Surrounded by white-sand beaches and lush rainforest, and bolstered by a towering statue of Christ, it’s no wonder that the people of Rio name their home cidade maravilhosa – meaning marvellous city. As well as uncovering the city’s architectural sights, from the sumptuous Opera House to the Cathedral, we’ll take you up Sugarloaf Mountain. In a cable car, you’ll have incredible views over the metropolis and the Copacabana and Ipanema beaches. Brazil supplies 65 per cent of the world’s coloured gems, and we give you the chance to watch jewellers at work as they transform rough gemstones into works of art. The caipirinha is Brazil’s national cocktail, so it wouldn’t be right to visit without trying to make your own – or at least drink one. On a visit to a traditional barbecue at a churrascaria, you can learn how to mix the perfect caipirinha.
The hand-planted Tijuca rainforest covers more than 32 square kilometres on the slopes of Rio’s mountains. It is home to hundreds of species of plants and animals, many of which are threatened with extinction. The rainforest was replanted by Major Manuel Gomes Archer in the 19th century after the original area was destroyed to make way for coffee farms. It also houses the incredible statue of Christ the Redeemer atop Corcovado Mountain – one of the New Seven Wonders of the World. We’ll take you on a cogwheel train ride through the forest and up the mountain, from where you’ll enjoy fantastic views of the city. There’s also an optional half day outing where you can discover the beautiful, peaceful forest in more depth – look out for capuchin monkeys, coatis, toucans and many exotic plants.
Bordering Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay, and spanning two miles along the Iguassu River, Iguassu Falls is one of the world’s most spectacular waterfalls. It is actually made up of more than 250 separate cascades, the most powerful of which is the Devil’s Throat. Each second, this spectacle spews 1,800 cubic metres of water over the rocks into a huge canyon below. The surrounding Iguassu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a subtropical forest home to many endangered plants and animals. The giant otter and the giant anteater live here, as well as 250 species of butterflies, some of which are as big as your hand.
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Three of South America's most popular, diverse and colourful countries are revealed on this journey into their capitals.