Discover a captivating land of alabaster beaches which stretch as far as the eye can see, dotted with vibrant cosmopolitan cities and captivating colonial towns, and the ecological richness of the Amazon in Brazil.
Experience the exhilaration of Rio de Janeiro set against a backdrop of breathtaking beauty. Get lost in the rhythm and excitement of Brazil!read more
Brazil is the largest country in Latin America and covers 8.5 million sq kms. The country is incredibly diverse – from the golden beaches of the South East including famous Rio de Janeiro and Buzios, to the vast wilderness of the Amazon and the wildlife of the Pantanal. From the futuristic capital of Brasilia to the African voodoo culture of Salvador and historic Ouro Preto to the magnificent Iguacu Falls – Brazil is certainly a country of contrasts.
RIO DE JANEIRO
Rio is said to be quite simply the most beautiful city in the world. The beauty of the city is revered worldwide, from its wide expanse of stunning beaches such as Copacabana and Ipanema, to Sugarloaf and Corcovado, not to mention the beautiful nature of its local people known as “cariocas”. The city has an excellent nightlife with trendy nightclubs, an array of great restaurants, bars and musical extravaganza’s. Corcovado Mountain, home to the Christ the Redeemer Statue, with his outstretched arms - right points to the suburbs of Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon – a great way to orientate yourself. The statue stands 30m high, and weighs over 1000 tonnes. To reach the statue, you board a tram at the bottom of the mountain for the 20 minute journey to the top, and then take either 250 stairs or an elevator and two escalators to the top. It takes two cable cars, each accommodating 75 people per car to reach the top of Sugarloaf Hill. On each of the hills are souvenir shops, cafes and wonderful views. In Rio, a third of the people live in favelas (shantytowns) that cover hillsides and can be seen as you drive around the city. The largest, Rocinha, with 300,000 residents, is located in one of Rio’s richest neighbourhoods. The Night Market is located on Copacabana beach (about two blocks from the Pestana Rio Atlantica) on the esplanade between the two traffic lanes on the beach. Open from 6pm to 12 midnight. Good place to purchase reasonably priced souvenirs such as sarongs, beach wear, jewellery, paintings, hammocks, t-shirts, etc. The Hippie Market, an arts and crafts fair, operates on Sunday in Ipanema Petropolis is a mountain retreat, about 60km from Rio de Janeiro, which makes it an ideal day trip. A beautiful place to wander around the squares and parks, past bridges, canals, or take a carriage ride.
Each city in Brazil celebrates its own unique Carnival. Each Carnival reflects the diverse cultures of Brazil; therefore, Carnival in the north may be completely different from Carnival in the south. The most notable is Rio Carnival, where you encounter the mesmerising multi-sensory effects of the “Parade of Samba Schools”. Combine the extravagance of the floats, the colourful brilliance of the costumes, the magic of the music, the infectious laughter and the energy of the dancers – fantastic! It all takes place in the Sambodrome, a half-mile long pathway built specifically to hold the event. At the end of the path, each school has just over an hour to perform beneath the stands of nearly 100,000 spectators, trying to convince the crowd and judges of their superiority. Rio Carnival is a four day event that changes dates every year. It begins forty days before the Catholic holiday, Lent. The celebrations start Friday, prior to Ash Wednesday up until the following Tuesday. Rio Carnival Dates: 2007: February 17, 18, 19, 20 2008: February 02, 03, 04, 05 Carnival is the peak holiday season in Brazil. Offices and businesses close during the festivities. Brazilians take time off and travel, so make sure to plan your trip well in advance. Remember, you are competing for a hotel room, not only with tourists from all over the world, but also with Brazilians. Rio Carnival is also famous for its elaborate costume balls. Some of the best are found in 5-star hotels, the Sugar-Loaf Ball, and the Gala Gay. Group after group of live artists keep the people moving all night long. The balls generally kick off around 11:00 p.m. and the people don’t stop until the early morning! BUZIOS The beach resort of Buzios is located on a peninsula (scalloped by 17 beaches) north of Rio, and is a three hour drive away. It was a simple fishing village until it was discovered by Brigitte Bardot in the 60’s, nowadays it is home to numerous cafes, restaurants, villas and boutiques.
North of Rio, Belo Horizonte acts as the gateway to the historical towns of Ouro Preto, Tiradentes, Congonhas, Mariana and Sao Joao del Rey, each a living monument.
