Discover the very best of Brazil on this 14-day tour of the Amazon Jungle, Rio de Janeiro and both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the Iguazú Falls. Your luxury adventure includes city tours, two helicopter rides and an Amazon cruise.
Your Amazon Adventure
Your luxury ‘Best of Brazil’ 2-week itinerary, including the Amazon, begins with a tour of the historical jungle city of Manaus, where you will learn about the city’s rise and fall during the rubber boom era. Then step aboard the Iberostar Grand Amazon for your long-awaited Amazon cruise, which will take you to the Anavilhanas archipelago including the Jaraqui region.
Explore more closely from an expedition skiff or on foot along a jungle trail. Visit one of the largest islands here, Tres Bocas, home to bountiful orchids and bromeliads, toucans and macaws. Look out for caimans after dark. Visit Cambebas, a fascinating indigenous village, and learn how the locals have adapted their way of life to best suit their environment.
Spot the birds, native plants, trees and wildlife in this richly biodiverse jungle, and try your hand at fishing for piranha. Take a night tour by motorboat to spot alligators and listen to the night sounds of the Ariaú region. Head to the Praia Grande, swim in the refreshing waters of the Rio Negro and relish the incredible opportunity to interact with the remarkable pink Amazon river dolphins. Your cruise concludes with a sighting of the famous river confluence known as ‘The Meeting of the Waters’.
Rio City Tour
Your Rio de Janeiro private tour begins with a ride on the historic train, up to the 2329-foot peak of Corcovado mountain for a close-up experience of the colossal statue of Christ the Redeemer. Hang out and watch the people and the action on the famous Copacabana Beach, and visit the Maracanã, the most iconic football stadium in the Americas and a place steeped in sporting history.
See the Metropolitan Cathedral, the world-famous Selaron Steps, and the traditional Cinelândia Square and its historical buildings. Take the exciting cable car ride to the famous Sugarloaf Mountain, and board a helicopter for a scenic flight over Guanabara Bay with views of the famous beaches. Finally, spend a few hours walking through Rio’s incredible Botanical Garden, a UNESCO-listed biosphere reserve and a true ecological sanctuary. Learn about its history and mission. See exotic flowers and plants such as the giant Amazonian water lilies, as well as animals and birds, including monkeys and toucans.
Your tour continues with a trip to the Iguazú Bird Sanctuary which is home to more than 1,300 species of birds, as well as reptiles, butterflies and some incredible plants. Your next two days will be spent marvelling at the mighty Iguazú Falls. Brazil can lay claim to about 20 percent of the falls, and Argentina to the other 80 percent.
This means that you get a bigger picture view of the falls from the Brazilian side, looking towards Argentina, but in Argentina you get closer to the falls and there is a larger area to explore. If you’re having the Iguazu Falls Brazil vs Argentina debate, both sides are incredible, and on this trip, you will get to spend a full day exploring each side by foot, by boat, by private vehicle and by helicopter!
Please note all of the featured excursions, activities, and accommodations on this luxury tour can be tailored to suit your taste and time availability in accordance with your personal wishes. All are private tours and transport with a private guide, with the exception of the cruise portion, which is on a shared basis with other passengers.
Itinerary & Prices
Welcome to Manaus
We pick you up from the airport and transfer you 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.
Heart of the Brazilian Amazon
Today, we pick you up from your hotel for your city tour of Manaus. We will learn about the rich history of this jungle city, its role in the colonization of South America by various European countries, and its rise and fall during the rubber boom era.
We begin with a visit to the Amazonas Theater, the best example of construction that encapsulates the extravagance and opulence of the rubber boom era. Better known in English as the Opera House, this astonishingly grandiose building fell into disrepair for many years, but now once again hosts operas from all over the world. Home of the Amazonas Philharmonic Orchestra, it was listed by Vogue Magazine as one of the most beautiful Opera Houses in the world. From there, we take a short walk to visit the Largo de São Sebastião, one of the city’s main squares, followed by a tour through old Manaus and Paço da Liberdade.
Next, we visit the Provincial palace and the State of Amazonas art gallery, followed by a quick stop in a museum full of artifacts from the Amazon region.
We take a slightly livelier turn next and visit the Municipal Market, named the “Adolpho Lisboa”, a building as colorful as the Amazonian fruits, spices, and souvenirs sold there. En route, we pass several fantastic examples of Colonial architecture, particularly the buildings of Alfândega and Guardamoria. We end our day by making a visit to the floating port area of Manaus, and a visit to the Rio Negro Palace, and a stroll back to our transport via the water’s edge.
AM: Enjoy breakfast in your hotel and spend the morning at your leisure, before meeting us this afternoon at the cruise port, for the beginning of your long-awaited Amazon cruise!
