An unbeatable in-depth exploration of this huge and varied country. Feel the samba beats in Rio and the pounding spray of the Iguazu Falls. From the coast to the deep green Amazon and biodiverse Pantanal, Brazil is full of contrasts that deserve to be visited properly.
Pantanal – Explore this wildlife nirvana on foot and by canoe, searching for animals including capybara, caiman, armadillo and over 600 bird species
Rio – Explore this beautiful and eclectic city, taking a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain for panoramic views of the stunning coastline
Iguazu Falls – These magnificent waterfalls are simply awe-inspiring up close. Feel the spray from both the Argentinian and Brazilian sides
Day 1 Join trip in Salvador
Arrive in Salvador, the capital of the state of Bahia and one of Brazil’s most historic cities. Its roots stem back to 1501 when the navigator Amerigo Vespucci first sailed into its bay. Initially considered to be the nation’s capital due to the natural protection of the cliffs rearing from the sea, its bay was one of the finest anchorages on the eastern shores of the New World.
Due to the number of evening flights into Salvador, your Leader plans to do the welcome meeting on the morning of day two, and will leave a message in reception with details on timings and everything else that you’ll need for the day. For those of you who have already arrived in the morning, our Leader will be in reception at 6pm if you would like to go out for an evening meal.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Salvador at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you’ll need to arrive into Salvador-Deputado Luis Eduardo Magalhaes International Airport (airport code: SSA), approximately a one hour drive from our hotel.
Day 2 Guided tour of the city; free afternoon
This morning we have a guided orientation tour of the city. The Pelourinho area is considered to be the most important collection of 17th-18th century architecture in the whole of the Americas. The area is a jumble of centuries old churches, narrow cobbled streets and spacious plazas bordered by once elegant but now gently decaying mansions, and the natural setting overlooking the Todos os Santos Bay is magnificent. What immediately strikes the traveller is that despite its Portuguese architecture, the spirit, cuisine, culture and people are predominantly African. The area’s riches were originally based on sugar cane and tobacco, with the majority of the workforce coming from the west coast of Africa – for over 300 years Salvador was the centre of a thriving slave trade. The modern day population is mostly of African descent – this can be heard in the rhythms of the music and in the dance, the cuisine and Candomble, a mixture of African and Christian deities and rites.
This afternoon is left free for personal exploration of the area or to relax on the beach. If you’d like to stay active, there are easy cycling excursions available in the city – these guided cycle trips take in either the shorelines of the lower city and its landmarks or the Barra district, home to Brazil’s largest street festivities during Carnival time, and leading to some of the most beautiful beaches on Salvador’s long coastline. The flat areas around the city are perfect for cycling.
Day 3 Fly to Manaus, gateway to the Amazon
Today we transfer to the airport in Salvador and fly to Manaus, the famous city, set in the heart of the Amazon basin on the banks of the Negro river. The bustle of an urban community seems almost other-worldly in the midst of vast tracts of jungle stretching in all directions. Once rich and fashionable, the capital Amazonas is now quickly expanding as a free trade zone. When we arrive, we will transfer to our accommodation.
Day 4 Journey by bus and boat to reach our Amazon lodge
The morning is free to explore Manaus where you may wish to visit the Opera House. In the early afternoon we drive to the port where we board our boat and cross the Amazon, seeing the ‘Meeting of the Waters’ phenomenon en route. We continue by bus and travel by speedboat through the channels and creeks through the rainforest to our lodge.
Day 5 In the Amazon; Jungle walk , visit the local community and search for caiman on a night boat trip
There are a range of activities to make the most of our time in the heart of the rainforest. Fish for Piranha, visit the local Caboclo community or take one of the treks into the jungle, accompanied by a local guide. At night it is possible to go caiman spotting by torchlight, their beady eyes reflecting the light, red pinpricks floating in the darkness. Whatever your preconceptions, you will be amazed by the area.
Day 6 Return to Manaus and fly to Cuiaba
Travelling by launch along the Rivers Juma and Macarico we return to Careiro Village and onto Manaus where we board our plane to take us to Cuiaba, from where we will begin our journey the following day into the Pantanal.
