Now that the Olympics is under way, Brazil is in everyone’s mind and there’s plenty of stunning shots of Ipanema beach during the Olympics coverage. Combined, this is making me think back to my time travelling in Brazil two years ago.

Despite Brazil getting bad rep almost daily, it’s a pretty great country. Here’s some things you should know…

ipanema beach rio brazil

They don’t speak Spanish

Given that the vast majority of South America speaks Spanish you’d think the largest country, Brazil, would do too. It’s a common misconception that Brazilians speak Spanish when in fact they speak Portuguese.

Oh and the spanish and Portuguese languages aren’t even close to each other. So before you travel remember to pick up a few words in Portuguese and don’t worry about pursuing up on your Spanish!

It’s not all about Rio

It might be Brazil’s most famous city, but there’s plenty of other amazing spots in Brazil besides Rio de Janiero that you should visit.

Two of these are islands: Ilha Grande and Ilha Bela. They’re both beautiful, home to some of the world’s most stunning beaches and are just a short journey away from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.

Of course there’s the rainforest and northern cities too!

brazil parrots in the pantanals

It’s not as dangerous as everyone says…

If you announce you’re going to Brazil yor parents will probably start fearing for your safety.

Sure it’s not the world’s safest country but not is going there a recipe for disaster.

In all we spent about a month in various parts of Brazil from the Pantanals to cities, Iguazu waterfall and many beaches. In that month nothing bad happened to us and we felt no less safe than anywhere else we travelled to I’m South America.

view from top of christ the redeemer brazil

…but you do need to be sensible

Having said that, you do still need to be sensible and have your wits about you.

Don’t walk around with you iPod, iphone, expensive camera, jewellery and luxury goods. That’s just asking for trouble. Also try not to stay out too late in the evening and get a verified taxi rather than trying to walk back to your hotel.

brazil ilha grande

It’s beautiful

You’ll have seen the photos of Brazil’s beaches, rainforests, wildlife and fiestas many times before but nothing’s quite like seeing it first hand with your very own eyes.

So don’t be put off by terror threats, zika (unless you’re planning on having a baby soon) and bad press surrounding the Olympics go and explore – I’m sure you’ll love it!

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