Rio Summer Olympics 2016: a perfect excuse to explore Brazil
Travel beyond “the hottest spot north of Havana”
Destination, Rio – the Marvellous City – conjures up all the vibrancy, hip swinging rhythms and colours of the globally renowned annual Carnival in Rio de Janeiro which explodes into costume, rhythm and life (...fashion and passion) in early February.
This year, the carnival city is also host to the Rio Summer Olympics (5 August to 21 August) making for a gigantic year for Brazil. If you’re planning a trip to the Summer Olympics 2016 as one of 7.5 million ticket holders, Brazil is an incredible continent of diverse contrasts to indulge your inner adventurer.
The captivating tapestry that is Brazil is woven from a rich history of archaeological ponderings; vibrant and colourful exterior facades, fabrics and foods; architecture; food; culture and natural wonders such as the Amazon River and rainforest draw in inquisitive tourists from around the globe.
3 natural wonders of Brazil to explore
Ornately unique indigenous cultural influences and historic connections with Africa and the Iberian Peninsula, along with diversity of immigrants make for a cultural cocktail with zing.
To break up the kaleidoscopic chaos of the city and its millions of Olympic spectators, you may want to consider planning to explore Brazil’s breathtaking, bio-diverse natural wonders.
In planning your Brazilian adventure, keep in mind that Brazil is the fifth largest country geographically, and in population. You’ll need to plan well ahead and have weeks up your sleeve to explore Brazil. Make sure you work with a highly experienced travel operator in order to plan a memorable and enjoyable Brazilian escapade.
To get you started, here are three of many possible destinations to consider visiting as part of your Olympics 2016 quest, and how to go about getting there from Rio.
Brazil’s natural wonder: The Amazon River and Rainforest
Experiencing a section of the majestic Amazon River and rainforest is well beyond a day trip. Despite the distance, the sense of mystery offered by the Amazon makes it a popular tourist choice from Rio.
The Brazilian city of Manaus – the capital of the Amazonas region – is the gateway to the Amazon River and at the time of writing, is a 6 hour plane trip from Rio. From Manaus you then need to commute to a river port, ideally via an experienced Amazon travel guide. From here, your Amazon experience could include a river cruise, or a stay at an Amazon River lodge as a base from which to explore.
Alternatively you can fly to the city of Belem, at the mouth of the Amazon River which is a similar flight time from Rio.
Brazil’s natural wonder: Iguacu National Park and Iguacu Falls
If the power of thundering waterfalls echoing through your chest moves you, the Brazil side of Iguacu Falls (or Iguassu or Iguazu Falls) are well worth the trek. The longest drop is a pounding 82 metres of water. The widest waterfall on the globe, it spans 2.7 kilometres wide divided into hundreds of falls.
From Rio de Janeiro a one hour flight via São Paulo will get you there. São Paulo is the world’s 10th largest metropolis by population and is either a city worth exploring for a few days, or for a brief stop-over if you’re heading to Iguazu National Park to escape crowds. From São Paulo, a 1.5 hour flight will see you through to Iguazu National Park followed by a bus or taxi ride.
If time is on your side, consider a 17 hour bus ride to the city of Foz do Iguaçu and enjoy a scenic commute.
Brazil’s natural wonder: The Pantanal wetlands
If biodiversity is an interest - the largest wetlands in the world - the Pantanal, is for you. Home to the Giant Anteater, iguanas and the Hyacinth Macaw among countless other species of animals, insects, birds and exotic plant species, an experienced, knowledgeable guide is the secret to making the most of this leg of your trip.
With the Summer Olympics 2016 scheduled during the dry season, accessibility by road is good. In the wet season, an airplane flight is the only way to access these incredible wetlands.
If you are planning to explore the Pantanal from the Iguacu falls, you can take a 14 hour bus trip from the city of Foz do Iguacu to Campo Grande.
If you’re coming straight from Rio de Janeiro, you can catch a bus and enjoy a 22 hour scenic commute. Alternatively flights are available but can vary in duration from 4 hours to 10 hours depending on connecting flights along the way. Despite choosing to fly, you’ll still have a half day bus trip ahead of you from Campo Grande.
However, if catch and release fishing, biodiversity, or bird watching are a passion, the commute will be a worthwhile investment of time.
Be prepared: seek quality travel and medical advice for holidaying in Brazil
For all the travel advice you need when travelling to Brazil from Australia, visit your trusted travel agency. Talk to your travel agent about recommendations for travel insurance when travelling in South America.
With recent media on the Zika virus, make sure to discuss any medical risks or health concerns with your doctor before you make plans to travel.
For a current heads up on travel advice to Australians travelling to Brazil, visit http://smartraveller.gov.au/countries/brazil.
While Brazil is not for the conservative traveller, it is a country that will have you crafting travel stories and spectacular photos to entertain family and friends for years to come.
If you’re in reasonably good health but consider yourself a conservative traveller, don’t rule out a Brazilian experience. Speak to your travel agent about organised group tour options. It will be well worth adding to your bucket list!
Online resources for the Rio Summer Olympics 2016
Rio Summer Olympics 2016: the official website
Guide to Rio de Janeiro attractions during the Rio Summer Olympics
Image: courtesy of Shutterstock.com
Please note: the duration of commute times quoted in this article is based on information published online and current as at February 2016.