Brazil, the fifth largest country in the world, has large stretches of unspoiled wilderness and a wealth of culture, from the architectural modernism of Oscar Niemeyer to the harmonies of Bossa Nova. It attracts revellers to the carnivals of Rio, Olinda and Salvador, beach bums to its sandy coastline, adventurers to its 60-plus pristine National Parks and adrenaline junkies seeking rare thrills like dune-driving in Ceará or rappelling in Cachoeira Grande.
Everyone has their favourite spot and I keep returning to Ouro Preto, one hour by bus from Belo Horizonte. Built during an 18th century goldrush and frozen in time, it is a living showroom of Brazilian baroque. Squat, two-storey colonial houses and large stuccoed public fountains provide the perfect backdrop for a string of stunning churches laden with gold and adorned with statues carved by the best masters of the Portuguese Empire. Every cobblestone here tells a captivating story.