Buzios is located 120 miles northeast of Rio on a peninsula extending out into the Atlantic Ocean featuring 23 beaches. The beaches of Buzios vary greatly from rough to gentle and busy to tranquil. Buzios is widely known as the meeting point for upper class Brazilians and foreign holidaymakers. The cozy downtown area offers excellent shopping and dining facilities.
Foz do Iguacu
Iguazu Falls is one of the most important tourist sights in Brazil. The falls are formed by 275 separate waterfalls, ranging in height from 40 meters to 100 meters, forming a horseshoe along its border with Argentina. Clouds of spray soak the surrounding area and islands in the river are consequently covered by lush vegetation. In addition, Iguazu National Park harbors threatened fauna including giant otter, ocelot, jaguar, puma, margay, brocket deer, American tapir, bush dog, and giant anteater. Noteworthy birds recorded include the solitary tinamou, harpy eagle, black-fronted piping guan, glaucous macaw, vinaceous-breasted parrot, red-spectacled parrot, and white-tailed trogon. Broad-nosed caiman and dwarf caiman have also been recorded. The area is well served by roads, and is close to an airport. There is a large hotel within the park, a heliport, a museum, access roads, interpretative trails, sightseeing spots and a visitor center. Helicopter rides above the falls are available as are boat trips up the river. The Brazilian and Argentinean sites are connected by a bridge built downstream from the falls.
UNESCO designated the area as a Natural Heritage of Humanity in 1986.
The Green Coast: Angra dos Reis and Paraty
Located 60 miles south of Rio lies the beautiful Green Coast. This area is famous for its forest-covered mountains, which seem to fall into the emerald colored sea. The coastline is dotted with hundreds of small islands, making it a paradise for sun seekers, water sports enthusiasts and nature lovers. Angra Dos Reis is a small seaside town, which is an excellent base for many island trips. Paraty is a small colonial town surrounded by forested hills, which was declared a historical monument by Unesco.
Manaus and the Amazon Region
Manaus lies on the River Negro, four miles from where the Negro meets the River Solimoes to form the Brazilian Amazon. Manaus is the capital of the Amazonas State and the hub of the whole Amazon Region, with a population exceeding one million. Manaus today is a busy trade center, its roots dating back to the rubber trade industry. Amazonia is the world's largest tropical rainforest, spanning more than half of Brazil. Within the 2.5 million square miles of the Amazon Basin resides a wealth of life richer than anyplace else on earth, including 500 mammals, 175 different lizards, 300 other reptile species, tree climbers of every kind, and a third of the world's birds. Access to the different jungle lodges from Manaus is via motorized canoe (one to three hours depending on lodge location). Activities include hiking in the rainforest, boat tours, alligator spotting safaris, fishing and visits to indigenous communities. Special mention deserves the Amazon cruises that sail up the Rio Negro to the recondite Anavilhanas Archipelago, the largest in the world. Cruises depart from Manaos and run itineraries from two to seven nights. This region is very humid and has heavy rainfall all year round.
The Pantanal is one of the largest, most pristine and biologically rich freshwater wetland ecosystems on the planet. It is located in western central Brazil at the southwest corner of the State of Mato Grosso. The headwaters of the region's two major river systems, the Cuiaba and the Paraguay rivers, are located here, and the abundance and diversity of its vegetation and animal life are spectacular. The area preserves habitats representative of the Pantanal that contain a number of globally threatened species. Its landscape encompasses a variety of ecological sub-regions, including river corridors, gallery forests, perennial wetlands and lakes, seasonally inundated grasslands and terrestrial forests. From October to April, heavy rains cause the Paraguay River and its tributaries supplying the Pantanal’s waters to overflow, flooding an area almost ten times the size of the Florida Everglades.
The fauna of the Pantanal is extremely diverse and includes 80 species of mammals, 650 birds and 50 reptiles and 400 fishes. Dense populations of species of conservation concern such as jaguar, marsh deer, giant anteater and giant otter live in the region. The Pantanal is a sanctuary for birds with many species occurring in large numbers. It is one of the most important breeding grounds for typical wetland birds such as Jabiru stork as well as several other species of herons, ibis and ducks, which are found in enormous flocks. Parrots are also very diverse, with 26 species recorded in the area including hyacinth macaw, the world's largest parrot. A large proportion f the remnant wild population of this species, estimated in about 3,000 birds, inhabit the region.
