatures. The world’s biggest and best-known rainforest has outdoor excursions of all sorts, and for all types of travelers: from easy nature hikes to scaling 50m trees, from luxury lodges to makeshift camps in the forest. Whatever your interest, experience, ability or budget, there’s a jungle trip in the Amazon waiting to blow your mind.
For more on Brazil, grab a copy of Lonely Planet’s Brazil travel guide today.