Jason Dundas couldn't wait to take the long trip to Brazil to attend the biggest party in the world. Rio has long been regarded as the Carnival Capital of the World. Each year around half-a-million visitors arrive with their party gear for the time of their lives, considerably swelling Rio's population of more than 11 million people!
Rio Carnival is a wild celebration 40 days before Easter. It starts on Saturday and finishes on Fat Tuesday. Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of Lent, a time of abstinence from all bodily pleasures. Since the 1930s the tradition has evolved into a hedonistic celebration but the Christian relevance is still very important.
The already busy city hits double time as is overflows with revellers and bands in incredible fancy dress and the samba is everywhere. Everyone joins in and it's all about joy and fun.
Costume is king and Nina Rezende designs some of the best money can buy. There is nothing like them in the world and without the costumes there would be no carnival. An amazing amount of work goes into the outfits and feathers and sequins create rainbows of colour.
Felipe Murray coordinates volunteers who build floats and create costumes. Their work for the next carnival begins the minute the current one is over.
Samba School Parades are prominent at carnival time. Their rehearsal halls are open to the public during carnival and they dance their hearts out in the hope of winning the coveted title. Scala nightclub in Leblon is the venue for one of many themed balls, and samba rules the dance floor.
Street parties are in full swing at Samba Land, Arches of Lapa and around the beaches, but don't even think about going if you aren't prepared to dress up.
The Ipanema band parade has been part of the city's cultural heritage since 1965 and when they are strutting their stuff it's impossible not to move to the beat.
Jason thought he would head to Santa Theresa to catch his breath. Normally a relaxed and quiet part of Rio he found it was also in full party mode.
People flock to the famous Ipanema Beach to top up the all-important tan and prepare for the night's activities. The beach is diverse and entertaining. People play soccer, fresco ball, volleyball, buy a bikini, sip coconut water, run along the boardwalk and even surf. Men and women wear the briefest bikinis imaginable you might wonder why they bother!
The beach is informally divided into nine sections. There is one for families, one for the flamboyant gay community, one for those wanting people to admire their perfectly chiselled bodies.
Rio de Janeiro on the south-east coast of Brazil.
Intrepid Travel has seven-day Rio Carnival packages including accommodation, transport, activities including a half-day guided tour of Corcovado and Sugar Loaf Mountain, tickets to the Sambadrome Parade and Gay Ball, sunset cruise on Guanbarra Bay and a football match at the Maracana Stadium. Tours start at $1505 per person twin share.
Travellers will receive a discount on this package if they also book any other Intrepid Latin America Overland trip.
Rio Carnival will be on from February 12 to 17, 2010.
Prices correct at October 8, 2009.
For further information
Ph: 1300 364 512
Fax: (03) 9419 4426
Visas: Australian passport holders need a visa when travelling to Brazil. The type of visa depends on the nature of the visit.
Electricity: In general 127V at 60Hz with some cities using 220V at 60Hz. North American or European plugs are used.
Time zone: GMT -3.
Currency: The real.
International dialling code: +55.