Brazil Experiential Travel Guide: 18 Things to Do, See and Eat + 2 Week Itinerary

Are you curious about touring to Brazil, however solely have a restricted period of time? Maybe you’ve got a few weeks and you’re feeling overwhelmed by Brazil’s measurement and number of locations. Don’t fear, we have been there. That’s why we created this Brazil Experiential Travel Guide to get you began in organizing and planning your personal journey.

Admiring Rio de Janeiro: jungle, coast and metropolis multi functional.

Early in our around-the-world journey, we spent fifteen months touring by means of Latin America, however we by no means made it to Brazil. How did we miss the most important nation on the continent, the fifth largest on this planet?

Short reply: we ran out of time. Real reply: we psyched ourselves out considering we should expertise Brazil all of sudden. Given Brazil’s measurement and variety, we understood it might take months and even years to journey and totally discover. So we postpone a go to, ready for that good timing, our minds darting again usually to how we’d method it.

Recently, we determined: Brazil, now’s the time. We embraced the “you don’t want to do it all of sudden, however select correctly” method.

Take a experience on Brazil’s southern coastal highways and you will discover roads and cities engulfed in lush, flourishing inexperienced, and jungle that opens to dazzling seas and seashores. Marvel at huge swathes of savannah, forest and rivers all through its inland tropical wetlands. No matter the extent of growth and modernization throughout the nation — and there’s loads throughout its cities, cities and infrastructure — nature seems poised to reclaim.

Against the backdrop of that nature exists a cultural variety and expression formed from Portuguese colonial rule, the African slave commerce, and waves of immigration and inner migration. This kinds the inspiration on which we started to perceive the nation – not completely, but deeply — in a brief time frame.

If, related to us, you have puzzled how to method this huge and numerous nation with a restricted period of time, this information is for you. The aim: to encourage concepts of issues to do in Brazil, locations to go to, and how to interact in order to take advantage of your personal travels in Brazil.

The following experiences are the highlights from our Wonders of Brazil tour with G Adventures. If you might be contemplating this tour and need to know what to anticipate, right here’s a style of the itinerary, actions and locations you will expertise. If you resolve to journey Brazil independently, use this information as inspiration to piece collectively experiences and locations to go to to your personal two- or three-week itinerary. Disclosure: This tour was sponsored and supplied to us at the side of our partnership with G Adventures as Wanderers.

Brazil in two weeks, from Rio de Janeiro to the Pantanal: An Experiential Guide

For these of you who love maps — as we do — here’s a visible of the primary two weeks of our route by means of Brazil on the Wonders of Brazil tour with G Adventures.

Brazil Tour Map and Itinerary
Map of our first two weeks touring Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro, 1-Four days

1. Take the Corcovado Railway and take pleasure in Rio from above, at Christ the Redeemer

What actually struck me most about Rio de Janeiro once we first arrived have been its pure options – dramatic mountains, city rainforests, and lengthy stretches of white sand seashores. Human life, together with downtown skyscrapers and densely populated neighborhoods are tucked between Mother Nature’s crevices and cliffs.

Visiting Rio de Janeiro on our Brazil Tour
View over Rio from Christ the Redeemer on the prime of Corcovado Mountain.

We took the Corcovado Railway by means of the thick rainforest of Tijuca National Park, a spot exceptional for each its lushness and measurement. Tijuca, an city rainforest, was the results of a large reforestation challenge from the mid-19th century when the town realized that the deforestation due to espresso plantations and coal mining had dried up among the metropolis’s fundamental water sources. A reminder not to mess with Mother Nature and her delicate steadiness.

Christ the Redeemer, the 30-meter excessive Art Deco statue atop Corcovado mountain, overlooks all of it, embracing the town.

Brazil Tour, Christ the Redeemer in Rio
Christ the Redeemer above, Rio de Janeiro beneath.

The view from the highest is exceptional. I discovered myself questioning how all this may increasingly have appeared to colonialists upon their first arrival within the 16th century. Something should have struck them, too. Rio de Janeiro was the nation’s capital for nearly 200 years; its cultural significance and environment nonetheless maintain sway.

2. Visit the Planeterra Favela Experience in Vidigal and problem your notion

You could surprise: “Can a ‘favela tour’ ever be ethical and respectful?” It’s essential to ask that and different tough questions when it comes to excursions in favelas or different marginalized communities. To discover our personal ideas on the matter, we interacted with a Favela tour in Rio and met neighborhood members and leaders.

