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A Trip through the Rio, Paraty and Ihla Grande loop

Brazil – a country whose beauty is as diverse as its landscape.

So far, my journeys have taken me along the beautiful southern coast of Santa Catarina state, the seaport city of Camboriu to the island of Florianopolis. This time, I decided to visit the home of the world-famous festival, Rio de Janeiro. Unfortunately, my visit wasn’t during Carnival, but it was still amazing!

The view from Corcovado Mountain
The view from Corcovado Mountain

My tour was based on a loop between Rio, Paraty & Ihla Grande. As experienced travel consultants, we recommend this trip because it gives our clients an authentic experience of Brazil. It’s also a great connection between Rio to Sao Paulo.


My trip started in Rio De Janeiro… 

On my arrival, I was warmly greeted by a guide who was holding a sign with my name on it and then drove me to my hotel. My trip started with three nights in a hotel on the famous beach area of Copacabana, and one night in Ipanema I had a very busy four days there! 

I visited Sugar Loaf, Corcovado, Santa Teresa, Escadaria Selaronthe Metropolitan Cathedral of Saint Sebastian, the Lapa Arches and Arraial do Cabo (just outside of Rio).  I also spent some time soaking up the sun at the beach. It was stunning but busy – so don’t expect some quiet time as there are a lot of people selling food and other things!  

Me at Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro
Me at Copacabana beach, Rio de Janeiro

For dinner, I tried the local, Churrasqueiraa popular Brazilian steakhouse style. My favourite place to eat this was at Carretão Ipanema Classic Grill. I also tried different versions of “Acai” and had plenty of caipirinha! 

When I visited Sugar Loaf Mountain, I took a three-minute cable car from Praia Vermelha up to Morro da Urca. From there, I took another cable car to the top the mountain. The magnificent views of the city and the glistening Guanabara Bay, left me speechless. 

View from Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro
View from Sugarloaf Mountain, Rio de Janeiro

Equally as stunning are the views from Corcovado. You get a full 360° views of the entire city as well as the nearby islands. I got to the top by railroad which took around 20 minutes to reach. You can also walk or take an elevator. 

It was a bright sunny day when I visited the iconic Christ the Redeemer statue. Taking a picture of it was challenging due to the crowds. Luckily, I had an expert guide to show some tricks to get the perfect picture. Of all the places I visited, this was probably my favourite. 

Christ the Redeemer statue
Christ the Redeemer statue

During my visit to Escadaria Selaron, also known as the, ‘Selaron Steps’, discovered that the artist, Jorge Selarón is also Chilean like me! He created the beautiful mosaic of steps in tribute of his adopted Rio de Janeiro city. There are 125 metres of steps covered in vivid tiles! It is one of the most visited sites in Rio. Today, his art continues to inspire his neighbourhood and influence upcoming artists.  

Selaron Steps
The stunning mosaics of the Selaron Steps

took a full day trip to the coastal town of Arraial do Cabo. It’s quite a journey, taking 3 hours each wayRenowned for its spectacular diving sites, it’s a fantastic for a quieter experience. Personally, the distance from Rio to Arraial do Cabo was not worth the visit. However, it’s a must visit if you are in the neighbouring town of Buzios, where it takes only one hour to get there.   

Overall, Santa Teresa was my favourite area in Rio de Janeiro! I had an amazing private guide who was passionate about Rio’s history. Having an enthusiastic guide during your trip really makes a difference to your tours. Plus, you get a real experience of the city through a local’s eyes. 

View of tram at Santa Teresa city
View of tram at Santa Teresa city

Onto Paraty 

On the fifth morning, a took a shared transfer from the hotel to Paraty. It was a scenic 4.5-hour trip along the Brazilian east coast.   

When I arrived, I fell instantly in love of this cute little town. Its historic downtown area has maze-like streets packed with delightful shops. There are horse carriages, cobblestone streets, and unique boutique hotels. Paraty is still largely untouched by mass tourism and offers plenty of activities to do and sites to visit. 

Beautiful cobblestone streets of Paraty
Beautiful cobblestone streets and colonial architecture of Paraty

My only regret is that I stayed only one night! I had only enough time to do a walking city tour and conduct a hotel inspection. My suggestion to clients would be to stay at least 2 nights. This charming town has so much to offer! 

I stayed at the upscale hotel, Pousada do Sandi. It is a colonial style hotel in the heart of historic downtown area. What I liked about this hotel were the facilities. They had a pool, bar, restaurant, and their own ice cream parlour! On my arrival, they offered a complementary cocktail and an ice-cream of your choice. The décor of the hotel was also on another level!  

One of the rooms at the Pousada do Sandi hotel, Paraty
One of the rooms at the Pousada do Sandi hotel, Paraty


Finally, Ihla Grande… 

The next morning, I took a two-hour shared transfer from the hotel to Angra Dos Reis. This town is the centre point between Rio and Paraty. From Angra, I took a 30-minute speedboat to Ilha do AbraaoWhen I arrived, I was greeted once again with a guide who took me to my hotel of Posada NaturaliaYou can easily spend 3 – 4 days doing boat tours, trekking or simply enjoy the beach. With a caipirinha in hand and a delicious lunch, I relaxed and enjoyed the beach – without any noisy vendors! 

Ilha Grande beach
Ilha Grande beach

I visited Lopes Mendes beach. It is one of the most beautiful and top-rated beaches in the world. It’s pristine, huge, and dramatic! The powdery white sand feels like you’re walking on fluffy flour! It’s a surfer’s delight with a mix of shallow waters and massive waves. To get here, I took a water taxi from Abraao port to Pouso beach. Then I took a short and pleasant hike, where on the way I also spotted a family of Callithrix monkey or the locally known as “Mico”. 

The Lopes Mendes beach is shallow, so there is no direct boat access. You can also hike there through the rainforest from Vila do Abraão. The trail is reasonably easy to follow, and the hike can take as little as two hours. Although it’s a longer journey, you’ll pass through some photo-worthy beaches along the way. 

One week in Brazil was barely enough time to scrape the surface of what this massive country has to offer!  We suggest you give us a call and let our expertise guide you through various options to make the most of your time in Brazil.  

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