Sugar Loaf Mountain and the Bay of Rio de Janiero – the view is one of the world’s most famous and arriving by sea, it’s breathtaking. There’s a long and slow approach while the captain negotiates the waters, a pilot boat ahead and alongside to guide us in – but I worried not about the skill of the captain or the pilot as I stood on deck, agape at the beauty of Sugar Loaf Mountain and behind it dominating, as if watching over it, stands the Art Deco statue of Christ the Redeemer on the uppermost tip of Cocovado Mountain.
The statue, 125ft tall, arms wide open, as if calling us to a welcome embrace, is a deeply religious symbol of Christianity in this, the world’s largest Catholic country…yet it overlooks two of the most trendy, hip, lively ~ almost scandalous beaches of Rio – Copacabana and Ipanema! People here enjoy the delights of idleness, playing volleyball, sunbathing or just strutting up and down on the mosaic pavements in tiny bikinis showing off their suntans!
In February, on Shrove Tuesday, the Rio Carnival brings glitter, glamour and colour to the streets, it’s all done to excess! Rio’s late night parties, nightclubs, make it one of the most exciting cities in South America.
A visit to Rio is unforgettable, and a visit to Brazil is amazing ~ the cities are special, but the country is huge and has a full range of contrasts to slate the thirst of any traveller.
The Amazon River and the Amazon rainforest provides one third of the whole world’s oxygen. I started my journey in Brazil at Manaus on the river – deep, wide and big enough to take ocean liners. The people in the little towns, along the river were curious to see us, and provided us with trails, fishing boats and photo opportunities on our shore excursions.
The jungle and its sounds filled our ears as we sailed by, birds wading at the river’s edge and staring at us from the treetops, our cameras and binoculars in hand. At Santarem we saw the amazing sight of blue and brown ribbons of water as two rivers met ~ the brown and muddy Amazon and the deep blue water from the Rio Negro. They flow alongside each other, without mixing for several miles and the locals call it “the meeting of the waters”. You’ve got to see it to believe it!
It took 3 days for us to sail from Manaus to the Atlantic Ocean. The Amazon is the second longest river in the world – but the largest in volume of water. Of the many rivers that contribute to the Amazon is the Parana, and its major contributory is the Iguassu ~ but Iguassu and its Falls is another traveller’s tale to tell and you can see my story at Iguassu on another page of my website! With so many superlatives its hard to sum up Brazil without sounding insincere – except to say that everywhere you go, you feel a passion ~ everything they do is done with passion ~ music and samba, sport and football, coffee and cachaca (a native liquor) Carnival and costumes – it’s all infectious and most infectious of all are the people, their big smiles and their carefree way of life ~ even a few days here will have you relaxed, laughing and enjoying life!