By now, you must be either planning or finalising your various travel plans for 2020. If Brazil isn’t on the bucket list you’ve created, then you need to add it and even place it at the very top! Why? You’ll find out at the end of this article.
Before I continue, let me correct a common mistake people make. Rio de Janeiro is not the capital city of Brazil; it was once the capital city until the year 1960. After that, the capital was moved to Brasília in the middle of the country where the current government is based. Did you know that?
Where is Brazil?
Brazil is the largest country in South America and the fifth-largest nation in the world.
It borders 12 of the 14 countries in South America. That’s the real giant of a continent (no shades to the giant of Africa).
Now that you know where Brazil is ‘geographically’, the next question is, how far is it from Nigeria?
Well, still on the geographical matter, Brazil should technically not be more than 10 hours away from Nigeria, considering we share the same Atlantic Ocean, right? But the reality is different when you consider flight connections and so on. It gets longer than that.
What language do they speak in Brazil?
People in Brazil speak Portuguese. It is the only country in South America that speaks Portuguese. ‘Brazil’ is spelt differently in Portuguese – ‘Brasil’.
What currency do they use?
The currency in Brazil is the Brazilian Real (BRL) and 1 Real is 85 naira.
What is the Weather Like?
Brazil lies in the zone of equatorial, tropical, subtropical and moderate climates. Brazil boasts of 300 days of sunshine annually. This doesn’t mean that even in summer and spring, there isn’t always rain or cold but you’ll always get a cool sunrise.
I’ll however warn: when it rains in Brazil, it rains decently and when the sun is out, it comes to play in full force.
How Do I Get There?
As Nigerian passport holders, this should naturally be our first question.
Where is their embassy? Kofo Abayomi Street, Victoria Island, Lagos.
What is their visa requirement? The regular stuff (they don’t ask you to bring the head of a chicken, unlike some other countries. lol)
“Ha! I don’t live in Lagos!” Well, for once, you should feel the pain of ‘Lagosians’ coming to Abuja for visa. Okay okay, it’s a joke, they allow you to submit by courier.
When will my visa be ready? Typically 21 days by their website, but if there are no issues with your application, you should get it sooner.
As I am not a staff of the embassy, it’s best you check their embassy and website for every detail but I can assure you that the visa process for Brazil is one of the fairest I’ve come across in Nigeria.
Quick Warning: Brazil doesn’t practise birth tourism, so women are 92.2% likely to be called in for an interview and your chances of getting a visa, if pregnant, is the remaining 7.8% from the above.
So your visa is ready, the next steps would naturally be flight search. The ultimate determining factor of how to get there is about where you want to go. Once you’ve decided on the state(s), then you’ll need to decide the best airlines – both international and local – that’ll get you to your destination.
The most popular options are:
- South African Airways: Fly 5 hours plus to Johannesburg, wait a few hours then connect 9 hours to Sao Paulo -where you can easily get local flights to other cities in Brazil.
- Turkish Airways: Fly to Istanbul and connect for Sao Paulo. The only challenge with Turkish air is the long layover on your way back from Brazil.
- Cabo Verde airline: Probably the quickest, but not the cheapest way to get into a state in Brazil. First fly 4 hours into Sal (considering all you’re paying is 31 euros for your airport tax, I’ll suggest you go out as the flight to Salvador Brazil won’t be till much later in the night). Sal to Salvador is 4 hours. So basically 8 hours to Brazil without factoring possible delays or no connection as they fly only 3 days a week to Salvador and 5 days a week into Lagos, Nigeria.
- If you wish to fly to Rio however, there are several options such as Qatar, Emirates, KLM but I must warn you, they are not the cheapest.
How Much Should I Budget for a Decent Trip to Brazil?
Everyone needs to respect their pocket in 2020. This ‘respect’ determines how much you would spend when you get to Brazil.
Your travel lifestyle, type of accommodation and plans during the trip would also determine your budget.
I have done an estimate based on international flights, visa fees, 5 nights accommodation in Rio de Janeiro, and up to 2 tours.
As stated above, if your travel lifestyle allows backpacking, you’ll definitely spend less than the budget below.
If you wish to visit during the Rio de Janeiro Carnival or New Year’s Eve Revellion, you should budget N900,000 to N1,000,000.
If you wish to visit during the summer (dry) period in Brazil between March to November, you should expect to spend around N700,000 to N900,000.
If you, however, visit during the winter (wet), between December to February, you shouldn’t spend above N700,000. The irony, however, is the most expensive times of the year usually falls within this time, so January is the only safe time to keep a decent budget.
All prices are estimated per person – based on 2 people sharing a room, a 4-star hotel too with breakfast in Rio de Janeiro only. Local flights within Brazil are not factored into this budget.
Will I Have Fun in Brazil?
Ha, is that even a question? There is something for you in Brazil. It’s either the parte after parte, the unending caprihnas, the meat! The beautiful beaches that would make your IG timeline awesome, the amazon rainforest for animal and nature lovers, the waterfalls, the thrill for adventure seekers (hang gliding for example) and oh, I saved the best for the last, the baba Jesus himself -the Phenomenal sight of Christ the Redeemer statue, one of the 7 wonders of the world.
Bonus points for guys, you do know the most beautiful women in the world come from Brazil (please nobody should come for me, haha).
What Can I Expect?
Your expectation should be linked with your plans. If you’re planning a wildlife adventure, then Brazil, with the lush forest and animals, won’t disappoint you.
If you’re also looking for a week of partying, the Caprinha awaits on the beachfront of Copacabana. So do the parties.
