ITINERARY: (Subject to change without notice): Day 1 – Friday – Depart USA: Depart Miami, New York or Los Angeles on overnight flight Day 2 – Saturday – Arrive Rio de Janeiro: Morning arrival in Rio de Janeiro and transfer to the Sofitel Rio Palace on famed Copacabana Beach. Your room is paid for immediate occupancy. Balance of day at leisure. Day 3 – Sunday – Rio de Janeiro: This morning you’ll enjoy your first introduction to this spectacularly beautiful city. Drive along Rio’s famous beaches to Urca, at the mouth of Guanabara Bay on a peninsula that sticks out into the Atlantic Ocean, where famed Sugar Loaf mountain (in Portuguese, Pão de Açúcar), rises 1299 feet high above the harbor. At Urca you will board an Italian made bubble-shaped glass-paneled cable car for a two stage ascent along a 4200 foot route to the summit of Sugar Loaf. Each stage takes only 3 minutes start to finish and offers spectacular 360-degree views. The original cable car line was built in 1912 and rebuilt around 1972/1973 and again in 2008. This iconic symbol of Rio has appeared in a 1942 Bette Davis movie, in the 1979 James Bond movie “Moonraker” and even in a Simpsons TV episode. From the summit of Sugar Loaf you’ll enjoy spectacular panoramas of the city, the Bay and, on the horizon, Corcovado with the famed statue of Christ the Redeemer. Afternoon at leisure to explore at your own pace – the Hippi Fair in Ipanema is in full swing as are the sidewalk cafes along Copacabana. (B) Day 4 – Monday – Rio de Janeiro: Drive along the beaches and through the Laranjeiras residential district and the quaint Cosme Velho to the Corcovado train station, where you will board a cogwheel train for a 2.4 mile 15-minute journey that crosses Tijuca forest – the largest urban forest in the world. It has 8,000 acres of tropical rain forest right in the middle of Rio de Janeiro. Once on the 2,329 ft tall granite mountaintop, take the glass elevator and an escalator to the summit where the statue of Christ the Redeemer, arms widespread, stands overlooking the city. It is considered the largest Art Deco statue in the world and the 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world. It is 130 ft tall, including its 31 ft pedestal, and 98 ft wide. It weighs 635 tons and is made of reinforced concrete and soapstone, and was constructed between 1922 and 1931. You’ll have plenty of time to enjoy the 360 degree vistas and panoramas over this naturally beautiful city before making your way back down the mountain and returning to your hotel. Afternoon at leisure to explore at your own pace, relax on the beach or poolside. This evening you might want to arrange optional dinner at one of Rio’s popular seafood restaurants and then take in a two hour samba extravaganza with costumes, music and dance from Rio’s famed Carnival. (B) Day 5 – Tuesday – Rio de Janeiro – Belo Horizonte: Morning flight to Belo Horizonte, gateway to the Colonial cities. Meeting immediate departure for 80 km drive through scenic countryside to Congonhas do Campo for a visit to the greatest masterpiece of the Brazilian sculpture Alejadinho: the twelve prophets in soapstone and the sculptural representation of the Via Cruces in polychromatic woodwork. Continue to Sao Joao del Rey (also spelled Rei) for lunch at the Quinto de Ouro and then a visit to the main points of interest in Sao Joao del Rey including the churches of St Francis of Assisi, Our Lady of Carmel and Rosario. Mid-afternoon departure for Tiradentes to visit the St. Antonio church and the house of Father Toledo. Overnight at the Solar da Ponte. (B/L) Day 6 – Wednesday – Tiradentes – Ouro Preto: After breakfast depart for Ouro Preto, a drive of 204 km. Visit the main points of interest in Ouro Preto, including the Mineralogy Museum which gives a complete mineralogical view of Brazil and displays samples from other continents as well. Visit the churches of St. Francis of Assisi and Pilar that marked the climax of the gold cycle with carved works painted entirely in gold. Enjoy lunch and afternoon at leisure to explore this charming colonial city at your pace. Overnight in Ouro Preto at the Pousada N. S. do Rosario. (B/L) Day 7 – Thursday – Ouro Preto – Belo Horizonte: After breakfast, drive to Mariana for a visit to the Cathedral and the Sacred Art Museum. Enjoy lunch before making the return drive back to Belo Horizonte for a visit to the main points of interest in Belo Horizonte before transferring to your hotel, the Ouro Minas, for overnight. (B/L) Day 8 – Friday – Belo Horizonte – Salvador Bahia: Moring transfer to the airport for flight to Salvador, Bahia. Meeting and transfer to Pousada Convento do Carmo for three night stay. This afternoon enjoy your first visit to Salvador, Bahia on a panoramic tour. The Lower City tour offers another perspective of the sprawling city, taking us to the quiet waters of the Itapagipe Peninsula where life moves at a slower pace than the bustling upper city. Fishermen fish from dugout canoes, locals collect shellfish at low tide, schooners lie at anchor, all protected