Rio de Janeiro Carnival Balls

What is a Rio Carnival Ball ? – A Rio de Janeiro Carnival Ball is simply a Carnival themed Party that features live Brazilian Carnival entertainment such as the drummers/dancers from a Samba School and live music. The parties are held in various locations around Rio and typically are quite large with at least 1,000 guests.

rio de janeiro carnival balls

rio de janeiro carnival balls

What are the most famous of these Rio de Janeiro Carnival Balls?- The most famous are definitely the Scala Balls and the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace.  The Scala Balls are held nightly during carnival in downtown Rio and feature various different themes nightly, including the famous Gay Ball on Tuesday night. Even though the Scala Balls are the most known, in the past couple of years the quality of the parties have gone down and thus we do not use them as our party options. The Magic Ball is a great ball to attend and the most luxurious. We can provide it as an add-on without a problem, but do not include it as a party option with our packages as the tickets start at US$800 to US$1000 per person. 

What is the background behind Rio de Janeiro Carnival Balls? Carnival balls originated in Venice, Italy and were elegant and extravagant events where people would wear masks and party until the wee hours of the morning before the start of Lent (Ash Wednesday). The tradition spread around the world and to Rio when certain hotels and some private locations began hosting events mimicking Venice Carnival Balls. The tradition stuck and there are still Carnival Balls in Rio de Janeiro but now with a Brazilian twist with Samba dancers and the like.

Are Carnival Balls Elegant events where you must dress up?  Not so much. Carnival balls throughout the years have evolved quite a bit and now the ONLY Ball that is  luxurious , upscale and a true elegant “Ball” is the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace. Other Balls such as Scala, Devassa and others are much less formal and there is NO need to dress up in fancy dress.

Do you offer Scala Balls  or include them as part of your Events?   Although we can definitely provide clients with Scala Ball tickets at a very competitive rate , we   DO  NOT include them as part of our tours or VIP EVENTS .

The reason for this is because the Scala balls (as of 2015) have not been very good and have sadly consistently lost quality. They are frequented almost exclusively by tourists who have heard of these Scala Balls online and NOT BY LOCALS. For this reason we do NOT recommend these balls if you are looking for an event frequented by young professionals from Brazil . In years past we have offered Devassa Balls, which were very good events and more frequented by LOCALS, but they were discontinued in 2015 and it will not be known if they will be offered in 2016 until the end of the year.

Do you include The Magic Ball as one of your events ?  The Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace Hotel is an amazing and exclusive black tie affair where celebrities, businessmen and the like attend every year. The Ball is held on Saturday of Carnival and is quite expensive. The tickets, to give you an idea, start at about $700USD and for this reason we do NOT include them in our base package events. If you would like to attend the Magic Ball at the Copacabana Palace we can DEFINITELY provide you with tickets and do so every year for clients who request this party.

COPACABANA PALACE BALL

Magic Ball – Copacabana Palace Pictured Above

Will TGW take me to a Carnival Ball with my package ?  Typically YES! We try to include one ball every year but as mentioned before NOT Scala or  Copacabana Palace Magic Ball. In past Carnivals, for example, we took the group to an amazing masquerade ball on top of the Sugarloaf Mountain including guides, and tables/bottle service while we have also taken clients to Carnival themed parties during the day/afternoons at private lounges with food and drinks and live samba dancers.  

rio carnival 2016 party

rio carnival ball 2016

 

If you have any further questions about Carnival Balls in Rio or would like package pricing, please click HERE.

Rio Carnival Package FAQ’s

1) Is this a group trip? – YES. Our Rio Carnival package is large group trip with many travelers and local TGW staff members hosting you all week long during Carnival.

2) What age range is this trip for? – All age ranges are welcome for our Rio Carnival package and our group is quite diverse. Most of our travelers are working professionals between 25 and mid 40’s (not a backpacker trip by any means!)  but we do have people of all ages that join in the fun and often about 1/3 of the group is over 45! (we have had clients as young as 18 and as old as 95 party and have a blast with us!) Bottom line, if you want to have fun and experience Rio carnival you will have a great time with us!

3) Is it okay if I travel alone? – Absolutely! You are in good company!! Many clients travel with our Rio Carnival package  to join a group and meet like minded travelers and make friends to hang out with.  If you are traveling alone we can also possibly provide you with a roommate to share a room with and you can split the cost of the room and save quite a bit of money. Click Here to get pricing and mention that you want a roommate.

