By Pedro Souza
November 28, 2017

Covering most the northwest of Brazil as well as parts of Peru, Colombia, Venezuela, Ecuador, Chile, Suriname, Guyana and French Guyana, the Amazon Rainforest is the largest rainforest in the world. This forest has always fascinated and inspired those who have seen its beauty and amazing biodiversity. To get you better acquainted with it, we have compiled some facts about this wonderful forest.

Running through 8 countries from the Andes to the Atlantic Ocean and passing through the Amazon Rainforest, the Amazon River is the largest river in the world in terms of volume. It deposits 12.6 million liters of water per minute in the Atlantic Ocean. It is also the second longest river in the world, standing behind only the Nile River in Egypt.

The forest took more than 50 million years to form.

It is believed that more than 5 million people inhabited the Amazon Rainforest at one point. By 1980 its population stood at less than 200,000. Nowadays, there is an estimated 2,500 people inhabiting the forest.

Archeological evidence found inside a cave known as Caverna da Pedra Pintada (Cave of the Painted Rock) suggest that humans settled in the Amazon at least 11,200 years ago.

The Amazon Basin covers an area of 7,000,000 square kilometers, of which 5,500,000 square kilometers are covered by rainforest. Currently, the Amazon Rainforest represents half of all the world’s rainforests. In fact it is so large that if it was a country it would be the 9th largest in the world.

It is estimated that the Amazon Rainforest has over 390 billion trees. Unfortunately, that number decreases every day.

There are more fish species in the Amazon rainforest than in all of Europe. Fish play a key role in the diet and life of many of the forest’s inhabitants.

In 1542, Spanish explorer and conquistador Francisco de Orellana became the first European to travel the length of the Amazon River.

The Amazon rainforest is the most biodiverse forest in the world. So far, biologists have already catalogued around 2.5 million insects, 2,200 fishes, 1,300 birds, 430 amphibians, 40,000 plants, 380 reptiles and 430 mammals that live in it.

A third of all bird species discovered so far live in the Amazon Rainforest.

There are around 215 ethnic groups living in the Amazon Rainforest, speaking over 170 different languages.

More than 70% of the deforestation of the forest is currently caused by cattle ranching.

The forest is sometimes referred to as the “lungs of the planet” because it produces around 20% of the world’s oxygen.

There are around 3,000 known edible fruits species in the amazon, of which only 200 are cultivated. The natives eat around 1,500 of all these species.

An estimated 50 tribes that have never had any contact with civilization live in the Amazon Rainforest.

The loudest creature in the Amazon rainforest is the Toucan, which can be heard from almost a kilometer away.

A single hectare of the Amazon Rainforest hold around 900 tons of living plants.

The Amazon rainforest receives around 3 meters of rainfall every year.

By Pedro Souza
October 31, 2017

Covering a great part of the northwest of Brazil, the Amazon rainforest is one of the most biodiverse environments in the world. A plethora of incredible animal and life species inhabit this gargantuan forest, hundreds of thousands of them still undiscovered. Below, we have compiled some of the most fascinating animals that live in it.

Green Anaconda: Growing up to 9 meters long and weighing as much as 200 kilos, the green anaconda is the largest snake in the world. Lurking in the Amazon River, this enormous reptile kills its prey by coiling around it and squeezing it until it dies of suffocation, swallowing it whole after it is dead. While it usually preys on mid-sized mammals such as wild pigs and capybara, it has been known to kill cows, alligators, jaguars and even humans in rare cases. Despite its capacity of eating large animals, it does not eat very often, and can live without hunting for weeks or even months after a large prey.

Electric Eel: Despite its name, this fascinating animal is not really an eel, but a fish that inhabits murky streams in the Amazon and Orinocos basins. Growing up to 2.5 meters long, it can generate 600 volts of electricity in a single discharge from its specialized organs filled with cells known as electrocytes. The electric eel uses this ability for stunning its prey and for defending itself against predators. Humans are also in danger of being electrocuted it they accidentally touch this animal, though deaths are very rare.

Poison Dart Frogs: The poison dart frogs are not a single species, but rather a group of frog species that inhabit the Amazon Rainforest. These frogs are some of the most beautiful animals in the forest, displaying brightly colored patterns across their skin. As beautiful as they are, these frogs are colored precisely to signal the fact that they are extremely venomous. Through their skins, they secrete a powerful venom that paralyzes its prey and can cause heart failure within minutes. The indigenous peoples of the Amazon have been using these frogs for a long time to poison their darts, which aided them in hunting. This is where their name came from.

Harpy Eagle: Known in Brazil as gavião real (royal hawk), the harpy eagle is the largest and most powerful raptor in the Americas, weighing up to 10kg. This fierce predator has claws that can grow up to 13 centimeters, which it uses to snatch and kill sloths, squirrels, rabbits, birds, armadillos and even capybaras and deer. Unfortunately, destruction of its natural habitat is making this majestic animal disappear. In Central America the harpy eagle is almost gone, but in Brazil it is found in many parts of the country.

Brazilian Wandering Spider: There are eight species of the Brazilian wandering spider, which is a common animal in the Amazon Rainforest. These spiders are not only among the most venomous spiders in the world but they are also extremely aggressive, attacking if they feel threatened. Their venom is a powerful neurotoxin, which causes extreme pain, loss of muscle control and breathing problems, which can lead to death by asphyxiation. They get their name from the fact that they can be seen wandering across the ground at night. During the day, these spiders prefer to hide inside termite mounds or under rocks and barks.

By Pedro Souza
October 31, 2017

Rio de Janeiro is indeed a beautiful state. Being home to an array of dazzling beaches and arguably the most beautiful city in the country, it also has much more to offer. If you are a fan the outdoors and know how to appreciate a good day hiking, there are many trails available for you to choose. To help you with your choice, we have selected some of the best trails in the state.

1: Trilha da Pedra Bonita
Right next to the city of Rio de Janeiro Lies Pedra Bonita, a rock formation that has become a popular point for hang-gliders. The Pedra also offers a stunning view to the city of Rio, which is sure to delight anyone that is willing to take the trail. The trail itself goes up to the Pedra through the thick Atlantic Jungle, which is teeming with wild animals. While the trail is quite steep, it takes only about 40 minutes, and is a great option if you want to bring your family for a fun evening. To get there by car, you should take the Lagoa Barra road in the south of the city and take the entrance that leads to Joá. After driving for a while in the Estrada das Canoas road, a sign will point the way to Pedra Bonita. If you would rather go by bus, you can take the line 448 from Maracaí to Conrado, which passes through the entrance to the trail’s parking lot.

2: Mirante Excelsior
Located in the Parque Floresta da Tijuca, the Mirante Excelsior is a bucolic semi-abandoned lookout with an amazing view. The way to the lookout was once paved, but hasn’t been maintained since around 1945. Little remains of the pavement nowadays, making it mostly a trail. On the way, which takes around one hour, visitors can appreciate the scenery and the lush vegetation that surrounds it. The large canopy of the trees add to the beauty of the place, giving the impression that one is in a natural cathedral. The scenery at the top doesn’t disappoint as well, offering a wide view of the mountains in the area, the city of Rio and the Guanabara Bay. To get there, you have to drive to the Parque Floresta Tijuca, passing through the main gate at a square. After that, drive until a place called “Barracão”, where the entrance to the trail is located.

3: Cachoeira Conde D’eu Trail
A geographical accident of the Paquequer river, The Cachoeira Conde D’eu waterfall is truly a wonder to behold. Falling from a height of 127 meters, it is the highest free-falling waterfall in the state of Rio. When the water hits the well at the bottom, it sends a spray upwards that turns into a rainbow on sunny days, adding to the beauty of what is a dazzling sight in itself. The waterfall is located near the Dona Mariana district, in the town of Sumidouro. To get there, one needs to take the road RJ-148 from Sumidouro and then follow the signs pointing to the waterfall. At one point, it is impossible to go ahead by car, and this is where the trail begins. Going through the thick vegetation, you can hear the sound of wild animals and the constant rumble of the waterfall in the background. At the end of the trail, you can bathe in the waters and get some relief from the heat.

