the three included destinations on the map

Pantanal

Bonito

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Rio de Janeiro

overview

On this Bucket List Trip you will experience Rio de Janeiro, one of the coolest and most mysterious cities in the world, where we will see the main iconic attractions and go on an exiting private boat cruise; Pantanal, one of the largest inland wetlands in the world, full of many different types of species, impressive flora and fauna, as well as numerous rivers and freshwater lakes; and Bonito, selected 16 times as the best destination in Brazil for Eco Tourism, where we will see the fantastic underwater world while snorkeling in the 3rd clearest river in the world.

In Pantanal, on the excursions by jeep, by boat, on foot and on horseback, we will have the opportunity to explore this unique environment while seeing a variety of animals. If we are lucky we could see caimans, jaguars, monkeys, anteaters, tapirs, exotic birds etc.

Both our partner lodges in Pantanal (Aguapé & Pequi) are owned and run by the same family for the last 150 years and are 100% powered by solar energy. Visitors feel more like guests here and besides being a fully functional cattle breeding ranch, nature is very preserved, and guests will have the opportunity to spot countless animals and birds in the preserved areas of the ranches.

Also, both our partner lodges in Bonito (Olho D’Agua & Cabanas) are owned and run by the same families for the last 30 years

Bonito was the first Brazilian destination to receive the COVID-19 Safety Awards by the World Travel & Tourism Council and all included accommodations and activities are only selling to 50% capacity. All vehicles are sanitised according to the Covid-19 Safety Protocols.

Included:

  • 6 days and 5 nights in Rio de Janeiro with accommodations, tours, and transfers included
  • 3 nights in Pantanal with accommodations (full board), and tours included
  • 2 nights in Bonito with accommodations and tours included
  • Activities in Rio de Janeiro: Big Five Rio Sightseeing Tour, Traditional Dinner in Leblon, Boat Cruise in Guanabara Bay
  • Activities in Pantanal: Photographic Safari, Boat Ride, Horseback Ride, Hiking, Night Safari, Piraya Fishing
  • Activities in Bonito: Visit to Gruta São Mateus, Barra do Sucuri snorkeling
  • Private English speaking guides, native of each region, during the whole local circuit
  • Private Transfers with vehicle with air conditioning
  • Round trip domestic flight / Rio de Janeiro – Campo Grande

Close-out periods:

To further enhance the exclusivity of this package it is NOT sold during National holidays (01/01, 15/02, 02/04, 21/04, 01/05, 03/06, 07/09, 02/11, 15/11) or from 12 to 18/10 or from December 18th to the end of January or the month of July (High Season).

day by day program

DAY 1

Welcome to Rio and the start of this adventure

(- / – / -)

“Bem vindos à Cidade Maravilhosa,” – Welcome to the Marvellous City, as the locals call Rio de Janeiro. One of the coolest and mysterious cities in the world!

Our guide and private transportation will be waiting for you when you arrive, to bring you to your accommodations in Ipanema.

Get ready to enjoy the city with the most beautiful beaches, beautiful nature, dancing people and a wonderful vibe!

End your first day in Rio, with the most beautiful sunset ever, at Ipanema Beach. The sun setting behind the iconic Two Brothers Mountains, while you drink an ice-cold Caipirinha or Coconut.

 

DAY 2

Big Five Rio Sightseeing Full-Day Tour

See it all in one day

(Breakfast / Lunch / – )

Today we will visit the top 5 picks of the most important places for you to visit in Rio: Vista Chinesa (inside the Tijuca Rain Forest), Parque Lage, Christ the Redeemer Statue, Santa Teresa/Selaron Steps with Brazilian BBQ Lunch, and the Sugarloaf Mountain. These places are chosen because of their cultural heritage importance and because they give you the best and different views over Rio.

By seing all of these must visit places in one single day, you will have more free days for fun and sun, relaxing on the beach.

 

DAY 3

Free Day & Traditional Dinner in Leblon

(Breakfast / – / Dinner)

Spend this free day relaxing on Ipanema Beach or visit some of the fun Brazilian brand stores in the neighbourhood.

