If Brazil were a song, it would enchant, it would captivate, it would stick with you for days and days, months and months. It would have moments of excitement and frenzy – think of drums beating way into the night or the beads of sweat flying from a Carnival dancer’s back – moments of melody and harmony – palm fronds swaying, flocks of birds returning to their perches at dusk, a canoe paddled along a river gently parting the waters – and moments of sublime serenity – the pendulum swing of a hammock, water droplets in the calm after a tropical storm, a fresh fruit juice accompanied by a perfect sunset, the note of a saxophone held, held, held.
It would be a song about discovery and slavery, bandits and heroes, emperors and rubber-tappers, designers and architects, footballers and musicians. It would be a tale of redemption and of hope. It would get under your skin, open a door onto your soul, delve deep into your heart.
Each of Brazil’s regions is a verse in this song, each different. In Rio the beat is sophisticated and sometimes sultry, lulled by the exuberance of its green hills and blue seas. In Iguassu, the rhythm picks up as water cascades, pounding percussively, while along stretches of endless beaches caressed by Atlantic breakers the pulse is more genteel. The wildlife reserves of the Amazon and the Pantanal could be flute or clarinet solos, where creatures bright and beautiful are spotted by the patient. The song has different styles too, to reflect the myriad influences that combine in this great country, where people’s love of food, music, color and life itself is infectious.
Learn this song, its notes and its beat. Learn to sing it with us, in the key of life.
RIO DE JANEIRO
Golden Beaches & Lush Mountains
Rio de Janeiro has a majestic beauty, its built-up areas nestled between a magnificent bay with dazzling beaches on one side and a dramatic mountain range, covered by a luxuriant tropical forest, on the other. This unique setting makes Rio one of the most beautiful cities in the world, known as the “Cidade Maravilhosa” or “Marvelous City", home to a melting pot of cultures, races, creeds and beliefs, and of course, to Carnaval.
Rainbows & Rivers in the Tropics
The Iguassu Falls form a giant arc nearly three kilometers wide on the Brazilian side of the border with Argentina. The cataracts — the largest in the world – cascade down their rock staircase, roaring with all their tropical intensity. An added attraction of the Brazilian side of the falls is the Iguassu National Park, which shelters an impressive variety of wildlife. Rainbows and rainforest: the perfect combination. Without doubt, one of Brazil’s top five sights.
Few cities in the world exude the sensuality and beauty of Salvador, the country’s first capital, nestled into the great, luxuriant Brazilian bulge that pushes out into the Atlantic Ocean. Rivalling Rio for its spectacular natural setting, the city is a captivating mix of Indian, Portuguese, African and Brazilian, famed for its colonial heart of churches and cobbled streets, Capoiera and Candomblé. To match its beauty, Salvador is mouth-watering: it’s home to some of the finest dishes in the entire country. Gorgeous, historic, delicious, divine, Salvador is hard to resist.
Itacaré is a hidden gem combining stunning coastline, laid-back Bahian culture, relaxation, natural beauty and delicious food. The town lies virtually hidden between Salvador and Ilheus in southern Bahia state. It’s famous for its alternative lifestyles which mix international influences with local traditions, its well-preserved Atlantic Forest, and above all, for its picture-postcard, palm-lined beaches and its excellent surfing.
Nature & Beaches
Diving, swimming, horseback riding, taking a bath in salt water pools or in fresh water springs… the “Morro” is one of Brazil’s most feted coastal destinations. It’s a wonderful blend of sophisticated pousadas (boutique hotels) with excellent dining options, lovely small bays, a colonial architecture, native forest and coral reefs.
The Realm of the Rainforest
As many myths and legends surround the Amazon rainforest as there are bird species to spot – or so it seems. Accessible from the city of Manaos, the Brazilian Amazon remains one of the world’s last great frontiers, a region of vast river systems, endless undulating forest canopy and mind-boggling biological diversity. Discover this precious resource by land or by boat, and come to understand its importance.
At the very heart of the South American continent, south of the Amazon basin and east of the Andes, lies an immense landlocked river delta where annual floodwaters regularly rise several meters and then recede: the Pantanal is one of our planet’s most spectacular wetland systems, boasting the greatest concentration of fauna in the Americas.
