Home to the mighty Amazon River, the irrepressible party city of Rio de Janeiro, the world’s greatest carnival and some of the most beautiful beaches on earth, Brazil could be accused of being greedy. Luckily, nothing is wasted in brilliant Brazil where the spirited locals are known for embracing life to the fullest. Thankfully, they are happy to share their magnetic homeland with the rest of us!
Brazil Tours & Travel
All our Brazil trips
9 days from
Take the family on a colourful holiday to remember through Argentina and Brazil. Explore lively cities, heavenly white-...View trip details
44 days from
Travel through the heart of Brazil’s jungle, encountering unusual wildlife, fascinating people and breathtaking scenery...View trip details
112 days from
Visit South America and travel through Brazil, Argentina, Chile, Bolivia, Peru and Ecuador. Follow the Inca trail and...View trip details
112 days from
Visit South America and travel through Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, Argentina, Chile and Brazil. Follow the Inca trail,...View trip details
Articles on Brazil
Brazil’s big city of fun
Posted on Tue, 20 Nov 2012 by Sue Elliot
"Rio de Janeiro is one big sensory overload and Intrepid's Angela Zuniga felt, smelt and tasted her way around town..."Read more
Being part of the worlds biggest party
Posted on Thu, 12 Jul 2012 by Sue Elliot
"It was a sight so out of this world that I'm still getting flashes of the colour and vibrancy of the most amazing four hours of my life..."Read more
Intrepid believes half the fun of experiencing a new country is getting there, and getting around once there! Where possible, Intrepid uses local transport options and traditional modes of transport - which usually carry less of an environmental impact, support small local operators and are heaps more fun.
Depending on which trip you're on while in Brazil, you may find yourself travelling by:
Travelling with Intrepid is a little bit different. We endeavour to provide travellers with an authentic experience to remember, so we try to keep accommodation as unique and traditional as possible.
When travelling with us in Brazil, you may find yourself staying in a:
At a glance
- Trips Available:
- Capital city:
- Brasilia (population 1.8 million)
- 203 million
- Time zone:
- (GMT-03:00) Brasilia
- Type A (North American/Japanese 2-pin) Type B (American 3-pin) Type C (European 2-pin) Type I (Australian/New Zealand & Chinese/Argentine 2/3-pin)
- Dialing code:
Best time to visit Brazil
In most parts of Brazil, temperatures range from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius, regardless of the season. The summer months between December and February can be hot and humid, bringing temperatures to the high 30s – perfect weather to enjoy Brazil’s famous beaches. It’s also festival season, so it’s well worth visiting during this time.
Rainfall varies greatly around Brazil so depending on where you’re travelling, you could experience some rain. Around the Pantanal, Manaus and the Amazon basin, expect patches of rain all year round. Rio and the areas around Foz de Iguacu don’t have distinct rainy seasons and are typically drier than some other areas of Brazil.
The south of Brazil experiences extreme seasonal changes, so pack accordingly.
Culture and customs
In contrast to the exuberant, modern life that Brazil's city dwellers live, are the humble, traditional ways of the indigenous tribes that live in the Amazon and surrounds. Despite modern advances, many still live off the land – hunting for wild animals and gathering fruit and berries - although sadly this is rapidly changing due to deforestation and urbanisation. In the face of this, many tribes still cling to their ancient culture through traditional clothing, dance and song.
Eating and drinking
Intrepid believes that one of the best ways to experience a country is by eating! Whether you're sampling street food, savouring a cheap eat or indulging in a banquet, there are endless options to choose from wherever you are in the world.
Brazil’s major cities feature a wide range of international cuisine, so it’s possible to eat a western-style breakfast, Mexican for lunch and Italian for dinner, with a few traditional Brazilian snacks in between.
Things to try in Brazil
This traditional Brazilian barbecue is a true pleasure for meat eaters. Beef, pork, chicken, duck, lamb and fish are all skewered and cooked to perfection over hot coals, creating a smoky flavour and tender texture.
2. Seafood - Brazil’s coastline is home to a bounty of marine life so when on the coast, be sure to eat seafood while it’s at its freshest. Fried baby octopus, king prawns and fragrant, seafood stew are great options.
This stew of beans and beef is Brazil’s national dish, and reflects its rich immigrant history. The flavours and style are a mix of African, Indian and Portuguese food traditions, making it a direct culinary link to Brazil’s past.
This refreshing cocktail made from cachaca (a spirit derived from sugar cane), sugar, crushed ice and lime is the Brazilian national drink, and the perfect accompaniment to a beachside sunset.
Brazil has plenty of tropical fruits and berries – so for a quick snack, head to the markets and buy fresh bananas, limes, oranges, guava, jackfruit and acai berries.
