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Suggested itinerary: two weeks nature and wildlife in southern Brazil

Christ the Redeemer, Rio de Janeiro © Craig FastWith only two weeks in the world’s fifth largest country, you need to plan your route carefully. This itinerary will give you a taste of the wildlife and nature on offer in Southern Brazil.

No trip to Brazil is complete without a three-day (minimum) stay in Rio de Janeiro, the buzzing, cosmopolitan capital. In between checking out all the usual sights, make time to try paragliding to experience Rio from a bird’s perspective.

It takes 22 hours of your precious time to cross this enormous country by bus so you might want to consider flying to the Pantanal. I recommend doing it overland though - Brazilian buses are an experience in their own right – fully reclining seats, televisions and great top-deck views of the slowly changing Brazilian countryside.

Caiman in the Pantanal © Craig FastCampo Grande is the place to organise tours of the Pantanal, the world’s biggest wetlands and the best place in Brazil to get close to an incredible array of wildlife. Think caimans (closely related to crocodiles), capybara (the world’s largest rodent), sloths (if you’re lucky), jaguar (if you’re really lucky) anaconda, giant otters, black howler monkeys and giant anteaters. Make sure your tour includes piranha fishing and gaucho-style horse riding for the ultimate Pantanal experience. You’ll need at least three nights.

Jumping into Bonito municipal pool © Craig FastFrom Campo Grande, travel to Bonito to swim in crystal-clear rivers populated by sparkling shoals of brightly coloured fish that don’t know the meaning of the word ‘shy’. Devote one day to swimming the Rio de la Plata and another for checking out Grotto do Lago Azul (Blue Lake Cave) and Bonito’s so-called municipal swimming pool – a gorgeous stretch of river filled with plump fish where you can snorkel, sunbathe and dine in one of three meaty restaurants. If you have the time, money and inclination, abseil 72 metres into the Anhumas Abyss and swim in the cave’s transparent waters.

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