Wild Gems

 

  • Travel
    Exploration and athletic
  • 23 days
  • Year round
  • Brazil

 

Along the way…

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Daily program

Day 1: DEPARTURE FROM ORIGIN

 

Day 2: RIO / CORCOVADO & SANTA TERESA & SUGARLOAF

Airport pick up (time and flight number to be confirmed) and transfer to the hotel. We settle in, and then visit town with our English-speaking guide.
Climb to the Corcovado, universally known symbol of the town of Rio. By car, we climb to an elevation of 700 meters above sea level. Once on the summit, we take the time to appreciate the unique and enchanting panoramic view of the “cidade maravilhosa” (magnificent city).
Rio spreads under our feet, majestic and languid. This advantageous viewpoint gives us a better understanding of the physical and “social” topography of the town.
We descend via Santa Teresa, which used to be one of the wealthiest residential neighborhoods of Rio, at the time when the town was the capital of Brazil and all the principal powers where located there.
Surrounded by the agglomeration, the neighborhood has lost its exclusive character, and the wealth of the area has moved to the Southwest of Rio, to Barra da Tijuca.
Santa Teresa shelters today an unconventional population, constituting the bohemian quarter of modern Rio.
We stroll through this neighborhood to get a taste of its quaint and dated atmosphere.
Along its narrow and winding streets, we can admire some splendid houses dating from the 19th century and catch a glimpse of the soul of a Rio from another time.
The best way to realize this nostalgic trip is to take the bondinho, a little wooden tramway, a miraculous vestige from the start of the 20th century, and the most famous symbol of Santa Teresa.
During the descent to Lapa, we visit the colored staircase or "Escadaria do Convento da Santa Teresa", decorated by Jorge Selarón.
This self-taught Chilean artist is one of the best-known personalities of this neighborhood.
After exhibiting his paintings around the world, he settled in Brazil in 1983 and spontaneously decided to decorate this staircase with a multicolored mosaic in perpetual evolution.
His ambition is to link the neighborhoods of Lapa and Santa Teresa, by covering the staircases with thousands of azulejos (ceramic tile-work). We might have the opportunity to see him at work…
We, later, reach the cable cart taking us to the summit of the Sugarloaf (el. 400 m.a.s.l.) the symbol of Rio, marking the entrance of the Bay of Guanabara.
Return to our hotel at 5 p.m.
Entrance fee to Corcovado and Sugarloaf included. Meals not included. Night in hotel.

Option: Helicopter flight of a few minutes from the mirador of Dona Marta.

Recommended for lunch: the restaurant Sobrenatural.
Near Largo Dos Guimarães, at the heart of Santa Teresa, Sobrenatural offers a charming and relaxing decor.
Varied menu to satisfy all tastes, we particularly recommend the fish and seafood plates, to be sampled with a cold beer.

Day 3: RIO / THE FAVELAS & THE CENTER

Departure from the hotel at 9 a.m. by minibus (group service, 4 to 9 person max). A specialized guide takes us on an "off-the-beaten-path" visit: the favelas. These incursions of a few hours in a different reality of Rio, gives us a complete and realistic vision of life in Carioca, far from the images of violence or of poverty that are the only ones transmitted by a media lacking originality.
At the heart of these popular and "lawless" neighborhoods (the favelas are originally illegal land occupations), Brazilians organize themselves and live in a dignified and solitary manner.
In the afternoon, visit of Rio’s city center, where in a few minutes we pass from a colossal avenue framed by imposing glass buildings to quaint, small streets and their little affordable shops. Many styles, one frame of mind, this is the best definition to describe the architectural cocktail of the center, where past and modernism coexist in harmony.
Among the possible visits (to be coordinated with the guide depending on opening times, of your centers of interest, of eventual manifestations organized that day): Imperial Municipal (replicate of the Opera Garnier in France), foundation Banco do Brasil, casa da França (old custom house), national History museum, largo da Carioca, convento Santo Antônio, metropolitan cathedral, plaza Tiradentes...
And if you feel like it, go for a cold beer at Luis’ bar where the decor seems to not have changed since its construction… at the beginning of the 19th century.
Return to the hotel at 17:00.
Entrance to museums and monuments included. Meals not included. Night in a hotel.

Note 1: an association founded by people originally from the favelas organizes the visits to the favelas.
This association donates a significant part of their income to the inhabitants of the neighborhood by financing development or social projects.
In 2007, their contribution reached close to $ 22,000 US.

