Rio Grande Do Sul
Life’s a beach. Certainly that’s true in sunny Santa Catarina, which boasts 560km of spectacular coastline. If you like your beach deserted, there is a spot of sand for you in the south of Ilha de Santa Catarina. If you prefer a party scene, head further north on that same island. Crave the life aquatic? You’ll find excellent snorkeling and diving at Praia Bombinhas.
Pará doesn’t have the name ‘Amazonas’ like the state next door, so it might be easy to think it’s not part of ‘the Amazon’ either. In fact, Pará has some terrific Amazonian destinations: The national forest along the Rio Tapajós has monster trees and a fascinating living history of rubber boom and bust, and is reachable via the laid-back beach town of Alter do Chão.
In a country of glorious coastlines, Ceará has one of the most glorious of all – nearly 600km of beautiful and varied beaches, from idyllic little palm-fringed bays to 20km strips washed by ocean breakers.
The Coast of Pernambuco
Sergipe & Alagoas
Mato Grosso Do Sul
Mato Grosso do Sul was created in 1977 when the military government decided it would be the best way to administer and develop such a large region (cynics claimed it was to provide more high-paying bureaucratic jobs for cronies). But even before the split, the area had a different economic and social makeup from the northern Mato Grosso.
Manaus is the Amazon’s largest city, an incongruous pocket of urbanity in the middle of the jungle, a major port for ocean vessels that’s 1500km from the ocean. The rainforest has a population density half that of Mongolia’s, but the journey there invariably begins in (or passes through) this bustling city. Don’t be surprised if you feel a little out of whack.
The atmosphere-laden colonial city of São Luís; its tranquil but gorgeous neighbor, Alcântara; and the wild natural beauty of the Parque Nacional dos Lençóis Maranhenses have put the Northeast’s furthest-flung state firmly on the travel map. The coastal route from Jericoacoara (Ceará) to the Lençóis Maranhenses is an adventure in itself.
Mato Grosso means ‘thick forest.’ Part of the highland plain that runs through Brazil’s interior, it’s a dusty land of rolling hills, endless plantations, abundant savannas and some of the best fishing rivers in the world. Three of Brazil’s major ecosystems – the Pantanal, Amazon and cerrado – meet within its borders.
Well into middle age, Brazil’s once futuristic capital remains an impressive monument to national initiative. Brasília replaced Rio de Janeiro as Brazil’s center of government in 1960 under the visionary leadership of President Juscelino Kubitschek, architect Oscar Niemeyer, urban planner Lucio Costa and landscape architect Burle Marx.
North and south of Florianópolis, fine sand and big surf attract beachcombers, sunbathers and surfers. Inland, the Serra Geral runs parallel to the coast, protecting some of southern Brazil’s most remote destinations. This is where Santa Catarina’s German and Italian heritage endures most tenaciously.
Recife (‘heh-see-fee’), capital of Pernambuco, is the Northeast’s most exciting city after Salvador, with a vibrant cultural, entertainment and restaurant scene, an intriguing historic center, an impressive coastal setting, and a fabulous Carnaval.