Replies: 11 - Last Post: Jan 24, 2013 7:53 PM Last Post By: DanielVS
Jan 23, 2013 4:42 AM
AdviceHello forum, me again.
I just finished my last exam a couple of hours ago and I'm keen to get planning for this trip to Brazil. This plan has been in my head for a while and i've assessed it from many angles. However, I am new to travelling and Brazil so some more experienced people might have something to say. Any problems that need to be pointed out and any suggestions to be thrown in are welcome. I plan to fly into Rio in early April. I shall be 19 then. I'll have hopefully around £3000 to spend after flights so i'm hopeful of staying around 2 months travelling the country. I love beaches, partying and football. I also don't mind a bit of wildlife. I'm not a fan of architecture or museums. I'm also travelling alone. My spanish is good, though I know that won't go far so I've been learning Portuguese but it's fairly basic.
So here it is. I'm planning so far of staying in Rio for around 10 days to do all the touristy stuff, see the sites, relax on the beach, enjoy the nightlife, maybe even see a match in the Maracana Stadium if this is possible! Ilha Grande and Paraty follow, i'm thinking not more than 5 days for both. I then want to see Florianopolis, maybe try my hand at a bit of surfing! Here comes my first bit of indecision. I was thinking of taking a bus to Foz do Iguazu. Though i'm sure it's a fantastic sight, is it really worth paying to get there as it's a little out of the way? I mean i'd spend only a couple days maximum and it's a waterfall, what else is there to do? Either way, from Florianpolis or from Iguazu, i'd fly to Manaus. I want to see the Amazon, and I might throw in a little Amazon tour while i'm there. So all in all it might be a week here. I'm interested in then taking a boat to Belem, just for the experience. I then want to work my way to Jericoacoara as I hear it's a must-see. From here, there isn't much to say. My return flight is from Rio so i'd be working my way down through Fortaleza, Recife and Salvador, stopping in between at some little gems i've heard of, at a pace dictated by how much time I have left. Ideally i'd have 2 or 3 days more in Rio before my flight home.
So any beginner ignorance? Too much to see in 2 months? Is £3000 enough for 2 months taking into account bus and flights, food, accommodation and activities? I know April/May is no carnaval period, but i'm not certain how expensive things will be then. Suggestions of what to include, things on my way or even a little out of the way! Things not worth my time given my time/budget restraints? Any comments welcome,
Jan 23, 2013 7:15 AM
1Beginner ignorance? Well, weather to start; rain in some places and cool/cold in others. (For example, only activity may be drinking beer all day if the sky is overcast at the beach and the boat excursions get cancelled because of early morning rain.) And thinking that partying goes on year-round at the same frenetic pre-Carnaval pace you've heard about. And not understanding the enormous size of the country vis-a-vis what is practical in a 2 month stay. Also realize that, especially at low season, airfare can be about the same as bus fare (so no reason to take a long busride to Iguacu). I'd suggest picking a better time of year weather wise if possible and/or limiting your travel to a more contiguous part of the country (maybe Rio to southern Bahia for April/May). R$9700 (R$160 per day for 60 days) should be OK for daily expenses (hostel dorm accomodation, food, entry fees to sights) for 2 months (not including any domestic air/bus fares from location to location), though certainly not lavish.
Jan 23, 2013 9:34 AM
2Gosh, #1, that's a bit harshly put! But I get your point.
Yes, from a personal perspective I think you're planning to cover too much ground in too little time. Brazil is vast.
I think you should perhaps try and limit yourself a bit more geographically speaking. There are a couple of things you say which trigger little alarm bells. For instance "I want to see the Amazon so I'll go to Manaus and I might do a tour there". Manaus is a vast metropolis of concrete, a city of millions, which happens to be surrounded by jungle. There aren't monkeys swinging in the trees and macaws flying overhead. You won't see what I think you want to see in Manaus. You'll need to arrange a multi-day tour from there, deeper into the rainforest. Secondly, spending many days on a riverboat (to Belem, for instance - it's over 1,000km in a straight line) is also a lot less interesting than most people, and guidebooks, make out. After 24 hours the appeal is very likely to wear off. Thirdly, not sure I agree that Jericoacoara is "unmissable"!
You could, for instance, limit yourself to coastal Brazil all the way from Olinda/Recife down to Florianopolis. This would take you through some lovely beaches (in the states of Alagoas, Sergipe, Bahia), and through Rio, and São Paulo (if you like - loads of people knock it but I love it). In the south Florianópolis is indeed supposed to be nice, and I've heard Curitiba is interesting. Lots of Germanic heritage in the south. Once you're in the south of Brazil, Iguaçú is not so far. There is a fair bit of wildlife to see in Iguaçú, especially if you hop over to the Argentina side. This trip would be far more coherent in that you wouldn't be flying all over the place. Do not underestimate the cost of travelling in Brazil. Compared with the rest of South America (Chile and Argentina excepted) it is very expensive!! Your budget will, as #1 says, be sufficient for basic lodging in dorms and good food (the food in Brazil can be excellent).
