If you’ve been following along with my South American journey and blog posts so far, you’ll know that I had survived an epic 48 hour journey through Paraguay and was now enroute to Rio in time for Carnival!
Iguazu is incredible! We stayed in a little town called Foz do Iguazu in a hostel called Bambu. We went to see the Brazilian side of the falls first, and were able to explore the whole of the Brazilian side in just 40 minutes. The Argentinian side of the Falls is much bigger, so you may want to explore each side of the falls over two separate days as there is a lot of walking on the Argentinian side. Remember to bring your passport if crossing from Brazil to Argentina to see both sides of the falls, and carry Argentinian pesos with you as well as Brazilian Reals!
Florianopolis has been described as ‘the most beautiful place in Brazil’. The beaches definitely are gorgeous! Florianopolis is a 15 hour night bus journey from Iguazu. We travelled with Catarinese bus company and it was the best sleep I’d had on a night bus in a long time! Florianopolis is actually a little island off the coast of Brazil connected by road. We stayed at Backpackers Sunset hostel in the North of the island, and Retro hostel in the South of the island, a lovely, welcoming hostel with a cute dog living there! The South of Florianopolis is much more chilled with nicer beaches, so I would definitely recommend going here!
Paraty is a pretty little colonial town set right along the coast, so also has beautiful beaches for exploring nearby! Make sure you visit Trindade beach, with its miles of golden sands! Paraty is a good stopover point if travelling from Florianopolis to Rio. We stayed at Bossa Nova whilst here and met some lovely friends who we then took boat trips with and took a day trip to a waterfall where there was a rock slide and rope swing to jump off!
One of the few things we had planned during our trip was that we would climb Machu Picchu on Christmas day, and we would make it across to Rio in time for Carnival, I was so excited, and it definitely didn’t disappoint! We stayed at Brazuca’s hostel in Copacabana.
Carnival lasts for 5 days in Rio. We spent 7 days in total here to give us a day either side to recover! If you are travelling to Rio for Carnival, it is best to go and see Christ the Redeemer or Sugarloaf mountain either before or after Carnival, as all transport stops during Carnival and the whole city goes into party mode! The views across Rio from Christ the Redeemer are incredible, but make sure you also go see it from the other side up on Sugar loaf mountain too!
Blocos or street parties are the main celebrations of Carnival. We downloaded an app which told us what street each bloco started on, what time the bloco started at, and how many people would be there (generally 4,000-10,000 people!). Most blocos start at 9am and go all the way through until 10pm! Remember to wear comfortable shoes and keep hydrated, you’ve got 5 days of partying in 40 degree heat ahead! Some blocos are in large parks. We ended up making friends with a group of Brazilians at a park bloco on day 3, and it turned out they were also Physios!
The Samabadrome is where all the Samba schools of Rio come together to parade and show off their incredible floats, costumes and dance skills. It starts at 9.30pm and goes on until 6.30am! Originally we didn’t plan on going to the Sambadrome as it costs a lot of money, and all the other blocos are free, but I would definitely recommend paying to go to the Sambadrome if you get the chance!
The lapa steps are such an iconic image of Rio, and definitely worth a visit! These can be explored easily in a morning before it gets too hot in the afternoon.
Our time in Rio had come to an end. We’d had an incredible time partying, and our livers were definitely worse for wear, but it was such an amazing experience, and one of the most incredible parties I’ve ever been to!