Dragoman's ever-travelling sales consultant Hollie (below pic, right) was lucky enough to head out to Rio Carnival in February and we've quizzed her on the finer points of her experience at the biggest party in the world...
Which hotel did you stay in?
?We stayed in the Hotel Argentina (which is the hotel used for the Independent package) located in the chilled out Flamengo district. The rooms are nice and comfy and have AC, fridge and a safe which was handy. The best thing about the place is the incredible buffet breakfast? they offer. Apparently this breakfast is legendary with Dragoman crew who have stayed there before!
Did you get to do any of the optional extras?
Yes, I went on three excursion; Sugarloaf Mountain, Corcovado and the Morrinho Project. These are all available with the two Dragoman packages.
Sugarloaf Mountain offers amazing views of the city below with it's beautiful beaches and surrounding rainforest. It's a great place to relax and enjoy the view with a Caipirinha and an icecream.?
We took a bus to the base of Corcovado and then took the narrow gauge tourist train up to the top to see the stunning art-deco Christ the Redeemer statue. It's a breath-taking sight, as are the views of Rio from this famous vantage point.
The Morrinho Project (favela visit) is an impressive art installation created by two brothers who grew up in the neighbourhood. National Geographic ran a feature on it which catapulted them to fame in the contemporary art world. The project now brings money in to the local community from group visits like ours. It was an enjoyable afternoon walking through the twisting paths of the favela and we learnt a lot about the community from those who live there.
Was it easy to find your way to the Sambadrome for the parades?
We made our way to the Sambadrome in small groups with two tour leaders per group who knew the way. The city is crowded everywhere with party-goers, especially on the metro, which is the best way of reaching the purpose-built venue. I think it would have been quite difficult without our guides?!
How was the rest of the group?
?It was a lively group of all ages who all had one goal in mind and that was to party! ?Most evenings began with a congregation in the hotel reception where the group came together to drink and get glittered up ready to dazzle Rio.
Can you buy drinks and snacks in the Sambadrome? Do you need to take a lot of cash with you?
Snacks are available but there is a very limited selection - just a van selling burgers and crisps. There are also people selling a limited selection of drinks (beers and soft drinks but no spirits). It's a good idea to have an early dinner and then bring a couple of snacks to get you through the evening. You can also bring your own drinks as long as it's no more than 2 x 500ml bottles. It's best just to take a small amount of money with you. Enough for drinks and snacks if you want them and a bit more in case you want to treat yourself to a taxi home (return metro tickets to get back to Flamengo are included in the package).?
Did you do the second night at the parade?
I didnt but many people in the group did and they really enjoyed it.
Did you party all night until the sun came up?
?I made it to about 4:30 in the morning but there were quite a few people who didn't come back until after breakfast! ?
Did you have enough days to see everything in Rio?
Yes, there was enough time to see all of the major attractions that Rio has to offer as well as having time to relax after all of the partying. The metro system is very efficient and makes it easy to get around the city and reach places such as the famous Copacabana and Ipaneama beaches, and also the Lapa Arches and the colourful steps of Escadaria Selarón.
Where did carnival rank on your Top 3 favourite things in Rio?
?Highlights of the trip included the visit to Sugar Loaf mountain and the Morrinho project but? the carnival was definitely the number one attraction in Rio for me. The build up is exciting as the streets are full of stalls selling costumes, crazy make-up and glitter, wigs and feather boas. Everyone goes shopping for their carnival outfits. The more flamboyant the better - anything goes! There were also street parties (Blocos) happening everywhere so the atmosphere is fantastic. The parades at the Sambadrome were incredible to watch. I didn't realise before I went just how many carnival floats and dancers there would be! The Samba schools go all out on the designs, costumes and choreography. It's a feast for the eyes.
If this has tempted you to travel to carnival this coming year then check out the two Rio Carnival packages Dragoman has to offer; our Standard Package and Independent Package: