Introduction
Discovered by Portuguese explorer Pedro Alvares Cabral in 1500 it became independent from Portugal in 1822,. Brazil is the fifth biggest country in the world. Sprawling across half of South America,  Famed for its tropical White sandy beaches, Incredible waterfalls and a carefree and happy attitude with music sounding out across the charming Portuguese colonial towns.  Just the other day in the heart of the amazon the Brazilian government came across and filmed a tribe who had never met (developed) Man. This is all juxtaposed to San Paolo where more 1st growth Claret is consumed each night than anywhere else in the world. Brazil is like no other country in the World. 3.2 million square miles, which is actually 43% of the whole continent. Due to its size it has 4 different time zones. Portuguese is the Official language. Brazil enjoys the 7th largest economy in the World the export products include, Aircraft,white goods, automobile, Textiles, footwear, Iron Ore, steel, Coffee, Orange juice Soy beef and more recently Ethanol.

Highlights
We have been lucky enough to live in the North of Brazil in Olinda one of those Portuguese colonial towns we mentioned. While living in Brazil we got to see just some of Brazils amazing places. Being a company thats primary focus is the wine regions of South America we normally offer just two tiny parts of this colossal country. The falls of Iguazu and Rio De Janeiro. If you are looking for depth and Brazilian holiday by itself we are probably not the right tour operator for you. If as part of the longer trip into the Southern Cone (Chile, Argentina, Uruguay) then we certainly can assist in giving you a superb stay in Rio and make you a memorable trip to the Brazilian side of the falls. Lets look at both in a little more details

Iguazu falls Simply put this is one of the world’s greatest natural spectacles. There are few more impressive sights on the planet than these 275 separate falls, assembling these massive rivers with a area that spans  over 3 square kms or 1 and half miles. Higher than Niagara wider than the Victoria falls, what is most appealing of all is the tropical jungle with its sounds and biodiversity that is unparalleled.  Often clients want to rush in and out of this zone but we normally try to keep clients here for at least 2 nights.

In terms of surface water flowing over the falls, Iguazu Falls is more than twice as large as Niagara Falls. There are approximately 2000 plant species in the rain forests around Iguazu Falls.

When translated from the native Indian language, Iguazu roughly translates to mean “Big Water”.
Spanish Conquistador Alvar Nunez Cabeza de Vaca who in 1541 became the first European to discover them. Two-thirds of Iguazu Falls are on the Argentina side.

Iguazu Falls is definitely one of the most beautiful and majestic waterfalls in all of the world and due ot that fact the Iguazu Falls was declared one of the New Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011. Just some of the activities you can enjoy while at Iguazu are

Visit the Bird Park, home to 1000;s of species
See the Falls under Moonlight, one of the most romantic things you could do.
Visit Iguazu Falls Brazilian Side.
Visit Iguazu Falls Argentine Side.
Take a Boat Ride into the falls and include an short trip onto  San Martin Island.
Visit the Ibireta Botanic Garden
Visit the Hummingbird Gardens
Jesuit Ruins could be a long day but very interesting.
Take a boat ride on the Argentina Side,

In the winter the water levels are at their lowest, and in the summer it is extremely humid and hot, which makes the spring and fall the best times to visit.
November to March is the rainy season. At times there is as much as 450,000 cubic feet per second flowing over Iguazu Falls.

Rio.

Rio de Janeiro, locally known as the marvelous city glued together  by the gorgeous mountains, white-sand beaches  in the foreground and the rainforests of Parque Nacional da Tijuca it is immediately clear why Rio is often thought to have the  most spectacular settings of any  city in the world. Rio’s residents, known as cariocas,  know how to enjoy themselves and the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema make for some of the worlds best people watching.

“Cristo Redentor” the most iconic of Rios sights is perched atop the 710 meter (2,330 feet) high peak of Corcovado Peak, the statue of “Cristo Redentor” stands with arms outstretched,  construction started in 1922 at the high of Art Deco. You can arrive by a small  train that rides up through the rain forest.

