Travelling to Brazil during the World Cup – is it Doable?

Having been to the Singapore Grand Prix last year, I can vouch for the fact that travelling for a special event makes a great holiday that much better. As the FIFA World Cup 2014 draws closer by the day, many of us are wondering whether or not it’s worth travelling to Brazil to watch the matches- how amazing would that be! I went to Brazil (Rio) for my honeymoon and it is an expensive country- comparable to Europe. .

First off, even though South Africa hosted the series in 2010, this year SA was unsuccessful in qualifying for the world cup– boo. With this in mind, since we South Africans are huge fans of the sport, it’s almost impossible to fathom missing out on an event that is already rocking the world. So let’s take a hard look at the facts to decide if travelling to Brazil during WC 2014 is doable.

Expenses:

The cost of accommodations, food, and extras in Brazil is high. During the World Cup, occurring in twelve different Brazilian cities from June through July, 2014, the high cost of living will be driven up. During the South African World Cup, costs actually dropped below what they were during the 2002 and 2006 tournaments; this year’s games will be the most costly ever. Compare prices, shop for value, and in many cases local venues will be less likely to scalp tourists. Use websites like Air BNB, Expedia and bookings.com to scout around for cheap accommodation, and make sure to select the “flexible date” option for flights so that you can get the best deal there. Personally, I like to fly direct but this is often the most expensive option too. If you don’t mind a bit of a roundabout route, Emirates always has great deals, provided you get the dates right. Don’t say I didn’t warn you- that stopover in Dubai is a pain and the airport is uncomfortably busy. Air France and KLM are good too but again it is very date dependent so you MUST select different date options to get the best deal.

Transportation within Brazil:

Brazil is the fifth largest country in the world and the largest country in South America. Host cities are hundreds to thousands of miles apart, and air travel is one of the easiest ways to travel between cities. However, as the date draws closer, many flights are already booked and those that aren’t are becoming increasingly expensive. The bus system in Brazil is extensive and typically reliable, but I think the best option would be to fly into one city, watch a game, have a bit of a holiday and then watch another game in the same city or one very close by. It’s important to note that there could be a disruption around the events due to possible protests and civil unrest. Car rentals are also available. Just keep in mind that all roads are not in the best of condition, and Brazil is known for a high rate of accidents. Check out how crazy the airport is!

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Other Worries:

Health warnings have been issued about illnesses spread by mosquitoes: malaria, dengue, and yellow fever, particularly in the remote rainforest areas. Fans that are planning to attend matches near Manaus are advised to consult with their physicians before travelling to Brazil. Foreign passports must be valid for at least six months and travellers must carry a return ticket. Additionally, gang related crime rates in the slums are notoriously high, and levels are expected to rise throughout the World Cup. Many favelas (shanty towns) are situated in Rio and Sao Paulo, close to areas frequented by tourists, and violence is on the rise. Recently, protests and civil unrest have become a greater concern.

Tickets and Fans:

Tickets are in short supply and host cities sponsor ‘official fan zones.’ Ticket sales are overseen by FIFA and fans are likely to be selling tickets acquired through the official website. Pre-purchased tickets can be picked-up in the various host cities. You can also buy tickets second hand. This isn’t technically allowed, but does happen. Make sure to verify the security of these first.

So, yes, travelling to Brazil for the World Cup is doable, provided you go about it the right way. Happy travels!