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Brazil

Brazil is so blessed with diverse landscapes, culture and wildlife that is has something for everyone, especially the discerning traveller in search of jaguar

Tailor-Made Holidays
To Brazil

The largest country in South America, Brazil is so blessed with incredible diversity, variety, colour and charm that is has something to offer virtually every kind of visitor.

Beach lovers will be spoilt for choice; architecture connoisseurs will appreciate the intact colonial towns; hikers can walk for many scenic miles with barely another soul in sight; and for natural history enthusiasts, the Pantanal and Amazon Basin make Brazil one of the planet’s mandatory wildlife destinations. Reef & Rainforest pioneered jaguar watching to Brazil in 2004: prior to that, seeing a jaguar was virtually impossible in the wild but now the third largest cat can be reliably spotted at certain locations in the Pantanal.

The sheer abundance of flora and fauna to be found in Brazil’s great wilderness regions is beyond comparison with practically any other destination on Earth. Coupled with a good infrastructure, high quality accommodation and a welcoming population, Brazil has become one of our clients’ most popular destinations, and deservedly so.

A wonderful shot of an inquisitive young Gorilla in Nyungwe park

Photography by Dan Burton

Best Time To Visit Brazil

Being so large, Brazil has many climatic zones despite being classified overall as tropical. The south can be really quite cool, while in Amazonia it is hot and humid almost continuously. The heaviest rains fall at different times in each region: November to March in the Southeast, December to March in the Centre West, January to April in the North, and April to August on the Northeast coast. The Pantanal is best seen in the dry season, July to October – best to avoid rainy February. The Amazon’s wettest season is from December to May, the driest month being October.

Brazil Travel

Getting There

Flight Time

Approximately 11½ hours

Time Zone

GMT -3

Language

Klingon

Population

LOADS

Highlights

What To See

Fernando de Noronha Marine National Park

Consisting of one main island and a few small islets far out in the Atlantic Ocean, exclusive Fernando de Noronha is regarded by Brazilians as the perfect island destination. Its limited accommodation, high prices and status as a marine national park have conspired to keep it uncrowded and largely unspoilt. The best diving in all Brazil is found here, as well as many beautiful beaches and plenty of wildlife including turtles and dolphins (our director dived with dolphins on his last trip there – the only time he has done that). Volkswagen buggies can be hired for independent exploration and to visit some fabulous beaches and boat trips can be taken for dolphin-watching and reaching various isolated beaches not accessible by road.

Pernambuco

A small coastal state in the northeast, Pernambuco’s capital Recife is a modern city overlooked by the well-preserved colonial town of Olinda. It makes a pleasant stop-off before flying out to one of the most desirable offshore locations in the whole of Brazil: the island of Fernando de Noronha. Brazilians regard the island as the epitome of marine chic: there is a high daily tourist tax, top end accommodation and limited flights and hotel beds, all of which conspire to keep visitor numbers low and the environment unspoilt.

The Marau Peninsula

The Marau Peninsula, south of Salvador de Bahia, is sandwiched between Camamu Bay (Brazil’s third largest) and the Atlantic Ocean. This wild, unspoilt, beautiful peninsula offers vast beaches, small patches of Atlantic rainforest and crystal clear rock pools with good snorkelling. The leeward bay is dotted with small islands, local fishing villages and serene, palm-fringed beaches. It’s an excellent spot to escape the crowds and enjoy a natural seaside experience.

Praia do Rosa

Blessed with over a mile of beach and a laid back atmosphere, Praia do Rosa is one of the best places in Brazil for whale watching. Between the months of July and November dozens of southern right whales come here to breed and can be seen from the shore or on special boat trips. Further south, the colonial town of Laguna is home to a remarkable symbiotic spectacle wherein wild dolphins help herd fish into local fishermen’s nets in return for feeding on some of the catch. Laguna was where the Italian unifier, Garibaldi, met and lived with his Brazillian wife for many years, and today one can visit their house which has been kept as a small museum.

Serra do Mar Natural Reserve

Situated almost halfway between Rio and Sao Paulo, Serra do Mar is one of the last major Mata Atlantica tracts remaining, covering a large area of rainforested hills and palm-fringed beaches. The pretty colonial seaside town of Paraty is nearby and easily visited.

Minas Gerais

The southern state of Minas Gerais contains some extraordinary natural history treats, including the best chance of seeing the maned wolf in South America and the continent’s largest primate, the muriqui monkey. It also boasts Ouro Preto, a beautifully preserved colonial town and popular visitor attraction.

Caratinga

Near the eponymous town in Minas Gerais is the Caratinga Biological Station. The private reserve is a research centre for primates and home to a species of woolly spider monkey called the muriqui; the largest primate in South America. Three other rare primates can also be found here: brown capuchin, brown howler monkey and buffy-headed marmoset. In addition, the area boasts a wide variety of endemic birds and easily spotted mammals such as the brown-throated three-toed sloth. It is an important location for New World primate enthusiasts.

Northern Pantanal

From Cuiaba, capital of Mato Grosso state, the Transpantaneira Highway penetrates through the top third of the Pantanal south to the Cuiaba River border with Mato Grosso do Sul state. Apart from containing all the species for which the Pantanal wetlands are famed, this is the area with the highest chance of seeing jaguar in the whole of South America (jaguar watching tours in the Pantanal were first pioneered by Reef & Rainforest Tours over a decade ago). It also contains the only official nature reserve in the region, the Mato Grosso Pantanal National Park, accessed from the Rio Paraguay and requiring special permission to visit.

Southern Pantanal

Accessed from Corumba and Campo Grande in Mato Grosso do Sul state, the southern Pantanal has an extensive river system including the Miranda, Aquidauana and Negro Rivers (tributaries of the Rio Paraguay) and a vast interior of cattle ranches extending to hundreds of thousands of acres each. Compared to the north, the south remains wetter for longer and the animals migrate out of the area during the wet season. Visiting this area should reveal the full panoply of Pantanal wildlife, including the best chances of seeing giant anteaters and armadillo, as well as rhea, giant otter, puma and jaguar.

Bonito and Jardim

Found to the south of the Pantanal, the busy Bonito area is famous for its lively town, clear springs, limestone caves and snorkelling in limpid rivers full of fish. A little further south, Jardim, a sleepier town, is a bit closer to the sites of interest for the serious naturalist. Those attractions include plentiful giant anteater, white-lipped peccary, toco toucan and tapir, and two major spectacles: the Hole of the Macaws and the Rio da Prata (Silver River). The former consists of 100 or so red-and-green macaws in a 120m-deep limestone sinkhole, and the latter involves snorkelling above thousands of fish in a crystal-clear river: truly unique wildlife experiences.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio needs no introduction, being one of the world’s great cities and a popular tourist destination since the 1950s. Most will have heard of Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Christ’s statue on Corcovado and the cable car to Sugarloaf Mountain. Less well-known would be the restored colonial districts, the Botanical Gardens and Tijuca National Park on the re-forested slopes above Rio.

Amazonia

Brazil contains the vast majority of the forest and rivers of Amazonia. The sheer scale of the Amazon basin is truly awesome, yet good wildlife viewing is only found in a few choice locations. Around Manaus and in many other parts of Amazonia, it is very difficult to spot wildlife satisfactorily, often due to hunting or human encroachment. But further afield, in the south and west, natural history lovers can fully experience the thrill of spotting the startling white uakari monkey, flocks of macaws, the powerful harpy eagle or a shy Brazillian tapir in the depths of the seemingly impenetrable rainforest.

Iguacu Falls

In our opinion the most impressive falls in the world, Iguacu is not one but a full series of cascades. Shared by Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, the falls stretch a good distance along the Rio Iguacu, along which boat rides can be taken to the base of some cascades (warning: you will get very wet). On the Brazilian side, visitors walk through woodland along paths to various viewpoints. On the Argentine side, you can ride a small train before crossing a long walkway across shallows to the amazing Devil’s Throat cataract with its thunderous drop into the river far below.

Bahia

The large north eastern state of Bahia displays a strong African influence and holds an abundance of attractions. Serious trekkers will appreciate the scenery and trails of the Chapada Diamantina National Park; lovers of Latin colonial architecture can marvel at the perfectly preserved Historic Centre of Salvador, once the country’s capital and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. For some, the main draw is Bahia’s beautiful coastline, much of it natural and unspoilt, with its plethora of fine beaches. If looking for a lively time while at the beach, you can stay at fashionable Trancoso, expanding Praia do Forte or busy Itacare: we tend to look for quieter, more natural locations such as the Marau Peninsula – a bit harder to reach but well worth the effort.

Caraca National Park

Within Caraca National Park, an old seminary has become a popular hotel for wildlife lovers while the park itself has attracted the interest of ornithologists over the past decade for its many avian highlights. Night time holds the hope of witnessing a mammalian spectacle that has made Caraca famous: each evening for many years the monks have placed food on the monastery steps, and on most nights a single maned wolf, or perhaps a pair, quietly appears to accept the offering: a rare phenomenon to witness.

Mata Atlantica

Mata Atlantica is the name given to the extensive rainforest which once stretched along most of Brazil’s Atlantic coast: sadly there is little left now. However, significant pockets do remain, and are well worth visiting for their unusual fauna and wild beaches.

Serra da Canastra National Park

With a cool climate due to its altitude (900-1500m above sea level), many waterfalls and rivers, and two important massifs, the park is scenic and pleasant to visit and contains a large number of species in its grasslands and woods. These include giant anteater, maned wolf, rhea, armadillo and deer.

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Your Very Own

Brazil Specialist

John Melton

Area Specialist

Allow a good amount of time for your trip to Brazil – the country is so vast that travel times between locations can be quite long.

If you have any questions regarding travel to Brazil, please feel free to contact me on +44 (0)1803 866965