Category: Blog

Fernando de Noronha

Fernando de Noronha is an isolated group of volcanic islands located in the South Equatorial Atlantic at 03° 51′ south and 32° 25′ west, approximately 215 miles from Cape Sao Roque in the state of Rio Grande do Norte and 340 miles from Recife, Pernambuco. The main islands are the visible parts of a range of submerged mountains . Consisting of 21 islands, islets and rocks of a volcanic origin, the main island has an area of 7.1 square miles, being 6.2 miles long and 2.2 miles at its maximum width. The perimeter measures 37.2 miles. The base of this enormous volcanic formation is 2480 feet below the surface. The main island, from which the group gets its name, makes up 91% of the total area; the islands of Rata, Sela Gineta, Cabeluda and Sao Jose, together with the islets of Leao and Viuva make up the rest. Geological studies indicate that the islands were formed around 2,000,000 years ago.

The climate is tropical, with two well defined seasons: the rainy season from January to August, and the dry season for the rest of the year. The heaviest rains occur between March and July, sometimes reaching almost 8 inches in 24 hours in March and April. October is the dryest month, when rainfall will not be greater than 0.36 inch in a 24 hour period. The average temperature is 77° F, with a variation of only 7.4°. The hottest months are January, February and March. The relative humidity varies little from 81.5 % due to the islands characteristics. Average annual sunshine is 3.215 hours per day, with a maximum in November and a minimum in April.
Compared to the Brazilian coastline, there is a great variety of aquatic plants on Fernando de Noronha. This emphasizes the uniqueness of the marine ecosystem of these islands, to which few species have been able to adapt. Perhaps it is due to the lack of nutrients basic to the growth of these algae, since warm currents poor in organic material are characteristic of Fernando de Noronha.

As occurs on other isolated oceanic systems, the land fauna of the Archipelago Fernando de Noronha presents an exuberant bird life, much richer than the vertebrate groups such as amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, which are represented by only a few species.

The archipelago is home to the largest bird breeding colonies of all the islands of the Tropical South Atlantic.
The Archipelago Fernando de Noronha hosts ecologic sites ideal for an exuberant marine animal life, due to its geographic location far from the continent and well within the path of the Southern Equatorial Current, as well as the nature of its climate, a fact clearly proven in various experiments. Over the years separate studies have discovered 168 families of mollusks, 72 species of crustaceans, and a large quantity of ornamental fish both native and migratory.

In 1988 approximately 70% of the archipelago was declared a National Marine Park, with the goal of preserving the land and marine environment. It is administered by the IBAMA. Towards its goal research projects are being developed, such as: recording native and migratory bird species both marine and land; studying the behavior and reproduction of the rotator dolphin stenella longirostris; the ecology and reproduction of the crustaceans of the upper, middle and lower coast; shark research and the TAMAR PROJECT (marine turtles). These subjects are offered to the tourists each night at the visitors center of the project, nearby the headquarters of IBAMA (the Brazilian Ecosystems Institute).
Today Fernando de Noronha is a model of enviornmental preservation, existing side by side with small scale tourist activities, which are limited by the existing facilities. Permanent works built by the ONG’s and Foundations, contribute to the perfecting of the conservational policies.

Places to stay

There are various choices of where to stay on the island of Fernando de Noronha. All are tipically modest. In all there are 70 inns, classified according to their facilities and touristic infrastructure, and a small hotel. Reservations should be made early, especially for the months of January, February, July and December, as well as for longer holidays.
The inns on the island function as boarding houses (breakfast, lunch and dinner), or only with breakfast, charging per night and per person. There is no limit imposed on the length of time a visitor may stay on the island, although this is tied into the Environmental Preservation Tax. This tax, paid upon arrival, progressively increases with the length of the visit. 

Uniquely, all of the inns of the island are private residences more or less well modified for this type of service, similar to “Bed and Breakfast” accomodations, but offering all 3 meals. This family atmosphere is one of the most distinctive factors of the tourists’ stay, making them feel as though they were in their own beach house.

