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Brazil-medium Brazil

Sun, sea, sand and prehistoric landscapes

The giant of South America might be well known but it still has the power to surprise. We all know about Rio, the Amazon, Carnival and football but there’s so much beyond that. From caiman lurking in the wildlife rich waterways of the Pantanal to a samba bateria in the cobbled streets of Salvador, from a sunset hike to a tabletop mountain in the Chapada Diamantina to fish served on the sands of Paraty bay - Brazil is vibrant, beautiful, colourful and exciting. It is very hard to resist the charms of Brazil, and Brazilians.

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Brazil at a glance

Capital city

Brasilia

Famous highlights

Rio de Janeiro, Pantanal, Salvador, Amazon

Hidden gems

Chapada Diamantina, Paraty, Fernando de Noronha

Language(s)

Portuguese (official)

Food & drink

Feijoada, moqueca, churrasco, caipirinha

How far?

11.5 hours (shortest flight time from London to Sao Paulo, non stop)

Currency

Brazilian real (R$)

Timezone

GMT -3 in most of the country but it ranges from GMT -5 in the west to GMT -2 in the eastern islands

When to go to Brazil

January weather in Brazil

Summer is the busiest time to go to Rio and the east coast. It is a lively and fun time to visit but it will be crowded, and hot and humid weather brings downpours every other day or so. The heat extends to the far south of Brazil so this is a good time to go to the beach, though it can be busy here too. This is the rainy season in the Amazon which really means just a 'wetter' time to go. In central Brazil this is a rainy month; the Pantanal is hot and humid, and best avoided.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 32 24 130 Good
South 31 20 77 Good
Central 28 17 166 Okay
Amazon 31 24 270 Good
January events in Brazil

Jan 20-22: Salvador Summer Festival

February weather in Brazil

Another peak month in the east, especially during Carnaval week in Rio and Salvador. This is immensely popular so plan way ahead. In southern Brazil, it is still nice and hot though you may find it uncomfortably sticky at Iguassu Falls. Another wet month in parts of central Brazil so avoid the Pantanal in February. Up in the Chapada Diamantina the climate is drier, so not a bad time at all. In the Amazon, this is another wet and humid month.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 33 24 120 Good
South 31 20 71 Good
Central 28 18 125 Okay
Amazon 31 24 290 Good
February events in Brazil

Feb 13-18: Carnaval (dates vary each year)

March weather in Brazil

In the east, this is a great time to enjoy good beach weather with fewer crowds. In the south, again, beaches are less crowded but warm weather continues. At Iguassu Falls there's a better chance by now of timing your visit on a dry day. In central Brazil, this can be a beautiful time to go to the Chapada Diamantina though it is still too wet to get the most out of the Pantanal. In the Amazon, a heavy downpour is likely at some point almost every day.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 32 23 130 Best
South 30 19 79 Best
Central 27 17 102 Good
Amazon 31 24 310 Good
March events in Brazil

Mar 1: Bloco de Lama Parade, Paraty

April weather in Brazil

Around Rio it is now much drier with warm weather and fewer crowds. Up in Salvador, April and May see some of the heaviest rains of the year but you can still enjoy lovely weather the rest of the day. Throughout the south, temperatures are cooler. This is a great time to explore the Pantanal and is ideal for hikes in the Chapada Diamantina - rivers are in full flow, making lovely swimming spots. In April, the Amazon River is nearly at its highest level so this is a good time to explore by canoe deep into the flooded forest.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 31 22 100 Best
South 27 16 101 Best
Central 25 15 68 Best
Amazon 31 24 300 Good
April events in Brazil

Apr 21: Tiradentes Day

May weather in Brazil

In the east, there is warm and relatively dry weather around Rio and Paraty. The autumnal temperatures make this a lovely time to explore Rio. This is one of the drier months in the south, and the weather is temperate and not too rainy at Iguassu Falls. This is a great time to go to the Pantanal - as the water levels recede, lagoons form prime feeding ground for water birds and mammals. A lovely month for hiking in the Chapada Diamantina. In the Amazon, this is the shoulder season with high river levels and a bit less humidity.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 28 19 70 Good
South 23 13 70 Best
Central 22 11 69 Best
Amazon 31 24 276 Good
May events in Brazil

1 May: Labour Day

June weather in Brazil

In the east, this is one of the coolest months and the driest month in Rio on average. Up around Salvador, this is right in the middle of the wet season though days are usually a mix of rain and hot sunshine. Along the south coast there is a mix of warm and cool days. This is one of the driest and most temperate months throughout central Brazil, so a great time to explore the Pantanal and Chapada Diamantina. The dry season begins in the Amazon - expect some rain to cool things down every three days or so.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 27 18 50 Good
South 21 11 104 Good
Central 21 10 66 Best
Amazon 31 24 110 Best
June events in Brazil

Jun 28-30: Parintins Festival, Amazonas

July weather in Brazil

It is relatively cool in the east but also quite dry – perfect for exploring Rio, though beach trips may not be a great prospect. Rains taper off around Salvador and temperatures stay in the mid to high 20s. Down in the south, this is one of the coolest and driest months around Iguassu Falls. Humidity should be low. The dry season starts in the Pantanal, and the best time of year to see wildlife. Another lovely month in the Chapada Diamantina. In the Amazon this is one of the driest months of the year but it is now searingly hot.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 27 17 40 Good
South 20 10 129 Good
Central 21 9 96 Best
Amazon 32 24 90 Best
July events in Brazil

Jul 1-5: International Literary Festival, Paraty

August weather in Brazil

Another cool winter month in Rio - a quieter time with temperatures rarely dipping below the low 20s in the day. In the south, this is a good time to see Arctic Right whales around Florianopolis. Another good month for wildlife in the Pantanal; the pink and yellow-flowering Tabebuia trees blossom now. It is hot and dry in the Amazon, marking the low-water months. Smaller tributaries can become too shallow for boats, but it is easier to walk through the forest. Cooler early mornings and evenings are the best times for walking.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 28 18 40 Good
South 23 11 85 Good
Central 23 9 78 Best
Amazon 33 24 71 Best
August events in Brazil

Aug 21-24: Cachaca Festival, Paraty

September weather in Brazil

September is a lovely time to go to Rio – quiet, temperate, with relatively few days of rain. September is a good time to go to Salvador as it is drier (though really only less wet) and warm enough for the beach. At Iguassu Falls, September is a shoulder month when you can expect low crowds and decent weather. In the Pantanal this is the breeding season for birds and still a good time to go, though it is a bit wetter. In the Amazon this is another month of low water. Though very hot, the humidity is lower in the dry season.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 28 19 60 Best
South 23 13 131 Good
Central 23 11 133 Good
Amazon 33 24 92 Good
September events in Brazil

Sep 7: Independence Day

October weather in Brazil

Along the east coast, as air and sea temperatures start to warm up, October is a very good month to visit Rio and a nice time to explore Sao Paulo before it gets unbearably hot. In the south, Arctic Right whales can still be seen off the coast of Florianopolis and temperatures are warming up at Iguassu Falls. Rains are on the increase throughout central Brazil, and this is the last good month to see wildlife in the Pantanal, particularly water birds with their chicks. Rains also start increasing in the Amazon.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 29 21 80 Best
South 26 16 140 Good
Central 24 14 141 Good
Amazon 33 24 119 Good
October events in Brazil

Oct 8-26: Oktoberfest, Blumenao

November weather in Brazil

November is a lovely month in the east. Though not as lively as the summer months, it is a great time for warm weather, relatively little rain and fewer crowds. Summer starts in the south so this is a good time to head to the beach before the holiday crowds arrive. In central Brazil, the highland areas see a lot of rain, and the best wildlife season in the Pantanal is now over. Up in Chapada Diamantina, the weather is reasonably good so by no means a bad time to visit. Getting rainier in the Amazon, with water levels rising again.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 30 22 90 Best
South 28 17 71 Good
Central 26 15 94 Okay
Amazon 33 24 186 Good
November events in Brazil

Nov 2: Day of the Dead

December weather in Brazil

This is a lively time of year throughout the southern and eastern coast, good for the beach but with hot, humid weather and afternoon showers. Around the holidays, hotels get booked up far in advance, so plan ahead for this, or travel earlier in the month when it is less expensive. In central Brazil, this is one of the rainiest months of the year, so not a great time to go. In the Amazon, the rainy season is beginning but the river levels will still be quite low, so a good time to go if you’d like to explore the forest on foot.

