Think of Brazil and Rio de Janeiro and the carnival spring to mind. No doubt these are two of the most celebrated attractions in the country. Frankly, they are two of the best sights in the entire continent. In fact, they are… you see where this is going.
But, Rio, or Hio as the locals pronounce it, does not dictate the biggest country in South America. Believe it or not, there is a range of fantastic attractions which the majority of tourists fail to uncover.
Welcome to the brilliant world of buried Brazil. Are you ready to uncover a few gems? Good, let’s go.
Located in the state of Ceará, Fortaleza gained notoriety during the 2016 World Cup. Although it’s thousands of miles away from the main soccer hubs, it received a stadium which turned into a white elephant. But, don’t hold that against the city because it’s an incredible mixture of beauty and culture. Aside from the museum of photography, there are Japanese gardens and breathtaking cathedrals. The real draw, though, is the scuba diving. Referred to as the Caribbean of Brazil, Fortaleza is home to Parque Estadual Marinho, an idyllic island in the South Atlantic.
The Pantanal, Mato Grosso do Sul
There is no doubt you will be familiar with the cousin of the Pantanal, the Amazon rainforest. It’s fair to say the Amazon is leaps and bounds ahead in the PR stakes. Still, there isn’t much to split the two when it comes to natural beauty and experiencing the “real” Brazil. Yes, the Amazon has piranha and pink dolphins, but the Pantanal has jaguars, capybara and caiman. From trekking through the woods listening to parrots to cruising down the river, Pantanal vacation packages have everything. And, if your heart is set on the Amazon Basin, you can always see it afterward.
Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro
Now, just because you want to experience Brazil off the beaten track doesn’t mean you won’t be near Rio. About three to four hours drive from the central hub is Ilha Grande. Simply put, it’s an island which is as stunning as it is archaic. Of course, like all self-respecting islands, it has crystal clear blue water and sandy beaches. But, it also has little quirks which make it a charming place to visit. Did you know Ilha Grande doesn’t have an ATM? Yep, you have to take out reais in advance. How cute!
Paraty, Rio de Janeiro
Not an island, but a small municipality located in between the major cities of Rio and Sao Paulo. Whereas the rest of the coast is quite industrialized, Paraty has an old school feel. Thanks to its colonial architecture and design, it is comparable to Sucre in Bolivia. The sights include the Fort Perpetual and the Centro Historico, but the real delight is walking the cobbled streets. Although it’s less than four hours away from Rio and Sao Paulo, the peace and quiet are amazing. Plus, there are lots of shops and restaurants to keep you entertained.
If Brazil is the jewel in the crown, the above sights are the diamonds in the rough.