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  • Location: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
  • Duration:  6 days (approx.)
Experience the thrill of Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival with a week of festivities that will make your head – and feet – spin! Take to the streets and the Sambadrome to watch the legendary parades from dusk until dawn, and enjoy guided tours to iconic city landmarks like Sugar Loaf and Corcovado. With five nights in Rio, you’ll have plenty of time to bask in the lively celebrations, as well as the beach, soaking up the sun and the passionate rhythms of Rio during the most eclectic celebration on Earth!

Highlights

  • 5-night Carnival package in Rio de Janeiro
  • Revel in the lavish spectacle of a samba parade with an all-night ticket to the Sambadrome
  • Ride the cable car up Sugar Loaf Mountain and soak up spectacular views from Corcovado
  • Learn about the origins of samba on a historical tour (if option selected)
  • Visit a favela and meet locals at a community project called Morrinho (if option selected)
  • Small-group tour limited to 25 people ensures personal attention from your guide

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What You Can Expect

5-Night Rio de Janeiro Carnival Package

Visit Corcovado!

Immerse yourself in the kaleidoscopic colors and pulsating energy of Rio de Janeiro's Carnival! Watch the samba schools compete with awe-inspiring dance displays, glittery costumes and fabulous floats through the Sambadrome, and join the street parties held all over the city. You’ll even have the extraordinary opportunity to join the fun – parading with a samba school in costume or dancing at a Carnival Ball (own expense). This small-group tour operates with a maximum of 25 people, ensuring you’ll receive personal attention from your knowledgeable local guide.

Choose from two Rio Carnival packages with five nights accommodation at a comfortable hotel, where you can recharge and revive during the weeklong celebrations. A variety of guided tours are included – or optional at own expense – depending on each package you select. (See complete Itinerary below.)

Supreme Carnival Package:
One Sambadrome ticket in sector 11, guided trips to Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain, and two city tours – a historical samba tour and Morrinho Project favela tour. Accommodation is included at the South American Copacabana Hotel or similar in Rio's Copacabana neighborhood.

Standard Carnival Package:
One Sambadrome ticket in sector 13, guided trips to Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain, and optional city tours (own expense). Accommodation is included at the Argentina Hotel or similar in Rio's Flamengo neighborhood.

Itinerary

Day 1:
Upon arrival in Rio de Janeiro, settle in at your accommodation. Hotel check-in starts at midday and a tour representative will be on hand to offer assistance. Join your guide for an orientation meeting in the afternoon or evening (depending on which package you’ve selected) followed by an optional churrascaria (barbecue) welcome dinner (included in the Supreme package; this is optional for the Standard package at an additional expense).

Until then, you’re free to roam Rio, famous for its live music, samba dancing, street parties and Carnival parades! Head to the white-sand beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema for some swimming, sunbathing and people-watching fun!

Standard Package notes:
In past years there have been two meetings – one at 4pm and one at 6pm. When you arrive, please check the Carnival notice board at hotel reception.

Supreme Package notes:
After pickup at the Rio airport, you will be transferred to your hotel. (Please provide your flight details at time of booking.) Later, join your group meeting at 6pm.

Day 2:
Take the day to get your bearings in Rio in preparation for the wild nights ahead by exploring the city on an introductory walking tour with your local guide. If you'd like, you can enjoy a Brazilian futebol (soccer) game in the afternoon.

Standard Package activities:
  • City walking tour (included)
  • Soccer match (optional; additional expense)
    Even if you’re not a huge soccer fan, watching a game in Brazil is not to be missed! The Rio State Championship takes place during the Carnival period, when the Carioca Cup is coveted by the city’s four big teams: Flamengo, Botafogo, Fluminense and Vasco da Gama. You’ll watch two of these teams compete in the semi-finals while cheering amid the crowds at the Estádio Jornalista Mário Filho, more commonly known as Estádio do Maracanã.

    Leave your hotel approximately two hours before the kick-off and travel by coach to the stadium with your guide and small group. Then, settle into your seat, surrounded by thousands of fans singing, celebrating and cheering for a few hours that you will never forget. Afterward, your guide will accompany you on the subway to your hotel.
Supreme Package activities:
  • City walking tour (included)
  • Soccer match (optional; additional expense)
    See description above.
Day 3:
Before you get caught up in the frenzy of dancing, drumming and costumes as Rio’s top samba schools wow the audience with their skills, enjoy a tour to Corcovado (included for both Standard and Supreme). In the afternoon, enjoy a historical samba tour with a sneak peek at Carnival preparations at a Sambadrome pre-party and a few smaller street parades (Supreme package only). In the early evening, your guide will accompany your small group to the Sambadrome by metro and on foot to watch the samba schools compete in a flamboyant parade of color amid a crowd of 70,000!

The samba parade is Carnival’s main event, where samba schools have prepared outrageous floats and costumes all year for an hour of glory through the Sambadrome – made of concrete grandstands and box seats that rise from each side of the parade route. The top 12 samba schools parade on Sunday and Monday – six each night – for the hotly contested championship; the best school is then chosen by a handpicked set of judges who base their selection on many components, including percussion, theme song, dance choreography, costumes, storyline and floats.

Take your seat in the stands amid thousands of cheering Cariocas (Rio residents) and marvel at the Carnival parade – a glitzy and lavish affair. Admire the beautiful dancers who make samba look easy in their feathered headdresses, sparkling sequins and rhinestone-studded bikinis. Watch awe-inspiring floats pass by, many with mechanical compartments, and hear hundreds of drummers play percussion at a furious pace. You’ll be mesmerized as each school parades down the runway of the Sambadrome, flanked by tiers of spectators singing, dancing and applauding their favorite one.

The parade continues on through the night and into the early morning, with some of the best schools kept until last to ensure the party continues to the very end, but you’re free to return to your accommodation whenever you’d like.

Standard Package activities:
  • Corcovado tour (included)
  • Sambadrome ticket (included)
    Your Carnival parade ticket gets you a grandstand spot in sector 13, the liveliest of the Sambadrome sections, located at the end of the runway. Although slightly set back from the route, sector 13 provides the best atmosphere of all the stands, as it’s full of Cariocas who support their favorite samba school with singing and dancing – a wonderful cultural experience reminiscent of a raucous soccer crowd. As there are no fixed seats in the concrete bleachers, people stand up as the samba schools pass by.

    Alternatively, you can choose to upgrade your ticket to sector 11 for a closer view near the drummers' niche, where each school’s drummers stop to perform. The concrete seating in this neighboring sector is identical; it can be equally busy but not quite so boisterous.

Supreme Package activities:

  • Corcovado tour (included)
  • Historical samba tour (included)
    Get a behind-the-scenes look at Carnival preparations with an overview of Carnival history in Rio de Janeiro! In the morning, your guide will take your small group to a pre-party at the Sambadrome – a parade venue designed by the modernist architect Oscar Niemeyer – followed by several smaller street parades. Explore the roots of Carnival as you view preparations for the parade soon underway at the Sambadrome, as well as at Praça 11, the site where samba was first played in public. Next, travel to the Gamboa district, the historical birthplace of samba, where African slave ships first arrived in Rio. Learn how samba music became part of the Carnival and pass by areas important to today’s celebrations – such as Rio Branco Avenue, Tiradentes Square and the Lapa district.
  • Sambradrome ticket (included)
    Your Carnival parade ticket gets you a spot in sector 11, which offers a closer view of the parade and is perfect for snapping some pictures of the costumes and floats.

Day 4:
After the late-night festivities of Rio’s Carnival parade, spend the day relaxing at the beach, people watching over coffee or sleeping in after the incredible samba spectacle. In the afternoon, Supreme Package guests will enjoy a cable car ride up Sugar Loaf Mountain for stunning views over Rio and its surrounding beaches; if you're on the Standard Package, you may choose to take an optional guided favela tour.

In the evening, you’ll have the chance to revisit the Sambadrome for a second big night as a spectator, giving you the opportunity to see six more samba schools compete so you can choose your own winner! Or, perhaps take part in the parade itself (including purchase of a Carnival costume delivered right to your hotel), dancing your way down the Sambadrome runway – a once-in-a-lifetime experience!

