Mention Brazil and you conjure images of one of the most colourful and vibrant countries on earth. Containing some of the most diverse flora and fauna, Brazil is home to the largest rainforest, one of the world’s longest rivers, and the biggest and most exuberant festivals on the planet.
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Brazil Facts & Tips
Did you know?
- Brazil is the largest country in South America with an area of 8,514,215 square kilometres – this is about 16 times the size of France or about 35 times the size of the UK
- Brazil is the ninth largest economy in the world and the largest in Latin America, due to its abundance of natural resources including bauxite, gold, iron ore, manganese, nickel, phosphates, platinum, tin, uranium, petroleum, hydro-power and timber
- Iguazu Falls are formed from 275 individual waterfalls reaching heights of 82 meters and situated on the Iguazu River, on the border of the Brazilian state of Paraná and the Argentine province of Misiones.
- The Amazon is one of the world’s longest rivers at 6,448 kilometres, second only to the Nile in Africa. However, the Amazon carries more water than any other river in the world.
- Brazil’s landscape is quite diverse, including hills, highlands, mountains, plains, scrublands, savannas, rainforests and a long coastline. The extensive low-lying Amazon Rainforest covers most of Brazil’s terrain in the north, whereas small hills and low mountains occupy the south.
- Coffee was introduced to Brazil during the early 16th century and was found to grow well in the climate of the south-east. For many decades in the 19th and early 20th centuries, Brazil was the biggest producer of coffee and held a virtual monopoly in the trade. The wealth generated by this trade encouraged many people to move to the south-east and as a result in 1763 Rio took over as the capital of Brazil (until 1960 when Brasilia took over as capital).
- Brazil lies on either side of the Equator (0°) with part of the country in the northern hemisphere but most of it in the southern hemisphere
- Brazil is considered to have the greatest biodiversity of any country on the planet. It has the most known species of plants (55,000), freshwater fish (3,000) and mammals (over 520).
- Brazil has sometimes been described as a bio-energy superpower as many cars run on alcohol so the country does not need to import as much oil. Thanks to the development of offshore fields, Brazil has become self-sufficient in oil, ending decades of reliance on foreign producers.
Visas & Passports
Australian passport holders travelling to Brazil do not need a visa at this time.
We require that your passport is valid for travel for at least six months from the date you are planning to return to Australia. Your passport must be valid to travel internationally and must be machine-readable. You also need to carry a valid return ticket on you.
Whether travelling on an Australian passport or the passport of another country, all travellers require visas for a number of countries, and it is your responsibility to secure what may be required before departing Australia. You can consult with your travel agent, but it is also recommended that you check the foreign embassy website for your respective destination as it can also provide you with useful information.
Australian Embassy in Brazil:
SES Quadra 801
Conjunto K, Lote 7
Brasilia DF 70200-010
Ph. +55 61 3226 3111
Fax. +55 61 3226 1112
The official currency of Brazil is the Brazilian Real. Notes come in denominations of R$100, 50, 10, 5, 2 and 1.
The recommended currency to take to Brazil is the US Dollar. Once there, you can exchange your US Dollar for the Real. Ensure you change a small amount into small denominations.
Advise your bank of your travel plans so that they can make a note of it, otherwise they may cancel your credit card as a safety measure due to the overseas transactions. Also make a note of the 24-hour emergency contact number of the bank or building society which issued your credit card in the unlikely event that your card is lost or stolen.
Whenever possible use ATMs when the banks are open (Mon – Fri) so that if a machine ‘eats’ your card you can then deal with it straight away. It is always advisable to carry a supply of cash in addition to your credit card.
If you don’t have US Dollars with you on arrival, we advise you to exchange some money into the local currency at the airport even if the exchange rate is not the best, this way you’ll have money to get a drink, snack or give a tip during those first few hours of arrival. Your guide will be able to advise you on the best places to exchange money.
Small change is also useful for paying for toilets while on tour which is customary in many places outside of Australia.
- The price of a cappuccino in Brasilia is approximately USD1.50
- The price of an inexpensive lunch is approximately USD5
- The price of dinner in a moderate restaurant is approximately USD12
- The price of a beer in a local pub is approximately USD2
Imagine a country with great natural resources, tropical and temperate climates, and a history of influences from indigenous peoples, European and African settlers, and Asian and Middle Eastern immigrants. Combine their plethora of produce and the myriad of ways in which it is used and you have Brazilian cuisine – or cuisines, to be correct, with each one reflecting its regional history. Specialties include Bahian cooking, among the most popular, using fresh seafood cooked in spices that were introduced by the Portuguese, combined with milk and oil from the coconut palms that grow in abundance. In the cowboy country of the south, the fare is heaven for carnivores with succulent cuts of meat barbecued to perfection. Churrascarias, barbecue restaurants, are found throughout Brazil but the best are in the south. Armies of waiters relentlessly serve great sword-like skewers of beef, pork, sausages, chicken and chunks of buffalo mozzarella.
Important: When dining at buffets (i.e. breakfast) please refrain from taking food away with you to ‘save’ for later! If you feel that you’ll need snacks between meals, pack some dried fruit, nuts, muesli bars etc.
If you have specific food allergies and/or preferences, we highly recommend you take every precaution before your tour, including carrying a small card with your food allergy listed in each language of every country you are travelling to show to table staff when ordering. Whilst we take all dietary requirements seriously, due to the serious nature of potential allergic reactions, it is your responsibility to be as prepared as possible.
The south of the country has a more temperate climate with marked seasonal variations. The difference in the seasons is determined by temperature and not rainfall. During the winter (June-August) temperatures can drop to 12°C, while in the summer (December-March) they tend to stay around 30°C. The rainy season is from November-March.
