Discover Brazil: Rio de Janeiro to the Amazon Rainforest14 days / Nature & Wildlife Tours, Eco Tours
About This Experience
Feel the rhythm of South America’s largest nation—from the wetlands and rainforests that teem with life to the bustling city streets. You’ll experience Brazil from all sides, alternating between carnival-colored cities and peaceful retreats surrounded by stunning, wildlife rich landscapes.
Your Tour Includes
Round-trip airfare & transfers
12 nights in handpicked hotels
Breakfast daily, 8 lunches, 8 three-course dinners with beer or wine
Private deluxe motor coach
Guided sightseeing & select entrance fees
Multilingual Tour Director
Why You'll Love It
World-famous carnival culture & samba sounds
Amazing opportunities for animal encounters
Thousands of bird species—more than in Europe & North America combined
The Amazon: the world’s largest rainforest
Fresh fruit, fresh coffee & food fresh off the barbecue
The colonial history & heritage of Salvador
Overnight Flight1 night
Rio de Janeiro3 nights - hotel info
Step to the beat of Rio, where samba is king
Arrive in Rio de Janiero this morning. After you clear customs, a Go Ahead representative will greet you and escort you from the airport to your hotel. The rest of your day is free to explore Rio on your own. You may choose to take in local culture in the city’s many museums, such as the National Museum of Fine Arts or the Museum of Contemporary Art. Or, soak up the sun on one of the city’s many beaches, like Copacabana or Ipanema. Tonight, meet your group at an included welcome dinner.
See the city from all sides—and great heights
Tijuca National Park, cogwheel train, cable car, Metropolitan Cathedral
This morning you’ll trace Rio’s signature coastline on your journey to the peak of Corcovado Mountain. You’ll slice right through its base via the Reboucas Tunnel before entering Tijuca Forest National Park. From here, you’ll board a cogwheel train for a short ride up the side of the mountain to get a closer look at Rio’s premiere attraction: the Christ the Redeemer statue. From the viewing platform, you’ll also be able to catch a panoramic look at the city below. Upon returning to Rio, enjoy an included lunch in an authentic local restaurant before scaling Sugarloaf Mountain by cablecar for breathtaking views. Then, take a guided tour of the city’s major landmarks, including the Metropolitan Cathedral of St. Sebastian and Cinelandia Square.
Learn the ins and outs of the world’s most famous carnival
Optional Excursion - Rio by Night: Carnival Cultural Show & Dinner
Samba school and museum, Sambadrome
Go behind the scenes of Rio’s biggest celebration, carnival. This morning, visit a samba school to see where performers perfect their routines and then stop by the museum to learn more about the world-renowned festival. Later, it’s off to the barracão, a workshop where artisans craft opulent parade floats and decorations out of simple materials. End the morning at the Sambadrome, the cavernous stadium built in 1984 to house the procession of samba schools and more recently renovated for the 2016 Olympic Games. This afternoon is free for you to explore Rio as you’d like. You may choose to cap off your day of carnival by joining tonight’s optional barbecue dinner and carnival show.
Rio by Night: Carnival Cultural Show & Dinner $139* pp
Indulge at the traditional Brazilian barbecue, a meat-lover’s paradise known as the churrascaria. Here, waiters make the rounds through the dining room, offering up endless skewers of freshly grilled chicken, beef and more. Authentic carioca side dishes complete the meal, meaning there are plenty options for herbivores, too. Then, feel the rhythm of the Plataforma folklore show as performers take you on a journey through Brazil’s most popular music. African percussion mixes with samba sounds as dancers perform capoeira and showcase lavish carnival dress in a grand finale parade.
The Pantanal3 nights - hotel info
Escape to the peaceful wetlands
Depart Rio this morning for the world’s largest continous wetland, the Pantanal. Your journey will take you through the expansive Brazilian savannah, with stops along the way for photos and animal sightings. Discover a region perfectly suited for seeking out wildlife, as the flat land and sparse vegetation offers many unobstructed views. Arrive at your eco lodge tonight in time for an included dinner followed by an evening stargazing walk.
Natural beauty is all around, waiting to be discovered
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Explore the Pantanal on horseback or in a canoe with a local guide today. You’ll have many opportunities to spot wildlife. The Pantanal is home to thousands of diverse animal species including anacondas, jaguars, capybaras, caimans, deer and anteaters. After an included lunch, join a wildlife guide on a bird-watching walk, where you’ll learn about the area’s 1,000 avian species and the ecosystems that support them—watch for toucans, macaws and jabiru storks. Enjoy a relaxing dinner at the eco lodge tonight.
