With 12 days to spare, you can get a diverse taste of Brazil's highlights as you hop between cities, waterfalls, and rainforests. Ride a cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain and see local life in a Rio favela, then fly to Foz do Iguaçu to explore one of the greatest waterfall systems on Earth with a combination of hiking, boating, and helicopter excursions. After a taste of history in colonial Manaus, set off into the Amazon for four nights surrounded by incredible nature and wildlife in a rainforest lodge.


  • Discover an authentic side of Rio de Janeiro with a locally-led food tour
  • See the 275 thundering cascades of Iguaçu Falls by boat and helicopter
  • Learn about Indigenous history and view the "Meeting of the Waters" in Manaus
  • Head deep into the Amazon rainforest by canoe to reach a remote lodge
  • Spot rare wildlife and colorful birds as you hike to an overnight camp

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Santa Teresa & Municipal Theater Rio de Janeiro 
Day 2 Visit Christ the Redeemer & Sugarloaf Mountain Rio de Janeiro
Day 3 Two Brothers Peak & Vidigal Favela, Visit Tijuca National Park Forest Rio de Janeiro
Day 4 Morning Food Tour, Fly to Foz do Iguaçu Foz do Iguaçu
Day 5 Explore Iguaçu Fall (Brazilian Side), Itaipu Dam & Helicopter Flight Foz do Iguaçu
Day 6 Explore Iguacú Falls (Argentine Side), Boat Ride in Argentine National Park Foz do Iguaçu
Day 7 Fly to Manaus, Afternoon City Tour Manaus
Day 8 Transfer to an Amazon Lodge, Meeting of the Waters & Nocturnal Safari The Amazon
Day 9 Discover the Flora & Fauna of the Amazon The Amazon
Day 10 Sunrise in the Amazon, Explore the Igapós & Igarapés Ecosystems by Canoe The Amazon
Day 11 Amazon Canoe Tour & Overnight Jungle Adventure The Amazon
Day 12 Return to Manaus, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Rio de Janeiro, Tour Santa Teresa & Rio's Municipal Theater

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro
Hop on a vintage tram to climb to the charming Rio neighborhood of Santa Teresa

Welcome to Rio de Janeiro! Upon arrival at the airport, a driver will be waiting to transfer you to your hotel. The "Cidade Maravilhosa" (Marvelous City) is a sprawling harbor city famous for its beaches, festive culture, and raucous entertainment. Along the drive, catch views of Mount Corcovado's iconic Christ the Redeemer towering over the skyline.

Once settled in your beachfront hotel, meet your guide in the lobby and set off to discover the winding streets of Rio's most charming district, Santa Teresa. Ride a traditional tram up steep streets past colonial houses and lush gardens, where you'll find popular bars and restaurants, workshops, and impressive street art. Once the wealthiest area in the city, today, the neighborhood is known for its authentic, bohemian vibe. Your tour ends with a visit to the Municipal Theatre, inspired by the Paris Opera House, which hosts music, opera, and the performing arts under one roof.

Day 2: Visit Christ the Redeemer & Sugarloaf Mountain

The view from Christ the Redeemer, in Rio de Janeiro
Get spectacular views from the cable car up Sugarloaf Mountain

Today's guided tour covers some of Rio's most famous landmarks. First, you'll head to the top of Mount Corcovado to visit Christ the Redeemer, a 98-foot (30 m) statue of Jesus Christ overlooking the city below. Commissioned in 1920, it was built to symbolize the welcoming spirit of both Rio and Brazil. Once you arrive at the summit of the 2,310-foot (704 m) Corcovado and the base of this Art Deco statue, you'll be treated to panoramic views over Rio and beyond, from the southern beaches to Guanabara Bay and farther north to the city of Duque de Caxias.

After descending Mount Corcovado, continue to the Urca neighborhood and the mouth of Guanabara Bay. Here you'll hop on a cable car up to Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf Mountain). This nearly 1,300-foot (396 m) mountain peak unsurprisingly gets its name because it resembles a mound of sugar. From its peak, you'll enjoy a 360-degree view of the rainforest, beaches, cityscapes, and monuments that define Brazil's most famous coastal city. Upon completion of the tour, your guide will return you to your hotel, and the rest of your evening is free.

Day 3: Two Brothers Peak & Vidigal Favela Tour, Visit Tijuca National Park Forest

Two Brothers Mountain and Vidigal favela
Get an authentic look at Rio life in the mountainside Vidigal favela 

Take a guided tour of one of Rio's favelas this morning. These neighborhoods, comprised of low-income residents living in shacks and shanties, have earned a reputation as dangerous slums. However, the less sensationalist reality is that these are primarily working-class communities, home to local families. Some favelas have even become hot tourist destinations. This is the case with Vidigal, one of Rio's most-visited favelas, and your destination today. Located on Morro Dois Irmãos (Two Brothers Mountain), the top of Vidigal reveals some of the best views of the Brazilian coast.

