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14 days in Brazil mid-december through New Year's Eve- help please

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Jul 20th, 2014, 05:38 PM
  #1
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14 days in Brazil mid-december through New Year's Eve- help please

With work changes, we've needed to change the location and timing of our honeymoon. We'll be heading to Brazil for 14 days (probably Dec. 18 through January 1). The last 4 days or so of the trip (including new year's eve) will be in Rio with some friends (including a Brazilian friend) at a rented house.

It'd be great if anybody could help us out with advice on a few things:

1) Where should we go to honeymoon by ourselves for the first 8-10 days of the trip? We are interested in beaches, beautiful sites, food, culture (more so experiences or interactions and less so museums). Olinda? Fernando de Noronha? Bahia? Canoa Quebrada?

2) About how much does it cost and what are recommended/available ways to get to/from Fernando de Noronha? (we're trying to figure out if going there is cost prohibitive)

3) Since we will be in Brazil over Christmas and some areas might shut down- do you have any advice for us on that or where we might want to be then?

4) Any suggestions regarding getting Brazil airpasses?

5) We likely don't have time to visit the Amazon on this trip if we definitely want some beach time too, right?

Thanks in advance for any thoughts.
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Jul 21st, 2014, 01:48 PM
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1 - There are many places that fits your criteria. You'll find great food and cultural experiences anywhere in the whole northeast, but most people do not speak good english.

I would stick to the Pernambuco, because it is a small state and logistics are going to be easier considering you'll be in honeymoon. You'll find great beaches in Porto de Galinhas and Carneiros (very nice one). There are no beaches in Olinda, which is famous for it's culture. Fernando de Noronha is a very touristic island, where most people are there for business. I would not recommend it for an autentic cultural experience, but it is a very beautiful place, with great beaches and diving spots.

2 - It depends on the date. It is usually outrageously expensive in holidays such as Christmas, you may take a look at the prices in Booking.com.

3 - it depends on your itinerary.

4 - there are no air passes. You may find the best deals in www.melhoresdestinos.com.br (portuguese only) and the www.submarinoviagens.com.br is a good search engine

5 - that's correct
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Jul 21st, 2014, 03:39 PM
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after looking around a bit more, we're considering:

day 1: flight & arriving at hotel in Iguazu (foz do iguassu)
days 2-3: Iguazu falls
days 4-6: Choosing between Recife, Alagoas, Salvador, or
Boipeba
days 7-9: Ilha Grande
day 10-13: Rio (this includes New Year's Eve)
day 14- flight back to US

thanks for the tips, laudemochila.
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Jul 21st, 2014, 03:59 PM
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oops, submitted before I was finished.

the other option would be to skip iguazu falls and do instead:

day 1: flight & arriving at hotel somewhere in Recife or Alagoas
days 2-3: Recife or Alagoas
days 4-6: Salvador or Boipeba
days 7-9: Ilha Grande
day 10-13: Rio (this includes New Year's Eve)
day 14- flight back to US

Christmas will be sometime day 7-day 9.

It seems that ppl really love visiting Iguazu Falls though, right?

Are these itineraries too rushed/ambitious?
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Jul 21st, 2014, 06:15 PM
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Days 2-6 won't work that way and don't meet your criteria. Recife's beaches have sharks, the best beaches (Carneiros and Porto de Galinhas, as I've told you) are outside the city and Recife is too far away from them to be a base.

Alagoas is not a city, it is a state that has nice beaches and natural pools such as Maragogi. However, Porto de Galinhas and Carneiros are closer to Maragogi than Maceio, which is where the airport is located.

You'll need one full day to move from Salvador to Boipeba and another one to go back, unless you take an expensive private flight from Salvador. The usual way is ferry from Salvador to Itaparica, bus from Itaparica to Valença, then a speedboat to Boipeba. Not something to do in two days in a honeymoon. Salvador beaches are not suited for swimming. Bahia state (where Salvador and Boipeba are) is too big for this kind of trip, you'll waste a lot of time moving on.

Going to Ilha Grande is a lot of trouble in 3 days as well, especially in Christmas. Not counting the travel time from Salvador to Rio de Janeiro, you'll waste 3 hours from Rio de Janeiro to Angra dos Reis and 45 min. more from Angra dos Reis to Ilha Grande, not counting traffic (which may be really bad in Christmas) and the ferry waiting times.

It looks like a nightmare to me.

Yes, Iguazu Falls is a really special place, unique in the world. I would not miss it.

