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Burle Marx Gardens of Rio & Brazil’s Natural Wonders

14 Nightsfrom £6395.00 pp

Starting in the vibrant city of Rio we will explore the extensive legacy of renowned Brazilian designer, Roberto Burle Marx and discover a number of his public and private works including the Copacabana beach front and his private estate.

Tour Overview


Starting in the vibrant city of Rio we will explore the extensive legacy of renowned Brazilian designer, Roberto Burle Marx and discover a number of his public and private works including the Copacabana beach front and his private estate. We will also visit the Botanic Gardens which have over 6,000 plant species and see the key sites of Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer.

We will venture off the well-worn tourist trail of Rio, with exclusive guided visits to some of the private gardens designed by Burle Marx, one of the most important landscape architects of the 20th century, including the Fazenda Marambaia, set against the backdrop of the Serra dos Órgãos range (Organpipe Mountains).

After five nights in Rio we travel along the coast to Paraty, once the main port for shipping gold to Portugal and now a charming and well preserved colonial town. Two full days of touring here gives us the opportunity to visit further gardens and sites of botanical interest.

From Rio we fly on to Iguaçu and our hotel adjacent to the awesome waterfalls, seven times the size of Niagara. An excursion into neighbouring Argentina is included here as we view the falls from a number of vantage points.

For a thrilling conclusion of our tour we travel into the interior to explore the Pantanal, the world’s largest continuous wetland area. From our base at the comfortable Caiman Lodge we will have an    in-depth tour of the region and its diverse natural inhabitants, from trees and flora to an astonishing profusion of birds and aquatic wildlife.

Tour highlights:
  • Cable car ride up Sugar Loaf Mountain
  • Rack railway ride to the Christ the Redeemer statue
  • Tours of private gardens associated with Burle Marx
  • Exclusive visit to Fazienda Marambaia, Burle Marx’s most famous garden
  • Historic Paraty, a UNESCO World Heritage Site
  • The awesome waterfalls at Iguaçu
  • A huge range of flora and fauna in the Pantanal
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Tour Itinerary Back to top of page

Tuesday 26 September 2017
We depart from London on a flight to Brazil. Regional flight connections and flight upgrades available at a supplement – please ask for a quotation.

Wednesday 27 September 2017
We arrive in Rio de Janeiro early this morning, to be met by our local coach and guide. We transfer to our hotel, the 4-star Golden Tulip Continental Hotel. Conveniently located close to the Copacabana and the centre of Rio de Janeiro, the hotels occupies one of the most iconic buildings in the city. All rooms have private bathrooms together with air conditioning, electronic safe, Cable TV, Wi-fi or cable internet connection, mini-fridge and hairdryer.

The rest of the day is free to relax or explore Rio. In the evening we will enjoy a welcome drink followed by dinner in the hotel.

Thursday 28 September 2017
As an introduction to the flora of Brazil there could be no better place to start than the Botanical Garden in Rio de Janeiro, one of the largest in the world with approximately 8200 species of living plants. We will spend the morning strolling around the garden with our guides close at hand to explain some of the finer points of the Brazilian flora.

After an opportunity for lunch (not included) we will drive along Copacabana beach and on to Flamengo Park, a large landfill area in the bay which was designed by Burle Marx. Our guide will point out details of the layout and special characteristics of the park including the Museum of Modern Art. We continue to one of Rio’s most famous attractions, the Sugar Loaf Mountain. Before we take the cable car up, we will take half an hour or so to stroll along the Bem Te Vi path, which takes us to the foot of the Sugar Loaf, through the lush green Atlantic Rainforest vegetation beside the ocean. Sugar Loaf Mountain itself needs little introduction, as it will be familiar from a million postcards and travelogues, but the cable-car ascent is a thrilling experience nonetheless. Rising 1300 feet (396m) above sea level, it certainly fits its indigenous, if somewhat literal, name Pau-nh-acuqua - translated as ‘high hill’. The mountain is just one of half a dozen monolithic morros of granite and quartz that rise straight from the water's edge around Rio de Janeiro.

We return to the hotel where the evening is at leisure.

Friday 29 September 2017
We begin this morning with guided tours of private gardens associated with Roberto Burle Marx (1909-1994), known internationally as one of the most important landscape architects of the 20th century.  An artist of multiple facets, besides being a landscape designer he was also a remarkable painter, sculptor, singer, and jewellery designer, with a sensibility that is shown throughout his work. He was given a huge number of both private and public commissions to create gardens which for the first time gave prominence to indigenous Brazilian plants and helped bring the native flora to more widespread attention. Included is a visit to the Sítio Burle Marx in Barra de Guaratiba on the outskirts of Rio. This was his private home for most of his adult life, which is now open to visitors. The "sítio" - a small farm - boasts a marvellous collection of his work, including paintings, sculptures, glass paintings, as well more than 3,500 plants in the gardens. The collection also includes works of other artists.

