São Paulo is home to 20 million fiercely proud paulistanos (as residents are known), all of whom will happily tell you at length to you how they'd never live elsewhere. Spend time with them and the reasons will soon unfold. Maybe they will introduce you to the city’s innumerable art-house cinemas and experimental theaters. If they’re gourmands, they’ll focus on the smart bistros and gourmet restaurants that make the city a world-renowned foodie haven. If they’re scenesters, follow them on a raucous tour of underground bars and the 24/7 clubbing scene. Whatever pleasures you might covet, Sampa (the city's affectionate nickname) probably has them in spades.
Rio de Janeiro
Golden beaches and lush mountains, samba-fueled nightlife and spectacular football matches: welcome to the Cidade Maravilhosa (Marvelous City).Looking out from the 710m peak of Corcovado, you will see why Rio is called the Cidade Maravilhosa. Lushly forested mountains fringe the city, shimmering beaches trace the shoreline and a string of tiny islands lie scattered along the seafront. Far from being mere cinematic backdrop, this seaside beauty hosts outstanding outdoor adventures: hiking in the Tijuca rainforest, cycling alongside the lake and beaches, sailing across Baía de Guanabara (Guanabara Bay), and surfing, rock climbing and hang gliding amid one of the world's most stunning urban landscapes.
One of the planet’s most awe-inspiring sights, the Iguazú Falls are simply astounding. A visit is a jaw-dropping, visceral experience, and the power and noise of the cascades – a chain of hundreds of waterfalls nearly 3km in extension – live forever in the memory. An added benefit is the setting: the falls lie split between Brazil and Argentina in a large expanse of national park, much of it rainforest teeming with unique flora and fauna.
Named after female warriors of Greek mythology, the Amazon is itself a place of near-mythical status. What traveler drawn to the wild places of the planet hasn't imagined a trip to the Amazon, not only to admire the towering trees, secretive wildlife and awesome river, but to enter, in a real sense, the very life spring of the planet? Expecting a Discovery Channel–like experience (jaguars in every tree, anacondas on every shore) is a recipe for disappointment. In fact, the Amazon’s quintessential experiences are more sublime than superlative: canoeing through a flooded forest, dozing in a hammock on a boat chugging upriver, waking to the otherworldly cry of howler monkeys. On a river whose size is legendary, it’s actually the little things that make it special. Give it some time, and the Amazon is all this and more.
Located in the heart of South America, the world’s largest wetland covers some 210,000 sq km. The majority is in Brazil, split between the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul. These open marshes are home to an immense variety of life – if you like to see animals in their natural environment, the Pantanal is an unmissable destination.