Brazil has a totally different feel to it than the other Latin American countries. It positively vibrates, it is dynamic and the whole country has a unique energy. Its ethnic mix is very different from most South American countries with a predominance of Afro American people, especially in the Bahia coastal region. Brazil is a much underrated country in terms of tourism. Our trips explore much of the country, especially the little known regions and National Parks.
Most visitors start in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil's most famous city and home to the Christ the Redeemer statue. The deeper you travel into the country, the more the culture of Brazil is exposed. This is a chance to hear the soulful music which is influenced from Africa and Europe and brings the distinctive sounds of Samba, Choro, Brega and more, echoing throughout the land.
With the Amazon Rainforest covering large parts of Brazil, the natural environment is home to much wildlife and bio deversity. Eco safari in the rainforest and Pantanal are becoming popular elements of Brazilain tour
One of the many wonders is the language. Although Portuguese is the main language in Brazil, over 200 languages are spoken in the country, and the diversity of each reflects the diversity of the regions.
Brazil is also the place to taste many unique foods. Inspired by others to cook, no matter what direction you head in the country, you are bound to find something new each time. To the south of Brazil is the taste of grilled meats that melt in your mouth, and to the north is the amazing Manicobo dish, that takes at least a week to prepare.
The first day of Rio Carnival is free time, as everyone will be arriving at various times throughout the day to start the package. Hotel check in is from midday and Dragoman crew will be on hand all day to give you any assistance. There will be a joining meeting in the afternoon.
If you are on an overland trip coming from Parati or Teresopolis, today will be a short drive day, bringing you to the biggest party on the planet!
Meet your fellow travellers at the welcome meeting
|Included in tour|
Rio de Janeiro has to be one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. Sugar Loaf Mountain rises up out of Guanabara Bay, the sandy beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana cut beautiful curves in the shoreline, all under the watchful gaze of Christ the Redeemer.
This is a city with something for everyone; beaches, history, shopping, culture, fantastic food and amazing nightlife. For amazing views of this spectacular city, take the cable car up to the top of Sugar Loaf, or "Pao de Azucar" as the Brazilians call it, ride the train to Corcovado or jump on the tram to the historic hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa. If you're interested in learning more about Rio and Brazil, the Historical, Indian and National Museums are all well worth a visit, and even just wandering around the older parts of the city you'll be able to see some fantastic architecture. Kick back and relax on the beach, enjoy a beer or caipirinha at one of the many pavement cafes and then when evening comes you can party the night away - Rio has some unbelievable bars and clubs, Lapa is always a fun night out and Ipanema is always buzzing too. If you need a bit of quiet time to recover, take a walk in the Botanical gardens, or escape town for the day on an excursion to the lust forests of nearby Tijuca National Park.
Of course Rio is particularly famous for it's huge annual party - Carnival. The celebration of Mardi Gras 6 weeks before Easter is a great Brazilian tradition - the whole city goes wild for a full 7 days in a whirlwind of music and colour. Samba schools compete with ever more awe-inspiring dance displays and costumes putting on marathon perfomances in the Sambadrome, street parties are held all over the city and friends and families take to the beach.
Today there is an optional visit up Corcovado mountain on a guided trip with all transport included to the Christ the Redeemer statue with great view of Rio.
This afternoon is free for you to do as you wish.
Half day guided tour of Corcovado mountain and the world famous Christ the Redeemer
In the morning there is an optional excursion to the majestic Sugar Loaf mountain from where there are stunning views over Rio and its surrounding beaches.
In the evening the main event of carnival occurs with a trip to the Sambadrome for the samba parade. The top samba schools parade their outrageous floats and costumes and we'll party well into the early hours.
Half day guided tour of Sugar Loaf Mountain
Visit one of Rio's favela's and a community project we support, Project Morrinho.
Ticket to the Sambadrome Parade in sector 13
|Included in tour|
Upgrade to sector 11 in the Sambadrome for a closer view
Today is a free day after the late night last night.
You can spend the day relaxing at the beach or take part in optional activities such as visiting the Morrinho community favela project, going to the sambadrome for a 2nd night or actually taking part in the parade.
Return to the sambadrome for a second night in sector 13
Return to the sambadrome for a second night in Sector 11
Today you have a full free day to explore; perhaps find a 'block party' to continue the festivities.
In the evening there's the option to go to the gay ball.
Be part of the costumed Sambadrome parade, an amazing once in a lifetime experience
Dress up and go to the Gay Ball, the most colourful of all the balls
There's free time in the morning but if you wish to explore further then join our local guide on an optional Colonial Tour of the city.
Take a tour of colonial Rio and learn about the city's history and heritage
Sunset Boat Cruise on Guanabara Bay
The final day of the Carnival package. Depart at any time or spend the day exploring further or relaxing.
Rio at Carnival
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. Nestling beneath the Sugar Loaf Mountain, "Pao de Azucar", that rises out of Guanabara Bay, and flanked by the sandy beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana. The Carnival at Rio is one of the best spectacles in the world and lasts for about 5 days on the run up to Shrove Tuesday. The whole city comes alive with music, singing and dancing and the streets are never empty. Be prepared for sleepless days and nights, as the partying is non-stop, be it in the streets, or at one of the many balls, or in the famous Sambadrome watching the parading carnival groups with their extravagant costumes and floats. The various samba 'schools' all compete for a prize and the honour of being the champion carnival group of the year. Around the time of the Carnival, our trips are timed to fit in with the event, so you can be sure of enjoying Carnival with a group of like-minded people and there are likely to be over 150 fellow travellers enjoying the carnival experience. We will however aim to keep you in smaller groups of 20 for planned activities.
There is just so much to see and do in Rio and at Carnival it is even busier than usual, but there is still something for everyone. As part of the Carnival package we provide you with a Sambadrome ticket to sector 13 plus your accommodation however we offer the opportunity to do a lot more. There are many other activities to do whilst in Rio at Carnival time. Dragoman has arranged a number of optional activities that you can book in advance. Prices for these optional activities and further details will be available on the website from June 1st 2013. We recommend pre booking, as this way we can make all the necessary arrangements ready for your visit - other options may be available and could be cheaper but availability cannot be guaranteed. For other things to do, try some quiet time in stunning surroundings at the Botanical gardens, shop at the "hippy" markets for jewellery and paintings and of course there are the beaches to lie on and all the local street parades to dance at. Just make sure you get plenty of sleep before you arrive in Rio for Carnival.
Day 1: Friday
The first day is free time, as everyone will be arriving at various times throughout the day to start the package. Hotel check in is from midday and Dragoman crew will be on hand all day to give you any assistance. There will be a joining meeting in the afternoon - in past years there has been one at 16.00 and 18.00, please check the Carnival Noticeboard in the Hotel Reception for further details on arrival.
Day 2: Saturday
Today is free for you to do as you wish however in the morning you may wish to join us on a visit to the iconic Corcovado mountain.
After taking a coach to the base of Corcovado with our local guide, we climb aboard the train carriages to begin our journey up to the Christ Statue. The train heads up through the Atlantic rainforest, which used to clothe all of the hillsides around the coastline, it is now protected to try and prevent further destruction for building and housing and provide corridors for birds and animals to pass through. It is a lovely journey in the cool shadow of the trees and there are some great views if the weather is clear. You may also be serenaded by musicians from one of the samba schools who will be getting us in the carnival mood and raising funds for their samba school. At the train station we will then disembark and climb the last steps or escalators to the base of the statue. You are free to wander around as you wish or you may like to listen to our guide who can tell you more about the history of the statue and the area.
There are fantastic views across Rio in all directions but the clouds can decide to hide all of this from us at a moments notice, so take your photos as soon as you have the opportunity. There is also a restaurant and shop for drinks, snacks and gifts as well as toilet facilities. At a prearranged time we will all meet to return back down to the train station, catch our train back through the forests and to our waiting coach.
Cost (approximate) – £60
In the afternoon you are free to relax and explore Rio however you may alternatively wish to join us on an optional trip to watch a football game.
Day 3: Sunday
This morning is free for you to do as you wish however in the afternoon you may wish to join us on a visit to a favela and to the Morrinho community project we support.
