Brazil

BRAZIL is the biggest country of South America, both in population and in area. The mostly tropical country of Carnival is composed of five major natural areas:
– the tropical coastalline, which contains most of the bigger cities
– the Brazilian Highland, with in the north the tropical rainforests, and south the forested savanna
– the desert area around the city of Sertao, to the north east
– the famous Amazon area, where the biggest river of the world runs accompanied with huge tropical forests
– the Pantanal, the biggest swamp in the world

Brazil is a country of many identities: beautiful nature, massive cities, the famous Carnival of Rio de Janeiro but also the huge favelas, slums in the big cities ruled by drug gangs. The Pantanal to the north east is the biggest swamp in the world. However, it isn’t as uninviting as it may sound. The Pantanal is an area that along with the Amazon area, is one of the most densly packed areas of the world in terms of flora and fauna. It houses many hundreds of mammals, birds, fish and insects. Be sure to travel here in wintertime as this will greatly enlarge your chance of spotting animals. The Cordilheira Lodge is a recommended hotel to stay in. The location is great and the surrounding nature absolutely unbelievable.

Travel to Rio de Janeiro, the city of Carnival. Visit the famous Copa cabana and of course the biggest Jesus statue in the world which looks over the city and the ocean. The Carnival of Rio de Janeiro is held annually, 46 days before Easter. The famous Carnival attracts tourist from all over the country but also many locals. If you want to visit the Carnival, be sure to book your hotels well before the Carnival event. Many travel agencies offer special Carnivalpackages like Tucan Travel, Kurnuka and local agencies like RioBookings.com. Always watch your belongings during the Carnival because the streets are immensely crowded which hands opportunities for people less fond of partying and more of your money. Either way, be sure to enjoy the Carnival for the fullest and mix in with the locals. Don’t miss the Sambodromo parade which is the high-light of the event.

ENTRY REQUIREMENTS AND CUSTOMS: A US passport and a VISA are required. Your passport must be valid for 6 months beyond the end of your trip. The Visa is issued Free, by the Brazilian Consulate, but requires one photo. Tourists may bring 2 ctns cigarettes, 2 qts of alcohol, 2 qts of Champagne, 3 qts wine.

CURRENCY: The CRUZADO.

LANGUAGE: Portuguese, but Spanish is understood. English in Tourist areas.

TEMPERATURE: The Northeast, the Amazon, and Rio de Janeiro share a tropical climate. Summers, from Nov-Feb are the hottest season. Temperatures in Rio, Dec-Feb…84, Mar-May…80, Jun-Aug…76, Sep-Nov…77.

SHOPPING HOURS: 9-6:30 Mon-Fri, 9-1 Sat BANK HOURS: 10-4 Mon-Fri

THINGS TO BUY: Semi-precious stones, rosewood carvings, Amazon dolls, leather goods, and sexy bikinis.

FOOD: “Frango com Arroz” is a boned chicken and rice, mixed with chopped olives, hard-boiled eggs, green peas, and other vegetables. “Churrasco” is a beefsteak grilled over an open fire. “Bife de Panela” is a thin steak grilled with onions and tomatoes. There are numerous fast-food restaurants in Brazil. It is also acceptable for two people to share one order. Just tell the waiter to bring one main dish and two settings. Do try the famous “grill restaurant” where roving waiters continue to bring around fresh grilled meats and carve as much as you want.

DRINK: “Batida” is very popular. It’s a potent sugarcane extract served in fruit juice.

TIPPING: A service charge is added, but add 5% more. Taxis are not tipped, but round out the fare to the next Cruzado. Porters get 50¢ per bag; your chambermaid gets $1 per day, and give cloakroom attendants a small tip.

ELECTRICITY: 110 Volts AC in Rio and Sao Paulo. 220 Volts AC in Brasilia.

HEALTH: Travelers to South America should have a gamma globulin shot. Check

CRIME: Beaches are free and for pleasure. To assure that, leave your valuables at your hotel.

MISCELLANEOUS: There are two types of currency exchange. One is the official rate and the other is unofficial BUT LEGAL. DO NOT USE CREDIT CARDS or you’ll be charged the higher official rate. There’s also a DEPARTURE TAX at the airport.

FOR FREE MAPS/INFORMATION: Brazilian Tourism Foundation, 551 Fifth Ave, Ste 421, NY 10176. Brazilian Consulate, 3810 Wilshire, LA 90036 (213) 382-3133.