One of Planet Earth’s most fascinating places, Brazil is definitely South America’s giant and yet remains one of the least visited countries within the region. It has been continuously portrayed through the media as a dangerous country, known for its violence, drug lords, murder rate and highly perilous favelas. However, many of these stories fail to mention the other side of Brazil; its breath-taking white sand beaches, lush rainforest, dramatic landscapes and undeniably rich history.
Brazil contains almost one-third of the world’s remaining tropical rain forests and is the fifth largest country in the world. In short, it is beautiful, wild and mesmerizing. So what is so great about Brazil? Well let me explain…
The city of Rio de Janiero is the perfect mix of urban and beach. Days can easily be lost wandering through the city or spending time relaxing on the beach. But nothing is more spectacular than getting a bird’s eye view of Rio from Corcovado or Sugar Loaf Mountain. Corcovado, meaning hunchback in Portuguese, is a 710 metre granite peak known for its famous statue of Jesus, Cristo Redentor, that sits atop of its peak. Just nearby, Sugarloaf Mountain, often confused with Corcovado, offers traveler’s another perspective of the city with their Italian-made bubble-shaped cable cars that offer passengers a 360 degree view of Rio.
After exploring the peaks of Rio, travelers can spend some time lounging around Ipanema Beach. “Ipanema” comes from the Tupi language and means “stinky lake”, from upaba (“lake”) and nem (“stinky”). But the actual location is far removed from its name. The beach isn’t as famous as Copacabana beach, but offers something that its famous counterpart lacks, an absolutely breathtakingly stunning view.
If cities are not your thing, than traveler’s can find a tropical paradise in northern Brazil. Fernando de Noronha is an archipelago of islands and islets that are located about a mile off the coast of Brazil. The islands are known for their pristine waters, rich marine life and spectacular tropical landscapes. These waters are extremely important for the breeding and feeding of tuna, shark, turtle and marine mammals, which means that it is a prime spot for avid scuba divers.
Those seeking out an adventure can visit Central Amazon, also known as the lungs of the planet. A highlight of this area is the Econtra da Aguas (translation: meeting of the waters) where the dark waters of the Rio Negro converge with the pale waters of the Amazon to create an interesting and distinct barrier of color. Travelers can also visit the Pantanal Wetlands, the world’s largest freshwater wetlands, home to lots of vegetation and wildlife, including the giant anteater, maned wolf and the adorable capybara.
Brazil is also home to numerous dazzling national parks. Lençóis Maranhenses National Park lies just outside the Amazon Basin and is home to huge white sand dunes that are dotted with rain-fed, fresh water lagoons. The rainy season causes a peculiar phenomenon: fresh water collects in the valleys between sand dunes, spotting the desert with blue and green lagoons that reach their fullest between July and September. The stark contrast between dry white sand and crystalline lagoons makes for an incredible temporary landscape. Itatiaia National Park is the first and also the oldest National Park of Brazil. It was inaugurated in 1937 and covers almost 30.000 hectares of the larger Environmental Protection Area of the Mantiqueira mountain range. The park is home a Brazil’s third highest mountain, Pico das Agulhas Negras, (translation: black Needles Peak) which stands at 2,878 meters. To finish, Serra da Capivara National Park houses numerous rock shelters that are decorated with cave paintings, some of which are more than 25,000 years old.
Last but not least, everyone should plan to visit Iguazu Falls, one of the world’s largest waterfalls. Iguazu contains around 300 falls located on the borders of Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, extending over 2,700 metres in a semi-circular shape. There is only one world to describe these falls: EPIC. In fact, upon seeing Iguazu, Eleanor Roosevelt reportedly exclaimed “Poor Niagara” … yes they ARE that epic.
Brazil is so much more than crime; it is a country filled to the brim with laughter, love and beauty. So what are you waiting for?
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