Bienvenidos. Welcome to Argentina. Your Lonely Planet Experience begins with an orientation walk around Buenos Aires’ Microcentro district at 1 pm. Your leader will be waiting in the lobby of your joining point hotel. Pass by historic buildings along the Avenida de Mayo, including the Casa Rosada (Argentina’s government house) and perhaps have a coffee in the traditional Cafe Tortoni. Stroll around the picturesque streets of San Telmo and its antique markets. Attend a group welcome meeting at 6 pm to prepare for the rest of your adventure.
Colonia del Sacramento
Today cross the Rio de la Plata (River Plate) to Colonia del Sacramento by ferry (approximately 1.5 hours). On arrival, enjoy free time to explore this charming colonial city, known as the oldest in Uruguay. The World Heritage-listed Barrio Historico (Old Quarter) is a great place to start. Stroll down the cobblestone streets and rub shoulders with locals as they sip their yerba mate (tea). Listen to the noisy parakeets in the Plaza Mayor, or comb Colonia’s small museums. For great views over the city, climb to the top of a 19th-century lighthouse that’s still in operation.
Today is a long travel day. Take a comfortable local bus from Colonia to Montevideo (approximately 2.5 hours). From Montevideo it’s a further 5-hour journey to Tacuarembo by bus. The bus has reclining seats and you’ll be provided with a typical Uruguayan snack, but as the bus doesn’t stop it’s also recommended that you bring some extra snacks at your own expense. From Tacuarembo, take a 1-hour truck and 4WD journey to the ranch, where you can get to know your hosts.
Spend a few days experiencing life on a working Uruguayan farm. Although you’re welcome to relax and explore your surroundings at your leisure, you can also get involved wirh day-to-day jobs around the ranch. As a working farm, the digs aren’t fancy, but the incredible surroundings and hospitality are something special. Enjoy three home-cooked meals a day and the chance to ride horses, in true gaucho (cowboy) style.
In the afternoon, bid farewell to your hosts and cross the border to Concordia in Argentina. Board a 12-hour overnight bus to Puerto Iguazu.
Foz do Iguazu (Brazilian side)
As soon as you arrive at Puerto Iguazu bus station this morning, take a minivan across the border into Brazil and head straight to the national park to witness the majestic Foz do Iguacu/Iguazu Falls. After some time spent admiring this force of nature, head to your hotel in Foz do Iguacu. Enjoy free time for the rest of the day.
Iguazu Falls (Argentinian side)
Return to Argentina today to see Iguazu Falls from a different angle. Following a series of boardwalks, it’s possible to get so close to the thundering waters that you can almost touch them. At over two-kilometres long, Iguazu Falls are made up of over 270 separate cascades, with some reaching up to 80 metres in height. For a more exhilarating experience, take an optional Zodiac boat ride to the base of the falls! In the afternoon return to your accommodation in Foz do Iguacu in Brazil.
Rio de Janeiro
Take an included flight to Rio de Janeiro. Settle into your hotel room then head out with your leader for an orientation walk. The remainder of the day is free for you to explore at your own pace. Maybe head to Copacabana or Ipanema Beach or, if the time of year is right, check out a soccer game at the famous Maracana Stadium. You might like to take the tramcar up to the hillside neighbourhood of Santa Teresa or head up Corcovado Mountain, where you’ll find sweeping views over Rio from the foot of the Christ the Redeemer statue.
Rio de Janeiro
With another free day in Rio, you’re free to explore at your own pace. You’ll be leaving for the coast tomorrow, so make sure you try to hit both Ipanema and Copacabana beaches today. Your group leader will also be taking another orientation walk today around 1 pm for new travellers joining you for the next stage of your adventure. It is recommended you go, if only to meet up with your new crew!
This morning, take a local bus from Rio to Paraty (approximately 4 hours). The remainder of today and rest of tomorrow are yours to explore Paraty. Admire the architecture as you wander along the town’s cobbled, pedestrian-only streets, which become partly covered in seawater at high tide. You might prefer to explore the rainforest trails in the surrounding national park, which is rich in wildlife and waterfalls. Otherwise, a boat trip on the island-studded bay for scenic views along the coast could be on the cards, or join an excursion to the nearby village of Trindade, which boasts some of Brazil’s best beaches. The best thing is you get to decide.
Paraty – Ilha Grande
Today, jump on a shared transfer to Angra followed by a ferry to the island getaway of Ilha Grande, taking approximately 5 hours, in total. This paradise of pristine beaches and rainforest has been largely untouched by development. Previously a pirate’s lair, a leper colony and a prison for violent criminals, the island has a fascinating history to uncover. The ruins of the prison can still be seen today. Once you’ve arrived and got your bearings, head to the beach – it’s calling your name.
Rise and shine in paradise, ready to enjoy two full free days exploring Ilha Grande. Wander along rainforest trails to beautiful and remote beaches – Lopes Mendes and Aventureiro Beach are two of the best. You could book yourself in on an optional boat trip out to the Blue Lagoon, beach-hopping through Ilha Grande Bay along the way. There are plenty of opportunities to stop for fresh seafood, and to swim and snorkel in the clear water. Or just plonk yourself on the beach with a good book and laze the day away. In the evening, why not meet up with some of your travel pals and relax with a caipirinha at a restaurant or bar in Vila do Abraao – the island’s main town.
Rio de Janeiro
Bid farewell to this slice of heaven as you board a boat to the small port of Mangaratiba today, and from here, take a minivan back to Rio de Janeiro. The total journey should take about 3.5 hours, so you should be back in Rio in the early to mid-afternoon. The rest of the day is free to explore the city or simply hit up Copacabana and relax. Tonight, get together with your travel crew for a night of food, drinks and some samba – speak to your local leader who’ll have some great recommendations for what to do tonight.
Rio de Janeiro
With no activities planned for today, you are free to leave the accommodation at any time, provided you comply with the hotel’s internal check-out policies. That doesn’t mean your adventure has to come to an end! If you would like to continue soaking up the sun in Rio, we’ll be happy to book additional accommodation (subject to availability).
Buenos Aires - Orientation walk
3-night stay on a working estancia including meals and activities
Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Brazilian side of the falls
Iguazu Falls - Entrance and tour of the Argentinian side of the falls