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Archive for brazil

The Other Brazilian Rainforest

By Linda Tancs

Although nearly adjacent to the Amazon, Brazil’s Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) is the lesser-known cousin. One of the five most diverse hotspots in the world, this tropical and subtropical rainforest once stretched along the Atlantic Coast of Brazil for a whopping 476,000 square miles. Today, its footprint is much smaller (at around 38,600 square miles) due to centuries of deforestation for timber, sugar cane, coffee, cattle ranching and urban sprawl. In fact, two of the world’s largest cities, Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, were both built over it. A small percentage of the land is protected, most notably in Chapada Diamantina National Park, where one of the country’s highest waterfalls (Cachoeira da Fumaca) is found. It’s so high that the water vaporizes before it hits the ground, earning it the name “Smoke Waterfall.”

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Tough Trek in Rio

By Linda Tancs

Pedra da Gávea is Rio de Janeiro’s most imposing monolith. The trek to the top is also the most arduous, commanding at least three hours. The hardest leg of the trail, known as Carrasqueira, is a steep climb leading to rewarding, bird’s-eye views of Sugarloaf, Corcovado, the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema and even the Serra dos Órgãos mountain range. Hire an experienced guide for the safest experience.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Gateway to the Amazon

By Linda Tancs

Known as the Gateway to the Amazon, Belém is the capital of the Brazilian state of Pará. Founded by the Portuguese in the 1600s, the city boasts well-preserved, Portuguese-colonial architecture along the riverfront district. The docklands also feature South America’s largest outdoor market, Mercado Ver-o-Peso, a site offering not only foods and vegetables but also crafts and antiques. A big highlight this time of year is the city’s religious festival known as Círio de Nazaré (The Taper of Our Lady of Nazareth), inscribed by UNESCO on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity. The event culminates in a procession on Sunday, when a wooden image of Our Lady of Nazareth is carried from Sé Cathedral to Sanctuary Square, accompanied by hordes of pilgrims from around the country.

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To limit the spread of COVID-19, attractions may be closed or have partial closures. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

A Resurrected Ox in Brazil

By Linda Tancs

You might be surprised to learn that one of Brazil’s biggest festivals centers around the story of a resurrected ox. Popularly known as Boi Bumbá, it’s second only to Carnival in Rio in terms of popularity, no small feat considering its locale in the middle of the Amazon. The legend goes that a farmer killed a wealthy landowner’s favorite ox (boi) to satisfy his wife’s craving, creating a feud that resolved only when the local medicine doctor succeeded in bringing the prized animal back to life. The story is told over the last weekend in June by a maze of dancers in a presentation that’s partly theatrical, musical, puppet show, religious procession and tribal ritual. Held in Parintins, it’s an easy flight away from Manaus.

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As coronavirus proceeds, it is likely that the vast majority of us will be limited in our travels. But this, too, shall pass. Our love for travel remains, so Travelrific will continue offering travel inspiration in this medium. Please keep those affected by the virus in your thoughts and be sure to follow the safety practices advocated by the Centers for Disease Control. Stay safe, and be well.

Made From Scratch

By Linda Tancs

Brazil’s third most populous city, Brasília was built from scratch (an empty plateau in the heartland) in the 20th century, intended to replace Rio as the nation’s capital. It’s perhaps best known for its futuristic buildings such as the National Congress, the crown-like, hyperboloid structure of the cathedral and the presidential palace. Take in the bird’s-eye view from the TV tower, the highest point in the city.

Reading in Rio

By Linda Tancs

If you were bored with libraries as a kid, then Brazil’s Royal Portuguese Cabinet of Reading will surely reinvigorate your interest. Recognized as one of the most beautiful libraries in the world, its limestone exterior is no match for the ornately decorated interior that boasts the largest collection of Portuguese literature outside Portugal. Although construction didn’t begin until the late 1800s, the library was founded in 1837 by a group of 43 Portuguese immigrants who wanted to promote their culture in Brazil. Hardly a tourist trap, this cultural and architectural gem is conveniently located in Rio de Janeiro’s city center.

The Gem Capital of Brazil

By Linda Tancs

It’s easy to understand why tourism is becoming a major industry in Brazil.  Consider the charm of Carnaval, the glam of Rio de Janeiro and the majesty of the Amazon.  But gem hunters have a different reason to sing the country’s praises:  Téofilo Otoni, a city in northeast Minas Gerais state where minerals reign (or, some might say, rain) supreme.  Its trade in precious stones (particularly aquamarine) renders the city the gem capital of Brazil.  In fact, an International Gemstones and Minerals Fair is held there every year.

The Island of Magic

By Linda Tancs

Recently named in a travel magazine survey as the world’s friendliest city, it isn’t hard to see why the stretch of beaches comprising Brazil’s Florianópolis earns it the nickname, the island of magic.  About 450 miles southwest of Rio de Janeiro, this beachy destination easily gives glam spots like Ibiza or Punta del Este a run for their money.  Originally renowned for its surfing holes like Joaquina, Praia Mole and Praia Brava, its cosmopolitan flair can’t be missed on Jurerê Internacional, Canasvieiras, and Ingleses on the north end of the island, where domestic and international tourists mix and mingle in trendy beach bars and nightclubs.  For a little more peace and tranquility, witness the traditional Azorean customs still practiced on the island’s south end or visit the city centre for ample remnants of its colonial past.  Whatever you do, prepare to be spellbound.

South America’s Big Island

By Linda Tancs

Ilha Grande (translated, the “Big Island”) is a tropical paradise in Angra dos Reis, a Brazilian municipality located in the southern part of Rio de Janeiro state.   Its largely undeveloped and rugged landscape attracts Brazilians across the nation seeking a quiet haven.  Considered by some to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Lopes Mendes Beach shares its sparkling waters with surfers and monkeys alike.  The largest village, Vila do Abraão, is an intimate cove with striking views of its mountainous peaks from the cozy port.  The ferries and launches from Angra all dock there.  That’s about all the transportation you’ll encounter; the island is free of motorized vehicles.

Brazil’s Polynesia

By Linda Tancs

Ilhabela means “beautiful island” in Portuguese. Discovered in 1502 by Américo Vespucio, this archipelago and city situated four miles off the coast of São Paulo state in Brazil is unique for its pristine beaches and untouched rainforest.  It also reputedly has the best shrimp in the country.  Best of all, with an average annual temperature in the 70s (fahrenheit), it’s the perfect vacation destination year-round.  To get there from São Paulo, it’s approximately three hours by car to São Sebastião and then a 15-20 minute ferry ride to Barra Velha on the island.

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