Carnival storms through Brazil’s towns and cities every year during February or March. It’s a feverish parade of brightly coloured costumes, music and samba that beautifully expresses the energy and joie de vivre of its people. Rio carnival is the most famous, with its lines of samba dancers and drummers. Brazilians, however, don’t limit their celebrations to just one month. Travel at any time and you’re certain to run into a fiesta or two.
Salvador is one of Brazil’s most culturally vibrant cities and music, religion, food, dance and martial-arts are all very much part of its life flow. You can wander the cobblestone streets of Salvador de Bahia’s UNESCO world heritage site one day and watch descendants of African slaves reconnect with their gods at a Candomble ceremony the next.
There are plenty of activities to keep you busy in Brazil. The beaches on the Costa Verde, especially around Buzios, among the finest we’ve ever seen – the Fernando do Noronha archipelago is a diver’s paradise. You can hike in Chapada Diamantina, one of the country’s top ecotourism hotspots and the best place for forests, caves, underground lakes and waterfalls.
And then there’s the lure of the jungle.
Head into Manaus, the heart of the rainforest and jumping-off point to some the Amazon, home to several of the jungle’s most luxurious lodges. Further south, go jaguar spotting in the Pantanal wetlands, where the wide open savannahs make for easy wildlife viewing. Finally in Rio, gaze up at the humbling magnificence of the Sugarloaf and Corcovado mountains.
When to go
November to March are Brazil’s warmest months. It’s when most people visit, although you might see a spot of rain in Rio and the south. It’s best to visit Manaus and the Amazon during the dry season from July to October, while the wetlands of Pantanal in the west are best viewed from April to October.