Tips & Tricks to help you plan your next adventure
We got a local bus back to Paraty early morning on the 23rd that ended up getting absolutely packed, and made everyone but Sammy wish we had brought smaller bags. The bus took about an hour and a half, and was pretty tame compared to the roller coaster ride down to Trindade 2 days before.
We checked into our hostel, the 3rd Che Lagarto in a row, and ended up spending the afternoon walking around the old historic part of town. The rain was quite heavy throughout the afternoon, but still we set out to the shops in the old part of town with a mission - to get pirate santa gifts.
The old town of Paraty is so ridiculously postcard beautiful that I can’t do it justice with words, so just look at our pictures and I’m sure you can google some more. The cobblestones however are more like cobble-boulders, and it makes just walking down the street take a whole lot of concentration if you don’t want to stack it every 20 metres like Rach did… No surprises there.
On christmas eve we went on a Jeep tour that took us to a cachaça distillery in an effort to find out why the headaches we were getting were so bad, and then on to 3 different waterfalls.
The Paratiana Cachaça distillery was a nice first stop - despite the fact we couldn’t understand the guide in Portuguese, a South African family was happy to translate what they could for us. The old copper stills and barrels ageing the final product were very cool to look at, and I swear I got a bit of a buzz off the fumes in the place. We then went to the gift shop and got to taste some of the finished products, including the super tasty chocolate and chill variations.
The first waterfall - Cachoeira Pedra Branca was really beautiful, with a big torrent of water you could splash under, and a few deep swimming holes to swim in. One of these holes apparently went at least 4 metres deep into the rock, but I couldn’t see past about 2 because of the black tea coloured water. There were also some fun little rock jumps into the pools.
The next waterfall was a little drive away after some lunch, Cachoeira Toboga. This one was basically a big flat wide rock that was an awesome natural waterside with a big splash pool underneath. There were 2 local guys here taking run ups and sliding down this huge rock on their feet, which looked so much more sketchy and dangerous than it sounds here. They were even hurdling over each other whilst sliding and one guy did it on his feet with a blindfold. Mental. We tried to film them but probably didn’t do it much justice. Apparently every year they have a “rock surfing” contest that attracts some decent crowds, which I think is called “Desafio Surf de Pedra.” Try googling this, there’s some other videos so you can get an idea.
The next waterfall was a short walk upstream from Toboga, and was a small waterfall filling into a huge 3m deep pool that was super fun to swim around in. Oh, and the best part was a 12m jump rock. To get up here was a hell of a lot more difficult than the jump itself. The ascent began up a sketchy ladder, then rope climb/rappel up a vertical rock face, followed by a scramble up some biting ant covered vines to to the top of the rock overlooking the pool.
Myself, Bec and Sammy all did the jump and got some go-pro footage, however again it probably doesn’t do it justice. That arvo we returned to the hostel. Bec and I did some last minute christmas shopping for our group Pirate Santa gifts (everyone got each other some variation of chocolate, cachaça and a shot glass). We had a big hostel Christmas Eve dinner which was… mediocre compared to the spread’s we’re used to at home. Nonetheless we had couple cheeky bevies and a fun night.
The next day we relaxed, explore the town a little more and went for a dip at the beach.
Next stop… Florianopolis, after 18+ hours of buses and at least 6 hours of layover. Tis the season to be jolly.
We arrived in Trindade around 3 Sunday afternoon. We dropped our bags at the hostel, yet another Che Lagarto and headed for a swim at the closest beach.
After the beach we got some hamburgers for a super late lunch and had an explore around the town.
Monday we woke up early, had breakfast and set off for the beach and some of the local hotspots. We only really had one full day here and wanted to fit as much in as possible.
We walked to Piscina Natural do Cachadaço (Cachadaço’s Natural Pool) via Praia do Meio and Praia do Cachadaço. This was roughly a 20 minute walk from our hostel along the 2 beaches and through a path along the headland.
We got to the pools around 10 and they were already overflowing with people. We had a swim and little explore before packing up and moving on. The pools were beautiful and but a little too busy for our liking. Somewhere to go at high tide and not the weekend before christmas.
