Day 1: Arrive Sao Paulo, Brazil
Welcome to Brazil! Upon arrival in Sao Paulo, proceed through Immigration and Customs. After claiming your luggage, exit the Customs Hall where are welcomed by your private guide, who assists you and transfers you to your hotel. The city and state of São Paulo is the most dynamic economic center in Latin America. Famous for its ethnic diversity and sophisticated lifestyle, São Paulo is a city with many facets including culture, cuisine, historic and so much more. The city's culinary side is recognized as one of the largest and best gastronomic centers of the country. And, of course, the lively nightlife, with a plethora of bars, restaurants, and nightclubs to suite almost any taste. Hotel Emiliano Sao Paulo
Day 2: Sao Paulo This afternoon, your guide will take you to explore this dynamic city and can personalize it to your main interests. Some of the fascinating places to experience include the Liberdade Neighborhood. This is the epicenter of what is said to be the largest Japanese population outside of Japan. Brazil is home to an estimated 1.5 million Japanese-Brazilians, many of them living in this bustling neighborhood that also encompasses some Chinese and Korean populations. The city’s best Chinese restaurants can be found here and South Korea’s Melona honeydew melon-flavored popsicles are wildly popular in the streets.
The are won’t remind you of Japan, with the singular exceptions of the signature lantern-style lamp posts over the main streets. Liberdade spills out from Praça da Liberdade (Liberdade Square), which hosts the vibrant Sunday market, Feira de Arte, Artesanato e Cultura de Liberadade, with vendors split between food and arts and crafts. It’s one of the city’s most popular markets and your starting point for a tour of the district.
The Praça da Sé (Sé Square) is a public square considered the center of town because from this point the lengths of all roads that cross São Paulo are counted. Originally known as Largo da Sé (Field of the See), the square developed around the religious building which preceded the cathedral and surrounding edifices. At the beginning of the 20th century, older structures were demolished and the downtown area reconstructed according to the urban planning of the time. Its geography has remained mostly unchanged since. Regarded a synonym for the old center, the square is one of the best-known areas of the city, and was the location of many historic events in São Paulo's history, most notably during the “Diretas Já” movement that gave the right for all population to choose their president. In the heart of the city, the immense Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption almost seems out of place among its mid-century Modernist neighbors. The current neo-Gothic structure is the third incarnation of the cathedral, the first church having been established in 1589. Designed by German architect Maximilian Hehl in 1912, construction on the current church began the following year, only coming to full completion in 1967, a full 50 years after Hehl himself died and 13 years after the cathedral was inaugurated for São Paulo’s 400th anniversary in 1954.
One of the largest neo-Gothic structures in the world and certainly the largest in Brazil, the cathedral’s massive dimensions include a length of 111 meters/364 feet, a 30-meter/98-foot dome, and a height of 92 meters/301 feet from ground level to the tip of the twin spires. The 12,000-pipe organ is among the largest in South America and the church houses a vast number of religious artworks, including colorful mosaics and stained-glass windows depicting biblical scenes. With capacity for 8,000 parishioners, there is plenty of room for the devout and the curious.
Patio do Colegio is the first construction of the city and is the site where the city was founded in 1554. It refers to the historical courtyard where the Jesuit church, named Basilica Jose de Anchieta and school is located in the city center. Today, the Patio do Colegio is administered by the Society of Jesuits. The site is home to several cultural and religious activities. It houses a museum, the church, a thematic library and social projects.
Ibirapuera Park is the biggest green space in central São Paulo. It makes a fine escape from the city's seemingly infinite stretches of concrete. In addition, this is a thriving center of the city's cultural life, with museums, performance spaces and the grounds for São Paulo's renowned Bienal. Inaugurated in 1954 to commemorate the city's 400th anniversary, the park was designed by renowned landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx. A series of landmark buildings in the park are the work of modernist master Oscar Niemeyer; most of them are linked by a long and distinctively serpentine covered walkway.
