Discover the sophisticated cities of São Paulo and Rio de Janeiro with their vibrant markets, rich cultural institutions and artistic traditions, and 16th century colonial cities. Visit the renowned Inhotim Contemporary Art Center, a must see with 500 works by more than 100 artists from 30 different nations, set both indoors and outside. Spend days exploring the landscapes in the two stunning national parks, hiking old trails once used by miners in search of diamonds.
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Day 1: 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. Fasano Hotel Sao Paulo
Day 2: Sao Paulo
This morning, your host will meet you for a tour of the city, and the guide will personalize the tour according to your main interests. Some of the places that can be visited include Liberdade, São Paulo’s equivalent of Japan town in the USA. This is the epicenter of what is said to be the largest Japanese population outside Japan. Brazil is home to an estimated 1.5 million Japanese-Brazilians many of them living in this bustling neighborhood just south of Centro that also has some Chinese and Korean scattered around. Indeed, some of the city’s best Chinese restaurants are here and South Korea’s Melona honeydew melon-flavored popsicles are popular in the streets. This is a typical São Paulo neighborhood except for the signature lantern-style lamp posts along the main streets.
Praça da Liberdade hosts the vibrant Sunday market, Feira de Arte, Artesanato e Cultura de Liberadade, with vendors divided 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 main plaza is considered the historic and current center of town. This is the point from which the lengths of all roads that cross São Paulo are counted. This was the setting of many historic events, most notably the “Diretas Já” movement that gave the right for all population to choose their president.
The immense Metropolitan Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption is the seat of the local Roman Catholic archbishop. yet almost seems out of place with its mid-century Modernist neighbors. In fact, 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 largest in Brazil, it boasts a 12,000-pipe organ, 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. It was the first site of construction in the city and it is 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 at in the city center. The Patio do Colegio is administered by the Society of Jesuits and is home to a museum, the church, a thematic library and social projects.
The biggest green space in central São Paulo, Parque do Ibirapuera makes a fine escape from the city’s seemingly infinite stretches of concrete. In addition, the leafy two-square-kilometer are central to the cultural life, encompassing ries of 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.
The São Paulo Museum of Art (MASP) is an art museum located on Paulista Avenue in the city of São Paulo, Brazil It is well known for its headquarters, a 1968 concrete and glass structure, whose main body is supported by two lateral beams over a 74 meters/243 ft freestanding space, considered a landmark of the city and a main symbol of modern Brazilian architecture.
The museum is internationally recognized for its collection of European art, considered the finest in Latin America and all Southern Hemisphere. It also houses an emphatic assemblage of Brazilian art, prints and drawings, as well as smaller collections of African and Asian art, antiquities, decorative arts, and others, amounting to more than 8,000 pieces. Fasano Hotel Sao Paulo (B)
Day 3: Sao Paulo – Santos and Guarujá – Sao Paulo
This morning, you begin a full-day exploration in the cities of Santos and Guarujá, some two hours away from São Paulo. They are well-known for their beaches as well as its history involving coffee export. The oldest area in Santos, the historic center, preserves important buildings, streets, squares and monuments that make up one of the largest architectural and artistic collections in the country. The route passes the Coffee Exchange, build in 1922, which houses the Coffee Museum (ticket not included), with permanent and temporary exhibitions, and a café serving the best coffee blends, coffee-based drinks and the official Santos dessert, DoceCafe.
Guarujá, sometimes called Pearl of the Atlantic, is home to dozens of beaches of unparalleled beauty and white sands excellent bathing all year. It is a favorite getaway for Sao Paulo city dwellers. Enseada, the longest beach, enjoys clear waters and lots of waves, popular for surfing and other water sports. Once used for the slave trade, ramps from the boardwalk access the beach, specific to boats and jet skis. About a hundred kiosks are scattered along the waterfront along with the highest concentration of hotels and lodges in the city and major sporting events in the summer. Fasano Hotel Sao Paulo (B)
Day 4: 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 a colonial feel with its original architecture and a virtually unchanged culture. The city served as a center for exportation of gold sent to Portugal. Paraty encompasses exquisite churches, cobblestone streets and excellent restaurants. 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 be forests. All that adds to the charm and allure of this area.
