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South America Advice Needed

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1. Posted by andyglad (Budding Member 20 posts) 8y

Hi, I arrive in Rio 25/1/09 and fly out of Santiago 5/3/09. Basically I'm looking for any advice on how to best spend the time. Have been advised to travel south into Argentina and then just skip to Santiago for flight. It is part of a RTW so I am on a basic budget. The dilemma I have is that the Rio carnival starts the 21st Feb and it leaves it short for me to get to Santiago. Looked at flights but they were too expensive around £300. Is there anyway I could make the carnival on budget? What is the transport system like with regards too price? Trains or bus? Must see places?

Thanks for any help
Andy

2. Posted by BR-UNO (Inactive 31 posts) 8y

Hey Andy,
It all depends on what you are looking for. Would you like to see the jungle, the beaches, cultural life, parties... Rio is quite expensive during Carnival (on the other hand has everything mentioned before in one city) and there are other towns you could also check up northeast Brazil, such as Olinda and Salvador. From Rio to Salvador by bus (there are no trains) takes about 26 hours and the bus tickest costs around R$250.00 (Brazilian Real - http://www.xe.com/ucc/ ).
The main buses lines are:
http://www.itapemirim.com.br/
http://www.aguiabranca.com.br/
The cheapest plane tickets costs the same ( 2 hours fight):
http://www.voegol.com.br
http://www.webjet.com.br
http://www.varig.com.br

To head south and go to Buenos Aires, the cheapest airlines are:
http://www.voegol.com.br
http://www.aerolineas.com.ar
http://www.varig.com.br

or bus
http://www.plataforma10.com/

You could also stop and check Iguacu Falls on the way to Argentina.

About the flights from Rio to Santiago, I dont think you will be able to find a one way ticket cheaper than USD300.00, if you miss Carnival in Rio (there are parties before and after carnival in Rio and the northeast) you could go south Brazil, check Florianopolis and then Buenos Aires - by bus and head west to Mendoza, you will reach Santiago in time to catch your flight.

I hope it helps you!
Cheers,
Bruno.

3. Posted by andyglad (Budding Member 20 posts) 8y

Hi Bruno, that all sounds good. Im going with my girlfriend and are looking for all what you have mentioned. Still bit unsure how to split the time between Brazil and Argentina. Whats the North East of Brazil like? Is Brazil an expensive place to travel? How many days would you reccomend we spend in Rio? Suppose If i split the time 2 weeks in Brazil and 2 in Argentina what places would do you suggest we visit in Brazil? Anyone have any advice on Argentia? Do you know whether the football stadium in rio is closed? Im a massive football fan and would love to see a game, what games/stadium do you suggest?
Thanks
Andy

4. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 8y

Hi Andy,

Not sure if you using American dates there - are you flying out of Santiago on 5th March, or 3rd May?

I can definitely give you some good recommednations for how to spend that time - just wondering how much time you have first :)

Ev

5. Posted by BR-UNO (Inactive 31 posts) 8y

Hey Andy,
Lets start with the football!!!
Our main football stadium is called Maracanã and its not closed!
http://www.suderj.rj.gov.br/visitacao_maracana.asp
It is located next to the state University in a suburb after downtown:
The matches are Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.
Price: R$20.00 - price for the guided visit, check the newspapers for football matches
Opened daily from 09:00/17:00 (except when matches and events are going on) To get there – underground is the best option!
I suggest to go when Flamengo is playing, even thou I support Botafogo, Flamengo has incredibly loud supporters... its quite an experience. The ticket to the football matches costs around R$40.00

About the logistics... I did a RTW trip as well and know its quite hard to plan ahead your destinations when you are issuing the ticket. You shouldnt worry everything will be fine... Ive met wonderful people that helped me a lot on my way... I also know that money is always short when you are traveling for a long time. Brazil is quite expensive to travel comparing to other South American countries, especially the big cities like Rio and Sao Paulo. Check the restaurants and accommodations on Rio`s guide http://www.travellerspoint.com/guide/Rio_de_Janeiro/ to have an idea of the living costs.

Unlike many Brazilians, I really love Argentina, the wineries on the west of the country, close to Mendoza on the feet of the Andes... the glaciers south and Buenos Aires is not to be missed. The cost of life is a lot cheaper than in Brazil and the service (hotels, restaurants, bars...) is usually really good, which means better services for less money.

Up northeast of Brazil I would strongly recommend you to go to: CHAPADA DIAMANTINA
http://www.guialencois.com.br/

The other places I mentioned are really really crowded during carnival, but if you are up for that:

OLINDA (state of Pernambuco)
http://www.olinda.com.br/olinda/beautiful.html

SALVADOR:
http://www.emtursa.ba.gov.br/

I'll write more later!

Cheers,

Bruno.