Take a ride on the street car, or locally known as the Bonde that travels up /down to Santa Teresa from Centro is the last of the historic streetcars that once crisscrossed the city. Its a suggestive and relaxing way to enjoy the journey.

Pão de Açúcar
A visit to Pão de Açúcar at 400meters  above the city you can see Guanabara bay and  on the ocean side of the mountain is Praia Vermelha. At the top Pão de Açúcar on clear days  Corcovado mountain and Cristo Redentor are both beautiful with and Copacabana Beach  and Ipanema to the south.

Santa Teresa and Lapa
Icons of bohemian Rio, Santa Teresa and Lapa are two  neighborhoods that have contributed considerably to the city’s artistic and musical heritage. Santa Teresa enjoys a very interesting arts  and crafts scene. Festivals and  parties with jazz or bossa Nova or even the lively maracatu drumming  give a new vibrancy to this once residential zone where colonial homes enjoy private and breathtaking views over this fairytale city. This is in fact where we like our clients to stay when we are in Rio as it has an air of authenticity that the Beach hotels of Ipanema and Copacabana don’t. 1Santa Teresa is a buzzword for a vibrant arts scene.  impromptu festivals and street parties fill the air, ranging from maracatu drumming to live jazz.  Lapa just down the hill from Santa Teresa is a residential neighborhood but more so  one of the most important music districts of anywhere in Brazil.

Leblon and Ipanema Ipanema Beach and Leblon are where some of the most exciting fusion food restaurants are and as such it attracts  young well to do  cariocas  to enjoy the open-air cafes, restaurants and bars  and discos. made famous in the 60 s from the song ‘Girl from Ipanema.’ this zone was once very much  a place to experience the counterculture whereas today luxury real estate projects make this the  most affluent part of Rio next ot Lagoa.

Copacabana and Leme A magnificent confluence of land and sea, the long, scalloped beach of Copacabana and Leme always has a flurry of activity stretching its length:  Leme is a mix of older residents and favela kid

The Lagoa area is where to see the Cariocas enjoy the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and the most expensive real estate in the country. Lovely zone to spend a sunday with the locals enjoying a coconut or beer and people watching around the 4 mile lagoon.

Parque Nacional da Tijuca. Tijuca National Park is likely  largest urban forest in the world, you can reach Rio’s highest peak ‘Pico da Tijuca’ Purported to be home to over nine million trees you get some idea of the scale of Tijuca.

Rio de Janeiro Botanical Garden, or Jardim Botanico,is home to over 8,200 different species of plants.  this huge tropical garden 600 species of orchids and massively high palm trees..  Japanese garden, a pond filled with water lilies and carp. We think it is one of the great things to do in Rio.

Cuisine
With a country as large as Brazil it is better suited to look at the various regional traditions and typical dishes as the country does not have a national dish or cusine per se.  The closest would be  feijoada, a  stew of beans  with  beef and pork or the  churrasco which is barbecued meats much like Argentinas Asados. Caruru, is another dish which includes of okra, dried shrimps, nuts  cooked in palm oil . Moqueca capixaba is also a favorite basically it is a slow-cooked fish dish with tomato, onion and garlic, topped with coriander.  Stuffed Blue Crab Shells when you find them need to be experienced. In Brazil’s Northern and poorer  states  work with freshwater  fish, tropical fruits and  cassava being the main staples. Taking a look at the Central placed Bahia. it is heavily influenced by African, Indigenous and Portuguese cuisines with palm oil and  Chillies playing a central role. In the south districts closer to Uruguay  the influence of the hug livestock mean meat based dishes and churrascos are the main event. Root vegetables such as cassava also known as mandioca, yams, and fruit like açaí, , mango, papaya, guava,, passionfruit and pineapple all play their role in the diets. Perhaps one of the greatest things about brazil is the fresh Green coconuts available almost everywhere and giving an amazing refreshing natural drink filled with vitamins and minerals and not a trace of fat. The national beverage is coffee, while cachaça is Brazil’s native liquor distilled from sugar cane and is the alcoholic ingredient to the ubiquitous caipirinha, why drink wine in Brazil? when this drink is so bountiful and economical, Wine or more importantly imported wine from Chile or Argentina and then the rest of the world is outstandingly expensive this is due to massive taxes 300% making a seriously average wine out of reach of most Brazilians.

