Nothing comes close to the bacchanal that is Carnival in Rio, which runs from February 20-25, 2009. Sure, you can book your own trip, but hotel rates are grossly inflated during Carnival. It's easier by far to peruse the offerings of a company called Brazil Nuts, which offers dozens of packages in three- to five-star hotels in Copacabana and Ipanema, both land-only and air inclusive. Five-nights at the three-star Majestic Hotel is from $640 per person, based on double occupancy.Contact them at Brazilnuts.com .
And Matuete, Brazil's smartest custom tour company, can arrange front row seats in the Sambadromo, or get you into one of the Carnival parades — in full costume, no less. They are the kings of custom travel throughout Brazil, and they can take you to the Pantanal, Fernando de Noronha and Chapada Diamantina in style. Contact them at Matuete.com