This 14-day ‘Aqua Brazil Family Adventure’ takes travelers to many of the most famous – and some secret – watery wonders this vast country has to offer, as well as many other must-see sights of Brazil. Beginning with the iconic beaches and attractions of Rio de Janeiro, explore the best beaches of Brazil around Buzios on an island-hopping catamaran tour, and go cave and river snorkeling in beautiful Bonito, before finally embarking on a private Amazon cruise aboard a traditional riverboat from Manaus.
Rio de Janeiro
In Rio de Janeiro, ride the historic red train up to the 2329-foot peak of Corcovado mountain to see the colossal statue of Christ the Redeemer, which not only stands tall as the iconic image of Brazil but is also counted among the seven man-made miracles of the world. Be blown away by the incredible view. Take the thrilling cable car ride up the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, which towers over the Guanabara Bay.
Explore Tijuca Forest, the largest urban forest in the world; stop at the Vista Chinese lookout and later admire the Tijuca Waterfall Cascatinha. Visit the Metropolitan Cathedral and the world-famous Selaron Steps. Enjoy a short tour of the traditional Cinelândia Square and its historical buildings; relax and people-watch on both Copacabana Beach and Ipanema Beach, which are both giant sandy playgrounds.
Spend two days in the sophisticated coastal town of Búzios, and visit some of its numerous beaches, including the famous horseshoe bay of Ferradura, and the popular surf beach of Geribá. At night, explore the nearby bustling town of Rua das Pedras. Head off on a whistle-stop tour, by catamaran, of the surrounding islands and as many as 12 glorious beaches, where you can snorkel and swim. Keep your eyes peeled for sea life as you flit between the islands that Brigitte Bardot made famous to European visitors.
Fly to the southwestern town of Bonito, the ecotourism capital of Brazil, which is known for its gorgeous caves and river snorkeling adventures. Hike through the forest to the Gruta do Lago Azul (Blue Lake Cave) where sedimentary rock formations grace the walls and ceilings to create an otherworldly atmosphere. Transfer to Barra do Sucuri and the Sucuri River, paddle 1300 meters upriver in a boat before donning your masks and snorkels and jumping into the crystal-clear water. Hike to the spectacular 512-ft Boca da Onça Waterfall through pristine forest passing ten individual waterfalls en-route, while following the scenic Salobra River.
Your Amazon Cruise
Fly to Manaus and explore a little bit of this historic jungle city before embarking on your Amazon cruise aboard the Iara, a petite and private riverboat with just two cabins, perfect for private and intimate rainforest exploration with your family. Head to the Janauari Ecological Park, followed by an exploration of the flooded forest area known as ‘varzea’ by motorized canoe.
Look for the famous giant Amazonian Water Lily. Witness the extraordinary sight of the two-toned confluence of two massive Amazon tributaries, the “Meeting of the Waters”, where the dark waters of the Negro River meet the muddy waters of the Solimões River to form the mighty Amazon. Meet the Tarrino, Dessano, and Tuiuca indigenous peoples and take part in a night exploration to spot the wildlife that comes alive after dark. Continue up the Negro River through the Anavilhanas Archipelago, hike through the forest looking for beautiful birds, and spend a day canoeing through tiny waterfalls in the cold waters of the Aturiá River.
Please note all of the featured excursions, activities, and accommodations on this family adventure tour can be tailored to suit your taste and your time availability in accordance with your personal wishes. All are private tours and transport with a private guide. Perfect for active families with older kids.
Itinerary & Prices
Welcome to Rio
We arrive in Rio in the form of a private transfer and straight into the beating heart of the samba rhythm of Brazilian life. Rio is known for its warm, friendly people, its beaches, and Carnival, but the city is rich in a myriad of ways, and any trip to Brazil rightly requires some time in Rio.
Although often thought of as the capital city, Rio has not been the de jure title holder of that honor since 1960, but it is very much the de facto hub of Brazil as far as tourism and outright beauty are concerned. Rio is home to dozens of beaches, all set along the spectacularly lush coast which is home to dozens of tall islands that dot the sea.
When in Rio we recommend visiting some of, and if not all of the following places: Sugar Loaf, Corcodova, Tijuca Forest, the city center, and last but by no means least, a traditional Brazilian steakhouse, or Rodizio.
Iconic Sugar Loaf and Corcovado
After breakfast, we embark on a trip to visit Corcovado Mountain. We take the cable car from Cosme Velho Station to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Our journey takes us through the dense Atlantic rain forest of Tijuca and offers us a wonderful opportunity for a closer look at the forest’s lush tropical vegetation and to enjoy the scenic landscapes of the beaches and city. Perched on top of the 2,300-foot high granite peak of the aforementioned Corcovado, the Cristo Redentor is as famous a landmark as there is globally.
While everyone will be familiar with it, not everyone has the chance to visit it up close and personal and appreciate just exactly how immense and imposing it is. Built between 1922 and 1931 in the art-deco style of the era, the statue is an enormous 100 feet high and the outstretched arms are only a few feet shorter.
We head on to the Aterro do Flamengo and the neighborhood of Urca and the site of the famous Sugar Loaf Mountain. You will travel all the way to the top in two steps by cable car. The first cable car takes us to Urca Hill, a vantage point some 215m (nearly 700 feet) high, from where we can enjoy fantastic views of Guanabara Bay and its islands, the Rio-Niterói Bridge and Corcovado Mountain. The second leg of our cable car journey reaches the top of Sugar Loaf and from here we get a whole new set of views of such sights as Copacabana beach, the Santa Cruz fortress, and several beaches of Niterói.
Rio's Atlantic Rainforest
Today, we head to the Tijuca Forest National Park, one of the largest urban forests in the world, and a rare strand of Atlantic rainforest which is now nearly extinct. The trip is done partly in a 4 x 4 vehicle and partly on foot. There are two ways of entering the park and we opt for the less well-known route as the better views can be found on this road. Our first stop is at a lookout known as the Vista Chinese due to the oriental-styled pagoda-like gazebo. From here we get spectacular panoramic views of the south of Rio de Janeiro before rejoining the more well-trodden path and arrive at the second entrance to the park.
Once past the Açude da Solidão, (the secondary entrance to the forest), we make a stop at the famous Tijuca Waterfall Cascatinha, a waterfall so beautiful it almost looks like it has been designed and admire the natural beauty of the water cascading down from the rock. After driving a bit further into the forest we begin a short trail of around 30 minutes which allows us to really appreciate the rarity of a jungle forest within the confines of a city! After finishing our trail we still have time for a panoramic tour of downtown and a visit to the Metropolitan Cathedral which was built in a pyramidal form with an internal diameter of 96 meters and a height of 80 meters.
We head on to the world-famous Escadaria Selarón, also known as the ‘Selaron Steps’, a wonderful colorful staircase comprising of some 215 individually mosaiced steps. They are the work of Chilean-born artist Jorge Selarón who claimed it as “my tribute to the Brazilian people. We end our day’s excursions with a short tour of the traditional Cinelândia Square and its historical buildings.
Brazil's Beautiful Beaches
Today we pick you up at your hotel and transport you to the coastal town of Búzios. Armação dos Búzios often referred to as just Búzios, is a resort town and a municipality located in the state of Rio de Janeiro and to the east of the city of the same name. It is known as a sophisticated vacation destination with numerous beaches, the most famous of these being the Ferradura, a picture-perfect emerald horseshoe-shaped bay perfect for water sports, and Geribá, a popular surf spot.
At night explore the nearby village of Rua das Pedras a bustling town with restaurants, bars, and lively locals.
A Boat Tour of Buzios
Today we head off on a whistle-stop tour of the surrounding islands and beaches. In order to best take in all of the little beaches and island retreats, we take you on a catamaran trip. We head to the northern side of the peninsula and take in no less than 12 beautiful beaches. Whilst it would be impossible to stop at every one, we do make three separate stops allowing you to bathe, snorkel and swim. All equipment is provided so all you need is your swimsuit! The order of the beaches is as follows and the stops are also highlighted: Armação Beach – Caboclo Island – Orla Bardot – Ossos Beach – Beach Azeda & Azedinha – João Fernandes Beach (stop 1) – João Fernandinho Beach – Ilha Branca – Ilha Feia (stop 2) – Tartaruga e Tartaruguinha Beach (stop 3) – Virgens Beach – Praia dos Amores and Praia do Canto.
Aside from the scheduled stops, you will also be able to take advantage of the two glass windows situated on either hull. These windows can be used to spot sea life as they give you a clear view of the bottom of the sea. Keep your eyes peeled for sea life as you flit between the islands that Brigitte Bardot made famous to European visitors. Known as the St. Tropez of South America, it is easy to see why with the beautiful bays, white sands, and warm aquamarine water.
A Free Day in Buzios
Much of Brazil is a hive of activity and energy. Búzios is something a little different and offers a more relaxing approach to Brazilian life, a different take on the same style of life.
A picturesque village, Búzios is home to some of the most beautiful bays in the world and is famed for the frequent visits of Brigitte Bardot in the 1960s. Buzios is a city that attracts many Brazilian and foreign visitors with its natural beauties and a unique climate and as a result, it is now home to several shops and fine dining options, as well as stylish clubs and bars. Enjoy a stroll along the many beaches of this small town and watch the sunset set over the Atlantic ocean.
From Buzios to Bonito
After breakfast, we take you to the airport and you board your flight to Bonito. Bonito is a small town, with a population of only 22,000, but the surrounding area is a tourist’s dream.
An immensely popular tourist destination that caters to foreigners and Brazilians alike, it is known for the diversity and quality of the excursions, and there is no better place to use as a base campo than the delightful Zagaia Eco Resort hotel. The hotel also has two indoor and two outdoor pools and is set in the beautiful countryside of Mato Grosso do Sul.
Lago Azul Cave & Barra do Sucuri
After breakfast we head off on today’s trip to the Gruta do Lago Azul (Blue Lake Cave) and Barra do Sucuri.
A short hike through the forest takes us to the to the impressive entrance of the Blue Lake Cave. The cave is so called because of the beautiful aquamarine color of the water below, and this is only highlighted by the natural light that seeps in through the crack above us.
Natural sedimentary rock formations grace the walls and ceilings of the cave complex and only add to the otherworldly feeling that the cave gives off. The whole trip will take us around 90 minutes and we conduct the tour at a fairly leisurely pace as the cave is best experienced slowly and quietly.
After the tour is over, we head back to Bonito, but only to begin our subsequent excursion. We take a private transfer to Barra do Sucuri and a session of snorkeling. We meet at the entrance building and collect our gear before heading on a light walk of half a kilometer up to the higher part of the Sucuri River.
We paddle 1300 meters upriver, all the while enjoying the beautiful surroundings and the beautiful crystal clear water of the river itself. Once finished we don our masks and snorkels and jump out of the boat and into the transparent water. We head back to the entrance to the park and and enjoy a cool drink in one of the hammocks and/or a walk to the Formoso river just a very short distance away. Form there we take you back to the lodge.
Meals (B, D)
Boca da Onça Ecutour
Today you will need your walking shoes and your cameras as we head off after breakfast on a hike to Boca da Onça. Like many of our trips, the final destination is but one sight on the trip and this hike is no exception. The first leg of this walk is a 4km hike through pristine forest which occasionally breaks for us to admire one of the ten individual crystal-clear waterfalls we encounter en-route. We stay close to the scenic Salobra River and also get beautiful views of some of the naturally formed pools that are dotted through the walk. About halfway through this walk we stop at a small kiosk where we can buy snacks and drinks and visit the bathroom if necessary.
We continue on to our final destination which is the incomparable Boca da Onça Waterfall, which, at 156 meters (512 ft) is one of the highest in the country and the highest in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. We pause to catch our breath and then to have it taken away again by the beautiful cascade before continuing on to gain a different viewpoint. He head up some 866 steps that meander up the rocky wall that leads to the end of the tour, but don’t worry, there are plenty of rest-stops on the way – all of which offer a unique view of the Salbra River Canyon – and we go at a leisurely pace. At the end of these steps, we arrive at the highest rappel free platform in the country and the gift shop and natural swimming pools that lay alongside the restaurant at the end of our walk.
Melas (B, D)
Welcome to the Amazon
We pick you up from the airport and transfer you to the airport for your flight to the jungle city of Manaus. Manaus is located right in the middle of the world’s largest rainforest and was founded when the Portuguese needed a base from which to defend their claim on the surrounding area from the Dutch who were based in what is now modern-day Suriname. Manaus became known worldwide as a city in the 19th Century with the Rubber Boom, and at the time was amongst the richest cities in the world.
These riches prompted extravagant spending, and a series of one-upmanship from rubber barons left a legacy of marble-clad buildings and huge estates that soon fell into disrepair once the rubber boom ended. Modern-day Manaus is a testament to this fascinating period in South America, and any visit to the Amazon in Brazil should include a stay in Manaus in order to understand modern-day man’s impact and interaction with the surrounding rainforest.
AM: You will be picked up and transferred to the vessel to begin your adventure on board the Iara. Start by sipping away on a local Caipirinha cocktail. Today we will be visiting the Janauari Ecological Park, followed by a trip to the flooded forest area known as ‘varzea’ which is jam-packed with incredibly fertile soil. Tours will be taken in motorized canoes for better exploration. In this particular region, we will have a fantastic opportunity to see the famous Amazonian Water Lily, locally named Vitórias-régias (Victoria Amazonica).
PM: This afternoon we will visit the famous meeting of the waters, the joining point of the Solimões and Negro River. We’ll also visit the Tarrino, Dessano, and Tuiuca indigenous peoples for their cultural presentations. You can also take part in a night exploration after dinner to spot the wildlife that comes alive after dark.
Meals: (B, L, D)
AM: Spend the morning at your leisure on board.
PM: In the afternoon, we’ll sail up the Negro River through the Anavilhanas Archipelago. Here we can disembark to start a hike where, if we’re lucky, we’ll get the chance to see beautiful birds, including the Wire-tailed Manakins, who perform special dances for the female birds. We follow this with a tour in the Igarapé (a small body of water, generally a tributary river or a canal) of Santo Antonio to visit the firm soil of the Negro River. Still at the Igarapé at the Anavilhanas in the afternoon, we’ll observe the archipelago from the boat’s deck.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Canoe Ride, Riverbank Lunch & Fishing
AM: Depending on the water level, we’ll spend the day in canoes and go through tiny waterfalls in the cold waters of the Aturiá River.
PM: We will take our lunch and beverages for an alfresco experience, picking as a spot to build a fire by the river’s shore before we tuck in. In the afternoon we will go fishing in the Amazon River.
Meals: (B, L, D)
AM: On the way down to Manaus, (if the water level is permitting) we will stop by a beach called Tupé. Here you can enjoy the area on your final day in the Brazilian Amazon.
PM: Afterward, we sail back to Manaus, returning you ready for your departure flight.
Meals: (B, L)