Private Journeys

Signature Brazil: Brazil at a glance

15 days from £4,080pp

(based on two people sharing & excluding flights)

Brazil / Iguazu Falls / The Amazon

Itinerary

map marker Map

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel, rest of the day at leisure.

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, the most romantic, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. However, as you’ll see on the drive into town it’s not uniformly beguiling: Brazil’s economic indicators have shown massive growth recently but the gulf between the rich and the poor is the greatest of all Latin American countries. Sumptuous apartments overlook the sparkling bays against the backdrop of half-built slum dwellings, favelas, which cling precariously to the hillsides. 

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Stay at - Porto Bay Rio de Janeiro

Day 2

Guided excursion to Corcovado mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue.

There is probably no better place to appreciate Rio’s magnificent cityscape, bays and beaches than from atop the 710m high jungle clad Corcovado mountain, part of the urban Tijuca national park. The ascent is in itself memorable: the rack railway which goes almost to the summit has been here since the late 1800s, although since refurbished. Nowadays, an electric-powered cog-wheel train climbs steeply through the lush Tijuca rainforest, with its abundant flowers and fruit trees, to the steps (or elevators) below the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer.

At 30m high, the statue was erected in the early 1930s, has since become part of Brazil’s cultural identity and been declared one of the new Wonders of the World. On clear and sunny days, Corcovado offers stunning views of the city of Rio, including the instantly recognisable Sugar Loaf mountain, Niteroi bridge, and the famous beaches. There’s plenty of time to take pictures but no amount of time is enough to totally take it all in. After exploring the viewpoints you’ll take the railway back down to the base before returning to your hotel.

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Stay at - Porto Bay Rio de Janeiro

Day 3

Guided excursion to Sugar Loaf mountain.

You will be collected from your hotel for a guided excursion to Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf mountain). Take the cable-car up the twin domed granite rocks which protrude from the ocean. This is especially magical at sunset when the twinkling lights of the city are coming on and you can enjoy the magnificent views back over Copacabana beach, Botafogo Bay and into the lush mountains beyond.

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Stay at - Porto Bay Rio de Janeiro

Day 4

Fly to Foz do Iguaçu. Guided visit to the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls.

It’s a 2hr flight to Foz do Iguaçú on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. You’ll be escorted to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls which straddle the frontier protected in a subtropical national park. Here is 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 constitute 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 exotic birds perched in the foliage above the tumultuous waters.

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Stay at - Sanma

Day 5

Full day guided exploration of the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.

Private guided tour of the Argentine side of the falls. 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 a kilometre-long walkway leading 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.

There is an optional boat trip out to the base of the falls; it’s an exhilarating ride that takes you within touching distance of these thunderous cascades and your clothes and hair are soaked with the spray; it is a truly invigorating experience.

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Stay at - Sanma

Day 6

Fly to Manaus in the Brazilian Amazon

Transfer to the airport and fly north across almost the length of the country to Manaus, deep in the Amazon rainforest. The huge, dynamic city sits on the banks of the river where the tea-black waters of the Rio Negro make confluence with the brown, muddy waters of River Solimões to form the Amazon river proper. 

It’s 1,000km from the sea, but is one of Brazil’s foremost ports, importing goods required for a growing metropolis (currently 2.5 million inhabitants) and exporting goods manufactured in the tax free zone. It is weird to see a clutch of skyscrapers penetrating the blanket of tropical forest. 

Overnight at a hotel close to the Teatro Amazonas, Manaus’ famous opera house, built in 1896 almost entirely of materials imported from Europe. It remains a symbol of the rubber boom to this day.

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Stay at - Villa Amazonia

Day 7

Morning tour of Manaus, onwards to a jungle lodge.

There’s time this morning for a brief look around Manaus with a local guide, including entrance to the Teatro Amazonas (closed on Mondays). The central core – Sao Sebastiao – has a wealth of grand old architecture linked with the rubber boom era. Beyond, the city is an immense, often bewildering metropolis, whose fascinating markets serve as a reminder that you are in the heart of the Amazon rainforest.