When tourism and excursions are developed from and by members of the neighborhood, respectful engagement is feasible. A community-focused method permits immersive experiences formed by native tradition, tales, folks, and life — simply because it did with the one we skilled with Planeterra Foundation and its native companions Favela Experience and Favela Inc.

Vidigal Favela Tour with Planeterra and G Adventures
The Planeterra Vidigal favela expertise, pushed and delivered by area people leaders.

Local neighborhood leaders and organizations create and ship the favela tour. The expertise zeroes in on respect, sharing and cultural change. Positive affect is amplified economically and socially for the reason that cash stays native and profit is accrued all through the neighborhood.

Brazil Tour, Vidigal Favela Tour in Rio
Learning about natural treatments from Paulinho, caretaker of the Vidigal Ecological Park.

Though nobody expertise will by itself dissolve the otherness of a favela, this one helps. It does so by swapping the story of poverty and hazard with the story of human beings making their method — creating, working, dwelling — for themselves and their households.

Read: A Favela Tour in Vidigal, Rio de Janeiro: How to Do One Respectfully and Responsibly

Three. Immerse your self in Rio’s city artwork

Street artwork and city artwork set up fanatics will discover no scarcity of inspiration in Rio de Janeiro (and elsewhere in Brazil). Across Rio’s neighborhoods — from again alleys within the favelas to formal road artwork public galleries — you will spot colourful road murals carrying socio-economic, cultural and political messages.

Vidigal Favela Tour with Planeterra and G Adventures
Inspiring road artwork, Vidigal favela.
Brazil Tour, visit to Santa Taresa neighborhood in Rio
Street artwork and an historic tram mark the expertise in Rio’s Santa Teresa neighborhood.

Perhaps no set up higher illustrates how public artwork can affect neighborhoods and city growth than the colourful Selarón Steps on the fringe of Rio’s Lapa and Santa Teresa neighborhoods. A 20+ 12 months personal artwork challenge of now deceased Chilean artist Jorge Selarón has reworked a as soon as marginal neighborhood of Rio into one of many metropolis’s most visited sights.

Brazil Tour, visiting the Selarón Steps in Rio de Janeiro
Requisite tacky photograph on the Selarón Steps in Rio.

Featuring tiles from over sixty international locations, the Selarón Steps reside artwork historical past, a neighborhood challenge maintained by native artists in honor of the unique challenge’s inclusive imaginative and prescient.

Ilha Grande, 2 Days

Four. Hike Pico do Papagaio (Parrot Peak), the best level of Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande, just some hours’ drive and ferry experience from Rio de Janeiro, was a former leper colony and then excessive safety jail (till 1994). Nowadays, the island is open to the general public. It’s additionally a car-free pure reserve whose growth is restricted, that means that you simply will not discover any large resorts or growth. And that is an excellent factor.

One of one of the best methods to respect the span of the island’s magnificence and additionally that of Brazil’s southern coast is to climb Pico de Papagaio (Parrot Peak), Ilha Grande’s highest peak. Many folks select to do that as a summit-at-sunrise hike, setting off at 2:30 AM to attain the height in time for dawn over the ocean. (Note: Several folks in our group did the dawn hike with Sunrise Pioneers and had an amazing expertise.)

Brazil Tour, Ilha Grande and Pico de Papagaio
Enjoying the views from Pico de Papagaio on the prime of Ilha Grande.

Some of us, nonetheless, take pleasure in an occasional good night time’s sleep on the highway (sure, responsible!!) and query the trade-off between that sleep and a nighttime jungle hike with headlamps. We opted to set off for our hike simply after 8AM from Abraão (Ilha Grande’s city heart) and reached the height some 2.5-Three hours later after 4 miles uphill by means of thick, steamy jungle. We poked round, took in attractive views and watched vultures and frigate birds circle considerably ominously overhead.

Brazil Tour, Ilha Grande hiking
A difficult jungle hike, however the views over Ilha Grande are price it.

We could have missed the colours from dawn and the nighttime jungle expertise, however the mid-morning views have been nonetheless spectacular. No regrets.

Note: If you do select to hike Pico do Papagaio throughout the day, get an early begin and carry a lot of water. The warmth and humidity intensify noticeably because the day progresses. This impacts consolation and the summit view due to rising haze.