What I would do if it was my honeymoon:

day 1: flight & arriving at hotel in Iguazu (foz do iguassu)
days 2-3: Iguazu falls
days 4-9: Choose between the following states, sticking to only one -> Rio Grande do Norte (Natal, Jenipabu, Pipa, my favourite state in Brazil), Pernambuco (Porto de Galinhas, Carneiros, Recife, Olinda) or Alagoas (Maceio and Maragogi)
day 10-13: Rio (this includes New Year's Eve)
day 14- flight back to US
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Jul 22nd, 2014, 10:18 AM
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any thoughts on whether it's worth it to stay at hotel das cataratas vs. staying at hotels outside of the park on the argentinean side?

thanks again, laudemochila. Sorry for the confusion, for days 4-6 in itinerary A (or days 2-6 in itinerary B), I really just meant best beaches nearby or in the general vicinity of the areas I listed. Weather wasn't listed for specific beaches, but for states or for the closest cities, so I was listing initial broader ideas based on that and I was going to narrow it down to the closest beaches within/nearby. I promise that I'm not ignoring your earlier helpful comments.

your itinerary looks good. just to make sure I understand fully- are you saying that ilha grande or boipeda wouldn't be good options for days 4-9 in your itinerary because they're too hard to get to or take too long to get to?

If we do Porto de Galinhas or Carneiros for days 4-9, we'd need to fly into Recife, not Maceio, to get to them, right?
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Jul 22nd, 2014, 12:18 PM
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I'm worried about some of the other locations we're considering being too crowded, too museum/building based, or too isolated/roughing it/hiking-centered, so I'm wondering if fernando de noronha might be best for our other location if we can afford it.

We're thinking:
day 1: flight & arriving at hotel in Iguazu (foz do iguassu)
days 2-3: Iguazu falls
days 4-9: Fernando de Noronha
day 10-13: Rio (this includes New Year's Eve)
day 14- flight back to US

thoughts?
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Jul 22nd, 2014, 02:48 PM
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Hotel das Cataratas is a good option if you rent a car. If you don't, any hotel close to the Foz do Iguaçu bus terminal will be fine:

http://goo.gl/maps/QUQir

You may find some using any search engine such as booking.com.

Speaking of the NE beaches, no problem, I got it. Just wanted to make sure you know that cities like Recife and Maceió are not close enough to the best beaches to make them home bases.

Boipeba is hard to get to and it takes too long to get to. Ilha Grande is not hard at all to get to, but indeed takes too long to get to it. Both are great places to go if you have more time, but not with only two or three days. I'd recommend at least five days for Boipeba and four for Ilha Grande (two for travel time, each).

Yes, if you pick either PG or Carneiros you have to fly to Recife. Actually Carneiros is not that far from Maceió, but Recife is closer. With more time you could do Recife-Porto de Galinhas-Carneiros-Maragogi-Maceió.

Porto de Galinhas is going to be crowded, Carneiros not at all (but this is not somewhere you want to stay, because it is too secluded, there's only one restaurant there). Almost any brazilian beach town is going to be crowded in that time of the year.

Of course Fernando de Noronha is a great place to go if you can afford it. It is very expensive for a reason. It may also be very expensive to go from Foz do Iguaçu (base for Iguazu Falls) to Fernando de Noronha.
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Jul 30th, 2014, 08:09 PM
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We have priced out plane tickets and accommodations more and we are now thinking:

3 nights on fernando de noronha
3 or 4 nights in Ipanema or leblon
4 nights in garopaba or florianopolis at our friends' house

Does anyone have any recommendations or thoughts about garopaba or florianopolis? We know it'll likely be rainyish in December. We hope that part of the trip can be a group trip and have our friends join us, but is there enough to do and see for 3-4 nights if nobody but the 2 of us can make it?

The other option would be to do olinda (and day trips around there) for the middle 3 or 4 nights and then Ipanema or leblon for the last 4 nights (which includes NYE so that'd be way pricier and more crowded/hectic).
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Jul 31st, 2014, 07:11 AM
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Staying only 3 nights in FN is bad value for money IMO, because it is very expensive getting there.

Either Florianopolis or Garopaba are great options and there is plenty to see and do in 3 or 4 nights.
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Aug 7th, 2014, 06:33 PM
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Have you actually confirmed that any Rio hotel does not require the purchase of a Reveillon accomodation package, usually from the 28th through the 1st or 2nd, not just the 3 nights you are planning on?
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Aug 7th, 2014, 06:35 PM
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Oops, re-read to see you were going to stay with friends.
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Aug 8th, 2014, 12:04 PM
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BOOKED! (plane tix & housing) Thanks so much for all of your help- we had to book because tix were getting pricier (and the flights & housing we needed were becoming more rare) by the day. Our booked trip:

Day 0: nighttime flight to Brazil
Day 1: arrive Recife/Olinda
Day 2: morning in Olinda then fly to Fernando, half day in fernando
Days 3-4: Fernando
Day 5: half-day Fernando and flight to Rio
Days 6-8: Rio (in Ipanema or Leblon) (includes Christmas)
Day 9: Day in Rio then Fly to Florianopolis
Days 10-13: Florianopolis/Garopaba (joined by friends, includes NYE)
Day 14: half-day in Garopaba then fly home

I've been told that we should book Fernando activities through our pousada after we arrive. Do you recommend that we book anything for Rio in advance? How is Rio on Christmas day? Not sure if we should plan to eat/cook ourselves? make that just a chill, beach day?

