Amazon National Park

Known as the “Green Inferno”, the Amazonia (Amazon) National Park covers almost 40% of Brazil’s entire landmass. It reaches into parts of 7 of Brazil’s 27 states. The Amazon is breathtaking and massive, home to thousands of species of animals and birds, plants and vegetation. It’s truly breathtaking and quite an experience to see. 


Although the Amazon mostly spreads through Brazil, it also reaches into bordering countries, including Bolivia, Columbia and Peru. Whether you love nature, or you don’t, you will surely find the Amazon to be captivating and unique. You can bird watch, hike, participate in extreme activities (zip-lining, mountain climbing etc.) or take boat trips down the river right into the wild rainforest. It’s something you need to see and experience to really be able to understand how breathtaking this natural paradise is. You will never forget this incredible experience.

There are several national parks throughout the Amazon rainforest. There are so many places to see in the rainforest that the parks are a great start. The ones listed below are the Brazilian parks, there are also some in the neighboring countries of Bolivia, Columbia, and Peru. A few of the best ones are listed below.

Serra do Divisor National Park
The Serra do Divisor National Park shares a border with Peru. The park is deep inside the Amazon Rain Forest and is can be a little hard to reach. Serra do Divisor National Park is very important for the West Indian Manatee conservation.

Cabo Orange National Park
Cabo Orange is the only national park that resides on the Atlantic coast. The wildlife and vegetation found here are a little different than all the other parks because of the Atlantic Ocean’s influence. You can only get to the park by boat, hop on at the Oiapuque City in the Amapa state. If you’re interested in ecosystems, this park will surely please, as you can see the influences of the rainforest meet the ocean.

Tumucumaque Mountains National Park
This landmass is very sacred and is preserved and protected well. As of recent, there has been no official visitor center yet because the area just opened for tourism in 2002. The majority of the park is in Brazil and spreads to French Guiana on the north. To visit Tumucumaque Mountains National Park you have two choices to start your journey, either from Macapa (capital of the Amapa state) or Oiapoque, the same city that serves as a base for the Cabo Orange National Park .

Cantão State Park
This state protected national park is located in the Brazilian state of Tocantins. The park is at the entrance of the Amazon rainforest, and shows the transition from the Cerrado ecosystem (a savanna-like ecosystem in middle of Brazil ) and the rainforest. This is one of the newest national parks in Brazil, but has a tourist center to help with maps and information. To visit the park, make your way to the Tocantins state capital of Palmas.

Jau National Park
This park near the city of Manaus, which is a full service, busy and bustling city with any accommodations and services a tourist could need. Jau National Park is well developed, and has plenty of transportation options and activities. There are rivers you can explore by canoes and boats. If you have a large enough group you can even rent your own private boat for day or overnight trips.

Mamiraua
A full service tourist destination, Mamiraua is breathtaking and unique, offering a floating hotel! This area of the rainforest is arguably its most beautiful area. The whole region is on a flooded forest, you can either enter on a canoe, or if you don’t mind getting a little dirty, wear proper shes and you can walk down a marked trail. To get to Mamiraua, go to the City of Tefe , in the Amazonas State.

There are endless places that you can visit in the Amazon’s National Parks. In addition there’s the Iguassu Falls nearby, including the tallest waterfall in the world, ‘Salto Angel; on the Colombian side. There are also still present day authentic indigenous tribes in some places and you can observe their rituals live. There’s plenty to see and experience no matter where you choose to go.

Iguassu Falls — One of the Great Natural Wonders of the World

There are many ways to enjoy and soak in this naturally breathtaking wonder of the world. Iguassu Falls can be accessed and seen from not only Brazil, but also Argentina and Paraguay (as seen in the photo below). The Brazilian entrance is in the city of Foz do Iguassu. Adjacent is Argentina’s Iguassu Park, which together with its Brazilian neighbor shares a UNESCO listing as a World Heritage Site. The third border to the falls is that of Paraguay, just a few miles away. Make sure to enter the park from all three border crossings. Each has it’s own breathtaking views and surrounding areas to explore.

We’re going to list our 10 must-dos while you’re at Iguassu Falls.

