Climate: Avoid the rainy seasons and find the best time to visit each part of Brazil.

Long time ago I promised to write about the seasons, but as there are so many interesting topics I totally forgot my intention to dedicate an entire blog post only for seasons. However this issue came up again sometime ago when I was wishing that central Brazil would get some heavy rains to extinguish the forest fires.

Seasons are funny. In theory there are better or worse seasons for travelling, but if we are totally honest in today’s

Eco-Adventures

Eco-Adventures

word there is no way to forecast all the climatical conditions and their consequences for the nature. This is exactly what happened in case of central Brazil as well. Basically the dry season is the best moment to hike around in such National Parks as Chapada dos Guimarães (Mato Grosso) and Chapada dos Veadeiros (Goiaís). However the extremely dry season with no rain at all for many months can cause several forest fires and damage these conserved areas. This is exactly what happened with Chapada dos Guimarães.

Anyhow none of us enjoys travelling during the rainy season, so this is basically one of the most important things to take into consideration when planning a trip. During the rainy season the northest part of Brazil receives heavy rainfalls and  just like the northeastern coast may also suffer intense floods. Naturally you don’t want to book a beach holiday if the probably of raining cats and dogs is pretty much higher than a possibility of sunbathing.

So, let’s take a look at the seasons. In the northern Brazil (See Map) the rainy season starts at the end of the year and goes basically until May. This is when it’s not worth visiting such beach destinations as Ilha do Algodoal, Ilha de Marajó and Alter do Chão, or depending on the intensity of the rains practise outdoor activities in the Amazon region . The northeastern coast is the next one to receive the rains. The extreme north of it (Maranhão and Ceará) tend to suffer for heaviest rains between March and May/June. However there are some very dry coastal areas in Ceará (like Canoa Quebrada) with very low annual rainfall. Right after follow the states of Rio Grande do Norte and Paraiba with the rainy season basically in between April and July, while Pernambuco, Alagoas, Sergipe and Bahia tend to receive the highest amouth of rainfall between May and August. In the southern the end of Bahia the rainy season may extend until September.

Cloudy day in Rio

Cloudy day in Rio

When we reach the states of southeastern and southern Brazil things change. Then the guestion is not just about the rainy season, but raither about the temperature. Yes, Brazil is a tropical country, but it’s also a huge country meaning that there are times when you simply cannot enjoy sun and the beaches in extreme south like Florianopolis or Balneario de Camboriu. During the winter months even Rio de Janeiro has a raither mild weather, which is not bad at all when it comes to a city-break, but if you are dreaming of hot days on the beach you may not get what you are looking for. In this region the highest rainfall usually occurs during the summer months, which naturally are the hottest and the most humid months as well. There may be some days with heavy rains, but a typical summer rain in Rio de Janeiro tends to be a strong thunderstorm at the end of the day, something that really doesn’t deter you from having a perfect beach holiday.

When it comes to eco-tourism destinations thing get even a little bit more complicated. Like I mentioned earlier the rainy season hits the Amazon region during the first six months of the year. Other eco-tourism destinations that should be avoided during the beginning of the year are Chapada dos Veadeiros, Lencois Maranhenses, Pantanal and Jalapão. However when it comes to eco-tourism it’s highly recommended to visit these and some other destinations like Bonito, Iguacu Falls, Chapada dos Guimarães, Delta de Parnaiba and Chapada Diamantina right after the rains, when the level of water in the waterfalls is highest and the nature is very much alive thanks to the rains.

For more details and full information about best travelling seasons check out our specific destination guide divided into Beaches, Eco-tourism and Culture.

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How to plan your trip to Brazil?

I find planning a trip entertaining. Maybe that’s why I ended up working in travel industry, which is full of changes, unexpected situations and challenges. On the other hand it’s also a very rewarding industry with huge cultural diversity and many very open minded people working on the field. Planning a trip may sound easy, but when it comes to creating an itinery in a foreign country it may not be that simple after all. This is why I wanted to share some of my tips with all of you who are planning to travel to Brazil, simply because I want you to see the diverse faces of this lovely country and get the best out of your stay in Brazil.

Ten things to take into consideration when planning a trip to Brazil.

1. – Destinations – First step is to choose your destination. What are you looking for? Do you prefer spending your holiday laying down on a beach and snorkeling in the crystal clear waters? Or maybe you enjoy an active holiday diving, hiking and surfing around. On the other hand you might enjoy observing the nature or spending your spare time in the pulsing nights of a tropical city. Choosing destination is basically the first thing to do. To ease your task, we have divided the top brazilian destinations into three categories: Beaches, Eco-Tourism and Culture.  Pick up the category that mostly fits into your needs and go through our suggestations or opt for a quick  search that takes you directly to a specific beach, eco-adventure or city break type. If you prefer a combination of these styles check out our itinerary suggestions or contact Brazil Diversity.

2. Seasons – Once you have decided what sort of holiday you are looking for it’s time to take a look at the seasons. To guarantee an unforgettable holiday it’s essential to pay attention on the weather, in case of Brazil especially on the rainy season. Brazil is a tropical country and you will always find a place to enjoy the sun, however you need to check when the rains tend to occur and when the temperatures are at lowest. Heavy rains  may not only destroy your holiday, but also close roads and cause complications when trying to reach your destination. Low season may also offer more attractive rates, but remember spending as little as possible is not always the best option. If you want to economise check out the weather conditions and try to take advantage of the middle season, that usually offers good rates and less crowded attractions. Finding out best seasons it easy. Brazil Diversity has included season recommendations in the description of each wonder, check them out!

3. Public Holidays – You may not know the dates of all public holidays in Brazil. Actually they even vary depending on the state. Now you may ask what they have to do with your vacation plans. Well, public holidays, not only New Years Eve and Carnaval, have all to do with your holiday, especially at the moment of making plans. In Brazil the hotels and pousadas usually not only increase prices but also sell packages with minimu stay during the public holidays. So if you planed to stay in a certain region only during few nights you will most probably find it extremely complicating to find an accommodation option during a long weekend or another public holiday period. If you were lucky enough to find something you would end up paying an extra price for that. This is why it’s good to take public holidays into account when travelling to Brazil and of course, if your budget is very tight it might be best to avoid these peak seasons. For further information and exact dates contact Brazil Diversity.

4. Distances – Brazil is a huge country, something that should be taken into consideration when planning an itinerary or a combination of several destinations. In a map the distances may not look that long, but believe me or not, they are! And it’s not only about the distance, it’s also about the transportation options and the condition of the roads. Public transportation may always not be as good, quick and direct as you are used to in your home country. The lack of infrastructure may also double the travelling times. Study these issues, check out the distances and opt for the best ways to get transfered from one place to another when planning your trip.

5. Transportation –Like I mentioned transportation is worth paying attention to. Basically there are no passanger trains in Brazil, so all long distance transportation is done either by road or by air. The busses are in general spacious and in good condition, though this means of transportation is very time taking, due  to several stops, heavy traffic and lack of  highways. Air transportation reaches all the mayor cities of Brazil and is a quick and easy way to move from one place to another. If you go through the offers and book early enough you will also be able to find quite nice deals and taking a plane can end up being a really good and time saving choice, and in some cases not even that much more expensive. Another option is to take a look at the airpasses offered by both GOL and TAM. They are a good option for a traveller who is planning to take several long distance flights in Brazil. Planning is essential in this case as well, because all the airpasses have to be purchased in before hand outside of Brazil. We have discussed about transportation options in our earlier blog posts, check them out for tips and recommendations or contact Brazil Diversity.

6. Time – How many days should you stay in Brazil? Well, this depends totally on how many cities/destinations you are planning to visit? I would say that on a city-break a minimun time would be three full days per city, especially if you are arriving from a long haul destination and still suffer jet-lag. Time that you spend in a beach destination depends totally on you. Personally I enjoy seeing as many different places as possible, meaning that 4 nights in a same village tends to be pretty much the maximum for me. However I do know people who enjoy relaxing on the beach for two weeks without changing destination, so this is pretty much based on your personal choices. When it comes to Brazil’s top destinations, I would say that 5 full days in Rio de Janeiro is an ideal time for you to visit the principal sights without rush and run. If you are planning to stay for more than that, consider an option of visiting nearby destinations, such as Búzios or Ilha Grande for couple of nights. The Falls of Iguacu can be seen in two days. If you want to extend your trip to Paraguay, add one more day into your itinerary. Time to spend in each eco-tourism destinations varies as well. As many of them are located in raither distant areas , so therefore a minimum stay of 3 to 4 nights is highly recommended.

7. Booking – Book in advance! Not only because booking your accommodation and transportation in advance makes your life a lot easier, but it’s also an excellent way to guarantee the availability and the price. As we all know in today’s world there are no last minutes prices in tourism, unless we talk about charter flights and package tours. You will never know when there happens to be a congress or any other mayor event in the city, so that all the hotels are fully booked leaving you without any reasonably priced option. Planning and booking in advance means that you can enjoy stress free vacation and in the meanwhile get the best out of your holiday. If you need any tips or if you are willing to book an unforgettable holiday in Brazil, contact Brazil Diversity.

8. Accommodation – I know accommodation is something that fully depends on our personal tastes. Some may enjoy luxurous pool villas, whiles other prefer raither small ecological hideaways. When planning a trip to Brazil you will run into the word “pousada”. If you are still unfamiliar with this term, check out our earlier blog post “Pousada: what is it and why should I stay in one”. I really want to encourage all of you to stay in a pousada. Pousada is not a just a simple guesthouse with minimum infrastructure, it’s definitely not a roadside motel or a hostel with shared bedrooms and bunk beds. Today pousada is a cozy and often raither small accommodation option that differs from a conventional hotel with personalized attentions and unique characteristics often related to local environment or culture. So when booking your accommodation in Brazil, consider seriously a possibility of staying in a pousada, you won’t regret your choice. Hand picked hotel and pousada recommendations can be found from the site of Brazil Diversity. Another thing to take into consideration is that most of the brazilian hotels and pousadas ask a prepayment of 50% from the total price in order to guarantee the booking.

9. Tours and Excursions – There was a time when I loved to explore touristic sights on my own. I used to think that taking a tour is waste of money and turns travelling less adventurous. To be honest I still apply this theory of mine in many destinations like Europe or US, where it’s easy to be an independent traveller and still not miss a single point. However today I do admit that this sort of travelling doesn’t work in each and every destination, or at least not with all the attractions. By taking a tour you will get a deeper knowledge of the sight you are visiting and in case of Brazil most importantly, a tour may be the only way to reach a certain spot or destination. It may also be the safetiest, the less stressfull and especially the quickest way to visit the sight. I’m quite sure that you are not willing to lose any precious time on holidays or happy about any extra stress that might appear, so why not booking a tour. If you have a very tight schedule consider an option of booking your tours in before hand, otherwise fix the dates once you have arrived to your destination and checked the climatical conditions for the coming days.

10. Attitude – Last but not least. Now that you have planned everything and are ready to take off, remember you will be on vacation and things may not always work on the way you are used to. Relax, leave the stress back home and enjoy your stay!

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Getting around in Brazil: Travelling and Transportation

Travelling in Brazil would be so simple, if the country were not that huge as it really is. This means that to discover Brazil, a lot of time and patience are needed. Once you have decided to travel around the country you basically have two choices, either you take a bus/transfer/car or you decide to fly. Below we have listed few tips and opinions of ours, just to give you an idea of what would be the best choice in each situation.

