Subject: Re: Brazil
Dear Sylvie and other Ziners,

Brazil is such a big country, so you're going to have to either just see a small section, fly (I think there is an airpass), or do some VERY LONG bus trips.

Our must-do was going to Cuiaba in the Mato Grosso and doing a two or three-day trip along the Transpantaneira (preferably in the dry season - we were there in October). We saw macaws, jabiru storks, kingfishers, toucan, caiman, howler monkeys, spoonbills, capybara, swamp deer, fox, long-tailed monkeys, wash beers, Brazilian otter, giant river otte, and lots of other birds. If we had to do only one thing, we would have done this in preference to going on the Amazon, where it is hard to see any wildlife. However, to get there by bus is a very long way (we went from Salvador to Lencois to Brasilia to Cuiaba).

Salvador is another must - great party atmosphere. We stayed in the historic centre, which is quite touristy and safe, but surrounded by some unsafe areas. If you're feeling brave, you can go to a Candomble ceremony (Afro-Brazilian religious cult).

Praia do Forte is an interesting beach area just north of Salvador, where you're likely to see people practising capoeira (Brazilian acrobatic dance with martial arts in it) in the street. They also have a turtle rescue program there, with an interesting museum etc.

Further north you can go to Olinda, just north of Recife, which is an UNESCO world heritage site (we didn't consider it one of our must sees but a lot of people do). Just south of here was another beach area with lots of character that we loved - Porto de Galinhas (Port of Chickens). All over town, the bases of coconumt trees have been artistically made into wonderful chickens.

If you like waterfalls, walks, and incredible blue sinkholes, you can go west from Salvador to Lencois, from where you can do some interesting day tours around the area.

Then, of course, there is Iguazu Falls, another must, and Rio. If you still have time, there is Manaus and the Amazon, some great beach places (the beaches aren't good, but the ambience is) out of Fortaleza (especially Jericoacoara), and another not-well know place that we loved, called Bonito (near Campo Grande, and hard to get to). If you love snorkeling, you'll love this. You snorkel down crystal-clear rivers (they come from springs), and it's just like being in an aquarium, with fish and all the underwater plants looking similar to coral.

We went to Florianopolis in the South, but felt it was pretty ordinary after all the other wonderful places we'd been (more European feel rather than the distinctly Brazilian feel of other places). Wherever you go, you'll love it.

Dianne in Sydney, Aust