Note 2: For the visit of the center, avoid Sundays and holidays.

Recommended for lunch: the Confeitaria Colombo / except on Sundays
This place is the living portrait of the Carioca epoch, and the gastronomical reference of the city. Its famous Belgium mirrors, its showcases in jacaranda wood, its balconies of Italian marble and its light fixtures, all stayed intact, contributed to write the country’s history.
http://www.confeitariacolombo.com.br/

Day 4: RIO - CAMPO GRANDE – ESTRADA DO PARQUE – PANTANAL

Transfer from the hotel to the airport in private transportation 2 hours before departure time. Domestic flight Rio – Campo Grande (not included / flight time and number to be confirmed). Pick up at the airport before noon.
Departure by bus around noon (regular line – ticket included – transfer without guide - option of private transportation). We drive around 250 miles on a paved road to Buraco Das Piranhas. There we await our private vehicle to get on the Estrada Do Parque (park road) entering into the Pantanal.
The scene is set: on this track crossing swamps, and around it, we can already spot numerous animals. Alligators basking in the sun on the shores of the lagunas, capibaras (semi-aquatic rodent) wandering in the wild, and multicolored birds observing our struggling vehicle lifting huge clouds of dust.
We reach our destination after a 5 to 6-hour drive. We settle and then dine.
Lunch open. Dinner included. 3 lodging options: camping, fazenda or huts.

Option 1: private transportation Campo Grande - Pantanal

Option 2: comfort lodging, Ecolodge Passo do lontra
http://www.passodolontra.com.br/

Day 5 & 6: PANTANAL

During our stay in the Pantanal, the (English-speaking) guide alternates the excursions (groups limited to a maximum of 8 people) to allow us to see as many different things as possible His choices depend on the season as certain animals migrate during the year.
Among the activities offered:
Sunrise hike
Swim in the lagunas with alligators (no risk, food abound and they don’t attack humans)
Canoe excursion along Rio Negro or other river (depending on the season) to observe the local fauna and flora
Fishing for piranha, catfish, etc.
Afternoon hike (nap from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., well appreciated during the warm season)
Horseback ride
Nocturnal exploration in the heart of the Pantanal, in remote areas (only from July to November, outside the rainy season, as the tracks are more manageable and the snakes less numerous).
All included. Night in the fazenda Santa Clara.

Option 1: camping or Ecolodge, ask us.

Option 2: extra day(s) in the Pantanal.

Day 7: PANTANAL – BONITO

After our morning excursion and breakfast, we depart in our 4WD vehicle for Buraco Das Piranhas where we board a bus for Bonito (regular line – ticket included – transfer without guide - option of private transportation - 4 to 5 hours on a paved road).
Lunch included. Dinner open (numerous restaurants offer plates based on jacaré meat, local name for alligator). Night in a pousada.
Important note: on Sundays, the connection by bus (regular line) between Buraco das Piranhas and Bonito is not possible (plan the option of a private vehicle).

Option: trip Pantanal - Bonito in private vehicle.

Day 8: BONITO / LAGO AZUL CAVE – ESTANCIA MIMOSA

Departure from the pousada at 9 a.m. A 20-minute trip by car takes us to the cave of the “Blue Lake”. The cavern is covered with stalactites and stalagmites. With a little imagination you will see all sorts of creatures (little Buddha, dinosaurs, sorcerer, dancer…). The cavern ends in an underwater lake containing crystal clear water of the deepest blues imaginable.
The groups for this visit are limited to a maximum of 15 people. In smaller groups, we start in the direction of the Estancia Mimosa, for lunch. Afterwards, on a trail that snakes among orchids and bromelias, we follow a stream up-river, from one waterfall to another, in the search of a place to swim.
Return to Bonito at the end of the day.
Lunch included. Dinner open.
Night in a pousada. Site Estancia Mimosa