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4) How structured is this package? Do I have any free time on my own? – Our  Rio Carnival package is loosely structured to provide you with both awesome structured group events (Such as a our Opening Party / Mixer and Carnival parties and a Tour of the Christ Statue) and plenty of free time to relax and explore Rio’s beaches, take in street parties or join optional sightseeing excursions.

sugarloaf mountain carnival rio

5) What if I do not want to join a group?  Can I just purchase a Rio Carnival Package?- If you do not want to join a group we can customize an awesome private independent package for you to experience the best of Carnival without any of the structured group activities and with the full support of our local Rio office which is on call 24/7 to assist you locally in Brazil . We have been in business for over a decade and can definitely provide you with a competitive and high quality package if you do not want a group experience. Click HERE for a private customized Rio Carnival Package “quick quote”.

rio carnival staff

 Local Rio de Janeiro Staff – we are here to help!!

6) What if I do not want parties? – As mentioned above, people of ALL AGES participate in our packages and you will feel welcome at all of our parties/Carnival balls/events. For this reason most people do want them but if you are not interested in parties we can customize an excellent package without parties. Click HERE for a quote and just mention you are not interested in the parties and we can customize an independent package for you.

7) What parties are included in the package? – Our standard Rio Carnival  package includes two Rio Carnival parties as well as a welcome mixer to meet other group members and our local TGW Brazilian staff. These parties are carefully selected by our staff in Rio which as been closely working with the best nightlife and party producers in Rio since 2004 and are a mix or private parties, concerts, private events and carnival balls. Click HERE for more information on Rio Carnival balls.

We try to take our guests to events that are NOT common for tourists to attend and are where LOCALS typically frequent and not tourist traps  . We provide local guides to take you to all parties  that stay all night at all venues to make sure everyone has a great time!

carnival ball best rio

(Our group had a VIP section upstairs overlooking the concert venue)

carrnival ball rio

(Private club party thrown by one of Rio’s best promoters).

8) Are tickets to the Carnival included in the package? –  No. We sell tickets separately or you can switch out the two events for Carnival tickets if you are not interested in the parties.  The reason they are not included in the base package is because people purchase different types of tickets and they vary greatly in pricing. Click HERE for more FAQ’s regarding the Sambadrome and tickets.

sambadrome rio

carnival_performers

9) Do you provide payment plans? – Yes! Our Rio Carnival packages can be paid in monthly installments up to December and in some cases January without any additional interest or cost. The earlier you book the better, as prices tend to go up the longer you wait (especially for the air). Additionally, the best value and most popular hotels tend to book quickly.

10) Do I need a visa to Travel to Brazil? – Citizens of the USA/Canada/Australia and MOST countries (except for EU and certain Latin American countries need BOTH a Visa and passport to travel! You must obtain a VISA prior to travel or you will be denied boarding your flight!! Click HERE to read through info on how to get a visa etc.

11) Can I customize the Trip? –  To some extent. Carnival occurs on set dates (changes every year – RioCarnivalDates.com) and many hotels start billing obligatory Rio Carnival “flat fee” packages beginning either Friday or Saturday. In certain cases we may be able to customize the dates SLIGHTLY. As far as adding dates or destinations we can DEFINITELY do so. Popular “add ons” include the Amazon, Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires and even Machu Picchu Peru. 

Get a Quick Rio Carnival Quote

If you have any questions not answered  in this post about our Rio Carnival packages contact us! If you would like a quick quote for Rio Carnival, please fill out the form below.

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Travel Insurance Top 10 Questions

Travel Insurance is a one of the most misunderstood forms of insurance but definitely important to understand and consider buying if you are travelling on a package with us . It is not  something that most people enjoy purchasing, nor a requirement to travel with us,  but we HIGHLY recommend buying it and can come in handy and give you peace of mind! Below are some FAQ’s regarding Travel Insurance.

1) What exactly is Travel Insurance?   Travel insurance is an  insurance policy purchased directly by an insurance company that is intended to cover medical expenses , trip cancellation and mishaps when travelling abroad or within your home country.

2) What does Travel Insurance Cover?   Travel insurance typically covers

* Medical Care and Treatment while Abroad

* Trip Cancellation due to unforeseen Reasons (typically medical , death of a family member,  loss of job, etc)

* Emergency Transportation/Evacuation back to your home country in case of an emergency

* Lost Baggage/Delayed Baggage Benefits

* Coverage for personal belongings while on your trip (in case of theft).

3) Doesn’t my homeowners insurance/medical insurance/credit card cover these things?   Possibly. This depends on your particular coverage. Some homeowner’s insurance policies have exclusions for your goods /items while travelling abroad. The same may apply for your medical coverage.  It is very important to phone your health insurer to make sure that you will be covered abroad in case you were to need medical treatment. Many insurers cover , many don’t. It is better to be safe than sorry!

As far as credit cards, check with your credit card issuer. Some very high end rewards cards may cover things like lost baggage and trip cancellation, but many have low limits or are designed as supplementary to travel insurance policies. We highly recommend checking with your card company to make sure you are covered for trip cancellation and the exact dollar limit to make sure you re adequately covered (especially in the case of World Cup, Rio Carnival or New Year’s packages which are usually 100% non refundable!!)

