Last Modified: 11 Apr 2013
Manaus to Rio
Trip code: GDOLC
Validity: 01 Jan 2011 to 31 Dec 2012
Journey through the heart of Brazil, from the jungle-clad depths of Manaus to the beachside beauty of Rio de Janeiro. Get acquainted with a variety of local fauna and flora, see spectacular landscapes and wander fascinating cities on this incredible adventure. Explore the dense Chapada Dos Veadeiros National Park, be wowed by the country's futuristic capital and go one-on-one with the mighty Amazon jungle as you travel in specially designed overland vehicles across this diverse country.
This trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Dragoman shares Intrepid's ethos for adventure travel and has many years' expertise in overlanding.
Table of Contents
To save you money and the hassle of booking multiple trips, this journey is a combination of some of our most popular adventures so your leader and the composition of your group may change.
- The best value journeys on the planet! On a Basix trip you can expect amazing experiences, but none of the inclusions that you may not want. Which means budget (1-2 star) accommodation, plenty of free time, activities that are optional and the freedom to choose meals to suit your budget. On some trips you may be camping and required to set up your own tent. You'll also have access to a group leader to offer advice and help you uncover the region's hidden gems. On a Basix journey, the way you travel is all a part of the adventure. Depending on the destination and the itinerary, you could find yourself travelling on anything from a donkey to a bus or a private safari vehicle. These trips are ideal for first-time travellers seeking fun and independence with the support of a group leader. They're also ideal for independent travellers looking to make the most of their travel time with minimum hassle and maximum experiences.
Days 1-2 Manaus
Bem-Vindos! Welcome to Brazil.
The trip begins with a group meeting at 6pm.
You can arrive at any time as there are no activities planned until this important meeting; please ask the hotel reception where it will take place. If your flight arrives too late, we recommend that you consider arriving a day early and book a night's accommodation prior to the trip so you are able to attend. If you are going to be late please inform the hotel reception. We'll be collecting your kitty, insurance details and next of kin information at this meeting so please ensure you have all details on hand to provide to your leader.
Manaus is where the two great rivers Solimoes and Negro merge to form the mighty Amazon. After meeting, the black waters of the Negro and the muddy brown of the Solimoes do not mix and the two rivers run side by side for a considerable distance with a clearly defined colour contrast - this phenomenon is known as the "Meeting of the Waters". The river is five miles wide at this point and the port is busy with many large, colourful, riverboats as well as the huge container and truck barges. Situated in the middle of the Amazon, Manaus was declared a duty free port to attract big business and so offers many bargains. It was once a great centre of the rubber boom and some of the legacies of this remain - where else in the world could one find an opera house in the middle of the jungle?
The following day is free to explore Manaus.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip: Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor. We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatising to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip: While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly. Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
Hotel (2 nts)
Days 3-7 Amazon River Ferry/Belem
We board an Amazon ferry and spend the next 5 days sailing downstream to Belem where the might Amazon River meets the Atlantic. whilst on board we sleep in hammocks on deck, and on arrival in Belem, stay in a local hotel where we will again join the overland vehicle.
The Amazon is the greatest river in the world and by so many measures; the volume of water it carries to the sea (approximately 20% of all the freshwater discharge into the oceans), the area of land that drains into it, and its width. It is one of the longest rivers in the world and, depending upon who you talk to, is anywhere between 6,259 kilometres and 6,712 kilometres.
At its widest point the Amazon River can be 11 kilometres wide during the dry season. The area covered by the Amazon River and its tributaries more than triples over the course of a year. In an average dry season 110,000 square kilometres of land are covered by water, while in the wet season the flooded area of the Amazon Basin rises to 350,000 square km. Where the Amazon opens at its estuary the river is over 325 kilometres wide.
We spend 4-5 days sailing the Amazon River. Due to the Trans Amazon Highway becoming impassable, the rivers are the only practical means of communication and transportation.
Belem holds a strategic place on the mouth of the Amazon River, which is why it grew to be such a large and important port. It has a vibrant market called Mercado Ver-O-Peso, which you can't miss. It sells all manner of local vegetables, fruit, fish and medicinal plants as well as strange artefacts for the local religious cults. Be sure to try out one of the city's excellent fish restaurants before you leave.
Hammock (4 nts), Hotel (2 nts)
Day 8 Alcantara
Today is an all day drive of some 570 km to the little colonial town of Alcantara, where we stay the night in a pousada.
Across the bay from São Luís lies the town of Alcântara. This almost abandoned town is now a national historic monument, but once was a fashionable and aristocratic centre. Alcântara history is troubled by successive invasions and conflicts as Portuguese, French and Dutch explorers tried to colonise current-day Maranhão. Native populations suffered enormously and had been all but decimated by the mid-seventeenth century.
Hostel (1 nt)
Day 9 Sao Luis
A short ferry journey takes us over to the beautiful Unesco town of Sao Luis, where we spend the night in dorm accommodation in a hostel.
São Luís is the capital of Maranhão, situated in the Bay of San Marcos on the north-eastern coast of Brazil south of the Amazon Delta. The French founded the city in 1612 but the Portuguese captured it almost immediately in 1615 and then the Dutch took over for 4 years in 1641. The old city is steeped in an almost tangible history and has strong traditional folklore. There are excellent museums; the Catedral da Sé', built in 1726 by the Jesuits and a large French-built fortress now called the Palácio dos Leões. Today the city is almost more famous for its music and is the centre of reggae culture in north-east Brazil. It has excellent nightlife, restaurants and numerous festivals throughout the year.
Hostel (1 nt)
Days 10-11 Barreirinhas/Lencois Maranhenses NP/Parnaiba
An early morning start gets us to Barreirinhas for a day trip out into the stunning Lencois Maranhenses National Park. We travel by a combination of 4x4 vehicles and boats.
Lençóis Maranhenses National Park, in Maranhão State, is one of Brazil's top natural attractions. It is an ecosystem formed of white sand dunes which cover 383,000 acres and look like bedsheets (lençóis in Portuguese) spread out on the north eastern coast of Brazil. Freshwater lagoons that fill up with rainwater, mostly during the first six months of the year, make Lençóis Maranhenses unique. Mangroves, deserted beaches, buritis- a graceful kind of palm tree - and the Preguiças River all add to the park's diversity. The sand dunes advance as far as 50 km inland and stretch along 43 kilometres of coastline. They are mostly deserted beaches on which sand mixes with mangroves, creating picture-perfect vistas.
We return to Barreirinhas for the night, staying in a lovely pousada with a pool.
The following day we head along the Rio Preguicas to Cabure, where we stay the night in a small pousada on a sand bank neighbouring the ocean.
Hostel (2 nts)
Day 12 Parnaiba
Leaving Cabure, we venture into the Parnaiba Delta, heading along its waterways and trying to spot some of the abundant wildlife. We stay the night in the town of Parnaiba in a local pousada.
Hostel (1 nt)
Days 13-15 Jericoacoara
A 300 km drive along the coast brings us to the laidback and fashionable town of Jericoacoara where we have 2 full days to relax on the beach and enjoy some watersports. We spend our nights here in a pousada.
Jericoacoara is a stunning beach area, located close to the equator in the northeast of Brazil. It is a good example of an area embracing the concepts of responsible tourism. Development has been severely restricted and building is only allowed in the nearby fishing village. To get there, you have to drive off-piste across sand dunes for about 15 km in a 4x4 and this limits the numbers of people who visit the place. It is a remarkably beautiful place with vast fields of sand dunes, turquoise sea and loads to do. For lovers of nature there are numerous hikes and trails, which can be accessed on foot or by horse. Alternatively, you may prefer to play around on the dunes on sand buggies or sand boards or to go out on boat trips. It is also an excellent place for windsurfing and other watersports. The area has no big hotels, but has plenty of small restaurants and pousadas.
- Kite surfing - USD160
- Lagoa Paraiso - USD30
- Quad biking - USD65
Hostel (3 nts)
Days 16-17 Canoa Quebrada
We drive 440 km north to the coast where we arrive at the beautiful seaside town of Canoa Quebrada. Here we camp for 2 nights with a chance to relax and enjoy various watersports.
Until the mid 1970s Canoa Quebrada had been but a sleepy fishing village until it began to gain popularity with a group of hippies, who gave to Canoa an air of liberty and tolerance which can be felt until today. The village is now one of the best known and most visited beaches in Ceará with dunes and falesias with heights of up to 30 metres which have served as the stage for several movies of Brazilian cinema and television.
Today, besides the eternally overwhelming landscape, the greatest attractions to enjoy are the buggy tours through the sand dunes along the beach and the red cliffs, and the refreshing dives in the calm blue-green ocean. For the more adventurous there is the opportunity for kite surfing, cliff gliding, capoeira, or you can simply venture through the fishing villages on a long walk or discover the ecological trails that cut through Canoa Quebrada. When the sun begins to set, run to the top of the dunes and you will witness one of the most spectacular sites in the northeast.
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 18 Sousa
We head 330 km south and inland to the town of Sousa, where we bush camp. The area is famous for its prehistory, and whilst here we will explore the Vale dos Dinossauros.
The valley is one of the most important palaeontological sites in the world with over 50 types of footprints of prehistoric animals, scattered throughout the sedimentary basin of the Rio do Peixe in an area of 700 km². Stegosaurus, Allosaurus, Iguanodon, and numerous other species of dinosaurs lived in Paraibano between 250 and 65 million years ago. When visiting the area we will get a taste of prehistory by visiting one of the longest dinosaur tracks in the world, extending for more than 55 metres.
- Visit to the Vale dos Dinossaurus - Free
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Day 19 Cabaceiras
We continue 330 km further inland towards the town of Cabaceiras where we find a place to bush camp. We will explore the prehistoric nature of this area, visiting the strange rock formations of Lajedo de Pai Mateus.
The Lajedo of Pai Mateus, is a one-square kilometre rocky elevation, shaped as an inverse soup plate, over which 70 huge boulders are found scattered throughout an area once inhabited by early tribes and an 18th century shaman creating one of the planet's most unusual and exquisite photo opportunities in the world.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 20-21 Olinda
We head 260 km back to the coast to the lovely old town of Olinda where we stay in a pousada for a couple of nights. En route we will visit the monolith at Inga.
Nearby is the monolith atIngá. This is the largest and most impressive archaeological monument in Brazil; a huge monolith inscribed with beautiful prehistoric petroglyphs (ancient rock engravings). It is a large stone block, 24 metres in length and 3 metres high, situated in the river Ingá de Bacamarte. The engraving technique is very careful, with drawings incised with deep and wide grooves. Around it many legends and popular interpretations have emerged, forming the basis of local folklore. Research on prehistoric engravings in Brazil is still in its initial stages, and there are no definitive dating placing them precisely in time. It is believed they postdate paintings which in the north-east exist at least from 25,000 years ago.
