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Luxury Rio, Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires and the pampas

14 days from £5322pp

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Luxury Rio, Iguazu Falls, Buenos Aires and the pampas:
Trip Dossier

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This luxurious taste of Brazil and Argentina starts in Rio, a city fun-loving people, music on every street corner and football on every beach - all with a mountain backdrop. Stay at the Belmond (formerly Orient Express) Copacabana Palace, 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 roar of water crashing over granite cliffs fringed by tropical rainforest.  From there you plunge into the woodland on the Argentine side of the falls to stay at relaxing Posada Bemberg.

Move on to Buenos Aires, the Paris of Latin America, a city oozing culture and nostalgia. To suit this mood you stay at one of the continent’s finest traditional properties, the classic Alvear Palace, which numbers presidents, royalty and celebrities among its guests.  Having explored a few of the attractions and savoured cutting edge cuisine at top restaurants and perused classy boutiques you head off back into the countryside. Unwind for a few days at a classy French-inspired estancia in the cattle plains of the pampas.

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 in Rio.

Day 4

Transfer to airport and fly to Iguazú falls.

Day 5

At leisure at the falls.

Day 6

Transfer to Puerto Bemberg via visit to Argentine side of the falls.

Day 7

At leisure at Puerto Bemberg.

Day 8

Transfer to airport and fly to Buenos Aires.

Day 9

Guided city tour with Teatro Colón.

Day 10

At leisure; evening tango show with dinner.

Day 11

Transfer to estancia in the pampas.

Days 12-13

At leisure on the estancia.

Day 14

Transfer to airport for your international flight home.

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. 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.

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.

Sugar Loaf

Day 3

At leisure in Rio.

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 the city. 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. The prestigious Botanical Gardens are an oasis of calm with a colonnade of regal palms. 

Botanical Gardens Rio

Day 4

Transfer to airport and fly to Iguazú falls.
Transfer to the airport for the 2hr flight to Foz do Iguaçú. 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 by Orient Express, 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.

Iguazu Falls

Day 5

At leisure at the falls.
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 6

Transfer to Puerto Bemberg via visit to Argentine side of the falls.
Drive to Puerto Bemberg on the Argentine side. En route there is a guided tour of the Argentine side of the falls. 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 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.

Posada Puerto Bemberg is an intimately luxurious hideaway within the Atlantic rainforest but less than an hour’s drive from the falls. There are boat trips, nature walks and bikes for exploration of the forest around the hotel, and bird watching is very rewarding here.


Day 7

At leisure at Puerto Bemberg.
At leisure to enjoy the posada’s facilities or take one of their optional off-site excursions such as a trip to see the ruins of the Jesuit Missions which pepper the region. 

Day 8

Transfer to airport and fly to Buenos Aires.
Transfer to the airport to fly to Buenos Aires. The Argentine capital is an elegant, cultured and cosmopolitan city famed for its interesting museums and the fascinating port district of La Boca, with its cobbled streets and brightly painted houses. It was here that the tango was born, and Diego Maradona honed his footballing skills.

The centre of town is home to the colonial heartland, government buildings and churches, as well as chic shopping districts, which have a nostalgic Parisian feel. The bohemian quarter of San Telmo is full of quaint old houses interspersed with antiques shops, tango bars and classy restaurants. Slightly further out of the centre is the Recoleta district, even more evocative of the French influence, where Evita Perón was laid to rest.

You’ll be staying at the Alvear Palace there, in Recoleta, a smart residential quarter in Buenos Aires with much belle époque and Italianate architecture including the classic hotel itself. Service is impeccable (there are personal butlers) and the restaurant is superb. It is both formal and friendly.

