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.
Rua Cruz Lima, 30
Tel: +55 21 2558 7233
Meet your fellow travellers at the welcome meeting
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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.
The day is free for you to get your bearings, explore the city or laze on the beach however if you don't fancy that then this morning there is an optional trip to a favela to visit a community project we support. (Our favela tour, as well as all other optional activites must be booked in advance through Dragoman)
This afternoon is free for you to do as you wish or you may like to come and watch a football game we will be going to.
Visit one of Rio's favelas and a community project we support, Project Morrinho.
The morning we will head to Sugar Loaf mountain for a guided tour of this famous landmark that juts out into Guanabara bay.
The afternoon is then free before we get to the main event of the week at 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. We'll be situated in sector 13, the most lively of the sectors, however alternatively you can upgrade to sector 11 for a closer view.
Ticket to the Sambadrome Parade in sector 13
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Upgrade to sector 11 in the Sambadrome for a closer view
Half day guided tour of Sugar Loaf Mountain
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Party all night to the fantastic sounds and sights of the Samba schools parade
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The day is free for you to recover from last night in the Sambadrome. A chance to hit the beach, explore the city, find a street party or simply have a lie in!
In the evening you have the chance to revisit the sambadrome for a second big night or perhaps even take part in the parade itself by buying a costume and dancing your way down the sambadrome runway, a once in a lifetime experience!
Second visit to the Sambadrome in Sector 5
Check out the local parades and soak up the Brazilian Carnival atmosphere
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The morning is free for you and then in the afternoon we will visit the landmark which represents Rio, the Christ the Redeemer statue atop of Corcovado mountain.
In the evening there's the option to glam up and go to the gay ball.
Half day guided tour of Corcovado mountain and the world famous Christ the Redeemer
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There's free time in the morning and then in the afternoon if you wish to explore further then join our local guide on our Colonial Tour of the city.
In the late afternoon it's the culmination of the tour with a sunset boat cruise around Guanabarra Bay.
Take a tour of colonial Rio and learn about the city's history and heritage
The final day of the Carnival package. Depart at any time or spend the day exploring further or relaxing.
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautifully situated cities in the world. Nestling beneath the Sugar Loaf Mountain or Pao de Acucar, 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 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 20-25 people 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 will visit the stunning Pao de Acucar, ride the train to Corcovado, and of course watch the Sambadrome parade. There are many other activities to do whilst in Rio at Carnival time and Dragoman and Imaginative Traveller have arranged a number of optional activities that you can book in advance. 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 or shopping for jewellery and paintings at the "hippie" markets. Of course there are also the beaches where you can catch the sun and all the local street parades where you can do some more dancing and partying. 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 local crew will be on hand all day to give you assistance. There will be a welcome meeting in the early evening - please check the Carnival noticeboard in the hotel lobby / reception area for further details on arrival. After the meeting you have the choice to join your group and local guide for a meal in a restaurant. There is no need to pre-book this meal so you can make your mind up on the day, and payment is made directly to the restaurant.
Day 2: Saturday
This morning you will go on an introductory walking tour with your local guide to get to know the local area.
In the afternoon there's an option to go for a football game in the famous Maracana stadium, the site of the FIFA World Cup final 2014.
Optional Football Game - £45
In the afternoon we will head off to the Maracana stadium for a game of football. Please note that the stadium will almost certainly feel empty as it seats almost 79,000 spectators and a local game will not draw enough people to fill the stands. However, for most people it's still a fantastic experience to visit this legendary stadium. You'll be travelling to the stadium on the Metro, accompanied by a local guide.
Day 3: Sunday
This morning you head to one of the most iconic sights in Brazil - the statue of Christ the Redeemer at the top of Corcovado mountain. Accompanied by your local guide you will travel in a private bus to the foot of the mountain and onwards along the scenic route to the top. From the base of the statue there is an incredible vista of southern Rio and its beaches, as well as the Sugar Loaf mountain and Guanabara Bay. The clouds can sometimes decide to hide all of this from us at a moment's notice, so take your photos as soon as you have the opportunity! You are free to wander around as you wish or you may like to listen to your guide who can tell you more about the history of the statue and the area. There is also a restaurant and shop for drinks, snacks and gifts as well as toilet facilities.
In the afternoon you have the option to visit the Morrinho community project on a guided tour.
In the evening it's the big highlight of Rio Carnival - a visit to the Sambadrome! Included in your trip is a ticket to sector 13, or you may chose to upgrade to sector 11 for a closer view of the parade.
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. Click here to view a map of the Sambadrome.
You will be situated in sector 13 , which is at the very end of the sambadrome runway and is slightly set back from the runway. The sector does therefore not offer the best close up views of the parade but has the best atmosphere of all the stands, and offers the opportunity for you to collect parts of costumes as some dancers will throw them up in to the stand once they've finished. Sector 13 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. You will travel to the Sambadrome in the early evening by metro and on foot with your local guides. 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 Sambadrome Upgrade to sector 11 - £170
Sitting in sector 13 is not for everyone and if you want close up views we offer you the chance to upgrade to sector 11. This sector neighbours sector 13 but is much closer to the action, and is highly recommended if you're interested in photography. The seating however is identical, being on concrete bleachers and can be equally busy but not quite so boisterous.
Optional Morrinho Community Project - £58
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 favelas, 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 and has a 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. The model is now being used to generate money by the NGO Morrinho, a charity that provides professional qualifications to the residents of the Pereirão Community through workshops including audiovisual production, art-education, Brazilian culture, and youth and citizenship. The charity is also involved in utilising the project as a film set, which has raised awareness of how harsh life is for shanty town dwellers. The trip includes a donation to the charity.
Day 4: Monday
Today is free time for you to relax as you will almost certainly be needing a lie-in. In the evening you have the chance to return for some more of the lavish spectacle in the Sambadrome - either as a spectator in sector 5 or why not don a fabulous costume and join in the parade!
Optional Return to the Sambadrome (sector 5) - £275
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! Included is your Sambadrome ticket, Metro tickets and a guide to accompany you to and from the Sambadrome (not staying with you).
Optional Join the Parade - £550
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.
Your costume will be delivered to the hotel ready for the parade, and is yours to keep! You will then be accompanied by a guide to the starting point. 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. Please note that Metro tickets are included but if you should wish to enter the Sambadrome as a spectator you will need to buy a separate ticket.
Please note that Brazilian shoe size and clothing size are needed at the time of booking - click here to view a conversion table and guide for sizing. 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 morning to relax or continue exploring the vibrant city of Rio.
In the afternoon you'll go on a half day tour to visit the iconic Sugar Loaf Mountain or Pao de Acucar as it is locally known. 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. You travel from the hotel in a coach, accompanied by your local guide. On arrival at the base of Sugar loaf mountain, you 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.
In the evening there's the option to dress up and attend the extravagant and outrageous Gay Ball.
Optional Gay Ball - price to be confirmed (as a guideline the price was £54 in 2014)
The balls at Carnival are part of the whole experience and this has been the most popular ball from previous years. 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 so there's something for everyone, and if dancing is really not your thing there is plenty of people watching to do. The venue itself is like a night club rather than a lavish ballroom as the name might suggest, so the glitter and glam is created by the ballgoers rather than by the locality. The ball can startle some people and please be aware that in previous years you have had to parade down a pink carpet when you enter, usually whilst being filmed live on Brazilian TV. 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. Please note that transport is not included but it is easy to share a taxi there and back with fellow revellers. Please also note that you may be able to find cheaper tickets once you are in Rio. However, previous years tickets have been known to sell out and as a result have changed hands at more than double face value during the days leading up to the ball.
Day 6: Wednesday
This marks the end of our Rio carnival package and a farewell to new friends and some great memories.
Optional activies – All the optional activities listed above need to be booked prior to arrival at Carnival and by 15 November 2014 at the latest. This can be done by contacting Dragoman's sales team or your agent. More details can be found here.
Accommodation – This is on a shared basis (twin/double) with breakfast included daily but no other meals. All rooms are en-suite with air-conditioning, TV, fridge and safe.
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 and EUR are easily exchanged. Travellers Cheques whilst being the safest option will give you a worse exchange rate - the American Express Office is open through Carnival for exchange. Cash machines are located nearby to the hotel but can run out of money, so plan in advance and be very aware of theft and fraud.
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:
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 or 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.