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Luxury Brazil: Rio, Iguazu Falls and Buzios

11 days from £3744pp

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Luxury Brazil: Rio, Iguazu Falls and Buzios:
Trip Dossier

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This luxurious taste of Brazil starts in the incredible setting of Rio, a city of fun-loving people, music on every street corner and football on every beach - all with a glorious mountain backdrop. We've selected some of Brazil's finest hotels for your holiday. Stay at the Belmond Copacabana Palace (formerly known as Orient Express), which faces the blue green rollers of the Atlantic Ocean breaking onto Copacabana beach. 

At Iguazú Falls, you will step out of your room at Belmond Hotel Das Cataratas to the thunderous roar of water crashing over lofty granite cliffs fringed by tropical rainforest. Finally at the upmarket, popular beach retreat of Búzios, unwind at a top quality boutique property overlooking the ocean.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel, the famous Copacabana Palace.

Day 2

Guided excursion up Sugar Loaf mountain, Corcovado mountain and Tijuca.

Day 3

At leisure.

Day 4

Fly to Iguazú Falls.

Day 5

Explore Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.

Day 6

At leisure.

Day 7

Fly to Rio de Janeiro, transfer by coast road to Buzios.

Days 8-10

At leisure on the beach.

Day 11

Transfer to airport

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel, the famous Copacabana Palace.
 
Transfer to your hotel, the prestigious Copacabana Palace slap bang in the middle of Copacabana beach’s famous promenade. Rio is the most romantic, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. Sumptuous apartments overlook the sparkling bays against the backdrop of half-built slum dwellings, favelas, which cling precariously to the hillsides. But everywhere the city is being spruced up in time for the World Cup and Olympic Games. 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.

Day 2

Guided excursion up Sugar Loaf mountain, Corcovado mountain and Tijuca.
 
Private excursions by car to the two iconic sights of Rio: the Sugar Loaf mountain and Christ the Redeemer on Corcovado mountain. You climb aboard a cog railway to the statue of Christ the Redeemer, where you can survey the city. The ride up the steep hill is worth the trip in itself: you are enveloped in dripping vegetation laden with tropical flowers and exotic fruits. But the panoramas at the peak on a clear day are stupendous: the whole of the city is laid out before you, with the beaches, Sugar Loaf and Niteroi Bridge easily spotted.

Climbing down from the mountain peak there are various routes. One finds you entering the arty district of 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 (you may lunch here) and one or two luxury hotels.

Another scenic route takes you down through the forest to the broad beach at Barra de Tijuca, a modern US-style commercial and residential district with kilometres of golden sand. In this case, you’ll lunch at a traditional Brazilian churrascaria (barbecue restaurant).

You’ll also visit Sugar Loaf mountain, ascending by cable car: from the summit you can survey Copacabana beach, Botafogo Bay with its bobbing sailboats and yachts, and at sunset watch the city prepare for nightfall as twinkling lights penetrate the purple haze as dusk falls. First thing in the morning is a good time too.

Copacabana at dusk, Rio de Janeiro

Day 3

At leisure.
 
At leisure to soak up your sumptuous surroundings - visit the hotel spa or relax by the pool: at 25m long it is one of the largest in Rio and its elegant terraces are an oasis of peace within the hubbub of Rio. The chic boutiques of Ipanema are a stroll away along the beachfront. The quarters of Leblon, the smartest part of town, and Lagoa – the shores of this attractive urban lagoon – have excellent restaurants and night clubs with world class performers.  

Day 4

Fly to Iguazú Falls.
 
Transfer to the airport for the 2hr flight to Foz do Iguaçu in the southeast of the country, on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. You’ll be driven to the Hotel das Cataratas, the only property in the sub-tropical national park in which the Iguazú Falls are situated. A mock-colonial building which was once a museum, it’s a very elegant hotel, beautifully restored , sitting a short stroll from the falls themselves. Here there’s a broad panoramic view of these colossal falls, and there are some excellent opportunities to photograph the full sweep of the water.

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. 

Day 5

Explore 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 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.

Upper walkway, Iguazu Falles, Argentina

Day 6

At leisure.
 
At leisure to enjoy the hotel’s facilities or take an excursion to the quirky bird park, or take part in any of the active adventures in the rainforest. 

Day 7

Fly to Rio de Janeiro, transfer by coast road to Buzios.
 
Transfer to the airport to fly back to Rio and continue by road along the coast to Búzios.  This is a Mediterranean-style beach resort which combines an upmarket feel with typical Brazilian informality. It’s all very laid back but there are some sophisticated restaurants and chic boutiques. Check into hotel Casas Brancas for a four night stay at one of the resort's most charming boutique properties. The hotel and its terraces enjoy an enviable position, on a headland overlooking the ocean and within a ten minute walk of the resort centre and its beaches.

Days 8-10

At leisure on the beach.
 
At leisure in Búzios. Sunbathing, shopping, fine dining, boat trips and water-sports all within your grasp.
Buzios from Casas Brancas

Day 11

Transfer to airport
 

Essential information

Transport

Two flights (longest 2hrs); 2 scenic road transfers (longest 2hrs). 

Accommodation

For this holiday however we have chosen the very best hotels available in each location. The Belmond Copacabana Palace and das Cataratas hotels (formerly known as Orient Express) both have superlative locations which could not be bettered: the Cataratas is the only property overlooking the falls on the Brazilian side. The facilities and service are, of course, top of the range.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 2.

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 by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

• Full-day tour with Corcovado Mountain and Tijuca forest, and cable car up Sugar Loaf Mountain.
• Guided tour of the Argentine side of Iguazú Falls

Summary of nights

11 days, 10 nights: Rio de Janeiro 3; Iguazú 3; Búzios 4.

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 and air transport within Latin America.
• Accommodation as specified.
• Meals as specified.
• Excursions as specified, including entrance fees.

Not included in the journey price

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

Optional excursions

There are a number of half, full-day or longer excursions or activities you may wish to consider in order to customise your holiday to cater for your interests. Please contact us to discuss these further or to add them to your itinerary before you depart. A selection of these include:

• Samba show, Rio de Janeiro.
• Schooner trip to the tropical islands on the Emerald Coast. 
• Helicopter ride over Iguazú falls.

Currency

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

Daily spend

It is very difficult to give a guideline for essential expenses but a budget of around US$50 per day should cover the cost of good quality meals not included in the holiday itinerary, drinks and the odd souvenir. Eat at the very best restaurants and you will pay considerably more.

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 (American Express are the most widely accepted), though these are gradually falling out of use. 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.

Tipping

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.

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

There are no long days of travel on this trip. There are two domestic flights by commercial jet. 

This holiday is suitable for all but if you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us.

In the summer months of December to March the weather is extremely hot and humid, you might bear this in mind if travelling with small children or elderly persons.

Climate

In tropical 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, 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. 

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 sun hat, sun block 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. You might like to use binoculars for wildlife.  Brazil is an informal country but if you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips, you might want to bring something smart as well.

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. 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.

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.

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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