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10 Things to Know About Rio Carnival

Rio Carnival, the largest outdoor street party in the world, might not be until February, but if you’re looking to visit, now’s the time to book. Even if you’re not looking to get tickets for the Sambodromo, the accommodation gets nabbed months in advance. If you’re a carnival newbie, here’s out list of 10 things you should know before you visit.

Should I get tickets for the Rio carnival?

That completely depends on how you’d like to experience the carnival and how large your budget is. You only need to buy tickets if you’d like to enter the iconic Sambodromo where you can catch a glimpse of the colourful parades. Tickets can be as cheap as US $70 and reach over US $1000 depending on where your positioned. Don’t worry if it’s too late, the real party happens on the streets where colourful blocos erupt across the city and are full of dance, food and fun.

Where should I stay during the Rio Carnival?

The short answer is wherever you can get a room. Guestrooms in hotels, hostels and private rentals get booked out well in advance. If you’re feeling flush and you want to party, try one of the beachfront hotels along Ipenema or Copacabana. Alternatively, splurge on one of the private rentals or villas up in Santa Teresa where you’ll be close enough to the action, but far enough you can escape if it all gets too much. If you haven’t already booked your Rio Carnival accommodation for 2019 and you want to visit, get in quick to avoid disappointment. It’s worth remembering that all accommodation, whether it’s a hotel or hostel, puts up their prices by around double over the carnival.

What should I bring to the Rio Carnival?

The simple answer is as little as possible. Of course, you’re going to need your wallet and phone, though you should keep them both in plastic to avoid them getting wet when the crowds get soaked. Bring your camera at your own risk. If you do, try to keep it in a waterproof cover. Other than that, try to leave anything else at home. While it might be tempting to get dressed up for the occasion, leaving your jewellery, watch and things like iPads at home is a wise choice.

Will I be safe at the Rio Carnival?

Rio Carnival is perfectly safe, and the chances of any violent crime is very small. That said, you may encounter opportunistic pickpocketing, so keep anything you bring in a zipped pocket if possible. Other than that, just go with the flow. It will be busy, noisy and a riot of colour, but that’s part of the fun.

How to get to the Rio Carnival?

Getting around during the Carnival isn’t always the easiest. If you’ve found yourself a beachfront hotel, you can simply walk back through the crowds. Those staying further afield will need to make use of the metro or one of the buses, both of which cost less than a pound. It’s worth keeping in mind that there are lots of people moving around the city, so the public transport will be very full all day and you may have to wait for a spot.

What currency should I pay in?

If possible, pay for everything in Brazilian real, but you will find bars, shops and street vendors excepting euros, dollars and even pounds. Expect to pay a terrible exchange rate.

How to I last the full 5 days of Rio Carnival?

Even the most well-partied of individuals might find it hard to keep up with locals over 5 days of celebrations that start in the morning and push through until the wee hours. To last the distance, try to drink plenty of fluids, pace your caipirinha drinking and take advantage of the great street food on offer. Make sure to use plenty of sun-screen, so you don’t get burnt on day one and wear the most comfortable shoes you own because you’ll be on your feet a lot. If you do make it to the end, the city clears out surprisingly fast leaving you plenty of beach space to lie out on and recover.

What’s banned at the Rio Carnival?

There are several things you just won’t find at the Carnival, some obvious, others not so much. Drinks are always served in plastic – glass is never a good idea at a street party. While firecrackers and fireworks might sound fun, they are completely banned. No one wants to get hurt during the celebrations. Though you will see people relieving themselves in the street, you can get into some serious trouble if you follow suit. If might be a pain to find one of the public toilets and queue, but you don’t won’t want to get slapped with a big fine.

How do I enjoy Rio Carnival?

Simply go with the flow and an open mind. If you try to plan, you’ll find yourself disappointed.

RELATED: Top 5 holidays in Brazil

Ready to start planning your trip to Rio Carnival? Call one of our experts on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here.

Interesting spots for art lovers in Latin America

The Museo de Arte Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (MALBA)

Flickr: Helen K

The Museo de Art Latinoamericano de Buenos Aires (shortened to MALBA) is a World-class gallery. Located along Figueroa Alcorta Avenue in Palermo, the museum houses a wealth of Latin American art within a contemporary structure. Works from artists including Antonio Berni, Joaquin Torres Garcia, and Diego Rivera and amongst many others. The MALBA was inaugurated in 2001 with the mission to collect, preserve, and promote Latin American art. It receives well over a million visitors every year making it one of the highest visited museums on the continent.

