Day 1-4 :
Most travellers, including myself, fly into Rio de Janeiro. While it's nolonger the capital of Brazil (which moved to Brasilia in 1960), Rio de Janeiro is one of the most vibrant and culturally-rich cities in the
world. It offers pretty much everything you could want in one place - awesome views, white-sand bays, and buzzing nightlife.By day, head to Copacabana Beaclh
and Ipanema Beach for the sun and surf or view Brazil's historic relics and fine art at Museu Histórico
Nacional. Look up from almostany street in Rio and vou'll see Christ the Redeemer, the open-armed
statue of Jesus Christ that sits atop Corcovado Mountain.You can reach this peak and enjoy an unforgettable view of the entire city by taking a narrow-gauge train. By night, you'll find the year-round party at the samba clubs in Lapa, an eclectic bohemian district and nightlife centre.
Don't miss the Escadaria Selarón,125 meters of steps covered in bright tilewhich have been transformed into a world-known piece of art. Next to the steps is the Santa Teresa neighborhood, a renowned gathering place for intellectuals, academics, artists and politician, If vou're interested in visitıng recommend going to the Santa Marta favela in Botafogo, which
appeared in Michael Jackson's MTV
. Recommended nights: At least 3
nights (but you can also leave
Rio for the end of your trip)
Accommodation in Rio de Janeiro:
There are lots of hotels with fantastic views androoftop swimming pools overlooking the beach in Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon. Many of them are
surprisingly affordable if you're not traveling during Carnival, New Years orEaster. Rio Othon Palace is right
on Copacabana beach, with spectacular views of the bav and Sugarloaf Mountain. It's also got a beautiful rooftop pool and a popular restaurant and bar on its 30th floor.A cheaper hotel in the same location
is Orla Copacabana Hotel, also overlooking the beach and steps from restaurants, bars and attractions. There's a metro station just 900m away and prices are as low as $59 for a double room.
I cannot emphasise enough how important it is to book vour hotel in Rio de Janeiro way ahead of time, as they get booked up (and prices get jacked up) at peak travel season When I traveled there during
Carnival, I couldn't find any affordable accommodation and ended up staying in an Airbnb room which was expensive and dodgy.
Days 4-6: Paraty & Ilha
Grande:Travel by public bus four hours down the southern coast and you'll find Paraty, a colonial town with fantastic architecture and coastal vibes. Laid-back Paraty gives you the chance to slow down and relax, after partying too hard in Rio de Janeiro.
The town has plenty of bohemian markets, fresh seafood restaurants and plenty of charm If that doesn't sound tranquil enough - its cobbled streets are
closed to cars, and this popular holiday retreat has lured artists and writers from Brazil and worldwide
Wander around the historical centre, visit Santa Rita church and its surrounding houses, chill on the
the Jabaquara Mangroves. You can bay or a day trip to Trindade. beach in Barra do Corumbê or kavak also take a boat cruise around the If you have some extra time, I suggest a stopover at Ilha Grande on your way to Paraty. I didn't have enough time to go there, but l've heard it's worth a visit. The island remains largely undeveloped as it was closed by the Brazilian government for more than a century to free movement or settlement because it housed prison. The island
is now a popular tourist destination, known for its scenic beauty, unspoilt tropical vegetation and rugged
Recommended nights: 2 nights add 2 more nights if you want to go to Ilha Grande
. Rio to Paraty: Approximately 4 hours by bus.
Accommodation in Paraty:
A good high-end place to stay is Pousada do Principe, a colonial-style heritage hotel that's really charming
and historical at the same time. It's located in the Paraty centro (old town) and just a few minutes' walk
from the beach.I stayed at Pousada Villa del Sol, the
most popular accommodation option in Paraty. It's well-priced and well located, just 800m from the Praia do Pontal beach but a little further from the old town. It has a relaxed, casual beach resort feel, with a swimming pool.
After a quick flight, you'll arrive at the spectacular Iguassu Falls, lauded as one of the natural wonders of the world, Visit the Brazilian side of the falls and meander along its boardwalks to get the best panoramic view. You'll probably see lots of coatis (an endemic South American animal that resembles the
raccoon) on the way. Prepare to get wet as vou can walk all the way up close to the gigantic falls.
There's an excellent bird park in town, Parque das Aves, that lI recommend visiting for a chance see Brazil's rich birdlife. I also took the chance to hop over to the Argentinian side of the falls for a day trip - remember to bring your passport for the border crossing! You'll find that the views are very different and well worth seeing on both sides. You can even take a jet boat to go right under the falls in the
water on the Argentinian side
Recommended nights: 3 nights
Accommodation at Foz do guaçu:
Nadai Comfort Hotel s an affordable, four-star hotel with big spacious rooms, all-white zen design and an excellent spa (great to relax in after a whole day of exploring the falls). There's also a beautiful pool
and big outdoor lounge area.
Leave Foz do Iguaçu in the night as it's a 16-hour bus journey (transfer in Dourados) or a 10-hour car
journey to Bonito, an ecotourism hub in the Mato Grosso do Sul state, If the long bus journeyis
overwhelming, consider flying to Campo Grande
backtracking around 5 hours by bus to Bonito or skip Bonito altogether and continue onto Pantanal Airport
, then The area surrounding Bonito is known for crystal-clear rivers such as the Rio da Prata, a snorkeling destination abounding with fish. The
Abismo Anhumas is a huge, stalactite-covered cavern that offers abseiling and diving in an underground lake.Flocks of macaws nest in the deep, ocher-colored
depression Buraco das Araras, In this area, the natural attractions have a fixed price and tours there are really expensive. Almost all of the tours need to be booked through an official tourist agency in the town and require an accredited guide. It is highly recommended to make your reservations in advance even if traveling in the low period. Because of my limited budget, I
ended up skipping the excursions and spending most of my time hanging out with other travellers in
mv hotel, Bonito itself isn't quite interesting; I definitely regretted it and wished I had just forked out the money. Those who went all raved
. Recommended nights: 3 nights
1 night will be spent on the bus
. Foz do Iguaçu to Bonito:Approximately 16 hours by bus or fly to Campo Grande, which is then 5 hours by bus.
Accommodation in Bonito:
I staved at Posada Arte de Natureza and absolutely loved it. It's got a very natural wooden design, with a
beach resort feel, There are two stunning outdoor pools with three artificial waterfalls, an outdoor spa
and a bar. It's also in Bonito city centre, with easy access to restaurants.
Days12-14: Pantanal From Bonito, I headed straight into the Pantanal, the world's largest seasonal wetland, and Brazil's wildlife capital, Almost 700 species of birds can be found here, along with 8O mammals - but you'll need to have a guide to point out
capybaras, monkeys and hyacinth macaws.
Porto Jofre is also the best place in the world to see habituated jaguars.I sadly didn't see any jaguar, and
would recommend staying more nights and deeper in the Pantanal if you want to see one. I had high
hopes of Pantanal and reallv I didn't see much of the wildlife ľ'd hoped to find here.
. Recommended nights: 2 nights
. Bonito to Pantanal: Around 3 hours or fly to Campo Grande,the gateway town to the Pantanal.
Pantanal in the Accommodation is usually in basic
lodges on hammocks. You won't be able to book any accommodation in Pantanal on vour own as they are
mostly basic lodges or farm ranches.
Rio de Janeiro From the Pantanal, it's a few hours'
drive to Campo Grande Airport where you can fly back to Rio de Janeiro. I suggest leaving a day or two in Rio de Janeiro at the end of your trip to make sure you arrive back in time for your flight home.