Big in soccer, samba, carnivals, and above all—excitement and rich culture. South America’s biggest country is also its biggest market, its biggest industrial powerhouse, and its biggest attraction, really. The country is huge in population and landmass, but also in biodiversity—it is where the bulk of the Amazon Rainforest lies, the Earth’s primary ‘lung’ and home to a myriad variety of wildlife not to be found elsewhere. The vast expanse of the country is populated with ethnicities from nearly all over the world: from China and Japan, to the Middle East, Africa, Europe and Oceania. Its diversity is clearly evidenced in its rich culture and history, all of which combine to present what Basil is today—a major culturally diverse, dynamic nation.
- Rio de Janeiro:
Brazil’s most important and second largest city, Rio De Janeiro, or just Rio as it has created a world reputation of its own, is by far the most dynamic, most visited city in Brazil...even to those who still hold Sao Paolo as their champion in that department. Arriving in town, the mind begins to absorb the sights and sounds of this immense city of skyscrapers, apartment buildings, endless shopping boulevards, numerous hip cafes, splendid beaches, and of course, the beginning of iconic scenes: Sugar Loaf Mountain, the statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain with its impressive view of the city, and the famed beauty of its two beaches—the legendary Copacabana (especially electrifying during New Year’s) and Ipanema, both considered to be the most charming, and also, the most extensive in the world. There’s Barra da Tijuca with its many shops, condos, and frenetic night-life paradoxically coexisting with its placid beaches. And if you arrive in time, not only will you receive a good dose of Rio charm, but a lot of dancing fun—Carnival! Ah, who hasn’t succumbed to the beauties dancing at the contagious rhythm of samba, all playfully contesting the title ‘Queen of the Carnival’? And for the lovers of football (soccer to others), drop by for an intense afternoon of excitement watching a tournament in its huge stadium, the Maracana, one of the largest in the world. The city also boasts with dozens of museums of classic and contemporary art, hundreds of galleries, imposing cathedrals, hundreds of Belle Époque buildings, theatres, glittering shopping avenues like Avenida Rio Branco, the ‘Manhattan’ of the South, and a haphazard forest of skyscrapers towering over an incredibly vibrant mega-metropolis of over six million.
The ‘Heart of the Amazon’, as some call it, is entrenched—quite so— in the middle of the Amazon Rainforest. Thousands of miles north of hectic Rio, Manaus has a more placid profile of Belle Époque buildings like the Amazonas Opera House (An opera house in the middle of a jungle? Really?), quiet, picturesque streets, and above all, the opportunity to explore the forests and wildlife which have made of the Amazon the most important place on Earth where living creatures and lush vegetation exist. The city is also home to many commercial streets and markets like the Mercado Adolpho Lisboa, luxurious hotels, and a burgeoning night life that attempts to rival the electrifying one of its southern counterparts, Rio and Sao Paolo. There are also other shopping malls like Manaura, Millennium, and Ponta Negra. Manaus also hosts a zoo and orchid greenhouse containing some of the world’s rarest specimens. The city is also home to many parks that offer trekking or simply a leisurely stroll through a fraction of what the imposing rainforest around it has to offer.
- Salvador de Bahia:
With an immense extension of alluring coastline, Salvador is the country’s most popular beach destination amongst visitors, both foreign and local. And there’s no exaggeration in that; one of its beaches, Porto Da Barra, was dubbed the third most attractive beach in the world after Copacabana and Ipanema. The city is also a culturally rich metropolis as it is the centre of Afro-Brazilian heritage in the country, consequently giving rise to immense festivals, cuisine, and arts. In fact, every February ushers in carnival, hectic and colourfully kaleidoscopic, to the point of rivalling the sumptuous extravagance of Rio. The richness of its culture is also evident in Salvador’s magnificent cathedral and what may consider is the most well-preserved colonial architecture on the continent, wresting the title of UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985. Other sights of importance include the Campo Grande Square and its impressive monument, Ponta de Santo Antonio, and the Barra Lighthouse at the tip of All Saints Bay, facing the immense Atlantic. The city is also replete with high-end beach resorts, verdant parks, and beautiful lakes where tourists can engage in canoeing and snorkelling. Salvador is also home to Brazil’s number one surfing tournament which attracts thousands each year. Driving along the BA-099 highway, one cannot but be captivated by an endless line of coconuts and picturesque towns. Salvador is also a major commercial centre in the northeast, giving rise to posh malls like Shopping Iguatemi, Salvador Shopping, and Shopping Barra.