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Family Brazil: Waterfalls, rivers and rainforests

15 days from £3673pp

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Family Brazil: Waterfalls, rivers and rainforests:
Trip Dossier

If you are outdoor and nature enthusiasts, this private family adventure will delight. Visit exotic and lively Rio de Janeiro, with mountains and jungle right in the heart of the city. Even the ways you get around are exhilarating: cycle along the beaches, whizz up the Sugar Loaf in a cable car and climb Corcovado mountain in an open-topped jeep. You’ll all thrill to the power of the Iguazú Falls, which crash over cliffs through tropical jungle filled with toucans and monkeys exploring close up by boat and on foot: you’ll get wet! The exuberance of the Amazon jungle will not fail to impress: everything is on a huge scale, from massive towering trees with waist-thick creepers to the armies of soldier ants and electric blue butterflies.

The holiday ends with a few days on the coast with some of Brazil's best beaches. Praia do Forte is a relaxed former fishing village, while your eco-resort has something for all the family, from educational activities to horse-riding and snorkelling. There’s a turtle preservation project there too.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, transfer to hotel in Copacabana.

Day 2

Guided bike tour of Rio’s beaches.

Day 3

Jeep tour of Corcovado mountain and Santa Teresa.

Day 4

Fly to Foz do Iguaçu on the border with Argentina.

Day 5

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

Day 6

Full day guided exploration of the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.

Day 7

Fly to Manaus on the River Amazon. Transfer to jungle lodge.

Days 8-9

Guided adventures from the lodge.

Day 10

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

Days 11-14

At leisure on the beach, optional excursions and activities.

Day 15

Transfer to airport.

Detailed itinerary

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.

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.

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.

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.

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!

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Praia do Forte

Day 15

Transfer to airport.

Essential information


3 domestic flights; 2 road transfers (longest 1hr), 2 boat transfers.


On this tour we use modern hotels with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and air-conditioning. The hotel in Iguaçú is large, but set in beautiful grounds with a nature trail and is low rise. The Amazon lodge has attractive chalets with en suite facilities and mosquito screening. At Praia do Forte you stay at a first class eco-Resort.


Breakfast daily, dinner day 7, full board days 8, 9, half board days 11-14.


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.

Included excursions

  • Jeep tour to Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue, Rio de Janeiro.
  • Guided bike tour of Rio’s beaches. 
  • The Brazilian and Argentine sides of the Iguazú Falls.
  • Macuco boat safari.
  • Guided excursions and activities in the Amazon jungle.

Summary of nights

15 days, 14 nights: Rio de Janeiro 3; Iguazú 3; Amazonia 3; Praia do Forte beach 5.

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, river 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.


The unit of currency in Brazil is the real (plural reais).

Daily spend

A budget of around US$40-70 per person per day should cover the cost of meals, drinks, local transport, tips and the odd souvenir. Prices of meals and drinks in standard restaurants are more or less the same as in Britain, perhaps a bit cheaper.

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.


Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

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 in our Briefing Dossier.


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 some long days spent travelling (including a number of internal flights) and the heat can be tiring. The holiday is suitable for all reasonably fit families. If you have a disability requiring special attention please enquire. 

In the Amazon, guides are well-informed and expeditions, which include boat trips on the river, piranha fishing and jungle nature walks, are suitable for most ages and abilities.

The Rio cycle tour is almost entirely on one or two lane exercise track and suitable for anyone who can ride a bike. Although there are no challenging stretches, you'll need some stamina to complete the circuit on hot days. The minimum age limit is 8yrs.


In the tropical Amazonia, Rio and  Iguazú, December to March are the hottest and most humid months, with temperatures sometimes reaching 40°C, and rain which falls in brief, heavy showers. From June to September, in Rio and Iguazú 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. Praia do Forte is also tropical, but its slightly cooler rainier season runs from April to July and January-February are relatively dry.

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should take loose-fitting, breathable clothes. Comfortable shoes are important and sandals are useful. A breathable waterproof jacket, sun/rain hat, sunblock and sunglasses are necessary, and you should take a light fleece for cool nights and a Gore-Tex layer, as well as swimwear, a towel, insect repellent and a torch. 

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

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

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.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets.

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


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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