Archive for September, 2010

when to visit the Amazon region

when to visit the Amazon region

Encontro das Águas, Manaus

When is the best time of the year to visit the Amazon region? At “cheia” and “seca” on the Amazon region we saw how the changing levels of the Amazon river and its tributaries creates two different landscapes along the year.

Though we feel any time of the year is valid for a trip to the region, having been to the Amazon at the height of both the rainy season and the dry season we confess our preference for the months of transition betwen the former and the later.

Amazon river / río Amazonas

1. The Amazon between January and May

If you are heading to the Amazon between January and May you should know you will come across very heavy rain, torrential at times. It rains an awful lot. Sometimes rain comes in the form of short and heavy showers. Sometimes it will rain non-stop for several days. As June approaches the rainfall diminishes. A vantage of this period over the second half of the year is that the heat in the region is more bearable.

Manaus, Amazonas

2. The Amazon between June and September

Having the choice of dates, the period between the end of the rainy season and the beginning of the dry season would be our choice for a visit to the region. Advantages:

  • the river levels are coming down, uncovering the Amazon beaches, specially at Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós region (the later you visit the area the bigger the beaches you’ll find; July allows for the contemplation of quite a few beaches).
  • temperatures rise but it’s nowhere as unbearable as at the end of the year.
  • water levels are receding at the igapós, the flooded forests, but they can still be visited by boat. And igapós are one of the most delightful surprises the Amazon has in store for their visitors.

monkey business, the Amazon

3. The Amazon between October and December

It is the driest season of the year (but always be reminded that rain at the Amazon region happens all throughout the year). Heat intensifies. The igapós disappear and are now visited on foot. River beaches are its best.

vitória-regia, Amazonia, Brazil

destination: Manaus
destination: Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós
destination: Belém
destination: Algodoal
destination: Ilha do Marajó
Jungle Lodges in the Amazon
the Meeting of the Waters and the Janauary Ecological Park, near Manaus

September 20, 2010 | By More
guest posts at the Brazil Travel Blog

guest posts at the Brazil Travel Blog

Over the last months I have received repeated requests for the publication of guest posts at the Brazil Travel Blog. While I had never dismissed the possibility of having such posts at the blog, it is something I hadn’t actively pursued either.

By publishing some basic guidelines I hope will clarify all issues related to guest posts at the blog. The Brazil Travel Blog welcome texts that are relevant to our readers for as long as they stick to the following guidelines:

  • they contain first-hand accounts of travel in Brazil. Please, no “top 5/10/…” lists or any other generic texts that don’t contain personal accounts of travel in Brazil.
  • you are not trying to promote any tourist services (or services of any other kind).
  • your post is original and hasn’t been published before on the Internet.
  • you agree not to publish the post anywhere else.
  • all the photos you use are licensed.
  • you don’t include SEO-oriented links to commercial sites.

All guest posts can include one link in the byline, which will be displayed at the bottom of the post. Use that link to point to your own personal projects (we’ll be happy to let others know about your work! If you have more than one project, we can accommodate extra links too). But don’t point the links to commercial or business sites, they should not be SEO-oriented.

We would be delighted if you understood that guest posting at the Brazil Travel Blog is not a backdoor to free SEO. Running an independent blog is not easy by any means and advertising is the only way of funding at our disposal. If you want to have your links displayed here for SEO purposes get in touch and I’ll send you our current advertising rates.

If you think your copy follows our guidelines get in touch with us.

September 13, 2010 | By More
five days in Noronha for R$900 total – how we did it

five days in Noronha for R$900 total – how we did it

How cheap can a trip to Fernando de Noronha get? Our friend Daniel assumed the challenge and has just returned from five days at paradise. The total cost of the trip: R$900. Here’s how he did it.

1. Expense: plane ticket

Money spent: R$23.75

How he did it: the only low-cost alternative of reaching Noronha is the plane. Membership of a frequent flier program is a must, whether it is Gol’s Smiles) or Tam’s Fidelidade). There is no reason why you shouldn’t be a member of both programs (they are free).

With enough credit on your account, you can issue a return ticket to Noronha paying only the airport tax associated to your flight (in Daniel’s case, R$23.75).

