Rio To Manaus Via The Guianas (57 Days)

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(£4695)


Rio To Manaus Via The Guianas (57 Days) Tropics Of South America
Brazil
From: £4495

Explore a landscape like no other with our 57-day tour across Brazil and through French Guiana, Suriname and Guyana. Starting in the bustling city of Rio, you will travel along the Atlantic coast and through the centre of Brazil into the tropical paradise that awaits. Travel south through unspoilt rainforest and into the vibrant metropolis that is Manaus, overlooking the Amazon river. This tour truly gives you the opportunity to explore the road less travelled and discover the outstanding landscapes and cultures of Latin America that many do not get to see.

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Itinerary

Day 1-6: RIO TO OURO PRETO
We leave the stunning views of Rio behind and head north to the mountain retreat of Teresopolis. The road winds up the hillside through the jungle, with dramatic peaks towering overhead. We have a free day where we can visit the Parque Nacional Da Serra Dos Argaos and walk trails to waterfalls, with stunning views of obscurely shaped mountain tops.

Continuing north we make a short stop in Congonhas to see 12 lifelike Old Testament figures sculpted from soapstone, which stands proudly outside the Basilica do Bom Jesus de Matosinhos. Our journey takes us to quite possibly the most significant and beautiful colonial town of the area, Ouro Preto. Even vehicles are not able to navigate the narrow and winding cobbled streets. The biggest attraction is the Minas de Passagem (Gold Mine) - antique cable cars take you underground into the mine which was originally opened in 1719.

DAY 6-12: OURO PRETO TO CARAVELAS
We explore the coastline, home of some of Brazil's best and least known beaches and far less populated with tourists than the resorts of Recife and Rio. We will either stay in locally owned Pousadas (guesthouses) or camp under the stars, as we pass through Linhares to Itaunas. Time can be spent exploring this sleepy fishing village or wandering the dune trails and relaxing on the beach.

Cavavelas is our next destination, on the mangrove-lined Rio Caravelas. We have the option to take a day trip to the nearby reefs in Parque Nacional Marinho de Abrolhos, where there is the chance to swim with sea turtles. Alternatively, the day can be spent on the beach or wandering along the riverfront.

DAY 13-19 CARAVELAS TO ELEVADO LACERDA
Venturing further north, we pass by some of the more remote beaches, where we may either camp or stay in local Pousadas. If time allows, we may also stop off in Parque Nacional Monte Pascoal which is controlled by the local Pataxo (pa-ta-sho) Indians. Here we can walk the trails to try to spot the endangered spider monkey, sloths, porcupines, capybara, deer, elusive jaguar and numerous species of bird.

Porto Seguro is our next stop and is the region where Portuguese sailors first landed in the New World over 500 years ago, and where you can still see relics from those early settlement days. A steep climb up to Cidade Historica will be rewarded with sweeping views, colourful old buildings and museums. Porto Seguro is also known for its nightlife and 'beach action!

We then take the ferry across Brazil's largest bay, Baia de Todos os Santos, and arrive in the Afro-Brazilian city of Salvador. Around 40% of all African slaves transported to the new world, came to Salvador and this has left a very particular vibe - tropical, soulful and intoxicating, that is unique to this corner of Brazil. The centre is separated by a steep bluff, into the Cidade Alta (Upper City) and Baixa (Lower City) and access is gained in the beautifully restored art-deco elevator - Elevado Lacerda. We have a few days to wander and take in the music, cuisine and religion of the region. You can also stop off in the Praca da Se and watch locals practising the dance fighting known as Capoeira.

DAY 20-25: ELEVADO LACERDA TO SERRA GERAL
Heading west, we come to the quaint town of Lencois. With its cobbled streets and brightly painted 19th Century buildings, it's the prettiest of the old diamond mining towns. The mighty Fumaca waterfalls, various caves and idyllic rivers and panoramic plateaus set the stage for some fantastic adventures. Or maybe just wander the streets, grab a coffee, take in the local life and enjoy some of the excellent cuisines.

After a night quite possibly spent under the stars, we continue into the interior where roads start to become more arduous, and we make a stop in Navidade, in the green and wooded valley of Serra Geral. More cobbled streets and prettily painted, tile-roofed 18th and 19th Century houses await and we have a day to explore the town and possibly relax in nearby small waterfalls and refreshing natural bathing pools.

DAY 26-29: SERRA GERAL TO TAQUARUCU
Following highway north, we reach the confusing layout of Palmas. The Tocantins state capital was only constructed in 1989 and has a sort of 'planned weirdness' about its streets. We move on to the cosy town of Taquarucu, some 30kms South East of Palmas, where we spend the next few days.

