Trip Highlights

Immerse yourself in the beauty and exuberance of Brazil on this 11-night adventure and discover why Rio de Janeiro is called the Marvelous City.

Head to the summits of Sugar Loaf and Corcovado mountains for spectacular views of Rio and Guanabara Bay. Take a Carnaval workshop to see the huge floats, dress up in splashy costumes and learn some salsa moves!

Explore the colonial-era towns and take in the ornate, gold-rush riches of Ouro Preto and Mariana architecture. In the Pantanal, the world’s largest tropical wetland, look for wildlife on guided walks, daytime safaris and night drives. See the dazzling Iguassu Falls and get close enough to feel the mist

Exclusive departure: This departure is considered exclusive. The participants are U-M travelers, consisting of alumni, family, and friends.


Day 1 – Depart gateway city

AHI FlexAir passengers depart for Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Please check your luggage from your gateway city to your arrival city. Your claim checks should have the following airport code: GIG.

Day 2 – Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Belmond Copacabana Palace

Arrive at Galeão International Airport. Proceed through immigration to the baggage claim area and retrieve your luggage. After completing customs, AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for the group arrival transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer should exit the baggage claim area and proceed to the Arrivals Hall, where an AHI Travel representative will meet you.

Transfer to the Belmond Copacabana Palace. Please note, if you arrive before check-in time, your room may not be immediately available.

Discovery: Sugar Loaf Mountain. Today, discover why Rio is known as Cidade Maravilhosa, the Marvelous City! Zip up to this majestic mountain at the entrance of Guanabara Bay via a two-stage cable car ride. The first cable car whisks you from Praia Vermelha, or Red Beach, to the top of Urca Hill with fabulous views along the way. Then ascend even higher in a second cable car to Sugar Loaf’s peak. Prepare to be dazzled by 360-degree panoramic vistas of Rio’s gorgeous beaches, Corcovado Mountain, downtown Rio and the Atlantic’s southern waters stretching across the horizon. (Moderate)

This evening at the hotel, get better acquainted with your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception.

Day 3 – Rio de Janeiro

Belmond Copacabana Palace

B | L

Enrichment: Contemporary Brazil. A local expert introduces you to Brazilian culture and ongoing social, political and economic issues.

Discovery: Corcovado Mountain. After a scenic drive to the elegant, old neighborhood of Cosme Velho, travel by cog rail to the top of Corcovado, 2,329 feet above sea level. Once called the “Pinnacle of Temptation” by Portuguese settlers, it was later renamed for its hunchback shape. At its summit is Rio’s most iconic landmark, the colossal, Art Deco statue of Christ the Redeemer with arms outstretched over the city. Gaze over the breathtaking landscapes and hear about the statue’s history from your guide. Then visit the artsy, hilltop Santa Teresa district, where old-fashioned cable cars skim through this colorful neighborhood of narrow, winding streets. Afterward, enjoy lunch at a nearby restaurant. (Moderate)

Enrichment: Brazil’s Architects. Over lunch, follow the evolution of Brazilian architecture, from Portuguese colonial to the Modernist style of Oscar Niemeyer, which will provide context for your upcoming excursions.

Discovery: Brazilian Music and Magic of Carnaval. Relish a fun-filled visit to a samba school workshop and discover the immense pride, passion and preparation behind Carnaval, Rio’s sensational, annual festival. See the huge, multicolored floats, try on splashy costumes, join a percussion class and learn some samba moves! (Moderate)

Day 4 – Rio de Janeiro

Belmond Copacabana Palace

B | D

Discovery: Rio de Janeiro Botanical Gardens. Immerse yourself in the lush, tropical beauty of these peaceful gardens, established in 1808. Stroll down the grand avenue of towering royal palm trees, delight in the animated birdlife and keep your eye out for monkeys in the trees. (Moderate)

Free Time: Make your own plans this afternoon. Perhaps you’ll decide to relax on Copacabana Beach across from your hotel or people-watch on neighboring Ipanema Beach.

At dinner tonight, savor the flavors of Brazilian barbecue, or churrasco, the traditional food of southern Brazil’s cowboys for many centuries.

Day 5 – Belo Horizonte | Ouro Preto

Hotel Solar do Rosario

B | L

Depart early this morning for the airport and fly to Belo Horizonte, the capital of Minas Gerais state.