Olinda was one of the old capital cities of Brazil and has quite a few historic buildings dating mainly from around the mid-1600s, many of which have been restored. It is a culturally important city, and is home to many artists and musicians. A good spot to have a drink and take in Olinda is the Alto de Se, the highest square in the town, it has stunning views of the skyscrapers of Recife shimmering in the distance.
Hostel (2 nts)
Day 22 Pirambu
We head south down the coast, stopping at a beach campsite for the night at Pirambu.
- Tamar Turtle Conservation Project
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 23-25 Salvador da Bahia
Today we drive 460 km to the beautiful town of Salvador de Bahia. We stay just by the old centre of Pelourinho in a lovely hostel in dorm accommodation.
Situated on a peninsula jutting out into the Atlantic Ocean, Salvador da Bahia was the capital of Brazil when it was first colonised, but now it can only claim to be the capital of the state of Bahia. Bahia is strongly influenced by its links with Africa, both in its language, religion, food, dance and music, and this certainly dominates the atmosphere in Salvador. If time allows we will take in a night at the Bale Folclorico da Bahia or the Oludum drummers for a taste of local traditions.
Apart from the historic interest of the town, there are some excellent beaches to visit nearby, but you should definitely try to get to a 'Candomble' evening while you are here. Candomble is a popular religious cult in the region, and the ceremonies offer a fascinating insight into the culture of this area.
Salvador is also well known for its spectacular Carnival and other festivities, but the nightlife is good here at any time of the year.
As this is a combination trip, your group leader and the composition of your group may change at this location. There will be a group meeting to discuss the next stage of your itinerary, meet your new fellow travellers, and collect the next part of your kitty.
- Church of Nosso Senhor do Bonfim - USD1
- Candoble ceremony - USD40
- Forte Santo Antonioa da Barra - USD10
Hotel (2 nts), Hostel (1 nt)
Days 26-28 Chapada Diamantina
We head 400 km to the town of Lencois, the gateway to Chapada da Diamantina National Park. We camp in Lencois, giving you the opportunity to enjoy a variety of treks into the stunning scenery of the national park.
In the hinterland of Salvador, just outside of the town of Lençóis, lies the Chapada Diamantina, or Diamond Highlands. Valleys of lush green dotted with bright tropical flowers surround a mountain range of twisted red-rock formations reminiscent of the American Southwest. Numerous small rivers carve their way through the highlands, splashing over waterfalls and natural slides. There are also numerous caves, some many kilometres long. Many are quite popular, some just being discovered, some restricted yet to geologists who are trying to figure out just how they and the rock formations they contain were formed.
The gateway community of Lençóis is an old colonial town of stone streets and little churches, with little signs of the modern world. The attractions here are entirely natural. We have the chance to walk the highlands, explore caves, mountain bike old miners' tracks, and swim in natural pools and waterfalls. This is the Brazil that so many travellers miss. It is the other Brazil, away from the crowds of Rio and from the beaches or famous sites. This is the sort of place that you can visit so easily on an overland trip but that is so often inaccessible to the normal tourist or traveller.
Here you will have the opportunity to trek to many of the locations within the park, depending on your fitness and sense of adventure but either way is a wonderful place to spend a few days.
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 29-30 Terra Ronca/Cavalcante
An all day drive through central Bahia and into the state of Goias brings us to the Parque Estadual Terra Ronca, where we stay the night in a campsite.
The following morning we visit the massive cave system at Terra Ronca for a guided visit before driving 200 km to the town of Cavalcante and visiting the local Kalunga community.
- Guided tour of cave system
- Visit to Kalunga community
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Days 31-33 Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park
We overland 300 km to Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park followed by two full days to explore the landscape and wildlife. We stay in an eco-tourism campsite.
Located in the state of Goiás, about 250 km from Brasília, the Chapada dos Veadeiros National Park is, according to NASA, the most luminous point seen from the Earth's orbit. This is due to the quantity of quartz crystals present in the soil, besides several other metals and minerals.
The main river that flows in Veadeiros National Park is Rio Preto. Along its course, there are many spectacular waterfalls, including Rio Preto Falls (120 metres high, 80 metres at the base) and the Cariocas. The canyons are just as beautiful, with walls of up to 40 metres high and valleys of up to 300 metres. Forests are also present in the region, and are well worth exploring primarily because of the rich variety of flora, more than 25 species of orchids can be found for example. The rich fauna of the region includes species threatened with extinction such as the Pantanal deer, the jaguar, the maned wolf. More common are the rhea (Brazilian ostrich), seriema, tapeti, armadillo, anteater, capybara, tapir, toucans and vultures. While the forests are home to this amazing wildlife it can be quite difficult to see. Nonetheless this is a great place for us to explore for the amazing flora and landscape alone.
- Abseiling - USD30
- Canyoning - USD30
Camping (with facilities) (3 nts)
Days 34-35 Brasilia
A short, 150 km drive brings us to the futuristic capital, Brasilia. We stay in a great campsite and enjoy a guided tour of this fascinating, labyrinthine city.
Brasilia is listed as a world heritage site and is one of the major examples of this century's modern movement in architecture and urban planning. Oscar Niemeyer was the chief architect for the incredible project, an amazing feat that turned unpopulated swamp land into a purpose built city. To really appreciate the plan of the city with its bow and arrow or plane shape, try a trip up the television tower for a panoramic view. From there take taxis or walk to sights of your choice. The Metropolitan Cathedral shaped in a crown of thorns with amazing angels suspended from the ceiling should not be missed, neither should the incredible blue glass of Dom Bosco. Whatever you have time for, there is an amazing wealth of fantastic architecture and sculpture to take in within this unique city.
