In 2 weeks, you can get a good taste of Brazil at a pace that won't leave you with post-holiday stress disorder. The route below takes you to Rio de Janeiro and the historic city of Salvador. You then have the option of spending time in the Amazon or on a beautiful Bahian beach. The Amazon is fascinating, but it requires both money and travel time. This route includes Iguaçu Falls and a brief taste of the urban sophistication that is São Paulo.
Days 1-3: Rio de Janeiro
To get into the Brazilian spirit, start off your trip in Rio de Janeiro. After getting settled in your hotel, head for the beach. Enjoy the scene, tan a bit (but don't overdo it). Watch the sunset from Arpoador. You'll be tired from the flight, so take it easy with a good dinner in one of the top restaurants of Ipanema or Leblon. On day 2 get out and see the mountains. Take a tram up to the Corcovado, or take a jeep tour up through Tijuca Forest. Stop by Cinelândia in Rio's Centro in the afternoon. That night, discover the late-night Carioca lifestyle. Have dinner around 11pm, then catch some samba, played live in Lapa. You'll be sleeping late the next day, so spend some more time at the beach, or take a trolley up to explore the hillside neighborhood of Santa Teresa. All this should acclimatize you to the Brazilian way before you set off to explore the rest of the country.
Days 4 & 5: Salvador
Early on day 4, catch a flight for Salvador. This is the city where the country's African roots are strongest. Stay in one of the lovely pousadas in Pelourinho like the Pousada do Pilar, or pamper yourself with a stay in the restored 17th-century Convento do Carmo. Wander through Pelourinho's 17th-century streets. In the evening, try some Bahian cuisine, then go out and enjoy the music in Pelourinho after dark. Next day, take the boat tour of the Bay of All Saints, or head out to the church of Bonfim, or tour the lovely Museu de Arte Sacra. Or if you're the Energizer Bunny, do all three.
Day 6: Salvador
With your extra day in Salvador, dig deeper into this city's treasures at a leisurely pace; head out to the church of Bonfim, or tour the lovely Museu de Arte Sacra. See the lighthouse and beaches of Barra.
Days 7-11: The Amazon
Catch an early flight to Manaus. It's time to experience a bit of the largest standing rainforest on earth, the Amazon. On your first day you should have time to see the highlights of Manaus, including the famous Opera House. The next morning, set off early for a jungle lodge (or better yet, if you have more time, go kayaking through the forest with Amazon Mystery Tours). Choose a smaller lodge farther from the city. Don't go to the Ariaú. Although the area around Manaus is hardly unexplored, a few days will allow you to experience the fauna and flora of a tropical rainforest. Enjoy the trees, the monkeys, the caiman, and the bright pink dolphins.
Day 12: Transit
It's going to take a day of taxis, boats, and airplanes to get you to your next destination, Iguaçu.
Days 13 & 14: Iguaçu Falls
A final must-see -- one of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders of the world -- Iguaçu Falls. The early flight from Salvador should get you to Iguaçu before 2pm. Store your stuff and go see the falls. Stick to the Brazilian side today and perhaps take the Macuco boat safari. The next day, go explore the falls from the Argentine side. You can catch an early flight to São Paulo and spend the next day exploring, or you can dawdle by the hotel pool in Iguaçu (or go see the Bird Park), before catching a later flight to São Paulo and connecting to your evening flight home.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.