Choosing to travel over Christmas and New Year was something I’d decided to do almost a year ago but I’d settled on Buenos Aires to Rio Unplugged only a few months before the departure date of 28th December 2016!
Leaving the cold UK and arriving into a warm and welcoming Buenos Aires was out of the ordinary for late December but was a welcome change. The tour, operated by Intrepid, was 17 days long but I’d chosen to add a few days before and after the tour so that I could really explore BA and Rio properly. I booked these through Airbnb and both my apartment in Buenos Aires and the arts hostel in Santa Teresa, Rio were great places to unwind before and after the tour.
On Day 1 of the tour I met the group; a mixed bunch both in ages and nationalities and all went for a steak dinner to get to know each other. We were then straight off to Uruguay the next day to welcome in the New Year, with a midnight dip in the Atlantic, at La Paloma, a small seaside town before heading inland to the ranch where we would experience the life of a gaucho.
You can get as involved as you wanted to, I threw myself in and prepped the horses ready to explore the countryside before helping to round up the sheep ready for a vet visit the next day. Juan the ranch owner was a great host and really made this visit for the entire group.
After two days on the ranch it was time to move on to Brazil and see the magnificent Iguazu Falls. We got to experience these from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides, both of which offer very different experiences. The Brazilian side offers amazing views across the falls and the Argentinian provides walks and treks through the neighbouring forests along with boat rides at the base of the falls to truly experience the power that this sight has to offer.
Time to get back on the bus and head to the small colonial town of Paraty, which is well known for it’s beautiful, cobbled streets, pirate history and stunning beaches. Either explore the town or opt to do one of the optional activities to go snorkelling or head to a beach further along the coast.
It was another overnight bus journey and then a short ferry ride to reach the island of Ilha Grande, which is known for it’s laid-back lifestyle, mountainous forests and idyllic beaches. Once again there were choices of things to do, explore and relax, go beach hopping or even climb the islands highest peak.
Just as you’re getting into the swing of island life its time to experience the Latin heartbeat of Rio de Janeiro. We arrived into a cloudy and rainy Rio but this didn’t stop us from exploring the city, the beach and what they had to offer. With iconic sights such as Christ the Redeemer and Sugar Loaf Mountain you may need to be more flexible when the weather isn’t at its best but I chose to stick it out at the top of Corcovado and waited for the clouds to break to get a stunning view of the city below and the outstretched arms of Christ above.
If you only have a few days in Rio then plan your time wisely, but even if you don’t get to see everything you’ll still have a great time and get a taste for Rio that will leave you wanting to return again and again!
*All pics in this blog article are my own.