Discovery: Pampulha. Head to this northern district of Belo Horizonte to tour a complex of buildings that represent the first example of Modernism in Brazil. Designed by Oscar Niemeyer in 1940, they have been designated collectively as a UNESCO World Heritage site. Originally intended for residents of a wealthy suburb, the ensemble includes a ballroom, yacht club, casino and church surrounding manmade Lake Pampulha. Niemeyer’s innovative use of bold, curved concrete structures blending into the natural landscape brought him international acclaim. (Moderate)

After a lunch of regional specialties, continue by motor coach to picturesque Ouro Preto in the foothills of the Oro Prêto Mountains. Check in to the Hotel Solar do Rosario.

Day 6 – Ouro Preto

Hotel Solar do Rosario


Discovery: Ouro Preto. The Minas Gerais state has long been a storehouse of mineral riches, from the gold and diamonds of earlier centuries to today’s high-grade iron ore. As the center of Brazil’s 17th-century gold rush during Portuguese rule, Ouro Preto was first known as Vila Rica de Ouro Preto, or Rich Town of Black Gold, which referred to the dark ore within the gold deposits. The ensuing prosperity financed the construction of new, elaborate buildings in the Brazilian baroque style.

Join your guide on a walking tour of this lovely hillside town. Inside St. Francis of Assisi Church, admire the work of Brazil’s best colonial artists, including intricate relief sculptures by Antônio Francisco Lisboa, known as Aleijadinho, and a vibrant ceiling painted by Manoel da Costa Ataíde. In the historic center, the extravagant interior of the Church of Our Lady of the Pilar gleams with layer upon layer of gold powder on the sculptures and ornamented walls. After visiting the churches, learn about the region’s many minerals at the Museum of the School of Mines and view a wonderful collection of private altars for worship in the Oratory Museum. (Active)

Day 7 – Mariana | Ouro Preto

Hotel Solar do Rosario

B | L

Discovery: Mariana. Founded in 1696, this small town near Ouro Preto is the state’s oldest city and was once briefly its capital. Like Ouro Preto, its early success as a mining center is reflected in the beautiful baroque churches and colonial buildings. With your guide, visit the churches of St. Francis of Assisi and Our Lady of Carmel in Mariana’s pretty town square and stroll to see other landmarks. Afterward, go inside a former gold mine to learn how this precious metal was excavated from the rock walls. (Active)

Day 8 – Belo Horizonte | Cuiaba | Pantanal

Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge

B | L | D

After an early breakfast, transfer to the Belo Horizonte airport and fly to Cuiba, the gateway to the Pantanal. The world’s largest tropical wetland, this extraordinary, pristine region provides refuge for South America’s highest concentration of flora and fauna. The astonishing biodiversity includes 3,500 plant species, 656 bird species, hundreds of mammal species, plus reptiles and amphibians.

Discovery: Transpantaneira Park Road Safari. After traveling by paved road, enter the Pantanal region on this dirt road that leads to your eco-lodge. Wildlife watching along this route is both rewarding and surprising as colorful birds swirl overhead and fascinating creatures cross your path! Stop at various points for photos and insights from your guide. (Moderate)

Check in to the Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge, which has followed the principles of sustainable eco-tourism since 1994. Located on a 6,820-acre private reserve, it offers wonderful opportunities for observing native animals and birds. You’ll trek with naturalist guides along forest trails and suspended walkways over the wetlands, plus venture off on exciting safaris by day and night!

Discovery and Enrichment: Sustainability in the Pantanal. On a guided walk, discover the numerous ways in which the lodge minimizes its environmental impact, from recycling and water treatment to careful steps to protect wildlife during trail experiences. Follow your guide to the flood channel, where spotted caimans, members of the crocodile family, lie along the grassy banks. Then climb up one of the lodge’s three observation towers for fabulous aerial views of the animal activity below. Finally, view the nest of two Hyacinth macaws. These electric-blue birds with yellow accents are the largest parrots in the world and can grow to more than three feet long with a wingspan of four feet. An endangered species, they are the heart of a special conservation project undertaken by the lodge. Learn how Araras Eco Lodge has helped to preserve this spectacular bird since 1990. (Moderate)

Day 9 – Pantanal

Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge

B | L | D

Enrichment: Conservation and Wildlife of the Pantanal. Join one of the lodge’s naturalist guides for a presentation about the wide variety of bird, mammal, reptile and fish species within the region.

