Top 20 Brazilian cigars

Bahia is known for producing strong and aromatic tobacco for cigars, handmade and considered among the best in the world for good aroma and burning.

Tobacco is a plant native to the Americas. In the southern regions tobacco of Virginia and Burley varieties is produced for cigarettes and the state of Bahia is known for producing strong and aromatic tobacco for cigars, handmade and considered among the best in the world for good aroma and burning.

Brazilian cigars are typically medium to full-bodied cigars with a mild to medium strength, rich flavor, very aromatic, and with a natural sweetness. Below is a list of Brazilian cigar brands

Alonso Menendez
Alonso Menendez is one of the premium brands made by Menendez Amerino in the state of Bahia, northeast of Brazil. The company is the result of the collaboration between Cuban cigar maker Felix Menendez (who had been involved in the making of famous Cuban brands Montecristo and H. Upmann in the pre-Castro era) and Brazilian tobacco grower Mario Amerino. It is made with leaves grown in the famous region called Mata Fina. Website.
Angelina
Angelina cigars was created in 2002 by São Paulo businessman Marcelo Ceneviva. The brand has a regular series with six sizes, with highlights like Angelina Exclusivos where the tobacco passes through a third fermentation process making it richer and smoother. A little more body than the regular series is the series “cabinet.” Besides the series mentioned, the brand stands for launching limited editions regularly, where special shapes are created, like Angelina Gran Corona and Angelina Infinitus. Another difference is the availability of shapes in special editions. Remarkable are the Angelina Salomones e Angelina Perfecto.
AquariusAnother creation of Menendez & Amerino and this cigar is ideal for beginners because it has a very mild flavor.
Aristocratas
Handmade longfiller produced in Cruz das Almas.
Brasil Autênticos
The Brasil Autênticos cigars are produced by Chaba – Charutos da Bahia. The company was founded in 1998 by Fernando Fraga, a former official of the defunct Suerdieck, in partnership with Roberto Barradas. Available in eight sizes Brasil Autênticos cigars use in their blend mata norte e mata fina tobacco that give a rich flavor and full body. Chaba also produces cigars Don Pepe, for former Suerdieck.
Black & White
Caravelas
Cigars produced by Puros do Brasil in Bahia in a exclusive regime, where the crops are supervised directly by the producer. The only tobacco in Caravelas is Mata Fina grown in the Bahia region and this line features seven cigars in lengths ranging from 5 to 7 inches and ring gauges ranging from 43 to 60.
Damatta
Damatta is one of the few national brands that has its own plantation of tobacco. The blend is composed of Mata Fina tobacco and Sumatra, with whole leaves rolled by hand. One of the highlights that reflects the unconditional care about quality is that the leaves are aged for about four years, which provides low rates of nicotine and ammonia, without altering the aroma and flavor of the cigar. The quality obtained reflects the emphasis that this line of cigars has achieved in various tastings, invariably reaching for the top spots.
The regular line of cigars Damatta consists of five gauges, three of which, Corona, Robusto and Churchill, are packed in boxes of solid cedar, with 25 cigars. The Robusto and Corona are also offered in versions with seven and three units for travel or gift. The line is available with clear covers (Sumatra) and dark (Mata Fina). The Damatta also features two special gauges: Corona Gorda, which is called Damatta Graduates, and Toscanini.
Delectados
Cigars produced by Puros do Brasil in Bahia. Containing Mata Fina, and a little Mata Norte making the cigar more full-bodied, spicy, resembling dark chocolate and coffee roasted.
Dannemann
The oldest cigar factory in Brazil. One of the largest tobacco producers in Brazil and with factories in Germany and Switzerland. The cigars manufactured in São Felix – Bahia are excellent, especially the Artist Line.
website
Dona Ero
Produzed by Josefina tobacco, these cigars are made in Cruz das Almas. They have the largest cigar sold in the market, the Gran Corona with 23.5 cm in length.
Dona Flor
Dona Flor – Another brand produced by Menendez & Amerino, named after the novel by Jorge Amado. One of the best cigars in the line is the Dona Flor Pirâmide with its distinctive shape.
Don Pepe
Launched and produced by former Suerdieck Don Pepe cigars in six shapes are currently produced by Chaba – Charutos da Bahia in Alagoinhas – Bahia
Don Porfírio
This brand, despite using tobacco from Bahia, is being produced in Boituva within the state of Sao Paulo.Responsible for the production is the Cuban Diógenes Puentes who worked long in the La Corona factory in Havana – Cuba.
Don Quixote
Gabriela
Menendez & Amerino, the largest manufacturer of cigars in Brazil, produces among others the brands Dona Flor, Alonso Menendez, Aquarius and Gabriela. Gabriela is named after the character in honor of the writer Jorge Amado, it is produced with selected tobaccos, which gives it a special blend. Furthermore, it is the only in the market that comes individually wrapped in cellophane. Middle ground between cigarettes and cigars, cigarillos are gaining more space between lovers who want to stop smoking cigarettes or are unwilling to pay the high prices of good cigars, becoming the segment of the tobacco industry that most grows today. Gabriela cigarillos are sold in boxes of 50 units in the original versions and chocolate flavor, the latter designed to serve a market that is becoming increasingly important: the feminine.
Josefina
Josefina Tabacos do Brasil was created by a woman in Cruz das Almas, in January 2001. The company name and brand of cigars is a tribute to the founder’s grandmother.
Josefina cigars have a pleasant taste and aroma, suitable for those who are beginners. Can be found in five shapes: Churchill (16.5 cm long and 2.0 cm in diameter), Torpedo (15.5 cm x 2.0 cm), Corona (13.5 cm x 1.7 cm) Corona Gorda (14.0 cm x 1.9 cm) and Robust (12.5 cm x 2.0), in boxes of 25. All formats are designed with Arapiraca tobacco and may have a clear cover (Sumatra) and dark hood (Arapiraca).
website
Le Cigar
Manufatura Tabaqueira LeCigar Ltda. is considered one of the best national brands and has only four formats, Lonsdale, Corona, Panatela and Robust and can be found in dark skin (mata fina) and clear cover (Sumatra).
Arend Becker is the companies master blender, and a man who has been raised with tobacco in his blood. His father is Johan Becker, an immigrant from Bremen in the 20´s who began a tobacco export business in Brazil. Becker started in 1964 with a traditional tobacco export company, Matas da Bahia Ltda, at Cruz da Almas. In the mid 80’s Arend and his father began making cigars for other companies, and in 1997 Arend created his own label. Le Cigar was born.
Today, Le Cigar is operated by Ricardo Becker, and the tradition of fine, quality cigars continues.
Le cigar offers a complete line of cigars and is a top recommendation for true cigar enthusiasts.
Leite e Alves
The origin of the Leite e Alves company is the continuation of the Imperial and old company of  São Domingos, founded in 1881.
The Premium line is composed of the following cigars: Robusto, Corona, Toro, Panetela, Churchill and Double Corona. It is characterized by the highest quality products that are rigorously selected from tabacco from the Bahian Recôncavo. By preserving entire leaves of the noblest species, these cigars offer the opportunity to fully appreciate the flavor of the tobacco in their most natural form.
Menendez
Made by the same manufacturer of Dona Flor, a cigar is made with pieces of leaf (medium fller), comes in packs of 16 units. Designed to be a good option for day to day.
Monte Pascoal
The Monte Pascoal from Tobacos Mata Fina Litda, launched in 2007, is owned by the Orsi Family Group. Orsi bought the Brazilian factory that once produced Caravelas cigars.
Monte Pascoal is constructed almost entirely from mata fina tobaccos with some mata norte mixed in the filler to provide power. It has a profile all its own, and one that’s sure to please cigar enthusiasts who are looking for something a little different.
MR Charutos
MR Charutos is the creation of Marcus Roberto D Santos, and are from the city of Cruz das Almas. A recommended cigar for those who want the experience  of a super premium cigar for a great price that won’t take a bite out of your wallet. MR Charutos are available in Corona, Robusto, Churchill, and Torpedo.  A fine line of Cigarillos are available as well.
Palomitas
Cigarillos from the famous Brazilian factory of Chaba Charutos da Bahia.
Quitéria
This cigar factory was founded by former employees of Suerdieck, descendants of earlier European immigrants who came to Brazil in 1920 to implement the tobacco crop.
The brand name is a tribute to Maria Quitéria, a patron of the Brazilian army.
Sandes
Produced in Cruz das Almas by Luis Carlos Sandes. The Sandes brand was launched with the goal of producing one of the best domestic cigars. They are available in Robusto, Corona, Corona Gordo, and Petit Robusto.  Produced under several brands, as the Sandes, the African and San Filippo.
Sandes produces  good handmade cigars and cigarillos, the type of long and short filler. In versions of light and dark skin. The cigars with clear skin are mild , pleasant and balanced, while the cigars with a dark skin are full-bodied.
Siboney
The name refers to one of three indigenous tribes that inhabited the island of Cuba for nearly 6000 years ago. Siboney cigars are produced by Erádio Perez, a Cuban living in Brazil, who developed a blend especially for the Brazilian fans, using tobacco imported from Cuba and Mexico. Available in 6 shapes, with covers of light and dark, Siboney stands out by being produced in the Cuban tradition. Another curious aspect is the fact that it is a cigar made in Brazil but using imported tobacco. The company Nativo Del Caribe that produces Siboney is located in Itatiba, São Paulo.
Terra de Vera Cruz
Cigar from Cruz das Almas. A great value for money.  Mata Fina of the best quality with option to cover with clear or dark Sumatra.

