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Rio de Janeiro

Brazil, the sole Portuguese-speaking country of Latin America, achieved independence initially not through a republican movement but thanks to a prince who liked the beach.

In 1808, Rio de Janeiro became the imperial capital, with King John VI and his son Dom Pedro in residence. When the king returned to Lisbon the prince stayed put. Calls from Lisbon in 1821 were ignored, giving Brazilians a sense that they were no longer at the beck and call of Portugal, and in 1822, on the banks of the River Ipiranga near São Paulo, independence was proclaimed.

Top five attractions

  • Salvador’s carnival, which is far more of a people’s party than Rio’s commercial extravaganza.
  • Brasilia’s modernist architecture, conceived by Niemeyer.
  • The wildlife of the Pantanal wetlands, where jaguar can still be seen.
  • An Amazon riverboat cruise from Belém to Manaus, which is still epic and is about as cheap and authentic as cruising gets.
  • The long sandy beaches of the north-east, from Maceió to Natal, with the surreal dunes and lagoons of the Lençóis Maranhenses.

Best city
Rio de Janeiro, because it’s all things to all travellers: it has some of Salvador’s African culture, a hint of São Paulo’s sophistication and a uniquely democratic beach culture.

Souvenir to buy
Havaiana flip-flops are cheaper here than elsewhere, as are bikinis.

Quirky Brazil
Fifty-five million condoms were handed out by the government for the carnival last month.

Read
‘A Death in Brazil’ by Peter Robb. A study of Brazil’s dark side, covering slavery, corruption, and the importance of carnival and pop culture.

How to get there

British Airways fly direct to Rio non-stop from Heathrow starting from £705pp. Alternatively you can now combine Brazil with Peru by flying into Rio with British Airways and out of Lima via Madrid with Iberia starting from £675pp.

 

By Chris Moss, Telegraph Journalist.

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Real Latin America Experts

  • Carrie Gallagher
    Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert

    A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Expert

    It's hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

  • Chris Rendell Dunn
    Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert

    Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Expert

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

Meet the team