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Going For Gold: Brazil’s Medal-worthy Highlights

Mtc July Travel Going For Gold

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Inspired by the Rio Olympics? Enjoy the scenery without breaking into a sweat by sampling seven of Brazil's sizzling highlights

Iguazu Falls

Shared by Brazil and Argentina, these roaring waterfalls stretch for 2.7km across both countries. Most of the cascades are on the Argentinian side, making the views from Brazil’s boardwalks arguably much better – and you’re also less likely to get wet. But it’s easy to hop across the border and get both perspectives.

Most hotels are in the town Foz do Iguacu, although travellers with a decent budget can stay at the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas (www.belmond.com/hotel-das-cataratas-iguassu-falls; £300 per night) within walking distance of the spray.

Rio

This exuberant city is famous for its February carnival, but the party spirit continues year-round. Cariocas live and breathe beach life, most notably on sandy stretches along Copacabana and Ipanema, but there’s plenty worth discovering in the city’s hills. Full of crumbling mansions which once belonged to the city’s elite, bohemian district Santa Teresa has the best views – particularly at Parque das Ruinas (a park with mansion ruins). Corcovado (crowned by Christ the Redeemer’s outstretched arms) and the Sugarloaf (reached by cable car) are two mountains worth scaling.

Stay at the Santa Teresa Hotel (santa-teresa-hotel.com; £177 per night), a converted colonial house.

Brasilia

Brazil’s capital in the Central Highlands attracts architectural buffs from across the globe, coming to admire the works of modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer. From the air, it’s easy to make sense of the city’s futuristic layout designed in the shape of a plane.

Artchitectours (artchitectours.com.br) run four-hour themed tours focusing on the Monumental Axis and visiting the National Congress, cathedral and TV Tower.

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Paraty

Given its location between Sao Paulo and Rio, it’s no wonder this pretty colonial town has become a favourite weekend getaway for stressed-out urbanites. Once one of the most important producers of the spirit cachaca in Brazil, its well-preserved architecture has earned the seaside spot UNESCO World Heritage status.

Cobbled streets are off limits to vehicles, making the old town a joy to explore on foot. But it’s the beaches that provide the biggest draw, with the opportunity to island hop in the bay.

Stay at the Pousada do Ouro (www.pousadadoouro.com.br) in a colonial house with gardens frequented by humming birds.

Boipeba

A sleepy, tropical island off the northwest coast, this is the ideal spot for travellers seeking peace and nature. Days are spent swinging in a beachside hammock, swimming up to floating oyster bars, or hiking in Atlantic rainforest. Snorkel in search of reefs and turtles and wade through the natural pools at Morere during low tide.

Stay at boho chic Pousada A Mangueira (pousadamangueira.com; bungalows for two £61 per night) just minutes from the beach.

Pantanal

Accessed only by a long, bumpy road, the world’s largest tropical wetland area - which straddles Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia - is one of the best places to see jaguars in the wild.

Discovering the value of tourism, many cattle farmers have switched from shooting to protecting the species and now operate eco lodges. Most safaris are done by boat, encountering birdlife and giant river otters along the way.

Exodus Travels (www.exodus.co.uk) offers an 11-day Land of the Jaguar tour for £4,049 including flights.

Amazon

Covering six of Brazil’s states and reaching into Colombia, Bolivia and Peru, the Amazon rainforest is a vast and largely impenetrable wilderness. An ideal way to discover the flora and fauna is on a cruise along the mighty Amazon River.

Simple boats strung with hammocks make affordable multi-day trips, but for greater comfort try floating five-star hotel Seabourn Quest (www.seabourn.com) which has a 21-day Brazil & The Amazon tour from £6,243 excluding flights.

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