Brazilian Rhythms

With such a giant of a country, it’s difficult to know where to start – Brazil has such a wealth and diversity of experiences that it’s impossible to include them all in one trip. We’ve designed this tour to encompass some of its best, from those you’ve undoubtedly heard of, to those that are a little more ‘unusual’.

We start in the jungle city of Manaus, gateway to the mighty Amazon, and from here travel to our remote floating lodge in the Mamiraua Reserve – the largest protected area in Brazil. With three full days here, we spend our time exploring the rivers, lakes and forests, home to monkeys, sloth, dolphins and numerous other species. We’ll also visit a local community to see how they maintain their traditions and culture in the world’s greatest rainforest.

From here we fly to the coastal city of Salvador, a centre for the country’s Afro-Brazilian population and home to some fascinating customs. We delve into the indigenous religion of candomble – a mixture of traditional African and European beliefs – see how the martial art of capoeira is practiced, and explore the city’s colonial centre.

We then continue into the sublime landscapes of the Chapada Diamantina, a vast region of table top mountains, gaping canyons and gushing waterfalls. We explore the landscape on foot and by vehicle, visiting caves with azure blue pools, stalactites and stalagmites, enjoying spectacular views, and learning about the local cuisine.

Moving on, the towns and cities of Minas Gerais are home to some of the most exquisite colonial architecture on the continent. Cobbled streets, pastel coloured houses and elegant old churches take us back a couple of centuries as we explore Ouro Preto – perhaps the jewel in the crown here – and the smaller town of Mariana, just as charming but with far fewer visitors.

Finally we end up in Rio de Janeiro, as no visit to Brazil would be complete without it. We take in the classic sights of Christ the Redeemer and Sugarloaf Mountain, of course, and also spend time in the favelas, meeting local people and hearing their stories of life here. Rio has some legendary nightlife as well, and we head out to sample some of the excellent music to be found here.

From some of the planet’s most enigmatic wildlife, to rich cultural traditions, beautiful cities and awe-inspiring landscapes, this is a marvelous introduction to the wonders that this vast country has to offer.

Highlights

  • Look for wildlife in the Amazon
  • Explore the favelas of Rio
  • The colonial heritage of Minas Gerais
  • Incredible landscapes in the Chapada Diamantina

Day 1 - Manaus

Arrive in Manaus, the gateway to the Amazon, and transfer to your hotel. Overnight Hotel Saint Paul or similar.

Manaus 

The capital of the state of Amazonas is the largest urban centre in the northern region of Brazil and the gateway to the wonders of the Amazon rainforest. Founded by the Portuguese in 1669, Manaus increased in importance during the rubber boom at the turn of the 20th century, when the city enjoyed its wealthiest period. A walk through its historic centre will demonstrate why it has earned the nickname of ‘Paris of the Tropics’: elaborate palaces, art deco buildings and elegant museums vie for space, making you wonder if you’re really in the Amazon after all. The jewel of Manaus’ architectural crown is perhaps the Opera House, built in the style of the Renaissance. Within the city you’ll find some excellent restaurants to sample the rich Amazonian cuisine; from sophisticated dishes such as pirarucu cod to the classic rib of tambaqui on the grill and, for vegetarians, the obligatory tacumã sandwich, better known as caboclinho. 

Days 2-5 - The Amazon

Fly west to Tefe, and from here transfer by boat to our jungle lodge, in the Mamiraua Reserve – Brazil’s largest protected area. Our time here will be spent exploring the rainforest, lake and rivers in search of wildlife, on foot and by boat. We’ll make daytime and evening excursions, so that we have good chances of also seeing the nocturnal creatures which live here, as well as meeting one of the indigenous communities that live here. The flooded forests here are home to a wide array of species including howler monkeys, sloth, uakari monkeys, pink river dolphins and manatees, among many others. We stay each night in Uakari Floating Lodge. (BLD)

The Amazon 

The largest rainforest on the planet, the Amazon covers about 7 million square kilometres, including the largest river basin in the world, and stretches across nine South American nations – although 60% of this impressive forest is in Brazil. Growing everywhere from high mountain slopes to coastal estuaries, the forest can be remarkably diverse.

In the Andes, the first forest vegetation occurs at about 3000 metres, although it’s stunted and sparse. At around 1,600 metres, where there is considerably more rainfall, the moss covered trees of the cloudforest begin. Epiphytes such as orchids and bromeliads grow in abundance here, their bright colours rivalled by those of the iridescent hummingbirds and butterflies which flit from flower to flower. Below 1000 metres is the rainforest proper, the oldest and largest in the world, but even this has many forms. Some of the densest forest grows along the banks of rivers and in the permanent swamps of low-lying regions; taller trees and palms thrive in the areas that are regularly flooded in the rainy season, and the tallest hardwoods are better suited to higher, drier ground.

