Brazil Like A Native

Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, The Amazon,
Salvador da Bahia
with optional tour to Iguassu Falls

Arranged through the Theater Development Fund
by Brazil Nuts Travel

August 5 – 20, 2004 (including Iguassu Falls Extension)


DAY ONE: Thursday, August 5 New York / Rio de Janeiro

We depart from New York/JFK on Varig Brazilian Airlines flight # RG8865 at 7:05pm. We suggest arriving 2 ½ - 3 hours prior to departure. Enjoy complimentary cocktails, dinner and movie as we wing our way south to Brazil. (D in-flight)

DAY TWO: Friday, August 6 Rio de Janeiro
We arrive in Rio de Janeiro, the cidade maravilhosa, at 7:20am. After clearing customs and immigrations in Rio, we are met by our guide and transferred to our hotel where we check-in to the 4-star Ipanema Plaza Hotel, ideally located a half block from famous Ipanema Beach. Our 4-night stay includes hotel taxes and buffet breakfast daily.

In the late morning and early afternoon you are free to rest.

Later this afternoon we depart on an introductory tour of fabulous Rio. First, we drive through the Flamengo Park (the largest urban park in South America, designed by acclaimed urban landscaper Burle Marx and built on millions of tons of landfill dredged from adjacent Guanabara Bay) arriving at the remarkable Carmen Miranda Museum. More like a shrine, this amusing stop provides a wonderful look into the role this singer, dancer and movie star played in creating and establishing the image that so many around the world have of Brazil. Costumes, film clips, songs and photos evoke a Rio de Janeiro (Hollywood-style) of the 1940’s that is camp, kitsch and compelling.

Then, we proceed on a sunset tour of nearby Sugar Loaf Mountain, arriving at the base of the famous Rio landmark Pao de Acucar. We board the first of two cable cars to the smaller of these two mountains off the coast of Rio and continue up on yet another cable car to the summit of the second mountain. From this peak the view of the city of Rio, the bay, and the ocean is breathtaking. Take your time admiring the gardens, walkways and magnificent panoramas, as the lights of the city appear and dusk falls. After a time, we descend to the base at Urca Beach.

Then we’re off to dinner. Our first evening in Brazil starts with a classic “Welcome to Brazil churrasco dinner” at fabled Marius’ Restaurant, one of Rio ’s best BBQ restaurants. Feast on an all-you-can-eat array of meats, vegetables, seafood, salads and more. The highlight is the rodizio style of serving where an astounding variety of meats are carved right onto your plate.

Following dinner we next visit Scenario in “Old Rio’s” bohemian Lapa District for an evening a typical Brazilian music. (B in-flight) (D)

DAY THREE: Saturday, August 7 Rio de Janeiro
This morning following breakfast we depart for our tour to Corcovado Mountain, Santa Teresa & downtown “Old Rio.” We travel by vans to the base of the imposing Statue of Christ with arms outstretched over Rio on Corcovado Mountain, perhaps the most recognized icon of South America. The views of the ocean, city, and lagoon are spectacular from this vantage point. We continue to the charming Santa Teresa district. This area, once preferred by Rio ’s wealthy and powerful, fell into neglect as the chic beachfront neighborhoods of Ipanema and Copacabana came into favor after World War II. Today Santa Teresa is enjoying a renaissance as artists and bohemians who have moved to the area are renovating this funky and colorful part of Rio. We then descend by cable car through this delightful neighborhood, over the famous Arcos da Lapa to downtown Rio for lunch at Colombo Confeitaria, one of the most traditional restaurants in “Old Rio”, boasting great food and a beautiful belle époque architecture.

After lunch, we take a backstage tour of the Teatro Municipal, Rio ’s magnificent Opera House, modeled after the Paris Opera House.

This evening, we meet for a typical Brazilian outing at a colorful local and traditional barzinho (Brazilian pub). Here we listen to Bossa Nova, as well as sample various forms of Brazilian traditional music, such as jazz, samba or MPB (Brazilian Popular Music). (B) (L)

DAY FOUR: Sunday, August 8 Rio de Janeiro
This morning after breakfast we transfer to a pier and ferry across Guanabara Bay to the suburb of Niteroi.

The extraordinary topography of Rio de Janeiro has a distinctly otherworldly quality. The city wraps itself around a sinuous, sensuous coastline of mountains and bays, where the manmade is overwhelmed by the immemorial presence of nature. Niteroi is the setting for the city's new Museum of Contemporary Art, built to house the paintings and sculptures of one of Brazil's foremost modern art collectors. Poised like a spaceship on the edge of a cliff, Oscar Niemeyer's extraordinary art museum forms a seductive new landmark. Then it’s time for lunch.

Today we lunch at a local restaurant to savor typical Brazilian dishes. We next visit the Samba School Carnival Costume atelier of Paulo Robert, a Hors Concours deluxe costume designer for the major samba schools of Rio de Janeiro. Mr. Robert will show you his sketches, along with a lecture, and you may even learn how to make a fantasia (samba school costume).

This evening you are free to explore the delights and excitement of Rio on your own. (B) (L)

DAY FIVE: Monday, August 9 Rio de Janeiro
Following breakfast we embark on a relaxing yet stimulating day of art and cuisine in Rio ’s countryside on our “Day in the Country: Art and Folklore” tour. This full day trip starts with an hour-long drive through a variety of Rio ’s neighborhoods including the modernistic Barra da Tijuca area, which represents the future of Rio as its burgeoning population moves beyond the traditional neighborhoods of the South Zone. We arrive in the rural and pastoral region of Vargem Grande, Rio ’s original countryside. Here is the Casa do Pontal, a museum unlike any you have ever seen before. Housed in an enormous remodeled country home is a jaw-dropping collection of primitive Naif art and sculpture from all over Brazil. Arranged into sections such as “Birth & Death”, “Work”, “Colonization”, “Married Life”, “Sports & Games”, etc., the collection is compelling art and a reflection of how the simplest Brazilians of the countryside and big cites view themselves and their world. We have lunch at Point Grumari, with a great view and typical cuisine of the area.

Tonight features a sunset cocktail reception at the hotel where a special guest from the Brazilian theater world talks informally about the history, trends and issues in contemporary Brazilian theater. Phillipe Wagner is a well-known and respected director and producer and has great insight that he is looking forward to share with tdf members.

Then it’s off to a fantastic dinner at Mio, one of Rio ’s best restaurants. We feast on a vast menu of Brazilian and international dishes. (B)(L)(D)

DAY SIX: Tuesday, August 10 Rio de Janeiro / Manaus
Following breakfast we transfer to the airport for our Varig flight # RG2204 departing at 9:00am, flying north to Manaus the “gateway to the Brazilian Amazon”.

Upon arrival at 1:00pm, we are met by our guides and transferred to the 5-star Tropical Hotel and Eco Resort. Located on the banks of the Amazon River, this hotel offers many amenities such as mini-zoo, atrium, restaurants and coffee bar as well as an internet café and shops.

After check-in we meet our guide for an historical tour of Manaus. Our tour of this very busy port city gives us a taste of the Manaus of the rubber boom days, as well as of the thriving metropolis that has made it such a coveted tourist destination today.

Among the highlights of this tour are: the Indian Museum, displaying artifacts produced by tribes of the Upper Negro River; a regional handicraft exhibition with some items on sale; downtown with its floating harbor, which adjusts to the river's ever-changing levels; and the Art Nouveau cast-iron, turn-of-the-century Municipal Market where all imaginable regional goods are sold. We also stop for a tour (including backstage) at the legendary Teatro Opera House where Caruso sang and Duncan danced.

We return to the hotel late in the afternoon. This evening we enjoy dinner and Boi Bumba Show at the Tropical Hotel. (B, L in-flight) (D)

Wednesday, August 11 and Thursday, August 12

Manaus / TIWA Amazon Jungle Resort

This morning we transfer to the pier to begin your Amazon adventure.

The TIWA Amazon Jungle Resort is situated 25 minutes by boat from Manaus, on the banks of the Rio Negro. The complex is built around a beautiful natural lake that is surrounded by tropical rainforest. At the edge of the lake - with their feet in the water – are 32 double houses built on poles; each unit has a private bathroom and a spacious patio above the lake.

The friendly staff meets us at the reception area where we check in. Our two (2) night stay includes accommodations, three hearty meals a day and all activities. The meals feature delicious local fare of fish, poultry, vegetables and fruits and the lodge offers a full series of exciting jungle outings.

The TIWA Amazon Jungle Resort is located within the real tropical jungle, and it offers special day programs such as jungle treks, survival tours, an eco tour, a treetop tour, rock climbing and abseiling, outdoor games in the nature of the tropics, an introduction to and lessons in Native crafts and customs, nature photography and film. There are also many opportunities to participate in different (water) sports activities such as beach football, beach volleyball, water games, outdoor games, canoeing, water bikes, sailing, surfboarding and catamaran sailing. During our stay there are special theme programs on most afternoons, such as dancing lessons, Brazilian crafts and nature lessons. In addition there are lively evening activities such as music, dance and cultural shows.

The schedule of activities is always subject to variation due to weather, water level and other factors. (B) (L) (D)

DAY NINE: Friday, August 13 Manaus / Salvador da Bahia

In the mid-morning we transfer back by regional riverboat to Manaus and then to the airport in time for Varig flight # RG2205 departing for Brasilia at 2:25pm . Upon arrival in Brasilia, at 6:09pm, we connect with Varig flight # RG2328 departing at 8:12pm for Salvador da Bahia.

