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Signature Argentina and Brazil: Amazon, Pantanal and Iguazú Falls

15 days from £3837pp

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Signature Argentina and Brazil: Amazon, Pantanal and Iguazú Falls

15 days from £3837pp

Private Journey


Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to hotel in the chic Recoleta district.

You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the chic residential district of Recoleta by one of our local representatives.

Buenos Aires is an elegant, cultured and cosmopolitan city famed for its interesting museums and the fascinating port district of La Boca, with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses. It was here that the tango was born, and Diego Maradona honed his footballing skills.

The centre of town is home to the colonial heartland, government buildings and churches, as well as chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic Parisian feel. The bohemian quarter of San Telmo is full of quaint old houses interspersed with antiques shops, tango bars and classy restaurants. Slightly further out of the centre is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of French belle époque and Italian influence.

The barrio of La Boca, Buenos Aires

Day 2

City tour in Buenos Aires.

Your guided city tour takes you along Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world and studded by the Obelisk - an emblematic symbol of the city. Along this majestic highway is the 19th century Teatro Colón which, in terms of its architecture and design, as well as its excellent acoustics, is considered one of world’s best. On to the Plaza de Mayo, enclosed on three sides by the Metropolitan cathedral, the Town Hall and the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. The tour continues to bohemian, arty La Boca, which was settled and built by Italian immigrants and has streets lined with brightly painted corrugated iron-clad houses. Visit the residential district of Recoleta, in the cemetery of which Evita Perón was laid to rest.

Evening guided visit to a tango show with dinner. The passage of time has given respectability to a dance once confined to the seedy underworld bars of the red-light La Boca district. Nowadays, a number of 'tango houses' offer a dinner and show as an evening out. This tango house in the San Telmo district of the capital occupies an early colonial building, founded in the 1920s in the art deco style of the time. It's a smart and evocative place with effective use of wood, tiles and columns to create atmosphere.

Of course, some of the visitors are tourists, but usually the audience is mainly porteños (residents of Buenos Aires) to whom each doleful ballad, each melancholy air, each sensual step, is part of their heritage. Included is dinner including local specialities such as bife de chorizo steak, and regional wines. 

Tango show, Buenos Aires

Day 3

At leisure in the Argentine capital.

At leisure in Buenos Aires. Stroll round Puerto Madero, the refurbished port district where former dock installations and features have been preserved alongside a string of excellent restaurants and loft conversions. Beyond the city limits, consider a trip across the River Plate to Colonia in Uruguay. Travel along a forest-fringed estuary, dotted with upmarket residences, to this peaceful little port, where you can wander among cobbled streets lined by colonial houses, or have a meal or drink in the yacht club.

Alternatively, venture into the watery delta to the small town of Tigre, set on the banks of the Luján river. Have lunch at one of the restaurants on the shores of the Río Paraná, while watching fisherman at work and river-craft gliding by. A third choice would be a trip out to one of Argentina’s famous estancias (ranches) on the grassy plains of the pampas.

Buenos Aires

Day 4

Fly to Puerto Iguazú; transfer to Brazil via the Argentinian side of the Iguazú Falls

Transfer to the airport and fly to Puerto Iguazú in the subtropical northeast corner of Argentina (2hrs). Transfer over the border to your hotel just outside the national park which embraces the Iguazú Falls. These immense cataracts form unquestionably one of the most extraordinary natural phenomena in the world. A total of 275 falls thunder over a 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 colourful toucans and many other exotic birds perched in the foliage above the tumultuous waters.

En route, visit the Argentine side of the falls. Drop in at the National Park Visitor Centre, where there is a display illustrating the biodiversity of the region’s tropical rainforest, and from here a little train chugs 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 of the Iguazú river as they cascade over the lip of the precipice: the water thunders on to the rocks below. The train continues to Devil’s Throat station and from here a kilometre-long walkway leads across the river to the thunderous Garganta del Diablo, (Devil’s Throat). From this spectacular vantage point you can feel the incredible power of the water, and the flow is mesmeric as it plummets into the vortex below.

Toco toucan, Iguazu national park

Day 5

Guided tour of the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls.

Guided tour of the Brazilian side of the falls which offers a totally different viewpoint from that of Argentina, providing an overall panoramic vista of their full majesty. A 1.5km paved walkway leads down the cliff to near the rim of the Floriano Falls where you overlook the Garganta del Diablo. There is an elevator which takes visitors to the top of the falls and leads to Porto Canoas which has a small shop, snack bar and terrace. In the afternoon, you have free time to relax at the hotel or choose from various optional excursions and activities: a trip to a quirky bird park, jungle safaris, zip lines and boat trips.

Iguazu Falls - from the Brazilian side

Days 6-8

Fly to Cuiabá in the Brazilian Pantanal wetlands. Transfer to lodge. Activities from the lodge.

Transfer to the airport and fly to Cuiabá (3hrs) in the heart of Brazil’s interior. Continue by road to your lodge in the depths of the Pantanal wetlands. There is a swimming pool, shady patio and thatched restaurant. Thanks to its position at the point where the Rio Mutum merges with two lakes, there are frequent sightings of giant river otter from the lodge. The surroundings are quite thickly forested and support a rich variety of bird life; red and green macaws are seen in abundance.

