Alexa, Take Us to the Amazon (and more)

Trip Region: South America
Country(ies): Brazil
Partners Trek? No
Trip Cost: $2475
Airfare Estimate: $1500
Nightlife: 6   •   Activity: 5

The world’s biggest rainforest, a weird “desert”, some breathtakingly beautiful beaches and a water park (yay!), all in a single trek? Yes, and to make it better –you can find it all in Brazil! We’ll travel to the northern part country from West to East, from Manaus to Lençois Maranhenses to Fortaleza, to go way beyond the obvious and visit some of Brazil’s hidden gems. We’ll hike in the jungle, see pink dolphins, watch alligators at night, party, visit local tribes, taste local foods, have colorful drinks, drive a buggy in the dunes, chill at the beach, party some more, slide down a 14-story water slide, and much more. Sounds amazing? You’re right, Brazil IS amazing (the Brazilian writing this description is completely unbiased). Once the MBA starts, you’ll hear a lot about the “other” Amazon and maybe even recruit for it, but only a handful will be able to say they’ve been to the real deal. Be ready to have amazing experiences in the Brazilian summer (technically, it’ll be winter, but in Brazil, it’s always summer) that will get you through once Michigan winter arrives.

Travel Day — Saturday, Aug 18

All aboard! Time to say bye bye to Ann Arbor and board on your flights to Brazil.

Day 1 — Sunday, Aug 19

Welcome to Manaus, the capital of the Amazon in Brazil! Check into the hotel, enjoy the welcome drink and relax a little. Soak in the nice, warm tropical climate that you're going to miss so much during Michigan winters. We will have a welcome dinner at a local restaurant and get to know more about the culture of the region. But more importantly, we'll start to get to know each other.

Day 2 — Monday, Aug 20

Get ready for the Jungle! We'll start our day by hopping into a boat that will take us to the heart of the Amazon, where we'll stay for the next 2 days! The morning will be spent in the Monkey Jungle (which houses more than just monkeys) where we'll be in the thick and thin of the forest, observing wildlife in their natural habitat, yet in a completely safe environment. After half a day of marvelous jungle experience, we'll spend the afternoon at the village of the 'caboclos', home of the local Amazonians (Yes! we will meet the tribe of the Wonder Woman #DCFan). The local inhabitants will share their traditions and customs and teach us how their special cassava meal is prepared. Filled with wisdom and good food, we'll retire to our Eco Park Lodge in the forest for dinner. The day is not over yet! Late in the night, we'll be on the move again to watch some alligators in their natural habitat (again, totally safe).

Day 3 — Tuesday, Aug 21

Pink Dolphins Day! These lovely and mystical creatures do come in color pink too. And yes, you guessed it right, they're found nowhere in the world other than the legendary Amazon rivers. We'll spend our morning with these cute intelligent mammals and then make our way to Manaus in the afternoon. The evening is for us to bond over good food and liberal quantities of ethanol. Who knows, between Rajiv's surprises and Jack's fun facts, we might even become best friends.

Day 4 — Wednesday, Aug 22

Finally, we set out to explore Manaus itself, its colors, and its tastes with visits to the port, the local market, and the Opera House. Afterwards, we'll try to tame the mighty Amazon river in our tiny boats. The boat cruise will take us to the point where river Negro meets river Salimoes to co-found the Amazon (Jeff Bezos, you're such a ripoff!). The water from these two rivers meets, but doesn't mingle for miles, creating a breathtaking scene called the Meeting of the Waters (seriously, google it!)

Day 5 — Thursday, Aug 23

Time to say goodbye to the Amazon and catch our early morning flight to São Luis. From there, our party bus will take us to Lençois Maranhenses (we'll teach you how to pronounce it), an area known for its weird and marvelous sand dunes (Google this too!!). After 3 hours of revelry, games, and drinks on the bus, we'll take the party to the river town of Barreirinhas, where we will stay put for the night.

Day 6 — Friday, Aug 24

Speedboat trip! We'll cruise along the river Preguiça, which has banks filled with igarapés, mangues, buritis and açaí (all things yummy!), and explore beaches nearby. Nothing says friends like hiking up a watchtower together for a breathtaking view, and that is what we'll do. For those that are less athletically inclined, Kashay will be lodged at the scenic river banks. Oh, and did you think we didn't ski in Brazil because it doesn't snow there? Think again - we do ski. But in the sand. With our butts. (Thus the name of the 'sport' - ski bunda). And that is what we will end our day with.

Day 7 — Saturday, Aug 25

This day is for The National Park of Lençois Maranhenses. The area is a rare jewel, with magnificent dunes carved by nature containing hundreds of lagoons filled with turquoise green rainwater during the season. We'll drive to the Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon - but not the one from the movie) circuit in our 4x4 vehicles and then over to Lençois Maranhenses. You can ride in a 4x4 over the dunes, swim in the lagoons, hike around the park and enjoy one of the most beautiful sunsets you'll ever see. After a fulfilling day of fun with your Ross classmates, the party bus will take us back to spend the night at São Luis.