Maceio

Situated between the Mundaú Lake and the Atlantic Ocean, the capital of the State of Alagoas, linked to all the cities along the coastal strip by highway BR-101, boasts some of the best beaches in the Northeast, many with natural swimming pools. This scene from paradise is complemented by lakes, coconut trees and a rich and appetising cuisine based on seafood, couscous and tapioca.

The most popular beaches for tourists are Coruripe, Barra de São Miguel e do Francês, in Marechal Deodoro, a town 21 kilometres from Maceió and the birthplace of the first president of Brazil, Marshal Deodoro da Fonseca. To the south, the town offers the attractions of beaches at Avenida, Sobral, Trapiche and Pontal da Barra, all with access to lakes. Near the lakes of Mundaú and Manguaba, fishing villages sprang up, intersected by navigable canals containing a large quantity of molluscs and crustaceans.

In some places, the beaches form lakes two kilometres inland, offering opportunities for bathing and trips by raft. The best known of these is the one starting from the beach at Pajuçara with trips on lakes formed by coral reefs and sandbanks that emerge at low tide. Some rafts have been converted into bars where the tourist can enjoy a typical meal. Six kilometres from Maceió is Jatiúca beach, a surfers’ paradise and well-served with inns and hotels. 

In addition to beaches, Maceió has attractions such as buildings dating back to previous centuries, in particular, the Cathedral of Our Lady of Pleasures, 1840; the Deodoro Theatre, the Municipal Market, the Historical Institute Museum and the Floriano Peixoto Palace housing the State government headquarters. 

Jericoacoara

The most beautiful beach in Ceará is also one of the most ten beautiful beaches in the world. The title, given by the The New York Times, gives a sample of what the tourist will find in Jericoacoara. Dunes that move from place to place, mangroves, areas filled with coconut-trees and the beautiful sea with warm and quiet water gives to “Jeri,” as it is called by the locals, an air of earthly paradise. Jericoacoara is also an environmental protected area by law.

It was, but about 15 years ago, an isolated fishing village, without any contact with modern civilization. There were no roads, no electricity, no phones, no TV’s, no newspapers, and money was something almost useless, since deals were based on trading fish for goods. In 1984 the place was declared as an “Environmental Protection Area” by federal law. Although tourism has reached the place, because of it’s extraordinary beauty, it still keeps the unhurried and peaceful way of life. Because of the EPA law, it is forbidden to hunt, pollute, open new roads, and buildings are limited to the village area (the EPA has 200 sq. km, and the village is 1 sq. km big) having to follow the same architectural style. Lodging facilities had their construction forbidden in 1992, in order to limit the quantity of tourists in the place.

The last 15 km on the way to Jericoacoara is on soft sand, so you need a 4WD vehicle to get there. Until the beginning of 1998, electricity was supplied by diesel generators. Today, there is an underground power supply, only for the houses. Street illumination still comes from the moon and the stars. In 1994, the “Washington Post Magazine” chose Jericoacoara as one of the 10 most beautiful beaches of the world, in a special holiday issue,and so did “The New York Times” in 1999.

But what makes the place so special? Jericoacoara has more than one reason to be considered a paradise. The place is a set of several different sceneries, altogether in a very beautiful and harmonic combination. And not only to be seen, but to be felt. The intense contact with nature, and the sensation of freedom that the place transmits, where every place is so wide and no kind of behavior is restricted, will mark Jericoacoara forever in your memories. What is there to see and do in Jericoacoara? There are several activities for the visitor in Jericoacoara, to satisfy every taste. From calm hikes and horseback rides to radical sports, such as windsurf or sandboard. There are countless touristic interest sceneries, that sometimes it is hard to believe that they can be so different and be so close to each other. 

