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Rio Carnival Holiday

9 days from £2,276pp

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Rio Carnival Holiday:
Trip Dossier

Carnival, by which we mean the celebrations which take place during the four days prior to Ash Wednesday, is celebrated all over the world. But the biggest party, the most over-the-top-extravaganza, the most outrageous antics: surely the festival in Rio de Janeiro stands head and shoulders above the rest. Street bands and parties, parades, fancy-dress balls, impromptu and planned concerts and gatherings spring up all over the city. The parade of Samba Schools, in the purpose-built sambodromo, is the ultimate highlight, taking place over two days, where the costumes, dancing and music of the competing schools whips the audience into a frenzy.

This good value holiday includes tickets to the parade on the Sunday as well as a guided excursion to the Christ statue on the top of Corcovado mountain and free time to enjoy the fun in the city independently. When the excitement is abruptly extinguished on Ash Wednesday you travel along the coast to the chic beach resort Búzios for a couple of days to relax and recover on a beautiful Atlantic Ocean bay.

Carnival 2017 starts 24th February. Come to Rio and join the party.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Transfer from airport to hotel on Copacabana beach.

Day 2

Visit Corcovado Mountain and its statue of Christ the Redeemer.

Day 3

Attend the Parade of Samba Schools in Rio’s Sambodromo.

Day 4-5

At leisure in Rio.

Day 6

Transfer by road to beach resort Buzios.

Day 7-8

At leisure on the beach.

Day 9

Transfer to Rio airport for international flight home.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Transfer from airport to hotel on Copacabana beach.
 

Rio de Janeiro is the most beguiling, seductive, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. But it is a multi-layered place: Brazil’s economic indicators show that the gulf between the rich and the poor is the greatest of all Latin American countries. Sumptuous apartments overlook the sparkling bays against a backdrop of half-built slum dwellings, favelas, which cling precariously to the hillsides. Once lawless enclaves ruled by drug runners and gaming gangs, these are gradually being brought under police control in time for the Olympic Games. Rio enjoys a truly awesome location among towering jungle-clad granite mountains, fringed by white-to toffee coloured sandy beaches that swoop down into the Atlantic surf.

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Botafogo Bay

Day 2

Visit Corcovado Mountain and its statue of Christ the Redeemer.
 

Rio's unmissable highlight, there is probably no better place to appreciate Rio's magnificent cityscape, bays and beaches from atop the 710m high jungle clad Corcovado mountain, part of the urban Tijuca national park. Your guide and driver will collect you for the drive to Cosme Velho railway station at the foot of the mountain. The ascent is in itself memorable: the rack railway which goes almost to the summit has been here since the late 1800s, although since refurbished. Nowadays, an electric-powered cog-wheel train climbs steeply through the lush Tijuca rainforest, with its abundant flowers and fruit trees, to the steps (or elevators) below the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. At 30m high, the statue was erected in the early 1930s, has since become part of Brazil's cultural identity and been declared one of the new Wonders of the World. On clear and sunny days, Corcovado offers stunning views of the city of Rio, including the instantly recognisable Sugar Loaf mountain, Niteroi bridge, and the famous beaches. There's plenty of time to take pictures but no amount of time is enough to totally take it all in. After exploring the viewpoints you'll take the railway back down to the base before returning to your hotel. The excursion lasts 3-4 hours in all.

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Christ the Redeemer

Day 3

Attend the Parade of Samba Schools in Rio’s Sambodromo.
 
During a few days of summer madness the city erupts into joyous abandon as cariocas don their costumes and indulge in a melée of processions, ear-splitting samba, themed parties and ever-flowing beer and cocktails. Some of the balls are held at private clubs to which access is somewhat restricted although some are open to foreign visitors. However the city streets are alive with free shows until dawn where anyone can join in the partying. The atmosphere is one of unsurpassed decadence and revelry.

Following a day getting more of the flavour of the city, you have a transfer from the hotel to the Sambodromo in the city centre. The venue consists of a long, broad concourse down which the samba schools desport themselves, with viewing area alongside. There are seats and boxes, but you will be sitting in the grandstand, with a good elevated view over the parade. You are sitting in the only section of the grandstand which has allocated numbered seats (area C).

The samba schools are divided into leagues, rather like football. The Premier League has 12 well-known schools and normally 6 parade on each of the two nights: you will see the first night’s show. The fun begins when the first school, with its extravagant floats and exotic costumes each conforming to the school’s theme for this year, sets off on its slow progress down the concourse, taking up to two hours to reach the further end. Each is accompanied by its own “bateria”, or drum band, playing out the school’s samba theme, over and over again. The spectators join in the singing and dancing with gusto. Various celebrities take part, and are welcomed with hysterical cheers by the onlookers.

