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Brazil Wildlife: Iguazu, Pantanal and Amazon

16 days from £5404pp

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Brazil Wildlife: Iguazu, Pantanal and Amazon

16 days from £5404pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Foz do Iguaçú. Transfer to your accommodation on the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls.
 

Arriving at Foz do Iguaçu in the southeast of the country, on the border with Argentina and Paraguay, you’ll be driven to the Hotel San Martin, situated at the entrance to the national park and next to the delightful British-owned and quirky Bird Park.

The Iguazú Falls are unquestionably 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 toucans and many other exotic birds perched in the foliage above the tumultuous waters.

Toco toucan, Iguazu national park

Day 2

Guided excursion to the Brazilian side of the falls.
 

Today you have a half day excursion to the Brazilian side of the falls. Here there’s a broad panoramic view of these colossal cataracts, and there are some excellent opportunities to photograph the full sweep of the water.

Iguazu Falls

Day 3

Guided excursion to the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.
 

Private guided tour of the Argentine side of the falls. You will be driven across Fraternity Bridge, which links the towns of Puerto Iguazú in Argentina and Foz do Iguaçu in Brazil. The day begins with a visit to the National Park Visitor Centre, where there is a display that illustrates the biodiversity of the region’s tropical rainforest, and from there a little 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 Devil’s Throat station and from here a walkway leads 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.

Iguazu Falls, Argentine side

Day 4

Fly to Cuiabá in Mato Grosso, Brazil’s remote interior.
 

Fly to Cuiabá, a major city in the heart of Brazil’s interior and the gateway to the Pantanal wetlands. Overnight here.

The Pantanal wetlands cover a large basin half the size of France. This basin is seasonally flooded and is drained by the Paraguay River, which flows into the south Atlantic via the River Plate estuary.

The result is a paradise for nature lovers, especially for wildlife observation. Unlike the areas of high jungle, the Pantanal is an open area of swampy grasslands, leaving some of the highest concentration of fauna in the continent exposed to view.

storks in the Pantanal

Day 5

Transfer to your lodge in the Pantanal wetlands.
 

By road (4hrs) to your lodge within the wetlands. The lodge offers a programme of activities where you can view wildlife. Sun-seeking caiman (alligators) stretch out on the river beaches or observe you with a beady eye just visible above the water’s surface.  Gangs of the ubiquitous capybara -a giant rodent - stroll lazily across the road. Giant storks and roseate spoonbills wade through the standing water while agitated parakeets and clouds of snowy ibis take to the sky.

Pantanal

Days 6-7

Wildlife-spotting expeditions from the lodge.
 

Depending on local conditions, daily expeditions may include boat rides, walking trails and horse-riding through the Pantanal’s watery landscapes. You could visit a fazenda (farm) on the banks of a shimmering lake for sunset, when birds congregate for evening feeding with a raucous cacophony of sound. You may set off on an excursion by safari vehicle or boat to view wildlife in the crystal clear waters on a remote section of the Mutum river; seize an opportunity to fish for piranha, or take a boat trip to a small fishing community on the Cuiabá river.

caiman

Day 8

Fly to Manaus, Amazonia; transfer to riverside hotel.
 

Transfer to the airport and fly to Manaus, isolated capital of the state of Amazonas, sprawling along the banks of the Amazon river. The vast city of 2 million inhabitants is on the northern bank of the Rio Negro, just upstream from its confluence with the Amazon.

Although it's 1,600km from the Atlantic, ocean-going vessels can sail this far upstream. Towering modern skyscrapers intermingle with the traditional red-tiled roofs of the older buildings, many of which reflect the wealth of Manaus's illustrious past during the rubber boom - notably the magnificent opera house.

Your hotel is just outside town on the banks of the Rio Negro: your expeditionary vessel, MV Tucano, will depart from the pier at the property.

Manaus opera house

Days 9-14

Cruise on the Amazon river and Rio Negro.
 

In the morning, you will be greeted by your cruise guides and embark on your week-long cruise heading north up the Rio Negro beyond its confluence with the Amazon river. Travel beyond the 400 islands of the Anavilhanas Archipelago towards the Rio Branco, with an ever changing eco-system, and progressively fewer riverside farm settlements. You really feel you have the privilege to enter a remote, seldom visited and intact area of Amazonia.

A small (9 guest cabins), 3-storeyed traditional wooden Amazon riverboat, custom-built locally, the Tucano is beautifully constructed and finished using hard rosewood. It has a marvellous nautical atmosphere. As you glide slowly along the river, you will feel as though you are at one with the rhythms of the rainforest.

The ship navigates north up the mosquito-free Rio Negro towards Rio Branco and the border with Colombia. There are a number of excursions every day, from dawn and late afternoon canoe trips to forest walks, piranha fishing and nocturnal wildlife spotting. Your guides will keep a list for you of species identified: you may well be surprised to see how long this will be by the end of your journey: several species of monkey, sloths, alligators, parrots, turtles, spiders, ants, snakes and a huge variety of birds.

You can swim in the river, visit isolated riverbank family farms and the evocative ruins of once prosperous rubber estates, all of which receive very few visitors but where the handful of people who live there will give you a warm welcome. The return journey follows the west bank. On the last day you drop anchor close to Manaus after witnessing the impressive spectacle of the Meeting of the Waters, where the dark tannin waters of the Rio Negro converge with the opaque brown water of the Amazon river proper.

The last night is spent at anchor near Ponta Negra.

MV Tucano

Day 15

Optional city tour. Transfer to Manaus airport for international flight home.
 

An optional city tour, which includes a tour of the Opera House.

16 days from £5404pp

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