It’s a photo safari and you’re on the hunt for wildlife
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
This morning, hop aboard a canoe for a guided tour of the Clarinho River. On the surrounding riverbanks and in the nearby forests, you may catch a glimpse of a family of giant otters. Try your hand at fishing for piranha, the famously elusive fish known for nibbling the bait without getting hooked. Luckily, lambaris are an easier catch—and delicious when barbecued. Enjoy a freshly caught lunch in the Pantanal before a free afternoon. Join the group for dinner again tonight.
Salvador3 nights - hotel info
Embark on an Afro-Brazilian adventure
Optional Excursion - Salvador By Night: Folklore Show & Dinner
Sao Francisco Church
Get to know Salvador on a sightseeing tour of the city. The capital of the Brazilian state of Bahia, Salvador was originally established as the first capital of Portugal’s New World colony and is one of the oldest cities in the Americas. Afro-Brazilian culture runs deep in Salvador as evidenced by the many capoeira street performances, continued observance of candomblé religious traditions and a celebrated local cuisine that utilizes many typical African ingredients and cooking techniques. Your tour begins in the modern suburb of Barra, home of the continent’s oldest lighthouse. Continue on to the “lower” area of Salvador, known for its quieter, slower pace of life, and take in panoramic views of the Itapagipe Peninsula from the Montserrat area. Stop in the Pelourinho, Salvador’s UNESCO-recognized historic center, for a lunch of Bahaian cuisine. Then, view the Rio Branco Palace in Tomé de Souza Square and the Sao Francis Church, which features an interior that’s lavishly decorated in gold leaf. This afternoon, visit the DiDá Project, an organization run by percussion legend Neguinho do Samba that is devoted to the development of young women through performance. Tonight you may choose to delve deeper into Bahia’s Afro-Brazilian culture at an optinal dinner and show.
Salvador By Night: Folklore Show & Dinner $119* pp
Experience the brilliant nightlife of Bahia, one of Brazil’s most fascinating regions, over a delicious dinner of local cuisine. Savor Bahian flavors like coconut cream, ginger, coriander, cilantro and spicy peppers. Then, witness the deep African tradition in a folklore show that features iconic samba sounds, an acrobatic capoeira performance and a lively circle dance called maculelê.
Today is all about community—with a taste of cacao, too
Today is dedicated to exploring the communities outside of Salvador, beginning with a visit to a sugar cane and cocoa plantation. Then, stop at the community of Engenho da Ponte, a former settlement of escaped slaves known as a quilombo. Your tour is guided by a Griô, a community member dedicated to keeping ancestral traditions and folklore alive, and includes visits to local churches for a presentation of traditional song. Continue on to Cachoeira, once one of the Brazilian Empire’s wealthiest cities and today a treasure trove of Baroque architecture. Before lunching with the locals, cross the Paraguaçu River to visit a cigar factory that’s been in operation since 1873. This evening, be sure to pack an overnight bag for your three-day adventure in the Amazon.
The Amazon3 nights - hotel info
Back to the wilderness, in style of course
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Your journey to the Amazon begins with a morning flight to Manaus. Continue the trip via speedboat to see the amazing Meeting of the Waters, where the muddy Solimôes River and the shadowy Negro River join without mixing to form the Amazon River. Keep your eye out for pink dolphins as you make your way to the Juma Amazon Lodge, where you’ll have time to settle in before an included dinner. Tonight, board a canoe to observe the rainforest populations who become active at night, including alligators, birds and frogs.
The mighty Amazon is yours to explore
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
This morning, set out on a jungle walk. Your local wildlife guide will identify edible and medicinal plants along the way. After lunch, tour the Juma Amazon Lodge to see the buildings set high atop stilts at a different angle—from the bottom. Later, show off the piranha fishing skills you acquired in the Pantanal during a motorboat excursion where you’ll learn more about local fish. Later, your catch is served up the Amazon way as part of an included dinner. After dinner, take part in a discussion about Amazon wildlife led by a local guide.
