Don’t wander into favelas
Some favelas like Vidigal in Rio de Janeiro are safe to visit. However, most favelas in Brazil are not highly recommended to visit, if you don’t have a local to guide you there. Because many favelas are controlled by illegal and powerful drug gangs, if you go into their turf, they may think you are a threat and react before asking any questions. If you drive a car, check the map carefully before setting off on your adventure because the GPS can sometimes lead the drivers into favelas by accident. Ask your hotel or a friendly local to verify your route before driving.
Don’t take a self-guided trip to the national parks
You can definitely check out by yourself some national parks like the Tijuca forest, which has good security. However, there are other places which are always best to do with a reputable and qualified guide. For example, Pantanal and the Amazon rainforest are incredible places which are potentially dangerous for inexperienced explorers who can get lost.
Don’t assume everyone to speak your language
Not every Brazilian speaks English and don’t think that Spanish will get you by. Spanish is quite similar but still different from Portuguese. The best thing you can do is to learn some couples of phrases. Brazilians love people who can speak Portuguese and find any attempts at speaking their own language incredibly endearing.
Be careful when you swim
There are three reasons to be careful when you swim in Brazil. Firstly, some waters here are polluted and you may get sick after a long swim. Secondly, some places have strong waves and currents that pose a high risk for anyone entering the sea. Thirdly, Recife has a large population of bull sharks, that places it in the top ten of most shark-infested beaches in the world. Check with a lifeguard at any beach in Brazil before you swim.