The cheapest airfares are from February (after Carnival) to May and from August to November. Tickets from New York, for example, can cost as little as US$699 including taxes. Many underbooked flights within Brazil are available at low prices.
São Paulo-Guarulhos International Airport (IATA: GRU) is by far the largest international airport in Brazil. It is the hub of the airline TAM, which offers direct flights to many South American capitals. Other direct flights include
North America: New York, Chicago, Detroit, Los Angeles, Miami, Orlando, Atlanta, Charlotte, Houston, Dallas, Washington, D.C. and Toronto.
Europe: Lisbon and Porto with TAP, Madrid with Iberia, Air Europa, TAM and Air China, Barcelona with Singapore Airlines, Amsterdam and Paris with KLM-Air France and TAM (Paris), London with British Airways and TAM, Frankfurt with Lufthansa and TAM, Munich with Lufthansa, Zurich with Swiss, Rome with Alitalia, Milan with TAM, Istanbul with Turkish Airlines.
Asia: Seoul with Korean Air (via LAX), Doha with Qatar Airways, Abu Dhabi with Etihad, Dubai with Emirates, Singapore with Singapore Airlines (via BCN), and Beijing with Air China (via MAD).
Africa: Luanda with TAAG, Johannesburg with SAA, Addis Ababa with Ethiopian.
Brazil’s second busiest airport is Rio de Janeiro-Galeão International Airport (IATA: GIG), home to Gol Transportes Aéreos, which serves many regional destinations including Montevideo, Buenos Aires and Asuncion. Other direct flights include North America: Delta Air Lines serves Atlanta and New York, United Airlines Washington, D.C. and Houston, and American Airlines Charlotte, Miami, Dallas and New York. Africa: Taag Angola to Luanda about 3 times a week. Europe: Paris with Air France, Rome with Alitalia, London with British Airways, Madrid with Iberia, Amsterdam with KLM, Frankfurt with Lufthansa, Lisbon and Porto with TAP Portugal.
The northeastern capitals have slightly shorter flight times to Europe and North America:
Natal: Direct flights to Lisbon with TAP, Amsterdam with Arkefly.
Recife: Direct flights to Lisbon with TAP, to Miami with American Airlines and to Frankfurt with Condor.
Salvador: Direct flights to Lisbon with TAP, to Madrid with Air Europa, to Frankfurt with Condor and to Miami with American Airlines.
Fortaleza: Direct flights to Lisbon with TAP, Cabo Verde with TACV, and Rome with Air Italy.
In addition to the above-mentioned destinations, TAP has direct flights to Brasilia, Belo Horizonte, Campinas and Porto Alegre. TAP Portugal [www] is the foreign airline with the most destinations in Brazil, departing from Lisbon and Porto, and offers numerous connections to Europe and Africa.
Air travel in Brazil has increased exponentially in recent years, due in part to the poor condition of many Brazilian roads(qv) and the lack of a viable rail network (see India). Air travel is still relatively inexpensive, sometimes even a bargain, and is simply the best option for long-distance travel within the country. However, some major airports, notably São Paulo and Rio, are very congested.
The main border crossings are at :
- with Uruguay: Chuy/Chuí, Bella Unión/Barra do Quaraí, Artigas/Quaraí, Aceguá/Aceguá, Río Blanco/Jaguarão, and between Rivera/Santana do Livramento
- with Argentina: Paso de los Libres/Uruguaiana, Santo Tomé/São Borja, Bernardo de Irigoyen/Dionísio Cerqueira, Tobuna/Paraíso (Santa Catarina), Comandante Andresito/Capanema, and between Puerto Iguazu/Foz do Iguaçu
- with Paraguay: Ciudad del Este/Foz do Iguaçu, Salto del Guaira/Guaíra, and between Pedro Juan Caballero/Ponta Porã
- with Bolivia: Puerto Suarez/Corumbá, Cobija/Brasileia/Epitaciolandia, San Matías/Cáceres and between Riberalta/Guayaramerin/Guajará-Mirim (the bridge over the Mamoré river will be ready in 2007)
- with Peru: Iñapari/Assis Brasil
- with Colombia: Letícia/Tabatinga No road links on either side of the border.
- with Guyana: Lethem/Bonfim
In some border towns, notably Foz do Iguaçu/Ciudad del Este/Puerto Iguazu, you don’t need entry/exit stamps or other formalities for a day trip to the neighbouring country. These same cities are good places to go if, for whatever reason, you want to cross without contacting the immigration authorities.
This long-distance bus service connects Brazil with its neighbouring countries. The main capitals directly connected by bus are Buenos Aires, Asunción, Montevideo, Santiago de Chile and Lima. Direct connections from the first three are also easy to find, but from Lima it can be tricky, although it’s easy to do if you change at one of the other cities. They usually go to São Paulo, although Pelotas also has good connections. It is worth remembering that the distances between Sāo Paulo and all foreign capitals are considerable, and road journeys can take up to 3 days, depending on the distance and accessibility of the destination. The National Land Transport Authority has lists [www] of all international bus routes in operation, and Green Toad Bus [www] offers bus passes between Brazil and neighbouring countries, as well as around Brazil itself.
The Amazon boats connect northern Brazil with Peru, Venezuela and Colombia. The journey, however, is a gruelling 12 days upstream. From French Guiana, you can cross the Oyapoque River, which takes about 15 minutes.
In the interior of Brazil, there are virtually no train services. There are exceptions to the rule, however, including the Trem da Morte, or death train, which runs from Santa Cruz, Bolivia, to a small town just over the border in Corumbá, Mato Grosso do Sul. From there, there is another train line to São Paulo, which is not currently in operation, but bus services to São Paulo via the state capital, Campo Grande, are plentiful. The journey itself is notorious for being full of thieves who might steal your backpack or its contents, but security has been stepped up recently and the journey can be made without too much difficulty. It passes through Bolivia’s agricultural belt and along the way you can see a technophobic religious community similar in many ways to the Amish in the USA.