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Self-drive Southern Brazil and Buenos Aires

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Begin your Brazilian adventure in Rio de Janeiro, with a whistle-stop visit to the world’s most picturesque city (extend your stay if you wish) then fly south to Florianopolis. Santa Catarina is a prosperous state with sunny vineyards and Alpine-style dairy farms thriving in the valleys between verdant, rugged and little explored mountains. The coast is indented with crescent bays and small, family-friendly resorts. Car hire gives you the freedom to explore at your own stopping to visit places which may interest you en route to your pre- booked accommodation. It’s also an economical way of travelling; fuel is relatively inexpensive. Driving in south Brazil can really be a delight - few people here speak a lot of English, but they are mostly friendly and helpful.

Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil close to Argentina and Uruguay, is not as well known as other perhaps more exotic regions of tropical Brazil, but is no less attractive to visitors for that. It is a prosperous state settled by Europeans attracted to its fertile soils and mellow climate. The influence of Portugal, Italy and Germany can still be seen in the culture and architecture of the pleasant cities and peaceful towns studding the coast and hilly interior.

Vineyards and Alpine-style dairy farms thrive in the valleys between verdant, rugged, little-visited canyons and tableland plateaux. Why little-visited? Most Brazilian holiday-makers are not especially adventurous or energetic and there isn’t a network of walking trails. Public transport is meagre, but the roads are excellent, uncrowded and well-served with amenities, so it is ideal for independent exploration by self drive car hire.

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Transfer to your hotel, 2 nights.

Day 2

At leisure in Rio de Janeiro

Day 3

Fly to Florianopolis, collect hire car, drive to hotel. 2 nights.

Day 4

Guided walk to Naufragados beach; oyster tasting

Day 5

Drive to Serra Geral and your countryside eco-lodge.

Day 6-7

At leisure to explore on foot or in your car.

Day 8

Drive to Aparados da Serra and your eco-lodge.

Day 9

At leisure at the lodge. Hikes, ziplines, biking and horse-riding available.

Day 10

Drive to Praia do Rosa beach.

Day 11-12

At leisure to explore the bays and the beaches of the rugged coastline.

Day 13

Hand back your hire car, fly to Buenos Aires, transfer to hotel.

Day 14

Guided walking tour in Argentina's capital.

Day 15

At leisure in Buenos Aires.

Day 16

Transfer to airport for your international flight home.

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What our experts say

An easy and economical way to make your way round Brazil, this self-drive holiday gives you the freedom to explore this lesser-visited region at your own pace. We’ve pre-booked accommodation that we know and trust and which all have convenient locations – a necessity when travelling by hire car. We’ve also added in a couple of days in Buenos Aires at the end of this trip so that you get a taste of Argentina’s capital, which you’ll find to be an interesting contrast to the relatively quiet spots you’ve explored in southern Brazil.

Lina

Lina Fuller

Travel Consultants

Places visited on this holiday

Self-drive Southern Brazil and Buenos Aires

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Rio de Janeiro
Corcovado Rio de Janeiro Brazil
Of the world’s great iconic cities, Rio is the most captivating. Romantic and laid back but oozing energy and optimism, it needs a few days to explore and time to sit back and share the outdoor life of its welcoming inhabitants.

With streets, beaches and parks spruced up for the World Cup and Olympic Games, now is the best time to go. The busy colonial centre is transformed, with literary cafés spilling out on to car-free lanes, the National Theatre all a-glitter, and boutique hotels nestle in arty Santa Teresa.

The lagoon behind Ipanema beach is circled by a pretty path and cycle route and the Botanical Gardens have undergone a luscious makeover. Vibrant street art, beach football, spontaneous musical events and cool bars all add to a joyous experience for visitors.
What's the best time to visit Rio de Janeiro?

Rio is an all-year destination, at its hottest Jan-Mar (humid with tropical showers, occasionally over 40°C during the day). It can be cool and drizzly Jul-Aug but the sun is never far away. Late Dec-Feb (and  to a lesser extent Jul) are local holiday times and can be very busy.

How do I get local currency in Rio de Janeiro?

Brazilian Real.

Notes can be withdrawn from the ATMs at the airport and in town. Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and HSBC accept UK credit or debit cards. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm. Currency also obtainable in banks and money exchanges.

What's the time difference between Rio de Janeiro and UK?

GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving from Oct- end Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.

What places combine well with Rio de Janeiro?

