Updated August 8th, 2018.
“Brazil can be a trip entirely on it’s own – with a different language, culture and feel to the rest of South America”
EAT! Feijoada. Brazil’s national dish is a thick stew made with black beans, pork ‘bits’ and beef. Served with rice, collard greens and sliced oranges – usually available in restaurants on Wednesdays and Saturdays. Just don’t overload on this… it’s a heavy one!
DRINK! Caipirinha! Made with Brazil’s national fire water ‘cachaca’ – a 40% ‘blow your head off’ liquor that is made from sugar cane. You can drink it straight, however, we recommend mixing it with sugar, lime juice and ice in Brazil’s famous cocktail caipirinha. And – if you use vodka instead of cachaca, you’ve got yourself a ‘caipiroska!’WEAR: C
BEWARE! Political protests. There have been large protests across 11 cities in Brazil recently and police have used riot control methods such as tear gas to disperse protestors. Tourists should avoid demonstrations at all times as you never know when these can turn violent.
WEAR! Fancy Dress Costume at The Rio Carnival. The biggest festival in the world, the Rio Carnival takes place every year in Brazil’s vibrant capital city. The 2014 festival will begin on 28th and finish March 4th as the streets flood with people from dusk until dawn. Dress in your most elaborate outfit possible and don’t miss the main Samba Parade. For those who are really into it – you can pre-order your costumer for the event on the official Rio Carnival Page!
SPEAK! Portuguese. The only country in South America where Portuguese is the official language dating back to the colonisation of Brazil by the Portuguese in the 16th century. English is not widely spoken so brush up on your Portuguese before you leave!
Check out our Travel Guides to Brazil…
An Introduction to Backpacking Brazil!
Often thought of as a separate part of South America entirely. Brazil can be a trip entirely on its own – with a different language, culture and feel to the rest of South America, it can seem like you are in a different continent altogether.
From its passionate, fiery cities to one of the natural wonders of the world, the incredible Amazon Rainforest, to the white sandy beaches of Ipanema and the cascading waterfalls of Iguazu, this country is huge in terms of size, diversity and opportunity for adventure.
The Amazon Rainforest
The largest rainforest on earth, home to the world’s largest river system, the incredible Amazon Rainforest spreads across half of Brazil and extends to Peru, Bolivia, Venezuela and Colombia. It’s difficult to comprehend just how large this area is, covering 1.4 billion acres (or 5.5 million km squared)! Just the name conjures up images of adventure, long lost tribes, dense forest and incredible wildlife.
Taking canoe rides upstream through dense forest, meeting people’s whose livelihoods have depended on the awesome river for thousands of years and waking up to the sound of tropical birds and unknown creatures… these are the memories of the Amazon that you will take home with you.
Brazil’s two largest cities, Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, are located in the south-east of the country. Cosmopolitan, wild, artistic, cultured, electric, fashionable, noisy, diverse – it’s difficult to sum up Brazil’s city life in one word.
Rio de Janeiro (also known as the Cidade Marvillhosa – or marvellous city) is recognized worldwide for its iconic landmarks – the Christ the Redeemer Statue of Corcovado Mountain and the unmissable Sugar Loaf Mountain.
Those who have never even dreamed of going to Brazil have surely heard of the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema – and heard rumours about the uncontrollable fever of Carnaval. Situated in this idyllic setting with mountains, white sandy beaches and rocky islands surrounding the city – there is much to do in Brazil’s capital aside from soak up the intoxicating street life. With art galleries, restaurants and heady nightlife, visitors to Rio are in for one hell of a treat!
On the other hand, Sao Paulo is actually Brazil’s largest city and economic and business centre. Renowned for its style, music, intense nightlife and unmistakeable joie de vivre, this city is often overlooked by tourists who favour the more celebrated capital. Big mistake! Visitors to this city will discover a cosmopolitan, multicultural city with a big personality, home to many different types of people (large communities of Japanese, Italians, Jewish and Arab call live here).
The Coast and National Parks
In the northeast of the country, you will discover untouched beautiful coastline interspersed with colonial cities such as Recife, Olinda and Fortaleza. Those who dig deeper will be rewarded; you will find oceanic wildlife reserves (The Ilha de Fernando de Noronha) and incredible national parks (such as Piaui). Head to Maranhão for an interesting mix of cultures – from Europeans to Indians or to Matto Grosso to explore the amazing Pantanal swamp.
5 Random Facts about Brazil
1. Brazil is by far the largest country in South America covering over 47% of the land mass.
2. The name ‘Brazil’ comes from the Brazilwood tree (pau Brazil) – it was the first export to come from the country.
3. The country covers three time zones.
4. Football is a religion in Brazil with famous national stars such as Pele, Ronaldo and Ronaldinho. The national team have won the World Cup 5 times.
5. Brazil has the largest economy in South America and one of the largest in the world – and growing!