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Brazil’s remarkable wildlife meets its fascinating culture on this short yet comprehensive trip through South America’s largest country.
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Arrive in Brazil. Please note: international flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Connect onto another flight to the southern Pantanal, where you transfer over the savannah to your lodge at the heart of a huge wildlife sanctuary. Relax this afternoon after your long journey.
Set off to explore your surrounds today with a series of game drives in open vehicles, or walks through specific areas of the forest. Your days at your lodge are led by your on site local guides and resident biologists. The Pantanal is one of the world’s foremost bird watching destinations but in terms of non-flying friends, there are marsh deer, giant anteaters, monkeys, any number of caiman, peccaries, capybara, armadillo, ocelot, jaguar and even the very occasional puma.
Spend today in the company of the Onçafari research team as you head out to track the beautiful jaguar. This will include a night drive, probably your best chance to see the cats in the wild. Please note that today’s activity is optional, if you are not specifically interested in jaguars then you would join the normal day’s activities with your local guides.
Since you have a late flight to the north, this morning is yours to further explore the estate. Given the focus on wildlife up to this point, today might be given over to the cowboys. Return to Campo Grande airport for your evening flight up to the distant town of Cuiabá where you spend a short night.
After your late night, there is a bit of a lie-in this morning before your relatively short flight to the small town of Alta Floresta, gateway to the southern Amazon. You should be treated to a display of wildlife as you travel upriver, monkeys play in the trees, giant river otters nest on the banks and birds are everywhere. Though, as ever in the Amazon, wildlife is hard to spot, you are well looked after by your expert naturalist guides who always seem to have bionic eyesight. Settle in this evening to your very comfortable lodge with a first rate buffet dinner and afterwards the chance to watch the stars from around the open fire.
Your lodge has viewing tower that rise over the forest canopy, so set out to climb these this morning. Up at the top the views are expansive and should show off the rainforest at its very best, with mist lifting up from the seemingly endless waves of trees reaching to the very farthest horizon. Head out on a guided wildlife trail later before enjoying a dip in the river, the floating deck is a lovely place to read in the shade whilst cooling off with an occasional dip in the dark river waters. Though it takes a little getting used to, swimming in the river is a wonderfully refreshing treat.
Your lodge has a network of trails through the forest, many of which start and end at the lodge itself and these are all ones you may take in the days you are staying here. A boat ride away, you have trails reaching higher ground. These are fascinating for the views as well as for the changing ecosystems you can see - notably they are places where you find a lot of frogs. After lunch and time to relax back at the lodge, you might like to take a canoe ride downstream.
After another sunrise over the canopy and breakfast, leave the lodge to fly to Rio de Janeiro. It can be a slightly bitty journey with short connections but the airports involved are tiny, and Brazilian domestic airlines are remarkably efficient so it works well. You will be arriving in Rio late tonight. Your transfer guide will be there to meet you and help get you to your hotel quickly and painlessly.
Spend this morning relaxing before your private city tour this afternoon. Immerse yourself in Rio slowly as you wake up in what is arguably the world’s most beautiful city. This afternoon you have a private city tour to show you the best of Rio, from the cobbled colonial streets of Santa Teresa to the magnificent Christ the Redeemer statue which sits within the world’s largest urban nature reserve.
Take more time this morning to enjoy Rio before you journey to Paraty. The drive takes you though beautiful, though sadly endangered, Atlantic rainforest. The region around Paraty is almost entirely protected so the forest is happily verdant and intact as you reach this prettiest of colonial towns in the late afternoon.
For such a tiny town, Paraty certainly punches above its weight in Brazilian history. Originally little more than an encampment on the bay to send out gold from, the town grew with the planting of sugar cane to produce cachaça - Brazilian rum. However, the real money came to Paraty with the coffee boom. It was during this later period that most of the colonial buildings you see today were built. Stroll and relax this afternoon.
Set off by private boat into the bay of Paraty to swim and snorkel off its most beautiful beaches. Paraty is all about its bay, to this day, the water seeps into the cobbled streets of the old town at high tide. However, with two rivers emptying into the bay the waters here are a bit dirty. As soon as you set sail into the bay proper, the colour of the water transforms to a beautiful, clear green. The bay of Paraty isn’t a bay as such, rather a series of small islands and tiny bays, inlets and peninsulas which create all sorts of delightful hidden beaches with calm waters for you to swim and snorkel.