- Full day guided tour - Brasilia
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 36 Bush Camp
We drive 550 km drive through Brazilian countryside and towns. We will find a nice spot and bush camp for the night.
Bush camp (no facilities) (1 nt)
Days 37-38 Ouro Preto
Today is a full day 400 km drive to the beautiful old colonial mining town of Ouro Preto where we stay at a campsite with facilities.
Ouro Preto is a beautiful colonial town with cobbled streets and many baroque churches. Famed for its school of mining, it was originally the capital of Minas Gerais, one of the world’s great mining regions. Many different types of gemstone can be bought here. We can visit the gold mine of Minas de Passagem and you may wish to also visit the Museum of Mineralogy. Some of Ouro Preto’s many churches feature the work of Aleijadinho - Brazil’s most famous sculptor - who worked in wood and soapstone. Replicas of his carvings can be bought in the town.
- Museum of Minerology - USD3
- Guide Minas de Passagem - USD5
- Entrance Minas de Passagem - USD15
Camping (with facilities) (2 nts)
Day 39 Teresopolis
We continue south through Brazil, heading 450 km to the town of Teresopolis where we stay at a good campsite.
Camping (with facilities) (1 nt)
Day 40 Rio de Janeiro
Today is a short drive of only about 70 km to Rio de Janeiro. En route we will visit the beautiful colonial town of Petropolis.
The locals like to say that 'God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio'. In this heaving metropolis, set against the luminescent green of Guanabara Bay and surrounded by the slopes of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Corcovado, it's hard not to be caught up in the Cariocas' (residents) passion.
The French were the first to settle here as they logged wood along the Brazilian coast, but they were soon driven out by the Portuguese, who built a fortified town, naming it Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro and quickly amassed wealth in the gold rush of Minas Gerais. In the 19th century, the Portuguese monarchy fled from the threat of Napoleon in Europe to Rio where they built grand buildings, still in existence today. These days Rio is known best for its contrasting images of favelas (shanty towns) and the glitz and glamour of Carnaval.
Rio is deservedly famous for its live music scene, which encompasses myriad styles such as samba, jazz, bossa nova, hip hop, reggae, rock and many other fusions of regional styles. The neighbourhood of Lapa offers great dance halls where you can join locals in doing some serious dancing - or just soak up the vibe.
For some seriously eye-popping people watching, head down to the white sand beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema - skimpy bathing suits optional.
Please note there is no accommodation provided for tonight. We recommend you stay an extra couple of days to make the most of this exciting city.
- Sugar Loaf cable car - BRL53
- Christ the Redeemer cable car - BRL45
- Indian Museum - USD3
- Historical Museum - BRL6
- Botanical Gardens - BRL4
- Favela tour - BRL75
- National Park of Tijuca - BRL25
- Tram to Santa Teresa - USD2
Occasionally our itineraries are updated during the year to incorporate improvements stemming from past travellers' comments and our own research. The information given in this itinerary may be slightly different to that in the brochure. It's very important that you print and review a final copy of your Trip Notes a couple of days prior to travel, in case there have been changes that affect your plans. For the latest updated Trip Notes please visit our website: www.intrepidtravel.com
Please note that while we operate successful trips in this region throughout the year, some changes may occur in our itineraries due to inclement weather and common seasonal changes to timetables and transport routes. This can happen with little notice so please be prepared for modifications to the route.
We must emphasise that the routes, activities and places visited described in these trip notes are intentions and are meant as a rough guide only. We intend following the route detailed 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. Or it may be because we find a better, more interesting route. While actually en route, unexpected hospitality, a local festival or a great place to chill out can determine our exact route and itinerary on any given trip.
Overnight stops and driving distances each day may vary to best suit the needs of the group.
Expect some culture shock. You'll be exposed to signs of poverty and access to services may be sporadic. The food will be quite different to home and English speakers harder to find. Respecting the local culture will make it easier to fit in and really experience the location.
Some easy physical activities included in your trip. No physical preparation is required to make the most of the journey.
In these parts of the world you'll need to be healthy enough to cope with extremes of climate; from hot deserts through to the cold of high mountain areas.
Overland travelling can be demanding - long, rough travel days and dusty conditions can be challenging to some. You'll need to be fit enough to help every day with the camp chores (cooking, washing up, general camp set up) as well as putting up, and taking down your own tent. There are some long driving days and some early morning starts. The step-up into the overland vehicle, while not overly high, can become tiring. You need to judge if you are physically fit enough to haul yourself up and down the step at least 8-10 times a day.
Included activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary, all other activities are optional and at your own expense. If you choose not to participate in the included activities on this itinerary, the cost will not be refunded.
On this trip it's compulsory to contribute to a kitty. The kitty is an on-ground payment put into a central fund and overseen by travellers and the crew. It helps fund accommodation, camp meals and some included activities. Kitty amounts are subject to change to reflect local price increases. Please check our website for the up-to-date amount 48 hours prior to your trip commencement.
Your kitty will be collected when you arrive for your trip, either on day 1 or, if on a combination trip, in stages throughout your trip.
You may pay your kitty in a mixture of US Dollars cash and the rest in local currency (amount and type of currency to be agreed by the leader at the start of the trip). Most of our travellers chose to bring a cash passport with them for withdrawing local currency (you can visit www.cashpassport.com for further information on these). This is a very secure way of carrying your money whilst travelling. You treat them exactly like an ATM card and draw out local currency from an ATM to give to your leader within each country.
