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Family Brazil: Wildlife adventures for pioneers

15 days from £4415pp

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Family Brazil: Wildlife adventures for pioneers

15 days from £4415pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Brazil. Connect with domestic flight to Foz do Iguaçú.
 

Connect with a domestic 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.

Toco toucan, Iguazu national park

Day 2

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 Iguaçu 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

Day 3

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.

Iguazu Falls, Argentine side

Day 4

Transfer to airport and fly to Cuiabá in the Pantanal; transfer to lodge.
 

Transfer to the airport and fly to Cuiaba in the Pantanal wilderness wetlands. Continue by lonely road to your wildlife lodge. This region is a paradise for nature lovers, especially for bird and other wildlife spotting. 

Unlike the areas of high jungle, the Pantanal is an open area of swampy grasslands, leaving some of the highest concentration of birds, mammals and reptiles in the continent exposed to view. The wildlife co-exists harmoniously with the cattle that breed on the ranches in the area. According to season, you might observe flocks of thousands of parakeets, rosy spoonbills, ibis, macaws and giant storks. 

In the dry season, scores of caiman laze on the river beaches, capybara (a type of giant guinea pig) stroll across the roads, and you may come across armadillos, anteaters and howler monkeys. Rainy season is December to April - roads are muddy and even impassable, excursions may be by boat: but the reflection of the tangerine sunsets on the flooded plains creates a rich and sumptuous image.

You’ll be driven to your wildlife lodge deep in the countryside.

Caiman

Days 5-6

Guided Pantanal expeditions.
 

The lodge includes a programme of activities that you may join in to spot the wildlife. This usually will include a hiking tour, visiting some settlements of the native caboclos with their palm thatched huts; horse-riding through typical Pantanal landscapes arriving at a lakeside farm for sunset; boat rides; an excursion by jeep or boat to view birds and reptiles in the crystal clear waters on a remote part of the River Mutum; an exciting opportunity to fish for piranha with their needle-sharp teeth; a boat trip to a small community of native fishermen on the Cuiabá river and a night-time safari by torchlight.

Pantanal

Day 7

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

Transfer to the airport and fly to Rio de Janeiro, the most romantic, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. 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. Your family will be safely accommodated in the upmarket district of Copacabana, right next to the famous beach.

Copacabana at dusk, Rio de Janeiro

Day 8

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.

Bike Tour

Day 9

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.

Day 10

By road down the coast to colonial Paratí.
 

You will be collected from your hotel for a drive down the Emerald Coast to colonial Paratí (4-4½ hrs). The winding road is bordered by steep mountains covered in lush Atlantic forest on one side, and the ocean on the other. 

You’ll be staying at an Anglo-Brazilian owned private house, Casa Cairuçu, on the bay side. It sits on a rocky cliff smothered in tropical vegetation, in a protected vehicle-free area dotted with clean beaches, time-resistant fishing villages and forest trails. 

The beautifully yet simply decorated home, full of the colours of the sea and sky, can sleep 6-8. Each of its 3 double rooms is en suite and has a sea view. Casa Cairuçu is ideal for families who’d enjoy the freedom of a self-catering villa: there's a fully equipped kitchen and assistance is provided with food shopping. The daily maid service includes the preparation of your breakfast each morning - a really nice touch. The house also offers a small library of CDs, DVDs, books and board games.

When you arrive at Paratí, you'll be met and accompanied on a boat ride to Casa Cairuçu by an English speaking representative who will acquaint you with your new surroundings and be available as a 'remote concierge' by telephone to answer your questions during your stay.

Paratí Ilha Grande and the Costa Verde

Days 11-14

At leisure in bay-side private villa, Casa Cairuçu.
 

While you are there you can relax in a hammock on the property itself and swim from its private jetty, but there's lots to do in the area: visit the nearby colonial port of Paratí, the delightful cobblestone town is choc-a-bloc with Portuguese colonial houses; or take a traditional schooner trip around the island-studded bay, with opportunities to swim with tropical fish.

Water sports enthusiasts will find snorkelling equipment (for two), two double kayaks and two fishing rods at the house. The nearest beach is a 5min walk from the house; other beaches are within kayaking distance or a hop by boat. If you want to explore further afield, daily boat charters are available.  And if you simply can't resist the urge to keep up with what's going on in the outside world, internet (modem) and Sky TV are available.

Casa Cairucu

Day 15

Transfer to airport.
 

15 days from £4415pp

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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

Chris Rendell-Dunn

Travel Consultants

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