4) Should I purchase a policy?  If you are purchasing an expensive package and cannot afford to be out cancellation fees, or if you are travelling on a special event package that is non refundable such as New Year’s in Rio, Carnival in Rio, or the World Cup  ABSOLUTELY purchase coverage to protect your investment!! Another reason to purchase coverage is in case you or a loved one is ill or has medical issues and there could be a chance of trip cancellation or need for the medical benefit while travelling.

5) Will I get my money back if I decide to cancel?  –  This depends. If you purchase the standard coverage, you are only covered for trip cancellation due to reasons that are UNFORESEEN AND UNEXPECTED.  Examples include such things as a death of a loved one or a travel companions’ family member, a medical emergency preventing you or your travel companion from travelling, a job layoff , a natural disaster (we all remember the infamous Icelandic Volcano a few years ago!) , a terrorist event occurring in your home city or destination city, etc.  There is also a “cancel for any reason” upgrade for most of the travel insurance products, but please be aware that they can range up to 20% of the trip cost!

6) How do I get paid if I purchased the coverage and need to cancel or to pay for medical treatment? Typically, for trip cancellation, you must notify us in writing that you are cancelling, and the specific reason. You then call the travel insurance company and file a claim for any amounts TGW is unable to recover. If the reason for cancellation is a “covered reason” and you fill out the paperwork correctly and provide documentation, you should receive a check promptly from the insurance company. Medical treatment typically is paid by you via cash/credit directly to the health care provider and reimbursed after filling out paperwork upon return to your country of origin.

7) What are some real life examples of TGW guests using the insurance?  In the past few years, we have had guests receive coverage and payment for many reasons. Some examples have included

* A couple from New York cancelling an expensive non refundable trip for New Year’s in Rio de Janeiro due their home being severely damaged by hurricane Sandy

* A young man receiving a check from the insurance company to reimburse him for buying toiletries and a change of clothes when his bag was delayed by 1 day in Mykonos , Greece.

* A young man receiving reimbursement for medical bills related to a broken ankle while on a trip with us.

* A guest of ours receiving reimbursement for a hotel night, and change of airfare due to a missed connection due to a thunderstorm delaying a connection into Miami.

8) When should I purchase the coverage?  You typically must purchase it within 10 days to 14 days  of initial trip booking in order to be fully covered by the insurance company without any exclusions.

9) How do I purchase the coverage?  To purchase the coverage, please click HERE. Enter your trip cost, state of residency, age, etc on the right hand side of the webpage under “get a quote”. Note that travel insurance is always priced separately from any pacakge and is not required but HIGHLY recommended

10 ) Must I be a US or Canadian citizen or resident to purchase the coverage?  . If you are NOT  USA/Canadian passport holder, you may click HERE for an alternate company that can sell you coverage.

We encourage all guests with specific coverage questions or situations to contact the insurance company prior to purchasing their policy and carefully reading the “fine print”.  You may also enjoy this video here that answers some questions by fellow TGW fan , Peter Greenberg  . If you have any further questions regarding coverage, or insurance, please contact your rep.

 

Rio de Janeiro Carnival Top 10 FAQ’s

We have been offering Carnival in Brazil since 2004 and our clients always ask us great questions. Here is a Rio de Janeiro Carnival top 10 list of frequently asked questions. 

1)      When is the Carnival ? –  Rio de Janeiro Carnival , Brazil happens every year the week before Lent. (At the same time as “Mardi Gras” in the USA. Typically it occurs in February of every year but can start at early as late January or as late as early March. Check out the Rio Carnival Dates for every year. 

2)      How do people in Rio celebrate Carnival? –Rio de Janeiro Carnival is celebrated by locals by attending street parties (called “blocos” in Portuguese) as well as at Carnival parties/“Bailes” ( Carnival balls) as well as special parties , concerts , and of course, at the Sambadrome. The Sambadrome  is where the actual Carnival parade is held with all of the fancy floats and amazing costumes that come to most people’s mind when thinking of Carnival.

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3)      Do I have to purchase tickets for the Rio de Janeiro Carnival?  – Yes you do. The Carnival in essence is the famous parade and competition held at what is known as the Sambadrome (Sambodromo in Portuguese). It is a long street with bleachers and VIP boxes on each side of the street where the Samba Schools, which are groups of thousands of people in local and folkloric costumes and floats, compete  nightly during the Carnival. The Sambadrome is closed off and a private venue so you must purchase tickets to watch the show.

RIO CARNIVAL TICKETS 2015

 

4)      When should I go to the Sambadrome? –There is a parade at the Sambadrome on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday nights at the Sambadrome. The first two nights feature samba schools and floats that are not top tier.  It is thus recommended to go the samba parade on either Sunday or Monday as these are the actual schools that compete for the title each Carnival.  Since there are too many samba schools to compete all in one night, they are divided between Sunday and Monday nights.  Unless you are wanting to see a particular samba school on one of the two nights, either night (Sunday or Monday) is generally very similar.

