Here's what we have been planning, in a nutshell: a bit over 2 weeks of traveling, 5-7 places to visit. Doable? Let's hope so! We will look into booking South America air passes to cut down the travel time and the total price. Some domestic flights seem to be pretty reasonably priced too, so have to compare them to the flight passes first.
Our first stop will be Rio de Janeiro, to join "a couple" of other people going there for the carnival period. Such a once in a lifetime opportunity, that we decided to go for it. Fingers crossed we will get tickets to see special groups' samba parade at the Sambódromo! Of course there are so many other carnival events happening in the city that we will be absolutely spoiled for choice.
Photo: http://blogs.sacbee.com/photos/2012/02/brazil-carnival-2012.html, AP / Victor R. Caivano
Since our initial plans also included a visit to Iguassu Falls at the border of Brazil and Argentina, I insisted on going all the way to Buenos Aires too. I've heard some people say that Buenos Aires is their favourite city in all of South America, so of course we need to see it - since we're "nearby" already. And by "nearby" I mean 1340 km / 18 hours by bus / 2 hours by plane from Buenos Aires to Puerto Iguazú...
The capital of Uruguay, Montevideo is also just a three hour ferry trip away from Buenos Aires so we might pop in there as well. So the trip isn't just about Brazil anymore, it also includes a quick stop in Argentina and possible Uruguay too! We will probably decide on going to Montevideo or not when we see how much time we want to spend exploring Buenos Aires.
We also want to visit Salvador da Bahía, which is more of a historic city where the Afro-Brazilian culture is also strongly present. The historic center of Salvador, Pelourinho, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and apparently the most important historical center of colonial architecture in Latin America. My husband probably wants to see the local capoeira performers in action while we are there. Well, I think I won't mind either!
And finally, we will visit a normal, more quiet Brazilian city to see the local way of life. We will have a couple of nights' stop in Imperatriz, where my brother and his wife will be staying for the most of their 10 months in Brazil. My sister-in-law warned me that there isn't really anything special to see there but of course we must see where they live.
These plans will probably still change, only the dates when we are flying to and from Rio de Janeiro are fixed.
Any hints and tips are very welcome!