Iguacu Falls and the south, Brazil

Shutterstock/Eduardo RiveroSouthern Brazil is famous first and foremost for one sight: Iguaçu. These are the world's mightiest and grandest waterfalls, surrounded on all sides by lush subtropical forest, stretching for almost 3 km, and falling in a thunderous two-tier curtain from a height almost twice that of Niagara. But although Iguaçu is undoubtedly the highlight, it would be a shame to rush in and out of southern Brazil without seeing anything else. There are many other spectacularly beautiful natural sights: toy trains winding their way through jagged, verdant mountains to some of the largest stretches of lowland coastal forest in South America; bays studded with islands, each of which is home to different and often unique fauna; the crumbling ruins of Jesuit monasteries; and, of course, miles of glorious beaches.

The feel of the south is very different to the rest of Brazil; towns are more European and made up of settlers from the Ukraine, Germany and Italy. In Joinville and Blumenau an archaic Bavarian dialect is still widely spoken and there is an annual
bierfest
. Buses run on time, streets are relatively clean and people don't talk much. Things change again in the border country with Argentina and Uruguay, which retains an insular and macho
gaúcho
culture that seems to have more in common with the Argentine pampas than Brazil.

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
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