Nicki Chapman in the Brazilian Amazon
This itinerary was designed for the BBC Holiday 10 Best programme. It combines the culture of Rio with the wildlife of the Amazon, staying in a unique floating lodge. There is time to relax in the lively resort of B˙zios at the end.
Rio de Janeiro
Days 1-3: Fly on Varig's overnight direct flight to Rio de Janeiro (touches down in São Paulo). Driven to the Hotel Orla Copacabana for a 2 night stay in a sea view room. Relax on Copacabana beach or visit Corcovado and Sugar Loaf mountain.
Day 4: Driven to Rio airport for the flight to Manaus and 1 night at the Mango Guest House, in a quiet residential suburb. Simple but friendly with 10 air-conditioned rooms, each with a veranda, and a small pool.
Days 5-7: Transfer to Flotel Piranha Lodge, a 4 hour journey by road and boat. The lodge is in the Piranha Wildlife Reserve, 120km west of Manaus.
All rooms are air conditioned, with private bathrooms, and at night power is provided by a generator. The restaurant uses entirely local produce and freshwater fish. Specifically built for the rivers and lakes on which it floats, the lodge can be relocated around the 180 lakes of the Reserve depending on the water level, which may rise up to 8 meters in the flooded season (April-August).
Excursions include bird watching, wildlife observation, trekking, tours to flooded areas and nesting grounds, catch and release fishing, visits to the native communities and night adventure tours. Mosquitoes are present whenever the nutrient-rich waters from the Solimões river are predominent.
Days 8-12: Return by boat and car to Manaus airport for a flight to Rio. Driven 2½ hours to the lively resort of Buzios for 3 nights at the Pousada Casas Brancas, with a small swimming pool and a wonderful setting overlooking the bay. Free days to enjoy the peninsula, which has over 20 sandy beaches. Driven back to Rio airport for return overnight Varig flight to UK (mid-day arrival).
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