We walked along the beach and headed for Cachoeira do Escorrega, a local waterfall known for its slide and swimming holes. We hiked to the top (roughly 20 minutes) and dropped our things.
At the top there was a large rock with about 6 people sitting on it in the middle of the stream. We saw someone quickly disappear under this rock with the flowing water and promptly heard screaming in Portuguese echoing out from under. What the actual fuck. But the crew sitting on top of the rock didn’t look too phased so we watched on, quite concerned and extremely confused.
About 2 minutes later the girl we watched “fall” under the giant rock swam out a hole behind it with about 4 other people all laughing and seemingly unhurt.
My turn next. There was a super tight squeeze through the upstream opening to this little cave with water flowing through. We all took turns lowering ourselves in feet first, which is quite creepy watching your whole body disappear behind a water curtain into an unknown abyss. Once your head pops through though you slide down a slippery rock before landing in a waist deep pool under the rock that could snugly fit around 8 people. Then you get to float around making creepy echo noises until you get bored and crawl/swim out the downstream side.
These pools were really clean and fresh, and even had some tasty looking big freshwater crayfish swimming around that (somehow) managed to outwit me and evade capture in my hat.
We chilled out at the top near the waterfalls and pools for a while before heading back down for a late lunch, and along the way eating some jack fruit wrangled up by a Balinese man and his kids we had met at the falls.
Later that afternoon it started to pour with rain and we didn’t end up doing much more despite going out to get supplies to cook dinner (veggie spaghetti) and ducking back down to the closest beach for another quick swim in the rain.
No caipirinhas here, a relatively early night before our bus tomorrow to Paraty where we will be for Christmas, everyone’s first one away from home and family.
Hopefully the shops are still open when we get to Paraty or we’ll all be eating our fingernails for christmas lunch.
Oh and we’ve decided to do a Secret Santa. Here’s hoping I get something good!
Merry Christmas everyone!
Thursday we had a relatively relaxed day. We cruised around town, did some shopping (well Rach did) and had a bit of explore.
Up the opposite end of the village from where we were staying we found Circuit do Abraão, a short 1.5-2km walk past a few beaches, the islands old jail ruins and the aqueduct.
On our trip around the circuit we found the entrance to another path that led to Praia da Feiticeira and Feiticeira Cachoeira (waterfall). We decided we would come back on Friday and walk to it with some supplies.
Thursday night we got dinner, rice, chicken, beans and salad just to mix it up and dessert from the local cake stall, chocolate covered strawberries for me, some form of cake or pie for Sean, always.
Friday morning we set off for the waterfall. It was only 2 km’s to the beginning of the path and another 3km to the waterfall however we had seriously underestimated the gradient of the hill we would be walking on the last few kms. It was similar to the first hill to Lopes Mendes, a little easier but longer.
Again as the walk was through the forest and we were covered by the canopy it was very, very humid and muggy. There was sweat EVERYWHERE.
Once we arrived at the waterfall we couldn’t wait to get in the water. Rach raced to the falls for the standard, "arms in the air, look how fantastic I am in front of this waterfall I’ve reached" photo. It was a good photo. Topped only by the next photo of Rach flat on her ass after her leg slipped into a gap between the rocks. She wasn’t hurt. So it was okay to laugh.
We took plenty of pictures, rinsed off, de-sweated and headed on to Feiticeira beach. Now this walk was mostly down hill, which was a relief however it was still incredibly hot and still tricky (who knew havaianas weren’t grippy on dirt tracks).
It took us another 20-30 minutes and by the time we reached the beach we were praying there were taxis available to take us back to Abraão. There were. Hoorah!
We hung out at the beach for a little over an hour and then caught the taxi back to the village, R$20 well spent.
We had lunch at a kilograma (of course) and relaxed for the rest of the day and night.
Saturday the weather was a little funky in the morning. Well it was slightly overcast for a couple of hours and then turned sunny again. We relaxed at the hostel and went for swims off the boat ramp .
Sunday morning we decided to get the ferry and 2 local buses to Trindade, rather than pay for the R$75 transfer, which would have only gotten us to Paraty.