Evening at leisure.

Saturday 30 September 2017
This morning we enjoy a cruise around the calm waters of Guanabara Bay aboard a refurbished Brazilian schooner, which will give us marvellous views of Rio.

In the afternoon we depart for the railway station at the foot of the Corcovado mountain and take the rack railway to the summit, 2230 feet (710m) above sea-level, where we will have a close-up look at the iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer. The monument has become a symbol of the city and of the warmth of the Brazilian people, who receive visitors with open arms. The planning for the construction of the statue began in 1921, when a campaign was organized by the "Semana do Monumento". The designs considered for the Statue of the Christ included a representation of the Christian cross, a statue with a globe in the hands, and a pedestal symbolizing the world, before the now-familiar image of the Redeemer with open arms was chosen.

The evening is at leisure or alternatively enjoy an optional barbeque dinner at Fogo do Chao.

Sunday 1 October 2017
We have an early start this morning as we travel out of Rio de Janeiro today and up into the mountains, where many of the wealthy citizens of Rio have weekend homes where they can escape the heat and humidity of the coast. We have arranged an exclusive visit to one of the most famous of Roberto Burle Marx’s gardens, Fazenda Marambaia (known formerly as the Monteiro Garden). When in 1948 the art patron Odette Monteiro asked Burle Marx to create a garden around her country house he had one of the most fabulous backdrops, the Serra dos Órgãos range (organ-pipe mountains), and it is a measure of his skill and sensitivity that he created a garden that wasn’t diminished by the magnificence of the surroundings. The focal point is a small lake, with gravel paths that invite the visitor to go out and explore. One side of the lake is planted with dramatic blocks of foliage plants – orange coleus, purple Iresine herbstii and silver helichrysum – with beds of scarlet cannas and salvias nearby. These blocks of planting in strong colours are one of the most distinctive features of Burle Marx’s work, which bear a close relationship to his work as an abstract painter. Lunch is included today.

We return to Rio later in the afternoon, with the evening at leisure.

Monday 2 October 2017
This morning we must check out of the hotel. We travel along the coast to Paraty, once the main port for shipping gold to Portugal and now a charming and well-preserved colonial town. The main attraction of Paraty is of course its historic core. In 1966 the centre was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site and to preserve the town they banished cars and today there are many beautiful buildings, restaurants and cultural activities within the setting of the old, narrow cobblestone streets. On arrival we shall check-in to our comfortable hotel where the rest of the day and evening is at leisure to explore this beautiful town. We are based at the 4-star Corsario Parati, where all rooms have private bathrooms together with air conditioning, Cable TV and mini-fridge. The hotel also has an outdoor swimming pool.

Evening at leisure.

Tuesday 3 October 2017
This morning following breakfast we shall enjoy a cruise on a Brazilian ‘Saveiros’ along the calm waters of Paraty Bay. Paraty has 65 islands dotted around the turquoise and crystal-clear waters, surrounded by exuberant rainforest and secluded beaches. During our cruise we shall see various colourful fish, corals and sea-stars and we shall make a number of stops around the bay.

Evening at leisure.

Wednesday 4 October 2017
This morning we shall visit a bromeliad and orchid plantation, before enjoying lunch at Villa Verde, a beautiful, small restaurant owned and run by a Swiss chef, who has found his own piece of tropical paradise. The restaurant overlooks his own private garden (there will be the opportunity to look around) and the Pereque-Açu River that runs through his land.

Following lunch we shall return to Paraty where you shall have some free time to explore the town at leisure.

Thursday 5 October 2017
This morning following breakfast we shall return to Rio in time for our flight to Foz do Iguaçu. On arrival we transfer to our hotel, the Hotel das Cataratas, uniquely located in the Brazilian National Park, next to the Falls. All rooms have air-conditioning and en-suite facilities and the hotel has a full range of leisure facilities including outdoor swimming pool. Dinner (not included) is available in the Ipê Bar and Grill.

