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Brazil: Rio, Paraty & the Pantanal

Spot wildlife on a sunrise canoe ride, look out over Rio from Christ the Redeemer & waterfall hop by 4x4 through Paraty’s jungled hills

Brazil: Rio, Paraty & the Pantanal

11 Days | From £4240

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  • Overview
  • Itinerary
  • Accommodation
  • Important Notes

Brazil: Rio, Paraty & the Pantanal

Spot wildlife on a sunrise canoe ride, look out over Rio from Christ the Redeemer & waterfall hop by 4x4 through Paraty’s jungled hills

Brazil: Rio, Paraty & the Pantanal

About your trip

Once visited, never forgotten. Brazil is a country that dazzles with its vibrant culture, diverse landscapes and world-class wildlife-watching. Get a taste of it all, Flash Pack style, on this action-packed 11-day adventure.

From sophisticated São Paulo to the fun-loving rhythms of Rio, you’ll soak up some urban culture in two of the world’s most exciting cities. You’ll search for South America’s Big Five (maned wolf, anteater, tapir, giant otter and jaguar) in the incredible Pantanal wetlands, and you’ll road trip along the Atlantic coast to find your chill in picture-perfect Paraty.

You’ll discover what makes this country tick through immersive local-led experiences. Like visiting a local samba school as they prepare for carnival and witnessing the awakening of nature on a magical sunrise canoe ride. There’ll be street food tours and horseback rides, piranha soup and cachaça tasting, waterfall hopping by 4×4 and sunset views from the Sugarloaf. 

With a daily dose of ice-cold caipirinhas sipped with new friends, you’ll discover a passion for life that will make you feel like a certified Brazilian. 

What's Included

  • Accommodation in twin rooms
  • Max 14 travellers per group
  • Exclusively for people in their 30s & 40s
  • All activities mentioned in the itinerary
  • 10 breakfasts, 3 lunches, 6 dinners
  • Hand-picked 3-4 star hotels
  • 2 domestic flights
  • ATOL protected
  • Arrival airport transfer
  • Experienced local Pack Leader in each location

Flashpackers must provide evidence that they have purchased travel insurance for the duration of their adventure. Remember, international flights aren't included and prices are based on sharing a twin room. If you'd like to upgrade to a single room, you can add this during the booking process or by contacting our Customer Experience team.


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Your Itinerary


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    Welcome to São Paulo: Brazil’s biggest city, cultural epicentre and economic powerhouse. Touching down in this buzzing megalopolis, a private Flash Pack transfer will be waiting to whisk you to your boutique hotel. You’ll be staying right in the heart of the action near Avenida Paulista, an area known for its skyscraper-lined streets, cutting-edge museums and Michelin-star foodie scene. After time to freshen up, get to know your fellow Flashpackers over a lime-spiked caipirinha cocktail, followed by a tasty three-course Brazilian dinner. Clink glasses as you raise a toast to 10 days of adventure to come.

  • Day 02 Journey to the Pantanal wetlands

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    Waking up to the sounds of the city, enjoy your first of many extravagant Brazilian breakfasts to set you up for the day. Today, you’ll take a short flight to Cuiabá, gateway to the northern Pantanal. This vast area of rivers, grasslands and lily-covered lakes make up the world’s biggest wetlands and offer some of the best wildlife viewing in the Americas. For the full immersion, you’ll be staying at a remote riverside eco-lodge with expert local guides. After a private briefing and a taste of piranha broth (a local speciality), you’ll set off on a night-time Jeep safari in search of nocturnal animals. Keep your eyes peeled for alligators, nightjars and crab-eating foxes, as well as the elusive jaguar.  

  • Day 03 Nature safaris & a poolside bbq

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    Start your day with a nature walk, for a chance to discover the diverse ecosystems of the Pantanal on foot. As you make your way through the forests, swamps and open fields, up-close encounters might include monkeys, capybaras, armadillos, tamanduas and an astonishing number of birds. You’ll pay a special visit to the lodge’s rehabilitation centre, not usually open to the public. The owner is a passionate conservationist and works with the government to rescue and release wild animals. Later, you’ll explore the winding Motum River by boat – perhaps spotting giant otters playing on the bank or stingrays darting through the crystalline water – before a relaxing poolside barbecue, exclusively for Flash Pack. 

  • Day 04 Wildlife-spotting by horseback

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    Buckle up for this morning’s horse riding safari: a tranquil way to travel through the seasonally flooded grassland and riparian woods. Every day in the Pantanal brings a fresh, new experience, with diverse landscapes, wildlife sightings and ever-changing skies. You’ll have some time to kick back this afternoon, sleeping off the heat of the day in a hammock by the shady pool. Later, you’ll set off by boat to explore beautiful Sia Mariana Bay, a popular breeding ground for piranha, which can be found here in abundance. As the sun sinks slowly into the horizon, allow yourself a moment to appreciate the incredible nature all around you and listen to the soundtrack of a million roosting birds. 