What to expect from Jericoacoara? If you are the kind of person used to traveling to developed places, with comfort and several services for the tourist, then Jericoacoara is not the place for you. Until a few years ago, there were no lodges, restaurants, bars or shops. The several restrictions imposed by the EPA law for new buildings preserved several original characteristics of the place. In Jericoacoara you will not find luxury, but there are already a few lodges capable of receiving you in a clean and pleasant room, as well as some restaurants with delicious food. But if you are more concerned about knowing a very beautiful place, with intense contact with nature, then this is your paradise. Book more days than you think are necessary to get to know the place: the great majority of travelers end up delaying their departure, either because they feel that there is still a lot to be seen or because they want to enjoy more days in this unique and fantastic place. 

Jericoacoara offers countless points of touristic interest, spread out over the EPA(Environment Protection Area) that together make an impressive set of harmonic sceneries.
Among the several attractions, the most famous is the Arched Rock, a huge gate of stone sculpted by the waves, situated in the Rocky Region of Jericoacoara. This part of the beach starts after the Malhada Beach, the first beach on the east side of the village, already outside the bay. The Malhada beach is small, with waves, good for surfing and wave windsurfing. It is also a place where naturists go topless and practice nudism. The Rocky Region stretches over 2 km of coast, ending up at the Frade Rock.

Besides the famous Arched Rock, there is an infinity of other rocks with curious shapes, as well as caves and natural pools. The hike though the rocky region is something not to be missed, but you must go at low tide, since when the tide is high there will be no passage between the sea and the Serrote, a small hill (about 100m altitude) of rock and sand covered by low vegetation, where the Lighthouse of Jericoacoara is situated. This lighthouse is nowadays a modern piece of electronic equipment, powered by solar energy, that has no need of operators, even the burned light bulbs are automatically changed. Each lighthouse cycle is 10 seconds, with 2 lit and 8 off. The lighthouse is the best place to observe sunrise and moonrise, since it offers the best possible view of the sea to the east.

Fortaleza

The capital of Ceará, with almost three hundred years of history, possesses to receive the tourist well. A complete infrastructure, three thousand hours of sun per year and the constant ocean breeze gives the full dimension of this paradise. For those who have more energy, the nightlife is full of attractions, with bars, restaurants, and shows. Not even on Mondays Fortaleza cools down. The city is known for having the “wildest Monday nights in the world.” The Praia of Iracema (Iracema’s beach), one of the first urban nucleuses of the city, holds most of the bars and restaurants. There, the Ponte dos Ingleses (English’s Bridge), the old docks, is located and used to watch the sunset and spot dolphins.

Warm waters bathe Fortaleza’s urbanized beaches, which offer every comfort to the tourist. The scenery is complemented by the jangadas, small and rustic rafts used by many of Ceará’s fishermen. From the jangadas come the sea’s fruits, responsible for the best Ceará’s cuisine.
The Praia do Futuro (Beach of the Future) is the meeting place for the bathers, concentrating a large number of typical beachside restaurants, with carnauba straw used in its construction. The local population calls them “Barracas de Praia.” Thursday nights, the beach becomes the biggest sensation in the capital’s nightlife, with live music, forró and a lot of crab to eat. With string winds the Praia do Futuro is an excellent place for nautical sports. Fortaleza hosts world competitions of surfing and windsurfing.
A few kilometers away from the city are some well-known beaches as Prainha, Iguape and Porto das Dunas. At the latter there are two large water parks.

For those who like shopping, Fortaleza is also a paradise. The art crafts can be found at the local markets. Clothes, shoes, purses and bikinis made by the skilled hands of Cearense are sold at Rua Monsenhor Tabosa, an immense open-space shopping mall. At downtown, the tourist can find museums, historical public squares and the Theatre José de Alencar , considered one of the most beautiful in Brazil. 
Fortaleza’s history began 275 years ago, when the Dutch constructed the Fort Shoonenborch in 1649. Later, the Portuguese expelled the Dutch and renamed it to Fort of Nossa Senhora da Assunção. Around the fort, which even today is in perfect conservation state, a small village grew into the fifth largest city in Brazil today, with 2,1 million people.

Location 
The county is 26,36 meters above sea level at 3º43’02″S of latitude e 38º32’35″W of longitude. The county is very leveled with minor elevations.

Área 
Fortaleza has an area of 336 square km. North of the city is the Atlantic Ocean, to the south are the counties of Pacatuba, Eusébio, Maracanaú and Itaitinga. To the East it’s the county of Aquiraz and the Atlantic Ocean and to west the county of Caucaia.

Climate and Temperature 
Fortaleza has a warm and dry tropical climate with an average annual temperature of 27oC. lative air humidity is 77%, with an annual precipitation average of 1.378,3 millimeters (mm). The relative air humidity is 77%, with an annual precipitation average of 1.378,3 millimeters (mm). 

Attractions 
Getting to know Fortaleza is to take a ride through its history. The city has modernized but it still keeps landmarks from its past, either in museums, churches, forts, public squares, stations, at the Farol do Mucuripe, theatre and historical buildings. Downtown is full of these memories, such as the Fort of Nossa Senhora da Assunção, built in the same spot that the city was originated, and the Palácio da Luz (Palace of Light), a beautiful construction from end of the eighteenth century classic style, which was the center of the state government.

Salvador

Much more than just the capital of Bahia, Salvador, Brazil, is synonymous of a state of mind. It is the Brazilian city which most evokes relaxation, spontaneity, feasts and religiousness. “Bahians aren’t just born, they take the stage” said the composer Caetano Veloso, one of the great stars of Brazilian Popular Music, when speaking of the large number of his fellow countrymen, artists, all concentrated in Salvador. Caetano’s joke can be explained by the fact that no other Brazilian capital or center, in recent decades, can claim to have such artistic exuberance as this city.

Moreover, this capital has such a strong presence in all areas – economic, social, cultural and political – that its name is confused with that of Bahia. It is common for someone to say that they are going to “the city of Bahia”, when in reality they are travelling to Salvador. In the words of its best-loved son, the late whiter Jorge Amado, the writer frequently referred to the “city of Bahia” when he was really writing about Salvador. 

This Salvador, so deeply imprinted on the hearts of the people of Bahia, is the main port of entry of foreign tourist to North-East Brazil, who are captivated by its charm, by its infrastructure of hotels and the combination of city and architecture, which finds its greatest expression at the Pelourinho. The Pelô, as it is affectionately called by the Bahians, is located in the historical center of Salvador, the greatest collection of colonial architecture in Latin America, listed for conservation by Unesco as a World Heritage site. Its pavements, steep streets and public squares serve as permanent stages for musical presentations, and are the strongholds of Olodum, Ilê-Ayê and the Sons of Ghandhi, Afro groups (percussion bands based on African rhythms) which draw crowds the whole year round, particularly during the Carnival. 

Founded in 1549 on a hill overlooking the bay of All Saints, Salvador was the first capital of Brazil. In 1763, due to interests of the Portuguese Crown, it lost this status to Rio de Janeiro. It still retains its splendour from the golden years in which it enjoyed the status of seat of government of the Colony, in the form of the Basílica Cathedral, an example of Portuguese architecture, where in 1697 father Antônio Vieira died – a preacher of great eloquence, but whose sermons led him to be arrested and condemned by the Inquisition, the sentence being later annulled. 

Seat of the first Catholic diocese in the country, Salvador retains from that period and previous decades buildings which are considered true architectural relics. Of particular prominence amongst these are the Church and Convent of Saint Francis, one of the richest religious establishments in Brazil. The baroque façade of the church, dated 1723, conceals treasures inside, such as Portuguese panels which show the legend of the birth of Saint Francis and his renunciation of worldly goods.

