Travel in Latin America
Brazil is a Latin American travel destination that is full of amazing cities as well as the extraordinary Amazon. It is also a destination where you'll need to be prepared. Visas, multiple vaccinations, medicine, and skills speaking the Portuguese language are needed.
American, Canadian and Australian tourists require a visa to visit Brazil. British, French, German, Dutch and Italian tourists staying for under ninety days do not require a visa. For citizens of other countries and for travelers with business purposes in Brazil, you may inquire with the Brazilian consulate, or visit the links in the references section below.
U.S. tourists must go to a Brazilian consulate in person in order to obtain a tourist visa, or use a commercial tourist visa agency to obtain a visa.
Photographing and Fingerprinting
Americans are photographed and fingerprinted as part of customs and immigration procedures, so be aware and be prepared. Practices differ for citizens of other countries, depending on a country's agreements with Brazil and, more specifically, a country's relations with Brazilian citizens. As of August 2010, Brazilian citizens can legally visit the European Union without being photographed for a visa or fingerprinted, and the reverse is also true.
Vaccinations are needed. Tetanus is an important vaccinations for all travelers. Hepatitis A, hepatitis B and Typhoid vaccinations are generally useful for Brazilian travel. Measles, rabies and mumps vaccinations are recommended for travelers at risk who can tolerate the vaccinations. Talk with your doctor about your specific health needs.
Health MD has the following to say about Yellow Fever vaccination: "Recommended for all areas of Acre, Amapá, Amazonas, Distrito Federal (including the capital city of Brasília), Goiás, Maranhão, Mato Grosso, Mato Grosso do Sul, Minas Gerais, Pará, Rondônia, Roraima, Tocantins, and designated areas of the following states: northwest and west Bahia, central and west Paraná, southwest Piauí, northwest and west central Rio Grande do Sul (including Porto Alegre), far west Santa Catarina, and north and south central São Paulo. Required for travelers arriving from a yellow-fever-infected area in Africa or the Americas."
Other Health Measures
Beyond vaccinations, gamma globulin injection can offer protection against some forms of hepatitis. Measures against malaria may be needed if you are visiting the Amazon or other high-risk areas. Check a current malaria map for more information.
It is important to stay in the larger cities where English is spoken. Otherwise, be prepared for dealing with Portuguese speakers who may not speak Spanish to visitors and who do not know English. Since Spanish is taught in Brazilian schools, it can be useful for some travelers. But not everyone in Brazil is accustomed to speaking Spanish and almost all Brazilians speak Portuguese. Learning some basic Portuguese phrases can help with language barriers that exist outside of the big city. Hiring guides is another way to help with the language barriers.
It is very important to take special steps to avoid dehydration. The tropical environment can be disorienting for visitors and dehydration is often a culprit, particularly as combined with the smog of large Brazilian cities. Dehydration however can be combated through drinking large quantities of water and coconut juice on a regular basis.
Carnival is an event in Brazil that travelers will not want to miss. Carnival happens just once a year, in February or March. It is held about seven weeks before Easter and as with other Carnival events in the Roman Catholic world, it is a rich celebration preceding the fasting periods of Lent. In Brazil, Carnival has taken on a special importance and has also become an immense tourist event.