by the famous Bonfim church, one of the most important churches of pilgrimage in Brazil and deeply synchronized with the Candomblé. We continue to the Monserrat district with its panoramic view of the city and onto the Mercado Modelo, a thriving market for local artifacts and souvenirs. This is also where you can test your bargaining talents. (B) Day 9 – Saturday – Salvador, Bahia: Spend the morning exploring Salvador, Bahia, first city founded in Brazil and a treasure house of colonial architecture. Visit the city’s important sites including newly rejuvenated “Pelorinho”, the city’s colonial center, filled with churches, cobblestone streets and colonial houses, São Pedro Fort, where the independence of Bahia was proclaimed; Castro Alves Square, Terreiro de Jesus surrounded by five churches. Here you will find one of the most spectacular churches in the world: São Francisco Church with its magnificent gold-leaf interior. It is a tour through the history of Salvador and its beautiful buildings hundreds of years old. Afternoon at leisure to explore at your own pace. This evening you will enjoy a performance by the Bale Folclorico de Bahia, one of the most respected folklore dance troupes in the world. They perform in the intimate Miguel Santana Theatre in the Pelourinho in a seamless presentation of the multiple African traditions that underpin Bahian culture. We will see the sacred dances of the Candomblé; puxada de rede, a song by fishermen in honor of Yemanjá, the goddess of the sea; maculelê, an acrobatic stick and sword dance with its origins in the cane fields; capoeira, a martial art/dance of Angolan origin and the samba de roda, a spinning, swirling version of this exuberant national dance. After the show dinner will be served in one of the many fine restaurants in the area. (B/DS) Day 10 – Sunday – Salvador, Bahia: Day at leisure to explore this historic city at your own pace. Pelourinho, the historic district, is filled with shops, art galleries and boutiques, in addition to restaurants and bars. Or you might want to arrange an optional schooner cruise with beach barbecue, visit nearby Cachoeira, a charming colonial town with a busy Sunday market, or explore the many museums of Bahia. (B) Day 11 – Monday – Salvador Bahia – Brasilia: Morning transfer to the airport for flight to Brasilia. Meeting and transfer to Hotel Blue Tree Park. In the afternoon visit Brasilia, the “City of Tomorrow”, a totally pre-planned city with extraordinary architecture, and considered to be one of the most important milestones in architecture and city planning in the 20th century. You will tour the world’s most modern city, founded in 1960. You will visit the Little Church of Nossa Senhora de Fátima, the Super Blocks, the Dom Bosco Sanctuary, the TV and Radio towers, the Three Powers Square, the National Theater and many other modern architecture buildings created and designed by Oscar Niemeyer. (B) Day 12 – Tuesday – Brasilia – Cuiaba – Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge: Morning transfer to the airport for your flight to Cuiaba. Meeting upon arrival by staff from Araras Lodge and departure to Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge. Transfer is divided in two stages. The first, on a paved road for 62 mile to Poconé, passing by farms and savanna. After a stop in Poconé we start the second stage of the transfer entering at Km 0 the Estrada Parque Transpantaneira (park road) unpaved and built at a higher level than the flood plain. The road has more than 127 wooden bridges spanning fields, bays and grazing lands. Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge is at 9.88 mile. and transfer is considered a photo-safari for the many species of animals and birds found along its length and you will make several stops for photos. Arrival at Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge, reception, welcome with fresh fruit juice and accommodation. Late afternoon hike of the lodge surroundings, reaching the Mirante da Garça, 39.5 ft. high observation tower for an unequalled view of the sunset. After dinner, a star gazing trek, to hear the sounds of the flood plain. Overnight. ( L/D) Day 13 – Wednesday – Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge: Full day dedicated to observing the Pantanal’s flora & fauna at the Araras Eco Lodge private reserve. After breakfast the guide will lead you on a 2 to 3 hour horseback ride through the grazing fields, woods and flood lands. Lunch at the lodge. In the afternoon we will go on hike to a different area of the reservation, allowing you to observe and learn about this ecosystem. Overnight. (B/L/D) Day 14 – Thursday – Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge: After breakfast, departure to Rio Clarinho (river) riding on the flood plain. At Rio Clarinho riverbank, take a canoe and explore its banks, mangroves and forest. With luck, sight a family of ariranhas (giant otters) will be nearby (fishing, playing and teaching the babies to swim and fish). Try to fish the elusive Piranha, known for nibbling the