Day 9: BONITO / RIO DA PRATA – BURACO DAS ARARAS

Departure from the pousada at 9 a.m. On board a minibus, we drive to "Recanto Ecologico do Rio da Prata".
A 40-minute hike in the primary forest, during which we may have the chance to spot a few toucans or parrots, takes us to the shores of the river da Prata.
Equipped of a wetsuit, a mask and a snorkel (provided on location - included), we slip into the incredibly clear water to let ourselves be swept by the current over a few miles of a peaceful “flotation” in the middle of a multicolored fauna and flora.
This site, which feels us with the unforgettable sensation of closeness and communion with nature, is surprisingly little known. However, it is one of the most impressive in the country…
We indulge in an excellent buffet for a recovery lunch. On the way back towards Bonito, in the middle of the afternoon, we stop at Buraco das Araras, a 200-meter deep, almost circular, cavity.
Hundreds of red, blue or multicolored Aras (large parrots), living on the inaccessible cliffs of this geological curiosity, fly whichever way, a few meters away from the visitors.
Their strident calls pierce the atmosphere and seem to be aimed at annoying a lost alligator, which arrived, by accident at the bottom of the hole, where he lives a prisoner, forever…
Return to Bonito at the end of the day.
Lunch included. Dinner open. Night in a pousada.

Note: It is not possible to do this excursion as a private trip but the sizes of the groups, accompanied by specialized guides, are always reasonable (8 people max).

Day 10: BONITO - CAMPO GRANDE – MANAUS

In the morning, transfer to the "rodoviaria", bus station. Trip by bus (regular line) towards Bonito (5-hour trip – ticket included).
Then transfer to the airport for domestic flight Campo Grande – Manaus (not included / flight time and number to be confirmed). Pick up at the airport and transfer to hotel.
Meals not included. Night in hotel.

Option: private transportation Bonito - Campo Grande

Day 11: MANAUS – MALOCAS JUNGLE LODGE

Departure from the hotel at 7:30 a.m. for the site where the waters encounter. The dark and amber water of Río Negro seem to hesitate before mixing with the more yellowish water of Solimoes. We go and observe from a motorboat the surprising show of these two waterways, running side by side over a few miles before mixing.
We, then, return to the Lodge. After 50 miles on the road (1-hour), we reach the village of Rio Preto da Eva, charming little beach resort visited during the weekends by the Manaus’ inhabitants. There we exchange our vehicle for a motor-pirogue loaded with food.
We follow Río Preto da Eva. The last traces of civilization disappear as we enter deeper in a labyrinth of water and vegetation. We follow the meanders of the river resembling a ribbon reflecting the sunlight.
Once we arrive at the lodge, we are welcome with a cocktail. After settling, we are invited to share a typical local lunch (fish / feijao (beans) / rice / raw vegetables / fruit).
In the afternoon, excursion by pirogue on the igarapés (canals flooded after the rainy season, dry the rest of the year) to meet a family of Caboclos.
Caboclos is the name given here to the people of mixed descent (Indians and Portuguese colons) living in the heart of the forest and keeping a very traditional rural lifestyle (subsistence agriculture, especially of manioc, fishing, domestically used handicraft...).
On the way back to the lodge, our guide will rapidly set up a fishing line equipped with a piece of white wire serving as a hook.
He attaches a piece of chicken to the end and in a few minutes, the piranhas arrive. The lodge cook will gill them, and shortly after serve them to us (their flesh, although full of bones, is delicious).
All included. Night in the lodge.

Note 1: English-speaking guide

Note 2: For security and comfort during the traveling between Manaus and the lodge, we recommend that you take with you only the strict necessary items for your jungle trip, in a supple and easy to manipulate travel bag instead of a rigid suitcase. Upon return to Manaus you will be able to recover the things left there.

Note 3: The captain house of Manaus demands that all people navigating from the city be registered (name / first name / birth date / nationality) at least a week in advance. We, therefore, imperatively need all this information for each member of the group.

Day 12: AMAZON FOREST

After a hearty breakfast, we enter the forest in the company of our guide. The Indians have acquired empiric knowledge of the local wildlife and fauna that doesn’t cease to impress visitors.
The animals with which they co-habit do not hold any secrets for them. They know their habitat, their eating habits; know if they are comestible, and the best way to hunt them…
Some plants are used in everyday life (construction, weaving, tool fabrication, utensils or arms…); others are known for such and such medicinal virtue. Each pain has its remedy. We become aware that we are walking through an immense outdoor pharmacy…
The adaptation of the Indians to their natural habitat is equally manifested in their capacity to orient themselves, precisely, without obvious landmarks and without the help of any navigation instruments, in the heart of a jungle where everything looks alike.
We return to the lodge for lunch. On the way back, we can cool down in the crystal clear waters of a waterfall.
If we are lucky, we might spot of few of the forest’s animals: a group of monkeys snacking, a tapir loudly escaping in front of us, a few snakes sleeping in the middle of a path, a toucan…
The rest of the day is dedicated to a pirogue tour on the nearby waterways/or a bath in the cool waters of Río Presto da Eva.
After dinner, our hosts invite us to take place around a blazing campfire on the white sand beach.
A frozen caïpirinha in our hand, we enjoy the magic of the Amazonian night and the silence of a nature that nothing disturbs, except the crickets and the noise of the palms agitated by the breeze.
All included. Night in lodge.

Option: extra day (lodge or survival in the jungle), check with us.

Day 13: MALOCAS JUNGLE LODGE - MANAUS

Before sunrise, our guide takes us to attend the ballet of the birds leaving their night shelter. Another walk in the forest can follow breakfast. After lunch, we return to Manaus (we take the same trail as on the way in). We may be lucky enough to see some sloths on the way. Loving tender leaves, we frequently find them on the highest branches of the trees, where they are easily visible. The observation of these mammals is easier after the rain, the sloths looking then for open places to dry their coat. Arrival in at around 7 p.m. in Manaus.
Lunch included. Dinner open. Night in hotel.

Option: extra day (lodge or survival in the jungle), check with us

Day 14: MANAUS - SÃO LUIS / VISIT

Transfer from the hotel to the airport in private transportation 2 hours before departure time. Domestic flight Manaus – São Luis (not included / flight time and number to be confirmed). Pick up at the airport and transfer to the pousada.
Our English-speaking guide meets us at the hotel / pousada at 14:00 for the town visit.
Half-day stroll in the historical center of this unique town founded by the French in Brazil, in 1612.
During the 17th century, after their expulsion by the Portuguese, the town prospered thanks to the extraction of cotton and of Babaçu. From this sumptuous time remains the magnificent group of building covered with azulejos (ceramic tile-work), registered as a World Heritage site by UNESCO.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.

Day 15: SÃO LUIS – LENÇÓIS MARANHENSES - BARREIRINHAS

Departure from the hotel in a regular minibus at 5:15 a.m. in the company of our English-speaking guide. A 4½-hour trip to Barreirinhas, quiet town washed by the waters of Río Preguiças.
After a short stroll in the village, transfer to the local airport.
Flight over the Lençóis (Cessna type plane – max 5/6 per – 30-minute flight – 87.5 miles).
As far as the eye can see, the desert offers us a unique vision of perfect dunes ornate with pools of clear water, sometimes green, sometimes blue.
We fly over two fishing communities located in the desert a few miles away from the shores.
We pass over the lagunas of do Peixe and Azul. The plane then takes the direction of Foz do Rio Preguiças, Atins, the light house of Mandacaru and Caburé along the coast.
For 5 minutes, the ocean under our eyes vacillates between the blue from the deep sea and the yellow, where it meets with the river.
Finally the plane follows the Preguiças Rio up-river until we reach Barreirinhas where we land on a dirt landing strip. Lunch in Barreirinhas.
In the afternoon, we leave to the discovery of the lagunas and dunes of the surrounding area. After an hour in a 4WD on rutted sandy tracks, we reach the desert. Each one can walk independently at the discovery of the landscape hidden behind each dunes and enjoy a cooling bath.
Return to Barreirinhas in the afternoon.

Lunch included. Dinner open. Night in a pousada.

Note: The lagunas are filled from May to November. Between the month of December and the month of April, depending on precipitations, they can be more or less dry.
This period corresponds to the rainy season, characterized by short heavy showers.
During this time the program can be modified so that the excursion in the dunes takes us to an area where the lagunas are still full.

Economical option: without the flight, considerably cheaper, check with us.

Day 16: BARREIRINHAS – RIO PREGUIÇAS - CABURÉ

In the morning, by private motorboat, we follow Río Preguiças, until we reach the Atlantic Coast.
The shores of the river appear in their entire splendor: mangrove, igarapés (waterways), buritis, açaizeiros (a palm tree native to the rainforests of northern Brazil), coconut trees, tucunzeiros and never very far, a colorful fauna: herons, kingfishers and if we are lucky, guarás (a striking red ibis typical of this area).
As we approach the coastline, the dunes appear; we stop at Vassouras and at Mandacaru, a village endowed by a lighthouse offering from its top a panoramic view of the surroundings.
At the Rio’s Delta, we rest in the minuscule and picturesque village of Caburé.
The river runs along one side of the village while, on the other side of the dune, the ocean spreads over miles of deserted beaches.
Open program of a few hours allowing for bathing (fresh, brackish or salt water?), enjoying a nap in a hammock or taking a hike in the sand dunes.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.

