From lively Rio to Paraty and hidden Ilha Grande, discover Brazil’s colourful highlights
Start your Brazilian adventure with a bang in Rio de Janeiro, a city rich in Afro-Portuguese culture and sun kissed beauty. Head to Lapa and dance on the street like there’s no tomorrow, grab a caipirinha and head to Ipanema beach, or climb Corcovado to see the great Christ Redeemer. Land on the cobbled streets of colonial Paraty and venture off the beaten path to Ilha Grande, a quiet island where lush green forests meet untouched sandy beaches. Wind up back in Rio to find the party is still going strong. Starring the best bits of Brazil, you’ll never want to leave this samba-loving country.
- Day 1: Rio de Janeiro
Bem-Vindos! Welcome to Brazil. Your adventure begins at 1pm today. Your Tour leader will take you on an orientation walk around Rio. In the evening there will be a meeting at 6pm. The locals like to say that ‘God made the world in six days, the seventh he devoted to Rio’. In this heaving metropolis, set against the luminescent green of Guanabara Bay and surrounded by the slopes of Sugarloaf and Corcovado, it’s hard not to be caught up in the passion of the city’s residents (known as Cariocas). The French were the first to settle here as they logged wood along the Brazilian coast, but they were soon driven out by the Portuguese, who built a fortified town named Sao Sebastião do Rio de Janeiro and quickly amassed wealth during the gold rush of Minas Gerais. In the 19th century, the Portuguese monarchy fled from the threat of Napoleon in Europe and took up residence in Rio, where they built grand buildings that still stand today. These days Rio is a fascinating and diverse city best known for its contrasting images of favelas (shanty towns) and the glitz and glamour of Carnaval.
- Day 2-3: Paraty
Take a local bus from Rio to Paraty (approximately 4 hours) The remainder of today and tomorrow are free to explore Paraty. Admire the architecture as you wander along the town’s cobbled, pedestrian-only streets, which become partly covered in seawater at high tide. You might prefer to explore the rainforest trails in the surrounding national park, which is rich in wildlife and waterfalls. Perhaps take a boat trip on the island-studded bay for scenic views along the coast or join an excursion to the nearby village of Trindade, which boasts some of Brazil’s best beaches.
- Day 4: Ilha Grande
Today, take a shared transfer to Agra followed by a ferry to the island getaway of Ilha Grande (approximately five hours). This island paradise of pristine beaches and rainforest has been largely untouched by development. There are no private cars or banks on the island, so make sure you bring cash with you. Previously a pirate’s lair, a leper colony and a prison for violent criminals, the island has a fascinating history to uncover. The ruins of the prison can still be seen today.
- Day 5-6: Ilha Grande
Enjoy two full free days to explore Ilha Grande. Wander along rainforest trails to beautiful and remote beaches; Lopes Mendes and Aventureiro Beach are among the most scenic. Take an optional boat trip out to the Blue Lagoon, beach hopping through Ilha Grande Bay along the way. There are plenty of opportunities to stop for fresh seafood, and to swim and snorkel in the clear water. In the evening relax with a caipirinha at a restaurant or bar in Vila do Abraão, which is the island’s main town.
- Day 7: Rio de Janeiro
Board a boat to the small port of Mangaratíba today, and from here take a minivan back to Rio de Janeiro. The total journey should take about three-and-a-half hours. The rest of the day is free to explore or simply hit the beach and relax.
- Day 8: Rio de Janeiro
Today your South American adventure comes to an end. There are no activities planned and you’re able to depart the accommodation at any time.