Here is a day by day break down for 10 brilliant days in Brazil that takes you from Iguazu falls to Sao Paulo. This itinerary can be done in reverse if that works better with your trip but personally this is the order in which I did it.
I did this exact itinerary in from Iguazu falls to Sao Paulo July 2022. I made sure I did lots of research to find how I wanted to get from Iguazu to Sao Paulo overland but found it difficult to find a recommended itinerary. The information here is all from my personal experience and I hope you find it useful and can learn from me! I have some family from Brazil and I also got a couple of tips from them, local knowledge is always the best.
The Highlights of this Iguazu falls to Sao Paulo Itinerary
This itinerary starts in Iguazu at the impressive waterfalls. It then takes you to the beautiful Pantanal which if you are lucky you will spot a jaguar. From here go to the beautiful bonito filled with crystal clear waters and waterfalls to swim in. End in the concrete jungle of Sao Paulo.
Why Visit Brazil?
To understand brazil is 10 days isn’t quite enough, it is a country the size of a continent. Saying that, there is so much more to Brazil than what is found in Rio De Janeiro. Brazil has incredible nature that has a huge variety to it as well as a vibrant culture full of music dancing and laughter. Brazilian people can only be described as very welcoming, I met so many lovely Brazilians both in Brazil and on my travels.
How to get around Brazil
Brazil can be easily travelled around by bus. As Brazil is massive, expect long journeys which can often be night buses. I have detailed the best buses to take for this itinerary each time the place changes.
The 10 day Itinerary of Iguazu falls to Sao Paulo
Day 1: Argentinian side of Iguazu falls
Start off your adventure with a day at Iguazu falls. The easiest side to start with on this route is the Argentinian side. The Argentinian park is the bigger one meaning this is a full day of exploring. The visit involves beautiful viewpoints and walkways so you can get up close and personal with the falls.
The border crossing between Argentina and Brazil at Iguazu is very easy (caveat, I have a British passport) meaning that it is possible to go back and forth in 1 single day. Be wary of using a bus for the border crossing if you are pushed for time. They come every 2 hours and if you take too long at the border the bus will leave without you so you need to wait for the next one.
Puerto Iguazu (Argentina) tends to be cheaper than Foz do Iguacu (Brazil) for accommodation. As well as this, Puerto Iguazu is a smaller town with more of a chilled atmosphere, this is why I chose to stay there. There as lockers available for a paid fee at the park if you have lots of baggage with you.
Where to Stay in Iguazu Falls
Looking for somewhere to stay in Foz do Iguacu (Brazil)?
Looking for somewhere to stay in Puerto Iguazu (Argentina)?
Day 2: Foz do Iguacu (Brazilian side of the Falls) then overnight bus
Spend your second day in Iguazu visiting the Brazilian side of the falls. The Brazilian park is smaller so only needs a half day to visit it. The park entry includes an open top bus to the walkway. One of the most stunning parts of visiting the Brazilian side is the view over the falls. The final part of the visit is a walkway that goes over the falls and you can get a waterfall shower!
There are also lockers at the Brazilian side of the falls to avoid carry large luggage for the whole day.
Want to know more about visiting Iguazu? I have a post about it here.
After visiting the falls, make your way to the bus station to take a night bus to Campo Grande. The night bus using Eucatur leaves at approximately 5pm so don’t forget to pack dinner. The bus has multiple stops but arrives in Campo Grande at about 7am the next morning.
Day 3: Arrive in Campo Grande then transfer to The Pantanal
If you are like me, I take a good few hours to recover from a night bus. Enjoy breakfast in campo grande before taking your transfer to the Pantanal. I combined my breakfast at a hotel that had a pool that was perfect remedy. The drive to the Pantanal takes about 5-6 hours so its quite a bulk of travelling here but the beauty of the Pantanal is worth it.
My first afternoon in the Pantanal I went piranha fishing and enjoyed sunset by the river.
New to the Pantanal? It is a very large wetland and is one of the most nature dense regions on the planet. The aim of a visit to the Pantanal is to spot wildlife and to try a see a Jaguar. If you want to learn more, I have a post all about the Pantanal here.
Trips to the Pantanal tend to be organised as a package due to the remoteness of the area. Activities are included with the lodge so trying to visit the Pantanal solo can be complex. Personally, I used Gil from Pantanal Discovery and I really recommend it. The next few days are the activities that I did personally but this may vary depending on the option you choose.
Day 4: Pantanal Jeep safari and Boat Ride
The first full day in the Pantanal is a good one. I did yoga at sunrise and it was a beautiful way to wake up with the birds. I went on a jeep safari on which I saw wild deer, caiman and too many birds to name. We went for a walk in which we saw lots of jaguar prints but sadly the actual jaguar was not to be found.
