Overview & Highlights
With excellent well-serviced roads and a peaceful ambiance, Santa Catarina's rugged hills and lovely beaches are perfect for exploring by hire car. This self-drive holiday includes visits to Rio de Janeiro and Buenos Aires.
- 9 days self-driving from Florianopolis
- Includes guided walking tours in Florianopolis and Buenos Aires
Begin your Brazilian adventure in Rio de Janeiro, with a whistle-stop visit to the world’s most picturesque city (extend your stay if you wish) then fly south to Florianopolis. Santa Catarina is a prosperous state with sunny vineyards and Alpine-style dairy farms thriving in the valleys between verdant, rugged and little explored mountains. The coast is indented with crescent bays and small, family-friendly resorts. Car hire gives you the freedom to explore at your own stopping to visit places which may interest you en route to your pre- booked accommodation. It’s also an economical way of travelling; fuel is relatively inexpensive. Driving in south Brazil can really be a delight - few people here speak a lot of English, but they are mostly friendly and helpful.
Santa Catarina, in southern Brazil close to Argentina and Uruguay, is not as well known as other perhaps more exotic regions of tropical Brazil, but is no less attractive to visitors for that. It is a prosperous state settled by Europeans attracted to its fertile soils and mellow climate. The influence of Portugal, Italy and Germany can still be seen in the culture and architecture of the pleasant cities and peaceful towns studding the coast and hilly interior.
Vineyards and Alpine-style dairy farms thrive in the valleys between verdant, rugged, little-visited canyons and tableland plateaux. Why little-visited? Most Brazilian holiday-makers are not especially adventurous or energetic and there isn’t a network of walking trails. Public transport is meagre, but the roads are excellent, uncrowded and well-served with amenities, so it is ideal for independent exploration by self drive car hire.
Transfer to your hotel, 2 nights.
At leisure in Rio de Janeiro
Fly to Florianopolis, collect hire car, drive to hotel. 2 nights.
Guided walk to Naufragados beach; oyster tasting
Drive to Serra Geral and your countryside eco-lodge.
At leisure to explore on foot or in your car.
Drive to Aparados da Serra and your eco-lodge.
At leisure at the lodge. Hikes, ziplines, biking and horse-riding available.
Drive to Praia do Rosa beach.
At leisure to explore the bays and the beaches of the rugged coastline.
Hand back your hire car, fly to Buenos Aires, transfer to hotel.
Guided walking tour in Argentina's capital.
At leisure in Buenos Aires.
Transfer to airport for your international flight home.
Things to do
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What our clients say
97% of our clients rated their experience with us as Excellent or Good.
This was a great trip - wonderful scenery and amazing sites. It was well organised and allowed for some opportunity to do things on one's own away from the group.DS, London
This was a truly great experience with JLA and having a local guide with us all the way made it very easy. It was a very relaxed way to see an amazing part of the world.LB, London
Amazing itinerary. Great group that bonded well and the best tour leader. All the places made it a memorable holiday. Machu Picchu, the train from Puno to Cusco and the flight of the condors added even more.DP, Hinckley
Well organised brilliant holiday. It felt like 2 holidays in one as each week was so different from the other.PS, King's Lynn
I would recommend this trip to anyone who has an interest in magnificent scenery and wonderful wildlife experiences.CT, Antrim
Every place we visited is just so different, it's hard to pick the most memorable. I loved it all.SB, Ilkley
This was my first visit to South America and although I realise we only scraped the surface of this vast continent,I feel that i have had the most amazing experience and very much hope to visit again.
