Oh, Brazil. Two weeks was way too little time to get to know you, but what we saw, we loved. We kept it short because we had heard you were so expensive to travel in. Which, as it turns out, is incredibly true. We had set our budget at $50 a day per person, or $100 a day total. We had planned on two weeks in country, for a total budget of $1,400. How did we do? Here's our breakdown:
|Days in Country:||14|
|Daily Per Person:||$59.44|
We blew it! By nearly $10 per day per person, no less. How did that happen?
|Money Spent||% of Budget|
If you guessed moving around the country, you'd be right. 44% of our budget! Getting around Brazil was very expensive. When we were in La Paz, we had seen some good flight deals with Gol, but didn't book them because our plans weren't definite yet. By the time we got around to booking flights two weeks later, they'd increased by 200%! So, we ended up busing our way across the southern part of the country, which wasn't cheap either. Our 30 hour journey to get from Bonito to Rio (via Campo Grande) cost about $137 per person. Rio to Foz do Iguaçu was $120 per person. If you can, try and book flights 2-3 weeks out with one of the budget airlines such as Gol or Azul. We also spent $75 dollars on transport getting to and from three attractions in Bonito, but we knew that would be expensive.
Otherwise, Brazil wasn't as expensive as we thought it would be. We stayed in a 15 person dorm in Rio which cost about $32 a night for both of us, but Rio is an expensive place for accommodation. Catarino's in Bonito was only 60BRL per night, $26.88 at the time, for a double room with shared bath.
Also, both hostels we stayed in provided big breakfast spreads, so we were able to eat a lot for breakfast and often skip lunch or only have a snack during the day (like açai, mmmmm). There are also tons of rodizio all-you-can-eat- restaurants where you could get your fill for a day (or two) if you wanted. Speaking of which, our Eating Out total is skewed by the $62 Carretão churrascaria dinner we had. We still ate out other times, including alligator and brigadeiro pastels in Bonito, but none of those expenditures reached that high: the second most expensive meal was the $24.55 we spent on feijoada and caipirinhas after our walking tour. If you wanted, you could certainly find a cheaper churrascaria to eat at.
Brazil in Retrospect
We went to Brazil with a pretty set itinerary, given how short we would be there, and it was even more amazing than we hoped it would be. Bonito, despite the high fixed prices for tours and transports, was incredibly beautiful and we were lucky to visit. It's one of those places we would probably never get to otherwise. We went to Rio armed with seven pages of detailed notes from a carioca coworker Tyler had (thanks Cristina!) that made it impossible not to fall for the city. And Iguaçu Falls....well, they speak for themselves.
Even though we blew our budget pretty badly, neither of us would have done it differently. Yes, there are a million and one places we didn't go to, but it would take months to experience Brazil the way it deserves. We would love to spend more time there in the future, working our way from Jericoacoara to Salvador and on south to Florianópolis to Porto Alegre. As it was, we loved our itinerary.
Note: if anyone tells you that if you can speak Spanish, you'll do fine with Portuguese, don't believe them. While the written words may be familiar, the speech is not at all similar. Neither of us is fluent in Spanish, but Anaïs did very well getting us around the continent with her skills, and we were both flummoxed when anybody tried to converse with us in their native tongue. Thankfully, there are plenty of people who speak Spanish and English in Brazil (other languages, too), so we never were in too much trouble.
Someday we'll be back to see more of this beautiful country, but now its time to head south to the land of parrillas, tango, and incredible and intoxicatingly cheap Malbec wine.