Paraty´s architecture has character, originality and definition that began in the 18th century. Uneven sidewalks, thick decorated walls, colonial constructions with wrought iron balconies and a freemasonry culture echoes the past. The city is a National Historical Monument and a UNESCO Heritage of Humanity Site. And more, it is considered Natural Heritage because its municipal area is 65% inside the national park of Serra da Bocaina. On this tour your local guides will explore the legends and stories of the last century while visiting churches such as Matriz, Santa Rita, Do Rosário and Das Dores), museums, House of Culture, old constructions and other points of interest.
Tonight, savor a performance at the Teatro Espaco, the local theater where the “Contadores de Historias” show plays. This is an unusual puppet play for adults with puppeteers telling a story in a series of short plays. Casa Turquesa Boutique Hotel (B)
Day 5: Paraty
Today you board a boat in Paraty Bay, which boasts some 65 islands and many beaches of uncommon beauty. It is surrounded by exuberant vegetation that makes it a quiet and unbelievable place to visit and relax. The waters are perfect for swimming and snorkeling. On this tour, you will have a five-hour private speed boat tour to to explore some of these beautiful beaches and islands. Return to your hotel later. Casa Turquesa Boutique Hotel (B)
Day 6: Paraty / Rio De Janeiro
This morning, you are picked up at your hotel by your guide and driver. Travel by road about four hours to Rio de Janeiro. Upon arrival, you check in to your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Janeiro Hotel (B)
Day 7: Rio De Janeiro
Rio is known as a vibrant city as well as for its friendly warm and welcoming residents. Its colorful street fruit and vegetable markets display a lot of these qualities. They are all over Rio and are very easy to find being in different locations every day of the week. Explore one of the busy markets to learn about Rio’s varied palette. Then, head to one of the most famous tour attractions in the world, 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 meter-high Corcovado (hunchback) Hill. Made of concrete and soapstone, measuring 37 meters 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 and connected. 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!
Not far from the Corcovado train station is a distinctive place some call Rio’s Montmartre! You cannot miss Santa Teresa, a unique part of Rio spread located on the hills with old houses and narrow streets filled with the atmosphere of art, music and history. IrBeing the home of several painters and artists, this little jewel is encircled by charming restaurants, bistros and bars that add a touch of both sophisticated and simple gastronomy. In Santa Teresa is a small town with little grocery stores, markets and family businesses. From there, drive to Lapa to see the famous Selaron stairs, covered in vivid and artistic tiles, before enjoying a brief drive in the downtown area with its many historical and cultural sites. Your day ends with one of Rio’s most iconic symbols, Sugar Loaf. The name is due to the mountain’s shape resembling the conic moulds that were used in the 16th Century to produce sugar. At the entrance of Guanabara Bay, this massive granite rock measuring 396 meters/1299 feet is one of the city’s most famous landmarks. You can reach its top by cable car starting at the gorgeous neighborhood of Urca. Built in 1912 by a Brazilian engineer and renovated in 1973, the current equipment has transparent walls and carries 75 people. The trip takes only six minutes. Once you are there the view from the top is simply superb. Janeiro Hotel (B)
Day 8: Rio De Janeiro / Ibitipoca
After breakfast, you will be picked up by your driver and hit the road again, this time for the 4.5-hour drive to the Ibitipoca National Park. One of the most beautiful nature reserves in the country hidden in the mountains, the park was created in 1973 an area of almost 1500 hectares/3707 acres formed by rocks of quartzite (quartz with a mixture of organic matter) giving a the landscape a magnificent color. 