It ended up costing us only R$27.50. A hefty saving if you ask me, and surprisingly easy considering our lack of Portuguese. We also managed to book bus tickets to Florianopolis for New Years Eve at a bus station on the way through. Always good to not be stranded somewhere during the busiest week of the year.
The next 2 nights are at Trindade.
Here’s hoping to more good weather!
NB: My only regret from Ilha Grande was that I wasn’t filming when Rach was standing in front of the waterfall. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but a video, god who knows what a video is worth.
Hiking to Lopes Mendes
Wednesday we set off for Lopes Mendes.
Ilha Grande is covered in heaps and heaps of trails, treks and hikes. All of them graded easy to difficult, all of them with amazing destinations at the end (depending on what you’re in to).
Our first trek on the island was to Lopes Mendes. Lopes Mendes is a beach roughly 6 kilometres from the Village of Abraão, where we were staying.
It was apparently 2.5 - 3.5 hour walk through the rainforest and along beaches. So at 10:20am we set off. Well Sean, Rach and I did. Sammy was badly burnt from the day before and decided to give it a miss.
We stole a couple of bananas and bread rolls each from the breakfast buffet and packed our things. We had been told to take plenty of water, food and snacks as it was a long trek and there was not much in the way of supplies over there.
Once we begun our trek we realised how god damn muggy it was due to the incredibly high humidity under the forest canopy. The first 20 minutes to half an hour is a solid up hill trek over rocks and dirt paths and once at the top the decline down the other side of the headland is just as difficult, causing serious stress to the knees. Going slow is a good idea (unless you’re impatient like the 3 of us and need to do everything 1 million miles per hour). After the first decent we arrived at a beautiful beach, Praia dos Palmas.
Palmas looked like all the other beaches on the island. Blue water, blue sky, white sand, an acai stall, a guy selling soft drinks and ruffles (crinkle cut potato chips, yum) and a couple of little taxi boats ready to take those who decided they had walked far enough back to Abraão.
We hustled on. After a water break of course.
The next “hill” was not as demanding as the first, but it was still hard and close to horrible considering how f@#$ing hot it was.
The next beach was Praia dos Mangues. Again beautiful, as all the beaches are however still not Lopes Mendes.
Again we continued.
Finally we arrived at Lopes Mendes. In less than 1.5 hours. It was indeed beautiful, and had much less people comparatively to the other beaches on the island. We set up camp, dropped our things and got straight into the water.
We ate our stolen bread rolls with tomato and relaxed reading our books. After a couple of hours, multiple swims and a little sunburn we headed back.
Rach and myself caught the taxi back from Praia dos Mangues. For only R$15 it seemed like a bargain. Sean however decided he would run back. Righto.
The taxi boat back was relaxing and much easier than the hike over. That being said, it was a good walk and I’m glad we did it. I’m also glad it didn’t take us 3 hours.
Once back in Vila do Abraão we checked Sean had made it back and was alive, each had showers, rested and then fetched some dinner. It had been a big day.
On the first day of our Ilha Grande adventure whilst sitting at breakfast on the deck of our hostel… (amazing location) we were approached by a couple of people working for a boat tour company, Jeronimo Tours.
We listened to the spiel expecting it to be like every other boat tour company in Vila do Abraão. (I never counted the number of boat companies, however there had to be at least 150, which is heaps considering the village’s population is only 3000). However, this one was different!
Jeronimo Tours was run on a small boat, took only 20 tourists MAX, visited DIFFERENT locations to the other boats, or at least the best same locations at different times to the other companies (meaning we would have the places to ourselves) and included a massive BBQ lunch and a couple of cheeky bevvies. All this taking roughly 9 hours for R$120, roughly $55AUD. We were sold.
We packed our things, woke Sammy up (as always) and headed for the meeting point on the beach (under the big tree…..). There were multiple big trees all along the beach, but nonetheless we found it. We were taken out to Jeronimo’s boat via a smaller dingy, set ourselves up on the bow and got ready for an exciting day ahead.