It all kicks off at around 9pm and wind down at 5am. You may stay all night, but if your stamina flags you have a pre-paid transfer back to your hotel; vehicles depart on an hourly basis.
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Rio Carnival

Day 4-5

At leisure in Rio.
 
At leisure in Rio. You may want a lie-in, but there are many optional excursions to keep you entertained in this fascinating city. We suggest you don’t miss a trip to Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf Mountain). Take the cable-car up the domed granite mountain that protrudes from the ocean. This is especially magical at sunset when the twinkling lights of the city are coming on and you can enjoy the magnificent views back over Copacabana beach, Botafogo Bay and into the lush mountains beyond. (Sugar Loaf Mountain can be reached by public bus, and you can even walk half way up on a clear shaded path, but a guided tour will supply you with additional interesting information). During Carnival we recommend an early morning visit to avoid queues and crowds.

Also within a short taxi ride from your hotel are the pleasant botanical gardens, where there is sometimes live music in summer. History buffs may head inland into the hills on an excursion or by public coach to Petropolis, the former imperial summer residence. If you still have the energy, you may choose to enjoy a lively samba show, or a dance in one of Rio’s many nightspots.
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Copacabana

Day 6

Transfer by road to beach resort Buzios.
 
You will have a private transfer down the coast to Buzios (driver only, no guide). It’s a pleasant three hour trip which involves travelling over the magnificent Niteroi Bridge, which spans Guanabara Bay.

Once a tiny fishing village, Armacão de Buzios is now one of Brazil's most chic and lively beach resorts. But it is still low-key in a European style: there are no high-rise hotels here and many buildings built in a traditional colonial style fringe cobbled palm-lined streets and lanes, some pedestrianised. There are several small secluded beaches in craggy bays, and close-by tropical islands can be reached by schooners.
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Day 7-8

At leisure on the beach.
 

At leisure in Buzios. Explore the high-end boutiques and smart restaurants of the village, lay out in the sun on the beach, take a boat trip or go snorkelling.

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Day 9

Transfer to Rio airport for international flight home.
 

Transfer to Rio airport for international flight home.

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Essential information

Accomodation

Mid-range modern beachfront hotel in Copacabana, Rio. Small, smart, pousada-style guesthouse in Buzios with well equipped rooms , private bathroom and air-conditioning.

Transport

2 road journeys, 3 hours each.

Meals

Breakfast daily.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

Jeep tour in Rio – Corcovado Mountain and Santa Teresa District. Samba school parade grandstand seats with transfers to and from your hotel.

Summary of nights

9 days, 8 nights: Rio 5; Buzios 3.

Included in the journey price

• Services of our team of experts in our London office.
• Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
• All land transport.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified.

Not included in the journey price

• Insurance.
• Tips and gratuities.
• Meals other than specified.
• Optional excursions.

Optional excursions

There are a number of half-, full-day or longer excursions or activities you may wish to consider in order to customise your holiday to cater for your interests. Please contact us to discuss these further or to add them to your itinerary before you depart. A selection of these:
• Second night’s entry to the Carnival Parades
• Cable car ride up Sugar Loaf Mountain
• Cycle tour of Rio’s beaches
• Visit the Maracana soccer stadium
• Walking tour of historic Rio

Currency

The unit of currency in Brazil is the 'real' (plural reais).

Daily spend

A budget of around US$40-$70 per day should cover the cost of not-included meals, drinks, local transport, tips and the odd souvenir. Prices of meals and drinks in standard restaurants are more or less the same as in Britain, perhaps a bit cheaper.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in Rio and Buzios, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. Banco do Brasil, HSBC and Bradesco take international cards.

However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency. Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential.

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip.

This holiday is suitable for adults and older, worldly-wise teenagers. You will need plenty of stamina to get the most out of Carnival!

If you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us.

In the summer months of December to March the weather is extremely hot and humid, you might wish to bear this in mind.

Climate

In tropical Rio December to February are the hottest and most humid months, with temperatures reaching 40°C, and rain which usually falls in brief, heavy showers.

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should take light, loose-fitting, breathable clothes. (Of course, especially in Rio at Carnival, the locals will often opt for tighter, or more scanty garments!) Comfortable shoes are important for walking and sandals are perfect for hot weather. For the parade, again something loose fitting will be best, plus protection if rain is forecast – showers can be very heavy.

A sun hat, sun block, insect repellent and sunglasses are essential.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements.

You can also find helpful information on: www.masta-travel-health.com

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online

This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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