Any further tips on what to do/see are appreciated. Thanks again for all of the help.

laudemochila: glad to get confirmation that florianopolis and garopaba have plenty to do/see.
A shorter time in Fernando is still worth it to us and what we can afford. We can only do three nights in Fernando because prices there skyrocket when it gets closer to Christmas/NYE. And we want part of our trip to be guaranteed good weather with beaches that aren't crowded - it's the only easy guarantee of those things & it's on our bucket list. Also, it's expensive getting there AND expensive to stay there, so we can't stay there for as long as we can stay for cheaper in Rio and free in garopaba.

SambaChula- yup, I did check the Rio hotels and got rates/reservations for them before my earlier post.
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Aug 11th, 2014, 05:51 PM
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I'm pretty sure you have to book both Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf in advance, but I'd suggest you confirm this. There has been a while since the last time I've been there.

Rio in Christmas day, like any holiday, expect very crowded beaches, especially if it's a sunny day. Most stores won't open, but I believe you'll find some restaurants open. Anyway, I would plan on cooking just to make sure that you'll be fine.

It seems that now you have things sorted out fairly well, hope that you have a nice trip.
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Jan 12th, 2015, 10:07 AM
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UPDATE:
It was amazing. Just beautiful. best trip ever. just as a reminder- this was our itinerary


Day 0: nighttime flight to Brazil
Day 1: arrive Recife/Olinda
Day 2: morning in Olinda then fly to Fernando, half day in fernando
Days 3-4: Fernando
Day 5: half-day Fernando and flight to Rio
Days 6-8: Rio (in Ipanema or Leblon) (includes Christmas)
Day 9: Day in Rio then Fly to Florianopolis
Days 10-13: Florianopolis/Garopaba (joined by friends, includes NYE)
Day 14: half-day in Garopaba then fly home

We arrived in Olinda on Friday night. Couldn't be more magical (besides during carnaval). We ate at oficina do sabor and had their great cocktails and shared their amazing dishes (moqueca I think) cooked/served in large squash. (make sure to eat the inside of the squash too, not just the rice.) one of these dishes is enough for 2-3 people.

As we walked back to our pousada, we realized that when we had seen a few men earlier carrying instruments, they had been on their way to join up with at least a dozen other men, probably more and they had taken up in a house that opened onto a street intersection. They were playing amazing music (I think called frevo?) while a crowd had taken over the intersection to have drinks and dance. We hung out there a bit and then, when we moved on, we arrived at the Praça Jose Alfredo just in time for the beautiful serenading that happens there every friday night (from what I understand). We continued on to a bar with live music.

Fernando de Noronha: simply amazing. the most beautiful beaches and water ever. and so empty so we could really enjoy ourselves and not worry about anything. it's a small island so we made a few friends with some of the others who we saw over those few days. besides laying on the beach and enjoying the water, we really appreciated going on a boat for snorkeling and to see more of the island (we saw about 30 dolphins & did planasub), and we snorkeled/swam above fish and several huge turtles at baia do sueste. We enjoyed the sunset, ate, and had drinks at Cachorro and on Sunday night, there is a restaurant (forget the name) that's immediately next to the church (they almost share the same stairs), where we had great pizza and enjoyed wonderful live music- learned how to samba from some of our new friends. we can only pull off the beach bum thing for so long, so 3-5 days was the perfect amount of time for us here.

Rio was great: we stayed at an airbnb place in leblon that was wonderful. had feijoada at academia da cachaca. For Christmas Eve (when most Brazilians celebrate with their families and most restaurants are closed), we ate churrasco with other expats at Porcao. On Christmas day (fittingly), we went up to Christ the Redeemer (because it wasn't cloudy) and then we treated ourselves to Christmas dinner at Fasano hotel. Our first day in Rio, we did a personally guided and driven tour with Patricia from Rio Smile Tours - definitely worth it. Since we had such great beach experience in Fernando, we only walked by and had drinks/snacks at the crowded Rio beaches.

We loved spending time at our friend's house on Silveira beach in the south (close to Garopaba, about 1.5 hrs away from Florianopolis, and close to other beaches- Rosa, Ferrugem). It was so lovely- just wonderful. Spending NYE with friends and on the beach in white was the perfect end to our honeymoon.

Thanks for all of your help. We ended up spending the perfect amount of time in the different locations and had a perfect mix of activities. We can't wait to go back.
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