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12 Days in Brazil - based out of Rio. Help!

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Hello all.

We are traveling for 12 days in Brazil (Aug 6-18) and in the beginning stages of planning. We are trying to make a feasible itinerary that is somewhat relaxing too. Here are some of our goals:

1) Experience Rio

2) Spend some time in the Amazon region (3-5 days?)
-We were thinking Manaus

2b?) Perhaps some time in Brasilia since we would have to stop over there
-Is it worth it?

3) Something else perhaps...
-Could it be Sao Paulo
-Perhaps Lençóis Maranhenses National Park
-Perhaps a trek to Salvador
-Maybe more feasible is some 1-2 day long side trips from Rio?
-Could be Iguazu falls (Wife really wants to see this, but it's a "dry" season and also we're not too thrilled about paying $160 for the Argentinian visa...perhaps we'll save that fee for a Argentina vacation)

Here are some questions we have that we'll put towards this awesome community
1) Air travel - better to buy ahead online or wait and buy with cash in the country?
2) Cell phone service - Buying a SIM Card with data for two weeks? Worth it and from whom?
3) Rental Car - It is useful for a few days traveling outside of Rio?

Thanks to much all!

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