Rio de Janeiro can be said to be the heart and soul of the party in Brazil. The second largest city, home to over 6 million people. Located on the east coast of Brazil, by the South Atlantic Ocean. Famous for its beaches, carnivals, football not to mention its music and rain forests with there abundance of flora and fauna.
The World Famous Carnival in Rio de Janeiro
I was lucky to have visited Brazil during the carnival in Rio de Janeiro a few years ago, on board one of Royal Caribbean’s luxury cruise ships. After the smooth flight into San Paulo, then engulfed and wrapped in the intense heat, finally into a taxi and onto Santos Port. The journey by taxi can take up to two hours depending on traffic and approx. $100. For me after the long flight and travelling solo it was easy and convenient. You can purchase transfers ahead of time from Royal Caribbean Cruises.
The must see highlights of Rio:
Copacabana Beach – the sands stretch for 4.5km along the coastline with its white surf and broad boardwalk. It can be a hive of activity with water sports, beach sports and a mass with the many sun dwellers sunbathing.
Christ the Redeemer – take the cog train through the rain forest of Tijuca and on to the top of Corcovado Mountain and stand up close to this over towering statue of Christ. Its truly remarkable the size and scale! Also its a great opportunity to take in the breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape including Copacabana Beach and Sugarloaf Mountain. Arrive early as the queue’s for the cog train and on top of the mountain can get obscene.
Sugarloaf Mountain – witness the incredible views from the cable car on the way up Sugarloaf Mountain. You stop at the vantage point of 700 feet (215 Metres) above see level and then carry on to the top of this iconic attraction. Where you can see Corcovado Mountain, Guanabara Bay and the Santa Cruz Fortress.
The first festival in Rio dates back to 1723. Now the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro is known, as one of the greatest shows on earth!
Samba started as a movement in the 1930’s and is one of the most popular dance’s in Brazil with over 70 samba schools in Rio alone. Each of the schools pick themes, music, and prepare costumes and floats to parade during the 4 day carnival held annually. This year taking place from the 13th February till the 16th February.
The word samba school might have you thinking that you can go to get dance classes however this is more a sports team. Each team are then connected to a Favela which acts like a community centre.
During the year it is possible to visit the samba schools during rehearsal parties. These are held in large warehouse buildings that can hold up to thousands of people. These are to raise money but also so the community can party! From end of Carnival till August the schools are on holiday and then they start to prepare for the following year again.
Due to popularity the carnival in Rio de Janeiro now takes place in the Sambodromo. Which is a large concrete structure with a wide avenue running down the centre and the viewing stands at either side. The samba schools then take turns to parade there flamboyant costumes and skilled music playing.
On the occasion I visited, I booked an on board trip to the event which included the transfers to and from the ship. The buses stay in the same drop of point and you can return to the ship when you are ready until a final departure time. The Sambodromo is a mass with people and the scale incredible! It can be a little overwhelming. If traveling with anyone be sure to stay together! The atmosphere is bouncing, with the crowds shouting and cheering for there preferred samba schools. It was electric and an experience never to be forgotten.
Rio is a great place to visit all year round but during the holidays and summer months (December – March) the prices and population increase dramatically. Although December till March are the summer months when I visited for Carnival the heavens opened up and it rained cats and dogs for hours. The Sambodromo is not enclosed. Please do take water proofs just in case.
Have you experienced the Carnival in Rio de Janeiro? We would love to hear what your highlights were. Please comment below.