By Pedro Souza
October 3, 2017

The seventh largest city in Brazil, Curitiba, is the capital of the state of Paraná. Known for its excellent planning, Curitiba is one of the best places to live in Brazil, as well as a great place to visit as well. If you plan on going there, take a look at our recommendations and make the most of your trip:

Botanical Garden: One of the trademarks of Curitiba, the Botanical Garden was inaugurated in 1991. The purpose of the place is to keep a collection of scientific cataloged native species, which can be seen in a large glass and iron greenhouse. The surrounding area boasts beautiful natural attractions, with lakes and native forests with plenty of trails one can hike. Whether you want to find out more about native plant species, enjoy some time hiking or simply contemplate nature, this place is worth a visit.

Oscar Niemeyer Museum: Oscar Niemeyer is known as the greatest architect in the history of Brazil. With a design planned by Niemeyer and a name in honor of his memory, the Niemeyer museum is focused on visual arts, architecture and design. Not only is the museum itself fascinating, but it also holds many exhibits. If you enjoy architecture, arts, or beauty, this is a place you shouldn’t miss.

Wire Opera House: One of the most curious sights of Curitiba, the Wire Opera House is a theater house that was inaugurated in 1992 in the Pedreiras Park. Its name comes from its structure, which is made out of steel tubes that give it a fragile appearance. The place not only features many art spectacles, but it is also located in a lake surrounded by the endemic vegetation from the Atlantic Forest, which makes the place itself a dazzling sight.

Historic District: In the city’s historic district, you will have the opportunity of seeing constructions from the 18th and 19th century. Sights like the Red House and the Church of St. Francis offer a glimpse back into the city’s historical past. The oldest construction in the city, Casa Romário Martins, has turned into a tourist information center, which is a good starting point for visitors. Another spot worth visiting there is the Curitiba’s Memorial, which offers arts exhibits, plays and musical presentations.

Santa Felicidade: Known as the restaurant district of Curitiba, Santa Felicidade is the right place for those that can appreciate a good meal. There, one can eat Japanese, Chinese, Portuguese, Arab, Spanish, French, Italian, Brazilian food and much more. In the Bosque Italiano (Italian Woods) one can eat the best Italian food around, as well as enjoy celebrations of the Italian community such as the Wine & polenta festival that takes place in july.

Ukrainian Memorial: The state of Paraná received an influx of Ukranian immigrants in the 19th century that has had many influences in the area. One of these influences is the Ukrainian Memorial, which is located in the Tingui Park. Composed by a traditional Ukrainian house, an outdoor stage, an entrance and a replica of the Miguel Arcanjo Church, it is dedicated to the preservation of Ukranian culture. On Saturdays, one can also enjoy traditional Ukrainian festivals and cultural activities that take place in the memorial.

By Pedro Souza
September 4, 2017

In the Corredor Verde (Green Corridor), an exuberant corridor that runs along the coast of the state of Rio de Janeiro, one will find the city of Paraty. Settled in the 15th century by the Portuguese, Paraty was part of the Royal Road, which was a route used to transport gold during the colonial times. When the inner roads were opened in the late 19th century, the city was forgotten and froze in time. It was later discovered as a tourist destination and has now become one of the most popular coastal cities in the state of Rio de Janeiro.

With a population of less than 40,000, the city has a bucolic atmosphere, with well-preserved colonial-style houses, cobblestone-paved streets and fishing boats floating gently in the sea. The city is famous for its historical district, where one can appreciate the colonial-era architecture of the buildings, some of which haven’t changed for more than 200 years. No motor vehicles are allowed in this part of the city, but this shouldn’t be a problem. It is very easy to get around Paraty by foot. The fact that there are no cars driving through the historical district also make it a very pleasurable place to stroll around.

One of the main attractions of the city are the churches that abound there, such as the Capela de Santa Rita (Chapel of Saint Rita), Igreja de Nossa Senhora do Rosário e São Benedito (Church of Our Lady of Rosary and Saint Benedict) and the Capela de Nossa Senhora das Dores (Chapel of Our Lady of Sorrows) among others. Among the historical constructions are also two forts that are worth a visit: Forte Paratiba and Forte Defensor.

There are also many boat rides available in Paraty. You can simply take a boat ride through the bay and watch the city from a different point of view. Or you can explore one of the many islands and pristine beaches that surround Paraty. Maybe you would rather go snorkeling or scuba-diving. In many boat rides you can ask for a snorkel mask and for fish food, so you can feed the fish while you float around and appreciate the view underwater. Another way of enjoying the sea is taking kayaking tours, of which there are plenty available. With a rented kayak you can take a trip to a secluded beach or to one of the islands around the city.