Max (°C) Min (°C) Precip. (mm)
East 32 23 130 Good
South 30 19 78 Good
Central 27 16 132 Okay
Amazon 32 24 203 Good
December events in Brazil

31 Dec: New Year's Eve, especially in Rio and Salvador

Top 7 things to do in Brazil

See Rio de Janeiro from every angle

Rio is one of those places which always looks good on film. Even when it’s a film about favelas the place looks amazing. That’s because it has arguably the most beautiful setting of any city in the world. The green cascade of forest spills down from the feet of Christ the Redeemer, covering most of the hillsides all the way down to the beach. The ‘nicer’ neighbourhoods take up the more level ground around the beaches and lagoon, and the favelas push up the steep hillsides towards the forest.

But it’s not just the setting, it’s also the people. Rio’s beautifully tended boardwalks and beaches are used by everyone. From the favelas you look out over the nicest apartments; from the nicest houses you look out over the favelas. The energy created by this co-habitation is what makes Rio so special.

Hike through the Chapada Diamantina

There is nowhere quite like this in Brazil, few in the world. A great teardrop shaped national park sitting inland to the west of Salvador, the Chapada Diamantina has a road going around, but not through it. Which means that if you want to see the high waterfalls, table-topped mountains and sweeping panoramas of the heart of the park, you are going to have to do it on foot.

The maps of the Pati Valley through which you walk don’t show towns or villages. There aren’t even any hamlets, instead what you see marked are the few houses, labeled with the names of their inhabitants: Mr Wilson’s House, Mrs Lé’s House. And that’s where you stay as you hike through the park. This is beautiful hiking with a wonderful cultural element and the continual opportunity to cool off with a swim in a rock pool or a shower under a waterfall.

Get up close to wildlife in the Pantanal wetlands

Less known and less visited than the Amazon, this vast wetland is one of the best wildlife destinations on the planet. Home to a mind-boggling number of species - 3,500 different plants, 1,000 birds, 400 fish, 300 mammals and 500 reptiles - it offers the highest concentration of wildlife and fauna in the Americas. Fortunately for the visitor, the open marshlands of the Panatanal make it incredibly easy to spot wildlife.

On the river safaris, get up close to rare giant otters, caiman, and colourful noisy macaws roosting in the trees as the sun sets. On land, the marsh deers are a beautiful sight. Tapirs roam around freely while the cute capybaras lazing around are usually everyone’s favourite. If you are really lucky you may get to see the elusive jaguar.

Spend time along Paraty's Green Coast

Paraty is the sort of sleepy colonial town that might have inspired a magical realism novel. Houses painted in pastel shades line cobbled streets, a small church faces the waterfront, and traditional fishing boats bob about in the bay. Backed by forested hills that sweep right down to the sea, Paraty feels timeless and remote, yet it is well connected to Rio and Sao Paulo and its colonial buildings now house beautiful boutique hotels and restaurants.

Nonetheless, the town’s best attraction is its natural setting. Walk through the Atlantic rainforest to sheltered white sand beaches and natural swimming pools, head out into the water to kayak, or simply string up a hammock at our favourite seafront villa and enjoy private views over a calm bay. The Green Coast’s scenery is spectacular yet understated, and best explored in simple ways - on foot, in a boat - and with enough time to take it all in.

Experience the energy of Salvador

Few cities have a spirit and energy to match that of Salvador da Bahia. One of the oldest cities on the continent, it is the living image of what many people expect of Brazil: samba, wild festivals, colonial beauty, and spectacular tropical beaches.