FOZ DO IGUACU
How to spell the name: in Brazil its Iguacu (IGU); in Argentina its Iguazu (IGR); and in Paraguay its Iguassu (IGU). A spectacle of more than 275 waterfalls, forming a gigantic semi-circle, over 3km wide and 100 metres high meeting at the borders of Brazil and Argentina. On the Brazilian side of the falls, from the Hotel das Cataratas, a system of walkways and viewpoints give excellent photographic and viewing opportunities. Excursions include thrilling jetboat rides and helicopter tours over the falls for unsurpassed views of the Devils Throat Cataract. UNESCO awarded Iguacu Falls World Natural Heritage status in 1986. The Falls are surrounded by a National Park containing the world's largest pluvial forest, home to 12 species of amphibians, 18 species of fish, 40 species of mammals, including the jaguar, ocelot and giant river otter, 60 different reptiles, 340 bird species, and 700 species of butterflies. The Ponte President Tancredo Neves bridges the Rio Iguacu and connects Brazil to Argentina. 15 kms upstream is Itaipu, the world’s largest hydro-electric project. Everyone has a favourite side from which to view the Falls, but an “in house” poll says the Brazilian side and the best time to visit is between August and November. If you come between May and July (flood season) travellers may not be able to approach the swollen waters on the catwalk. On both sides of the Falls there is a National Park entrance fee, currently US$9 per person per visit for Brazil and US$14 per person per visit for Argentina. This fee is paid locally – subject to change.
The Amazon Rainforest has been awarded World Natural Heritage by UNESCO. The Amazon Basin covers almost half of Brazil and is a complex system of forests and rivers. Second in length only to the Nile, the 6,275 km of river supports at least 1,500 types of fish, 1,800 species of birds, 250 different mammals and a similar diversity of insects. The Amazon catchment includes the largest and wettest tropical plain in the world. Heavy rains drench much of the densely forested lowland region throughout the year, especially between January and June. The width of the river ranges between 1.6 and 10 km at low water but expands to 48 km or more during the annual floods. The Amazon can be navigated by ocean liners for two-thirds of its course. Transatlantic ships call regularly at Manaus, nearly 1600 km upstream; and can also reach Iquitos (Peru) 3700 km from the river's mouth. The Amazon has two travel seasons: from December to March when the water levels are lower, and from June to November, the water levels rise. Avoid travelling between April and June, as it’s the rainy season. M/V Desafio Amazon Cruise, 4 days/3 nights ex Manaus A typical day features excursions by canoe into the smaller tributaries, a jungle walk, a visit to a local village, caiman spotting, and nothing beats a bit of piranha fishing as the sun sets over the Amazon. Recommend clients upgrade to upper deck cabin.
The main gateway to the Amazon, where visitors may stay in jungle lodges or board a boat for a cruise on the mighty Amazon. Manaus is a living monument to the rubber boom, in 1967 it became a free-trade zone, and a number of major electronic companies built factories here. It is also the place to see hundreds of two or three deck riverboats, as they ply the Amazon, either as ferries or tourist cruises. For travellers the most interesting parts of the town are close to the waterfront, the Mercado Municipal, the floating docks and the neoclassical Opera House (Teatro Amazonas), built in 1896. Manaus lies beside the Rio Negro, 10 km west of the confluence of the Rio Negro and Rio Solimoes – which is known as the “Meeting of the Waters” where the black waters of the Rio Negro meet the muddy brown of the Solimoes.
Brasilia is a World Heritage Site, because it is considered one of the major examples of this century’s modern movement in architecture and urban planning – but this great city was built for cars and not people, and so no one walks. Plus it’s a very expensive city to live in. Brasilia was officially inaugurated and started functioning as the new capital of Brazil in 1960. The site chosen is on a sparsely inhabited plateau carved out of the State of Goiás. Since the second half of the 18th century, several Brazil's governments considered the transfer of the seat of government from Rio de Janeiro to some inland area, safe from naval attacks. SAO PAULO The Jesuits founded São Paulo in 1554 on a plateau 760 metres above sea level, as a mission centre for early settlers and the Indians who inhabited the area. For a long time it remained a small town. Around 1850 it began to grow and became richer thanks to the highly productive coffee plantations in the state. Later on, the income from coffee exports and the increasing population provided capital and manpower for the foundation of an industrial base. Today there are over 20,000 industrial plants of all types and sizes concentrated in the city and the surrounding municipalities. São Paulo is a cosmopolitan and modern city and is also the major financial centre in Brazil with nearly 2,000 banking agencies. Beyond the city limits, some of the most beautiful beaches and diving spots in the country are found.
