Highlights of Brazil

by David Harris
Brazil covers half of South America.

Brazil covers half of South America.

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Brazil is a massive country, home to beautiful beaches, bustling big cities, giant waterfalls and the Amazon rainforest. Encompassing half of South America's land mass, Brazil offers so many places to visit that one visit alone is not enough. Whether you party during Carnaval in Rio de Janeiro or marvel at the massive Iguaçu Falls, a trip to Brazil includes activities and attractions for all kinds of travelers.

Big Cities

Rio de Janeiro, set between the mountains and the sea, is one of the world's most picturesque and exciting cities. Visitors can relax on Ipanema Beach or take a train up Corcovado to visit the spread-armed Cristo Redentor and get panoramic views of the city. If you're in town for Carnaval, be prepared for nonstop partying with millions of people. The colonial city of Salvador in the Bahia state is home to perfectly preserved 17th- and 18th-century architecture. This area is the heart of Brazil's African heritage, where you can witness capoeira, a form of dance mixed with martial arts, or watch a Candomblé where residents try to converse with African gods.

Falls

One of Brazil's most visited places is Foz do Iguaçu. Located on the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, the area contains 275 separate falls within an area of 1.7 miles. The falls here are wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara Falls. From the Brazil side, you get a more panoramic view of the falls, while on the Argentine side you can get up close to many of the falls. According to Lonely Planet, visitors should plan an entire day to take in all of the waterfalls.

Rain Forest

Another Brazil highlight is the Amazon River and the dense rain forest that surrounds it. To reach the Amazon, however, you will have to go first through Manaus, a city of 2 million people in the middle of the jungle. In Manaus you can then hire a tour operator to take you up the river on trips of varying lengths. According to Lonely Planet, while most operators are honest professionals, visitors should be wary of scams.

Other Highlights

For some peace and quiet, you can visit the island of Ilha de Santa Catarina. Relax on the beach at a resort or visit the wild cliffs on its southern side. Between Christmas and March, the place can be quite crowded, however. For more colonial architecture, visit Ouro Prêto where you can climb through its twisted, crooked streets and admire its 23 churches. This center for education and arts is one of the three most visited spots in the country, according to Lonely Planet.

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