The tour begins with a walk along the seaside, where your guide will share the history of the favelas. Once you reach Vidigal, you'll hop in a van and ride up steep hillsides and winding streets to the beginning of the Two Brothers Trail. From there, you'll hike to the 2,165-foot (660 m) peak, where you'll be rewarded with stunning city views and can take plenty of photos. Your return takes you back down the mountain along Vidigal's many staircases.

After lunch, there's more hiking in store as you meet your guide for a trek within one of the world's largest urban rainforests. Covering over 8,300 acres (3,359 ha), Tijuca National Park Forest is a haven for native plants and wildlife set on the lush mountain slopes surrounding Rio. Start with a visit to the botanical gardens and observe the diverse flora, then continue to the Vista Chinesa Gazebo and enjoy a panoramic view of the city. Along the hike, you'll pass refreshing waterfalls and spot colorful birdlife and chattering monkeys among the canopy. 

Day 4: Morning Food Tour, Fly to Foz do Iguaçu

Food Tour in Rio
Say farewell as you eat your way through Rio's markets 

Tour Rio with your taste buds today! In the company of your guide, you'll visit farmers' markets, traditional restaurants, and bars only known by the locals. Learn about five or six neighborhoods' art, history, culture, and architecture as you eat and drink. The menu includes traditional food and drinks such as tapioca crepes, cheese bread, coxinha (chicken croquettes), cachaça (fermented sugar cane juice), brigadeiro cake, and craft beer. You can also choose one typical meal. Possible neighborhoods you'll visit include Santa Teresa, Olympic Boulevard, Downtown, Urca, and Flamengo

Plan your trip to Brazil
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Later today, a driver will be waiting to take you to the airport for the two-hour flight west to Foz do Iguaçu. The gateway to the famous falls of the same name, this city sits at the borders of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina. On the Brazilian side of the falls, Iguaçu National Park is home to southern Brazil's largest Atlantic semi-deciduous forest and walkways with views of the 275 waterfalls. Get settled into your hotel and rest up for tomorrow's day of adventure.

Day 5: Explore Iguaçu Falls (Brazilian Side), Itaipu Dam & Helicopter Flight 

Iguazú from the Brazilian side
Cool off along the misty boardwalks over Iguaçu Falls on the Brazilian side

It's an early start today as you meet your guide and set off for your first look at the mighty Iguaçu Falls and Iguacú National Park. Follow the many raised boardwalks and bridges and enjoy panoramic views of this breathtaking natural wonder. The park has more than 275 falls, with heights over 260 feet (80 m), surrounded by lush greenery and plentiful flora and fauna.

Next, take a stroll around the Parque das Alves (Bird Park), an internationally recognized center for the protection of birds as well as butterflies, alligators, and snakes in the lush Atlantic rainforest. Since the enclosures are expansive, you can observe birds, such as macaws, parrots, and toucans, up close in their natural habitat without the barrier of cages. 

Then it's time to learn more about the power of the falls with a visit to the world's largest active hydroelectric power plant. Start at the Itaipu Visitor Center, where you'll watch a short movie about the construction and operation of the plant. Then, take a special bus to the dam, where you'll stop at the central observation platform to see the dam and the impressive water show formed by the giant spillways. End the day on high with a 10-minute helicopter ride over the falls. High above the rushing water, you'll get the best vantage point of the many cascades and the surrounding rainforest.

Day 6: Explore Iguacú Falls (Argentine Side), Boat Ride in Argentine National Park

Waterfalls of Iguaçu
Explore Iguaçu Falls by boat in Argentine National Park

Today's tour takes you across the Argentine border to the other side of Iguaçu Falls (known as Iguazú in Spanish) in Argentine National Park. Upon arrival, you'll board a train and head to the natural wonder's tallest waterfall, the Devil's Throat. You'll have time to disembark and take in the beauty of this majestic waterfall, which drops more than 260 feet (80 m) into mist-shrouded pools. Afterward, you'll hop back on the train and head to the next station, where you'll take a walking tour of 2 miles (3 km) along wooded footpaths and pathways that bring you closer to the falls and provide a complete view. 

After exploring the area, you'll enter the jungle through the Sendero Yacaratiá Trail in vehicles designed for this environment. As the car travels slowly, learn about local species of fauna and flora. After 30 minutes, you'll arrive in Porto Macuco. Here, you'll step onto a boat and head upriver toward the falls. Feel the thundering strength of the cascade as you approach the base of Salto Tres Mosqueteros, then cross under the second largest drop in the falls, Salto San Martín. At the end of the tour, your driver will take you back across the border to your hotel.

Day 7: Fly to Manaus, Afternoon City Tour

City Tour in Manaus
Learn about the Indigenous and colonial history of Manaus on an afternoon tour

It's time for another change of scene today as a driver takes you to the airport to catch a six-hour flight north to Manaus, where you'll be welcomed and transferred to your hotel. The capital of the state of Amazonas, this historic city sits at the meeting point of the Rio Negro and the Rio Amazonas (Amazon River) and is a popular base for trips into the surrounding rainforests. Once you've settled in, you'll head out on a guided city tour. Your first stop will be the stunning Black River Palace, a 20th-century opulent manor constructed during the country's booming rubber baron era.

