Insider’s guide to Brazil

Insider’s guide to Brazil
December 2017
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Welcome to Brazil, a vast nation overflowing with vibrant cultures, unstoppable rhythms and infectious energy. A world in one country where nature lovers will be mesmerised by the Amazon and the lesser known, but equally impressive, Pantanal; where foodies will delight in the cosmopolitan cuisine and where inquisitive travellers will find the wealth of colonial and modernist architecture irresistible. Discover cities where music and dance are as vital to life as air and water. Let endless thunderous waterfalls take your breath away. Grab a caipirinha and get the party started with our tips for making the most of Brazil.

Rio de Janeiro
Carnival, Copacabana and Christ the Redeemer – icons of this steamy, sensuous and ever-surprising city. Curving white beaches, city neighbourhoods studded with green-shrouded mountains, extraordinary monuments and waterfront hotels. Explore and you’ll feel the city’s energy.

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A new perspective
See Rio from the water on a private sailing trip in Guanabara Bay. Mimosa in hand, settle in and enjoy the view as you sail past islands and forts and admire the city skyline, the lush green hills and the unmistakable silhouette of Sugarloaf Mountain. Don’t forget to take a swimsuit as there are opportunities for a dip along the way and drop into neighbourhood haunt Bar Urca on the waterfront around sunset where the cool crowd raises a glass to day’s end.  

DINE
Puro Restaurant
Atmosphere aplenty at this Jardim Botânico eatery. Chef Pedro Siqueria’s original recipes are served up in a series of airy, glass-enclosed rooms surrounded by greenery. Seasonal, sustainable produce is the hero and menu highlights include Brazilian staples, like grilled fish with plantain puree and manioc chips, as well as shimeji mushrooms and grilled octopus, smoked fish with corn gazpacho, steak and chimichurri béarnaise and much more.  

Villa views
A&K can give you access to one of the most in-demand tables in town – at Vila Santa Teresa. Hidden in the heart of the Bohemian Santa Teresa neighbourhood, this tucked away boutique hotel on a private estate wows with top nosh, cocktails and unforgettable views over the city.  

SHOP
For Rio’s finest boutiques head to the swanky neighbourhood of Ipanema. Check out local labels such as Farm Rio, whose laidback tropical style and colourful prints perfectly reflects the mood of Rio, and fast fashion player Riachuelo, ‘Brazil’s H&M’.  

Q Chocolate
For a sweet treat, head to this little boutique where artisan chocolates are created from beans harvested from a single farm in the heart of the Brazilian Atlantic rainforest. Taste before you buy. The rainforest inspired packaging alone is worth the visit!  

H. Stern
Discerning jewellery collectors the world over will be familiar with luxury brand H. Stern. Visit its global headquarters in downtown Ipanema for an exclusive insider’s look. Start off in the gemstone museum, then take a glimpse inside the workshop where the jewels are polished and the exquisite pieces created. Visit the vault, with its precious contents, and finally a chance to try on some of the glittering pieces over a glass of Champagne. Bling it on!  

STAY
Emiliano Rio de Janeiro
A new level of sophistication has reached Rio with the arrival of this 90-room boutique beauty. Located beside the golden sands of Copacabana, these designer digs blend contemporary comforts with 1950s glam and an eye-catching façade which draws guests in to a stylish interior where natural woods, woven rugs and touches of gold and marble set the scene. On-call butler, personalised Havaianas and a rooftop pool add to the experience.

Gran Meliá Rio de Janeiro
In front of Sao Conrado Beach, the iconic cylindrical glass building designed by Oscar Niemeyer has been reborn as a glamorous luxury hotel with gardens by renowned landscape architect Burle Marx. Precious art works by Alfredo Ceschiatti, Carybe and Pedro Corrêa are carefully positioned around the hotel and the elegant rooms have breathtaking views of the sea, city or mountains.

SALVADOR DA BAHIA
Once the magnificent capital of Portugal’s New World colony, today Salvador da Bahia is the country’s Afro-Brazilian jewel with a delightful World Heritage listed Old Town, an energetic music vibe, the intriguing Candomblé religious tradition and cachaça.  

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Cook like a local 
No other regional cuisine in Brazil is as distinctive as that of Bahia where Mediterranean, African, indigenous and Asian influences blend to form the basis of a truly unique cuisine. Meet a local chef in the bustling local market, and source ingredients for moqueca, Bahia’s signature dish, a delicious aromatic seafood stew prepared in an earthenware dish.  

Drumming workshop
Under the expert guidance of a local professional percussionist, explore various aspects of the percussive jungle that is Bahia, focusing on the more important and accessible rhythms in a workshop that is instructive, interactive, engaging and fun. Try your hand at the drums of the Candomblé, Samba-Reggae and Capoeira.  

SHOP
Mercado Modelo
One of our favourite shopping locations in Bahia is the Mercado Modelo which sits on the waterfront in the shadow of Pelourinho. Housed in a butter-coloured colonial warehouse, there are over 250 stalls selling every kind of Bahian artisanal object from musical instruments and leatherwork to lace, food and drink. It’s impossible not to find something fun to take home that’s utterly typical of the region. Open 9am-7pm daily, except Sundays when it shuts at 2pm.  

STAY 
Villa Bahia 
Nestled in the heart of Bahia’s historic quarter, Pelourinho, this boutique gem is made up of two adjoining colonial homes with just 17 rooms. Careful restoration and renovation has preserved the property’s original spirit and delivers an authentic colonial atmosphere. The light and airy rooms overlook either the Baroque Church of Sao Francisco or the villa’s leafy courtyard with high ceilings, four-poster beds, ceiling fans, wooden floorboards, and lovely splashes of colour. Cool off in the plunge pool and knock back a cachaça on the terrace.   

DINE
Cuco Bistrô
Located in Pelourinho, this casual eatery is a favourite amongst locals and visitors alike. Serving up Mediterranean-influenced dishes and modern Bahian flavours, it’s a cosy and intimate establishment with charming interiors that borrow heavily from the history and folklore of northeastern Brazil. Be sure to pre-book a special cachaça tasting before lunch, and make time for an afternoon siesta!  

IGUAZU FALLS
Named as one of the New Seven Wonders of the World, Iguazú Falls is one of the largest systems of waterfalls in the world and sits between Brazil and Argentina in a national park where the rainforest is home to over 2,000 plant species, about 400 bird species, 80 types of mammals and countless insects and invertebrates. The 275 cataracts stretch over two kilometres and present one of nature’s most aweinspiring spectacles.

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Birds backstage
Macaws, toucans, scarlet ibis… you’ll find more than 150 bird species at the 12 acre Iguassu Bird Park near Foz do Iguaçu. Many of the species are indigenous to the region with some from other parts of the world as well. A VIP visit will get you up close to some extraordinarily beautiful feathered creatures and an opportunity to handle them.

STAY 
Belmond Hotel das Cataratas 
The only hotel located within Brazil’s Iguassu National Park, the grand pastel-pink Belmond Hotel das Cataratas is just a short stroll from the thunderous cataracts. Set in sprawling, sculpted grounds, the hotel oozes old-world elegance with Portuguese-colonial fixtures and spacious rooms and suites. An elegantly designed pool is the perfect place to relax after wandering around the falls and hotel guests have exclusive access to the falls area, without the crowds.

Flavours & Rhythms of Brazil 10 Days | Priced from $8,225 per person twin share Solo Traveller from $14,695 

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