The Amazon’s climate is equatorial, characterised by high temperatures of between 22 and 28ºC, and high rainfall, with air humidity exceeding 80%.

The forest is home to the greatest range of biodiversity on the planet, home to hundreds of thousands of birds, mammals, fish, insects, plants. One in five bird species on the planet live here, and scientists estimate that a single square kilometre of the Amazon can contain over a thousand tree species.

Day 6 - Tefe - Salvador

Leaving the Amazon behind, we transfer first back to Tefe and then fly to Manaus, to connect with our flight to Salvador. Overnight Monte Pascoal Praia Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 7 - Salvador

Spend the day exploring Salvador, one of Brazil’s most exciting cities and a centre of the Afro-Brazilian community. We learn about the candomblé religion, a mixture of African beliefs and Catholicism, in the company of a babalorixa (priest), as well as the Brazilian art of capoeira. After visiting the Sao Joaquim market, with its stalls dedicated to local cults, we then take the Lacerda Elevator to the city’s historic centre, with its charming colonial architecture. Overnight Monte Pascoal Praia Hotel or similar. (B)

Salvador 

The first capital of Brazil, Salvador was founded in 1549 as São Salvador da Bahia de Todos os Santos and is well known within the country for its rich cultural life. It’s here that you can best see the influence of African culture in Brazil, evident in music, religion, gastronomy, crafts and traditions – to know Salvador is to delve deeper into Brazil’s roots. Of particular interest is candomblé, a unique religion which combines elements of African customs and Christianity – for those that have seen the voodoo ceremonies of West Africa, much will be familiar.

This city of almost three million inhabitants is divided between the Upper and Lower cities and unusually connected by the famous Lacerda Elevator, built in an Art Deco style. Its historic centre has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO and houses an impressive ensemble of baroque colonial architecture. The area of Largo do Pelourinho is one of Brazil’s most picturesque cityscapes, with its stone slopes, narrow streets and centuries-old colourful buildings.

Day 8 - Lencois

Travel to the city of Lencois, our base for exploring the Chapada Diamantina National Park, one of Brazil’s most impressive landscapes. Overnight Hotel de Lencois or similar. (B)

Chapada Diamantina 

In the heart of the state of Bahia lies Chapada Diamantina National Park; 38,000 km² of mountains, savannah, waterfalls and caves, and as far away from most people’s pre-conceived ideas of Brazil as one can imagine. This is one of Brazil’s great landscapes, yet little known outside of the country, and home to an impressive array of flora and fauna. There is much to discover here, and as well as being great trekking country, it’s also well suited for more gentle explorations – you don’t need to be super fit to make the most of it.

Table top mountains offer superb views, and the park is also home to the country’s second highest waterfalls – which evaporates before it reaches the ground. Wildlife here includes puma, deer and other wild cats, but the real drawcard here is the scenery, and it’s worth taking a couple of days or more to explore it in depth. It’s home to the two highest points of Bahia: “Pico Barbados” (2,033m), and “Pico das Almas” (1,958m).

Day 9 - Chapada Diamantina

Drive into the park to Iraquara, where we take an easy hike to the huge cave of Lapa Doce, with its numerous stalactites and stalagmites. In the afternoon we visit Pratinha Farm and the beautiful ‘blue cave, before hiking to the top of the Morro do Pai Inacio Mountain (approx. 20 minutes) to watch the sunset over the mountains and valleys. Overnight Hotel de Lencois or similar. (BL)


Day 10 - Chapada Diamantina

In the morning take a scenic walk along the Lencois River, passing the striking caves and rock formations of the Salão de Areias and ending up at the waterfall of Cachoeira da Primavera. This afternoon we learn about the cuisine of the region, with a cooking class making typical local dishes. Overnight Hotel de Lencois or similar. (BL)


Day 11 - Chapada Diamantina

Drive to the Poco Encantado, a huge natural limestone basin with turquoise waters – on sunny days the waters become so transparent that you can see for many metres. We then head to the cave of Poco Azul, home to another beautiful pool, before returning to Lencois. Overnight Hotel de Lencois or similar. (BL)


Day 12 - Salvador

Leave the Chapada Diamantina and travel back to Salvador. Overnight Monte Pascoal Praia Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 13 - Belo Horizonte

Fly to Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state. On arrival we explore the city, visiting the area of Pampulha with its buildings designed by Oscar Niemeyer, among other sites. Overnight Belo Horizonte Lourdes Hotel or similar. (B)


