Travel Guide to
- Rio de Janeiro - Famous Copacabana, Ipanema and Sugar Loaf
- São Paulo - Destined to soon be the world's largest
- Amazon - Adventurous riverboat excursions and jungle inns
- Carnival - Absolutely the wildest annual party our planet offers!
- Pantanal - Virgin, tropical wetlands the size of three European
- Salvador - Colonial masterpiece that was Brazil's first capital
Even the most seasoned traveler has difficulty knowing where to
start a trip in Brazil. Here, is a country larger than the continental
U.S., one may cruise the Amazon, explore the world's largest tropical
rain forest and enjoy a 5,000+ mile Atlantic coastline of beaches,
resorts and colonial cities. Most visitors start in Rio de Janeiro
by ascending Sugar Loaf and Corcovado mountains and discovering
the great beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema. After Rio one may
visit booming São Paulo, futuristic Brasilia, gem-laden
Belo Horizonte, Belem and Manaus on the mazon and the 275 falls
at Iguassu. Important to remember - U.S. visitors must have a visa
to visit Brazil and the language is Portuguese.
Size: 3,284,426 square miles, larger than the continental U.S.
Capital: Brasilia, (pop. 2,000,000)
Electricity: Rio and São Paulo 220 or 110 volts, 60 cycles;
Bahia (Salvador) and Manaus, 127 volts; most other cities, 220
volts; two- and three-prong plugs, adapters needed for U.S. appliances.
Religion: Roman Catholic; 40% of population observe traditional
Time: Noon in Rio and São Paulo is 10 a.m U.S. Eastern
Standard Time, and 11 a.m. in Manaus.
Jan. 1: New Year's Day
Carnival: 4 days before Ash Wednesday (Feb/Mar)
Holy Week: Week prior to Easter
Apr. 21: Tiradentes Day
May 1: Labor Day
June: Corpus Christi
Sept. 7: Independence Day
Oct. 12: Nossa Senhora Aparecída
Nov. 2: All Souls Day
Nov. 15: Proclamation of the Republic
Dec. 25: Christmas Day
How to get there
American Airlines offers several daily, non-stop flights between
Brazil and the U.S. Flights include nonstops from Miami and New
York to both Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. Also daily, non-stop
service from Dallas-Ft. Worth to São Paulo. In São
Paulo American flights continue on to Belo Horizonte, and codeshare
service is offered to Porto Alegre. TAM Brazilian Airlines also
offers codeshare flights with American twice daily from Miami with
convenient connections to over 50 Brazilian cities.
GIG: Rio de Janeiro
GRU: São Paulo
BHZ: Belo Horizonte
IGU: Foz do Iguaçu
Passport and visa (photo required plus US$45 fee) for American
Citizens. Visa can be obtained through any Brazilian Consulate.
Proof of return or ongoing ticket must also be presented, and passport
must have at least six month's validity remaining. Yellow Fever
Vaccination is required for entry when arriving from Peru, Ecuador
Currency: Brazilian real. Bank hours are Mon .-
Fri., 10 a .m. - 4:30 p.m. ATMs are convenient, major credit cards
TAXES & TIPPING
Taxes/Surcharges: International departure tax:
Hotel taxes and service charges: 10%
Tipping: If not already on bill restaurant tips
of 10% are customary. Taxis are not tipped.
is famous for jewelry and gemstones. The semi-precious stones includes:
aquamarines, tourmalines, amethyst, topaz and emeralds. There are
also Brazilian diamonds. Mines are located in the state of Minas
Gerais. In Rio visits can be made to the gem factories with transportation
provided from hotels free of charge.
For souvenirs and artisan
crafts the National Indian Foundation (FUNAI) and several chain
establishments such as Folclore have retail shops in the major
cities, resorts and airports. Ceramics, tropical hardwood carvings,
Afro-Brazilian handiwork and Indian artistry are popular visitor
purchases. Rio's sexy tanga bathing suits make an eye-catching
souvenir. The "Hippy Market," Rio's open-air Sunday flea- market
overflows with arts, crafts and souvenirs. Major shops hours: Monday
- Friday 9a.m - 6:30p.m., Saturday 9 a.m. - 1:30p.m.
