Brazil Football 2014—Falls & Fandemonium
Day 1 Rio de Janeiro
Arrive in Rio de Janeiro at any time. Your Chief Experience Officer (CEO) will hold a general briefing in the evening, normally between 7pm and 8pm (a note will be posted in the arrival hotel with details). Enjoy any free time to explore the wonders that this city has to offer from our centrally-located hotel in Copacabana or take an optional city tour. "God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio," so say the Cariocas, residents of this beautiful city. This is a densely packed metropolis of over 9 million inhabitants, whose economic foundations lie in the cultivation of sugar cane and gold mining. Referred to as the “Cidade Maravilhosa” (Marvellous City), few cities enjoy such a dramatic setting as Rio. Brilliant, white beaches in Copacabana and Ipanema, the deep blue waters of the Atlantic, the luminescent green of Guanabara Bay, and the bare blue slopes of the Sugar Loaf combine to make Rio unique. Standing over it all, at the topo f Corcovado mountain, is the huge statue of Christ the Redeemer; the best place to appreciate the city. Superb panoramic views of the city and area can also be found from the top of the Pao de Açucar -Sugar Loaf - reached by cable car. Head to some of the famous beaches, and prepare yourself for an experience unlike anything else on Earth. Although the Portuguese first sailed and entered the bay, it was the French who first established a settlement in the area, logging Brazilian wood along the coast. Their first permanent settlement lasted a brief five years, when they were attacked and driven from the area by the encroaching Portuguese. A series of skirmishes ensued, with the Tomaio people allied with the French against the Portuguese. In 1567, the Portuguese began the construction of a fortified town to repel invaders, naming it Sao Sebastiao do Rio de Janeiro. With the amassing wealth of the gold rush of Minas Gerais, in the early 18th Century, Rio became Brazil’s most important city and a great temptation to the French who, in 1710, waged war against the Portuguese and held the city for a sizeable gold ransom. In the 19th century, the last members of the Portuguese monarchy fled to Brazil under the threat of Napoleon’s invasion. Many of today’s older structures of the city date from this period. The gold rush was followed by a coffee boom in the mid-1800s, and the wealth generated led to the city’s initial modernization. Replacing Salvador de Bahia as the colonial capital in 1763, Rio remained the capital until 1960, when it was replaced by Brasilia. Modern Rio is, perhaps, best known for the contrasting images offered by the favelas (shanty towns), and the glitz and glamour preferred by the Samba schools and their Carnival celebrations. Rio is definitely a tale of two cities: the city is divided into a Zona Norte (North Zone) and a Zona Sul (South Zone) by the Serra da Carioca, steep mountains that are part of the Parque Nacional da Tijuca. These mountains descend to the edge of the city centre, where the two zones meet. The upper and middle classes reside in the Zona Sul, the lower class in the Zona Norte. Favelas cover steep hillsides on both sides of town - Rocinha, Brazil's largest favela, is in Sao Conrado, one of Rio's richest neighbourhoods. Most industry is in the Zona Norte, as is most of the pollution. The ocean and beaches are in the Zona Sul.
Day 2-3 Curitiba
Fly to Curitiba and opt to take in a game, or hit the massive fan parks with thousands of others.
Day 4-6 Iguassu Falls
Head inland en route to the magnificent Iguassu Falls. Spend the next two days plus exploring this tri-border region where Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay meet at the junction of the Parana and Iguazu rivers. The focus is, undoubtedly, the magnificent Foz do Iguaçu, or Iguassu Falls but be sure to find a local bar to take in the atmosphere of the World Cup in the evenings. In order to see the falls properly you need to view them from both the Brazilian and the Argentinean sides. The Brazilian side offers the grand overview and the Argentine side, a closer look. On the Brazilian side, we have the opportunity to visit the bird park filled with beautifully coloured local wildlife and enjoy an optional helicopter ride for a birds-eye view of the falls. On the Argentinean side we are able to get close enough to almost reach out and touch the waters from the many jungle walkways and take an optional and exhilarating boat trip at the base of the falls. Note: If you have booked the Iguassu Falls Boat Ride Theme Pack, you will do it when visiting the Argentine side of the falls. The torrential Iguassu River crosses the State of Paraná in Southern Brazil from East to West. A few kilometres before its junction with the Paraná River, it forms one of the most splendorous natural beauties of the world: Iguassu Falls. Over 2.7 kilometres long and an average flow of 1.750 m3/s, this wonder is located in a very special place: the contrast between the green of the vegetation and the dark colour of the basalt rocks with whirring waters plunging from a 72 meter high cliff is magical. At Iguassu there are 275 falls in all, some over 80m (262.4 ft) in height, making these cataracts wider than Victoria Falls and higher than Niagara! It should come as no surprise that UNESCO declared the region a World Heritage Site in 1986. Originally “discovered” in 1541 by the Spaniard Juan Alvar Nuñez, he named the falls Saltos de Santa María. The name we use today means “great waters” in the Tupi-Guarani language. The falls are protected by two National Parks — one in Brazil and another in Argentina. Tours utilise trails and catwalks adapted to the landscape of the area, and walking is easy for all ages; guided tours of the complex are available several times a day. Film buffs will remember that Iguassu was the site of several scenes from the film “The Mission.” Not far from the falls, the ruins of the Jesuit missions of the era can still be visited on a day trip. Also of interest in the area is Itaipú, the largest hydroelectric complex in the world. Experience an exhilarating optional boat tour or helicopter trip for a bird's eye view, or simply marvel at nature’s breadth and the roar of the falls. At the end of Day 6, be prepared for a night bus to Bonito. We leave Foz do Iguazu in the late afternoon travelling about 2 hours to Cascavel where we connect with our night bus, which will take us to Dourados in the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. We arrive in Dourados in the early hours of Day 8 where we will be met and transferred for the remaining 4 hours to Bonito, arriving around breakfast time.
Day 7-8 Bonito
Bonito (Beautiful), as the name implies, is a great place for nature lovers. Just outside the Pantanal area, this is water and jungle place with abundant colourful fish in the area’s crystalline rivers. Explore nearby underwater caves and waterfalls, go rafting or snorkelling down the crystal clear Rio de la Prata, visit macaw nesting spots, or simply spend a lazy day by the river. Foz do Iguacu to Bonito Approximate distance:768 km Estimate travel time:15 hours
Day 9-10 Pantanal (2B,2L,2D)
We make our way to the Pantanal, an immense wetland area famed for its profuse wildlife, where we take a two-day wildlife excursion to fully appreciate the area’s beauty and bounty. Accommodation is basic but unique - we stay in a large tent and sleep in hammocks. Less known outside of Brazil and South America, the Pantanal, a largely flat, wetland area about half the size of France, is still one of the best places in the continent for observing wildlife. This vast alluvial plain, seasonally flooded by the Paraguay River from October to March, is all that remains from an ancient inland sea which began to dry out 65 million years ago. Today, it is an area rich in bird life such as macaws and Jabiru storks. With luck and appropriate weather you may spot capivara (capybara), howler monkeys, caiman, giant river otters, anacondas and anteaters. The area is sparsely populated and its few roads are in poor condition. Most people use small airplanes, 4-wheel-drive vehicles and motorized canoes to get around, so expect some rough travel and more rustic accommodations while visiting the area. The area’s Transpanteneira, an elevated dirt road, which extends 145km’s (91 miles) from outside Pocone to Porto Jofre, becomes an island during the wet season. Unfortunately, as in other areas, poachers continue to do damage, and official government resources to protect the zone are scarce. This, combined with corrupt officials and a lack of commitment on the part of the government, have resulted in widespread poaching; latest estimates indicate that anywhere from half a million to two million animals are killed annually in the Pantanal. After two nights in the bush, we return to civilization. Bonito to Pantanal Estimate travl time:4 hours
Day 11-12 Rio de Janeiro
From Campo Grande, fly back to Rio to a centrally located hotel in Copacabana. Take in the buzz of the city, hit the beach or check out a group stage match in Rio. Pantanal to Campo Grande Estimate travel time:6 hours Flight to Rio de Janeiro: 1.5 hours
Day 13 Rio de Janeiro
Depart at any time.