  • Day 05 A magical sunrise canoe ride

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    You’ll be up at 4:30am this morning, but we promise it’ll be worth it for the chance to experience the dazzling spectacle of the Pantanal waking up with the sun. Paddling through the mirror-still waterways by canoe is a mesmerising experience, the silence broken only by the splash of caiman, the rustle of marsh deer or the squawk of hyacinth macaws. After lunch at the lodge, it’s time to pack your bags and transfer to the airport for your onward flight to Rio. Prepare yourself for a change of pace as you touch down in the ‘Marvelous City’, with its golden beaches, sprawling suburbs and samba-fuelled nightlife. The evening is yours to relax and explore, with feijoadas and beach vibes right on your doorstep.   

  • Day 06 Hello, Rio de Janeiro

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    According to Cariocas (the residents of Rio), God made the world in six days; the seventh he devoted to Rio. Today, you’ll discover why on a sightseeing tour of the city. Starting early to beat the crowds, you’ll take the first tram up to Corcovado, where Christ the Redeemer surveys the city from his hilltop plinth – a real pinch-me moment. Next, you’ll check out Rio’s oldest and most charming barrio, Santa Teresa, and swing by the rainbow-coloured Ecadaria Selaron, a photogenic mosaic staircase created by Chilean artist Jorge Selarón. Cap off the day with a cable car ride up the Sugarloaf Mountain for sunset. Still got some energy? Why not head to the famous Rio Scenarium to party the night away.  

  • Day 07 Behind the scenes at Rio Carnival

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    The legendary Rio carnival is one of the world’s great spectacles. Over five days in February, imaginations run riot and social barriers are broken down as the city reverberates to swirling, joyous parades of dancing, drumming and singing. Throughout the year, samba schools work on their costumes and floats. You’ll have the chance to go behind the scenes at a carnival warehouse. Learn some samba steps, try on the flamboyant outfits and sip caipirinhas as you soak up the community spirit. Then, it’s back on the road and onwards to Paraty, a scenic four-hour journey hugging the Atlantic coast. On arrival at Brazil’s prettiest colonial town, stretch your legs with a walking tour ending at a bakery with some delicious sugar cane cake. 

  • Day 08 Waterfall chasing & cachaça tasting

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    Backed by steep, forested mountains and fronted by a beautiful island-studded bay, Paraty enjoys a spectacular setting. Hidden in the nearby Serra da Bocaina National Park is a natural playground of rivers, rocks and cascades, where you can jump, cool off and swim in gorgeous freshwater pools. Travelling by Jeep, you’ll barrel down rugged roads to seek out the best spots, such as the shallow Tobogã waterfall whose smooth rock face makes the perfect waterslide. Finish your tour with a visit to a working cachaça distillery to see how the sugar cane liquor is made. A free evening awaits in Paraty, where you’ll find plenty of atmospheric options for dinner, from Brazilian steakhouses to fresh-off-the-boat seafood.

  • Day 09 A day at leisure in Paraty

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    We’ve left today free for you to enjoy your own activities. Perhaps you’ll relax in Paraty and explore its cobblestoned alleys, vibrantly painted townhouses and 18th-century churches that date back to its gold-mining past. Or maybe you’ll hike the Gold Trail, visit Praia do Sono beach or explore the mangrove coast by kayak. We recommend a boat tour to Saco do Mamanguá: an enchanting fjord-shaped inlet lined with white-sand beaches and scattered with castaway islands, where you’ll stop off to snorkel in the clear, shallow water and enjoy lunch in a palm-fringed bay. Whatever you decide, tonight you’ll rejoin your group at a lively local bar for an evening of cachaça tasting, cocktails and local snacks. 

  • Day 10 São Paulo's colourful markets

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    It’s time to get back on the road and return to São Paulo, where your journey began. You’re headed straight for the Municipal Market, a cavernous belle epoque building illuminated by enormous stained-glass windows and crammed with produce from all over Brazil. Behind the vast neoclassical facade, you’ll find an array of street food hawkers selling everything from cod fish pasteles to meat-stuffed mortadella sandwiches. Sample exotic fruits, such as passion fruit, star fruit, guava and cashew, before a celebratory last night together. Starting with happy hour drinks of craft beer and cocktails, you’ll taste typical pesticos (Brazilian tapas) before a night of bar-hopping through the upscale suburb of Itaim.

