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Luxury Brazil: Rio, Iguazu Falls and Buzios

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel, the famous Copacabana Palace.
 
Transfer to your hotel, the prestigious Copacabana Palace slap bang in the middle of Copacabana beach’s famous promenade. Rio is the most romantic, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. Sumptuous apartments overlook the sparkling bays against the backdrop of half-built slum dwellings, favelas, which cling precariously to the hillsides. But everywhere the city is being spruced up in time for the World Cup and Olympic Games. Rio has an awesome bay-side location among near-vertical granite mountains. Here, tropical foliage swoops down to white-to-toffee coloured sandy beaches in turn battered by the huge waves of Atlantic surf.

Day 2

Guided excursion up Sugar Loaf mountain, Corcovado mountain and Tijuca.
 
Copacabana at dusk, Rio de Janeiro
Private excursions by car to the two iconic sights of Rio: the Sugar Loaf mountain and Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado mountain. You climb aboard a cog railway to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, where you can survey the city. The ride up the steep hill is worth the trip in itself: you are enveloped in dripping vegetation laden with tropical flowers and exotic fruits. But the panoramas at the peak on a clear day are stupendous: the whole of the city is laid out before you, with the beaches, Sugar Loaf and Niteroi Bridge easily spotted.

Climbing down from the mountain peak there are various routes. One finds you entering the arty district of Santa Teresa, the colonial heart of the city which sits on a hill close to the Cathedral in the busy centre. This is a popular residential area for artists and TV personalities who occupy the stately shaded houses lining its cobbled streets. There are plenty of old-fashioned bars, or bodegas. The streets are lined by high walls sheltering museums, parks, art centres, smart restaurants (you may lunch here) and one or two luxury hotels.

Another scenic route takes you down through the forest to the broad beach at Barra de Tijuca, a modern US-style commercial and residential district with kilometres of golden sand. In this case, you’ll lunch at a traditional Brazilian churrascaria (barbecue restaurant).

You’ll also visit Sugar Loaf mountain, ascending by cable car: from the summit you can survey Copacabana beach, Botafogo Bay with its bobbing sailboats and yachts, and at sunset watch the city prepare for nightfall as twinkling lights penetrate the purple haze as dusk falls. First thing in the morning is a good time too.

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Copacabana at dusk, Rio de Janeiro

Day 3

At leisure.
 
At leisure to soak up your sumptuous surroundings - visit the hotel spa or relax by the pool: at 25m long it is one of the largest in Rio and its elegant terraces are an oasis of peace within the hubbub of Rio. The chic boutiques of Ipanema are a stroll away along the beachfront. The quarters of Leblon, the smartest part of town, and Lagoa – the shores of this attractive urban lagoon – have excellent restaurants and night clubs with world class performers.  

Day 4

Fly to Iguazú Falls.
 
Transfer to the airport for the 2hr flight to Foz do Iguaçu in the southeast of the country, on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. You’ll be driven to the Hotel das Cataratas, the only property in the sub-tropical national park in which the Iguazú Falls are situated. A mock-colonial building which was once a museum, it’s a very elegant hotel, beautifully restored , sitting a short stroll from the falls themselves. Here there’s a broad panoramic view of these colossal falls, and there are some excellent opportunities to photograph the full sweep of the water.

The Iguazú Falls are unquestionably one of the most extraordinary natural phenomena in the world. A total of 275 falls thunder over a 60m high rust-coloured cliff surrounded by dense tropical forest. The U-shaped Devil’s Throat is the most dramatic sight, here the frothing water of the Iguazú River crashes over a 1.5km-wide precipice and columns of vapour are thrown skyward. Elsewhere the river flows decorously through the rainforest breaking up into dozens of smaller cascades. You can usually spot toucans and many other exotic birds perched in the foliage above the tumultuous waters. 

Day 5

Explore Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.
 
Upper walkway, Iguazu Falles, Argentina
Private guided tour of the Argentine side of the falls. You will be driven across Fraternity Bridge, which links the towns of Puerto Iguazú in Argentina and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. The day begins with a visit to the National Park Visitor Centre, where there is a display that illustrates the biodiversity of the region’s tropical rainforest, and from here a little natural gas-powered train transfers you to Cataratas station where the Upper Walk begins.

This sequence of causeways and passarelles links dozens of tiny basalt islands at the top of the sheer rock face, and the walkways cross the myriad of streams as they cascade over the lip of the precipice. The train then continues to Devil’s Throat station and from here a kilometre-long walkway leads across the river to the thunderous Garganta del Diablo, the Devil’s Throat. From this spectacular vantage point you can feel the incredible power of the water as it plummets into the vortex below.

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Upper walkway, Iguazu Falles, Argentina

Day 6

At leisure.
 
At leisure to enjoy the hotel’s facilities or take an excursion to the quirky bird park, or take part in any of the active adventures in the rainforest. 

Day 7

Fly to Rio de Janeiro, transfer by coast road to Buzios.
 
Transfer to the airport to fly back to Rio and continue by road along the coast to Búzios.  This is a Mediterranean-style beach resort which combines an upmarket feel with typical Brazilian informality. It’s all very laid back but there are some sophisticated restaurants and chic boutiques. Check into hotel Casas Brancas for a four night stay at one of the resort's most charming boutique properties. The hotel and its terraces enjoy an enviable position, on a headland overlooking the ocean and within a ten minute walk of the resort centre and its beaches.

Days 8-10

At leisure on the beach.
 
Buzios from Casas Brancas
At leisure in Búzios. Sunbathing, shopping, fine dining, boat trips and water-sports all within your grasp.
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Buzios from Casas Brancas

Day 11

Transfer to airport
 
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Luxury Brazil: Rio, Iguazu Falls and Buzios

11 days from £3,970pp

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