Next to these buildings can be found the church of the Third Order of Saint Francis, dated 1702, and a convent. The set back façade of the temple alludes to the Spanish baroque. There are beautiful paintings on the roof, painted by Franco Velasco in 1831. In the convent, tiled panels created in 1729 portray the nuptials of the firstborn son of Dom João V, the infant Dom José, with the Lisbon of before the 1755 earthquake in the background. 

However, the most popular church in Bahia is that of the Senhor do Bonfim, where every year during the second fortnight of January, Bahians in traditional costume wash its steps. Built on a hill, it was decorated with white Portuguese tiles in 1772, a century after it was finished. Its façade is rococo and the interior neoclassic. 

There are also museums in Salvador, such as those of the Sacred Art and Modern Art; the Ancient Medical Faculty, first school of its kind in Brazil; the Lacerda Elevator with its four cabins, which since 1930 has linked the Tomé de Souza square in the Upper City to the Cairu square in the Lower City, separated by a drop of 72 metres; and the Model Market, with more than 300 stalls where one can buy arts and crafts products of Bahia, next to restaurants and bars with typical food and drink. In the capital of Bahia one of the most successful projects for the assistance and education of street children was developed, the Axé project (an object sacred to the African religion). 

The increasing number of tourists who come to Bahia are attracted not only by Salvador, but also by more than a thousand kilometers of coastline and numerous islands, the most famous of these being that of Itaparica, linked to the state capital by ferry boat and by the BR-101. On the south coast of Bahia, Porto Seguro is an attraction in Brazil and internationally. It is an important historic landmark, being the place where Brazil was discovered. Together with Trancoso, Arraial d’Ajuda and Santa Cruz Cabrália, Porto Seguro forms the Rectangle 
of Discovery 

Prominently featured on the south coast of Bahia are also the Morro (hill) of São Paulo, on the island of Tinharé, a small settlement characterized by its charm, peace and absence of cars; and the Costa do Cacau, the region between Ilhéus and Canavieiras, so called on account of being the main producer of cocoa in Bahia. On route, the tourist will find real tropical ecological sanctuaries: miles of beaches, some almost deserted, dense coconut plantations, varied vegetation of the native Atlantic Rain Forest, large areas of mangroves and beautiful cocoa plantations. 

The north coast stands out because of the Linha Verde, the highway which links Salvador to the state of Sergipe. One hundred and forty two kilometers along the coast are of tarmac, well signposted and with traffic signals, surrounded by enormous plantations of coconut palms, lakes, waterfalls and dunes. On route, there are Arembepe, hippy paradise of the 60’s; Imbassaí, obligatory stopping-point, with fresh and salt water baths; Barra do Itariri, small fishing settlement, with dunes, mangroves and reefs; Praia do Sítio, the most lively and with an infrastructure of hostelries and restaurants; Conde, called the “Marshland of Bahia”; and Praia do Forte, the most celebrated, and home of the Tamar project for the preservation of turtles. The Linha Verde ends at Mangue Seco, which is already inside the 
state of Sergipe.

Ouro Preto (Minas Gerais)

The Gold Circuit – Most precious Brazilian Heritage Introduction to the State of Minas Gerais

With extremely varied relief and vegetation, its valleys and mountains reveal historic-baroque towns inhabited by warm-hearted and hospitable people. The second state in Brazil in terms of its economy (it loses out only to the state of São Paulo) Minas Gerais is also known for its good and rich culinary art.

The occupation of the soil of Minas Gerais by the Portuguese began right after the discovery of Brazil, in the XVI and XVII centuries. The discovery of gold and precious stones attracted many explorers who transformed the state into the Brazilian economic centre of the day. Today, there is no longer an abundance of gold, but unforgettable landscapes remain, with buildings from the period, mountains, woods, pure air, lakes, caves, stories and legends.