Food and Drink
Feijoada, the national dish, is a savory combination of exotic
spices and mixed meats (beef, sausage, etc.) and rice and beans.
Exotic dishes like African inspired vatapá (seafood sautéed
in coconut and oil) are found along the coast, and in the far south
pampas-style churrasco or grilled steak is popular. The rodezio
style churrascarias are an event in themselves - waiters roam the
restaurant with huge skewers of all cuts served "all-you-can-eat-
style." São Paulo's large Japanese population provides the
city with great Asian dining. Tropical fruits, ice creams, juices
and cheeses are excellent year-round. Guarana is Brazil's original
nutty-tasting bottled soda drink. Cachaça is Brazil's omnipresent
cane liquor. National beers are excellent. Lunch is often the day's
main meal, so many moderate-priced establishments close for the
evening. Cafezinho (robust Brazilian coffee in a demitasse) is
drunk and offered everywhere around the clock. Hearty portions
of everything should be anticipated.
Country code (55); GIG (212), GRU (11), BSB (61), BHZ (31), MAO
(92), BEL (91), CGB (65), REC (81), IGU (455), SSA (71)
It's impossible to typify the weather of a country larger than
the continental U.S. in a paragraph or two. Within Brazil visitors
will experience tropical weather in the North and in the Amazon
with temperate climates south of São Paulo. Brazil's southern
plateaus occasionally receive frost.
Because distances are great, the best choice for travel within
Brazil is to investigate the "Brazil Air Pass" which offers visitors
bargain domestic air flights to most of Brazil's 150 jetports.
The Airpass must be purchased abroad with a roundtrip ticket to
Brazil. Frequent, scheduled bus service serves all of Brazil.
Covering the northern and western portions of the country, the
Amazon sprawls over nearly a third of the country. Most visitors
start an Amazon trip in Manaus. Capital of Amazonas, Brazil's
largest state, Manaus sits on the confluence of the brown Solimoes
River and the black Rio Negro, which merge and travel side by
side for many miles without mixing. This phenomena is called "The
Meeting of the Waters" and is one of the area's main attractions.
The city of Manaus still displays the opulence of its rubber
boom days. The dome of the Opera House can be seen throughout
the city. The Customs House was brought over stone by stone from
Europe and reassembled. From Manaus excursions can be made into
the depths of the surrounding rainforest. Services range from
small riverboats to air-conditioned jungle hotels. Scheduled
cruises are available from Manaus, including trips on the two-deck
riverboat Tuna and large catamarans. Expedition-style boats are
available from Manaus for charter.
JUNGLE CHECK LIST:
Please limit your total jungle gear to the following:
- 1 rain suit (jacket & pants) or poncho.
- 1 jacket/windbreaker (rainjacket) can double for this) and/or sweater/sweatshirt.
- 2 long cotton or other lighter pants.
- 2 long sleeve, tight-weave cotton shirts.
- 1 pair of shorts or bathing suit.
- 1 wide brim hat for sun and rain.
- 2 bandanas.
- 1 pair of lightweight hiking boots.
- 2 pair of tennis shoes or similar. Bring at least 1 old pair that
can get dirty.
- Underwear, socks.
- Use subdued colors in the jungle, as bright colors may scare
wildlife. Long sleeves and long pants are very important for
protection from sun and insects.
- Binoculars - a must.
- Plastic water bottle (1 qt.)
- 1 towel (thin, quick drying)
- Toilet kit.
- Personal first aid kit.
- 6 large plastic bags or stuff sacks (to compartmentalize clothes,
laundry, wet items within your duffel).