Praia do Forte
The village of Praia Do Forte lies along the breathtaking Coconut Coast of northern Bahia (45 minutes from Salvador Bahia). This charming village has fine beaches, a beautiful castle fortress, and a sea-turtle reserve. It was once just a small fishing village, but is now being developed as an ecologically minded upscale beach resort. One of the most beautiful, traditional and tranquil spots in Brazil.
Recife and Olinda
Located on the northwest coast, Recife is Brazil's fifth largest city. Called The "Venice of Brazil" thanks to its canals and waterways, which criss-cross the city and the innumerable bridges over them, the city also has a notable array of colonial buildings. The city is also famous for its glorious beaches such as Boa Viagem, Pina, and Porto de Galinhas, a premium beach destination located one hour north of Recife, where the beautiful Nannai Resort is located. Olinda, four miles from Recife, with its historic churches and mansions, is one of Brazil's loveliest colonial vestiges. It was designated by UNESCO as a Historical, Natural and Cultural Patrimony of Mankind. Moreover, Olinda's carnival ranks as one of the most important in the country. The airport is located seven miles from downtown Recife.
Rio de Janeiro
Blessed with a wonderful natural setting wedged between mountains and the sea, watched from above by Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain, and surrounded by tropical forests and lagoons, Rio de Janeiro has transformed into one of the world’s most beautiful cities. A city of eight million people, Rio offers world-class hotels, restaurants, shopping, and various sporting activities. The 59 miles of beaches are an integral part of the Rio lifestyle, offering two of the world’s most famous beaches: Copacabana and Ipanema. Nightlife in Rio ranks among the best in the world.
Carnival in Rio
Prior to 1840, the streets of Brazilian towns ran riot during the three-day period leading up to Ash Wednesday with people in masks hurling stink bombs and squirting each other with flour and strong-smelling liquids; even arson was a form of entertainment. In 1840, the Italian wife of a Rio de Janeiro hotel owner changed the carnival celebration forever by sending out invitations, hiring musicians, importing streamers and confetti, and giving a lavish masked ball. In a few years the masked ball became the fashion and the wild pranks played on the streets disappeared.
Today Rio de Janeiro has the biggest and best-known pre-Lenten carnival in the world - its most colorful event is the Samba School Parade. The samba schools taking part in the parade - each roughly having three to five thousand participants - are composed overwhelmingly of poor people from the city's sprawling suburbs. Every carnival Rio's samba schools compete with each other and are judged on every aspect of their presentation by a jury. Each samba school must base its effort around a central theme. Sometimes the theme is an historical event or personality. Other times, it is a story or legend from Brazilian literature. The costumes must reflect the theme's historical time and place. The samba song must recount or develop it, and the huge floats must detail the theme in depth. Other important carnival festivities are held in the cities of Salvador and Recife in the northeast of the country.
Salvador da Bahia
As the first capital of Brazil, from 1549 to 1763, Salvador de Bahia witnessed the blending of European, African and Amerindian cultures. It was also, from 1558, the first slave market in the New World, with slaves arriving to work on the nearby sugar plantations. The city has managed to retain its African soul and develop the best of its colonial legacy into a unique, vibrant culture. Ornate churches still stand on cobblestone streets. Festivals are spontaneous, wild, popular and frequent.
The historic center focuses on the area of Pelourihno, which houses the largest collection of Baroque colonial architecture in Latin America. A retaining wall in the shape of large arches, which now houses boutiques, follows the cliff. The upper city, which contains the public buildings, residences and gardens, is better preserved than the lower city, which houses activities related to the port and commerce, as well as religious buildings, some of which are embellished with Baroque sculptures of the 17th and 18th centuries, and narrow multi-colored stucco dwellings dating to the colonial period. The ensemble is characterized by the density of its monuments and the coherence of its plan. The city also houses several historic fortresses, of which the most representative is the Mount Serrat Fort, considered Brazil's most beautiful colonial military construction, due to its harmonious shape.