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5)      Should I go to the Samba parade every night?  – Most of our guests (95%) will be  more than satisfied by only going once to the Samba parade. Although we have had cases of people going more than one night, the overwhelming majority of our guests only go once , and are more than satisfied, by going one time to the Samba parade as it can get repetitive.

carnival

6)      What do you do on the other nights/days? – TGW takes its guests to exclusive  parties on Friday and Saturday , as well as Tuesday of Carnival (the nights OTHER than the Sambadrome) and has awesome options where locals typically frequent. We also recommend checking out the “blocos” which are the free street parties all around Rio de Janeiro during carnival at least once during Carnival. For more FAQ’s on parties and activities click HERE.

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7)      What kinds of Carnival tickets are available? – The Sambodrome has three different general types of sections. The First are Grandstands (“arquibancadas” in Portuguese). These are basically bleachers. The bleachers are divided into numbered sections (diagram below). The second type of tickets are called Open Boxes (“Frisas” in Portugese). They are basically street level seats where you can see the Carnival parade and floats up close. The final type are the Covered VIP Boxes  (called “Camarotes” ) they are basically the equivalent of a corporate VIP box at a stadium where food and drinks are included as well as security and are quite expensive and exclusive.

bleachers

(Bleachers, Side View)

frisas-sapucai-5

Open Boxes (Frisas)

vip boxes

VIP BOXES (on left) (“camarotes”)

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8)      What tickets should I buy? As far as the bleachers are concerned, we recommend sections 3,5, 7 or 9. The higher the number, the closer to the middle of the “Sambadrome” avenue and better the view.  If you are on a tight budget, we recommend Section 3 or 5. If your budget permits a bit more, we recommend 5 or 7. Section 9 is the “tourist” section and the ONLY grandstand section that features actual numbered seats.  If you would like to really splurge, we recommend Covered box seats (starting at about $700 to $1k USD range per person)  or Camarotes if you are on an unlimited budget (over $2k per person). Bottom line – GO to the Carnival and defintely purchase tickets that fit within your budget as it would be a shame to go to Rio and NOT see the Carnival!

Sambadromo_Map

9)      Should I purchase section 9 tickets that are numbered? – This really depends on the client. If you are not good being around a lot of people then YES this is a good idea. The other bleacher sections, 3,5,7 etc are NOT numbered. This means they are on a “first come, first serve” basis and it can be difficult to find a spot at the beginning of the night. These sections also tend to be livelier as more Brazilians frequent these sections and are singing and dancing! If you really have a problem being with a lot of people or don’t want the hassle of finding a seat then we definitely recommend the section 9 seats, otherwise you are probably good with the other sections.

10)   Can I parade inside the Sambadrome in Costume? – You definitely can! This is actually a very unique and amazing experience! To do so, however, you must purchase a formal costume which is made by the local Samba school which is competing.  Costumes are quite expensive as they are hand made/crafted and take months to make. (you also get to keep the actual costume). Costumes for the Carnival  vary in pricing, but typically start at about $500USD per costume to over $1,000USD. If you do not want to spend this sort of money and do want a cool experience, you can dress up and have an amazing time in the informal “blocos” (street parties) that happen every day around Rio during the Carnival.  All TGW guests receive an customized list of the best blocos to attend as there are literally hundred of them and it can be difficult to choose the best ones.

For more information on Carnival or for current pricing , please click here

Top 5 Spending Money Tips for Travelers

So you have booked the perfect vacation with us, and now you are ready for your trip! We’ve put together some Spending Money Tips for Travelers while you are at your destination to help you save as well as not go through unwanted hassles during your vacation. 

1) Call ahead! – Make sure that your bank and credit card companies know that you are travelling and where you are travelling to so your cards will not be blocked. This is very important if you do not travel frequently overseas. If you ARE a frequent traveler, it also won’t hurt to do this if you are travelling during the holidays when banks and credit card companies are especially vigilant due to fraud concerns. Some credit card companies and banks now have features where you can even report where you are travelling right on the bank websites so log in and see!

2) Don’t bother exchanging money – Contrary to popular belief, exchanging money will likely give you the worst possibly rate of exchange! (There are few exceptions to this rule such as currently in Argentina, where dollars are in high demand and will give you a better rate), but for our main destinations in Europe as well as Brazil, Colombia, and Peru, exchanging money at a local bank or at the airport will give you the worst rate possible. Not to mention that it can also be a pain to find a bank that is open during weekends or holidays or there can be long lines at banks. Who wants to spend their vacation waiting in lines? For the BEST possible exchange rate, withdraw local currency from the ATM in your destination.

3) Pay with Credit NOT Debit – These days it is very rare to find restaurants, clubs, hotels or basically any merchant other than a street vendor that doesn’t take credit cards. Since most banks charge you 3% to withdraw money from the ATM, paying with a credit card will basically cost you the same so why bother with cash? It is a good idea to always have SOME local currency (couple hundred dollars worth for emergencies or for such things as taxis , street food, etc.) Another thing to note , VISA and Mastercard are more widely accepted than AMEX so have one of these cards available. We also always recommend paying with CREDIT instead of debit because if your card is compromised it is much better to have a credit card compromised instead of a debit card which can have funds from your checking account frozen or removed and take weeks to get back!

4) Have the right Credit Card – Nothing is more annoying that getting your credit card statement after a vacation and seeing those 3% “foreign transaction fees”. These days, you don’t have to bother paying them as many card issuers have credit cards that do NOT charge overseas transaction fees. (Most major banks offer these types of cards. We will address the best cards to have in another post )Another great feature every Jet Setter has to have on his/her credit card is a “ smart chip”. Smart Chip is a credit card technology where cards are embedded with chips and a cardholder must put in their pin or sign for each transaction to be approved regardless of the card being debit or credit. These are prevalent in Europe and Latin America but not the USA. In the USA the majority of credit cards are just “swipe and sign” cards where merchant basically swipe the magnetic strip on the card, you sign and the transaction is approved. Some banks in the US are now issuing “chip and signature” cards for their clients who travel overseas a lot. Although you won’t have a pin to enter in the mobile card machines, the fact that your card will have a chip, will make it easier to avoid any problems with credit cards. (example of a “chip” of a “chip and pin” card) and a mobile card reader where the cards are commonly inserted. 

Should I Stay at a Hotel or Apartment in South America? – FAQ’S

Deciding between staying at a hotel or an apartment in South America? Here are some FAQ’S to help you decide.

1) Does TGW Travel offer condos/apartments ? –  We sure do!  TGW works with reputable apartment brokers / management companies and apartment owners in Cartagena, Colombia, Rio de Janeiro , as well as in Buenos Aires. We have personally screened all properties and only work with the most reliable brokers who are familiar with the type of properties and service international guests require.

2)  How large are these properties?  We offer properties of all sizes and for every budget. From a simple studio apartments up to amazing luxury penthouses.

3)  How many people can fit in these properties?-   Each property has specific occupancy limits, but a general rule of thumb would one adult per every bedroom (or two in case of a couple).  Most apartments in South America are one or two bedroom units as buildings in the popular tourist areas of Rio (Copacabana and Ipanema) , Cartagena (in Bocagrande/El Laguito) or Buenos Aires (Recoleta/Palermo) are typically older and not very large. We also do have a handful or 3, 4 and sometimes 5 bedroom units available.

4) What are the Pro’s/benefits  of renting an apartment versus staying at a hotel? The general benefits of staying in an apartment in South America are:

* Increased space – With a rental apartment or condo,  you have a kitchen and living room in most apartments and more room to hang out/ relax versus a hotel room which can tend to be small in South America.

* Opportunity to cook meals by having a kitchen * More lenient guest policies/privacy – some hotels in Rio and Cartagena  charge fees for guests or may not allow them to begin with.

* Good value for your money  – if you are staying at least 5 nights or more, an apartment could be a great value for your vacation. (if you are staying less than 5 nights, it may not be the best value as you have to pay for such things as end of rental cleaning, etc and additionally, some owners do not rent out condos for less then 4 or 5 nights).

* Living like a local  – staying in an apartment is a great experience and gives you the opportunity to immerse yourself in the local culture and live like a local.

5)) What are the Con’s/drawbacks  of renting an apartment versus staying at a hotel?

* Facilities – Hotels generally have better facilities versus apartments (pools, gyms/exercise rooms). Additionally , most apartments do not have local phone lines (as outbound calls tend to be very expensive to many owners do not have a local phone number in the apartments). Additionally such things as international cable television and WIFI are more reliable /readily available at hotels versus apartments.

* Service – No matter what kind of apartment you stay in, you will not have the same level of service as if you stay at a hotel. Hotels have restaurants where breakfast is included in your room rate, as well as room service and concierge /front desks to assist you. If you stay at an apartment, remember you must go to the local grocery store to purchase drinking water (as you cannot drink from  the tap.). If you are used to 5 star service and enjoy the service of hotels, you probably should not choose to stay at an apartment.

* Daily Cleaning – Most of the apartments we work with include cleaning at least once every 3 to 4  days.  Only the most luxurious of properties include cleaning /maids that live in the premises and clean daily. (compared to a hotel that is cleaned daily).