I spent 7 weeks in Brazil and decided to reduce the distances I covered. I didn't regret it. Brazilians are warm and welcoming. You might enjoy yourself a lot more if you take the time to get to know each place and avoid lurching from one place to the next constantly.
I'm not commenting on the weather because that's a whole other ball game. Maybe these entries from my travel blog will inspire you...
All the best!!
Jan 23, 2013 9:37 AM
I just posted about some alternative, more personalised tours you can do in Rio on another thread.
Jan 23, 2013 10:04 AM
4I think 10 days is too much for Rio. Most tourists spend 5 days in Rio, then move on.
Paraty: 2 full days are enough. It's a very small town.
Ilha Grande: no cars are allowed on the island (that's part of the charm of the place), so you either walk (there are many tracks around) or you tour around the island on a boat. I think 3-4 days are enough.
I wouldn't take a bus to Foz. Nothing interesting to see on the way and too many hours on a bus. Also remember that road conditions vary a lot in Brazil, most of them being in worse conditions than those you find in Western Europe.
Well, the Iguaçu Falls are among the wonders of the world, and arguably the most impressive/beautiful. Besides the falls, you can visit Itaipu electric plant, one of the largest in the world. IIRC, there are guided tours through the installations. Florianópolis is fine, but Iguaçu is much more interesting in my opinion.
I'm not sure if I would recommend taking a boat to Belém. While this is quite an experience (in all senses), remember you'll be travelling with poor people and also that boat accidents (capsizing), while not frequent, are not unheard of.
I think April is a good season to visit, most of the rain is over and it's still not cold in Iguaçu. And the rainy season won't have started in the northeast.
Remember that Brazil has roughly the same area as continental US. Also, flying costs tend to be higher than in the US or Europe, since we don't have true low-fare air carriers.
Expect to pay a lot for accomodation in Rio (not too much different from London, I guess). Other cities are less expensive.
A normal lunch will cost around R$20 (£7), may be R$30 (£9) in Rio and big cities. I recommend eating at "per kilo" restaurants (por quilo, in Portuguese), you get what you want and pay according to the weight. It's quick and convenient, and the food is healthier than fast food/hamburgers. Foreigners also enjoy eating at least once in "churrascarias" (steak houses). The best churrascarias are in the south/southeast of Brazil.
Have a nice trip!
Jan 23, 2013 2:15 PM
5Thanks for the help everyone, you've been very helpful!
amobr82 - thanks for raising a valid point, although a little aggressively. I hadn't considered the weather. I'll have to put a little research into that. I don't mind the rain, but obviously if it's very strong and messes my plans up, it's a completely different kettle of fish. I'm also under no illusions that the parties will be the same as carnaval, but i'm easy and can make the most of a quiet night; plus it can't be worse than my town! So you do recommend Iguazu? If you had 2 months, where would you go? Thanks again.
polyglot25 - Thanks for the help, this is more than I expected! About Manaus - I'm sorry I phrased it a bit weirdly, I meant that i've heard most Amazon tours are organised from here so that's where I would launch from. I wanted to see a bit of wildlife so it was either there or the Pantanal, and the latter seems a tad pricey! I'll consider your itinerary, it does seem reasonable! As long as it includes the fundamentals of beaches and partying, which it seems to, then I'm game! Where did you spend your 7 weeks? Oh, and Jeri was for some windsurfing and sandboarding, i've heard it's a bit of a hot spot for these things, and i wouldn't mind trying them out, if it's on the way of course.
PaulTomas - thanks, that was helpful, i did forget to mention that I wanted to check out favelas. You recommend that group you went with?
DanielVS - Hell for some reason it's a 20+ hour flight to Rio so I'll need a day to recover. Plus I'll need a bare minimum of a couple of days at the beach, another couple for the sights so i'm not rushing around, and another for a favela tour. I also might want to hangglide and wouldn't mind a couple of rest days in between either. I've heard it's one of the most beautiful and best cities in the world, so 10 days might be too little! Yeah paraty was a 50/50, might skip it altogether. On Ilha grande I do plan to walk, I don't mind a good hike - i've done plenty of it! I'll need to think hard about Iguazu too. Plenty of time to do so, I might even make my mind up when I'm out there. I have indeed heard mixed reviews about the boat ride. Boredom seems the biggest danger to me, i'm sure i could find ways of keeping myself entertained. Thanks very much for the suggestions and the price comparisons! They'll no doubt be handy. You said 'we', do you live in Brazil? If so, Sao Paulo - worth a visit? Not a fan of big cities unless they have a certain charm like Paris, but someone I work with is a Paulista and she can't stop recommending it, yet she's the only person I've heard do so. Thanks again!
Jan 23, 2013 4:47 PM
6Not harsh. Not aggressive. Not some tropical dream. Just reality.
