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Signature Brazil: Brazil at a glance

12 days from £2,923pp

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Signature Brazil: Brazil at a glance:
Trip Dossier

Brazil, such a huge, exotic and varied country, is almost a continent in itself. The cultural influences of the indigenous population, migrants from Portugal, its African colonies and Italy, Germany, Japan and the Lebanon, are to be seen and felt everywhere. Each region has its own traditions, arts and music, its own culinary specialities and its own natural wonders.

This highlights tour aims to show off the country at its best  in just two weeks – Rio de Janeiro, a sensual city which is full of fun; Iguazú Falls, among the world’s most impressive; the exuberant jungles of the Amazon, and  the city of Salvador, the pulsating African heart of the country.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

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

Day 2

Guided excursion to Corcovado mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue.

Day 3

Guided excursion to Sugar Loaf mountain.

Day 4

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

Day 5

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

Day 6

Fly to Manaus, boat/drive to jungle lodge.

Days 7-8

Guided Amazon jungle excursions.

Day 9

Fly to Salvador da Bahia.

Day 10

Guided walking tour of historic Pelourinho district.

Day 11

Visit colonial river port Cachoeira.

Day 12

Transfer to Salvador airport.

Detailed itinerary

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to hotel, rest of the day at leisure.
 
Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, the most romantic, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. However, as you’ll see on the drive into town it’s not uniformly beguiling: Brazil’s economic indicators have shown massive growth recently but the gulf between the rich and the poor is the greatest of all Latin American countries. Sumptuous apartments overlook the sparkling bays against the backdrop of half-built slum dwellings, favelas, which cling precariously to the hillsides. 
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Day 2

Guided excursion to Corcovado mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue.
 

There is probably no better place to appreciate Rio's magnificent cityscape, bays and beaches than from atop the 710m high jungle clad Corcovado mountain, part of the urban Tijuca national park. The ascent is in itself memorable: the rack railway which goes almost to the summit has been here since the late 1800s, although since refurbished. Nowadays, an electric-powered cog-wheel train climbs steeply through the lush Tijuca rainforest, with its abundant flowers and fruit trees, to the steps (or elevators) below the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer.

At 30m high, the statue was erected in the early 1930s, has since become part of Brazil's cultural identity and been declared one of the new Wonders of the World. On clear and sunny days, Corcovado offers stunning views of the city of Rio, including the instantly recognisable Sugar Loaf mountain, Niteroi bridge, and the famous beaches. There's plenty of time to take pictures but no amount of time is enough to totally take it all in. After exploring the viewpoints you'll take the railway back down to the base before returning to your hotel.

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Rio de Janeiro

Day 3

Guided excursion to Sugar Loaf mountain.
 

You will be collected from your hotel for a guided excursion to Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf mountain). Take the cable-car up the twin domed granite rocks which protrude from the ocean. This is especially magical at sunset when the twinkling lights of the city are coming on and you can enjoy the magnificent views back over Copacabana beach, Botafogo Bay and into the lush mountains beyond.

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Sugar Loaf Mountain, Rio

Day 4

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

It's a 2hr flight to Foz do Iguaçú on the border with Argentina and Paraguay. You'll be escorted to the Brazilian side of the Iguazú Falls which straddle the frontier protected in a subtropical national park. Here 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 exotic birds perched in the foliage above the tumultuous waters. 

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Iguazú 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 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 a kilometre-long walkway leading 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.
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Day 6

Fly to Manaus, boat/drive to jungle lodge.
 

Transfer to the airport and fly north across almost the length of the country to Manaus, deep in the Amazon rainforest. The huge, dynamic city sits on the banks of the river where the tea-black waters of the Rio Negro make confluence with the brown, muddy waters of River Solimões to form the Amazon river proper. 

It’s 1,000km from the sea, but is one of Brazil’s foremost ports, importing goods required for a growing metropolis (currently 2.5 million inhabitants) and exporting goods manufactured in the tax free zone. It is weird to see a clutch of skyscrapers penetrating the blanket of tropical forest. 

Travel by road and boat to your lodge, 30km from the city. It’s not an arduous journey, but the length of time it takes depends on the season. Brazilian jungle lodges are comfortable, ell equipped and they are eco-friendly, constructed to blend in with the natural environment. The food is fresh and scrumptious, and there is plenty of it, and you can relax in the bar area over a caipirinha cocktail and listen to the chorus of nocturnal birds and frogs.
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Brazilian Amazon

Days 7-8

Guided Amazon jungle excursions.
 