This afternoon, travel by road and boat to your lodge, 30km from the city. It’s not an arduous journey, but the length of time it takes depends on the season. Brazilian jungle lodges are comfortable, ell equipped and they are eco-friendly, constructed to blend in with the natural environment. The food is fresh and scrumptious, and there is plenty of it, and you can relax in the bar area over a caipirinha cocktail and listen to the chorus of nocturnal birds and frogs.

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Stay at - Amazon Village Lodge

Days 8-9

Guided Amazon jungle excursions.

You’ll be invited to take part in a number of excursions both during the day and after dark. There are jungle walks following easy trails and you can take to the water in canoes or motor launches, on the lookout for wildlife expertly identified by your specialist guides. You’ll go piranha fishing and nocturnal caiman spotting by torchlight. You’ll learn about the lifestyle of the indigenous people and visit one of their communities: if the water is low and this is impossible by boat, they will come to you!

In the evenings you can enjoy the facilities of the bar to sit and discuss your experiences over a drink.You spend a total of three nights at the lodge, so there is plenty of time to enjoy different experiences and maybe spot monkeys, sloths, parrots, toucans, alligators, tarantula spiders, giant ants and much more. The number of plant and flower species is mindboggling too: you’ll be told about their traditional medicinal properties.

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Stay at - Amazon Village Lodge

Day 10

Fly to Salvador da Bahia.

Transfer back to Manaus and fly to Salvador, Bahia on the northeast coast. Transfer to your hotel.

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Stay at - Casa do Amarelindo

Day 11

Guided walking tour of historic Pelourinho district.

The city of Salvador is the most exotic in the country, where the influence of Portuguese colonial architecture and culture blends with the African traditions imported by the slaves brought in to work on the plantations. The compact historic core has recently been renovated and is crammed full of colourful colonial mansions, churches and museums, all clustered around a large open space known as the pelourinho, which is the heart of the city.  

You’ll have a private guided walking tour of this quarter, best discovered on foot. The area is enlivened with bars, shops and restaurants, and you can expect spontaneous eruptions of music at every turn. The local cuisine is very much a product of the region and its cultural mélange: you can try out any number of dishes at the many eateries in town.

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Stay at - Casa do Amarelindo

Day 12

Transfer to Praia do Forte.

One hour up the coast is Salvador’s most convenient beach escape, Praia do Forte. Thanks to its carefully managed conservation projects, Praia do Forte has developed over the decades into an established family-orientated resort without losing its Bahian character. It’s lively at weekends and holidays but miles of palm-lined sands mean there’s room for everyone.

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Stay at - Hotel Porto da Lua

Days 13 & 14

At leisure in Praia do Forte

Days in Praia do Forte can be as relaxed as you wish, although there’s plenty to fill your time whether its beach-combing before breakfast, a visit to the Projeto Tamar turtle sanctuary, ecological reserve or nearby fortress. Nights are generally low-key here, busier on weekends and holidays but the main strip has plenty of eating options and there’s a family-orientated atmosphere. Optional whale-watching activities take place at Praia do Forte between August and October.

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Stay at - Hotel Porto da Lua

Day 15

Transfer to airport in Salvador for international flight home.

Inspired by this trip

Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.

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Meet our team

Real Latin american experts

  • Lina
    Lina Fuller - Travel Expert

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

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    Maggie Wilson - Travel Expert

    Maggie visited Latin America on her first backpacking trip when she was 19. Since then, she has taken every opportunity to travel, and has managed to explore a lot of the region in subsequent trips.

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    Juliet Ellwood - Travel Expert

    After graduating with a degree in Anthropology and History and having been fascinated by Latin America since childhood by the book featuring photos of Nazca, Juliet first visited the region in 2003. Since then, Juliet has visited the majority of countries in Latin America but has particularly extensive experience with Peru, a country she loves for many reasons but not least, its incredible archaeological richness and delicious food!

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    Millie Davies - Travel Expert

    Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.

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    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Head of Sales.

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    Sophie Barber - Travel Expert

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia and beyond to Antarctica.

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