Country Name: Federative Republic of Brazil
Area: 8.456.510 Square Km. (3.277.717 Square Miles)
Population: 198.000.000 (growth rate: 1.2%, aprox, 2011 figures)
Capital City: Brasilia
Capital Population: 2.500.000 (aprox)
Brazil Country Code: (55), Rio de Janeiro: (21); Sao Paulo: (11), Cell Phones: (8)
Language: Portuguese is the official language and predominates throughout Brazil. There are about 180 indigenous native languages, which are spoken by the numerous and diverse ethnic groups, however mostly found in very remote locations, particularly of the large Amazon Basin and in small population groups. English is widely spoken in major hotels and the main tourist centers and facilities throughout the country.
Religion: 85% Roman Catholic, followed by Protestants and Afro-Caribbean Religions practiced mainly by the considerably large black, afro-descending population.
Currency: The official currency of Brazil is the Real
Time Zones: Atlantic Coast and Central: GMT – 3; West: GMT – 4 (No Daylight Saving observed at any time)
Measures System: Decimal Metric System. 1 meter equals to 3.3 feet. 1.6 kilometers equals to 1 mile; 1 Kilo equals to 2.2 pounds and 1 liter equals to 0.26 gallons. Temperatures are measured in Celsius Degrees: 0 Celsius equals to 32 Farenheit and 100 C equals to 212 F.
Passports and Documentation: A valid Passport is necessary for traveling as tourists to Brazil. The validity must extend to six months beyond the traveling dates. Due to reciprocity policies, nationals of the United States and Canada DO need visas for tourism activities in Brazil. For other nationalities, please ask us or consult with the nearest Brazilian Consular Office. Visa updated information and requirements can also be found on our booking package.
Iguassu Falls U.S. CITIZEN ENTRY REQUIREMENTS
Located between Brazil and Argentina, there are two spellings of the name, two airports and two views!
If you are visiting the falls en route between Argentina and Brazil, you will easily have a chance to visit both sides. Border crossing between these countries is fairly relaxed – authorities assume most people are on a day trip across the border however if crossing to Argentina from Brazil , as a result of a recent change in Argentine law, PRIOR to arrival in Argentina at any entry point, U.S. citizen tourist and business travelers must pay a $160 reciprocity fee by credit card online at the Provincia Pagos website. https://virtual.provinciapagos.com.ar/ArgentineTaxes Once paid, you must print out the receipt and present it to the Argentine immigration officer at the time of entry. The fee is valid for ten years from the date of payment and multiple entries.
Electricity: Varies depending on regions: some use 110 V, while others use 220V AC / 60 Hz. Some places even use a 127 V. system. A universal adapter is always useful. For adapters’ information, you may check www.kropla.com or ask us for further assistance.
Water: Tap water is not safe to drink in Brazil. The best option is to drink bottled water, available throughout most of the country. Alternatively, boiling water for a few minutes and/or using sterilization tablets are also good options.
Transportation: Brazil is easily accessible through its main International Airports, located in the cities of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Other international, regional and local airports serve all of the country’s geographical regions. A good network of roads and inter-city bus services provide the facilities for land travel in Brazil. The Metro in Rio and Sao Paulo are good and inexpensive ways for moving about within the cities. There are also plenty of taxis and public bus services in the main cities. Being the Amazon Basin one of the country’s most important tourist attractions, the main way to reach the area is by air. Within Amazonia, most travel is done by boat, being this area the world’s most extensive hub for boat transportation services.
Communications: Telephone communications for local, national and international calls are available at public cabins and booths, as well as hotels (some surcharges may apply) and other tourist venues. Prepaid phone cards are also available, it is recommended to make sure to use reliable and compatible carriers. Cell or mobile phones are extensively used and can be rented by tourists. Internet services are also widely offered at hotels (usually free for guests); Wi-Fi zones at most tourist venues and on cyber cafes.
Opening Hours: Offices are mostly open 09:00 am to 18:00 pm, Monday to Friday. Banks open from 10:00 to 16:00, Monday to Friday.
