Almost everyone plans to visit Rio as part of their Brazil holidays, and that stunning view from the Corcovado Christ statue across Guanabara Bay is famous all over the world. However, although it’s a fantastic city, and somewhere you’ll always remember, there’s much more to Brazil than Rio, and it’s worth looking at some of the other destinations you could include on even a relatively short holiday in Brazil.
An Amazon Adventure
The largest rainforest on earth, the Amazon is somewhere that should definitely be part of your Brazil holiday itinerary. Home to a bewildering variety of plants and animals, it makes Europe’s largest forests look like someone’s back garden! The journey into the Amazon usually begins in the city of Manaus. Situated on the mighty Amazon itself, sea-going ships sail right up the Amazon to the city and it is the largest river port on the planet. From Manaus, you can head onto the Amazon and then to the many jungle lodges which can be found on the smaller tributaries. It pays to go as deep into the jungle as you can, as the further away you are from human society, the better wildlife experience you’ll have, so if possible allow at least four days to get the most out of your Amazon adventure.
Salvador – The Beating Heart of Afro-Brazil
In many ways the most interesting city in Brazil, and the main rival to Rio in terms of holidays, is Salvador. Located in the hot, tropical north-east of Brazil, Salvador offers a very different experience to Rio, and to the more industrialised, Europeanised south of the country. Although Brazil is generally a very diverse country, it’s only here in the north-east, and particularly in Salvador, that the impact of African culture on Brazil can be truly appreciated. Salvador is the birthplace of capoeira, the cross between a dance and a martial art invented by slaves, and the area around the city is also home to several other celebrations, dances and musical styles which come from this particular period, making it a fascinating place for anyone interested in this part of Brazil’s history. As well as the more cultural aspects on offer, Salvador also has some great city beaches, and just outside of town is the stunning Praia do Forte beach as well – perfect for relaxing after a few days at the superb Salvador Carnival!
The Natural Wonder of Iguazu Falls
The stunning Iguazu Falls are widely regarded as one of the natural wonders of the world. Comprising nearly 275 separate waterfalls, which combine to create nearly two miles of cascades, Iguazu is wider than either Victoria or Niagara Falls and really must be part of everyone’s Brazil holidays. The Falls straddle the border between Brazil and Argentina, and it’s worth taking a few days over your time in Iguazu so that you can appreciate the falls from both sides. The Brazilian side offers some amazing panoramic views of the wide cascades and also gives you the chance to take a speedboat underneath some of the smaller falls, while the Argentinian side has walkways snaking out right into the middle of the waterfalls so that you can get really close to the massive torrents of water and really feel the power of these natural beasts. If you don’t visit Iguazu whilst on your holidays in Brazil, you’ve really missed out…
Colonial Charm in Sao Luis
A real hidden gem that even people who have been on holiday to Brazil don’t know about, is the small town of Sao Luis. Located not too far from Salvador, the cobbled streets and azulejo tilework of Sao Luis’s colonial centre give it a quiet colonial charm unlike almost anywhere else in Brazil. It has a definite bohemian attraction, so it’s perhaps not surprising that the streets are packed with galleries and pavement artists, with only the occasional tourist there to take advantage of it all. If you’re looking for something more adventurous then Sao Luis is also the perfect base for the amazing Lençois Maranhenses National Park, with its other-worldly landscape of sand dunes and freshwater pools.
If you’re starting to plan your Brazil holidays, think about getting away from Rio and seeing a bit more of the country. If you’re a city person then Salvador should definitely be on your list, but don’t forget about Brazil’s natural wonders as well!