Rio de Janeiro steps lively during Carnival By Carla Hunt / November 19, 2002 Share 1 -- NAPLES, Fla. -- Carnival celebrations are held throughout the world, but the version in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, is considered by many as one of the greatest shows on earth. During the costumed extravaganza -- in 2003, March 1 to 4 -- Carnival's colorful parades and spontaneous street celebrations reflect Brazil's richly intertwined Amerindian, African and European heritages.The centerpiece is the Carnaval Parade, the grand spectacle of Rio's samba schools pulsing through the sambadromo, or viewing stadium. The celebration also is a five-day invitation to eat, drink and do the samba, and Brazil Nuts Tours, based here, invites clients to do just that on its Carnival Like a Native tour, departing the U.S. on Feb. 27 and returning from Rio on March 6.Before joining a street carnival in town on the second evening, March 1, clients take a cable-car ride up Sugar Loaf Mountain, while away an evening at a local restaurant and spend time relaxing on the beach.The street carnival is organized by the Casa de Danca Carlinhos de Jesus troupe, and clients soon learn that at carnival, they not only do the samba but the bolero, mambo, salsa and other ballroom dances. The evening is spent with the 80 dancers and musicians in the troupe as they wind through the streets of Rio.Activities on the third day include a tour to the top of Corcovado mountain. In the evening, balls, parties, nightclubs and restaurants abound for clients to enjoy at their leisure.The samba schools parade steps out on March 3, and Brazil Nuts travelers transfer to the sambadromo arena, where all seat tickets are numbered and assigned. Buses will return travelers to their hotels anytime, but most viewers will stay until just before dawn.Clients will be at leisure for the next two days, although on the last day of Carnival ("Fat Tuesday" on March 4), parties are held in the evening at Scala or one of the other nightclubs.The land-only package is priced at $990 per person, double, and includes six nights at the four-star Plaza Copacabana Hotel, with buffet breakfast and taxes, city tours, guide services, carnival parades, dinners and transfers.The cost with air is $1,740 from Miami, $1,940 from New York and $1,615 from Los Angeles.Brazil Nuts also offers more basic, six-night Carnival packages, priced for land only between $349 per person, double, at a three-star hotel and $1,415 with deluxe accommodations.The tour company also offers a six-night celebration during Carnival in Bahia. For land only, the package is priced from $1,135; with air, from $1,885.For further information and reservations, contact Brazil Nuts at (800) 553-9959 or (941) 593-0266 or visit the Web at www.brazilnuts.com.