5. Relax out of your hike on a tranquil (and almost empty) seashore on Ilha Grande

Our authentic post-hike plan was to take a ship taxi to Praia de Lopes Mendes on the alternative facet of Ilha Grande. However, by the point we inquired about transport prospects within the early afternoon it was already too late as a result of boats have been now not headed in that route.

We actually missed the boat. We have been discouraged and upset.

However, we shortly found the jungle trails eastward from the principle port space of Abraão. They allowed us to simply hop from one laid again seashore to one other. We sampled just a few seashores alongside the way in which and settled on Praia Comprida.

Completely surrounded by jungle it felt like our personal personal, tropical retreat. Besides an enterprising native caipirinha salesman (who churned out cocktails from his personal cooler and maybe sampled an excessive amount of of his personal product), solely a sprinkling of different beachgoers have been about.

Brazil Tour, Ilha Grande beaches
A community of small seashores are related by jungle paths round Ilha Grande.

The water was the right temperature for an extended swim, float or lounge. We relaxed our muscle tissue, watched the caipirinha man drink all of the cocktails he failed to promote, and knew we’d discovered the place we hadn’t actually been on the lookout for in spite of everything.

6. Devour an area moqueca on the seashore

A Brazilian moqueca is a hearty stew often made with a mix of coconut milk, palm oil, comparatively gentle seasoning and fish, seafood or a mix of the 2. On Ilha Grande, the native moqueca specialty was made with roasted bananas (moqueca de piexe con banana-da-terra). Although that mixture could sound odd — significantly to the banana-averse like me – the distinction of wealthy savory and candy was scrumptious.

Brazil Food, seafood moqueca with bananas
Enjoying moqueca de piexe con banana-da-terra at a beachside restaurant on Ilha Grande.

A observe about Brazilian meals parts and serving sizes: In a phrase: HUGE. Many eating places will listing dishes as serving two folks (or generally three to 4 folks). Prices are accordingly — and generally shockingly — excessive. As a rule of thumb: take the variety of folks the menu signifies the dish will serve, then double that (i.e., a dish for 2 will often feed 4 folks. Strategize and order accordingly. We discovered single parts (that’s, meant to feed one particular person) often featured greater than sufficient meals to feed the 2 of us.

Paraty, 2 days

7. Wander the preserved Portuguese colonial cobblestoned streets of Paraty

Frozen in time, Paraty is. As one in all Brazil’s oldest port cities relationship again to the late 16th century, Paraty has seen the rise and fall of the gold, slave and espresso trades over its time. Its personal destiny and prosperity has proceeded accordingly. Thanks to a close to abandonment of the town within the early 20th century, its preservation provides a dwelling gallery of 17th to 19th century Portuguese colonial structure. Streets run in giant cobblestones and are punctuated with colourful doorways, home windows, and decorations. You’ll see how and why Paraty stays a traveler favourite.

Brazil Tour, Walking through Paraty
The colourful cobblestoned streets and Portuguese colonial structure of Paraty.

The previous city is specified by a grid, making for straightforward wandering. If a specific road appears too busy for you, simply head one or two streets away and you’ll doubtless have all of it to your self. Although Paraty’s streets are laid again and sleepy throughout the day, they arrive alive at night time as road musicians and artists take up their acts on each nook.

Brazil Tour, cachaça tasting in Paraty
Paraty can be well-known for cachaça, a Brazilian liquor. Visit a store for a style…or two.

eight. Experience Samba da Benção, the samba night time free-for-all on Paraty’s fundamental sq.

Samba is a Brazilian kind of music and dance whose West African roots run deep. Heavy in drums and rhythm, samba makes it onerous to stand nonetheless because the beat makes its method inside you. If you’re timing is sweet, catch Samba da Benção, the Monday-night Paraty samba dance occasion on Praça da Matriz, the Paraty fundamental sq.. It’s free, however donations are type…and maintain the music and occasion going.

Brazil Tour, samba dancing in Paraty
Dancing her samba coronary heart out on Paraty fundamental sq..

It begins from 8PM. Musicians come out in drive, and locals and guests get their dance on properly into the night time. The strikes are critical, however the perspective not a lot – all appear to come as they’re.

If you don’t expertise samba in Paraty, make sure to ask round alongside your journey. You’ll discover samba someplace – and it will likely be an essential sew in your understanding of the tapestry and psyche of Brazil.