The Blue House, Frida Kahlo Museum

Flickr: ::: Mer :::

More commonly known as the Blue House (La Casa Azul), the Frida Kahlo Museum is in Colonia del Carmen in Mexico City. The cobalt blue museum was the home of the artist. It was here she was born, created much of her art, lived with her husband Diego Rivera, and ultimately died. It chronicles her life, and has much of her artwork. Most of the building has be left exactly as it was when Frida lived there in the 1950’s.

The Last Supper in Cuzco

Wikipedia: Toño Zapata

Adorning the walls of the cathedral in Cuzco, there is a replica of The Last Supper. It was painting in the 18th century by a Peruvian artist called Marcos Zapata. The interesting thing about the painting is the Andean influence. You will notice that the table is filled with Peruvian foods including corn, peppers, different coloured potatoes, chicha (a fermented corn drink), and roasted cuy (guinea pig). At the forefront, Judas can be seen holding a bag of money, but this is commonly considered to be modelled on Francisco Pizarro, the Spanish conquistador who executed the Inca Emperor hundreds of years before.

The Selaron Steps in Rio de Janerio

The Escadaria Selarón, more commonly called the Selaron Steps, are one of the most visited spots in Rio de Janeiro. Built by Chilean artist Jorge Selaron as a tribute to the Brazilian people, what started as a side project to his other work turned into an obsession that took years to create. There are 215 steps descending 125 metres and are covered with more than 2,000 tiles collected from around the world. Each step is unique creating an ever-evolving piece of art. 300 or so of the tiles are hand painted by Selaron.

The street art in Bogota

Flickr: McKay Savage

Street art has become popular across Latin America in recent years. One of the best places to see this modern art form is on the streets of Colombia’s capital, Bogota. Though you can see work adorning many of the streets, the best sports are along Calle 26 in the La Canderlaria neighbourhood, and Chapinero. The city has a dark history, and much of the work is about politics and social commentary. Local and international street artists like Banksy, Stinkfish, Vhils, and Toxicomano have all painted the walls here.

Want to see the art for yourself? Start planning your trip today by calling one of our Latin American experts on +44 (0) 207 1478 or email us here.

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New tour visit the Carnival and Amazon

It might only seem like the last Carnival was just yesterday, but we’re quickly racing towards 2018. If you want to visit the famous Carnival, now’s the time book, as hotels and flights only get more expensive.

If you’re going to take part in the Carnival, why not combine it with some of Brazil’s other highlights? We’ve created a new tour which takes visitors to the Carnival, the might Iguaçu Falls and takes a comfortable, but adventurous cruise down the Amazon in search of some amazing wildlife – Carnival & Cruise.

After arriving in Rio de Janeiro, you’ll be picked up and taken to your hotel. We suggest you stay at the Arena Leme Hotel, though if you book early there are plenty of options to choose from. Head down to the beach, grab an icy cold caipirinha, dig you toes into the sand and soak up the atmosphere – the perfect introduction to Brazil.

The next four days, you’re going to quickly pick up how to party like a carioca at the world’s largest street party. Get a seat at the Sambadrome and watch the colourful parade of dancers and performers. The parade has been a tradition for almost 90 years and there are over 70 samba schools that take party. 90,000 spectators pile into the 2,300 foot-long stadium to watch the extraordinary dancing and floats.

The parade might be fun, but there are other things to do in Rio de Janeiro during Carnival. Blocos are 24-hour street parties that pop up throughout the city. People con costumes and here is plenty of beer and Brazilian cachaça. Numbers can quickly reach the thousands when live music arrives. For something a little more exclusive, there are several balls going on throughout the event. The Copacabana Palace Hotel on Rio’s seafront, hosts an annual ball where guests dress up in evening gowns and tuxedos.

If this is your first time in Brazil, don’t worry. You won’t miss out on the bucket list activities during your stay. During the tour, we’ll arrange for you in visit the Christ Redeemer, Tijuca National Park, Corcovado and Sugarloaf Mountain. After five days, you’ll almost be able to call yourself a carioca!

