BR7 Brazil


Rio de Janeiro-'the marvelous city'' Colonial elegance' Baroque churches, sacred art; Thundering Iguacu Falls; Jungle life-toucans, parakeets, hummingbirds

Full Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in Rio de Janeiro
Today we arrive in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio is indeed the "Cidade Maravilhosa" (Marvelous City). Seven million Cariocas, as the inhabitants are called, are jammed into one of the world's most beautiful city settings, between ocean and escarpment. This makes Rio one of the most densely populated places on earth. This thick brew of Cariocas pursues pleasure like no other people: beaches and the body beautiful, samba and football, cerveja (beer); and cachaca (sugar-cane rum). In Rio everything ends with samba -- football games, weddings, work, political demonstrations and, of course, a day at the beach. There's a lust for life, and a love of romance, music, dance and talk that seem to distinguish the Cariocas from everyone else.

PLEASE NOTE: This tour is based on a TAM Brazilian Airlines pass that MUST be booked by Adventures Abroad in conjunction with TAM international air tickets. If you intend to secure your own international air a SURCHARGE (approx 500 USD) will apply.

Overnight in Rio de Janeiro.
Meal plan: dinner

Day 2 Rio de Janeiro: City Tour
Today we have a tour of Rio. The city is divided into a zona norte (north zone) and a zona sul (south zone) by the Serra da Carioca, steep mountains that are part of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. These mountains descend to the edge of the city centre, where the zonas norte and sul meet. Corcovado, one of these mountain peaks, offers the best way to become familiar with the city's geography -- from it you have views of both zones. The statue Cristo Redentor (Christ the Redeemer), with his outstretched arms, gazes down on the Bahia da Guanabara and the landmark Pao de Acucar (Sugar Loaf). His left arm points toward the zona norte, and his right toward the zona sul suburbs of Copacabana, Ipanema, Leblon and beyond. We will go to the foot of the mountain from where we travel by cable car to the top.

We enjoy a sightseeing ride along Rio's beaches -- Leblon, Ipanema and Copacabana. One of the world's most famous beaches runs 4.5 km (3 miles) in front of one of the world's most densely populated residential areas. There is always something happening on the beach during the day and along the footpaths at night: drinking, singing, eating and all kinds of people checking out the scene; tourists watching Brazilians.

From the scalloped beach you can see the granite slabs that surround the entrance to the bay -- a magnificent meeting of land and sea. Different parts of the beach attract different crowds.

We take cable cars to the top of Sugar Loaf Mountain. From the top of this celebrated peak, the city, Baia de Guanabara, and the winding coastline are stretched out dazzling below. To reach the summit at a lofty 400 m (1,325 feet) it is necessary to take two cable cars. A clear day will supply the most spectacular of views: the uncurling arch of the Praia de Copacabana, its miles of tiles glistening in the sun's last rays. From the top you'll see Corcovado Mountain, with the massive statue of Cristo Redemtor (Christ the Redeemer), his arms extended in mercy and blessing.

Overnight in Rio de Janeiro.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 3 Rio de Janeiro - Sao Joao del Rei - Tiradentes
Today we drive to the region of Minas Gerais. Minas Gerais presents a welcome contrast to the rest of Brazil. While the name means "General Mines", the state is packed with exquisite colonial towns, seemingly frozen in another epoch. Their baroque churches and sacred art, mostly sculptures from one of the world's great artists, Aleijadinho, represent over half of Brazil's national monuments.

Nestled in the Sierra do Espinhaco mountain range are the 'cidades historicas', historic colonial cities that grew up with the great gold boom. The foothills and streams of these mountains were scoured for gold throughout the 18th century. Minas also has several hydromineral spa towns in the mountainous southwest corner and a number of prehistoric caves close to the capital, Belo Horizonte.

This afternoon we arrive in Sao Joao del Rei. This city is the only colonial city to have adjusted successfully to life after the gold rush. It has all the usual charm of the other historic cities -- gilded churches, museums, colonial mansions -- but it also has a thriving market town. Easily the largest of the colonial cities with a population of over 80,000, Sao Joao del Rei's modern prosperity complements the colonial atmosphere rather than compromises it. With its wide central boulevard enclosing a small stream, its stone bridges, squares and streets, Sao Joao del Rei is a very attractive place. After an informal visit, we will travel the short distance to Tiradentes.

Tiradentes is small and lovely Gold Rush town is set against a backdrop of the Sao Jose Mountains at an altitude of 930 metres (3,050 feet). Enjoy exploring its cobbled streets on foot, including visits to the Church of Saint Anthony, the town's patron saint, and the Museum of Padre Toledo, housed in an 18th century mansion.

FROM 2015, this and the following 2 days will likely be re-designed.

Overnight in Tiradentes.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 4 Tiradentes - Ouro Preto
Today we drive to Ouro Preto. Today's drive is spectacular, with roads winding around hill country, passing several valleys where patches of forest survive. We arrive in Ouro Preto -- a relatively small town which was once the Portuguese base during a war between the Portuguese and the Paulista bandeirantes. Later the town became the capital of the gold-producing area of Minas, and today it is rich with 18th century churches.

The balance of today is spent exploring this colonial town.

Overnight in Ouro Preto.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 5 Ouro Preto - Iguacu Falls
Today we fly to Iguacu Falls.

The Iguacu Falls are formed by the Rio Iguacu, which has its source near Curitiba. Starting at an altitude of 1300 m (4,264 feet), the river snakes westward, picking up tributaries and increasing in size and power during its 1200 km (745 mile) journey. About 15 km (9 miles) before joining the Rio Parana, the Iguacu broadens out, then plunges precipitously over an 80 m (263 foot) high cliff. The 275 interlinking cataracts extend nearly 3 km (2 miles) across the river.

On arrival, we'll head to the viewing area from where you will quickly appreciate the enormous size of the falls. From numerous spots all along the path there are excellent views, at first across the lower river at a point where it has narrowed to channel width. At the bottom of the path, where the river widens again, there's a catwalk leading out towards the falls themselves. Depending on the force of the river, the spray can be quite heavy so, if you have a camera, be sure to carry a plastic bag.

Overnight at Iguacu Falls.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 6 Iguacu Falls
Today is yours to enjoy the Iguacu / (Iguazu in Spanish) area.

You will also be able to view the falls from the Argentine side* (OPTIONAL expense; your Brazilian visa allows multiple entries - Your Tour Leader will advise of the current cost of this excursion. You will have to pay, in advance, the "reciprocity fee" required for entry into Argentina. See for details).

* Please note that the Devil's Cataract viewpoint and platforms are currently being replaced and will be closed until February 2015 (projected).

Overnight at Iguacu Falls.
Meal plan: breakfast,dinner

Day 7 Departure
Departure from Iguacu (Airport Iguassu / IGU).

Meal plan: breakfast



TOUR STARTRio de Janeiro

TOUR ENDIguacu Falls