1. Parque National do Iguassu

The best views of the Iguassu falls, Brazil can be seen from here. The park was created in 1939, and is the 2nd oldest national park in Brazil. Parque National is centered around one of the largest preserved forest areas in all of South America. Start at the Visitor Center and hop onto a double decker bus to begin at the Brazilian walkway of the Iguassu Falls. The buses leave every 15 minutes, so you should have no problem getting on one without wasting time. The walkway starts in front of Hotel das Cataratas and goes to Salto Floriano (Floriano Fall). The whole walkway is less than 1 mile, so enjoy it and take it all in. You’ll find two look out points on this walkway, one at Floriano Falls, and one higher up. If you build up an appetite while you’re here, the part restaurant serves pretty good authentic Brazilian cuisine.

2. Macuco Safari Boat Ride

Warning: You will get wet on this tour – so save it for your last stop, or bring an extra change of clothes, and make sure they are securely tied in a plastic bag. Cameras and video cameras are safe, the tour guide will tell you when to protect them and put them away. The tour begins in wagons towed by jeeps, as you trekk through 1.5 miles of forest to get upstream and hop onto a boat. This is where getting wet happens, the boat will go upstream past the Three Musketeers Fall. Don’t let getting wet stop you from experiencing this journey, it’s one to remember. The entire tour will take about two hours form start to finish, and they run about every 10 minutes.

3. River Rafting Adventure with Macuco Safari 

You can add a second adventure on to your Macuco Safari boat ride. The company can add on a a 30-minute rafting trip which will begin after the boat ride ends. You’ll be transferred directly to the raft at that point.

Another adventurous option is the Iguassu Explorer, a 3.5 hour trip aboard a 40-passenger boat to the Paraguayan border of the Iguassu River. During the trip you will stop at the Moises Bertoni Museum (former home to the scientist). He moved his family here to dedicate his life to researching methods of preservation.

3. Helicopter Tour over the Iguassu Falls

Ok – this might cost you a penny ($40 USD/minimum cost per person), but the rush you get from flying high up over the falls is well worth the spend. This is the one and only way to get a bird’s eye view of the natural wonder. Helisul, a Foz do Iguassu company that has been flying over the falls since 1972 and over Rio since the early 1990s, will take you on this expedition. They have two helipoints in the national park, one at the entrance to Parque Nacional, and another near the Brazil side of the falls. Only 3 at a time can go in one helicopter (4  is the capacity including the pilot), and the minimum cost is $40 USD per person for a 10 minute ride atop the falls. Als0 – note that the chopper will only take off if it’s full (3 passengers), so you may have to wait a bit. If 10 minutes isn’t enough adventure for you, you can take a longer trip lasting around 35 minutes. This will cost $400 total for up to 3 people, and will additionally circle over Itaipu Dam and Foz do Iguassu.

3. Parque das Aves (Bird Park)

Parque das Aves (Bird Park) is a private park dedicated to wildlife preservation, education and research. You’ll find everything from birds, to butterflies, anacondas and alligators. It’s a relatively new park, founded in 1994. There are hundreds of species of wild birds, including macaws, hummingbirds, and toucans. The park is also well-known for its Butterfly House. The park can accommodate special needs – like wheelchairs.

3. Campo de Desafios (The Field of Challenges)

Campo de Desafios (The Field of Challenges) is a local adventure company located in the Iguassu Canyon and dedicated to outdoor travel experiences. They offer everything  canopy walking, rappel, climbing and rafting. The company’s staff can accommodate special needs, such as patrons with wheelchairs.

8. Moonlight Dinner Tour
This is a unique experience, and only offered on full-moon nights. Reserve in advance because as you can imagine this tour is very limited and often books very quickly (phone: 55-45-3523-1814). You will board a double decker bus from the Parque Nacional’s Visitor Center. From there you’ll be taken to Porto Canoas for an evening including full dinner at the La Selva restaurant in Argentia, live music and cocktails.
After diner, you will be guided on a walk to the Naipi site, where you’ll board an elevator that will grant you panoramic views of the falls. The full moon illuminates a silver rainbow over the water and is quite a special scene.
If you have some extra days to spare, and extra cash, from September to December, Brasil das Águas offers a moonlight tour to Devil’s Throat (Garganta do Diablo), dinner at La Selva restaurant, and a 4 night stay at the Rafain Palace Hotel in Foz do Iguassu. You’ll also get some extras included, such as dinner and a show at a local casino in Argentina.
9. Salto Monday in Paraguay
If you’ve gone all the way to the Iguassu Falls, why not visit all three neighboring countries. After all – you may very well never be back again. Cross the border into Paraguay to see another large waterfall. Salto Monday is the name of the largest of three waterfalls, which drops about 130 feet. Just 12 miles away from the Friendship Bridge, Salto Monday is located in Puerto Presidente Franco. Also nearby is another of Paraguay’s major attractions, Ciudad del Este. Check out all of these places, long considered to locals as places of great adventure and relaxation.
10. Bella Vista Sanctuary
Itaipu Binacional is the world’s largest hydroelectric plant power plant and manages eight biological reserves and sanctuaries in Brazil and Paraguay. Refúgio Biológico ‘Bela Vista’, is one of two sanctuaries they have in Brazil. Wildlife is abundant, and you’ll see jaguars, anteaters, capibaras, alligators and many other creatures. The sanctuary has reproduced captive conditions that very closely resemble the animal’s natural habitats.  Much different from a zoo, these animals are safe and comfortable in habitats like their own.
Take note that the sanctuary isn’t like the Nacional Parque, you can’t just walk in. You must reserve and schedule your visit in advance (phone: 45-3520-5642). You have two options for tour hours, 8am and 2pm. The tour includes a walk-through the Itaipu Hydroelectric plant. If you can, visit the plant on a Friday or Saturday night, because the lights will be on and the view becomes quite spectacular.

 

Caraiva, Bahia Beach – Brazil

These white sands and clear blue waters are home to a small village. Caraiva is quiet, quaint, and peaceful. Come here if you’re looking to get away, prance around freely and comfortably and not be judged by anyone. Don’t forget to check out the Quadrado, which is the main square lined with colorful houses and a little white church overlooking the ocean.

Trancoso is one area of Bahia, and is most famous for its white, serene beaches. Most of the beaches are protected by reefs and form natural swimming pools at low tide. Some of the best beaches in the area are listed here:

Praia do Espelho (Mirror Beach)

This is the most famous beach of Trancoso. It has powder white sand beaches and natural warm swimming pools created by reefs at low tide. Praia do Espelho is located about a half an hour from Trancoso, following a winding dirt roat that is only accessible during sunny dry weather.

Praia dos Coqueiros (Palmtree Beach)

Praia dos Coqueiros is a small beach with medium waves. There are more than a hundred palm trees lining this beach, which explains why it got the nickname.

Praia da Pedra Grande (Big Rock Beach)

About a kilometer away from Praia Coqueiros, this beach is narrow and smaller than the others mentioned. It doesn’t draw many tourists, so if you’re looking for quiet time and privacy head this way. Although quiet, you will find restaurants, beachbars and some beach hotels along the coast. This is the last beach in this sequence where you’ll find these amenities. As you cruise down further the beaches get more remote and don’t have anything to purchase, so you’ll have to take along your own snacks and drinks for the day. If you’re looking to bathe topless, head down further.

Praia dos Nativos (Local beach)

Praias dos Nativos is perhaps the most famous beache of Trancoso. It’s hip and busy, and you’ll find the most hotels, beachbars, and restaurants here.

Arpoador, Rio de Janeiro

Arpoador Beach, Rio de Janerio

Arpoador Beach takes over 800 meters of coastline that includes the infamous areas of Ipanema and Leblon beaches. The beach is peaceful, although sometimes crowded. People love to jump off of the rocks on the coastline into the ocean. The Arpoador Stone in Rio de Janeiro is a rock formation that peaks out high above the Atlantic ocean. The rock is as large as a football field and marks the border of the Ipanema – Arpoador coastline. Waves on the beach can be large, and surfers often ride them.

To the left of Arpoador’s Rock is Do Diabo beach (Devil’s beach). Even though it’s small in size, it has it’s own beach. The waves are this end, and very good for surfing.