Depending on flight schedules, you might have time for a final dip or walk around the bay before you depart. Transfer to São Paolo for your flight home. Again, please note international flights are quoted separately.
Combine time in two of Brazil’s most important and respected premium wildlife lodges with the buzzing city of Rio and the beautiful coastline around the colonial town of Paraty.
This is not a particularly active trip physically though you are on the go for most of the time. Both the Pantanal and Amazon are characterised by early morning activities, such as game drives or boat rides. You tend to have some free time in the middle of the day before more activities later in the day and into the evening. In both cases, canoeing is an option and highly recommended though in both cases it is a relaxed affair.
Whereas the Pantanal is very much akin to a vehicle based safari experience, in the Amazon you have several walking trails and observation towers to explore. There are two higher trails which involve fairly steep up and down hill walks in hot conditions, you also have two 50m high observation towers which you go up pre-dawn to watch the sunrise. The older, tower 1, is narrower and therefore has very steep steps, almost a spiralling ladder. The newer, tower 2, is rather gentler to ascend and descend.
In Paraty we include a half day tour of the colonial town, a half day boat trip out to beaches with snorkelling and a half day easy walk along the gold trail. In summary, nothing overly active. What makes the difference in Brazil, on this trip in particular, is the possibility of hot days and annoying bugs. We tend to recommend the trip from May through October when both should be at a minimum and the wildlife at its best but you should travel prepared in any case.
The focus of this trip is on the experiences you have rather than the thread-count of your sheets. Caiman Lodge is a really very well known project within Brazil, much admired for its cutting edge conservation work. Saying that, accommodation is comfortable, clean and small scale with a very high staff/guest ratio but don't expect fancy. Your lodge will have five or six rooms, a small pool and air conditioning plus fan. Depending on the time of year, there may be a significant number of mosquitos. These tend to be worse in wet season, from October through April, but with weather patterns changing, you should be prepared for bugs at any time of year.
In the Amazon, you staying what is considered to be the most luxurious of rainforest lodges in Brazil. Though there is no air conditioning, the fans and open sided structures allow for air flow through the rooms. The nearby river is ‘black’ water which means it is too acidic for mosquitoes to breed. Saying that, there are other insects which will get you. Rooms are set out in and around the grounds a couple of minutes’ walk from the main lodge building. Electricity in the main building is on from early until 10pm. Rooms are powered by solar so you effectively have low voltage power 24 hours a day.
Ending in Paraty, you stay in a very traditional building on the edge of the old colonial centre, near the seafront. Rooms are very comfortable, with both air conditioning and fans, but these are old buildings so expect creaking doors and relatively little in the way of soundproofing though they have a noise curfew at 10pm so the bar and pool area quieten down then. Paraty is a very relaxed and calm place, by Brazilian beach standards at least, so whilst you will hear music and singing until around 9pm, it is often from the samba school or church.
One of the delights of Brazil is its people. There is a genuine openness and atmosphere to the place, despite the fact that most visitors don’t speak Portuguese and most locals don’t speak anything but. The Pantanal is very much about the interaction of humans and wildlife, where the wildlife is amply covered by game drives and experiences, the surprising aspect is perhaps the cowboy culture. People who come here from Rio or Sao Paolo are genuinely amazed to see people living such traditional lives out here. To watch a cowboy herding the cattle or a child lasso a cow is amazing.
The area of the Amazon you visit is not one which has been inhabited in any meaningful way so the experience is therefore very much about the wildlife. Down in Rio & Paraty, things change completely as it is all about the history, culture and cuisine. With a local guide to introduce you to it all, you should come away from Brazil with a fantastic sense of its landscapes, wildlife and culture.
We do have a detailed itinerary for this trip as set out above, if you would like to see that, please get in touch and we can email it over.
Ultimately though, this is a tailor made trip so we would love to have time to talk to you in order to send the most appropriate proposal to you.
International flights are quoted separately for this holiday. Best flight routings are to fly in and out of São Paulo (airport code: GRU).
Departs on a date to suit you, from April through October.
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The described itinerary is just a taster of what this trip could involve. We would work with you to tailor your personal trip.
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