From Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro with Contiki

Rio de Janeiro
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Rio de Janeiro Contiki

Hola Latin America!

As my last unexplored continent (aside from Antarctica), it should go without saying that I was giddy with excitement when the opportunity to travel to South America for my first time arrived. It would be a trip of firsts, as I would also be experiencing my first ever Contiki.

For those who don’t know (though I’m sure you’re few and far between), Contiki is a travel company arranging group tours for people aged between 18-35. Contiki is therefore a great opportunity to meet and travel with like minded people around the same age, and a great way to break up solo travel by joining a group, as I did for 10 days travelling from Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro with Contiki.

The tour kicked off in the capitol of Argentina; Buenos Aires. This city is renowned for being South America’s most cosmopolitan city, with heavy Spanish influence seen throughout the architecture, culture and of course as the native language in Argentina. But there was much more diversity than I would have expected with noticeably a large Italian influence throughout the city – as well as German, Slavic and Syrian influence. Put simply – this city is a multicultural hub and this creates a city with a unique and distinct flair.

After an orientation meeting in the morning, the tour began immediately, as we all boarded the bus to depart on a city tour at noon. The half-day tour covered all of the hot spots; the historic center, San Telmo, La Boca, Puerto Madero, and others.

Highlights of the day included meandering the streets of colourful La Boca, drinking mette and eating churros like a local, and visiting the famous La Recoleta Cemetery.

Polo day

But the day didn’t end there. In the evening we made our way to a local Tango restaurant and dance school to enjoy local Argentine cuisine, watch a Tango show and even learn the dance ourselves! This was a great way to ease into being part of a tour group, as it allowed everyone to enjoy an informal evening and get to know one another over food, all you can drink wine, and Argentine culture. Following that, some of the tour called it a night and some when to one of the cities’ most popular night clubs with entry pre-arranged by our tour guide, Gabby. This is one of the highlights of being on a pre-arranged group tour, with everything arranged for you but still having the choice on whether to attend or not. It was great to have the options available but should something not take your fancy, you always have the option to go and do your own thing.

It was great to have the options available but should something not take your fancy, you always have the option to go and do your own thing.

Speaking of options, the entire second day in Buenos Aires was left up to the individual. We could choose between an optional day tour or to spend the day discovering Buenos Aires by ourselves. As it turns out the entire group opted to join the Argentina Polo Day – one of the many highlights of the trip.

After Buenos Aires we took a short regional flight to Iguassu Falls – a bucket list item for many. Once there, we crossed the border to Brazil and spent a couple of days exploring both sides of the falls (which lie in both Argentina and Brazil). This was not without a slight hiccup for myself and one other Australian on the tour – to prevent it happening to you please read here!

Iguassu Falls

After Iguassu falls we again took a flight to our following destination – Buzios, a popular beach/resort town in Brazil. For a couple of days we enjoyed the low key beach lifestyle, also trying surfing for the first time and beach hopping by water taxi.

Although it was incredibly good to escape the city and relax for a couple of days, I was more than ready for the final destination of the trip — RIO!

Rio de Janeiro

I’m not sure what it is about Rio that entices me quite so much, but in my mind Contiki definitely saved the best for last. We arrived in Rio after a 3 hour bus journey from Buzios and immediately began a city tour with our local guide, Alexandre. In the same day we made our way to the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue, Sugar loaf mountain, and finally checked-in to our hotel located right on Rio’s second most popular beach, Ipanema. Although Rio is renowned for its’ Copacabana beach, I was pleasantly surprised to be staying at Ipanema beach as it is safer and in a much more residential area – perfect for an authentic stay in Rio!

Our days in Rio were jam packed with exciting activities from a local Soccer match through to a Favela tour, boat trip, and many great Brazilian meals. Soccer Rio de Janeiro

Why I would Recommend a Contiki in South America

As mentioned earlier, this is my first ever Contiki.

Visiting South America for the first time can be somewhat daunting, particularly as a solo female traveller. The region is still quite difficult to travel throughout on your own (especially if you don’t speak Spanish or Portuguese), so most travellers opt for the safe and secure option of a group tour.

But why Contiki above all other options?

The Latin America Contiki tours are in my opinion the best product on the market. After doing a great deal of research on South American tour groups, this was the best value for money tour group to join. Contiki are slightly more expensive than their competitors, but offer a lot more comfort and value for money by doing things other tour operators don’t. These tours run in a private luxury coach in each city and instead of long overnight buses, you are flown between each destination. The longest bus journey for the entire trip was 3 hours.

The accommodation is also at a much higher standard in comparison with the other tour operators. Each hotel was 3 stars or higher, with very clean modern rooms that were also spacious and centrally located.

There’s also a lot more included with Contiki in comparison to others – elaborate dinners, activities, and not one single tourist attraction is missed.

On a Favella Tour with Contiki

On a Favella Tour with Contiki

 Would I do it again?

Absolutely. I had a fantastic time on my first Contiki and it was undeniably the best way to get a grasp on the Latin American region. While I would definitely recommend the tours in South America, I would highly suggest you combine this 10 day tour with the Peru tour or even look at the complete Latin America tour. This is because the 10 day tour was primarily in between cities and to truly get the feel for Latin America, one should definitely visit countries like Peru and Ecuador (next on my list to visit!!!!).

...And most importantly, it was a great chance to make new friends!

…And most importantly, it was a great chance to make new friends!