Day 7 Drive to the Pantanal Wildlife Reserve
Driving from Cuiaba to the Pantanal Wildlife Reserve along the Transpantaneira road we have our first encounters with wildlife at the waterholes. We have two full days to explore this paradise for birds and wildlife. There are over 600 bird species including waders, toucan, heron, stork, duck and coot and 350 varieties of fish, including the piranha. Animals include deer, armadillo, tapir, boar, the unusual capivara and thousands of Jacare caiman (alligator). Few visitors discover the remote Pantanal, so there is little infrastructure for tourists. Our lodge is located by a river and has a pool to relax beside – a wonderful combination of relaxation and a chance to see the most readily accessible and prolific wildlife in Latin America. Lie in your hammock and appreciate the evening birdsong.
Day 8 Explore the Pantanal on foot and by boat
We plan to explore the area around our ‘fazenda’ on foot and in small boats. Our time here is flexible as we have two days to explore. Early morning and dusk is the best time for wildlife spotting, and we split large groups into two for better viewing opportunities. We will also have the opportunity to do some Piranha fishing.
Day 9 In Pantanal; jeep safari and boat ride
Today we continue exploring Pantanal Wildlife Reserve on foot and by boat, with plenty of opportunities to spot wildlife. Jeep and boat safaris are all included within your stay at the lodge, and the wealth of wildlife on offer is incredible. For those who wish there is one full day option (not included) for you to spend the day searching for the Pantanal’s elusive jaguar. In recent years the Pantanal has emerged as one of the best places to spot jaguars in the wild – although daily sightings cannot be guaranteed as these vary according to the temperature, rainfall and seasonal water changes. The excursion leaves our lodge at around 5.30am, returning at approximately 7pm, giving around 7-8 hours of boat time to spot these beautiful creatures. You’ll spend most of the day sailing on the Rio Claro, as jaguars are more easily spotted from the banks with the help of the eagle eyes of the boat captains.
Day 10 Fly to Iguazu Falls, overnight in Foz do Iguacu
This morning we return to Cuiaba by road for an afternoon flight to Iguazu. We will experience the vastness of the Amazonian plains below as the flight takes up the majority of the day, and you will have the anticipation of seeing the Falls over the next day. With its jungle setting, the Iguazu Falls are perhaps the world’s most beautiful waterfalls and are a major highlight of our trip.
Day 11 Visit the Brazilian side of the falls, optional helicopter ride
Today we visit the falls on the Brazilian side. Set in a national park, the Iguacu River hurtles over high cliffs into a marvellous curved amphitheatre several miles wide – a breathtaking sight. The noise is tremendous and huge clouds of mist are churned up by the cascade. The surrounding spray-soaked forest is alive with brightly plumaged toucans, parrots, hummingbirds and colourful butterflies. From here it may be possible to take a spectacular helicopter flight over the falls (optional), or arrange a visit to the Argentinian side of the falls to get a close up of the fitfully churning ‘Devil’s Throat’ by navigating a series of catwalks.
Day 12 Fly to Rio de Janeiro; Free afternoon
Leaving the Iguazu area, we fly to Rio de Janeiro. The spectacular setting of Rio is hard to beat. With 120 miles of marvelous beaches and a mountain backdrop it really is a tropical paradise. Flight time permitting this afternoon is free to relax – visit the Botanical Gardens existing in the city for more than 200 years, or sip a caipirinha overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. This evening you could finish off your Brazilian experience with an optional samba show, or sample the sounds and rhythms of the city in the nightlife district of Lapa.
Day 13 In Rio; Optional Corcovado, afternoon city tour
In the morning your Tour Leader can organise a visit to the towering summit of Corcovado topped by the immense statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Sambadrome where the Rio carnival takes place (optional) or relax on the beaches before our afternoon city tour. After lunch our local guide take us along the Guanabara Bay coastline, decorated with the spacious lawns and native trees of Parque do Flamengo, to the city centre to see the enormous stain glass windows of the Metropolitan Cathedral before taking a cable car up to the huge Sugar Loaf Mountain from where the late afternoon views of Rio are breathtaking.
Day 14 Tour ends Rio de Janeiro
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Rio.
There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Rio at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Rio de Janeiro International Airport (airport code: GIG), which is approximately a one hour drive from our hotel.