And if you’re after the Rio Carnival, I can assure you it won’t be the last, you might just make it an annual return. The energy, the vibe, the wildness is different… out of this world (that explains why I’m returning to Brazil this year).
When is the Best Time to Visit?
Well, the best time – for people who want to party – to visit is during the Rio carnival or the New Year eve’s revellion.
For those who just want to tour Brazil but are worried about the winter (it’s just 15 degrees o!)
For those who want to see Brazil on low budget, then its best you visit between the month of January and February (but carnival week excluded).
Tasty food, cocktails and cachaca
Meat lovers, step in here and book your flight to Brazil. If not for anything, for the unending meat over there. An all-time favourite is Churrasco which is grilled meat, usually on skewers over hot coals.
Feijoada – Brazilian Black Bean Stew – is another famous must-try when you visit. It’s almost like eating our Nigerian rice and beans.
Beyond the food described above, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to find Akara in Brazil called Akraje. It’s, however, served in a completely different way. It’s fried bigger and cut into two with several sauces, crayfish placed over it. Although others said it was too spicy, I definitely loved it.
Brazil is not only for food lovers but also for drink lovers. The most popular alcoholic spirit in Brazil, Cachaça, is the essence of a tropical cocktail. Made from sugarcane juice, the distilled spirit is used sparingly in the classic caipirinha cocktail, which you would very much enjoy during your time in Brazil.
We usually classify Nigeria as the homeland for ‘parte after parte’, but wait till you visit Brazil.
Just as we Nigerians love to celebrate anything and have gatherings for everything, Brazilians are famous for social gatherings of diverse kinds, from soccer parties to the annual carnivals across various states to the New Year Eve’s revellion.
Revellion (New Year)
The New Year in Brazil is so much fun, especially at with the headquarters of all beach parties in Copacabana beach – Rio de Janeiro. This is usually a very long party that starts after dinner on New Year’s Eve and ends with breakfast the next day.
It’s tradition to wear all-white from New Year’s Eve through the night represents peace. Beyond the party aspect, there is also a spiritual side where it’s common to make offerings to ‘Lemanja‘, the keeper of the waters. Bouquets of flowers and material goods are cast out into the ocean in the hopes that they do not return. If they return back to the beach, it is said that Lemanja hasn’t accepted the offerings and you will need to try again next year.
Rio de Janeiro Carnival
Attending the Rio carnival was the highlight of my 2019 and it should be the highlight of your 2020 if time permits you to visit. It is a wild five-day celebration held 40 days before Easter.
The carnival starts on a Friday and ends on Fat Tuesday, with the beginning of Lent (and abstaining from all bodily pleasures) on Ash Wednesday. Carnival is seen as a farewell to pleasures of the flesh and, let’s just say, it’s an excuse for us all to get wild.
This year’s 5-day wild week out is from 21st to 26th of February, 2020.
Brazil has more than 2,000 beaches stretching along its shoreline and more than 1,000 islands dot the Atlantic Ocean within the country’s limits. You would easily find yourself spending so much time on the beach as it has it all – food vendors, cocktail vendors and the water itself for a good swim.
Some of the most famous beaches around Rio De Janeiro area are Copacabana beach, Ipanema beach, Leblon beach, Barra da Tijuca and more.
I have only seen the beaches in Rio de Janeiro but there are several other cities with amazing beaches.
The Wonders of the World
Brazil is home to one of the 7 wonders of the world so if you’re like me who is counting, then you will need to come pick your photo spot in Rio de Janeiro for the arms-wide-spread statue of Christ looking over the whole of city- known as Christ the Redeemer/ Cristo Redentor.
This is located by the Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park and can be easily accessed by the eco-friendly cog train through the scenic park while enjoying the stunning panoramic views of Rio de Janeiro’s streets, bays and beaches at the feet of the 30-metre-tall monument.
Chase Iguazu waterfalls
The falls with three names (Iguazu, Iguassu, Iguaçu) – this awe-inspiring sight is where 250 spectacular waterfalls plunge into the river on the border between Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.
Good news for wildlife and animal lovers, the amazon rainforest is perhaps the most famous rainforest in the world. It features 5,500,000 sq. km of lush forestry, diverse wildlife and a winding river. Here you can witness some amazing animals like monkeys, panthers, piranhas and pink dolphins.
Gateway to South America
Brazil is so physically massive that the country borders all but two other countries in South America. Chile and Ecuador are the only two countries, of a total of twelve. Hence, it’s so easy and convenient to make it home-base and do trips to neighbouring countries.
I personally flew into Brazil and then visited Buenos Aires in Argentina. From Argentina, I took a ferry to Uruguay. So a 3 in 1 expedition is possible if you can plan all visas well in advance.
Salvador city in Brazil would have you tracing back your Yoruba routes, if you are. As you may already know, the Yoruba people, owing to slave trade, are spread across parts of Cuba, Jamaica, Brazil, and Trinidad and Tobago.
Salvador was the first colonial capital of Brazil and the Yoruba influence is still much tangible. It’s seen in Òrìsà-worshipping people, the food, the dressing and the culture.
Beyond the beauty of the coastal town, the history would wow you.
Beyond all that has been said above, Brazil is an adventure seeker’s haven. Hang gliding in Rio de Janeiro, seeing the Iguazu Falls from a boat, and snorkelling in a river with anacondas are a few of high adrenaline activities you can do in Brazil.
Be it adventures, history, beach life, food, drinks, wildlife, party… you name it! Brazil has something waiting for you. So what are you waiting for?