The country's capital, Brasília, is the symbol of the nation's commitment to its empty centre. Although not generally viewed as a tourist attraction, it is interesting as a city of pure invention similar to Australia's Canberra or Washington in the United States. Its central position makes it a natural crossroads for visiting the north and interior of Brazil and, when passing through, it is well worth undertaking a city tour to view its innovative modern design.
Like Brasília, Goiás is rarely on the itinerary for first-time visitors to Brazil. But those who know the country well often consider it their favourite state. There is so much of interest here: colonial cities as beautiful as any in Minas and far less visited; colourful and bizarre festivals; national parks as wild as the Pantanal; and trekking, wildlife- and birdwatching that is second only to the Pantanal and the Amazon. Its people are among the country's most welcoming. They are quietly spoken, poetic and obsessed with dreadful
music, which laments lost love through videos of girls in little shorts intercut with prize bulls. The state is easily visited from Brasília or on the way to or from the Pantanal and the coast.
Further north is the state of Tocantins, dominated by vast rivers,
forests and, increasingly, soya plantations. The deserts of Jalapão lie here: landscapes that at first sight seem a strange fusion of North Africa and outback Australia but which, unlike both, are broken by myriad lakes and waterfalls. Further to the west on the frontier of Mato Grosso is the Bananal - one of the largest river islands in the world and home to large groups of indigenous Brazilians.
This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF