Brazil – how and where to start describing it?! Perhaps with Rio de Janeiro, with its Copacabana and Ipanema beaches, Sugar Loaf mountain, the Selaron Steps, the favelas, noise and dancing all being overlooked by Christ the Redeemer from Corcovado? Or what about Sao Paolo? One of the world’s largest cities, a never-ending sprawl of concrete and skyscrapers, but with a historic heart dating back to the days of Exploration and international museums to rival many others? Then there’s Iguazu Falls, forming the border with Argentina and Paraguay. The powerful, thundering waterfalls are the longest chain of waterfalls in the world. Or perhaps the mighty Amazon, the rainforests, the beaches, the colonial past, the food, the music, the humidity, the poverty, the richness of hospitality …. Brazil is a heady mix that is hard to put down on paper, but definitely to be experienced and enjoyed!
IMPORTANT - As most of our Brazil tours cross the border and enter Argentina at Iguazú Falls, please ensure you also check the requirements for entry to Argentina, as they differ to those for Brazil.
Your passport should be valid for at least six months beyond the first day of entry into Brazil. Please be sure to fill out the "Emergency Next of Kin" section in your passport
UK New Zealand, French and German citizens have not previously required a visa to enter the country for up to 90 days for tourist purposes. Though in the past it has been a requirement, since 17th June 2019, Brazil has extended their visa waiver system to include US, Canadian and Australian citizens. All other nationalities must check the visa entry requirements before your departure. You need sufficient funds and a return airline ticket.
If you do need a visa, arrange it well in advance. Visas are not issued on arrival; and you won’t be permitted into the country without one. In 2018, Brazil introduced a new e-visa system.
Depending on the area you are visiting, you may need a Yellow Fever Vaccination certificate to show you have received said vaccination prior to travel. Check whether you need a Yellow Fever certificate by visiting the National Travel Health Network and Centre’s TravelHealthPro website.
• Consular Information
There are a number of major international embassies located in the capital, Brasilia, including those for the US, Canada, UK, Australia and New Zealand. There are also a number of consulates based in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo. However, embassies for a number of other countries are located in other European cities, offering coverage to Brazil. Please check with your relevant government for the relevant contact details.
N.B. Please note, visa and entry requirements, regulations and restrictions can vary on a regular basis. Please ensure you check in good time prior to travel the current requirements applicable to you.
HEALTH, INSURANCE AND SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS
• Travel Insurance
It is company policy that all passengers must have valid travel insurance prior to travelling, to include but not limited to health insurance and cancellation insurance. It is vital that ALL members of the travelling party are fully insured for the dates of travel. All pre-existing medical conditions must be declared to the insurer and the correct cover must be taken in regard to the specific type of holiday you are taking.
The details of your insurance must be advised to The Big Journey Company at least 6 weeks before your departure date. Please make sure to write down important information from your insurance policy, such as the company’s 24hr emergency telephone number (including dial code from abroad) and your policy number and take these with you on tour.
• General Health
Please talk to your doctor or travel health clinic in person at least eight weeks before you travel, where a health professional can provide you with the necessary health information for your personal needs and travel destinations.
You should take steps to avoid being bitten by mosquitoes. and for more information and advice, visit the NaTHNaC website.
You should take steps to avoid mosquito bites. Health authorities have classified Brazil as having a risk of Zika virus transmission and chikungunya, yellow fever and dengue are present. Cases of dengue fever have increased, especially in the north, south-east and central west of Brazil and the state of Minas Gerais is on alert due to an increase in dengue, chikungunya and Zika cases. Malaria is present in parts of the country.
For more information and advice, visit the website of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and check the recommendations for vaccination
Wearing sunscreen, drinking plenty of water, washing your hands properly before eating and avoiding insect bites should keep you healthy on tour.
We recommend you carry a simple travellers’ first-aid kit containing any basic items that you feel may be required, including remedies for minor stomach complaints.
If you do need to see a doctor during the tour, please speak to your Big Journey Company tour escort.
• Passengers with Disabilities or Reduced Mobility
Our Brazil Tour is an Activity Level 2 tour and will require moderate physical activity and include various forms of transport. Please check our Activity Levels description page to see if this level is suitable to you or contact us if you require further information on the activities involved in the tour.
If you or any member of your party has any medical problem or disability which may affect your holiday, please provide us with full details before we confirm your booking, or as soon as possible at the time they occur, so that we can try to advise on the suitability of your chosen arrangements. Please note, we may require you to produce a doctor’s certificate certifying that you are fit to participate in the tour.
• Medical Conditions and Personal Medication
Please advise us prior to travel if you have any medical conditions requiring special attention during your trip. If you have a specific medical condition, it is wise to carry the relevant doctor’s prescription with you.
- Pack a sufficient supply of any medications you are taking, copies of the prescriptions and the telephone/fax numbers of your doctor.
- Please note, some countries require that prescription drugs be carried in their original container, with the label clearly visible. In the event of you losing your medication, a qualified pharmacist should be able to source a replacement.
Prior to travel, please consult your doctor to discuss the destinations you are visiting, the latest immunisation information and requirements as well as advice according to your unique medical needs.
There are currently no specific certificate requirements under International Health Regulations. However, there is a risk of yellow fever transmission in parts of Brazil
Travellers should be up to date with routine vaccination courses and boosters as recommended. These vaccinations include for example measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and diphtheria-tetanus-polio vaccine.
Vaccinations for Tetanus, Hepatitis A, Rabies, Typhoid and Yellow Fever may be recommended depending on the tour you are taking. For further information, please see: wwnc.cdc.gov/travel/destinations/argentina.htm
You should follow the advice of the National Travel Health Network and Centre and discuss your travel plans with your healthcare provider, particularly if you're pregnant or planning to become pregnant. Any feverish illness during or after returning from travel must be reported to a doctor immediately.
• Travelling with CPAP or other Medical Machines
Please inform The Big Journey Company that you are travelling with such a device as early as possible, and well before you travel. This is especially important in places where there may be issues with power supply, such as on safari or smaller cruise ships. Also,
- Check that you have the correct electrical and voltage adapters for the country and accommodation you are visiting;
- Check with your airline that they allow your device to be carried as additional hand luggage and ensure that your device is easily accessible and properly labelled as medical machinery;
- Always carry a letter from your medical practitioner prescribing its use for you;
- Ensure you have details of your machine separately in case of the need to secure repairs/replacements whilst you are travelling;
- Check with your medical practitioner about the use of tap or bottled water in the event that distilled water cannot be sourced in the country you are travelling to.
Please note, if you require distilled or ionised water, you must inform The Big Journey Company of this at least two weeks ahead of travel, so we are able to make preparations with our ground agents. There will be an additional charge for this.
• Special Dietary Requirements
Please let us know in good time prior to travel if you have any special dietary requirements (e.g., vegetarian, vegan, diabetic, gluten-free, etc.). We will make every effort to accommodate your request with the resources available to us.
• What to Pack and Wear
We would recommend comfortable clothes and shoes for this tour. Feel free to include a smart-casual outfit for dinner if you wish, however there is no pressure to follow a dress code. Given the variable but often warm and humid weather we’re likely to experience as we travel through Brazil (and Argentina for tours travelling there too), you may wish to bring layers, some clothes for sun, but also adding a sweater to shirt sleeves on cooler days. You will need a warm, waterproof jacket. Pack light and remember the basic essentials: camera and attachments; a good pair of lightweight binoculars; adaptor plugs; toiletries including insect repellent and sunscreen. Remember any medications and prescriptions; extra reading glasses; sunhat; and notebook or journal.
• Luggage Allowances
International airlines are often strict about the size and weight of checked in baggage and carry-on luggage. Prior to your departure, please contact your airline or visit their website for specific luggage requirements, as size and weight limitations may vary according to the airline and destination.