  • Day 11 Tchau, Brazil

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    After a final breakfast, your adventure has come to an end. When you’re ready to fly, your Pack Leader can help you arrange a taxi to the airport. No doubt, this trip will leave you with a taste for South America that’ll tempt you back for more. From ice-hiking in Argentina and cooking classes in Peru to swimming with sharks in the Galápagos Islands, there are plenty of wild experiences to be had. Our Trip Experts are full of inspiration and ready and waiting for your call.

Our Favourite Hotels

Here's a taste of the hotels we sometimes use on this adventure. The hotels you'll stay in for your departure will be shared with you one month before you go.

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Pousada Rio Mutum, Pantanal

A boutique back-to-nature eco-lodge immersed in the wild wetlands. Rooms are simple and elegant with traditional tiled floors and exposed beams, while the outdoor pool is the perfect place to unwind after a sunrise canoe ride, horseback safari or nocturnal wildlife excursion. 

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Novotel Rio Leme, Rio de Janeiro

You’ll have surf and sand right on your doorstep at this smart, 4-star hotel, just 5 minutes’ walk from Copacabana Beach. Kick back with a caipirinha at the rooftop bar and soak up the phenomenal views of the ocean and Christ the Redeemer statue – particularly atmospheric at night. 

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Pousada Porto Imperial, Paraty

Set along a cobbled street in the historic heart of Paraty, Pousada Porto Imperial is in a lovingly converted warehouse dating from 1804. Colonial-style rooms, a pool shaded with tropical foliage & an attractive open-air lounge all add to the character of this charming riverside guesthouse.    

Important Notes

Which airport should I fly in and out of? Plus airport code

Fly into and out of São Paulo (GRU).

What time should my flight arrive (in time for the welcome meeting)?

The plan is to meet at around 5 pm on Day 1 of the adventure, so please book a flight that arrives before 3 pm if you can.

Are airport transfers included?

If you arrive on Day 1 of your adventure, or you book pre-tour accommodation with us, your airport arrival transfer will be included. If you book alternative pre-tour accommodation or are arriving by another mode of transport you must arrange your own arrival transfer.

Arrival transfers are private to Flash Pack and will be in groups depending on flight times. Sometimes this means waiting in the airport for a short while until other flights have arrived.

We don’t offer a departure transfer as Flashpackers leave at different times of the day and many stay for extra nights. We will offer you support with finding a local taxi.

Are tips included?

Tips are not included in this adventure. Your Pack Leader can advise on suitable amounts to tip local activity guides or services where appropriate, and we will provide a suggested tipping budget closer to your departure date. Please note that all tipping is optional and will depend on what you feel comfortable with.

How much should I budget per day for extras?

Approx 40 GBP per day for extra meals and drinks.

Am I guaranteed to spot wildlife in the Pantanal?

Wildlife sightings can never be guaranteed but the rivers, lakes and grasslands of the Pantanal are the best places to spot wild animals in the Americas. Thanks to its seasonally flooded open habitat, cabybara, anaconda, peccary, giant otter, metre-long macaws and ocelots are common sights and it is even possible to spot jaguar, although these remain elusive and are rare to spot in the specific region in which you’ll be staying. At times, the number of water birds, raptors and parrots can be mind-boggling.

In the rainy season (October to March) rivers break their banks and flood the surrounding lowlands, creating a beautiful patchwork of shallow lakes, marshes, grasslands and forests. In the dry season (April to September) wildlife clusters around water holes, making it easier to spot. Jaguar sightings are more common during this time.

While you are sure to have an incredible experience whatever time of year you visit, it’s best to avoid travelling with a checklist.

Will I need any vaccinations?
It’s recommended to get a yellow fever vaccination before entering Brazil, however this is not a mandatory requirement and proof will not be required to enter the country. Please check with your local travel clinic for the latest advice.
Will the itinerary change?

Please be aware that the itinerary, activities and hotels are subject to change. These changes can happen with little notice due to availability, poor weather, seasonal changes, or other circumstances beyond our control. From time to time we may also make changes to your itinerary to try out new ideas and keep things fresh.

Your experience in the Pantanal wetlands will be different according to the season. During the rainy season (October to March) much of the area will be flooded and land safaris may be replaced with boat rides.

Will I have the same Pack Leader for the whole trip?

On this trip, you’ll actually have four different Pack Leaders.

That’s because laws and regulations in Brazil mean that guides cannot work in different states unless they have a specific license to do so (it’s very rare to find someone with a license to cover all the locations in this itinerary).

As this trip covers four different regions of Brazil, you’ll have a different Pack Leader for every stage of your trip – each with incredible expert knowledge and guidance specific to their local area.

Rest assured that you’ll be well looked after at all times, from the moment you land in one location until you depart to your next location. For example, your São Paulo Pack Leader will take you to the airport for your flight to the Pantanal and you’ll be met at the other end.


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