It's a massive land the size of continental USA covering nearly
half of South America, and the 5th largest country in the
world and with a population of 150 million people, it's the
largest Catholic nation on earth. It's an urban city,
with most of its population centred in the major cities -
Sao Paulo, a massive population of 17 million, Rio
de Janeiro, a beach-tourist's paradise and carnival epicentre
of the world, and also home to the best hiking and climbing
within its state. Only in Brazil can you discover a mixing
of cultures, people, traditions and ancient verses modern
It's a passionate country, of rhythm, football, adrenalin
and drama and its energy and colour has inspired the western
world. It's also the official home of the party - with Festivals
taking on monumental significance, and the legendary Rio
Carnival is the biggest and most exuberant street
party of earth. In contrast, the mystique of the tropical
rainforests of the Amazon,
the most diverse eco-system on earth and the world's biggest
jungle, has become a focus for explorers and intrepid travellers
throughout time. The Pantanal wetlands south of the
Amazon is the world's largest wetlands and holds a massive
concentration of flora and fauna.
One of the first things you notice in any Brazilian city
is the number of street kids. Half the population is under
20 and there's no welfare system. The northeast is the poorest
part of Brazil and the cities have the worst social problems.
Like beach life, football in Brazil can be a national
obsession, a common denominator which brings all walks of
life together. People play everywhere. Little wonder Brazil
has won more World Cups than any other country. If you're
a fan, try and catch a professional game. There's as much
entertainment off the pitch as on it and Brazilian football
fans have a reputation for being amongst the most exuberant
you'll find anywhere. They call Brazil's National Hero O
Rei or "The King" and even years after retiring,
Pele remains the world's most famous footballer. Awarded
the title "Athlete of the Century", he's the most
popular man in Brazil.
Music is massive in Brazil, it's practically invented
every type of modern Latin music - the Samba, bossa nova,
tropicalismo. The funky beats of the Samba, the sound
of Carnival, is the beat behind the hot yet cool daily life
Jungle Fever: Brazil holds the world largest rain forest
Due to its vast size, there are two types of climate - one
in the southwhich experiences seasonal changes, but in the
north the seasons are much less pronounced. Winter is from
June to August, which is probably a good time to visit as
it rarely get cold in Brazil. Summer, from December to February,
is generally a bad time to visit unless you're going to experience
the February Carnival in Rio, as most Brazilians go on holiday
to escape the overpowering heat and filth of the cities. Temperatures
can reach up to 110F in Rio.
Rain is common throughout Brazil, Belem in the Amazon
basin is one of the most rained on cities in the world. Short
tropical rains fall regularly but they shouldn't stop you
doing just about anything, even sunbathing and they are refreshing
In the Amazon, the weather changes very quickly and
you can suddenly be caught in a downpour. Good wet weather
gear is always essential.
The economy of Brazil is very unstable, it's been something
of a boom-bust business in recent years but tremendous modernisation
and developed has taken place in the last decade. The gap
between rich and poor is phenomenal and at times appalling.
It's a relatively cheap country to travel in, but varies dramatically
depending on inflation. You could survive on around $30 US
staying in cheap hotels at $10 a night. For absolute thread
bare travel sleeping on beaches, you could live of $10 a day.
Always bargain down the price of a hotel room if you can.
The currency has changed dozen of times in recent years and
it is currently the Brazil real.
Very approximate conversions are:
$1 US = 2.3 Brazil Reals
1 Euro = 2 Brazil reals
£1 Sterling = 3.4 Brazil Reals
Check with your local foreign exchange bureau for up to date
Brazil is officially Catholic, but it is also home
to many sects and tribal religions like the Candomble, which
fuses tribal cultures with Christianity. It's one of
the least densely populated nations in the world, and most
of its 150 million population live in cities around the east
coast. There are numerous social problems with poverty, especially
"abandonados", some 12 million of the countries
orphans who are brutally tortured and murdered by gangs. It's
truly a mixed race nation, with people related to black slaves,
native Indians and white colonisers, making the Brazilian's
a nation of many beliefs, background and skin tones.
The official language is Portuguese, which has been
modified in the last 4 centuries since the original Portuguese
settlers arrived by dialect from African slaves and Indian
natives, but numerous other tongues are spoken by native Indian
groups. If you speak Spanish you may be understood
in most parts of the country, but little to no English is
spoken outside of the major cities.
The visa policy is that if a Brazilian needs a visa to enter
your country, you will need one to enter Brazil. UK citizens
to not, but USA, American and Australians do.
If you're only visiting Rio or one of the major cities, you
don't need to worry too much about tropical diseases. If you're
heading out into the north-east or Amazon, you should guard
against malaria, yellow fever, leprosy, leishmaniasis and
dengue fever. Take care to protect against sexually
Don't drink Brazilian tap water, stick to the bottled variety
or purify water using Iodine tablets. Avoid fruit juices or
milk unless they are in sealed bottles. Drink plenty of water
to counter act sweating in all that Brazilian heat.
Brazilian staples are white rice, black beans and manioc flour,
served with either steak, chicken or fish. Portions in sit
down restaurants are huge, think USA style, so it's better
to share or opt for fast food.
Buses are the main mode of long and short distance transport
of Brazilians. Services are clean, comfortable and fast as
well as cheap, costing around $2 an hour. Air flight is expensive
but a necessity to get to far flung spots like the Sertao