Brazil shares a border with almost every other country in South America, with the exception of Chile and Ecuador . Only slightly smaller than the United States , it contains almost as many citizens as the rest of South America’s countries combined. A land of colour, flavour and sound, cities such as Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo beautifully assault the senses, while enchanting Colonial towns scattered across the country give you a real flavour of the Brazilian people. Brazilians are one of the most racially mixed peoples in the world, formed from a fundamental mix of Portuguese, Indian and African with Dutch and French influences, as well as elements of German, Italian, Polish and even Japanese. Portuguese is the national language but, in the same way that Americans speak American rather than English, it can be said that the Brazilians speak Brazilian rather than Portuguese.
A heady mix of geographical wonders includes the great interior, much of which is covered by the rainforest basin of the Amazonas states and the Rio Negro, which, south of the city of Manaus, joins the Solimoes River to become the Amazon River – one of Brazil’s greatest attractions. The long coastlines offer impressive landscapes and beaches, and both the Amazon River and beaches offer ample opportunities for a dip and activities such as kayaking, snorkelling, rafting and wildlife spotting. Additionally, visitors can take a one-hour scenic flight across the Pantanal to admire the views of the flooded plains, home to an array of animals.
Brazil's vibrant capital is a complex fusion of European and African and offers an intriguing blend of the historic and contemporary, exemplified by its Baroque churches and Colonial buildings. The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Pelourinho is set on a ridge above the ocean and holds many Colonial reminders, while a city tour will introduce you to the Old Town, Baroque churches, galleries, museums and local markets.
Rio de Janeiro
No trip to the country would be complete without spending time in the iconic, charismatic and fun city of Rio de Janeiro . Blessed with golden sand beaches, a curvaceous bay framed by glossy high-rises and an iconic mountain range swathed in verdant forestry, Rio de Janeiro doesn't have to try too hard to look good. For one of the best beachside spots, stay at Hotel Fasano, Rio De Janeiro – you can literally step out of the hotel and onto the boulevard next to Ipanema Beach. Alternatively, head to the iconic Copacabana Beach and hang out with Brazil’s most beautiful residents. Here, you will find over four kilometres of golden-sand coastline, scores of sun-worshippers and scantily clad beach bodies. Other attractions include the ‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue on Corcovado Mountain – a colossal sculpture, honed from concrete and soapstone. Over thirty-eight metres high and weighing in at a hefty 635 tonnes, it’s considered to be one of the best examples of Brazilian Art Deco design in the city. There's also Project Morrinho, a 320m² model of the city favelas constructed out of recycled materials by a fourteen-year-old local boy in 1998. Visitors can role play using the model cars, helicopters and Lego people. The Bohemian hillside town, Santa Teresa, is a popular place to visit, replete with 19th century Colonial buildings, artists' studios, restaurants, gift shops and a quaint yellow streetcar that trundles up and down the narrow cobblestone streets. Try bike-riding along the beachfront to the Botanical Gardens or take a cable-car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, from where you can observe the whole bay of Rio, from its sparkling white-sand beaches, to the glistening metal skyscrapers and beyond. Wander inland for infectious café culture, enticing bars and restaurants, as well as museums, parks and Colonial Art Deco buildings. Complete your day with a spot of samba dancing at one of the many Samba Schools that are established throughout the city, before taking respite in one of the funky café-bars and ordering chilled Caiprinhas, the national cocktail.
Sao Paulo is Brazil’s economic centre and its most cosmopolitan city. As such, Sao Paulo comes with a sprawling mass of urban high-rise buildings, but what it lacks in natural beauty, it makes up for with urban attractions, including a cathedral, colourful street art and inner city garden sanctuaries, including the city park. In addition, there is an excellent restaurant scene, as well as a multi-faceted arts and culture scene, including theatres and museums. There is a real ‘buzz’ to the city that pumps to the rhythm of around-the-clock Latin music, and those who like to party will feel very at home. If you feel the need to relax, Hotel Fasano, Sao Paulo is the place, as its top three floors accommodate the spa, fitness centre and rooftop swimming pool – perfect for lazy afternoons. Sao Paulo is a good stopover between Rio de Janeiro and Trancoso, which is a picture-perfect town that dates back as far as the 17th century, when it was home to the Jesuits.
This vast freshwater wetland is home to a formidable amount of flora, fauna, aquatic plants and diverse ecosystems, as well as numerous rare and endangered species, such as the Giant River Otter and Jaguar. There is a good chance of spotting these creatures here, due to the largely flat open plains that offer few hiding places. Perhaps the most rewarding time to visit is during the draining period, when the land is rich in resources and the animals accumulate.
The tiny town of Trancoso , once a fishing village, has such a laid-back feel that visitors are made to feel part of the community at the town square, which is the meeting place for the locals. It’s a car-free zone, too, which creates a charming, ‘last-century’ ambience. Either side of the square you’ll find casual bars and rustic restaurants, while at the very end, there’s a pathway to the beautiful beach, which in summer is the venue for lively Full Moon parties.
This small, pretty town is famed for its verdant vegetation, translucent rivers, waterfalls and buried caves boasting caverns and underground lakes. A water wonderland for snorkelling, diving and swimming, streams and rivers are crystal-clear, creating naturally formed aquariums with scores of exotic fish. Additional activities include kayaking, horse-riding and bird-watching in the mountains of Bodoquena through rainforest and open fields. Submerge yourself in the crystal-clear waters of Rio da Prata, where you can drift-snorkel downriver, admiring the marine life on the way.
A stay at Fazenda Barranco Alto Hotel means you can enjoy a programme of bespoke activities, adapted to your specific needs and requests. Each activity is led by the owners of the hotel and can include horse-riding, bird-watching, open vehicle safaris, hiking, canoeing on Rio Negro, boating and photography. The property is still a working cattle ranch and, as such, you might like to enjoy a spot of cattle mustering, working under the guidance of real cowboys as they go about their daily work. This is one of the oldest cattle farms in the region and the farm's cowboys continue to maintain traditional methods of handling the Nelore cattle. For an authentic cowboy experience, this activity is unmissable during a stay in the Pantanal.
Twenty kilometres from Bonito you'll find Abismo de Anhumas, a 72-metre-deep abyss featuring an underground lake and amazing stalactite formations. It's possible to repel down into the lake with a little training, which must be done at Bonito's training centre the day before your planned visit, and snorkel and scuba-dive in the lake's watery depths afterwards, if you wish. Currently, only eighteen visitors per day are permitted to make their way into the abyss, so pre-booking is essential.
Rio de Janeiro
Time your visit to buzzing Rio de Janeiro during February and you could be there to participate in, or just observe, the world-famous Rio Carnival. This four-day fiesta comprises samba parades, carnival balls, street parties and samba school nights. The famous Samba Parade starts at 9pm and carries on until around 6am, with each samba school taking around ninety minutes to parade along the designated 'runway'. The carnival also includes two famous carnival balls, including The Magic Ball at Copacabana Palace Hotel, which oozes glamour and sophistication and guests dressed to the nines in elaborate luxury costumes, black tie and evening dresses. This is the most exclusive and luxurious ball in the Rio Carnival calendar and tickets are like gold dust. Allow us to book your tickets to this prestigious event or organise your tickets for the Samba Parades, which occur on two consecutive nights during the festivities, along with your hotel reservations at Hotel Fasano, Rio de Janeiro . As this is such a popular time of year for Rio de Janeiro, do plan your trip well in advance to avoid disappointment.
Sao Paulo hosts a vibrant carnival every February, when the streets crawl with partygoers, bands and beautiful costumes, but it is also a great place for gourmands to discover, with the ornate Mercado Municipal de Sao Paulo an unmissable attraction. Opened in 1933 and replete with stained glass windows, domes and a Belle Epoque facade, this large building houses some three-hundred stalls, which spill over with vibrantly coloured vegetables, meat, fish, pasta, sweets and spices. Head to the ever-popular Hocca Bar for Pastel del Bacalhau (salt cod pastry) and the famous Mortadella sandwiches, or visit the Gourmet Lounge to sample a range of local dishes. Our featured property is Hotel Fasano, Sao Paulo, located in Jardim Paulista, one of Sao Paulo’s most prestigious neighbourhoods, so you’re never far away from deluxe boutiques, plush restaurants, swish bars and smart-looking bakeries, while Parque Trianon, where the green vegetation forms a huge overhead canopy, offers a welcome shade from the city heat and the ideal place to take a rest.