Some Paulistas have never been to the city of Sao Paulo. A Paulistano is someone who was born in the city of Sao Paulo. Paulista only means someone from that large state.
If you insist on going to a favela in Rio--have you been to one in your hometown yet, btw ?---check in with Zezinho, a resident of Rocinha. http://favelatour.org/favela-tours/tour-guides/
The falls are beautiful. A couple of days are enough though.
"If you had 2 months, where would you go?" Well, my 2 months would be December and January, which would let me go many more places in the country without worrying about constant bad weather, just the occasional shower. The coast of Bahia, esp, Salvador for the music, but also the Porto Seguro area, and Chapada Diamantina, Colonial towns in Minas, Rio. Not a big fan of S.P. personally. I might leave the Pantanal for the drier months there. I might include at another time, like Sao Joao for the Bumba Meu Boi, Sao Luis, Maranhao and the Parque Lencois.
"I think April is a good season to visit, ....... And the rainy season won't have started in the northeast." "DanielVS...You said 'we', do you live in Brazil? "
Can't be or he would remember the April floods in Salvador as we certainly do here.
Isn't Fortaleza considered the northeast? Doesn't their rainy season end in May? BubbaK?
Good luck and happy travels.
Jan 23, 2013 5:23 PM
7Yes, I live in Brazil (in the city of Sao Paulo, to be exact).
According to your interests (as you stated), Sao Paulo won't appeal to you. It's considered to be the cultural, gastronomical, financial and industrial center of Brazil. Which means it's the place to go if you were interested in nice museums, restaurants, shopping or if you were on a business trip. Since all these are not the case, skip it. The only thing you'd appreciate would be nightlife (clubs etc... arguably the best in Brazil).
To watch wildlife, Pantanal is a no brainer. You'll probably see much more wildlife in Pantanal than in the Amazon.
Amobr is right about the weather in the northeast. Sorry, my mistake! April happens to be among the rainiest months in the year in that region. Although temperatures almost never drop below 20°C there, rain is indeed annoying if you want to enjoy the beach and there's not much else to do indoors.
Jan 24, 2013 2:37 AM
8amobr82 - i apologise, thank you for painting a realistic picture. I'm pretty damn sure we have no favelas where I live! I had to study them in my class a couple of years ago, and I always did want to see them up close. I'm sure any tour I pick would be 'tacky' but I'm not too fussed. I have to be back for in the UK by July because I have things I need to take care of, so when I first planned out my gap year, it would have been a January/February period, unfortunately, they are expensive times. It was then meant to be March but things have come up so the earliest I can now go is April. I have no real options but to go then, the weather is out of my control! Maybe I'll limit myself to the southeast, which would suck as I wanted to check out the rest of the country, but what can you do! Thanks again, you've been very helpful!
DanielVS - No I didn't think it would, bullet dodged! If I will have to cut the Amazon, then maybe i'll check out the Pantanal. Sucks about the weather. Thanks for your help mate!
Jan 24, 2013 7:06 AM
9"I'm sure any tour I pick would be 'tacky' "
Well, that's why I recommend going with Zezinho, if you're going to do a tour, who actually lives in the Rocinha neighborhood most tours visit, knows all the locals, and more importantly that means he spends the money he earns in the community, so you really are supporting more than what the few trinkets you might buy on some other tour.
There are also others that now have UPP posts where you could now go on your own. You can go up the stairs to Chapéu Mangueira. You can go up to Cantagalo and Pavão/Pavãozinho from the elevator at the general Osorio metro stop in Ipanema.There is an inclined elevator up to Dona Marta, to see the paintings.You can go up into Vidigal by moto taxi.
But in general, I find the idea of playing lookey-loo into people's homes, just because they are poor in someplace that appears exotic to you (Rio for some reason and not elsewhere), to be tacky. Stay long enough to make friends and get a "legitimate" invitation.
Jan 24, 2013 7:10 AM
Are people rushing to take tours into Paraisópolis (a poor Sao Paulo neighborhood) these days?
Jan 24, 2013 7:53 PM
11No, as far as I know.
But 90% of the foreign tourists who come to SP are business/congress people, quite a different profile of the average tourist in Rio. Also, favelas in SP are not/have not been on the foreign media as the ones in Rio.
Although there are favelas in every big city of Brazil, the ones in Rio got the fame, may be because they are on the hills and so they're visible to everyone looking virtually from anywhere (opposed to SP, where you only see favelas if you are near them).
I understand your comments regarding favelas, but on the other hand I can also understand why foreigners like to visit them: to see something different and "exotic", to see how people can smile and move on no matter how difficult life is for them. They also like to see people's creativity (how they improvise things in their impoverished houses) and how they have fun (barbecue on the roof etc). It might be considered "bad taste" tourism for us Brazilians, but may be it's as embarrassing as visiting Chenobyl or the Belfast peace walls for the respective locals.
(3 star Hotel)
From US$214.90 per night
(3 star Hotel)
From US$186.04 per night
(4 star Hotel)
From US$100.20 per night