(DailyExpertNews) — Brazil is famed for its thundering Iguaçu Falls to the south, the crescent-shaped Copacabana neighborhood with its dazzling white sand beach in Rio de Janeiro, and the towering Cristo Redentor — Christ the Redeemer — whose outstretched arms embrace that coastal city.
But there’s so much more to this colossal South American country, which is nearly the size of the United States and the world’s fifth largest country by area.
Jardim de Maytrea is a magical place in the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park in central Brazil.
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Combine that with Brazil’s diverse society — a large indigenous population plus people with roots in Europe and Africa — for a country that is a fusion of culture, customs and breathtakingly beautiful landscapes.
DailyExpertNews Travel has rounded up five of Brazil’s lesser-traveled trails so you can discover more of the jewels this spectacular country has to offer.
Founded in 1549 on a small peninsula separating the bay of Todos os Santos from the Atlantic Ocean, this modest colonial city became the first capital of Portuguese America. The historic city is located in the state of Bahia in eastern Brazil.
The streets of Salvador are lined with colorful colonial architecture.
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The buildings – pastel colored with facades decorated with intricately carved stucco and windows flanked by shutters – are beautifully and painstakingly preserved. They date back to the convergence of European, African and Indigenous cultures of the 16th century.
There is a large Afro-Brazilian community, and colorful, flamboyant festivals are a common sight, the pulsating rhythms of drums reverberating through the winding cobblestone streets.
Salvador, in Bahia, in eastern Brazil, is located on a small peninsula.
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Baia dos Porcos, Fernando de Noronha
Baia dos Porcos, or “Pig’s Bay”, is arguably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – but with hardly any sand.
It is one of the smallest beaches in the spectacular Fernando de Noronha archipelago of the state of Pernambuco, about 360 kilometers off the northeast coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean.
The Dois Irmaos rock formation dominates one of the most spectacular, albeit inaccessible, beaches in Brazil.
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The bay is characterized by its striking rock formations, including the Dois Irmaos (“Two Brothers”). It’s a pair of formations looming out of the brilliantly blue, crystal clear waters.
The beach can only be reached at low tide and must either be walked through dense jungle or reached by boat. The beach has numerous natural pools teeming with exotic fish, reef sharks, turtles and more, making it a snorkeler’s paradise.
Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park
Lush forests, dramatic mountains, pounding waterfalls and 1.8 billion-year-old rocks await intrepid explorers who reach this natural wonder.
Visitors rest on a rock formation near the Saltos do Rio Preto waterfall in Chapada dos Veadeiros.
Located in the central Brazilian state of Goiás, more than 30 waterfalls flow within a 15-mile radius. The rock formations of this ancient plateau are among the oldest in the world and attract an interesting crowd seeking the energy of the embedded quartz crystals.
There are countless wild tales of UFOs and mystical events, which don’t seem so far-fetched once you immerse yourself in the magical setting.
There are no direct flights here, but adventurers can travel to Brasilia, the capital and major city. From there, they can then take the land bus to Alto Paraíso (a small town 20 kilometers from the entrance to the Chapada dos Veadeiros Park with restaurants, B&Bs and many crystal shops and doctors promoting their talents) or Sāo Jorge (an undeveloped village with a very basic infrastructure).
Ilha do Marajo
About the size of Switzerland, this remote outpost is said to be one of the world’s largest river islands — bordered on all sides by the mighty Amazon.
The western side is dominated by dense forest, while the eastern half has vast plains and wetlands. The island is known for its water buffalo herds. There are about half a million animals — double the number of humans. The buffalo farms are also open to visitors.
Ilha do Marajó has the feeling of an uninhabited island. But the large island in the Amazon River is actually home to a sizable community.
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Visitors are drawn to this unique place for its wild feel of an uninhabited, isolated island, but it’s actually quite easy to get to with a sizable community.
There is a daily ferry service from Belém, the Portuguese colonial riverside city considered Brazil’s gateway to the Amazon, operated by Araparí Navegação. It takes three hours, or a car ferry leaves from the nearby Henvil-operated town of Icoaraci.
On arrival, the best way to get around is by taking a car to the island or by taxi and bicycle, which you can hire from one of the island’s pousadas.
Stay in Soure, the larger of the two main towns, with pretty houses and mango tree-lined streets, or Salvaterra, a more laid-back and quiet option with expansive beaches. Both are 30 minutes away from the ferry terminal.
Emas . National Park
Ever heard of a maned wolf? These rarely seen creatures can be found in Emas National Park, alongside giant anteaters, giant armadillos, pampas deer, thousands of bird species, and numerous rare plants endemic to the protected area.
Pampas deer are one of the many animals that live in Emas National Park.
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The area in central Brazil is also home to the Cerrado Biome, one of the oldest and most diverse ecosystems in the world. The sheer amount of plant diversity is astounding – there are between 350 and 400 species of plants per 2.5 acres (1 hectare).
For those traveling in September and October, an impressive – if somewhat strange – natural phenomenon awaits. The rainy season causes the flight of millions of termites, who usually live in thousands of termite mounds, which sit for miles together.
The mounds, which can tower over 6 meters in height, are also home to thousands of glowing Pyrophorus beetle larvae, which feast on the termites lured close to the larvae thanks to the mesmerizing bright green lights they emit.
Park officials are fighting a variety of threats to the park, including fires, mining operations, uncontrolled tourism, and invasive species. So when you visit it is important to choose a responsible tour operator such as Focus Tours or Pantanal Jaguar Safaris.
This is a remote and rarely visited area of Brazil, but those who dare to venture to Emas National Park will be greatly rewarded.