Caipirinha

The name caipirinha (pronounced => kai-pee-reen-yah –– with the r slightly trilled) is derived from the Portuguese word caipira (hick, hayseed, country bumpkin, rube, etc.––essentially a Li’l Abner type) coupled with the -inha suffix (a diminutive denoting little or small) and can be variously translated as little hick, little hayseed, little country bumpkin, little rube, etc., etc. Again, like the word cachaça, there really is no translation for caipirinha (the drink) except caipirinha … unless you prefer to call it a little hick, little hayseed, little country bumpkin, little rube, etc.. But most people would rather drink one that get hung up on the name. Cachaça is also the primary ingredient in numerous batidas (cachaça and fruit/fruit juice mixtures).

Nobody knows for sure exactly who made the first caipirinha or when. Many older Brazilians claim that the caipirinha was originally a folk remedy used to help alleviate the symptoms of colds and the flu and to soothe sore throats. Even today, many Brazilians are known to create a concoction of lime juice, cachaça and honey as a remedy for colds and flu. The use of ice is most certainly a modern innovation. We can only speculate that the use of sugar (or honey) that is one of bed rocks of the caipirinha was used to help the cachaça go down a little smoother because, after all, “a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down …”

There is an old adage in Brazil: quanto pior a cachaça, melhor a caipirinha––the worse the cachaça, the better the caipirinha. Consequently, most “experts” believe it’s best to use clear colored (white), non aged cachaça, essentially, the cheapest available. We agree! Therefore, the popular (and usually more readily available) Pitú, 51 or Ypioca brands are perfect for making a world class caipirinha.