Overall the Tangara trip was well structured, if a little hectic moving on every two nights. It achieved its main objectives and we saw fascinating parts of South America that we had long wanted to see. Our guide, was most assiduous, knew the area very well and eased our path considerably. The highlights for us on Tangara were i) The trip to Chiloe, particularly with the services of an excellent nature guide, ii) the visit to Iguazu, iii) Buenos Aries, and iv) of course Rio de Janeiro.TE, Cirencester
We have travelled with JLA on several occasions throughout South America. JLA may not be the cheapest tour operator, but booking with JLA means peace of mind, expert and helpful advice, reliable pick ups and travel arrangements and expert and informative tour leaders and local guides. A holiday should be free of worry and JLA take care of everything!CR, Bath
This trip offers so many breathtaking moments. Overall it is the variation of landscape and wealth of history that impresses and spotting varied wildlife.WK, Shoreham-by-Sea
I could not fault the restaurants recommended by Sally, our tour leader. The Central Market in Santiago, Restaurant Bota Salvavidas in Valparaiso, Broccolinos in Punta Arenas, La Tablita in El Calafate (Patagonian Lamb to die for!), La Casa de Mariscos in Ushsuaia for excellent crab and the eclectic Ramos Generales and in Buenos Aires, El Establo – an excellent parilla.RP, Buckinghamshire
The trip exceeded our expectations by furnishing us with an amazing variety of experiences and insights into these fascinating countries and cultures. We learned about ancient and modern history, landscape, wildlife, lifestyles, food and culture and had a lot of fun in good company.HB, Altrincham
The most memorable part is every day we thought it couldn't get better and it did. Perito merino glacier, Torres del Paine end of world and Iguazu. Easter island was a childhood dream and it exceeded expectations. Mount FitzRoy walk was stunning.JC, Colchester
We enjoyed all our excursions. Rio was a great start. The views from the Sugar Loaf were quite spectacular. Likewise the trips at both sides of the Iguazu Falls provided stunning scenery and of course Machu Picchu which even surpassed our epectations. Our first optional excursion was fascinating - up Corcovado. We also thoroughly enjoyed our helicopter trip over the falls, and the day trip to Potosi - a different and very interesting trip with lots to see.We also enjoyed visiting Moon Valley with its varied and interesting formations and in contrast going in to Lima. Every trip was worthwhile and enjoyable.JR, Swansea
Really it was the whole experience. A well-organised trip with lots of interesting things to see and do with people we got on well with and a knowledgeable,friendly,helpful guide.
Jacana was a fascinating, very well organised 3 week tour through Brazil, Paraguay, Bolivia and Lima taking in the highlights of each country. Every day gave us a new experience which will stay in our memories for a long time to come.VT, London
One of the most memorable moments was walking up to Machu Picchu and revealed itself in front of us!!! The places we went to eat at were advised by the tour leader and local guides with really good local dishes and good quality. We were unlikely to have found them otherwise.MN, Wantage
This was a great trip taking in all the highlights of Chile and southern Patagonia before finishing off with a visit to Buenos Aires. The highlight was hiking in Torres del Paine but there were memorable moments throughout. Our tour leader was excellent throughout, helping everybody achieve their individual goals and really adding to the group holiday experience.GD, Cranleigh
A great mixture of the Andes and Galapagos - which covered all the main things I wanted to see. I was worried about sea sickness on the trip - but everything was fine and no-one on the cruise had any problems - just a fantastic visit. I advise anyone interested in wildlife to go - but make sure you do the full 7 days to get the full experience.CJ, Watford
There were many highlights as each area of Colombia visited was very individual and varied giving a good overview of the country - from the well maintained archaeological parks around San Agustin to the friendliness of the local people and hotel staff at the coffee farm we stayed at. Also enjoyed the colonial atmosphere of Cartagena & the boat trip at Mompos. Overall found the country to be very friendly and safe to travel around.SN, Belper
The boat trip,down the river, the waterfall and above all the trip,through the mango swamps and seeing the flamingos it was magical. However the archeological trips to the different pyramids were also amazing.IR, Malta
It was overall an excellent experience.