Look beyond the stereotypes and discover Salvador’s unique Afro-Brazilian heritage and one of Brazil’s most vibrant arts movements. The city is at the centre of the map for music, food, dance, and traditional martial arts.

Salvador is also the gateway to the best beaches in the country. From upscale resorts to sleepy fishing villages and empty bays of golden sand fringed by the rainforest – this may be the most popular stretch of coastline in Brazil but there is more than enough space to make even the most beautiful beaches feel private.

Snorkel in the waters off Fernando de Noronha

In a country famed for its beaches, Fernando de Noronha is regarded by Brazilians as ‘the’ dream beach destination. Not that you’d travel all the way there simply to lie on the sand. Located over 300 miles off the mainland, it takes some effort to get there. But for those who do, it’s breathtaking: lush rainforest tumbling down to immaculate golden sands, fringed by turquoise waters of rarely seen clarity.

Far more than the rich forest or the lovely beaches however, it’s the ocean that is the draw. It’s a mecca for snorkelers and divers, with the protected waters hosting an incredible variety of marine life: tropical fish, turtles, sharks and – the headliners – spinner dolphins. The reliability of the dolphins’ presence and their acrobatic displays are, for many, worth the journey alone. For a tropical island idyll, which just happens to be an ecologist’s dream, it takes some beating.

Explore the Amazon River and its tributaries

The Amazon River is one of the world’s greatest forces of nature – at 4,000 miles long, its river basin covers 40% of South America’s landmass.

Sailing out into the heart of the river, miles from the shoreline, is one of the most iconic experiences you can have in South America, especially in the rainy season when the river triples in width. But there are smaller and richer moments to be had too, the ones that take you out of this vast inland sea and into the narrow creeks of the Amazon rainforest.

Paddle into the dark-water channels beneath the dense canopy and open up your senses to the sights and sounds of the forest's residents. From the call of a howler monkey to the sight of a capybara family on the riverbanks, these moments convert those impressive Amazon River statistics into a set of personal and lasting memories.

Our top 5 memories of Brazil

Close encounter with a caiman

Its bright beady eyes stared as its jaw opened wide. The caiman didn’t seem best pleased to have been disturbed from its afternoon slumber.

Canoeing gently down the river I was trying to get a better photograph of the macaws perched above, so we slowly steered the canoe towards the river bank. As I got my camera ready for the macaws, the caiman suddenly appeared in the reeds to my left. It was very close. I think, of the two of us, that I was perhaps the most startled. Even though there was a sturdy dug-out canoe separating us, I still didn’t like the look of its stare.

I very quickly snapped a photo and carried on.

Lunch with Araujo

Saturday is feijoada day. It’s also cold beer day. The artist known as Juan Araujo is on top form. A sort of cross between Salvador Dalí and Peter Ustinov, he is chatting, laughing, hugging and back slapping his way around the room whilst overseeing our traditional feast of bean stew.

It has been a busy few days and I was flagging before I walked in. His house, in its entirety, is a colourful work of art. Not a surface is left unpainted, tiled or moulded in some way. There isn’t a right angle in the place. But this man is a tonic of epic proportions. That’s why I wanted to bring a bit of him home.

Of all of the colour in the room, I end up bringing home to my new wife the only monochrome painting. But it hangs in my hallway and every day when I see it, I see the colour of Sr Araujo.

School’s out, school’s in

It is the middle of the day, the cobbled streets of Santa Teresa are radiating heat to cook up the heavy, humid air. And this is Rio in winter. Somewhere down the street a bell starts ringing furiously. Mothers and children appear on every side, tumbling down towards the street. The little ones are all immaculately turned out in white and blue school uniforms. As the tram rattles into view from down the hill, the driver announces his arrival with ever more energy before pulling to a creaky stop. Off jump the weary, rumpled children returning from the school’s morning shift. On jump the fresh pressed afternoon students.

Hot desking students is normal in countries with limited resources. It’s a bit like watching rickety trams on the streets or noting how favela-dwelling children are far better turned out for school than I ever manage for mine. Observing life in one of Rio’s less glitzy neighbourhoods, I feel at first grateful for what we have at home, then intrigued by what they have, and then humbled, the vanity chased out of me.

Ice cold in Wilson's

This is perfection. Mountains all around, a river to swim in, tired legs, warm afternoon sunshine and a cold beer in hand. Nothing tastes better than a surprise. And this very cold beer, in a very remote shack, in a very beautiful valley, is about as surprising as things get.

It’s dry, and hot at this time of year in the Pati Valley. This has been one very long day of hiking. This morning we set off across the savannah to make our way up and into the valley. The grasslands were at their most fiercely hot by the time we made it into the relative shelter of Pati.

I knew that down in the valley bottom, near Mr Wilson’s home, the waters would still be flowing and a cooling river swim was on the cards. I also knew that anything Mr & Mrs Wilson don’t grow, they bring in by mule. I didn’t know that would include bottles of beer. Nor did I know there was such a thing as a solar powered fridge.

Surrender at a churrascaria

After a third round of lamb, and as I slumped ever closer to meat-induced oblivion, I reflected that green and red weren’t the right colours for the flags. They really should have been green and white, as it was surrender that was uppermost in my mind at this point.

Although found elsewhere, Brazil is arguably the epitome of ‘churrasco’ style dining, whereby a platoon of waiters brings you an unending selection of freshly-grilled meats until you tell them to stop. This you do by means of the flag system – and it was high time I lowered my green one.

But perhaps one more little steak before I hoist the red…

Our holidays to Brazil

Brazil-bahia-boipeba-island-wide-beach
Walking, cities and beaches
Bahia’s fabulous Afro-Brazilian culture is nowhere more evident than in the colonial streets of S...
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Brazil-bahia-chapada-diamantina-waterfalls-in-pati-valley
Table mountains and waterfalls
No roads, no frills, just beautiful hiking punctuated by cooling showers under waterfalls. The me...
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Brazil-paraty-boat-and-beach
Rio, Pantanal and Paraty
From the wildlife packed waterways of the Pantanal to the dramatic hills of Rio and the beaches o...
Read more »

Why us?

Because we appreciate the fact that for every selfie at Sugar Loaf, there’s a shot of you standing alone on a tabletop mountain in the Chapada Diamantina. For every samba dancer, there’s a capoeirista. For every jostle on Copacabana, there’s an empty stretch of sand on a car-free island just for you.

Rather than be a jack-of-all-trades when it comes to this vast country, we take our clients to a carefully selected handful of areas, which we feel offer some of the best experiences in this iconic country. Whether staying in a 4-room family run lodge in the Pantanal, the artists’ quarter of Rio, or a private home in a secluded bay near Paraty, our Brazil trips are designed to take you beyond the clichés and the stereotypes, and deeper into the real Brazil.

Book Send me exclusive content » The bay of Buzios, near Rio de Janeiro Brazil When to Go Map - October Brazil When to Go Map - November Brazil When to Go Map - September Brazil When to Go Map - February Brazil When to Go Map - August Brazil When to Go Map - December Brazil When to Go Map - April Brazil When to Go Map - May Brazil When to Go Map - July Brazil When to Go Map - January Brazil When to Go Map - March Brazil When to Go Map - June The streets of colonial Salvador The view from Pao Ignacio hill in the Chapada Diamantina Stunning view of the Two Brothers Rock at Fernando de Noronha Aerial view of Copacabana beach and sugarloaf mountain beyond Deer crossing the marshland in the Pantanal Man sailing the Amazon river at dusk Hike to the top of the hills for great views of Paraty Bay Caiman in the Pantanal, Brazil's best wildlife destination Painting by Juan Araujo Tram in Santa Teresa, Rio Mr & Mrs Wilson's house in the depths of the Chapada Diamantina Churrasco should be part of your dining experience in Brazil