Brazil: 3 ‘Must-See’ Attractions for 2016

Perhaps surprisingly, the list of the “world’s most disappointing travel destinations” includes:

  • The Egyptian Pyramids: “Stayed 15 minutes”
  • Los Angeles: “The whole city is a lie”
  • Stonehenge: “Very anti-climactic”
  • Venice: “Frustrating”
  • Dubai: “Smoke and mirrors”
  • Paris: “Worst city on earth”

Ok, maybe that last one is a bit exaggerated …but you get the point: These once popular tourist attractions — overrun with tourists and suffering crass commercialism — have lost the lion’s share of their past luster and allure. Today, many are little more than overly hyped tourist traps.

Not on that list — to no one’s surprise — is exotic Brazil, a heady mix of the big, the bold and the beautiful…perpetually one of the world’s favorite destinations.

Whether experiencing thong-clad sun worshipers on Ipanema Beach, or awakening to jungle calls from deep within the Amazonian rainforest, Brazil leaves no visitor unimpressed.

So, let’s take a look at just a few of the attractions that allow this country to consistently live up to its motto of “Sensational Brazil.”


1)     Big-City Brazilian Samba

One thing can be said able Brazil is that wherever there’s music, travelers will witness that carefree lust for life that tends to appear among all Brazilians, who are probably the most hedonistic and fun-loving people on earth.

In its cities, Brazil puts the carnal into Carnaval during that Mardi Gras celebration held every year between February 3 and March 9, though a vibrant year-round nightlife can be discovered in any decent-sized town.

Through hip-shaking samba, dazzling costumes and carefree joie de vivre, Brazilians puts the carnal into Carnaval for a few weeks every year.    Photo: Nicolas de Camaret

Through hip-shaking samba, dazzling costumes and carefree joie de vivre,
Brazilians puts the carnal into Carnaval for a few weeks every year.
Photo: Nicolas de Camaret

Anywhere in the country, visitors can discover a plethora of musical genres – from the Northeast’s “forró” to the punchy bass of “baile” funk coming out of Rio’s favelas.  Notwithstanding, the nation’s best-known musical attraction remains SAMBA.

“Carnival Samba” is the form most people associate with Brazil. It developed in the slums of Rio de Janeiro when elements of variouother Afro-Brazilian dance forms mixed, resulting in the creation of this new dance.

For travelers who are interested in getting to know Brazil and its people in a deeper manner, diving into the nation’s dance culture of samba is a great way to discover authentic Brazil – up close and personal.


Tourists travel to Brazil before Carnaval to learn to dance samba

 To learn Samba, the best approach for travelers is to work with an experienced tour operator that can design your entire tour while also arranging classes for you with a qualified instructional dance school that gives classes in the city you wish to visit.Samba dance schools can now be found in every city – from Recife, Maceio and Salvador de Bahia in the Northeast, to Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Porto Alegre in the South.

(The more risky alternative for learning Samba is to brave late night trips on your own — typically far outside of town — to the rehearsals of one of the local troupes, though you’ll also risk finding yourself completely intimidated by the incredible talent on display there.)

For travels wishing to try out their samba in Brazil, there are at least a couple ways of approaching this:

  • Join the Parade: Foreign travelers who have picked up a few samba steps, you can even join in a carnaval parade of one of the samba troupes in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. However, before signing up and buying your costume, keep in mind that once you are in the parade, there’s no turning back. You’re expected to show enthusiasm throughout the show.
  • Samba nightclubs: Other than these parades, samba is also danced in clubs that feature live samba groups.Locals and tourists of all ages can be found in these clubs dancing the night away. From expert dancers to beginnings, it’s the perfect place to try your samba.

Then too, even if you’re not yet ready to start learning samba yet, you can always have your trip organized to attend Carnaval in one of the many cities where it is held, or drop in during the practice sessions of one of the many troupes, and spend some time sitting in at any of the various samba nightclubs to take in the rhythmic movements.

No matter how you prefer to approach it, the world of samba is a destination waiting to be explored.


 2)    The Mystery and Adventure of the Brazilian Amazon

a Suramérica, Ecuador, Amazonía, Napo, Napo Wildlife Center, excursíon, río, canoa, turistas

Getting away from Brazil’s coast, where 2/3 of the population lives, the intrepid traveler can find another attraction in a mysteriously different world of hidden secrets, incredible plant and animal species, and extraordinary indigenous cultures. This is the Amazon rainforest, an intriguing explosion for all the senses as you experience nature in its purest form.

The sheer scale of this region makes it hard to get your head around. Even the statistics are difficult to fathom. Consider, for example, that the basin encompasses 7,000,000 square kilometers (2,700,000 sq. mi.), of which 5,500,000 sq. km. (2,100,000 sq. mi.) are covered by the rainforest. Roughly the size of the forty-eight contiguous United States and covering some 40% of the South American continent, this region includes territory belonging to nine nations – though the bulk (64%) of the rainforest is contained within Brazil.

The Amazon is a place of nearly mythical status. What traveler hasn’t imagined a trip here, not only to admire the towering trees and awesome river, but to enter, in a real sense, the very life spring of the planet, the source of so much of the air we breathe, the water we drink and the weather on which we rely.