* Air Conditioning/Comfort – one  drawback of apartments is that they do not have central air conditioning. Most apartments in Rio de Janeiro do not have central A/C (only in the bedrooms). This is also common in Cartagena, Colombia.

* Maintenance – Apartments , in general are not as well maintained as hotels. If something were to break inside an apartment during your stay, it could take up to 24 to 48 or more hours for a replacement /fix.  This is especially true in “high season” times  such as  weekends,  holidays  when hardware stores may be closed or plumbers/repairmen in shorter supply.

* Safety – While most apartments in Rio, Buenos Aires and Cartagena have doormen, hotels are generally considered safer as they have full time front desk clerks as well as doormen /security.

* Flexibility – If you book an apartment and need to cancel it or would like to switch it, cancellation policies may be less flexible than hotels.

6) What are some other things to know about renting apartments? 

All apartments require refundable security deposits that need to be paid in cash upon check in. Additionally, apartments are generally all inside larger buildings which may have rules and regulations that must be followed. Loud parties, disruptive behavior etc, can result in fines or expulsion from properties if neighbors are upset or building rules are broken! If you have any questions regarding apartment or would like a quote for an apartment for Rio de Janeiro, Cartagena or Buenos Aires, please contact your TGW rep or you may also click HERE for a quote.

Mexican Passport Holders Now Exempt from Brazil Tourist Visas

Effective, 5/16/2013 Brazil has lifted the requirement for tourist visas for all Mexican passport holders for tourist stays up to 180 days (6 months). Brazilian nationals will be also able to visit Mexico for up to 180 days per visit! This is amazing news for anyone who holds a Mexican passport as it greatly facilitates last minute visits to Brazil and comes just in time for Brazil’s high profile World Youth Day, Confederations Cup, World Cup and 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

American Airlines Nonstop from LAX to Brazil

LAX to Brazil non stop on American Airlines

American Airlines has announced a new  NONSTOP flight from Los Angeles (LAX) Airport to Sao Paulo , Brazil (GRU). The new American Airlines route is still pending regulatory approval but will be a much needed DAILY departure all the way to Brazil nonstop for Californians and opens up a quicker /better way to see Brazil and not have to connect in Dallas, JFK or Miami. Although Korean Airlines does currently fly this route a few times a week, it is BIG NEWS for anyone wanting to travel to Brazil from the west coast , as there really hasn’t been a nonstop flight daily from the West Coast to Brazil since the former VARIG flights  that ended in 2006.   American Airlines flights , if approved will commence in late November of 2013! This route is a great expansion of the airlines Latin American footprint, and extended network to Brazil.

Argentina Entry Requirements and Reciprocity Fee, How to pay and FAQ’s

Disclosure : Please note that this post is for general information purposes only and each traveler is encouraged to obtain information directly from his/her closest Argentine consulate  for up to the minute travel information and requirements as they frequently change!

Is a visa required to enter Argentina ?   Currently  Americans, Canadians, Australians do NOT require a visa to enter Argentina but Canadians and Australians DO need a to prepay  online what is known as a “reciprocity fee” to enter the country. (USA Citizens are now exempt)  E.U. Citizens, as well as citizens from Mexico, Brazil, Colombia, and Japan do NOT require a visa while citizens of certain countries such as India and U.A.E  DO require a visa prior to travel. For current entry requirements for other countries not listed, please refer to your closest consulate of Argentina for information. You may also click HERE for a list of countries with  entry requirements per country for Argentina.

*** Effective March 24th 2016, Americans  no longer need to pay the Reciprocity Fee. This is a temporary 90 day waiver which is likely to be formally ratified after the 90 days. Please check with your consulate of Argentina or your  travel rep if you are travelling for the latest information!

What is a “Reciprocity Fee” ?   The Argentina Reciprocity Fee is a tax charged to  Canadian and Australian citizens to enter Argentina. It is charged to these countries as Canada and Australia also charge Argentines an entry /visa tax to enter their respective countries as well.

When do I pay the Reciprocity Fee, upon arrival? All passengers must PREPAY the fee online and CANNOT pay the fee upon arrival as it was done up to recently.

How much is the Argentina Reciprocity Fee?  The Argentine reciprocity fee is currently…..

* For Americans –  WAIVED as of March 2016

* For Australians – $150USD – The payment is good for five years and multiple entries.

* For Canadians – There are two possible options:

  • a one-entry fee of US$75 (which also allows exit and re-entry from bordering countries Uruguay, Brazil, Chile, Paraguay, Bolivia at no additional charge within the three month period usually granted by Argentine Immigration)
  • a multiple-entry fee of US$150 which allows unlimited re-entries from all countries (bordering and non-bordering) until one month before the expiry date on the passport.

 

How do I pay the fee online?  click HERE for a link to the website  where you can pay the Argentine reciprocity fee online.

ARGENTINA RECIPROCITY

Below are the steps to follow in order to complete this procedure:

1) Enter the web site Provincia Pagos and register to start the process.
2) Complete the form with the corresponding personal and credit card information.
3) Print the payment receipt.
4) On arrival in Argentina, this printed receipt must be presented at Immigration Control. The receipt will be scanned by the Immigration officials, the information will be checked, and the traveler’s entry to the country registered.

Canadians/Australians  click HERE for a downloadable PDF document showing these steps and screenshots on how to do this.

 If I am visiting Argentina but only for Iguazu Falls/Puerto Iguazu by Land, do I have to pay the fee? Before 2013 the reciprocity fee was only being charged at the EZE (Ezeiza Buenos Aires International) and AEP (Aeroparque domestic BA) airports. Since 2013 and as of 2017 tt is now being charged for ANY CROSSING INTO ARGENTINA EVEN A SHORT TOUR OF THE FALLS!  Since this fee has to be PREPAID ONLINE, please plan accordingly! If you do not wish to pay the fee and are going to be in the Falls area, we can also arrange for a tour of only the Brazilian side of the falls.

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If you have any further questions or concerns regarding entry into Argentina or the reciprocity fee, please contact your closest consulate of Argentina or ask your TGW rep for more information!

 

Brazil Visa FAQ’s and How to Get a Brazil Visa

 FAQ’s regarding Visas often asked by our Clients…

Disclosure : Please note that this post is for general information purposes only and each traveler is encouraged to obtain information directly from his/her closest Brazil consulate  for up to the minute travel information and requirements as they frequently change!

What is a Visa? –  A Visa is a stamp on your passport on one of the back pages from a foreign country giving you the permission to enter and travel to that country.  (see picture below of what a visa looks like on a page from your passport).

VISA BRAZIL PICTURES

Do I need a visa to travel to Brazil if I already have a passport ? –   YES.  A visa is a stamp on one of the back pages of your actual passport from the Brazilian government giving you permission to enter Brazil and has nothing to do with the passport itself.

What countries require a Brazil visa? –  As a general rule, if your country requires Brazilians to get a visa to enter then Brazil will also require one for you to enter Brazil. (they call this “reciprocity” rule).

If you are an American, Canadian or  Australian citizen you DO NEED a visa for Brazil. If you are an E.U. citizen or South African, Colombian, Peruvian, Mexican, Argentinian  you do NOT need a visa for travel to Brazil. If you are a citizen of another country besides these, click  HERE to see a list (from the Consulate of Brazil’s ) website indicating what countries require a visa and which are exempt. (be sure to carefully read the first page and number codes to understand the site).

Can I obtain my visa at the airport or when I get to Brazil? –  If you require a visa, you must obtain the visa PRIOR to departure! You MAY NOT obtain a visa at the airport and will in fact be DENIED BOARDING your flight to Brazil if you don’t have the visa prior to your flight! (airlines are find heavily if they accept passengers to travel that don’t have visas and will check for your visa when you check into your flight!!) Although some countries do issue visas “upon arrival” , Brazil currently does NOT do this and you MUST OBTAIN THE VISA BEFOREHAND!!

Where/how do I  obtain my Brazil visa? –  If you are an American, Canadian, Japanese or Australian citizen, you can now apply for a visa ELECTRONICALLY ONLINE! (This was very recently implemented in late 2017/early 2018!) If you hold a passport from another country that does require a visa and it not one of the four mentioned above you must either process your visa directly at the closest consulate of Brazil to where you live OR through a third party visa processing company. 

Click HERE for a link to the official Brazil E Visa processing company VFS Global.  This company is the official processor of electronic visas for the Brazilian government for only Canadians/ Japanese/Australians and Americans. 

How Long is the visa good for? – The new Brazil Electronic Visa is valid for for 2 years and the length of stay for the visitor’s visa will be 90 days per year.

What is the cost of the Brazil E-Visa? – The eVisa currently costs: $40USD + processing fee of $4.24 for a total of $44.24. This is much cheaper than a traditional tourist visa that used to cost$160USD for 10 years!

How long does it take to process a visa? –  If you fill everything correctly on the visa site it will take up to five business days. We recommend obtaining the visa with as much lead time as possible in case of any errors in your application in which case you would have to re-submit the application. 

Can I get a traditional Brazil Visa for 10 years at the consualte? – Yes! If you prefer to get a 10 year visa, or if you are not a holder of an American/Canadian/Japanese/Australian passport you can still get a “traditional” visa at your closest consulate of Brazil or a visa processing company. Below are three recommended visa processing companies . (note that the 10 year visa is more complicated and expensive to obtain so we only recommend doing this if you do not fall in to the categories above or want a longer visa or if you need a special visa for work purposes and NOT tourism).

