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Travel Logs April 2016

Compulsive Traveler

Uniquely Brazil

By Sandra Scott

Rio is home to the famed Ipanema Beach but it is only one of the beaches. Surfers will head to Arpoador while families will head to Leblon where the beach is quieter and there is a section reserved for small children.

Brazil is the world’s fifth largest country and the only one in South America where the official language is Portuguese. Brazil has an amazing diversity of wildlife and culture. To experience all aspects of this amazing country would take a lifetime but first-time visitors should try to fit in as many of the highlights as possible.

  1. San Paulo: The city is one of the world’s most populous cities but there are quiet parks where one can get away from the hustle and bustle. One of the most interesting museums is in the Liberdade District, home to the largest enclave of Japanese outside of Japan. On Sunday take a side trip to Embu das Artes, a place of cobblestone streets and craft shops.
  2. Rio de Janeiro: No visit to Rio is complete without visiting the iconic Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain. Rio is home to the famed Ipanema Beach but it is only one of the beaches. Surfers will head to Arpoador while families will head to Leblon where the beach is quieter and there is a section reserved for small children.
  3. Carnival: Most cities in Brazil have Carnival celebrations with Rio’s being the biggest. Tickets need to be booked in advance. The spectacle lasts for hours as the samba schools parade by the stands. Each 90-minute performance starts with fireworks. Security is excellent. Plan to stay the entire night.
  4. Manaus: It often a surprise when people learn that Manaus, in the heart of the Amazon, has a population approaching two million. In the 1800s it was one of the world’s richest cities. Enrico Caruso and Sarah Bernhardt were just some of the famous artists who performed in the beautiful Opera House.
  5. Amazon: The Amazon is the world’s largest tropical rainforest famed for its immense biodiversity. There are many ways to experience the “jungle” from a stay in a luxurious lodge to a riverboat ride to a day trip from Manaus. With luck you will see some of the denizens of the rainforest and interact with the indigenous people.
  6. Brasilia: In 1960, Brasilia became the capital city. Amid much controversy the planned city was carved out of the highland area making the capital more central to the rest of the county. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its modernist architecture and unique urban planning with governmental building in one area and housing in another.
  7. Salvador: The coastal city is known for its Portuguese colonial architecture and Afro-Brazilian culture. The Pelourinho area, the historic heart of the city features cobblestone streets and large squares with colorful buildings. Not to miss is Bale Folclorico da Bahia, an Afro-Brazilian cultural show and dinner.
  8. Iguazu waterfalls: Be astounded at the awesome beauty of the waterfalls on the border between Brazil and Argentina. The massive, picturesque waterfalls are surrounded by trails, with wildlife and there is a train through the jungle. The view from each side is different with the Brazilian side offering a panoramic view.
  9. Pantanal: Nature lovers will not want to miss a visit to the Pantanal, one of the world’s largest wetlands which is home to an immense variety of wildlife. Wildlife is easier to observe here than in the dense foliage of the Amazon.
  10. And more: Lencois Maranhenses National Park looks like a desert with miles of stark white sand dunes but it receives 47 inches of rain each year, creating crystal clear lagoons. Not far from Rio is Poco das Antas Biological Reserve where the endangered Golden Lion Tamarin can be viewed.

 

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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