Connecting two of South America's most captivating cities, this trip takes us from the tango-filled streets of Buenos Aires to the samba rhythms in Rio de Janeiro. It has been purposefully planned with lots of free time so you can make the most of your trip, allowing you to make the choice to either explore as much as you want, or perhaps to relax and soak up the atmosphere if you prefer. Buenos Aires and Rio - From the most elegant to one of the most vibrant cities in the world, watch tango and marvel at the views from the top of Christ the Redeemer Iguazu Falls - View these mighty waterfalls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides Ilha Grande - Discover this car-less island, a haven of beaches and verdant forest
Arrive in Buenos Aires, Argentina's capital, located on the southern shores of the Rio de la Plata. Since its founding by Pedro de Mendoza in 1536 the city has thrived on trade and its vibrant streets are filled with an eclectic mix of European architectural styles, with Spanish, French and Italian classicism rubbing shoulders with remnants of Victorian grandeur. For those arriving on time our Leader plans to meet you in the hotel reception at 6pm for the welcome meeting and for those that wish, there is the chance to go out for dinner. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to arrive in Buenos Aires at any time. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you'll need to arrive into either Aeroparque Jorge Newbery (AEP) or Ezeiza International Airport (EZE), a 30 minute or 1 hour drive respectively from our hotel. Should you miss the meeting, your leader will inform you of any essential information as soon as you catch up. If your flight arrives earlier in the day, you could explore this lively city by wandering the city streets, admiring the impressive architecture and relaxing parks, or enjoy the traditional Porteno pastime of people watching from the many sidewalk cafes. The rooms at the hotel are not ready until 3pm, but baggage storage is available for you.
Today we plan to explore some of the city on foot with our Local guide, especially the major landmarks around the Plaza de Mayo, site of the famous mass demonstrations by supporters of Juan Domingo Peron in 1945, organised by his wife Eva. This afternoon has been left free for more sightseeing. Sunday is also the day of the famous San Telmo Market where local people dance tango on street corners and the stalls laden with their brightly coloured wares line the plaza.
Today is free to further explore Argentina's vibrant capital. You can also visit the elaborate mausoleums of the famous Recoleta Cemetary, the final resting place of some of Argentina's most revered figures, including Eva Peron herself or also take the opportunity to visit Palermo Park. This evening you can enjoy Buenos Aires' dazzling nightlife and soak up the pulsating rhythms of one of South America's most captivating cities, perhaps taking the opportunity to enjoy a tango show (optional).
This morning has been left free for you to catch up on any sightseeing you couldn't do yesterday. Perhaps take a guided tour to other parts of the city including the colourful vibrancy of La Caminito in the La Boca district of the city. Make sure you're back in time this afternoon though, as we will be leaving the city and flying north-east to Puerto Iguazu, home to the the largest waterfall systems in the world - the Iguazu Falls.
Set amidst the lush landscapes of the Parque Nacional do Iguazu Reserve, the falls are one of nature's true masterpieces, a spectacular cascade of some 275 interconnecting falls that hurtle over high cliffs into a marvellous curved amphitheatre - a breathtaking sight that extends 3km across the Rio Iguazu. We explore the Argentinean side of the falls today with our Tour Leader, walking to the churning caldron of the Garganta del Diablo (the Devil's Throat), where a series of 14 separate falls merge into one, producing an immense torrent.
Today you will have a free day with the opportunity to visit the Brazilian side of the falls (optional) which gives a panoramic view of these mighty cataracts. Four times wider than Niagara, the falls hurtle over high cliffs into a marvellous curved amphitheatre several miles wide - a breathtaking sight. The noise is tremendous and huge clouds of mist are churned up by the cascade. The surrounding spray-soaked forest is alive with brightly plumaged toucans, parrots, hummingbirds and colourful butterflies. This afternoon there are a number of optional trips, for a more spectacular view of the falls you may like to take a 10 minute helicopter flight. Or you could always visit the Tropicana Bird Park lying in the rainforest near the entrance gate - this is a must for ornithologists and anyone interested in local wildlife. Another option this afternoon is an excursion to the 65 stories high Itaipu Dam, the largest hydroelectric plant in the world, with an 8km long dam and a reservoir that covers 1400 square kilometres. The output from the plant, supplies some 80% of Paraguay's electricity and 25% of Brazil's.
Depending on flight availability we will either fly to Sao Paulo or Rio today, and drive to the pretty town of Paraty. With its secluded beaches and backdrop of jungled mountains, Paraty has a superb location, and the cobblestoned colonial centre is a wonderful place to relax and people watch.
This is a free day to explore Paraty. You can take a boat trip out to some of the outlying islands and tropical beaches in the bay, with the chance to stop off and swim and snorkel in the clear, lukewarm Atlantic waters. Another option is to take a trip back in time and explore the trail through the mountains once used by the miners to bring their gold. Alternatively, hiring a bike and exploring the local area is a popular choice.
After a final chance to stroll through the atmospheric cobbled streets of Paraty, we take a bus down the Atlantic coast to Angra dos Reis. This will be our gateway out to Ilha Grande, a beautiful island preserve of spectacular scenery, unspoilt beaches and atmospheric ruins. The island is car free which adds to its relaxed ambience. We take a public boat from Angra dos Reis later this afternoon, travelling the short distance to the colonial port of Vila Do Abraão (about 1.5 hours), a picturesque coastal town lying beneath the shadow of towering mountains. On arrival, we will walk to our hotel with luggage transported in a baggage cart.
Enjoy a free day on this lush island paradise affords us some opportunities to explore in more depth this remarkable landscape. The island covers nearly 200 square kilometres and a number of trails lead off into the rich interior of the island, offering some quite spectacular walking. The jungle canopies are alive with the sights and sounds of squawking parrots, colourful butterflies and playful monkeys, making for an idyllic setting in which to spend your day. A more adventurous trek will take you to the mountainous summit of Bico do Papagaio (the Parrot's Beak), whilst closer to home are the ruins of the Antigo Presídio, a once infamous prison for political detainees. Alternatively you may prefer simply to relax on the unspoilt beaches, taking a boat trip out to enjoy some snorkelling in the Atlantic waters off the coast. Your Tour Leader will be able to offer advice and help with any optional trips you wish to try.
The spectacular setting of Rio de Janeiro brings us to the end of our journey today. Leaving Ilha Grande by ferry this morning we then travel by bus from Angra to Rio, one of the world's most beautiful cities. Named from the Portuguese for River and the month of January, it is a hard location to beat. With 193 kilometers of marvellous beaches, and a mountain backdrop to die for, it is a city that lives up to its name - Cidade Marvihosa. We arrive late afternoon and the rest of the day is free to relax, perhaps sip a refreshing caipirinha whilst overlooking Copacabana Beach.
The next couple of days have been left free for you to choose from a number of optional trips. Highly recommended is a guided tour of the city, travelling by bus, metro and tram to visit, among other parts, the historical city centre and the picturesque barrio of Santa Teresa taking in real life in Rio. Alternatively take a trip out to Sugar Loaf Mountain, the giant rock at the entrance of Guanabara Bay where you can take a cable car up to the breathtaking views of Rio.
Today is a free day to explore more of Rio. Your Tour Leader can also organise a visit to the towering summit of Corcovado (712m) topped by the immense statue of Christ the Redeemer, or if it is possible you may prefer to watch a local football match in the giant 95,000 seat Maracana Stadium. England may be the home of 'soccer', but Brazil is still very much its temple and to experience a game is a memorable event. A visit to the old bohemian district of Lapa, where every night the authentic samba still can be enjoyed and is an ideal location for our final night on the town before saying our final goodbyes.
The trip ends after breakfast at our hotel in Rio. There are no activities planned today, so you are free to depart from Rio at any time. If your flight is departing later in the day, luggage storage facilities are available at our hotel. If you would like to receive a complimentary airport transfer today, you need to depart from Rio de Janeiro International Airport (airport code: GIG), which is approximately a one hour drive from our hotel.
13 Break Fast(s)
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