10 days - Rio/Iguazu and...?

Old Jan 2nd, 2016, 09:34 AM
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10 days - Rio/Iguazu and...?

We have planned a trip to Brazil earlier, and I posted here as well. At that time, we we planning to see Rio/Iguazu/Parati/Salvador and Pantanal. Unfortunately, that trip never happened due to family circumstances.
Now, I am thinking of going to Brazil again, around early April, but this time we only have about 10 days and my husband not in a great physical shape for now, so we want to somewhat limit flying and have a slower trip.

The priority is to see Iguazu. So, I was thinking 3 days in Rio, 2 days Iguazu and may be Parati (3 days) or Ilha Grande or both?
We are a middle age couple, and we are not beach people, but we do like pretty island scenery, old cities/villages, walking/hiking, etc. I love to snorkel.

I would really appreciate your opinions on how to allocate our time, and the logistics.
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Old Jan 3rd, 2016, 09:55 AM
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Well, you are going to have to fly to the falls, or take a very long bus trip.
I would suggest more than 3 days for Rio (include perhaps a trip to the island of Paqueta and over to Niteroi by ferry) and 3 for the falls (including 2 half days for travel in and out, particularly if you want a direct flight to/from Rio). Paraty is a rather long bus ride from Rio, and Ilha Grande takes the better part of a day for bus and ferry. I would prefer to take an easy flight, perhaps to Salvador, from the on-town Santos Dumont airport in a Rio, which has a well preserved Colonial center, and allow sufficient time to see it at a comfortable pace.
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Old Jan 4th, 2016, 04:33 PM
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Thank you, Samba! I'll take a look at going to Niteroi or Paqueta. Ferry to Niteroi sounds like fun.

As for Salvador, yes, I know it is very rich in culture and interesting, but this time I do not feel like adding another large city and more time to airport.

As for Paraty, I was thinking of hiring a private car transfer, so seems like 3.5 hours scenic ride. Please correct me if I am wrong.

So, maybe then 4 days Rio, Iguazu and Paraty?
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 09:39 AM
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Yes, that might do.

I have only been on the coast between Rio and São Paulo by car with friends, so I haven't used transfers. Do look at some of the reviews and recent threads on TA for some of these services. Lots of people complaining about significant delays and discomfort, choosing to go to the bus station for the Costa Verde bus instead. Would be enough to put me off or at least have second thoughts about how to get there.

IF your transfer takes 3.5 hours with no traffic or other delays to Paraty, I was comparing that to a 2 hour flight to Salvador with about 40 minutes on the Salvador end to/from the city historic center and hardly any time to/from in-town Santos Dumont in Rio from Zona Sul where most tourists stay. May end up about the same amount of travel. Salvador has a much better Colonial center than Paraty, a richer culture, and opportunities for day trips to tropical beaches.

Btw, the decent beaches in Paraty are 45 minutes away in Trindade, not in town.

Ferry to Niteroi leaves every 15 minutes from Praca XV. View back to Rio is great. Beaches on that side, like Itacoatiara, are very nice. Also the art museum architecture, views from city park over to Rio and lunch at the gush market.

Happy travels.
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 09:44 AM
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Note: Even if you are not "beach people", a typical beach day for some Brazilians might be sitting in the shade, beachside at a club/restaurant, drinking some icy cold beer and having a nice lunch, not so much roasting in the sun and jumping waves. So be comfortable at the beach.
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Old Jan 5th, 2016, 09:46 AM
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Fish, not gush, market. Hate the autocorrect!
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 05:29 AM
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Samba, thank you so much for all this info!

So helpful...

Technically, I can even fly into Salvador from Chicago, or fly out of Salvador to Chicago.

How is Salvador safety? It has been so many reports lately, that crime rate in Rio is down, but in Salvador is up.

I am not paranoid, but just want to feel comfortable while walking around.
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Old Jan 6th, 2016, 08:01 AM
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Here is a fairly local opinion, and a bit complicated:
The reports you are reading are dated.
Salvador had a certain politician who looked out for the city, bringing many benefits, for decades and decades. The revitalized historic center and many other projects were backed by him. When he passed away a few years ago, an opposition party mayor took over who seemed to be determined to tear down everything that had been built up, letting everything go to h**l in a hand basket, cutting policing and other city services, allowing police to strike and run riot, and not attracting new jobs to this region lagging recently in technical/factory jobs behind other Brazilian cities and with high unemployment/underemployment. Locals and tourists alike were extremely unhappy.
Now, the beneficent politician's grandson is the mayor. Things are once again looking up, sharply. There are new building projects at several seaside locations, the historic center is well policed, and there are jobs opening up. The city is doing public service announcements to the locals about concerns like rain/ floods in poor neighborhoods, and responding promptly to phone complaints about (mosquito breeding) standing water, not usual even in more affluent cities in Brazil. Locals and foreign tourists are both expressing strong approval of how things are going. The mayor has only been in office a short while and has lots of plans.
Also: Some of the older parts of the city appear to be run down to a US eye, and some tourists IMO have a hard time differentiating an OK area from one that is not, because the city bears little resemblance to 'home', perhaps with one high rise apartment neighborhood as the exception.

(Note: However, if you are reading anything on another popular forum by an alarmist DE whose info is generally misleading/in error/from the internet/not firsthand, please discount it entirely.)
And in fact, the crime rate in Rio seems to be rising again, as the community policing of the poor communities is showing its many failings. After the Olympics, things may go further downhill for lack of funds and commitment, and continuation of widespread corruption.

As in most big cities in Brazil, extreme poverty lives in proximity to tourist wealth and more middle and upper class locals in Salvador. Minimum official monthly wage, for those who can find work, has been "raised" nationally in 2016 to about (equivalent of) U$200, so that shiny DSLR hanging loosely around a heedless tourist's neck when s/he decides to take a shortcut onto some dark, deserted, steep alley becomes a temptation to a few of the most desperate and marginalized. So you must have reasonably good judgement.
I also think that the impressions of Salvador of some foreign tourists are influenced by discomfort in being surrounded by people of color for the first time in their lives; few have ever been "the only white person in a room"/area, and they also don't have a sense of how to tell friend from possible foe under Brazilian circumstances.

Finally, I can say that, as a non-Brazilian-looking woman, most often solo, I have been in and out of the tourist neighborhoods and the poorest ones, and most in between, all over Salvador, regularly for a couple of decades now, with no problems whatsoever. My spirit was captured on my very first visit by the music, the culture and the open hearts of the locals who make every day in Salvador a delight.

....a bit for you to consider now......
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Old Jan 7th, 2016, 04:10 PM
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Wow! Such a good overview on what's happening. Thank you!

I am actually admiring women traveling solo... I am too chicken for this.
Salvador really attracts me.

And the last question... I looked at temperature/rain charts, and it looks like April is the second rainiest month of the year. And strong El Nino this year may make it even wetter. On the other side, all guide books say it is good time to visit. I hope it does not rain all day in April.

Thank you so much again!
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Old Jan 9th, 2016, 07:50 PM
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Well, these questions about crime in Brazil never have a simplistic yes or no answer.

Traveling solo often brings more opportunities to meet new people, who might not approach, or who you might not feel the need to be open to, if you have a companion.

I have to admit that some years April has become very rainy in Salvador, sometimes yes, all day rain. Earlier in the month is more likely to be sunny though. But it is hard to predict these days what weather may be like anywhere. Buy a big cheap umbrella there on the street for R$10 if you need to, one for each of you: it's still pretty warm and humid. (Buying and carrying an umbrella usually works as a magic talisman for me, preventing rain. . The most you'd want to wear are (one pair of) very light weight cotton pants, which you may want for Rio too at that time of year, but shorts/skirt should be fine with a T-shirt. You can still get around fine to see the historic sights by bus or taxi. Taxis are everywhere.. Music indoors at night. And beach is not your priority.
Oh, and take a look at the informational site www dot salvadorcentral dot com, written by a long time expat musician who knows the city and the music scene well. You can visit his shop in Pelourinho to bring home some music. Also in Pelo, (in addition to the museums, churches, architecture, people watching, music, etc) I recommend a look at the African inspired fabrics and clothes by Goya Lopes at her Didara shop.

If you have any more questions, just post.

Please come back afterwards and let us know how it went.
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Old Jan 11th, 2016, 07:51 PM
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Samba, I really appreciate taking your time to write all these great posts! I already feel that atmosphere

I just booked my international flights - Round trip to Rio from April, 9 to April 19.

Still torn between Salvador and Parati.

For now, trying to decide on Iugazu. I can book non stop flights with GOL, so we have 1.5 days or 2.5 days (this is the time we will see for sightseeing). Should I allocate 2.5 days? Is there enough to do?
We will arrive to Brazilian side. Does it make sense to stay on Brazilian or go to Argentinian since seems more to do on that side? If we stay less, that will leave more time to Salvador or Parati Thank you so much again!!!
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Old Jan 13th, 2016, 10:32 PM
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Test post. Not able to post for a few days.
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Old Jan 15th, 2016, 07:01 AM
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Congratulations on getting your tickets! Exciting!
--------

I found this set of very complete photos of the falls area, both sides.
http://boards.cruisecritic.com/showthread.php?t=2297373
There is one photo of a map of the Argentine side showing the trails. Might be helpful in envisioning the terrain.
It takes about 45 minutes to go from one town to the park on the other side.
It was very hot and humid when I was there in a January, forcing a more leisurely pace. Check weather for your dates.