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. It houses one of Brazil’s most significant collections of historic objects. Among the vast exhibition of tapestries, antique furniture and jewels, are priceless items such a 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, and 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 Ibitipoca State Park on an outcrop of quartzite with a shallow soil layer made up principally of organic material and sand formed by the erosion of the rock. In the regions where the soil is shallow are bushes, cactuses and bromeliads characteristic of rocky places. The rivers of the park are a caramel color due high levels of organic material. which has a rich variety of fauna and flora that keeps animal species extinctions and some exotic plants. Ultimately, a veritable oasis for nature lovers and ecotourism. The main attractions to hikes to explore are caves, mountains and waterfalls. The highest point in the park is known as Pico da Lombada and is a little more than 1,800 meters/5,900 feet above sea level. The park is reached by road, which part dirt road but its steepest stretch between the Fazenda do Engenho and the village is paved. Reserve Ibitipoca (B,L,D)
Days 9, 10 & 11: Ibitipoca
Enjoy hiking this morning on the property. You can also choose optional activities such as horse riding, biking tours, visit to the village and hiking in the Ibitipoca National Park at extra cost, and can be organized directly with the hotel. Reserve Ibitipoca (B,L,D)
Day 12: Ibitipoca / Tiradentes
Morning at leisure before you meet up with your guide and driver for the four-hour drive to Tiradentes, a historic town. Take a brief stroll in town before checking into your hotel. Solar Da Pontes Boutique Hotel (B)
Day 13: Tiradentes
This morning our host will take you for a short walking tour through the charming colonial town of Tiradentes, with a population of some 6,000 and fine examples of 300-year-old buildings. The impressive Matriz Church is a beautiful building dating from 1732 and the richest gold foil interior of any church in Brazil. It is also well-known amongst food lovers for its food festival in August and its many good regional and modern restaurants. Also visit Rosário dos Pretos as well as other important historical sites. Solar Da Pontes Boutique Hotel (B)
Day 14: Tiradentes / Ouro Preto
Early this morning, you will be transferred to Ouro Pretto, along the road that was used to take the gold from Minas Gerais to Paraty in Rio. You stop in Congonhas to visit the Bom Jesus do Matozinho’s Sanctuary, recognized by UNESCO as a World Patrimony Site because of Aleijadinho’s masterpieces. A sculptor and architect of colonial Brazil, he was noted for his works on churches in Brazil. His works are considered some of the best examples of Portuguese colonial architecture in Brazil. Upon arrival in Ouro Preto, check it to your hotel. Hotel Solar Do Rosario (B)
Day 15: 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 mines financed seven decades 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. The town is set in the hills below the Espinhaço Mountains. Visitors will find a wealth of religious art including works by 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, houses one of the world’s most extensive collections of minerals. Neighboring Mariana is the oldest city in the state of Minas Gerais, founded in 1696. The city has fine examples of baroque architecture (especially in its churches and cathedral), a museum of sacred art, sunny plazas, and historic homes. If you are there on Friday and Sunday, you have an opportunity to see an historic 18th-century organ concert at the Mariana Cathedral. Hotel Solar Do Rosario (B)
Day 16: Ouro Preto / Belo Horizonte
This morning is at leisure to explore this amazing town on your own. This afternoon, you will be transferred to Belo Horizonte, about 1.5 hours by road. Check into your hotel. The remainder of the day is at leisure. Fasano Hotel Belo Horizonte (B)
Day 17: Belo Horizonte
This morning, your host will meet you in the hotel lobby for the transfer by car to Inhotim Contemporary Art Center, an institution committed to education and cultural development of the community. In the municipality of Brumadinho Minas Gerais, Inhotim occupies an area of 87 acres of beautiful gardens, part of which was created by renowned landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx, and works of art displayed indoors as well as outdoors. For art lovers, the Inhotim art collection is a must see, comprised of some 500 works by more than 100 artists from 30 different nations. 