People usually come to me and say: "I'm going to Brazil next month, could you give me some tips?" or "Could you suggest a nice place to visit in Brazil?"
I often reply: "What do you like? Because Brazil has many different attractions: beaches, mountains, waterfalls, desert and dunes, forest, and many other things. First you should find out what you like, then it will be easier to choose what you'd like to see."
I have noticed that people get disappointed when I say this, especially if I finish my sentence suggesting that they should get a travel book. But what else can I do? I am no travel guide or clairvoyant to guess out what people like.
When I travel, I like to purchase a few travel guides. My favourite ones are the Eyewitness travel guides. I have tried other ones, but they never work so well for me because I particularly enjoy that Eyewitness present so many pictures, and this quickly allows me to find what attractions are interesting and what I'd like to see/visit. A guide with pictures, for me, is a real example that one picture is worth a thousand words. And my experience has also shown that it is worthwhile doing a little planning before the trip. This saves time, money and frustration in the end.
So, what tips could I give to anyone travelling to Brazil?
- Get a travel book and find out what you like!
- Forget those stereotypes you see in television. People don't walk around half naked.
- It might be useful to know that top less is forbidden in Brazil and you might go to jail if you do it.
- Wear inexpensive watches or jewellery - this way you won't call too much attention to yourself.
- When walking in busy places, carry your bag/purse in front of you and keep your hand over it at all times. Watch how the locals do it.
- Travelling with a DLSR camera? Do not show it around. Bring it in a bag.
- When you open your wallet to pay for things, do not let people see how much cash you are carrying.
- If the worst happens - just deliver whatever they want. The important thing is to survive. Thousands of tourists visit Brazil every year and nothing happens to them.
- Are you coming from Europe? Do you wear sandals with socks? Do not do this in Brazil!
- Are you going to visit South Brazil? Avoid the winter (Jun-Aug). It can be freezing and most houses and establishments do not have any heating.
- Try to learn a few sentences in Portuguese. This will make your trip much more enjoyable. There are many websites where you can learn languages for free, like LingQ.com and Memrise.com. There are also apps you can use, but most costs a small sum of money. I would recommend Mosalingua.
- Avoid dark streets, especially if you are walking alone. Some places are safer than others. A travel book will help you identify which places you should avoid. If you absolutely must go to such places, wear cheap clothes and be attentive at all times. Distracted people and people that look lost are easy targets.
- Are you from Denmark? Learn how to say thank you in Portuguese. Never, ever say 'tak for det' in Brazil. It may sound like 'vai se foder' which means f*ck you. Remember that Brazil does not have the same non-violence attitude as in DK and you might get in real trouble if you get misunderstood.
- And enjoy your trip!
Interesting places I have visited in Brazil
FERNANDO DE NORONHA (Northeast Brazil, Pernambuco State)
The best trip I have ever made. Fernando de Noronha is a volcanic island. Nice place to see sea turtles, spinner dolphins, lemon sharks, corals. The activities of the TAMAR project (sea turtles preservation project) are also incredible and you can book to participate in them. They also offer free lectures every evening. Very interesting ones, I might add, but they are in Portuguese.
FOZ DO IGUAÇU (Southern Brazil, Paraná State)
Another fantastic place to visit is the Iguassu Falls. If you have time, the Macuco Safari including the boat trip is a must-do activity. Most of the falls are on the Argentinean side, and this means that the best view is from the Brazilian side.
If you have ever visited the Niagara Falls, then I think you should know that Eleanor Roosevelt once said when visiting the Iguassu Falls: "Poor Niagara. This makes Niagara look like a kitchen faucet."
If you have time, visit the Bird Park. I had the most amazing experience there, because instead of seeing birds in cages, you get to go inside the bird cages!
GRAMADO & CANELA (Southern Brazil, Rio Grande do Sul State)
People say that Gramado is like Europe. And I say, if you have ever lived in Europe than you will be greatly disappointed with Gramado. Don't go there unless you are interested in Nature. In the area there are nice parks in the Atlantic Rainforest, beautiful waterfalls and canyons. We visited the Caracol Waterfall and we loved the place.
Interesting places I would like to visit one day
As I have not visited these places yet, the picture below are not my own (unlike all the other pictures in this website). I have "borrowed" them from the net. But I hope one day I will have a chance to publish my own photos of these places
CHAPADA DIAMANTINA limestone cliffs and the blue lagoon
LENÇÓIS MARANHENSES lagoons among the dunes