After the festivities are over, we’ll whisk you away to see Iguaçu Falls where you will stay at the Falls Iguazu Hotel on the Argentine side.The Indians believed that the falls were the mouth of the gods, and when you see them, you’ll releaze why. The falls were made famous in Robert De Niro’s film, The Mission, in which you see him teeter over the edge strapped to a crucifix.

For the next two days, you’ll explore every side of this huge natural wonder. Cross over to the Argentine side to see the falls from the wooden walkways. One of the biggest thrills is walking over the suspended platform that traverses The Devil’s Throat, a gurgling, spitting, rampaging flurry of water. We can even arrange for you to stay a boat trip into the heart of the falls, where you get so close you can feel the spray on your face.

Lastly, you’ll fly north to Manaus, a city in the centre of the Amazon. The city boomed in the late 19th century when it was used as a base for rubber-tapping. We’ll take you to see the huge 18th century Amazonas Theatre, an impressive piece of architecture. Afterwards you will board the comfortable Amazon Odyssey expedition cruise boat, your home for the next four nights. Venture into the Rio Negro and along the Amazon River. Hike through the forest in search of exotic bird life and mammals including many species of monkey. You’ll be accompanied by expert guides which ensure you make the most of your time here.

To book Carnival & Cruise, call us today or +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or email us here. You can find out more about the tour here.

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15 things to do in Rio de Janeiro

About to visit Rio de Janeiro or thinking or going to the cidade maravilhosa? Take a look at twenty things to see or do in Brazil’s most famous city.

Copacabana Beach
rio-de-janeiro-696859_960_720Copacabana is a bairro located in the south of the city. It’s most famous for the 4 km white sandy beach which is arguably the world’s most famous. Straddling the beach is many famous hotels including the Copacabana Palace once frequented by the Rolling Stones.

Sugarloaf Mountain
rio-1142548_960_720Sugarloaf Mountain is a granite peak that towers 396 metres over the city from a peninsula at the mouth of Guanabara Bay. Take the famous cable car to the top for spectacular views over the city, beaches and bays.

Christ the Redeemer

christ-the-redeemer-1628273_960_720Perhaps the most iconic attraction in Latin America. This huge statue was built almost a century ago and looks down over the city from the top of Corcovado Mountain. It was created by French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by the Brazilian engineer Heitor da Silva Costa.

Santa Teresa

Famed for the narrow winding cobbled streets, the neighbourhood of Santa Teresa is located on top of a hill of the same name in the centre of the city. It’s a bohemian area packed full of galleries, museums, boutique hotels and shops, and is a favourite for artists.

Tijuca Forest

forest-739122_960_720Tijuca is the world’s largest urban forest and covers an area of 32 km² in the centre of Rio de Janeiro. Tijuca is best explored by foot where a hike along the trails reveals waterfalls and plenty of wildlife and birdlife

Maracanã Stadium

maracana-1288818_960_720The Maracanã opened in the early 50s to much acclaim and has seen some of the world’s most famous football players walk through its doors. It hosted the opening match of the 1950 World Cup between Brazil and Mexico a few days after opening. Tours of the stadium are possible.


Flickr: zanaca

Flickr: zanaca

This affluent neighbourhood next to Ipanama is one of the city’s most upmarket with the highest real estate prices per square metre in Latin America. It’s known for its gorgeous beach (which is much less busy than others in Rio) and the shopping opportunities.

ipanema-beach-99388_960_720Another affluent neighbourhood in the south of the city squeezed between Leblon and Arpoador and fringed by a white sandy beach. The area was made famous by Astrud Gilberto & Stan Getz’s song ‘The Girl from Ipanema’.

Theatro Municipal

The Municipal Theatre is located in the centre of the city. The ornate theatre was built in the early 20th century and is considered by many as one of the continent’s finest examples.  The 2,400 seat art nouveau theatre hosts some of the city’s best ballet, symphonic and opera.

Pedra da Gávea

nature-1436292_960_720Pedra da Gávea is a monolithic granite mountain in Tijuca Forest. There are hiking opportunites around the mountain which towers up 844 metres high. It’s famous for being one of the world’s highest mountains that ends right next to the ocean.

