By Eduardo Santos
If you’re working as an English teacher in Brazil, you’ll quickly notice the Brazilian love for long holidays. Whenever you get the chance to have a 3 or 4-day break in Brazil, don’t miss the chance to discover the natural wonders of the country. Due to its continental dimension, I’ve decided to pick one holiday destination for each of the five regions.
1 South: Iguazu Falls
Located between Brazil and Argentina, the Iguazu Falls are an awesome sight as tones of water throw themselves over cliffs surrounded by the jungle. If you have the chance, spend a day on the Brazilian side and another on the Argentinean side. On the Brazilian side, visit the Brazilian Iguazu National Park with subtropical rainforest and over 2,000 species of vascular plants and home to the typical wildlife of the region: howler monkeys, jaguars, giant anteaters and caymans. The falls are visited by tourists all year round, so if you happen to be teaching in the south and would like to experience the wonders of Iugazu falls and nature all around, stop by!
2 Southeast: Búzios
Only 2 hours away from Rio de Janeiro by car, you’ll find Búzios. The beach village sits on a peninsula scalloped by 17 beaches. It was a simple fishing village until the early 60s, when it was rediscovered by Brigitte Bardot and her Brazilian boyfriend. It’s now a hot destination for people living in Rio de Janeiro and tourists from all over the world. Búzios became one of Brazil’s most hectic seaside resorts, filled with boutiques, fine restaurants, bars and fancy hotels. Walking around the village, you’ll still feel the Mediterranean touch through the narrow cobblestone streets.
3 Central-West: Pantanal
If you happen to be teaching in Brazil’s capital, Brasília, or somewhere in the Central-West, Pantanal is the place to go. The Pantanal is undoubtedly the best place to see wildlife in Brazil. Most animals live in open spaces and wildlife is visible to the most casual observer. If you would like to see animals in their natural environment, with the greatest concentration of fauna in the South America, Pantanal should not be missed. For more information, check Brazil’s travel guide about the Pantanal.
4 North: The Amazon Forest
North of Brazil lies the largest rainforest in the world: the Amazon forest. It is chiefly in Brazil, but it also extends to other countries in South America. The best way to visit it is by flying to Manaus. The rainforest climate is hot and very humid with showers every day. One in ten known species in the world lives in the Amazon Rainforest, making it the largest collection of living plants and animal species in the world. There are several places to go in the Amazon rainforest; it would be difficult to know all of them. A good start is visiting the Brazilian national parks in the region. For more information, check Lonely Planet’s guide to the Amazon forest.
5 Northeast: Porto de Galinhas
If you happen to be in the Northeast, you’ll be surrounded by the best beaches in Brazil. The Northeast region is full of amazing beaches with warm water and hot weather all year round (the rainy season starts around March and lasts until August). It’s difficult to name one beach, but if you happen to be near the cities of Recife or João Pessoa, you must stop at Porto de Galinhas (literally Chicken Port). The beach is famous for its bright-water beaches and natural pools. It has been voted ‘Best Brazilian Beach’ for 10 times in a row by the readers of the Brazilian magazine Tourism & Travel. Hotels range from cozy cheap hotels, also called ‘pousadas, to five-star resorts. Do not miss the beaches of Maracaípe and Muro Alto just 5 minutes from Porto de Galinhas. Take a look at the 45-second video: