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Some questions about Brazil and Argentina?

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First of all does anyone know when Carnival takes place in 2012? Also, I'm thinking of starting my adventure in Manaus but hope to be in Salvador by Carnival. I want to travel by land and water through Brazil and go from Manaus to Salvador and then to Belo Horizonte which is where some good friends live. From there I hope to journey on to Rio or Sao Paolo and then to Iguassu Falls and on to Buenos Aires, possibly Bariloche, and eventually Ushaia, Argentina all by land as well. I already looked into flights so what I do need help with is looking into bus fares or other fares (ferry or riverboat?) to make this adventure a reality. I'm a 31 y.o. female that is strongly considering this journey alone. How safe is it? I hear Rio is dangerous but many also recommend that a trip to Brazil is incomplete without a stay in Rio. I'm thinking of staying in hostels or if that's not ideal budget hotels. I want to go on an adventure but hope I make it back home too!

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