Day 1 Buenos Aires
Arrival day so there are no planned activities. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will hold a general briefing in the evening, normally between 7pm and 8pm (a note will be posted in the arrival hotel with details).
The capital city of Argentina, Buenos Aires is the ultimate cosmopolitan city. Travellers find that it has more in common with the cities of Europe than the rest of South America. Nearly 40 per cent of Argentina's 33 million citizens live in Greater Buenos Aires, and the PorteÃ±os are justifiably proud of their home. The city is comprised of a number of distinct neighbourhoods, some of which have become top tourist draws. For many, the highlight of their time in the capital is a visit to San Telmo for the weekend antiques market and street artist displays.
La Boca was originally settled by the successive waves of immigrants that contribute to the capital's unique character. Its brightly coloured walls and buildings draw PorteÃ±os and tourists alike, and it is here that the world-class football team, Boca Juniors, plies its trade. A Sunday afternoon match at the fabled Bombonera is not to be missed. Posh Recoleta, with its cafes, museums and cemetery, is a pleasant place to spend an afternoon.
During colonial days Buenos Aires was the seat of the Viceroy of La Plata. Almost completely rebuilt since the turn of the century, the heart of the city is the Plaza de Mayo, with the historic Cabildo (Town Hall), where the Independence movement was first planned, the Casa Rosada (Government Palace) and the Cathedral where San MartÃn, the father of Argentine independence, is buried.
When you are done exploring, settle your weary feet and enjoy a drink in one of the many sidewalk cafes and restaurants and you will begin to understand the contemplative Argentine way of life.
Day 2-3 Iguassu Falls
Fly north to the Iguassu Falls area, near the borders of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. The city of Foz do IguaÃ§u can be a frenzied, unfinished looking town that can be dangerous particularly at night.
The torrential Iguassu River crosses the State of ParanÃ¡ in Southern Brazil from East to West. A few kilometres before its junction with the ParanÃ¡ River it forms one of the most splendorous natural beauties of the world: Iguassu Falls. Over 2.7 kilometres long and an average flow of 1.750 m3/s, this wonder is located in a very special place. The contrast between the green of the vegetation and the dark colour of the basalt rocks with whirring waters plunging from a 72 metre high cliff is magical. At Iguassu there are 275 falls in all, spread over a 3-km area, some over 80m (262.4 ft) in height, making these cataracts wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara! It should come as no surprise that UNESCO declared the region a World Heritage Site in 1986.
Originally âdiscoveredâ in 1541 by the Spaniard Juan Alvar NuÃ±ez, he named the falls Saltos de Santa MarÃa. The name we use today means âgreat watersâ in the Tupi-Guarani tongue. The falls are protected by two National Parksâone in Brazil and another in Argentina. Tours utilise trails and catwalks adapted to the landscape of the area, and walking is easy for all ages; guided tours of the complex are available several times a day. In order to see the falls properly you need to view them from both the Brazilian and the Argentine side: the Brazilian side offers the grand overview, and the Argentine side a closer look. The best time of the year to visit is from August to November, as during rainy season from May to July, flooding will likely prevent closer viewing from the catwalks.
Film buffs will remember that Iguassu was the site of several scenes from the film âThe Mission.â Not far from the falls, the ruins of the Jesuit missions of the era can still be visited on a day trip. Also of interest in the area is ItaipÃº, the largest hydroelectric complex in the world. Experience an exhilarating optional boat tour or helicopter trip for a bird's eye view, or simply marvel at natureâs breadth and the roar of the falls.
Note: If you have booked the Iguassu Falls Boat Ride Theme Pack, you will do it on Day 2 or 3 when visiting the Argentine side of the falls.
Day 4-5 Paraty
Fly from Foz to Sao Paulo and onward by bus to the gorgeous coastal town of Paraty. Wander the cobblestone streets, take a boat trip to the nearby islands in the bay, or visit one of the many white sand beaches that make Brazil famous.
Paraty is a lovely colonial town 125 miles from Rio de Janeiro on Ilha Grande Bay, Brazil's southeastern coast. It lies on the border between Rio de Janeiro and SÃ£o Paulo states, and is a favourite with those looking to âget away from it allââBrazilians and visitors alike.