Want to get out and explore on your own?
Taxis are metered so ensure that the meter is turned on! Fares are slightly higher at night and on Sundays. Tipping taxi drivers is not expected. Major cities have an extensive metro system, though buses are often overcrowded and best avoided at night where crime is common.
When catching taxis, have small change on you and choose one with a meter, if it doesn’t have one then negotiate the price before getting in. Also, ask your guide or hotel staff the names of reputable taxi companies.
So, you’d love to bring home a special souvenir from Brazil…
Shopping varies from elegant boutiques to hippy markets and everything in between. Artwork and handicrafts feature quite heavily across the country; art lovers can purchase locally crafted items and peruse paintings in chic galleries while being served a glass of chilled wine. Markets (feiras or feirinhas) are found in every city with a range of goods on sale from woodcarvings, musical instruments, jewellery, leather goods and clothing. Food markets are also well worth a visit if only for the experience. They are a good place to find homemade chilli sauces, spices and guaraná powder. For beach lovers, if you want to blend in with the locals, be sure to purchase your beach attire locally from any of the numerous swimwear boutiques…anything else will look positively Victorian!
- Try to learn at least a few words of Portuguese. Your efforts will be appreciated—you'll find that many Brazilians will go far out of their way to help you.
- Do not eat food with your hands and always use a knife and fork, even when eating fruit
- Carry a photocopy of your passport when you leave the hotel as proof of citizenship and identification
- Hugging and back slapping are commonplace, particularly amongst men and women often greet each other with a kiss on each cheek
- Don't walk around with an expensive camera, jewellery or watches, unless you're in an obviously safe area (somewhere with a police presence, for example). It could make you a target of thieves.
Celebrations & Public Holidays
It’s hard to think of a more widely known, vibrant and energetic festival in the world than Rio’s Carnival. Held annually over the five days preceding the fasting season of Lent, Brazil welcomes visitors in the millions to witness the incredible display of exquisite costumes, elaborate floats, exhilarating music and of course, the talented samba dancers.
Believed to be the second biggest festival after Carnival, Festa Junina (June Festival) is celebrated throughout Brazil for the entire month of June. Dating back to the 1500s this Catholic tradition was introduced during Brazil’s colonialisation by Portugal, and celebrates a number of saints along with the harvest. Events include singing, dancing, games and scrumptious traditional dishes while locals promote the harvest feel, dressing in checked shirts, denim shorts with the children painting freckles on their faces.
Other national public holidays to be aware of include:
- New Year's Day
- Good Friday
- Tiradentes Day (April 21st)
- Labor Day / May Day (May 1st)
- Independence Day (September 7th)
- Our Lady of Aparecida / Children's Day (October 12th)
- All Souls' Day (November 2nd)
- Republic Proclamation Day (November 15th)
- Christmas Day
Rio de Janeiro
Brazil’s ‘jewel in the crown’ has cast its spell on visitors for centuries and it’s easy to see why. It is one of the biggest cities in South America and life here moves at a fantastic pace. Lush green mountains and the sparkling waters of the Atlantic provide the perfect backdrop to this enchanting city and its residents, known as Cariocas. Rio’s legendary carnival is the main draw for many visitors, but for those that miss the carnival, there’s no shortage of entertainment from religious festivals to sporting and cultural events. All year round, the bars and clubs are alive with the beat of live music, while the beaches provide a daytime playground for both tourists and locals.
Whether you spell it Iguassu Falls (Brazil) or Iguazu Falls (Argentina), Mother Nature has definitely favoured Brazil when it came to handing out spectacular scenery! Not only is the country blessed with lush rainforest, mighty rivers and endless beaches, the thundering Iguazu Falls are arguably the most impressive waterfalls in the world. Straddling the border between Brazil and Argentina, the falls stretch across four kilometres, hurtling down 82 metres into the Iguazu River. Dramatic scenery and the sheer scale of the falls have made them a UNESCO World Heritage site. In addition to the falls, the Brazilian side offers the unique Parque das Aves, a spectacular bird park, showcasing some of the rare fauna and flora of the area.
South & Central America Destinations
From the sub-tropical jungles and steamy falls of Iguazu to the frozen Antarctic water of Tierra del Fuego, it is incredible to believe that one country can contain so much.
Landlocked and sharing borders with Peru, Brazil, Chile, Argentina and Paraguay, Bolivia is an intriguing country to visit with a diverse natural environment.
A land of extremes from the arid Atacama Desert in the north to the southern icebergs of Patagonia, there are few countries on earth that could claim such diversity and so many varied attractions than Chile.
Colombia is , a country of spectacular natural beauty, filled with warm, friendly locals, a fascinating history and an abundance of culture and nightlife.
Costa Rica is a pleasure to explore with the country’s lush and rugged natural beauty, stunning coastlines and fascinating history.
Enjoy incredible scenery at Cienfuegos, discover the rich history at Habana Vieja and immerse yourself in the culture of Trinidad.
Ecuador, the smallest Andean country in South America, offers a wealth of vibrant indigenous cultures, colonial architecture, volcanic landscapes and dense rainforests.
As the birthplace of the ancient Maya civilisation, Guatemala is an intriguing mix of history and culture with an incredible array of natural scenery thrown into the equation.
Mexico is a country of many different identities and jungles, mountains, deserts and beaches all make up Mexico’s rich flora and fauna.
The rich history, archaeology, wildlife and enduring indigenous cultures of Peru all add up to make it one of South America’s most popular destinations.