Day 17: CABURÉ – BARREIRINHAS – SÃO LUIS

In the morning, we follow the River in a motor canoe to Barreirinhas. Lunch in Barreirinhas. Then around at 4:30 p.m., we take the road to São Luis in a regular minibus. 4½-hour trip through babaçu and buriti (2 varieties of palm trees) plantations. Arrival at the end of the day. Meals not included. Night in a pousada.

Day 18: SÃO LUIS - SALVADOR / VISIT

Departure from the hotel, in a private vehicle for our transfer to the airport, 2 hours prior to departure. Domestic flight São Luis – Salvador (not included / flight time and number to be confirmed). Pick up at the airport and transfer to the pousada.
Meeting at the pousada with English-speaking guide who takes us to the discovery of the neighborhood representing best the heart and soul of Salvador.
First a visit to the lower part of town, starting with its monuments and its markets.
The Mercado Modelo (touristy) then São Joaquim market (authentic Bahianese market). We cross town towards the North to reach the Church of Bonfim, a pilgrimage site where we can admire, in the "miracle room", an impressive collection of votive offerings, testifying to the local popular devotion for Senhor do Bonfim.
We follow with a visit to the Museum of Sacred Art (open afternoons only, visit after lunch). Located at the heart of the antique Santa-Teresa convent, it exhibits a collection of unique pieces dating from the 16th to the 20th century: azulejos (ceramic tile-work) panes, sculptures, silver and furniture.
In the afternoon, we visit the high part of town, dominated by the historical quarter of Pelourinho. Its prestigious architectural ensemble, renovated with its original bright colors, is constituted by magnificent colonial mansions and baroque churches one of them being the Church of São Francisco and its stunning azulejos fresco. By drawing from its African roots, the city created for itself a unique identity in Latin America, animating its daily life by the frenetic rhythms of Capoeira and religious ceremonies of Candomblé.
Return to the pousada at the end of the day.
Entrance fees included. Meals not included. Night in a pousada.

Option: mix the un-avoidable and an initiation to candomblé (we recommend, after this day, that you go to a ceremony).

Day 19: SALVADOR – TINHARE ISLAND – MORRO DE SÃO PAULO

We meet our English-speaking guide at the pousada at 08:00. Transfer to the pier and departure at 8:30 a.m.
The Bay of Todos os Santos and the high neighborhood of Salvador disappear from view.
After a 2-hour cruise, we enter the narrow sand streets of Morro de São Paulo, its houses clinging from a tiny rock and its day and night bustle. Meals open. Night in a pousada.

Options:
fly from Salvador àto Morro de São Paulo, ask us.
extra day(s) on Morro de São Paulo, for an open day at the beach-resort or a day-hike (ask us).

Day 20: MORRO DE SÃO PAULO - TINHARE ISLAND – BOIPEBA ISLAND

The Bay of Camamu forms an archipelago of closely set islands. Boipeba constitutes the southernmost island of the group. To get there, you need to first cross Tinhare, an island covered by tropical vegetation, most often with a 4WD vehicle (depending on the season sometimes by tractor...). After driving for an hour through deserted landscape, we reach the southern point at Garapuá beach.
We cross the Do Inferno in a barge. We settle in a pousada in the village of Boipeba.
Possibility of a hike along the Cardoso trail in the afternoon. It leads to the village of Moreré (for lunch: banana and coconut milk—moqueca de camarões—, the specialty of the village!), then return to Boipeba by skirting miles of deserted beaches fringed by coconut trees (Praia Cueira and Tassimirim). The surroundings of the little village are so pleasant that it is easy to ask ourselves if we might just spend the rest of our days there…
Meals open. Night in a pousada.

Options extra day(s) on the island.

Day 21: BOIPEBA ISLAND - SALVADOR

At daybreak, we embark on a local boat to return to the mainland (3-hour crossing between the islands of the archipelago). We eventually reach the small pier at Torinhas, then, by local bus we push to Cairu, and finally to Valença.
On Itaparica Island, we board a Bom Despacho for Salvador (1-hour crossing).
Transfer to the pousada.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.

Day 22: SALVADOR / DEPARTURE

Departure from the hotel for a private transfer to the airport 3 hours before take off. International flight (not included / time and flight number to be confirmed).

Day 23: RETURN TO YOUR COUNTRY OF ORIGIN

 

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