Jeronimo turned out to be a real person! He was an Argentinian who moved to Ilha Grande almost 20 years ago, so he knows the island and all of its nooks and crannies incredibly well, he was also one of the original tours.
All of Jeronimo’s crew were incredibly helpful and friendly, including his shaggy 4 legged crew member Pepa. Especially helpful to us was a guy called Joaquin, from Argentina also. He spoke great english and resultantly was our lifeline to what was going on at each stop etc. He was also really interested in the island and it’s history which really showed when he would tell us facts and information about the sites we were visiting and the island itself.
Ilha grande has a really interesting history involving slaves, pirates, political prisoners and gangs. Again, I don’t think we can do the story justice (so here is a link)
The day included 3 separate swimming/snorkelling/kayaking stops.
The first of which was Monkey Island. It was a deserted beach (that none of the other companies were allowed to visit) with a single house inhabited by an old woman who was there to sell soft drinks and water if we wanted.
On the island Jeronimo and his crew supplied snorkels, kayaks and a large 5 person hawaiian outrigger canoe.
We stayed here for roughly 3 - 4 hours swimming, snorkelling, kayinging, sun baking and getting incredibly full on the insane lunch they provided.
The next stop was Lagoa Azul (The blue lagoon). We visited this around 4pm which was perfect as we had it to ourselves! Throughout the day we had seen heaps of other tour boats visit and all sit together at this tiny location. There was upwards of 15 boats visiting the same site at the same time!
The last stop was Bananal Beach. Here we had a swim and then went for a walk up to the Islands oldest church, and oldest Imperial Palm (which was huge!). Both of which were built/planted in 1834. Joaquin gave us all some information on the site and again, more on the islands history.
From the church site we walked down to another beach and were picked up by Jeonimo and the crew.
On the way back to Abraão we were given a couple of drinks. A caipirina made from the famed 51 (the sugar cane liquor that had contributed to a few of our hangovers thus far) and a mix of juice and 51.
The day was amazing and the weather could not have been better. We would DEFINITELY recommend this company.
Thank you Jeronimo, Joaquin and the crew!
Onwards to Ilha Grande!
We arrived at Ilha Grande after a 6 hour trip by EASY transfers…
Interesting name considering the trip was meant to be a 2 hour van ride and a 1 hour boat trip however as we were picked up from our hostel first we were driven around Rio for 2 hours whilst other passengers were picked up….
The trip cost us R$80 each and you can DEFINITELY do it cheaper by yourself however the transfer was the right choice for us, seeing as Sean was out sambaing until 6 am the night before.
The boat dropped us on a dock right at our hostel, Che Lagarto (another plus of the transfer).
Che Lagarto was located right on the water and although the rooms were kinda small again the view was totally worth it. Plus it was a super easy walk to all the main shops and restaurants in the main village, Abraão.
That afternoon we found a self service kilograma and ate a delicious meal before having a little explore around the main village, Abraão.
Hopefully the weather is good over the next few days as theres heaps of beaches and treks we’d like to check out.
Rio de Janeiro... Take 2
On our second trip back to Rio we decided to get off the beach and see a little more of what Brazil has to offer. We stayed in Lapa, known for it's famous friday night street parties.
We stayed at Books hostel which was technically "Santa Teresa" however right across the road was Lapa. From here we could get buses super easily everywhere. Books was a really fun hostel with 2 for 1 caipirinhas every night from 730 and beer pong on Fridays.
We arrived on Thursday after a 4 hour bus from Arraial, grabbed dinner and went to bed. Nothing thrilling by any means.
Friday we awoke to a B E A utiful day. We decided to catch the bus to Copacabana as we hadn't been there yet and apparently you can't go to Rio without visiting it just once.... Well it was alright but personally I preferred Ipanema over Copa and all the beaches north over those 2 by a long way.
That night we headed to Sugarloaf to catch the sunset.
It was amazing! Well the sunset wasn't as there were a couple of cheeky clouds covering the horizon but seeing the city at night all lit up was incredible!
That night we headed back to our hostel for drinks before going to the Lapa street party at 1230ish.