A caipirinha must be made with fresh lime to achieve an “authentic” taste. In Brazil, the very best caipirinhas are made with limões galegos––what in the U.S. is often referred to as a key lime. That’s what we believe is best too. The limão galego has a lighter lime odor and tastes a little more acidic. The larger, more readily available, thick-skinned, Tahitian limes sold in the U.S., Brazil and elsewhere can certainly be used but are not as good as key limes (limões galegos).

Classic Caipirinha Recipe (also see observations & notes and making caipirinhas by the pitcher)
In an old fashioned or (flat bottomed) on-the-rocks glass,

  • add 2 to 3 (depending on size) key limes cut into thin slices (approximately 1/8 inch thick). some people like to peel the limes before slicing but this eliminates the lime oil in the peel, which many believe to be essential for an ‘authentic’ taste. You may want to remove any seeds before muddling … unless you’re fond of straining them through your teeth.
  • Add 2 to 3 heaping tablespoons of sugar to the top of the lime slices (Brazilians like it VERY sweet) Muddle (mash) sugar and limes together well
  • Add 2 to 3 shots (ounces) cachaça Stir well to thoroughly dissolve the sugar, add cracked ice, stir, enjoy … and think tropical thoughts!

Caipirinhas by the Pitcher
Caipirinhas can certainly be made by the pitcher and we’ve known some Brazilians that make them that way. The important thing when doing this is to maintain the basic ratio of limes, sugar and cachaça. However, muddling can be a bit of a problem when working with this quantity. Some have been known to muddle everything in a metal pan using a very large diameter dowel rod—something at least twice the diameter of a broomstick. Be prepared for a real workout when working with this quantity. Muddling should be done pretty vigorously to release the lime oil in the peel. You also may want to consider gradually adding the sugar throughout the muddling process. After muddling, everything should be transferred to a pitcher before adding the cachaça, mixing thoroughly and, finally adding the ice if you so desire.

Observations & Notes

  • When rum is substituted for cachaça it’s called a caipirissima. When vodka is substituted for cachaça, it’s called a caipirosca. There’s even such a thing as a grapirinha made with Italian grappa, tropical fruit and sugar as well as a sakerinha or sakquêrinha made with Japanese sake or sakquêand either kiwi fruit and/or lime as well as the ever present sugar. We’ve also had reports that some folks are making a drink with half cachaça and half rum or vodka and using brown sugar. We’re not sure what this should be called but it is not a totally authentic caipirinha, however, it will stretch your bottle of cachaça if you’re having trouble finding a regular supplier in the US or elsewhere!
  • For those who don’t like the acidity of the classic, traditional caipirinha (made with fresh limes), tangerine or orange (including the peel) can be substituted, making for a sweeter, less acidic, albeit, not totally authentic caipirinha … but very good! A hint on this one: because oranges and tangerines are naturally sweeter than limes, use less sugar unless you really need a sugar rush!
  • Some have been known to add a few fresh mint leaves to the lime and sugar before (or after) muddling the mixture. It adds another level of flavor that is very refreshing.
  • Caipirinha aficionados use only white cane sugar (made from sugarcane) when making a caipirinha, never beet sugar, raw sugar, brown sugar, etc.
  • Slices or wedges? Most bartenders in both Brazil and elsewhere use lime wedges because they have them already prepared for other drinks. The only thing that can be said is that slices make the entire muddling process much easier.
  • In Brazil, the sugar is of a finer granularity, similar to what is often called superfine sugar in the United States and elsewhere. It makes using the typical American sugar that has a “rougher” granularity a little more challenging but have patience. It just takes a little more mixing before you add the ice.
  • Any type of liquid sugar––what American bartenders would call simple syrup––is never used in Brazil, which is, after all, the birthplace of the caipirinha. _Many try to use frozen, concentrated limeade instead of muddling together fresh limes and sugar. We don’t know what the resulting drink should be called but certainly not a caipirinha!
  • American bartenders often use a combination of sweet and sour and simple syrup instead of muddling together limes and sugar. While it is certainly faster and less labor intensive, it does not produce a real caipirinha! _Don’t use your best crystal glasses for (literally) muddling in. The act of muddling is pretty vigorous so use a strong, cheap, glass glass.
  • _Brazilians have been known to muddle the lime and sugar in a pilão (mortar and pestle) before transferring the mixture to a glass and then adding the cachaça and ice.
  • It’s best to use a wooden muddler which can be purchased from many restaurant equipment supply stores. Alternately, use any wooden “thing” you have in the kitchen or even a piece of broomstick! After all, there’s really nothing technically advanced about a muddler. Some restaurant equipment supply stores even have muddlers made from plastic which may prove easier to keep clean.
  • 51 brand cachaça distributes a packaged powdered caipirinha mix consisting of sugar and freeze dried lime juice that they claim produces a “natural taste”. We’re not sure what part of nature they’re from to think that it tastes “natural” but we disagree! While using a caipirinha mix may be faster, it does not produce a real caipirinha!
  • Some describe a caipirinha to the uninitiated as something akin to a sweet margarita. OK, for the uninitiated, that works!

Source: www.brazil-help.com

Top 10 Brazil Off-the-Beaten-Path Adventures

amazon boatNo reason to stick to the classic destinations. If you have a little more time to spare on your Brazilian holiday, there is much more to see and do.