Currency Exchange, Credit Cards & Banking Facilities: Foreign exchange transactions can be made at banks or authorized exchange houses or “Casas de Cambio”, found mainly in Rio and Sao Paulo. These usually offer a slightly better rate than the banks. There are exchange offices in most airports, including Rio and Sao Paulo. Traveler’s checks in US funds are easily exchanged at these places. Hotels may also accept traveler’s checks for incidentals. For up to date exchange rates on the internet you can visit: www.xe.com
Credit and debit cards are widely accepted at most tourist locations and facilities. ATM tellers are found on the main cities and tourist venues. Do check with your credit or debit card companies for details about acceptability and possible restrictions.
Shopping and Souvenirs: Most shops open Monday to Friday from 08:00 am to 19:00 pm. Some stores may close for lunch around 13:00 and 15:00. There are plenty of stores and shopping centers in the main cities, selling diverse goods. For local handicrafts, most visitors enjoy shopping at artisan’s markets.
Tipping: Tipping, even though customary, is a personal matter, related to your impressions of how you were served. To express your satisfaction, the following international guidelines, per person, can be followed:
US $ 10, per day, for guide
US $ 5, per day, for driver
In Restaurants, the service charge is usually included in the bill and is mandatory. If a waitperson is friendly and helpful, you can add an extra tip, normally around 10% of the tab. When the service charge is not included, a 10% tip is customary. Other service suppliers normally do not expect tips, but would welcome the gesture if the travelers feel like rewarding the service provided by the person.
Health and Security
Security, Valuables: Just like anywhere in the world, normal precautions to be taken are not to venture alone or even in couples into solitary, marginal or poorly illuminated areas; not to accept offers, gifts or unrequested assistance from strangers and not to carry flashy objects such as jewelry, electronic gadgets and others that might tempt thieves. In wild or nature areas, the main hazard is getting lost if walking or hiking alone. The company of a certified and reliable guide, ranger or similar is recommended and, otherwise, to advice the nearest authorities or your lodging place what your exploration plans are. Your valuables are best kept at the hotels and lodgings’ safety boxes. A photocopy of your passport or other photo ID is useful to carry handy with you.
Health and Medical Facilities: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Brasilia as well as other major cities, do have high-level hospitals and medical facilities. The major hotels offer on-call medical assistance on the main cities and in the most developed tourist centers. Travelers are suggested to seek the advice of their physicians prior to traveling for dietary restrictions; altitude or heat precautions; vaccines, etc. The local tour operator should be informed in advance of dietary restrictions and medical conditions which might require special care.
Climate and Clothing
Climate and weather conditions vary widely according to seasonal factors; regional and ecological characteristics; altitude and other elements. Thus, it is recommended to look for specific advice regarding climate, weather and appropriate clothing, depending on the places you are planning to visit and the time of the year your trip is being planned for. Please ask us for details.
Gastronomy and Cuisine
The Brazilian gastronomy is as varied and rich as its huge territory. The diversity of products, from fish and sea food to different meats, vegetables and fruits, make up for a unique cuisine, which has many specialties on each region. For example, in the Salvador da Bahia region, in north-central Brazil, there is a strong African influence and many dishes are prepared with bananas, coconuts, palm oil and hot peppers. By contrast, Southern Brazil is known for its typical “Churrascos” (a selection of charcoal broiled meats) and the “Churrascarias” are very popular, providing real meat’s feasts for the clients. The national dish is the “Feijoada”, which includes black beans, dried beef and pork. Brazil is known also for its top quality coffee, the country’s main drink, as well as fruit juices and a variety of exotic cocktails. In some areas of the country the native tea, called “mate” is also popular, especially among the locals.
To be on the safe side, travellers are recommended to avoid eating from street vendors or in places where good health conditions are not guaranteed.
Traveler’s Tales Brazil
By Scott Doggett and Annette Haddad
How to be a Carioca
By Pricilla Ann Goslin
Exploration of the Valley of the Amazon
By William Lewis Herndon
The Rough Guide to Brazil
Rio For Partiers
Live and Love Rio Guide.
TRIP PLANNER BRAZIL
Learn the notes of Brazil’s beautiful song as you explore its hundred-and-one riches. The country offers a huge range of possibilities to explore, from the steaming jungles of the Amazon to the flooded rivers of the Pantanal, from the urban buzz of Rio and São Paolo to endless miles of Atlantic beaches, from contemporary culture and music to traditional song and dance, it’s all here, in this continent-sized country.