Take to the water for the sights and sounds of the jungle at sunrise
Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner
Wake before the sun today to witness early morning wildlife on a sunrise canoe excursion. See the sky and landscapes change with the light as the jungle wakes up for the day. With the help of your guide (and provided binoculars), you’ll be able to spot many local bird species. Return to the lodge for breakfast before setting out on another jungle hike. Stop in a pleasant spot to enjoy a lunch of regional cuisine cooked over a fire before having time to relax in a hammock. This afternoon, visit the home of a native family to learn about local culture, with an emphasis on medicinal plants and the preparation of manioc flower, the main economic resource of the region. Learn how latex is extracted from rubber trees before heading back to the lodge for dinner.
Flight homefor a day
Extend Your Stay
Add Iguassu Falls $999*
The thundering Iguassu Falls is one of South America’s most awe-inspiring natural attractions. Witness the epic splash of 275 cascades surrounded entirely by subtropical paradise.
Overnight Flight1 night
Iguassu Falls3 nights - hotel info
Settle in—and set your sights on some authentic Brazilian barbecue
Arrive in Iguassu Falls this morning. After you clear customs, a Go Ahead representative will greet you and escort you from the airport to your hotel. This afternoon, you may have time to visit the falls, or just relax until it’s time for your included Brazilian barbecue dinner.
Step into the mist for legendary sights
This morning, set off for Iguassu National Park, home of the spectacular Iguassu Falls. Here, over 275 cascades rush and churn, spread across just over one mile of land. You’ll walk through tropical paradise to the observation deck for a panoramic view. Later, hop aboard an inflatable boat for a ride through Macuco Falls Canyon and views of the Brazilian and Argentinian falls.
Take a day for sightseeing your way
Optional Excursion - Itaipu Dam & Bird Park
Enjoy a free day in Iguassu Falls or join an optional half-day excursion to the Itaipu Dam and bird sanctuary.
Itaipu Dam & Bird Park $79* pp
Often described as an engineering marvel, the Itaipu Dam was a joint construction project between Brazil and Paraguay. The scope of the structure has to be seen to be believed—construction required the movement of 50 million tons of earth and as much iron and steel as could build 380 Eiffel Towers. Then, experience some of Brazil’s natural splendor on a walk through the Iguassu Falls Bird Park, 12 acres of subtropical forest that is home to over 150 distinct species of birds. As you walk through the sanctuary’s many aviaries full of toucans, macaws and more, you’ll learn about local conservation efforts.
Passport & Visa Requirements
In order to enter Brazil, U.S. and Canadian citizens need a valid passport with an expiration date extending at least six months beyond the reentry date. Additionally, U.S. and Canadian passport holders must obtain a visa in advance in order to enter Brazil. You may choose to obtain your individual visa by applying directly to the Brazilian consulate or by using a visa provider, such as our partner company, VisaCentral. If you’re not a U.S. or Canadian citizen, you must contact each country’s consulate for your specific entry requirements.
Airlines have varying weight restrictions on luggage. Some airlines may impose additional charges if you choose to check any baggage; be advised that you are responsible for any such costs. Contact your airline for detailed information regarding luggage size and weight restrictions for your flight, but please note that Go Ahead travelers are restricted to one checked bag per person due to storage limitations on motor coaches and other internal transfers, which may include train connections or flights. One carry-on bag is also permitted, provided that it does not exceed 45 total inches (length + width + height). Make sure you label your baggage and carry valuables, medication and documents in your carry-on bag.
Clothing & Packing Tips
Your itinerary focuses on the outdoors, so your clothing should be casual and appropriate for outdoor wear. Loose-fitting, layered clothing that can accommodate varying temperatures will be most comfortable. A sun hat, sunglasses and a bathing suit are recommended, as well as walking shoes or hiking boots. Occasional rain showers are common in the areas you’ll be visiting, so pack lightweight rainwear and a waterproof bag for your electronics. Binoculars are very useful for bird- and animal-watching, along with a field guide if you’re particularly interested in the different species you’ll spot. Insect repellent is highly recommended for visits to the rainforests. The sun can be especially strong, so you’ll want to carry sunscreen at all times. If you plan to visit an elegant restaurant in Rio or Salvador, remember to bring something more formal to wear. Also, it is preferable not to visit churches or other religious sites with bare legs and shoulders (entrance may be denied on this basis). You will need a small overnight bag to bring to the Amazon for days 11 through 13 as most luggage will need to be stored in Manaus.
