Happy Holidays

We want to thank you all for positive feedback and for sharing your passion for travelling with us. More exiting news and interesting blog posts next year.

Now it’s time to wish you all…

Happy Holidays and all the best for the year 2010!

Christmas tree in Lagoa

Christmas tree in Lagoa


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Rio de Janeiro in 5 days

Are you planning to visit Rio de Janeiro, but don’t know how many days you should stay in the city and what should you experience during your stay? We have retailed you an itineray including some of the most interesting attractions of Rio de Janeiro. Of course all of them may not interest you, but our aim is to give you a complete example of all the possibilities.

View over Copacabana

View over Copacabana

DAY 1:

  • Head early in morning to the Corcovado train station (opens at 08.30 am) and get to the top where the world famous Christ statue is located. After having visited Corcovado head to the downtown of Rio de Janeiro and catch one of those old fashioned trams up to the artistic neighborhood of Santa Teresa. This picturesque uphill neighborhood is an ideal place to enjoy a delicious and traditional Brazilian meal. After your lunch enjoy the views from Parque das Ruinas and visit the museum of Characa do Ceu with images of Rio de Janeiro before it became a city of millions and millions of inhabitants. After having explored Santa Teresa, the next stop is one of the most traditional landmarks of Rio de Janeiro, the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Visiting Sugar Loaf Mountain in the late afternoon has the advantage of both daylight and sunset, which is a spectacle itself!

DAY 2:

  • Botanical Garden

    Botanical Garden

    Start you day by having a walk in the Botanical Garden, which is a real oasis in the middle of such a huge city as Rio de Janeiro. After having enjoyed your lunch participate in one of the guided Favela tours. These tours are an excellent way to see the other face of Rio de Janeiro and especially to understand a little bit better the causes of social problems in the city. In the evening participate in a rehearsal of a samba school (available from August to February) and bring a piece of carnival feeling with you.

DAY 3:

  • Star your day with emotions and try hang gliding admiring the views from the top of Pedra da Gavea and landing to the beach of Praia do Pepino. If you are not into adventures, have a walk in the downtown of Rio de Janeiro visiting the museums, churches and monasteries, or just have a relax at one of the world famous beaches. After having enjoyed your lunch have a refreshing swim in the sea and get prepared to more emotions in soccer game at the world’s biggest stadium Maracanã. If you are not into soccer, enjoy shopping in the fashionable stores of Ipanema and have a walk in the shores of the lake Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas. The restaurants of Parque dos Patins located in the edges the lake are also excellent places to enjoy your dinner with live music.

Pele, the legend

Pele, the legend

DAY 4:

  • Start a day with a visit to the National Park of Tijuca located within the city of Rio de Janeiro. You can choose either a sightseeing tour that takes you to the most interesting points by car or take a light hike up to the highest peak of Rio de Janeiro, the Tijuca Peak. After the tour enjoy your lunch at one of the many sea front restaurants in Copacabana and have leisure stroll inside of the Fort of Copacabana (situated at the end of it), which is also an excellent place to enjoy a cup of coffee or a delicious desert at the famous coffee house Confeitaria Colombo.

DAY 5:

  • Take a day trip outside of Rio de Janeiro and get an idea of the beauty of this state. Tours (private or scheduled) to Búzios or to tropical island of Angra dos Reis are ideal options and a schooner cruise in the destination allows you to enjoy swimming and snorkeling in the clear waters of these regions. Enjoy your last night in Rio de Janeiro at one of the samba clubs of Lapa, the most popular neighborhood of nightlife. Easygoing atmospheare, traditional live samba and delicious snacks/dinner are guaranteed, no matter which of the many bars you choose.
Angra dos Reis

Angra dos Reis

Obs. Activities such as Samba school rehearsals and Soccer games are not available everyday, so check the schedules and modify the plan according to them.

Why to travel to Brazil?

A recent research revealed what the foreign travellers most appreciate in Brazil. The top four included several facts related with the nature, but the interesting point in fact is the first position. People, was stated by most of the travellers and therefore stands at the number one position.

  1. Beach life

    Beach life

    People – Having people at the top of the list is an honour for any country. This means that the hospitality and the joy of brazilians is clearly visible for tourists visiting the country. In general the life has an easy-going rhythm and brazilians interact gladly with the foreigners. Here you will not stay at closed resort, but get mixed with the people and enjoy the same things as the brazilians do. I wonder if there is any other place on the earth where the joy of life is as visible as it is in Brazil. There may be many people with less conditions, but most of the will never lose their faith or the joy of life. If you come from a country with high level of self service you will also find it marvellous to be fully served at the stores,  bars and restaurants, and still you will not face disturbingly persisting sellers on the streets or at the beach.