Morrinho is the name used by the youth of the Pereira da Silva favela for their scale model of a favela made basically with bricks. The "Morrinho" began in 1998, when Nelcirlan (14 years old at that time) starting building the Morrinho, together with his brother Maycon. Both were impressed with the view of favela's, high on the hillside, and decided literally to bring it closer. The "toy" became a construction and attracted other boys like Rodrigo, Naldão, Júnior, Paulo Vítor, Luciano and Raniere, and became a part of the community. Today, the "Morrinho model", occupies an area of 300 square metres in the community "Pereira da Silva", with wealth of details such as: funk clubs, police, drugs sales points, alleys, staircases, small bars etc. The colours are strong and vibrant, the constructions are unusual and unique, and the vegetation is integrated with the "bonsais" wisdom. Miniature vehicles and motorcycles fill out the streets. In the interiors of the residences you can see beds, dressing tables and closets. All the details show the creative imagination of the guys that constructed the Morrinho. They drew streets, built support walls to contain hillsides, distributed light posts etc. Their plastic universe reveals the aesthetic fullness of the favela, often portrayed by international artists, photographers and film directors. Trip includes transport and a donation to charity
Cost (approximate) - £50
The Sambadrome was designed by Brazil's world-famous architect, the modernist Oscar Niemeyer. It was purpose-built for the Samba Parade and inaugurated in 1984. Being made of concrete, it seems a bit dated for the post-modern eyes of today and feels derelict if not ugly, surrounded only by favelas, serving only little cultural events, during the year. However it comes to life and is totally magnificent and overpowering being lit up with special effects on. Samba Parade nights, filled with thousands of cheering spectators and surrounded by other thousands of people who could not get in. It can seat around 70,000 people, which is already far too few for the ever growing Rio Carnival Parade. However, since it is under protection, it cannot be rebuilt or even extended. The Samba schools have prepared all year for their hour of glory on carnival night. The top 12 Samba schools parade on Sunday and Monday, six each night. The two nights are similar in terms of set-up, the only difference being the schools parading. These are the most glamorous parades, the ones which need to be seen. The best school is chosen by a hand-picked set of judges on the basis of many components including percussion, the theme song, harmony between percussion, song and dance, choreography, costume, storyline, floats and decorations. The championship is hotly contested, with the winner becoming the pride of both Rio and Brazil. Samba is a glitzy, lavish, vegas-style affair with beautiful, topless mulatas who make samba look easy in their feathered head-dresses, long flowing capes sparkling with sequins and rhinestone studded G-strings. The floats are also extremely lavish and some of them are technically quite amazing. The Brazilians harness sweat, noise and confusion and turn it into art, with the parades beginning in moderate mayhem then working themselves up to a higher plane of frenzy. The samba is driven by the drummers with between 200 and 400 per school. This samba is the loudest music you are ever likely to hear in your life. The parades head down the “run way” of the Sambadrome flanked by the tiers of spectators, singing, dancing and applauding their favourite schools. The parade continues on through the night and into the morning. Some of the best schools are always kept until last to make sure that the party continues until the very end.
On Sunday night we will be situated in sector 13 , this allows an overview of the whole event and a good chance to party with the locals. Sector 13 is at the end of the sambadrome runway and is slightly set back however has the best atmosphere of all the stands. It is full of local Cariocas who really support their samba school with lots of singing and dancing. It is a wonderful local experience but can get very busy, reminiscent of a noisy football crowd. There are no fixed seats but concrete bleachers and people stand up as the samba schools pass by. We will travel to the Sambadrome in the early evening by metro and on foot with the Dragoman crew. It is up to you how long you stay but every year there are a few who make it through to the last parades and get back to the hotel for breakfast at 7am!
Optional upgrade to sector 11
Sitting in sector 13 is not for everyone and for those of you who want a view which is less set back we offer you the chance to upgrade to sector 11. This sector neighbours sector 13 but is much closer to the action. The seating however is identical, being on concrete bleachers and can be equally busy but not quite so boisterous.
Cost (approximate) - £190
Day 4: Monday
This morning you will almost certainly be having a lie in and then in the afternoon we have an optional trip to Sugar loaf mountain.
Sugar loaf mountain - Pao de Azucar
We will take an afternoon half day tour to visit the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain or Pao De Azucar as it is locally known, entrances are included. We leave from the hotel on our coach, accompanied by our local guide. The mountain gets its name from its shape, as the huge rounded incline looks like traditional cones of sugar. These sugar cones were made from raw sugar to make transportation easier. On arrival at the base of Sugar loaf mountain, we will board the cable car and head up to the mid way point and then up to the top station, the ride in itself is a fantastic experience skimming above the forested mountain peak with the sea and city spreading out below. At both stations there are incredible views of the city below and across to Corcovado. There will be plenty of time to wander around and take in the spectacular views, learn more about the construction of the cable car and enjoy a drink or snack at one of the restaurants. Just make sure you have plenty of space on your memory card for all your photos. Once we have taken our fill of the panoramic views we return to the bottom by cable car and back to the hotel on our waiting coach.
Cost (approximate) – £35
Optional return to the Sambadrome - sector 13 or sector 11
During Rio Carnival the top 12 Samba schools parade in the Sambadrome with 6 parading on the Sunday night and then 6 on the Monday night. This second visit will give you the opportunity to see all 12 of the schools so you can choose your own winner! You will be exhausted after a second visit but it’s a fantastic experience!
Cost (approximate) – £65 (Sector 13); £225 (Sector 11)
Optional join the parade
Watching the parade is one thing but actually taking part in the parade, is a real thrill and an unparalleled experience. Yes it will be hot and sweaty and your feet will ache after an hour or more parading but it will make a talking point for years to come. Not many people can say they have actually taken part in a Sambadrome Parade. You will be a part of one of the ground wings or alas, parading behind the massive floats that make up the parade. Each school has between 65 and 80 minutes to parade and each ala/ wing passes through the Sambadrome in about 30-40 minutes, it is exhausting but unforgettable! The alas provide a massive display of colour and movement, each school has about 25 alas – each one tells a part of the overall story/ theme of the Samba School. The alas get judged for their stamina throughout their parade, the singing of the whole parade, being able to Samba is not necessary – there is a kind of jumping, bouncing way that people parade to overall create the whole feeling of strength and happiness. You will be 1 of the approx 4,000 paraders in a school, each and every person must put their utmost energy into their performance for the School. This is the most important event of the year for Cariocas (the people from Rio) and you will be playing a part on the biggest stage in the world! It is an amazing once in a lifetime experience you will never forget.
Cost includes your costume – delivered to the hotel ready for the parade and the services of a guide to accompany you to the start point. Transport and entry into the Sambadrome is not included. You will need to meet your ala and school about 2 hours before the parade time (the first school will meet at 19.00 and the last at 01.00 approx) the parade lasts about 1 hour.
Cost (approximate) - £450. Info needed at time of booking – shoe and clothing size, please see the link for the appropriate sizing: www.rio-carnival.net/sizes.php
For shoe sizes it is advisable to order one size larger than usual as the shoes are often very tight.
Day 5: Tuesday
Today is a free day and an opportunity to have a walk along the beaches, maybe a swim or maybe just a long lie in! The famous sweep of Copacabana Beach is probably the most talked about length of sand on the planet, it is a fantastic location with Sugarloaf mountain at one end whilst far in the distance you see further peaks covered in Atlantic rainforest. There are plenty of small cafes serving drinks and snacks along the beachside pavement, when you are ready for a break from the sand. In this stunning location even the pavements are beautiful, with white and black tiles forming waves and patterns.
Optional ticket for the gay ball
The Balls at Carnival are part of the whole experience and this has been the most popular Ball from past Dragoman visits. If you are going to visit just one ball then this is the one we recommend! Put aside any inhibitions you may have, get your costume sorted – plenty of glitter absolutely necessary - and get dancing with all the other partygoers. It is a fantastic experience and people are generally very friendly with loads of photo opportunities and some incredible sights! Music is a variety of Samba and more modern music, something for everyone and if dancing is really not your thing there is plenty of people watching to do. The Ball can startle some people and please be aware that in previous years you have had to parade down a red carpet when you enter usually whilst being filmed live on Brazilian TV but it really is a memorable event and one which you will talk about long after carnival has been and gone. Make sure you save a bit of energy for this climax to carnival. The ball goes from midnight on Tuesday until the early hours of Wednesday morning. You may be able to find cheaper tickets available and you could get them at the door of the ball but this cannot be guaranteed. In 2011 tickets sold out and were exchanging hands for twice the face value in the days leading up to the carnival.
Cost (approximate) - £55. Transport is not included but it is easy to share a taxi there and back with fellow revellers.
Day 6: Wednesday
Today you are free until the late afternoon but if you wish to explore further then join our local guide on our Colonial Tour of the city.
Optional colonial tour:
This tour will give you an insight into another side of Rio from the one we see along the beaches and at the main tourist sites. Accompanied by our local guide we will travel in both private bus and on foot through the Cultural Corridor of Rio de Janeiro, visiting colonial buildings, centenary churches and Cultural Centres and discovering the heritage of Rio de Janeiro earlier days as a Portuguese colony. We will visit the area of Santa Teresa, the colourful Escadaria Selaron before heading to downtown Rio to view its stunning churches, cobbled street and wonderful architecture, both modern and historical. Cost includes entrances, transport by private bus, guide services.
Cost (approximate) - £30
Rio sunset boat cruise
As the afternoon begins to draw to a close we will walk down to the marina and board one of the beautiful schooners moored in the Gloria Harbour. We spend about 3 hours cruising around Guanabara Bay, viewing the city from yet another angle giving us a chance to see the landmarks of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain once again, along with Oscar Niemeyer's spaceship style building that houses the Contemporary Art Museum. If the weather is kind to us there may be a chance for a swim and also great sunset views. This is a great way to end carnival in Rio a final chance to say goodbye to old travelling companions, meet new friends and enjoy a drink or two.
Day 7 Final day
This marks the end of our Rio carnival package and the start of our trips leaving Rio to explore more of Brazil and South America.
Optional activies - all the optional activities listed above need to be booked prior to arrival at carnival and by 1st February at the latest. This can be done by contacting Dragoman.
Accommodation – This is on a shared basis (twin/triple and quadshare) with breakfast included daily but no other meals. All rooms are en-suite with air-conditioning, TV, fridge and safe. Due to the extraordinary demand on overland trips that include this Rio Carnival package, all bookings post 11th Septmeber 2012 will be accommodated in triple or quadruple rooms at the Argentina hotel. Bookings made prior to this date will be at the Paysandu Hotel.
Money changing - Banks will be closed over most of Carnival but some money changers stay open although exchange rates are not always that good. Cash will give you the best exchange rates - usually USD, GBP, Euro are easily exchanged. Travellers Cheques whilst the safest option will give you a poorer exchange rate - American Express Office is open through carnival for exchange. Cash machines - are nearby to the hotel but can run out of money, so plan in advance and be very aware of theft and fraud.
Crew - although there are likely to be over 100 people attending carnival you will be split into groups of no more than 25 for the included activities, each group being allocated a Dragoman leader.
There is no kitty. Accommodation is on a B&B basis, in shared rooms and is covered by the tour cost.
You may wish to consider bringing the following items with you to Rio Carnival:
Binoculars to help see the detail of the parades at the Sambadrome
A disposable raincoat (these can be bought en route to Rio or in Rio itself)
We intend following the planned route but exact night stops cannot be guaranteed. It sometimes happens that we decide to make a change to our basic planned itinerary. This may be for a variety of reasons - climatic, road or bureaucratic conditions may demand it. By their very nature overland itineraries need to be flexible and the regions that we are travelling through are often unpredictable. We run adventure journeys in off the beaten track areas, often in areas without western infrastructure. You should expect that some these areas do not adhere to western safety standards.
Most countries we visit on our travels will require visas. Some are best obtained before you leave home and others can be obtained en-route. Whilst the ultimate responsibility for obtaining visas is yours, we will endeavour to assist you wherever possible.
The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. The information provided is given in good faith and we do try to keep the visa information as up to date as possible. Please be aware though that rules do change, often without prior warning, which is why it is important that you check for yourself.
For visas that are needed in advance you can choose to submit the applications directly to the relevant embassy /consulate. However our recommendation is that you use a visa agent to assist you with your applications. While this does increase the cost it will make the process much easier for you. Dragoman have teamed up with ‘The Visa Machine’ to create a safe, secure, hassle-free way of obtaining visas and visa advice. Our unique link within their website is designed to make the visa process as straightforward as possible. Simply go to https://dragoman.thevisamachine.com and click on your region of travel followed by your trip route and ‘The Visa Machine’ will advise you about not only the required visas but also the dates by which you should apply. ‘The Visa Machine’ can then assist you in the actual visa application thus taking all the worry and hassle out of the process. This should apply for ALL nationalities and countries of residence.
As you will need to submit your passport together with your applications, we recommend that you avoid making any travel plans in the weeks leading up to your departure. However if you do need to travel in this period please let us know as soon as possible so that we can help you work out the options for your visa application process.
Nationals of the EU,
If your nationality was not included in the above mentioned group, please contact your nearest embassy to find out your visa requirements.
If your flight to central or South America is via the USA then you MUST obtain an Electronic System for Travel Authorization (ESTA) before travel.
An ESTA can be obtained online via the following link and paying the appropriatefee - https://esta.cbp.dhs.gov/esta/