But the 41-year-old Roman Catholic priest soon lost contact with his ground team, and the cluster of yellow, orange, pink and white balloons was found in the water a day later.
Tugboat workers discovered a body off Rio de Janeiro in early July that authorities believed belonged to the cleric.
Medical examiner worker Rosane Alves said Tuesday that tests comparing DNA samples from de Carli's brother to the body confirmed their suspicions.
The brother, Moacir de Carli, said the news came as a relief.
"Now we can have a respectable burial service," he told the Agencia Estado news service.
For several days after the priest's disappearance, rescue crews in boats, planes and helicopters scoured a vast stretch of ocean and densely forested mountains.
RSS feeds | Slideshow archive | ABC13 wireless | Help solve crimes