1 Ride an Amazon River Steamer
If Mark Twain were still around he’d feel right at home on an all-wood triple-decker Amazon riverboat. For everyone else, it’s a sight to behold. Livestock and freight, loggers, ranchers, tourists, and Indians: Since the forest is too dense to walk or drive through, riverboats carry everyone. As on the ole Miss, voyagers pass the time talking, eating, drinking, singing, and gambling; in dull moments you can watch the world’s last great wilderness drift past. For accommodation there’s your own personal hammock, bought on the dock before departure and strung from a post or beam on the passenger deck. Journeys between Belem at the mouth of the river and Manaus in the heart of the forest take somewhere between four and seven days, depending on where and how often you pull in, and whether you’re heading upstream or down. Punctuality’s not a riverboat’s strong suit. Neither, it must be said, is luxury. An Amazon riverboat is pure frontier transportation; bring a hammock, water, some extra food for snacking and, and most important of all, some toilet paper.

bonito2 Swim Bonito’s Natural Aquarium
The countryside around Campo Grande is the kind of prosperous, slightly dull agricultural landscape that puts one in mind of Kansas. But just 150 miles to the south near the town of Bonito is a place that more properly belongs in Oz. Water from the Formosa, Securi, and Bama Bonita rivers filters and trickles through a region of calcium-laden bedrock to emerge in pools and natural springs of stunning clarity. Normally, pools of such crystalline clarity offer little in the way of aquatic life, but for reasons unknown, Bonito’s pools teem with fish.
The largest of the pools—the Aquario Natural—abounds in dourado, piripitanga, corimba, and hundreds of other colorful tropical fish. Visitors don mask, snorkel, fins, and wetsuit (yes, the water’s chilly, but it’s that very chill that also keeps out the piranhas) and swim in what is justly called the Natural Aquarium. Equally clear and colorful is a drift along the nearby Rio Sucuri (reached by a one-hour hike) where it’s hard to decide whether to look down through the blue-green waters or up at the lush pink and purple stands of orchids lining the riverbank.

mountainbike3 Bike Chapada Diamantina
In the hinterland of Salvador, just outside of the town of Lengois, lies the Chapada Diamantina. Valleys of lush green dotted with bright tropical flowers surround a mountain range of twisted red rock formations reminiscent of the American Southwest. Prowling this lush little wilderness are capybaras, jaguars (to eat the capybaras), and flocks of gorgeous multicolored birds.
Named by the miners who once came in search of diamonds, the Chapada Diamantina is now sought out by adventure travelers who come to hike the trails, explore the caverns, and swim in the mountain-fed waterfalls. Backpackers here often eschew a tent, since campsites are mostly located conveniently next to a comfy grotto. For those in the mood for some two-wheeled exploration, there’s an excellent 47-mile track that starts in Lengois, leads down along the edge of the wetlands in the Vale do Capco, then switchbacks up to the highest point in the Chapada, the 4,000-foot Morro Volta da Serra, before gliding back down into the town of Andarai.

camp on beach4 Hike Northern Brazilian Dunes
If paradise consists of crystal-clear freshwater lagoons lined by palm trees and surrounded by towering dunes of the whitest sand imaginable, then Eden is actually in the north of Brazil, in the Parque Nacional dos Lençois Maranheses. This 600,000-acre preserve is one of the world’s truly unique ecosystems. Located on the coast, Lençois is a desert of massive sand dunes (most more than 100 feet high) that is blessed from December through July with abundant rainfall. The rains trickle into the troughs between dunes, creating spectacular lagoons of blue and green, which then fill up with fish and turtles and flocks of migratory waterfowl. Come summer, the rains cease, the lagoons shrink, and the sand dunes begin to shift, often by as much as 75 feet a year.
Tourism to the park is in its infancy; if you get there, you’re likely on your own. Within the park there are no facilities, but entry is absolutely free, and there are no rules about where thou shalt or shalt not put thy tent.

caving5 Go Caving in a National Park
Located in the far northeast corner of the Brazilian state of Goias, Terra Ronca boasts over 200 caverns—some tens of miles deep—many of which remain unexplored. The largest formations attract spelunkers, adventure travelers, and, once a year, the religious. Every August 6th, residents of the area celebrate the Festa do Bom Jesus da Lapa. Women dressed all in white form a procession to a large underground lake, into which they toss offerings of flowers and votive candles.
Perhaps the best-explored cavern is the Gruta Terra Ronca, which extends for over three miles underground. Exploring the length of the cave is possible, though you have to work for your fun; close to the entrance of the cavern is an underground river with a considerable current. The rewards on the far side include numerous galleries holding magnificent stalagmites and stalactites, as well some delicate and beautiful calcium flowers. In one gallery, about two-thirds of the way along, there’s an opening in the ceiling that allows enough sunlight to filter in for a few small palms to grow.

jalapao raft6 Raft the Jalapao
Travel northwards from Brasilia through the dry-as-dust scrubland and eventually—long after the asphalt has given way to gravel and the potholes have swallowed two of the three spare tires from your 4×4—you’ll see the Jalapco highlands rising the up like a mirage. Isolated in the eastern regions of the sparsely populated state of Tocantins, this extensive plateau gives rise to no less than five rivers, all of them pristine enough to drink from.
The main river, the Rio Novo, is best explored by raft. (Bring your own or book with an outfitter in the gateway town of Ponte Alta do Tocantins.) Expeditions begin on the placid waters below the Ponte do Rio Novo. Drifting quietly past the caimans through a gallery of overhanging trees, you’ll see wolves and deer coming down to drink, monkeys crashing through the canopy, and macaws and toucans cawing noisily at the disturbance. Near the edge of the plateau the river picks up speed, churning and surging through numerous rapids, pausing once in a while for a lazy flat section before once again cascading downwards. Four days later you wind up at the Cachoeira da Velha, a beautiful horseshoe-shaped waterfall that looks like a scale model of Niagara, except that at the bottom of it, you can swim.

