2 | www.vbrata.org
WELCOME TO BRAZIL Welcome to the latest edition of VBRATA – Visit Brazil Travel Association’s quick guide to Brazil. If you are considering a visit to Brazil, let VBRATA and its members be the first to welcome you. We are here to help you get the most out of planning and travelling to Brazil. VBRATA – Visit Brazil Travel Association is a British/European Travel Association, not-for-profit organisation whose members are dedicated and committed to promoting Brazil as a tourist and cultural destination to both the travelling public.
When it comes to getting good, sound advice on travelling to and around Brazil, contact a VBRATA member. They are the real experts on everything Brazilian. You can find the contact details for our members www.vbrata.org.uk. What follows is a quick guide to Brazil, a teasing taster to whet your appetite, as to what you might discover and uncover by travelling to and around Brazil. But in this guide we only just scratch the surface and the VBRATA membership will be able to tell and show you so much more.
CONTENTS 6................................. BRAZIL OVERVIEW 14................................TRAVEL TIPS
AMAZON & NORTH
32................................FOZ & SOUTH 36................................CENTRAL WEST 42................................AMAZON & NORTH 46................................NORTHEAST 57................................A-Z OF BRAZIL
CENTRAL WEST SOUtheast
FOZ & SOUth
72................................CONTACT DETAILS www.vbrata.org | 3
WELCOME TO BRAZIL
The Brazilian Tourist Board (EMBRATUR), as well as all the regional, state and municipal tourist offices within Brazil support the association. Our membership that is made up of
travel agents, tour operators, airlines and travel suppliers with specialist knowledge of Brazil.
6 | www.vbrata.org
Regional Giant Brazil is the giant of the Latin American region. It is the world’s fifth largest nation in terms of area and population. Its landmass is far larger than Europe combined or the continental USA, and it is just a small matter of being 35-times larger in area than the entire United Kingdom. Brazil is not really a country, it is more of a continent and you can’t explore continents in just a couple of days, so do give yourself the time to do Brazil justice when you do come visiting.
The country is home to the world’s third largest stock exchange; it is one of the world’s top eight agricultural producers; it has the largest healthcare market in Latin
Latin America’s largest industrial and commercial centre, and often the gateway to Brazil through its international airport, is São Paulo. The city is known for being the economic engine that pulls the rest of the Brazilian economy behind it. São Paulo, you will also discover, is one of the world’s great cosmopolitan cities and is only not better known and respected due to the proximity of its somewhat more famous and infamous neighbour, Rio de Janeiro.
www.vbrata.org | 7
Brazil currently has a population of approximately 193 million. There are 23 metropolitan areas in the country with a population of over one million, of which São Paulo is the largest with 21 million residents, and Rio de Janeiro second with just over 12 million.
America; Embraer is the world’s third largest commercial airline manufacturer; Brazilians are the largest consumers of luxury products in Latin America and the world’s eighth largest luxury goods market; the country is the seventh largest producer of vehicles in the world; and 45% of all energy consumed in Brazil already comes from renewable sources. The numbers are impressive and that is why so many British and European business executives find themselves on a plane to Brazil, a country that is the UK’s most important trading partner in Latin America.
8 | www.vbrata.org
Flying Down to Rio If people have only heard of one city in Brazil or South America, it will be Rio de Janeiro. A city of unrivalled beauty and fun, once the country’s capital it is rapidly regaining its importance as a business centre thanks to being at the very heart of the Brazilian oil and gas industries.
Janeiro and São Paulo. It is a country of many hidden treasures and experiences waiting to be uncovered.
Rio has been a global icon ever since Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers started “flying down to Rio” back in the 1920s. It is glamorous, sexy and fun. A major city, yet also a tropical beach resort. Rio is home to globally recognizable attractions that include the statue of Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado Mountain; Sugar Loaf Mountain; the beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema; and the Maracanã, a stadium built for the 1950 World Cup which again hosted the World Cup Final in 2014, and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics. Rio is equally famous for its artistic contributions that include bossa nova and samba, as well as the city’s famous carnival. Although today Rio is rivalled in that respect by the carnival celebrations in Salvador and Recife, amongst others. But Rio is also home to Rock in Rio, the largest music festival in South America, and the country’s film industry which is behind such global successes as “City of God”, “Central Station” and “Tropa de Elite”. The city is also the inspiration and backdrop to the recent hit films “Rio” (photo); “Fast & Furious 5: Rio Heist”; and “Twilight Series: Breaking Dawn”. But Brazil, as many visitors have already discovered and will be happy to tell you, is much, much more than just Rio de
www.vbrata.org | 9
Hidden Treasures As well as being home to Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and nearly half of the Brazilian population, the southeast of Brazil is where the historic towns of Minas Gerais are to be found. A collection of towns and villages that make up one of mankind’s great colonial legacies, this in a country that is full of artistic and architectural masterpieces. At last count, Brazil boasts no less than 19 UNESCO World Heritage Sites of which the towns of Ouro Preto and Diamantina, and the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus in Congonhas, are in Minas Gerais. Further to the south is a prosperous, subtropical region that has been influenced by the countless European immigrants who have flourished here over the centuries, helping to develop the great cities of Porto Alegre, Florianópolis, and Curitiba. It is the region that is responsible for Brazil’s fine wines and outstanding beef, as well as one of the world’s great natural wonders and most popular tourist sites in Latin America – the waterfalls at Foz do Iguaçu. It is also home to the exceptional beaches of Santa Catarina from where whale watching is growing in popularity; the majestic highlands of Rio Grande do Sul; and the Jesuit Missions. Five times 10 | www.vbrata.org
larger than its North American cousin, Niagara, the 275 individual falls at Foz stretch nearly 1.8 miles (3 km) across the Iguaçu River to Argentina. The main fall is the largest in the world in terms of volume of water per second and the entire national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Away from the coast, in the geographical centre of South America, there is Brazil’s Central West that offers the striking contrast between the country’s futuristic capital, Brasília, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in its own right along with the historic centre of nearby Goias, and the Pantanal, Brazil’s own wild west that holds one of the largest and richest reserves of flora and fauna known to man. In the north the Pantanal links up and merges with the many undiscovered wonders of the Amazon, which has at its heart the man-made oasis of Manaus. Once, during the rubber boom, one of the world’s richest and most cosmopolitan cities, today Manaus acts as a gateway for visitors looking to explore the Amazon rainforest and it was one of the 12 host cities for the 2014 World Cup. Over 60% of the Amazon is located in Brazil, it is a rainforest that is responsible for generating over half of the planet’s oxygen while the river, which flows for
over 4,200 miles (6,760 kms), pours enough fresh water into the Atlantic on a daily basis to supply the water needs of the UK for over two years. The Northeast of Brazil, with its mix of tropical beaches and culture, is the country’s very own holiday playground. It spreads from Maranhão in the north to Bahia in the south, by way of such popular coastal destinations as São Luiz, Jericoacoara, Fortaleza, Natal, João Pessoa, Olinda, Recife, Porto de Galinhas, Maceió, Praia do Forte, Salvador, Morro de São Paulo, Trancoso and Itacaré. www.vbrata.org | 11
In total, Brazil offers its visitors more than 4,500 miles (7,250 km) of warm, white beaches that go to make up part of the longest continuous coastline of any country in the world. UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Northeast include the historic centres of Salvador, Olinda, S찾o Luis, and S찾o Crist처v찾o, as well as the Serra da Capivara National Park, the Atlantic Rainforest, and the ecological archipelago of Fernando de Noronha, a highly sought after dive site. In short, Brazil is a treasure trove of experiences, attractions, and locations just waiting to be unlocked by the discerning traveller.
This isBrazils time. Should it not now be your time for Brazil?
