Most of Brazil lies immediately to the south of the equator. Generally, the climate runs from comfortably tropical along the coast, with the Northeast always a little hotter (but with nice coastal breezes), and cooler temperatures to be expected south of Rio June - September. The Amazon can be hotter and more humid, but it is not insufferable. More rain occurs during December - March, but the region can be visited at any time of year.
The rampant inflation of yesteryear is gone, and the economy is robust, with a new currency, the Real, intended to trade at one and one-half to the US dollar; the actual rate of exchange is published daily in the newspaper. Cash and travelers checks can be exchanged at most hotels, banks and airports. Most major credit cards are accepted throughout Brazil. Prices in Brazil are hard to characterize, with some higher and some lower than in the US. In general, things tourists would buy (taxis, restaurant meals), are the same or lower-priced than in the US.
What we refer to as "house current" - 110 volts AC - is not always found in Brazil. 220-volt lines are found in many hotels in Rio. The 5-star hotels usually provide "hardwired" hair dryers. If you have electric appliances, bring the necessary converter as well as an adapter kits for electric outlets.
Brazilians speak Portuguese, but Spanish is widely understood. English is spoken by most staff at the major hotels, all tour guides and at airport information booths.
Although arbitrary, we recommend $5-$7 per day for your tour guide. In restaurants, tips are usually included (10% service) on the bill.
For your comfort and safety, we recommend you drink only bottled water. Most hotels have "frigo bars" that stock water and beverage at an additional charge. You can and should buy water from the lodges and riverboats if traveling in-country.
Basically, clothing should be of light cotton or poplin suitable for tropical climates. The dress in the cities, especially Rio, is "sophisticated casual".
Some churches included on our tours do not allow shorts. Travelers to the Amazon or Pantanal should see the detailed packing list, following.
There are no inoculations required to enter Brazil from the USA. A Yellow Fever inoculation is required for passengers entering Brazil from Peru, Bolivia, Columbia or Ecuador. For travel to Brazil, especially in the Amazon or Pantanal regions, we suggest you consult your doctor or the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta at (404) 332-4559.
In Brazil's cities, the crime rate is down, and crime specifically against tourists is not as prevalent, as say, Jamaica or St. Thomas, USVI. However, as almost anywhere else in the world, it is important to be aware of security. Do not wear jewelry, expensive watches or carry a lot of cash. Use the safety deposit boxes most hotels provide for your passport, ticket, jewelry and money, and carry only a little cash with you. Don't leave items unattended on the beach.
An insurance form has been sent to you. We highly recommend travel insurance for ALL clients to cover accident, illness or lost baggage. New options allow for last minute cancellations with pre-existing conditions covered. See the flyer for details.
For international departures, plan to check-in at least THREE + hours prior to flight time; for domestic flights, one/two hours prior. It is imperative that you reconfirm any on-going or return flight on your itinerary as soon as you arrive. Your guide or hotel staff can assist you with this.
A departure of between $3-$8 is charged at every Brazilian airport upon check-in. An international tax of approximately $18 will be charged upon leaving Brazil. These taxes may be paid in Real or US$.
Due to recent events in the U.S. airport security will be very high. Carry-ons as well as your person may be scrutinized and checked several times. Plan on being at the airport at least THREE hours prior to departure. Have all your identification, tickets, and documents handy and in order upon arrival at the airport.
The airlines will strictly enforce a two-bag/80 pound limit per pax. If you are going on an Amazon jungle trip, you will have to store your big suitcases with the operator that comes to take you to your lodge or boat (he'll return them to you on the way out!), and bring with you only one small duffel or knap-sack per person. Brazil Nuts luggage tags are being sent to you; please attach them to your bags for easy identification.
There are a few excellent guidebooks on Brazil. We recommend Fieldings, by Pamela Bloom for a very personal, good overview on Brazilian culture, lore and mores. Also informative is The Lonely Planet Guidebook. For fiction, anything by Jorge Amado provides excellent insight into the Brazilian soul.AMAZON & PANTANAL PACKING TIPS
Travelers going on lodge or riverboat programs in the Amazon or Pantanal regions of Brazil have a specific set of needs to consider:
Think about what you would pack for a week at summer camp in August, and you will have what you need: Tee-shirts, shorts and sandals for lounging around the lodge or while on a boats; perhaps long khaki or light cotton long pants with sneakers and socks for jungle walks; consider a cotton sweater or light windbreaker for an occasional cool night. Hats (tropical style or even basic baseball-style) are good to absorb sweat.
Generally speaking, pack light: you will not need as many changes of clothes as you think. How ever, we do recommend TWO pairs of shoes (light "Keds-type" canvass style) to wear interchangeably should one pair get wet. Similarly, pack one more pair of socks than you think you might need.
Important: Bring several plastic bags to store wet/dirty clothes and to keep dry clothes dry.
It will probably rain when you are in the Amazon rainforest. Most locals don't worry too much about getting wet, and neither should you when on a jungle walk. Nevertheless, you may want to bring a poncho for times when caught by a surprise shower while out in a canoe.
You don't need a lot, but we do recommend that everyone take the following basic items: