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Value Iguazú Falls: Buenos Aires to Rio

10 days from £1447pp

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Value Iguazú Falls: Buenos Aires to Rio:
Trip Dossier

A short, good value private tour to Argentina and Brazil. We can’t do justice to both of these, the largest and most diverse countries in Latin America, in a holiday of less than two weeks. But if you have to pare down the many highlights to the bare essentials, and enjoy the buzz of a Latin city, you’ll have to agree that Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires are unmissable. More or less midway between them, on the border between the two countries, lies what is probably the continent’s most dramatic natural feature, the gargantuan Iguazú Falls. In addition to the pre-arranged excursions we have selected for you there will be ample time to explore independently.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to hotel in the arty San Telmo district.

Day 2

Walking tour along Avenida de Mayo.

Day 3

At leisure.

Day 4

Fly to Puerto Iguazu.

Day 5

Visit Argentine side of Iguazu Falls

Day 6

At leisure.

Day 7

Fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Day 8

Jeep tour of Corcovado Mountain and Santa Teresa.

Day 9

At leisure.

Day 10

Transfer to airport

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Buenos Aires. Transfer to hotel in the arty San Telmo district.
 

You will be met at the airport and escorted to your hotel in the arty district of San Telmo 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 or Italian  influences, where Evita Perón was laid to rest. During the winter months, wealthy female residents parade the streets in their fur coats and improbable, towering hairstyles, and take afternoon tea in the city’s ornate salons.

Tango in Buenos Aires

Day 2

Walking tour along Avenida de Mayo.
 

Guided walking tour along Avenida del Mayo, one of Buenos Aires' principal stately arteries, linking the capital's colonial and political heart at Plaza de Mayo with the Plaza de Congreso, crossing the even more grandiose Avenida 9 de Julio. Built in the 1880s and often compared with similar boulevards in European capitals, it has a definite Old World ambiance, with art deco, art nouveau and neo-classical façades, shaded by leafy trees, lining the route.  The guided walk includes a stop at the world famous Café Tortoni, crammed with memorabilia, the barber's shop attached, and one of the first metro stations outside the USA and Europe, preserved in its original state as a museum. Visit the very ornate Barolo Palace, designed in accordance with the cosmology of Dante's Divine Comedy with floors representing heaven, purgatory and hell.

Make your own way (radio taxis may be ordered from most hotels' reception) to the start of the tour at the Pyramid of Mayo on the Plaza de Mayo, on which sits the government palace, the Casa Rosada. Your guide will meet you there at 10:00am. The walk follows the avenue to end at the palace housing the Italianate National Congress, which took 20 years to build.

El Cabildo, in the Plaza de Mayo of Buenos Aires

Day 3

At leisure.
 

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.

Vintage Uruguay - a short ferry ride away

Day 4

Fly to Puerto Iguazu.
 

Transfer to the airport and fly to Puerto Iguazú in the subtropical northeast corner of Argentina (2 hrs). Relax at the hotel or to explore this small, pleasant town in the afternoon. It’s just a short drive to the national park wherein flow the Iguazú Falls.

The Iguazú Falls are unquestionably one of the most extraordinary natural phenomena in the world. A total of 275falls 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.

Upper walkway, Iguazu Falles, Argentina

Day 5

Visit Argentine side of Iguazu Falls
 

Full day guided tour of the Argentine side of the falls. Visit 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 6

At leisure.
 

At leisure at Iguazú. You’ll find a wealth of choice of optional excursions and activities: a trip over the border to the Brazilian side of the falls from where there is a panoramic vista over the whole length of the cascades. Or choose between a quirky bird park, jungle safaris, zip lines and boat trips.

Iguazu Falls, Brazilian side

Day 7

Fly to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
 

Guided transfer across the border into Brazil. Fly to Rio de Janeiro (2 hrs) and transfer to your hotel in Copacabana. Rio is 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 that swoop down into the Atlantic surf.

Copacabana at dusk, Rio de Janeiro

Day 8

Jeep tour of Corcovado Mountain and Santa Teresa.
 

Take an exhilarating guided tour by an open-topped jeep through tropical fruit-laden vegetation up the sheer-sided Corcovado Mountain to drink in the views from beside the famous Christ the Redeemer statue on the peak. Continue to Santa Teresa, the colonial heart of the city which sits on a hill close to the Cathedral in the busy centre. This is a popular residential area for artists and TV personalities who occupy the stately shaded houses lining its cobbled streets. There are plenty of old-fashioned bars, or bodegas.

(The ancient rickety tram which climbed around impossibly steep lanes is currently closed and undergoing renovation). The streets are lined by high walls sheltering museums, parks, art centres, smart restaurants and one or two luxury hotels.

Christ the Redeemer, Corcovado Mountain

Day 9

At leisure.
 

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 domed granite mountain that protrudes 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.

Also within a short taxi ride from your hotel are the very pleasant, recently refurbished botanical gardens. 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 10

Transfer to airport
 

Essential information

Transport

2 flights (longest 2hrs).

Accommodation

At all levels, we prefer smaller hotels with some local character; whether boutique, one of a local chain or independent. On the odd occasion where we use an international chain, we choose properties with some historic or other unique features.

This holiday offers economical mid-range accommodation. We have chosen modern and well-equipped hotels in convenient practical locations.

Meals

Breakfast daily.

Guides

We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

  • Guided walking tour along the Avenida de Mayo. 
  • Guided visit to the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls. 
  • Jeep tour of Corcovado Mountain and Santa Teresa.

Summary of nights

10 days, 9 nights: Buenos Aires 3; Iguazú 3; Rio 3.

Included in the journey price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office.
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
  • All land and air transport within Latin America.
  • Accommodation as specified.
  • Meals as specified.
  • Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

• International flights to Latin America.
• Tips and gratuities
• Meals other than specified.
• Airport taxes, when not included in the ticket
• Optional excursions.

Optional excursions

There are a number of optional excursions available on this holiday, many of which can be booked in advance with us – please contact us by phone or email to add these activities to your holiday. Most of these excursions may also be booked locally through our local representatives once you are in Latin America. Alternatively you may use any of the many local companies but Journey Latin America cannot guarantee the quality or safety of these and cannot accept responsibility if anything goes wrong or is not up to your expectations.

A budget of around USD$200 should cover participation the following options, but prices can fluctuate depending on the number of participants and time of year, and so cannot be provided accurately until travel commences. The list below is only a guideline.
  • Bike tour of Buenos Aires. 
  • Dine at a live tango show, Buenos Aires. 
  • Tango lessons, Buenos Aires. 
  • Visit the quirky bird park, Iguazú 
  • Cable car up Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio. 
  • Bike tour of Rio’s beaches. 
  • Samba show, Rio.

Currency

The unit of currency in Argentina is the Argentinean peso; Brazil is the Brazilian real (plural reais).

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50-70 per day should cover the cost of meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money.

Tipping

Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. We recommend approximately $10 per person for a half day and $20 for a full day for guides and half that for drivers.

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

 

Tipping guidelines can be found on our Briefing Dossier.

Insurance

Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on our Travel Insurance page.

Airport Taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip.

This holiday is suitable for all, including families (although you cannot book the latter with us online unless you require accommodation based on double occupancy rooms). If you are a single traveller or have a disability or other special requirements, please call us.

In the summer months of December to March the weather is extremely hot and humid, you might bear this in mind if travelling with small children or elderly persons.

Climate

In Buenos Aires, October to November and March to April see temperatures between 15 and 25°C and a good deal of sunshine. January to February is hot, with temperatures over 30°C.

In tropical Rio and Iguazú, December to March are the hottest and most humid months, with temperatures sometimes reaching 40°C, and rain which falls in heavy showers. From June to September, temperatures are more moderate (18-23°C) and there is plenty of sunshine, but cold fronts can usher in periods of up to several days of cloud and drizzle.

Clothing and special equipment

In the southern hemisphere summer it will be hot in the cities - Buenos Aires and Rio de Janeiro - so take loose-fitting light clothing for maximum comfort. An umbrella is a good idea in case of a tropical shower.

At the Iguazú Falls you can get very wet from the spray. Some clients like to take dry clothes in a dry bag.

If you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips, you might bring something a bit smarter as well (although formal attire will not be required).

Strong, comfortable footwear is essential and you should bring insect repellent, sun block and sun glasses. You should take swimwear for the beach.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.

Vaccinations

Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: polio; tetanus. For specific requirements you must consult your GP.

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.

Visas

Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - If flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online.

This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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