Brazil (official name: the Federative Republic of Brazil) is the fifth largest country in the world, both in terms of population and geographic area. It is the seventh largest economy in the world, the largest country and economy in South America.
As South America’s giant country, Brazil has a bigger landmass than the United States (if you exclude Alaska). This vast land has the largest tropical rainforest—and the biggest carnival in the world! There are also lots of powdery white-sand beaches waiting for you to explore and enjoy! No wonder Brazil is widely recognized as one of the world’s most captivating places!
Photo credit: Celso Pupo/ Shutterstock.com
Measured by volume of discharged water, t he Amazon River is the largest river in the world, the portion of the river’s drainage basin in Brazil alone being already larger than any other river basin. More than one-third of the world’s fauna species reside in the Amazon rainforest, and even more species are being discovered every year. The vast amount of vegetation in the Amazon jungle keeps absorbing tremendous amounts of carbon dioxide and producing oxygen, and this is why it is known as the “Lungs of the Earth”.
There are many ways to explore this mysterious place: going on a rainforest hike, a luxury river cruise or a night river safari, but following a local guided tour is highly recommended. The guide can show you a traditional mosquito repellent, which plant is poisonous and which is not, and most importantly, how to discover more without destroying nature.
Tour price: Varies, from a hundred to several thousand US dollars.
High Water Season: December to May (while the Amazon Basin is flooded, you are allowed to go deeper and penetrate smaller tributaries by boat to explore more wildlife on the river)
Low Water Season: June to November (the chances of seeing pink dolphins are higher as the water recedes and becomes concentrated, and it’s also a better time for a rainforest hike.)
The Biggest Carnival
Carnival is celebrated in every corner of Brazil, in towns and villages, streets and squares, and in bars and restaurants, but Rio de Janeiro has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World. The city attracts over 500,000 foreign visitors alone every year. For the Brazilians, Carnival is a grand festival, it is a great chance to learn about the true culture of Brazil, as nothing is better than dancing, singing and having fun all day and night with the Brazilians.
Rio Carnival is a four-day celebration. It begins 40 days before Easter, usually in February, the hottest month in Brazil. But there are more than 300 street bands in Rio, and they actually start playing and dancing samba on the streets in January. From then on, the streets are very crowded, especially at weekends, until the end of the Carnival. So even if you miss the four-day event, you can still enjoy watching the revelry unfold.
Dates: Starts 40 days before Easter, normally in February, and last for four days in total
Tickets: Are divided by date and class for the Sambodromo Samba parade tickets, please click here for more details.
The Girl from Ipanema
Chilling on Rio’s white sands is one of the must-dos while traveling in Brazil. Only five minutes’ drive from the heart of Rio, you can escape from the city and hit Copacabana, the most famous beach in Rio. Most people prefer sunbathing or swimming or surfing, but it is not uncommon to see people who come to play sports. There are many sports facilities along the 2.2-mile coastline: Try beach volleyball, soccer or something new – bossaball! Bossaball combines football, volleyball and capoeira, and is played on an inflatable trampoline court. It is an exciting and creative sport game.
If Copacabana is too crowded for you, you can drive past it to find another famous beach waiting: Ipanema beach, made famous by the catchy tune “The Girl from Ipanema”. As the lyrics go, “Ipanema is teeming with sexy gals and well-toned guys; all people want here is to see and to be seen!”
Many vendors patrol the beach, selling whatever you need: towels, bathing amenities, sandals, and most importantly, a cold beer! Although chilling at the beach is fun, remember not to go there after dark. Security issues are always a big concern in Brazil.
Copacabana Address: Atlantica Avenue, Copacabana, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Ipanema Address: Vieira Souto Avenue, Ipanema, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (Just a few miles west from Copacabana)
The Most Beautiful Hunchback
Corcovado means “hunchback” in Portuguese, and this mountain is located to the west of Rio de Janeiro city center. It is not an exaggeration to call it the most beautiful hunchback. It’s not just about the natural beauty of the Corcovado, but also about the breathtaking views from the peak taking in the whole of Rio and Guanabara Bay. Corcovado is also the foothold for the 100ft-high statue of Christ the Redeemer.
Christ the Redeemer is the best-known Brazilian image, and became listed as one of the new Seven Wonders of the World in 2007. Since then, the queue to get up Corcovado has become extremely long. If you don’t want to queue up for an hour to get the tickets at the local train station, you can either buy them online or at the ticket office in town.
Operating time: 8am – 7pm; trains depart every 30 mins
Ticket: Adults R$50; Children R$25 (age 6-12)
Trip length: approximately 20 mins
Safety and Security
Violence and crime in Brazil are at a relatively high level. All visitors should be vigilant, particularly at night or during the carnival period. The Brazilian government even warns all travelers: “Don’t attempt to resist attackers”, as they may be armed or under the influence of drugs. This may sound daunting, but as in many other big European cities, it’s never a good idea to walk alone in a favela, with your new camera slung around your neck and your expensive watch on your wrist. Dress like a local (in Bermuda shorts, T-shirts, white socks and sneakers or a pair of Havaianas), and staying away from dark and quiet streets will keep you safe on your trip!