From the jungle calls of the Amazon to the curves of Copacabana’s thong-clad crowds, Brazil is a heady celebration of the big, the bold and the beautiful. Brazil’s vast coastline is fringed with sandy beaches and island getaways, while buzzing Rio de Janeiro and stylish São Paulo offer nightlife and culture galore – as well as an annual dose of Carnival fever.
With the World Cup due to take over Brazilian stadia in 2014, and the Olympics coming to Rio in 2016, the largest country in South America is gearing up to take centre stage – and whether strolling down orderly São Paulo streets, or kicking back in the spotless coastal resort of Buzios, it seems Brazil is confidently rising to the challenge.
Prices are steadily increasing, so even the simplest Brazilian holidays don’t come cheap. Crime does happen, especially in the cities, but those who keep their wits about them and avoid certain areas are highly likely to have an incident-free trip.
Weather & climate
Best time to visit:
The climate varies from hot and dry in the arid interior to the humid tropical rainforests of the Amazon jungle. Coastal Brazil tends to be hot and sticky for most of the year but it can get cold in the south and in the mountains during the winter months. Rainy seasons occur from January to April in the north, April to July in the northeast and November to March in the Rio/São Paulo area.
Lightweight natural fabrics; waterproofs for the rainy season. Warm clothing is needed in the south during winter (June to August). Specialist clothing is needed for the Amazon region. The sunlight is extremely bright and sunglasses are recommended.
Tell me more about Brazil
Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth largest in the world. It was a Portuguese colony from 1500 until its independence in 1822.
In the north, low dry woodland, damp grasslands and gallery forest along the banks of a meandering river system create a mixed variety of habitats. Further south the woodland is relieved by broad expanses of swamp and marsh which are recognised as one of the most important wetland areas in the Neotropics.
The vast empty lowlands of the Pantanal extend southwards from the plateau of the Mato Grosso in Brazil to the borders with Paraguay and Bolivia. This area is roughly the size of France and sparsely populated.
What’s special about the wildlife in Brazil?
Brazil’s vast area comprises a number of different ecosystems, including the Amazon, which is recognised as having the greatest biodiversity in the world. New species are regularly found in the Amazon, and scientists estimate that the total number of plant and animal species found here is about 4 million!
The relative lack of human disturbance in the Brazilian Pantanal and the open nature of the habitat mean that wildlife is often easier to observe than elsewhere in South America.