The party was underneath the Lapa arches and was full of locals, tourists and garage parties. After a shot of "tequila" (more likely vodka and cachca) off a street vendor Rach decided it was time to go home, I happily complied and went with her. We were home around 2... Rach and Sammy both fell asleep on the floor of our hostel room that night, at separate times. I think that sums up the extent of our night.
The next day everyone was feeling a little dusty, so our big activity was heading to the Lapa Steps. Which were beautiful! We took all the standard tourist photos and headed back to the hostel for an afternoon nap.
The next 2 days consisted of wandering the streets of Lapa, the local fruit and veg market and of course many meals with rice and beans.
On the last night we went to a local Samba club with some people from our hostel. Sean wandered into the hostel around 6am and was miraculously ready to leave by 9 for a 6 hour journey to Ilha Grande.
I cannot wait to be back near the beach.
More photos to come, the internet f*#@ing stinks here.
Keepin' it Real in Arraial...
From Buzios we headed South for roughly an hour on a public bus. We arrived at Arraial do Cabo and found our apartment, ON. THE. BEACH.
Arraial’s beaches were beautiful. White sand, blue sky, aqua water and plenty of acai stalls.
Again like Buzios, whilst in Arraial we didn’t do much besides lay in the sun and explore. No complaints here.
Next stop, back to Rio!
Gettin' not so Busy in Buzios
We left Rio and headed north to Amacão dos Buzios, or simply Buzios. We caught a 1001 bus, it took 2.5 hours and cost $44.00 Reals (around $20AUD). The trip was comfortable as thus far all the buses in South America are MUCH more comfortable than any planes I’ve ever been on. Once we arrived we found our hostel and got settled.
We were staying at Lagoon Backpackers, and as the name suggests it was situated right on a lagoon, well across the road from one. We had booked a 6 bed dorm but as none else was there we had it to ourselves.
The hostel was walking distance from a central strip of shops and multiple beaches. We spent most of our time at Geriba Beach and eating at pay per kilogram restaurants (these were AWESOME and so so cheap).
We stayed 4 days in Buzios and during this time didn’t do much other than lay in the sun, read and just generally explore the town.
On Friday night we decided to play some drinking games with a deck of cards and a bottle of cachaca. We made a local cocktail the hostel owner showed us.
And thats it.
Us girls finished up early whilst Sean stayed on until he was alone at 2am, needless to say he'd had better days than Saturday.
All in all it was a very nice and mostly relaxing 4 days, next stop Arraial do Cabo.
Christ the Redeemer
Monday we went to one of Rio's biggest tourist attractions - Christ The Redeemer.
We hadn't initially planned to go today due to weather forecasts of cloud and/or rain and after our last mishap at the view point we were happy to postpone this trip until we got a clear day. But after an hour or so of hanging out at the beach in the morning without a cloud in sight, we decided to jump on a bus and head to "Corcovado".
The public bus itself was easy enough, about 3 Reals per person from near our hostel in Ipanema and it dropped us right at the foot of the hill, across the road from the tourist centre. It was pretty easy to spot, with a train station and plenty of gift stores swarming with tourists. From here we paid a "collectivo" or minivan company 25 Reals each and were ferried up towards what we thought was going to be the top of the hill and the statue. This drive took about 10 minutes and was relatively pain free. It was when we got out that the fun started.
We got chucked out of the van into a sea of people with some very broken english/spanish instructions about where to go and what to do. We eventually worked out that we had to que up to get a ticket to the national park that the statue is located in, and then line up again to actually enter the park. We semi hacked the system, with the girls waiting in the line for the tickets whilst sammy and myself lined up in the park entry one. This was the beginning of a 3 hour ordeal of waiting in ques in the 35 degree heat despite all of our best efforts to beat the system. I had initially wanted to walk up the hill from the bus stop at the very bottom and had been talked out of it by the other three much to my annoyance. After learning the walk would have involved 2 hours of solid uphill slog in the 35 degree heat, only then to also have to wait in line for 3 hours with no food nearby I would have happily held my tongue and jumped at the easy option.