If you're staying at Uxua Casa Hotel in Trancoso, you'll be spoilt for choice with the diverse collection of exclusive experiences that can be enjoyed during your stay. If you're staying for five nights and are of a sporty persuasion, you may be tempted by the Bahian Eco Sport Experience, which offers Capoeira fitness, mountain-biking, surf lessons, kitesurfing, horse-riding and paragliding, with a relaxing massage treatment providing a lovely contrasting experience each day, while the five-night Bahian Spa & Wellness Experience offers daily yoga sessions and massage treatments, a white clay lagoon trip featuring an on-site mud treatment, a Bahian Cacao facial treatment and a Brazilian hand and foot spa. If learning about the local Bahian cuisine appeals, you could enjoy a four-night Essence of Bahian Cooking experience, where you can learn to cook traditional Moqueca fish stew in the comfort and privacy of your accommodation's private kitchen, enjoy trancoso-style meals, chocolate-making, learning how to make the perfect Brazilian cocktail, a Caipirinha, or the Bahian signature dessert, Coconut Cocada. If you prefer to be out and about exploring your local area, and particularly enjoy beaches, the six-night Six Dream Beaches of South Bahia might be the prefect choice for you. Enjoy day trips to stunning beaches, horse-riding, mud treatments, kayaking through mangroves and jungles, a two-hour boat trip to a remote and pristine beach, surf lessons, beach picnics and even a visit to a remote village built on a sand bar.
While staying at Belmond Hotel das Cataratas in Iguassu, you should really take a boat trip to within five metres of where the world-famous Iguassu Falls hits the river below. More spectacular than Niagra Falls, this incredible natural wonder offers great views and fantastic opportunities to take some amazing 'wow' images to accompany your memories of a superb experience. Other available excursions include The Macuco Safari Tour, exploring a trail through a forest, white-water rafting, a helicopter excursion over the falls to take more photographs from an entirely different perspective or venture into Argentina (which only takes 45 minutes by car) to see the falls from yet another perspective in a different country! Guided tours of the world's largest hydro-electric project at the impressively large Haipu Dam are also available and provide an excellent insight into where 25% of Brazil's electricity comes from. If you're visiting during the time of the full moon, you could enjoy a ninety-minute guided walking tour to see the lunar rainbow, while amateur ornithologists shouldn't miss the twelve-acre sub-tropical Bird Park, featuring approximately 160 species of birds. For a nearby excursion that you really shouldn't pass up, allow us to arrange you a place on the Three Borders Landmark tour, which offers you the chance to visit an almost incomparible location, allowing you to stand in one country and view two others (Argentina and Paraguay) at the same time.
If you're lucky enough to be enjoying a cruise along the Amazon River on board the Amazon Clipper , there are a couple of thrilling adventures that you'll enjoy along the way. The first is a few hours of fishing for piranhas while safely seated in a canoe. There are several species of piranha swimming about in this famous waterway, but they are rarely found in large numbers and most of them are quite harmless, even if their name is derived from the (now extinct) native Brazilian language's word for scissors! Your second experience involves an incredible natural occurance at the confluence of the Rio Negro and Amazon River. To be sailing over the junction of the world's two biggest rivers may be excitement enough, but their very individual characteristics have created an incredible phenomenon that has to be seen to be believed. Owing to each river's different temperature, speed and density, the rivers' waters don't actually mix, they just bump along next to each other over a distance of around six miles. This is most vividly illustrated by the two contrasting colours of each river's water - the inky black hue of the Rio Negro and the sandy coloured water of the Amazon River. A thirty-minute observation from the elevated vantage point of Amazon Clipper's sun deck offers a great opportunity to take some memorable photographs.
Brazil's climate varies from hot and dry in the interior, to humid in the rainforests. It can get cold on the south coast and in the mountains during the winter. The rainy season occurs from January to April in the north, April to July in the north east and November to March in the Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo areas.
Salvador has a tropical climate year-round, but the heat is cooled by ocean breezes. On average, the summer month of March is the hottest, while the winter month of July is the coolest, although daytime temperatures, generally, don’t fall either way beyond 25ºC and 30ºC at any time of year. The rainy season for Salvador is between April and July. Most visitors who go for the beaches visit during February and June, but any time of year is enjoyable.
Rio de Janeiro has a tropical climate with warm and sunny weather, yet plenty of rainfall year-round, too. Summer is from December to March, with hot days and warm evenings. December is usually the wettest month. In the winter, from June until August, the city is cooler, yet is still warm, with temperatures dropping, on average, between 5ºC and 15ºC, compared to in the summer. Rainfall during winter is less than summer. Generally, the difference in weather throughout the year is not enough to determine a ‘best time to visit’ and the city is enjoyed by visitors at any time.
Sao Paulo also has a tropical climate, with good weather most of the year, like Rio de Janeiro. It is dry much of the time, with warm temperatures, however, in-keeping with the tropical climate, there are downpours during the summer months. The warmest times of the year are spring and summer, from September to March.
These figures show monthly average maximum temperatures and monthly average rainfall for Brazil.
British Airways direct from London Heathrow to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo.
From London Heathrow to Rio de Janeiro: 11 hours, 50 minutes. London Heathrow to Sao Paulo: 11 hours, 40 minutes.
Travelling With Children or Without an Adult
Children travelling without both parents should be aware that some countries require documentary evidence of parental responsibility before allowing lone parents to enter the country (for example, South Africa) or, in some cases, before permitting the children to leave the country. Please contact the relevant Embassy for the county you are travelling to for further information.
Visa and Advance Passenger Information
All passengers must ensure they have a valid, acceptable passport, any required visa and any other documentation for both the final destination and any stop-off points en route. Please make sure that Advance Passenger Information is submitted in advance to travel for all destinations. Failure to hold correct documentation or submitting incorrect details with Advance Passenger Information or Visa applications may result in refusal of carriage or entry into a country. Please check with the relevant Embassy regarding visa requirements well in advance of your travel date. Charges may apply for some visas.
Passengers not travelling on a British Passport are advised to contact their relevant Foreign & Commonwealth office for individual Visa requirements.
For up-to-date resort information, visit www.fco.gov.uk
Health facilities, hygiene and disease risks vary worldwide and you should take health advice about your specific needs from your general practitioner or a specialist clinic as early as possible before travel. Those planning to become pregnant should discuss their travel plans with their healthcare provider to assess their risk of infection with Zika. For information about Zika, other mosquito-borne diseases (such as Dengue fever and Chikungunya), Lyme Disease (caused by tick bites), and to receive advice on mosquito bite avoidance measures, please visit http://travelhealthpro.org.uk/insect-tick-bite-avoidance/
In addition, we highly recommend that you seek specialist advice from your doctor and, where recommended, obtain vaccinations or tablets for protection against, for example: Malaria, Hepatitis A, Polio and Typhoid. In some cases, treatments for Malaria should begin well in advance of travel. Travellers may also be required to show Yellow Fever Certificates on arrival in certain destinations ie, some African countries. Please note that you are strongly advised against scuba-diving for 24 hours before travelling by air. We would also like to draw your attention to the risk of DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) and recommend that you consult with your doctor before travelling.
Visit the FCO website and select your destination country for the very latest travel advice: https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice.
Additional sources of information include: www.hpa.org.uk, http://nathnac.net,
www.fco.gov.uk, www.hpa.org.uk and www.nathnac.org, your General Practitioner or a specialised clinic.
For information and advice about the risks associated with Zika virus, visit the National Travel Health Network and Centre website. View the travel advice in full here: www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/brazil