Selaron Steps

Escadaria Selarón are a colourful set of steps created by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as “my tribute to the Brazilian people”. They are a relatively new attraction having only opened in 2013. Walking the steps takes visitors up 125 metres.

rio-carnival-1084648_960_720The Sambadrome Marquês de Sapucaí is a purpose-built parade area built for the Rio Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Though its best seen during the Carnival, tours of the Sambadrome can be taken all year around.

Parque Lage

The amazing park located at the base of the Tijuca Forest near to the Botanical Gardens is made up of small lakes, English-style manicured gardens and the Escola de Artes Visuais (School of Visual Arts). The park hosts plenty of free exhibitions and performances throughout the year.

Candelária Church

The Candelária Church is an important site for Catholics. The ornate church was built over many years beginning in the late 18th century and wasn’t completed until almost a century later in the late 19th century.

Fort Copacabana

Fort Copacabana is a military base near to Copacabana Beach. It’s still a working base, but is open to the public who come to see the Museu Histórico do Exército (Army Historical Museum). In the 2016 summer Olympics, the site hosted many of the events including cycling and marathon swimming.

To start planning your tour of Rio de Janeiro and Brazil get in touch with one of our specialists on +44 (0) 207 407 1478 or send us an email here. Take a look at our tour suggestions in Brazil here.

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This may be the world’s most dangerous selfie spot

On the outskirts of Rio de Janeiro lies the Pedra da Gavea mountain, a beautiful spot that overlooks the city and the Atlantic Ocean. No wonder it’s a magnet for adventurers and hikers who come to the scenic viewpoint at 2,769ft high. A dangerous trend of selfies near the edge is emerging, with visitors getting  terrifyingly close to the drop off.

RELATED: Our picks for the 2018 hotspots in Latin Americ

If you suffer from vertigo, you may want to look away now. The selfie spot located in Tijuca Forest, the world’s largest urban forest, is nail baiting stuff. Visitors have been know to lie, balance, do yoga and even hang off the cliff edge.

To visit Rio de Janeiro and Tijuca Forest (but not selfie from it’s edge), get in touch with us today.

Penguin swims thousands of miles each year to reunite with the human that saved him

In 2011, fisherman Joao Pereira de Souza discovered a little South American Magellanic Penguin covered in oil and nearing death on a small island off Rio de Janeiro.

The fisherman took him in and spent weeks cleaning him up and feeding him sardines, eventually restoring the penguin back to full health. After naming him Dindim, he tried to release the penguin back into the wild, but the creature wouldn’t leave and ended up staying for 11 months. One day, after he’d grown new feathers, Pereira de Souza said the penguin just disappeared.

He thought that was it.

penguin 2

But a few months later the penguin returned. Pereira de Souza found him back on the same beach and it waddled back home with him.

For five years the penguin has left and returned back to the same spot each year, spending up to eight months with Pereira de Souza before disappearing again.

“I love the penguin like it’s my own child and I believe the penguin loves me. No one else is allowed to touch him. He pecks them if they do. He lays on my lap, lets me give him showers, allows me to feed him sardines and to pick him up” says Pereira de Souza. He added “Everyone said he wouldn’t return but he has been coming back to visit me for the past four years. He arrives in June and leaves to go home in February and every year he becomes more affectionate as he appears even happier to see me.”


While no one knows where Dindim goes, it is thought that he swims south to breed along the coast of Argentina and Chile. Each year the little penguin travels over 5,000 miles to reunite with the human that saved him.

Brazilian biologist Joao Paulo Krajewski says “I have never seen anything like this before. I think the penguin believes Joao is part of his family and probably a penguin as well. When he sees him he wags his tail like a dog and honks with delight.”

A heartwarming tale of the friendship between man and penguin.

To start planning your trip to Brazil, get in touch today.

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7 of the best galleries and museums in Rio de Janeiro


Flickr: marcusrg

Flickr: marcusrg

MAM Rio (Museum of Modern Art Rio) is housed in a spectacular modernist building created by Affonso Eduardo Reidy in the late 60s. It is one of the most important art institutions in Brazil supporting young artists and projects. Sadly, in 1978 a fire broke out in the building destroying almost all the artwork including pieces by Pablo Picasso.