chapada veadeiros7 Rappel Waterfall-Filled Caverns
Brazil lacks much in the way of mountains, and because it’s so hard to head up, Brazilians go down, rappelling down canyons either next to or completely immersed in cascading waterfalls. Called canyoning, this is one of the hottest new sports in a country newly obsessed with the outdoors. One of the spots locals favor is the Parque Nacional Chapada dos Veadeiros, located in the northern highlands of the state of Goias. Source of both the Tocantins and Parana rivers, Chapada dos Veadeiros is known for its pristine water courses and its waterfalls. Also present are armadillos, giant anteaters, and wolves.
But the chief attractions for rapellers are the waterfalls. Located in the eastern part of the park, the Cachoeira da Agua Fria is particularly popular. From the top, the views are stunning in all directions. Set your anchors, toss over the rope, and go for it. As you glide, jerk, or slowly creep your way down, you’ll have only the rush of water and the sparkle of countless quartz crystals for company.

ubatuba diving8 Scuba Dive in Ubatuba
Although snobby residents of Rio will sneer at beaches in the state of Sao Paulo, the area around Ubatuba is a scuba diver’s dream come true. (It’s also not bad for tree and beach lovers; 70 percent of the area is protected Atlantic rainforest, while the jagged coastline means the many small, sandy, difficult-to-get-to beaches remain blissfully free of people.) Diving takes place around the many small islands that dot the coast, with each island offering its own particular attraction. Ilha das Couves is known for its coral, and for the dolphins that often keep you company near the surface. Ilha de Palmas and the surrounding waters hold hundreds of intriguing rock formations, many containing sizeable caverns—the place for cave divers to practice their esoteric and dangerous craft.
And for those who missed out on their tacky tourist fix, at Ilha Anchieta there’s an underwater statue of Jacques Cousteau, sunk in 1997 in memory of the French researcher and filmmaker.

mountainbike chapada9 Multi-Sport on the Ilha Bela
Located on the rich green coast north of Sao Paolo, the steep-sided island of Ilha Bela had its closest brush with civilization in the 19th century, when coffee barons chopped plantations out of the island’s western slopes and made tracks through the forest. When coffee crashed, the island was largely abandoned, its cover of Atlantic rainforest intact save for a network of rough mountain trails, with a near-limitless number of almost inaccessible beaches on its outer Atlantic shore.
Just recently, one local operator has come up with a way to harness Ilha Bela’s unique attributes. Take the Ilha Bela adventure and you’ll travel by 4×4 to a 3,600-foot-high ridge and ride mountain bikes on a descent past waterfalls and through rainforest to a far-off beach on the Atlantic shore. And that’s just day one. On day two it’s into kayaks for a paddle from lonely beach to completely isolated beach. On day three the journey continues, with stops here and there for hikes up to an occasional lonely waterfall. After three or four days, the expedition arrives back at a beach close to town.

canyon10 Hike Itaimbezinho Canyon
The biggest canyon in Brazil lurks near the border of the southern states of Santa Catarina and Rio Grande do Sul, inside the Parque Nacional dos Aparados da Serra. Nearly six miles long and a mile deep, the Itaimbezinho can be either spectacularly beautiful or treacherously deadly. Or both.
Most days, you walk along the lush banks of the Rio do Boi, marvelling at the countless waterfalls that plunge down from on high. Occasionally, however, an unexpected rain turns the gurgling Rio do Boi into a snarling torrent that chews its way through the canyon bottom, spitting out the corpse of anyone unlucky enough to have been caught in the chasm. Avoiding these days is a matter of timing. Hiking in the dry season (July-October) is generally safe, though it’s wise to keep an ear to the latest forecast. Even during the wet season the trip’s still possible, though the prudent may want to stick to the Cotovelo Trail, which follows along the canyon’s edge. It, too, is beautiful and spectacular, with the only real danger being a trip too close to the edge.

Source: gorp.com

Top 10 Brazil Classic Adventures

1 Hike Rio’s Hunchback
Rio’s most famous landmark is without a doubt the statue of Christ the Redeemer, standing with arms outstretched looking down from the Corcovado at the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. The statue dates only from 1931 (which is curiously enough about the time that Rio natives began taking to the beaches in ever-greater numbers, in ever-skimpier clothing). A visit to Christ’s feet is deservedly a part of every Rio itinerary, if only for the view alone. And while it’s certainly possible to take the 20-minute tram ride, a much better option is to hoof it. The trail—not well maintained, but clearly visible—wends its way over 2,300 vertical feet through the lush forest of the Parque Nacional de Tijuca. Along the way you can admire the wildflowers, look for monkeys, birds, and butterflies, and gawk at the ever-more-stunning views. Waiting at the top is a refreshment stand, a panoramic view of Rio, and of course, a chance to meet your maker.

