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Secrets of Southern Brazil

16 days from £3738pp

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Secrets of Southern Brazil

16 days from £3738pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel, rest of the day at leisure.
 

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.Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, 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.

 


Day 2

Guided jeep excursion to Christ the Redeemer statue.
 
Take a cog-railway trip through tropical fruit-laden vegetation up the sheer-sided Corcovado mountain to drink in the views from beside the famous Christ the Redeemer statue on the peak, 701m above sea level. The views from here on a clear day are stupendous, stretching across the city, its smart residential areas, the huge urban lagoon, race-course, skyscraper-filled business district all the way to the coast of Guanabara Bay.
Overview of Rio

Day 3

Guided walking tour of historic Rio.
 
A guided excursion with a difference: you’ll be walking round the streets of the historic heart of Rio, which in recent years has been imaginatively upgraded with a serious face-lift. Once neglected, the centre is now bursting with newly-painted colonial buildings and authentic bars, bistros and literary cafés spilling out on to the street. The national theatre is especially graceful with its gold leaf eagle, its belle époque grandeur, and the ornate baroque interior of the São Francisco church contrasting with the brutalism of the cathedral. 

Day 4

Fly to Foz do Iguaçu. Guided visit to the Brazilian side of Iguazú Falls.
 

Transfer to the airport for the 2-hour flight to Foz do Iguaçú  on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. You'll have a guided excursion to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls which straddle the frontier protected in a subtropical national park. There is 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 constitute 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

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

Private guided tour of the Argentine side of the falls. A little train takes 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 where 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.

There is an optional boat trip out to the base of the 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.

Day 6

Fly to Curitiba, transfer to hotel.
 
Fly from Foz do Iguaçu to Curitiba, capital of the state Paraná. It’s a clean, ordered city with a pleasant and prosperous atmosphere; its ambience is one of the most European in the country. It sits in an area of cattle-raising but is much more than an agricultural centre, with a booming economy based on industry and services. The city was populated by Italians, Germans, Poles and Ukrainians as well as Portuguese.  

Day 7

Take the Serra Verde train route through rainforest to the coast.
 
In the early morning, board the train for a spectacular ride across Atlantic rainforest to Marumbi Peak Station. The Serra Verde Express is one of Brazil's best preserved rail routes – there are very few remaining. Rainforests, rivers and superb mountain scenery makes an exciting and spectacular journey along this magnificent track, built 1880-85. The line stretches for 110 km with 13 tunnels and 71 bridges and viaducts. It is a single-track railway, used for cargo as well as passengers. Arrive at the riverside town of Morretes and your modest pousada nestling in the wooded foothills of the Marumbi mountains. 
Serra Verde train

Day 8

Transfer to Florianopolis.
 
By road to Florianópolis on Santa Catarina island and capital of Santa Catarina state. Little remains of its colonial past except for part of the port area, but its coastal setting is very scenic and it’s a good base from which to enjoy the numerous beautiful beaches which are a short drive away. 

Day 9

Explore Santa Catarina island.
 
Santa Catarina's Azorean heritage stems from the 17th century when immigrants from the Azores archipelago settled along the coast. Beyond Florianópolis' high-rise skyline, several Azorean-heritage villages survive, known as Freguesias. Some retain features of the architectural style brought to the island by the settlers. The island's Azorean past is also detected in its spoken dialect and cuisine and the old Azorean villages are an inviting place to try the local seafood. Finish your guided tour at Sambaqui, a bucolic neighbourhood with lovely views of the bay: the perfect place to stop for an early evening drink before returning to your hotel.
Oysters are popular here

Day 10

Transfer to lodge in the Serra Geral Mountains.
 

Drive to a mountain lodge in the Serra Geral (3hrs). Vila da Montanha offers rustic but cosy accommodation in wooden cabins within the cool, crisp climate of the highlands. It overlooks the scenic valley of the Canoas river.

Days 11-12

Optional activities from the lodge.
 
Surrounding the lodge are the crinkly, bottle green mountains of the wooded sierras, characterised by steep slopes cut through with deep canyons. The plateau which dominates the park is sheared by vertical, rocky cliff faces and is the birthplace of numerous crystalline streams. The countryside virtually begs you to explore on foot, you will be virtually alone, but the scenery is as impressive as any in rural Brazil.

The friendly staff can help with activities such as guided walks and horse rides but we recommend you talk to us about your interests before you go as English is not spoken at the lodge. Few non-Brazilian visitors make it to this region.

Serra Geral

Day 13

Transfer by road to Praia da Rosa on the Atlantic coast.
 
Drive back to the coast at Praia da Rosa. This is not only a beautifully situated little resort on a large creamy beach defined by emerald hills but also a sophisticated, rather swish kind of place with a well-to-do clientèle visiting its boutique pousadas and exclusive summer residences.

In the hottest months Dec-Feb the beach is busy with trendy youngsters and Argentine tourists, all enjoying the vibe. In winter mother and baby whales can be spotted off the shore – they breed in the bay and boat excursions can be arranged to observe them.

Praia da Rosa

Days 14-15

At leisure on the beach.
 
You have a couple of days just to enjoy the beach and excellent bars and restaurants in this relaxed little town.

Day 16

Transfer to Florianopolis airport for flight to connect with international flight home.
 

16 days from £3738pp

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