If you are the adventurer type, you can also explore one of the trails around the city, which is surrounded by a lush rainforest. You can take trails through the Atlantic Forest that will lead you to beautiful views and to an array of beaches, such as the well-known Praia do Sono. If you don’t want to risk getting lost, you can rent a guide in the city. Some companies offer guides that speak English, so the language barrier shouldn’t be a problem.

During the summer holidays, Paraty gets extremely lively as people from other cities and even foreigners converge to appreciate the city. For those that want to want to meet new people and do some partying as well, this is the best time of the year to visit. If you would rather visit it when it is quieter to appreciate the city’s charming beauty and the surrounding nature, you might want to avoid it at this time. Regardless of what attracts you to Paraty, however, I’m sure you will soon fall in love with it.

By Pedro Souza
August 8, 2017

Rio de Janeiro is known worldwide for its scenic beauty, warm beaches and vibrant carnival. These are all worth a visit, but the “cidade maravilhosa” has a lot more to offer. Rio’s cultural life, for example, is rich and diverse. To help you in delving into this less known side of Rio, we have made a compilation of 4 of the best museums to visit.

1. Museu de Arte do Rio (Rio’s Art Museum): In march 2013, the Museu de Arte do Rio was inaugurated in the neighborhood of Porto Maravilha in celebration of the city’s 448th anniversary. With an area of 15 km2 divided into 8 different galleries, the museum is dedicated to the visual arts. Walking through its galleries, one can appreciate exhibitions featuring the works of artists such as Tarsila do Amaral, Kurt Klagsbrunn, Rossini Perez and much more. Apart from the exhibitions, the museum is also a space for workshops, courses, seminars and other activities. Tickets can be bought for R$8, but the museum is open for free visits on Tuesdays.

2. Museu Histórico Nacional (National Historical Museum): If you are a history enthusiast, visiting this museum is a must for you. Inaugurated in 1922, the Museu Histórico Nacional has a collection of more than 300,000 items, which include the largest numismatic collection in Latin America. In an area of 20 km2, the museum holds more than 25 permanent and non-permanent exhibitions, where one can take a walk through the corridors of time and explore the rich history of Brazil. On the ground floor, one can also relax eating a snack or drinking a coffee or visit the stores. To look at the museum’s schedule and check when the exhibits are taking place, go to their official website (0 Comments/by

By Pedro Souza
June 19, 2017

With an area of more than 8.5 million km², Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world. In a massive country that lacks a proper railroad infrastructure, knowing how to get around by bus is an essential skill. This is especially true if you want to explore the country but cannot afford to do it by plane or by car. Buses in Brazil are not only cheaper but they are also quite comfortable, and are often equipped with air-conditioner and reclining seats.

One can also travel almost anywhere through the bus lines in Brazil, which offer a wide range of options. Some of the destinations reached by buses are not accessible by planes, which makes them extremely useful even for those who are not limited by a budget. Also, let me remind you that among the areas not accessible by plane are among some of the most beautiful places in the country.

First of all, you should remember to plan your trip in advance. A good way of doing this is through Busbud, which allows you to choose from a great variety of schedules from most of the major bus companies in Brazil. This will allow you to choose a route of your desire at a time that is convenient for you, as well as good seats. It might also save you a good deal of time that would be spent waiting In a bus station. You still have the option of going to a bus station and buying a ticket there, but they are less convenient are quite hard to navigate if you don’t speak Portuguese.

You should also do some research and check which type of bus you want to get in. Buses vary greatly in both quality and price. Some buses will even offer comforts such as a front-seat TV and a WiFi, but they are also a lot more expensive than some of the other options available. Another thing that is always helpful is to speak some basic Portuguese so you can talk to bus drivers and bus station employees.

When travelling by bus, you should also take some precautions to avoid falling prey to thieves, which are known to target travelers. You are more likely to be targeted in a bus station, so be sure to keep all your belongings close and never leave them unattended. It might be useful to keep your money in a money-belt as well. When you are inside the bus, do not leave your possessions under your seat, especially if you are sleeping.

Another thing you should be prepared for is dealing with long bus rides. If you are travelling the country by bus, you might even have to deal with 20-hour rides. If you are the type of person that gets hungry during trips, be sure to bring some snacks with you. Even if the bus offers food, it might not satisfy you when dealing with long trips. It is always good to bring a distraction as well. Trips through the country and during the day are great for enjoying the scenery, but night-trips can be excruciatingly boring. Bring some books, comics, magazine or electronics that will entertain you.

Be also ready for unexpected changes. You might face problems due to weather conditions, road conditions or mechanical issues. If you are open to these changes and know what alternative routes you can take in case you face any problems, it might save you from a lot of stress. And last but not least, don’t forget to enjoy yourself and have a good trip!

By Pedro Souza
May 22, 2017

Being the third largest city in the world, there is always something to do in São Paulo. Although the choices are endless, however, money isn’t. Fortunately, there is always something free to do if you know the right place to look. To help you with that, we have compiled some options.

Visit the Latin America Memorial: Idealized by Brazilian anthropologist Darcy Ribeiro and designed by legendary architect Oscar Niemeyer, the Latin America Memorial was created with the objective of straightening ties between Brazil and other Latin-American countries. The space is divided into a hall, an auditorium, a library and a gallery that holds art exhibitions. There are new activities and exhibitions every day, so no two visits to the memorial are the same.

Appreciate art at the Lasar Segall museum: A Jewish painter, sculptor and illustrator that migrated to Brazil in the 20’s, Segall was one of the most important artists of the modernist movement. With more than 3,000 of his original works, the Lasar Segall museum is a true delight for those who appreciate the visual arts. The museum also has a large library specialized in performing arts and photography, and it holds cultural activities such as guided visits and courses.

Watch Free concerts at Ibirapuera Park: Known as the largest park in São Paulo city, Ibirapuera attracts people from all parts of São Paulo for a whole host of different reasons. Among these reasons are the free concerts that take place in the park every-once in a while. The park is famous for its jazz concerts, but it also holds concerts from musicians that play a wide range of styles. The schedule for the concerts can be found in the auditorium’s 0 Comments/by

By Bob Judson
March 17, 2017

So many surfside locations to choose from in Brazil: which one would fit availability, schedule, budget and distance?

Living in Curitiba, Parana, and having two dogs to cart along, we needed to choose a location not too distant in order to control taxi charges and travel time.

São Chico, founded in 1641 – one of the oldest Brazilian cities, is a large island (540K/2) about 4hrs. South of Curitiba by bus (R$40 fare). It boasts various historic sites, including – Igreja Matriz e Museu de Arte Sacra / Nossa Senhora de Graça (Our lady of Grace-Main Church and Sacred Art Museum ), Museu Historico Prefeito Josè Schmit (Historic Museum of Mayor José Schmidt), Forte Marechal Luz (Fort Marshal Luz) 1800 – installation of cannons and trenches to protect the surrounding bay area, O Museu Nacional do Mar ( National Marine Museum) – displays ancient raft-like fishing craft with sails, and a double bow fishing boat based of a Nordic design.

Fewer tourists, fine beaches, low-key informality – beach ware, flip-flops, little street traffic, excellent seafood amply served and reasonably priced (R$60/2).

3 major beaches to choose from, – each has charm and water conditions of its own: Prainha (little beach) where we stayed, has waves for surfing, bars and restaurants along the calçada (seaside) – (a watering hole for singles), partners and families – many bars and restaurants, some offering live music. Another adjoining beach – Praia Grande (great beach) 2+ kilometes long, with crystal-clear water, and strong waves for surfing enthusiasts. A third beach, the most popular – Enseada, the most frequented beach, has mild waters for swimming, entertainment facilities – tour boat, banana boat, sand volley, many restaurants, supermarket, fruit market, Shell gas station, and a bonanza for fish lovers: a fisherman’s market where you can very reasonably buy just caught fish and shrimp.

Negotiating your stay: this can be very challenging so be prepared. Alta temporada (high season) – 15/Dec – 1/Mar; then baixa temporada (low season) before and after these dates. Rates for high season are diaria (daily rate) – from R$100 – R$350+ for various types of accomodations: kitchenette, 1 or 2 bedroom apartment, house for 6 or more persons etc. Try for a pacote (package rate) several days or monthly; this is best to do months in advance, which allows you some leverage for getting a reasonable price.

