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Sao Paulo, the Pantanal, Iguassu and Rio de Janeiro

10 days Independent Touring

Virgin Holidays' view

Boasting the tag line of ‘the finest safari destination outside of Africa, Brazil’s Pantanal region truly is wild. One of the best locations to spot jaguars in the wild, the wetlands are also home to anacondas, tapier, capybara, caimen, the giant anteater and so much more. Combine this with a trip to the magnificent Iguassu Falls and to lively Rio de Janeiro and you have ticked off some of Brazil’s finest destinations.

Itinerary

Day 1: São Paulo

Arrive and private transfer to your hotel in São Paulo for your overnight stay.

Day 2: São Paulo — The Pantanal

Private transfer to São Paulo airport for your flight to Cuiabá. On arrival transfer to Araras Eco Lodge for 4 nights (shared service). This transfer is divided into two different stages. The first is a journey on a paved road along farms and cattle ranches to Poconé – where we then take the gravelled Transpantaneira Park Road to the lodge. This is a park road at its best, allowing us to drive above the water level, watching the flora and fauna of the Pantanal ecosystem - a photo safari along 146 km of dirt road with several stops along the way for photos and information. Welcome drink on arrival and later, the guide will lead you into an introductory walk through the surroundings of the lodge, explaining our concepts and many conservation projects. Continue to the Great Egret Lookout, a 12m high observation tower. After dinner, night walk under the Southern Hemisphere sky. (B/D)

Day 3: The Pantanal

Enjoy your days with morning and evening activities, spotting wildlife and exploring the Pantanal region. The mentioned activities are flexible and may be offered on differing days to this itinerary. After breakfast, take a photo safari through private dirt roads towards the Clarinho River. Reaching its banks, board a canoe and paddle down the river, exploring the forest that grows by the riverbanks and mangroves looking for "ariranhas" - giant river otters. With some luck, you may spot a family playing with their babies and teaching them how to swim and fish. There is a chance to fish for the elusive piranha, not an easy task, but fun. Enjoy a lazy barbecue lunch under the trees where hammocks are available for a "siesta". Return to the lodge in time for afternoon tea. Later on, trek the Howler Monkey Trail to the tower, the lodge’s highest observation point at 25m, for a magnificent view of the sunset. After dinner, join a night-drive in search of nocturnal animals. (B/L/D)

Please note: depending on the weather, the canoeing tour may take place on the Corixo River with lunch back at the lodge. (*) If the Sentinela Camp is not accessible (depending on the weather and terrain conditions), this canoeing tour will take place on the Corixo River. In that case, we will return to the lodge for lunch.

Day 4: The Pantanal 

After breakfast, enjoy a horseback ride, which will allow you to explore the diversity of the Pantanal landscape including some flooded areas of the Pantanal plain. The Pantaneiro horses are docile and have adapted, through the centuries, to eat with its nose underwater. In this region, the horse is the Pantaneiros' best friend, a daily companion during work and leisure. Return to the lodge for lunch and relaxation. In the afternoon, trek the Rondon Trail towards the 13m high Jabiru Stork Tower, where you can watch a Jabiru Stork nest. Between June-November we HIGHLY recommend adding on the Jaguar Express safari (optional with extra cost). This is a full day tour departing early along 120 km of the Transpantaneira Park Road, to the crossing of the Cuiaba River, in the region known as Porto Jofre. Home to one of the highest populations of jaguar on the continent rumoured to be around 60 individuals. Board an outboard motorboat for an exciting river safari in and around the Meeting of the Waters State Park, perching the river shores and beaches searching for wildlife, with the special goal of meeting jaguars. Stop for picnic lunch and return in the late afternoon back to the lodge. (B/L/D)

Day 5: The Pantanal

In the morning after breakfast, get to know a different area of Araras Private Natural Reserve, by trekking the Ronco trail. After lunch, join a 2 to 3-hour photo safari towards the South of the lodge, on a safari open truck, in search of the fauna along the Transpantaneira Park Road. Check a list of the wild animals you have met, with your guide. Return to Araras Eco Lodge for dinner and overnight. (B/L/D)

Note: the order of the activities may be modified according to the programme at the lodge and weather or terrain conditions. 