2 Bike Iguazu Falls
Anyone who’s seen The Mission will instantly recognize the falls of Iguazu. The Iguazu River—which here forms the border between Brazil and Argentina—roars over a sheer precipice three miles wide and 270 feet high, vaporizing enough of the river to create a thick warm mist and permanently glowing rainbow.
It’s the mists that create the great hidden secret of the Iguazu area—mostly missed by tourists eager to click the perfect shot and move on—a pocket microclimate of near-rainforest lushness. Mountain bikes are the best way to explore this tiny Eden, particularly on the Argentinean side where there are numerous trails leading from small riverside swimming pools all the way back up to the top of the gorge. The forest is home to monkeys and peccaries and tapirs and over 400 species of tropical birds. Many of these creatures can be hard to spot, of course, but the same can’t be said of the abundant population of glorious tropical butterflies. Count yourself unlucky if—at some point during the day—you don’t find yourself pedaling through a colorful cloud of insects, many of them shaded iridescent blue.

3 Explore the Amazon
The last great wilderness on earth, and larger than all of Western Europe combined, the Amazon is truly a place of marvels: more biodiversity and more free-flowing freshwater than anywhere else on earth. And on what a scale: The river itself stretches for 4,000 miles from Brazil far into Peru, and the Amazon Basin covers 2.3 million square miles.
Visitors to the Amazon rainforest can expect to see trees in a mind-numbing variety of shapes, sizes, colors and configurations, vines weaving themselves amongst the trees, creepers hanging from the vines, and orchids and bromeliads by the bushel basket. For wildlife, there are monkeys crashing over the treetops, snakes and tortoise on the forest floor, and sloths, toucans, and bright red macaws in amongst the tree trunks.
You’ll find all these things and more, but given the Amazon’s vastness, it can take a little time. Jungle lodges—not far from Manaus—are one option. Excursions take you bird watching, piranha fishing, caiman spotting, or to an Amazonian village. Another option: Live aboard a boat. Some cruise lines, like Royal Olympic, make an excursion into the basin. Other companies, like Abercrombie & Kent, can take you on a first-class, multi-day trip from Manaus to Iquitos, Peru, with excursions on tiny Zodiacs. For the truly adventurous, a number of Manaus operators offer two-week (or longer) expeditions, first by plane and speedboat up the narrowing Rio Negro, then by kayak or canoe through far-off tributaries north to the peaks of Pico de Neblina, or south to the villages and territory of seldom-met tribes of the Yanomani Indians.
Go in the dry season, when you’ll be able to walk around, or the wet, when the forest floods and lifts boaters some 20 feet closer to the canopy.

4 Hike the Royal Road
It’s one of the last stands of Atlantic rainforest—a nature reserve boasting jaguars, wolves, and stunning coastal views. And this 25-mile trek through the Parque Nacional Serra dos Orgaos, which usually takes three days to complete, is also a way to take in the royal cities of Petropolis and Teresopolis (which once served the Emperor Pedro and Empress Teresa as summer capitals).
Starting from the park headquarters just outside of Teresopolis, the trail winds through the Mata Atlantica, giving you a glimpse of what the hills and the coast looked like before the axe-wielding Portuguese arrived. As the trail rises, the forest gradually makes way for alpine meadows, which continue until you reach the Pedra do Sino (7,419 feet). From its peak, you can see all the way to the coast and Rio de Janeiro. The trail then continues along the ridgeline, past sheer dropoffs, to a high point at the Pedra do Agu (7,331 feet) before winding back down into Petropolis.

5 Ride a Rio Airwave
If ever a place was made for hang gliding, it is surely Rio. The weather’s warm year-round, the sun and ocean make for constant rising thermals, and thanks to the extreme geography, there are launch sites throughout the city. Solo flying’s fine, if you’ve brought your kite; if not, there are tandem flights for hire. Perhaps the most scenic flight is the one that starts from the peak of the Pedra Bonita in Gavea. Launching from a site 1,705 feet above sea level, you soar above Rio’s Floresta da Tijuca—the largest urban forest in the world—observing for as long as wind and loft allow. When the time finally comes to set down, head for the beach at Sco Conrado (two beaches east of Ipanema). After touchdown, mosey up to a beachside bar—likely full of other fliers—sit back with a cold Brazilian beer, and boast about your accomplishments.

6 Scuba Dive a Brazilian Island
It’s isolation, of course, that makes an island special, and Fernando de Noronha has solitude in spades. To reach this 21-island archipelago, you travel to the far northern city of Recife, then turn right and fly for an hour and a half straight out into the Atlantic. Adding to the solitude are the strict rules imposed by the Brazilian environment ministry: 70 percent of the archipelago is national park, and the number of visitors may never exceed 420 at any given time. Most times, the island’s full; around Christmas and New Year’s, would-be islanders have been known to wait for days for a spot to open up.
So what’s luring people out there to all that splendid isolation? A fully intact ecosystem in all its tropical glory. Verdant green mountainsides roll down to sheer rocky cliffs which fall onto wide sandy beaches that have known neither condo nor cabana. And beneath the waves floats a paradise of coral, fish, manta rays, and lemon sharks. Each new dive site offers new possibilities. Laje dos dois Irmcos is known for its coral. Ilha do Frade is the place to see rock formations and manta rays. Early in the morning, if you’re looking for something scenic above the surface, wander over to the Baia dos Golfinhos just after dawn to watch 2,000 spinner dolphins gather in pods to feed and frolic in the morning sunsine.