Weather-wise, throughout December through March – mostly hot, sunny days, requiring lots of solar protetor, warm waters for swimming/surfing and air-conditioning for sleeping quarters.

Security: very safe; you can walk about anytime day or night, town and traffic is slow paced so many people walk in the street. In case of medical need there is a good facility – UPA, about 1/2hr ride from Enseada; however major hospital services such as Unimed, are found only in Joinville, the capital of Santa Catarina, about 1&1/2hrs away.

Transportation: two busses run along the main road at Enseada, the city bus travels to Centro Historico (Historic Center) which takes 1hr. Halfway there is the main shopping center with a large supermarket and a variety of stores and ATM machines. (Note that banks are located only in Centro Historico, but cash (R$300) can be drawn from the Loteria (lottery) in Enseada). Another bus goes to Joinville; there you’ll find all banks, mobile phone services, shopping, restaurants, movies etc.

Come visit: walk, swim, mill around and make new acquaintances, have an “OPA” (local beer) along with a sumptuous fish dinner – while watching the surfers brave the waves under an expansive, ever changing sky…

You won’t want to go home!

By Pedro Souza
February 27, 2017

Once the capital of Brazil, Salvador is now the capital of Bahia, and one of the most popular tourist destinations in the country. The third largest city of Brazil, Salvador is a peninsula that stands between the Baía de Todos os Santos (All Saints Bay) and the Atlantic Ocean. Salvador has a strong African influence, which is visible in the cultural manifestations and religions of the city, as well as in its ethnicity. The city is divided by a cliff into two parts: Cidade Alta (Higher City) and Cidade Baixa (Lower city), which is by the bay.

In the Cidade Alta you will find the Pelourinho, which is probably the most popular tourist spot in the city. Considered a historical site by UNESCO, the Pelourinho is a neighborhood teeming with very well preserved buildings from the colonial era. The area also has plenty of museums where one can appreciate the rich history of the city and find artisanal shops that sell beautiful handicraft for those that want to bring a gift back home. Restaurants and bars also abound in Pelourinho, inviting travelers to take a break to enjoy a hearty meal or a few beers. While visiting Pelourinho is a must in Salvador, one must be watchful for pickpockets that prey on distracted tourists. When going there, don’t wear jewelry and never put anything valuable in your back pockets or in the front pockets of your backpack.

The city also offers plenty of beaches, although most of them are quite crowded during the weekends. Among the most beautiful beaches are the ones located in the Costa Azul (Blue Coast), a stretch of beaches between Pituba and Piata. The beaches in this region are great for swimming and sightseeing, and there are plenty of restaurants and bars in case you get hungry or feel the need for a beer. For those who want to enjoy a good seafood meal or do some windsurfing, the Amaralina beach is the place to go. As for the ones who want to know how locals live, try visiting Boa Viagem on a Sunday. For a more eclectic atmosphere try the Itapuã beach, a beautiful white-sanded beach located in an artist village. One can also take the green line, a toll road, and explore the beaches to the north of the city. Passing through sand dunes and coconuts, hundreds of kilometers of white-sand beaches are just waiting to be explored.

Salvador is also known for its vibrant nightlife, offering a range of bars and nightclubs for the party-lovers. On Mondays, a good option is the Ribeira neighborhood in the lower city, where people gather to drink and party. On Tuesdays, the party is at Pelourinho, which fills up with concerts all over the area. As for the weekends, the whole city erupts in parties for all tastes. The Carnaval parties that takes place every February in Salvador are also remarkable, being amongst the best parties in the country.

The people of Salvador are also a reason in itself to visit the city. They have a reputation for being very friendly, warmed and relaxed, even for Brazilian standards. They also tend to be very welcoming towards tourists, making a traveler feel at home. If are willing to engage with the locals, you will definitely make friends quickly, and maybe even fall in love.

Whether you want to come to visit historical sites, enjoy the nightlife, explore the beaches, do all of these things or something else altogether, going to Salvador is an unforgettable experience. If you wish to have an authentic taste of Brazil and immerse yourself in the magic of Salvador, come and enjoy!