Since the colonial era, Minas Gerais has stood out in Brazil because of its culture. Music, architecture, literature and the visual arts are some of the sectors successfully developed by artists from the state. In the towns of the gold circuit, where the XVIII century music from Minas Gerais grew, buildings of the XVI and XVIII centuries are preserved and express the art of the Minas Gerais’ baroque. The most famous of these towns, Ouro Preto, was the stage for the Inconfidência Mineira, the first movement for the independence of Brazil, and today, like Diamantina e the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos, located in Congonhas do Campo, it has been recognized by the UNESCO as a Cultural Heritage of Mankind.

GOLD TOWNS

In the early eighteenth century, the “gold towns” were born. In a little over a decade, between 1711 and 1718, eight cities were founded in Minas Gerais. The best known are Vila Rica, followed by Ouro Preto which was the capital of the administrative area, Mariana and Sabará, all of which were founded in 1711 as a result of gold mining. Afterwards came São João del Rei and Serro in 1714, then Tijuco and Diamantina which marked the passing of the gold-mining era into that of diamonds.

A tour through the historical part of Minas Gerais may commence with São João del Rei, with its churches, bridges, museums, monuments and colonial residences, in addition to rich craftsmanship, with items like candelabra and tea services fashioned from tin. São João del Rei preserves a railway built by Dom Pedro II in 1881 which connects the town to nearby Tiradentes, an ecological heaven with lakes and waterfalls in addition to monuments, museums and churches built in colonial times. In Diamantina, in addition to churches with magnificent interiors, such as Rosário and Carmo, one will also find the only remaining example of muxarabi, a closed porch typical of the region, in the house where Chica da Silva once lived.

Another of the towns on the circuit, Congonhas do Campo, is the site of the remarkable soapstone complex consisting of the twelve prophets and the Stages of Holy Week, masterpieces by Aleijadinho, registered by Unesco as a World Heritage Site.

Swamplands (Pantanal)

The “Pantanal” (swamplands) of Mato Grosso, with an extension of 250 thousand km2, is the largest flooding area in South America and in the world. The “Pantanal” is an enormous intercontinental bay, delimited by the Brazilian Highlands to the east, the Mato Grosso Plains to the north, and also by a chain of hills and highlands on the bottom of the Andes, to the west. Therefore it might be considered a large internal delta, where the waters of the higher Paraguay River, and a large number of rivers that descend from the Highlands, accumulate.

The “Pantanal” is closely linked to the large basin of the Paraná and Prata rivers via the Paraguay River. Difused aquatic connections with Amazonian tributaries exist, however, to the north of “Pantanal”, especially with the Guaporé river. The drainage of this internal delta by the middle Paraguay, via the narrow and shallow strip of Fecho dos Morros do Sul, is done with great difficulty. However, enormous quantities of stagnated water behind this barrier make the “Pantanal” into an umpredictable labyrinth of still and running waters, temporary or permanent, designated by a large quantity of specific terms by the men of the “Pantanal”.

In the indigenous legends and in the first maps, the “Pantanal” is remembered as a great lake full of islands, the “sea of the Xaraiés”. In rainy years, as in 1984 and 1995, the Paraguay river expands itself in a strip of up to 20 km wide, invading the great lakes on the Bolivian frontier and the Caracará Island, temporarily regenerating the “sea of the Xaraiés” of the old rainy climates. The Paraguay and other swamp rivers have small declivity, in the order of 20-30 cm per kilometre, which causes the waters that accumulate during the intense rainfalls to drain away very slowly. Consequently, the floods, which are at a maximum in the north during the months of March and April, arrive in the south of “Pantanal” only in July and August. Meanwhile, large quantities of water, probably hundreds of cubic kilometres a year, are lost through direct evaporation into the atmosphere.

The “Pantanal” can be considered, with justice, the largest “window” of fresh water evaporation in the world. The whole life and economy of the “Pantanal” are related to this inundation system. The region is an interesting aquatic paradox in an area of semi-arid continental climate, or arid even. Without the abundant and shallow subterranean water table and the alluvions left by the floods, the terrestrial vegetation would be similar to that of the “cerrado” or the Bolivian “Chaco”.

Equally, the rich fauna of birds and mammals depends, in the great majority, on aquatic food. The “Pantanal” might be seen then as a large and dynamic interface between the aquatic and terrestrial worlds. The aquatic vegetation is fundamental to “Pantanal’s” life. The floating plants are the major primary producers in the waters of “Pantanal”.

Huge areas are covered by “batume”, floating plants such as the “agapé” (Eichhornia) and the Salvinia amongst others. Taken by the rivers, these plants form real floating islands, the “camalotes”. After the inundations, the layer of nutritious mud allows the development of a rich herbal vegetation. The “carandá” palm tree (Copernicia australis) occurs in extensive formations in areas where the floods are predominant but which remain dry during the winter, permeating with the termiteries where the “paratudal” (shrubery) starts. The “paratudais”, formed by the purple “ipês” (Tabebuia, locally called “piúva”), are typical.

In a region a little more elevated, already in flooding areas, there is a typical vegetation of “cerrado”. There are also, in the “Pantanal”, areas of dense and shady woods (with Piptadenia, Bombax, Magonia, Guazuma). Around the highest riverbanks the “acuri” palm tree (Attalea principes) appears, forming a forest of galleries together with other trees, such as the “pau-de-novato” (Triplaris formicosa), the “embaúba” (Cecropia), the “genipapo” (Genipa) and the fig trees (Ficus). In high points of the hills there is a vegetation similar to the caatinga (a dry bush), with the bromeliaceae Dycia and the cactus “cansação” and “mandacaru” (Cereus).

The geological past has permitted the “Pantanal” to constitute the largest junction of exchanges between the aquatic flora and fauna of South America. Nowadays it is populated by a variety of Amazonian and southern organisms. Being mainly a corridor of exchanges, it doesn’t house as rich an endemic fauna as the Amazon, and it is the quantities, not the qualities that characterise it. 

The “Pantanal” offers to the visitor a great variety of open landscapes inhabited by large animal populations, whose feeding depends on the aquatic phase. This way, in the lakes, the microflora and microfauna allow the developement of rich populations of “arua” snails (Brazilian anphibious molusc, Pomacea, Marisa and others) and shells (Anodontides, Castalia and others), which sustain a variety of predators of these moluscs, such as birds and reptiles. 

The innumerable shoals of “pitu” (Macrobrachium) and the various species of crabs (Trichodactylus, Dilocarcinus and others) have indirect economic importance: they serve as bait for the fishermen. The abundant fish include the “corumbatá”, “pacú”, “cascudo” (cat fish), “pintado” (surubim), “dourado” (dorado), “jaú” (cat fish) and piranhas. Among the aquatic vegetation eaters, there are large populations of capybaras (Hydrochaeris, hydrochaeris) and buffalos. The “cágado” (a fresh water chelonian; Platemys) is also vegetarian. The “ariranha” (Pteronura brasiliensis), important piscivorous predator, formerly abundant, has been almost exterminated by the hunters. The “jacare” (Caiman crocodilus yacare) might have a similar destiny, decimated by the illegal hunting of the last few years.

The alligators have an important role in the waters of “Pantanal”, functioning as predators “regulators” of the fauna of fish, and sometimes as relevant agents of the nutrients cyclosis. Where there are many alligators, few piranhas are found. When the alligators are decimated by the indiscriminate hunting of the “coureiros” (hunters for the animal’s skin), the agressive piranha population increases, to the detriment of other fish species. They might even be dangerous to human beings. Another important aquatic and semi-terrestrial predator is the “sucuri” (anaconda; Eunectes notaeus), unfairly pursued by the “Pantanal” man. Snakes are rare in the “Pantanal”, especially in the flooding areas. Although there are water snakes (Liophis, Helicops), “jararacas” (Bothrops neuwidii) and “boipevaçu” (Hydrodynaste gigas). The Pantanal birds are one of “Pantanal’s” main attractions. Joined in huge concentrations, they explore aquatic food resources.