If you do choose to pay part in local currency your trip leader will confirm the current exchange rates with you so you will know exactly how much to hand over.
Travellers cheques have become increasingly difficult to change around the world with passengers and our leaders experiencing huge frustration and numerous hours spent trying to find a bank which will change travellers cheques. For this reason we no longer accept them on our trips.
Kitty does not cover food while staying in hotels and hostels.
We constantly monitor local price changes and exchange rate fluctuations that could affect kitty expenses. Final kitty contributions are likely to be different from those quoted in the brochure or at the time of booking so you must check the final amount just before departure.
As our kitty is flexible the indicated amount is indicative only. Follow the link below to view the kitty amount for your departure date.
A selection of optional activities are listed in the day-to-day itinerary. This isn't an exhaustive list and should be used as a guide only. Prices are for entrance only and don't include transport costs to and from the sites or local guides unless indicated. It may not be possible to do all the activities listed in the time available at each destination. Optional activities aren't necessarily endorsed or recommended by Intrepid nor included in price of this trip. If you do any optional activities, you do so at your own risk and it must be clearly understood that your participation is your own decision and doesn't form part of your contract with Intrepid. You may be required to sign/complete a waiver form or a receipt for some optional activities.
The official currency of Brazil is the Real (BRL).
With ATMs being widely available in major towns and cities, credit and debit cards are the best way to access money in Latin America (note though that charges are made for each transaction). Please check with your bank before departure that your card is accepted in the countries you are travelling to. Also ensure your bank is aware of your travel plans as - suspecting fraud - they may cancel your cards after the first few international transactions.
Be aware that your withdrawing limit may vary from country to country (regardless of your withdrawing limit in your home country) and it can be as low as the equivalent to US$100 per day.
It's also advisable to carry some cash in small denominations bills, for those times when ATMs may not be available. US$ dollars is the most readily changeable currency.
US$100 bills with serial number CB or BE and any other US$ bills that are old, torn, written or stamped on will not be accepted by local banks.
Every traveller is different and therefore spending money requirements will vary. Some travellers may drink more than others while other travellers like to purchase more souvenirs than most. Please consider your own spending habits when it comes to allowing for drinks, shopping, participating in optional activities, and tipping. Please also remember the following specific recommendations when planning your trip.
PRICES IN CHILE & BRAZIL:
Chile and Brazil are amongst the most expensive countries in South America. While in other countries you can expect to have a main meal for US$5-10 and take part of an optional activity for US$15-20, Brazil and Chile's prices are closer to what you would expect to pay in Western countries. You'll need to budget accordingly.
If you're happy with the services provided a tip - though not compulsory - is appropriate. While it may not be customary to you, it's of great significance to the people who will take care of you during your travels, inspires excellent service, and is an entrenched feature of the tourism industry across many Intrepid destinations. Please note we recommend that any tips are given directly to the intended recipient by a member of your group as our group leaders are prohibited from collecting cash for tips.
Restaurants: Tipping is not expected in local markets and basic restaurants. However if you wish to tip, round your bill up to the nearest 5%. In more up-market restaurants we suggest up to 10%-12% of your bill. Some restaurants already include tipping on the final amount, which should be shown on the bill as: propina, servicio or cubiertos.
Local guides: Throughout your trip you may at times have a local guide in addition to your leader. We suggest US$2 per person per day for local guides.
Porters (if applicable): While on the Inca Trail, we suggest PEN80-120 for all porters, assistants and cook.
Drivers: You may have a range of drivers on your trip. Some may be with you for a short journey while others may be with you for several days. We would suggest a higher tip for those more involved with the group however a base of US$1-2 per day is generally appropriate.
Your Group Leader: You may also consider tipping your leader for outstanding service throughout your trip. The amount is entirely a personal preference; however as a guideline US$1-3 per person, per day can be used. Of course you are free to tip more or less as you see fit, depending on your perception of service quality and the length of your trip. Remember, a tip is not compulsory and should only be given when you receive excellent service.
Please allow US$36 for international airport departure tax.
Please note this Intrepid trip is operated by our experienced local partners Dragoman Overland. Your departure will be run in a Dragoman vehicle with a Dragoman crew.
The minimum age for this trip is 18 years old and bookings for minors, even if accompanied by a parent, cannot be accepted.
RIO CARNIVAL DEPARTURES:
Trips coinciding with Carnival may also have more than one truck operating this route at the same time. Groups will be separated as much as possible to allow for the small group experience, however there may be times where more than one group will be in an area or at an activity at one time.
Maximum of 22 travellers per group.
Your fellow travellers
As you travel on a group trip you will be exposed to all the pleasures and maybe some of the frustrations of travelling in a group. Your fellow travellers will probably come from all corners of the world and likely a range of age groups too. We ask you to be understanding of the various needs and preferences of your group - patience with your fellow travellers is sometimes required for the benefit of everyone's travel experience. Remember too that you have responsibilities to the group. If you are requested to be at a place at a certain time, ensure that you don't keep the rest of the group waiting. We have found time and time again that the very best trips we operate are those where the dynamics within the group work well - this takes just a little effort on your part.
Due to privacy reasons we are unable to provide you with contact details and any personal information about your fellow travellers booked on your trip prior to departure. However you can download Intrepid's FREE Meet Up app to chat with your fellow travellers before your trip. Meet up, discuss your upcoming trip and share the excitement of planning for your adventure. For more information visit:
Our group trips are designed for shared accommodation and don't involve a compulsory single supplement. Single travellers share with people of the same gender in accommodation ranging from twin to multishare. Some of our itineraries have accommodation booked on a mixed gender share basis and where applicable this will be specified in our Trip Notes. On a selection of our trips, you have the option to pay a single supplement to ensure that you have your own room (where available). Please note that this only applies to accommodation during the tour - pre-trip and post-trip accommodation will be booked on a single room basis.
Camping (with facilities) (15 nts), Hostel (11 nts), Hotel (6 nts), Hammock (4 nts), Bush camp (no facilities) (4 nts)
The type and variety of accommodation is determined by conditions on each of our routes. Each route is different - on some we use a mixture of campsites and wild camps; on others we also use hotels.
Where it's not practical to camp (ie: in towns and cities), we use hotel accommodation and eat out in local restaurants. The frequency and regularity of hotel stops depends on the route and area.
Campsites will range from rather basic to those with excellent facilities, including swimming pools, restaurants and bars. In some cases it may also be possible to upgrade locally to bungalows, lodges or even tree-houses. One of the highlights of overlanding is that in more remote areas we will wild-camp. This allows us to get far away from the tourist crowds to some beautiful, secluded spots. We will also arrange as many village or local homestays as possible, allowing us to get close to indigenous populations and ensures our money stays within local communities.
While travelling with us you'll experience the vast array of wonderful food available in the world. Your group leader will be able to suggest restaurants to try during your trip. On our camping trips we often cook the region's specialities so you don't miss out. To give you the maximum flexibility in deciding where, what and with whom to eat, generally not all meals are included in the trip price. This also gives you more budgeting flexibility. As a rule our groups tend to eat together to enable you to taste a larger variety of dishes and enjoy each other's company. There's no obligation to do this though.
When travelling on an Overland trip you have chosen a participation camping tour. This means that you will be helping your leader prepare meals for the group. You may also get the chance to help with the shopping!
Your leader will come up with meal ideas and quantities needed for large groups. Participating in the camp is usually done on a duty roster system with group of 5 or 6 people (depending on group size) having a different camp job each day. If you have any dietary requirements please tell us at the time of booking and also remind your crew at your welcome meeting.
All meals when camping
Please budget for additional meals and expenses while on your trip. Our suggestion is based on past traveller feedback but you may choose to spend more or less.
All meals while camping are included.
Overland vehicle, Ferry, 4x4, Boat
On all of our Dragoman-operated Overlanding trips you will be accompanied by two Western crew members who are responsible for the group and the overall organisation of the trip.
While not being guides in the traditional sense you can expect them to have a broad knowledge of the places visited and to offer suggestions of things to do and see. In East and Southern Africa we will also have an African camp master/cook who is in charge of running the camp and organising all of the meals. Their knowledge of the local produce makes shopping at the markets great fun and you will learn how to prepare and cook some unusual dishes. In the rest of Africa, South America and the majority of Central Asia and China we use local guides who may stay with us for just a few hours or will actually travel with us for some or all of the journey. In these cases they become a third crew member and are able to offer their local knowledge as well as a real insight into the lives of the local people. Our crew are chosen for their leadership skills, and most importantly have a passion for the region and its people.
We endeavour to provide the services of an experienced leader and crew; however, situations may arise where your leader is new to a particular region or training other group leaders
On any Overland trip, there are a number of tasks that need to be done. Our overland trip leaders will organise the group into smaller groups of two or three who will take turns in the daily shopping and cooking, vehicle cleaning, disposing of rubbish, etc. There are also a number of other jobs that need doing e.g. collecting water and firewood, luggage loading, supervising the kitty and food stores, which may be assigned to particular people or on a rota system according to group size, make-up, and so on. You must come prepared to 'pull your weight' and share in these duties; you will become very unpopular with other group members if they have to do your share. The more you put into a trip, the more you'll benefit.
We don't expect any problems (and nor should you) but if for any reason you are unable to commence your group trip as scheduled, please contact your starting point hotel, requesting that you speak to or leave a message for your group leader.
If you have pre-booked an airport transfer (where available) and have not made contact with our representative within 30 minutes of clearing customs and immigration, we recommend that you make your own way to the starting point hotel, following the Joining Instructions in these Trip Notes. Should this occur, please apply to your travel agent for a refund of the transfer cost on your return.
No refund is available on missed transfers or portions of your trip owing to a different flight arrival or delayed flight arrival. Any additional cost incurred in order to meet up with your group is at your own expense.
This trip finishes upon arrival in Rio
Accommodation in Rio is not included.
Rio de Janeiro
Please also make sure you have access to an additional US$400, to be used when unforeseen incidents or circumstances outside our control (eg. a natural disaster, civil unrest or an outbreak of bird flu) necessitate a change to our planned route.
Visas are the responsibility of the individual traveller. The visa requirements for your trip vary depending on where you are from and where you are going. As a general rule most countries expect that you will have at least 6 months' validity on your passport. On arrival visitors may be asked to present return tickets and evidence of means to cover your intended stay.
We keep the following information up to date as much as possible, but rules do change - it's important that you check for yourself. Residents from other countries must consult the relevant embassies or your travel agent.
BRAZIL TOURIST VISA
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
Issues on your trip
While we always endeavour to provide the best possible holiday experience, due to the nature of travel and the areas we visit sometimes things can and do go wrong. Should any issue occur while you are on your trip, it is imperative that you discuss this with your group leader or our local representative straight away so that they can do their best to rectify the problem and save any potential negative impact on the rest of your trip.