12 | www.vbrata.org
BRAZIL OVERVIEW www.vbrata.org | 13
14 | www.vbrata.org
Getting to Brazil By air
Brazil is very well connected by air to Europe, North America and its South American neighbours. There are also an increasing number of flights and connections across Africa and the Gulf states.
Brazil’s main international gateways and domestic hubs are the international airports in São Paulo (Guarulhos – GRU)
At immigration non-Brazilians will have their passport, visa (if required) and other immigration formalities checked. Like most international airports, the airports in Brazil have separate lines for national passport holders and foreign visitors. Foreign passport holders should make sure they get their passports stamped. Brazil’s international airports offer duty free goods on arrival, normally close to the baggage pick up area, and visitors, on presentation of their passport and ticket, will be allowed to purchase up to US$500 worth of duty free products, including drink and tobacco.
www.vbrata.org | 15
From the UK the carriers offering direct, nonstop flights to Brazil are British Airways and LATAM Airlines. Other European carriers offering connecting flights to Brazil from the UK include Air Europa, Air France, Alitalia, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa, Swiss and TAP. TAP offers non-stop flights from Europe to more destinations in Brazil than any other carrier. It is also possible to connect from the UK to Brazil over North America with American Airlines, Delta and United.
and Rio de Janeiro (Galeão – GIG). São Paulo and Rio also have smaller airports closer to the city centres that are used for the air-shuttle between the two cities and a number of other short haul regional services. They are Congonhas (CGH) in São Paulo and Santos Dumont (SDU) in Rio.
By ship Although Brazil is one of the main regions of the world for cruising, and Rio is a prime port of call for world cruises, there are no regular shipping lines between Europe and Brazil. The best time to find a ship on which to travel is when they are relocating to Brazil at the end of the European summer season or returning to Europe at the end of the Brazilian summer season. By bus Despite the distances involved, it is possible to travel from Brazil to another country by bus. The journey to Buenos Aires from Rio de Janeiro, for example, takes 44 hours and covers over 1,800 miles (2,900 km). Reservations should be made in advance through a travel agent or at the relevant bus terminal. Immigration formalities take place at the respective borders. 16 | www.vbrata.org
Getting Around In Brazil By air
Because of the size of Brazil the most effective, and at times cost effective way of getting around the country, is by air. The main national carriers include Azul, Gol, Avianca Brasil and LATAM Airlines that use certain airports as major hubs for serving regions of the country. In the southeast they include SĂŁo Paulo (GRU), and Rio (GIG). Other hubs include Porto Alegre (POA) and Curitiba (CWB) in the south; BrasĂlia (BSB) in the central west; and Salvador (SSA), Recife (REC) and Fortaleza (FOR) in the northeast.
Airpass If travelling extensively in Brazil it may be worth purchasing a Brazil Airpass that can consist of up to nine coupons, each coupon being valid for one domestic flight in Brazil in economy class.
Fortaleza, the capital of the northeast state of Ceara, for example, is nearly as far from Rio de Janeiro, 1,700 miles, as Buenos Aires.
The Brazil Airpass can only be purchased with an international roundtrip ticket departing from a city outside of Brazil, with the destination of any city in Brazil. Full details are available on VBRATAâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s website (www.vbrata.org.uk) or from any VBRATA tour operator or airline member. There is also a South American Airpass that enables passengers to fly within South America and covers cities in Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Peru, Uruguay and Venezuela. TRAVEL TIPS
The cost of the South American Airpass is based on the mileage covered from 1,200 to 8,200 miles. By bus With over one million miles of roads, there is an extensive domestic bus service in Brazil linking all the main cities. An inexpensive way to view the country, distances can be considerable.
www.vbrata.org | 17
By car The big international car rental companies such as Avis and Hertz operate in the major Brazilian cities alongside national and local companies. The rental agencies accept most credit cards but tend to restrict the minimum age of the driver to 25. As a visitor all that is required to drive in Brazil is a full valid British or European driving licence. It is preferable to take a licence with a photo. There is zero tolerance to drink and drive. Like the buses, the main restrictions to driving around Brazil are the distances, otherwise the main highways are good and well sign posted. Check with the rental company if the car is restricted to the state you have rented it in, or can be used throughout Brazil. By train With only 17,500 miles of rail track, compared to over one million miles of road, the passenger rail network in Brazil is extremely limited and not a viable option for travelling around the country. 18 | www.vbrata.org
There are, however, a number of scenic routes, including across the Pantanal. One of the main operators is Serra Verde (www.serraverdeexpress.com.br). By ship As one of the most popular areas in the world for cruising, it is possible to travel up and down the Brazilian coast by ship. Besides Rio, popular ports of call include Manaus, BelĂŠm, Fortaleza, Recife, Salvador and VitĂłria. In high season it is also possible to cruise to neighbouring countries such as Uruguay, Argentina and Chile.
Getting Around Town By Car / Car Rentals
Taxis Taxis in Brazil are relatively cheap when compared to Europe and easy to find in the major cities. Taxis can be stopped in the street, or most cities have a radio taxi fleet that can be booked by phone and will come and pick you up at a prebooked time. While more expensive, the cars will be larger and air-conditioned.
Metro A number of Brazilian cities, most notably SĂŁo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, have modern metro services. Most have good websites in English and with maps and information about the stations such as www.metro.sp.gov.br and www.metrorio.com.br. With the extension of the metro in Rio through Copacabana to Ipanema, the system has become of much more use to visitors either wanting to get downtown from the beach areas or to get to the beaches from hotels in Botafogo, Flamengo and downtown.
City Buses In Brazilian cities you are never very far from a bus or bus stop. There are thousands of them, and because of this the main problem for any visitor is finding which is the right bus to get on and going in which direction, as many www.vbrata.org | 19
Unless you know a city well it is often better to stick to taxis than rent a car which you may have trouble parking. There is also zero tolerance to drink and drive. Some car rental companies will offer to rent a car and driver.
routes are circular. Pick the wrong one, and you can end up miles off your intended route.
20 | www.vbrata.org
For many British visitors, the southeast is the natural gateway to Brazil as it is home to the countryâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s two busiest international airports and domestic hubs, SĂŁo Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. Few first time visitors to Brazil from the UK miss the opportunity to visit Rio de Janeiro, while SĂŁo Paulo is by far the most important business and financial centre in South America and therefore a natural destination for business executives looking to expand and influence their activities in Brazil and the region.
Rio, which hosted the final of 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Games, is both a major cosmopolitan city and a tropical resort. As a major city it has all you might expect. First class restaurants, sophisticated night clubs, fashionable bars, musical extravaganzas, theatres, cinemas, museums, art galleries, world class sport, designer stores and stylish shopping centres.
Whatever the expectations, most visitors find Rio de Janeiro to be more awe-inspiring and vibrant than words, photos or even videos can do justice.
None of this takes into account the overall beauty of the city that has made Rio globally famous and a much sought after destination.
www.vbrata.org | 21
Rio de Janeiro
As a resort, Rio has miles of golden beaches, great weather for most of the year, accommodation to appeal to every taste and budget, folklore, typical foods and music, sightseeing, and that feeling that you have really travelled.