9. Soak up a lazy seashore day at Trindade Beach

Trindade, a simple public bus experience from Paraty, is a favourite seashore spot for locals and vacationers alike. Walk the three or 4 seashores related by jungle trails and decide which one matches you greatest by way of environment, crowds, waves and shade. From the city, we walked Praia do Meio all the way in which to Piscina Natural da Caixa d’Aco, which we discovered crowded and murky.

Brazil Tour, Beach Day Outside Paraty
Enjoying a lazy afternoon at Praia do Cachadaço close to Trindade.

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Our favourite seashore: Praia do Cachadaço. Why? It was large, comparatively empty, surrounded by lush jungle and house to some large timber good for shade. In different phrases, the perfect location from which to ponder the world throughout a day on the seashore.

You may do as we did by taking ten steps out of your towel and grabbing a seat on the low key beachside Restaurante Caiçara. Then, end and cool the time without work with a bowl of açaí from the café throughout the road from the bus cease earlier than you come to Paraty.

Iguazu Falls (Brazilian and Argentine sides), 2 days

10. Take within the vastness of Iguazu Falls from the Brazil facet

When it comes to waterfalls we regularly discover ourselves skeptical. “Big, beautiful waterfalls!” can usually translate to the fact of a far-off trickle.

Not so, Iguazu Falls (Foz do Iguaçu). Remarkable, huge, highly effective, vast. Humbling. Evidence of Mother Nature’s grip of magnificence and energy. And a restorer of the promise of a waterfall.

Brazil Tour, Foz do Iguaçu
Enjoying the panorama of Iguazu Falls (Foz do Iguaçu) from the Brazilian facet.

From the Brazil facet of the falls (they’re shared with Argentina), you’ll be able to actually respect the vastness of Iguazu — or Iguaçu in Brazil, a phrase derived from a Guarani indigenous root that means “big water” — the most important community of waterfalls on this planet. So giant are they 90-120 minute stroll is flush with panoramic views.

BONUS: Enjoy watching the coati, an animal which seems to be like an anteater cross-bred with a raccoon. You’ll see coatis all alongside the path, particularly when meals is close by. Do not feed them, nonetheless, as they’re already too accustomed to human meals and contact.

Brazil Tour, coatis at Iguazu Falls
A second of coati calm earlier than he discovers meals close by.

11. Get up shut with Iguazu Falls from the Argentine facet

While the Brazilian facet of Igauzu Falls offers perspective on their vastness, the Argentine facet permits you to rise up shut to admire — and really feel — the sheer energy and measurement of those falls. The community of strolling paths all through the park are very well completed and interpreted, taking you thru forest above and beneath barely smaller falls. Several of the overlooks carry you very simply proper subsequent to among the largest falls. Spend a while; you will really feel the facility of dashing water proper subsequent to you as you cool off in its mist.

Brazil Tour, visit to Iguazu Falls Argentine Side
Feeling the facility of Devil’s Throat on the Argentine facet of Iguazu Falls.

Cap your go to to Iguazu Falls by going into and beneath them aboard a speedboat. There’s no higher method to really feel the total drive of the falls. The cool water feels wonderful, and a full dose unfavorable ions and thrill places everybody on a pure excessive. Our boat went three or 4 instances into the falls, with our group cheering for extra every time we emerged. We have been soaked by means of by the top and had perma-grins on our faces.

Brazil Tour, visiting Iguazu Falls Argentina
Get up shut to and into the falls by speedboat. So good.

Although we took the same boat experience 9 years in the past once we first visited Iguazu Falls in Argentina, this experience was definitely worth the revisit. We would do it once more. It’s that a lot enjoyable.

Bonito, 1-2 days

12. Drift-snorkel by means of the clear waters of the Rio da Prata

Snorkeling a river?

When our G Adventures CEO (tour chief) informed us the river could be crystal clear and filled with fish, we had our doubts. Yet, snorkeling within the Rio da Prata at Recanto Ecologico close to Bonito exceeded all expectations. Spectacular.

Brazil Tour, Snorkeling in the Rio da Prata near Bonito
Crystal clear water and fish alongside a snorkel on the Rio da Prata.

The expertise of a drift snorkel down a river, whereby you swim down the river with the satisfying help of the present, is one thing exceptional. No video can do it justice, however we share our transient one as a style.