Website: MAM Rio
Address: Av. Infante Dom Henrique 85, Parque do Flamengo

Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR)

The Museu de Arte do Rio is one of the newest museums in the city. It opened its doors in 2013 as part of a revitalization project in the run up to the World Cup. The museum, a series of three building, is thriving and has a large permanent collection of Brazilian art work as well as rotating exhibitions. Even if art is not your thing, the building alone is worth a visit.

Website: Museu de Arte do Rio (MAR)
Address: Praça Mauá 5, Centro


The Museu de Arte Contemporânea de Niterói is housed in what is perhaps the most iconic of buildings in Rio de Janeiro. Designed by the world-famous architect Oscar Niemeyer in the mid-90s, the sweeping 360-degree museum allows panoramic views over Niterói and Rio de Janeiro. Although the exhibitions are not as good as MAM or MAR, the building is worth the journey. Try to visit on a Saturday when the tickets are free. 

Website: MAC
Address: Mirante da Boa Viagem, Boa Viagem

Museu do Folclore

Although rarely visited, the Folclore Museum provides a fantastic introduction to Brazilian folk art. The museums sizeable collection of works including religious and Candomble costumes, ceramics and works, mainly originating from the northeast.

Website: Museu do Folclore
Address: R. do Catete 181, Catete

Museu do Índio

One of the most fascinating museums in the city, the Museu do Índio focuses on the history and culture of the indigenous tribes of Brazil, providing an insight into the lives, customs and how they fit into modern Brazil. The museums impressive collection includes thousands of publications, images, films, documents and recordings from the end of the 19th century to the present day.

Website: Museu do Índio
Address: R. das Palmeiras 55, Botafogo

Museu da República


The Museu da República is housed in Catete Palace, originally Brazil’s presidential palace until the early 60s. Inside you’ll find much to offer on Brazil’s political history, art and a theatre. The site is where President Getúlio Vargas committed suicide. Visit on Wednesdays when the entrance tickets are free. 

Website: Museu da República
Address: Palácio do Catete, R. do Catete 153, Catete

Museu Historico Nacional (MHN)

The National History Museum is one of the most important museums in Brazil housing a huge archive of literally hundreds of thousands of items including the largest numismatic collection of Latin America. If you are going to visit just one museum in Rio de Janeiro, this is the one to visit. Built in 1922, the museum spans a 20,000 square metre space.

Website: Museu Historico Nacional (MHN)
Address: Praça Marechal Âncora, Centro

To begin planning your tour of Rio de Janeiro or Brazil get in touch with us today.

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This Video Perfectly Sums Up Rio de Janeiro

Rio de Janeiro really does have it all. A year round sunny climate, an energetic and dynamic city, white sandy beaches, iconic monuments, an excellent nightlife and food scene, friendly locals and luxury hotels.

This video perfectly sums up Rio de Janeiro. The juxtaposition between those busy timelapse shots of streets and packed beaches set alongside the relaxed musicians overlooking the city from Christ the Redeemer works perfectly. The pace and energy of the city, the rhythm of the music and those shots of the famous Rio de Janeiro sunset melting over the Atlantic.

There really is no city like it. To start arranging your tour of Rio and Brazil get in touch.

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8 Things You Didn’t Know About Rio de Janeiro

1. Rio de Janeiro has 56 miles of beaches

Beaches Rio Flickr/Alex Schwab

2. Corcovado, the mountain on which Christ the Redeemer sits, is over double the height of the Shard

CorcovadoFlickr/Rodrigo Soldon

3. A person from Rio de Janeiro is known as a Carioca

CariocaFlickr/Leandro Neumann Ciuffo

4. Christ the Redeemer is considered as one of the modern Seven Wonders of the World

Christ the redeemerFlickr/Mike Vondran

5. Copacabana beach hosted the world’s largest rock concert when the Rolling Stones played to over 1.5 million people there in February 2006

6. Rio de Janeiro will be the first South American city to host the Olympics

Rio 2016Flickr/Jorge from Brazil

7. Rio de Janeiro is the most visited city in the Southern Hemisphere

Rio travelFlickr/Mike Vondran

8. The first explorers arrived on 1 January and assumed it was the mouth of the great river so called it River of January or Rio de Janeiro

Rio de JaneiroFlickr/Brian Snelson
Got you in the mood to visit Rio de Janeiro? Start planning your trip today.

RELATED: Top 5 holidays in Brazil