Friday 6 October 2017
In the morning we have a guided tour of the Brazilian side of the Iguaçu Falls, a 2km walking tour along the paths and catwalks with panoramic views of the spectacular falls. Taller than Niagara Falls, twice as wide with 275 cascades spread in a horsehoe shape over nearly two miles of the Iguazu River, the falls are the result of a volcanic eruption which left a large crack in the earth. An average of 553 cubic feet per second thunders over a drop of 269 feet, with a perpetual spray rising high above. After an opportunity for lunch (not included) we transfer by coach to the ‘Birds Park’, a large reserve located next to the Falls boasting a variety of species including the familiar toucan.

Saturday 7 October 2017
This morning we depart for a visit to the impressive Itaipu Dam on the Paraná River between Brazil and Paraguay. With a height of 225m and a length of 7.2km this is the largest power plant in the world, and in 2008 it generated 94,684 megawatts, the largest amount of power ever produced by a single dam.

In the afternoon we transfer by coach via Paraguay into Argentina for further thrilling views of the falls, known on this side of the border as the Cataratas del Iguazù. On arrival at the Argentine National Park, we take the local electric train through the park to the trails and catwalks that lead to the various viewpoints, such as the famous ‘Devil’s Throat’ on the main waterfall.

This evening we shall be offering a optional Dinner Show, including an excellent meal and folkloric dances from this region which covers the three countries of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.

Sunday 8 October 2017
This morning following breakfast we shall return to the airport in time for our flight to Campo Grande situated in the Pantanal, the world’s largest continuous wetland area. On arrival we shall travel to Caiman Eco Lodge where accommodation is provided in a series of separate cabins, all with private bathrooms. We shall be welcomed with a drinks reception and a tour presentation.

Dinner will be served in the evening.

Monday 9 October 2017
Following breakfast, we have a full and rewarding day dedicated to observing the Pantanal’s flora and fauna at the Caiman Eco Lodge private reserve. Depending on the make-up and ability of the group, our activities may include guided horseback rides, photo safaris or walks through the pastures, woods and wetlands of the private reserve, but will be tailored to maximise our enjoyment and understanding of this fascinating and complex environment. The bird-life alone features an extraordinary range of species, including bare-faced curassow, buff-necked ibis, ducks, egrets, falcons, great blue heron, rhea, hawks, horned screamer, jabirus, large-billed & lesser seed-finch, macaws, parakeets, parrots, pintails,        red-winged tinamou and wood storks. Both lunch and dinner are served at the Lodge today.

Tuesday 10 October 2017
Today we enjoy another full and rewarding day at the Caiman Eco Lodge private reserve. You may wish to enjoy more activities or learn about the customs and culture of the local cowboys, known as “Pantaneiros” or enjoy learning about the Hyacinth Macaw Project which is based at the lodge.  The project's main objective is to observe and collect data about the Hyacinth Macaw (Blue Macaw), a bird threatened with extinction, as well as to find new nesting sites and monitor those that already exist. Breakfast, lunch and dinner are served at the Lodge today.

Wednesday 11 October 2017
Sadly it is time to say ‘adeus’ to Brazil as we return to the airport at Campo Grande to begin our return flights back to London.

Thursday 12 October 2017
On arrival in London today the group will disperse or make onward connections.

What's Included Back to top of page

  • 14 nights’ accommodation: five nights bed and breakfast at the 4-star Golden Tulip Continental Hotel in Rio de Janeiro; three nights bed and breakfast at the 4-star Corsario Parati in Paraty; three nights bed and breakfast at the 4-star Hotel das Cataratas in Iguazù; three nights full board at the Caiman Eco Lodge
  • Welcome dinner and drink on the first evening. 2 lunches (one in Rio and one in Paraty)
  • Scheduled return flights London-Rio de Janeiro/São Paulo-London. Regional flight connections and flight up-grades are also available on request
  • All transfers and flights within Brazil
  • Boat tour of Guanabara Bay; excursions to Sugar Loaf Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue; visits to a selection of private gardens and the Botanical Gardens in Rio as well as the Fazenda Marambaia; cruise on Paraty Bay and a visit to a bromeliad and orchid plantation; guided tours of the Iguazù Falls from the Brazilian and Argentinian sides; two days observing the flora and fauna of the Caiman Eco Lodge private reserve in the Pantanal 
  • Services of a professional Tour Manager and John Hughes as RHS host throughout

Supplements Per Person Back to top of page

  • Single room supplement                               £910.00
  • Insurance                                                       Prices on application
  • Optional BBQ Dinner at Fago do Chao        Price to be confirmed
  • Optional Rafain Dinner show in Iguazù        Price to be confirmed
  • Regional flight connections, flight upgrades and overnight accommodation before or after the tour available on request

Departure Points Back to top of page

Click here to print a brochure
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