  2. Country side

    Country side

    The beauty of the natureI would say that the second postition should be the beauty and the variety of the nature. As a huge country Brazil has an incredible variety of eco-systems depending on the part of the country. The beauty of the nature consists of numerous beaches, tropical vegetation, dunes, canyons, rainforest, waterfall, mountains, lagoons, lakes and rivers. There are extremely dry areas in Brazil and on the other hand a large part of the country is covered by rainforest. For sure the nature of this country offers something for each and every traveller, the question is do you really know all that Brazil has to offer?

  3. Endless beaches

    Endless beaches

    Beaches and the sea – Brazil has long coast with large number of beautiful beaches, some of the ideal for surfing, others for diving or snorkeling and almost all of them perfect for sunbathing and swimming. It’s not long time ago that I read an interesting review related to tourism in Brazil. The author said that Brazil may not have the most beautiful beaches of the world, compared to Southern Pacific of Maldives for example,  but Brazil certainly has the funniest beaches of the world. After having travelled widely around the world, I have to agree with the author of this article, Brazil definitely has the funniest beaches of the world and the best point is that many of them are among the most attracting ones as well. In Brazil beaches are like living-rooms, going to the beach is part of the culture and the daily life of brazilians. Here beaches are public and legally an access to any of them cannot be denied. This is why the coast of Brazil is not filled with resorts with private beaches, where only the clients can have an accesss. To be sincere, I think that is something Brazil should be proud of and this is why there is no other beach life like in Brazil. Being in the beach with the brazilians, you will quickly realize why people are in the top one position of the research. The joy of life is visible everywhere and there is always a beach bar to serve you whenever you are thirsty or hungry.

  4. Tropical vegetation

    Tropical vegetation

    Tropical climate – Thanks to the geographical position of Brazil, almost the whole country has tropical climate. This means that sunshine is basically guaranteed at any time of the year, at least in some part of the country. That’s why there are two basic things you should pay attention to before booking your trip to Brazil. First of all, if you have decided to travel during a specific time check out the climatical conditions in different parts of Brazil and choose your destination based on that. On the other hand, if you always wanted to visit certain area check out when is the best season to travel there, or at least when visiting those places is not recommendable and schedule your trip according to that. Right after that you are ready to enjoy the tropical climate and the sun shine of Brazil!

The best of Brazil: Iguacu, Rio de Janeiro, Amazonas and Salvador

Ipanema

Ipanema

If you are a first time traveller to Brazil, it might be simply impossible to choose which of the many interesting places you should visit. In case you have enough time and not so tight budget, you could consider in combining the top four of the most popular Brazilian sights. Just like any other large country, there are certain must see destinations in Brazil as well. In the US the Big Apple, Grand Canyon and the Hollywood Hills are something to be seen at least once in your lifetime. First time visitors to India usually start with the Golden Tringle and a visit to Australia has to include at least Sydney, Ayers Rock and the Big Coral Reef.

Iguassu Falls

Iguassu Falls

Which are the top destinations of Brazil then? I would say that first of all you should visit the Marvellous City of Rio de Janeiro. Why? Simply, because it’s breahtakingly beautiful and has one of the most easygoing city life in the world. When I first came to Rio my expectations were extremely high, even so the city exceeded them and on daily basis keeps on reminding me why it’s called one of the most beautiful cities of the world. Secondly, the natural phenomenon of Iguassu Falls attracts tourists world widely. You will probably not spend more than just few days at Iguassu, but seeing this landmark is something not to be missed. After having seen Rio de Janeiro and the Iguacu Falls, you have seen two of the most famous landmarks of Brazil and it’s time to see the other faces of Brazil. Huge part of this country is covered by rainforest, so it’s something to be experienced. Even if the state of Amazonas is the most wellknown when it comes to rainforest adventures, the Amazons basis covers 9 Brazilian states. Last but not least, we cannot forget the northeastern coast with endless beaches. What wouldn’t be better place to start exploring this region than the state of Bahia. The capital of Bahia, Salvador, has one of the major airports of the northeastern coast, offers an interesting cultural program and is just a short step away from some of the most beautiful beaches of the country. It’s an excellent gateaway for the northeastern region.

The Amazon river boats

The Amazon river boats

These four destinations are spread out all over the country, so how do you combine them? Do to the distances you need at least two weeks to be able to visit these four diverse destinations of Brazil. Taking into account the fact that the airport of Guarulhos in São Paulo is the most important entrance point for the international flights, upon your arrival you could first head to Iguassu and then after connect to Rio de Janeiro. When leaving Rio your next destination would be Manaus, a gateway for adventures at the Amazon area. Last but not least you would take a flight from Manaus to Salvador, and discover the roots of Brazilian culture before heading to one of the irresistible beaches of the Bahian state. If you wish to have an active part at the end of your tour, you can always spend few days hiking at the Chapada Diamantina as well. Once your holiday is over you can fly back home via São Paulo or Rio de Janeiro if there is no direct connection from Salvador to your country.

