Departing just before midday, you’ll fly from London to Salvador via Lisbon. You’ll be met and taken to your hotel which is located at the heart of the city’s UNESCO-listed historical centre, surrounded by some of the finest colonial architecture in the Americas.
You’ll spend the next two days taking in the cultural highlights of this rich and vibrant city, a fascinating blend of colonial and African influences. A tour will show you the famous Bonfim church and the Monserrat district with its thriving market, the perfect opportunity to pick up a souvenir or two.
Stay: Three nights in a deluxe room at Villa Bahia
Today you fly to Belo Horizonte and then drive two hours to the colonial gem of Ouro Preto, stopping along the way at the Inhotim museum. Declared a World Heritage Site in 1980, Ouro Preto is a vision of cobbled streets, beautiful colonial mansions and baroque churches.
In the morning you’ll visit the São Francisco de Assis, Matriz do Pilar and Matriz de Antonio Dias churches, and then in the afternoon you’ll drive 30 minutes to Mariana – the first official city of Minas Gerais – to see its Passagem gold mine.
Staying in an elegant colonial-style hotel in the historic centre of Ouro Preto, you have a privileged location next to the Rosario Church and other top attractions.
Stay: Two nights in a superior suite at Solar do Rosario Hotel
From Ouro Preto it is a three-hour drive to Tiradentes. The town itself is incredibly picturesque, with quaint churches, cobbled lanes and mountains rising in the distance. You’ll have a walking tour through the town, followed by a visit to the historic district of São João Del Reys. Then, you can soak up the natural beauty of the region by wandering along long hiking trails, going on horse-riding excursions and trips to artisans’ villages.
Stay: Two nights in a double massimo room at the Solar da Ponte Hotel
Now it’s time for a break. A three-hour drive will bring you to Ibitipoca and your lodge for the next two nights. The lodge sits within 300 acres of preserved Brazilian countryside and, with only eight traditional suites, is the perfect escape.
Instead of flat screens you are provided with Egyptian-cotton king-sized beds, underfloor heating and delicious food prepared with local ingredients. Facilities include a traditional spa and hydro-pool for total relaxation, but those more active can also explore the surrounding region on horseback, go hiking in the park or trekking up the mountains.
Stay: Two nights in a Engenho suite at Reserva do Ibitipoca Lodge
On the tenth day you will bid Ibitipoca goodbye and be driven four hours to Rio de Janeiro – stopping en route at the mountainside retreat of Petropolis. Rio is undoubtedly one of the world’s most vibrant cities, combining glorious beaches, majestic colonial architecture, towering skyscrapers and stunning natural landscapes.
A private guided tour will take you to the top of the iconic Sugarloaf Mountain by cable car, and through the 19th century streets to the old port where gold was once exported to Europe. You’ll end with a visit to the buzzing Santa Teresa area which is packed with bistros and bars.
Stay: Two nights in a deluxe room at the Hotel Santa Teresa.
Before your trip comes to an end you’ll be driven west along the sensational Costa Verde to the colonial town of Paraty. With car-free streets, an exquisite historic centre, graceful old buildings and tree-line avenues, it’s a place where time seems to stand still. Your hotel occupies a colonial mansion in the downtown area and takes comfort to the next level with reading nooks – complete with armchairs and lamps – fitted in every room. A blissful end to a fabulous holiday.
Stay: Three nights in a double suite at the Pousada Literaria
This afternoon you will be picked up and transferred to the airport for your flight home.
I am unable to express sufficiently my thanks and admiration for the constant care and organisation you put into this journey.- DH, Argentina, 2012