Population: 204 million
Independence: September 7, 1822
GDP per Capita: $15,200
Highlights: Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Salvador, Amazon Rainforest, Iguazu Falls
Cost: One of the more expensive South American countries – similiar to Europe
*Facts taken from CIA World Factbook
I visited a small part of Brazil in 2015 with my sister, Emily. Brazil is a huge country and we had only 2 weeks, so we only saw a very small portion of it, but I can share some of my experiences in Rio de Janeiro, one of Brazil’s most visited cities.
Brazil was one of the more expensive countries I’ve visited. My other trip to South America was to Peru in 2013, which was incredibly cheap, Brazil was more comparable to Europe in terms of the price of food, attractions, and accommodations. So don’t expect a cheap trip just because you’re in South America. Even hostels were a huge challenge price-wise. In Europe, I like to keep my hostels around $25 a night, but pending what part of Rio you’d like to stay in (and how high your standards are), it might not be possible.
Rio de Janeiro is a huge city and there is so much to do there. I don’t usually spend that much time in cities, preferring to spend my time travelling around to more natural attractions, but we spent a week in Rio and have no regrets. We chose not to visit Sao Paulo because it didn’t seem to have much to offer compared to Rio, but I’ve heard Salvador is a nice city as well.
We didn’t want to spread ourselves too thin, so we focused our trip in just three areas: Rio, Iguazu Falls, and Ilha Grande. Iguazu Falls is located in southern Brazil, along the border with Argentina and Paraguay, and it really is a must-see. There’s a series of 250+ waterfalls flowing along the Iguazu River in the middle of a national park and there is just so many beautiful things to see.
Ilha Grande is an island located a few hours outside of Rio and is known for it’s beautiful beaches and wild jungles. It’s fairly remote and is a great place to visit if you want to get out of the city and enjoy nature. Another option near Rio, but slightly further down the coast, is Paraty. It’s a quaint colonial, coastal town that has simliar attractions to Ilha Grande. I would have loved to visit Paraty too, but we only had limited time and it seemed that, with the exception of the actual colonial town, the nature was much more abundant and picturesque on the island.
Since Brazil is so big, the easiest way to get around is by flying. You can bus between Rio and Sao Paulo in about 6 hours I think, but otherwise, flights on Tam airlines are fairly reasonable.
The seasons in Brazil are opposite ours, so they have the hot and rainy season from December – March and the dry and cool season from June – September. We travelled on the off season, in late April, which seemed to be a good time. We didn’t get very much rain and the temperatures were still hot, but not too unbearable or too cold. Rio is very hot and can go into the high 40’s during their summer. I don’t think it ever gets that cool there though, so the winter wouldn’t be too bad either, the ocean just might get a little bit colder.
Sister Trip to Brazil – After a slightly overwhelming month that involved a long weekend trip to Ontario, a 10km road race, and studying for and writing my engineering ethics exam, I am ready for a new adventure. So I’m lacing up my hiking boots and strapping on my backpack for my second trip to South America, this time with my sister… read more
First Impressions of Rio de Janeiro – It’s been an eventful start to our trip so far! Our plans got sidetracked almost immediately; we were supposed to meet in Rio on Sunday morning, but I arrived in Seattle to a text from Delta informing me my flight into Rio had been delayed by 8 hours. I called customer service and they told me the flight had been rescheduled… read more
A Visit to Iguazu Falls – We’re back in busy Rio, but we just had the most amazing 3 days in Iguazu Falls! We flew through São Paulo to get to Foz do Iguacu; we’re not spending any time in São Paulo, but we got a quick glimpse of it from the plane on the way to and from Rio. I thought Rio de Janeiro was a big city, but São Paulo was enormous… read more
A Tour of Rio’s Top Attractions – On our second visit to Rio we stayed in Zona Sul, home to Copacabana and Ipanema beach. We immediately preferred it to Lapa. Our hostel was located just 4 blocks from Copacabana beach and the atmosphere was immensely different. Copacabana stretches for 5 kilometers in an arc across south Rio until it reaches the Copacabana… read more
Hiking around Ilha Grande – Sadly our trip to Brazil is over now. We spent the last part of our vacation on Ilha Grande, an island a few hours outside of Rio. We feared the trip to the island might be a bust because of a bad weather forecast, but it still turned out pretty good. We took a transfer from Rio early in the morning and arrived on the island… read more