Become enchanted by Brazil’s urban and natural settings, from the lively streets of coastal Rio de Janeiro to the vivid scenic landscapes of the interior. Your Brazil tour includes one-way airfare from Rio to Foz do Iguaçu and from Campo Grande back to Rio de Janeiro. Enjoy seven overnight stays: four nights hotel accommodation, two nights basic accommodation in the Pantanal (sleeping in a hammock) and one night on an overnight bus with comfortably reclining seats (often more comfortable than an economy plane seat). With a mixture of scheduled outdoor activities and plenty of free time to create your own itinerary, this small-group tour is an ideal way to see the best of Brazil!
Day 1: Rio de Janeiro
Arrive at your hotel any time before a welcome meeting at 1pm. (Look for a note in the hotel lobby or ask the hotel reception where your meeting will take place.) Afterward, your guide will take your small group on a walking tour of Copacabana and its surroundings. Head to Copacabana beach where crowds of Cariocas (residents of Rio de Janeiro) swim, sunbathe and play games on the sand.
Consider arriving in Rio a few days early to explore ‘the marvelous city,’ bordered by beaches and lush mountain forests, on your own. You can ride a cable car up the slope of Sugarloaf Mountain or stand atop Corcovado at the foot of Christ the Redeemer, each with incredible views of Guanabara Bay. If you’d like, stroll past rows of palms and water lilies at Jardim Botanico, catch a soccer game at Maracana Stadium or visit the Contemporary Art Museum in nearby Niteroi (each at own expense).
Overnight: Copacabana Sol Hotel or similar in Rio de Janeiro
Days 2-3: Rio de Janeiro – Iguassu Falls – Campo Grande (B)
After breakfast, board a plane for an approximate two-hour flight from Rio de Janeiro to Foz do Iguaçu, a sizeable city and the gateway to the famous Iguassu Falls, which are situated on Brazil’s border with Argentina and Paraguay.
Spend two days exploring both the Brazilian and Argentinean sides of the falls with your guide, and enjoy breathtaking panoramic views from each vantage point. Admire the sheer scale of the falls – a series of 270 cascades that altogether stretch almost one mile (3 km) across and reach up to 260 feet (80 meters) – wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara Falls!
Watch in awe and listen to the booming sounds as powerful torrents descend at Iguassu, meaning 'Great Waters' in the indigenous Tupi-Guarani language. Listen as your guide shares the native legend of its origin – and learn the fate of a beautiful girl and her mortal lover who were chased down the river by a jealous serpent god. Learn more about the geology of Rio Iguaçu, which once flowed over a basalt riverbed that ended where the lava cooled, leaving the water to fall.
During your stay in Foz do Iguaçu, enjoy optional activities such as a visit to the Bird Park, for close-up views of birds of the subtropical forest, or a helicopter ride over the spectacular falls (each at own expense).
On the afternoon of Day 2, board an overnight bus to Campo Grande. Curl up for the night in your comfy, reclining seat; be sure to bring reading material or music, warm clothing and water for a comfortable ride. You may be offered a simple onboard dinner or stop at a service station to buy snacks and drinks.
Overnight: Del Rey Hotel or similar in Foz do Iguaçu (Day 2) and bus to Campo Grande (Day 3)
Day 4: Campo Grande – Bonito (B)
Travel by shared bus to Bonito, a small town that lives up to its name – ‘beautiful.’ This nature-lover's paradise, set amid a gorgeous landscape of emerald jungle and crystal-clear rivers, lies just outside of Brazil’s Pantanal – the world’s largest wetlands.
In Bonito, dive into some of the world’s most transparent rivers and swim under waterfalls in search of colorful fish, which thrive in the calcium-rich water. Discover gorgeous limestone caves and their fascinating stalactite formations above streams that sparkle a stunning blue.
Overnight: Solar do Cerrado Hotel or similar in Bonito
Days 5-6: Bonito – Pantanal (B on day 6, L, D)
Spend two days in the Pantanal, the largest wetland area in the world – straddling Brazil, Paraguay and Bolivia. Home to thousands of species of animals and plants, the Pantanal covers a vast alluvial plain that was an inland sea sixty-five million years ago. Flooded seasonally by the Paraguay River, the region is one of the best places on the continent to spot diverse wildlife, including jabirus, macaws, howler monkeys, anacondas, giant otters, anteaters and caiman.
Itineraries vary depending on weather conditions, but you will have the opportunity to go fishing, swimming, canoeing and bird watching. Enjoy guided nature walks, exploring the bountiful wetlands in search of abundant wildlife.
Spend two nights sleeping in a hammock with mosquito netting in basic accommodations: With limited electricity and no hot water, your mosquito net-enclosed structure has waist-high brick walls and a rainproof palm frond roof. During free time, relax and dine in an enclosed common area, with protection from the elements and the mosquitoes! Enjoy basic, but tasty meals (inform your guide at the start of your trip for vegetarian or other dietary requirements).
Be sure to awaken early to see the breathtaking sunrise over Brazil’s Pantanal!
Overnight: Hammock at Fazenda Santa Clara in the Pantanal
Day 7: Pantanal – Campo Grande – Rio de Janeiro (B)
Travel by minivan to Campo Grande – an approximate three-hour drive from the Pantanal. From Campo Grande, board a plane for your one-way return flight to Rio de Janeiro (approx. 5 hours)
Enjoy your final night in Brazil and revel in Rio's amazing live music scene. Hang out at a bossa nova club in Ipanema or join the locals at one of the old dance halls in Lapa, where you can dance to a samba beat. Soak up the lively atmosphere as you toast your Brazil adventure with a delicious caipirinha!
Overnight: Copacabana Sol Hotel or similar in Rio de Janeiro
Day 8: Rio de Janeiro (B)
With no activities planned for your final day in Rio, you can depart from your accommodation at any time. Ask hotel reception for checkout times and luggage storage possibilities if you plan to prolong your stay.