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Ultimate Packing List: What to Bring for a Trip Around Brazil

Where: Brazil
February 25, 2014 at 11:10 AM | by | ()

Fun fact: Brazil is nearly the same size as the entire United States. Fun idea: go there! All this week, we'll be sharing our best Brazil tips for a primer on this diverse and spectacular country, in partnership with LATAM Airlines' Only in South America project. Enter the contest (by March 5) to win this trip!

As you can probably tell from our photo of Iguaçu Falls above, Brazil is a place where wild nature easily awes the wildly curious. The key to enjoying it is to tack a few more days onto a trip, head outside the usual spots of Rio and Sao Paulo, and be sure to pack appropriately.

Brazil boasts a coastline of 4,655 miles, so beach wear is a big duh, but what about the Amazon as well, or the "cultural capital" of Salvador da Bahia? The Amazon alone is 40% of the entire country, and requires a whole different wardrobe of tropical attire, and Salvador has its own sand style apart from the thongs of Ipanema.

Aside from the basics, we've created packing lists for four Brazilian destinations we just visited ourselves: Rio de Janeiro, Salvador da Bahia, Iguaçu Falls, and the Amazon:

*Pack sunscreen above SPF 30 and mosquito repellent for all destinations!

If you're going to Rio de Janeiro:

· One or two "tourist day" ensembles. What we mean is some of those "travel-friendly" clothes that boast "dry-weave" or "smart-wicking" technology, because the days you visit Corcovado/Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountains, you'll want to be comfortable and not dripping with sweat in those photos you'll eventually post to Facebook.
· Skimpy swimwear. This is the most obvious, of course, but everything you've heard about the skin on show at Copacabana and Ipanema beaches is true. Thongs on your bum and thongs (as in flip-flops) on your feet.
· Cover-up. Although it's fine to be a few patches of fabric away from nude on the beach, you've still got to get there somehow. While walking through town in just a swimsuit is how "The Girl from Ipanema" song came about, we'd recommend donning some sort of shift dress or lightweight shirt while still on the regular streets.
· Smart outfits for nights out. At some point, you're going to thirst for a classic caipirinha and carne assada. Head to Volta in Leblon, but not in what you've worn to the beach or up Sugarloaf Mountain. Rio's evening society is stylishly dressed, but with a tropical lean; think Miami.

If you’re going to Salvador da Bahia:

· Small bag for market purchases. A tote would work, but the perfect sort of bag for this is Parisian netted cotton grocery bag. It’s essentially a web, so you can trust that it’ll compact into nearly nothing, but expand to cradle even the most fragile fruits.
· Lightweight white or ecru clothing. The combination of a humid, tropical climate combined with the region’s Afro-Brazilian Candomblé traditions means the locals will be decked out in white clothing. No need to go full-on peasant blouse or Seinfeild-esque “Puffy Shirt" here; fresh linen separates will do nicely as day-to-night dressing that’ll also keep you cool.
· Solid shoes. Sensing a trend in our packing lists? Shoes are key to your explorations in Brazil, and Salvador is no exception. The streets are uneven cobblestone, especially in the UNESCO World Heritage colonial district of Pelourinho, and heels of any sort (even wedge espadrilles) risk a twisted ankle. Flat espadrilles (go sockless) with a rubber sole are an ideal option, for men and women.

If you’re going to Iguaçu Falls (Cataratas do Iguaçu):

· Poncho. It may be that your hotel provides them (as is the case with the Hotel das Cataratas), but the walk down to and across the falls will be a wet one indeed. The moisture is only mist, but it will quickly soak your shirt, hair, and threaten any camera equipment you don’t have in a bag. If you want nice photos of yourself at the falls without looking like a soggy dog, keep your poncho buttoned and the hood up until it’s time to press the shutter.
· Walking shoes. In other words, don’t rely on Brazil’s national footwear—the flip flop. Save those for poolside; Iguahttp://www.hoteldascataratas.com/web/ogua/hotel_das_cataratas.jspu Falls is a massive national park where nature rules, so not all paths are perfect.

If you’re heading into the Amazon:

· No black or super-tight clothing. Both are explicit invitations to mosquitos to have a sip of your sangue.
· Sturdy footwear that can handle some mud. It rains 80 inches every year in the Amazon, and the weather is unpredictable. If you’re traveling to this region, make the most of every day and don’t skip an activity simply because it’s raining. No massive boots needed, but something more substantial than flip flops and no flat soles. We’re fans of Palladium’s waterproof walking boots, which are light, reasonably priced at under $200, and as stylish as a waterproof boot made for walking can be.
· Swimsuit. Yes, there are piranha and water spiders and caiman crocodiles in the Amazon, but there are also safe spots for jumping in and cooling off after a hike. Consult your guides on this; we swam in the company of our guide from Juma Amazon Lodge, and there’s good swimming as near as the hotel’s own dock. The Amazon is not, however, ideal for snorkeling.
· Long pants. Hikes through the forest will happen, and long pants are the best protection from brushing up against plants and bugs which could later cause consequences on bare skin.

We traveled to Brazil as a guest of TAM Airlines, but all photos, sturdy footwear, and opinions are completely our own

[Photos: Cynthia Drescher/Jaunted]

Archived Comments:

Amazon Packing List

Sweet, pretty helpful lists. I was just checking to see how your Amazon list compared to the one from the Lodge I'll be staying at. They host their list on Boxagon.com, so you can actually buy the items straight from there. But would likely have forgotten long pants without this article! Here's their link: http://boxagon.com/box/ytkkjz