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Ultimate South America and the Rio Carnival

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Discover the best of South America on this spectacular tour

You are viewing the 2023 itinerary. Select your departure year
20222023
15 days From £6,995 per person
Operated by our sister company Great Rail Journeys

2023 Tour code: ABJ23

About the tour

Discover the allure of South America on an incredible tour from vibrant Rio to Buenos Aires. Experience the incredible Rio Carnival, discover Bariloche in the heart of Patagonia, take a journey on the 'End of the World' Train and visit the stunning Perito Moreno Glacier.

Highlights

What’s included

Itinerary

Day 1 - London and Rio de Janeiro

After meeting at London Heathrow, we fly to Rio de Janeiro for three nights, a coastal city which revels in intoxicating samba rhythms, gorgeous beaches and a care-free culture.

Day 2 - Discovering Rio de Janeiro

Our explorations start with an excursion to the top of Rio's most recognisable landmark, Corcovado Mountain, upon which perches the astonishing statue of Christ the Redeemer. Looking out over the city, this colossal Art Deco statue of Jesus Christ paints an enduring image of Brazil. We ascend via the Corcovado Rack and Pinion Mountain Railway, which takes us the two and a half miles to a viewing platform, situated 7,641 feet above Rio. On a clear day, the views across city and the Atlantic Ocean are sensational.

Each February, Rio is gripped by carnival fever as one of the world's biggest festivals erupts into the party of a lifetime. And this evening, we have tickets to the winner's parade, enjoying grand stand seats in the Sambadrome's - a truly once-in-a-lifetime experience.

Day 3 - Sugarloaf Mountain

We delve into the heart of Rio today as we take a guided tour of the downtown area, the developmental and financial hub of the city. Here, we're introduced to historic landmarks and places of cultural interest before a holiday highlight - a journey by cable-car up Sugarloaf Mountain. A distinctive peak which soars almost 1,300 feet into the air, this natural wonder is said to resemble a concentrated refined loaf of sugar, and from our spectacular vantage point, we enjoy breathtaking panoramic views across the harbour area and Guanabara Bay. Later, we head to Fogo de Chao's where we enjoy a delicious Churriscera barbecue dinner.

Day 4 - The Iguassu Falls

We take an internal flight to Iguazu Falls this morning, which lies on the border between Brazil and Argentina. We spend two nights here on the Argentine side. Part of the border between Brazil and Argentina, the thundering Iguazu Falls are a sight to behold. One of the most extensive waterfall systems in the world, this magnificent feat of nature is found at the heart of the Atlantic rainforest and we take a guided tour of both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides of the falls, walking the trails with a nature expert who's ready to point out the fascinating wildlife and flora that call this wild destination home.

Day 5 - Iguazu Falls

We take in a much larger portion of the rapids today, exploring San Martin Island, where we take in fantastic views of several waterfalls before travelling by ecological jungle train, a gas-propelled railway, to the massive torrent of water known as Devil's Throat. The tallest of the 275 falls here, this is a spectacular U-shaped cascade once poetically described as 'an ocean plunging into an abyss'. We also wander along elevated wooden walkways which snake through this national park and offer sublime views over the different offshoots of the falls and their bubbling pools of water below.

Day 6 - Buenos Aires

Today we fly to Buenos Aires, where we take a guided tour that highlights the best of this stylish city. We see Casa Rosada, the imposing Metropolitan Cathedral with its spectacular dome, and the mausoleum of General San Martin. Travelling to La Recoleta, an affluent area known for its Parisian-style townhouses, we visit the grave of Eva Duarte, known to the world as Eva Perón or Evita. This evening, we enjoy an exclusive Argentinian wine pairing with dinner at La Cava, led by a professional sommelier who tells us the story, flavours and best pairings for each wine we try.

Day 7 - Bariloche

A morning flight takes us to Bariloche, in the Andes, for a two-night stay. On arrival, a scenic excursion showcases the region around the Patagonian mountain range. We admire views over the Parque Nacional Nahuel Huapi, one of the jewels of Patagonia, with spectacular lakes formed by centuries-old glaciers, as a chairlift transports us to the summit of Cerro Campanioro where we have time to grab a bite to eat and marvel at the scenery of Patagonia's lake district.