7 Boogie the Rio Grande Beaches
Make sure your sun hat has a string: The Brazilian dune buggy makes for a ferociously fast and furious ride. Motorsports are an obsession here, and in the far northern state of Rio Grande do Norte, this love of things with four wheels and an engine has been melded with the Nordeste love of the beach. The result: the boogie, as it’s called in Portuguese. The best beaches for boogieing, located just to the north of the city of Natal, boast monstrous dunes of shifting sands, some of them hundreds of feet high.
Though it is occasionally possible to do it yourself, it’s more exciting to hire a driver. Among the stunts the drivers will treat you to are the Wall of Death, the Roller Coaster, and the Vertical Descent. True, none of this is exactly ecologically correct (though there is an informal arrangement whereby bugeiros use only the beaches closest to Natal; farther north the coast remains dune-bug free). On the other hand, it is outrageously fun.

8 See Wildlife in the Pantanal
It’s a secret that until very recently was known only to film crews: the best place in South America to see wildlife is not the Amazon but the Pantanal. Now the word’s out, and this France-sized wetland on the far western edge of Brazil is fast becoming a must-see. And with good reason: The Pantanal is bursting with animals—capybaras, caimans, jaguars, anacondas, giant otters, scarlet macaws, and flocks of storks and herons. Unlike in the Amazon, where the dense green foliage makes the creatures harder to see, the Pantanal is tailor-made for eco-touring. In the wet season, the Pantanal becomes one vast lake, so most mammals congregate on the few remaining dry bits. In the dry season, everything draws in to the few remaining waterholes. The only problem is getting around.
Few roads exist in the Pantanal; the best way to explore the area is make like the locals and head out on horseback. Brazilian cattle ranchers have grazed their livestock here for decades. Nowadays, many of these fazendas offer places to sleep and horses to rent: Tag along after the ranch hands on their daily rides to pick up cattle, or set out on your own to explore.

9 Bask on Brigitte Bardot’s Beaches
Want a little beach? Located on the Atlantic Coast north of Rio, the little town of Buzios was “discovered” by Brigite Bardot and—despite the influx of Brazilian beautiful people—has managed in the years since to retain the laid-back atmosphere of its fishing-village past. A good deal of its charm is due to the sheer beauty of the surroundings: The town sits on the tip of a long peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic. Just offshore there are many tiny islands, the perfect place to sail for one day or several, diving and snorkelling along the way. In the countryside nearby, waterfalls spill down forested hillsides in warm freshwater cascades.
Closer to town, experience all the wonderful combinations and permutations of Brazilian beach culture. Geriba Beach is the place for surfing. Quiet and calm and very deep, Ferruda Beach is perfect for a lazy afternoon snorkel. Far from town are more isolated spots to steal a quiet moment with a special beach friend, while right in town on Ossos beach you can sip a caipirinha at a beachside cafe and pretend for a moment you’re young and rich and beautiful. Everyone else is.

10 Hike 18th Century Cities
It’s an outdoor walk through some of Brazil’s most brilliant past: The inland state of Minas Gerais struck it rich on gold just about the time the Baroque was reaching its elaborate architectural heights. The newly wealthy citizens needed something to blow their money on, and having exhausted the joys of women and booze, they turned to architecture. The result is six small cities that rival St. Petersburg or Prague, boasting cobblestone streets, soaring palaces, and elaborate churches.
Largest of the six is the hilltop town of Ouro Preto; its cobblestone streets wander up and down hills crowned with more than a dozen ornately carved and elaborately decorated Baroque churches. Each corner turns on new surprises: mansions, fountains, ruins, beautiful terraced gardens, and towers glowing with colored tiles. Close by, the smaller cities of Mariana and Congonhas and Sabara offer similar delights though on a smaller scale, exquisite desserts to Ouro Preto’s rich architectural feast. All four cities lie within a 12-mile radius, but it’s still best to use transit to move between cities and save your shoe leather for in town.

Source: gorp.com

Top 10 best snorkeling locations in Brazil

If you bring a mask and snorkel to Brazil, there are always calm coves worth poking around. The warm waters of the Northeast have the best snorkeling. The Coral Coast, which extends from northern Alagaos into southern Pernambuco, offers a 135-kilometer (84-mile) stretch of protected reefs that are ideal for snorkeling. The beaches surrounding São Miguel dos Milagres and Maragogi, in Alagoas, and Tamandaré and Porto de Galinhas, in Pernambuco, are all terrific snorkeling destinations.
Waters tend to have best visibility in the summer months (between November and February). All of these destinations have diving operators that offer excursions, rental equipment, and lessons for beginners.

Locations (from north to south)