Day 6: The Pantanal — Iguassu Falls

Enjoy a sunrise walk to witness the awakening of the Pantanal. After breakfast transfer by shared departure to Cuiabá airport for flight to Foz do Iguassu, private transfer to your hotel for 2 nights. (B)

Day 7: Iguassu Falls

The Iguaçu River is born in the Serra do Mar and travels 1320 km to Foz do Iguaçu. The set of waterfalls, shortly before their encounter with the Paraná River, formed 275 jumps with an average height of 60m. The falls produce a mist that crowned by beautiful and immense rainbows, give the visitor a true spectacle of sound and colours. Enjoy a private half day visit to the Brazilian side of Iguassu Falls. The tour starts with a visit to the Main Centre of the park, where you will have the opportunity to get some hints about the local ecosystem. From there hike along the most important trail of the park where you can enjoy an astonishing view of the waterfalls returning to main point via the panoramic elevator. Extend along the Macuco Trail in the Iguazú National Park. Electric transportation is the best way to see the forest, due to the unpaved land, but it's accessible all year round. On this trip you will be surprised by the biodiversity, rich in subtropical plants and trees, including orchids and fan palms, that grow in abundance. After you will walk 600 meters on foot to the waterfalls of Macuco, hidden in the wooded canyon. The trail will lead you to the Iguassu river shore, where you will board an inflatable boat with two motors to navigate upstream, offering a unique view of this place. (B)

Day 8: Iguassu Falls — Rio de Janeiro

Private transfer to Foz do Iguassu airport for the flight to Rio de Janeiro. Arrive and private transfer to your hotel for 4 nights.

Day 9: Rio de Janeiro

After breakfast, depart for a full day tour of Rio de Janeiro (shared basis). Board the cog train from Cosme Velho Station for a ride to the top of Corcovado Mountain to visit one of the world's most famous landmarks, the gigantic statue of Christ the Redeemer. The 20 minutes' steep train journey takes you through the dense rainforest of Tijuca, offering a wonderful opportunity for a look at the forest's lush tropical vegetation and to enjoy scenic landscapes of the beaches and city. At the top proceed up the steps that lead to the towering statue of Christ the Redeemer and spend some time enjoying the panoramic view of this beautiful city from the incredible mountain-top vantage point. Passing by Rio's world-famous beaches, you stop for lunch at local restaurant. After lunch, you will be taken to the neighbourhood of Urca where one of the largest symbols of the city is located: Sugar Loaf. You will travel all the way to the top in two stages by cable car. The first cable car takes us to Urca Hill, a vantage point 215 meters high with beautiful views of Guanabara Bay and its islands, the Rio-Niterói Bridge and Corcovado Mountain. From this stage, a second cable car takes us up to the top. At 395 meters we will enjoy splendid views of Copacabana beach, the Santa Cruz fortress and several beaches of Niterói. After riding the Cable car back down, return to the hotel. (B/L)

Days 10-11: Rio de Janeiro

Enjoy days at leisure to explore Rio de Janeiro. (B)

Day 12: Rio de Janeiro — Sao Paulo

Private transfer by road to Rio de Janeiro airport for your flight to São Paulo to connect to the Virgin Atlantic flight. (B)

Meals: B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner

Please note: this is a confirmed itinerary where hotels, transfers and guided excursions are pre-booked in a package. Airport transfers and some excursions are private, we list where excursions are shared. Activities and transfers at the Amazon Ecopark Jungle Lodge are on a shared basis.

Dates & prices

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Prices are described as Guide prices on this website and may be higher or lower due to availability and date of departure.

Prices are for departure dates listed, ex-UK and are per adult based on two adults travelling and sharing a standard room and with return economy flights where stated. Single room and flight prices are available at a supplement.

Please note some tours are subject to minimum numbers, please call our travel experts or visit your local retail store for full details as well as our latest prices.

Extensions

We feature 3 night extensions to the Amazon Ecopark Jungle Lodge and a beach break in Buzios which can be added onto most of our set itineraries and tours. If you would like to extend your trip or make the tour part of a longer holiday, we can also tailor make this for you. Our expert touring team can arrange this with you, please contact them on 0344 739 4548 or email Enquiries.Journeys@virginholidays.com

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