Salvador Bahia

Salvador Bahia

Why would I recommend this kind of itinerary then? Simply because it allows you to see the top four destinations without spending too much time and money on travelling. This is because these destinations can be combined using the most economic airpass (offerred by both TAM or Gol) of four flight segments. You can connect directly from São Paulo to Iguassu, again to Rio de Janeiro, continue to Manaus and include Salvador as a last stop of your itinery (these two routes will include landing but no change of aircraft). If you purchased the flights separately, you would end up paying a lot  more than a price of an airpass. In my opinion, this is route gives you a very wide perspective on tourism in Brazil allowing you to combine the three diversities. After having discovered the Brazilian culture, explored the wildlife and felt the beaches, in your future visits you can just simply choose the part you preferred and keep on enjoying everything related to this diversity!

Culture in São Luis and history in Alcântara, Maranhão

Historical center of São Luis

Historical center of São Luis

São Luis, the capital of Maranhão is a gateway to the wonders of the state. Nowadays the principal attraction of Maranhão is the national park of Lencois Maranhenses, which is located only 3-4 hours drive from São Luis. However if you arrive to São Luis, it’s worth stopping here for few days before heading to another destinations of the state. The state capital, that in fact is located on an island, has cultural value, an enchanting history and turns out to be an interesting place to start exploring the attractions of the region.

Streets of São Luis

Streets of São Luis

The main attraction of the city is the culture based on history and interesting architectural facts. Therefore we recommend you to stay overnight at the historical center of São Luis in stead of searching for accommodation from the beach side. The advantage of staying at the center is that you can explore a big part of the sights by walk, feel the spirit of the colonial era and enjoy the atmospheare of the squares with bars and restaurants at the night time. São Luis is famous for its’ buildings covered with colorful “azulejo” tiles brought from Portugal during the glory days of the colonial era. Due to the historical facades with azulejos the center of São Luis is part of the Unesco World Heritage sights as well. Some of the building are in better conditions than others, but the most important thing is that the value of these historical treasures has been recognized and hopefully during the coming years most of them will restored.

Streets of Alcântara

Streets of Alcântara

Once you are in São Luis a day trip to Alcântara is a must do. Alcântara is a small historic island just a short boat or catamaran drive away from São Luis. The vessels leave from the port right in front of the historical center and transport you to the island of Alcântara in about one hour. If you are travelling from July till December, when it wind is at its’ strongers, be prepared! The sea can be pretty rough causing nausea especially in the late afternoon when returning back to São Luis. Such as in case of São Luis, the main attraction of Alcântara is the history as well. When you walk along the streets of this tiny village somehow you will get a feeling that time has stopped moving, the laidback atmospheare and the tranquility of the old days are present even today. The attractions of Alcântara are located in a raither small area so it can easily be explored by foot. Walk on the streets, enjoy the atmospheare with colonial buildings and reach the square, where the ruins of the church of Matriz, a former prison and other historical sights can be found. If possible hire a local guide, so that you will get the maximum out of your visit and learn why the esclavitud has had such a big role in the history of Alcântara. If you have extra time during your visit to Alcântara, or if you decide to stay over night on the island, an another interesting place to visit the is the nearby island of Cajual with historical fossils. Some of these fossils has also been found from Africa, proving that long time ago there was just one continent. In the middle of the historical sights, there is something surprisingly modern in Alcântara as well. A space station located on the island is not really visible for an ordinary tourist, but the museum is open for public and is an interesting place to visit if you are into space science.

Ruins of church Matriz

Ruins of a church

São Luis is located at the coastline of Atlantic Ocean, but isn’t really a beach destination. However, if you are willing to stop by at the beach during your stay in São Luis, choose Cunhau, the best beach of the city. This wide beach is located just a short drive from the center, and has a lot of infrastructure with beach bars and restaurants. The color of the water is not spectacularly blue, but the beach works for anyone who is willing to have a relaxing day while staying in São Luis. In the evenings, enjoy the squares of the historical center or dine in one of the restaurants located at the margins of Lake Jansen.

For further information about the other attractions of Maranhão read our blog post about the Lencois Maranhenses and Caburé.

Main square of Alcântara

Main square of Alcântara

Our suggested itineraries including São Luis.