We arrive in Salvador da Bahia, the cultural heartland of Brazil at 10:01pm, and proceed to our hotel, the beautiful 4-star Mercure Hotel, located overlooking the ocean in the Rio Vermelho Beach District. Here your 4-night stay includes hotel tax and Brazilian breakfast daily. (B, D in-flight)

DAY TEN: Saturday, August 14 Salvador da Bahia
After breakfast we depart on our orientation tour of Salvador, its people, culture and traditions in this, the “most African city in the Western Hemisphere ”. We start in the modern suburb of Barra at the mouth of the bay with its famous lighthouse and make our way slowly to the old historical section of the town, the Pelourinho area, with the largest and best preserved complex of colonial architecture in the Americas. We visit the Church of Sao Francisco with its exuberant gold-leafed baroque interior and stroll through the narrow, bustling streets lined with buildings in pastel shades of an age gone by, soaking in the sights and sounds of this vibrant city. In Salvador native Indian, African and European bloodlines and cultures mixed to form the unique Brazilian identity of today. We visit the African-Brazilian Museum, providing an excellent overview of the history and dynamics of the syncretism between the Catholic religion of the slave owners and the West African Yoruba faiths of the slaves. Then we visit the Mercado Modelo where we have free time to shop at this handicraft market the best place in Salvador for souvenirs and shopping.

Tonight features a dinner of local Bahian delicacies at UaUa Restaurant, followed by a folklore show at Senac. The presentation is a showcase of the different African traditions still so much alive in Bahia, featuring the sacred dances of the Candomble, the Maculele, a stick and sword dance from the cane fields; the dance of the caboclo, an Amerindian hunting dance; Capoeira, martial arts/dance of Angolan origin and the Samba de Roda, a spinning, swirling version of this exuberant national dance.

Afterwards we stroll through the old city and check out the evening scene, its music and colorful street life. (B) (D)

DAY ELEVEN: Sunday, August 15 Salvador da Bahia
After an early breakfast, we depart for Cachoeira and the Boa Morte Festival. One of the oldest examples of the phenomenon of syncretism, the blending of Catholicism and Candomble, is the Irmandade da Boa Morte (Sisterhood of the Good Death) in Cachoeira. This is a society of women which had its beginnings in the senzalas (slaves quarters) where slaves would gather to discuss the news about abolition and pray for the slaves killed in the liberation movement. Once freed, ex-slaves would often form religious associations, sisterhoods and brotherhoods, often using the Catholic Church as a vehicle. However, these associations were really cultural centers whose aims were to free other slaves from captivity and to preserve the traditions handed down verbally from generation to generation. This was the case of the Sisterhood of the Boa Morte. Their aim was to help newly freed slaves to survive in a world where there was no longer a master with his whips and chains.

Reminiscent of secret female societies in Africa, the Sisterhood of the Good Death worships the Iyás, the female spirits of the dead. A "good death" (or Boa Morte) was seen as being a proper passage from the material to the spiritual world, no longer a slave. The Boa Morte Festival takes place every August and is deeply syncretised with the Feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary. It is perhaps the most important festival in the African Heritage calendar in Bahia and is a living document of African culture and Diaspora to the New World.

The ceremony consists of a Mass followed by a procession through the streets of the town with the figure of N. Sra. das Glórias (Assumption). The sisters are dressed in their gala clothes of black, white and red. This is the highlight of the celebration. The Sisters later have their Samba de Roda , a spinning samba found only in the Cachoeira region, beginning in the late afternoon and continuing until early evening.

We return to our hotel and the evening is at leisure. (B) (L)

DAY TWELVE: Monday, August 16, Salvador da Bahia
The morning features a tour to the “other side of Salvador,” a side not so frequented by visitors. This “lower city” tour takes you to the quiet waters of the Itapagipe Peninsula where the first holiday residences were built. Now a peaceful family district, life moves at a slower pace than the bustling upper city. Fisherman fish from dugout canoes, locals collect shellfish at low tide, schooners are at anchor, all protected by the famous Bonfim Church, one of the most important churches of pilgrimage in Brazil and deeply syncretised with the Candomble religion. We visit this church, the touchstone for many of Salvador's Candomble believers. We then continue to the Montserrat district with its panoramic view of the city. Lunch is at one of the local restaurants.

Tonight features a special dinner at Dada Restaurant followed by a musical event in the Pelourinho where the mammoth restoration of this historical district has resulted in a burgeoning nightlife. (B) (L) (D)  

IGUASSU FALLS EXTENSION : August 17 – 20, 2004

Iguassu Falls is one of the true wonders of the world. Higher than Niagara, and wider than Victoria Falls, Iguassu is, in the opinion of many observers, more beautiful than either. Eleanor Roosevelt was once inspired to comment, “Poor Niagara!” Iguassu Falls must be seen in person, for photographs are incapable of doing justice to the majesty and the wonder of the breathtaking panorama. We visit both the Brazilian and Argentine side of the Falls. (Extension is priced for 15 participants.)


Airfare Salvador da Bahia – Iguassu Falls – New York
Two nights accommodations at
    5-star Tropical das Cataratas Hotel in Iguassu Falls
Three day tours of Iguassu Falls
Daily Brazilian breakfast at hotel
One dinner and show
All airport transfers and local transportation for tours
All hotel taxes and service charges
Local English speaking guide throughout

DAY THIRTEEN: Tuesday, August 17
Salvador da Bahia/Sao Paulo/Iguassu Falls

The morning and early afternoon are at leisure. This evening you transfer to the airport for the Varig flight # RG2307 to Sao Paulo at 6:45pm. We arrive at Sao Paulo at 9:10pm. Th ere we connect to our flight south to Iguassu Falls - where the borders of Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet. Upon arrival in Iguassu Falls, you are met and transferred to the Iguassu Falls National Park and the 5-star Tropical Das Cataratas Hotel. Our two (2) night stay includes hotel taxes and Brazilian breakfast daily.

This evening we meet the group for a typical dinner and a folklore show at the Rafain Restaurant. (B)(D)

DAY FOURTEEN: Wednesday, August 18 Iguassu Falls
After breakfast our guide takes us on a walking tour of the Brazilian side of Iguassu Falls, one of the most important tourist sights in Brazil and one of the natural wonders of the world.

Listed by UNESCO as a Natural Heritage of Humanity, the subtropical forests of the park include a very rich flora and fauna. This tour leaves you speechless (and a bit wet!) After taking photographs of the breathtaking panoramic views from the observation deck, our guide leads us along a walkway almost within touching distance of the Falls. There is also an elevator for those wishing to see and photograph the falls from the top. The Iguassu River that rises in Curitiba, the capital of Parana state, forms the Falls. The river continues some 1000 miles from east to west, winding its way through the state. Ten miles before joining the Parana River, the Iguassu flows over rough, uneven ground, and then, amidst exuberant forest, hurls itself into innumerable and irregular cascades. Iguassu Falls extends over an area of 2,700 square meters, with a water volume of approximately 400 m/sec during the dry summer and 10,000 m/sec during the rainy season. The Falls are located in the Iguassu National Park, which covers an area of 250 thousand hectares of forest reserve.

We continue on to the Macuco Photographic Safari and boat ride, traveling the Macuco Trail in a rustic open wagon that allows an unhindered view of the luxuriant jungle in its entire splendor. Our guide explains some of the stories, marvels and mysteries of the sub-tropical forest surrounded by orchids, bromeliads, and thousands of butterflies. Our journey continues by walking the Iguassu Canyon Trail to the picturesque Macuco Falls where we penetrate the Brazilian jungle for a more intimate contact with nature. Mild white water rafting included – you will get wet!

Night at leisure. (B) 

DAY FIFTEEN: Thursday, August 19
Iguassu Falls / Sao Paulo / Departure
An early morning transfer takes us over the border into Argentina for our morning tour of the Argentine side of Iguassu Falls. The tour takes us through the National Park with its thousands of butterflies, where we board the narrow gauge train and travel out to “Devil’s Throat.” This area of the falls forms a gorge where a cascade of water creates an awesome veil of mist and roar of sound. We continue through the park where upper and lower cataracts allow for a multitude of vantage points.

We stop for lunch en route to our hotel.

Night at leisure. (B)(L)

DAY SIXTEEN: Friday, August 20 Iguassu Falls / Sao Paulo / Departure
Today we continue our explorations, touring the Itaipu Dam, the world’s largest power plant concentrated in one dam. Itaipu delivers 38% of all of the power used in Paraguay and Brazil. This impressive feat of engineering was built by Brazilian and Paraguayan works and spans the Parana River, the world's 7th largest, and takes advantage of the 120 mile difference of water levels along the 170 mile long river course.

We return to the Tropical Das Caratatas Hotel to check-out and transfer to the airport in time for our 5:50PM Varig RG8630 flight to Sao Paulo. Upon arrival at 8:30PM we then connect to our international Varig flight RG8864 departing at 11:59PM to New York City. En route we enjoy complimentary dinner, movies, and cocktails in-flight. (B in-flight)

DAY SEVENTEEN: Saturday, August 21 New York
We arrive at New York/JFK Airport at 8:30AM and clear customs and immigration.