Day 1: Rio de Janeiro
Today, depart the United States for South America. Dinner and breakfast are served aloft.
Day 2: Rio de Janeiro
Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. After clearing customs, meet your Private Tour guide and travel to Hotel Fasano. In the afternoon, relax and enjoy Ipanema Beach. After freshening up, join your private guide for a night tour, live music, Bossa Nova & Samba.
Day 3: Rio de Janeiro
After breakfast at the hotel, your guide will take you on a full day city tour starting at Corcovado (Christ Statue). From here admire the fantastic combination of beaches, deep blue waters, mountains, forests and urban areas. This is arguably the best place to understand why Brazilians say that it took God seven days to create the world and he spent five of them working only on Rio. Next we’ll have a short visit to the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa which has become Rio’s Soho. An optional Feijoada lunch will be served at Academia da Cachaça. In the afternoon, board the famous cable car that will whisk us to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain.
Day 4: Rio de Janeiro
After breakfast in the hotel, saddle up for a half-day Off-Road Jeep tour to Floresta da Tijuca. Along the way, stop at Macaco's Waterfall for pictures. Later on we will see the Chinese View, Emperor Table, Cascatinha Taunay and Mayrink Chapel. In the afternoon, relax at the “Praia” or spend some time shopping. Remember that Brazil is on the leading edge of world fashion. Even window shopping is spectacular. We can even arrange a private appointment with the H. Stern headquarters and factory upon request.
Day 5: Salvador da Bahia
After breakfast in the hotel, transfer to Rio’s Airport to board the 2-hour flight to Salvador. Anyone visiting Salvador will immediately discover why the state is called "the Land of Happiness." Salvador awakens the senses with a rich religious, artistic, musical, and culinary heritage that blossomed in this former capital of the Portuguese Empire in South America. We check in to the Convento do Carmo historical boutique hotel. We then have a half day historical city tour will highlight the Historical district of the Pelourinho, including street performance groups, the Afro-Brazilian Museum and the awe inspiring gilded church of São Francisco.
This evening, we will immerse ourselves in dancing, music and song, representing the culture, traditions, beliefs, history, colors, sound, and movement of the people of Bahia. We will see the group Bale Folclórico Company (Balé Folclórico da Bahia) perform - one of the most respected folklore dance troupes in the world. The company performs in the intimate Miguel Santana Theatre in the Pelourinho in a seamless presentation of the multiple African traditions that underpin Bahian culture. We will see the sacred dances of the Candomblé; puxada de rede, a song by fishermen in honor of Yemanjá, the goddess of the sea; maculelê, an acrobatic stick and sword dance with its origins in the cane fields; capoeira, a martial art/dance of Angolan origin and the samba de roda, a spinning, swirling version of this exuberant national dance. After the show dinner will be served in one of the many fine restaurants in the area.
Day 6: Salvador
After breakfast in the hotel, we visit with Alberto & Carlos Pitta's “Batala” drumming and performance group and school for children. The group – Cortejo Afro Organization - supports social enterprise in Brazil. It is partly funded by the government but also relies on concert fees, carnival revenues and sales of Alberto's artwork. Batala’s drums and costumes are created in Bahia using local labor, which directly affects the local economy.
Day 7: Salvador
After breakfast, we will head into the countryside through lands of sugar cane and tobacco plantations, peaceful colonial towns and busy country markets. The area is known as the Reconcavo Baiano. The region along the All Saints Bay is steeped in the most traditional expressions of Bahia art forms; music, dance, sculpting, all deeply rooted in the permeating African influence which finds its most reverent expression in the Candomblé.
Our first stop is at the Casa do Samba in Santo Amaro. The samba that originated from this area is known as samba de roda, where sambistas dance in a circle and each is called in turn to the centre to dance the deceptively difficult steps. There are a myriad of samba groups in the region where the tradition is undergoing a tremendous revival, much due to the efforts of current Brazil Minister for Culture, Gilberto Gil, an icon of Brazilian music. The Casa do Samba is a recently restored colonial manor house which is now home a research facility featuring a video, music and book library tracing the origins of this, the most quintessential Brazilian dance. Our visit will include a performance by members of the Casa and group members will be invited to join the group to learn the steps. We stop to lunch in one of the traditional restaurants in the area.
After lunch we will drive further west to Cachoeira, a historical town on the northern bank of the slow moving Paraguaçu River and the touchstone of the Candomblé in Brazil. It is here that the annual celebrations are held by the Sisterhood of the Boa Morte, a sorority of women which had its origins in the times of slavery. We visit the Sisterhood’s premises and meet with some of the Sisters. A lecture on the Candomblé will be given, focusing on the importance of this belief system to the history of the region, the Sisterhood’s struggles. The Sisters are also great sambistas; we end our visit with an impromptu samba de roda before returning to Salvador.
Day 8: Salvador
After breakfast at our hotel we visit a traditional capoeira school and meet with the capoeira group leaders, learn of the history and philosophy, try our hands on the instruments and learn the basic movements. Capoeira: The Angolan Connection - The traditional Capoeira Angolan is the slower and subtler of the two forms of the martial art where the hands are often used to support the body as the blows are given by the feet. One is considered a good capoeirista for the manner in which one gets one’s opponent into a position where he or she is of guard, a great accent being on disguising the possible eventual blow. If points were to be gained in this martial art form they would be gained for the craft and skill used in delivering the blows rather than the blow itself. The word “ginga”, meaning the sleight of hand, foot and body to deliver and avoid blows, is the key here.
Like all great martial arts there is a very vital philosophy and way of life associated with being a capoeirista and to become a master demands years of dedication to the finer details of the art. Music plays a very important role in Capoeira and a Roda de Capoeira Angola, the circle inside of which the capoeirista perform, cannot take place without the full complement of 4 berimbaus, (a bowed one-stringed instrument and the backbone of the capoeira), one conga, tambourines and an assortment of other percussion instruments.
In the afternoon we will explore the beaches of Salvador, for many Bahians the social life of the city revolves around the beach. We will drive along the coast road, to one of the best beaches in the city. It's time to relax in the sun, swim in the warm waters of the South Atlantic or sip on a cool drink in the shade of a barraca. Then it’s time for lunch, typical cuisine will be served in the barraca with remainder of the afternoon just relaxing.
City Beat - This evening we tour Pelourinho by night and we explore the bustling music scene in the city, away from the obvious, in search of the authentic. This can be a rehearsal by a carnival bloco, or a chorinho performance by master musicians using stringed instruments including the cavaquinho and the 7 stringed guitars, or samba de partido alto, or a performance by one of a multitude local band, many using northeastern Brazilian musical influences in a contemporary format. The options are many, the time of year and day of the week the deciding factors.
The venues vary from the bustling Pelourinho to outlying suburbs, from intimate bars to larger venues. Wherever the eventual location, the evening will be a true insight into one of the many facets of local music. After dinner, we’ll stroll the busy streets visiting many of the taverns that offer live music to a strictly local crowd. This is the Brazil that few foreigners ever get a chance to see. The attraction of this tour is to see Pelourinho exactly as locals see it… no “touristy spectacles," no prepared events for foreign consumption... just the cool restaurants, best cafes, top live music venues.
Day 9: Salvador
After a late breakfast at the hotel we will have the whole day off to relax, shop, revisit area we saw during the week. We left this day open to just relax by the pool, shop in the Modelo marketplace, take a full day schooner or just relax at the beach which can be arranged by the concierge at the hotel.
Day 10: Departure from Salvador
Transfer to the airport. After a late breakfast, the morning and some of the afternoon is to relax or pick up those last-minute gifts. Até logo!