The “tuiuiú” (Jabiru mycteriaI), the “cabeça seca” (Mycteria americana) and the “coleteiro” (Ajaia ajaja), besides “biguás” (cormorants) herons and ducks, are the most eye catching. Many species nest in common areas, on determined trees, known as “ninhais” (groups of nests), which stand out in the “Pantanal” landscape.

An admirable spectacle is to follow the birds, at nightfall or at dawn, to their dormitories on the riverside where they spend the nights. Typical “Pantanal” birds include the “aracuã do Pantanal” (large tailed squirrel cuckoo; Ortalis carnicollis), the blue macaw (Anodorhyncus hyacinthinus), risking extinction, and the black headed parakeet (Nandayes nenday). The small cardinal bird (Paroaria capitata) is a characteristic bird of this ecosystem. A large abundance of birds of prey, especially the “caracará” (Polyborus) reflects the richness of animal preys. The “caramujeiro” hawk (Rosthramus sociabilis) feeds on molluscs.

Typical cerrado animals are also found in great number in the “Pantanal”, attracted by the abundance of food in the flooded areas. These are species which appear sparsely in other areas of the continent. The “pantanal” deer (Blastocerus dichotomus), common in the rich humid pastures, may be seen alongside two other species of “cerrado” deer and other mammals, such as the “cachorro-vinagre” (Speothus vinaticus), the tapir (Tapirus terrestris), the “caitetu” (peccary; Tayassu tajacu) and the agouti (Agouti paca). There is also the “guará” wolf (chrysocyon brachyurus) and the “tamanduá bandeira” (great ant-eater; Myrnecophaga tridactyla), which are hunted intensely.

Among the primates, the “macaco prego” (capuchin monkey; Cebus apella) can be found there, alongside the “bugio” (Alouatta caraya). Montane pigs, descendants of domesticated swine, also proliferate amongst the dense “Pantanal” vegetation. Like the jaguar (Panthera onca), many other felines are attracted by the abundance of prey. The predator on the high riverbanks is the spotted jaguar, together with other felines and canines. Among the birds, the emu (Rhea americana) and the “siriema” (crested cariama; Cariama cristata) are typical inhabitants of the “cerrado”. 

Naturally, the rich fauna offers many opportunities to birds of prey and carcass eaters. The open landscapes of the “Pantanal” facilitates the census done by air of the populations of large vertebrates. It is estimated, for example, that there are today 10 million alligators, 600 thousand capybaras and only 35 thousand pantanal deers.

Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro has two landmarks which are instantly recognizable the world over: Sugar Loaf and the Statue of Christ the redeemer. However, there is much more to discover in this city filled with attractions. Delving into what Rio de Janeiro has to offer is a journey of discovery through the natural world, the arts, history, architecture, and especially through its people.

The residents of Rio de Janeiro, Cariocas as they are known, are very special. Forthright and irreverent, their warmth and sense of fun endear them to all who come into contact with them. Taking their example from the outstretched arms of the Christ Statue, they wholeheartedly welcome visitors to their city. Below is a listing of the major attractions found in the city and its immediate vicinity. 

Corcovado and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer 
Located atop the Corcovado mountain at a height of 2330 feet, the statue the Christ the Redeemer is certainly one of the world’s best-known and most-visited monuments. 

The outing begins in the Cosme Velho District, aboard a miniature train that runs through the steep Atlantic Rainforest up to the foot of the statue, which offers stunning glimpses of Rio from many different angles. The summit can also be reached by road but the first solution is often preferred. 

The Statue at the very top of the mountain, faced with a soapstone mosaic in the finest art déco style, is reached via a flight of steep steps. The view from this vantage point, with the surrounding Tijuca National Park spreading below and a circle of mountains marking the horizon at the very back of Guanabara Bay, is nothing short of breathtaking.