Advice on travel Journey to Brazil for solo female traveler...
Replies: 35 - Last Post: Sep 24, 2012 6:32 AM Last Post By: amobr82
Aug 17, 2012 5:17 AM
Advice on travel Journey to Brazil for solo female traveler...Hi Everyone,
I was hoping to get some feedback from some of the experienced Brazil travelers in the forum.
I am looking to book a solo (female) trip to Brazil to leave within the next 3 weeks. I am struggling a little with the route. Here's what I am thinking so far:
International flight into Sao Paulo
- Sao Paulo > Salvador (2 weeks - language school)
- Salvador > Manaus (6 days tour ecological tour)
- Manaus > Rio (5 days in hostel on Ipanema beach)
- Rio > Foz do Iguacu (stay somewhere for 2 days)
- Foz do Iguacu > Sao Paulo (connecting flight)
I am a little nervous about travelling to Brazil as a woman on my own and so figured I will look to book flights as opposed to take buses. I'd like to get to each destination in the shortest time. Money isn't a massive issue for the trip but I don't want to go too crazy. I'd also be doing a 2 week language course in Salvador during the first leg but am currently only at beginner level.
I am interested in your feedback on the route and also have some questions about the Brazilian Air Passes:
- I can't seem to get a direct flight with TAM from Salvador to Manaus. Does anyone know if this is actually possible?
- If there is no connecting flight, any recommendations on where I should go in between that would make this more feasible?
- Any recommendations for places to stay in Foz do Iguacu?
- Is it worth going to both the Pantanal AND the Amazon? It's incredibly expensive so not sure I can do both but interested on which I should do?
Thanks so much for your feedback. Sorry I am a bit vague but any feedback you have will be greatly valued and I'm sure I will have more questions if there is any feedback!
Aug 17, 2012 6:39 AM
1If you want to see animlas, go to the Pantanal. Usually what a tourist can see from nearby vast Manaus is negligible and few of the brief tours go far.
If you decide to opt for Pantanal, make sure to check the total of all indiviiual flight prices against the pass for the number of legs you want. At this time of year, I don't think the pass is a value, esp. if you aren't going to Manaus.Flights at this time of year are close to bus fares so you're on the right track to fly.
There's a hostel in Foz, or try the relatively inexpensive basic Hotel del Rey.
Don't stress about the "woman alone" (non) issue, but do try to learn some Portuguese. Which language school in Salvador? I highly recommend www.basicalingua.com over Dialogo or any of the other schools; she's the best.
Aug 17, 2012 1:01 PM
2The big airlines TAM and Gol flies usually (and strangely) at same time to same destinations. I am not 100% sure, but I think both have a Salvador-Manaus flight, but they step down on different places on the way like Recife, Fortaleza, Sao Luis and Belem (Gol also in Santarem) So you have to check out, if it is not easier to change the plane in Brasilia, which is a big hub.
The airlines and airports in Brasil have a high standard and are well organized, check-in, changing flights etc is very easy. (but only national-flights) Azul and Trip are cheaper airlines offering flights to almost all destinations. The airlines have the first buyer pay less system. Buying tickets online, Tam does accept international creditcards, not so Gol. (voegol.com.br, voeazul.com.br., voetrip.com.br, tam.com.br)
One thing: Sao Paulo Airport is very inefficient and chronicly overstrained. Expect a long line at migration (one hour wait or even more, depending how many international flights arrive at your arrival time) and many travellers missed their connecting flight when I was there in 2009. So plan at least 3 hours time for the connecting flight. Flying out of Sao Paulo it is worth to do a Internet-check in. So you can avoid waiting hours in the check-in row - they have a special counter for internet-check in bag drop and I was the only one in that row. Again, expect a long line at border control (in my case last 1.5 hours - only two counters open - and many travellers missed their international flight. There is no express line and the officials don't care if you are going to miss your flight). Happend to me 2009 and I didn't heard that situation has improved.
I always went in travel agencies in Brasil for to buy my flight tickets. They sell you the best fare in one of the airlines.
Brasil is very safe for women. Salvador or the Copacabana are much safer than some years ago. (came back today from Rio) Pay attention to pickpockets, but the "bad guys" from the Favelas are no longer visible. Copacabana is no longer nightlife-center. IMHO Ipanema is a better place for it.
I never heard of woman having problems travelling in Brasil. The only thing is you have to deal: Brasilians flirt very offensive :).
Edited by: uulu10
Aug 17, 2012 3:00 PM
3I have enjoyed traveling Brazil as a woman alone. I think (as you will see from my many posts on the subject) that visiting the Amazon from Manaus is very, very rewarding. Most of the tours go 100 km from Manaus and I always see alligators, iguanas, many birds, and usually monkeys and sloths. And, of course, the beautiful landscape and lovely people. I haven't been to the Pantanal myself, but many tourists come to the Amazon after leaving the Pantanal and they always say they are glad they came to the Amazon. It isn't about checking animals off a list, it's about experiencing the jungle. Almost invariably people have said they enjoy the Amazon trip more as a whole, even though they get to see more wildlife in the Pantanal. The general response on this board is "why bother? go to the Pantanal instead", for some reason.
I'm not sure about flights from Salvador to Manaus, but I know that people do it; taking a flight with several short hops is pretty common in Brazil. I suggest that you save time by booking your Amazon tour ahead of time, and having the tour agency pick you up at the airport the night before.
Aug 17, 2012 6:54 PM
4I can't seem to get a direct flight with TAM from Salvador to Manaus. Does anyone know if this is actually possible? For some reason, a lot of flights stop off, drop passengers off, and then pick passengers up. A direct flight or not, it will get you there.
I dont think you should do the amazon and the pantanal as you dont have the time. Pick one and stay with it.
Aug 17, 2012 7:16 PM
Thanks so much for the responses. What a kind forum. I've got a bunch more questions so hope you can stay with me. :)
Are you saying that it's not worth going to the Amazon as opposed to the Pantanal? For some reason there is something in me that also just wants to say that i've "been to the Amazon" in regard to the jungle experience. I am also keen to see a sloth. I've always been intrigued. In regard to the language school I am looking at Dialogo. They have been really helpful in feeding back all of the requirements and although basicalingua does look good, the idea of being with a school where I can do cultural activities and possibily even volunteer are the key factors that made me choose Dialogo. Would be great for any feedback you have on why I shouldn't go with Dialogo as I am only going by reviews online and contact I have made with a few people who attended in the past. :)
Thanks so much for this advice re: airports. It's very helpful as I was starting to consider booking flights that were quite closely timed and so your advice is well welcomed. :) I will look to plan the itinerary with flights that have approx a 3 hour layover time. Do you think that is essential for connecting flights?
That's exactly what I was thinking and thus my question to amobr82 about choosing between the two. I am really keen to see a sloth and also spend time in the jungle. As far as I can tell, the Pantanal isn't a jungle experience so it would be different although I appreciate that it has a lot of fauna, flora and wildlife. Correct me if i am wrong anywhere please as it will help me make the best decisions. I also appreciate your feedback on traveling through Brazil as a solo female. I will try to find some of your posts as it's really helpful reading other women's experiences.
Thanks for the feedback on the flight to Manaus. You are right, most flights go to Rio or somewhere inbetween but they get there in the end. I was just being fussy so that I didn't have to connect! :) hehe In regard to timings, i actually have an unlimited time frame. I just want to leave in 3 weeks but then once I am there, it's really more about cost than time. As I am not an incredibly experienced backpacker on my own (i've been a few places but not somewhere like Brazil) i'm tending to go for the little more expensive choices as they feel a little safer in general.
Few more questions if everyone has time and patience! :)) ...
- Brazil Air Pass - I can see that I need to book the international flight before I can book the Brazil Air Pass. What I can't tell is how I book the Brazilian Air Pass? Do I just select the flights as per usual on the TAM site and then somewhere within the booking process it will ask me for my international flight code or something like that? I was assuming it would say something like "Buy Brazilian Air Pass" on the TAM site but I can't see anything like that.
- I've made a slight modification to the route as I think it might cut down on connection flights and thus help the Air Pass. I'm thinking: Home > Sao Paulo (0) > Salvador (2w) > Rio (5d) > Manaus (6d) > Rio (0) > Foz do Iguassu (3) > Sao Paulo > Home
To the experienced Brazil travelers, does that sound sensible in terms of a route that isn't running back on itself too much?