With 20,000 Fidelidade points or 20,000 Smiles miles you can issue a return flight to Fernando de Noronha from any airport served by the airlines in South America. Daniel issued a Belém-São Paulo-Recife-Noronha and a return Noronha-Recife-São Paulo. But he have checked TAM’s system and found the chance of issuing Buenos Aires-Noronha flights under the same conditions.

You need luck. Quite a lot of it. Availability doesn’t come easy. In actual fact, most of the time you simply won’t find seats to Noronha. Daniel tried unsuccesfully for two months until one day seats became available once again. He issued his tickets a month in advance. There were plenty of dates available.

Persistence is key. You need to keep accessing the airline system. Do not give up if you don’t find what you’re looking for. The more flexible your dates are, the higher the chances you will find something that fulfills your needs.

2. Expense: environmental tax

Money spent: R$152.96.

How he did it: Noronha’s environmental tax is the only non-negotiable expense of the trip. Its value is fixed and must be paid by all tourists arriving on the island.

The money paid by Daniel corresponds to a four-night stay in Noronha.

3. Expense: accommodation

Money spent: R$480.00.

How he did it: four nights accommodation, single occupancy, breakfast included, for R$120 the night on a pousada on the Vila dos Remedios. It is one of the cheapest accommodation options on the island though while searching for a pousada Daniel came across another establishment charging R$90 for a room with no hot water. At hotels and pousadas in Fernando de Noronha you have a full listing of accommodation on the island so you can carry out your own searches.

We feel that for a low-cost trip, a location on the Vila dos Remédios is ideal: you can walk to three beaches, the island’s bus runs through it, and there is a supermarket and several food outlets.

4. Expense: food and transportation

Money spent: R$184.00.

How he did it – food: if you want to keep your budget under control, a low-cost tripper to Noronha can’t afford to dine at a restaurant. So it is supermarket time, it is cheese and ham sandwiches and the occasional hot snack.

Carrying your food with you has an additional vantage in Noronha. Most beaches are virgin with no food outlets nearby. Having your food with you means you won’t have to interrupt your visit to the beaches to go somewhere where you can be served food.

If you want to take your budget to the limit, you can bring your canned food from the continent.

How he did it – transportation: for a start, forget buggies exist. They’re expensive, they pollute beyond belief, they’re uncomfortable and, above all, they are unneccesary in Noronha, a small island with a public transportation system taking you everywhere. You will never have to walk more than 25 minutes to reach a beach in Noronha. A very small price to pay. The bus costs R$3.10 and Daniel never waited more than 10 minutes for it. Tell the driver where you’re heading and he’ll kindly let you know where to get off the bus.

5. Expense: life jacket and flipper hire

Money spent: R$60.00.

Noronha and diving go hand in hand. Half of the natural wonders of Noronha are found below the sea level. Diving is expensive but snorkelling isn’t and Noronha offers a bewildering choice of options for fans of snorkelling.

If you have your own mask and snorkel (Daniel did) you only need to get hold of a pair of flippers. They are a far more essential item than you’d think. As Daniel went to Noronha on his own he thought it would be wise to have a life jacket on too. Not a good idea to go snorkeling on your own without the support of a life jacket.

There are several locations in Noronha where you can hire your diving gear.

6. Total:

plane ticket: R$23.75
environmental tax: R$152.96
accommodation: R$480.00
food and transportation: R$184.00
life jacket and flipper hire: R$60.00

grand total: R$900.71

7. What you can and cannot do within that budget

You can:

  • enjoy the most beautiful beaches in Brazil.
  • snorkel to exhaustion in the Brazilian diving paradise.
  • walk along the historic centre of the island and visit the forts and outlooks.
  • attend the environmental lectures every evening at the Projeto Tamar

You cannot:

  • snorkel at the natural pools at Atalia beach. You can add it to your trip for an additional R$30.
  • take the boat trip around half of the island.
  • any other activity where you have to pay – in Noronha they are very few of them.

8. Informacion on Fernando de Noronha at the Brazil Travel Blog

Fernando de Noronha is simply our favourite destination in Brazil and for that reason you’ll find quite a lot of information on the blog. Our main entry is destination: Fernando de Noronha.

