12/05/2013 06:19 EST

10 Reasons Why Brazil Is Totally Worthy Of A Winter Escape

The Associated Press

The snow has started to fall and you’re already dreading the next four months of wet feet and frozen fingers. You could just stay inside with a cup of hot chocolate, wrapped up in your favourite blanket in front of the fireplace. Or you could make like the Canadian geese and head south for the winter.

Florida? A classic choice but everyone goes there and you really wanted to get away from it all. Mexico? A step in the right direction but you weren't much in the mood for a resort. So why not head even further south to Brazil?

The country's the perfect winter destination, since its southern-hemisphere location make its seasons opposite to North America. There's also a wealth of things to do for every type of traveller, whether you want to dance in the clubs and on the streets for Carnival, lounge on sandy beaches with turquoise water, or wake up to the sight of toucans and monkeys.

Still not convinced? Here's why Brazil is totally worthy of a winter getaway.

  • Ariaú Amazon Towers, The Largest Treetop Hotel In The World
    Flickr: Zemlinki!
    If you’ve always wanted to go back to the days when you spent most of your time in your treehouse, Ariaú Amazon Towers is the place to be. Located in Manaus, the capital city of the northern state of Amazonas, the largest treetop hotel in the world sits above the Amazon River.

    Not only will you live out your childhood dream of sleeping in the trees, but you’ll also have the chance to swim with Brazil’s rare pink dolphins and trek through the rainforest. Photo Credit: Zemlinki!
  • Sea Turtle Hatching Season At Praia do Forte, Bahia
    Animals lovers will want to head to Praia do Forte in Bahia state between the months of October and March, because that’s when the baby sea turtles will start to hatch on the beach. The staff at the TAMAR Project — one of several across the country — will be able to tell you all about the life cycle of the sea creatures before you get the chance to see them poke their tiny heads out of the sand and make their way to the water.
  • Carnival In Recife
    Everyone knows all about Carnival and its famous parades and parties, known as blocos, in Rio. But if you want to see something different yet just as colourful, over-the-top and fun, head to the streets of Recife.

    There you’ll not only get the samba and sun you’re expecting but the parts of Brazilian history and culture not all tourists know they should experience. Start with the colourful, upbeat, parasol-toting frevo dancers and the giant parading dolls known as Bonecos de Olinda, which stand at more than twice the height of your average Brazilian.
  • The History Of Brazil In Salvador
    The capital city of northeastern state Bahia, Salvador is lush with history and culture you won’t see anywhere else in Brazil. Home to the port where the Portuguese first arrived in the country, this city holds the origins of modern-day Brazil -- as its first colonial capital -- and tells the story of how African slaves arrived in the South American country, making it rich in Afro-Brazilian culture.

    Don’t leave without seeing the Historic Centre of Salvador, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, or without trying traditional dishes like acarajé, a ball of dough made of black-eyed peas deep-fried in dendê (palm oil), then split in half and filled with a spicy paste made of shrimp, ground cashews, more dendê and other ingredients.
  • Waterfalls In Foz Do Iguaçu
    Flickr: Jcorrius
    The Iguaçu River rises into the coastal mountains of Paraná and Santa Catarina states, then snakes west for about 600km before widening and sweeping around a forest, where it then plunges in the waterfalls known as Foz do Iguaçu. Its 275 individual falls take up an area more than 3km wide and 80 metres high, making them wider than the falls in Victoria and higher than Niagara. Photo Credit: Jesús Corrius
  • Barbecue (Churrasco) With Brazilian Cowboys In Rio Grande Do Sul State
    Flickr:Fabrício Marcon
    While Brazil doesn’t have a wild west, it certainly does have cowboys, and they love their barbecue. You can get barbecue anywhere in Brazil, but state of Rio Grande do Sul state is where it’s most famous. But don’t expect churrasco gaúcho (barbecue in the southern state) to be your usual burgers and hotdogs.

    Here, everything comes on a kabob, from every type and cut of meat, to cheese, garlic bread and vegetables. Don’t leave the pit without some queijo coalho (squeaky cheese) and picanha (beef's rump) on your skewers. Photo Credit: Fabrício Marcon
  • Waking Up With Toucans, Parrots, Sloths and Monkeys In Presidente Figueiredo, Amazonas
    Flickr: VenturaB.
    If you do end up in Manaus, make sure to make the hour and a half trip to the town of Presidente Figueiredo. The drive itself is worth it, with its views of the green, rural Amazonas for miles, but the destination is even more spectacular. Stay at one of the many pousadas (a chain of Portugese hotels) in the town and, if you wake up just before sunrise, you just might get to see the toucans and parrots flying from tree to tree or the sloths and monkeys swimming in the river before they disappear to hide from the extreme heat of the sun. Photo Credit: Ventura
  • São Paulo's Nightlife
    Flickr: gnumarcelo
    If you love the nightlife of a big city, then you won’t want to miss a night on the town in São Paulo. An expansive city of over 11 million, there are clubs, pubs and bars for everyone, and with no last call, those heading to work at 7 a.m. often see others still stumbling home from last night’s party.

    And don’t worry about carrying cash to pay at the bar. In Brazil, everyone gets a card when they walk in the door that the bartender uses to keep track of your tab. When you decide to head out, you pay a cashier with cash, debit or credit. But don’t drop your tab card on the dancefloor. If you lose it, you pay a fairly hefty fee, since the bar won’t know what you consumed. Photo Credit: gnumarcelo
  • The Beaches In Fernando de Noronha
    The Associated Press
    If you’re a fan of paradise, you might want to make your next trip to Fernando de Noronha. The archipelago of 21 islands and islets off Brazil’s northern coast has the most perfect white and golden sand beaches surrounded by the most turquoise water anyone could wish for. The green mountainous landscape carves out nooks and crannies perfect for everyone to enjoy. And whether you prefer to kick back and relax on a quiet beach or you’re the type that wants to surf, dive and hike through eco trails, you’ll find want you desire here.
  • New Year’s Eve on Rio’s Copacabana Beach
    AFP/ Getty
    Since New Year’s Eve comes with the heat of summer in Brazil, what better place to celebrate than a beach? And Copacabana’s party is known for being the absolute best, with its world-famous fireworks and shows on multiple stages that will take you into the wee hours of the morning. This year including music from pop superstar Claudia Leitte and the winner of The Voice Brasil, Ellen Oléria.

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