Praia do Diabo beach is another beach on the coastline, set between the coastlines of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. You can enter this beach through a small path in a green park. You’ll find some street vendors here to purchase small snacks and frozen coconut water.

Brazil’s World Cup Stadium Cities

Porto Alegre

Porte Alegre isn’t your typical large Brazilian city – it’s not much like Rio or Saõ Paulo. The city was formed in 1742 by immigrants from the Portuguese archipelago of Azores. Thousands of immigrants from Portugal and Italy flooded the city center. The state is located far down the south of Brazil, with it’s capital being Rio Grande do Sul. It’s people are called gaúchos and share several cultural traits with their neighbours from close by Argentina and Uruguay. You’ll find plenty of folklore music and plenty of drinking the mate infusion, or chimarrão.

Porto Alegre has over 1 million people and 1 million trees, it is one of the greenest cities in Brazil. It lies on the eastern bank of the Guaíba River, right at the convergence point of five other rivers, which together form the enormous Lagoa dos Patos (Ducks Lagoon).

Temperatures aren’t as hot down here as they are in more northern parts of Brazil. Generally mild, the average daily temperature is 19.5ºC and cold winters that have record snow fall and subzero temperatures. You will however, find four distinct seasons, with summer temperatures reaching beyond 35ºC.

Curitiba

The city of Curitiba is a world-wide role model for dealing with government issues such as transportation and the preservation of the environment while facing rapid commercialism.

With over 1.8 million residents, Curitiba is the most populous city in the southern region of Brazil. The city is also prosperous, being the 4th largest contributor to the country’s gross national product. Curitiba is full of culture and residents are known to praise their quality of life.

The curitibanos cultural richness is mostly thanks to the massive immigration process the south of Brazil underwent during the 19th century, when it welcomed a huge contingent of Germans, Italians, Ukrainians and Polish. You’ll notice these influences in city landmarks like the Santa Felicidade neighbourhood, with its first-class Italian cantinas; the Bosque Alemão (German Wood) and the Ukrainian church replica at fabulous Tingui Park.

The city is very green, parks can be found all over the place. Besides the Tingui, other important parks that showcase Curitiba’s desire to preserve green areas include the Tangua, the Barigui and the impressive Botanical Garden. Other city attractions revolve around its pulsating cultural life, like the Opera de Arame (a theatre all built with glass and iron wires) and the pungent Oscar Niemeyer Museum, designed by the architect himself.

Rio De Janiero

Rio needs no introduction. It the best of all worlds; the city, the beach, the architecture and culture, the nightlife … the list can go on forever. The city’s rich history and natural beauty have certainly contributed to making the city well-known and loved across the world. Rio is most popular for its New Year’s Eve celebrations and world-famous Carnival festivals. This bustling cosmopolitan downtown, located between a tropical forest and a series of breathtaking beaches, is an ideal base for exploring the country.

Rio de Janeiro is a city filled with everything and visitor could want. Its striking colonial architecture integrates so well with its modern buildings to truly create a city rich with history and modern taste. We’ve all seen the two most iconic sights of the city; Sugarloaf Mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer, but seeing them in person is breathtaking and surreal.

Belo Horizonte

The number one question asked when someone meets a belo-horizontino, as they call themselves, is often the same: Atletico Mineiro or Cruzeiro (Referring to the city’s most famous soccer teams)? Belo Horizonte – or Beagá, as the city is famously known, after the sound of initials BH in Portuguese – is the sixth-most populated city in Brazil, with just over 2.4 million residents.

From the beauty of its parks and green areas to the careful city-planning; from the wide chocies of cultural activities to the natural wonders of the Serra do Curral surrounding it, Belo Horizonte has countless reasons for constantly being appointed as one of Latin America’s best cities for the best qualify of life.

Brasília

When you think Brasília, the first thing that comes to mind is Soccer. In continuing with it’s rich architecture trends, the city has began construction on its Estadio Nacional, an arena with seating for 70,042 spectators, making it the second largest of the stadiums hosting matches at the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™. The amazing new stadium will be one of a kind, with metal and roof stands, and low-pitched unobstructed views from every single seat. The new stadium will be Brasília’s third, along with the Serejao, the home to the Brasíliense, and the Bezerrao, which was recently refurbished and reopened in 2008. The World Cup won’t be the end of use for the stadium, afterwards it will host concerts and major cultural events.

