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 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
Surpassed expectation. The excellent itinerary was enhanced by the tour leaders excellent knowledge and company.PM, Corsham
It is hard to choose one particular part of the trip as it was all amazing but in different ways. One of the most memorable parts was the few days in Suchitoto, El Salvador and the optional town tour. Listening to the experiences of the people in the area was humbling.MF, London
This great holiday was definitely made greater by the tour leader. Of course a small group travel made it possible to view more places.RR, Bolton
Crossing the first border from Panama to Costa Rica felt like being part of a film set as we trudged across an ancient bridge. Also in Ometepe we were swimming in the fresh water lake when a group of horses came cantering onto the beach and into the water for a drunk and swim!LR, Carteton
It was better than my wildest expectations, especially as value for money is very important for me and I saved 4 yrs for this trip it was worth every penny £ and $.JS, Malvern
'Untouched Aisen' is a tour which describes exactly what it is - a trip off the beaten track, away from people and exploring a truly wild and beautiful part of the world. It was my first visit to South America and a really memorable one.
Thoroughly enjoyed our trip to Colombia, which was very well organised by JLA.RW, London
Very difficult to chose because every aspect was memorable. I think the Gaucho itinerary was well chosen providing a good exposure to a wide example of interesting places in Argentina and we also liked the initial 2 days in Chile.MB, Sevenoaks
This tour was perfect for first time travellers to the area. It was extremely well organised and the itinerary was well planned with a nice flow of events and very diverse experiences. We were amazed at all the wonderful sites, hikes and activities we had on this tour and will remember it for a lifetime.KP, USA
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
The entire trip was very varied. Travelling through the lake lands of Bolivia was great in 4x4s. The clarity of the skies in San Pedro Chile and time to relax. Cusco and the Inca sites at Ollyantytambo, Pisco and Machu Picchu. The Drive from Hydro-Elektrica to Cusco along mountain tracks in a mini bus with sheer drops of several hundred metres to the valley. The Martin Chambi Photo exhibition in Cusco. Lima was surprisingly attractive...but there were many many aspects that were great and I could write pages.LRA, London
I loved the beauty of the Solentiname Islands and Corn Islands. But my favourite part of the trip was definitely Leon as there is so much fascinating recent history.FW, Leamington Spa
An excellent holiday which met our wish to revisit some parts of Brazil and explore new areas; Pantanal was a real discovery and better for seeing wildlife than Manaus.PMR, Blandford Forum
This tour is an excellent introduction to Brazil and will appeal to anyone with an interest in wildlife and landscapes. In the Pantanal, there are excellent chances to get quite close to many birds, mammals and reptiles. But having an armadillo sit on my foot at dinner was quite a surprise.KM, Basingstoke
It was our first experience of small group travel, and although on balance we prefer independant travel, to cover as many countries as we did, we couldn t have done it on our own!CS, Seaford
It was a fantiastic holiday, visiting really varied and fascinating locations in an amazing country, and well paced too. One of the reasons I was able to go on the Gaucho tour was that I could fit it into a two weeks holiday from work, but a lot of your tours are a bit too long for that.DB, London
This was our fourth holiday with JLA, all have been wonderful experiences, different in their own ways, all with excellent tour leaders, different characters each with a passion for the countries they takes us into. Your Tour leaders are your assets do value them.HW, Bury St. Edmunds
Jam packed itinerary with so many great places and sights in such a short time! Iguacu Falls, Rio, La Paz, Cusco, Sacred Valley, Machu Picchu- it really had it all. We had a great tour guide; informative, knowledgeable and extremely personable, with a wealth of knowledge and a genuine passion for South America. Logistics were seamless- first time travelling to South America, first time travelling solo- highly recommend it!LM, London
Northern Peru is currently a little less discovered which makes travel there more rewarding. The people have not been jaded with excess tourism and are truly welcoming. The wealth of ancient sites and beauty of the countryside means it deserves to be more visited - and it will be!CP, Manchester
Eagle was an epic trip within all of its parameters; geographic, cultural, historic and culinary. I would not hesitate to recommend it.RB, Henley-on-Thames
The whole experience was wonderful. Loved every place we went even Buenos Aires which I thought might not appeal. We went to see the Madres de Plaza de Mayo, it was a very moving and emotional experience.LP, Lasswade