PM: We embark on 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)
Jaraqui Stream & Tres Bocas Island
AM: If you are up early, there is a Sunrise Lovers’ breakfast on the Upper Deck, where you can enjoy the early morning atmosphere. Otherwise, you can enjoy the buffet spread in the Kuarup Restaurant.
After breakfast, we go and explore the Jaraqui region. Depending on the water level, we either stay on the expedition skiffs or take a guided hike along a jungle trail, where we can learn about the trees and plants that are of particular importance to locals for construction and the production of medicines.
Back on board, we enjoy an introductory Amazon lecture in the Lua Salon and have lunch on the terrace of Kuarup restaurant, followed by time for a welcome siesta!
PM: In the late afternoon, we board the skiffs again to explore the second largest fluvial archipelago in the world, Anavilhanas, a huge collection of river islands and beaches, which are striking and photogenic contrast to the black waters of the River Negro.
One of the largest islands in the Archipelago is Tres Bocas, and here one can see dense vegetation that includes bountiful orchids and bromeliads and is home to birds such as toucans and macaws. After dark, caimans are abundant and fun to spot from the skiffs.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Cuieiras River & Ariaú Region
AM: As the sun rises, the Grand Amazon arrives at the River Cuieiras, and we have the chance to enjoy the resplendent scenery as we take our breakfast. For our morning tour, we pay a visit by skiff and on foot to Cambebas, a fascinating indigenous village, where we learn how the locals have adapted their way of life to best suit their environment, visit their school, and have a chance to buy handicrafts.
PM: Upon our return to the boat, there will be a lecture on Amazonian Fish, including the dreaded piranha which we will then have the chance to catch for ourselves as we head back out onto the waterways of the Ariaú region. This is an area known for the abundance of monkey species and sloths, as well as birds of prey and kingfishers. We can also get to know the fish life… by catching it (and then releasing it)! The easiest species to catch is the famed piranha, and most people have a chance to be photographed with their catch. Alternatively, we may pay a visit to a local farm to learn about the way of life there.
Once back on board, we have dinner and then can enjoy the facilities and entertainment of the Grand Amazon. Later, there is a night tour by motorboat to spot alligators and listen to the night sounds of the Ariaú region.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Praia Grande & Rubber Tapping Museum
AM: There is the option of a pre-breakfast birding excursion by skiff for those that wish to enjoy the Amazon dawn and its abundant wildlife. Then, after breakfast, we head to the Praia Grande – which means, simply, ‘Big Beach’ in English – yes, that’s right there are beaches on the Amazon! There is a chance to swim in the refreshing waters of the Rio Negro and even the incredible opportunity to interact with the rather peculiar-looking but remarkable pink Amazon river dolphins. Back on board, there is a lecture on Amazon Birds in the Lua Salon.
PM: After lunch, we step back in time as we visit the Rubber Tapping Museum and learn about the shocking history of the rubber trade which made the region the richest in the world at one point in time. This evening we have a special gala dinner, with exotic Amazon dancing, as a celebration of what we have experienced and a farewell.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Disembarkation & Departing Manaus
AM: We wake up early to see the fascinating phenomenon known as the Meeting of the Waters at sunrise. This is the point where the black waters of the Rio Negro and brown waters of the Solimoes meet – but don’t mix. Don’t worry, breakfast will be available!
We then continue to the port of Manaus, for disembarkation.
PM: The adventure is not over yet! This afternoon you will buckle up for your flight from Manaus to Rio de Janeiro! Tonight you will spend the night in your hotel in anticipation of the exciting days that lay ahead.
Corcovado Tour & Optional Lunch / Maracanã Stadium Visit
After breakfast, we embark on a trip to visit Corcovado Mountain. We take the cable car from Cosme Velho Station and 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.
From there we wind down with a trip to one of Rio’s most famous beaches and a stroll along the seafront. We take you to the world-famous Copacabana beach and enjoy a spot of every Brazilian’s favorite beach pastime: People-watching. Here you get a chance to watch the hive of activity that is the Copacabana with people swimming, bodyboarding, sunning themselves, playing volleyball, footvolley or beach soccer.
Lastly, ask any ardent futebol (pronounced fuchebol) fan which is the most iconic stadium in the Americas and they would instantly tell you it is the Maracanã. Originally built for the 1950 World Cup held in Brazil and completely renovated in 2013, the stadium has now a 75000-seat capacity and was the stage of the World Cup final in 2014. The Maracanã continues to attract football fans from across the globe and it is a place steeped in sporting history, from the footprints in the concrete of footballing legends to the grandstand, the very locker rooms used by none other than Pele to the museum of football
Meals (B, L)
Sugarloaf & Helicopter Flight
We begin today with 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 morning’s excursions with a short tour of the traditional Cinelândia Square and its historical buildings.
In the afternoon 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.
In the afternoon, we board a helicopter and set off from the Sugar Loaf helipad to gain a unique view of the following attractions from the sky: The Red Beach with a view of the Sugar Loaf, Copacabana Beach, and Copacabana Fort, Pedra do Arpoador Rock, Ipanema Beach, and Leblon Beach.
Botanical Gardens of Rio
It should come as no surprise that a country the size of Brazil, and one with the largest part of the Amazon rainforest within its borders should be home to one of the finest botanical gardens in the world. Here we have access to an immaculate collection of diverse Brazilian and foreign flora. There are around 6,500 species (some endangered) distributed throughout an area of 54 hectares (130 acres) as well as numerous greenhouses. The garden also houses monuments of historical, artistic, and archaeological significance. There is an important research center, which includes the most complete library in the country specializing in botany with over 32,000 volumes.
The first greenhouse at the Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens was built in 1890. It was made of wood and was an octagonal shape. In the 1930s, the greenhouse was remodeled in glass and iron, more in the style of a traditional English glasshouse. Today the Orchidarium includes the glasshouse and the whole area that surrounds it, and it is home to, amongst other things, an orchid nursery with over 3000 plots of orchids. We have lunch here before transferring you back to your hotel to enjoy the rest of your evening.
Meals (B, L)
Departing Rio & Exploring Iguazu Bird Park
Today we pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport to begin the next leg of your journey: A visit to the mighty Iguazú Falls. First, we take a trip to the Iguazú bird sanctuary which is home to more than 1,300 species of birds. Located right next to the Iguazú National Park, the center is not restricted to just birds and features numerous species of reptiles and butterflies. The sanctuary backs onto the forest which is home to many beautiful flowers, incredible plants, and the famous tree of life.
On a trip to Iguazú, the best way to see the falls is to do the Brazilian side of the falls and the Argentinean side separately. From the Brazilian side, you get a wonderful panoramic view of the whole complex of waterfalls, which are made up of hundreds of smaller waterfalls to create the impression of a wall of water. This acts as a kind of precursor of the whole trip which takes on added meaning once you get up close and personal on the Argentinian side and can appreciate the scale of the 275 waterfalls.
We rest up and enjoy the evening in preparation for our full day’s trip to both sides of the falls. For many, this will be the first trip to include two different countries in the same tour!
Walking Tour & Macuco Safari
We leave the hotel and are transported to the National Park of the Brazilian Falls. The tour starts with a visit to the Main Center of the park, where our guide will teach us all about the nuances of the local ecosystem. We then embark on a short walk through a forest track which periodically gives us glimpses of the waterfalls, but the real reward is at our final destination. Once we arrive at the end of the trail there is a belvedere which we are allowed access to and the resulting viewing point rewards us with some astonishing sights of the entire panorama of the waterfall complex which can be seen in all its glory. We return to the meeting point via the panoramic elevator and prepare ourselves for the Argentinian side of the falls.
The next leg of our journey is by boat. The adventure begins with a trail through the National Park to the Macuco jump, a 20m high crystalline waterfall that springs from the vegetation forming a natural rock pool. Using silent electric jeeps that make no noise or pollute the environment, we take you the first 3 kilometers, before continuing on foot in the form a 600 meter inland jungle hike to the pier (Please note that this is optional and those who wish to opt-out can still see the falls). Throughout the jungle, bilingual guides present examples of local fauna and flora. Arriving on the Iguaçu River, you will board a two-engine boat equipped with life jackets and cross the canyon up the rapids towards the Iguazu Falls.
Argentina Falls & Helicopter Flight
Today we have a full day on the Argentinian side of the falls and we use our time to visit as many of the individual cascades as possible. We travel around 28 kilometers in total, at first with a private vehicle from your hotel and then on to the last section which we do on foot. In order to get to the falls, we need to cross the Iguaçu River and do this by crossing the Tancredo Neves Bridge. The overall trip by vehicle is around 30 minutes and once there we begin exploring the National Park and the bucket-list destination of the Devil’s Throat cascade. The Devil’s throat is the largest waterfall in Iguazú and one you will already have seen from a distance, but now we get closer and its scale is really something quite astonishing. We stop for a quick buffet-style lunch in a rustic restaurant inside the park before beginning the next part of our journey.
As impressive as Devil’s Throat is, the falls are actually made up of 275 individual waterfalls all laid out in an intricate circuit which has the overall effect of the volume of an Olympic-sized swimming pool full of water cascading down from the top every single second. Given this fact we set off on a tour of some of the smaller but incredibly intricate falls, many working in conjunction with others to give us that astonishing “wall of water” image. The Superior Circuit is at an average height of 3500 feet and we circumnavigate this side of the falls until we return to our transport and the short ride back to our hotel.
Meals (B, L)
After breakfast and a morning at leisure, we will pick you up from your hotel and transfer you to the airport.