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Rio de Janeiro is the seductively friendly and hedonistic principal coastal city of eastern Brazil, famed for its stunning location between lush, forested mountains and breathtaking beaches of golden sand.

The iconic symbols of Pão de Azucar (Sugar Loaf) mountain and the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado are known worldwide, but other attractions include the Metropolitan Cathedral and the massive shrine to football – Maracaná Stadium – plus several museums and the city’s botanical gardens. Nature lovers should visit Tijuca National Park – the last remnant of the Atlantic rainforest that once surrounded the city. Here the contrast from the mayhem of the city is incredible: just 15 minutes' drive from bustling Copacabana, the park is home to many different wildlife species including iguanas and monkeys.

It’s hot and relatively humid all year round, but the best weather for enjoying the glorious beaches is in winter – although hotel space is at a premium during the party seasons of Carnival and New Year, when prices soar and a minimum stay is imposed.

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Key info

  • Ideal for viewing: black jacobin, tawny-browed owl, scaled woodcreeper, Brazilian tanager, red-necked tanager

Wildlife trips

This location is featured in the following itineraries:

Brazil’s Natural Highlights

Enjoy a complete Brazilian wildlife experience, visiting three contrasting ecosystems. This trip offers an affordable option to explore the diverse Amazon rainforest, the rarely visited savannah of Chapada dos Guimarães, and the Pantanal wetland, home to some of Brazil’s rarest wildlife, such as jaguar and giant otter.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 11 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £4,275 pp
  • Trip type: Tailor-made trip idea

Voyage to the Heart of the Amazon

Voyage into a rarely visited area of the Amazon rainforest far up the Rio Negro where the flora and fauna is largely undisturbed. Staying on board a converted traditional Amazon riverboat, you will take motorised canoes up the smaller creeks to watch and photograph birds and animals.

  • When to go: Jan-Dec
  • Duration inc. flights: 12 days
  • Price inc. flights: From £4,725 pp
  • Trip type: Group tour