What to see
It is worth spending a few days in glamorous Rio de Janeiro where there is a lot to do. Sugar Loaf and Corcovado Mountains offer superb views of the city's stunning natural setting, with ocean, bays, mountains, jungle and beaches in all directions. A walk along Copacabana highlights how important the beach is to the people of Rio as the city's great leveller, with people playing football, volleyball and enjoying beach parties.
Manaus is the gateway to Brazil's Amazon, the most diverse eco-system on the planet. To explore the Amazon one can either take a cruise on the likes of the luxury Iberostar or the more intimate Premium Amazon Clipper, and take regular excursions on motorised canoes. Alternatively, there are a number of Amazon lodges, including the Amazon Eco Park Jungle Lodge, situated in a protected reserve near Manaus, which are ideal for those with limited time. For a more in-depth Amazonian experience Anavilhanas Jungle Lodge is located 3 and a half hours from Manaus in a more untouched part of the rainforest. From these lodges you can visit traditional Indian villages, fish for piranhas and take jungle walks.
The Pantanal is the best place to see wildlife in Brazil, due to the lack of vegetation. It is a birder's paradise, with hundreds of species including hyacinth macaw and toucan, and mammal include capybara, anaconda, a variety of monkeys and, for the very fortunate, jaguar.
The Iguacu Falls are one of the natural wonders of the world, the sheer volume of water and spectacular jungle setting making them a superb year-round sight.
Brazil is famous for its beaches, and in addition to the more widely-known areas such as Bahia and Rio, we recommend a visit to the Marau Peninsula, south of Salvador, for a true castaway experience. To reach the Marau Peninsula involves either a flight or a road trip followed by a ferry, and once there you can find pristine beaches and sandy-street villages.
The gold and riches of Brazil has left some amazing colonial towns in the heartlands and along the coast, many of which are now UNESCO World Heritage Sites. Ouro Preto, Salvador, Paraty and Tiradentes have cobbled streets and beautiful colonial churches and colourful houses. Salvador, the capital of Bahia, is also one of the country's most vibrant cities due to its strong African influences - it has a carnival to rival Rio's.