This huge expanse is considered to have the world's most dense flora and fauna ecosystem, and in the wet season 80% of the land is submerged by swollen rivers which nurture a rich variety of aquatic plants. Each day combines a number of excursions into the surrounding area. Take a 4WD photo tour through the open grasslands, stunted cerrado vegetation, swampland and permanently flooded bays. Ride a horse across the savannah, motorboat or paddle a canoe on one of the numerous waterways. Venture into the countryside at night, when the Pantanal comes alive with the sounds of frogs and insects: you might spot fluttering owls and the curled forms of sleeping anaconda.  Knowledgeable local guides take you to areas inhabited by giant storks, caimans, giant anteaters, armadillos, howler monkeys and capybara (giant guinea pigs). And there is an extraordinary variety of resplendent birdlife; macaws, parakeets and toucans all providing clusters of colour in the branches of the low trees. Whatever the season, the wildlife is abundant.

Kayaking at sunrise in the Pantanal

Day 9

Fly to Manaus in Amazonia. Transfer to jungle lodge.

Transfer to the airport and fly to Manaus in the heart of Amazonia. The vast jungle basin is crossed by a network of huge rivers and spans 8 countries, with vast tracts of tall, closely packed, virtually impenetrable tropical forest sheltering an uncountable myriad of wildlife. Human society is dwarfed here:  simple communities cling to the river banks, eking a living from subsistence farming and fishing; indigenous villages dot the interior. There are, however, a few gigantic cities, of which Manaus is the most impressive.

From the airport, a 45min-2hr journey (the time taken depends on the water level, which varies throughout the year) by boat takes you past the famous ‘meeting of the waters’ where the tea-black Rio Negro meets the toffee-brown Rio Solimões – the waters of different density flow alongside one another for a while before eventually merging: an extraordinary sight.  Your lodge sits on the shores of a jungle lake. You stay in rustic thatched cottages which use much of the native hardwood in their structure and simple furnishings. There’s a good choice of freshly cooked food at lunch and dinner, served in a generous buffet. In the evening you can retire to the cosy bar, or swing to the jungle rhythm in your hammock on the veranda of your cabin.

Manaus opera house

Days 10-11

Activities from the lodge.

There’s a programme of excursions available all led by excellent and experienced local experts. Join a jungle walk, where your guide will help you discover the medicinal properties of the extraordinary plant-life and spot swooping birds and chattering gangs of monkeys jumping from branch to branch in the canopy above. Paddle quietly along the waterways by canoe, exploring the tangled banks of the river and the flooded forest softened by a misty glow at dawn or dusk.  By night, take to the water again to spot the alligators which lurk below the surface of the inky water, occasionally raising their head to reveal a beady eye picked out as red as a traffic light in your torchlight.

There is also the opportunity to visit an indigenous village or farm, where you will hear about the local economy and agriculture as well as having the opportunity to buy some craft work fashioned by the Amazonian indians. You might be invited to join in a native dance… it’s a good photo opportunity even if it doesn’t get you on to Strictly Come Dancing…


Day 12

Fly to Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel in Copacabana.
Fly to Rio de Janeiro and transfer to your hotel in Copacabana. Rio is surely the most beguiling, seductive, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. But it is a multi-layered place: the gulf between the rich and the poor is the greatest of all Latin American countries. Sumptuous apartments overlook the sparkling bays against a backdrop of half-built slum dwellings, favelas, which cling precariously to the hillsides. Once lawless enclaves ruled by drug runners and gaming gangs, these are gradually being brought under police control in time for the World Cup and Olympic Games. Rio enjoys a truly awesome location among towering jungle-clad granite mountains, fringed by white-to-toffee coloured sandy beaches which swoop down into the Atlantic surf.
Sugar Loaf Mountain

Day 13

Excursion to Corcovado mountain and Tijuca forest.

Guided drive to the district of Cosme Velho at the foot of Corcovado mountain. The cog-wheel train journey starts here, climbing through rainforest, with abundant tropical flowers and fruit trees, to the steps below the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. At 701m above sea level, it offers stunning views of the city of Rio, including the instantly recognisable Sugar Loaf mountain, the magnificent ironwork structure of Niteroi bridge, spanning Guanabara Bay, and the famous beaches.

Corcovado is the centrepiece of Tijuca forest, a rainforest oasis surrounded by crowded city quarters. This recreational area has been voted the best urban park in the world by Lonely Planet.  

Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado Mountain

Day 14

At leisure in Rio; optional excursions.

At leisure in Rio. There are many optional excursions to keep you entertained in this fascinating city. Don’t miss a trip to Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf mountain). Take the cable-car up the twin-domed granite mountain which protrudes from the ocean. This is especially magical at sunset when the twinkling lights of the city are switched on and you can enjoy magnificent views back over Copacabana beach, yacht-dotted Botafogo Bay and into the lush mountains beyond. There’s a lovely nature walk around the foot of the mountain too, where you are accompanied by butterflies, lizards and even the odd shy monkey.

Also within a short taxi ride from your hotel are the shady, very pleasant botanical gardens, recently redesigned and refurbished with a huge variety of clearly identified plants. Further afield you might take a day trip on a schooner down the coast to the tropical islands off the Emerald coast, each with its pretty sandy bay. There’s an al fresco lunch and you can swim in the warm, calm waters.If you still have the energy, you may choose to enjoy a lively samba show, or a dance in one of Rio’s many nightspots.

Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio

Day 15

Transfer to airport.

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