Brazil is more than just sun, sea and sand: Where to go for wildlife, hiking and diving

Beyond culture and carnivals, Brazil's beautiful natural landscapes are a growing draw for tourists
Beyond culture and carnivals, Brazil's beautiful natural landscapes are a growing draw for tourists Copyright Canva
By Portia Jones
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Beyond culture and carnivals, Brazil's beautiful natural landscapes are a growing draw for tourists.

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Famous for its world-class carnivals, glorious beaches, towering Christ the Redeemer statue and hearty cuisine, Brazil is a country of staggering proportions and diverse landscapes.

The country is also home to a wealth of natural wonders and outdoor activities, making it a top holiday choice for outdoor lovers and thrill seekers looking for an adrenaline rush.

Among its most renowned treasures is the Amazon rainforest, which spans over 6.7 million square kilometres and represents over half of the planet's remaining rainforests. Its fragile biodiversity is unmatched and is home to millions of species of plants, animals, and insects, many of which have yet to be discovered.

The best natural wonders in Brazil

The Amazon River, flowing through the heart of the rainforest, is the largest river by discharge volume globally. It plays a vital role in sustaining the ecosystem and surrounding communities.

In the southern region of Brazil lies the Pantanal, the world's largest tropical wetland area.

During the rainy season, the Pantanal transforms into a vast flooded plain, teeming with wildlife such as jaguars, caimans, capybaras, and many bird species. Its diverse habitats support a rich ecosystem, drawing nature enthusiasts and researchers from across the globe.

Along the border with Argentina, Iguazu Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls globally. It comprises a series of over 275 individual falls cascading over cliffs amidst lush rainforests.

Along the border with Argentina, Iguazu Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls globally
Along the border with Argentina, Iguazu Falls is one of the most spectacular waterfalls globallyCanva

Demand for nature is growing in Brazil

Brazil has seen tourism rise to pre-pandemic levels and many travellers go for national parks and outdoor adventures.

"Demand for nature is growing," says Marcelo Freixo, CEO of the Brazilian Tourism Board. For a long time, Brazil has promoted itself for its carnival and sunny beaches, but Freixo explains that it is now focusing on nature tourism and restoration work.

Beyond culture and carnivals, Brazil's beautiful natural landscapes are a growing draw for tourists, and the tourism board is keen to capitalise on this interest.

Whether diving into crystal-clear waters, hiking through lush forests, or marvelling at cascading waterfalls, Brazil’s varied landscapes offer curious explorers no shortage of adventures.

Here are some of the best activities and natural wonders in Brazil.

Diving in Brazil

Brazil has several dive sites with fragile corals for those eager to explore life beneath the waves.

Head to Fernando de Noronha, a pristine archipelago off the northeastern coast, where crystal-clear waters teem with vibrant marine life.

With visibility often surpassing 40 metres, divers can marvel at diverse marine life, including whales, reef sharks and clownfish.

Book a dive trip to Recife, in the north-east of Brazil, for eerie shipwrecks, where 100 doomed vessels lay on the ocean floor.

Wildlife spotting in the Amazon Rainforest

The Brazilian side of the Amazon rainforest promises a journey into one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems.

Join guided expeditions from Manaus or Belém to venture deep into the jungle, where you'll encounter towering trees, exotic wildlife, and Indigenous communities.

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Ask your guide to point out jaguars, sloths, black spider monkeys, and poison dart frogs as you carefully navigate the dense forest terrains.

Explore the Rio Negro and Rio Solimões, tributaries of the mighty Amazon River, by boat or kayak and try and spot pink river dolphins.

The Brazilian side of the Amazon rainforest promises a journey into one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems.
The Brazilian side of the Amazon rainforest promises a journey into one of the world's most biodiverse ecosystems.Portia Jones

Hiking adventures in Brazil

Go on a hiking expedition through the lush landscapes of Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park.

Located in the heart of Brazil, this UNESCO World Heritage site is a haven for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

Lace up your hiking boots and traverse rugged trails that wind through ancient rock formations, lush forests, and cascading waterfalls.

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Watch for elusive wildlife, from colourful birds to jaguars, as you discover pristine wilderness in this remarkable park.

Mountain biking in Brazil

For adrenaline junkies seeking an exhilarating challenge, Brazil's diverse terrain offers endless opportunities for mountain biking adventures.

Explore the rugged terrain of Serra da Canastra National Park, where winding trails lead you through dramatic landscapes and panoramic vistas.

Test your skills on steep descents, navigate rocky paths, and soak in the raw beauty of Brazil's countryside.

With its diverse landscapes and thrilling trails, Brazil promises extreme bikers an unforgettable mountain biking adventure.

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Brazil's diverse terrain offers endless opportunities for mountain biking adventures.
Brazil's diverse terrain offers endless opportunities for mountain biking adventures.Canva

Chasing waterfalls at Iguazu Falls

Prepare to be awe-struck by the sheer majesty of Iguazu Falls, one of the most spectacular natural wonders on the planet.

Spanning the border between Brazil and Argentina, this UNESCO World Heritage site has over 270 individual waterfalls cascading into a mist-shrouded abyss.

Explore the network of trails that wind through verdant rainforests, offering panoramic views of the thundering cascades from various vantage points.

Feel the power of nature as you stand in awe of the mighty Devil's Throat, the largest and most impressive waterfall in the park.

White-water rafting thrills

For an adrenaline-pumping adventure, head to the mighty rivers of Brazil for an unforgettable white-water rafting experience.

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Navigate the rapids of the Rio Paraná, where swirling currents and towering waves provide an exhilarating challenge for thrill-seekers.

Alternatively, venture to the Rio Jacaré Pepira in São Paulo state, renowned for its adrenaline-fuelled rapids and impressive scenery.

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