On a recent trip to Brazil, our USA specialist Pat sampled some of country’s most original experiences. He explored the balmy Amazon jungle, soaked in the history of Salvador, ventured through the tropical Pantanal wetlands, searched for jaguars on a safari boat trip, and kayaked through a fantastical flooded forest. Read on for the lowdown on his trip and discover some of his top tricks for anyone considering a trip to this seriously cool country...
- Where did you visit?
- What did you get up to?
- Top highlight from your trip?
- What’s your favourite thing you ate?
- What’s something you’d never done before?
- Did anything surprise you about the destination?
- What’s a top tip you’d give to clients?
I hopped around quite a few places during my two-and-a-half-week trip. I ventured deep into the jungle, explored the tropical North and South Pantanal wetlands, took a tour of historical Salvador, and visited Rio de Janeiro.
What didn’t I get up to! I stayed in a jungle lodge in the Southern Amazon basin with some gorgeous hikes and kayaking in the flooded forest; tried my luck at looking for jaguars; enjoyed a full day in the beach resort of Buzios where I discovered some seriously cool bars and restaurants; headed up to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue and Sugar Loaf Mountain for fantastic views over Rio; and took lessons in Capoeira martial arts (still no expert) in Salvador.
It's got to be the jaguar safari boat trip from Porto Jofre. The river itself was beautiful, but following a jaguar as it swam alongside the boat was what really made this a fantastic experience. It does take quite a bit of travelling to get here – at least two hours' drive each way from the lodges we use – but so worth it. During the dry season it’s particularly special because you’re almost guaranteed to spot jaguars.
My meal at Casas Brancas in Buzios was a real treat. The menu featured everything from banana gnocchi to tuna tataki and even after five courses I could’ve kept going. Delicious!
Kayaking in the flooded forest. I wish I’d done it sooner! It ended up being my highlight from the Amazon, such a brilliant experience that absolutely should be done if you’re there during the wet season.
Yes – the northern Pantanal lodges. They were much simpler than expected, but still incredible places for seeing wildlife and exploring the wetlands. You’re in the heart of nature, so being surrounded by that is luxurious enough.
It’s best to add on a couple of extra days to the holiday to make travelling from place to place more comfortable. Expect lots and lots of flying and some long transfers – but all worth it in the end of course. I also found out the hard way that the roads in the Pantanal are appalling during the wet season and best avoided.
Header image by William Walsh