Book this snorkeling expertise at Rio da Prata right here.

The Pantanal, 2 days

13. Go wildlife monitoring and chook recognizing on a late afternoon boat experience within the Pantanal

Although not as well-known as Brazil’s Amazon additional north, the Pantanal — the most important inland wetlands on this planet, stretching from western Brazil into jap Bolivia and Paraguay — can be one of many world’s biodiversity hotspots. Home to greater than 650 recognized species of birds and to the best focus of wildlife in South America, this huge space of seasonally flooded savannah, tropical forests, grasslands and rivers is bustling with life, most of it imperceptible to people.

Brazil Tour, Pantanal Boat Trip and Bird Watching
One of the a number of kinds of kingfishers you will see within the Pantanal.

For us, essentially the most satisfying technique to get amongst it within the Pantanal: a late afternoon boat experience with an area information. Just as the sport of “who can spot the most birds?” started, we quickly misplaced rely. We encountered so many species – of kingfishers, herons, cranes, cormorants, storks, and toucans – and in such amount, that’s was crucial not to rely and click on, however moderately to take pleasure in.

Brazil Tour, bird watching in the Pantanal
Macaw napping within the Pantanal.

Pedro, a self-taught birding and wildlife skilled who’d lived his whole life within the Pantanal, was our information. His capacity to spot and establish birds close to and far within the distance was gorgeous. As he defined, any time he’d see one thing unfamiliar to him throughout an outing, he’d do his analysis — till he was acquainted with nearly each species within the Pantanal. His ardour and admiration for birds and wildlife – nonetheless in spite of everything this time – is real and contagious. Despite his having encountered these species 1000’s of instances, every encounter unfolds as if it have been his first.

Brazil Tour, Boat Ride in the Pantanal
A late afternoon boat experience within the Pantanal.

The expertise of the boat itself, floating atop and inside nature, delivered a peace of stillness and reflection.

14. Go piranha fishing…and feed the caimans!

In full disclosure, I’m not a lot into fishing and actually didn’t assume this was going to be significantly satisfying or attention-grabbing. However, Pedro had a method of creating it so.

Brazil Tour, Piranha fishing in the Pantanal
Our information exhibits us the sharp tooth of a piranha earlier than throwing him again.

Using easy bamboo fishing rods with chunks of uncooked meat as bait, we threw our traces into the murky river and waited. I anticipated that we’d depart with out catching something, as is commonly the case with fishing. Within minutes, nonetheless, piranhas have been popping up on the traces in every single place. Piranhas are smaller than I might anticipated, however their tooth appear to be they may do some critical harm.

Brazil Tour, Wildlife spotting in the Pantanal
A caiman comes nearer in hopes of catching one of many piranhas we throw again into the river.

Not wanting to take our catch again with us, we threw the piranhas again. This became meal time for the caimans circling about.

15. Hang out with a household of capybaras and spot an elusive tapir

Encountering capybaras within the wild was a aim of ours in Brazil. We’d been mildly obsessive about these ROUS (rodents of bizarre measurement) since we met Mimi the capybara in Paraguay years in the past.

This time, we wished to see them of their pure habitat.

And jackpot!

Brazil Tour, Wildlife in the Pantanal
Capybaras! A critical trying household on a Pantanal river financial institution.

During our boat experience, we got here throughout an prolonged capybara household full with mom, infants, youngsters and aunts. In nature, capybaras look critical, like all enterprise. I suppose we’d all be so if we and our offspring occurred to be the meal of selection amongst a spread of predators, together with caimans, jaguars and eagles.

Brazil Tour, Wildlife in the Pantanal
Tapirs are usually nocturnal, making this wildlife recognizing much more distinctive.

More than glad with the capybaras, our boat had the nice fortune to additionally spot an elusive tapir rising from the water. Frightened, he scampered onshore and tried to hurry away. Due to his measurement and clumsy worry, it took him three tries to lastly scale a close-by hill of calmly packed sand.

This time, Pedro’s pleasure went off the charts. Tapirs are nocturnal, so daytime encounters are fairly uncommon.

Looking on the form of the tapir, plainly Mother Nature carries a humorousness.

If all this isn’t sufficient, you’re additionally doubtless to encounter howler monkeys, capuchins, and pecarries (pig-like non-pigs) simply as we did. Your birding expertise shall be rounded out by hawks, a noticed owl, macaws (scarlet, hyacinth and even hybrids), as well as to all the opposite birds we point out above.

