Comprehensive guide to Brazil travel

In November 2020, my husband and I had a trip to Brazil for 14 days. It was our most interesting journey.

We’ve never traveled to Latin America before. It seemed far away, expensive, and dangerous. But one day we watched a documentary about the Amazon rainforest and videos of the Iguazu Falls and decided that we should see it all live.

rio travel

Why go to Brazil

Brazil is the largest country in South America. In the world, it is the fifth-largest by area and the sixth-largest by population. The capital is Brasilia.

Brazil is a paradise for nature lovers. According to the wealth of natural resources, it is in the first place in the world. Most of its territory is covered with the Amazon jungle. In the south-west of the country is the Pantanal — one of the most extensive wetlands on the planet.

To the south is a stunning park with Iguazu Falls, vineyards, and small settlements in the mountains. And to the North lies the national Park of Lençóis Maranhenses — a desert with white dunes.
In Brazil, you can learn Indian and African culture, learn to dance samba and forro, or master capoeira-a martial art with elements of dance and acrobatics.

Or immerse yourself in the nightlife and see the famous carnival in Rio de Janeiro. There are also a lot of outdoor activities available: hiking, rock climbing, paragliding, surfing, and diving.

There are tropical islands, snow-white beaches, and colonial cities. Next to the wild tropical forests — huge high-rises and shopping centers. And luxury hotels “Sheraton” are adjacent to the poorest areas.

Route

We only had 14 days. We wanted to see Rio de Janeiro, the Amazon River, the Iguazu Falls. For a beach holiday, we chose the island of Ilha Grande, but in the end, we almost did not lie on the beach, but mostly walked through the jungle. We also wanted to go surfing, but it didn’t come to that.

waterfalls in brazil

Connection

There are four major mobile operators in Brazil: Vivo, Claro, Oi, and TIM. The rates are similar. Package rates with the internet are suitable for tourists. A package of 2 GB is connected for a week and Claro costs $2.2. After a week, it is automatically renewed if there is money in the account. Communication via Votsap in Brazil is unlimited, packet traffic is not consumed.

Upon arrival in Rio, we tried to buy a SIM card at the airport, but there were no mobile operator offices there. It turned out that you can only connect in the city. First, you need to buy a SIM card at a newsstand, they are easy to find on the streets. Then activate it in the office of the mobile operator, which is the easiest to find in shopping centers. And you need to top up your account on the operator’s website, in a pharmacy or supermarket, where the signs “Recarga Celular” hang on the cash registers.

We bought a Claro SIM card and spent 29.98 BRL ($6.2) on communication for 2 weeks.

Housing

Once every couple of days, we moved from city to city. The accommodation was booked on “Booking”. We chose double rooms with their bathroom and breakfast. If we had stayed in the same city longer, we would have been looking for a place to live on Airbnb.com.

In total, we changed five hotels during the trip. We spent $560 on everything except housing. On average, the room cost $40 per night. $550 we spent on housing in Rio de Janeiro. For safety reasons in Rio, we were looking for accommodation in tourist areas near the beaches of Copacabana or Ipanema. As a result, we settled in a hotel near the metro and the beach.

A responsive English-speaking receptionist worked at the reception. We were checked in ahead of time and given a superior triple room for the price of a double, it cost 136 BRL ($28) per night. The room had a refrigerator and air conditioning. Breakfast is in a buffet.

In Foz do Iguazu, we lived in a hostel a 10-minute walk from a park with waterfalls. For a room with a shared bathroom, we paid 120 BRL ($25).

The hostel is located in the forest between the airport and the park. The taxi driver couldn’t find the right turn until he called for help. There are several wooden barracks with rooms on the territory of the hostel. The room can only fit a bed. The water heaters in the shower didn’t work. In the morning, a breakfast of fruit, toast, and the homemade banana cake was waiting for us in the gazebo on the street.

In Manaus, we settled into a hotel near the central square. A double room with breakfast cost us 95 BRL ($20) per night. The hotel was clean and quiet. The walls are decorated with paintings of Brazilian nature, and the wooden doors in the rooms are carved in the form of plants and animals.

Money

The currency in Brazil is the Brazilian real, R$. 1 R$ ≈ $0.24.

Cards

Almost everywhere in Brazil, you can pay with a card. They are not accepted only at street souvenir markets. Sometimes in stores, you can pay for a purchase with a card starting from a certain amount. This is usually indicated at the checkout.
To avoid double conversion, we used a dollar card everywhere. To do this, even in Moscow, they changed rubles to dollars and put them on a multi-currency card.

Cash. In addition to the card, we took with us $300 in cash and exchanged them for reals at the exchange office. In Rio, there are many exchanges, they are called Cambias. At the airport, the exchange rate is unprofitable, but in the city it is almost the same: after the third exchanger, we decided not to look for more.

Tips and bargaining. In restaurants, tips, 10% of the amount, are usually already included in the bill. If not, we left 10% in cash. In souvenir shops and markets, it is customary to bargain, you can bring down 30-40%. This also works in tour companies.

  • For two people in 14 days we spent $3550
  • Flights Moscow-Rio and back $1235
  • Flights to Brazil $822
  • Accommodation $560
  • Excursions and entertainment $397
  • Food $260
  • Transport and taxi $82
  • Souvenirs $64
  • Cellular communication $7