Pairing cycling with other activities is a great way to explore Brazil. // © 2017 iStock
Feature image (above): All eyes were on Brazil during the 2016 Summer Olympics, which were held in Rio de Janeiro. // © 2017 iStock
The largest and most populous country in South America, Brazil most recently stole the world spotlight as the host of last year’s summer Olympic games. It was a fitting choice for a host, to be sure — the destination, which is slightly smaller in area than the U.S., is an adventurer’s playground and boasts nearly 5,000 miles of coastline, several mountain ranges and the largest river on Earth.
Born in Florianopolis, an island off the southern coast of Brazil, Guilherme Eduardo dos Santos, CEO of Apino Turismo, spent most of his childhood on a surfboard or the seat of a bike — a lifestyle that led to a degree in tourism and, later, the founding of his own ecotourism company.
For clients looking for a way to pass the time — and burn some calories — dos Santos suggests biking through Brazil’s southern region.
“Travel by mountain bike, but do other activities on the way, such as horseback riding, rafting or paragliding,” he suggests. “Santa Catarina, a state in the south of Brazil, is very diverse. Ride through it, and you can see different landscapes, cultures and people every 20 to 30 miles.”
Carve Out the Time: Because of Brazil’s size, dos Santos recommends spending four to seven days in every city on the itinerary.
Although he’s not a native, Adam Hirst knows a thing or two about Brazil’s tourism scene. After moving there 10 years ago and writing travel guides for a travel agency, he and his Brazilian partner eventually became owners of their own company: Rio de Janeiro-based Brazil Adventure Tours.
When soaking in Rio’s most sought-after sights, Hirst suggests taking to the sky.
“The classic adventure choice for visitors has to be taking a tandem hang-gliding lesson in Rio, because the topography of the city is so special,” he said. “You take off from a mountain, fly over Atlantic Rainforest, circle out over the Atlantic Ocean, then finally land on the beach below. Most cities don’t have even two of those attractions, but you get them all in one fell swoop.”
Nature Lovers Welcome: Brazil has beaches, mountains, wetlands and more. There really is something for everyone.
Cruising the Amazon
Travel advisors will have various reasons for selling a destination. But for Sarah Taylor, an advisor at All Set Concierge, it’s personal.
A former exchange student to Brazil, Taylor says that while living there, she was embraced by the locals’ hospitable nature and infectious passion. Her favorite spot for active clients? The mighty Amazon River.
“While it’s hard to choose one activity because it is such a large country, clients can really tailor their adventure there,” she said. “Whether they are looking for a river cruise to go fishing for piranhas or a wellness retreat to be healed by local shamans, a trip to the Amazon really lets them define how much adventure they want.”
Don’t Wait: Taylor warns that both climate change and large international businesses are putting the Amazon and the surrounding region’s ecosystem at risk. Urge clients not to wait to book a trip here.