The whole holiday was full of memorable moments. I loved walking around quirky Valparaiso with it's colourful houses and graffiti, the scenery in the Atacama, seeing the Milky Way there at night, the Tatio Geysers at sunrise, seeing Orsono emerge from the clouds in Puerto Varas, Torres del Paine Massif and the changing sky and clouds there. Watching Chilean Gauchos seen close up herding sheep on the road back to Punta Arenas. Realising you are looking at the Magellan Straits with views of Tierra del Fuego in the background when you'd learnt about it in 'O' level geography 50 years ago and were finally there! The wonderful Andean Lakes Crossing from Puerto Varas to Bariloche and the gift of perfect weather during the crossing with cloudless skies and sunshine all the way. The views at Bariloche and walking around Buenos Aires, the Casa Rosada and Eva Peron's burial place and just the street life in general. And also the lovely, hospitable, polite, friendly Chilean locals, always ready to help. Just a brilliant holiday.SLH, Poulton-le-Fylde
Trogon is an excellent holiday taking you from the bustle of Rio to the relative quietness of Paraty. Then on to the magnificent Iguasu Falls, before the thrill of the wild animals of the Pantanal and fishing for piranha.JDC, Sheffield
"Dancing at Cafe Taberna in Havana; going to the ballet in Havana on our last night. Both occasions unforgettable. But there were other highlights such as swimming in the Banos de San Juan, outside Las Terrazas; eating at El Paraiso (near Vinales) whilst watching the sun set; staying at Las Terrazas; going for an amazing massage in Trinidad; the trip in a Vintage car whilst in Havana; learning about the history and politics of the country, most particularly the Revolution; reading Graham Greene's Our Man In Havana whilst sitting on a terrace watching a thunderstorm in Trinidad."KG, London
On our fifth trip with JLA we have always found the organisation to be excellent and reliable. Its good to have knowledgeable tour leaders and to stay in individual style hotels where appropriate.CS, Lymington
Most memorable experience? - Seeing the eruption of volcano El Fuego at Antigua - though from a distance - but we still saw the red lava. The unspoilt Pacific Coast near Leon with the turtle conservation centre and sunset beach. The jungle Chaa Creek resort with the toucans. The wonderful city of Leon.CB, Beckenham
This isn't a specific part of the trip, but I do think that the variety of locations and activities available is excellent. It is a busy tour but, personally, I enjoyed this and am pleased that the coverage is as good as it is of such large countries as, travelling that far, I do want to see and do as much as possible. I also found the extension I did suited my requirements well.JP, Holmfirth
Most memorable experience - Sitting in the bar in Leon as the thunderstorm and wind developed and listening to the wild hand ringing of the church bell. Interesting and well informed guides talking about revolutions in Nicaragua. Trip around Lake Atitlan also made more interesting by knowledgeable guide.
A well balanced and organised trip, It gave an interesting insight into the historical, cultural, political and natural elements of the countries visited. Plus you got to stay in some great hotels.WA, Kingston
This was a holiday I have wanted to do for many years and it did not fail to deliver. Our tour leader was professional,knowledgeable, understanding and integrated with the local guides to ensure received the best service and information.The recommendations we were given for restaurants, optional tours, tango evenings,sorting money etc were spot on. And finally, the visits to various ice cream parlours for dessert after group meals was most welcome!GM, Fairford
Everything was memorable, Chilean landscapes are so different...Patagonia (Torres del Paine) was my favourite because it's just stunning. Valparaiso: wonderful colourful city, Atacama Desert: incredible landscapes, and so varied from one another, Lake District: superb. Seeing so much wildlife was fantastic (penguins, vicunas, guanacos...). And great food too - fish is amazing.EG, Hove
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.
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.
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
Millie Davies - Travel Expert
Having caught the travel bug as a child, Millie has travelled all over Latin America before making her home in Buenos Aires for 3 years.
Evie Oswald - Travel Expert
It's hard to believe that Evie has had time to cram so much in to her life so far. Having lived as a child in the Americas and Europe she found herself immediately attracted to Latin America.
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.
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.
Kathryn Rhodes - Travel Expert
Kathryn backpacked across Argentina, Chile, Bolivia and Peru before joining us. She has a degree in Philosophy and French and is a keen netball player.
Hannah Donaldson - Travel Expert
Having spent part of her childhood in Colombia and worked in Brazil and Costa Rica, Hannah's ties to Latin America run deep. Hannah is a much valued Travel Expert in our Tailor-made Holidays and Group Tours sales team.