Geography and environment
With such a large population, Brazil’s major cities are busy, crowded and chaotic. It can take some getting used to, but once you’re working with the flow of the Brazilian way of life, you’ll begin to enjoy the pace. With a widening gap between the rich and the poor, housing can vary from large mansions in upscale neighbourhoods and modern apartments right in the heart of the city, to humble tin sheds in the sprawling favelas. In some ways, Brazil’s major cities are full of contrasts but the universal appeal of partying, dancing and drinking seems to cross all cultural and social barriers.
History and government
Indigenous tribes inhabited Brazil for centuries before the arrival of the first European settlers from Portugal in the 1500s. Colonisation brought agriculture and crop growing to Brazil, resulting in extensive land clearing which dispossessed much of the indigenous population. The growing of sugar cane resulted in an influx of new residents, mainly slaves who brought rich African traditions with them. Remnants of this can still be seen in much of today’s music, dance and food. By the 19th century, coffee had taken the place of sugar as Brazil’s most valuable crop. The increase in coffee production brought a new wave of migrants to Brazil, mainly from Europe, and Brazil’s economy continued to flourish until the military coup of 1889.
Brazil’s more recently history has also been characterised by wide spread immigration – especially during and after World War II - with large numbers of Jewish people choosing to flee persecution to live in Brazil, as well as significant numbers of people from the Middle East and other European countries.
In 1989, Brazil held its first democratic election in almost 30 years after decades of military rule. More recently, a stable government has resulted in increased economic prosperity, although many of Brazil’s residents are still impoverished, living well below the poverty line.
Top 10 Beach Spots of Brazil
1. Praia do Rosa
The big surf and relaxed vibe of this hip holiday haven in Southern Brazil makes it a firm favourite with visitors and locals alike. Praia do Rosa manages to balance development with tradition - elegant small-scale hotels and eco-lodges provide the perfect place to rest after hiking, whale watching or surfing.
The cosmopolitan charms of this world-famous beach make it popular with people from all walks of life. Expect to see enthusiastic travellers, smug millionaires, bohemian artists and indifferent locals all enjoying Ipanema’s magnetic magic.
Far away from the showy extravagance of Rio lies this secluded spot only accessible by 4x4. Strictly protected from overdevelopment, the slow pace suits the windsurfers and kite surfers who prefer to get their thrills from the ocean's wild tides.
4. Lopes Mendes
This beach, located on the island of Ilha Grande, is considered one of Brazil’s best. The killer combination of fine white sand, great waves and clear, blue water guarantee perfect conditions for swimming, surfing and sun-worshipping.
5. Canoa Quebrada
This mellow hippie haven boasts stunning sand dunes and a deep blue-green sea. Horse riding on the dunes at sunset or cruising the coast on an old fishing boat are great ways to make the most of this picture perfect piece of Brazil.
Put on the world map by Bridget Bardot back in the 1960s, Buzios is the epitome of Brazilian sophistication. The designer boutiques, glam hotels and cool bars attract the celebrity jet set – but it’s the beautiful bays and beaches that are the true superstars of Buzios.
One of the world’s most famous urban beaches, Copacabana, is a top spot to indulge in a bit of people watching. Watch an eclectic mix of people play football, work on their tans and strut their stuff on this busy meeting spot that attracts all walks of life.
8. Praia da Mole
Soft white sand for lazing in the sun and a year-round supply of waves for surfing make this beach in Florianopolis a top pick. Paragliding, wakeboarding and other water sports provide more thrills, while the nearby bars and clubs ensure good times when the sun goes down.
Found on the Coral Coast of Brazil, Maragogi’s calm waters offer some respite from the big breaks found on many other Brazilian beaches. Colourful offshore reefs make snorkelling or scuba diving a must for visitors looking for aquatic adventures.
One for the free spirits of the world, Brazil’s only official nudist beach is flanked by steep, dramatic cliffs and dotted with swaying coconut palms. Choose to get cheeky and take advantage of lying on Brazil’s only sanctioned nudist beach in all your glory, or keep your kit on and stick to the “non-naturist” side.
While not the cheapest South American country to travel or shop in, there are plenty of markets and weekend fairs full of interesting antiques, artisan wares and jewellery at low prices. You'll also find modern shopping malls and boutique shops in Brazil’s major cities.
It's also a good idea to check with your local customs officials to ensure that you are able to bring certain items back into your home country. Australia and New Zealand generally have strict quarantine laws.
Things to buy in Brazil
1. Precious Stones
Rio is known as the gemstone capital of the world, so make the most of the wide variety of topaz, tourmaline, emerald and aquamarine on offer in markets and shops.
Take a piece of holiday relaxation home with you by buying a brightly-coloured hammock at one of Brazil’s open-air markets. Set it up at home to extend the holiday vibe!
