Trip Planning Assistance Required!

Old Oct 11th, 2005, 06:51 AM
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Trip Planning Assistance Required!

Hi there,
We are an active family of 5 -- three adults in our mid-twenties and two in mid-fifties. We are looking for an exciting two- to three-week vacation in Brazil that would hit the exciting highlights over Christmas/New Year's, yet would allow us to relax on some secluded beaches and experience the Amazon.
We are looking for high-to-medium-end on-land accommodations and airfare to and from Toronto/Miami to Brazil.
Any suggestions for tours/guides/local companies?
Should we plan it alone? If so, any hints/tips/recommendations?
Thanks!
amkkia is offline  
Old Oct 11th, 2005, 11:49 AM
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We spent a wonderful 9 days in Brazil last March (10 family members and friends). I did a lot of the planning, but I worked through a travel agent out of Miami who is from Rio and specializes in trips to Brazil. He put together exactly what we wanted and we had a fabulous time. We spent 3 nights in Rio on Copacabana Beach. Not exactly secluded, But I hear New Years Eve in Rio is wild! You could then check with the agent and I'm sure he can recommend some more out of the way areas for other parts of your trip. In Rio we stayed at the Orla Copacaban and I would definitely stay there again. The rooms are clean and comfortable. Not huge, but we didn't spend much time in the room. The breakfast served by the hotel (and part of the room rate) was wonderful and plentiful. After Rio we spent a night in Manaus at the Hotel Tropical. What a fun hotel - it has large confortable rooms, a wave pool and it's own little mini zoo. Plus it is right on the river at the "meeting of the waters". From their dock we took a 3 night river cruise on the Rio Negro with Amazon Clipper and had a wonderful time. The accommodations on the boat were a bit more "rustic" so that might not be for everyone, but I loved that we had such a small group (only 17 people on the boat total) and we really got into a lot of the river tributeries and the little villages. The cabins had bunk beds with a 3/4 bed below and a single one above. They are air conditioned at night (and also during the day when the boat is underway). Each had its own bathroom with toilet, sink and shower. The water in the shower comes right from the Amazon so it isn't heated, but I found it very refreshing. Amazon Clipper has a new "premier" boat that has more up-scale cabins (double beds and all). It wasn't launched yet when we went. We saw it on the river and it looked very nice.

The agent we used is Edson Alessi at Fredson Travel. You can contact him by e-mail at [email protected].

On the flights - the only recommendation I have is that you make sure you have AMPLE time to make your connections in Miami. We had over and hour and we almost missed our flight. It can take at least 25 minutes to get from one gate to another the way Miami is set up. I wouldn't want to have any less that 2 hours for making a connection - especially to an overseas flight.

Hope this all helps. I loved Brazil and would go back in a minute! One thing we didn't have time for that you might want to consider adding on was a couple of days at Iguassu Falls on the border of Brazil and Argentina.

Have a great trip!
Jenni
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Old Oct 12th, 2005, 06:20 AM
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Thanks so much for the suggestions. I'll let you know what we decide!
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Old Oct 14th, 2005, 10:55 AM
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Hi - I just returned on a vacation with my family (loved it). I posted some trip notes that you may find useful (Brazil Trip Notes: Itacare, Lencois, Rio; Sao Paulo Coast) but in general getting around is straight forward. We didn't find a lot of need for guides. Make use of the Air Passes as they make travel cheap.
Have a great trip.
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Old Oct 18th, 2005, 02:11 PM
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Of course the most famous reveillon is Copacabana, but in general all brazilians likes to go to some beach for new year (don't ask me why, we just like it). The hotels are quite expensive (and full) in Rio at new year so book in advance. Remember the size of the country: the distance between Rio and Amazon is HUGE - you'll have to fly. Consider a airline pass - the tickets are quite expensive. For the beaches just pick any at Notheast like Maceio, Natal or Fortaleza. For the Amazon, try Belem and, of course, Manaus.
For the hotels, every city will have a 5 star hotel, but the American chains is quite rare. Hilton only in Sao Paulo and Belem. Sheraton in Rio and South Brazil and Marriot only in Sao Paulo, Rio ans Salvador. Try Accor Hotels brands like Pathernon (flat), Ibis, Novotel, Mercure and Sofitel - the prices are VERY good, like BRL80-120 per night (except for Sofitel), Ceasar Business, Melia, Golden Tulip, Quality, etc... you can find all these.
For the flights, from Toronto the best option is Air Canada daily non-stop to Sao Paulo and from Miami, several non-stops option to Sao Paulo and Rio.
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Old Oct 18th, 2005, 05:06 PM
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I think you are a prime candidate for an Airpass. Depending exactly on how much time you have, I would try to see Rio, pick a city in the Northeast (Fortaleza, Salvador, Recife,etc..), Manaus and if time see the falls in Foz de Iguacu.

The best air pass is with TAM, as I would not be too confident with the situation of VARIG.

If you only want to visit one other place in BRazil, it might be best to buy tickets with a local airline.

If you get to Manaus, you will be attacked by people selling there tours. If you want some tips of what to expect from a tour in Manaus, send me an email.

In Rio, I dont know where to begin.. it is an amazing city, and I left Canada 2 yrs ago and now call it home.

I am sure whatever you choose you will have a great time!
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