Day 1: Join tour in Salvador
Join trip in Salvador, Brazil's oldest city. Previously Brazil's capital city, Salvador is an eclectic mix of Indian, Portuguese and African cultures that makes it one of the most absorbing cities in the country. Filled with churches, brightly coloured squares it has some of the most impressive colonial architecture in Brazil.
There are no activities planned for today. On arrival, transfer to our hotel just 10 minutes from Salvador's historic centre.
Day 2: Full day exploring the historic centre of Salvador including a Capoeira martial arts class
This morning we have a guided orientation tour of the city. Starting at the Farol da Barra, a lighthouse that now houses the city's nautical museum; we head to the port of Barra, where you can see the forts of Santa Maria and São Diogo. Despite its Portuguese architecture, the spirit, cuisine, culture and people are predominantly African. The area's riches were originally based on sugar cane and tobacco, with the majority of the workforce coming from the west coast of Africa - for over 300 years Salvador was the centre of a thriving slave trade. The modern day population is mostly of African descent - this can be heard in the rhythms of the music and in the dance, the cuisine and Candomble, a mixture of African and Christian deities and rites.
From Barra, we pass through Salvador's more traditional neighbourhoods, ending up at the Pelourinho district, a jumble of centuries old churches, narrow cobbled streets clinging to the steep hillsides and spacious plazas bordered by once elegant but now gently decaying mansions. The natural setting is magnificent overlooking the Todos os Santos Bay. Lunch is included at a local restaurant in Pelourinho.
This afternoon head to the Mestre Bimba Capoeira School for a one hour introduction to this Afro-Brazilian art form. Capoeira is classed as a martial art that combines music, power kicks and quick leg sweeps with some ground and aerial acrobatics that is still strong the Brazilian state of Bahia. The day ends with a visit to the Mercado Modelo, a popular historical market selling arts, crafts, souvenirs and several restaurants.
Day 3: Head to the palm lined beach at Praia do Forte, visit TAMAR sea turtle project. Free afternoon on the beach
After breakfast transfer to the resort town of Praia do Forte, making a stop at the TAMAR sea turtle project. Set up by the Brazilian environmental agency in 1980, the sea turtle project was created to save the turtles form extinction. The project's name derives from the Brazilian Portuguese word for sea turtles - Tartaruga Marinha, and our visit allows us to learn more about the conservation efforts and see for ourselves work being undertaken to conserve the turtle population for future generations.
Praia do Forte began its life as a small fishing community, but today its stunning beaches, mangroves and coconut palms afford a spectacular backdrop to an ecotourism resort that is home to some rare tropical wildlife, including four of the planet's seven species of sea turtle. The rest of the day is free to enjoy the town's fine white sand beaches, cafes, bars and restaurants.
Day 4: Free morning to relax on the beach. Afternoon flight to Manaus gateway to the Amazon
Free morning to relax by the hotel pool or spend time on the beach. Head back to Salvador airport early afternoon for a flight to Manaus, gateway to the Amazon. Manaus is one of Brazil's fastest growing urban communities, built in the midst of vast tracts of pristine jungle. On arrival transfer to our hotel in the heart of the city, close to its famous opera house.
Day 5: Walking tour of Manaus. Boat, bus and speedboat journey into the Amazon to jungle lodge
Head out after breakfast to explore Manaus including its famous grand opera house and the bustling market where the produce of the Amazon is traded. Head to the historic city centre, which developed as a result of the wealth generated by the rubber boom at the end of the nineteenth century.
Early afternoon travel 80km into the Amazon to our jungle lodge located in the heart of a preserved jungle setting on the Maçarico River, a tributary of the Amazon. The journey crosses the famous 'Meeting of the Waters', one of the region's most incredible natural phenomenon, where the rich dark waters of the Negro meet the lighter shades of the Rio Solimoes and flow side by side for some four miles, separated by a unique combination of temperature, density and flow, before they finally merge and become part of the Amazon itself. We continue by road and later by speedboat to each the lodge itself, arriving around 5pm to a welcome drink followed by dinner.
Our lodge is the perfect base from which to explore this unique and fascinating region. With an extensive network of trails, lakes and creeks, we get close to the wildlife and explore the rain forest, making our stay here a highlight of our Brazilian adventure.
Day 6: Amazon activities. Canoe trips, wildlife spotting and fishing. Visit an Amazon community, try caiman spotting after dark
Over the next two days we enjoy some spectacular wildlife encounters and discoveries amidst the pristine jungle wilderness. Following breakfast on our first day we set out by motorized wooden canoe to explore the network of channels and lakes that radiate from the lodge, searching out wildlife along the way.
The Amazon rainforest currently holds some 50% of all the known species of animals on the planet, including some 200 different varieties of mammals, nearly 4,000 species of birds and countless numbers of reptiles, insects and amphibians. The canopies around us are filled with primates, sloths, toucans, parrots and colourful songbirds of every shade. During the morning there will be the opportunity to try your hand at fishing for piranha. Incredibly there are actually 25 different species of piranha, and not all are voracious killers! Some piranha are even vegetarian. Whilst the reputation of these much-maligned fish is mainly the product of Hollywood, the red-bellied piranha does have something of a reputation as the world's most dangerous freshwater fish. They have been known to strip a carcass, but not during an average daily feed. These feats of prodigious feasting generally only occur during lean times and with sufficient numbers, but probably best not to dangle your fingers in the water.
