While most people head to Brazil for its world-famous party cities and exciting nightlife, the country also has plenty of adventures waiting for you that are off the beaten path. The majority of Brazil is almost untouched by tourism, including its massive national parks, colonial towns and remote spots for kayaking and horseback riding.
The best way to access these hidden gems is to rent a vehicle via
Alamo Car Rental or organize a tour. If you’re on a budget, taking a local bus is the best bet.
Here are five amazing destinations you should check out if you’d like to skip the overdone tourist spots.
1. Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park
This stunning national park is about three and a half hours from Brasilia, right in the center of the country. It’s known for its breathtaking rock formations that were created by the river flowing through. Many mystics also travel to the park, claiming the crystal soil here grants powers, while the park has its fair share of UFO sightings. You can actually see the precious crystals and gemstones gleaming in the ground as you walk through the park, and walking is definitely the best way to tackle this mammoth area. You’ll find hiking paths of varying difficulties, from long, relaxing day walks to difficult excursions that take days to complete. The park also attracts thousands of people each year who enjoy rappelling the waterfalls.
2. Minas Gerais
This beautiful colonial town is actually where the first gold rush of the world occurred back in the 1700’s. Today, it’s an area with well-preserved colonial landmarks, like the small town of Ooru Preto or Triadentes, which has a massive food festival each year. The entire area is known locally for its amazing food, with creative, fresh meals served at nearly every establishment. If you want to learn more about the culture and history of the area, be sure to take a guided tour.
3. Chapada Diamantina
This very remote area is a six hour bus drive away from Salvador, although you’ll find no shortage of things to do. This getaway is for the real nature lover, with horseback riding, walking trails and kayaking, along with cave exploration. The entire area has extensive cave systems which are utterly black with clear, running water. You’ll discover large hidden cave formations that can only be reached by snorkeling with a light. If you’re planning a trip here, base yourself out of Lencois in the Hotel Canto das Aguas. This small town sits right at the base of a large waterfall and the hotel sits right on the edge, allowing you to fall asleep to the sound of a rushing waterfall outside of your window.
4. The Natural Aquarium of Bonito
150 miles from Bonito lies the beautiful waters from three separate rivers, the Bama Bonita, the Securi and the Formosa, which have filtered through bedrock rich in calcium to create natural pools of the clearest water you’ll ever see. While normally these crystal-clear waters do not support much life, the pools of Bonito are rich with aquatic life and no one knows why. The Aquario Natural pool has hundreds of brightly colored fish and you can actually swim with the fish with a wetsuit and snorkel and enjoy this natural aquarium.
5. Take an Expedition to Ilha Bela
Of the coast of Sao Paolo lies the island of Ilha Bela, which remains uninhabited despite attempts in the 1800’s to set up plantations. This beautiful island was basically abandoned and now remains covered with pristine rainforest and beaches that are close to inaccessible on its coast. A single operator, however, offers multi-day excursions to the island, where you travel in a 4×4 on the first day to enjoy mountain biking along waterfalls and through the rainforest to reach a beach on the far-off shore. The following day takes you kayaking to an isolated beach on the island, while day three rounds out your tour with hiking to a magnificent waterfall. The entire multi-sport expedition lasts for about four days and then you’re taken back to a beach close to the mainland.