A Brazil Honeymoon!
Tropical Brazil, which takes up more than half of South America, is a big country. Spending a week or two there and trying to see everything Brazil has to offer would be like touring the entire U.S. in the same amount of time – practically impossible. Your best bet is to focus on a few areas on your Brazil honeymoon and plan to see more on your next visit. Most honeymooning couples choose accommodations on the beach, with both Rio (think Ipanema and Copacabana) de Janeiro and the state of Bahia being hotspots for couples who are looking forward to sunbathing, surfing, whale watching, kayaking, para- or hang-gliding, horseback riding, sailing, diving, or exploring the beach in a sand buggy.
If you can afford it, opt for the southern coast’s Ponta dos Ganchos Exclusive Resort, a luxury property located about 45 minutes from the Florianópolis airport that was voted the best hotel in South America in 2008 by the Condé Nast Johansens guide. Built on a peninsula, the all-inclusive hotel is surrounded by the sea and tiny fishing villages and boasts 25 bungalows, excellent cuisine, a fitness center and Dior Spa, a tennis court, and a variety of water sports. There is no shortage of luxury beachside accommodations in Brazil, but you can also opt for lodging in the canopy of the Amazon rainforest or in one of the country’s reasonably-priced pousadas.
If you stay in Rio, be sure to visit the stunning Christ the Redeemer statue, which stands more than 100 feet tall at the top of Corcovado Mountain. You can climb more than 200 steps to the top of the mountain, or take the railway up the hill. Also, you can take the cable car to Sugar Loaf Mountain, or rock climb to the top via one of several routes. Don’t miss the breathtaking Iguazu Falls in southern Brazil, a Heritage of Mankind site that spans more nearly two miles. This is one of the most famous tourist destinations in the country, and you will find no shortage of photo ops here. Visiting will require a flight from Rio, but lodging overlooking the falls is available. It’s suggested that you plan on taking two days to see them from both the Brazilian and Argentinean side.
If you are in Rio in February, you will of course want to take part in Carnival, a wild, four-day city-wide party that starts on the Saturday before Fat Tuesday. Parades (the Samba Parade is the most famous, and you can be in the parade if you register and attend rehearsals beforehand), dancing, singing, eating, drinking, and generally making merry are all part of the fun, but be sure to purchase tickets in advance if at all possible. If you don’t make it to Carnival, remember that virtually every night in Rio is an occasion for partying, with clubs coming alive around midnight and staying open into the wee hours of the morning. Some of the country’s best restaurants are also located in Rio, so you’ll be sure to find feijoada, the national dish of black beans, rice, and meat, as well as fare for more sophisticated palates.
Brazil Honeymoon - the nature aspect
If you are a nature lover, you probably can’t wait to see the Amazon rainforest, and there are several options for doing this. Cruises on the Amazon River are popular, with most of them leaving from Manaus, which is located in northern Brazil, approximately three hours by air from Rio. (If you are planning on visiting several areas of Brazil, you should invest in a Brazil Airpass, which will save you money as you travel.) You can also book reservations in one of the many Amazon lodges, which will put you right in the thick of the rainforest.
If you want to see an incredible variety of flora and fauna and don’t have time to go to Manaus, consider the Pantanal, the world’s largest freshwater wetland, located about an hour from west of Rio by air. The Pantanal is home to more than 650 species of birds, 80 species of reptiles, and dozens of mammals including monkeys, tapirs, river otters, and bats. Book a hotel nearby in order to spend maximum time observing the natural wonders of this fascinating area. (You can also join a Pantanal research project for two weeks and get a first-hand look at the area’s plants and animals.