It is the mountains and sea that have given the world’s largest tropical city its beauty, and it is these same topographical features that have dictated how Rio has spread out along the coast and inland since being discovered by Europeans in the early 16th century. Many of Rio’s attractions have links to the mountains and sea and are household names, and not just in Brazil. There is Corcovado Mountain and the Statue of Christ the Redeemer, considered one of the modern seven wonders of the world, from where visitors can look down on Sugar Loaf Mountain, another global landmark, and the bay of Rio, a bay so large that the first explorers assumed it was the mouth of a great river and called it River of January, or Rio de Janeiro. The beaches are equally well known, from Copacabana to Ipanema, while in between are suburbs whose names are synonymous with the city’s leading football teams, clubs such as Flamengo and Botafogo. The big football games are still played at the Maracanã Stadium
22 | www.vbrata.org
which when it opened for the 1950 World Cup could handle crowds in excess of 200,000. Sixty years on the stadium is still one of the largest in the world and hosted the final of the 2014 World Cup and the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2016 Olympics and Paralympic Games. Rio is also a cultural city. It is the birthplace of both bossa nova and samba, and its musicians remain at the forefront of Brazilian musical trends. The country’s main TV network, Globo, is based in Rio, as are much of the country’s film industry and South America’s main film festival. The city’s carnival is the world’s biggest and most famous, while the celebrations to see in the New Year on Copacabana Beach are one of the most spectacular. Rio de Janeiro was the first South American city to have hosted the Olympic and Paralympic Games, and only the third city in the southern hemisphere after Melbourne and Sydney.
SOUTHEAST www.vbrata.org | 23
24 | www.vbrata.org
São Paulo São Paulo is the business heart of Brazil and of South America. The economy of the state of São Paulo alone is larger than the economy of any other South American country, so when the business leaders of São Paulo talk, the region listens.
Both are home to many of the city’s better and more interesting hotels. Paulistas, as natives of the state of São Paulo are known, work hard, but they also play hard. They are aware that their city does not have the beauty and charm of neighbouring Rio, but that does not stop them from using their leisure time to the best, especially at night.
The city is the largest in South America, almost twice the size of Rio, and the fourth largest urban centre in the world. With a population of close to 11 million it is the largest city in the Southern Hemisphere, while the metropolitan area’s population of close to 21 million puts it on a par with New York and not far behind the entire population of Australia or Scandinavia. It covers an area five times that of Paris. SOUTHEAST
In terms of its layout, São Paulo has more in common with Los Angeles than New York, in that instead of having one clearly defined centre or heart, it is a sprawling metropolis with many different centres of activity. Taking the size of São Paulo into account is important for any visitor, because if you choose a hotel in the wrong part of town you can get stuck in the traffic for hours as you try to cross the city. Happily São Paulo offers the best, largest and most diverse selection of hotels in South America, with all the major brands represented and spread across the metropolis. If visiting on business, check with the people that you will be meeting and visiting as to where they are located. Are they located close to Brooklin Novo or perhaps closer to Cerqueira Cesar?
www.vbrata.org | 25
26 | www.vbrata.org
São Paulo is a city that prides itself on its gastronomic excellence, offering not only the best of Brazilian cuisine, especially the barbecue houses, but also a truly eclectic mix of restaurants serving dishes from the four corners of the globe. For many food critics, São Paulo now boasts the best selection of top restaurants in the world. If the nightlife is unrivalled in Latin America, the same can also be said for the shopping. Visitors can choose between traditional and modern shopping centres, such as Iguatemi, Morumbi and Cidade Jardim, or exclusive boutiques, the most famous of which are found in and around Rua Oscar Freire, the city’s Rodeo Drive. São Paulo also offers world-class museums, art galleries and sport, including the Brazilian
Formula 1 Grand Prix, a race that more often than not decides the drivers and manufacturers championship. As you would expect São Paulo has a worldclass football programme – and football museum – and is home to many of South America’s most famous and successful clubs, including Corinthians, Palmeiras and São Paulo, as well as Pele’s Santos from the nearby port of the same name. São Paulo hosted games during the 2014 World Cup, including the opening match.
The Historical Towns of Minas Gerais With Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo as its neighbours, it is all too easy to overlook the state of Minas Gerais. The state capital, Belo Horizonte, is a vibrant and modern city with a good selection of bars and restaurants, especially in the Savassi and Funcionários districts. Rua da Bahia, in the city centre, is another good place to enjoy an evening out. Belo, as it is often called by locals, is the third-biggest conurbation in the Brazilian south east and with a metropolitan population of 5.6 million, Brazil’s third largest city. www.vbrata.org | 27
The city’s nightlife caters for every taste and budget, as well as every age group and sexual persuasion. Bars and clubs abound. The city is popular with clubbers, yet also offers world-class opera and ballet. It is a key stop on most “world tours”, so on almost any given night it will be possible to see a show involving leading Brazilian and international acts and artists.
30 | www.vbrata.org
The driving force for the development of Pampulha in the 1940s was the city’s then mayor, Juscelino Kubitschek. In 1956 he would be sworn in as the country ’s president, a president who made the building of Brasília an absolute priority. Many of the architects and landscapers used by Kubitschek on Pampulha, would go on to work on Brasília, most notable Oscar Niemeyer and Burle Marx. Pampulha, and Belo in general, is home to many outstanding examples of Niemeyer’s architectural genius. Pampulha is also home to the Mineirão, one of Brazil’s largest football stadiums, which has been totally refurbished to host games during the 2014 World Cup. Belo hosted group games during the 1950 World Cup, most famously England’s 1-0 defeat to
the US that effectively knocked them out of the cup. Belo Horizonte is also one of the gateways to the real treasures of Minas Gerais, the historic and colonial towns that sprung up in the 17th century after the discovery of gold and precious stones in the region. Many of the towns have changed little architecturally since being first built, and several are considered by UNESCO to be World Heritage Sites. Towns such as Ouro Preto, Congonhas, Diamantina, Mariana, Tiradentes and São João del Rei. For any traveller with an interest in history or architecture, the historic towns of Minas are a ‘must’ place to visit, especially if visiting neighbouring Rio de Janeiro. There are numerous daily flights from both São Paulo and Rio to Belo Horizonte, or the historic towns are a comfortable drive from Rio, one of the nearest towns, São João del Rei, being just over 200 miles (337 km) away. Accommodation in the historic towns is, as you might expect, mainly in picturesque, historic pousadas, inns and lodges. www.vbrata.org | 31
Laid out in a grid system, the centre of Belo is fairly easy to get around on foot or by public transport. A “planned” city, the area known as Pampulha is often credited with being the early blueprint for the Brazilian capital, Brasília.
32 | www.vbrata.org
Traditionally the main attraction for visitors in the south of Brazil, and one of the world’s great natural wonders, are the falls at Foz do Iguaçu (Iguassu Falls) that border Brazil and Argentina. Five times larger than Niagara, the 275 individual falls stretch nearly 2 miles (3 km) across the Iguaçu River. The main fall, the Devil’s Throat, is the largest fall in the world in terms of volume of water per second.
Foz do Iguaçu Foz do Iguaçu can easily be reached by plane from Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo. It is also possible to take a bus, but it is a drive of over 600 miles from São Paulo and 900 miles from Rio. A visit to Foz is often combined with tours that include Rio de Janeiro and the Argentine capital, Buenos Aires, which is located a further 670 miles to the south. The falls can be visited at any time of the year and viewed from both Brazil and Argentina. The main Brazilian viewing area is situated in a national park that covers an area of more than 656 square miles of sub-tropical rainforest that houses an immense diversity of flora and fauna. The falls and park, an attraction in its own right, were designated a World Heritage Site in 1986.
www.vbrata.org | 33
FOZ & SOUTH
While Foz is the main attraction in the south, the southern states of Rio Grande do Sul, Santa Catarina and Paraná are full of contrasts and surprises. It is the region responsible for Brazil’s fine wines and most of the country’s outstanding beef. It is also the region where European influences mix with those of the ‘gaúchos’ and where, in the 17th century, the Jesuits built their missions alongside the settlements of the Guarani Indians. Attractions also include the cities of Porto Alegre, Florianópolis, and Curitiba; the beaches
of Santa Catarina, from where whale watching is growing in popularity; and the highlands of Rio Grande do Sul.
The only hotel located in the park, and directly at the falls, is the Hotel das Cataratas, part of the Orient-Express group, the same group that operates the Copacabana Palace in Rio.
1885 has been taken between Curitiba and Paranaguá on the coast, while between July and November there is the option to whale watch off the coast of Santa Catarina.
Foz do Iguaçu also offers visitors the chance to see one of man’s greatest engineering feats, the Itaipu Dam. To make room for the dam, and what is one of the most powerful hydroelectric was removed from the Paraná River between 1970 and 1984 to fill 25 silos the size of the Maracanã Stadium in Rio de Janeiro.
The south is home to Blumenau, with its distinct Bavarian architecture and Germanic influences, including its own Oktoberfest; Curitiba, a town considered by urban planners to be near perfect in its concept; Florianópolis and its outstanding beaches; and Porto Alegre, the largest and best developed city of the southern states and the gateway to the mountain resorts of Gramado and Canela.
The dam, which runs five miles across the river from Paraguay to Brazil, can be visited as part of a guided tour. There is also a special light show played out on the surface of the dam every Friday and Saturday night.
The Southern States Besides Foz attractions in the south include the Itaimbezinho Canyon, the largest in Latin America at over 2,000 feet deep, four miles in length and over a mile wide in places. There is also the picturesque railway journey that since 34 | www.vbrata.org
Both Curitiba and Porto Alegre hosted games during the 2014 World Cup. There are also the mystical rock formations at Vila Velha that have been carved over 350 million years by the rain and wind. Unlike Rio de Janeiro, the south of Brazil has four distinct seasons including a real winter when, between July and August, the temperatures dip noticeably.
FOZ & SOUTH www.vbrata.org | 35
36 | www.vbrata.org
Brasília: Capital for the Future The centre and heart of Brazil has more to attract the visitor than might appear obvious at first glance. Highlights include the architectural icon that is the nation’s capital, Brasília, and further west one of the planet’s great collections of flora and fauna, an area known as the Pantanal.
The diplomatic as well as the political community also had to transfer from Rio de Janeiro to Brasília, and that gave many foreign governments the opportunity to build modern new embassies that reflected the spirit of their countries.
It is Brasília – and not Rio de Janeiro – that is the capital of Brazil. A purpose built city constructed in the heart of Brazil to be the capital of the new Brazil, the country of the future. 50 years on from its inauguration, Brasília is a UNESCO World Heritage Site that is famous for its daring, original and modernist architecture and innovative urban planning.
to build Brasília as the nation’s new capital and gave the go ahead to start construction as soon as he took office in 1956. By 21 April 1960 he was able to inaugurate the city with US President Eisenhower at his side.
It was President Juscelino Kubitschek, Brazil’s 21st, that made Brasília a reality. If John Kennedy wanted to put a man on the moon, Kubitschek was determined
www.vbrata.org | 37
Brasília’s unique layout is often compared to an airplane, a bird in flight, or a bow and arrow. If a plane, the principal government and public buildings are found along its ‘fuselage’, while the ‘wings’ contain the residential areas along with many of the city’s bars, restaurants and hotels. A good vantage point to view Brasília from is the observation deck of the TV and Digital TV towers.
The Metropolitan Cathedral designed to resemble a crown of thorns is another Niemeyer masterpiece. The city’s pyramidshaped National Theatre (Teatro Nacional) is also a striking building. Its auditoriums are used for a wide range of cultural events; including concerts by the city’s own symphony orchestra.
Running through the ‘fuselage’ is the ‘Monumental Axis’ (Eixo Monumental), which is lined by the most important government buildings including the huge Palácio do Itamaraty that houses Brazil’s foreign ministry. The nose of the fuselage is home to the Houses of Parliament (Congresso Nacional) and the office of the president (Palácio do Planalto).
Due to Brasília’s strategic location, it is relatively easy for people touring Brazil to visit, if only for a 24-hour stop over. Most non-tourist visitors go to Brasília for meetings with the Brazilian government. All three powers of the republic are based here, parliament, judiciary and presidency. Because of the working nature of Brasília, tourists will often find hotel rates are considerably cheaper from Friday to Monday.
Outstanding architectural features include one of architect Oscar Niemeyer’s most famous creations, the Congresso Nacional, a building that consists of two 28-story-high towers flanked by the futuristic dome of the Senate and the ‘saucer’ of the Chamber of Deputies. It is possible to arrange guided tours of the Congresso Nacional, the Palácio do Planalto and Palácio do Itamaraty, and to watch parliamentary debates from the public gallery.
Located in the heart of Brazil, Brasília has excellent flight connections to Rio and São Paulo, as well as the key cities in the Northeast. Flights between Rio, São Paulo and Manaus (the main gateway to the Amazon) often stop in Brasília. There are also frequent flights to Cuiabá, one of the gateways to the Pantanal, while close by is the spectacular Chapada dos Veadeiros national park. Both Brasília and Cuiabá hosted games during the 2014 World Cup.
38 | www.vbrata.org
Brasília is also considered a major centre of spiritualism with many spiritual communities located on the outskirts of the city and in the neighbouring state of Goiás. These attract followers from around the globe. CENTRAL WEST
PANTANAL Until recently the area known as the Pantanal has been relatively unknown outside of Brazil, but thanks to the improvements in access and the accommodation on offer, the region is now being discovered by more adventurous travellers with an interest in nature. Located in the geographical heart of South America, the Pantanal stretches across the states of Mato Grosso and Mato Grosso do Sul and west into both Bolivia and Paraguay, it covers an area of 75,000 square miles (195,000 sq km), making it the world’s largest wetlands. Cuiabá in the north and Campo Grande and Corumbá in the south are the main gateways to the region. Covering an area nearly the size of the United Kingdom, the Pantanal, is made up of a collection of ecosystems that house one of the planet’s greatest variety www.vbrata.org | 39
40 | www.vbrata.org
Due to its more open vegetation, it is often easier to view wildlife and birdlife in the Pantanal than in the more dense vegetation of the Amazon region. During the rainy season, which runs from November through April, the animals and other wildlife take shelter on the higher ground as the waters rise and flood up to 80% of the plains. In May the waters start to recede, and while the land-based wildlife has more space to spread, the fish and other water born species find themselves corralled in lagoons. Large quantities of over 250 species of fish have been catalogued in the rivers and waters of the Pantanal and are a major attraction for fishermen.
Ramblers head to the west of CuiabĂĄ, to the Chapada dos GuimarĂŁes, the canyon and national park that are the geographic centre of South America. The area around Bonito in the southern Pantanal is also considered an attraction in its own right, with its abundance of waterfalls, caves and crystal clear waters that appeal to divers and snorkelers who can explore this natural aquarium in person. Another new attraction is the Trem do Pantanal, a train service which in seven hours crosses part of the southern Pantanal from Campo Grande to Miranda, via Aquidauana.
www.vbrata.org | 41
Because of the changing landscape there is debate, even in Brazil, of when it is best to visit the Pantanal. The most
popular period for bird watching is June to September, but for those looking for wildlife there is a good reason to go in the rainy season when it is only possible to reach many of the lodges by boat or small plane.
42 | www.vbrata.org
Just about everyone on the planet has heard of the mighty Amazon River, a river that flows for over 4,200 miles (6,760 km) through the heart of the tropical rainforest and region that we know simply as the Amazon. It is a river that pours enough fresh water out into the Atlantic Ocean on a daily basis to supply the entire water needs of the United Kingdom for nearly two years. It is the region to go to if you are in any way interested in superlatives when it comes to statistics.
