With white sand beaches galore, hoppin’ metropolitan cities from north to south, the vastness of the Amazon, and sport teams donning all colors of jerseys, Brazil is land of contrasts and discovery. One day you can be floating down a river in a jungle, and then the next, chilling on a beach with a caipirinha in hand. There are also opportunities to go bungee jumping, scuba diving, and dune buggying in Brazil. And last but not least, ever heard of sandboarding? If not, it’s time to try sliding down 500 foot sand dunes! Larger than the continental United States and home to the world’s largest rainforest, Brazil is ripe with adventure.
In addition to the mysterious and hugely-popular Amazon, Brazil is buzzing with adrenaline-filling adventures around every corner. From mountaintops to deep ocean plunges (and everything in between), your heart will beat rapidly at new altitudes.
In the north of Brazil is the world’s largest rainforest and one of the most biodiverse regions on the planet, the Amazon. From gigantic, rushing rivers to towering trees that seem as if they’re straight from the set of Jurassic Park, the Amazon rainforest should be on every adventure traveler’s bucket list. As one of the most popular places in the world to travel to, there are many different types of adventures in the Amazon for you to choose from. Most organizations offer very customizable itineraries, so adventurers can decide the ratio between swimming with river dolphins and marching on survival quests through the rainforest.
One of the most well known-cities in Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is a metropolis full of famous beaches (can anyone say Copacabana?), renowned soccer stadiums, and the Christ the Redeemer statue. Whether it’s surfing or coaching kids sports, Rio has a lot of adventure opportunities for travelers who are looking to get into the Carioca culture while enjoying a big city. Did we forget to mention the 2016 Rio Olympics!?
Unique from the rest of the country in the fact that it was largely colonized by Germans and emulates a lot of northern European architecture, southern Brazil’s main highlight is the city of Florianopolis. Usually, foreigners coming to Florianopolis work on projects concerning environmental conservation and community youth development. But there are also some epic canyons and waterfalls to hike through, and the scenic Serra Verde train to hop onto.
Adventure Programs in Brazil
Given Brazil’s importance in conserving the Amazon rainforest, a lot of adventure travel programs have a strong eco aspect to them. However, if you just wanna have fun in the sun, there's plenty of trekking, scuba diving, and water-based trips available as well, no worries.
Trekking & Survival Adventures. Largely based in the Amazon, a lot of trekking trips start out from Manaus, the capital of the Amazon, and last from a couple days to several weeks. These build up survival skills, such as fishing for piranhas, starting fires with local fuel, and finding clean drinking water. Needless to say, most of these adventures are not for the faint of heart.
Conservation Projects. From the rainforest to coral reef protection, Brazil has hundreds of opportunities to learn about and help conserve its fragile nature. Whether it’s wetland conservation or education of locals on how to best protect wildlife in Florianopolis, there is a branch of environmental conservation just for you. Combine adventure with a good cause, and sow the seeds for a hopeful future.
Sports. With a dedicated fan base and energetic team players, sport programs in Brazil are common. From fútebol matches to capoeira performances, sports are a huge part of Brazilian culture. Adventure travelers can even find volunteering opportunities, from Rio de Janeiro to Fortaleza, related to sports. Since sports are not usually taught as a part of the Brazilian curriculum at schools, a lot of disadvantaged youth can use sports coaching to build life skills, such as teamwork and sportsmanship.
Costs & Affordability
The cost of adventures in Brazil largely depends on the length, location, and activities included in the trip. The main two ports of entry to the country are Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo, so the farther you go from those two cities, the more expensive it will be in terms of travel costs. However, there are always deals on flights and buses, so keep a lookout for bargains!
Affordability varies around Brazil, but never breaks the bank. Eating out at restaurants and churrascarias (steak houses) is between $5 and $15, while upper-end restaurants are closer to $40. Stick to the numerous grocery stores and mercados, which not only prove to be cheaper and fresher, but also offer many quirky local foods not found on commercial menus.
As far as prepping for a trek goes, the farther away from cities supply shops are, the more expensive the gear gets (for example, insect repellent and backpacks will be far more expensive in Manaus than in Sao Paulo or Rio de Janeiro). Transportation in Brazil is costly when talking about planes, but more than affordable when it comes to buses. If you don’t mind long travel times and minimal personal space, there is a bus connection that’ll get you even into the deepest jungles.
The biggest cost of any adventure in Brazil will be the plane ticket to Brazil. Once there, adventure activities vary greatly in fees, depending on location and inclusions. It is worth noting that, sometimes, the more expensive adventures in Brazil are actually better deals, as they are all-inclusive (transportation, accommodation, food, etc.). Do your research carefully before signing up for any adventure in Brazil!
For those looking to ease the pain on their wallets when buying tickets for travel to and from Brazil, try visiting Fund My Travel to crowdsource fundraise for your trip.
Accommodation & Visas
One of the most adventurous parts of adventure travel in Brazil can be your accommodation. From cots with mosquito nets to modern hotels, bed types of any kind can be found, so mentally prepare for everything.
Housing and accommodation during adventure programs in Brazil varies depending on the nature of the activity. Out in the rainforest of the Amazon, you’ll camp under the stars in sleeping bags, huts, or program-provided tents. During adventures in Brazil’s in bigger cities, program participants will most likely stay with Brazilian host families, which is by far one of the best options available. Not only will you get home-cooked Brazilian food, but you’ll have a chance to learn Portuguese and local cultures as you’ll be immersed in the everyday life of a Brazilian family.
Visas to travel to Brazil can be a little tricky, but definitely manageable (especially if you are planning to survive jungle treks and shark-diving expeditions). Brazil has a reciprocity policy, which means that whatever foreign governments require Brazilians to do to visit their country, the Brazilian government requires foreign citizens to do in theirs. For example, American citizens have to get a tourist visa from a Brazilian embassy and pay $160, because that is what Brazilians have to do in order to visit the United States. The Golden Rule of travel politics.
Benefits & Challenges
There are few other places in the world with the the biodiversity of Brazil’s rainforests and wetlands. From aquatic animals to reptiles, there’s just nothing like it. While bird-watching and trekking can be awesome, travelers also have to deal with animals that prey on humans, such as the pesky mosquito. Those going to the Amazon will most likely have to take malaria pills and get up-to-date on their vaccinations in order to ensure they have an enjoyable adventure in Brazil.
Whether it’s a guide, fellow hiker, or local-turned-friend, Brazilians are among the most open and friendly people on the face of the planet. Always looking to lend a helping hand, travelers will never find themselves at a disadvantage when it comes to looking directions, suggestions, or playful company. Just stay away from favelas (slums), as they can be dangerous and present a different type of adventure than you may have signed up for.
Adventures in Brazil can be counted among the things in your life that you will never regret. How many people can brag that they went swimming among piranhas in the Amazon River or learned how to surf on the beaches of Rio de Janeiro? Probably not a lot. So, throw on a swimming suit, lace up the hiking boots, smother yourself in sunscreen and bug spray, and hop on down for an exciting Brazilian getaway.