The Amazon Rainforest, Rio de Janeiro and Iguazu Falls tour is a once in a lifetime experience that will take you deep into the Brazilian Amazon Rainforest before exploring the highlights of the city of Rio and the magic of Iguazu Falls on both the Brazilian and Argentine sides. All of the featured excursions, activities, and accommodations can be tailored 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.
Tour the historic jungle city of Manaus and learn about its rise and fall during the rubber boom era. Visit the Amazonas Theater, which is lauded as one of the most beautiful opera houses in the world. See the Largo de São Sebastião, one of the city’s main squares, the Provincial Palace and the State of Amazonas Art Gallery. Explore the Municipal Market, the colonial architecture of the city, the floating port area of Manaus, and the Rio Negro Palace.
Your Amazon cruise
Step aboard the Motor Yacht Tucano for an exciting cruise that will take you up the Rio Negro and into the Anavilhanas archipelago, which is one of the world’s largest river island systems. Experience daytime and evening launch excursions through dense flooded forest along the river’s edge, listen out for howler monkeys and keep your eyes peeled for squirrel monkeys and some extraordinarily beautiful birds.
Look for nocturnal creatures such as the caiman, arboreal porcupines, sloths and night birds such as the great potoo. Walk through the rainforest looking for tracks and maybe even some sightings of some of the Amazon’s great mammals. Explore areas rarely visited by anyone else. Witness the extraordinary sight of the two-toned confluence of two massive Amazon tributaries, where the dark waters of the Negro River meet the muddy waters of the Solimões River to form the mighty Amazon. This “Meeting of the Waters” is a natural phenomenon where the two rivers run side by side for more than three miles without mixing.
Rio de Janeiro
In Rio de Janeiro, ride the historic 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 exciting cable car ride to 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 gorgeous 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.
Your Amazon Rainforest, Rio and Iguazu Falls 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 marveling 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 and by private vehicle. Hear the falls resonating through the rainforest and revel in the spectacle.
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: This day we embark on the Motor Yacht Tucano in Manaus, Brazil. We depart on the Rio Negro and as the vessel glides upstream we will have our first talk about Amazon environments. By late afternoon we enter one of the world’s largest river island systems, the Anavilhanas Archipelago. The boat will weave along a winding channel with rainforest on both sides in a riot of brilliant vegetation.
PM: Weather permitting, we will go for a launch excursion in the gnarled and dense flooded forest along the river’s edge. We may see some Squirrel Monkeys and we may hear the other-worldly growls of Howler Monkeys echoing through the primitive rainforest. The Amazon has one of the greatest collections of birds in the world and we are sure to see some of these brightly colored jewels perched in the treetops.
We return to the M/Y Tucano for hors d’oeuvres on the observation deck and a toast to the rainforest sunset. Following dinner, we will embark on our launches in search of nocturnal creatures such as the Caiman, the Amazon’s crocodilians. We may also see one of the large night birds such as a Great Potoo, with its bulging eyes and largemouth, adapted to swallow the huge Mariposa Moths.
Meals: (B, L, D)
AM: Shortly after sunrise this morning we explore the Anavilhanas Archipelago, a reserve that includes the world’s largest system of river islands and also areas of tall dense rainforest. Here we will see the strange environment called the igapó, the black water flooded forest, where dense forests grow right out of the dark water of the Rio Negro. Mid-morning we return to the vessel for a hearty Brazilian breakfast. After some time to relax, weather permitting, we will disembark in mid-morning and dividing into very small groups we will go for a walk in the type of rainforest known as the terra firma. Here we have a good chance to see the markings, if not the animals themselves, of some of the Amazon’s great mammals like peccaries (wild pigs) or even a jaguar.
PM: Around mid-day, we return to the vessel for lunch and a siesta. In the afternoon we will excursion in our launches along the edges of the dense forest and listen to the sunset chorus of birds, howler monkeys, and frogs. Weather permitting, tonight we will have an excursion to spot caiman (the Amazon’s crocodiles) and other nocturnal creatures. We very often see arboreal porcupines or sloths scrambling high in the limbs.
Meals: (B, L, D)
AM: Today we will voyage to the west side of the Rio Negro and continue to scout in our launches and walk in the forest. We will explore, according to the weather and water depth, areas rarely visited by anyone else.
PM: Tonight the M/Y Tucano goes downstream, and river depth permitting, will enter an east bank affluent of the Rio Negro and explore on deep into the rainforest on this small river. After our nocturnal exploration of the rainforest in our launches we return to the Tucano for “Caipirinha Night” and perhaps try a bit of samba on the top deck.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Rio Negro & Manaus
AM: We begin the day with a dawn excursion hunting for wakening wildlife followed by a full Brazilian breakfast. We will then go one last time into the forest.
PM: In the mid-afternoon, we will begin to journey downstream to arrive late in the day at the “Encontro das Aguas” – a stark several mile long lines where two of the world’s largest rivers, the Amazon and the Rio Negro, join in a turbulent maelstrom. Here the dark water of the Negro runs beside the opaque brown water of the Amazon.
At sunset, the M/Y Tucano will once again turn her bows upstream on the Rio Negro and journey to our overnight anchorage north of the City of Manaus. As we pass in front of Manaus, we will marvel at the scale of one of the world’s largest and most vibrant port cities over a thousand miles from the sea. Tonight we will have a farewell dinner and prepare for an early departure in the morning.
Meals: (B, L, D)
Disembarkation & Departing Manaus
AM: Early this morning, after a hearty breakfast, all guests disembark from the M/Y Tucano.
Travelers will be transferred to the Manaus city center and will disembark at the Millennium Hotel or Hotel Villa Amazonia. For those passengers that do not have a hotel arranged for the end of the cruise, we recommend that they disembark from the transfer bus at the Millennium Hotel.
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.
Rio Sugarloaf and Cocovado
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.
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.
Tijuca Forest and City Tour
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.
A Day for the Beach
Today we leave you a free day to enjoy the sights and smells of Rio at your own leisure. No trip to Rio is complete without experiencing one of its famous beaches, the most famous of which are of course the Copacabana and Ipanema, and these are easily accessible from your hotel.
A standard day at the beach for a Cariocas (native Brazilians born in Rio de Janeiro) usually involves iced coconut water and a lot of people watching. Street food in Rio is also something worth trying and the classic combo is Coxinha com uma Caiprinha (soft fried cassava dough with a lime and cachaca alcoholic drink) or queijo coalho em espetos (fresh cheese which the vendor cooks in front of you on a portable grill).
N.B If you would prefer to experience the above with a guide, one can be arranged for you.
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!
The Brazilian side of the Falls
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 and why it is unique to the area. 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. We stop for lunch at Porto Canoas, a local restaurant located inside the park.
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 we take you the first 3 kilometers that make no noise or pollute the environment 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, visitors board two-engine boats equipped with life jackets and cross the canyon up the rapids towards the Iguazu Falls.
Meals (B, L)
The Argentine side of the Falls
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 is possible in one day. 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.