Next, immerse yourself in the rich cultural heritage of Brazil's Indigenous population at the Museu do Índio (Indian Museum). Explore the museum's captivating exhibits showcasing the history, traditions, and artwork of the country's native peoples. Continue to the 19th-century Customs House, a neoclassical building that once played a crucial role in controlling the flow of goods in and out of the Amazonas region. Nearby, the Palace of Justice is an impressive testament to the region's judicial system, with its elegant columns and intricate stonework.

Finally, your tour will conclude with a visit to the breathtaking Amazon Theater. This magnificent opera house, adorned with a beautiful pink facade and colorful dome, was built in 1896 during the height of the rubber boom. Discover the fascinating history behind this iconic structure, which continues to serve as a vital cultural center for the city.

Day 8: Transfer to an Amazon Lodge, Meeting of the Waters & Nocturnal Safari

From Manaus to the Amazon
Reach your lodge in the Amazon by motorized canoe

Rise early today for the transfer to Ceasa Port, where you'll board a speedboat for the first leg of your journey. Along the way, stop to observe the "Meeting of the Waters," the natural phenomenon where the muddy waters of the Rio Solimões meet the black waters of the Rio Negro. At this crucial junction, the two rivers run side by side for several miles without mixing due to temperature, speed, and density differences. Ultimately they join to form the mighty Amazon.

From here, continue to the village of Careiro, where you'll disembark and transfer to the Rio Tupana. A guide will be waiting to take you the rest of the way via a motorized canoe, eventually arriving at the small jungle lodge that serves as your base for the next four nights. Get settled into your charmingly rustic accommodations, rest after your journey, and enjoy a relaxed dinner. As darkness falls, you'll join a guide on an atmospheric canoe ride to enjoy the night sounds of the jungle and spot its many nocturnal animals. With a flashlight, you'll keep an eye out for frogs, sloths, armadillos, and caimans.

Day 9: Discover the Flora & Fauna of the Amazon

Discovering the Amazon
Spend today wildlife watching and hiking in the Amazon—if you're lucky, you might even spot an ocelot
Wake up to the sounds of the jungle this morning. After a hearty breakfast, you'll spend the entire day exploring your rainforest surroundings, with the incredible opportunity to observe its diverse ecosystems up close. Learn about the local flora and fauna as you trek into the forest depths, accompanied by a specialized guide. Later, hop in a motorized canoe to fish for piranhas and end the day gazing at a spectacular Amazon sunset.

Day 10: Sunrise in the Amazon, Explore the Igapós & Igarapés Ecosystems by Canoe

Sunrise in the Amazon
Navigate between igapós and igarapés and spot exotic wildlife

Rise early this morning for a memorable experience as you'll leave for a sunrise excursion to observe the mesmerizing change of color in the sky and the sounds of waking birds. You'll be equipped with binoculars for ample bird-watching opportunities along the way.

After breakfast back at the lodge, you'll set out in a traditional dugout canoe used by the Indigenous Ribeirinhos people to observe wildlife and nature on display while navigating between the rainforest's igapós (flooded forests) and igarapés (seasonal streams). This type of canoe is perfect for spotting wildlife since you'll make little noise, so keep your eyes peeled for exotic mammals like monkeys, otters, anteaters, and, if you're fortunate, a tapir or an ocelot. Later in the afternoon, you'll learn how to make Indigenous crafts using palm tree leaves back at the lodge.

Day 11: Amazon Canoe Tour & Overnight Jungle Adventure

Canoeing in the Amazon and overnight in the jungle
Don't forget to keep an eye on the canopy to spot exotic birdlife

Savor your last full day in the jungle with a peaceful paddle along the Amazon in a canoe, spotting exotic birds, rare pink dolphins, and many other species. Afterward, you'll be welcomed into the home of one of the area's local Indigenous residents, where they'll share stories about their culture and customs as you learn more about life in the rainforest. 

If you're craving more adventure, this afternoon you have the option to leave the lodge and spend the night in a jungle camp deeper in the wilds of the Amazon. Your guide will lead you on a trek to the campsite, where you'll enjoy dinner around the campfire as you learn about survival techniques like finding water and food, identifying medicinal plants, and first aid. When it's time to turn in, a hammock and mosquito net await, and you'll fall asleep to the ever-present soundtrack of the rainforest.

Day 12: Return to Manaus, Depart

From The Amazon to Manaus
Say goodbye to your jungle friends!
It's time to bid farewell to the jungle as you leave the lodge and transfer back to the airport in Manaus for your international flight home. Safe travels!

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Map of Nature & Culture in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu & the Amazon - 12 Days
Map of Nature & Culture in Brazil: Rio de Janeiro, Foz do Iguaçu & the Amazon - 12 Days