If you choose to parade, you will join one of the ground wings, called alas, parading behind the massive floats. Each samba school includes about 25 alas, which provide a massive display of color and movement while telling a part of the overall story or theme. The alas get judged for their stamina throughout their parade, with each wing passing through the Sambadrome in about 40 minutes, singing the whole way. Being able to samba or sing isn’t necessary, as you will be one of the approximately 4,000 participants, but each person should put their utmost energy into their ‘performance.’

A guide will transport you to the Sambadrome and accompany you to the starting point, where you’ll meet your samba school and join your ala about two hours before the parade time. (The first school will meet at approximately 7pm and the last at 1am.)

Standard Package activities:
  • Favela tour (optional; additional expense)
    Take an optional favela tour and visit the community-based Morrinho project (including round-trip transport and a donation to charity). Your guide will take your small group to the Pereira da Silva favela to see the Morrinho – a scale model of a favela, constructed of brick. Begun in 1998 by a 14-year-old boy named Nelcirlan and his brother Maycon, the project was soon joined by other boys in the community. Admire the Morrinho’s vibrant colors and wealth of details, including favela landmarks such as dance clubs, alleys, staircases and small bars. Marvel at the unique construction, from miniature motorcycles and light posts that fill the streets to the interior detail of the homes – all demonstrating the creative imagination of the boys that constructed the model.
  • Join the parade (optional; additional expense)
  • Second Sambadrome ticket (optional; additional expense)
    Purchase a second Carnival parade ticket for a grandstand seat in sector 5 of the Sambadrome.
Supreme Package activities:
  • Sugar Loaf tour (included)
    In the afternoon, head to Sugar Loaf Mountain (Pao de Azucar) for a half-day tour of the iconic landmark, departing from your hotel by coach with your guide. Marvel at the granite monolith jutting out from Guanabara Bay and learn how the mountain – shaped like a sugar cone – got its name.

    Upon arrival at the base of Sugar Loaf, board the glass-walled cable car and ride to the mid-way point before continuing to the summit. You’ll skim right over the forested mountain peak with the bay and city spreading out below. At both stations, enjoy incredible views of Rio de Janeiro all the way to Corcovado and Copacabana Beach.

    You’ll have plenty of time to wander around and take in the spectacular views, with fabulous photo opportunities from every angle. Learn more about the construction of the cable car and enjoy a drink or snack at one of the restaurants atop Sugar Loaf. Once you’ve had your fill of the panoramas, make the return trip by cable car and back to the hotel aboard the coach.
  • Join the parade (optional; additional expense)
  • Second Sambadrome ticket (optional; additional expense)
    Purchase a second Carnival parade ticket for a grandstand seat in sector 5 of the Sambadrome.

Day 5:
Sleep in after a fabulous night, recover at the beach or join one of the numerous street parades throughout the city. In the afternoon, visit Sugar Loaf Mountain (Standard) or go on a favela tour (Supreme). If you’ve still got the energy to party when evening falls, you’ll have the option to go to the glamorous and glitter-mandatory Gay Ball (own expense).

One of the most popular of Rio’s Carnival balls, the Gay Ball offers a great experience with fellow partygoers in a fun and friendly atmosphere – starting at midnight and ending early the next morning. When you arrive at the ball, you’ll most likely stroll down a red carpet to enter the venue while being filmed live on Brazilian television! Then put aside any inhibitions and loosen your hips to the sounds of samba and popular music. If dancing isn’t your thing, you’ll have plenty of people watching to do from the balconies or the dance floor.

Although transport to the Gay Ball is not included, it is easy to share a taxi there and back with fellow revelers.

Standard Package activities:
  • Sugar Loaf tour (included)
    Afternoon tour; see description above.
  • Gay Ball (optional; additional expense)
Supreme Package activities:
  • Favela tour (included)
    See description above.
  • Gay Ball (optional; additional expense)

Day 6:
There are no activities planned for your final day in Rio, and you can depart your accommodation at any time. Please ask hotel reception for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities.
From USD $ 2,539.99

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Tour code: 5891GDRA

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