In the 1700's when the mines of Minas Gerais were pouring out gold, the perfect bay of Parati was a busy port, the second most important in Brazil during the Golden Century. The historic centre is a well-preserved national historic monument, and today has been closed to vehicles.
Founded in 1531, the founders named it Nossa Senhora dos RemÃ©dios, with Our Lady of the Medicines as the patron saint, and they built the main church in her honour. Enlarged and remodelled over the years, the church is now the focal point of the annual Festa de Nossa Senhora dos RemÃ©dios on September 8. The festival has been celebrated for over 300 years since a wealthy and reverent benefactor, Maria JÃ¡come de Mello, donated the land to the town for the church, requesting only an annual mass in return. The mass has grown into a procession of the wooden effigy of the Virgen though the town, adorned with gold and silver jewelery.
Approximate Distance: 408 km
Estimated Travel Time: 7 hours (1 hour flight)
Day 6-7 Ilha Grande
A short, scenic bus ride along the coast takes us to Angra dos Reis. Have a snack before embarking on the ferry to Ilha Grande, home to some of Brazil's most beautiful beaches.
Enjoy free time to soak up the sun, snorkel, hike and cruise to various beaches, not to mention feasting on fresh seafood and sipping caipirinhas in the plaza in the evenings.
Approximate Distance: 100 km + 90 minutes by boat
Estimated Travel Time: 4 hours and 30 minutes
Day 8 Rio de Janeiro
A dramatic road takes us north from the port along the coast through superb scenery before rounding the cliffs at Vidigal, where we get our first glimpse of one of the most memorable cities in the world Brazilâs ocean-side jewel, RÃo de Janeiro.
"God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio," so say the Cariocas, residents of this beautiful city. This is a densely packed city of over 9 million inhabitants, whose economic foundations lie in the cultivation of sugar cane and gold mining. Referred to as the âcidade maravilhosaâ (Marvellous City), few cities enjoy such a dramatic setting as Rio. Brilliant, white beaches at Copacabana and Ipanema, deep blue waters of the Atlantic, the luminescent green of Guanabara Bay, the bare blue slopes of the Sugar Loaf combine to make Rio unique. Standing over it all, atop Corcovado (Hunchback), is the huge statue of Christ the Redeemer, the best place from which to appreciate the city. Superb panoramic views of the city and area can also be found from the top of the Pao do AÃ§ucar (Sugar Loaf), reached by cable car. Head to some of the famous beaches, and prepare yourself for an experience unlike anything else on Earth.
Although the Portuguese first sailed and entered the bay, it was the French who first established a settlement in the area, logging Brazil wood along the coast. Their first permanent settlement lasted a brief five years, when they were attacked and driven from the area by the encroaching Portuguese. A series of skirmishes ensued, with the Tomaio people allied with the French against the Portuguese.
In 1567 the Portuguese began construction of a fortified town to repel any invaders, naming it Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro. Amassing wealth with the gold rush of Minas Gerais, in the early 18th century Rio became Brazilâs most important city and a great temptation to the French who, in 1710, waged war against the Portuguese and held the city for a sizeable gold ransom. Again in the 19th century, under threat of Napoleonâs invasion, what remained of the Portuguese monarchy fled to Brazil where they set up court in grand style; many of todayâs older structures date from this period.
The gold rush was followed by a coffee boom in the mid-1800s and the wealth generated led to the cityâs initial modernization. Replacing Salvador de BahÃa as the colonial capital in 1763, the city remained the capital until 1960, when it was replaced by Brasilia. Today, the city is a magnet for tourists who come to walk the beaches of Ipanema and Copacabana, and generally partake in the Carioca zest for life. Many ascend the Sugarloaf Mountain (Pao do AÃ§ucar), whose image is nearly synonymous with Rio and Carnival. Modern Rio is perhaps best known for the contrasting images offered by the favelhas (shanty towns), and the glitz and glamour preferred by the Samba schools and their Carnival celebrations.
Approximate Distance: 87 km + 1 hour by boat
Estimated Travel Time: 3 hours
Day 9 Rio de Janeiro
Depart Rio at any time.