Travel to Brazil – Where to Go?

With a size of 8.5 million square kilometers, Brazil is one of the largest countries in the world. It is about twice as big as Europe (European Union) and in order to know all of it, a lifetime might not be enough.

I once met a journalist, who spent 3 years of his life to visit and film all Brazilian national parks, an area which probably represents less than 5% of the countries territory. Since more than ten years, I am personally working intensively on the rainforest trails in South and Southeast Brazil and sometimes wondering how many of them exist and how long it sometimes takes to come back to the same place.

Who already had the opportunity to travel between São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, a section which looks minuscule on every Brazil map, will agree with me that 10 days is not too much, in order to explore at least some of the treasures that lie between these two metropolitan areas.

So, when you pretend to visit Brazil with a limited time, it may be wise to pre-select some destinations, before travelling. To do so, you may divide Brazil in regions, states, municiples and cities but as a traveller or tourist, a better approach might be, to divide and to understand Brazil in form of its six biomes.

You can select between the tropical Caatinga desert in the northeast, the Cerrado savannah and the Pantanal floodlands in the center west, the Pampa grassland in the south and two rainforest biomes; the Amazon and the Atlantic Rainforest (Mata Atlântica). All of these biomes are flat with the exception of the Atlantic Rainforest, where the Mar / Mantiqueira mountain chains expose mountains of up to 3.000 height meters to the tourist.

Top Tropical Rainforest Adventures

Visiting a rainforest is a unique nature experience. During the day, these unique biomes burst with a busy buzz and bright flashes of colour. At night, the air comes alive with the shrieks and calls of the forest’s many nocturnal creatures. Cicadas drone, bats flap beneath the canopy, a monkey howls in the distance.

Amidst all this natural beauty, it’s important to tread lightly. Remember that rainforests today cover just six percent of the earth, yet they are home to an estimated 40 to 75 percent of all the world’s plants and animals, including many still just being discovered. Sadly, despite efforts to protect them, many habitats are continue to be endangered by logging and over development.

Well-planned ecotourism is one key to rainforests’ continued survival. It places value on preservation of nature as a commercial resource. Reputable tour outfits offer employment opportunities for locals as leaders and wildlife guides, enabling them to earn their money through sustainable and environmentally responsible forms of income. Travellers’ passion for traditional culture encourages locals to continue ancient forest-friendly practices.

Before your next escape to the rainforest, do some research in advance. The right tour operator and a great local guide can help you spot wildlife and make the most of any adventure.

Get Up Close to the Real Rainforest in Corcovado, Costa Rica

Away from the crowds of much-visited Monteverde, another sort of park awaits visitors in Costa Rica. National Geographic once labelled Corcovado National Park as “the most biologically intense place on earth,” and you’d be hard pressed to prove them wrong. Accessible via Puerto Jimenez along the Osa Penninsula, the 425-square-kilometre park is one of the last places to spot jaguars in Central America. It is also home to endangered species such as the Baird’s tapir, Harpy eagle, ocelots and more. Staying overnight in the park is strongly recommended, possible in a basic, budget and rustic eco-lodge or one of several ranger stations.

Climb High in the Champasak Province of Laos

Well known for its collection of ancient Khmer ruins, Champasak Province of southern Laos contains a wealth of natural thrills in the form of beautiful jungles and raging waterfalls. Wildlife enthusiasts can try to spot rare and endangered species like yellow-cheeked gibbons, Asian elephants and Irrawaddy dolphins, while other adventures await thrill seekers who head high above the treetops. Two- and three-day zip line treks allow travellers to unleash their inner Tarzan in the canopy of this semi-evergreen forest.

Become Better Acquainted with the Jungle in Borneo

The tropical island of Borneo is home to some of the world’s oldest rainforest. As a nature lover’s paradise, it is also one of the last natural habitats for endangered animals such as the Bornean orangutan, Clouded leopard and several native bat species. Guided trips can be booked from cities such as Kota Kinabalu or Sandakan on the Malaysian side, or Banjarmasin on the Indonesia side. In addition to being thrilling, night-time jungle treks are probably the best way to spot nocturnal wildlife.

Encounter a City Lost in the Jungles of Colombia

The dense jungles that constitute Colombia’s Sierra Nevada de Santa Marta Mountains are the historic domain of the early Tayrona civilisation. Among the ancient chiefdom’s best known archaeological sites is Ciudad Perdida (the “Lost City”), accessible via a six-day guided trek through a dense tropical forest. Hikers depart from Santa Marta, the city along Colombia’s Caribbean coast. The trek includes lots of opportunities to learn about the area’s indigenous people – descendants of the Tayrona – and plenty of time for spotting wildlife such as tapirs, deer and endemic hummingbirds.

