I took a train from Bolivia (see blog) into Brazil and spent some time in Sao Paulo before heading to Rio de Janeiro to spend the next two weeks to see Carnivale, Rolling Stones and do some hang gliding over the city.
The good stuff: Rio is gorgeous! The buildings and streets are molded around tumbling cliffs and wooded mountains that serve as an incredible backdrop to the numerous white sandy beaches of Guanabara Bay. The people (over 10 million) are amazing and have a great sense of national pride. We were there for the Carnival festivities and the Rolling Stones concert on Copacabana beach which was one of the biggest concerts in history with over 2 million people (see pics). I spent two weeks here going to football games at the world famous Maracana Stadium, boat excursions through Guanabara Bay to secluded islands, hang gliding over the city, block parties in the streets until dawn, a cable car up to Sugar Loaf for the panoramic views, and a visit to Corcovado – Christ the Redeemer. Ipanema and Copacabana beaches are very touristy but still amazing. The hang gliding over Rio lasted 25 minutes or so and I highly recommend it.
The NOT so good stuff: I wish I would've had more time to visit the rest of Brazil but I spent most of my time in big cities that are expensive relative to the rest of the country. Crime is an issue in Rio, especially at night in touristy areas like beaches and large gatherings (true for any big city). During the Rolling Stones concert there were many stories of pick pockets (including myself) and people robbed at knife point. Don't let this discourage you – just use common sense when going out at night.
After Rio I headed to Iguazu to see the widest waterfall in the world (see blog).