Epic South America – Jungle Rivers, Rain Forests & the Colonial Coast

South America Cruise

  • National Geographic Explorer
  • Luxury Expedition Ship
  • 148 Capacity
  • 38 Days
  • View Departure>
  • Price from
  • $999,999,999

Summary : The northern and eastern coastlines of South America are extraordinary and diverse. On this epic voyage, you’ll have the rare opportunity to explore three legendary rivers and experience the region’s exuberant cultures. You’ll find tropical nature at its most colorful, along with varied, always-inviting ways of life. Among the journey’s myriad facets: unique riverine and rain forest habitats, virgin beaches, charming colonial towns and some of the continent's most vibrant cities. And a special pleasure will be a focus on different musical styles and cultural heritages. To give you the best of what this region has to offer, this carefully planned itinerary includes flexibility—to take advantage of the unexpected wonders sure to occur in this exciting part of the world.

Activities : Birding, Child-Friendly, Culture, Hiking, Kayaking, Photography, Snorkeling


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Free Subscription: Complimentary 1-year subscription to National Geographic Magazine (one per booking).

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Day 1
U.S. / Fly To Port Of Spain, Trinidad

The sound of the steel pan and calypso tell you that you’re in Trinidad. Check in to a fine hotel for two nights.

Day 2 – 3
Port Of Spain / Embark

Explore the old section of the city, and visit renowned Asa Wright Nature Center, high in the lush Arima Valley, and the Caroni Swamp, home to the famed scarlet ibis. Embark National Geographic Explorer and sail southward to begin the voyage.

Day 4 – 6
Orinoco River, Venezuela

Explore the Orinoco River, the world’s third largest by volume, and its tropical rainforest — with a dazzling variety of birds, exotic plants and animals from red howler monkeys to electric-blue morpho butterflies and bow-riding river dolphins.

Day 7 – 9
Essequibo River, Guyana / Georgetown

Little-visited Guyana has developed a deserved reputation for some of the most pristine rainforest and tropical nature in the world. Take an excursion by charter aircraft (weather permitting) to Guyana’s crown jewel, remote, powerful Kaieteur Falls. Explore the surrounding forest and look for colorful birdlife including, with luck, the cock-of-the-rock. Guyana’s capital, Georgetown, offers a number of interesting possibilities. Explore the city, seeing its rich colonial architecture, historic buildings and markets and listening to some of the spirited local music.

Day 10
Paramaribo, Suriname

Paramaribo’s well-preserved Dutch colonial architecture has earned it a UNESCO World Heritage Site designation. Explore Fort Zeelandia, home to the fine Suriname Museum, and the side-by-side synagogue and mosque, a symbol of the country’s tolerance.

Day 11
Devil’s Island, French Guiana

The collective name for a group of small rocky islets, it became notorious as a penal colony that held inmates, Henri Charrière, who chronicled his imprisonment and escape in Papillon, and Alfred Dreyfus. See the remains of the buildings, including the commander’s house, cell blocks and mental asylum. The islands have been reclaimed by jungle, so explorations will include wildlife and birdlife sightings.

Day 12
At Sea

Enjoy time at sea today: relax during a wellness treatment, log some time in the gym, or catch up on the book you haven’t read. Talks from staff will reflect on all you have seen and learned, and the events of days to come.

Day 13 – 15
Amazon River / Belem, Brazil

The delta region of the great Amazon River is extraordinarily rich in wildlife, with colorful birds including macaws, toucans and kingfishers, along with monkeys and pink river dolphins. Spend two days exploring the river and its tributaries by ship and by Zodiac. Also, see some of the communities of local residents, called the caboclos. Belém, capital of Pará in Northern Brazil, is the gateway to the Amazon. Founded by the Portuguese, it has a rich colonial history—evident in the old town’s charming tree-filled squares, churches and traditional blue tiles. Early in the morning, visit the Ver-O-Peso market, a bustle of activity with an amazing variety of products, including a medicinal section of rainforest remedies.

Day 16 – 18
At Sea

There will be time at sea to hear talks about the intriguing history and exciting future of the destinations you will visit. Also, enjoy the many amenities aboard the National Geographic Explorer, from relaxing on the sun decks to savoring a delicious meal in the dining room.

Day 19 – 20
Fernando De Noronha

A highlight will be the archipelago Fernando de Noronha, a UNESCO site recognized for the richness of its waters and as a tropical seabird breeding site. Pending official permission, spend two days exploring its beaches, birdlife and rich marine life, with a special visit to the TAMAR turtle research project.

