Pelourinho Salvador da Bahia
The Pelourinho, where colonial Portuguese used to publicly hang criminals, now hosts arts and dance events in Salvador da Bahia.  The Carnaval in this African-influenced city is second only to Rio de Janeiro in reputation, and apparently second to none for wild partying.  Though Brazil is general is better known for the friendly and rambunctious joie-de-vivre of its people, it is also home to the perhaps the finest colonial architecture in South America, collectively.


Copacabana beach

The world famous beach along the shores of the Copacabana quarter of Rio de Janeiro holds sand sculpture competitions, as well as beach kick-volleyball matches, arts and crafts markets at night, and your usual assortment of sun and water worshipping activities.  The Cariocas  love their beach and spare no effort to make it out there even on working days.  Clearly this is Rio's pole in the rivalry between the "lazy" Cariocas and the "overworked" Paulistas from So Paolo.


Santa Tereza
A cable car wends its way through the historic artsy quarter of Santa Tereza in Rio de Janeiro.  A charming and vital community of cafes and bookshops by day, Santa Tereza is plagued at night by infighting and criminality from gangs which descend from the favelas situated along the adjacent hillsides.  The poor scan quality has made fuzzy the Cristo Redentor (Rio's iconic Jesus Christ statue) atop of the hill on the horizon, enshrouded in clouds.


Ouro Preto

Though Ouro Preto, pictured here, is the easily the most visited and best known of Brazil's colonial gold mining towns in the Minas Gerais province, it is far from alone. Over a half dozen preciously preserved colonial towns dot the hills between Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, the 4th city of Brazil.   From a cultural and heritage standpoint, this has to be the most undervisited region in all of South America.


Sao Joao del Rei
The cathedral in So Joo del Rei is one of many gorgeous church interiors in Minas Gerais designed in the flamboyant Brazilian baroque style of Brazilian artist Aleijadinho.


Aleijadinho's sculptures of the 12 prophets at the Bom Jesus Sanctuary of Congonhas show startling emotion and expression, single handedly earning the site its World Heritage status.

Iguazu Falls
Argentina and Brazil may fight on pride to claim as their own the sublime Iguaz or Iguau Falls that run along both sides of their shared border, but no one can reproach the spectacular beauty of these dozens of cascades, easily the most beautiful in the world.  Which side has the better side of the Falls is much debated, and my answer to that is that you feel the power of the water more on the Argentine side, but the Brazilian side is more aesthetic as a visual composition.  Since this photo was taken from a viewing platform extending into the river from the Brazilian side (on the left half), I'm classifying this under Brazil