After your tour, enjoy a memorable dinner at one of the finest restaurants in South America, DOM. Created at a time when little was known about Brazilian cuisine, D.O.M. has been elected the ninth best restaurant in the world by S. Pellegrino “World´s 50 Best Restaurants”. Hotel Emiliano Sao Paulo (B,D)
Day 3: Sao Paulo / Paraty
This morning, you are picked up for a four-and-half drive to Paraty. Originally settled by the Portuguese in the 1660s, Paraty has maintained its colonial feel with its original architecture and a virtually unchanged culture. The city served as an exportation site for gold sent to Portugal. Paraty encompasses exquisite churches, cobblestone streets and excellent restaurants. All that added to the charm and allure of this area. It does not allow cars within the historic section of the city. The area also offers cultural and musical festivals typical of the city, a vast and interesting colonial history as well as nearby beaches and forests. Tonight, you attend Teatro Espaco, the local theater where the “Contadores de Historias” show is playing. This is an unusual puppet play for adults with puppeteers telling a story in a series of short plays. Casa Turquesa Hotel Boutique (B)
Day 4 : Paraty
This morning, set out for a three-hour private speedboat ride to explore Paraty Bay, with its 65 islands and many beaches of uncommon beauty. Comprida Island is one such island and it is known as a natural aquarium. It is surrounded by exuberant vegetation that makes it a quiet place for a swim or go snorkeling. Return to your hotel after lunch to refresh before heading out again.
This afternoon, set out on a walking tour with your local guide, who shares legends and stories from the last century. Visit Matriz, Santa Rita, Do Rosário e Das Dores churches and museums such as the House of Culture. Paraty´s architecture has character, originality and definition, forming a harmonious architectural picture of the 18th century. Irregular sidewalks, thick decorated walls, colonial constructions with wrought iron balconies and freemasonry culture. The city is a National Historical Monument and a declared a UNECSO Heritage of Humanity Site. It is also considered a Natural Heritage Site because its municipal area is 65% inside the national park of Serra da Bocaina. Casa Turquesa Hotel Boutique (B)
Day 5: Paraty / Rio de Janeiro / Belo Horizonte
This morning, you travel three hours by road to Rio de Janeiro to connect with a flight to Belo Horizonte. You will be met at the Belo Horizonte airport for your car transfer to your hotel. Hotel Fasano Belo Horizonte (B)
Day 6: Belo Horizonte / Ouro Preto
This morning, your guide meets you in your hotel lobby for a transfer to Inhotim Contemporary Art Center, an institution committed to the education and cultural development of the community. Set in the municipality of Brumadinho Minas Gerais, the center encompasses one of the largest foundations of contemporary art in Brazil and one of the largest outdoor art centers in Latin America. It was founded by the former mining magnate Bernardo Paz in 2004 to house his personal art collection. It opened to the public a couple of years later. In 2014, the open-air museum was one of TripAdvisor's top 25 best-ranked museums in the world. The centers collection includes some 500 works by over 100 Brazilian and international 100 artists. With a focus on contemporary art produced from the 1960s through to today, the collection includes sculptures, installations, paintings, drawings, photography, film and video. The botanical garden holds what is believed to be the world's largest collection of palm trees with around 1,500 specimens. Note: To visit Inhotim, you will need Yellow Fever Certificate. After the park visit, you travel about two-and-a-half hours to the charming town of Ouro Preto. Upon your arrival, you check into your hotel. Hotel Solar Do Rosario (B)
Day 7: Ouro Preto
Ouro Preto is a prized jewel of Brazil's colonial heritage. Founded in 1698, this city soon became the capital of the Portuguese gold rush. Ouro Preto's gold mines financed 70 years of expansion and opulence. The boom ended with the depletion of the mines but evidence of golden-age splendor can still be seen in Ouro Preto's fine fountains plazas and churches. To protect these treasures, UNESCO declared the city center a World Heritage Site, Brazil's first. The town is set in the hills below the Espinhaço Mountains. The city holds a wealth of religious art, including works by the sculptor Aleijadinho and painter Mestre Athayde, in the city's Baroque and Rococo churches. The historic center is a maze of narrow, hilly streets lined with red-roofed houses and storefronts. The Museum of Mineralogy, located on the north side of Tiradentes Plaza, features one of the world's most extensive collections of minerals. Neighboring Mariana, 23 miles to the east, is the oldest city in the state of Minas Gerais and was founded in 1696. The city has fine examples of baroque architecture in its churches and cathedral and a museum of sacred art. If you are at Mariana on a Friday or Sunday, you have an option to see a historic 18th century organ concert at the Mariana Cathedral. Hotel Solar Do Rosario (B)
Day 8: Ouro Preto / Tiradentes