Day 14 - Congonhas - Ouro Preto

Travel to Congonhas, where we visit one of the most impressive churches in Brazil, the Sanctuary of Bom Jesus de Matosinhos. This is an important centre of pilgrimage for Brazilians, a rococo style masterpiece designed by the sculptor Aleijadinho. From here continue to Ouro Preto. Overnight Pousada de Oficios or similar. (B)


Day 15 - Ouro Preto

Ouro Preto is packed full of exquisite old buildings and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We spend the day exploring the town, visiting the Basilica Nossa Senhora do Pilar, the church of Sao Francisco, and its numerous other gems. Overnight Pousada de Oficios or similar. (B)

Ouro Preto 

Of all the exquisite colonial towns scattered around Minas Gerais, Ouro Preto is the jewel in the crown. Significant historically as a centre of gold mining and government, and as the stage for Brazil’s first independence movement, the city remains important in modern times as a centre for education and the arts, and is one of Brazil’s most visited tourist destinations.

Sitting at the feet of the Serra do Espinhaço, Ouro Preto’s colonial centre is larger and has steeper topography than any other historical town in Minas. The narrow, crooked streets of the upper and lower towns tangle together and in places are too rough and precipitous for vehicles. Navigating the vertiginous cobblestone slopes on foot can be tiring, but the views of 23 churches spread out across the hilly panorama are spectacular. The city is a showcase of outstanding art and architecture, including some of the renowned sculptor Aleijadinho’s finest works.

Day 16 - Mariana

Travel to the nearby town of Mariana, founded in the 17th century and the first capital of Minas Gerais. The town’s fortunes were made during Brazil’s gold rush, reflected in its elegant old churches and pretty town squares, yet receives far fewer visitors than better known towns in the region. Return to Ouro Preto in the afternoon. Overnight Pousada de Oficios or similar. (B)


Day 17 - Belo Horizonte - Rio de Janeiro

Transfer back to Belo Horizonte, and from there fly to Rio de Janeiro. Overnight Hotel Windsor Martinique or similar. (B)


Day 18 - Rio de Janeiro

Rio is well established as one of the world’s great cities, and today we explore a couple of its recognised highlights. We travel by tram, through a section of Atlantic Forest, to the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer, for great views over the city. As well as this we take  a ride on the cable car on Sugar Loaf Mountain. To delve a bit deeper into the city, we also visit a local community art project, learning about the lives of people in Rio, and visit a local bar to have a better glimpse of life within the community. Overnight Hotel Windsor Martinique or similar. (B)

Rio de Janeiro 

Surrounded by majestic mountains, the intense green of its forests and the Atlantic Ocean’s blue that bathes its internationally famous beaches, Rio de Janeiro is one of the most beautiful cities on the planet.

Its name dates back to the arrival of the Portuguese in the region. When navigators landed here in 1502, they mistook the bay for a river, naming it after the month they were in: January, in Portuguese, ‘Janeiro’. During the 17th century, Rio became an important city due to its port and the sugar industry, but it was thanks to the later gold rush that it became the capital of Brazil in 1763, remaining as such until the creation of Brasilia, in 1960.

Brazil’s second largest metropolis and the country’s main tourist destination, Rio contains a multitude of natural and cultural attractions, including Sugar Loaf Mountain, the statue of Christ the Redeemer – one of the seven wonders of the modern world – the Santa Teresa cable car, samba and the bohemian bars of Lapa. Not to mention its carnival and New Year’s Eve celebrations, among the most famous parties in the world.

 

Rio is also known for its favelas, shanty towns which sprung up on the slopes of the surrounding mountains. Their buildings often made from salvaged goods such as corrugated iron and scraps of wood, the favelas are where migrants from the countryside come to seek their fortunes in the city, with varying results – most favelas are desperately poor, and some are effectively ruled by criminal gangs. Nevertheless, they are fascinating to explore and show a very different side of life in Rio, often with a strong sense of community spirit and self help organisations.

The beaches, in turn, are a true institution in the life of the ‘cariocas’, as the inhabitants of Rio are called. Take the opportunity to stroll along the sands and sidewalks of Copacabana or Ipanema, try an açaí berry bowl, drink sweet mate tea with the famous O Globo cassava starch biscuits and watch the sun set over the rocks of Arpoador. In the late afternoon, a cold draft beer in any Urca neighborhood bar is a must to wrap up the day and confirm that, as the song goes, “o Rio de Janeiro continua lindo” – Rio de Janeiro remains beautiful.

Day 19 - Rio de Janeiro

Rio is known for its favelas, the vibrant shanty towns that creep up the mountainsides, and today we spend some time exploring Vila Canoas and Rocinha, the largest favela in the country in the company of a local guide. This is a chance to gain an insider’s perspective on an often misunderstood facet of the country, learning about the cultural, political and economic lives of the people that live here. This evening we head out to explore Rio’s legendary nightlife, visiting a couple of music venues popular with the locals. Overnight Hotel Windsor Martinique or similar. (B)


Day 20 - Rio de Janeiro

Transfer to the airport for departure. (B)


What's included?

