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Plan Your Trip to Brazil's World Famous Carnival

01/31/2014 - 09h00

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GUSTAVO SIMON
FROM SÃO PAULO

With just 29 days remaining until Carnival, shouldn't you be thinking about planning your trip?

The closer to the date, the harder it gets to find a hotel at a decent price, not only in famous destinations like Rio de Janeiro and Recife, but in less well-known spots too.

According to the Ministry of Tourism, 6.4 million Brazilians are due to travel during the period. It's one of the busiest times of the year, along with the school holidays in July and the New Year's celebrations.

The figure excludes those who will remain in their cities, choosing to party with samba schools and carnival groups in their local streets, as well as those who intend to travel by car but don't plan on staying at a hotel.

Both the number of tourists and the amount they are predicted to spend - a massive US$ 2.5 billion - are 6% higher than the figures for 2013.

"Carnival won't lose tourists to the World Cup. This is like a warm up for the tournament," says Gastão Vieira, the Minister of Tourism. The World Cup is due to start in June.

The most popular celebrations are in Rio, attracting the highest numbers of foreign tourists. The main attraction is the carnival groups in the street, of which there will be 466 groups in total. Of these, 143 will parade in the south of the city, and 90 in the center, the two busiest areas.

Travel agencies also expect a 7% rise in sales. The cities receiving most revelers will be Rio, which is expecting 920,000; Recife and Olinda (PE), where 720,000 people will travel, and Salvador (BA), which is due to receive 680,000 tourists.

Tourists looking for a slightly calmer experience are also expected at the Chapada Diamantina National Park, also in Bahia.

The state of Rio de Janeiro is expecting 1.2 million tourists in total, while the states of São Paulo and Minas Gerais are likely to receive 900,000 and 200,000 visitors respectively.

However, in these cases most of the tourists are unlikely to spend Carnival in the state capitals São Paulo and Belo Horizonte, preferring to explore quieter spots with smaller parties, such as Ilhabela (SP), Ubatuba (SP) and Brumadinho (MG).

"Lots of people buy package holidays to Rio, Bahia and Pernambuco, but they're also looking for places to rest," says Antônio Azevedo, president of the Brazilian Association of Travel Agents.

Translated by TOM GATEHOUSE

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