Stretching across thousands of miles in Brazil, the Amazon basin and the Pantanal wetlands are home to an almost endless number of jungle “eco-lodges.” These facilities are designed especially for accommodating those people interested in traveling in an ecologically-friendly way.

However, being environmentally-friendly doesn’t mean that eco-lodges are necessarily Spartan; most are quite comfortable, with the facilities ranging from simple tents to luxurious spa retreats. What’s important is that these facilities provide for travelers while also promoting “sustainable” or “green tourism” that actually benefits the environment and local community. For example, an eco-lodge might serve to hire local workers or fund a community school.


Flickr    Jon RawlinsonPhoto:  Jon Rawlinson

Among these eco-lodges is the Araras Eco-lodge, a rustic and regional retreat that offers 19 comfortable air conditioned rooms with private bathrooms (cold and hot shower). Excellent regional food, a bar, a swimming pool with a covered deck, and large verandas with hammocks are just a few of the amenities you’ll find while “roughing it” here.

From this lodge, with its enviably preserved surroundings, it is possible to do some first-class bird-watching, trek in pristine forest, go canoeing or horseback riding, take photo-safaris and night tours, and enjoy two exciting tree top look outs that are 35 and 75 feet high – all with the assistance of expert bilingual naturalist guides.

For 2016, a good time to visit the Amazon is from May to August, as this period is midway between the rainiest months (February to April) and the hottest driest ones (September to November). It’s also when the water level in the Amazon River is highest and the surrounding forest tends to be flooded, which means that there will be more opportunities for canoeing through flooded rainforests.


3)    The Rio 2016: Just Around the Corner 

Flickr  Pedro França

Photo: Pedro França

Having hosted the FIFA World Cup soccer tournament in 2014, the international spotlight is again shining on Brazil as it hosts the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro from August 5 to 21, 2016. The Paralympics will then follow from September 7 to 18.

Though we are still one year away from it, Brazil’s heart is already beating faster. And next year, you too will have a chance to participate in the world’s biggest sports event as 15,000 Olympic and Paralympic athletes, thousands of spectators and the eyes of billions of viewers of viewer converge on Rio.

It is not by chance that Brazil was given the honor of being the first South American country to host the Olympic Games. Its city of Rio de Janeiro, known as the cidade maravilhosa (“marvelous city”), is the ultimate Summer Games host. Surrounded by gorgeous mountains, sparkling beaches, and lush rainforests, the city will undoubtedly be the most beautiful natural landscape for the Olympic Games since Ancient Greece.

The preparation process for the Games began with investments in not only athletes, but also massive improvements in the urban infrastructure of Rio de Janeiro itself. Indeed, two thirds of the financial resources allocated to the Rio 2016 Games are being invested in urban infrastructure works for the city. Rio’s historic downtown, for example, is undergoing a large-scale urban renovation effort to redevelop the port area to increase the city center’s attractiveness and enhance Rio’s competitiveness position in the global economy.

With these improvements, athletes and tourists alike will be warmly welcomed by Brazilian society, as occurred during the 2014 World Cup when the country charmed the world with its festive atmosphere and overall safety and efficiency.  With its many attractions, famous beaches, and sport culture, Rio de Janeiro will certainly be marked as one of the greatest Olympic host cities.

Olympian Trip Planning: To make the most of this trip to Rio during the Olympics, travelers will have to consider all that is involved in arranging such a journey – from airfare to Rio de Janeiro, hotel lodging close to the Olympic venues and top beaches, ground transportation, sightseeing tours, and more!

While Rio is perennially a top international travel destination, it has the fewest high quality hotel rooms of any Olympic host city in recent memory. Similarly, “can’t miss” excursions like those to the Christ Statue will be in high demand, as will optional visits to Sugarloaf Mountain, Angra dos Reis, Favela tours or hang-gliding!  And during the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, there will be a ton of special parties and events, which means that travelers will likely want to think of add-on “nightlife services” to Rio’s best clubs and events.

Given all these opportunities, it’s best not to wait to the last minute to make these high-demand and somewhat complex travel arrangements. In fact, many people recommend working with an experienced tour operator that can take the hassle out of such a trip – an approach that you may want to take to best “Live Your Passion” at Rio 2016.

​A fantasy for most travelers, Brazil is the dream destination where you push back in your beach  chair, sip a cold & fruity “caipirinha,” and watch the girl (or guy) from Ipanema pass by.     Porto: Bay Hotels & Resorts

​A fantasy for most travelers, Brazil is the dream destination where you push back in your beach chair, sip a cold & fruity “caipirinha,” and watch the girl (or guy) from Ipanema pass by.   Photo: Bay Hotels & Resorts

In short, whether you choose a samba, an Amazonian or a “Rio 2016” vacation (or combinations of the three), Surtrek tour operator can help you realize your Brazilian dream by custom designing an itinerary that starts from the very moment you touch down. Giving recommendations on and organizing itineraries, excursions and the wide range of fabulous accommodations — from luxury boutique hotels to remote beach hideaways or Amazonian eco-lodges — we can help you discover the diverse landscapes of Brazil’s most authentic settings.

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