Rio to La Paz (25 Days) - Brazil & Bolivia Explorer

Company : Oasis Overland
Activities: Adventure Holidays / Tours
Countries: Bolivia / Brazil
Duration: 3 weeks to 4 weeks
Approx Costs: 1500 to 2000 £ Pound (UK)

An intoxicating trip through Bolivia and Brazil.  Arrive early to enjoy the Carnival celebrations in Rio before heading south to visit some of Brazil’s most beautiful beaches.  

Gaze in awe at the mighty Iguazu Falls and visit the massive Pantanal wetlands.  After seeing the mines in Potosi we journey on to visit the amazing Salar de Uyuni.  We finish our journey in the vibrant Bolivian capital, La Paz.

 

Itinerary

Days 1 to 2
Rio de Janeiro rarely fails to impress with its vibrant sense of fun.  You could spend your free day visiting one of the many historic sites and museums, strut your stuff on one of Rio’s World Famous beaches, or visit the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain or Christ the Redeemer. In between there will be plenty of opportunity to party like a local, and possibly take in a football match (schedules permitting). If you are starting your trip in Rio and want to spend some extra time here, we can arrange accommodation for you and a Sambadrome ticket for you to watch the World-famous samba parades.  It is well worth adding a few extra days onto your trip in order to experience the atmosphere during Carnival - there is plenty to do in this fun city so you will not be bored! 

Days 3 to 4
We set off from Rio in the morning, and travel by bus (approximately 2 hours) tracking the Atlantic coastline.  We switch our bus for a boat in Angra dos Reis and catch the ferry over to the magical Island of Ilha Grande.  We base ourselves here for two days. Surrounded by the tropical forest and emerald sea, we will see why Ilha Grande boasts some of the World’s most beautiful beaches.  The Island is still relatively undeveloped, so you will find that you travel by foot through the forests, or take the opportunity to do some snorkelling.  Enjoy your time in this tropical paradise.

Days 5 to 6
We retrace our steps and follow the coastline south to Parati.  This World heritage-listed and unspoilt picturesque town has remained fundamentally unaltered for three centuries. Cars have been banned from the cobbled streets that run down to the seashore, instead mountain bikes are used and are a good way to get around. The town’s Port played a huge role in the export of gold during the 17th Century and coffee exploring in the 19th century and there is still a heavy European presence in the town. Sit back and relax or alternatively take a sailing trip in one of the traditional schooners to explore the secluded islands of this pristine coastline.

Day 7
We catch a short flight (approximately 1 hour) to Sao Paulo and then transfer by bus to Curitiba (when possible*).  We plan to arrive into Curitiba late afternoon in time for you to do some self-exploration at dinner time.  This cosmopolitan University City has a reputation for having a good nightlife, so your overnight stay here will give you the chance to party with the locals!

Days 8 to 10
We say goodbye to Curitiba and board our bus towards Iguazu Falls (approximately 8 hours).  The scenery changes as we travel on the Brazilian inter-state highways, passing farmland and ranches as we go. The Falls form the natural border between Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil, higher than Niagara and wider than Victoria Falls they are an awe-inspiring place to spend the next two days. The lush tropical forest surrounding the falls has many walking trails leading to smaller hidden falls, ideal to refresh from the steaming heat and abounding with parrots, toucans (five different species), woodpeckers, butterflies and colourful plants. Here you can also undertake a number of optional activities such as rafting, helicopter flights and mountain bike riding. We board our comfortable overnight bus to Bonito.  The bus is air-conditioned, with toilets on board and reclining seats with footrest.  Sit back and relax.

Days 11 to 12
We arrive into ‘beautiful’ Bonito in the morning.  Here we will swim and snorkel in some of the clearest rivers and lakes in the world.  The area is littered with cascading waterfalls and deep caves.  A favourite with local Brazilians, it is an area not to be missed.  You will have the opportunity to go on some spectacular walks in the mountainous forests which, fingers crossed, may reveal wildlife that includes monkeys, alligators and anaconda.  Keep your eyes peeled! 

