My wife and I and another couple plan to visit Brazil and Argentina in Feb/March of 2014. Rough initial thoughts are as follows:
We only have about 3 weeks.
3-4 nights Rio de Janeiro
2-3 nights in Brazilian wine country near Porto Alegre (Vale dos Vinhedos in Bento Gonçalves)
3-4 nights Buenos Aires
2 nights Iguazu (by air from BA)
2-3 nights Mendoza and wine country
rent a car and drive to Cordoba
Any advice welcome.
I have no idea about Rio, but when in Bento Gonçalves you can do the Caminhos de Pedra tour, where there are some historical places to see (some would consider these tourist traps, but there you go). I particularly liked the Casa da Erva Mate visit, where you can take a look at how they prepare the tea leaves for Chimarrão. From Bento you can go see a number of vineyards, and my favorite guided visit was at Casa Valduga, where they make some delicious sparkling wines. If you go to the Lidio Carraro vineyard, try their Agnus Cabernet. There’s also the Rota dos Espumantes tour where you can do guided visits to a slew of vineyards. You can also drive to the Rio das Antas Valley, and visit the Casa Bucco distillery, where they make some lovely cachaças and rum. If you choose to rent a car, you’ll need a GPS, because the city of Bento is very confusing to navigate. In that region you can also do some radical sports, if that’s your thing, like rafting, mountain biking etc.
Bento is a short drive away from other lovely cities like Gramado and Canela, and a little to the north there are the canyons in the Aparados da Serra natural reserve near the city of Cambará do Sul. Anyway, there’s much more to do in the Serra region than in Iguaçu.
Thanks Elric. I like to see how people live, eat their food, and talk to them. I must admit I am less attracted to famous destinations like the Iguazu falls which are often real tourist traps. The problem is that in a limited amount of time you can’t see everything, and have to make choices.
I think renting a car and touring in Rio Grande do Sul seems like a great thing to do.
I’ve never been to Iguaçu, but I hear there’s nothing much to do, although the waterfalls are an absolutely amazing sight, for obvious reasons.
I’ve been to Rio Grande do Sul three times in the past few years, and I think renting a car is the way to go. Be careful to either bring a GPS with an updated speed radar file or rent one from the car rental place with all the speed radar locations, since most of them are hidden along the roads and highways, and you risk getting a huge ticket bill if you’re not careful. If you rent from a large company, like Unidas or whatever, you’ll probably be able to rent a car in Porto Alegre and return it in Foz do Iguaçu, although they’ll charge you a fee for that. You just have to check in advance. Also, my wife has just brought to my attention that it might rain quite a bit there in February/March.
In Bento, you can choose to stay in the city or in one of the local vineyards, since some of them have hotels. As far as talking to people, be aware that Bento is reasonably big, while Foz do Iguaçu is a much smaller community. I don’t know how that will affect interaction.
There are plenty of lovely cities along the way from Porto Alegre to Bento, like Gramado, Canela, Nova Hamburgo and Nova Petrópolis.
BTW Elric, what are the best things to do in Rio and the surrounding area?
Another question. What about visiting Curitiba and area to get a sense of the interior of Brazil rather than going to Porto Alegre and the wine region?
Steve, I have no idea about Rio, never been there, although I hear Paraty is the place to go for beautiful and less populated beaches.
Curitiba is not really the interior, as it’s the capital of the Paraná State. It’s a pretty big city. Bento Gonçalves is much smaller. I’ve never been to Paraná, so I can’t offer much first-person advice. You can learn about popular destinations in Brazil from sites like https://www.feriasbrasil.com.br and tripadvisor.com.