Stretching from the Andes to the Atlantic, Brazil contains most of the Amazon, some of South America’s most spectacular beaches, the largest wetland in the world, the Pantanal, and the mighty Iguaçu Falls – 200 or more cascades that thunder over an imposing horseshoe precipice, surrounded by tropical, squawking jungle. Most journeys up the Amazon begin in Brazil, either at the mouth or at the rubber-boom port of Manaus, 1,000 miles upstream. The north-east of the country is a world unto itself, with Recife the launchpad to colonial Olinda, the island dive spots of Fernando de Noronha and the talcum-white dunes of Lençóis de Maranhenses.
Portuguese, African and Brazilian influences are all on display in sultry Salvador, from the pastel-hued buildings of the Pelourinho district, so named after the pillory (whipping post) that once stood in the main square in front of the slave house, to the part-dance, part-martial art of capoeira and the Afro-Brazilian religion of Candomblé.
Salvador is also the gateway to the beaches of Bahia, widely regarded as the best in Brazil, though peaceful Paraty and beguiling Búzios are also both excellent for swimming and sunbathing. Then of course there’s Rio, home to the outstretched arms of Christ the Redeemer, Sugar Loaf Mountain and the famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema.