Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Brazil, a country a bit smaller than the entire USA, is South America’s giant. It has the longest continuous coastline in the world, think of all those beaches; extraordinary rain forests, think of all that jungle; and pulsating, never-go-to-sleep, rhythm-filled cities, think of all that fun. Brazil lies in the eastern portion of South America, bordered by ten different countries. Its official language is Portuguese, and English is not widely spoken except in some larger cities.

Rio de Janeiro is often called Brazil’s “Jewel in the Crown.” Rio’s emerald green mountains and the large Atlantic beachfront create quite the contrast. While Carnival is its main attraction for many visitors, but there is plenty to do the rest of the year, from religious festivals to sporting and cultural events. Its two famous beaches, Ipanema and Copacabana are not to be missed, with their laidback lifestyle, water sports, or a friendly game of volleyball or football. Take a cable car to the top of Rio’s predominant mountain, Sugarloaf. Here you can hike, rock climb, or just take in the spectacular view of the city below. Speak to a Luxe Travel Expert about securing a private tour of the infamous 120-foot Christ the Redeemer statue. Often a symbol of Rio de Janeiro, this statue looks out over the entire city and is a popular tourist destination.

If it is Brazil’s Carnival that draws you, then join the approximately 4.9 million people and participate in one of the world’s greatest parties. Carnival is a pre-Lent celebration culminating on Ash Wednesday, usually in February. The big three cities that celebrate are Rio, Salvador and Olinda, and are all quite distinct in character. Rio’s glitzy and lavish celebrations are mostly a spectator event, with the audience watching from grandstands and partying in the nightclubs afterwards. Salvador’s is a thundering celebration, embracing its African roots with regional music and dance, and Olinda’s is a “hands-on” occasion, with revelers dancing behind the floats as they negotiate the narrow streets.

Music and dance are the heart and soul of Brazil. Wherever you travel, the country is home to a variety of great musical traditions, from the well-known bossa nova and samba to styles rarely heard outside South America, such as the carnivalesque marchinha or modern electro-acoustic sounds. Seek out the different styles in the various city’s clubs and dance halls.

Football, otherwise known as soccer, is the nation’s most popular sport. Don’t be surprised to find many locations closed during the world cup. To experience the fervor and frenzy of Brazilian fans, take in a game of either the Flamengo’s in Rio de Janeiro, or the Corinthians in Sao Paulo.

As for the historical cities, Sao Paulo and Salvador are widely visited, as are Fortaleza and Ouro Pretom. Sao Paulo, the largest city in Brazil, is home to Latin America’s most important Fashion week in addition to many famous historical landmarks, sophisticated hotels, and lavish parks. Salvador, Brazil is a charming colonial city with gorgeous beaches. Consider staying at Kiaroa Eco-Luxury Resort, where a Luxe Travel Advisor can arrange a tour of the Taipus de For a Natural Pools and coral reefs.

The Amazon Rainforest has the world’s largest rainforest and longest river. The Amazon River Basin holds more than half of the world’s remaining rainforest and is home to about 2.5 million insect species, over 40,000 plant species, 2,200 fish species, and more than 2,000 types of birds and mammals. Boat trips can be arranged locally and range from day trips to weeklong journeys. Manaus, Brazil is the Amazon’s largest city and is where most Amazon tour operators are based. The best time to visit is in March to June, the driest months.

The Pantanal, a vast tropical wetland expanse, is another dream destination for wildlife enthusiasts. It is located in Brazil’s central-western region. Jaguars, alligators and iguanas all reside there in the thousands, along with howler monkeys, anacondas, and the strange-looking capybaras. Arrange to stay in one of the region’s lodges here with expert tour guides at your service.

If that isn’t enough adventure, Iguacu Falls, in the south of the country, are one of the world’s natural wonders. Visitors can also view the large cascading falls from numerous walkways or by taking boat rides. Helicopter trips are also available and provide stunning aerial views. The magnificent Hotel das Cataratas is the only hotel located inside Iguacu National Park, giving you exclusive early morning access to the falls. Be sure to spend at least one night here.

Of course, Brazil also offers the prospect of doing ‘nada.’ Just spend your time resting on warm sands and soaking up a beautiful stretch of beach with a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, in hand. Obviously, with a country this large, the weather is different from region to region, but its tropical location is warm throughout the year. If Carnival’s crowds are not your thing, we recommend you visit from April to November, which are the nation’s cooler months. As Brazil has much to offer the luxury traveler, contact the Luxe Travel team at 1-866-365-8747 or to talk with a Luxe Travel Advisor about expertly planning your trip.