The Land of Samba
Rio de Janeiro
Passport, currency, and flip-flops packed? Then you're ready to board your flight to Brazil! On touch down in Galeão airport you'll be met by our car and driven the half-hour journey to your hotel, the luxurious Sofitel Ipanema right next to the famous Ipanema beach. Relax, unpack and enjoy your view of the city from your room. If you're not too tired you might like to walk out on to Ipanema beach, a long stretch of sand bordered by mountains on either side. Have a drink in a bar, dine in one of the restaurants and enjoy people watching - this area is renowned for its beautiful men and women!
Rio de Janeiro is huge and has lots to do so we've left your stay in this bustling, humming city free of organized tours so you can plan to do what you like. However, there are some optional tours you might like to do on your second day here. You could choose to take a tour up Corcovado, home to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, a masterpiece of art deco design. The word Corcovado means hunchback in Portuguese and with its distinctive shape, you'll see why this forested granite peak earned its name. You can reach the top by lift and escalator and when you get up close, you'll see that the statue is in fact adorned on its surface with intricately placed mosaic soapstone tiles. It's an incredible sight, as are the fabulous panoramic views of Rio.
Another option is to get creative and head to the renowned Gil Martins store, makers of unique and colorful bags celebrating Rio and its vibrant colors. The shop has a workshop where people of all ages can make their own piece to take away - a great lasting memento of a remarkable city.
On your third day in Rio, we have another optional tour for you - a half-day visit to the much-loved locals' haunt of Bar Urca, where you can enjoy a cold beer on the shores of Guanabara Bay. With stunning views of the Christ the Redeemer statue, make sure you get plenty of pictures of the statue, the bay, and all those beautiful people relaxing, drinking and enjoying themselves. Then it's a trip up another iconic mountain of Rio, Sugar Loaf, which you can get to via an unforgettable cable car trip for more beautiful 360-degree views.
Activity & Adventure
Today you'll be heading inland to one of Brazil's most spectacular natural wonders: Iguaçu Falls. This series of hundreds of falls spans 2,700 meters in length, forming a horseshoe shape where Brazil and Argentina meet. The world's largest falls system, the sight, and sound of the sheer volume of frothing, rushing water is simply unforgettable.
To get there, you'll be driven back to the airport to board a two-hour flight to Foz do Iguaçu airport, from where you'll be taken to your hotel, the elegant Loi Suites with its jungle location. After checking in, head out on the day's tour with Macuco Safari. The walking trail down to the river canyon will give you your first teasing glimpses of the falls and when you get to the bottom, you'll be able to get right to the swirling water's edge. Then step into a glass elevator which will take you on a slow trip up the cliff face, for a wonderful view of the falls' upper reaches. When you gaze on the plunging morass of water, you'll see why this park was named a World Heritage Site by UNESCO.
Get ready for a proper drenching on the next part of the tour - but first, you'll take a jeep through the Macuco Trail in the rainforest, where you'll get to see some of the lush sub-tropical plants and trees that also make this whole area remarkable. Admire the exotic orchids and heart of palm plants on your way. You might be lucky and see some of the interesting animals and beautiful birds for which the forest is home. The jeep ride will include the lovely Macuco Falls, hidden in the forest. When you get to the banks of the Iguaçu River, you'll get into twin-engine inflatable boats - never fear, they're specially designed to cope with these river conditions! In the care of your expert pilot, you'll cruise down the Iguaçu canyon before shooting a few rapids before you'll find yourself at the base of the falls itself. Feel truly alive as the spray hits your face - this really is an adrenaline rush!
After your trip, there's also the option to visit a local bird park, where you can admire local species such as toucans and flamingos.
The next day, it's time to view the falls from the Argentinian side. We'll drive you over the Tancredo Neves bridge (via a quick visit to customs) and over the Iguazu River, which is the border between the two countries. You'll take a small train on your way to the famous "devil's throat" - a concentration of some 14 falls plunging together down 80 meters of a cliff. Hop off the train and walk the last kilometer or so along the gangway where you can stare right into the seething morass of H2O itself. You'll return to your starting point by train where you'll then get the chance to explore the upper circuit of the falls on foot. On the way back, you'll pass by the point where Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay meet. Then it's time for another water-based marvel - although this one's man-made, being the Itaipu Dam, a monumental feat of hydro-electric engineering that's itself been voted one of the wonders of the modern world.
The Emerald Coast
Leave the falls behind and prepare to get away from it all as you travel to the glorious beaches of Ilha Grande. We'll take you back to Foz do Iguaçu airport where you'll fly back to Rio. From there, you'll be met by our car and driven for two hours to Conceição de Jacareí. Here you'll finish the day's travels by boat, first with an hour speeding over the water to Vila do Abraão, a village on the island, before you're then whisked for a couple of minutes by speedboat to your lodgings: the absolutely idyllic Salem hotel, tucked away in peaceful rural splendor on the Bay of Abraão. Kick back and relax - this is paradise.
The next day is yours to do as you please. The hotel offers guests the chance to choose fresh fish for their dinner, which has been caught by local fishermen and is brought to its own deck. It really is a heaven on earth with the chance to literally pick gorgeous fresh fruit from the local trees. With more than 100 beaches on the island, there are plenty of places to lay out your towel and soak up the rays, but we suggest you don't miss a trip to the loveliest of all: Lopes Mendes - widely considered by travel experts to be one of the top ten most beautiful in the world. Grab a surfboard and take to the waves or just take your book and relax.
On your last day in Ilha Grande, we have an optional tour for you to visit the turquoise waters of the Blue Lagoon. With its abundant fish, it's great for snorkeling. Or you may prefer to enjoy your final day on the island chilling out in the sunshine and enjoying the beautiful scenery.
On day 9 it's time to depart the vibrant country of Brazil. But before you do you'll get to enjoy your boat trip back to the mainland, from where we'll pick you up and take you back to the airport in Rio. Enjoy the views on the way and board your overnight flight back home, full of memories of the glorious sights and experiences of Brazil.