The final episode of Michael Palin’s Brazil, focuses on the south of the country, where he visits the colourful town of Paraty, the bustling metropolis of Sao Paulo, the wildlife filled wetlands of the Pantanal and the mighty Iguassu Falls.
Once a thriving port town during the booming gold trade of the 18th and 19th centuries, Paraty is a bright, colonial town, which can appear a tad sleepy on the surface but comes alive during the evenings and weekends. The town is littered with historical architecture (including a number of Baroque-style churches) as well as cosy bars and restaurants which are popular with tourists and locals. The Costa Verde, where Paraty is found, is home to a number of private villas, which are perfect for families and honeymooners. The crystal-clear water in the area is perfect for snorkelling and stand-up paddle boarding, boat rides and fishing.
Home to an array of wildlife, the Pantanal is a naturalist’s dream. Although not as well known as the Amazon, this huge seasonal wetland covers much of southern Brazil (as well as Argentina, Bolivia and Paraguay) and attracts a huge variety of bird species (particularly during the dry season, May to August), as well as larger animals, including anacondas, caiman, capybaras and even jaguar. Now a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, it is arguably the best place to spot wildlife in Latin America. Michael Palin is staying at Fazenda Barra Mansa, in the Southern Pantanal, which combines really well with a trip to Paraty.
Iguassu Falls are without doubt one of the most spectacular sites in the whole of Latin America. Bordering Argentina, Brazil and Paraguay, the falls are in fact made up of 275 separate waterfalls, which have come together to make a truly awe-inspiring sight. The noise of the water crashing over the rocks can be heard from miles away, and the walkways on the Argentine side of the National Park offer spectacular views, particularly at the Garganta do Diabo (the Devil’s Throat).