The 2016 Olympics are now over, and despite prior worries about the preparedness of the host city, it cannot be denied that Rio served as a stunning backdrop for the Games. And while this sprawling jewel of a city must be the starting point for any Brazilian adventure, there is of course so much of this magnificently vast country that demands attention. Here are just a few of our favourite places…
Discover Brazil’s highlights:
Even though it is the world’s largest wetlands, the Pantanal is sometimes overlooked in favour of the Amazon, but in no way do we think it should remain unsung. In fact, its vast marshes are not only visually stunning but from a nature lover’s view, the wide open spaces make wildlife much easier to observe than in the Amazon. There are so many different ways of experiencing its magnitude; canter across the savannah on horseback or paddle silently through water in a canoe, the landscape is ever changing. We particularly love sending our clients to a traditional working cattle ranch out there to receive incredible guiding and a taste for life in this environment. There’s a real sense of remoteness about the area, especially if you’re escaping the buzzing city of Rio and with few people and few of man’s excesses, the Pantanal is a truly unique place to visit.
Sitting pretty amongst a lush, green jungle backdrop and pristine beaches, Paraty is an exquisitely preserved 17th Century colonial town made up of fishermen’s cottages and white merchant mansions bordered with pastel hues. Its high regard for historical value (it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site) means that its charm never fades; cobblestone pathways are closed to motor vehicles whilst we can send you to all sorts of secluded beaches and islands that can only be reached by boat, be it in a glitzy yacht or traditional Brazilian schooner. The waters are warm and idyllic for swimming, sailing, stand-up paddle boarding and snorkelling. It’s a picture perfect getaway to break up the city’s events, only a few hours’ drive away. For the bookworms, this would be a good addition to your trip, as there is a fantastic annual literary festival (FLIP) that transforms the sleepy town at the end of July.
A former fishing village, Trancoso is as vibrant as its multi-coloured houses. The atmosphere is Brazilian and the vibe is relaxed so much so that the shops don’t open until 3pm because the locals have gone for their morning swim. It is this type of laid back lifestyle that has become more sought after by city dwellers and style-minded travellers. Of course, infectiously charming languor on its own does not make our Brazilian hit list; Trancoso is undeniably postcard worthy. The village green ‘quadrado’ is exactly what it says on the tin but big enough to play a soccer game whilst overlooking an elegant church, beach and sea. We have access to a large portfolio of amazing private villas for all wallets and the few boutique hotels that are there are amongst our favourite in Brazil. Everything is aesthetically pleasing, from donkeys drawing carts heaped with grass, to the lanterns lit in the trees at night. If you ever decide to cash in the day job to lead a relaxed life, Trancoso is the place to go.
Visiting the Iguazu Falls is a jaw-dropping experience. They might not be the largest waterfalls in the world but they are viscerally spectacular. Wandering through the cascades in the dense National Park which borders it is a sensory experience. We usually recommend our favourite hotel in the area, Belmond Das Cataratas, because of its unrivalled location right next to the falls. This allows you to wake up and walk straight out to the Falls before the park opens to the public. The privacy is extraordinary – where else do you have a natural wonder of the world as your back garden? There is no doubt that touching the falls is euphoric. One splash and you’re hooked. Luckily there are a number of walkways and circuits to satisfy the Iguazu addict – there’s even a gas propelled train to take you to different look out points. We can also arrange a private boat to take you to the very base of the Falls to experience them from below, in all their thundering glory. A fun adventure for those who don’t mind getting soaked.