Days 13 to 15
We leave early to journey into the Pantanal region - the vast wetlands which are home to over 600 species of birds and 350 kinds of fish, piranha being common, as well as an abundance of reptiles and animals.  The Pantanal is a vast wetland and covers a massive 21,000sq km (about the size of Belgium, Portugal, Switzerland and Holland combined!).  Much of this area is only accessible by boat or foot and large areas flood each year during the rainy season.  Once the rains subside, the wildlife flock to this magnificent feeding ground.  Over the years there have been problems with poaching, but thankfully any form of hunting is now prohibited and is punishable with a four year imprisonment.  Fishing is also controlled and not allowed during the spawning seasons.  

The sunrise over the Pantanal is not to be missed, so be sure to be up in time!  The activities available will depend on numbers, but you will have the opportunity to go in search of alligators (of which there are somewhere between 10 and 35 million!), Capybara, Jaguars (you will need to be lucky for these!), ocelots, pumas, deer, anteaters, armadillos and a variety of monkey.  As well as spotting wildlife, there may be the opportunity to go horseback riding, canoeing as well as swimming or maybe you want to simply sit back and relax. We continue our journey to the Brazilian town of Corumba, We board the Expreso del Oriente train to take us into Bolivia where we will switch from Portuguese to Spanish, and it is time to get our tongues around a new linguistic challenge!  Bring some snacks for the 21 hours journey and come prepared to watch the World go by!

Day 16
We arrive into Santa Cruz and see why it has built its population (and reputation!) as officially Bolivia’s second-largest city.  Whilst the city now has a modern cosmopolitan feel, there are still traces of its illustrious past.   The sloths that were once resident of the main plaza have been re-house to the Jardin Zoologico, but there is still plenty to see and explore with all the handicrafts markets and paddle boats.  Try your hand at negotiating to buy some coca leaves – famed for their medicinal properties in helping with altitude sickness. You will have plenty of time today to wander the streets as well as the terrace in the Plaza 24 de Septiembre with its ornate Cathedral.

Days 17 to 18
We board a short flight to travel the 35 minute journey from Santa Cruz to Sucre. We have a full day and a half to explore the city of Sucre.  Known as 'The 4 Names City' because of its long and varied history - Charkas (its Indian name), La plata (The Silver), Ciudad Blanca (White City) and Sucre (Sugar in French).  Wander the charming streets of the UNESCO World Heritage site and possibly visit Liberty's House where Bolivia was created a new free Republic in 1825. After some last minute sight-seeing, we head to one of Bolivia's most beautiful cities, Potosi, via bus (approximately 3 hours). Breakfast

Days 19 to 20
At 4090m high, few can dispute Potosi’s reputation as the ‘World’s Highest City’.  The city has an interesting past which depicts wealthier times as its reputation grew as having prolific supplies of silver.  Working conditions were (and remain) appalling and millions of workers (both indigenous people and African slaves) died. Good times turned sour in the early 19th Century when production began to wane.  Nowadays this city is UNESCO World Heritage listed and a combination of tourism and a renewed demand for zinc and lead keeps the city alive. We have the option to visit the once famous Silver Mines in Cerro Rico (Rich Mountain) and step back in time to experience life as a miner in these harsh conditions.  The tour is not for the faint hearted, and at times in the mine you can get extremely hot, dirty and feel very claustrophobic!

For those not visiting the mines, there are several other attractions worth visiting in Potosi, such as the ancient Mint, which tells the history of the silver mined here and shipped to Spain in Colonial times.  There is almost a church on every block, some with very impressive interiors, but one to check out is San Francisco where you can view the city from the roof! We leave behind Potosi behind, and take the bus along the scenic road to Uyuni, enjoying the beautiful mountain views and bouncy gravel roads along the way!  Our journey will take approximately 6 hours, but there will be plenty to see as we travel along. Breakfast x2

Day 21
Today marks the start of our 3 day expedition to explore the Salt Flats and stunning lakes, deserts and volcanoes. We board our 4x4 Land Cruisers and make an early start to catch the first rays of sun on the Sol de Manana Volcano Crater.  The route takes us to almost 5000mtrs at one point!  Beautiful steam geysers and colourful boiling volcanic mud pools await us at the top and you'll be staggered by the extraordinary power of the earth which has been partially harnessed to generate electricity! We breakfast on the banks of Challviri Lagoon where those of us that want to can enjoy a hot spring! Passing through the barren volcanic environment of Dali's Desert, we are presented with fantastic photo opportunities as we approach the southwest tip of Bolivia and at the foot of Licancabur Volcano (5900mtrs), we see the breathtaking Green Lagoon.  From here we head back to Red Lagoon and take another route back to Uyuni via Rock Valley, stopping off in some small villages along the way.

