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11 Must Visit Brazil Destinations

Olinda
Iguazu Falls
Fernando de Noronha
Ouro Preto
Brasilia
The Amazon
Pantanal
Paraty
Mount Roraima
Rio de Janeiro 2

11 Must Visit Brazil Destinations

story by: Tom Ricketts

1. Olinda
This gorgeous historic city is located just north of Recife in the far northeast of the country. The city was settled by the Portuguese in 1535 and much of it remains to this day. The quaint cobblestone lanes, decaying cathedrals, and street after street of brightly coloured colonial buildings are now home to craftspeople and small bars.


2. Iguazu Falls

Right on the border of Brazil and Argentina is the spectacular Iguazu Falls. This massive falls complex varies from 60 to 82 metres, and numbers anywhere from 150 to 300 separate falls depending on the season. The most amazing part of the falls is the Devil’s Throat where when at the lookout point you are surrounded by 260 degrees of waterfalls! The falls are often compared to Niagara and Victoria, however these falls have easier access and boardwalks built below meaning you get much much closer to the action!


3. Fernando De Noronha
Fernando de Noronha is a remote archipelago of 21 islands lying of the northeast of Brazil near Natal and Recife. The beautiful islands boast an incredibly diverse marine environment which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site. It’s one of the continents best diving spots, featuring turtles, tuna, sharks, and masses of dolphins. Onshore, the islands are fringed by stunning pristine beaches.


4. Ouro Preto
The translation of this town’s name is ‘Black Gold’, but it’s not oil that made this place, it was real gold. Founded at the end of the 17th century, Ouro Preto was once the largest and most important city in Brazil. Its mining riches led to many grandiose buildings going up, most of which survive to this day. Narrow lanes wind up and down the hillsides, lined with whitewashed buildings topped in rich terracotta. Tourism is now the major industry of the town, and strict planning laws ensure that modern buildings must be built in the same design as its 17th century treasures.


5. Brasilia
From the old to the new, Brasilia is Brazil’s capital city and was only founded in 1960! Designed after other planned cities such as Washington DC, the city is now home to some of the world’s finest modernist architecture. Examples include the National Congress building, Kubitschek Bridge, and the Cathedral of Brasilia.


6. The Amazon
Probably Brazil’s most famous destination is of course, the Amazon Rainforest. The gigantic rainforest is over 20 times the size of New Zealand, spans nine countries, holds an estimated 390 billion trees, and is home to millions of different species of insects, birds, and mammals. There’s even 67 [human] tribes known to exist in the jungle that have never been contacted by modern society! Popular ways to explore the jungle include multi night river cruises or stays in remote rainforest lodges.


7. The Pantanal
One particularly special part of the Amazon is the Pantanal, a massive section of the forest which when in rainy season, up to 80% of it is underwater. Basically, it’s the world’s largest swamp. It has a fascinating array of wildlife, which just so happens to be its major draw card. Spend your days out exploring, spotting bright blue parrots, silky black panthers, or spotted cheetahs; and spend your nights amongst it all in remote luxury resorts.


8. Paraty
This town has it all. Gorgeous historic buildings, lush forest covered mountains, beautiful beaches, plenty of history to be learned, and its own unique attraction, flood waters. Paraty was settled by the Portuguese somewhere around 1500 and quickly found wealth thanks to being the closest port to major goldfields. Then the pirates arrived, forcing miners to abandon the port and take their treasures inland. The towns prosperity waned and hasn’t recovered since. Until now that is. Paraty’s location between Rio and Sao Paulo means it gets a steady stream of tourists, mainly coming to see her colonial charm. But once a month on a full moon, king tides pour over the ancient stone levy’s, flooding the streets in an almost Venice like fashion.


9. Mount Roraima
Right up in the northernmost parts of Brazil is a rather remarkable mountain, Mount Roraima. The majority of the mountain actually lies in Venezuela (also from where it’s accessed), but some parts also stretch into Brazilian and Guyanese territory. The top of the mountain is dominated by almost vertical cliffs towering 400 metres above the rainforest. Atop the plateau, the isolated flora and fauna has evolved so much that most of it is found nowhere else in the world. The best way to the dramatic landscape is by scenic flight.


10. Brazil’s Beaches
How do you choose just one beach from a country blessed with so many? Combine some time on the sand with colonial architecture in Recife, go where the locals go in Fortaleza, discover the secret beaches around Jericoacoara, or join the crowds at Rio’s Copacabana; whatever you choose, just make sure you include some beach time!


11. Rio
Last, but certainly not least, is Rio de Janeiro. It’s one of the world’s most iconic and most recognisable destinations thanks to its beautiful beaches, dramatic scenery, vibrant nightlife, fantastic festivals, and so much more. No trip to Brazil is complete without a stop here, and with Rio hosting the upcoming 2016 Olympics, it’s bound to more popular than ever!

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