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Top Destinations for 2016: Brazil

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Brazil; the Latin American giant. It shares a border with almost every other country on the continent, and its influences are easy to see in the vast differences between each of its diverse regions.

One thing all of Brazil has in common though is cultural richness – everywhere you go there is something beautiful or fascinating to see. A true guide to Brazil would take years to create and a lifetime to follow, because the list of amazing travel opportunities is endless! Nevertheless, here are some highlights of things to do and see in this incredible country; so if you’re planning to see Brazil this year (it’s prime time with the 2016 Olympic Games coming up!) then check out the recommendations below.

Rio de Janeiro © Flickr/ Christian Haugen

Where to Go

The most impressive place to begin any journey in Brazil would have to be the Carnaval capital itself, Rio de Janeiro. Whether you’re marvelling at the impressive view of Sugarloaf Mountain from a cable car, enjoying a cocktail fresh from a coconut on Copacabana beach, or taking the classic tourist selfie with Christ the Reedemer; in this crazy city there certainly is something for everyone.

Travelling north, you will encounter the next must-see destination: Salvador de Bahia, a city with a rich and deeply rooted Afro-Brazilian culture. Its historic centre, brimming with beautifully preserved Renaissance buildings and colourful colonial houses, was declared a World Heritage Site in 1985. Bahia is also well known as the land of carnival, and although it is too late to experience Carnaval 2016, you won’t be disappointed by Brazil’s second biggest festival, Sao Joao. Head to Salvador for the 24th of June if costumes, dancing, fireworks, and a whole lot of food sounds like your kind of fun.

For fans of natural tourism, no trip to Brazil would be complete without visiting Iguaçu, Mato Grosso, or Manaus. The Iguaçu National Park is home to the outstandingly beautiful Iguazu Falls; officially one of the Seven Natural Wonders of the World. Sprawled over around 60,000 square miles of the state of Mato Grosso is the Pantanal; the largest tropical wetland in the world, and a conservation site home to a gigantic variety of wildlife species (1000 bird species, 400 fish, 300 mammalian 480 reptilian). Manaus is the portal to the Amazon rainforest, where it’s as simple as finding a tour guide with a boat, and you’re ready to set off on your very own exotic Amazonian adventure!

 

Iguazu Falls © Flickr/ Leonora Enking

What to Do

See the Olympics

One does not simply visit Brazil in 2016 without getting involved in some Olympic action! Tickets are still available for certain events, and although they can be pricey it’s worth it for such an amazing experience – after all, when will you have the chance to see the Olympics in Brazil again? And even if you can’t make it to the games this time around, don’t worry: you can still have a tour of the impressive Maracanã Olympic Stadium during your visit to Rio.

Push Yourself with some Extreme Sports

If you fancy yourself as a surfer, head to one of the 42 beaches on the island of Florianópolis. The most famous for their incredible waves are Praia Mole, Galheta, and Matadeiro. While you’re there, why not try surfing on sand too? Visit the dunes of Joaquina to try the exciting sport of sand-boarding.

Para-penting and hand-gliding are also popular sports for the braver tourist in Brazil. In Rio for example, you can hand-glide over the incredible views of Sugarloaf Mountain; much scarier than taking the cable car, but worth it! Further north, travellers that prefer kite-surfing, or paragliding from impressive cliffs, should head to Canoa Quebrada in Ceará.

And if this all sounds too much, you can always experience the most gentle of ‘extreme’ sports: snorkelling. Delve into crystal clear coral reefs, alongside tropical fish, in the heart of Brazil’s ecotourism industry, Bonito.

Visit Latin America’s Biggest Theme Park

Extreme sports not enough to get your blood pumping? Try a visit to Beto Carrero World in Penha; the largest theme park in Latin America, and considered the sixth best in the world. Beto Carrero is a complex divided into Seven district areas with different themes, and home to thrilling rides such as Chicote de Fogo, Torre de Terror, and Portal da Escuridão.

Escape to a Paradisiacal Island, or a Bright White Beach

If warm crystalline waters, soft white sand, and relaxing in the bright sunshine sounds much more appealing to you, then have no fear; Brazil has plenty to offer! A hidden treasure of Rio de Janeiro, and (as some would argue) the most beautiful island in the country, is Ilha Grande. A similarly exotic getaway would be a trip to an island in the Fernando de Noronha archipelago, Pernambuco. These Atlantic islands are renowned for their undeveloped beaches and array of protected marine life, and were declared a World Heritage Site in 2001.

There are also plenty of opportunities to enjoy a beautiful beach escape on the mainland of Brazil, such as Natal’s stunning Pipa beach; famous for honeymoons and dolphins. (Plus, while in Natal, why not also take a visit to the Forte dos Reis Magos, the first milestone of the city?)

Another white sand beach worth visiting is Maceió, where, as well as relaxing by the shore, you can also enjoy coral reefs and colonial houses. Last but not least, you can’t visit North-eastern Brazil without enjoying the long sandy stretches of Boa Viagem, in Recife.

 

Ilha Grande © Flickr/ Anderson Mancini

Eat and Drink like a Brazilian.

Like any country, Brazil has its fair share of delicious cuisine, but there are a few dishes that you simply can’t leave without trying. First of all there’s Feijoada, a hearty traditional dish of meat, rice, and beans; the staples of any Brazilian meal. For the more carnivorous, there’s Churrasco, Brazil’s answer to a Barbecue. (Don’t forget to try the skewered chicken hearts, they sound gross but they are very tasty!) And of course, Pão de Queijo can’t be forgotten; the lovechild of cheesy deliciousness and fresh bread rolls, they are the perfect snack.

Those with a sweet tooth must try Acaí na Tigelaa smoothie made from a blend of frozen acai berries; packed with anti-oxidants they make the perfect guilt-free ice cream treat. And if that’s not sweet enough, you have to try Brigadeiros, traditional chocolate truffles made with condensed milk; they are very rich and a true treat.

Apart from enjoying a coconut water on the beach, what should you drink? Well, the typical Brazilian cocktail is a Caipirinha, a concoction of lime, sugar, and the sugar-cane based spirit Cachaça, but be careful – it’s strong!




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