In the evening we will walk, aprox. 20 minutes, to the area called Leblon, where we will have a traditional dinner at one of this neighbourhoods many “hidden gems” restaurants. Leblon is very vibrant at night and mainly only frequented by locals.

 

DAY 4

Boat Cruise in Guanabara Bay

(Breakfast / Lunch / – )

The region that currently occupies the city of Rio de Janeiro was discovered on January 1, 1502 by a Portuguese expedition, who believed they had arrived at the mouth of a large river, thus, they named the bay Rio de Janeiro (the river of January).

We will cruise this same bay, from where we will have great panoramic views of Rio, Niterói, and the old 16th hundreds century forts built by the Portuguese to guard the area.

There will be a delicious Brazilian BBQ lunch served and we have Open Bar during this 4 hour cruise. 

DAY 5

Rio – Campo Grande – Pantanal

(Breakfast / – / Dinner)

Get ready for a long day of travel to one of the most beautiful places in Brazil. You will be transferred to Rio de Janeiro airport for a domestic flight to Campo Grande, the capital of the state of Mato Grosso do Sul. From there we will head to the largest wetland are in the wold, Pantanal; full of many different types of species, impressive flora and fauna as well as numerous rivers and freshwater lakes. On the excursions by jeep, by boat, on foot and on horseback, we will have the opportunity to explore this unique environment while seeing a variety of animals. If we are lucky we could see caimans, jaguars, monkeys, anteaters, tapirs, exotic birds etc.

Depending on the time you arrive at the lodge there will be a day or night activity, according to the schedule of the lodge.

The next days will be real bucket list experiences!

* Flight duration Rio – Campo Grande aprox. 3:30 hrs
* land transfer duration Campo Trande – Pantanal Lodge aprox. 3:30 hrs
* Lodge choices: Aguapé or Pequi ( more info after Day by Day )

DAY 6

Pantanal

(Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner)

Wake up with a delicious breakfast and get ready to experience the wilderness that this part of Brazil is famous for. There will be 2 activities this day according to the schedule of the Lodge.

DAY 7

Pantanal

(Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner)

Wake up with a delicious breakfast and get ready to experience the wilderness that this part of Brazil is famous for. There will be 2 activities this day according to the schedule of the Lodge.

 

DAY 8

Pantanal – Bonito

(Breakfast / Lunch / – )

After breakfast there is a tour, according to the schedule of the lodge.
After a last tasty, and truly homemade lunch, and when you are ready you have a private transfer to Bonito, selected 16 times as the best destination in Brazil for Eco Tourism.

 

DAY 9

Bonito

(Breakfast / – / – )

After breakfast we head to Gruta São Mateus. Besides visiting the cave itself, on the same tour, you will visit the Eco Park Cultural Museum that tells the story of Bonito from material collected by the locals. The sightseeing tour begins with a visit to the museum, where there are antique furniture and other artefacts of the region, as well some stuffed animals. From the museum a short hike (1.300m) takes visitors to the cave entrance. Inside the cave, there are diverse rock formations such as stalactites, stalagmites, coraloids, curtains and columns with different colors. Due to the depth of the cave (90m) in some points there are stairs with handrails to ease the walk inside, as well as artificial lighting for better viewing of the formations. In the end of the tour you still have the incredible opportunity to admire the beautiful view of the city from a lookout installed on the top of the hill. After the end of the tour we transfer back to Bonito, stopping on the way to have lunch (not included).

DAY 9 CONTINUED

Bonito

In the afternoon: Barra do Sucuri snorkelingWe will try and test the necessary gear, for the best fit, and then start a 400 meters light hike up to the river where the tour starts. At the river we get on an electricity driven boat 1.300 meters up river while enjoying all the beauty of the gallery forest and the transparency of the river water from the boat. At the end of this ride you will then put on your masks and snorkels, jump out of the boat and finally see all the beauty of one of the 3rd most transparent rivers in the world. After the end of the tour back at the main house you can relax at the hammocks or at the Formoso River that is just a few steps from the house. Free night.

 

DAY 10

Bonito – Campo Grande – Rio de Janeiro

(Breakfast / – / – )

Breakfast, check-out from Pousada in Bonito and transfer back to Campo Grande, according to flight time.

Welcome back to Rio for one last evening in the Marvellous City. After pick up at the airport, we drop you off at the hotel.

Optional Farewell dinner in Rio de Janeiro with a small Carnival Dance Show, performed by top Carnival dancers from Rio. The location will be at walking distance from your hotel, either at a beach restaurant or inside a restaurant. Ask us to include this as an extra service if you also love Samba and Carnival.

Duration: Approx. 2:30Hrs
Included: Dinner w/o drinks
Additional Price: $50 Per Person

 

DAY 11

Rio de Janeiro – Back Home

Last day of this great adventure.  Take in the view of Ipanema Beach one more time before we bring you to the Rio airport in time for your departure flight.

Until next time! It was a pleasure!

 

optional tour in Bonito

OPTIONAL TOUR FOR DAY 8

“Boca da Onça” – Hiking & Waterfalls
(Stop On the way to Bonito)

The tour starts with a 4km hike through a jungle like forest, passing by more than ten crystal-clear waterfalls, the scenic Salobra River and natural pools. Halfway on the tour circuit there´s a Kiosk selling snacks and drinks, with bathrooms. The highlight is the indescribable Boca da Onça Waterfall, with its height of 156 meters (512 ft), making it the State’s highest. After relaxing and swimming at the Boca da Onça Waterfall, it´s time to continue, making the way back by climbing 866 steps that meander up the rocky wall that leads to the end of the tour. At the end of the steps visitors will also be met with the highest Rapel Free Platform in Brasil.

Difficulty: Moderate
Duration: Aprox. 6Hrs
Included: Breakfast and Lunch
Additional Price: $60 Per Person
Note: if you opt for this extra tour then you will loose the last, morning, tour in Pantanal on day 8, as we have to leave from the lodge at 5:30am to be able to start this tour early at around 8:30am.

If somebody in your party does not want to do the hike he/she can stay at the main house below, where you find changing rooms, 2 big swimming pools, hammocks, great views. You can also opt to do only half of the hike, and ask the guide for a special vehicle to come and get you at the trail kiosk, and bring you back to the main house.

 

ACCOMMODATIONS option 1

total package price per person with option 1

accommodations option 2

total package price per person with option 2

How to calculate your groups total price using above price tables? First choose if you want accommodations option 1 or 2, all of the rest of the land services are the same. Secondly, find the per person prices (in SGL, DBL, TPL rooms) that relates to the size of your group and sum the prices depending on the desired room configurations.

activities included in pantanal

Horseback Ride

One of the best ways to see the beauty of the Pantanal, riding through open fields, marshes and forests. This tours offers a unique chance to observe the beauties of Pantanal’s local fauna and flora. Well-mannered horses with comfortable saddles make this activity make this activity suitable even for those not used to riding horses. The duration of this activity depends on the chosen itinerary, offering short or long circuits, always accompanied by experienced local guides and cowboys.

Boat Ride

Enjoy the beauty of the Aquidauana River and its beautiful gallery forest with hundreds of centennial trees, home to a variety birds, mammals and reptiles that come to feed and drink on the river banks. For this tour it is mandatory to wear life jackets (provided by the lodge).

Hiking

Hike through the gallery forest, with close interaction with nature, stopping once in a while to observe elusive species that are often hidden under their natural camouflage, and many plants and tree species.

Piraya Fishing

Have fun catching the most famous fish species in Pantanal, the Piranha Fish, in fresh water lakes. The Piranha fish is used in a traditional Pantanal dish, the famous Piranha Broth. The piranhas can also be fed to the caimans that lie in wait close to the boats.

Photographic Safari

This tour is operated in 4×4 adapted open vehicles allowing visitors to reach further places of the property, driving though many different landscapes. This tour provides a wide view of the surrounding areas, increasing the chances to observe more species.

Night Safari

Night tour operated in 4×4 adapted open vehicles, to search for animals with crepuscular and nocturnal behaviours, using a powerful long range torch. The Pantanal night sky is one of the highlights in this tour, offering a breathtaking sight of the southern sky, favoured by the complete absence of artificial lights.

see a video from one of our previous trips

Reviews & Destination Award

what is included exactly?

Included:

General

  • Domestic round trip flight Rio de Janeiro – Campo Grande

  • English speaking local born guides

  • Private transfers to and from the airports (at destinations)

  • Private transfers to and from the accommodations and activities

  • Meals as per day by day above (Breakfast / Lunch / Dinner)

Accommodations

  • Hotel Mar Ipanema or Hotel Praia Ipanema – Rio de Janeiro – 5 nights

  • Pousada Aguapé or Pousada Pequi – Pantanal – 3 nights

  • Pousada Olho D’Agua or Hotel Cabanas – Bonito – 2 nights

Activities

  • Big Five Rio Sightseeing Tour – Rio

  • Traditional dinner in Leblon – Rio
  • Boat Cruise in Guanabara Bay – Rio
  • Horseback Ride – Pantanal
  • Boat Ride – Pantanal
  • Hiking – Pantanal
  • Piraya Fishing – Pantanal
  • Photographic Safari – Pantanal
  • Night Safari – Pantanal
  • Gruta São Mateus Tour – Bonito
  • Snorkeling in Barra do Sucuri River

Excluded:

General

  • International flights
  • Travel / Health Insurance
  • Personal expenses
  • Meal / drinks not mentioned
  • Activities not mentioned

Activities

  • Boca da Onça Hiking – Bonito – $60 per person
  • Farewell Dinner with Carnival Dance Show – Rio – $50 per person

further information

Observations:

  • To avoid crowds this package is NOT sold during National holidays (01/01, 15/02, 02/04, 21/04, 01/05, 03/06, 07/09, 02/11, 15/11) or from 12 to 18/10 or from December 18th to the end of January or the month of July (High Season)
  • Check-in time for the hotels in Rio de Janeiro are from 3pm and check-out is at 12pm
  • If you want to include more nights and activities in Rio or Pantanal or Bonito, just let us know and we will include the cost to your final price
  • Almost 100% of the food you will eat at the lodges in Pantanal are made from their own grown produce and meat, giving it a natural and delicious taste not found in any supermarket. If you have any special dietary needs then please let us know and we will accommodate
  • Any tour might be changed or replaced according to weather conditions
  • In Pantanal, the tours are carried out according to the water cycle, so the day by day of the tours is merely illustrative. Passengers will receive an exact confirmation of the programming of the tours at check-in at the Pousada

  • There is only one airport in Campo Grande = Campo Grande International Airpot with code CGR
  • All lodges in Pantanal have accident insurance included and their staff are trained in first aid
  • Private transfers in van or minibus ( van for up to 18 guests or minibus for 19 to 27 guests / all seats taken advantage of) with air conditioning
  • our vans and buses are always checked-up after returning from a trip, and now sanitised according to the Covid-19 Safety Protocols
  • All accommodations are 100% compliant with the Covid-19 Safety Protocols
  • The Standard and Double Hotel rooms in Rio de Janeiro are in the Standard Category
  • The Triple rooms in Praia Ipanema Hotel are in Superior Partial Ocean View Category
  • The Triple rooms in Mar Ipanema Hotel are in Deluxe Category
  • All our Guides are born and raised in the toured area and are very knowledgeable, professional and are there to help you with information and logistics
  • We use one full time private guide for up to 13 guests and thereafter add one more guide during the tours 
  • In Pantanal & Bonito is is very safe to keep your valuables in your rooms, we have never had any incident. In Rio, to be safe, we suggest to use the safety boxes in your hotel room
  • 24/7 local Emergency number available during the trip. 

How to Pay:

  • 50% payment needed to reserve; the remaining part needs to be received to Rio Love Story at least 35 days before check-in
  • Payment can be done via PayPal, Local or International Bank Transfer.

Cancelation Policy:

  • Cancelation 62 days prior to check-in  = 25 USD charge per person (the rest is refunded)
  • Cancelation between 61 and 36 days prior to check-in  = 50% charge of total value

  • Cancelation between 35 and 20 days prior to check-in  = 60% charge of total value
  • Cancelation between 19 and 3 days prior to check-in  = 80% charge of total value
  • Cancelation between 2 and 0 days prior to check-in  = 100% charge of total value.

what to bring on the trip

Essential Items:

  • Neutral colours are best for Safari so avoid bright colours. Black cloting attracts mosquitoes
  • Insect repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • Hat or cap
  • Shorts
  • Comfortable clothing
  • Long pants
  • Long sleeved-shirt
  • A small backpack for day trips
  • 2 pairs of shoes – tennis/walking shoes and/or hiking boots
  • Sandals (good to buy in Rio)
  • Bathing suit
  • Rain coat
  • Dry-bag for camera or other water sensitive equipment
  • Some Cash
  • Passport
  • Waterproof sunscreen
  • During the months of June to August it can be cool, therefore please also bring a fleece or a sweater during this time of the year.
  • We kindly ask that luggage, per person, not exceed 50 pounds (23 kg).

Recommended Items:

  • Extra battery for camera
  • Underwater camera during snorkeling in Bonito
  • Ziploc bags for keeping things dry
  • Small first aid kit with personal prescriptions
  • Binoculars
  • Headlamp or flashlight + extra batteries
  • Non-breakable reusable water bottle
  • Appliance chargers, plug converters and/or charge adaptors
  • Toiletries Kit: toothbrush, toothpaste, soap, shampoo (biodegradable products please)
  • Skin lotion and lip balsam
  • Personal medicines
  • Small supply of nonperishable snacks (avoid fruits/nuts to clear customs)
  • Contact lens or glasses and a spare

    about the seasons in pantanal

    The Dry Season – from April to October

    As opposed to the wet season, the dry season provides countless opportunities to observe the rich and diverse Pantanal Fauna and Flora as the flood waters recede, leaving a fertilised soil that will restart the base of the food chain,  with special mention to land mammals that roam savannah like open fields of Pantanal in search of food. The Dry Season is mostly indicated for those who want to observe land based wildlife.

    The Wet Season – from November to March

    This is the best time for those who want to see what makes the Pantanal so unique, and the largest flood plain in the world: the abundant fresh water that floods the plain making it look like a gigantic water mirror. It is definitely the best time for those who love dramatic landscapes, breathtaking sunsets and sunrises. Although the wet season takes over a large portion of Pantanal, pushing land wildlife to seek refuge in higher lands, it is still possible to see thousands of birds, as well as some animals that can comfortably negotiate the flooded areas, such as Tapirs, Capybaras and Marsh Deers.

    Summer – January to March

    The plain gets slowly flooded;
    The rain intensifies through all of Brazil;
    The water of the rain flows from the surrounding tablelands toward the Pantanal lowlands;
    The largest flooded plain on the Planet is slowly formed even if just fora short time;
    The sky varies between cloudy and clear;
    The wildlife seeks refuge on the elevated forest patches;
    The reptiles lay their eggs;
    Migration of the limpkins, ibises, and ducks
    Explosion of water wildlife

    Autumn – April to June

    Spectacular scenery! The rainy seasons ends;
    Ebb – the water returns to the river beds or it evaporates;
    Wonderful clear and star-rich sky;
    The fish return to the rivers or get trapped in small ponds;
    The beginning of a giant food chain;
    The fields emerge, turn greener and bloom;
    Strong breeding season;
    Arrival of storks and herons in large numbers…

    Winter – July to September

    Rivers and lakes lower their volume;
    Full drought;
    Dry plain, semi-arid climate;
    The sky gets smoky due to fires and dust;
    Vegetation yellows from lack of water;
    Animals are concentrated on the banks of ponds and river ravines…
    Nesting and reproduction season…

    Spring – October to December

    The first rains turn the plain greener;
    All the water is absorbed by the arid soil;
    The sky becomes bluer and cleaner;
    Spectacular explosion of foliage and flowers;
    A period of euphoria is established;
    Singing birds chirp and nest;
    Mating season for most mammals;
    Migration of fly-catchers, hawks and swallows.

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