Brazil - The North
Northern Brazil is a relatively unexplored area of South America. The majority of travellers tend to be Brazilians themselves, exploring the different states, from the internationally acclaimed Bahia and Amazonas to the tiny Piauí and Tocantins. Brazil is a vast country. From the dry plains of the interior, the Sertão, to the miles of sandy coastline and extravagant wildlife of national parks and the Amazon rainforest, the north is home to unrivalled variety.
Brazil - The South
Rio de Janeiro is understandably the main attraction of southern Brazil, built around rainforest, mountains and the ferocious waves of the Atlantic Ocean. However, visitors should certainly not overlook the beaches of Florianópolis, the inner-city greenery of Curitiba or the remarkable wildlife diversity in the Pantanal. The cuisine and charming towns of Minas Gerais or the thundering waterfalls at Iguazu make southern Brazil a place of endless exploration opportunities.
Brazil can breathe a great sigh of relief. Disaster has been averted. Despite the predictions that Rio de Janeiro was unprepared and with many expecting the Olympic Games to be an embarrassment, Rio 2016 has just about delivered. Sure, it was a little rough around the edges, with some accommodation not quite up to scratch and a few visitors finding themselves the victims of petty crime. But that raw, fresh Olympic experience was the main reason for bringing the games to South America: to give a continent of sport-loving people access to the world’s biggest sporting event.
Once an important mining hub, now a relic of Portuguese colonialism, the city of Ouro Preto is nestled proudly between mountains in what was once known as the ‘Vila Rica’. This gorgeous town, famed for it’s quaint cobbled streets and Baroque architecture, went from being the centre of Brazil’s gold rush in the 18th century to a small town that relies mainly on tourism. Meaning ‘Black Gold’, Ouro Preto was the state capital of Minas Gerais until 1897, before industrialisation and development saw Belo Horizonte take over.
From snowcapped Andean mountains and endless vineyards in the north to the icy glaciers of Patagonia in the south, Argentina stretches over 2000 miles from top to bottom. Buenos Aires is a buzzing hub of a capital city, with unbeatable food, nightlife and tango dancing. Mendoza’s wine is world renown and sought after by all visitors, as is Argentina’s beef, irresistibly grilled. The noticeable European influences make Argentina an extremely accessible place to visit in comparison to some of the other spots in the continent.
There is no city quite like Buenos Aires. That should come as no surprise because, of course, every city is unique. Anywhere that a few million people call home is bound to be bustling, will undoubtedly be exciting, and will certainly be a hotbed of cultural diversity. However, the allure of the Argentine capital runs deeper than this bustling, diverse surface; there is a genuine buzz to the place, an intangible atmosphere that exudes from its various neighbourhoods. There is a Buenos Aires lifestyle, which draws in residents and visitors alike.
A glass of Malbec, a tender rump steak, a measured smattering of chimichurri, and a charming view of distant, snow-capped Andean peaks. It is easy to see the allure of Argentina’s wine region. Mendoza province produces over half of the country’s wine and foreign visitors flock to soak up some sun and sample the produce. But while Mendoza and its surrounding vineyards are lovely, the wine region extends far into north-western Argentina, and a winding, mountainous road trip is perhaps the best way to not only see more of the country, but to widen one’s wine horizons.