Palin selects highlights from BBC Brazil series

2nd Nov 2012

Globe-trotting Michael Palin has been travelling the world for years, but until now he's never fully explored Brazil.

His new BBC series, Brazil with Michael Palin, sees the presenter discover what this rapidly-growing South American country has to offer.

When asked to select his highlights from the series, top of Palin's list is the "weird and wonderful" landscape of Lencois Maranhenses.

The rare combination of huge sand dunes and seasonal rainfall creates what Palin calls "a desert with swimming pools", where visitors can walk across the unique lunar-like terrain before cooling off in a mini-fjord.

The programme also sees Palin travel to Salvador, "the biggest African city outside Africa".

Some 82% of Brazil's population can trace their ancestors back to the days of slavery, and Salvador is a place where exotic African ceremonies exist side-by-side with churches built by the Portuguese.

Palin says he found Salvador "lively, noisy, colourful" - but warns that the city is, in parts, "quite dangerous".

Elsewhere, in the midst of the Amazon jungle, Henry Ford's abandoned town Fordlandia proves an unlikely visitor attraction.

The tycoon spent millions building a replica of the towns in the American midwest, alongside plantations to provide rubber for his car factories.

Today, the remains of the failed project are still standing on the shores of the Tapajos river. Palin calls it an "industrial ghost town", adding that it is difficult to get to, but worth the effort.

Perhaps the most obvious highlight of any trip to Brazil is a visit to its most famous city. Brazil is well-known for its beaches, and to experience this in its "purest form", Palin recommends Copacabana beach in Rio de Janeiro.

He said: "The city is spectacular in size and beauty, and even when it's packed there's room for everybody. And no clutter of windbreaks."

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