Atlantic Rainforest, Brazil

Counting as one of the 5 Biodiversity-Hotspots, the Atlantic Rainforest is a nature-enthusiasts paradise and worth a visit.

Travel Guide
Brazilian rainforest from above with mountain peak


Name: Atlantic Rainforest, also known as “Mata Atlântica” in Portuguese.

Location: The Mata Atlântica lies on the eastern border of Brazil expanding into north of Argentina, east of Paraguay, and touches the Uruguay coast. It is not one specific area but more a scattered jewel biome along the coastline of eastern Brazil.

Size: Historically the Atlantic Rainforest extended more than 1,2 million square kilometres. After losing more than 85% due to urbanization, logging, and cattle farming now only 7% of the biome is left, which is less than 100,000 square kilometres.

Animals: Lion-maned tamarin, woolly spider-monkey, thin-spined porcupine, three-toed sloths, ocelot, red-billed curassow, brazilian merganser.

Best time to visit: Due to hardly any difference in temperature changes throughout the year, Brazil is a country to visit all year round.

Highlights: he Atlantic Rainforest is considered one of the world's biodiversity hotspots and is home to an extraordinary array of flora and fauna. Besides wildlife and bird watching the rainforest has plenty of hiking trails and viewpoints to explore. Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro were both built over the Mata Atlântica.

Coati in the rainforest
Two toucans on a branch in the Brazilian rainforest

The Atlantic rainforest: a miracle of biodiversity

The rainforest is these days splattered as small jewels alongside Brazils eastern coast and spans over 13 of the 26 states of Brazil. The Atlantic Forest, known as Mata Atlântica in Portuguese, is a lush and biodiverse biome that blankets the eastern coast of Brazil, extending into parts of Paraguay and Argentina. It is a region of extraordinary natural beauty, characterized by dense tropical forests, cascading waterfalls, and richly diverse ecosystems.

Home to an astonishing array of plant and animal species, the Atlantic Forest is renowned as one of the world's biodiversity hotspots. It shelters over 20,000 species of plants, many of which are found nowhere else on Earth, and supports a diverse community of wildlife, including hundreds of species of mammals, birds, reptiles, and amphibians. Despite its ecological significance, the Atlantic Forest faces numerous threats, primarily from deforestation, urbanization, agriculture expansion, and illegal logging. These activities have led to extensive habitat loss and fragmentation, endangering countless species and compromising the health of the entire ecosystem.

Preserving the Atlantic Forest is not only vital for safeguarding its unique biodiversity but also for ensuring the continued provision of ecosystem services, such as carbon sequestration, water regulation, and soil protection. By working together to protect this invaluable natural heritage, we can secure a brighter future for the Atlantic Forest and all who depend on its resources.


Location, geography, and climate

Nestled within the lush embrace of Brazil lies a treasure trove of biodiversity: the Atlantic Rainforest. Spanning historically over 1 million square kilometres, across the eastern coast of South America, this magnificent biome is renowned for its astounding richness in flora and fauna, harbouring a plethora of species found nowhere else on Earth.

The legacy of human activity has left an indelible mark on this once-expansive forest. The relentless march of agriculture, commercial logging, cattle ranching, and urbanization has ravaged the landscape, resulting in the loss of an astonishing 90% of the Atlantic Rainforest's unique land cover. Today, only a mere 7% of the original biome remains, scattered in isolated forest patches like precious jewels in a sea of destruction. Stretching from the coastal regions to the inland mountains, the Mata Atlântica spans from the states of Rio Grande do Norte to Rio Grande do Sul over 13 of the 26 states of Brazil.

Ranked among the world's top five biodiversity hotspots, the Atlantic Forest which was declared a national heritage in 1998, is a breath-taking marvel of nature, brimming with a stunning array of plant and animal life. Distinguished from the more renowned Amazon Forest, the Atlantic Forest boasts a moderate climate, with temperatures ranging from 14 to 21 degrees Celsius, despite receiving an average annual rainfall of 2000 mm. This climatic diversity fosters the growth of a vast array of flora and fauna, contributing to the forest's unparalleled biodiversity. Its vegetation varies with latitude and altitude, giving rise to diverse forest biomes, including, low montane forests, humid tropical forests, and mangrove swamps. In 1998 the Atlantic Forest was declared a national heritage.

Two red parrots in the Brazilian rainforest
Brazilian rainforest from above flowing into the sea near Panama

Flora and fauna

Within its verdant canopy and vibrant undergrowth, the Atlantic Rainforest shelters a staggering array of life forms. The majority of the species found in this area are endemic to this biome meaning they are native and restricted to this area. Within this stunning biome, you can find over 300 species of mammals, 700 species of amphibians and reptiles, and over 20,000 species of plants.

Mata Atlântica is a birders’ paradise and from its over 900 bird species 188 are endemic to this stunning land frame in Brazil. As in comparison to the total number of bird species which is 1871 by the latest count, the Atlantic Rainforest shows why it is referred to as a biodiversity hotspot. Birders can find for example the saffron toucanet, fork-tailed hummingbird, bare-throated bellbird, the blue-winged macaw.


As the Atlantic Rainforest is not a single specific location, but rather a scattered biome, some of the highlights of this spectacular ecosystem in Brazil can be found in or around the vibrant cities of Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. These cities offer a mix of urban excitement and natural beauty and are perfect bases from which to explore the rainforest. Along the coast of the rainforest you will find unspoilt beaches that are perfect for relaxing and unwinding. They offer breathtaking views of the sea, surrounded by lush vegetation and abundant wildlife in and around the water.

Brazilian rainforest from above with coffee plantation

The rainforest is criss-crossed with scenic hiking trails that allow visitors to explore its diverse landscapes and discover its hidden treasures. From leisurely strolls to challenging hikes, there is a way for every adventurer to experience the beauty of the Atlantic Rainforest. It is also home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world, including the famous "Iguazú Falls", which form the largest waterfall system on earth.

The Atlantic Rainforest is a globally significant biome that demonstrates the remarkable diversity and ecological importance of tropical rainforests. If you would like to become active yourself, you can find out more about our Volunteer project in the mountains of the Serra do Brigadeiro and contribute to the rehabilitation of the forests there.

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