For all of that, the Amazon, one of Brazil’s most iconic destinations, still remains relatively uncharted and untouched. It is a place where new discoveries are still being made on a regular basis. Belém, the capital of the state of Pará, is one gateway to the Amazon and is located just 60 miles (100 km) from the Atlantic Ocean. It is a good starting point from which to visit the island of Marajó, an island the size of Switzerland that is the largest island in the world to be surrounded by freshwater. As well as its lush vegetation and birdlife the island, which sits almost directly on the equator, is known for its large herds of water buffalo.
www.vbrata.org | 43
AMAZON & NORTH
Over 60% of the Amazon rainforest is in Brazil and it covers nearly half of the Brazilian territory. It is responsible for supplying over half of the planet’s oxygen and for hosting a tenth of the world’s 10 million living species and over 30 per cent of all known plant and animal species, including an estimated 1,800 species of birds, 250 different mammals and a similar diversity of animal and insect life. The river itself is
home to an estimated 2,000 different types of fish. The Amazon is also home to Brazil’s highest point, the 9,888 ft (3,014 m) Pico da Neblina in the state of Roraima.
The most famous gateway to the Amazon is the city of Manaus. A city known for its opera house, it was once one of the richest cities in the world and during the rubber boom – between 1890 and 1920 – was responsible for nearly all the rubber produced in the world. Many of the trappings from that period, including the Teatro Amazonas, can still be seen and admired throughout a city that was considered to be the “Paris of the jungle.”
Such is the size of the Amazon River that although it is located over 1,000 miles (1,600 km) from the Atlantic, Manaus is still a regular port of call for the world’s largest cruise ships that also stop along the way at Belém and Santarém. In smaller boats it is possible to cruise all the way up to Tabatinga on the Brazilian border with Peru and Colombia and on to Iquitos in Peru, some 2,310 miles (3,700 km) from the Atlantic. The Amazon’s main folkloric festivity, the Boi-Bumbá, the Amazon’s answer to Rio’s carnival, takes place every year on the last weekend of June at Parintins, an island in the middle of the Amazon River, one day’s cruise downstream from Manaus.
44 | www.vbrata.org
AMAZON & NORTH www.vbrata.org | 45
46 | www.vbrata.org
Brazil’s tropical playground is an area known as the northeast that encompasses nine states that between them cover an area larger than the UK, Germany, France and Italy combined. The northeast, all of which is located in the Tropics, is a paradise for travellers in search of perfect beaches, equally perfect weather and dramatic landscapes, all touched by culture, history, culinary delights and folklore. It is also the closest part of Brazil to Europe, closer than even the Caribbean thanks to direct flights.
There is a lot to see and experience in Brazil’s northeast. Beautiful tropical beaches are a given, and spread over 2,000 miles (3,200 km) from the south of Bahia to the north of Ceará by way of Sergipe, Alagoas, Pernambuco, Paraíba and Rio Grande do Norte. Along the coast, visitors will come across beautifully preserved colonial towns and cities – many of them UNESCO World Heritage sites - that have developed and grown since the first Europeans landed in Brazil and Bahia in 1500. Towns such as Porto Seguro, Salvador, Marechal Deodoro, Olinda, Recife, João Pessoa (located close to the easternmost point of the Americas), Natal, Fortaleza, and São Luís.
www.vbrata.org | 47
The development of the northeast has been rapid for tourism, and investment in the past decade has resulted in greatly improved access to the region by both air and road. The accommodation now ranges from modern deluxe resort properties and
brand hotels, through luxury privately owned boutique hotels and pousadas, all the way to a simple hammock slung on the veranda of a fisherman’s hut.
The northeast is also synonymous with exotic flavours and vibrant colours. Music, dance, folklore, religion and regional culinary pleasures all abound, with as many different delicacies on offer as there are states and accents. The region has some of Brazil’s most dramatic scenery that includes the Chapada Diamantina in the interior of Bahia; the São Francisco River, which cuts across the states of Bahia, Pernambuco, Alagoas and Sergipe; the picture postcard beauty of Jericoacoara Beach in Ceará; Piauí’s Serra da Capivara, the oldest archaeological site in the Americas; the Valley of the Dinosaurs in Paraíba, with its clearly visible dinosaur tracks; and the breathtaking Lençóis Maranhenses of Maranhão, a great desert spread like an immense bed sheet which rolls back inland from the Atlantic coast for nearly 30 miles (50 km) and is dotted with thousands of crystal clear lakes. There is also the archipelagos of Fernando de Noronha, 48 | www.vbrata.org
an ecological reserve belonging to the state of Pernambuco, and Abrolhos, off the southern tip of Bahia, that are considered among the best dive sites in the world. Four cities in the northeast hosted games during the 2014 World Cup. They are Salvador, Recife, Natal and Fortaleza.
Salvador Salvador and the state of Bahia are the European birthplace of Brazil, and also the region where Brazil’s links to Africa are most prominent. Today Salvador is the fifth largest metropolitan area in Brazil, with a population of 4.8 million, and the ninth most populous city in Latin America, Bahia, by itself, is the size of France. Europeans first landed in Brazil on 23 April 1500 at a spot close to what today is the town of Porto Seguro in the south of Bahia. They were the first Europeans to land in Brazil and were greeted by the native Amerindians.
their former glory. The entire area is considered to be a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. Away from Salvador popular tourist destinations along the coast to the south include Porto Seguro, Arraial d’Ajuda, Trancoso, Itacaré, Itaparica and Morro de São Paulo. To the north is Praia do Forte and Costa do Sauípe, to name just a few. No less spectacular are the national parks of the interior, most notably the Chapada Diamantina that offers many trails through spectacular unspoilt scenery. The village of Lençóis, 250 miles (400 km) inland from Salvador, is considered the best base for trekkers interested in exploring the natural beauty of the Chapada.
In 1549 the city of Salvador was founded by the Portuguese around a triangular peninsula that separates the Bay of All Saints (Baia de Todos os Santos) from the Atlantic. It was the first colonial capital of Brazil, and is one of the oldest cities in the New World. It retained its position as capital until 1763 when the title transferred to Rio de Janeiro. For many years Salvador was the most important seaport in the southern hemisphere and a major centre for the sugar industry and the slave trade. It is the slave trade that has given Bahia and Salvador its African flavour. Over 80% of the current population of the city is estimated to be able trace its ancestry back to Africa. No surprise, therefore, that those African influences can be found in the region’s cuisine, music, dance, dress, arts and crafts, and even religion. The historical centre of Salvador contains an abundance of buildings and churches that date from the 17th to the 19th century. At its heart is the Pelourinho where colonial mansions and churches have been restored to www.vbrata.org | 49
Pernambuco’s Reef In Portuguese the word “recife” means “reef”, and it is the reefs that sit off the coast of Pernambuco that have helped make its beaches so special, the reefs breaking up the waves rolling in from the Southern Atlantic Ocean. This includes the beaches of Recife itself, including the popular Praia de Boa Viagem. Recife and neighbouring Olinda boast a fine collection of colonial buildings and churches dating from the 16th and 17th century. Olinda, one of Brazil’s bestpreserved colonial centres, is recognised by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Olinda’s carnival celebrations, along with those of Recife, are amongst Brazil’s most popular and are driven by the region’s signature frevo beat. Like Salvador, Recife grew and was influenced by its residential mix of Portuguese settlers, Amerindians and African slaves. The city also reflects the influence of the Dutch settlers who invaded and controlled Recife and Olinda from 1630 to 1654. During this period the city was considered one of the world’s most cosmopolitan. 50 | www.vbrata.org
Close to Recife are some of the most popular beach resorts in Brazil. 50 miles (83 kms) to the south is Porto de Galinhas where it is possible to visit the reef and swim in natural tidal pools teaming with exotic tropical fish. The village of Porto de Galinhas has character and charm that is reflected in its many bars and restaurants. Other popular areas along the coast of Pernambuco include Tamandaré, Itamaracá and, for surfers, Maracaípe. Inland the main attraction is Caruaru, famous for the region’s ceramic figures, and Novo Jerusalem where the Passion of Christ is performed each Easter week. One of Pernambuco’s most famous destinations is actually located in the Atlantic Ocean, 220 miles (354 km) off the Brazilian coast. It is an unspoilt archipelago known as Fernando de Noronha. The main island, which makes up 91% of the total landmass, is just six miles long and 2 miles wide and has a population of 2,000. As well as its outstanding beaches and laidback lifestyle, Fernando de Noronha offers the best diving in Brazil. The diversity of the different species of sea life and the unique accumulation of dolphins lead UNESCO to declare the islands a World Heritage Site in 2001.
the city. 50 miles to the south is Pipa. Pipa is a laidback, relaxed beach resort that is also an ecological reserve. It is made up of a number of attractive beaches, including Praia de Amor, which is known for its dolphins. Also popular is the more peaceful Tibau de Sul.
