(CNN) – Brazil is famous for its roaring Iguaku Falls in the south, its crescent-shaped Copacabana neighborhood with its glistening white sand beaches in Rio de Janeiro and the formidable Cristo Redenter – Christ the Redeemer – whose outstretched arms embrace the seaside city.
But there is much more to this formidable South American country, about the size of the United States and the fifth largest in the world by area.
Jardim de Matria is a magical place in the Chapada dos Vadeiros National Park in central Brazil.
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Combine it with Brazil’s diverse society – with a large indigenous population as well as people of European and African descent – for a country that is a mix of culture, customs and amazingly beautiful landscapes.
CNN Travel has rounded up five of Brazil’s lesser tourist routes so you can explore more of the jewels this wonderful nation has to offer.
Founded in 1549 on a small peninsula separating Todos os Santos Bay from the Atlantic Ocean, this humble colonial city became the first capital of Portuguese America. The historic city is located in the state of Bahia in eastern Brazil.
The streets of Salvador are adorned with colorful colonial architecture.
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The buildings – decorated with intricately carved stucco and pasted windows with pastel colored facades – are exquisitely and painstakingly preserved. They date back to the time when 16th-century European, African, and Indigenous cultures converged.
There is a huge Afro-Brazilian community, and colorful, flamboyant festivals are frequently seen, with the beating rhythm of drums echoing through the windy streets.
Salvador sits on a small peninsula, in Bahia, eastern Brazil.
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Bia dos Porcos, Fernando de Noronha
Bia dos Porcos, or “Pigs Bay,” is probably one of the most beautiful beaches in the world – but with barely any sand.
About 225 miles (360 kilometers) off the northeast coast of Brazil in the Atlantic Ocean, the spectacular Fernando de Noronha archipelago of Parnambuco is one of the smallest beaches in the state.
The formation of the Dois Irmaos cliff is one of the most spectacular, if difficult to reach, beaches in Brazil.
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The cove is characterized by its amazing rock formations, including the Dois Irmaos (“Two Brothers”). It is a pair of compositions that emerge from the bright blue, crystal-clear water.
The beach can only be reached at low tide and should either pass through dense jungle or be approached by boat. The beach has numerous natural pools filled with exotic fish, reef sharks, turtles and more, making it a snorkel paradise.
Chapada dos Vadeiros National Park
Green forests, commanding mountains, gushing waterfalls and 1.8 billion year old rocks await the fearless explorers who have reached this natural wonder.
Visitors relax on a rock formation near the Saltos do Rio Prato Falls in Chapada dos Vadeiros.
Eraldo Perez / AP
Located in the state of Goias in central Brazil, more than 30 waterfalls flow within a radius of 15 miles (24 kilometers). These ancient plateau rock formations are some of the oldest on the planet – embedded quartz crystals attracting interesting crowds to get energy.
There are countless wild stories of UFOs and mysterious events that don’t seem so far-fetched once you immerse yourself in the magical atmosphere.
There are no direct flights, but entrepreneurs can travel to Brasilia, the capital and the big city. From there, they can then overland the bus to Alto Paraiso (restaurants, B&B, and many crystal shops and healing practitioners using their talents to a small town 12 miles from the entrance to Chapada dos Vedeiros Park) or Sao Jorge (an undeveloped village). With very basic infrastructure).
Ilha do marajo
This remote outpost, about the size of Switzerland, is one of the largest river islands in the world – it is bordered on all sides by the mighty Amazon.
The west side is dominated by dense forests, while the east side has expansive plains and wetlands. The island is known for its herds of water buffalo. There are about half a million animals – twice as many as humans. Buffalo breeders are also open to visitors.
Ilha do Marajo feels like a deserted island. But the big island in the Amazon River is really home to a large community.
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Visitors are drawn to this unique location for a wilderness experience of a secluded, secluded island, but it is actually quite easy to access with a large community.
There is a daily ferry service from the Portuguese-colonial riverfront town of Belem, considered the gateway to Brazil for the Amazon, operated by the Arapari Navigas. It takes three hours, or is a car ferry departing from Icoaraci, a nearby town operated by Hanville.
On arrival, the best way to get around is either by car to the island or by taxi and bike, which can be rented from one of the island’s pausada.
Stay at Thor, the largest of the two main towns, with beautiful houses and streets lined with mango trees, or the more quiet and serene option along the Salvatara, successful beaches. Both ferries are 30 minutes away from the dock.
Imas National Park
Ever heard of a maned wolf? These rare creatures can be found in Emas National Park with giant anteaters, giant armadillos, pampas deer, thousands of bird species and numerous rare plants endemic to the protected area.
The Pampas deer is one of the many animals that live in Emas National Park.
Delphim Martins / Adobe Stock
The Central Brazil region is also home to the Cerrado Biome, one of the oldest and most diverse ecosystems in the world. The extent of plant diversity is astonishing – there are 350 to 400 species of plants per 2.5 acres (1 hectare).
For those traveling in September and October, an impressive – if a little weird – natural phenomenon awaits. The rainy season stimulates the flight of millions of locusts, which usually live in the thousands of locust mounds, which sit side by side for miles.
The mound, which can towers up to 20 feet (6 m) in height, is also home to thousands of glowing pyrophores beetle larvae, feasting on enticing termites near the larvae, thanks to the bright green lights emanating from them.
Park officials are fighting various threats to the park, including fires, mining exploitation, uncontrolled tourism and invasive species. So if you are visiting, it is important to choose a responsible tour operator like Focus Tours or Pentanel Jaguar Safaris.
This is a remote and rarely visited area of Brazil, but those who dare to visit Emas National Park will be greatly rewarded.