Beach time in Búzios (136 km by road) or Ilha Grande on the Costa Verde (136 km); Paratí, quaint and arty colonial port surrounded by rainforested hills (236 km); Petropolis, former summer seat of the Emperor, in the tropical mountains behind Rio, (68 km, 1.5 hours by road);  Ouro Preto, exquisite colonial city in the mountains of Minas Gerais (280 km); Iguazú Falls (2 hours approx by air); Salvador da Bahía in the northeast (2 hours by air).

What's the flight time between Rio de Janeiro and UK?

Average flight time to Rio is 11 hours. Two airlines offer direct flights. There are flights with European connections to many other major cities.

What are the festivals, cultural and sport events in Rio de Janeiro?

Reveillon: New Year’s Eve, 2 million white-clad Cariocas descend on Copacabana beach to celebrate the Festa de Iemanjá, launching candlelit boats on the Ocean. Fireworks and music accompany the fun. 

Carnival: 5 days in Feb/Mar, variable. Apart from the world famous parades in the purpose-built sambadrome there are street processions, live bands, costume balls, over-indulgence and general frivolity.

Football World Cup: 12 Jun-13 Jul 2014. Cities all over Brazil are hosting games but the Maracanã in Rio has been refurbished for the occasion and will leave the legacy of a spruced up stadium where visitors can enjoy regular games, usually on Sunday afternoons. 

Olympic Games:  5 - 21 Aug 2016. Rio is being given a face-lift for the event, if you visit before the games you’ll benefit from greater security, repaved promenades, streamlined transport links (they hope!), brand new restaurants and open air cafés and even Wifi on Copacabana beach.
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Beaches of southern Brazil
Florianopolis

The prosperous, European-influenced southern state of Santa Catarina has over 500km of undulating coastline scalloped with pretty crescent-shaped beaches. Ilha de Santa Catarina (the gateway is the city of Florianópolis) is beloved of Argentine holiday makers and popular with families (the sheltered beaches in the west) and surfers (who ride the rollers in the east). On the mainland the coast is fringed by attractive green hills covered with monkey puzzle trees. The cliffs and bays along the coast shelter a few top end beach properties and attract whale-watchers.

The coastline adjoining the agreeable little resort of Praia do Rosa - considered one of the top most beautiful 30 bays in the world - is particularly exquisite. There are nine beaches and bays, each very different from one another, separated by rugged headlands and linked by coastal paths reminiscent of those in Cornwall or Jersey. It is possible to spend days exploring on foot and by hire car, stopping off at Siriu to admire the sand dunes and maybe sandboard down them and at Ferrugem for the surfing or Gamboa to visit an unspoilt Brazilian beach village. Praia Vermelha's rust coloured sands are only accessible on foot, whereas you can take your car out onto the beach at Ouvidor (watch the tides!). Many beaches are backed by tranquil lagoons safe for swimming. Most visitors base themselves at chic Praia do Rosa but visit the charming low-key and laid-back fishing town Garipoba.

When's the best time to visit beaches of south Brazil?

The state has a semi-tropical climate, with summers that are hot and winters mild but a bit too cool for the beach. There is sunshine all year round however, with most rain falling in late Dec-Mar – the local holiday season when beaches are packed. The whale watching season is Jun-Oct.

What's the official language of beaches of S Brazil?

Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue.

How do I get local currency in beaches of S Brazil?

Brazilian Real. Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs of Banco do Brasil, Bradesco and HSBC in Florianópolis using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.

What's the time difference between beaches of S Brazil and UK?

GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving Oct- end Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.

What places combine well with beaches of S Brazil?

A holiday in Argentina: relax on a beach after visiting Buenos Aires (direct flight to Florianópolis, 2 hours) the Iguazú Falls, or maybe even travels further afield, to Patagonia; the Serra Verde train ride from Curitiba (38mins by air from Florianópolis) to Morretes.

How do I get to beaches of south Brazil?

There are domestic flights from Rio (1hour 40mins), São Paulo (1hour 15mins) and Curitiba (38mins) to Florianópolis.

What are the festivals, cultural and sports events at beaches of S Brazil?

Farra de Boi: Florianópolis, Easter. A festival dedicated to the bull, which has great significance in Brazilian celebrations.