6. Posted by andyglad (Budding Member 20 posts) 8y

Bruno thanks for your time its really helpful. I read on a dodgy website that the maracana was shut for refurb in 2009. Is it safe to go to a game on your own? Do you know when the Brazil football season starts and when the fixtures would be available for the Maracana? Is it possible to go into the Favellas in Rio are they too dangerous? I have read of a few hostels who offer tours but I would feel like a middle class pervert. Any info on funk parties in the Favellas? Samsara2 I arrive in Rio the 25th January and leave 5th March. Got to go to work but will pester for more info later.
Thanks
Andy

7. Posted by andyglad (Budding Member 20 posts) 8y

Bruno thanks for your time its really helpful. I read on a dodgy website that the maracana was shut for refurb in 2009. Is it safe to go to a game on your own? Do you know when the Brazil football season starts and when the fixtures would be available for the Maracana? Is it possible to go into the Favellas in Rio are they too dangerous? I have read of a few hostels who offer tours but I would feel like a middle class pervert. Any info on funk parties in the Favellas? Samsara2 I arrive in Rio the 25th January and leave 5th March. Got to go to work but will pester for more info later.
Thanks
Andy

8. Posted by BR-UNO (Inactive 31 posts) 8y

Good day Andy,
Its quite safe to go to Maracanã by tube, 80.000 people are going to be there with you, the surrounding of the stadiums are not always safe thou.
We have lots of championships going on all the year long, there will definitely be a match when you will be around.
About the Favela tours, I am completely against this sort of safari and do not recommend it. There are some Favelas that are really safe to visit and have a bier but I don’t recommend you to go on your own. The same for Favela Funk parties, but around the time you will be here there will be lots of Samba schools rehearsals at the communities that are safe and worth a visit.
Write more insider’s tips later!
Take care mate,
Bruno.

9. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 8y

Hi Andy,

When I was in Rio I got to go to the Brazil Cup Final which was one of the absolute best things I did in South America! If you can make it to a big match, I highly recommend it. The atmosphere is crazy!!

Also, the favella tours can be organised by your hostel, depending on wher eyou are staying. I visited the favella of Rochina, and while they are obviously seedy dangerous parts of Rio, the residents there are more receptive than you would initially expect. A large percentage of the money from the tours is pumped back into projects within the favellas. Well, that's what the tour group say anyway.

I can definitely recommend the Dont Be a Gringo group - if you stay at Mellow Yellow hostel, you can book it there. (Incidentally, that hostel also organise the trips to the stadium for football matches). Bascially, for $25 or something, you get to ride on the back of a motorcycle up into the winding streets of Rochina. There, your tour guide, who is usually well known around the favella takes you through, stopping at various points of interests and bringing you to visit some of the residents there. We also visited a kindergarten project. It's kind of a crazy experience because you dont feel unwelcome or endangered in any way, but we walked over bullet casings on the ground at one point and little kids were playing with them. They dont gloss over the problems that are there, you get a pretty good idea of how the favellas work and why the problems continue to exist there. Some people may accuse you of being voyeuristic by going there, but I genuinely felt it was an enriching experience and I felt glad to think that at least some of the money I spent was going back to the residents there.

10. Posted by samsara_ (Travel Guru 5353 posts) 8y

Actually dug this out of my travel blog to give you a better idea of what the experience was like in the favella:

Next day at 2, I was picked up by a guide from the Dont be a Gringo, Be a Local project and was taken on a tour of a real Brazilian favella. For those who are in the dark, a favella is a Rio ghetto as depicted in the movie City of God. I was lucky enough to wtness what life is like in one of these places.....and I will never forget it. Ever. The beginning of the tour was a high as I zoomed on the back of a motorbike (helmetless I might add!) up through the crazy winding streets of the favella. At the highest point, we were met again by our guide who explained a few key things to us before setting off through the slum:

- We would not be robbed.
- If we took photos of the kids we should show them. They think they will be famous some day because of these pictures
- We should not under ANY circumstances photograph the boys carrying guns or the police at the perimeters of the favella.
- We should not attempt to buy drugs in the area

We began to walk down through the ghetto, and i dont think any of us knew really what to expect. All the houses are built on top of each other adn the streets are extremely narrow, winding steeply downwards through the maze of delapidated buildings. As we walked, our guide explained the basic dynamics of life in the favella to us. It is controlled totally by a group of druglords and operates a system of street justice. The cops have no influence in this place and rarely interfere. If the residents need to build or buy something, they get money from these druglords (who, by the way, earn up to 10 million reals a month..thats about 5 mil US). In return for these "favours". the residents harbour the criminals and hide their weapons in the event of any raids, searches...attempted assassinations! No-one knows anything and no-one makes mistakes in this place. To begin with, it felt extremely voyeuristic wandering through these people's personal hell with a flashy camera, staring openly. But, bit by bit, it became clear that we were welcomed. Indeed, I am sure, if one of us wandered into a ghetto alone, it would be an entirely different story, but by being with this tour group we were accepted. 60% of the money generated by the favella tours is pumped back into the slum in donations - this is independent money, uncontrolled by the barons, and so the people are glad for this. We stpped intermittently, spoke to receptive individuals, joked with the kids and bought souvenir bracelets to take away as reminders that we come from a different planet. The deeper into the favella we went, however, the darker and seedier it became with bullet casing strewn on the streets and eyes peering from darkened windows. Raw sewage flowed down the streets and slogans were daubed on every wall. Part of the tour included a visit to the local school which was a bitterweet experience. It wasnt easy to look at these little angels and contemplate their futures. Our guide explaned that, while these people appear to live in utter poverty and squalor, they DO have a few "perks", as it were, as favella residents. For example, they dont pay for electricity or cable TV, simply connecting whatever they wish to the main supply. Local gas meters have read 0000 since 1995 when they were installed and no one pays for utilities. Like the Potosti mines, this tour was a profound experience and a look at the dark underbelly of the "shiny happy" world we live in.