I had a brilliant trip. The experiences were varied the people great company and the tour leader exceptional. What’s not to love!HL, Newcastle
We have toured the USA, Europe and China before but the experience we had with JLA was the by far and away the best we've ever had!PD, Stockport
It was a very memorable and exciting holiday. As well as the magnificent scenery, I was bowled over by the birds, animals and flowers. Compared to Europe, it felt very unspoilt and unpopulated.KM, Edinburgh
Machu Picchu was amazing and exceeded our expectations. But the trip was full of other great highlights, which came as more of a surprise - Arequipa and Cusco were lively cities with impressive colonial architecture and plenty of things to do. The trip to the Uros Islands was magical and it was amazing to see how people live on islands made of nothing more than reeds. The train journeys were wonderful.DL, Twickenham
This was our second trip with JLA and, as with the first, we had a fantastic trip and a wonderful experience. JLA's knowledge and experience of Latin America shone through in the organisation of the trip as a whole, and all the individual trips and options. We would whole-heartedly recommend JLA to anyone contemplating a trip to Latin America and we will definitely be booking another tour with JLA in the future.
I cannot imagine travelling to Latin America with anyone other than JLA. They again proved that they are the best in the business. After our first visit to South America I thought it would be a hard standard to live up to, but this trip proved me wrong.TS, Pontefract
"Overall, the party gelled very well, the tour leader was a great guide and travelling companion we saw some wonderful sights - Machu Picchu and the other Inca sites especially. The geography of the Andes, the Salt Flats, the desert and moon valleys were stunning”JT, Ashford
Riding a horse back up the track at Karajia when it started to rain and the frogs started to sing! Never heard anything like it. Travelling through spectacular country & seeing the local people. The mummies at the museum at Leymebamba.CE, Halesowen
I'm very much a novice when it comes to traveling and I love history & culture. I chose this trip with that in mind. As someone who is not an experienced traveller, some of the journeys are long but they are always worth it. Seeing these wonderful sites with often very few people about is great. This is a beautiful country and this is a wonderful trip that I would highly recommend to anyone with a love of history and a desire to learn more.
The tour was well paced for our age group with enough leisure time to do your own thing or just chill. One of the best holidays I have ever been on. Well done and thank you all.JM, Buckhurst Hill
So many things - wonderful birds, Leon was very interesting, Copan was fascinating. This is our 4th trip with JLA and we have never been disappointed.LP, Honiton
The Eagle tour was one of the best trips I have had. Thank you all!HC, Newcastle-upon-Tyne
Every day was a pleasure. Scenery wonderful. Machu Picchu was jaw dropping.IT, Sutton Coldfield
Tailor made holiday
Our specialists have been expertly crafting award-winning tailor-made holidays to Latin America for 40 years. We would be delighted to create a truly personalised trip which perfectly matches your wishes and requirements.
Carrie Gallagher - Travel Expert
A former JLA tour leader, Carrie brings a wealth of on-the-ground experience to our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours department.
Inspired by this trip
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.
Your edit for Latin American inspiration
Our exciting range of articles on Latin America explore everything from iconic destinations and lesser-known cultural gems to delicious traditional recipes. You’ll also find exclusive travel tips, first-hand client reviews and the chance to get your personal questions answered by our travel experts.View Extraordinary Inspiration
Real Latin America Experts
Mary Anne Nelson - Travel Expert
Born in the Atacama Desert in northern Chile, Mary’s insider knowledge and dry sense of humour make her a highly valued member of the Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tour sales team.
Paul Winrow-Giffin - Travel Expert
After graduating in Computer Science, Paul spent seven months travelling from Colombia to Argentina and came home hooked on Latin America.
Ben Line - Travel Expert
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 Head of Sales.
Chris Rendell-Dunn - Travel Expert
Anglo-Peruvian Chris grew up in Lima and spent much of his adult life in between London and Cusco as a tour leader, before settling permanently in our London-based Tailor-made and Group Tours sales team.
Lina Fuller - Travel Expert
Lina's passion for the continent where she was born really took off when she moved to Córdoba (Argentina) to study, spending the holidays travelling between Argentina and her native Colombia.
Hannah Waterhouse - Travel Expert
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.