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Travel in Latin America

How to Backpack Through Brazil

The size of Brazil can be overwhelming when planning a backpacking trip across the country. Stretching from the Andes to the Atlantic and containing most of the Amazon rainforest, the mighty Iguacu Falls and the Pantanal, Brazil possesses a natural beauty and spirit that can make for a memorable backpacking experience. As with any trip, it is important to plan your itinerary and make necessary arrangements prior to traveling to Brazil.

Plan your trip for the summer (December to February) if you want to experience the festival season, but be prepared for higher prices throughout the country. The time just after Carnavale, around mid-March through May, could offer the same weather as the summer months without the crowds and escalated prices. It is possible to backpack through Brazil at any time of the year, but remember that summers tend to be muggy and winters can be rainy.

Spend at least 10 days traveling the country. However, most people believe that you can only experience a country and its people by spending at least a month visiting the different regions and cities.

Take precautions against disease and infection. Get vaccinated against yellow fever before heading to Brazil. This is a requirement for visiting the Amazon, northern Brazil or the central-west portion of the country. It is also a good idea to get immunized against hepatitis and typhoid. Consider taking malaria tablets with you if plan to backpack to Amazonia or areas of low-lying forest.

Choose accommodations based on location, style and price. Overnight accommodations are readily available in family hotels known as pousadas. Albeurges, which are youth hostels, offer less expensive overnight facilities and usually provide breakfast. Cheaper albeurges and pousadas may not provide hot showers, but you can plan to stay in more deluxe facilities every few days to get cleaned up. Of course, luxury hotels are available in the cities. These typically offer beach views and luxurious pools. If you are planning your trip during Carnavale, book the accomodations well in advance.

Pack light. Remember you have to carry what you pack. Use clothes that are easy to layer and wear multiple times. Shorts or cropped pants in light colors with comfortable walking shoes are important pieces of clothing. If you go during the colder months, take a jacket and long pants. Take at least one nicer outfit if you decide to take part in Carnavale festivities. Always have a hat and sunglasses, as well as sunscreen to protect you from the sun. A good mosquito repellent is also a good idea if you plan to backpack through the forested areas.

Plan to spend about $40 to $50 each day of the trip if you will be visiting some big cities. Northern Brazil is less expensive, but you must know some Portuguese to maneuver through the area effectively.

Make sure you have everything needed to ensure your entry to Brazil. A passport is required and it should be valid for at least 6 more months. You must also have a return ticket and be able to show evidence that you can support yourself during your stay.

Use buses for transportation within the country. There are economy and deluxe bus services available. The buses are reasonably priced and fairly comfortable. However, you should be prepared for long, bumpy rides. Brazil is a massive country, requiring a large amount of travel time to see everything. The roads are also filled with potholes. This is especially true inland and in the northern part of the country. Regional bus companies can be a great choice for those backpacking through Brazil.

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