Day 21 – 22
At Sea

Time at sea allows you to take advantage of the amenities aboard the National Geographic Explorer.

Day 23 – 24

The capital of the State of Bahia is home to a blend of different cultures and a unique Bahian lifestyle. Explore its pastel-hued, baroque-style buildings, and the vivid local market, where embroidered linens and wood carvings are the draw. It’s the perfect launching point for the diversity and wonders ahead along the Brazilian coast.

Day 25

Ilhéus once flourished as the cacao capital of Brazil. Stroll past charming colonial buildings to the impressive Cathedral of Sao Sebastião. Visit a cacao plantation and see a musical performance. Also, visit a research facility for endangered maned sloth and the Una Ecological Reserve, the canopy section ideal for bird watching. There’s also a lovely beach for swimming.

Day 26
Abrolhos Archipelago National Park

Humpback whales come here to breed and give birth. In previous years, whales have been seen as they breach and even as they sit motionless with their tails out of the water.

Day 27
At Sea

Enjoy today at sea with time to take advantage of the National Geographic Explorer, your home-away-from-home during this epic voyage.

Day 28 – 29
Rio De Janeiro

Famous for its fun-loving ways, Rio presents a dazzling array of options. Explore Floresta da Tijuca, Rio’s largest national park with a maze of trails. High above the city at the famous iconic statue of Christ the Redeemer at Corcovado yields spectacular views over the city, the ocean, and Guanabara Bay —all making for great photo opportunities. Or visit the golden lion tamarin reserve and learn about this endangered primate. And, be sure to enjoy Rio’s legendary beaches.

Day 30

Once prominent in the gold trade, charming Parati is a World Heritage Site with cobbled streets, lovely colonial buildings and churches. An isolated beach or secluded bay will beckon here, inviting you to relax or kayak.

Day 31
At Sea

There will be much to discuss about the past 30 days exploring the fascinating South America coast, as well as talks preparing you for the incredible days ahead.

Day 32
Curitiba & Paranagua

In Paranaguá; board the Litorina train for for Brazil’s most remarkable rail trip — a three-hour ride down steep mountains, across 30 trestle bridges and through 13 tunnels—to the tropical lowlands, with a barreado (traditional beef stew) finale. Or explore the Atlantic rain forest, with opportunities for forest walks and waterfall views. Aboard a local boat, navigate the mangroves habitat of the Laguna Mar complex.

Day 33
At Sea

Enjoy time on the National Geographic Explorer while traveling to the Rio Grande.

Day 34
Rio Grande

North of this southernmost Brazilian port is one of the longest sandy beaches in the world. Now, you are in the pampas region of South America, which extends southward through Uruguay and Argentina. The region has a diverse history influenced by immigrants from a variety of European countries. Wildlife of the region is a mixture of northern and southern species, and you'll spend the day exploring this region.

Day 35
At Sea

This day is spent relaxing at sea, enjoying the amenities of the ship, hearing talks from the expedition staff, and absorbing all that you've seen and heard so far.

Day 36
Montevideo, Uruguay

Montevideo’s history is reflected in elegant architecture ranging from colonial to Art Deco. Experience the culture of the gauchos at a private estancia (ranch) and savor an asado (traditional barbecue).

Day 37 – 38
Buenos Aires, Argentina / Disembark / U.S.

Explore the city’s Beaux Arts palaces, including the famous pink palace of Eva Perón; and the bohemian quarters of La Boca and the revitalized bohemian quarters La Boca and San Telmo. Connect to your overnight flight home.


Photo Expedition:
The photo team, a National Geographic Photographer and a Photo Specialist, will enhance your voyage by working with you on photo composition and exposure; helping you develop your own unique vision; showing you how professionals edit and store images while on the go; and sharing the stories behind some of their greatest images. Whether expert or interested beginner, you'll find added benefits such as walks ashore and Zodiac cruises dedicated to photography, presentations on the creative and technical aspects of photography, and one-on-one mentoring and coaching in the field.

Cabin accommodations aboard ship; all meals and non-alcoholic beverages aboard the ship; some meals ashore; all shore excursions and sightseeing; transfers to and from group flights; tips (except to ship's crew), taxes and service charges; services of a ship physician and expedition staff; use of kayaks; expedition parkas.

Not Included:
International air transportation; extensions; passport and visa expenses; baggage/accident/cancellation insurance; immigration fees; items of a personal nature such as alcoholic beverages, email and laundry; gratuities to ship's crew at your discretion; fuel surcharge may apply.