This unique 10-day itinerary from Rainforest Cruises offers the perfect package for those thinking of heading to Brazil for Carnival in 2017.
Explore the magical realm of the Brazilian Amazon on an all-inclusive river cruise before taking part in the biggest party on Earth at Rio Carnival.
Please note that the cruise featured in the itinerary below is dependent on the river water level, weather conditions, wildlife behavior, and accessibility to locations, so may vary.
DAY 1: SUN 19 FEB - ARRIVAL IN MANAUS
You are met at the airport in Manaus and escorted to your luxurious hotel in Manaus via private transfer. Depending on your arrival time, you either have the day to explore the city and its historic sights such as the incredible Teatro Amazonas, or instead rest in your comfortable ecoresort.
DAY 2: MON 20 FEB - CRUISE EMBARKATION
We embark the Iberostar Grand Amazon in the Port of Manaus in the late afternoon and then, after settling into our luxurious cabins, we can watch the sunset from the Top Deck as the boat begins sailing on the Amazon. Tonight, the crew welcomes you aboard with a cocktail, followed by a delicious dinner. This is your first opportunity to take advantage of the ship's open bar policy! (Meals - B, D)
DAY 3: TUE 21 FEB - JARAQUI STREAM + TRES BOCAS
After breakfast, we explore the Jaraqui region by expedition skiffs or take a guided hike along a jungle trail. Later we explore the incredible Anavilhanas archipelago, specifically one of its largest islands Tres Bocas, home to bountiful orchids and bromeliads, and birds such as toucans and macaws. After dark, caimans are abundant and fun to spot from the skiffs. (Meals - B, L, D)
DAY 4: WED 22 FEB - NOVO AIRAO + CUIEIRAS RIVER
After breakfast, we explore the narrow waterways near bustling riverside town of Novo Airão by boat and/or on foot; and then visit the famous pink river dolphins. This afternoon, we sail back downstream to the river Cuieiras and pay a visit to Cambebas, a fascinating indigenous village, where we learn about the locals' way of life. (Meals - B, L, D)
DAY 5: THU 23 FEB - ARIAU RIVER & PRAIA GRANDE
Today we go by skiff to the streams and lagoons in the vicinity of Ariau River and Praia Grande, an area known for the abundance of monkey species and sloths, as well as birds of prey and kingfishers. Try your hand at fishing for piranha! After lunch there will be a chance to swim in the refreshing waters of the Rio Negro, before a special gala dinner, with exotic Amazon dancing. (Meals - B, L, D)
DAY 6: FRI 24 FEB - ARRIVAL RIO + CARNIVAL OPENING
We wake up early in order to see the fascinating phenomenon known as the Meeting of the Waters at sunrise. We then continue to the port of Manaus, for disembarkation and private transfer to the airport for your flight to Rio. Upon arrival you will be taken to your hotel in Lapa, Rio’s colourful bohemian centre. Tonight you’ll be guests at our roof-top Welcome Cocktail Party. After a few strong strong drinks and perfecting our samba moves (in our group samba class!) we get our faces painted and head out into the streets escorted by our guides for our first night in Rio! (Meals - B)
DAY 7: SAT 25 FEB - MORNING BLOCO & SUNSET BOAT CRUISE
This morning you may wish to do an optional Favela Tour*, or alternatively we head to one of the biggest and best blocos (street parties) in Rio, ‘Céu na Terra’ in Santa Teresa. Then this afternoon, after lunch, we will be walked down to Gloria Maria to board our magnificent private schooner boat (with open-bar!) and the next 3-4 hours will be spent cruising around Rio’s spectacular Guanabara Bay. Later we will have the option of partying on at Flamengo Beach before we get ready** for yet another big night out in Rio that you’ll never forget. (Meals - B)
* The Favela Tour lasts 3 hrs and includes transfer and guide. Learn about true Brazilian society from locals in the heart of the huge Vila Canoas and Rocinha favelas, who will show you a close-up look at the everyday lives of typical Brazilian families in these remarkable zones.
** There is the once-in-a-lifetime option to buy a Samba School Costume and be part of the Sambadrome Parade yourself! For those who decide not to buy a costume, you’ll still be invited along to the meeting point on Av. Presidente Vargas to watch all the samba schools prepare. We guarantee you won’t be bored. Have your cameras ready to get some awesome pictures!
DAY 8: SUN 26 FEB - PRE-CARNIVAL PARTY + SAMBADROME
After a relaxing morning at Ipanema and/or Leblon beach (or partying at another bloco?), tonight we enjoy some pre-drinks and face paint before our guides escort us to the main event of the week - the Special Group (i.e. best) of samba schools parade at the Sambadrome! We have tickets for the lively sections 12-13 right by the climactic conclusion at the iconic arch of Apotheosis Square. You’ll see that the local Cariocas really support their samba school (similar to supporting a football team!) singing ALL the words to the ‘anthems’. It is a wonderful local experience and one that goes on until the wee hours of the morning! (Meals - B)
DAY 9: MON 27 FEB - BLOCO + COPACABANA BEACH
If you have the energy, there will be the option to go to one of the BEST blocos with our guides this morning, drinks included, otherwise the morning can be spent at your leisure. This afternoon our guides will take us to the famous Copacabana beach, ending with the iconic sunset over Dois Irmãos mountains, watching from Arpoador Rock and clapping with the locals as the sun disappears beyond the horizon. For those who want to stay on in Rio’s South Zone there will likely be night markets in Copacabana and parties that our guides can direct you to. (Meals - B)
DAY 10: TUE 28 FEB - CHRIST REDEEMER + DEPARTURE
This morning we will drive through the Tijuca National Park to Corcovado, and the famous Christ the Redeemer statue on a half-day group guided of Rio. After witnessing the fantastic view from 710 metres up above the city, we’ll head to the impressive old mansions, colourful of art galleries and the rickety old trams of Santa Teresa. Our final stop will be the tiled Steps of Selaron in Lapa, one of the most impressive homages to Brazil that you can imagine. This afternoon, depending on your flight times, you may wish to go on an optional Sugarloaf Mountain Tour***. Later you will be transferred to the airport for your flight home or to another destination. Rainforest Cruises hopes that your Rio Carnival experience has been a success! We would like to express our deepest appreciation for traveling with us! (Meals - B)
*** The Sugarloaf Mountain Tour includes transfers, a guide, drink and entrances. Visit the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain, and ride in two cable cars (first up to Urca Hill at 220 metres above sea level, then Sugarloaf Hill at 396 metres) and experience some of the most stunning views of the city and Guanabara Bay. For those feeling adventurous, you can swap the first cable car ride with a relatively easy 40-minute trail leading you through the forest.