Observe Life in the Amazing Amazon of Brazil

Capital of the Brazilian state of Amazonas, the city of Manaus is a popular point of departure for ecotourists visiting the Amazon region. From this gateway city, visitors can easily arrange regional cruises that visit remote communities along the Amazon River or schedule boat transfers to jungle lodges and resorts with river-view bungalows. The Brazilian Amazon famously encompasses 33 percent of all the world’s surviving tropical rainforests and its biodiversity is unparalleled. One in five of the world’s fish species is found in its waters, while the jungle itself boasts 2.5 million recorded insect species and is home to a wide collection of endangered animals like spider monkeys, jaguars and poison dart frogs. Enjoy the best of the river and the surrounding rainforest.

Revel in the Natural Beauty of Rwanda’s Nyungwe Forest

Extending for over 1,000 kilometres, Rwanda’s Nyungwe National Park is the largest protected area of high-altitude montane rainforest in Africa. Nestled in the heart of one of the continent’s most biodiverse regions – the Albertine Rift – Nyungwe boasts an exotic collection of rare orchids and endemic birds, as well as a large concentration of primates. Anyone looking to track chimps, however, will need to spend some time here. For the best chance at sighting mankind’s closest relative, consider booking a guided trip in the forests of Nyungwe.

To learn more about about jungle adventures on The Travel Word, read about travellers’ hiking and trekking experiences in some of the planet’s most exciting jungles.

Travel the Amazon River in Luxury

Hear the word cruise and frequent travelers automatically picture an ocean-going vessel ready to carry thousands of passengers along the most scenic waters of the world. But those accustomed to luxury travel are well aware that some of the best cruises in the world are taken on mighty rivers like the Nile, the Danube, the Mississippi and, of course, the Amazon. The Amazon is the second longest river in the world and empties into the Atlantic Ocean along the coast of Brazil. While other rivers feature cruises on smaller vessels, the Amazon is massive enough in width and depth to support some of today’s luxury cruise ships. A number of cruise lines with five-star reputations, like Crystal, Holland America, and Silversea to name a few, provide regular itineraries that include the Amazon River.

For travelers who are looking for eco-friendly ways to visit remote areas of the planet, what better way to leave a negligible footprint than to visit pristine rainforest areas by ship? Cruise passengers experience the jungle environment with minimal disruption to native habitat, while they enjoy all the first-class accommodations and amenities that the best cruise ships have to offer.

The major cruise lines that sail the Amazon River provide unique shore activities at several local stops. Travelers can enjoy a wide variety of jungle and wildlife tours either on foot or via motorized vehicles. These stops occur at remote native villages where the ambience of the spot is truly authentic, not just an artificial place recreated for tourist entertainment. The Amazon rainforest is one of the few remaining places in the world to experience nature in its original form. Add this destination to your travel itinerary if you wish to experience unspoiled rainforest before civilization creeps in.

For an even closer view of the Amazon River and its environs, consider taking a luxury class riverboat cruise where the Amazon is the only destination. Adventurous travelers can spend nearly two weeks aboard a luxury craft exploring the remote reaches of the exotic Amazon River amongst some 600 species of native birds plus all kinds of other wildlife. For those seeking eco-travel, these cruises offer unparalleled opportunities to visit the Patanal wetlands, the largest wetland in the world and home to the Caiman Ecological Refuge.

For the most remote Amazon adventure, consider a luxury riverboat cruise that originates in Peru and sails the upper Amazon. Visualize a small ship that pampers just 12 passengers with a crew of 14 to see to their every need. This cruise includes the services of naturalists who are available to locate and interpret the unique ecosystem of the upper Amazon. Naturalists guide travelers on personal tours in small boats into the remote Amazon estuaries and the Pacaya Samiria Reserve, a protected rainforest area established by the Peruvian government in 1982 with over 5 million acres.

It is important to remember that cruising on the Amazon River takes travelers to a remote and undeveloped area of the world. What are considered luxury standards on the Amazon do not necessarily compare to luxury standards of major cruise lines or five-star resorts. It’s important to use the services of a qualified and experienced travel consultant to insure that you do business with a reputable travel company in the area. Five-star luxury travel is readily available in Brazil for those who know where to find it. Of course, Rio de Janeiro, the departure point for some river cruises, is one of the top luxury travel destinations in the world, renowned for first-class shopping, dining, accommodations, culture and nightlife.