The south of Brazil is different. Here, palm trees give way to pines, forested mountains are split by tranquil valleys, nature in general is more rugged, with roaring waterfalls and monumental canyons, and the temperate climate provides four distinct seasons, with cold weather, even snow, in the winter.
Paraná state has a strong European heritage, blue-eyed blonds replace the dark-featured types of the north and northeast and ethnic festivals are celebrated in the cities. There is also fantastic flora and fauna in the state and beautiful islands along Paraná's coastline.
Curitiba is one of Brazil's cleanest cities, with many green spaces and a relaxed, comfortable way of life. One of the most spectacular train journeys in South America departs from Curitiba and cuts through mountains and forests of Brazilian pine before dropping into steamy tropical Atlantic rainforest that shrouds the southern coast of Paraná.
In the state of Santa Catarina there are huge tracts of well-preserved Atlantic rainforest.
Inland the monumental escarpment of the Serra Geral plateau rears upwards, its misty cliffs topped with ancient monkey puzzle trees. The mountain range is cut by dozens of majestic canyons each of which has its own microclimate. These canyons and the rugged, semi-wild country that surrounds them offer some of the best hiking in southern Brazil.
Immortalised by the 1986 film ‘The Mission’, the majestic Iguassu Falls were made one of the new Seven Wonders of Nature in 2011. The river Iguaçu emerges from forested banks to plunge over a series of cliffs and create a breathtaking spectacle, higher than Niagara and wider than the Victoria Falls.