Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

March 3 – 8, 2022

Optional extension to Iguazú Falls
March 8 – 11

(final details still being determined)

SPECIAL NOTE: this trip, like that of our others, will only operate when it is safe to do so and we’ve been cleared to travel.
Experience Carnival in Rio!

Carnival (spelled “carnaval” in Portuguese) is a national celebration, which for the Brazilians is more important than Christmas, New Year’s and Easter rolled into one! More than anywhere else in Brazil, Carnival in Rio is a spectator event, but it’s a fantastic spectacle nonetheless.



People speculate that the word Carnival derives from caro-vale, meaning “good-bye meat.” The reasoning goes something like this: for the 40 days of Lent, Catholic Brazilians give up liver or flank steaks. To compensate for the big sacrifices ahead, they rack up sins in a delirious carnal blowout in honor of King Momo, the King of Carnival!

Every year, locals and foreigners alike descend on Rio en mass, to celebrate the biggest Brazilian festival of the year!  Rio de Janeiro’s Carnival is larger, livelier, louder and more incredible than anything one can possibly imagine.

It’s made up of 3 major ingredients and they are the Parade itself, the local balls, and the all-important activities that happen in the street.

It all begins with the crowning of the Fat King (King Momo), who is presented with a giant silver and gold key by the city’s mayor.  Then, the Banda da Carmen Miranda stages its own procession in Ipanema, a few days before the big Parade. Its name comes from the famous samba singer of the 1940s known for her lavish style of costumes.

The non-stop Carnival celebration starts on the Friday before Ash Wednesday – usually late February or early March, often the hottest time of the year in the Southern Hemisphere, when summer is at its peak, with the first major ball of the season kicking off on the first Friday night and the celebration continues until the final winner’s parade held on the following Saturday, and the winner’s parade is exactly what we’re basing this tour around as this is a celebration of the best of the best samba schools (the finalists).

Itinerary – subject to change

Items mentioned below in CAPITAL LETTERS

are included in your fee for this trip.

DAY 1 – Thursday – D
  • Arrive into Rio de Janeiro Airport (GIG)
  • Upon arrival TRANSFER by coach (an ENGLISH-SPEAKING GUIDE will meet you) to your choice of either the Fairmont Rio de Janeiro or the Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel, both on the world-famous Copacabana Beach.  Check in for 5-NIGHT STAY in standard double or twin room (singles also available).
  • Part of the afternoon will be at your leisure, then VISIT SUGARLOAF MOUNTAIN with DRINK.
  • Next, enjoy DINNER at the amazing Assador Rio with views of Sugarloaf Mountain.
DAY 2 – Friday – B, L
  • Brazilian BREAKFAST served daily at the hotel.
  • Morning GUIDED WALKING TOUR of Rio’s downtown area
  • Next enjoy an unforgettable experience at the incomparable Chef Simone’s atelier where you’ll LEARN HOW TO COOK one of Brazil’s most famous Brazilian dishes and learn to make, and enjoy, some amazing HANDCRAFTED COCKTAILS.
  • OVERNIGHT – Fairmont Rio de Janeiro or Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel
DAY 3 – Saturday – B, L
  • Brazilian BREAKFAST served daily at the hotel.
  • Sightseeing: JEEP TOUR WITH VISIT to Christ the Redeemer
  • Evening: At your leisure
    • Suggested (not included):
      • Attend the Carnival Gala Ball at Belmond Copacabana Palace
      • Private boat tour of Guanabara Bay. Drinks at the boat included.

Santa Teresa and LUNCH at Mama Shelter Restaurant

  • 8pm – TRANSFER by coach to Rio’s Sambódromo WITH ENTRY INCLUDED to the 2021 Carnival Winner’s Parade
  • OVERNIGHT – Fairmont Rio de Janeiro or Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel
DAY 4 – Sunday – B, D
  • Brazilian BREAKFAST served daily at the hotel.
  • Enjoy some free time on your own (it will have been a long night!) or have a TOUR with your local guide today.
  • Evening at your leisure.
  • OVERNIGHT – Fairmont Rio de Janeiro or Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel
DAY 5 – Monday – B, L
  • Brazilian BREAKFAST served daily at the hotel.
  • Enjoy some free time to relax on Copacabana beach on your own or have a TOUR with your local guide today.
DAY 6 – Tuesday – B
  • Brazilian BREAKFAST served daily at the hotel.
  • Relax on Copacabana beach
  • Check out and TRANSFER to the airport.
  • “LOVED your presentation at The Refinery on Saturday!! You got me motivated to travel & I learned a lot!!  THANK YOU FOR YOUR TIME and for sharing your gift!!”

    Carole Haner-Brackett Photography Basics Meetup participant
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    Sarah Radka Cuba tour participant
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    Larry Ehemann Central Europe, Cuba East and Romania tour participant
  • “I really liked the [small] size of the tour. It felt like traveling with friends from very early on, and continued to feel that way. That last hotel we stayed in, the one in Budapest, was such a treat! Those views were fabulous, and it ended the trip in style. Ralph is a good trip leader… He wasn’t hovering, but he did stop and give tips and I felt well-tended. The local guides were all outstanding!”

    Heather Hellier Central Europe tour participant
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    Steve Grove Travel photography class, Cambodia and Vietnam tour participant
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    Shaune Kelly Photography Boot Camp, Cuba and Tuscany tour participant
  • “Great examples clearly demonstrated the points Ralph made.  His teaching methods made many things much simpler to understand.  I thoroughly enjoyed this class!”