Day 22
We start our day at the Red Lagoon, a breathtaking 40 square kilometre area which has been declared a Wildlife Sanctuary and is home to 3 endemic species of Andean Flamingo. Passing scenic lagoons, we drive up towards the amazing Siloli Desert, crossing altitudes of almost 4600mtrs, to see the incredible natural rock formations eroded by the powerful winds. Hedionda (Stinky!) Lagoon is our next stop, although we may make it a quick one as it certainly lives up to its name, due to the high sulphur content! We continue driving north on our way to the little Chiguana Salt Flat.  Huge volcanoes (Ollague 5850mtrs) surround us as we take our time, stopping for photos at a lookout point and finally reaching Canapa Lagoon at a height of 4130mtrs!  From here we can see pink Flamingos and many other species of bird.  Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 23
Once we get out on to the Salar, you realise quite how vast the area is, and our guide will explain some of the weird and wonderful geological facts as we head out in to the heart of the flats to visit Inca Huasi Island. We have time to walk to the top of the island, passing giant cactus, and enjoy the spectacular view of the beautiful Tunupa Volcano (5300 mtrs) and the 10,000 square kms of Salt Flats that now surround you! After lunch we head for San Juan Village, where we visit a Pre Inca Cemetery, a small museum. We will visit Colchani village and look at the traditional Salt bagging process - you can even buy yourself a small ornament made of salt gathered from the Salar! On our final journey back to Uyuni we drive to the eerie but evocative Train Cemetery.  Here lie old steam locomotives, pristinely preserved in the dry climate, dating back to Bolivia's booming gold and tin mining days. As our arrival in to Uyuni is likely to be quite late in the evening, we will transfer straight to our hotel. Breakfast, Lunch, Dinner

Day 24
We take a high altitude train ride (7 hours) to the mining town of Oruro, followed by a bus to La Paz (3 hours).  This travel day will reveal changing landscapes and a glimpse of local communities.  Breakfast

Day 25
The tour ends after breakfast. (Breakfast included) La Paz is like no other city you will have visited, set in a stunning valley, surrounded by 6000mtr peaks!  The streets are narrow and winding, full of brightly dressed Andeans selling their wares!  You may chose to visit the main sights such as Murillo Square & Cathedral, Congress and Government Palace (built in 1800's), The Incan Gold Museum, Valley of the Moon and the famous Witches Market.  Alternatively you could make your way out to the Killi Killi lookout point to enjoy a 360 degree view of the city! A great place to spend a few extra days at the end of your overland travel adventure as the city is renowned for sightseeing, local markets, its museums and several other excursions.  For the adventurous it may be worth extending your stay for some gravity Assisted Mountain Biking down the Worlds Most Dangerous Road, or visit the worlds highest ski resort at over 5000mtrs!  We can assist with arranging post tour accommodation for you.

 

What’s Included

  • Orientation tour in Rio
  • Boat to Ilha Grande
  • Curitiba
  • Iguazu Falls
  • Bonito
  • Pantanal
  • Overnight train from Brazil to Bolivia
  • Flight from Santa Cruz to Sucre
  • 4x4 Salt Flat 3 day excursion, meals & guide
  • Orientation tour in Potosi & Sucre
  • Train from Uyuni ro Oruro
  • Airport transfer in La Paz
  • All accommodation (small, simple hotels & guesthouses, 2 nights basic on the Salt Flats & basic Pantanal lodge)
  • Meals as per itinerary (approx 45%)
  • Services of Oasis Tour Leader
  • All local transport

 

What’s Not Included

  • Optional Excursions & entrance fees as listed in the pre-departure information
  • Park Entrance fees (approx $80)
  • International Flights
  • Meals not specified
  • Travel Insurance
  • Airport Taxes
  • Drinks
  • Visas
  • Tips

 

Tour Price

Trip Price From: £1650.00 + Local Payment From: US$750.00

Start Dates

10-02-2016

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