The local tourism boards have worked together to try to create Taquarucuas an eco-tourism mecca. In the area, there are some 80 waterfalls, caves and pools, which we'll have time to explore. For those that want to go wildlife spotting, several optional tours are available to the nearby parks of Estadual do Jalapao and Ilha do Bananal. In the latter, there is a good chance to see dolphins, caiman, giant river turtles and lots of birdlife. Although difficult and unpredictable, we may also catch a glimpse of a Tapir or Jaguar!

DAY 30-33: TAQUARUCU TO BELEM
Now we start a long drive north towards Belem on the Atlantic coast. Upon its completion, in the 1960s this road was heralded as a feat of engineering as it overcame the unforgiving Amazon to allow people and goods to be transported from the Brazilian interior to the ports of Belem for exportation. Now the rainforest has given way to further development and we pass through vast stretches of farmland, camping overnight in remote Postos before arriving in Belem.

DAY 34: BELEM
We have a free day to enjoy Belem and wander the riverside walkways of the mighty Amazon.DAYS 35 - 37AMAZON DELTAToday we board our boat and hang up our hammock ready for the journey across the mighty Amazon delta. Nothing can prepare you for the sheer size of this area, as it will take us 24 hours to journey from Belem on the south bank to Macapa on the north.

Macapa is an overnight stop as we wait for our Overland Truck to arrive on a separate ferry from Belem. This gives us time to explore this commercial hub where gold, iron, timber, oil and tin ore pass through on its way to neighbouring Santana. The Equator also runs through the centre of the city, which has lead residents to call it ‘ The capital of the middle of the world&rsquo.

We journey north on dirt roads, quite often having to use our sand mats to make it through the mud and to reconstruct wooden bridges!

DAY 38-42: OIAPOQUE TO ST LAURENT
Oiapoque is the gateway to French Guiana. A bridge across the Oyapock River was completed in 2011, but has still not been opened! We therefore may have to go looking for a barge to take us across to our destination of Saint George.

Once in French Guiana, we find ourselves in Europe! On completion of our immigration and customs duties, we continue to the Capital of Cayenne where we will apply for our Suriname visas.

Cayenne is full of colonial architecture that just has to be explored. The two most impressive are the town hall, built by the Jesuits in 1890, and St. Saviours Roman Catholic Cathedral. The city’s botanical gardens are also worth a look, or just chill out on the main square with a beer, watch the world go by and try some of the fantastic street food. Depending on the timing of our visa applications, and when we can collect our passports, the order of the following destinations may change around.

Kourou is a real highlight of our journey, as we visit the European Spaceport where we can take a tour of the site. A large percentage of the world's satellites are launched from here aboard the famous Ariane rockets. More recently Russian Soyuz rockets have also used this facility and if we're lucky we may even see a launch! Time allowing we will also visit Devil&rsquo's Island, prior home to one of France&rsquo's most notorious prisons.

Nothing can compare coming up close and personal to a giant leatherback turtle. April is normally the start of nesting time, where turtles make the journey up the beach to deposit their eggs in the warm sand. We head to an area on the coast that is a nesting site for 4 of the world’s most famous turtle species.

We return to Cayenne to collect our passports and spend another night in the vibrant city, before journeying back west to St Laurent.

DAY 43-46: ST. LAURENT TO PARAMARIBO
Founded in 1880, the penal town of St. Laurent du Maroni was inhabited almost entirely by guards or liberated prisoners from the nearby Transportation Camp. Here the famous writer Henri Charriere, who went on to write Papillon, spent some of his days before being moved to the ‘inescapable’ Iles du Salut prison. An informative optional tour takes us into the camp and gives us a snapshot of quite how hard life would have been here.

Leaving French Guyana behind we take another ferry and cross into Suriname, where we feel the atmosphere and culture palpably change from French to Dutch. Suriname was a colonial outpost of the Netherlands from the seventeenth century until it achieved full independence in 1975; the country retains much of its Dutch character, while also having the distinctly Caribbean and African feel that permeates the whole region. Throw in some indigenous cultures and you have a unique and intoxicating mix!

We follow the road west and cross the Suriname River on the Jules Wijdenboschbrug (bridge) and arrive in Suriname&rsquo's capital, Paramaribo. Positioned where the Surname river meets the Atlantic Ocean, Paramaribo is a typically relaxed Caribbean city, with a long waterfront ideal for sitting back and relaxing in the cooling winds while watching local life go by.

The historic inner city of Paramaribo is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and walking the streets here the fusion between colonial, Caribbean and local architecture is pronounced as European styles were combined with local materials to produce a style of construction that is only found in this city.