    Brenda Hatcher Photography Boot Camp participant


Base Trip: March 3 – 8, 2022

Optional Extension: March 8 – 11, 2022


The final cost for this tour is still being determined.


(itinerary subject to change)



Fairmont Rio de Janeiro Copacabana

5-Nights at the Fairmont Rio de Janeiro with breakfast daily.


Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel

5 Nights at Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel + breakfast daily



Things to Do

Christ the Redeemer is a colossal statue of Jesus Christ at the summit of Mount Corcovado, Rio de Janeiro, in southeastern Brazil. Completed in 1931 it stands 98 feet (30 metres) tall, its horizontally outstretched arms spanning 92 feet (28 metres). The statue, made of reinforced concrete clad in a mosaic of thousands of triangular soapstone tiles, sits on a square stone pedestal base about 26 feet (8 metres) high, which itself is situated on a deck atop the mountain’s summit. The statue is the largest Art Deco-style sculpture in the world and is one of Rio de Janeiro’s most recognizable landmarks. A most impressive sight, it is a must to visit when in Rio!


Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado Mountain

Rio de Janeiro,  Brazil

Winner’s Parade at the Sambódromo

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


The ‘Sambódromo,’ or samba parade avenue, is where the samba schools parade over Carnival in Rio de Janeiro. Built in  1983,  the Sambódromo was designed by the famous Brazilian architect Oscar Niemeyer and is located at the downtown city district of Rio, about 20 to 30 minutes drive from all major hotels.

The avenue is close to 1 km long and 13.5 meters wide. The total area of the complex is 85 thousand square meters, and has a capacity for over 60 thousand people in the stands, boxes, and floor level chairs. Right at the end of the avenue, is the ‘Praça da Apoteose,’ where the samba schools end their parades. It’s 10.4 thousand square meters and is also used for shows and performances featuring national and international acts. The parades are actually held on two nights: six schools parade on carnival Sunday and six on carnival Monday, these two days the best samba schools of the city parade.

These ‘special group’ of samba schools – which are the biggest and best schools – stand out for their magnificence and luxuriousness, with the participation of famous stars and well-known Brazilian personalities.

Known world over as Rio’s postcard and a must to visit, Sugarloaf is reached on a two-stage cable car ride. This Italian-made cable car takes 80 persons per trip on a 2-minute ride, each stage. The first stage, Morro da Urca – barely 170 mts high, has a restaurant, amphitheater, a helipoint for scenic rides and a privileged view of the Rio de Janeiro Yacht Club and Botafogo Bay.


The second stage takes one up to Sugar Loaf – thus named because of the loaves of sugar that were commonly used by the Portuguese at the time of the discovery of the city.

The all-encompassing view of this privileged 270-meter high lookout offers an unrivaled, spectacular and truly breathtaking overlook of Rio de Janeiro. Sunset from this vantage point is not easily forgotten!

Sugarloaf Mountain

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

The Belmond Copacabana Palace Carnival Gala Ball (optional)

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil


Ralph Velasco with Camera by Michelle Kate LaVigne


Ralph Velasco is a U.S.-based travel photography instructor, author and international guide who has organized and led over 100 international tours and more than 100 domestic tours in the United States.  His international trips have included Armenia & the Republic of Georgia, Egypt, Morocco, the Adriatic, Central Europe, Iceland, Bhutan & Nepal, Vietnam, Cambodia, India, Spain, Portugal, Tuscany, Romania, Mexico’s Copper Canyon, Turkey and other locations.

Ralph is an award-winning travel photography blogger, podcast host and public speaker, and for more than 12 years he’s been the Founder and CEO (Chief Experience Officer) of PhotoEnrichment Adventures.  Recently he created a new travel brand called Alla Campagna Experiences where the focus is less on photography in each destination and even more about the culture, people, food, drink and other unique activities and experiences they have to offer, all while staying in unforgettable properties, such as private castles, wine estates, one-of-a-kind boutique hotels, villas and converted mansions, mostly in and around the Mediterranean.

Subscribe to Ralph’s new YouTube channel, The Continental DRIFTER, as well as visit its accompanying travel blog at this link.  At The Continental DRIFTER you can expect travel advice, interesting stories, expert interviews and easy-to-use photography tips for Baby Boomers and Gen X travelers.

Now, invest in yourself…get out and travel!

The Copacabana Ball of the Belmond Copacabana Palace Hotel is the Official Ball of the City of Rio de Janeiro. Each year the theme of the Carnival decoration is new and guests are invited to dress in costumes that reflect the theme of the party. It’s a gala evening and guests will dress either in costumes or a party outfit and men are in their best tuxedo or white dinner jacket (ideal for the evening)



  • 5 Nights at the Fairmont Rio de Janeiro or Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel
  • 3 Major Activities:
    • Tickets to the 2021 Rio Carnival Winner’s Parade
    • Visit to Christ the Redeemer 
    • Visit to Sugarloaf Mountain
  • Transfers throughout your stay in Rio (for included events/tours only)
  • Round Trip Airport Transfers in Rio
  • Full Brazilian Buffet Breakfast Daily


Not Included

Other Optional Attractions & Things to Do:

  • Copacabana Palace Gala Ball
  • Guanabara Bay
  • Helicopter Flight from Sugarloaf

Also Not Included:

  • Airfare
  • Lunch and Dinner Daily where not stated as included
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Tips/Gratuity for Guides and Driver(s)
  • Access to any events not mentioned in the itinerary
  • All items of a personal nature

All activities and itinerary details are subject to change, but rest assured we’ll make every effort to provide a comparable alternative in the unlikely event changes to our schedule need to be made.

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