Private Journeys

Family Brazil: Waterfalls, rivers and rainforests

14 days from £4,000pp

Brazil / Iguazu Falls / The Amazon


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Overview & Highlights

The focus here is a visit to the Amazon, where from a comfortable lodge you set out to view wildlife, huge vine-throttled trees and learn about tribal traditions. You stay in family friendly hotels at Iguazú Falls and on the palm-fringed northeast coast.   

  • Guided tour to the Sugar Loaf mountain
  • Jeep tour to Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue, Rio de Janeiro
  • Visit to the Bird Park at Iguazú
  • The Brazilian and Argentine sides of the Iguazú Falls
  • Macuco boat safari
  • Guided excursions and activities in the Amazon jungle

Visit lively Rio de Janeiro, with mountains and jungle in the heart of the city.  Stroll along the beaches, whizz up the Sugar Loaf in a cable car and climb Corcovado mountain in an open-topped jeep. Thrill to the power of the Iguazú Falls, which crash over cliffs through tropical jungle filled with toucans and monkeys, exploring by boat and on foot. The exuberance of the Amazon jungle will not fail to impress: everything is on a huge scale, from towering trees sheltering monkeys, 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.

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.

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Day 2

Guided tour to Sugar Loaf mountain.

The family will thrill to the idea of a cable car ride up to the top of Sugar Loaf mountain, actually a two-humped sheer granite rock. Your guided tour takes you up to survey the views over Copacabana, Botafogo Bay with its moored yachts bobbing in an azure sea, and the statue of Christ atop Corcovado mountain across the water. You can spot the renovated Maracana football  stadium from here too. At the top there are snack bars and a gift shop, while and tiny monkeys scurry around in the tress which cling to the slopes.

Instead of heading straight back to your hotel with your guide you might choose to take a look around the safe, arty, villagey district of Urca clinging to the foot of Sugar Loaf Mountain. There’s also a lovely, and safe, nature trail around the foot of the mountain: spot monkeys, birds, butterflies and lizards.

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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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Day 4

Fly to Foz do Iguaçu on the border with Argentina. Visit the famous Bird Park.

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. In the afternoon there's a guided visit to the excellent Parque das Aves (Bird Park). More than half of the birds in this impressive project have been rescued and are now living within generously-designed aviaries situated amidst native Atlantic rainforest. You'll have the chance to get close to beautiful, exotic species from Brazil and beyond, including toucans, macaws, flamingos and even harpy eagle.

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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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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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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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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 11-13

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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Day 14

Transfer to airport.

Essentials

Tour info

Transport

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

Accommodation

On this tour we use modern hotels with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and air-conditioning. The hotel in Iguaçú has a 9-hole golf course, a large gym, an eco-nature-trail and canopy tour on site and an excellent kids’ club, and there is free Wifi throughout. The Amazon lodge has attractive chalets with en suite facilities and mosquito screening. At Praia do Forte you stay at the first class Tivoli Eco-Resort.

Meals

Breakfast daily, dinner day 7, full board days 8, 9, half board days 11-13.

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.

Summary Of Nights

14 days, 13 nights: Rio de Janeiro 3; Iguazú 3; Amazonia 3; Praia do Forte beach 4.

Currency

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

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. 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.

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.

Tipping

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

Most service industry workers will welcome 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. 

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

This holiday is suitable for all reasonably active families. Brazil is a huge country and, although there are no special requirements for this kind of holiday other than a sense of adventure, you do need to be prepared for some long travelling days between its big cities, beaches and tropical rainforest. It can be very hot outdoors but air conditioning is available at all accommodation used on this trip. We think kids over 8 will get the most out of this holiday, however we recognise all families are different so please get in touch with us if you have any concerns or if you are considering taking younger children. If you have a disability requiring special attention please let us know.

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.

Climate

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.

Vaccinations

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

As of 2018, visitors to Brazil travelling on our holidays should be protected with a vaccination against yellow fever, and carry the corresponding certificate. In April 2013, the World Health Organisation Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunisation concluded that a single primary dose of yellow fever vaccine is sufficient to confer sustained immunity and lifelong protection against yellow fever disease, and that a booster dose is not needed.

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.

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

What's included in the 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

Included Excursions

  • Guided tour to the Sugar Loaf mountain
  • Jeep tour to Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue, Rio de Janeiro
  • Visit to the Bird Park at Iguazú
  • The Brazilian and Argentine sides of the Iguazú Falls
  • Macuco boat safari
  • Guided excursions and activities in the Amazon jungle

What's not included in the price

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

Real Latin America Experts

  • Hannah Donaldson
    Hannah Donaldson - Travel Consultant

    Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is an invaluable part of our Group Tours team.

  • Sophie Barber
    Sophie Barber - Travel Consultant

    Sophie lived in Chile before joining us and has travelled extensively across Latin America, from Mexico to the furthest tip of Patagonia.

  • Lina Fuller
    Lina Fuller - Travel Consultant

    Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.

  • Evie Oswald
    Evie Oswald - Travel Consultant

    It’s hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.

  • Hannah Waterhouse
    Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Consultant

    Hannah had an early introduction to Latin America when her family moved to Ecuador and she returned to study in Buenos Aires for a year before backpacking across the continent.

  • Ben Line
    Ben Line - Travel Consultant

    Ben fell in love with Latin America on a six month backpacking trip from Colombia to Mexico in 1995. Since then he has explored most of South America, including living in Peru for a year. He is now Manager of the Tailor-made Department.

Meet the team