Rio de Janeiro On the Road

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Known as "cidade maravilhosa" or the "marvellous city," Rio de Janeiro is dense and electric, with a people known as the Cariocas that live life fully, embracing the sun, beach, sport, and dance. Like the country of Brazil, Rio de Janeiro is a melting pot of races and creeds and its people are one of its most precious assets.

Rio is divided by a mountain range into two areas: the Zona Norte (North Zone) and the Zona Sul (South Zone). The Zona Sul is where most of the cities attractions can be found, including the more famous mountains and beaches.

In particular, Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pão de Açúcar) is worth a visit. From its peak, you can get a spectacular panoramic view of Rio and Guanabara Bay. This setting abounds with tall mountains that meet the sea to form beautiful beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema.

The great statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain offers an almost heavenly perspective of the city, being one of the most famous landmarks of Rio.

And how could you mention Rio without also mentioning Carnaval? The four days and nights of this exotic and spectaclular party are a tradition passed to South America from Europe. Falling before the Lenten season of fasting and prayer, what was actually a late-winter celebration in Europe become a high-summer frenzy in South America. It would earn a reputation as one of the world's most exciting and uninhibited events.

carnaval is also known for its infectious Samba music, which comes from the West African heritage of Brazil. The drums, the beat, the rhythm get under your skin and make it impossible not to dance. Dance, sing along and watch as the parades pass by and the samba schools compete with one another.

Though a city of great cultural wealth, Rio has its poorer sides as well. But if you're a smart traveler, Rio will turn out to be a pleasure, a well-worthy visit.