Alexa, Take Us to the Amazon (and more)

Trip Region: South America
Country(ies): Brazil
Partners Trek? No
Cost: $2475
Airfare Estimate: $1500
Structure:   •   Lodging:   •   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.

Day 1 — Saturday, Aug 18

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

Day 2 — 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 3 — 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 4 — 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 5 — 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 6 — 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 7 — 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 8 — 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 9 — 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 10 — 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).

Day 11 — 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!