Day 8 — Sunday, Aug 26

Fortaleza, here we are! This is one of the biggest cities in the Northeast of Brazil, and its food is to die for (of happiness, just to be clear). Certainly by now you'll be completely fluent in the Brazilian way and will never want to go back to your lives again. So we're going to spend the last leg of our journey living the Brazilan life in a beach town! This day at Fortaleza is whatever you wanna make of it. Feng and Natalia will be happy to swim the ocean with you while Keshav and Kashay will be on the beach with you, sipping caipirinhas and dispensing free life lessons. Rajiv will be busy burying Jack in the sand.

Day 9 — Monday, Aug 27

We'll start the day with a quick city tour and then we'll head to that one place your inner child has been waiting for: Beach Park! Beach Park is one the most famous water parks in Brazil, known for a water slide called Insano - because you must be really insane to slide down it. It's 41m high and you can reach 105 km/h going down (that's 135 feet and 65 mph, for all you Americans). After an evening filled with an adrenaline rush, we'll head back to the city for a cooking class and our farewell dinner (sob sob).

Departure Day — Tuesday, Aug 28

This is supposedly that sad day on which we return to Ann Arbor, though it is very likely that Natalia will stay... But this is just the beginning of the best two years of your life!

Natalia "Nachi" Costa

 

Natalia is crazy about penguins, addicted to Coca-Cola and afraid of juices (yes, you’ve read that right). She loves singing Shakira at the karaoke, hates appearing in pictures and is a peculiar foodie: doesn’t eat anything that swims (or cucumbers) but would give her life for some coxinhas and Mexican food – no wonder her nickname is similar to nachos. She is also (supposedly) the Brazilian of the team. Even though she can’t play soccer or dance samba, she can’t wait to explore that part of her country with our trekkers, show us some of the Brazilian warmth and way, and protect us from “piranhas”.

Jack "We Are" Marshall

Jack originally comes from the island of Manhattan and is this trek’s resident expert on useless trivia, bad puns, and baseball, often finding a way to combine all three. Prior to coming to Ross, Jack worked in politics in Washington, DC; because of this experience, he is likely the only person to have ever called his Senators from Skeeps. He is on a constant search for the best happy hour deals in Ann Arbor – which he will gladly share with all of you – and is ready with a Simpsons or Arrested Development quote for nearly any occasion. He spent two weeks in the Peruvian Amazon during MAP and is excited to share his expertise (or lack thereof) on the Amazon region, as well as share any fun facts that he probably googled on the way to Brazil.

Keshav "I Love...to Party" Agrawal

Keshav is your chill guy. He isn’t responsible for much on this trip. If you’re some one who prefers to sit by the pool than jump into it, Keshav will be there with you. If you’re looking for some party time though, say no more, he is your guy. Do not be deceived by his simple looks and silly smile. That face hides a weird and devious mind. It’s probably because he stopped aging mentally after his teens. Fond of weird puns and sci-fi stuff (huge Rick and Morty fan!!), he’s one of the chief creators of Follies, your favorite sh*t show at Ross (but more on that later)… Be ready for some friendly banter at first, but once you get to know him, he will take good care of you.

Feng "Panda" Gao

Feng is our resident Chinese-German. This unlikely combination is fitting because Feng is truly one of kind. He does not drink but is almost never the first one home, and he will lean into hip-hop dancing and karaoke as if he just went through a night of Skeeps despite the fact that he hasn’t had a single drink. He prefers rice over potatoes (you can ask him about it on the trip) and definitely sand over snow. You will soon learn, however, he loves nothing more than Porsche. To be honest, Feng is full of love and will have a smile on his face rain or shine. Except if you give him cucumbers. Then he will not be happy.  Other than that, Feng is all about fun and laughter.

Kashay "Soulful" Sanders

When you’re ready to have meaning-of-life, philosophical discussions under the stars of the Amazon–Kashay got you! Kashay’s friends jokingly dubbed her the “Queen of DMCs” (deep meaningful conversations) back in college. But don’t let this HR-bound, feelings-whisperer fool you. When the right song comes on, Kashay transforms into her dance-machine alter-ego, and nothng and no one can stand between her and the center of the dance floor. As Kashay’s former trekkies Jack and Natalia know well, Kashay does not play with strenuous outdoor activity. And she will offer moral support and a glass of wine to anyone who prefers to sit out. Back to HR–Kashay loves building culture and creating strong teams. She’s excited to aggressively affirm everyone, and tell them how terrific they are several times a day.

Rajiv "Redbeard" Khattar

Rajiv loves big block letters: he spent his undergrad at the University of Illinois (I), 5 years at Deloitte Consulting (D), and now 2 years as a proud Rosser (M). At school, he does some stuff with data and HR and Marketing, but that’s not important right now. Part-leprechaun, Rajiv was born from a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow: Chicago. Rajiv is also part-pirate, so he’s grown a beard (artist’s rendition above), but it is reddish due to his magical upbringing. As is custom for any Pirate/Leprechaun, Rajiv is a vegetarian, so if you’re one, you have a friend. A former member of the Mystery 5.0 Back Door Party, Rajiv is also ready to bring some surprises to this trip.