16. Chill out at a pousada within the Pantanal

During the Brazilian summer time, the Pantanal can turn into extremely scorching throughout the day. This means actions usually happen both within the early morning or late afternoon, offering ample time to decelerate. What to do with the remainder of that point? Enjoy it.

Brazil Tour, relaxing in the Pantanal
Dan relaxes in a hammock at our Pantanal fazenda (farm).

Sleeping or studying in a hammock, listening to the decision of the macaws within the timber above, or simply doing nothing however taking within the sights, smells of your environment shortly turns to calming bliss. (Note: doing nothing is essential and under-appreciated.).

Down time will permit you to higher course of the exceptional expertise that’s the Pantanal. And it could additionally ship some moments which lend readability to the life you will return to after your vacation.

Our days have been punctuated with an early morning stroll by means of the forest, horseback driving, a ship experience, and a night a nighttime stroll. Everything is taken at a gradual, relaxed tempo. This will not be solely good for us as people. The animals appear to prefer it, too, and are much less doubtless to be frightened away.

Brazil Tour, Horseback Riding in the Pantanal
Horseback driving within the Pantanal.

If you actually want to carry it down a notch – or maybe take it up a notch – avail your self of the strongest caipirinha in Brazil served up in a pitcher on the Santa Clara Pousada.

One is sufficient to lend additional readability…or haze. Trust us.

17. Get your Japanese meals and sushi repair

“Japanese food in Brazil?” you may be asking. Yes, it’s a factor. Brazil options the most important inhabitants of individuals of Japanese origin exterior of Japan, explaining the Japanese affect on the delicacies. The historical past of this options a captivating twist you’d be unlikely to guess.

Brazil food, Japanese takoyaki
A Japanese road stall serves up scrumptious takoyaki on the night time market in Foz do Iguaçu.

After you’ve loved your fill of conventional Brazilian meals — moquecas, steak, salgados (fried, stuffed snacks) – take a dive into Japanese-Brazilian meals. You’ll discover loads of the sushi restaurant requirements (e.g., sashimi, nigiri, rolls), and just a few Brazilian twists the place “hot” rolls and combos are flash fried or seared.

Sushi is comparatively and surprisingly cheap in Brazil, significantly given the standard.

Brazil Food, Sushi
Getting our sushi repair in Brazil.

18. Get your metropolis seashore on at Copacabana and Ipanema Beaches in Rio

The title “Copacabana” conjures photos of tropical, unique, luxurious, scene-y. Strutting like supermodels. The Copacabana Beach we discovered was extra inclusive and approachable, that includes atypical folks of all ages having fun with themselves on this 2.5-mile lengthy stretch of public metropolis seashore. Same goes for Ipanema Beach proper subsequent door.

Brazil Tour, beaches of Rio
Enjoying the final rays of sunshine on Rio’s seashores.

If you go to the seashore, you will have all the things you want as distributors make the rounds promoting all the things from caipirinhas to grilled cheese logs. Frequent visits to the seashore appear the atypical rhythm of life for a lot of in Rio. In reality, Rio’s seashores tackle a second surge of visitors on the finish of the work day as locals drop by the seashore for a cocktail, a dip within the ocean and to watch the solar go down.

Not a nasty method to finish the day. Or, in our case, to wrap our G Adventures tour in Brazil.

Itinerary concepts for another week in Brazil

If you occur to have a bit extra time and are questioning what to do throughout a 3rd week in Brazil, we advocate having a look at Salvador, the capital of Brazil’s Bahia area, and São Paulo, Brazil’s largest metropolis. These locations supply enhances and contrasts to the experiences, tradition, nature and locations visited earlier. Here’s why.

Salvador de Bahia, Four-5 days

Prior to our go to, we knew little about Salvador and Bahia till our good friend Barbara, a journey colleague and good friend who knew Brazil properly, steered we pay it a go to to spherical out our time within the nation. She defined that Bahia could be very totally different from all the things else we might seen skilled on our journey.

It seems that she was spot on.

Salvador, the capital of the northeastern Brazilian state of Bahia, incorporates a lengthy, deep historical past — one that’s evident and in some ways nonetheless alive at the moment. Founded in 1549 by the Portuguese because the nation’s first colonial capital, Salvador additionally served as the primary slave port and market in all of South America. A good portion of the estimated Four-5 million slaves that have been introduced to Brazil, primarily from West Africa, have been trafficked by means of Salvador.

Brazil Travel Guide - Salvador de Bahia
View down Pelourinho sq. in direction of Carmo church.

Today, Salvador and Bahia are thought of the epicenter of Afro-Brazilian tradition. An estimated 80-90% of the inhabitants are descended from African slaves, and a lot of the music, spirituality, and delicacies that arrived with them has been handed down by means of the generations. Adding additional complexity, a few of this tradition and type blended with indigenous and European traditions. What you encounter on the streets is colourful, vibrant, and full of life.

Brazil Travel Guide - Street art in Salvador de Bahia
Capoeira road mural. Capoeira, an Afro-Brazilian martial artwork combining music and dance, was invented in — and stays standard — in Bahia.

All of this historical past, along with the backdrop of 16th-19th century Portuguese colonial structure in Salvador’s previous city, has earned it UNESCO standing. In reality, Pelourinho, the title of the neighborhood which kinds the guts of Salvador and its previous city heart, is the Portuguese phrase for pillory, a sort of whipping publish as soon as utilized in the principle sq. to punish slaves. A transparent sense of native cultural pleasure within the Afro-Brazilian tradition, music and delicacies — shaped partly as a resistance and response to hardship — stands in distinction to this harsh reminder.

Brazil Travel Guide - traditional dress in Salvador de Bahia
Women wearing Baiana de Acarajé , a conventional type of costume in Bahia. The white colour is related to the Afro-Brazilian spiritual custom of Candomblé.

Our go to to Salvador occurred to coincide with the season of preparation and apply simply prior to Carnaval. As Salvador options the most important Carnaval celebration of its type in Brazil, it is a critical affair. We have been lucky to soak up “blocks” — or teams of musicians and performers — coursing by means of the road of Salvador, figuring out the rhythm and strikes of their routines. That and arriving on the day of the Festival de Música e Artes Olodum, meant that the sound of drumbeats and voices echoed by means of the colonial streets from early morning to properly into the night time.

Brazil Travel Guide - music and Carnaval in Salvador de Bahia
Musicians working towards for Salvador’s Carnaval.

Salvador road artwork, from graffiti to full-on murals — impressed us, too. Works have been placing, provocative, colourful, cultural, and mirrored some critical inventive talent. Salvador featured among the greatest road artwork in all of Brazil, actually.

Our suggestion is to stroll round Pelourinho, holding your eyes open for road artwork and murals lining facet alleys or wrapping round corners. Continue up the hill alongside Rua do Carmo to Largo do Santo Antonio, maybe stopping at Cadê Q’Chama? for a hearty moqueca baiana, a conventional coconut milk and seafood stew. Make an enormous loop again to Largo do Pelourinho, wandering and drifting freely to admire the artwork and additionally the Art Deco structure, a lot of which is in a state of revitalization.

Brazil travel guide, colorful street art in Salvador de Bahia
Street artwork, Salvador (Bahia).

When you have had your fill of the town’s sights and sounds, head out to the seashore for just a few days. Bahia’s most well-known seashores like Itacare and Ilhaus appeared just a little too far-off for us for the couple of days we had. We did, nonetheless, take pleasure in a few chill days at Stella Maris seashore, within the far north suburbs of Salvador.

Brazil Travel Guide - Stella Maris Beach near Salvador de Bahia
Just a few stress-free days with the seashore nearly all to ourselves at Stella Maris.

São Paulo, 2 days

Although São Paulo does not function the identical attract and magnificence as Rio, we nonetheless wished to go to Brazil’s largest metropolis earlier than leaving the nation. With restricted time there, we determined to focus primarily on road artwork, the Vila Madalena neighborhood, some extra sushi and a recent market or two. We used Jenna’s pleasant information to São Paulo to assist us plan our remaining time. Her husband’s household is from São Paulo, so her information provides the views of each a customer and native.

Brazil Travel Guide - Batman Alley street art in São Paulo
Batman Alley in Vila Madelena. One of São Paulo’s hottest road artwork spots.