The afternoon was floating river activity. We were given buoyancy aids and let the current take us down stream as we watched wildlife. It was unnerving swimming in water in which you could see a caiman enter but our guide assured us they’re harmless to humans.
I went out on an evening boat ride which was a lovely way to stargaze with fireflies too. I saw lots of caiman including baby ones but sadly no sleeping jaguar.
Day 5: Pantanal Boat Trip and Horse Riding
Day 3 in the Pantanal I spent on a morning boat trip. I saw a family of giant otters which were really cute looking but apparently are more dangerous to humans than caimans as they are very territorial. I also saw lots of capibaras including whole families which was really sweet.
After some time chilling in the pool, I spent the afternoon Horse riding at a ranch up the road. It was very chilled out and can be done even if you have never ridden a horse before. As I did this, the sun was just beginning to set meaning it was just beautiful in the evening light.
Day 6: Kayak in the Pantanal and transfer to Bonito
I spent the final day in the Pantanal by kayaking in the river. This was great fun and was another way to spot some wildlife on the river banks. We saw iguanas and monkeys which I hadn’t seen earlier in the week.
Take an afternoon transfer out of the Pantanal to Bonito. I organised this through Gil at Pantanal Discovery. The drive took about 4 hours meaning I arrived in Bonito in time to enjoy a lovely dinner in the centre of town.
Day 7: Bonito Blue Lake Cave and Rio De Prata
Bonito translates as beautiful and oh my you will be impressed by it. Spend your first day in Bonito the Blue Lake Cave in the morning. As the name suggests, this is a perfectly clear bright blue lake in a cave filled with stalactites. It is very impressive.
After the cave, go fresh water snorkelling in the Rio de Prata. This crystal clear river is home to many fish as well as underwater springs. I was genuinely shocked by the amount of fish I saw in the river. Lunch is included in this activity and it’ll end up being a late lunch, but it is delicious. After all the excitement of the day, this is perfect day for a nap before eating dinner in bonito.
Want to know more about visiting Bonito? I have a post about it here.
Where to stay in Bonito
Looking for somewhere to stay in Bonito?
Day 8: Ceita Core waterfalls in Bontio and transfer to Campo Grande
Spend day 2 in Bonito (to quote TLC) chasing waterfalls. A visit to Ceita Core takes you on a walk in the jungle to 7 different waterfalls, 6 of which are swimmable. There are also spots to jump in and even do a pulley swing. The end of the visit includes a trip to see the underwater cave that is the source of the river. The cave is 150m deep and also has fish living in it, it was amazing.
After lunch at the lodge, spend the afternoon at the centre in which you can enjoy their free activities. These include paddle boarding, kayaking or even just enjoying a relax in the hammock. Or take an early transfer back to Campo Grande.
It is possible to get a night bus from campo Grande to Sao Paulo, it leaves at 5pm each day. Personally, my transfer from Bonito to Campo Grande was too late to get this bus. So I ended up taking a flight the next morning. But I have promised an overland itinerary so both options are very possible!
Day 9: Arrive in Sao Paulo
After leaving the real jungle, it is a bit of a shock to the system the concrete jungle of Sao Paulo. Spend a chilled-out morning either after the flight or bus exploring some of the cities lovely brunch spots. My favourite is Padoca do Mani which has a lovely bakery.
As with all cities, tourists can be a prime target for pick pockets and thieves; because of this I used Uber to get around and was cautious of getting my phone out in public. Be wary of walking alone at night even in the city centre.
Take an afternoon stroll to Ibirapuera park for a calm activity and a nice view of the Sao Paulo skyline.
Did you know that Sao Paulo is home to one of the largest Japanese communities outside of Japan? Interestingly, Sao Paulo is known for its amazing sushi in the Japanese district Liberdade. This is a perfect spot for a delicious dinner.
Where to Stay in Sao Paulo
Looking for somewhere to stay in Sao Paulo?
Day 10: Explore the Art Museum and Sao Paulo Skyline at sunset
On day 10, spend the morning visiting the Sao Paulo Metropolitan cathedral in the city centre.
From here, make your way to the Sao Paulo Art Museum on avenue Paulista. Avenue Paulista is also home to many shops and restaurants to explore and to have lovely lunch or even afternoon coffee.
An unmissable experience in Sao Paulo is an evening drink to watch the sunset at Terraco Italia. It is on the 41st and 42nd floor which gives a beautiful view over the city. It is also a fine dining restaurant if you want to treat yourself to a lovely last evening meal!
Conclusion of Iguazu falls to Sao Paulo 10 Day Itinerary
That’s the end of Iguazu falls to Sao Paulo itinerary! I hope you found it useful and I would love to know how you got along on your adventure in the comments.