The Wines of Brazil

Robertson Wine Tours have taken the decision to stop offering Brazil as a wine destination from 2014. There are a great number of reasons for this, Predominantly the lack of interest from clients and  the difficulties and regulations of doing business in Brazil. To be brutally honest we cannot get overly enthusiastic enough about the Eno touristic offer in the South of Brazil.  When you look at the website of the wineries instead of seeing shots of barrel rooms and beautifully crafted vines you see the shots of industries with them showing off how many trucks they have to distribute their product. that about sums it up. This is massive production on the whole to build an industry for the new middle classes that are supposed to be springing up. There are of course  some small niche players making well made wines that express their terroir well but they are in the minority. The majority of Brazil’s wine comes from Campanha which hugs the Uruguay’s Frontier and the Serra do Sudeste.  Further north of Porto Alegre you have  Serra Gaucha with two further zones north again in Campos de Cima da Serra and then Planalto Catarinense. Currently there are 200,000 acres (83,000ha) of vineyards planted  in Brazil which sounds like a lot but you need to take into account only 12-15% of this is fine or noble winemaking varietals or more correctly speaking Vitis vinifera  or the European common grape vine. Most of Brazil’s vines are for grape juice made with Vitis Labrusca I.E Bordo, Concord , Niagara and Goethe.

The wineries we have been working with in Brazil whose wine we believe merit further investigation are: Lidio Carraro, Don Laurindo ,Casa Valduga, Miolo,Pizzato, Villa Francioni, Vinicola Geisse (Sparkling wines), RAR  (Pinot Noir), Antonio Dias, Boscato, Lidio Carraro and Perico for their excellent Ice wine.

How long do I need?

Well as we are only interested in showing our clients two tiny parts of this continent Iguazu falls and Rio we suggest 4 nights minimum in Rio and for the falls we tend to stay on the Argentine side of the falls as there is more to do . That said you still need to apply for a Brazilian Visa even if you are only popping in and out for the day. I know this sounds off putting as working with the brazilian consulates anywhere is an exercise in patience. For countries that require a  visas, they tend to be valid for 10 years and and you are able to spend 180 days per year in the country.

When to come and visit?

The Iguazu Falls can be visited year round and not only are the falls themselves incredible the surrounding nature and Jesuit ruins are more than worth some of your time. May and September are considered to be the best months. December through March is this areas summer so its the hottest and the most humid time of year. 23 C (73 F) to 32C (90F) with humidity consistently above 90%.  Rivers can swell and the   walkways get flooded or even swept away, although its great to see more water flow it can mean the the falls are covered in mist and are harder to see the bigger Panoramas.

Rio de Janeiro The temperatures in pretty moderate all year round. Summer  as we said is December through  March with the The hottest months are December and January when temperatures can get well over 104ºF (40ºC). You should also remember that rain in the afternoons is common. Rios winter falls in July, August and September. There is very little rainfall temperatures range from 75ºF (24ºC). Spring,  September and October is perhaps our  most favorite time to visit Rio as  there is low humidity and even less rain. The temperatures average 79º F (26ºC). The flora in this time of year brings colours that you will likely never see elsewhere making it a  perfect time of the year to visit the Tijuca Forest and the superb Botanical Gardens.Autumn is another beautiful time of year. Less humidity and cooler temperatures than summer, April, May and June average around 80º F (26ºC). There is almost no rain.

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