Day 8 - The Old Patagonian Express

We embark on a scenic drive with our guide along Route 40 to El Bolson, at the foot of Piltriquitron Mountain. We continue to El Maitin for lunch, followed by a journey on La Trochita, a train whose name translates to 'the little gauge'. This train was made famous by Paul Theroux's 1978 book 'The Old Patagonian Express', and is still known by that nickname today. The steam-hauled locomotive is now something of a living museum, having retained much of its original character, and we enjoy a nostalgic journey winding through the high plains of the Patagonian tundra.

Day 9 - El Calafate

We fly to El Calafate, a chic city situated on the shores of Lake Argentino. Known as the gateway to Los Glaciares National Park, the city is surrounded by the stunning scenery of the park, with outstanding views of dramatic mountains, glistening lakes, ancient glaciers and unique local flora impressing at each and every turn.

Day 10 - Perito Moreno Glacier

Discovering more of the area's dramatic scenery, we take a guided tour of the incredible Perito Moreno Glacier, a vast and beautiful ice formation covering 97 square miles. One of the largest fresh water glaciers in the world, the Perito Moreno forms an ice dam at the southern arm of the Lake Argentino, causing an unusual separation of water at Brazo Rico. Next, we join a nautical boat safari at Bajo Las Sombras Bay, which takes us across the icy waters close to the strikingly blue glacier for an up close and personal experience with nature.

Day 11 - Ushuaia

After a relaxed morning, we transfer to the airport for our internal flight to the southernmost city in the world, Ushuaia. On arrival, we drive to our hotel, enjoying an orientation tour along the way. This afternoon, we sail across the Beagle Channel - a strait within the Tierra del Fuego archipelago - with a local guide who will help us spot some of the unique wildlife, including sea lions, penguins and dolphins.

Day 12 - The End of the World Train

We enter Tierra del Fuego National Park, following the route of the Lapataia River until we reach Condor Hill. Here, we board the historic Tren Fin del Mundo, or 'End of the World Train'. Travelling through a five-mile stretch of this stunning national park, this steam-hauled train offers incredible views of the dense forest landscapes. We pause en route at the Macarena Station Waterfall to admire the views across the breathtaking Pipo River Valley before continuing through the unforgettable 'tree cemetery', where almost half a century of logging is evident from the endless tree stumps. Our day ends with a flight back to Buenos Aires.

Day 13 - Buenos Aires

With a free day today, you may like to visit some of the other city districts, each one boasting a unique style and distinct atmosphere. The most colorurful of these has to be La Boca, which has been a favourite haunt of artists for generations. Here, you could explore the Caminito Street Museum, a vibrant pedestrian-friendly area that's functioned as an open-air museum and art market since 1959. Afterwards, why not head to a cosy restaurant and experience two of the things Argentina is particularly well known for - red wine and steak. This evening, we see the lively side of the city first-hand as we join a tango class and show, enjoying a fantastic performance of this passionate dance in its birthplace - a fitting end to our South American adventure.

Day 14 - Flight to the UK

We transfer to the airport to board our overnight flight to London Heathrow.

Day 15 - London

Landing in London, our holiday comes to an end today.

Additional information

Please note

Please note that while every departure of this tour features the same excursions, they may not necessarily be in the order listed above.

Mobility information

Due to the nature of our tours they are generally unsuitable for those with restricted mobility. If you’d like to discuss any particular holiday with us in this respect, then please don’t hesitate to call us.

Hotels

Llao Llao, Bariloche

Llao Llao, Bariloche

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Sofitel Buenos Aires Recoleta, Buenos Aires

Sofitel Buenos Aires Recoleta, Buenos Aires

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Hotel Alto Calafate, El Calafate

Hotel Alto Calafate, El Calafate

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Loi Suites, Puerto Iguazu

Loi Suites, Puerto Iguazu

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Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

Hilton Rio de Janeiro Copacabana Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

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Los Cauquenes Resort, Ushuaia

Los Cauquenes Resort, Ushuaia

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Trains

La Trochita
Tren Fin Del Mundo

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Ultimate South America and the Rio Carnival

Discover the best of South America on this spectacular tour

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Lynne Broadley
Lynne
Luke Simpson
Luke