We recognise that there may be times when your group leader/local partner may not be able to resolve a situation to your satisfaction - if this is the case, please ask the leader to speak to their direct manager.
You may also choose to provide details in your online feedback, which we ask you to complete within 30 days of the end of your trip. But we do ask you to be aware that it is very difficult for us to provide any practical help after the trip is complete.
What to take
What you need to bring will vary according to the trip style you have chosen, the countries you are visiting and when you are travelling. Generally speaking you should pack as lightly as possible. On the vast majority of our trips you are expected to carry your own luggage and although you won't be required to walk long distances with your luggage (max 30 minutes), we recommend keeping the weight under 10kg / 22lb.
Most travellers carry their luggage in a backpack, although an overnight bag with a shoulder strap would suffice if you travel lightly. Smaller bags or backpacks with wheels are convenient although we recommend your bag has carry straps. You'll also need a day pack/bag to carry water and a camera etc for day trips.
You can find Intrepid's Ultimate Packing List on our website. It should be used as a guide only and isn't intended to be a complete packing list.
CLOTHING & CLIMATE:
Night time temperatures can be low in the height of the winter months and at altitude so bring a set of warmer clothes. Thermal underclothes, being small and light, can be very useful.
A light water and windproof jacket is useful and a hat essential.
Sleeping Bag - Check the expected climate en route. Nights in desert and mountain regions can be very cold in winter months. One that zips down all one side is useful for warm nights and a sleeping bag liner for cold nights.
Mattress or compressed foam - Compressed foams are the lightest, most convenient but probably the least comfortable. Self inflating mattresses are convenient, comfortable, light and small when rolled up; they are more expensive and do puncture so bring a suitable repair kit.
Consider bringing your own water bottle to refill along the way. The sale of bottled water contributes to an enormous environmental problem around the world. In addition to the water in bottles, the production of a 1 litre plastic bottle takes 2 litres of water and 200ml of oil. A large proportion ends up in limited landfill or discarded in waterways and natural environments. Although it can be difficult to avoid bottled water when travelling, please consider water purification techniques such as iodine or micropur and use the water dispensers which are provided at some of our accommodation. When unable to avoid bottled water it is better to buy the largest available and distribute into your smaller bottle for the day
In countries like Argentina, Uruguay and the Patagonia region of Chile, tap water is treated and safe to drink so please avoid the purchase of bottled water by refilling from the tap.
All Intrepid travellers need to be in good physical health in order to participate fully on this trip. When selecting your trip please make sure you have read through the itinerary carefully and assess your ability to cope with our style of travel. Please note that if, in the opinion of our group leader or local guide, any traveller is unable to complete the itinerary without undue risk to themselves and/or the rest of the group, Intrepid reserves the right to exclude them from all or part of a trip without refund.
You should consult your doctor for up-to-date medical travel information or for any necessary vaccinations and anti-malarial requirements before departure. We recommend that you carry a first aid kit as well as any personal medical requirements (including a spare pair of glasses) as they may not easily be obtained at the locations on this trip. For legal reasons our leaders and guides are prohibited from administering any type of drugs including headache tablets and antibiotics. Please ensure that you are adequately prepared.
Parts of your trip go above 2800 metres / 9200 feet where it is common for travellers to experience some adverse health effects due to the altitude - regardless of your age, gender and fitness. It even happened to Sir Edmund Hillary!
Before your trip.
Some pre-existing medical conditions are known to severely worsen at high altitude and be difficult to adequately treat on the ground, leading to more serious consequences. It is imperative that you discuss your pre-existing medical condition/s with your doctor
We understand certain medications are reported to aid acclimatizing to high altitude. Please discuss these options with your doctor.
During your trip.
While our leaders have basic first aid training and are aware of the closest medical facilities, it is very important that you are aware of the cause and effects of travelling at altitude, monitor your health and seek assistance accordingly.
Please read the following document carefully and, during your trip, utilise the table on the back daily to record your own perspective of your general health and any symptoms you may experience:
The World Health Organisation has countries in Latin America registered as zones affected by hepatitis A, hepatitis B, typhoid, cholera, rabies and malaria.
Dengue Fever is common in Latin America and can occur throughout the year. Argentina, Bolivia, Uruguay, Brazil and parts of Mexico are currently suffering from a serious outbreak. This virus is transmitted by mosquitoes. There is no vaccination against it, but there are preventative measures that you can take such as wearing long clothing, using repellent and being indoors particularly around dusk and dawn.
A valid international certificate of vaccination against Yellow Fever is required in many countries. You may need to present this on arrival at the airport or border crossing. Some countries will refuse entry if you are unable to present your certificate. It's also quite common for your home country to request a Yellow Fever certificate on your arrival back home.
It is your responsibility to check with your doctor well in advance of leaving home about the Yellow Fever requirements for the countries you'll be visiting.
Many national governments provide a regularly updated advice service on safety issues involved with international travel. We recommend that you check your government's advice for their latest travel information before departure. Please refer to our website's safety page for links to major travel advisories and updates on safety issues affecting our trip.
We strongly recommend the use of a neck wallet or money belt while travelling, for the safe-keeping of your passport, air tickets, cash and other valuable items. Leave your valuable jewellery at home - you won't need it while travelling. Many of our hotels have safety deposit boxes, which is the most secure way of storing your valuables. A lock is recommended for securing your luggage.
Your leader will accompany you on all included activities, however during your trip you'll have some free time to pursue your own interests, relax and take it easy or explore at your leisure. While your group leader will assist you with the available options in a given location, please note that any optional activities you undertake are not part of your Intrepid itinerary, and Intrepid makes no representations about the safety of the activity or the standard of the operators running them. Please use your own good judgement when selecting an activity in your free time. Please also note that your group leader has the authority to amend or cancel any part of the trip itinerary if it's deemed necessary due to safety concerns.
For more details on the type of conditions and safety standards you can expect on your trip, please refer to Intrepid's operational safety policy on our website. We recommend that you take a moment to read through this information before travelling, and would appreciate any feedback on how well it's being implemented in the field:
The vehicle has fully lockable doors and windows, which is an obvious advantage, but it will probably be necessary to guard it at times and everyone should be prepared to share in this responsibility.
In most areas there is very little to fear from the point of view of violence. But in all areas 'tourists' are a tempting target for pickpockets and con-men. Always be aware of this and be especially careful when leaving banks or money-changers, in any crowded areas, etc. NEVER leave things lying around - they will almost certainly get stolen. We cannot emphasise enough how important it is to always be security conscious and to take all necessary precautions. Great inconvenience and distress can be caused by having your documents or possessions stolen.
A few of our past group members have had the unhappy experience of having their belongings stolen before the trip starts. Beware of carrying your passport and other valuables around with you in cities. We strongly suggest you deposit your valuables in your hotel safe on arrival.
Please be aware that local laws governing tourism facilities in this region differ from those in your home country and not all the accommodation which we use has a fire exit, fire extinguishers or smoke alarms.
TRAFFIC AND DRIVING ON THE OTHER SIDE OF THE ROAD:
Depending on where you come from please note that drivers in this part of the world may drive on the opposite side of the road from what you are used to. Look both ways before crossing any road. Traffic can be a little more chaotic than you might be used to at home. Be aware!
PETTY THEFT AND PERSONAL SAFETY:
While travelling there is always the risk of pick-pocketing and petty theft, particularly in the more touristy cities. We recommend that you exercise caution when walking alone at night and encourage you to walk together and only on main, well-lit thoroughfares. Be particularly vigilant on public transport. Simple measures like carrying your day pack on your front, not hanging your bag over the back of your chair and wearing a money belt will reduce any chance that your valuables should go missing.
In order to avoid fraud, it is advisable that you withdraw money from ATMs located inside banks or guarded shops during business hours only.
Where we use a local partner to fully operate one of our itineraries, we use the travel advisory of the country where that operator is based rather than the Australian DFAT advisory. This itinerary is operated by our local partners Dragoman, and as such will follow the British Government (FCO) Travel Advice. To view these travel advisories please log on to:
Travel insurance is compulsory for all our trips. We require that, at a minimum, you are covered for medical expenses including emergency repatriation. We strongly recommend that the policy also covers personal liability, cancellation, curtailment and loss of luggage and personal effects.
When travelling on a group trip, you won't be permitted to join the group until evidence of travel insurance and the insurance company's 24 hour emergency contact number has been seen by your leader.
If you have credit card insurance your group leader will require details of the participating insurer/underwriter, the level of coverage, policy number and emergency contact number rather than the bank's name and credit card details. Please contact your bank for these details prior to arriving in-country.
Please go to our website for links to various travel insurance providers:
We believe strongly in low impact or rather positive impact tourism. Broadly speaking this means that we try to minimise the negative aspects of tourism on the local cultures and environments that we visit and highlight the positive aspects. Please visit our website for further details and suggestions on how you can be a responsible traveller:
Latin Americans can be very conscious of appearance so try to be casual but conservative in your dress. Outside of beach areas halter tops and very short shorts should not be worn. When visiting churches or religious sites shoulders and knees should be covered.
A couple of rules
Illegal drugs will not be tolerated on our trips. Possessing or using drugs not only contravenes the laws of the land, but also puts the rest of the group at risk. Smoking marijuana and opium is a part of local culture in some parts of the world but is not acceptable for Intrepid travellers. Intrepid's philosophy of travel is one of respect towards everyone we encounter and in particular, the local people who make our destinations such special places. The exploitation of prostitutes is completely contrary to this philosophy. Our group leader has the right to expel any member of the group if drugs are found in their possession or if they use prostitutes.
The Intrepid Foundation
Since Intrepid Travel commenced operating in 1989 we've been committed to giving something back to the communities we visit. One way has been through our support for local humanitarian, development and conservation projects. Many of our travellers want to contribute something too. Whilst it is often tempting to give hand-outs to those less fortunate, this has the potential to promote a culture of begging and dependency. Handouts are not a sustainable way for individuals or communities to live. That’s why we established The Intrepid Foundation – to make it easier for travellers wishing to give back to communities in an effective and meaningful way.
The Intrepid Foundation is a not-for-profit fund offering a selection of excellent grassroots organisations which you can contribute to. All donations to The Intrepid Foundation will be matched by Intrepid Travel dollar for dollar (up to AU$5,000 per donor and a total of AU$400,000 for all donors in each financial year). And every cent gets there as Intrepid Travel pays for all the administration costs. Donating is simple and secure. Please ask your group leader for information on the projects we support through The Intrepid Foundation or go to our website:
Carbon Offset C02-e 1154.00 kgs per pax.
After your travels, we want to hear from you! This is so important to us that we'll give you 5% off the price of your next trip if your feedback is completed online within 4 weeks of finishing your trip.