Walking on Tour
This is an active tour, and travelers should be prepared to walk on some uneven terrain.
Be sure to take proper care for sun exposure. There‘s also some risk of mosquito-born diseases, especially in the rainforests and national parks. Additionally, there are several boat transfers on your tour which may pose problems if you’re prone to motion sickness. Consult your healthcare provider at least eight weeks prior to departure about possible preventive measures and personal travel requirements.
Brazil consists of several distinct climate zones, varying from the tropical north around the Equator to the more temperate southern regions. The coastal cities of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador can get very hot during the dry season between May and November. Despite its steamy reputation, temperatures around the Amazon Rainforest average in the low- to high-70s, year-round.
As Brazil is the largest country in South America, cuisine varies from region to region, pulling influence from European and African tradition. Some staples, like beans, coconut, dende oil, codfish and shrimp, can be found throughout. The churrasco, or Brazilian barbecue, nods to the country’s large livestock population. Another favorite throughout the country is the caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail, made with cachaça (distilled from sugar cane, like rum), sugar and lime.
Round-trip flights arrive in Rio de Janeiro (or Iguassu Falls on the pre-tour extension) and depart from Manaus. Internal flights are between Rio de Janeiro and Cuiabá, Cuiabá and Salvador, and Salvador and Manaus. Included transportation on this tour is by plane, private motor coach and speedboat. Travelers joining the pre-tour extension will also fly between Iguassu and Rio de Janeiro.
Brazil operates on 110 volts, the U.S. standard.
Brazil is six hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (GMT), and does not observe daylight saving time. Therefore, they are one hour ahead of New York from October to April, and on the same time as New York from April to October.
The Brazilian real is the currency you will use on your tour. ATMs, which are widely available in major cities (mostly on the Visa and Plus international networks), are the most cost-effective way to get cash. We also recommend that you take credit cards. We suggest informing your bank and credit card company of your travel plans, so they don’t confuse your international purchases for fraudulent charges.
At the conclusion of your tour, it’s customary to offer your Tour Director and driver a gratuity. We recommend tipping in your tour country’s currency, the equivalent of $3USD/CAD per person per day for your driver and $6USD/CAD to $9USD/CAD per person per day for your Tour Director. If applicable, we also recommend the equivalent of $2USD/CAD per local guide. Tips can only be paid in cash. Please keep current local currency exchange rates in mind when tipping.
MAKE AN IMPACT
Get to know some of the conservation areas helping to preserve nature and wildlife in Brazil.
The Pantanal Wetlands Conservation Area
The Pantanal, Brazil
Covering an estimated 50,000 to 75,000 square miles, the Pantanal is one of the world’s largest tropical wetlands. The gently sloped basin gathers runoff from the Planalto highlands and releases the water into the Paraguay River and tributaries. In the rainy season, upwards of 80% of the entire plains can be covered in water. As a result, the Pantanal is home to a stunningly diverse collection of aquatic plants. This plantlife supports a massive ecosystem of animals, with 1,000 bird species, 400 fish species and 480 reptile species living alongside the some 300 kinds of mammals that call the area home. The rarest animals include the marsh deer and giant river otter. The Pantanal also boasts the world’s largest jaguar population.
The DiDá Project
With a name that means “the power of creating” in the Niger-Congo language of Yoruba, the DiDá Project aims to empower young women through drum performance. Women in the community of Salvador are able to attend classes at no cost to learn about Afro-Brazilian traditions and build self-esteem. Besides percussion classes, students can also take classes in string instruments, wind instruments, keyboards, singing, capoeira, Afro-Brazilian dance theater, art, English and computer literacy. The non-profit music school was founded in 1993 by Brazilian percussionist Neguinho do Samba, Bahia’s own father of samba reggae.
The Amazon Rainforest
The Amazon, Brazil
The mighty Amazon Rainforest covers territory belonging to nine South American nations and is known for its awe-inspiring biodiversity—it is the largest collection of living plant and animal species in the world, with one-tenth of the planet’s known species living within its borders. Inhabitants include the capybara, giant anteater, ocelot, vampire bat, toucan and many, many more. While environmentalists fear the effects of deforestation in regard to loss of biodiversity and acceleration of global warming, conservation land within the rainforest has almost tripled since 2002 (totalling somewhere around 250,000,000 acres) and deforestation rates have dropped significantly.