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.
Today is an arrival day with a group meeting at 18:00hrs. You will be met at the airport and transported to your hotel. The evening is then free for you to enjoy.
You could also join us and your fellow passengers for dinner in one of the famous Brasilian Churrascherias.
South American Hotel
Rua Francisco Sá, 90
Tel: +55 21 2227-9161
Meet your fellow travellers at the welcome meeting
|Included in tour|
Dragoman Carnival crew to look after you during your stay
|Included in tour|
Transfer from the airport to your hotel
|Included in tour|
Welcome dinner with other fellow travellers in a Churrascheria, the famous Brasilian style restaurant
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 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 travelers. Please note that because accommodation in Rio at carnival time is notoriously difficult to book we only offer a five night Rio Carnival package. We regret that we are not able to book individual nights accommodation in Rio at Carnival time.
In the morning we will take the tram up Corcovado mountain to get a spectacular view of the bay and the city from the foot of the iconic Statue of Christ the Redeemer.
The afternoon is then free for you to relax or explore.
Half day guided tour of Corcovado mountain and the world famous Christ the Redeemer
|Included in tour|
This morning we have a tour to explore some of the roots behind the Carnival and view as preparations for the parade get underway and seeing some street parades.
An afternoon nap may be advisable as in the evening we head to the Sambadrome to witness the main event of the carnival, the Sambadrome parade.
Take a Historical Samba Tour to learn about the origins of carnival and samba
|Included in tour|
Ticket to the Sambadrome Parade in Sector 5
|Included in tour|
Party all night to the fantastic sounds and sights of the Samba schools parade
|Included in tour|
This morning is free for you to relax on the beach or stay in bed after the late night partying from the day before. In the afternoon we then take the cable car up Sugar loaf mountain for more wonderful views of the city and the beaches.
For those with Sambadrome fever there is the chance to return for a 2nd visit or do the ultimate experience and actually take part in the parade!
Optional second night at the Sambadrome
Half day guided tour of Sugar Loaf Mountain
|Included in tour|
Join in and be part of the Sambadrome Parade, an experience of a lifetime!
In the afternoon we visit a community favela project we support. In the evening there is the chance to don an outrageous outfit and head to the Gay ball.
Dress up and go to the Gay Ball, the most colourful of all the balls
Visit one of Rio's favela's and a community project we support, Project Morrinho.
|Included in tour|
This morning we will take a tour exploring Rio's colonial history and architecture. In late afternoon head out on to the waters of Guanabarra Bay for a sunset boat cruise.
Sunset Boat Cruise on Guanabara Bay
|Included in tour|
Take a tour of colonial Rio and learn about the city's history and heritage
|Included in tour|
The carnival package finishes after breakfast and the rest of the day is yours to explore, relax or just say goodbye to Rio.
Rio Carnival detailed notes
Rio de Janeirois 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 Riois 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 travellers.
There is just so much to see and do in Rioand 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 Azucar, ride the train to Corcovado, take a boat cruise around the bay and of course watch the Sambadrome parade. There are many other activities to do whilst in Rioat 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. An airport pick up is included in the cost of your package so look out for you’re a sign with your name on it in arrivals and make sure you inform us of your flight arrival details. 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 at 18.00, please check the Carnival Noticeboard in the Hotel Reception for further details on arrival.
Day 2: Saturday
This morning we will head out on a historical Samba tour. This tour discovers the past and present areas of Carnaval and the birthplace of Samba. We visit the area of Sambadrome – created by Oscar Niemeyer for the parade to take place in as well as Praça 11 where Samba was first played in public. We then travel to the Gamboa district, the historical birthplace of Samba from when the African Slave ships first arrived.SambaCityis the new home of Carnaval and although we will not be able to visit inside we will learn more about this area and pass by areas of the city important for today’s Carnaval celebrations - Rio Branco Ave, Tiradentes Square & Lapa district – on our way back to the hotel. This tour will provide you with an interesting history of Carnaval and how the samba music became such a part of the Carioca carnaval.
Optional Football Trip
During the Carnival period the Rio state championship takes place. The Carioca Cup is fiercely fought out with the city’s four big teams, Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama usually making the semi-finals and it will be one of the semi-finals that we go and watch.
With the famous Maracanã stadium being refurbished for the 2014 World Cup, the games will take place at the new Estádio Olímpico João Havelange. The stadium is more commonly known by its nickname, Engenhão, and has become the home ground of Botafogo.
Watching a football game in Brazil is a not to be missed opportunity. Even if you are not a massive fan of the sport, the amazing feeling of thousands of people singing, celebrating and cheering will make for a few hours that you will never forget.
We will leave the hotel approximately two hours before the kick off and travel by coach to the match. We will be accompanied by our local English-speaking guide as well as Dragoman crew. Following the match we will return back to the hotel via coach again. The semi-final draw only takes place a few days before carnival starts & the teams playing will be added to the website.
Cost (approximate) – £75
Day 3: Sunday
After taking a coach to the base of the Corcovadowith 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 Rioin 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.
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 stand 5, this allows a close view of the whole event as is in the centre of the Sambadrome runway and has a great atmosphere. 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! Many people like to visit for a second time so that they can get up close to the parade, enabling them to see the details of the costumes and dancing. Our past passengers have recommended that the opportunity to visit a second time is explained more clearly. On Monday night there is free time in the itinerary so you can revisit the Sambadrome and see the remaining six top samba schools. The tickets available for this night are again in sector 5 223.37 Kb .
Day 4: Monday
A good recovery plan is a walk along the beaches, maybe a swim or a sleep too! The famous sweep of CopacabanaBeachis 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.
Sugar loaf mountain - Pao de Azucar
In the afternoon we will take a 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.
Optional 2nd Sambadrome visit
Feedback from previous passengers has encouraged us to offer this great opportunity to revisit the Sambadrome on Monday night, allowing a further look at the costumes, dancing and parades.
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 once in a lifetime experience!
Cost includes ticket for sector 5, metro tickets and delivery of ticket to the hotel.
Monday pm from 19.30 until 07.00 Tuesday. Cost (approximate) £270
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 Cariocans (the people from Rio) and you will be playing a part on the biggest stage in the world!
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
This morning is free for you to do as you wish after a busy previous night.
In the afternoon is a visit to the Morrinho community project which we support. Morrinho is the name used by the youth of "Favela Pereira da Silva" 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 meters in the community "Pereira da Silva", with 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 trip includes a donation to charity.
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 you need 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 2010 tickets sold out and were exchanging hands for twice the face value in the days leading up to the carnival.
£55 (approximate) - Cost includes your entrance ticket and delivery of your ticket to the hotel. Transport is not included but it is easy to share a taxi there and back with fellow revelers.
Day 6: Wednesday
In the morning we enjoy a colonial tour of the city. This will give you an insight into another side of Riofrom 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 Janeiroearlier days as a Portuguese colony. Cobbled streets, amazing architecture both historical and modern, stunning churches will make up this very interesting and enjoyable tour of downtown Rio. The last stop will be the Glória Church, where we may be lucky enough to hear one of the sung services before heading back through Rio Cost includes entrances, transport by private bus, guide services.
Riosunset 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 GloriaHarbour. We spend about 3 hours cruising around GuanabarraBay, viewing the city from yet another angle giving us a chance to see the landmarks of Corcovado and SugarLoafMountainonce again, along with Oscar Niemeyer's spaceship style building that houses the ContemporaryArt 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 Rioa 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 Braziland South America.
Additional Carnival notes
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.
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 Rioitself)
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/