South America's largest country,
offers the tourist kaleidoscopic carnivals, spectacular cities and towns -
Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and Curitiba for example - lively friendly
people, superb beaches and the massive Iguaçu Falls in the south, but
naturally many visitors come to Brazil looking for wildlife.
Manaus downtown and the Amazon River. Photo by Pontanegra.
It's easy to be overconscious of the crime situation in Brazil and spoil your trip - or not go at all for that matter, but things are not as bad as that; obey some basic rules and you'll have a wonderful time.
• Don't walk lonely back-streets at night, especially after too
many drinks; take a taxi home.
An Amazon River tributary, with local village. Photo by Jim
Amazon jungle trips are more about the boating upriver into the
damp, buzzing, oppressive ambience than seeing animals, since most
of the bigger critters only appear at night when you least want
to be there.
Wildlife is possibly more visible in the Pantanal (see below) to
the south, though it's a swamp, not a jungle, so offers less ambience,
romance or name-dropping.
*Belem. A not unattractive Amazon city
and starting point for Amazon river journeys. A riverboat up to Manaus
takes about five days. Second-class on these boats is distinctly
hot and uncomfortable.
*Manaus. A historically interesting city, but now overbuilt and unattractive, though a necessary evil for starting Brazilian Amazon exploration.
***The Pantanal (south of the Amazon). A massive wetland and ranch area in central-west Brazil (NW of Rio) alive with wild things, including iguanas, tapir, capybara, caiman (crocodiles), giant snakes and anteaters, but in particular birds (parrots, macaws and so on). It's best July - Oct (the dry season, so less humidity, less mosquitoes, more life visible).
An Amazonian tarantula in north Brazil, one of the critters you might expect to meet during a night stroll in the forest. Photo by Jim
The Amazon Basin vegetation is so dense that you'd be lucky to see an
anteater at ten paces, even if it ventured out in the daytime.
We exaggerate of course. You can find interesting little animals and birds in the rainforest, but you really need a good, knowledgeable guide with great eyesight!
If you really want to see clear cut Brazilian wildlife consider heading for The Pantanal further south instead. We have no experience of this massive swampland but some visitors say it's the bees knees.
Iguaçu Falls in south Brasil, an awesome destination but a long way south, so it's a plane ride or a very long road trip. Photo by SFBrit
time to go to coastal areas is from April-September but for the Amazon
or Pantanal it's best from July-October, the dry