Our Argentina and Brazil tours includes internal/local flights. Please check with The Big Journey Company regarding specific luggage allowances for this flight as Argentinian airlines have a very low checked-luggage allowance, usually 15kg!
Luggage handling is not included in our Brazil tour. It may be available at the hotel for a local charge.
Laundry services are available in some hotels on the tour.
The main and official language of Brazil is Portuguese. However, across the country in the regions, many variations of Amerindian local languages are spoken. Additionally, you will find pockets of German and Italian speakers, descendants of immigrants. English is spoken by some of the younger generation and in tourist destinations.
Brazil covers a number of time zones due to its size, from GMT-2 to -5, 2-5hours behind of London GMT. Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo are 2hrs behind GMT, whereas Manaus is 4hrs behind.
Due to its vast size, the weather in Brazil varies considerably. But on the whole, expect it to be tropical - hot and humid. From the rainforests, the coast, to the savannas and big cities, it is best to check online for the weather where you will be visiting prior to travel to know what to expect on your trip.
In Brazil there are two associated plug types, types C and N. Plug type C is the plug which has two round pins (European style). Plug type N is a lozenge shape and has which has two round pins and a grounding pin, used in Brazil and South Africa. Brazil operates on a 127/220V supply voltage and 60Hz. Though more recently renovated properties tend to use the type C plugs, both are commonly found. You will need to bring adapters, and/or converters depending on which electrical appliances you bring with you.
MOBILES & INTERNET COMMUNICATION
Brazil has a well-developed communications infrastructure in the cities, but out in the countryside, coverage varies. A number of cellphone/mobile phone providers offer coverage and there are landline phone networks. Internet and Wi-Fi are easily accessible in most urban areas and most hotels and restaurants provide free WIFI. Please check data roaming charges for Brazil with your service provider before leaving home as these can quickly become very expensive.
The currency of Brazil is the Real RS (BRL). Credit cards are widely accepted at mid-high range establishments, but it is advisable to carry money in cash with you as well. ATMs are widely available in cities, but not so in smaller villages and many ATMs in rural areas do not accept non-Brazilian cards, so it is always advisable to have some cash.
Visa and Mastercard are the most widely accepted credit cards however many places do not accept cards such as Diners Club or American Express. If you intend to use any of your debit or credit cards whilst away, please make sure that you contact your bank before you leave to inform them that you will be travelling in order not to cause any problems using your cards or whilst on the trip. Credit-card and ATM fraud is widespread in Brazil, especially in the Northeast, cloning being the most used tactic. Please ensure you take care when paying with your cards.
Important Note – Most card machines use chip-and-pin credit cards, so cards with magnetic strips on the back (commonly used in North America) may not work with certain automated machines. You might want to carry some extra cash in your wallet to use in these situations just in case. You may be asked to provide ID if you cannot pay by chip and PIN.
It is advisable not to carry too much cash in Brazil, and if looking to exchange cash for Brazilian Reals, take $USD or €UR.
Brazil is relatively cheap for travellers from Europe or north America thanks to the generally good exchange rates. Food portions are big and can often be shared between two. Tips are expected at the end of a meal, a minimum 15% usually being added.
• Bank Opening
Banks in Brazil are usually open 10am – 4pm Monday to Friday.
After feedback from previous guests, we offer a group tipping package for this tour. Look out for more information in your pre-tour emails.
Food in Brazil has many variations, due to the vast nature of the country and varied local landscapes and produce. You will find a large number of rodizio – barbeque buffet-style restaurants, offering various cuts of meat as well as a large buffet of vegetables, and accompanying dishes. You will see a large range of fruits on offer, many you’ll never have seen before. There’s inevitably lots of fish thanks to the long coastline and rivers, often served in ceviche form. The Portuguese, Italian and German immigrants have also brought their dishes to the offering. For drinks, you’ll find local beers, caipirinhas and mojitos readily available and quite inexpensive, great to watch the sun go down with.