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 museum makes great use of various types of exhibition space such as outdoors in the garden, immersed in the woods, on a mountaintop and on a body of water. Other works are found indoors displayed individually in specially built pavilions, as well as in collective exhibitions in large galleries. Inhotim maintains partnerships with various institutions in order to promote exchanges between collections of art, and also allowing for a possibility of introducing new flora species into natural environments. The botanical garden holds what is believed to be the world’s largest collection of palm trees, with around 1500 species/hybrids/varieties. Another distinguishing feature of the Inhotim museum and botanical garden is the absence of a predetermined linear path, an obvious order, or a dominant perspective. The paths that run naturally through the park offer free routes between the works and the outdoor galleries. The coexistence of the enclosed and open spaces promotes a unique experience for enjoying the works of art. An electric golf cart will be at your disposal to visit this fascinating art museum. Note: To visit Inhotim, you will need a Yellow Fever Certificate. After the park visit, you will be returned to your hotel. Fasano Hotel Belo Horizonte (B)
Day 18: Belo Horizonte / Salvador Bahia
Today, you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Salvador Bahia, founded in 1549 by the Portuguese. Upon your arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. This afternoon, your guide introduces you to Salvador City, showing how it has changed throughout the ages to become the Salvador of today. Starting out along the bay, you work your way along Salvador’s tree-lined streets up to Pelourinho, a designated UNESCO World Heritage Site due to its spectacular and well-preserved colonial architecture. From Municipal Square, close to the Lacerda lift, continue on foot to fully appreciate the splendid buildings that take you back in time to the beginnings of this vibrant city. Along the way, we will stop off at the São Francisco Church, with its extravagant gold leaf baroque designs, before continuing the tour, heading towards the Largo do Pelourinho in the heart of the neighborhood. Villa Bahia Hotel (B)
Day 19: Salvador Bahia / Chapada Diamantina National Park
This morning, you will be taken to the airport to board your flight to Lencois where, upon your arrival, you will be met and transferred to your hotel. Located in the heart of Bahia, Chapada Diamantina’s breathtaking landscape shows off flat topped mountains, huge canyons with rivers of brownish waters, high altitude grasslands, known locally as Gerais, innumerous waterfalls and many old trails that were once used by miners in search of diamonds. All of that makes it one of the best destinations in the country for outdoor activities. This afternoon, enjoy a short hike to enjoy the sunset at “Morro do Pai Inácio” at 1,240 meters/4,068. After sunset, you are returned to your hotel to relax this evening Canto Das Aguas Lodge (B)
Days 20, 21 & 22: Chapada Diamantina National Park
Over the next three days, you explore the dramatic landscapes that includes grottoes such as Torrinha, most beautiful grotto at Chapada Diamantina with stalactites, stalagmites and other speleothems; Pratinha Lake, a bathing spot that is a real oasis in such arid area. The bottom of the lake has countless micro-conchs, showing that there was a sea in this region in the past. Pratinha´s River formed many grottos in the limestone. Hikes take in the main points such as Serrano, a popular site close to the city center. It’s a section of Lençóis River that diverts from the mountain and flows over a large rock, with numerous “cauldrons” that form natural pools, until it reaches the city center. Salão de Areias Coloridas has rocks that form the sands halls and are soft, easily broken by hand. The result of the decomposition of these rocks form the various rooms of more than 30 colors of sand. Other natural features you explore during your time here include waterfalls and caves with lakes such as Poço Encantado, a cave with a large lake of stunning cobalt blue color that gets the sun rays directly on the water surface, causing a spectacular visual effect. Note: The best time to visit is from April to September. Canto Das Aguas Lodge (B)
Day 23: Chapada Diamantina National Park / Salvador Bahia
Today you will be transferred to the airport to board your flight to Salvador Bahia. Upon your arrival, you will be transferred to your hotel. The remainder of the day is free. Villa Bahia Hotel (B)
Day 24: Salvador / Depart
Today, you are transferred to the airport to board your onward flight. (B)
Land only, double occupancy. $850 per person, per day.