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Portas da Amazonia, São Luis – Portas da Amazonia is a pousada located in an old building at the heart of the historical center. This pousada is an excellent choice for a tourist, who is more into orginal rustic style than modern decoration. Portas da Amazonia offers a comfortable accommodation with traditional touch.

World’s Happiest City!

Beach Life

Late afternoon beach football

Rio de Janeiro was just ranked as world’s happiest city according  to Forbes.

There might be a number of social problems and a lot to be improved in the city, but there are two facts that nothing is going to take away from Rio de Janeiro.

First of all the breathtaking landscapes of this marvellous city and secondly the joy of life present in each and every day in the life of Cariocas!

Happy living in Rio de Janeiro!

The African Roots of Salvador, Bahia

Streets of Pelourinho

Streets of Pelourinho

Salvador, the state capital of Bahia, was also the first capital of Brazilian Republic and even today is the city with most african influence. Salvador is also the third biggest city of the country, right after São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro and naturally its’ airport is among the busiest of northeastern part of Brazil. In Salvador you can easily feel the african roots of Brazilian culture, hear the rhythms, taste the flavours and feel the power of myths and such african religions as candomble.

If you are looking for culture together with city life, Salvador is probably one of the most interesting brazilian cities to stop by. The main attraction of Salvador is the old town called Pelourinho, located in the upper part of the city, which belongs in the Unesco list of World Heritage sites. It’s dominated by colorful colonial style buildings, beautiful churches and lively streets. Here you will find plenty of charming restaurants, shops of local handcrafts, artists of all kind and “baianas“, the local ladies wearing traditional white dressing and often selling some delicacies. It’s not rare to find people practising capoeira or playing Afro-Brazilian rhythms on the street. It’s here, where samba-reggae was born and became famous thanks to well known Afro-Brazilian band Olodum. Up from the edge of Perlourinho you will also have beautiful view over the Baía de Todos os Santos bay and if you take an elevator down you will find yourself being in front of the Mercado Modelo market, an another excellent place to buy local handcrafts and souvenirs of Bahia.

Mercado Modelo

Mercado Modelo

Salvador has another important historical spots as well, one of the most popular being the church of Bonfim. This church is a pilgrimage destination for the Brazilians, but is worth visiting for anybody who enjoys old architecture and history. To reach Bonfim, you can either take a regular bus leaving in front of Mercado Modelo or alternatively try the touristic Salvador Bahia Bus, which works on “hop on, hop off” basis and in addition to Bonfim takes you to many other interesting parts of the city with fixed daily price. If you choose regular bus, you better be prepared to longer travelling time, due to the number of stops and depending on the type of the bus, air conditioning may not be available either. Just like in Rio de Janeiro, in Salvador organized tours to favela (=slum) can also be found. Part of the tour fee usually goes in the education or in the improvement of the living conditions of the favela inhabitants, so therefore the tours are not only a safe way to visit favela, but also a great way to make this world a better place for everybody.

Church of Bonfim

Church of Bonfim

When choosing your neighborhood in Salvador we would recommend you to stay either in Pelourinho, Barra or Rio Vermelho. In Pelourinho you will find some charming old building that were refurbished to serve as hotels and has turned out to be an excellent place to spend overnight.  Another good options to stay are the neighborhoods of Barra and Rio Vermelho, both just a short drive away from Pelourinho with large variety of accommodation options for all budget and several restaurants and bars for dining as well. The carnival of Rio de Janeiro may be world widely more famous than the carnival of Bahia, but in fact the carnival of Salvador is the world’s biggest street party and attract a countless number of participants to celebrate in the streets of Salvador. Definetely something you should consider about, if you are into carnivals!

Baianas

Baianas

Many tourists travel to Bahia planning to stay at one of the stunning beaches of the state, but once you are in Salvador make sure you stop there at least for two or three nights. Salvador is worth stopping and after having explored Pelourinho, we are sure that you are not regretting at all. We recommed you to combine Salvador with some of the many beach or eco-tourism destination located close by.

In our other blog posts we have already covered destinations that combine perfectly with Salvador, check out our related blog posts:

Our suggested itineraries including Salvador:

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Casa do Amarelinho – A small hotel located in refurbished building in the heart of Pelourinho. Excellent level of service with special charm and all the amenities you might be expecting.
  • Catharina Paraguacu – A good tourist class hotel located at Rio Vermelho. Catharina Paraguacu offers you an intimate stay in an old style building surrounded by gardens.
  • Restaurante O Nilo – An excellent restaurant serving arab food in a peaceful corner of Pelourinho. O Nilo has tables both inside and outside, but does not accept credit cards.
Pelourinho

Pelourinho

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