Vibrant, stunning and energetic Brazil has become a giant of South America. We’ve listed some of the most popular hotspots that past volunteers have enjoyed while on the IVHQ Brazil Program.
In and Around Rio
Our placements in Brazil are located in the Marvelous City, Rio de Janeiro. Nestled into towering hills and lush rainforests, and bordered by white sand beaches and jewel blue seas, you could not ask for a more beautiful setting for a metropolis. There are more things to do than we have space to list here, so be sure to ask our local staff for advice, as they can provide you with inside knowledge!
Copacabana and Ipanema
Rio’s iconic beaches, Copacabana and Ipanema, are the perfect places to spend your downtime. Take a stroll along the walkway, a refreshing dip, or just sit back for a spot of people-watching. The beaches tend to divide into different subcultures, showcasing the incredible diversity of the city. Posto 8 at Ipanema is where the favela kids hang out, posto 9 is where the beautiful people lounge in the sun, posto 10 is where you can find sporty types playing beach soccer and volleyball, the area known as the Cemetério dos Elefantes tends to attract artsy, hippy types, the Crystal Palace is the gay section, Leblon draws a mixture of local families and singles, and so on. These popular beaches get crowded on the weekends, so get in early and stake your claim! And be careful, as the waves here can get big and the undertow is strong, so swim where the locals do.
No trip to Brazil would be complete without a visit to Christ the Redeemer. Set atop Corcovado Mountain (which means ‘Hunchback’ in portuguese), the giant 38m statue is visible from nearly everywhere in the city. Take any ‘Cosme Velho’ bus from the city to the Trem do Corcovado cog station, then take a train or a van to the summit. Alternatively, if you’re looking for a workout, try a guided hike to Corcovado starting out from Parque Lage or Santa Teresa - you’ll be rewarded with spectacular views at the top! Note though that there is an admission fee of $30 Real to the monument area.
Sugar Loaf Mountain
Take a thrilling cable-car ride to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain, one of the most famous natural landmarks in Brazil, and soak in the sweeping, panoramic views. Cable cars depart every 20 minutes, and you can buy tickets at the station located at Praiha Vermela (Red Beach). Time your trip to coincide with sunset for a truly amazing experience!
The artistic, picturesque hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa lies just above downtown Rio, but feels like another city altogether. Rickety yellow bonde (streetcars) wind their way through cobblestone streets lined with 19th Century mansions, bohemian bistros and art galleries. Spend a lazy afternoon exploring the streets, and be sure to stop by the area’s main attractions, the Parque das Ruinas and the Museu Chacara do Ceu.
Ilha Grande is a pristine tropical island retreat just off the coast of Rio. Take an early morning bus trip to the coastal town of Conceicao de Jacarei, which takes around 3.5 - 4 hours (and don’t forgot to tell your bus driver where you are going, or he won’t stop for you!), and from there walk down to the pier and take a 50 minute ferry ride out to the island. Explore the picturesque Vila do Abraao, take a diving lesson, or just relax on the beach!
The Surf Bus
If you want to spend your weekend on a beach away from the crowds of Ipanema and Copacabana, the Surf Bus is the way to go. A converted city bus fitted out with racks to hold up to 40 surf boards, the Surf Bus runs Tuesday - Sunday starting 7am. It makes its way from Largo do Machado in Rio, past Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, and drops beach-goers at several quiet, remote beaches to the South-West of the city. It costs only BRL$5 each way, and takes about 90 minutes to reach Prainha at the end of the line.
The Brazilian Amazon
Take a walk on the wild side and experience one of the marvels of the world, the Amazon basin! Fly from Rio to Manaus or Campo Grande and the Amazon River will be lapping at your doorstep. Stay at a jungle lodge, take a guided hike or a riverboat tour; whatever you choose, you’re sure to be amazed at the quiet magnificence of the jungle. There are many companies offering fantastic Amazon experiences, but check with our local staff for their advice!