With 8,515,767 acres to explore, backpacking in Brazil is definitely no quick-over: here’s a land with everything you need for a lifetime of exploration. Though cut through by the equator, Brazil is so large it also has a large amount of contiguous territory that’s not in the tropics: in fact, it is the only country that can make that boast. Breathtaking mountain ranges, extensive river systems, magical biodiversity and beautiful coastal areas are all part of the magic that is Brazil.
Ready to go backpacking in all over Brazil? Well, to begin with, there are some things you should know. First, get your language on! The national language is Portuguese, so if you don’t speak any, now is a good time to memorize a few phrases. Plan on taking a good phrasebook with you as well.
The most popular way to get to Brazil is by plane, even if you’re a budget-poor backpacker. Most tourists fly into Rio de Janeiro, but there are approximately 2,500 airports in Brazil, so you have choices. The largest airport, through which much of Brazil’s commercial traffic is handled, is the São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport. Since things are so spread out, air is a good way to travel, but it does end up being fairly expensive domestically. There are also plenty of roads and highways networking the country as well, and you can catch a ride in a sleeper or regular bus almost anywhere (though not so much in the Amazon region).
How best to travel the Amazon region? Many backpackers like to do that by boat; though it is certainly slow, you’ll be able to talk about it for the rest of your life and fill up your camera’s memory cards as an extra bonus. No, its not comfortable either, but the backpacking life is not about comfort anyway! Do make sure you bring a hammock, snacks, and plenty of drinking water—you don’t want to be drinking the highway and getting dysentery!
What numbers should you have plugged in your phone—or written in the last page of your travel journal—when backpacking in Brazil? Just the basics: police, ambulance, and fire. A number with which to make an international collect call might also come in handy; imagine being stranded somewhere without one real left, and no way to get home unless mom and dad do a wire transfer. So jot these down:
• Police: 190
• Ambulance: 192
• Fire: 193
• International Collect Call: 0800-703-2111
Another bit of useful information: the telephone country code for Brazil is 55.
Weather varies widely in different parts of Brazil—as indeed you’d expect, considering that it encompasses tropical rainforest, temperate coastland, and high mountain country. There’s no ‘best time’ to visit the coast as far as the weather goes: it’s beautiful all year round. Northern Brazil, the Manaus, is best visited from June to November, but if you are hoping to spend most of your time backpacking in Brazil in the south western Pantanal, schedule an ideal trip between May and September. This is winter and the low season, and the weather will be cooler and prices lower. December to March is considered the ‘high season’, summer, since it is southern hemisphere, and the time when prices skyrocket and hostel beds may be hard to find.