USA residents click HERE

Canadian residents click HERE

Australian  residents HERE

Can I process my visa at a local post office? – NO. The only entity that can issue a Brazilian Visa is the Brazilian government via a Consulate or the visa processing website mentioned above.

Do I have to turn in/send in my actual passport for a Visa? – NO. With the new Brazil E-Visas you do NOT have to turn in your passport to the consulate anymore if you are a USA/Canada/Japan/Australian citizen.  If you hold a passport from another country that DOES require a visa from Brazil other than the four mentioned above you WOULD have to go the old fashioned route and turn in your passport with the closest consulate or send it to the visa processing company.

Can I be denied a Visa?  – It is quite rare but you CAN be denied a visa. Typically you can be denied a visa if you have a felony record.  In nearly 15 years of business,  TGW has not had anyone (to our knowledge) be denied a visa from the USA/Canada or Australia . Typically as long as your fill out the forms correctly online (or at the consualte) you will be granted a tourist visa for Brazil. If you do NOT fill out the forms correctly your visa will typically fall into an “incomplete” or “pending documentation” status but not be actually denied.

Can I use my Visa if my passport is expired?  – If you were already  issued a Brazilian Visa on a passport and the passport has subsequently expired, you can carry the old passport with the unexpired Brazilian visa along with your new passport without a problem.

Do I need any other documentation to enter Brazil?  – Typically not. Please check your Consulate of Brazil for details. You may also want to check your own country’s regulations when you re-enter (for example, some countries may require a yellow fever certificate to re-enter AFTER having visited Brazil such as South Africa and Colombia.)   

Do I need any vaccinations to enter Brazil?  – At the moment you do NOT REQUIRE vaccinations to physically enter and travel to Brazil. However we recommend that you check with your family doctor as well as with your government (such as the CDC, etc) for RECOMMENDATIONS for vaccinations.

If I am a dual citizen of a country that doesn’t need a visa but a US /Canadian citizen can I use my 2nd passport to avoid getting a visa?  –  Generally yes! You would check into your flight with your passport from the country that does NOT require a visa for Brazil , arrive in Brazil with that passport , but return to your home country with your home country passport or resident card.

Can TGW process my visa for me?   TGW Travel Group is NOT a visa processing company so it does not have the ability to do so.

 

Do you have any tips regarding Visa processing –  YES!

  1. Process your visa in a timely manner. If you are eligible for a Brazil E-Visa even if the website indicates a five day turnaround time, this does NOT account for any errors. For this reason we recommend at LEAST ONE MONTH prior!
  2. When filling out the visa application forms online, make sure to follow ALL INSTRUCTIONS CAREFULLY.  Visas can be denied or delayed for failure to complete the forms correctly or not having the correct size of your picture (JPEG) etc.. The paperwork and forms are not difficult but you need to follow EXACT INSTRUCTIONS!
  3. If applying in person, make sure to make an appointment (where applicable) and read your local Brazilian  consulate’s website for hours of operation , holidays, and exact procedures as each consulate has specific and different requirements  processing times and procedures.
  4. Arrive early to your appointment and take something to read.
  5. Be courteous and patient with all consulate staff.
  6. Make sure your passports do not expire within 6 months of arrival in Brazil . Additionally you will need two blank pages in the back of your passport for the Visa. (if you do not have those you will need to renew your passport).

 

If you have any further questions about visas or travel documentation, please contact your TGW rep!

 

Nikki Beach finally coming to Ibiza!

Big news coming to Ibiza this summer! The original and granddaddy of all chic, beach clubs , Nikki Beach, is FINALLY coming to Ibiza this season!

Set for it’s soft opening in late June, the club  will be located on the East coast of the island in the Santa Eulalia area and on a magnificent beachfront property overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. (interestingly enough, a bit far from Ibiza Town and Playa Den Bossa).

Nikki Beach Ibiza will consist of the brand’s signature beach club, restaurant and lifestyle boutique.Guests will be able to spend their days and nights indulging in refreshing cocktails and endless champagne while enjoying the music played by both the resident and guest DJ’s. The extensive menu will be comprised of delectable dishes featuring signature tastes and spices representative of all the countries Nikki Beach is located including delicious salads, creative sushi rolls, original seafood entrees and slow-roasted free-range rotisserie chicken.

Nikkis Beach Ibiza will be launching a big official “Opening White Party” on July 11th, and feature creative new themed parties weekly such as a Brazilian Party, Cuban Mojito Party, Champagne Party, Disco Party and even a Full Moon party, among others. Nikkis will also a weekly  “Amazing Sundays” party (which could give Blue Marlin Sundays a run for its money!).     The world famous beach club, familiar to most Jet-setters , has beach clubs in Cabo, Koh Samui Thailand, St. Tropez, St Barths, Miami Beach, Marrakech, and Mallorca .

 

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