Brazil is an increasingly popular holiday destination, and most people have had a daydream at some point of sunning themselves on Copacabana beach, or partying at the Rio Carnival. However, there’s much more to Brazil holidays than Rio, so if you have the time, why not think about getting out of town and experiencing more of what Brazil has to offer?
Salvador – The Cultural Heart of Afro-Brazil
Although Rio is the face of Brazil, in many ways the most interesting city in Brazil, is the north-eastern city of Salvador de Bahia. Salvador offers a very different experience to Rio. Although Brazil is a very diverse country, it’s only here in the north-east, and especially in Salvador, that the influence on Brazil of African culture is immediately apparent. From an early date, a high proportion of the population was made up of slaves from West Africa, and their traditions and culture area a part of daily life in Salvador in a way that can’t be said to be true for other areas of Brazil. For example, Salvador is the birthplace of capoeira, a mix between a dance and a martial art which was invented by slaves to get around prohibitions on their practicing any form of fighting. The city is also home to many other dances and musical styles which, although you might find them elsewhere on your Brazil holidays, can only be seen at their best here in Salvador. Once you’ve had your fill of culture, you can also head off to some of Salvador’s excellent city beaches, or to the nearby beach resorts of Praia do Forte or Morro de Sao Paulo. It’s also worth noting that apart from its great cultural rivalry with Rio de Janeiro, Salvador is also proud of the fact that the Salvador Carnival is rated by many travellers as better than the famous Rio Carnival itself…
Adventures in the Amazon Rainforest
As the largest jungle on earth, the Amazon rainforest is somewhere that you should definitely consider making part of your Brazil holiday itinerary. Home to an astounding variety of wildlife, it makes other jungles look tiny by comparison. There are a variety of different options for exploring the Amazon, but most people either opt for a river cruise or a stay in one of the excellent jungle lodges available. Most of these are located off the smaller tributaries of the Amazon, as this is where you get the best wildlife experience. As a rule of thumb, it pays to make your base as far into the jungle as possible, because the further you are from civilization, the more chance you have of seeing the best wildlife.
The Natural Wonder of The Iguazu Falls
Eleanor Roosevelt’s first words on seeing Iguazu Falls were reportedly “Poor Niagara…” and once you’ve seen the majestic sweep of 275 separate waterfalls, making nearly 2 miles of continuous cascades, it’s hard not to share her sentiments. 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 fantastic panoramic views of the wide cascades so that you can get some amazing photos, while the Argentinian side has a network of walkways reaching right out into the middle of the Iguazu Falls so that you can get really close to the huge torrents of water and feel the power of these natural monsters. Now widely regarded as one of the natural wonders of the world, the Iguazu Falls really should be part of your Brazil holidays, and because they are on the border with Argentina, it makes it really easy to pop over to Buenos Aires and enjoy a few days of tango and steaks as well!
Make like Bardot in Buzios
If you want to keep your carbon footprint to a minimum (or you just don’t like flying!) but you want to make sure you see at least a little bit more of Brazil than just Rio, a short trip to the Buzios peninsula is the perfect way of doing it. Made famous by Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s, Buzios is just a couple of hours drive north out of Rio, but is a whole other world. The western side of the peninsula is dotted with secluded sandy coves with golden sands and crystal clear waters, perfect for sunbathing and snorkelling. Meanwhile, the eastern side, which faces the open Atlantic Ocean, is just made for surfing and windsurfing!
So if you’re planning your Brazil holidays, plan some time spent away from Rio and seeing a bit more of the country. If vibrant cities are the draw for you then Salvador should definitely be on your holiday itinerary, but out of all of Brazil’s natural wonders, you’ll be kicking yourself if you don’t visit at least the Iguazu Falls…