You’ll be invited to take part in a number of excursions both during the day and after dark. There are jungle walks following easy trails and you can take to the water in canoes or motor launches, on the lookout for wildlife expertly identified by your specialist guides. You’ll go piranha fishing and nocturnal caiman spotting by torchlight. You’ll learn about the lifestyle of the indigenous people and visit one of their communities: if the water is low and this is impossible by boat, they will come to you! 

In the evenings you can enjoy the facilities of the bar to sit and discuss your experiences over a drink.You spend a total of three nights at the lodge, so there is plenty of time to enjoy different experiences and maybe spot monkeys, sloths, parrots, toucans, alligators, tarantula spiders, giant ants and much more. The number of plant and flower species is mindboggling too: you’ll be told about their traditional medicinal properties.
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Day 9

Fly to Salvador da Bahia.
 

Transfer back to Manaus and fly to Salvador, Bahia on the northeast coast. Transfer to your hotel.

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Day 10

Guided walking tour of historic Pelourinho district.
 

The city of Salvador is the most exotic in the country, where the influence of Portuguese colonial architecture and culture blends with the African traditions imported by the slaves brought in to work on the plantations. The compact historic core has recently been renovated and is crammed full of colourful colonial mansions, churches and museums, all clustered around a large open space known as the pelourinho, which is the heart of the city.  

You’ll have a private guided walking tour of this quarter, best discovered on foot. The area is enlivened with bars, shops and restaurants, and you can expect spontaneous eruptions of music at every turn. The local cuisine is very much a product of the region and its cultural mélange: you can try out any number of dishes at the many eateries in town.

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Pelourinho Salvador

Day 11

Visit colonial river port Cachoeira.
 

Enjoy a guided day trip out of Salvador and head to the colonial town of Cachoeira. The countryside en route is a mix of sugar cane and tobacco plantations, peaceful colonial towns and busy country markets. Cachoeira, a national historic monument that in its heyday was a thriving river port, is now a sleepy and unpretentious place full of atmospheric, crumbling colonial buildings. Enjoy a lunch at the beautiful seventeenth century ex-Convento do Carmo, before further exploring the town on foot to the local market and other main sites.

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Day 12

Transfer to Salvador airport.

Essential information

Transport

3 flights (longest 7hrs); 2 boat journeys.

Accommodation

On this tour we use colonial or modern hotels with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and air-conditioning. The hotel in Iguaçú is large, but set in beautiful grounds and is low rise. The jungle lodge has wooden thatched cabins with lighting (evenings only) and private bathroom, but no air-conditioning.

Meals

Breakfast daily, lunch day 11, full board at the Amazon lodge.

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.

Included excursions

  • Guided excursion to Corcovado mountain and Christ the Redeemer statue, Rio de Janeiro.
  • Guided excursion with cable car up Sugar Loaf mountain, Rio de Janeiro.
  • The Brazilian and Argentine sides of the Iguazú Falls.
  • Jungle excursions from the Amazon lodge.
  • Walking tour of colonial Pelourinho, Salvador.

Summary of nights

12 days, 11 nights: Rio 3; Iguazú 2, Amazon 3; Salvador 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, river 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.
  • Domestic 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.
  • Helicopter ride over the Iguazú Falls.
  • Bird Park, Iguazú.
  • Afro-Brazilian dance show, Salvador.

Currency

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

Daily spend

A budget of around US$40-70 per day should cover the cost of meals, drinks, local transport, tips and the odd souvenir. Prices of meals and drinks in standard restaurants are more or less the same as in Britain, perhaps a bit cheaper.

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, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). 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 some long days spent travelling (including a number of internal flights) and the heat can be tiring. The holiday is suitable for all reasonably fit people, including families. If you have a disability requiring special attention please enquire.

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. Salvador is hotter and more humid than Rio, although there is often a cool breeze that comes in off the sea. The Amazon is hot all year round and is humid and subject to brief tropical downpours, particularly in the rainy season which can arrive in December but starts in earnest in March and lasts until May.

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, sunblock 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 bring binoculars for wildlife spotting in the Amazon.

At the Iguazú Falls you can get very wet from the spray. Some visitors choose to take dry clothes in a bag. If you plan to go to good restaurants or out on evening entertainment trips, you might want to bring something a bit smarter as well (although formal attire will not be required).

Due to luggage restrictions at the lodge in the Amazon we recommend only hand luggage (approx. +/- 8kg per person) for your time there. Upon arrival in Manaus, the rest of your luggage will be tagged and transported to our head office with facilities for appropriate storage.

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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