From Magnificent waterfalls and iconic gauchos to awe-inspiring mountain views, rainforests and beaches the natural wonders abound on this guided tour. The food & drink is second to none with huge steaks, excellent wine and the tango. This is a once in a life-time two country tour of Southern South America’s highlights.
Day 1 - Arrive Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, the historical capital of Brazil where we will meet our Tour Director and transfer to our hotel.
Day 2 - Rio de Janeiro
Rio is a city that conjures up images of colorful Carnival floats, soccer matches, sunsets on the beach, the bossa nova, beautiful people, and even the song, Rio by Duran Duran and, the classic, Girl from Ipanema. As one of the most visited cities in the Southern Hemisphere, it never disappoints. Today our tour gives us an in-depth look at Rio’s highlights.
Our day begins with a short drive through the Tijuca Forest on our way to the 98-foot statue of Jesus perched atop Corcovado Mountain called Christ the Redeemer. This wonder of the world is the most iconic spot in the city. The statue was built over 100 years ago and has been the postcard image of Rio ever since. Keep an eye out for the little chapel carved into its base.
Our next stop is another scenic must-see destination, Sugarloaf Mountain. From the base of the mountain, we will take a cable car to reach the summit of Urca Hill and then, take another cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, which is 1,295 feet above sea level. Reaching the summit there are shops and restaurants that offer 360 -degree views of the city, surrounding ocean, and lush forests. For the adventurous there are several short trails that lead to magnificent vistas. (B)
Day 3 - Rio de Janiero
There are so many wonderful attractions to discover in this historic city. Today is your day of leisure giving you time to explore the city on your own and at your own pace. You may want to unwind and people watch on Copacabana Beach or go shopping at the “Hippie Market” of Ipanema where you will find more than 700 stalls of folk and contemporary art, jewelry, clothing, and crafts. While you are in the neighborhood, make sure to stop at Ipanema Beach.
If you would rather see more of the city, we are offering three optional half-day tours.
Optional DISTINCT Tour Excursions
HALF DAY: Hidden Gems of Downtown Rio -Santa Teresa, Lapa, and the Selaron Steps
Our tour begins with a tram ride across Arocs de Lapa, a picturesque aqueduct to Santa Teresa, one of the prettiest neighborhoods in Rio known for its bohemian vibe. Strolling along the winding cobblestone streets you will be delighted by sidewalk mosaics, historic mansions, eclectic architecture, art galleries, shops, and traditional Brazilian restaurants. We will visit Ruins Park where we will see the mysterious ruins of an ancient mansion that has been turned into an art gallery. A bonus of this visit is the magnificent view of Sugarloaf Mountain from the terrace. Next we will walk down the Selarón Steps, the most colorful flight of stairs that you will ever see. Just one person, Chilean artist Jorge Selarón, created these colorful stairs, 215 steps in all. After traveling to more than 57 countries, Selaron settled in Rio and began tiling the steps in front of his house. In honor of the Brazilian flag, he used yellow, green, and blue tiles interspersed with painted tiles and mirrors as his tribute to the people of Brazil. At the end of the stairs, we will be in Lapa, a district known for its buzzing traditional nightlife, lively bars, and street parties. We will stroll along the Passeio Público, the oldest public park in the South America, to reach Cinelândia Square, an important cultural center. The most significant buildings that surround the square are the Municipal Theater, Biblioteca Nacional, Brazil’s most important library, and the National Museum of Fine Arts. Our final stop is at the opulently decorated Art Nouveau cafe Confeitaria Colombo where we can sample some traditional Brazilian snacks.
HALF DAY: MUSEUM OF TOMORROW, AQUARIUM RIO & OLYMPIC BOULEVARD (morning only).
This morning we will ride along Olympic Boulevard to Porto Maravilha, Rio’s newly revitalized Port area. Here we will find some of the cities newest attractions including our first stop, the architecturally beautiful Museum of Tomorrow that seems to float upon the sea. This innovative cultural space is dedicated to setting an example for the world of how to recover and create modern urban space. Museum exhibits address a number of issues such as population growth, life expectancy, climate change, technological advances, genetic engineering, and bioethics to name a few. There is also an Observatory and temporary exhibitions.
Our next stop is Las Etnias a mural created by Brazilian artist, Eduardo Kobra that lined Olympic Boulevard at the 2016 Rio Olympics. Las Etnias is one of the largest murals in the world stretching over 32,000 feet with five ethnic groups depicted on a colorful background of geometric shapes. Our final stop is at the Rio de Janeiro Aquarium, the largest marine aquarium in South America. Here we will come face to face with 5,000 animals and 350 different species from around the world in 28 saltwater tanks. A highlight is the chance to interact with an immense variety of fish, invertebrates, rays, sharks, and corals.
HALF DAY: RIO NATURE - TIJUCA FOREST AND BOTANICAL GARDEN (afternoon only).
This tour is perfect for nature lovers. On it we will discover the diversity of the flora and fauna found here and brought here. Our first stop is the Botanical Garden in Rio de Janeiro founded in 1808. It is considered to be one of the most important botanical research gardens in the world. Today, the garden is home to over 6,500 species of foreign fauna collected from all over the world set on 350 acres. Visit a greenhouse of more than 2,000 orchids, the Japanese Garden complete with cherry trees, garden houses, ponds filled with Koi, and bridges, and wander in the Sensory Garden of herbal and aromatic plants. Stroll down the magnificent Avenue of 134 Royal Palm Trees planted more than 200 years ago, and see excellent examples of Brazilwood, the tree that gives its name to this country. Marvel at giant water lilies at Turtle Lake and look for the many birds that make their home in this oasis. For a panoramic view, head to Vista Chinesa Gazebo, to catch another view of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf.
Our next excursion is an adventure in Tijuca National Forest, one of the largest urban forests in the world boasting 30 waterfalls. We will take a short walk to Taunay Waterfall to learn about this sprawling Atlantic Rainforest with its unique flora, fauna, birds, and wildlife. On our return trip to the hotel we will pass São Conrado Beach a favorite haunt of hand gliders that soar over the cobalt blue ocean. (B)
Day 4 - Rio de Janeiro - Iguassu Falls
This morning we say goodbye to Rio as we fly to the fabled Iguazú Falls. Iguazú has earned the title of being the largest waterfall system in the world and has been named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. After checking into our hotel, we head to Brazil’s Iguazú National Park Visitor’s Center where we will learn about the 275 waterfalls that make up this incredible ecosystem and what trails to hike for the best views. Trilha das Cataratas trail is easy, paved, flat, and, should not be missed. Hikers on this trail are rewarded with several lookouts offering specular views as well as an excellent view of the Devil’s Throat waterfall. For people that don’t want to walk that far head to Porto Canoas Station to get the best view of the Devil’s Throat, the largest of the 275 waterfalls of Iguazú Falls. There are elevators to take up to a walkway, restaurants, and souvenir shops here. (B)
Optional DISTINCT Tour Excursions
National BIRD PARK
If you love birds don’t miss the chance to get acquainted with the birds of the Iguazú Falls National Bird Park. Explore huge aviaries that have been set up to look like a subtropical jungle. Here you will see more than 1,000 birds and 150 different species as you stroll along walkways that wind their way between trees and the lush foliage. A highlight is the bird nursery where baby birds are raised and fledged. Keep your eyes peeled for parrots, toucans, emus, harpy eagles, king vultures and many others. Additional attractions include a butterfly nursery and an area where you can see 25 species of reptiles, including snakes and alligators.
Day 5 - Iguassu Falls
Today’s excursion will take us to the Argentinian side of Iguazú Falls. We will cross into Argentina on the Tancredo Neves Bridge that spans the Iguazú River, separating the border between Argentina and Brazil. Once in Argentina, we will take the scenic highway up to the Argentine Iguazú National Park where we will have a spectacular view of the Argentinean Falls. Highlights of the Argentinian side of the falls include a walk on the Upper Circuit to the awe-inspiring view of Devil’s Throat, largest of the Argentinean Falls, and views of the San Martin Falls. You will feel, hear, and see the power of these falls, which is nothing short of spectacular. On the way back from the falls we will make a stop at the “Three Borders” where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet. (B)
Optional DISTINCT Tour Excursions
THE BIG ADVENTURE TOUR
This optional tour includes driving through the rainforest, rafting river rapids, and seeing the falls up close making it perfect for thrill seekers. On this optional tour we will drive into the rainforest in giant trucks to the pier where we will board a raft for an adventure on the Iguazú Inferior River Canyon. Along the way, our guide will point out exotic plants and animals while sharing facts about the park. Boarding our raft, we will traverse river rapids to view the falls from San Martín Island. Our on the water adventure continues with a visit to Tres Mosqueteros (Three Musketeers) falls, and Garganta del Diablo (Devil’s Throat), the highlight of the tour. The grand finale is rafting right up to the San Martín falls, for their powerhouse display.
IMPORTANT: We recommend bringing an extra set of clothes and shoes and a rain poncho because everyone will get wet on the Great Adventure excursion.
Day 6 - Iguassu Falls - Buenos Aires, Argentina
Today we have some free time to enjoy the Argentina side of the falls before we depart Misiones Iguazu for our short flight to Buenos Aires. We will check into our hotel and have the rest of the day at leisure. (B)
Day 7 - Buenos Aires
After breakfast, we will explore the exciting metropolis of Buenos Aires. Known as the Paris of South America with its tree lined streets, parks, and grand buildings, our tour will hit all the highlights. We will discover the charm of Argentina’s capital, from the chic districts of Recoleta and Palermo, to historic Plaza de Mayo, and see architectural icons such as the Colon Opera House, the Metropolitan Cathedral, and the Palace of Congress. We will visit the colorful barrios (districts) of San Telmo, home of the city’s aristocracy until the late 19th century; Caminito Street, in La Boca, the colorful living quarter for Italian immigrants by the Riachuelo River, and see the thriving restaurant scene at the Puerto Madero Waterfront.
This evening it is time to Tango! Buenos Aires is the capital of the tango made famous by Carlos Gardel, an Argentine singer and actor celebrated throughout Latin America for his backing of tango music. Tonight we will experience an unforgettable night at the most acclaimed tango show in Buenos Aires at the Aljibe Tango Theater. This exciting show takes place in a historic tango theater in the heart of the San Telmo neighborhood. In addition to the music and dancers we will enjoy a traditional three -course dinner. (B,L,D)
Day 8 - Buenos Aires
Today you have a day to explore Buenos Aires on your own. You may want to visit the San Telmo Market to get the perfect original souvenir that dates back to the golden age of Buenos Aires or check out some of the up and coming designers in Palermo. Another option might be to relax in the Botanical Gardens or visit the Museum of Latin American Art. If you prefer a tour, we are offering two options. (B)
Optional DISTINCT Tour Excursions
A day in the Pampas: San Antonio de Areco & EL Ombu de Areco Ranch
This option is perfect for people that want to experience the beauty of the countryside and the gaucho (cowboy) culture. On this tour we will visit the quaint town of San Antonio de Areco, deep in the heart of Argentina’s Pampas. This city is best known for its gaucho culture. We will have a guided tour of this compact town established in 1730. Colonial and turn of the century buildings line cobblestone streets that radiate out from the town’s main square, Plaza Ruiz de Arellano. After exploring the town and its most famous site, the Museo Gauchesco Ricardo Guiraldes, we will head to a famous ranch or estancia called El Ombu de Areco. This ranch consists of a magnificent 1880 farmhouse that has been in the Boelcke family since 1934. We are welcomed with a traditional snack of empanadas and beverages. Afterward, we have the option of exploring the property’s 300 hectares on horseback or in a sulky carriage. At lunchtime we will enjoy a typical “asado criollo” consisting of a variety of salads, drinks, and dessert. The highlight of the afternoon is a lively folklore show and a demonstration of gaucho skills.
San Isidro & Delta Tigre
The historic town of San Isidro and the picturesque Delta del Tigre are located in the north of Buenos Aires and are unique because houses built on the delta are only accessible by boat. The Tigre Delta is one of the world’s largest that doesn’t empty into the ocean. The river flows into the Rio de la Plata that separates Argentina and Uruguay, and splits into several smaller rivers. On this cruise we will see a more provincial side of the region as we explore the channels of the Delta while enjoying refreshments on board the ship. The delta lined with beautiful Victorian and half- timbered mock Tudor homes that are picture perfect. A highlight of the cruise is the stop at Puerto de Frutos, a traditional market where vendors sell everything from housewares to baskets, souvenirs, to knickknacks. We will take a break at Restaurant Vivanco for a delicious snack of handmade empanadas before we continue our adventure. On the way back to our hotel, we will stop in the town of San Isidro with its winding cobblestone streets where we will learn the history of this charming community and visit the neo gothic Cathedral of San Isidro.
Day 9 - Depart Buenos Aires
Today we say goodbye to Argentina and our South American adventure. We transfer to the airport where our time in South America comes to a finish. (B)