Where would you suggest I add the Pantanal if i was to add it into the mix?
Also, do you think doing the Amazon as the last part before I go home is silly? I.e. Better to relax in Rio after such an adventure? I guess it's personal but thought i'd get your thoughts.
Thank you so much for all your help everyone!
Edited by: Nelly11
Edited by: Nelly11
Aug 18, 2012 12:20 AM
Aug 18, 2012 1:31 AM
7Buses in Brazil are safe - I never had any issues on any of the overnight ones I got. As long as you keep your valuables on your person, you will be fine.
Aug 18, 2012 9:00 AM
Aug 18, 2012 9:24 AM
9"The general response on this board is "why bother? go to the Pantanal instead", for some reason." There are regulars on this board who do live, have lived and/or spend/have spent lots of travel time in Brazil, and so have both a lot of experience and a lot of experiences to compare (mine often as a female solo, but also with knowledgable friends). Many of us read too many posts of folks whose main idea of Brazil is the trite "nude women at Carnaval", the falls at Iguazu,and "the Amazon jungle".
IMO, the Amazon thorugh Manaus is simply a big investment in time, effort, and money for minimal return. On another trip, through Peru perhaps, the same time and money invested would yield a higher quality, richer experience. But clearly it is a personal decision to put this effort into checking a box ( "just wants to say that i've "been to the Amazon" in regard to the jungle experience") on some personal bucket list. You can see a sloth in the Rio zoo, with the same quality of experience, IMO, as on some brief tour out of Manaus. But as Wendy demonstrates, your mileage may vary.
Personally, I love seeing animals in situ, and simply getting off the tourist path in Brazil has allowed me many "exotic" sightings just by the side of the road, but the opportunity to see jaguars and flocks of hiyacinth macaws and such in the Pantanal is unique.
Aug 18, 2012 9:36 AM
10I have a hard time believing seeing sloth in the Rio zoo is the same quality of experience as being in a canoe in the Amazon and having your guide spot a wild sloth! Anyway, I find the idea that a jungle trip out of Manaus is basically a waste of time just as tiresome and cliche as the "nude women at Carnaval" stereotype.
Aug 18, 2012 1:19 PM
11Thanks guys for all your feedback, I think I will try to go to both but maximise the cost of getting there. Unfortunately I won't be doing any other countries in SA on this trip as my goal is to optimise my opportunities to practice Portuguese.
That also leaves another exciting trip ahead in a few years. :)
Another question about taking technology:
What are your thoughts on taking an ipad v a smart phone along the way in Brazil? Obviously read a lot about not flashing the cash around in front of people and could be something I can use in my own personal time in hostels etc if necessary.
Is it worth it, or something I should just ditch for a basic old Nokia instead?
Aug 18, 2012 9:15 PM
Aug 18, 2012 11:37 PM
Aug 19, 2012 1:02 PM
14Most of the places you are going to stay will have (slow) internet and a computer for guest use. There are also plenty of internet cafes everywhere in Brazil, even in the back of beyond. You can do your research and catch up on email this way, also usually Skype. As you mentioned, it can be inviting trouble to walk around with a fancy device, even if out of sight, so you'd be confined to safely using it inside in a place that already probably has a computer for you to use. (Anecdote: Brazilian aquaintance in Salvador was on a crowded bus, one tourists sometimes take to the beach, her cheap cell phone rang, she answered, talked, hung up, and guy next to her pulled a knife, took her phone and got off the bus without anyone else seeing or reacting.) IMO one more thing to worry about. Phones need to be unlocked quad--the old Nokia would probably do. If you buy a chip, the store is by law supposed to ask for a CPF number. Some have a get around or will accept a passport, but you have to find one that does. Some in the Lojas Americanas chain in Rio apparently do so, but not sure about any in that chain in Salvador. Refills of time can be purchased on the street in Salvador for example, but R$10 doesn't go far. Alternately, there are often several public phones (orelhao) per block and you can simply buy a phone card, fine for outgoing local calls.
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Coffee table looking bare?
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