Buenos Aires

Day 9

Guided city tour with Teatro Colón.
Your guided city tour takes you along Avenida 9 de Julio, one of the widest boulevards in the world and studded by the Obelisk, an emblematic symbol of the city. Along this majestic highway is the 19th century Teatro Colón (guided tour included) which, in terms of its architecture and design, as well as its excellent acoustics, is considered one of world’s best.  On to the Plaza de Mayo, enclosed on three sides by the Metropolitan Cathedral, the Town Hall and the Casa Rosada, the presidential palace. The tour continues to bohemian, arty La Boca, which was settled and built by Italian immigrants and has streets lined with brightly painted corrugated iron-clad houses.  Visit the district of Recoleta. 
La Boca

Day 10

At leisure; evening tango show with dinner.
At leisure in Buenos Aires.  Stroll round Puerto Madero, the refurbished port district where former dock installations and features have been preserved alongside a string of excellent restaurants and loft conversions. Beyond the city limits, consider a   trip across the River Plate to Colonia in Uruguay.  Travel along a forest-fringed estuary, dotted with upmarket residences, to this peaceful little port, where you can wander among cobbled streets lined by colonial houses, or have a meal or drink in the yacht club.

Alternatively, venture into the watery delta to the small town of Tigre, set on the banks of the Luján river. Have lunch at one of the restaurants on the shores of the Río Paraná, while watching fishermen at work and river-craft gliding by.

Evening guided visit to a tango show with dinner. The passage of time has given respectability to a dance once confined to the seedy underworld bars of the red-light La Boca district. Nowadays, a number of 'tango houses' offer a dinner and show as an evening out - prior to the performance you can even try out a few steps yourself as an informal group tango lesson is included. La Gala is an intimate venue with a French colonial style complete with crystal chandeliers and a refined ambience.

Day 11

Transfer to estancia in the pampas.
Transfer by road to Estancia La Bamba. This dusky rose-pink, colonial-style former post house, set in its own attractive parkland, is located 10 mins' drive from the small gaucho town of San Antonio de Areco. It projects a real feel for estancia history, harking back to more opulent times when they were the backbone of a thriving economy.

 Following its acquisition by French proprietors, it has been renovated to an extremely high standard, and now resembles a grand countryside chateau. Public areas are cosy and crammed full of plush sofas and old artefacts, accentuating the country house ambience. There are open fires, four poster beds and large shuttered windows. Meals are taken around a common table, though you can request privacy if you wish.

There's a lovely outdoor swimming pool (open in summer) with views over parkland and sun loungers, games room and small library. Activities include horse-riding, polo (experienced only), walking and carriage rides in the surrounding pampas. The estancia offers a peaceful wind-down to its guests, but does accept day visits by groups with entertainment laid on for them.

La Bamba

Days 12-13

At leisure on the estancia.
At leisure at La Bamba. 

Day 14

Transfer to airport for your international flight home.

Essential information


2 flights (each 2 hrs); 2 road transfers (longest 2 hrs). 


For this holiday however we have chosen the very best hotels available in each location. The Orient Express Copacabana Palace and Das Cataratas hotels both have superlative locations which could not be bettered: the Cataratas is the only property overlooking the falls on the Brazilian side. The Alvear Palace is a magnificent traditional property heaving with nostalgia. The facilities and service at all properties are, of course, top of the range.


Breakfast daily, lunch day 2; dinner days 10-13; full board days 6, 7.


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.
• Tour of Argentine side of Iguazú Falls.
• Guided city tour of Buenos Aires with visit to Teatro Colón.
• Tango show with dinner, Buenos Aires.
• Activities at the estancia.

Summary of nights

14 days, 13 nights: Rio de Janeiro 3; Iguazú 2; Puerto Bemberg 2, Buenos Aires 3, estancia 3.

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 within 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.
• Excursions from Puerto Bemberg:  eg Itaipú dam and Jesuit missions.


The unit of currency in Brazil is the ‘real’ (plural reais); in Argentina it is the Argentine peso.

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.


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 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.


In Rio, Buenos Aires, Iguazú and the pampas, 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

In the southern summer, for day-to-day wear you should take loose-fitting, breathable clothes. Comfortable shoes and sandals are advisable. A sun hat, sun block and sunglasses are necessary, and you should take a light fleece or jacket for cool nights, and a waterproof jacket and/or umbrella. You might like to bring binoculars for wildlife spotting at the estancia. 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.

At the Iguazú Falls you can get very wet from the spray. You may wish to take dry clothes in a dry 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 Website 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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