After lunch, taken back at the lodge we head out once again by motorized canoe to visit a local family and learn something of family life in these remote and pristine regions.
Day 7: Full day jungle survival techniques. Overnight sleep in a riverside hut in hammocks
Our second day sees us heading deeper into the jungle with a local guide to learn about jungle survival techniques.
During the course of the day we will walk along jungle paths, seeking out plants used in traditional medicine and that are edible as well as learning which species to stay away from. Our foray into the rainforest also enables us to get closer to the vast array of birdlife in the jungle including macaws and toucan.
Later in the day we take to the river to go fishing, which we will later cook over an open fire. We camp out in the forest in protective and well secured hammocks in a hut close to the banks of the river, enabling us to experience a feeling of true immersion into the mighty Amazon jungle.
Day 8: Return to jungle lodge. Boat back to Manaus, flight to Foz do Iguacu. Free afternoon
Rising early we make our way back to the lodge to freshen up and enjoy a hearty breakfast. Checking out of the lodge we take to the river once again, travelling along the Maçarico River back to Manaus. The Amazon tributary is home to a vast array of marine life including turtles and pink river dolphins.
Upon disembarking in Manaus Ceasa harbour, head directly to the airport and a flight to Foz do Iguacu in the far south of the country. On arrival transfer to our family friendly hotel complete with water park.
Day 9: Visit the Brazilian side of the falls, optional helicopter ride or Macuco boat safari
Spend this morning visiting the Falls on the Brazilian side, when the light is best for photography. Viewed from the Brazilian side the Falls present themselves in all their majestic and powerful glory and the noise is tremendous, with huge clouds of soaking mist being churned up by the cascade. The surrounding spray-soaked forest is a rich haven for some spectacular flora and fauna, with over 2,000 plant species and over 400 different types of birds being recorded here. The canopy is alive with a rich array of brightly plumage toucans, parrots, humming birds and colourful butterflies, whilst the forest floor boasts tapirs and capuchin monkeys.
This afternoon there is the option to visit the Parque des Aves bird park, where gigantic aviaries hold a colourful collection of birds and butterflies, or alternatively visit the Itaipu Hydroelectric Plant, where we learn about the creation of this huge dam complex and its vast 1350sq km reservoir. Alternatively return to the hotel to enjoy its collection of swimming pools, waterslides and a lazy river.
Day 10: Full day exploring the Argentinean side of Iguazu Falls
Today we will visit the Argentinean side of the Falls, where we can see an altogether more extensive view of this incredible cascade, with the added bonus of generally fewer tourists. Driving across the Tancredo bridge that separates Brazil from Argentina, enter the park and take a walk to the churning caldron of the Garganta del Diablo (the Devil's Throat) that offers magnificent views as a series of 14 separate falls merge into one, to produce a spectacular torrent. There is also the chance to take a close up view of the falls in a zodiac (optional).
This afternoon take in the upper and lower trails of the falls. There are several opportunities for other optional activities. Choose to take a train ride through the forest, watching out for toucans and colourful butterflies along the way or raft along the creek in search of some of the more elusive wildlife. Returning to the Brazilian side of the falls, head back to our hotel mid afternoon.
Day 11: Fly to Rio de Janeiro; Free afternoon to enjoy the roof top pool overlooking the Copacabana shoreline
This morning we take a flight to Rio de Janeiro.
The spectacular setting of Rio de Janeiro presents us with one of the most magnificent city scapes on the planet, with 120 km of golden beaches and a mountain backdrop that makes it an ideal ending point to this incredible journey.
This afternoon is free to relax and unwind. Enjoy a swim in the hotel pool overlooking the Copacabana shoreline or take a walk along the famous beach.
Day 12: Full fay in Rio. Corcovado tour to see the statue of Christ the Redeemer, the Maracanã stadium and Sugar Loaf Mountain at sunset
Take a tour of the city, riding the rack railway to the summit of Corcovado Mountain, topped by the immense statue of Christ the Redeemer, probably Rio's most iconic image. Towering some 30m above the surrounding landscape and weighing in at a mighty 1000 tonnes, a visit to the statue can present you with some quite spectacular views across the city, bay and outlying areas on a clear day.
On our way back to the hotel we make a photo stop at the impressive Maracana Stadium, the largest of its kind in the world and capable of holding up to 200,000 people. Originally built to host the 1950 World Cup Finals it saw Brazil lose to Uruguay in the final, before an incredible 199,854 spectators, and even today home matches will regularly see over 100,000 cram into the stadium. In a city and a country obsessed with the 'Beautiful Game', this venue is something close to a shrine for Brazilians.
This evening a cable car will take us to the majestic slopes of Sugar Loaf Mountain, rising out of the waters of Guanabara Bay. The summit the views across the city are spectacular, with the famed beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema laid out below us, and the peaks of the Tijuca National Park to our rear. Returning to the hotel there will be time to relax before our last dinner of the trip.
Day 13: Morning on Carioca Beach.Trip ends Rio de Janeiro in the afternoon
The trip ends in Rio de Janeiro after breakfast. For those with flights in the afternoon we head to Carioca beach.
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