Based on carbon neutrality, recycling and total access via public transportation, this environmentally friendly construction project will confirm Brasília’s status as a world leader in sustainable urban planning, creating a valuable legacy for other sectors of the local economy.

Cuiabá

Cuiabá is a must see for tourists. It is home to three of Brazil’s most desired natural sights: the savannahs of the Cerrado, the wetlands of the Pantanal, and the world-famous Amazon rainforest. With such a dominant presence of nature all around its surroundings, it’s no surprise that Cuiabá has been given the nickname ‘Green City.’ The cuiabanosalso is next to the mountain range of Chapada dos Guimaraes, where thousands of visitors every year find archaeological sites and a 3,300-square kilometre National Parks. The Chapada dos Guimaraes mountains block the polar masses and helps driving temperatures to over 40º C during the summer, making it one of Brazil’s hottest places.

Especially built for the World Cup Brazil 2014, the new stadium will host four matches, hosting over 42,000 fans.

Salvador

When the Portuguese first began to colonize Brazil around the mid-1500′s, the first area they took over was Salvador. This coastal city in the country’s north-east was one of the main ports for slave trade in South America. Because of this, the presence of African culture is easy to spot in Salvador. From the circles of capoeira (a combination of martial art and dance brought to Brazil by African slaves) at the Modelo Martket to the beat of the agogôs and atabaques (percussion instruments) in Candomblé – a syncretic religion conceived in Brazil. This influence of African heritage has earned a nickname of Roma Negra (Black Rome) for Salvador. The city is the birthplace and home of some of Brazil’s most well known artists.

Salvador’s topography is very unique, with a clear distinction between it’s low and high cities (Cidade Baixa and Cidade Alta). The low and high cities are bridged together by one of the cities most important landmarks, the Elevador Lacerda. But perhaps the most infamous part of the city is the Pelourinho, which is its historical center. All its churches, rainbow colored historic buildings and architecture were made a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1985.

Recife

Recife has some of the most beautiful beaches in all of Brazil. A few of them are located around the state’s capital, Boa Viagem, and the most famous is Porto de Galinhas, located about 70km away from Recife, and which stands among the top tourist destinations in the country.

With a strong Dutch presence, year-round tropical climate and spectacular beaches that are common to the north-eastern coast of Brazil, the region of Recife also has a lot of history and cultural richness, and was declared a world heritage site by UNESCO in 1982.

The ultimate best time to check the traditions of Recife is during carnival. Join 2 million other people and enjoy the rhythms of frevo and maracatu as they completely take the city and rock street parades like the Galo da Madrugada (‘Dawn Rooster’).


Recife is absolutely mad about football. They have three of the top soccer clubs: Sport Club do Recife, Santa Cruz Futebol Clube or Clube Nautico Capibaribe.

Natal

In order for Natal to be able to host the World Cup, they had to agree to build a new stadium. They demolished their two older stadiums and built a brand new one to host the festivities.

Natal is proudly nicknamed Cidade do Sol (Sun City), thanks to its year-round average tropical climate of 28º C. With over 300 days of sunshine a year, it is a huge vacation destination for Europeans and other international visitors.

Fortaleza

Fortaleza is home to over 34 kilometres of coastline. It has been one of the main tourist destinations in the north-east of Brazil for many years, and increases in popularity yearly. But, with over 2.4 million residents, the city has also developed into an important economic center.

Most of the tourist attractions in Fortaleza revolve around its beaches. The Praia do Futuro (Future Beach) is popular for its several barracas - simple kiosk-restaurants built on the sand that serve fresh, typical seafood. If you’re looking for nightlife, Iracema is full of bars and nightclubs.  The coastal Beira Mar avenue is a the place for a traditional daily craftsmen’s fair and for some of the top spots to dance the forró, a typical rhythm from the north-east of Brazil.

Over the decades, Fortaleza has invested in new infrastructure for tourism. Some of these include the Centro Dragão do Mar de Arte e Cultura  (Sea Dragon Art and Culture Centre) and the Beach Park, Brazil’s largest water park, with several cutting-edge speed-slides distributed along 35,000 square kilometres.

