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Family Brazil: Waterfalls, rivers and rainforests

15 days from £4,018pp

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Family Brazil: Waterfalls, rivers and rainforests

15 days from £4,018pp

Price excludes international flights at the beginning and end of the trip


Private Journey


Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, transfer to hotel in Copacabana.
Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, the most romantic, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent, and transfer to your hotel. Your family will be safely accommodated in the upmarket district of Copacabana, right next to the famous beach. Rio has an awesome bay-side location among near-vertical granite mountains. Here, tropical foliage swoops down to white-to-toffee coloured sandy beaches in turn battered by the huge waves of Atlantic surf.

The street life is particularly entertaining here – Cariocas are famous for their good humour, their love for sport, singing and dancing. Volley-ball and football are played on the sands at dusk, families bike up and down the cycle lanes, joggers are out at dawn. There are beach cafés where you can grab a burger and an iced coconut milk while downloading your emails with the free Wifi which is available all along Copacabana’s shoreline promenade.

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Day 2

Guided bike tour of Rio’s beaches.
Today there’s a guided 22km cycle ride through the city's flamboyant beach districts. Begin by cycling around Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas, a vast inland urban lagoon overlooked by the Christ the Redeemer statue atop Corcovado mountain. Entering the smart neighbourhood of Leblon, head towards the ocean and bike the entire length of two of the world's most fabulous beaches: first, glamorous Ipanema with its surfers and beach beauties; next, Copacabana, which welcomes a vibrant cross-section of visitors.

The final stretch takes you through one of the road tunnels which burrow deep beneath the coastal mountains, emerging in the villagey district of Urca clinging to the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain. Return to your hotel by jeep or stay to go up the Sugar Loaf cable car independently. There’s a lovely, and safe, nature trail around the foot of the mountain: spot monkeys, birds, butterflies and lizards.

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Rio by bike

Day 3

Jeep tour of Corcovado mountain and Santa Teresa.
Take an exhilarating trip by an open-topped jeep through tropical fruit-laden vegetation up the sheer-sided Corcovado mountain. Drink in the heart-stopping 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 streets are lined by high walls sheltering museums, parks, art centres, smart restaurants and one or two luxury hotels.

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Santa Teresa street art

Day 4

Fly to Foz do Iguaçu on the border with Argentina.

Transfer to the airport for your flight to Foz do Iguaçu in the southeast of the country, on the frontier with Argentina and Paraguay. Transfer from the airport to your hotel. You might like to pop into the quirky bird park next door, it’s British-founded and gives you the chance of seeing up close exotic birds which are normally shy in the wild.

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Day 5

Guided visit to the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls with Macuco safari.
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.

On the Brazilian side you have a guided tour to get a broad panoramic view of these colossal falls, and there are some excellent opportunities to photograph the full sweep of the water.

Later, there’s an exhilarating adventure in the national park, the Macuco boat safari. Join an open safari truck for a ride through lush sub-tropical forest full of orchids, tropical birds and lizards.  Next is a guided walk down into the Iguaçú Canyon, formed over millions of years through erosion by the receding waterfalls. Upon reaching the banks of the river, the real fun begins: a ride in open boats up the canyon towards the base of the falls. Ahead and above is the main cataract of the Devil's Throat, and the dozens of smaller falls as they cascade over the precipice. It can be a thrilling ride along the rapids and up-close to some of the more benign waterfalls: prepare to get very wet indeed!

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Macuco Safari Iguazú

Day 6

Full day guided exploration of 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 two countries. Begin 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 here a little natural gas-powered 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 kilometre-long 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.

If you enjoyed the Macuco boat safari, there is also an optional boat trip out to the base of the Argentine falls; it’s an exhilarating ride that takes you within touching distance of these thunderous cascades and your clothes and hair are soaked with the spray; it is a truly invigorating experience. Light clothes and trainers are recommended. A visa may be required if you do not hold a UK passport.

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Day 7

Fly to Manaus on the River Amazon. Transfer to jungle lodge.
Transfer to the airport and fly to Manaus in the Amazon rainforest. This vast city 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. It’s just a short drive through town and a short boat ride to your jungle lodge.

This relatively comfortable property is geared towards both tourism and scientific research. It is more like a jungle-based hotel than an intimate wildlife lodge. The complex is part of its own protected reserve covered with dense forest, creeks, and springs. What makes the Eco-Park different from other eco-tourism projects is the richness of the wildlife, including a small monkey sanctuary and an open aviary - a halfway house for a dozen or so scarlet, blue-and-yellow and green macaws. The large, tended gardens are lovely with plenty of birdlife and there is also a white sand beach (in low water season) with loungers. Facilities include an al fresco restaurant, pavilion with hammocks and a natural swimming pool.

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Amazon river

Days 8-9

Guided adventures from the lodge.
Guided excursions are included and are organised depending on your arrival and departure times from Manaus. They involve two half day excursions or one full day excursion. The half-day excursions include a morning jungle trek where your guide will identify birds, mammals and insects, as well as telling you about the medicinal properties of plants. There’s also a visit to the aviary and the monkey sanctuary, where you can see up close monkeys which are not caged, but free to come and go to feed.

There is a visit to a local settlement and an opportunity to fish piranha. There’s also a boat trip to see the so-called Meeting of the Waters, where the milky coffee Solimões river runs alongside the black Rio Negro before they merge.

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Monkeys at the Ecopark

Day 10

Transfer to Manaus airport; fly to Salvador, transfer to Praia do Forte.

Transfer to the airport and fly to Salvador; continue by road to Praia do Forte, which has some of the most beautiful palm-fringed beaches in the north east. The town has a laid-back feel, although it can get busy at weekends and holidays. The coastline is now part of a national preservation programme which helps protect sea turtles which lay eggs along the beach.

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Days 11-14

At leisure on the beach, optional excursions and activities.
Your attractive low-rise resort, Tivoli Eco-resort Praia do Forte, fronts on to a palm-fringed beach, within walking distance of the village and about an hour's drive north of Salvador. The accommodation is rustic-looking but has much more than the basic comforts. It’s a great choice for families as there’s something for everyone here: facilities include four pools, an excellent gym, sauna, tennis court, windsurfing and the use of laser and hobie cats. Furthermore, there is a Thalasso wellness spa.

There are daily entertainments, many of which will delight youngsters, adults can join in the fun or recline in a lounger in a quiet part of the property. There are several restaurants (the food is excellent, buffet style with loads of choice) and bars, horse-riding and sea fishing can also be arranged. Near the village is a small marsh that is home to a large number of birds and caiman.

For an unusual and rewarding wildlife experience, we recommend your family visit the headquarters of the national turtle preservation programme, set up to protect the sea turtles that lay eggs in the area.

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Praia do Forte

Day 15

Transfer to airport.

15 days from £4,018pp

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What our experts say

With over 7,000 kilometres of coastline, Brazil offers some of the most breathtaking beaches in all of South America, if not the world. We regularly travel to Rio with our son and daughter to visit our family and there’s no doubt that our number one beach has to be Lopes Mendes on the island of Ilha Grande. Arriving on this beach by boat is like arriving on a deserted island 50 years ago; there is nothing there - no hotels, no bars, no restaurants just beautiful powdery white sands, clear azure sea and a backdrop of mountainous jungle.


Chris Rendell-Dunn

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