Natal was founded on Christmas Day 1599 and first christened Santiago, it was later renamed ‘Natal’, which is Portuguese for Christmas. It was also briefly called New Amsterdam after the Dutch occupied it in 1633. The city’s most famous landmark is the star-shaped Forte dos Reis Magos (Three Kings Fort), while the city’s most popular beach, with a wide variety of hotels, bars and restaurants, is Ponta Negra.
Between Pipa and Natal is what is known as Barreira do Inferno, Brazil’s space centre and rocket launch pad. Attractions to the north of Natal include the famous giant sand dunes at Praia do Genipabu that attract visitors who explore and play amongst the massive dunes in beach buggies.
The city became a major US and Allied base during World War II, and was used as the major hub for shipping supplies from the US across the Atlantic to Africa and up into Europe, or other areas of conflict. Many ex-servicemen have fond memories of their time in Natal.
www.vbrata.org | 51
Fortaleza With a coastline of over 350 miles (570 km) of mostly-unspoilt sandy beaches Cearรก, and especially the coastal region close to Fortaleza, have been a popular holiday destination for Brazilians for a number of years. Fortaleza is the seventh most populous metropolitan area in Brazil with nearly 3.6 million inhabitants. It is the closest of the major Brazilian cities to Europe, and flight time between Lisbon and Fortaleza is around seven hours. To understand the size of Brazil, that is not much longer than the flight time between Porto Alegre in the south of Brazil and Fortaleza. Two of the most popular destinations in Cearรก for European visitors are Canoa Quebrada and Jericoacoara. Canoa Quebrada, located 113 miles (182 km) east of Fortaleza, was once a sleepy fishing village, but is now better known for its bohemian lifestyle and laidback bar and restaurant scene. Buggy tours are a popular option and take visitors along the relatively deserted beaches 52 | www.vbrata.org
to hidden away bars and giant dunes backed by red sandstone cliffs. A trip to Jericoacoara is an adventure in its own right as the village is not accessible by normal vehicles, at least not the final part across the dunes where buggies and 4x4 vehicles have to be used. The village, located over 186 miles (300 km) west of Fortaleza, is basically a few sand streets lined by simple houses. Accommodation is either truly rustic or sophisticated charm, and the same is true of the bars and restaurants.
NORTHEAST www.vbrata.org | 53
54 | www.vbrata.org
Accommodation Brazil offers an excellent and diverse selection of accommodation. The larger cities have a good offering of hotels that include everything from budget brands to deluxe international properties, from privately owned boutique properties to youth hostels. Tourist areas by the coast have the option of large, sophisticated, allinclusive resort properties belonging to internationally known brands, Brazilian and international chain hotels, as well as the smaller, privately owned establishments, known as ‘pousadas’, that may only have two or three rooms or as many as 50 or more, and be either very simple and rustic, or super sophisticated.
America nation, except Chile and Ecuador, and has a coastline of 4,500 miles (7,250 km).
Boating & Yachting With a coastline of 4,500 miles (7,250 km), Brazilians have always been at one with the sea and yachting is a popular pastime, and a sport that the country has excelled at competitively, including at Olympic level. It is possible to charter all type and size of yachts in Brazil and the starting point, as in Rio de Janeiro, is normally the city’s marina.
A-Z OF BRAZIL
International brands operating in Brazil include Accor, Golden Tulip, Grand Hyatt, Hilton, Iberostar, Ibis, InterContinental, Marriott, Mercure, Novotel, Orient-Express, Pestana, Sofitel, Sol Meliá and Starwood, while Brazilian hoteliers include Atlântica, Blue Tree, Fasano, Othon, Transamérica, Tropical and Windsor, to name just a few. Price in Brazil is normally the best indication to the degree of comfort you can expect, the facilities that go with it, and the location. Most properties, including the smallest pousadas, will probably have a web site with a good selection of images.
Area Brazil is the world’s fifth largest nation in terms of area, covering 3.3 million square miles (8.5 million square km). Brazil is larger than the European continent, continental USA and Australia. It borders every South
www.vbrata.org | 55
Brazilian Tourist Information Tourist Information for Brazil can be obtained online at the following:
VBRATA VISIT BRAZIL TRAVEL ASSOCIATION
Brazilian Embassy & Consulate in the UK
BRAZILIAN TOURIST BOARD (EMBRATUR)
www.visitbrasil.com The Brazilian Embassy in London handles all diplomatic, political, economic, commercial and cultural issues.
EMBASSY OF BRAZIL 14-16 Cockspur Street London SW1Y 5BL Tel: 020 7747 4500 email@example.com www.brazil.org.uk For information about visas, vaccinations, weddings, etc, the Brazilian Consulate General in London should be contacted.
BRAZILIAN CONSULATE GENERAL 3 Vere Street London W1G 0DH Tel: 020 7659 1550 Fax: 020 7659 1554 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cglondres.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us
British Embassy & Consulates in Brazil The British Embassy in Brazil is based in the capital, Brasília. Britain’s main consulates that support the Embassy are located in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro.
BRITISH EMBASSY Setor de Embaixadas Sul Quadra 801, Lote 8 Brasília, DF 70408-900 Tel: (55) 61 3329 2300 Fax: (55) 61 3329 2369 www.ukinbrazil.fco.gov.uk
BRITISH CONSULATE GENERAL SÃO PAULO Rua Ferreira de Araújo, 741 São Paulo, 05428-002 Tel: (55) 11 3094 2700 Fax: (55) 11 3094 2717 email@example.com
BRITISH CONSULATE GENERAL RIO DE JANEIRO Praia do Flamengo, 284 (2nd Floor) Flamengo, Rio de Janeiro, 22210-030 Tel: (55) 21 2555 9600 Fax: (55) 21 2555 9671 firstname.lastname@example.org
56 | www.vbrata.org
Business Hours BANKS Monday to Friday, 10am-4pm. OFFICES Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm. STORES Monday to Friday, 9am-6pm. Saturdays, 9am-1pm. SHOPPING CENTRES Monday to Saturday, 10am-10pm. The largest shopping centres, such as Barra Shopping and Rio Sul in Rio de Janeiro, and Morumbi Shopping in São Paulo, also open on Sunday from 3pm-9pm.
PETROL STATIONS Petrol stations are allowed to operate 24 hours a day, although not all do so.
A-Z OF BRAZIL
SUPERMARKETS Monday to Saturday, 8am-10pm. A limited number open on Sundays or are open 24 hours.