Brazil side of park: maybe 3hours
Bird Park near Brazil park entrance:about 2 hours
Boat ride under the falls: ends up taking up almost a half day ( from either side of park)
Argentine side of park: half day to full day (main paths and also places to relax in the shade and take a dip in a small river
------

There are lots of videos on Youtube that show Paraty/Trindade and Salvador/area that might help you decide what you prefer on this trip.
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Old Jan 15th, 2016, 07:03 AM
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Oh, and IMO stay on the side you are flying out of, in case do delays crossing the border.
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Old Jan 15th, 2016, 07:04 AM
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...In case of....
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Old Jan 15th, 2016, 08:13 AM
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Hi, I hope it's Ok to post on this thread, pls let me know if I need to start another one. We are planning a similar, 10 day trip in Nov, flying into Rio and out of Buenos Aires. Taking a flight into Iguazu and continuing to Buenos Aires. Do we have time to squeeze in anything else? (We do like beaches and other forms of natural beauty). Would have loved to see the glaciers or Machu Pichu but seems like it is not possible to add those to this trip due to time limitations? Any other itinerary suggestions?
Also, what is the best mode of transportation to get around the city, get to the airports etc? Are taxis expensive?
Sorry for adding on to your post Helen63 but hopefully this will help you too!
Thanks!
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Old Jan 15th, 2016, 08:17 AM
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I have not booked flights yet so feel free to suggest any changes, will need to book soon since the trip is over Thanksgiving and I am using AA miles for 2 of the 4 tickets. Traveling with 2 adult children who have graciously agreed to give up their vacation time to travel with us.
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Old Jan 15th, 2016, 03:59 PM
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@excited_confused--Fly into Rio/GIG on an open jaw ticket, not SP as your other post mentioned. Stay 4 days. Fly into IGU. Stay 2 nights on the Argentine side. Fly out of IGR to Buenos Aires. Stay 3 days and fly home from there.
=10 days

Beaches and beauty you can find in Rio. The falls have places to swim on the Argentine side. You can also find a hotel with a pool.

"...get around the city...." Which city?
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Old Jan 16th, 2016, 06:56 AM
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Samba, thanks for the info! That is pretty much what I had planned except I had 5 days in Rio so we could do some side trips and one night in Iguazu but that is flexible.

As far as transportation - how do you move around any city or places outside such as Parati, day trips etc? Not sure we would be comfortable renting a car or if that is common so how do we get around? Would be fine doing this on our own? Is language a major issue? How expensive is it to hire a car and driver for the day.

I would really, really love to see the glaciers but don't see how we can fit that in. Between El Calafate and Iguazu, which one would you recommend?

Also, how expensive is food? I know there must be restaurant of all ranges, we usually eat something quick for lunch but like a nice dinner in at least a 3 star restaurant so trying to figure out approximately how much we should budget for meals.

Thanks!
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Old Jan 16th, 2016, 09:58 AM
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@excited_confused--
Moving around Rio? Taxi, metro, or local bus. Yellow taxis with the name and phone of their cooperative on the back fender are fine. They are not expensive. Metro does not go everywhere, but is also fine. If you can figure out bus routes, they are OK too to get around during the day, but maybe taxi is more convenient.
The dollar buys 4 reais, so nothing is going to seem expensive. At 1 to 1, you would be paying equal to any major US city.
You don't want to try to drive in Brazil. The long distance buses are comfortable (think business class air). Costa Verde is the company for Paraty, but you don't really have time, unless you don't stop at the falls. It's not a day trip (unless with some company that makes it an 18 hour day), and hardly worth the travel time just for an overnight.
Consider one of the less touristy outlying beaches on the southern edge of the city or in Niteroi (by ferry).
In Rio: Car and driver=tour guide=About U$250/day/2 people
You can certainly go to the bus station and buy tickets.
Language will probably be a problem. Bring a phrase book/dictionary. Most Brazilians speak only Portuguese. But thousands of non-Portuguese speakers get around fine each month.
Rio takes time just to sit around and drink a beer, people watch, and absorb the atmosphere; otherwise you're just checking boxes on a bucket list. Also, the weather doesn't always cooperate; often the heights are socked in by clouds, making it a waste of time to go up Sugarloaf and to the Cristo.
What day trips are you thinking of?
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