Brazil Travel Guide

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Brazil Information

Population: 170 million

Time Zone: GMT-3 to –5 hrs

Driving side: Drive on the right

Languages: Portugese

Religion: 70% Catholic with some Native Indian religions.

Emergency #: Police: 190
Fire: 193
Ambulance: 193

Brazil Local Customs

Music samba volley-ball bosa nova, and a very good sense of humour

Brazil Popular Destinations

Iguazu by air from from Rio de Janeiro airport. These falls lie in the Parque Nacional Iguazu and are a must to see. At least 5000 cubic litres of water per second drop 70 metres, and the Falls are more than 2 kilometres wide, which puts them in excess of Victoria and Niagara falls. Catwalks allow you to view the falls from close-up but do wear waterproofs the wind can carry the spray some distance. Look out for vultures, parrots, parakeets, orchids, and Morphos butterflies.

Corcovado this is one of the world's most easily recognisable landmarks; Christ the Redeemer stands with his arms outstretched on this mountain which rises 710 metres above the city of Rio de Janeiro below. The statue originally was thought out to commemorate 100 years of independence from Portugal, but without funding at the time, it was only completed in 1931. Do take the cog train up from the station at Rua Cosme Velho 513; the trains run every 30 minutes during the high season and are open from 0830 to 1830.

Brasilia the capital of Brasil, built in only 3 years and designated capital (from Rio) in 1960. While you're here do visit the Memorial JK on Praca do Cruzeiro where you'll find exhibits showing how this city was built in such short a time. There's also the Catedral Metropolitana with it's superb curved arches and stained glass windows. There is also the lovely Parque Nacional Brasilia with it's natural swimming pools; there's also endangered animals here too, including maned wolves, banded anteaters, huge Armadillos, and deer.

Brazil Beaches

Copacabana the famous beach, plenty of nearby restaurants.

Ipanema another famous beach on one of Rio's most sought after districts.

Ilha de Santa Catarina several beautiful beaches here.

Moving Around Brazil

Air Varig/ Cruzeiro, VASP, and Transbrasil cover a great network of Brasil's cities; fares are still relatively expensive but are coming down all the time. Sometimes discounts are available so be aware to shop around. On domestic routes planes take strange routes and stop at every city if you fly along the coastal regions. If you are in the Amazon region you can get local flights which are expensive but the price drops when more people wish to travel together. Do check consistently air travel reservations they have a tendency to disappear!

Bus these are used mainly for long-distance travel and are usually excellent; The buses are clean and comfortable and are well serviced by staff, and are very punctual. They link all major cities frequently, for example, every 15 minutes from Rio to Sao Paulo, and it's rare to change buses between major cities. Service varies from region to region; be aware that in the Amazon region dirt roads can easily be washed away it's certainly quite an experience to be on one of these buses in this region, especially in the dry season when they become very hot, stuffed with people, and very, very, dusty.

Train there are very few passenger services in Brasil; most trains carry cargo because of the debt which the national railway company has. For enthusiasts, there are several great train rides; try the Curitiba Parangua run that offers stunning views as it descends the mountain range.

National festival and holidays

Carnaval (Mardi Gras) Rio.The world famous carnival held in Rio every year in February/March is the carnival of all carnivals. It's the time when visitors from all over the world and of every sexual persuasion descend on the city and along with the locals seriously party. The excitement of the Carnival builds up all through the year and the celebrations begin well before the official start date.

Carnaval San Salvador. This is another world famous Carnaval .For four nights and three days the people head for the streets and then stay there until they collapse. The Carnaval is normally held in February or March and starts on a Thursday evening and goes on until the following Monday. Like the Rio carnival, anything goes.

Cirio de Nazare Belem. Held every year in October this is Brazils largest religious festival. People come here from all over Brazil to join in the magnificent festival. The city explodes with the sound of bells, hymns and even fireworks. The image of the Virgin Mary is paraded through the streets on a carriage covered with flowers. When the procession reaches the basilica the Virgin is left there for the remaining days of the festival. It is estimated that over 300,000 people attend the event.

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