- Flashlight with spare batteries
- Pocket knife
- Camera gear and film
- Hand lens
- Make sure that you pack several plastic bags to protect camera
equipment from sudden downpours during outings or canoe trips.
- Reading material, journal.
- Tape recorder for recording jungle sounds.
- Cord (clothesline, repairs, shoelaces, etc.)
- Drying agent or silica gel to pack inside your camera case
Founded in 1611, Belem is 87 miles up the Amazon from the sea.
Here is the renowned Emilio Goeldi Museum with its fine examples
of Marajo Indian pottery. Also famous are the city's zoological
and botanical gardens. The riverfront Ver-o-Peso market dates
from Portuguese colonial days. Excursions from Belem include
the large fluvial island of Marajo with ranch accommodations,
good bird watching and wildlife.
Brazil's northeast retains much of the cultural, artistic and historical
heritage of its Portuguese colonizers. Major cities are:
Capital of the state of Ceara, Fortaleza is a splendid coastal
city of palm-studded, white sand beaches, with great resort hotels
and restaurants, excellent handicrafts and shopping. Best buys
include hand-embroidered textiles, hammocks and handwoven lace.
Must see: the jangadas (local fishing rafts) returning at sunset
with the day's catch. These rafts are also used to take locals
and visitors out to the offshore barrier reefs to spend the day
relaxing in the clear, shallow waters.
This uniquely situated city spans the mainland, the peninsula,
and a small island. Brazil's fourth-largest city, Recife contains
excellent examples of colonial art, architecture, museums and
forts. Nearby, the town of Olinda was founded in 1537 and still
retains many 17th century houses, churches, monasteries and convents.
Recife has a vibrant Carnival in addition to the more than 100
religious festivals celebrated annually. From Recife one can
visit Caruaru with its big weekend market of leather, pottery
and straw goods. Nova Jerusalem, a replica of Old Jerusalem,
has the world's largest open-air theater where, during Easter
Week, the crucifixion is re-created with a cast of 500 people
plus a walking audience of over 10,000!
Located midway on Brazil's Atlantic coast, Salvador was the first
city founded in Brazil and Brazil's first capital. Today it's
the country's fifth-largest city. As if in a travel poster, black
women in white lace costumes seem to decorate colonial doorways
along cobblestone streets that wind among ornate Baroque and
Rococo churches. Salvador is known for its rich African heritage
- visitors can witness local candomble religious ceremonies.
North and south of town are small fishing villages with beautiful
beaches. Off the coast is the island of Itaparica. Excellent
hotels, museums and unique gastronomic dishes found nowhere else
in Brazil make Salvador a popular addition to a Brazilian trip.
Rio de Janeiro
Rio, Cidade Maravilhosa - the Marvelous City, is considered by
many the world's most beautiful. Rio is woven between 20 miles
of white sand beaches trimmed by green, rolling peaks. There are
several beaches. The most famous are Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon.
All boast hotels ranging from first class to world class! While
the beaches and sidewalk cafes typify the city's day-to-day atmosphere,
two main attractions should be visited. First is Sugar Loaf, the
1,230-ft-high granite cone that rises from the bay and is reached
by a spectacular two-stage cable car. From Sugar Loaf's summit
there are unforgettable panoramic views of the city, beaches and
The second sightseeing "must" is an ascent of Corcovado Mountain,
with its towering statue of Christ the Redeemer, where Rio's beauty
can again be appreciated with a panoramic view. One can find any
type of cuisine in the city, but try a local churrascaria, a typical
barbecue restaurant. Samba shows are spectacular and rival the
most flamboyant Las Vegas revues with samba rhythms, costumes and
dance. Near Rio are several beach resorts, including Angra dos
Reis to the south and Buzios to the north. Popular day trips include
Petropolis, the sumptuous summer home of Brazil's former Emperor
Dom Pedro II.
Capital of the mining state of Minas Gerais, Belo Horizonte was
Brazil's first pre-planned city and today is the country's third-largest.