Festivals and Events in Brazil
One of the biggest, boldest and brightest events in the world, Rio Carnaval is a time of dancing, drinking and delirium. While the main event is a flurry of music, make up, glitter and feathers, the month-long street parties and other gatherings may be smaller in scale, but are no less fun.
Giant puppets with serpentine heads, floats of women dressed in native-inspired costumes, rousing drum orchestras and troupes of frenzied dancers make Boi Bumba an unforgettable extravaganza. Held on the remote island of Parintins, this festival is less frequented by tourists due the isolated location, but is well worth the journey.
FAQs on Brazil
Beer in a bar = 3.5 BRL
Budget meal = 10 BRL
Three course meal in a restaurant = 60 BRL
For more information on insurance, please go to: Travel Insurance
Jan 20 Founding of Rio de Janeiro *
Jan 25 Founding of San Paulo *
Feb 9 Carnival
Mar 29 Good Friday
Apr 21 Tiradentes
May 1 Labour Day
May 30 Corpus Christi
Sep 7 Independence Day
Oct 12 Our Lady Aparecida, Patron St of Brazil
Nov 2 All Souls’ Day
Nov 15 Republic Day
Dec 24 Christmas Eve
Dec 25 Christmas Day
Dec 31 New Year’s Eve
* These holidays are only observed regionally
Please note these dates are for 2013. For a current list of public holidays go to: http://www.worldtravelguide.net/Brazil/public-holidays
Australia: Yes - in advance
Belgium: Not required
Canada: Yes - in advance
Germany: Not required
Ireland: Not required
Netherlands: Not required
New Zealand: Not required
South Africa: Not required
Switzerland: Not required
United Kingdom: Not required
United States: Yes - in advance Brazil visas normally expire within 90 days of being issued. If you are unable to process this visa prior to the starting day of your trip, Quito will be the last opportunity you will have to obtain your visa.
To do this, will you need to arrive in Quito before trip starts, as this process may take up to 8 working days. The Brazilian embassy is located at Avenida Amazonas 1429 (corner with Colon st) floor 9 and 10. Phone (5932) 255 6252, office hours from 9am to 1pm. (except public holidays). In order to process a visa you will need to provide the
a- a passport valid for at least 6 months
b- 1 passport size photo
c- A copy of the itinerary of your trip
d- A ticket to exit Brazil
e- A copy of your recent bank statement
f- USD 120 for the visa issue fee (Please note this fee may change at no
e- A completed visa form
Health and Safety
Intrepid takes the health and safety of its travellers seriously, and takes every measure to ensure that trips are safe, fun and enjoyable for everyone. We recommend that all travellers check with their government or national travel advisory organisation for the latest information before departure:
From New Zealand?
Go to: http://www.voyage.gc.ca/
Go to: http://travel.state.gov/
Go to: http://www.fco.gov.uk/en/
The World Health Organisation
also provides useful health information:
Go to: http://www.who.int/en/
Brazil Travel Tips
Intrepid is committed to travelling in a way that is respectful of local people, their culture, local economies and the environment. It's important to remember that what may be acceptable behaviour, dress and language in your own country, may not be appropriate in another. Please keep this in mind while travelling.
Top responsible travel tips for Brazil
1. Be considerate of Brazil’s customs, traditions, religions and culture.
2. For environmental reasons, try to avoid buying bottled water. Fill a reusable water bottle or canteen with filtered water instead.
3. Always dispose of litter thoughtfully, including cigarette butts.
4. Learn some local language and don't be afraid to use it - simple greetings will help break the ice.
5. Shop for locally made products. Supporting local artisans helps keep traditional crafts alive.
6. Refrain from supporting businesses that exploit or abuse endangered animals.
7. Please ask and receive permission before taking photos of people, including children.
8. When on community visits or homestays, refrain from giving gifts or money to locals.
The Intrepid Foundation
The Intrepid Foundation provides travellers with an opportunity to give something back to the many wonderful communities we travel to. By donating to The Intrepid Foundation you can make a difference in local communities - in health care, education, human rights, child welfare and the protection of wildlife and the environment.
Roupa Suja Project (UMPMRS)
Working to improve the lives of the families living in the favela in the Roupa Suja neighbourhood, through education. Run by local residents, UMPMRS is providing supplementary education for the disadvantaged local children, family support, a women's group and vocational training in a challenged area of Rio.
Image supplied by UMPMRS.
To learn more or donate, go to: www.theintrepidfoundation.org
|The Accidental President of Brazil||Fernando Henrique Cardoso|
|The Brothers||Milton Hatoum|
|The War at the End of the World||Mario Vargas Llosa|
|The Seamstress||Frances De Pontes Peebles|
|Gabriel, Clove and Cinnamon||Jorge Amado|