Manaus

Not traditionally a city huge in soccer history, Manaus will certainly attract visitors due to its new soccer stadium shown above.

The city is literally at the heart of the Amazon rainforest, the largest tropical rainforest in the world. The Amazon was the inspiration for the refurbished stadium, which will appear to be covered in straw, a product the region is famous for.

This sustainable stadium project will provide an important legacy for the region and play its part in helping to preserve the diversity of the Amazonian rainforest. For example, rainwater will be collected for later use in toilets or to water the pitch, while the region’s endless supply of sunshine will be used to generate clean and renewable energy for the stadium. Plant screens will also be created to keep energy costs down by controlling temperatures inside the stadium.

São Paulo’s Vibrant Social Scene

São Paulo—Fast-paced financial hub, trendy hot fashions, amazing food, golden beaches, raging nightlife and contemporary art.

Brazil’s two largest, and most famous cities, could not be more different. In Rio de Janiero the office is the beach, in São Paulo, Brazil’s most cosmopolitan city, the office is a religion. The chaotic fast-paced financial epicenter of São Paulo Brazil has something for everyone. The city is full of arts, food, architecture, shopping (amazing fashion week) and friendly people. São Paulo is the 19th richest city in the world, and expected to be the 13th by year 2020. It’s the Manhattan of South America.

São Paulo is 800 square miles shared by more than 16 million people of vast ethnic diversity: Italians, Germans, Portuguese, Africans, and surprising to most, the largest Japanese community outside of Japan. The city is rich in history and has a lot of character. I think São Paulo should be a stop on everyone’s visit to Brazil, even if you’re coming for the sole purpose of white sand beaches, sambas, carnivals and rhinestone covered barely there bikinis, I definitely recommend a few days in the city.

Like New York City, much of São Paulo’s pulsing energy is due to its congestion. São Paulo’s endless streets conform to no clean cut grid, so blocks upon blocks of high-rises, many of them washed in pastels or sprayed with confetti mosaics stand shoulder-to-shoulder. Greenery is not common, but is beautiful and can be found in the 19th-century neighborhood of Higienópolis, in the unmissable gardens of the Fundação Maria Luisa e Oscar Americano (There are said to be 50 species of birds here), or in upper-class areas like Jardins and Morumbi.

There has been a great influx of international restaurants in the city over the last few years. São Paulo has great fresh Sushi imported daily thanks to the large Japanese population, Italian, French, Spanish tapas, and everything in between. The Mercado Municipal, in the city’s center, is a place where international diversity is clear.  You can find Italian-imports of cheese and oils, beer gardens full with Belgium’s best brews, Portuguese olive-oil and salt-cod vendors, and fresh local Amazonian fruit and vegetable stands. The crowd noise is deafening and the colors frenzied, making it an easy place to get lost in the crowds and soak in the authenticity of the city.

For those who are into nightlife, there is plenty to do all night long in São Paulo. Locals work very hard, but they play harder. There are attractions to satisfy all tastes. Check out the local newspaper O Estado de São Paulo, it’s published every Friday and provides the week’s entertainment. Certain neighborhood’s in the city have earned reputations as being the place to be; many of the most popular dance clubs can be found in the Vila Olímpia district, and some of the best venues for live music can be found in Pinheiros and Vila Madalena.

Brazil is famous for it’s beaches, and São Paulo has some of the best. Praia do Encanto Beach (The Portuguese name for this beach actually means ‘charm beach’ in English) is beautiful! Also known as 5th beach, this spot is famous for its quiet nature, tranquility and relaxing. The beach has been kept true to nature by the nearby town of Garapua, and visitors will be able to get here through a hotel transportation service, since it’s a little bit out of the way to reach by taxi. Bring a book and a large towel, and some snacks, so you can sit back, relax and enjoy nature. If you’re looking for a busier, more touristy beach then go down to one of the Caraguatatuba Beaches, located off the North Coast of São Paulo. There are plenty of beach side activities, restaurants and services available to tourists here.

As you can see, São Paulo truly has it all – it’s cosmopolitan with arts, great food, nightlife and great beaches.