Maracajaú
Maracajaú is located about 50km from Natal, and it takes one hour to go there. This region is considered to be the best area for snorkeling and diving, near Natal.
There is a big area of reefs named Parrachos de Maracajaú (7km from the coast), an area of 13km2, with a deep varying between 1,8m and 3,2m, during low tide. The water temperature is in average 26°C, and the development of corals contribute to a rich marine fauna and flora, turning the region to an enormous, natural aquarium.
This scenery is idealistic of practicing Snorkeling and also Scuba Diving for beginners. Also more experienced scuba divers can enjoy the region’s very pleasant diving, with reference to the rich marine life, and the waters temperature and visibility.
Fernando de Noronha
200 miles off the northeastern coast lies a mountainous archipelago made up of 21 islands which are sparsely populated and still the much the way it was when the Portuguese settled here in the 1500s. This National Marine Sanctuary is a heavenly retreat for divers and snorkelers.
Due to its open ocean location, it provides pelagic fish and ocean mammals a wonderful refuge. The dive sites include shipwrecks, canyons, amazing volcanic rock and coral formations, a permanent wild dolphin colony, reef sharks, turtles, schooling barracudas and all kinds of rays and colorful fish. Cavort with 600 dolphins, the largest and oldest residential school of spinner dolphins in the world. Dive with juvenile sharks at Lage Dois Irmaos, a breeding and nursery area for fourteen species of reef sharks. The sharks come into this protected area to have their young and the newborn stay to play with divers until they are big enough to venture into the open ocean. You may also witness turtles being released into the wild. Explore the Ipiranga, a Brazilian Navy Corvete, a sunken Portuguese frigate and much, much more. The rock formations are brilliantly colored with encrusting sponges and provide a beautiful backdrop for each of your dives.
Recife-Olinda
The Recife-Olinda region offers excellent all year round sites for scuba diving and snorkelling. Marine life is very abundant in this region, but sharks are common and the sea is often rough (there are many ancient shipwrecks, waiting for divers to explore them…)
If you aren’t an experienced diver, you may prefer other alternatives, some of which not far from Recife, as Porto Galinhas.
Porto Galinhas
Porto de Galinhas is a very friendly diving site, excellent both for scuba beginners and advanced divers. Here, in Porto Galinhas, you will find diving courses and all year round conditions for diving.
Maragogi
Maragogi Beaches have calm waters, without strong waves, with coral reefs and fine sands. During low tide, sand banks emerge forming natural pools, known as Croas (5 km away from the coast) and Galés (6 km away). “Jangadas” (sailing boats typical of Northern Brazil) and boats can take tourists to these pools. On the beach’s southern tip, between Vila de Japaratinga and Pontal, visitors find the less urbanized beaches with 20-m high sea cliffs. Visitors can also go on a boat ride to coral reefs 6 km away from the coast. Maragogi beach is near Maragogi River, with calm waves, fine and flat sands and coral reefs.
Salvador
http://www.pousadavillaverde.com/scubadiving.htm
Ilha de Boipeba
Although only the Rio do Inferno (River of Hell) separates Ilha de Boipeba from the Ilha do Tinharé, where Morro de São Paulo is located, Boipeba is Morro de São Paulo as it was 20 years ago before an influx of tourism blew everything out of proportion. Its beautiful unspoiled beaches are framed by lush jungle and crisscrossed by warm rivers that are ideal for bathing.
Although Boipeba is becoming a hip beach resort for those in the know, it has managed to retain a bucolic tranquility along with some 20 kilometers (12 miles) of stunning white-sand beaches protected by coral reefs. The most “developed”—which, thankfully, isn’t saying much—is Boca da Barra. Here you’ll find lots of barracas where you can dig into fresh fish and seafood.
A half-hour walk brings you to the dazzling white sands of Tassimirim, followed by the blissfully deserted Praia de Cueira—both of which are ideal for snorkeling.
Abrolhos
Ideal for diving, the Archipelago of Abrolhos, a collection of volcanic islands and coral reefs located 45 miles off the southern coast of the state of Bahia, is the largest and most biologically diverse reef system in the South Atlantic.
Diving at the Abrolhos Bank is characterized by large, mushroom-shaped coral formations called chapeirões (big hats) found nowhere else in the world. The structures start in about 100 feet of water and reach almost to the surface, and nearly 50 percent of these corals are endemic.
Divers can visit the park and its surrounding reefs via the town of Caravelas–about 575 miles from Rio de Janeiro–on day or overnight trips.
Along with endemic marine life and unique coral structures, three popular wrecks–the Rosalinda, Santa Catharina and Guadiana–attract divers here, and from July to December, humpback whales from the Antarctic gather at the bank to mate and nurse their young.
Buzios
Buzios, a luxury beach resort destination just two hours drive north Rio de Janeiro, offers excellent places for diving. But the true regional pearl for diving in this region is Arraial do Cabo, less than 90 miles south of Rio de Janeiro.
Arraial do Cabo is in fact the best place for diving in Brazil’s south. With turquoise waters, teeming with marine life (turtles, moray eels, queen angelfish, sea horses…) and some dozens of lakes and old ship-wrecks, Arraial do Cabo is a truly world-class place for scuba diving.
Arraial do Cabo is an all year round. Many hotels in Rio de Janeiro and Buzios can arrange transportation and tours to Arraial do Cabo.
Ilha Grande
Near Sao Paulo you may enjoy some of the best scuba diving sites in Brazil, namely in Ilha Grande (Angra dos Reis region). Angra dos Reis – a luxury travel destinations – is a delightful destination with amazing forests, waterfalls, lakes, small fishing villages, secret coves, small beaches… and exceptional conditions for diving, namely in Ilha Grande, one of the many local small islands.
Here, in Ilha Grande, you may explore its local rich marine life, and also dozens of old ship-wrecks (european galleons sunken some hundred years ago as a result of battles involving pirates and colonial forces).
Ilha Grande is an all year round place for diving.
Bonito
Despite lying in the very heartland of Brazil, many miles from the coast, Mato Grosso do Sul is one of the country`s best diving destinations.
The towns of Bonito and Jardim boast the clearest waters in all of Brazil, with an enormous range of aquatic life and geographical features to atracct divers, from absolute beginners to the techinical level.
Cave diving experts have nothing to complain about either: Bonito and Jardim`s underwater caves are unique and unforgettable among the finest in the world.
Snorkeling is one of Bonito and Jardim`s major attractions. The best thing is to go with the flow along the riverbeds, observing the underwater fauna and flora, pretending to be a part of this fabulous ecosystem.