Situated on a hilly site surrounded by mountains, Belo Horizonte
has parks, museums, neoclassical to modern architecture, art
galleries, and handicraft fairs. This is the place to find the
country's best selection of semi-precious stones and jewelry
at bargain prices. Near the city are over 400 caves and grottoes
and several provincial towns of historic interest: Sabara, Mariana,
Congonhas do Campo, Tiradentes and the colonial masterpiece Ouro
Preto. All can be reached from Belo Horizonte in a day.
Founded in 1711 as the first capital of the state, Ouro Preto is
an incredibly beautiful town of cobblestone streets winding up
and down hills all crowned by churches and chapels. The first
Brazilian town to ever be declared a national monument (1933),
its history has been preserved in the architecture of the School
of Mines (1876), and the Governor's Palace (1742). Just 59 miles
from Belo Horizonte, Ouro Preto is a recommended overnight trip.
The world's fastest growing city that's destined to become the
planet's largest. It is the country's commercial and financial
center. São Paulo's impressive skyline, abundance of hotels
and three jetports are evidence of the city's incredible growth.
With its over 25,000 restaurants, grills, bars, nightclubs and
cabarets, São Paulo has some of the world's liveliest nightlife.
São Paulo is a city of many world records. Here the visitor
will discover the world's largest exhibition hall, largest cathedral
and largest Japanese colony outside of Japan. There are excellent
museums. An interesting side-trip is to the Butantan Snake Farm
and Museums where snakes are milked for their poison to make antiserums
distributed worldwide. A booming new electronic and internet center
is located in the Brooklin Novo district.
The Central West
Vast and sparsely populated, Brazil's central west features two
main travel attractions:
Established to develop the interior, Brasilia was built as the
country's pre-planned, futuristic capital city. Inaugurated
in 1960, the "City of Tomorrow" is the epitome of modern architecture
and engineering. Designed by renowned architect Oscar Niemeyer,
public and private buildings are cleverly linked with easy-access
Nestled between the torrid, thorny Gran Chaco and the wilderness
Mato Grosso lies one of the world's largest wetlands full of
birds, tropical mammals and insects. The Pantanal offers the
naturalist unparalleled opportunities. Equal in size to Holland,
Switzerland and Belgium combined, Pantanal's rugged back-country
is reached by riverboat, canoe and/or jeep. Best months to visit
are May through September.
This is the land of Brazil's gauchos - who are often blonde, blue-eyed
descendants of European immigrants. Here are vineyards, rolling
hills, and mountains of impressive grandeur, plus seaports and
fertile lands producing soybeans, grains and cattle.
"Mighty waters" in the Guaraní language, the falls
(or Iguassu, as it is written in Spanish) are awesome and impressive.
Spanning three miles and containing 275 individual cataracts that
fall into the 262-ft. abyss of the Devil's Throat, the area is
part of a multi-national park that protects thousands of species
of butterflies and birds that fly through the rising mist of the
falls. Here, too, are monkeys, otters, armadillos and jaguars.
Hotel accommodations are good on both the Brazilian and Argentine
sides. Popular half-day trips include travel to neighboring Itaipú Dam
- the world's largest hydroelectric complex towering 55 stories
high, running five miles long. The dam produces enough electricity
to power all of Paraguay, northern Argentina and much of southern
Special Interest Tours
Brazil's special interest travel is as broad and wide ranging as
the country itself. Adventure travel is increasingly popular
with Amazon cruises and expeditions that range from luxury cruise
ships to non-air-conditioned river boats for the hardy traveler.
The active traveler will find all sports here including exotic
ones like hang gliding in Rio and trekking in the Mato Grosso.
Gem tours to the many mines of semi-precious stones are popular
as are trips to explore Brazil's exotic flora and fauna. Also
popular are special event tours, including the annual packages
to Brazil's lavish, fun-filled Carnival in Rio and several other