Early this morning, your host will meet you at the lobby for your transfer to Tiradentes passing through Congonhas to visit the Bom Jesus do Matozinho’s Sanctuary, recognized by UNESCO as World’s Patrimony Sie, for Aleijadinho’s masterpieces with full-size sculptures. Upon arrival in Tiradentes, you check it at your hotel. Solar da Pontes Hotel Boutique (B)
Day 9: Tiradentes / Ibitipoca This morning our host will take you for a short walking tour through the charming colonial town of Tiradentes. Visit of the churches of Matriz of Santo Antonio and Rosário as well as some other important historical sites. After lunch, hit the road again, this time for the four-hour drive to the Ibitipoca National Park. Reserve Ibitipoca (B,L,D)
Days 10/11: Ibitipoca
Explore the reserve over the next two days. Stretching across more than 4,000 hectares of land, you will encounter a great diversity of landscapes. Reserva do Ibitipoca, is located inside the Atlantic Forest but has pockets of different ecosystems including high altitude fields, rocky planes and caves. More than 200 km/124 miles of trails that lead to stunning landscapes and pristine waterfalls. Activities include horseback riding, bike excursions, visits to a local village and hiking and can be organized directly with the hotel at extra cost. Reserve Ibitipoca – (B,L,D)
Day 12: Ibitipoca / Rio de Janeiro
This morning, our host will meet you at the hotel lobby for your car transfer to Rio de Janeiro. You stop in Petrópolis, the one-time residence of Brazil’s only two emperors – Emperor Pedro I and Pedro II. Petropolis is often referred to as the Imperial City of Brazil, a lavish mountain retreat tucked away in the Serro dos Orgaos. The main attraction of Petropolis is its renowned Imperial Museum, housed in the beautifully restored former palace of Dom Pedro II, built between 1845 and 1862, and displaying one of Brazil’s most significant collections of historic objects. Among the vast exhibition of tapestries, antique furniture and jewels, are priceless items like the gold quill used by Princess Izabel to sign the 1888 Lei Áurea law, which liberated slaves in Brazil, and the famous imperial crown, weighing in at 1.7kg, the glittering headpiece is encrusted with over 600 diamonds and 77 pearls.
Other sights include the Cathedral Sao Pedro de Alcantara, an impressive work of Gothic architecture, which serves as a poignant memorial to Brazil’s last imperial family. It houses the tombstones of Dom Pedro II, alongside his wife and children. Nearby is the magnificent Crystal Palace, a striking glass edifice inspired by London’s Crystal Palace and shipped over from France in 1884. Continue to Rio de Janeiro and check in at your hotel. Janeiro Hotel (B)
Day 13: Rio de Janeiro
This morning, your guide takes you to a sight considered one of the world´s most famous tour attractions, the statue of Christ the Redeemer, with its open arms blessing the whole city of Rio de Janeiro. It is exquisitely positioned on top of the 710 meters/2,329 feet high Corcovado Hill. Made of concrete and soapstone measuring 37 meters/121 feet high and weighing 1.145 tons, the statue was inaugurated in 1931 and built with donations by the Catholic Church. A superb view of the whole city can be enjoyed from its open terraces including the city center and the beaches of the southern neighborhoods such as Copacabana Ipanema and the Lagoon. It is also possible to see the Sugar Loaf hill at the entrance of Guanabara Bay, the whole city of Niterói, as well as a huge portion of the northern part of the city and its suburbs. From the top you can admire the fantastic blend of gorgeous beaches being washed by deep blue waters, high mountains that bound the landscape, thick forests and urban areas all together. Once in Rio, it is easy to understand why Brazilians say that it took God seven days to create the whole world and five of them were spent only working in Rio!
The Tijuca Forest is just a few minutes away from the city’s densely populated areas and one of its hills is Corcovado Mountain. Once there you will find roads and tracks passing through a dense green mass of trees and tropical plants. At its center, you can get close to an impressive waterfall, as well as walk along rivers and lakes. Butterflies, tropical birds and small animals can also be spotted as you move.
After lunch, learn about the history of Carnival and of the Samba and see how the remarkable carnival floats and costumes are made. Then, you will be transferred to Sugar Loaf, known the world over as Rio's postcard and a must visit. Sugar Loaf is reached on a two-stage cable car ride. This cable car takes 80 persons per trip on a two-minute ride, each stage. The first stage, Morro da Urca - barely 170 meters high, has a restaurant, amphitheater, a heli point for scenic rides and a privileged view of the Yacht Club and Botafogo Bay. The second stage takes one up to the Sugar Loaf, named for the loaves of sugar that were commonly used by the Portuguese at the time of the discovery of the city. The all-encompassing view of this privileged 270-meter high lookout is unrivaled. Return to your hotel. Janeiro Hotel (B)
Day 14: Rio de Janeiro / Depart
Transfer today to the airport to board your onward flight. (B)
Land price, per person, double occupancy: Price starts from US$800 per person per day.