bait off the hook without the fisherman noticing. Lambaris, another species of fresh water fish, are an easy catch and are delicious when barbecued. A picnic barbecue lunch will be prepared at the camp site. Return to the lodge at the end of the afternoon. Overnight. (B/L/D) Day 15 – Friday – Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge – Cuiaba – Brasilia – Manaus: The day begins with a very early start to see the sunrise from the top of Mirante da Garça / Heron’s Tower. Hear the sounds of the birds leaving the nests for the day and see the rising sun touching the vegetation. Breakfast and departure to Cuiaba airport in time for midday flight to Manaus, deep in the Amazon, 1500 miles up the Amazon River . Meeting and transfer to Hotel Tropical on the Rio Negro for two night stay. (B) Day 16 – Saturday – Manaus: This morning visit the Mercado Muncipal, a miniature copy of the now-demolished Parisian Les Halles, filled with exotic regional produce, from exotic fruit to magic herbs to cure all ills plus handicrafts. Built in 1882, the wrought iron work, which forms much of the structure, was imported from Europe and is supposed to have been designed by Eiffel. In the afternoon continue exploring this historic town, capital of the state of Amazonas. Manaus is a great “free port” city with a mixture of architecture from the varying past. Stop by the famed Opera House, built during the rubber boom days, brought piece by piece from Europe including some 6,000 tiles on the roof, The interior has been restored to its original opulence. You’ll also stop by the regional museum with an excellent collection of Indian artifacts and flora/fauna of the Amazon. (B) Day 17 – Sunday – Manaus – Anavilhanas Lodge: Morning departure by van for scenic drive of just under three hours to Nova Airao where your motor launch is waiting for a short transfer to the lodge, located in the greatest river archipelago in the world, the Estação Ecológica de Anavilhanas with about 400 islands which extend for over 90 km of untouched native forest. It is a veritable maze of lakes, rivers and riverbanks which are the home to a very rich plant and animal life. Located on Rio Negro, the archipelago is a paradise for biologists, ecologists and tourists. You will spend three nights in a Deluxe Bungalow at the Anavilhanas Lodge with all meals and a selection of activities to explore the rich flora and fauna of the Amazon. (B/L/D) Day 18 – Monday – Amazon: Today you will enjoy a selection of activities. Your local host at the lodge will explain the activities available, such as canoeing through riverbanks in Rio Negro; a visit to the Cabocla Community in Tiririca; nocturnal sightseeing at Anavilhanas Archipelago; reconnaissance tour on Anavilhanas Archipelago; hiking in the mainland woods; visit to Amazonian dolphins and art parlors in Novo Airão; recreational piranha fishing and sunrise contemplation. (B/L/D) Day 19 – Tuesday – Amazon: Today you will once again enjoy a selection of activities to explore the rainforest. (B/L/D) Day 20 – Wednesday – Anavilahanas Lodge – Manaus: One last morning to enjoy activities as offered. Afternoon return transfer to Manaus for overnight at the Hotel Tropical . Day 21 – Thursday – Manaus – Brasilia – Iguassu Falls: Midday transfer to the airport for flight to Brasilia where you connect to your flight to Iguassu Falls, arriving in the late evening. Meeting and transfer to Hotel Das Cataratas at the falls for three night stay. (B) Day 22 – Friday – Iguassu Falls: Today you will spend exploring these awesome falls with 275 falls spanning a 2-mile wide precipice, from the Brazilian side, with wide panoramic vistas. Eleanor Roosevelt is said to have exclaimed upon viewing these falls: “Poor Niagara! This makes Niagara look like a kitchen faucet!”. In the morning take the walking tour on the Brasilian side for spectacular panoramas of the falls. In the afternoon take the Macuco Safari and motor launch excursion for a ride along the turbulent river for different views of these falls, including ducks in and out of the cascades themselves. Also stop by the Parque de Aves for a visit to the huge walk-through aviaries and butterfly farm. (B) Day 23- Saturday – Iguassu Falls: This morning you will cross over the border to the Argentine side for yet another series of walks to view these spectacular falls. One catwalk takes you to the edge of Devil’s Throat; two others take you down along the base of falls, offering the “Up Close and Personal” encounter with the falls. This afternoon you can arrange a variety of visits and activities in the area, including kayaking, hiking, bird watching. (B) Day 24 – Sunday – Iguassu Falls – Sao Paulo and depart to USA: Morning at leisure to explore at your own pace. Mid-day check-out at hotel and late afternoon transfer to the airport for flight to Sao Paulo for connections to your overnight international return flight. (B) Day 25 – Monday – Arrive U.S.A.: Morning arrival in your USA gateway city. Clear immigrations and customs and make connections to your home city.