Were our timing higher, we’d have booked a strolling tour with Andre to discover the the older components of São Paulo and to be taught extra about its historical past and growth. Although we did not expertise this tour ourselves, we’re assured to advocate it. We have been ready to meet Andre one night — he is obsessed with his house metropolis and has the bearing of a considerate but humorous information. He additionally stored us properly fed by steering us in direction of Tanuki Restaurant in Vila Madelena (wonderful sushi!) and Mercado Municipal de Pinheiros, whose flea market heart is ringed with enjoyable eating places and bars.

Brazil Travel Guide, São Paulo street art
Street artwork of a extra critical and sobering nature.

Visas to Brazil

Fortunately, visas to Brazil have just lately turn into simpler than they as soon as have been for a lot of nationalities. Travelers from EU international locations can journey visa-free for up to 90 days. And from June 17, 2019 residents of the United States, Canada, Japan and Australia will take pleasure in visa-free journey to Brazil. Win-win.

If you do want a Brazil visa earlier than this modification of laws, then you may get an e-visa right here for round $44. It’s a fairly easy course of requiring that you simply add a replica of your passport and a photograph, then fill in a web-based kind. We acquired a response inside just a few days.

Safety in Brazil

We have been informed that security has improved in lots of cities and places in Brazil. Places which can be standard with vacationers are sometimes patrolled and thus fairly protected, too. We additionally felt protected taking the metro in Rio and São Paulo. All that stated, it is clever to stay diligent, cautious and conscious of your belongings and environment.

We at all times requested our tour chief, native guides or resort workers for recommendation. If there was any doubt, we’d take a taxi or Uber as a substitute of strolling, even when the distances weren’t significantly lengthy. We’d additionally heard tales about taxis being problematic — ripping off or robbing vacationers. So we at all times took both an Uber or an official, licensed taxi on the resort. [Note: Uber in Brazil is nice for vacationers – straightforward to e book on the app, no cash is exchanged as you’ll be able to pay by bank card by means of the app, and we at all times felt protected with our drivers. We additionally met some attention-grabbing folks alongside the way in which.]

Brazil Travel Guide - Femadum music festival in Salvador de Bahia
Enjoying the FEMADUM competition from the balcony of our visitor home.

If we have been extremely really helpful to keep away from a specific space, then we did so. For instance, once we arrived in Salvador there was an enormous music live performance competition underway on the principle sq.. Our visitor home host informed us to keep away from the crowds due to pickpockets and theft — one thing that is widespread to large throngs of partiers and concert-goers irrespective of the place you might be — so we loved watching the live performance from our balcony as a substitute.

Transportation round Brazil

Brazil is big — actually. Even although one thing could look shut on the map, make sure to confirm the space and time on Google Maps or related. For instance, we took a 12-hour bus between Iguazu Falls and Bonito. According to our map, we might barely moved.

Especially in case your time is proscribed, home flights are price contemplating to keep away from spending all of your time on a long-distance bus. The inner flights on our G Adventures Wonders of Brazil tour have been included as a part of the tour. However, we additionally booked one-way flights from Rio de Janeiro to Salvador, then Salvador to São Paulo — with Avianca and Latam, with usually good outcomes.

We used Skyscanner to perceive all flight prospects and choices, together with these from low-cost airways. When we booked our flights immediately on the Avianca Brazil web site we discovered that the price in Brazilian Reals was significantly lower than the price in USD. So, it is clever to do a fast calculation comparability between currencies to make sure you’re reserving within the foreign money that includes the bottom price.

Buying a SIM card in Brazil

If you are a foreigner, you will want to go to one of many official cell phone firm outlets to register your passport and private particulars once you purchase a cellular SIM. We selected Claro because it was really helpful to us for having good protection. Their store was additionally handy to the resort space in Copacabana, Rio. We’ve additionally heard that TIM and Vivo are good choices for staying related whereas touring in Brazil.

The registration course of to purchase the SIM takes a while as workers should fill in kinds and scan your passport. Allocate about 45-60 minutes for this preliminary course of. After which you can recharge your pay as you go plan at most pharmacies and grocery shops across the nation. We ended up selecting a weekly information plan that price 14.99 Rs ($Three.75) and included 2GB. It labored fairly properly all through the nation, however we simply had to bear in mind to recharge our plan simply earlier than it expired every week.


Disclosure: G Adventures sponsored our Wonders of Brazil tour. This journey is conjunction with our cooperation in G Adventures’ Wanderers Program. As at all times, the ideas contained herein — the what, the why, and the how — are completely our personal.

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