Some meals are included as part of your tour – please check your individual departure for the relevant meal inclusions.
Although the tap water in Brazil in Rio and Sao Paolo is generally safe to drink, it does not taste the best and many locals drink bottled water. Outside of these cities, it not advisable to drink the tap water. Bottled water can be bought at supermarkets, kiosks and many shops.
Brazil offers lots for visitors to buy, especially due to the generally favourable exchange rate. Many tourists stock up on the famous Havaiana flip-flops, but clothes and jewellery are also inexpensive. Along the way, you will find good quality leather goods as well as many varied handicrafts.
• Opening Hours
There are no fixed opening times for shops, but in bigger cities and towns, most retail shops can open between 10am – 10pm Monday–Friday, with reduced hours on Saturday and Sunday.
• VAT/Tax Refund
Numerous shops in Brazil offer a VAT refund when leaving the country. Please ask the salesperson whether tax-free shopping applies to the shop in question.
SAFETY & SECURITY
Sadly, in Brazil, levels of crime, including violent crime are high, particularly in major cities. When in large crowds or major tourist destinations, you should remain vigilant and follow the advice of local authorities, especially before and during Carnival when a large number of people gather in parties on the street.
As is well known, the security situation is many favelas (shanty towns) is unpredictable, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, and it is recommended to avoid these areas in all cities.
You are likely to see a heavy police presence on the streets in Brazil, particularly in Rio de Janeiro, including occasional checkpoints. Avoid areas where demonstrations are taking place, monitor local media and follow the advice from the local authorities.
Bank card fraud including credit card cloning is common - please ensure you take care when paying with your cards.
And as always, there’s a risk of petty theft, particularly in airports in popular tourist attractions and on public transport. Please take sensible precautions to protect your belongings, particularly your passport, money and credit cards.
Smoking is banned in all indoor public places, but there are usually designated outdoor areas where people can smoke. Smoking is prohibited on all means of public transport.
Brazil is mostly Catholic country, and with Protestantism, over 85% of the population follow the Christian faith.
Brazil offers photo opportunities one after another. You will return with many photos that can never be repeated. Remember to pack your camera, along with the charger, spare batteries and a spare memory card!
ARRIVAL IN BRAZIL
Please note, standard hotel check-in is around 3pm, so should you arrive earlier than this, your room may not be available upon arrival. For those arriving early morning, we will do everything we can to work with the hotel to get you an earlier check-in subject to availability.
TOUR HOTEL INFORMATION
Please check your tour paperwork for hotel information attaining to your tour departure.
OTHER COUNTRIES ON TOUR ITINERARY
Please also check the notes for Argentina as most of our Brazil tours cross into Argentina, even if only briefly, at Iguazu Falls. Different entry requirements apply for Brazil to Argentina and you may need a visa! For other South American countries, please check the relevant Travel Tip pages for information on these countries.
FLYING & TRAVEL HINTS
• Photocopy the personal information pages of your passport; leave one copy at home with a friend or family member, and take a copy with you, but pack it separately from the passport itself.
• It is advisable to carry all your travel documentation as well as valuables and essential items in your hand luggage, such as camera, toiletries, reading material etc.
• Duty-Free shopping is always tempting, but please check the current Duty-Free limits applicable in the country of your destination.
• Longer flights can be made a little more enjoyable by wearing loose clothing and good, comfortable shoes. Walking in the aisles regularly, eating sensibly and drinking plenty of fluids (not alcohol) is also advised.
• Where possible, try to get some sleep during the flight and upon arrival at your destination, most people adjust better to the local time if they wait until the evening before sleeping – this should relieve some of the effects of jet lag.
If you have any other questions that we have not covered here; then please send us an e-mail to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please note, the above information is provided as a guideline only. Although every effort has been made to provide complete and accurate information, The Big Journey Company makes no warranties, express or implied, or representations as to the accuracy of content on this website. The Big Journey Company assumes no liability or responsibility for any error or omissions in the information contained in the website.
Updated November 2019