Eventually after all the lines and heat, we got to the foot of the statue sunburnt and hangry and saw what all the hype was about. The statue wasn't as tall as I had imagined, but the view from the hill at the big man's feet was absolutely amazing. Corcovado stands smack above the centre of the city, towering over everyone and offers easily the best view in town. I can't even begin to describe how good it was, despite the huge amount of people there. We spent a good hour at the top snapping the typical cheesy tourist shots, asking people in terrible broken portugenglish to take photos with our camera, helping them out with their own, and just generally soaking in Rio from above before deciding to head back down. The way down was much easier with less people and hence much less waiting time.
I have to note here that apparently the crowds we experienced at Corcovado was abnormally huge. Obviously it is one of the biggest tourist attractions in town, but we visited in the busiest time of the year and found out later that 2 or 3 huge cruise liners had arrived that morning and had dispersed their floating populations straight up Corcovado around the time we had chosen to travel there. That compiled with the first sunny day in a while, it was bound to be busy. However, although the lines were like pulling teeth for our impatient little crew, it is still something I would recommend everyone makes the time to do if they ever get to go to Rio de Janeiro.
The next day we spent at the beach, cruising around downtown and spending time speaking to what seemed to be every single citibank employee on both sides of the Pacific (but I won't bore you all with those details).
Next stop - Armação dos Búzios
When My Baby Smiles At Me....
After stumbling off our plane exhausted, hungover and not speaking a word of Portuguese we arrived in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
We got our transfer from the airport to the hostel and stumbled into the lobby. We were given keys and a coupon for a free caipirinha (a Brazilian cocktail, not today thanks) and we walked up to our dorm.
Our dorm consisted of 5 bunks (for 10 people) and a tiny bathroom, it was hot and there was very little room for us let alone our bags. This being said, this is what you get when you pay $16AUD for a bed in Ipanema.
We went for a cruise down to the beach and had a much longer swim than we did in chile as the water was closer to 20 degrees than 10. We got some food and had an early night.
The next day everyone was feeling MUCH better. We got some information from the staff at the hostel and decided to embark on a walk/trek up to a view point - Vista Chinesa (or Chinese View).
The walk was really nice, but was far from the easiest thing we’ve done. It was about a 20km return trip, looping around part of the big lagoon in central Rio and then heading 4km up a really steep winding road through the forest on the side of one of Rio’s many small mountains. The side of the road was lined with a fairly constant stream of cyclists slogging it up the hill and flying back down the other side.
We finally made it to the view point at the top to be greeted by some thick cloud making it nearly impossible to see out over the city, seriously wrecking our photo opportunities. Lucky the walk was nice!
We cruised back to the hostel, stocked up on some lunch and had a quick dip at the beach before getting ready for the big event of the day. A pilgrimage to Brazil’s largest shrine of their national religion, FOOTBALL!!
We got picked up at the hostel with some other people by a local tour operator and headed straight to the Maracana, to go watch Fluminese play Corinthians. We were led in by our guides with a herd of other gringos towards our seats amongst the home teams supporters, Fluminese.
The Maracana is a serious stadium, probably not as big as the MCG but still impressive. What was more impressive though was the atmosphere and noise the 16000 odd supporters managed to make in this huge cavern. The stadium didn’t look more than 30% full, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard a crowd that loud at any Australian sporting event. It was that impressive that I swear half of the gringos sitting near us didn’t even watch the game and spent the whole time crowd watching.
Corinthinans opened the scoring early, but ended up going down 5-2 in a hugely exciting game, much to the delight and surprise of the underdog Fluminese fans surrounding us.
We left the stadium with the big group and got split up back onto the mini buses that took us straight back to the hostel for some dinner. The football day out cost us 120 Reals, a serious mark up when we worked out the tickets only cost 15 reals at the gate. We thought it was worth it though, when the transport to/from the game, and the guide who got us into and out of our seats safely was all included. Especially when we don’t speak a word of Portuguese, we all had cameras with us and the stadium was on the other side of town. #noregrets
An Aussie who loves travelling, hiking, trail running and pretty much any activity you can do outdoors.