Brazil Tag

Iguazu 2012-63_web
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How the mighty falls

Iguazu Falls You hear Iguazu Falls before you see them. The sound of constant crashing sneaks up on you, slowly increasing in volume until you abruptly realise it’s drowning out the sounds of birds and insects around you. The source must be close, you think. Just a few more turns along the path between the trees and then the cascading curtains reveal themselves. Footsteps falter, exclamations are uttered, and eyes meet with the same look of awe. The waterfalls at Iguazu are before you and they truly are one of the most spectacular natural wonders on this planet. In fact, a few months ago the Iguazu Falls were named as one of the 7 New Wonders of Nature in a global competition. There has been some controversy about the process, as Michael Hodson detailed so well in this blog post. But regardless, there’s no denying that they deserve a place on any...

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17 January
paraty, brazil, things to do in paraty, coast, waterfall, kayaking, cycling
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Paraty Time

I wasn't intending to stop in Paraty, a small town on the Brazilian coast. But it's one of those places that seems hard to avoid on the backpacker road down the east coast of South America. It's conveniently halfway between Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo and seems a natural stopover for those travelling between. For Brazilians, though, it's a beachside town that's worth the effort to get to. It's an escape for the summer, away from the large cities and crowds of tourists that traditionally flock to them. Back in the day, Paraty was a port at the end of the gold road. From here, the Portuguese would load onto ships the gold dug from the Brazilian earth and send it back to Portugal. It was heavily fortified and the remnants of the defences are still obvious. These days the biggest threats to the people in the town are sunburn and the...

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12 January
is rio safe, crime, brazil, tourists, christ, beaches
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Rio’s tourism paradox

There’s a strange mood in the air of Rio de Janeiro. I can’t quite shake the odd feeling as I spend a day jumping between some of Brazil’s most-famous landmarks. Even in the late afternoon, as I’m sitting and sipping cocktails on the beach, the uncomfortable aura persists. It gets worse that evening on the hunt for a restaurant for dinner. It takes me a while to work out what’s wrong but eventually I hit upon the problem - it’s the paradox of Rio as a tourist destination. It’s a place that has the right to call itself one of the greatest cities in the world… but it’s also one of the most-dangerous and inconvenient ones for visitors. The beauty of Rio becomes evident from the first moment you set eyes on it. Built around the water, with the striking mountains of green growing out of the metropolitan hub, it has merged...

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10 January
favela tour in rio, brazil, poverty, vila canoas, tourism
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Life in one of Rio’s favelas

Brazil: Rio de Janeiro favela tour In the alleys and walkways of the Vila Canoas favela in Rio de Janeiro, it’s easy to lose your sense of direction, height and time. There are no roads in this community and at times residents navigate their way through passageways that suddenly descend into the plumbing under a building. There are tunnels of staircases cut into stone filled with smoke and illuminated only by the light at either end. And throughout it all is a warren of paths split off in every direction as dictated by the needs of the locals. But for the people who live in this slum on the side of one of Rio de Janeiro’s mountains, this is home and they know it as well as anyone knows their neighbourhood. Vila Canoas is home to just a few thousand people, forced into a favela by poverty and with no ladder to climb...

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05 January
rio de janeiro, favela, pacified, brazil, favela tour
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The military occupation of Rio’s slums

Rio favelas in Brazil With the morning still dark and most residents still sleeping, the troops moved in. Special forces police, navy commandos, armoured military vehicles and helicopters all swooped in a carefully-planned operation. They had been surrounding Rio de Janeiro’s largest favela for four days and this was the climax of their operation. They had warned the 70,000 people living in Rocinha that this moment would come and the authorities were heavily-armed, ready for any resistance. As they quickly spread through the slum, the troops met very little opposition. Some locals watched from their windows as their neighbourhood was occupied by the government and some women were reportedly seen crying. But at six o’clock in the morning the chief of military police declared that Rocinha was now under his control. Not a single shot had been fired. This was less than two months ago (November 2011) and now here I was, walking...

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04 January