IGUAZU FALLS, BRAZIL (FOZ DO IGUACU)
The Brazilian city of Foz do Iguaçu went through a period of frenzied growth during the 18 years that Itaipu Dam was under construction (completed in 1982), when the population increased more than fivefold. It was an edgy place then, but it has since settled down and is relatively pleasant as far as border towns go. There is little about the town to get excited about, but it works perfectly fine as a base for exploring Iguaçu Falls in both Brazil and Argentina as well other attractions in the area such as Itaipu Binacional and Parque das Aves.
RIO DE JANEIRO
Rio de Janeiro is unlike any other place in the world, with more natural beauty per square inch than most other major cities. Its ‘urban setting’ tucked dramatically between and amid mountains and sea, is in itself a UNESCO World Heritage site. Looking out from the 710m peak of Corcovado, you will see why Rio is called the Cidade Maravilhosa. Lush, forested mountains fringe the city, shimmering beaches trace the shoreline and a string of tiny islands lie scattered along the seafront. Far from being a mere cinematic backdrop, this seaside beauty hosts outstanding outdoor adventures - hiking in the Tijuca rainforest, cycling alongside the lake and beaches, sailing across Baía de Guanabara (Guanabara Bay), and surfing, rock climbing and hang gliding amid one of the world's most stunning urban landscapes. Music is Rio's lifeblood, and the city's soundtrack comprises rock, old-school bossa nova, hip-hop, funk and Brazil's many regional styles. Above all there is samba - a rapid-fire style of music with African influences and an infectious beat that is synonymous with Rio.
Brazil is one of the world's most captivating places to visit, with its powdery white-sand beaches, verdant rainforests, and wild, rhythm-filled metropolises.
It is by far the largest country in South America, covering nearly half of the continent and only slightly smaller than the USA. Apart from Chile and Ecuador, it boarders every other South American country. The distance from north to south of the country about the same as New York to Los Angeles. With around 200 million inhabitants it makes Brazil the fifth most populated country in the world.
Compared with its Andean neighbours Brazil has no mountains but has the scenery and cultural variety you would expect from this expansive country.
The three largest cites located in the southeast, Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, create a triangle around which the economy pivots. All are worth a visit, but Rio is as beautiful as photographs show, and is an essential destination.
The states of Paraná, Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, located in the south is the most economically advanced part of Brazil and includes much of the enormous Paraná river system. The spectacular Iguaçu Falls on the border with Argentina is one of the great natural wonders of South America and a site not to be missed.
Brasilia, located in central Brazil, is the modern space-age capital of the country and was built from scratch in the late 1950’s. The capital is the gateway to the Pantanal, the largest wetlands in the world and the richest wildlife reserves.
You will find the Amazon in the north and is the world’s largest river basin along with jungle, rivers, marshland, and savannas. The mouth of the Amazon is at Belém and Manaus is 1600km upstream. These are the two major cities in this area.
The northeast part of Brazil was where the Portuguese first settled and colonial characteristicsremains here than anywhere else in the country, mainly in the cities of São Luís, Salvador and the town of Olinda. This region boasts a lush tropical coastline with stunning beaches.
When to Visit
Spring (October to December) leaves the cold weather of winter and starts to get warmer. Spring is not the most popular time to visit Brazil, but if you want to enjoy a quiet, less-crowded vacation, this is a good season to visit. It is a good time to visit the south of Brazil, including Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. You can also plan a trip to Iguaçu Falls, tropical beaches in the northeast and the north of Brazil.
Summer (January to March) is the best time to visit Brazil. Almost all the regions of Brazil attract visitors and tend to choose the hot and humid weather of this time to visit many places in Brazil. Heavy rain is also another common scenario in this season, especially in north and northeast of Brazil. You will enjoy the coastal and beach destinations and music, festivals, sea sports and carnivals. Rio, Sao Paulo, Bahia (Salvador), Pernambuco are all incredible places you should visit in summer. Also not be missed is Iguaçu Falls which becomes a magnificent sight in this season because of the heavy rainfall.
Autumn (April to June) sees the hot and humid weather and the rain both start to ease off. Skies become bluer and the temperature feels cooler. Southern beach areas are still a good place to visit. But you can also plan to visit the Pantanal, Iguaçu Falls, though it does start to dry out. The main attraction to visit towards the end of the season is the Amazon.
Winter (July to September) is the perfect time to visit the Amazon. The rainfall is at its lowest and a lot less humid. The low temperature and dry weather are perfect for a trip to the rainforest, Lencois Maranhenses or in the Pantanal, which also dries out in this season. Coastal areas are less popular due to the lower temperatures at this time of year.
The currency in Brazil is the real (hay-ow; often written R$); the plural is reais (hay-ice). One real is made up of 100 centavos.
It might be handy to keep cash in reserve, though you’ll want to be exceptionally cautious when traveling with it. Cash should be in US dollars or euros.
ATMs are the easiest way of getting cash in big cities and are common. In many smaller towns, ATMs exist but don’t always work for non-Brazilian cards. In general, Citibank, Banco do Brazil and Bradesco are the best ATMs to try.
Credit cards can be used for many purchases and to make cash withdrawals from ATMs and banks. Visa is the most widely accepted card, followed by MasterCard. Amex and Diners Club cards are less useful.
Visa cash advances are widely available, even in small towns with no other currency-exchange facilities; you’ll need your passport, and the process can be time-consuming.
Visas and Vaccinations
You must have all visas (and vaccination) certificates that are necessary to enter or pass through Brazil.
Visa requirements are subject to change so please check with a Visa Service Company in the country in which you are located or you can check details online instantly with companies such as CIBT Visas (https://cibtvisas.co.uk/. Visas can be obtained through the relevant embassy or consulate.
General Note: Some countries refuse admission to travellers not meeting their accepted standards of dress or appearance (even if they hold a visa). Entry may also be refused to certain countries if your passport bears stamps or visas (valid or expired) for Israel.
A useful general health advice website for travellers is http://www.who.int/ith/en/ and there are also advice sites in individual countries.
Please note it is your responsibility to ensure you have the correct, current visa and vaccination information and that you act on it.