  • Airport transfers

    We include arrival and departure transfers regardless of whether you book flights yourself, or we book them for you. If you’re booking them yourself, then please let us know the details so that we can arrange the transfers. Please note though that if you arrive earlier than Day 1 of the tour, and leave after the final day, we may need to make an additional charge for an airport transfer.

  • Accommodation

    Accommodation as listed in the dossier. The nature of the destinations that we operate may sometimes mean that we need to change hotels, but we’ll always endeavour to keep the same standards. Please be aware that as we operate in many countries where tourism is in its infancy, hotel standards may not be the same as you’re used to elsewhere.

    Please note that while we prefer to use centrally located hotels where possible, this is not always practical and in some locations they may not be the best option in terms of standards or reliability.

  • Guide

    You will be accompanied by an English speaking guide.

  • Meals

    As listed within the itinerary / dossier (B-Breakfast, L-Lunch, D-Dinner). These will vary from trip to trip – in some areas it makes sense to include all meals while in others there is a good choice of restaurants and we feel people might like to ‘do their own thing’ now and again. Please note that when meals are included, sometimes these will be in hotels, as often these are the most appropriate option, and will sometimes be set menus. Local restaurants are often lacking in variety, as well as the capacity to cater for groups. Drinks are not included and are at your own expense.

  • Entrance fees

    Entrance fees are listed for those sites that we mention within the itinerary. If there are any other sites that you’d like to see, these would be at your own expense.

What's not included?

  • Visas

    We don’t arrange visas for our travellers, but if an invitation letter is necessary then we will arrange this for you. If you need any advice with visas then just give us a call, or alternatively a visa agency such as Travcour (www.travcour.com) can assist.

  • International flights

    Many of our travellers arrive from different destinations and so we don’t include international flights in the cost of our tours. If however you would like us to book flights for you, then just give us a call and we’ll be happy to discuss your options.

  • Travel insurance

    If you need any assistance with this, then let us know – although we can’t arrange it ourselves we can point you in the direction of a reputable provider that can assist.

Visas

UK nationals don’t need a visa to visit Brazil and can stay for up to 90 days. Citizens of most American and Western European countries don’t need a visa either. Your passport should be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Peru and you should have two blank pages in your passport. 

Visa regulations can change however and so we recommend that you contact your nearest embassy for the most up to date information. 

Health and vaccinations

We are not medically qualified and so we recommend that you speak to your doctor or nearest health professional for advice concerning recommended vaccinations. For more advice on vaccinations you can also visit www.fitfortravel.nhs.uk. 

Insurance

It is a condition of joining our tours that you have suitable travel insurance in place, and we cannot accept travellers without insurance. All policies differ in terms of what they will cover, but as a minimum you need medical and health cover which will cover you for the whole time that you are away. Most policies will also include cancellation cover, which will cover you if an unforeseen circumstance obliges you to cancel your trip. We recommend that you obtain your insurance as soon as you book your trip.

Please note that government travel warnings often affect the validity of your travel insurance, and you should check this with your insurance company. 

Money

The official currency in Brazil is the real. Not all shops, hotels, restaurants and bars accept credit cards, or may not accept all credit card types. Check if they take cards before asking for anything and keep all debit and credit card receipts. When using an ATM, it is best to do so in business hours inside a bank, supermarket or large commercial building.

Local conditions

When travelling to some of the destinations we offer you need to bear in mind that things won’t always work here as we’re used to them working at home. Travelling in underdeveloped and untouristed destinations requires both patience and a sense of humour. There may be problems with infrastructure, attitudes may be

different, and maintenance may not be as high a standard as we would always like, but this is very much part and parcel of travelling in such a place. We aim to resolve any issues as quickly as possible, and thank you for your patience.

Travel advice

We keep a very close eye on the travel advice issued by the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office so that we can keep you up to date with any warnings. At the time of writing the FCO does not advise against travel to any parts of Brazil that we visit on our tours.We work very closely with our local team and are fully confident that we can operate tours safely in Brazil. Should you have any concerns over safety please do not hesitate to contact us and we can address your concerns.

This relates to advice from the British government – other nationalities need to check the stance of their own governments.

Date(s)
Price (PP) Exc. Flights
Single Supplement
Trip Status
Date -
21 November 2021
Price (PP) -
£4,199
Single Supplement -
£450
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
07 August 2022
Price (PP) -
£4,399
Single Supplement -
£450
Trip Status -
Available
Date -
20 November 2022
Price (PP) -
£4,399
Single Supplement -
£450
Trip Status -
Available