 Buenos Aires to Rio De Janeiro Tour Specifics:

  • 10 days
  • From US $2992 per person, twin share
  • 2 world heritage sites visited
  • “Backstage Pass” – tour inclusions such as Christ the Redeemer, Buenos Aires city tour & more
  • 9 nights in 3 star hotel accommodation
  • 2 flights (BA to Iguassu, Iguassu to Rio)
  • Transport from start to finish in private air-conditioned coach or mini coach
  • Sightseeing tours in each location
  • A FANTASTIC Tour Manager – by the name of Gabby
  • 13 meals included – all breakfasts, 4 dinners
  • “ME TIME” – optional extras – Argentinan culinary experience, polo day, helicopter, surf lesson, hang gliding, sugar loaf, etc.
  • = $300 US per day without food, extra activities, tips


World of Wanderlust was welcomed by Contiki to experience the Buenos Aires to Rio de Janeiro tour, however my opinion is as always, my own.



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    January 7, 2016 at 3:34 am

    Hi! I’m from Buenos Aires, I’m glad that You liked our city, but the trip doesn’t sound much like “local” to me. I mean, not many people here do Polo or even watch it, it’s a national sport yes, but is really for “high class” people. A football (soccer) game would have been more common, but a little bit more risky too. And also party non-stop, that is a must if are in Buenos Aires!
    If you ever come back I could give some tips! Loved your post any way!

    December 11, 2015 at 9:41 am

    You should definitely go to Curitiba in Brazil! It’s the world’s most sustainable city, one of the 28 cleanest cities worldwide, the “greenest” city in Brazil. I absolutely recommed this beautiful and civilizef(I’m Brazilian, I know what I’m talking about haha) place!

    June 21, 2015 at 4:00 am

    Mate* not mette 🙂

    Gabriel dos Santos
    March 19, 2015 at 8:56 am

    Hello. I am from Rio de Janeiro and I organized this route for people who are coming to my city. I hope you enjoy it and if you need any help you can contact me:

    September 7, 2014 at 11:20 pm

    Never heard of Contiki before. What a brilliant idea they came up with! Thanks for sharing.

    Bucket List Bums
    September 7, 2014 at 12:49 am

    Your photos have me missing South America. Perhaps Brazil will be our next destination down there. ♥

    Nikki Vargas
    September 3, 2014 at 5:02 am

    I actually just returned from a travel assignment in Buenos Aires covering the local food scene and was following your instagram updates during my trip! It looks like you had an amazing time and I agree, Buenos Aires is beautiful. I loved San Telmo especially and discovering the local Argentine culture.

    Thank you for sharing your experiences and beautiful photos!

    September 3, 2014 at 3:57 am

    I can’t wait until I get to go to South America. Still haven’t made my way down to that continent, so thanks for all the tips!

    Lucy @ Skeeter and Scout
    September 2, 2014 at 4:31 pm

    I always wanted to try Contiki. I am heading off on a European adventure next year, and contemplating doing some Contiki trips!

    Lucy x

    Best holiday destinations
    September 1, 2014 at 3:50 pm

    Thanks for posting nice views.

    Clipping Path Outsource
    September 1, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Nice offer to visit BUENOS AIRES TO RIO DE JANEIRO. Acceptable price. If I can……….

    Betty J. Ogburn
    September 1, 2014 at 9:30 am

    …Weird–I had never heard of Contiki until you mentioned them…Thanks for calling them to my attention, :-)!!…

    September 1, 2014 at 5:19 am

    Wow this looks so cool!! 🙂

    Interested in making new blogger friends and get a kickass journal? Check out my latest post! 🙂

    September 1, 2014 at 2:41 am

    WOW! What a fantastic picture of Rio!
    Have a nice time!

    September 1, 2014 at 1:27 am

    Hey! I’m sure you meant drinking “mate”. I have been to Argentina for an exchange semester and it was AWESOME!! I had the chance to travel around whole Argentina, unfortunately I had no money left to go to Brazil – definitely on my bucket list… If you ever have the chance, go to Puerto Madryn/Peninsula Valdes in Argentina around October. We did some whale watching which was for me – as European – so exciting and emotional, as one huge whale and it’s baby were diving below our boat :-O. The whales from Antarctica come at this time to the Peninsula to raise their baby whales there. Besides Iguazu, also the Perito Moreno glaciar and Parque Talampaya / Ischigualasto are quite impressive. That shows how diverse that country is with it’s nature!!

    September 1, 2014 at 1:17 am

    Hi, I’m going to Brazil in a week, where is the second to last picture (of colorful houses) taken please??

    September 1, 2014 at 12:24 am

    You’re so lucky! It sounds amazing!

    Izy Berry - The Wrong Way Home
    September 1, 2014 at 12:05 am

    I have never done a tour because I am too much of a control freak and don’t like moving too fast, but it does sound like a lot of fun.

    Madeline Fedmont
    August 31, 2014 at 7:05 pm

    The sunset looks breathtaking 🙂

    August 31, 2014 at 6:01 pm

    I think I will book a tour with them! definitely sounds like the best option to explore south america for a female traveller!

    August 31, 2014 at 6:00 pm

    Incredible photos! And the Contiki tour sounds super fun and interesting. xx

    Maggie A
    August 31, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    This trip sounds amazing! I’ve heard about Contiki but never in detail what exactly it is. Thanks for sharing.

    Maggie A

    August 31, 2014 at 2:21 pm

    Gah! Iguassu Falls is now part of my bucket list! Your fault! The Contiki group trip sounds like a great idea, but I am 1 year too old for the age range:( In your research, are these kinds of groups for other age ranges as well? And do you think it is good for both singles and couples….or is it best for singles?

    August 31, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    You should visit Colombia as well. It’s a really diverse country, I will recommend you to visit “Nevado del Ruiz”, which is one of several stratovolcanoes within Los Nevados National Natural Park, a national park located west of Bogotá in the centre of the Colombian Andes. You should visit Cartagena as well, and the Island of San Andrés in the caribbean has a seven colors sea.