SALVADOR DA BAHIA
The capital of the state of Bahia, it was the first major port and the capital of colonial Brazil for almost two centuries. The city lies between green tropical hills and broad beaches along the bay of Todos os Santos. It was built on two levels with administration buildings and residences constructed on the hills; forts, docks, and warehouses on the beaches. A city that is divided into "high" and "low" had to have an elevator. The Lacerda Elevator was built in 1873, engraved in the stone of the mountain that separates the upper city from the lower city. It connects Tome de Souza Square, in the high city to the Cayru Square, in the lower city and transports about 28 thousand people a day in a trip that takes 30 minutes on average. From 1500 to 1815 Salvador was the nation's busiest port, as a significant portion of sugar, along with gold and diamonds passed through Salvador. It was a golden age for the town; magnificent homes and churches resplendent in gold decoration were built. Many of the city's baroque churches, private homes, squares, and even the hand-chipped paving bricks have been preserved. In Salvador, more than anywhere else in the country, the African influence in the makeup of Brazilian culture is readily visible, from the spicy dishes still called by their African names (caruru, vatapá, acarajé), to the ceremonies of candomblé which honour both African deities and Catholic holidays, to the capoeira schools where a unique African form of ritualistic fighting is taught. The experience of Carnival in Salvador is particularly unique - the music and the people. The Afro Blocos consist of as many as two to three hundred drummers who play together in the streets, accompanied by thousands of singers and dancers leading the party atop moving sound trucks. In addition to the Afro Blocos are the famous Trios Elétricos. The Trio Elétricos are huge moving stages with popular performers and bands competing for the attention of the throbbing masses below. The Carnival is usually held in February or March over 4 days/3 nights, starting on a Thursday.
RECIFE and OLINDA
Recife was built as a port city along tropical, white-sand beaches lined with palm trees, named for the coral reefs that line the coast. It is a fast-growing urban area that has been called the "Venice of Brazil" because it is dissected by numerous waterways and connected by many bridges. Only 6 kms north of Recife is Olinda, the largest and best-preserved colonial city in Brazil – worth a visit.
Once an inland sea, it is home to the most diverse wildlife viewing in Brazil including anacondas, iguanas, jaguars, cougars, crocodile, anteaters and an incredible variety of birds. Access to the area is by air into Campo Grande or Cuiaba with accommodation in rustic lodges or colonial homesteads in the heart of the Pantanal. Both towns have little to offer travellers, but are a good base for excursions into the Pantanal. The Pantanal was named by UNESCO as both a World Biosphere Reserve and a World Heritage of Humanity site. It holds the rights to many claims of grandeur - beyond being the world's largest wetlands (230,000 sq kms), it also contains the greatest biodiversity of animal species in the Americas, the Transpantaneira Highway featured in the Guinness Book of World Records as the highway with the most bridges and the longest open-air zoo in the world, and the best place for wildlife sightings in all of Brazil. Here you will also encounter an abundance of wildlife far surpassing that found throughout the entire Amazon. This region, and unique ecosystem, is home to approximately 670 species of birds, 242 fish species, 110 different mammals and 50 reptiles, and 1500 plant species. This truly is paradise for nature enthusiasts. The water levels rise significantly during the rainy season from November to early April. Then, from May to October, the water levels begin to lower, and what were lakes, gradually diminish to small ponds, and then to mere puddles - a great time for bird watching.
Cachaca is the national spirit of Brazil, it is a clear spirit made from fermented sugar cane. Cachaça combined with crushed lime, sugar, and ice becomes a very popular drink called caipirinha.
Best Time to go
Most of Brazil from Rio de Janeiro to the north has a tropical climate where it is almost non-seasonal. Rio’s average temperature is around 27ºC which climbs to 40ºC during the summer months from December through to March. North of Rio, the weather becomes noticeably more tropical while to the south it can get quite cool, even cold, during the winter months.
Capital: Brasilia Official
Religion: 90% Roman Catholic
Population: Over 175 million
Visa: NZ passport holders do not require a Visa for a stay of up to 90 days. Passport must be valid for at least six months beyond arrival date. www.travcour.co.nz A Yellow Fever Vaccination Certificate is required if coming from an infected area within the last 90 days and is strongly recommended if travelling outside main cities in Brazil (eg: Amazon River). Refer to the Embassy of Brazil website www.brazil.org.nz for up to date information, or Travcour.
Government: Federative Republic Electricity: 110V or 220V, 60 cycles, except for Salvador and Manaus, which have a current of 127V. Two round pins.
Currency: Real (R$). Recommend take US$ which is easily exchanged.
ATM’s: Most Brazilian banks have ATMs, however some foreign cards may not be accepted.
Credit Cards: Widely accepted in large cities in Brazil, however, if visiting smaller towns, it is advisable to take cash.
Tipping: Airport porters may charge $1 per bag.
Taxi drivers do not expect tip, yet recommend people round up the fare. Drivers in some cities charge for help with baggage. A $1 tip is a sufficient for maids and bellboys. In restaurants a 10% gratuity will often be included in the bill
DepartureTax: Currently US$36 and can be paid in US$ cash or Real (R$).
specific travel dates apply
Price Includes: accommodation, transfers, all meals and sightseeing as specified.
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