Throughout the city, many signs are hinting at Paramaribo&rsquo's multicultural history and present day, and it is possible to visit the Suriname Mosque, Neveh Shalom Synagogue, St Peter and St Paul Cathedral and Arya Dawaker Hindu Temple, as well as the grand presidential palace. In the evenings head for the river, and join a river cruise to hopefully spot rare freshwater dolphins.
We will spend a few nights in Paramaribo to relax and recharge our batteries before we continue our adventure – we have a busy couple of weeks ahead!

DAY 47-51: PARAMARIBO TO GEORGETOWN
Following the coastal road west, we reach the banks of the Courantyn River, which forms the (contested) border between Surname and Guyana. We cross by ferry and continue to travel along the coast to Georgetown, Guyana's capital.

As a former British colony, Guyana offers something different again to the previous countries we have visited so far, but still has a distinctly Afro-Caribbean feel; strolling around Georgetown you could be forgiven at times for thinking you were in one of the many other past British territories in the region, such as Jamaica or even Barbados!

Guyana, which was granted independence in 1966, is the only English-speaking country in South America, and is to many an unknown entity, relatively untouched by mass tourism. For a small and often forgotten country, however, it punches well above its weight, offering some of the most pristine and ecologically diverse and plentiful rainforest found anywhere, the world's highest single-drop waterfall, and a rich and established cultural history, with many noted poets, musicians and literary figures coming from its small population. Rhianna is half-Guyanese, too, should that be of any interest.

We will spend a few nights in Georgetown, from where it is possible to take an optional overnight excursion to visit Kaieteur Falls in Kaieteur National Park in the Amazon rainforest. At 221 metres, Kaieteur Falls is the world's highest single-drop waterfall.

Set in a stunning location, the falls and surrounding area are for many visitors to Guyana the highlight of their travels, as their remoteness and obscurity make you feel that you are visiting a part of the world that very few people have ever been to.

DAY 52-55: GEORGETOWN TO BOA VISTA
After free time in Georgetown, we then head south, away from the coast, and into the dense rainforest of Guyana. The main road has been massively improved in recent years following investment provided by the Brazilian government, but we will allow four days to fully explore the area and if the opportunity presents itself take some ad hoc detours down jungle tracks to see what we can find and bush camp in the wilds of the jungle; the area is full of unique flora and fauna and travelling through is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, so we won’t want to rush. This part of the trip is very exploratory, and it is impossible to predict exactly what will happen, but the region has a reputation for being the best place to spot the elusive jaguar, so if we keep our eyes peeled we may be lucky!
We will also spend one night in a comfortable jungle lodge, nestled in the rainforest, and visit a high canopy walkway to view the rainforest from an elevated perspective and come eye-to-eye with some of the plentiful tropical birdlife. After an unforgettable few days travelling through the Guyanese Amazon, we reach the border and re-enter Brazil.

DAY 56-57: BOA VISTA TO MANAUS
Boa Vista is our overnight stop back in Brazil, where we can take a well-earned shower and enjoy some locally caught fish in one of the riverside restaurants.

We drive southwards through an Indigenous Wairmiri Reserve to rejoin the Amazon River at Manaus.

Experience

Celebrate New Year's Eve in Rio, chaotic, crowded and great fun
Exploring the Brazilian Coastline lined with beautiful beaches and great marine life
Search for the endangered spider monkey, sloths, capybara, and the elusive jaguar in Parque Nacional Monte Pascoal
Take in the music, cuisine and religion in the Afro-Brazilian city of Salvador
Relax in your hammock on your journey by riverboat along the Amazon River
Visit Europe's Spaceport and museum, a facility used to launch satellites into space in French Guiana
Enjoy the ethnic diversity of Paramaribo, displayed through architecture, history

Included

  • Accommodation - approx. 50% camping and 50% simple hostels/hotels
  • Ferry across the Baia de Todos os Santos
  • Bale Folcorico do Bahia - entrance to the show
  • Pedra Caidra Waterfall walk - entrance and guide
  • Riverboat from Belem to Macapo
  • Overnight jungle lodge in Guyana
  • Meals - approx. 50%
  • All transport on Oasis Expedition Truck
  • Camping and Cooking equipment
  • Services of Oasis Crew

Not included

  • Visas
  • Local Payment (USD 2150 for 2024, USD 2250 for 2025)
  • Optional Excursions as listed in the Pre-Departure Information
  • Flights
  • Airport Taxes Transfers
  • Travel Insurance
  • Meals - approx. 50%
  • Drinks
  • Tips
Rio To Manaus Via The Guianas (57 Days) Tropics Of South America
Next Booking: January 5, 2024
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