Business Contacts Brazil is the UK’s most important trading partner in Latin America, with bilateral trade between Brazil and the UK worth over £3.2 billion. Brazil is the world’s fifth biggest consumer market and 400 of the world’s 500 biggest companies operate in the country. Individuals or companies looking to do business with Brazil should contact the Commercial Section of the Brazilian Embassy in London or UK Trade & Investment. UK Trade & Investment 1 Victoria Street London SW1H 0ET Tel: 020 7215 5000 www.ukti.gov.uk www.vbrata.org | 57
Carnival & Celebrations Carnival is an annual celebration that embraces the entire country, even a business centre like São Paulo. The celebrations have far more impact on Brazil and its economy than the Christmas and New Year holidays. Most offices and businesses will close for the week of Carnival. Carnival is a moveable feast that is tied to the Roman Catholic calendar. Carnival takes place from the Friday prior to Ash Wednesday and continues up to and including Ash Wednesday itself. In some cities and towns the celebrations take over the entire week and the following weekend. Rio de Janeiro is the most famous and the largest of Brazil’s carnival celebrations, but there are equally impressive carnival activities in Salvador, Recife and Olinda. In Rio the focus is on samba and the parade of the samba schools organised by the League of Samba Schools on the Sunday and 58 | www.vbrata.org
Monday evenings; in Salvador the focus is on the Trio Electricos and the Axé bands that parade through the city; while in Recife and Olinda the driving beat comes from frevo, maracatu and other traditional rhythms. Wherever you stay in Brazil during carnival, you won’t be far from music and a carnival party. Tickets for most major carnival activities can be reserved in advance through the better tour operators in the UK.
Carnival is just one of the many celebrations and festivities that take place throughout the year in Brazil. Highlights include the Festa do Divino held just before Pentecost Sunday (late May or early June); the June festivals (Festa Junina) linked to the feasts of saints John, Anthony, and Peter; Nossa Senhora de Aparecida, on October 12, which is also a national holiday; October also sees the festival of Círio de Nazaré in the city of Belém, at the mouth of the Amazon. The Amazon also has its own carnival, the Boi Bumba, which takes place over the last weekend in June in Parintins, a town 250 miles downstream from Manaus.
Upcoming dates for Carnival (Friday-Wednesday) are: 24 February – 1 March 2017 9-14 February 2018 1-6 March 2019 21-26 February 2020 12-17 February 2021 25 February – 2 March 2022 17-22 February 2023
Children Like many Latin countries, Brazil is very child friendly so expect to find children in restaurants and bars being fussed over by waiters, and out late. Facilities for children throughout the country are normally very good.
www.vbrata.org | 59
A-Z OF BRAZIL
Another major spectacular is seeing in the New Year on Rio’s Copacabana Beach. You will be one of around 3 million people on the beach, the vast majority dressed in white. Hotel beachfront rooms are, not surprisingly, at a premium at this time. While Rio and the rest of Brazil are honouring Iemanjá, the Queen of the Sea, Salvador celebrates the festival of Bom Jesus dos Navegantes.
Climate 90% of Brazil sits within the tropics, although more than 60% of the population live in areas where altitude, sea breezes, or polar fronts cool the temperature. Cities such as São Paulo, Brasília and Belo Horizonte have milder climates averaging just 19°C (66°F). More northerly coastal cities such Rio de Janeiro, Salvador, Recife and Natal have a warmer climate that is balanced by the Trade Winds. Rio, for example, has an average temperature of around 26°C (80°F) which will climb into the high 30s-low 40s (over 100°F) during the summer months. In the southern Brazilian cities of Porto Alegre and Curitiba, the climate is similar to parts of Europe, with even frosts occurring in the winter months (July-August). Summers are hot.
can help you or a tour operator in the organisation of conventions, exhibitions, incentive programmes and meetings.
Disabled Travellers Brazil has been making steady progress in improving accessibility for disabled travellers, but there is still a way to go. Major improvements will be seen in Rio de Janeiro as it prepares to host the Paralympic Games in 2016.
Distances Distances in Brazil (see chart on inside back cover) can be considerable and on road signs will be given in kilometres. One mile is equivalent to 1.62 kilometres.
Diving The Brazilian coast has many good dive sites. Among the most highly rated are the archipelago of Fernando de Noronha; the coast of Pernambuco, around Recife; and the marine park of Abrolhos off the southern coast of the state of Bahia. Equipment for diving can normally be rented locally.
In Brazil the seasons are the reverse of those in Europe and the US: Spring: 22 September to 21 December Summer: 22 December to 21 March Autumn: 22 March to 21 June Winter: 22 June to 21 September
Conferences, Conventions & Exhibitions Brazil is one of the most popular locations for large exhibitions and conferences and many of the cities have the infrastructure to host major events. The country has an extensive network of convention and visitor bureaus that 60 | www.vbrata.org
There is also the challenge of snorkelling in the crystal clear waters of the rivers around Bonito in the interior state of Mato Grosso do Sul, in the Pantanal.
Dress Brazilians dress casually outside the office, even in the major cities. No restaurant insists on collar and tie, although the occasional club may. Collar and tie still predominate in more formal office and business surroundings in São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Brasília.
Entertainment and Nightlife
Brazil produces or imports most of the major international brands of spirit. Brazilian beer is a light lager that is served in draught form (chopp) or bottled. Soft drinks are equally popular including Brazil’s own Guaraná. Brazil is, of course, the world’s largest coffee producer. Caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, made normally from cachaça, sugar and lime. Cachaça is distilled and fermented from crushed sugar cane. Caipirinhas can also be based on rum or vodka.
The entertainment and nightlife scene in Brazil is wide and varied and rarely disappoints.
The legal age to purchase an alcoholic drink in Brazil is 18. There is zero tolerance to drink and drive.
Electrical Current The current in Rio and São Paulo is normally 127 volts (60 cycles), but many of the larger hotels offer 220 volts. If there is any doubt, check with the front desk of the hotel or the owner of the house or apartment. Not all of Brazil is 127 volts, Recife and Brasília, for example, are 220 volts.
São Paulo makes up for the lack of a beach with what is considered to be one of the planet’s best and most eclectic nightlife scenes. From bars to clubs, theatre to musical extravaganzas, São Paulo has it all. The Brazilian music scene covers an immense spectrum of styles and rhythms from the better-known samba and bossa nova, through to choro, forró, frevo, maracatu, MPB, and even Brazilian country and western, rock and heavy metal. Locations to enjoy music range from corner bars to concert halls; from street corners to massive outdoor festivals. Local music dominates the radio and the local stars are as popular and influential as the major international acts, many of which will include shows in Brazil as part of a world tour. www.vbrata.org | 61
A-Z OF BRAZIL
Language The language of Brazil is Portuguese. Spanish and English are the most widely understood and used foreign languages.
Golf which became an Olympic sport in 2016 is growing in popularity in Brazil, and the increasing number of golf courses opening, especially those linked to resort hotels in the northeast, reflects that.
There are no locally published Englishlanguage newspapers in Brazil and due to the impact of the internet, fewer foreign newspapers and periodicals are imported. Hotels have satellite or cable television offering original language programming from the US and Europe and the main news channels, such as the BBC, CNN, etc.
Guide Books & Maps All the major guidebook series publish a guide to Brazil. Many also produce a separate guide for Rio de Janeiro. A selection of books and guides about Brazil can be found in most good book stores in the UK. If not, they can be ordered over the Internet at sites such as www.amazon.co.uk, www.waterstones. com or www.stanfords.co.uk.
Health & Insurance Brazil has a very good network of private hospitals and clinics in all the major metropolitan areas. Private medical care is expensive in Brazil so all visitors are advised to take out medical and travel insurance prior to their arrival.
Money, Banks, ATMs & Credit Cards The Brazilian monetary unit is the real, (plural, reais). There are 100 centavos (C) to the real (R$). The official exchange rate is published daily in the newspapers or on line. The US dollar and the Euro are the most widely accepted foreign currencies and in the main cities there is little problem in changing other currencies, such as British pounds.
There is an extensive network of ATMs throughout Brazil at which visitors can use their cash or credit cards to withdraw reais. Not all ATMs are linked to the international banking system, so you may need to try several in a bank to the find the one that is linked.
The internet is extremely well developed in Brazil and most hotels will have access to the web and there are cyber-cafes in many of the main shopping centres. As in Europe, many shopping centres, hotels and cafes offer free Wi-Fi access.
The most widely accepted credit cards are MasterCard, Visa and American Express. The majority of the major banks are Brazilian, but many foreign banks have an agreement with one or more of the major players.
62 | www.vbrata.org
National Holidays include:
Museums & Galleries
Population Brazil has a population of approximately 193 million, which represents 2.8% of the world’s population and makes it the world’s fifth most populous nation. There are 23 metropolitan areas in the country with a population of over one million, of which São Paulo is the largest with 21 million residents, and Rio de Janeiro second with just over 12 million.
Restaurants and Eating Out Eating out is very often the main focus of the evening in Brazil. The country offers a diversity of culinary flavours and influences including a wide variety of regional styles, most notably those of Bahia and Minas Gerais. There is also a clear influence in the cuisine from Brazil’s earliest discoverers, the Portuguese. Other immigrants have also left their mark, including the French, Spanish and Dutch, and more recently the Italians, Germans and Japanese. The slaves shipped to Brazil from West African also had a major impact, especially on the cuisine of the northeast. Restaurants vary from simple stand up bars, to the most sophisticated luxury. At all price ranges, it is difficult to eat badly in Brazil.
The postal service in Brazil is efficient but at least a week or more should be allowed for postcards and letters mailed back to the UK.
Public Holidays As well national public holidays visitors can be taken by surprise that individual states and cities also have their own separate holidays. www.vbrata.org | 63
A-Z OF BRAZIL
Brazil has a number of world-class galleries and museums, most notably in São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro. The most interesting to the visitor will probably be those that touch on Brazilian subjects and artists. A list of the best will be found in most good guidebooks. Many galleries and museums choose not to open on Monday.
1 January (New Year’s Day); February/ March (Carnival); Good Friday; 21 April (Tiradentes); 1 May (Labour Day); Corpus Christi; 7 September (Independence Day); 12 October (Our Lady of Aparecida); 2 November (All Souls Day); 15 November (Proclamation of the Republic); 25 December (Christmas Day).
Brazil is open and tolerant to all religions and since 1889 has had no official religion. Houses of worship of every denomination can be found in the major cities, but may be harder to find in smaller towns and villages where Roman Catholicism and Pentecostal churches dominate.
Tennis, sailing, fishing, horse riding, jogging, cycling and trekking are all popular throughout Brazil, as are the more extreme sports of white water rafting, surfing, hang-gliding, paragliding and skydiving. Scuba diving is also popular (see diving).
Safety & Security
Team sports include football, basketball and volleyball, volleyball being especially popular on the beaches in one version or another. Indoors sports include billiards, pool and snooker, squash, tenpin bowling and even darts. Due to the diversity of the immigrant population, most national sports are played somewhere in Brazil, even rugby and cricket.
Brazil for the most part is no more dangerous than anywhere in Europe or North America. Violent crimes against tourists are rare, hence the headlines if and when they do happen. Brazil is politically stable with no natural enemies and no terrorist activities. Being sensible and streetwise can often be the key to a trouble-free and enjoyable stay.
Shopping Shopping is a very popular pastime in Brazil and the option in most cities is between window shopping in the boutiques that line the streets in the main commercial areas or heading for the many modern shopping centres and malls that are found in all Brazilian cities and larger towns. Many of the centres are amongst the largest in Latin America and boast hundreds of stores under one roof as well as entertainment centres and food courts.
Smoking Cigarettes and cigars are widely available in Brazil, but like Europe the laws as to where and when people can smoke are always changing and becoming more stringent. Smoking is forbidden in all enclosed spaces, such as shopping centres, cinemas, banks, supermarkets, schools, etc.
64 | www.vbrata.org
Sport (Spectator) Brazilians are as keen to watch sport as they are about taking part, one of the reasons the country hosted both the World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic and Paralympic Games in 2016. The main spectator sport is football and any visitor to Brazil will never be far from a major game or stadium. The main clubs play in municipal, regional, national and Latin American championships, and the entire country comes to a stop when the national team plays. Other major spectator sports include the Brazilian Formula One Grand Prix in SĂŁo Paulo, motor sport generally, volleyball, basketball, tennis, and horse racing.
Tipping Most restaurants add 10% or more to the total of the bill, but must make it clear that they have done so. If service is good it is appreciated if you leave a little extra. People don’t normally tip taxi drivers, although they will round the total up. At the hotel it is the usual level of tips for bellhops, chambermaids, etc.
Time Brazil has four time zones but the time in the main areas popular with foreign visitors is generally three hours behind Greenwich Mean Time. This is true of Rio, São Paulo, Brasília, Bahia, Minas Gerais, etc. Brazilian “summer time” runs from October until midFebruary. During this period, clocks in Brazil go forward one hour in most of the southeast. The actual time difference between most of Brazil and the UK therefore varies during the year between 2 and 4 hours.
www.vbrata.org | 65
A-Z OF BRAZIL
Services Brazil has a good telephone network and it is possible to direct dial to just about anywhere in Brazil or internationally. The country has one of the world’s largest mobile phone networks and non-Brazilian mobile phones will work if they are tri or quadband and that includes iPhones and BlackBerrys. If you have an unblocked phone it is also possible to buy a local Brazilian sim card so that you are only paying for local calls at local rates.
VBRATA members are well established UK based tour operators with published travel programmes to Brazil. They are recognised by the travel industry for their professionalism and reliability. VBRATA members include some of the largest tour operators in the UK, as well as medium and small specialised tour operators that offer a wide variety of options in Brazil and are fully bonded, holding all the required UK licences for security and peace of mind. The VBRATA tour operator members are listed at www.vbrata.org.uk.
Vaccinations An international certificate of vaccination against polio is compulsory for children aged between three months and six years. Vaccination against yellow fever is recommended for travellers when visiting the states of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (including the capital city of Brasília), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima and Tocantins, and the northwest and west of Bahia, central and west Paraná, southwest Piauí, northwest and west central Rio Grande do Sul, far west Santa Catarina, and north and west São Paulo. The vaccination is also recommended for travellers going to the Iguaçu Falls, but not required for travel to the following coastal cities: Fortaleza, Recife, Rio de Janeiro, Salvador and São Paulo. If there is any doubt about the need for a vaccination, contact the consulate or check the latest information on its website (cglondres.itamaraty.gov.br). An international certificate of vaccination against yellow fever may be required for travellers who, within the three months prior to their arrival in Brazil, have visited or been in transit through certain infected countries and areas.
Visas UK and EU passport holders do not at present require a visa to enter Brazil. Passports must be valid for at least six months and a return ticket and proof of sufficient funds may be requested on arrival. Visitors will be admitted for a stay of up to 90 days that can be extended by the Federal Police for a further 90 days. If there is any doubt about the need for a 66 | www.vbrata.org
visa, contact the consulate or check the latest information on the website (www. cglondres.itamaraty.gov.br). For example Australian, Canadian and US passport holders at present do need a visa to enter Brazil, even as a tourist. If you are going to work in Brazil you must get the appropriate visa from the consulate.
Websites Because of Brazil, Portuguese is one of the major languages on the web. Most Brazilian businesses have a web site. The normal address for Brazilian sites is “.com. br”, but many also use “.com”.
Weddings Couples wishing to marry in Brazil should contact the Brazilian Consulate in London. Details of the paperwork necessary are available from the consulate or on the website: cglondres.itamaraty.gov.br/en-us.
All information is subject to change without notice. Whilst every effort is made to ensure accuracy, VBRATA and the publisher cannot be held responsible for any errors or omissions. ©2016 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the prior permission of the publishers.
To find a UK tour operator specialising in Brazil please visit our website. email@example.com www.vbrata.org.uk www.facebook.com/VBRATA.UK @VBRATAUK
Distance by Road (Miles)
A-Z OF BRAZIL www.vbrata.org | 67