Where to go in Brazil?

Our round-the-world tickets take us to Brazil, into Rio and out of São Paulo three weeks later. Unlike Australia (where we are taking 3 internal flights) there is no Brazilian airline in the OneWorld alliance, so any flights within Brazil will have to be bought in addition.

Having looked at various options, it seems that GOL is the best airline for cheap fares. The alternatives (TAM, Azul, WebJet, OceanAir and Trip) all seem to be more expensive. To search all of them at once, try Mundi.com.br, as I found that the flight search site I usually use (Kayak) only picks up flights from TAM. Alternatively, if you go straight to the GOL site and choose “buscar por preço” (search by price) it will show you the costs of flying on different dates, which can vary massively. Note that you also seem to get shown more days if you use the site in Portuguese than when you switch to English.

Brazil is a big country – roughly the same size as the continental USA. So we’re not expecting to see all of it. But it would be good to see more than just the area around the big cities in the south east. So some of the options we are considering are the following:

Salvador: The historic african heart of Brazil with some amazing beaches along the coast.

The Pantanal: The world’s biggest wetland, almost the size of the UK and home to jaguars and alligators.

Iguaçu Falls: One of the world’s biggest waterfalls on the border with Argentina and Paraguay.

We don’t want to miss out on seeing things, but we also don’t want to burn ourselves out. Decisions. Decisions.

Buying the tickets

We bought the round-the-world tickets back in October. We bought them with OneWorld, which is an airline alliance including Qantas, BA, JAL, Cathay Pacific, American, Finnair and (importantly for us) LAN from Chile. We wanted to go to Brazil and if your route includes South America, then your options are definitely reduced. The other airline alliances, Star Alliance and SkyTeam, don’t include a South American airline, so they weren’t any good for us.

Initially we went to the local Trailfinders shop in Oxford – they were the ones who pointed us at the OneWorld Explorer ticket. But on our second visit it was mentioned that they would be charging us £125 fee per ticket. Which would be £500 on top of the ticket cost. Gulp! If it had been £10 per ticket it wouldn’t have been a big problem, but sorry, that is an awful lot of money for something you can book yourself.

So we decided that we’d book it online using the interactive booking tool. I spent countless hours building the itinerary. When it came to the moment of booking though, availability had disappeared for our flight from Auckland to Santiago. It seems that there are limited seats on certain planes for RTW ticket holders and this was one of the ones that fills up early (10 months ahead in this case!) In a panic we made a new itinerary, including longer in South America, so that we could catch a flight one week earlier. Then we pressed the button and bought the tickets. We really were doing it.