Given the size of Brazil, it’s essential to be armed with reasonable maps that give a clear idea of scale. It’s easy to underestimate distances and the time required for travel, particularly if you plan to visit several regions using roads rather than airports.
Decent maps for general planning include Bartholomew’s Brazil & Bolivia World Travel Map (1996), GeoCenter’s Brazil, Bolivia, Paraguay, Uruguay, and the South America sectional maps published by international Travel Map Productions (ITM). Coverage of Brazil is provided in ITM’s South America Southern (1993), South America North East (1994), South America North West (1993) and The Amazon Basin (1992). At least some of these can be obtained from online bookstores.
In the US, Omni Resources ( Tel: 336-227 8300; www.omnimap.com ) is a good source of Brazil maps. It ships worldwide and you can order online.
Brazilian-published maps are harder to get outside Brazil, but once you get here it’s easy to obtain the very useful publications in the Quatro Rodas series from newsstands and some bookstores. These include Guia Rodoviario, a compact book of maps covering individual states, the Atlas Rodovikrio road atlas (larger but it fits into a backpack), and excellent street atlases for Rio de Janeiro, Sao Paulo, Belo Horizonte and Fortaleza. Each costs between US$] 0 and US$16.
Good topographical maps at various scales are published by the Instituto Brasileiro de Geografia Estatisticas (IBGE), the government geographical service, and the Diretoria de Servico Geografico (DSG), the army geographical service. They cost around US$6 and US$15, respectively, per sheet. Availability is erratic, but IBGE offices in most state capitals sell IBGE maps. Office locations can be found on the IBGE website ( www.ibge.gov.br ) – look for the IBGE addresses under ‘Locais de Atendimento.’ One of the country’s best sources of DSG and IBGE maps is Editora Geografica J Paulini (Map Tel:21-2220 0181; Shop K, Rua Senador Dantas 75, Centro) in Rio de Janeiro.
Searchable street maps of 128 Brazilian cities are online at www.terra.com.br/turismo (in Portuguese). Street maps from tourist offices are a matter of potluck. But telephone directories in many states include excellent city maps as well as phone numbers.
Most top-end hotels and a few mid-range ones in Sao Paulo and Rio have the technology to allow you to plug in your laptop and access the Internet from your room. Download the details of your ISP’s access numbers before you leave home. The major Internet providers in Brazil are Universo Online ( www.uol.com.br in Portuguese) and Brazil Online (www.boLcom.br in Portuguese).
Internet cafes are prevalent throughout the country. Most places charge between US$1.50 and US$3 an hour.