As the largest country in South America, Brazil offers an endless number of fresh experiences for the fun-seeking traveller intent on seeing something new. Gaze upon the vastness of the monumental Amazon River. Lose yourself in the sights and sounds of the Rio Carnival. Discover the wonders of the remote Amazon rainforest. In Brazil, every day is a new adventure.
Odyssey travels by coach and occasionally uses local transport, including trains and ferries. Specifics are always outlined in your tour itinerary. Brazil has extensive bus and plane networks that provide comprehensive coverage of the country. Be aware however that Brazil does not have a particularly extensive passenger train network, so you might want to avoid relying on trains as a transport option.
In major cities, Odyssey stays in centrally located 3-4 star hotels, with easy access to public transport. In smaller towns or rural areas, we usually stay in family-run hotels or guesthouses. On our longstay tours, during which you spend the length of the tour in a single location, we use serviced apartments.
Odyssey always engages local guides with regional knowledge to ensure an authentic experience during which you can learn as much as possible about the history and culture of places you visit.
Geography environment and weather
Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world, with a total area of 8,515,767 square kilometres. At the heart of Brazil lies the Amazon rainforest, the largest rainforest in the world and home to an extraordinarily diverse ecosystem of animal and plant life. Brazil has a vast and extensive network of river systems, most notably the mighty Amazon river, which snakes across the north of the country and into the Atlantic Ocean. The rugged terrain of the Brazilian Highlands makes up much of the central, eastern, and southern parts of the country, while the Serro do Mar mountain range runs alongside the Atlantic coast.
Climates can vary across Brazil, from the tropical climate of the north and centre, to the more temperate climates in parts of the south. In general, temperatures in Brazil are fairly high year round, with sticky and humid conditions being a near constant in its tropical areas. However, be prepared for cooler temperatures if you are travelling to the southern areas of Brazil during the mid-year winter. Much of the tropical areas, especially the Amazon region, can see heavy rainful, so check weather reports in advance and be prepared to bring some wet weather gear.
World Heritage sites
Brazil boasts 21 UNESCO World Heritage sites. You can view the official list of the sites here https://whc.unesco.org/en/statesparties/br. Some of Brazil’s most notable heritage sites include:
Sanctuary of Bom Jesus do Congonhas, a sanctuary in Minais Gerais that stands as a stunning example of the Rococo style of decoration and design
Serra da Capivara National Park, featuring cave paintings that are dated back to 20,000 years ago
The Central Amazon Conservation Complex, the largest protected area in the Amazon Basin, and a region of incredible biodiversity.
Festivals and events
The Carnival of Brazil is one of the most famous festivals in the world, annually drawing huge crowds across the country for its colourful parades, exuberant dancing and festive music. Held five days prior to Ash Wednesday, Carnival is a nation-wide celebration of vast proportions, with the Rio Carnival alone drawing millions of revellers. Other festivals to check out include the many Festa Junina (June Parties), a festival in June that celebrates rural life, and Oktoberfest, the famous beer-drinking festival held in Blumenau, a town with German origin.
In the Spirit of Rio, by Bruno Astuto
Tree of Rivers: the Story of the Amazon, by John Hemming
Walking the Amazon: 860 Days. One Step at a Time, by Ed Stafford
Gabriela, Clove and Cinammon, by Jorge Amado
Eating and Drinking
Befitting its multicultural heritage, Brazilian cuisine is a blend of Portuguese, African and native influences. The national dish of Brazil is feijoada, a hearty stew made out of black beans, beef, and pork. Barbecued meats are always a feature in Brazil, with its churrascarias (steakhouses) offering many cuts of meat. Tropical fruits such as acai berries and carambola also make up part of the national diet, while street foods such as acaraje (deep-fried patties of crushed peas, onions, and prawns) are also popular. As the world’s biggest exporter of coffee, it is only natural that Brazil is also one of the world’s biggest consumers of it, with coffee the national beverage. Cahcaca, an alcoholic drink made from distilled sugar cane, is Brazil’s native liquor, while beer is also popularly consumed.
Health and safety
As of time of writing, smartraveller.gov.au recommends exercising a high degree of caution when travelling in Brazil. A recent outbreak of yellow fever has affected several cities, including Sao Paulo and RIo de Janeiro, so get vaccinated before you travel. Also be aware that in urban areas, particularly Rio de Janeiro, there is a risk of violent crime, so pay attention to your personal security at all times.
Whenever you travel overseas, it’s always wise to take an appropriate travel adaptor. The electricity supply runs at 220V and 110V, and the standard frequency is 60 Hz. Officially, Brazil uses the Type N electic plug, though there are some regional variations – check in advance and be sure to bring the right adapter with you.
The Carioca Landscape
Pantanal Conservation Area
Brazil has 4 different time zones. Sao Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, and Brasilia all operate on Brasilia Time (UTC-3). Daylight savings time in Brazil starts on the first Sunday of November and ends on the third Sunday of February.
If you’re on an Odyssey tour, we take care of tipping so you don’t need to give it a second thought. However, in your free time, or if travelling independently, it’s essential that you make sure you tip an appropriate amount for services. Tipping is generally not expected in nor given in Brazilian culture, though tipping does feature in restaurants and bars. In restaurants, a customary tip for good service would amount to 10%, which is usually added to the bill.
Most hotels offer wi-fi access, as do many cafes and restaurants. Wifi access is usually free in public areas of the hotels, although some of the more upmarket hotels may charge for it.
Check with your cell phone provider to see whether you’re able to make calls and use data while in Brazil. Many providers will offer a daily fee that allows you to make calls and check the internet while only being charged your regular rates. However, be certain to inform your provider that you’re heading overseas, because just like a bank they can turn off your service as a result of unusual activity.
Responsible travel tips for Brazil
- If sightseeing in rural areas, remember to be respectful of residents and locals. As well as being tourist attractions, these are peoples’ homes!
- Always ensure that you are covered by travel insurance. If you need advice on this feel free to contact Odyssey and we’ll be able to help.
- When travelling independently, make sure you check the opening hours of shops and museums so that you don’t miss out! Also be certain to check whether your trip coincides with any public holidays, so you can plan accordingly.
- Consider contacting your bank to inform them that you may be making purchases overseas. Otherwise, they may flag any activity on your account as suspicious. Also, check which ATMs and banks are compatible with your cards, to ensure you can withdraw cash with minimal fees.
- Before departing, make sure you have a number of Reais in a range of denominations. You don’t want to be carrying around enormous amounts of cash, but take enough to make it easy to pay in locations that might not accept credit card. It will also help you avoid card transaction fees.