Alternative transportation

Alternative transportation

Many times hiring a transfer will end up to be the best option to reach your final destination. This means you don’t need to worry about the arrangements and you reach your accommodation in minimum time without any stress. At some parts of Brazil, especially in the northeastern coast hiring a car can end up to a good option, especially if you are heading from airport to smaller villages and keep on discovering the region by car. The traffic varies depending on the place, but in general Brazilians drive fast and do not always respect the traffic rules.  Big cities suffer major traffic jams especially when the locals are heading to work or returning back at home. If possible avoid driving in cities like São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro, often a public transportation (especially metro) is a quicker way to reach your final destination. The condition of the roads vary as well. If possible try to travel during the daytime, which is not only safer, but you will also face less heavy traffic, such as trucks and haulers.

When it comes to regular bus services, the long distance buses in Brazil are in fact surprisingly comfortable, with wide and inclining seats, plenty of leg space and air conditioning, which generally tends to be really so cold that you better be prepared with long sleaves if you pretend to travel longer distance by bus. Well, when it comes to buses there is just one little problem, the distance and the time it takes to get from point A till point B. Travelling by bus during 12 hours, 24 hours, 36 hours or even more within Brazil is not rare at all. You will also find buses of different standards operating in the same routes, and naturally the more money you pay, the more comfortable will your journey be. Usually you will be given a tag when you luggage is stored in the hold, so make sure that you keep it safe as the tag will serve as a receipt when claiming your luggage.

Tam Linhas Aéreas

Tam Linhas Aéreas

If you are not into sitting hours and hours in a bus to reach your destination, and most importantly if you are lacking time the only option is to take a domestic flight. When it comes to flights the same rules apply, travelling within Brazil takes time even if you are flying. The distances are long, there are several time zones in the country and the delays are not rare at all. Lately the air traffic has been slightly calmer and more stable than during the last few year, but still never ever book youself with too tight separate connections. Doing this will only increase your blood pressure once you find out that the schedules are not working out as expected. There are two main companies operating in Brazil, TAM and Gol. Both of them fly international and domestic routes, but Gol mainly concentrates in operating within South America while TAM flies to Europe and North America as well. There are also many other regional companies operating widely around the country. The most useful ones for a traveller might be Trip, covering a large number of smaller airport and Azul, so called low cost company bringing more competitive prices for domestic markets. Domestic routes tend to include many stops without that a change of aircraft is needed. This means that your flight departing from São Paulo may stop for example in Salvador, Recife and Fortaleza before reaching São Luis. This obviously takes time and may not be the most comfortable way to travel. So when booking flights always keep an eye on the number of stops and prefer as straight flights as possible. Domestic flights can be purchased with major credit cards in the sites of both TAM and Gol.

Gol Linhas Aéreas

Gol Linhas Aéreas

Don’t expect domestic flights to be cheap, they are not. If you are planning to travel around Brazil, so before leaving your country the wisest thing to do is to book an airpass provided either by TAM or by Gol. When it comes to airpasses there are several rules and they are sold only together with your international ticket. This means that you have to arrive to Brazil with certain co-operative airlines in order to be able to purchase an airpass. TAM for example has two different price levels, the lower price is available for travellers who arrive to country by TAM and the higher price on the other hand for those arriving by co-operating airline. The price of the airpasses varies also depending on the number of flight segments purchased. Please note that many domestic connections include more than one flight segment, which has to be taken into account when planning a trip. Same leg cannot be flewn into same direction more than once either. In addition to a traditional Brazil airpass Gol offers also an another airpass covering the northeastern part of Brazil. This northeast airpass turns out to be a very good deal for travellers willing to explore this part of Brazil. Check out also TAM’s South American airpass if you are planning to travel widely around the continent, and Gol’s Mercosur airpass if in addition to Brazil you are heading to Chile, Argentina, Paraguay, Uruguay, Peru and Bolivia. Please note that the maximum time of any airpass tends to be 30 days after the first flight. For bookings and further information contact the airline or your travel agency.

Last but not least, when travelling long distances in Brazil, remember the attitude. Travelling is supposed to be fun and enjoyable, so after all it’s the attitude that matters!

A regional airline

A regional airline

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