Discovery: Photo Safari. Travel further out on the private reserve in open vehicles specially adapted for observing wildlife. Have your camera ready as you take in the Pantanal’s vitality in the tranquil wetland habitats, surrounded by vivid tropical birds, anteaters, tapirs, monkeys and more! (Moderate)

Discovery: Bird Release Project. In partnership with Brazil’s environmental protection agency, the lodge helps to return illegally caught birds to the wild. Visit the release station and see how they are cared for in the nursery before being reintroduced to nature. Afterward, visit the Bafo da Onça horse farm on the property, where Pantaneiro horses are bred. Discover how these incredibly hardy horses are uniquely adapted to the Pantanal’s environment. (Moderate)

Discovery: Night Safari. Aboard open vehicles with spotlights, take a thrilling ride after dark in search of nocturnal animals. Be on the lookout for the red reflection of the caimans’ eyes! (Moderate)

Day 10 – Pantanal

Araras Pantanal Eco Lodge

B | L | D

Discovery: Wetlands Walk. More than 13 miles of trails crisscross the lodge’s private reserve. Today, walk with your naturalist guide along suspended trails over the marshes, savannas and woods to study amazing flora and fauna at close range. If you’d like, you can also climb the other observation towers for impressive views. (Moderate)

Discovery: Stargazing and Nocturnal Life. Head out on a guided walk at nightfall this evening to spot elusive creatures and delight in the brilliant, expansive canopy of stars. (Moderate)

Day 11 – Cuiaba | Iguassu Falls

Belmond Hotel das Cataratas


After breakfast this morning, depart the Pantanal for the Cuiba airport. Fly to Iguassu Falls and transfer to the Belmond Hotel das Cataratas, located inside Iguassu National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage site. Spread across both Brazil and Argentina, this dazzling wonderland features 275 individual cascades within a lush rain forest.

Free Time: As a guest of the hotel, enjoy exclusive access to the falls, minus the crowds, before the park opens and after it closes.

Day 12 – Iguassu Falls, Brazil and Argentina

Belmond Hotel das Cataratas

B | L | D

Discovery: Iguassu Falls. Walk from the hotel this morning along a trail that descends to a platform where you can take in the jaw-dropping panorama of the waterfalls. Then follow walkways to other vantage points to hear the roar and feel the mist! Afterward, travel across the border into Argentina’s national park to see the other side of the falls. Board a small train that transports you to the Upper and Lower circuits. These winding pathways allow you to view the waterfalls from many angles. Finish at the overlook next to the mesmerizing Devil’s Throat, where massive cascades of water thunder and crash down 262 feet! (Moderate)

This evening at the hotel, gather for a Farewell Dinner with your fellow travelers in celebration of your special journey.

Day 13 – Depart for gateway city


Free Time: Spend this morning at leisure. Your rooms are available until 11 a.m. Afterward, perhaps you’ll savor your last views of the falls.

AHI FlexAir passengers traveling on flights that qualify for a group transfer and Land Program passengers who have purchased seats on the group transfer depart for Brazil’s Foz do Iguaçu International Airport (IGU) or Argentina’s Cataratas del Iguazú International Airport (IGR) for your return flights home. Your Travel Director will provide the details.

Day 14 – Arrive in your gateway city

Depending on your air arrangements, arrive home today.


Show Full Itinerary

Your Journey

Journey to Brazil

By participating in an Alumni Association of the University of Michigan travel trip, you have stated that the Alumni Association has the exclusive right to use video and other visual/audio portrayals of You or Your likeness taken during Your trip in any medium of any nature whatsoever for any purpose, including advertising or promoting the services of the trip without any compensation being paid to You. Any such portrayal or likeness shall be the exclusive property of the Alumni Association of the University of Michigan.

(14 days)
Starting price: $6,795
Deposit per person: $600
Central & South America
Type: Land, Exclusive U-M Departure

You must be an Alumni Association member to travel with us. Questions? Email Michigan Alumni Travel at

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