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Mountains of southern Brazil
Serra Geral

The coastal ranges of southern Brazil are a sharply rucked carpet of bottle-green mountains, gorges, waterfalls and cloud forests fringed by huge ferns, vivid flowers and palms. The Serra Verde Railway is a great introduction to the region: it descends through swirling mists which lift to reveal eye-popping panoramas en route to colonial Morretes. There are walking trails in the Serra Geral, mountain ranges in northern Rio Grande do Sul profoundly gashed by steep canyons. The state was settled by Germans and Italians, whose culture remains dominant; vineyards and hydrangeas cover the sunny slopes and some places have a distinctly Alpine feel.

When's the best time to visit mountains of S Brazil?

The seasons are more sharply defined the further south you go and frost and snow is not unknown in the far south in winter. It can be very hot (40°C) in summer Dec-Mar.

What's the official language in mountains of S Brazil?

Brazilian Portuguese, a more languid and musical version of Portugal’s mother tongue.

How do I get local currency in mountains of S Brazil?

Brazilian Real. Notes can be withdrawn from several ATMs in Curitiba and Porto Alegre. There is also an ATM in Morretes, the alighting point for the train. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. ATMs close at 10pm.

What's the time difference between mountains of S Brazil and UK?

GMT -3 hours. There is daylight saving Oct- end Feb (approx) when clocks are put forward one hour.

What places combine well with mountains of S Brazil?

A holiday in Argentina: relax on a beach after visiting Buenos Aires (direct flight to Florianópolis, 2 hours) the Iguazú Falls, or maybe even travels further afield, to Patagonia; the Serra Verde train ride from Curitiba (38mins by air from Florianópolis) to Morretes.

How do I get to mountains of S Brazil?

There are domestic flights from Rio (1 hour 40mins), São Paulo (1 hour 15mins) and to Florianópolis (38mins) to Curitiba.

What are the festivals, cultural and sport events in mountains of S Brazil?

Farra de Boi: Florianópolis, Easter. A festival dedicated to the bull, which has great significance in Brazilian celebrations.

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Buenos Aires
Buenos Aires
Along with Rio, this is a city worth crossing the Atlantic for in its own right. Dynamic, stylish and nostalgic, it’s the continent’s most European city, but does not lack South American verve. Its contrasting neighbourhoods reveal colonial plazas, shady avenues, quirky antique fairs, street art, world famous theatres and football stadiums and spruced-up metropolitan port districts. Studded with extensive parks, cutting-edge boutique hotels, designer boutiques and a myriad of restaurants, bars and nightclubs, it’s a restless place, challenging to find your way around but well worth the effort. It’s the beating heart of Argentina, the hub for visits throughout the country.
When's the best time to visit Buenos Aires?

Buenos Aires is at its hottest Jan-Mar (very humid with tropical showers, occasionally over 40C during the day). It can be cold and cloudy Jul-Aug, so weather conditions are best for a visit in spring and autumn. Dec-Feb and Jul are local holiday times: Porteños head for the beach.

What's the official language in Buenos Aires?

Spanish.

How do I get local currency in Buenos Aires?

Argentine Peso.

Notes can be withdrawn from the many ATMs using a UK credit or debit card. Limits may be lower than your UK bank allows. Please note that in 2016 many of the ATMs were not functioning properly; we are recommending that for the moment you take a good supply of US dollars cash. There are many banks and money exchanges (casas de cambio) where you can exchange US dollars cash; rates for euros and sterling frequently poor. 

What's the time difference between Buenos Aires and the UK?

GMT -3 hours. Sometimes daylight saving is observed in the summer, but this is announced ad hoc on a year-on-year basis.

What places combine well with Buenos Aires?

Beach time in Mar del Plata (392 km by road, 5hrs); Colonia or Montevideo in Uruguay across the River Plate: travel by ferry, bus or plane; a stay on a working estancia in the pampa south and west of the city; Iguazú Falls (2hrs approx by air).

How long is the flight to Buenos Aires from the UK?

Average flight time is 14hrs 20mins on a direct flight from London. There are also flights requiring a change of plane in Europe or the USA.

What are the festivals and cultural and sports events in Buenos Aires?

Tango Festival: Aug. The world's – top tango festival, nine days  of concerts, shows, free classes, exhibitions, open-air milongas (Avenida Corrientes is closed for a massive display) and other tango-related festivities.

Opera season: Mar-Dec. Take in a concert or opera at the refurbished Teatro Colón which attracts internationally esteemed artists. 

Argentine Polo Open: Mid Nov-mid Dec. Polo is a passion for many Argentines. This is the year’s main attraction, taking place in Palermo’s 16,000 seater stadium.

Speak to an expert Travel Consultant or send us your enquiry today.

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