All the photos and the video illustrating this blog post where taken by Daniel during this low-cost trip to Noronha.

destination: Fernando de Noronha
Noronha: ready to fork out a further R$130?

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September 8, 2010 | By More
“cheia” and “seca” on the Amazon region

“cheia” and “seca” on the Amazon region

Life on the Amazon region is altered to a great extent by one single factor: the water levels of the Amazon river and its numerous tributaries. Water levels provoke profound transformations on the landscape and the way of living of natives of the region. This alternation between the cheia –the flooding season, and the seca –the dry season, is a truly awesome phenomenon. The former happens roughly between January and June. The latter between July and December.

Between the height of the rainy season and the lowest point of the dry season the level of the river suffers a spectacular 15-meter oscilation. 15 meters that have a great effect on life on the Amazon.

1. The Amazon during the rainy season

Praia do Amor, Alter do Chão, Brazil

Heavy rainfall brings about rising water levels. Pastures are flooded and cattle must be driven far away during this time of the year. Quite often the river level dangerously approaches the wooden floors of stilts where many people live. The wonderful igapós –flooded forests, are formed during this time of the year.

Floresta Encantada, Alter do Chão, Brazil

If you travel to the Amazon this time of the year you will reach most places by boat or canoe. And you will marvel at the tricks displayed by the inhabitants of the jungle to survive in the midst of a flooded land.

Canal do Jari, Brazil

2. The Amazon during the dry season

Manaus / Manaos

Although rain is by no means unusual during the so-called dry season, its intensity reduces and the river levels recede uncovering pastures. Cattle returns and the river distances itself from the houses.

Manaus / Manaos

Floating houses are often stranded when the river level recedes.

Manaus / Manaos

The flooded forests dry up and river beaches appear.

Praia do Amor, Alter do Chão, Brazil

During this time of the year you will walk along places that were flooded during the rainy season.

Parque Ecológico Janauary, Amazonas

3. What is the best time of the year to visit the Amazon?

Both seasons have its advantages and disadvantages. We will answer the question of when is the best time to visit the Amazon region shortly here at the Brazil Travel Blog.

destination: Alter do Chão and the river Tapajós
an Amazon adventure: trips around Alter do Chão
riverboats across the Amazon – schedules / timetables
destination: Manaus
Jungle Lodges in the Amazon
Amazon riverboat trips

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September 6, 2010 | By More
survey: what foreign tourists feel about Rio de Janeiro

survey: what foreign tourists feel about Rio de Janeiro

Rio de JaneiroCopacabana, Rio de JaneiroRio de Janeiro, BrasilJardim Botânico, Rio de Janeiro
Río de Janeiro, BrasilCopacabana y LemeMaracanãRio de Janeiro, Brasil

The results of a recent survey on what foreign tourists feel about Rio de Janeiro have just been released. 800 foreign tourist where surveyed during the month of July as part of a project coordinated by professors Bayard Boiteux and Maurício Werner, from UniverCidade. They are two specialists on the subject whose analyses reach the problems the authorities are even unable to admit they exist.

Some of the results of the survey.

On the positive side of Rio:

  • the weather (answer given by 37% of those surveyed)
  • exuberant nature (30%)
  • hospitality (20%)
  • cultural diversity (9%)
  • the subway/underground (4%)

On the negative side of Rio:

  • lack of tourist information (35%)
  • taxis around the Rio sights (22%)
  • street vendors (17%)
  • safety (13%)
  • local handicrafts (8%)
  • homeless population (5%)

The most visited sights:

  • the Sugar Loaf mountain (43%)
  • the Sambadrome (28%)
  • the Corcovado mountain (20%, with limited access during the time of the survey)
  • the Lapa neighbourhood (10%)

90% of those surveyed declared they’d return to Rio, 10% said they wouldn’t.

The entry point for all the information we have on Rio is this blog’s post destination: Rio de Janeiro.

destination: Rio de Janeiro
hotels in Rio de Janeiro
budget accommodation in Rio de Janeiro
the Rio de Janeiro subway
map of Rio de Janeiro
the new official Rio Guide
Rio de Janeiro’s Michelin guide for free
Rio bus station: Terminal Novo Rio

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September 3, 2010 | By More