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BRAZIL

Trip report: Rio the Janeiro, Iguacu Falls, tropical islands and more amazing stuff
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BRAZIL: PHOTOS AND TRIP REPORT

Here below some of the most fascinating photos from Brazil. Together with the photogallery, you will find a funny and interesting trip report full of info and anecdotes describing the whole travel itinerary. If you haven't read them yet, check out all travel info and precise itinerary here: www.wildtrips.net/brazil.htm.

Rio de Janeiro, Corcovado
Rio de Janeiro, Corcovado - View on the city from the Christ the Redeemer statue

BRAZIL TRIP REPORT

South America had been a dream destination for us for a long time: we had often postponed the trip because of high costs or difficulties of organization. Finally we took a flight to Rio de Janeiro, in August some years ago. Immediately we took a cheap bus to the city center, which turned out to be quite chaotic in the suburbs. The intense traffic passed among ugly buildings, shacks and slums. The city center was just as busy, but in much better conditions.
It was still early morning when we arrived at our hostel, the Ipanema Beach Hostel, which I recommend. Rio si huge, Ipanema was a nice neighborhood where to stay, well connected by public transports, safe enough and convenient to the beaches. The most important thing, however, was the spectacular nature of the place... Brazil!
Rio Ipanema
Rio de Janeiro, Ipanema - A long, long beach. A rich quarter, but the favelas are very close.
The beautiful promenade with Brazilians engaged in all beach sports, the fascinating and peculiar green mountains known as "Pan" scattered around the city, the buildings and favelas that clambered over the hills. A typical itinerary in Rio includes a walk along the sea and from Ipanema we got up to Copacabana with its spectacular arch of beach almost 5 km long. The sea was not so inviting - it's still the ocean - and only surfers were in the water.
Rio Arpoador
Rio de Janeiro, Arpoador - A peninsula, and a beautiful viewpoint, between Copacabana and Ipanema. Surfing is one of the many sports that can be practised at these beaches.
The beach, however, was so lively that our various doubts about the dangers of Rio de Janeiro dispelled immediately. Yes, as we had read there could be the occasional mugging, who knows maybe even violent, but on those walks on the sea there were continuously thousands of people. Statistic was on our side.
On the beach we could see the palm trees, the street vendors, the bars, the sandcastles, the beach volleyball players of both sexes. There were 28 degrees - they really face a hard winter, in Rio de Janeiro - so we drank coconut water.
Rio Copacabana
Rio de Janeiro, Copacabana - The lively Copacabana beach is full of bars, souvenir sellers and sand-sculpting artists.
It was almost lunchtime when we arrived at the end of Copacabana Beach. Here we stopped a taxi that took us to the Pao de Acucar (you can add the proper accents and cedillas if you want), the famous Sugar Loaf reachable by cable car (another must in any travel itinerary).
Under the Sugar Loaf there is the beautiful Playa Vermelha, where we took some photos. From there we saw some mountaineers climb the Pao de Azucar: awesome! We returned to Ipanema. The hostel was nice, with the chance to meet people, ask questions and recommendations and organize trips. So we booked, for the next day, a minibus and boat to the tropical island of Ilha Grande.

For our first carioca evening we were invited for dinner at a Brazilian girl who was our acquaintance. So we learned several interesting facts about the life of Rio, from the crazy rental price of the her apartment (of 70 square meters), which was 1000 euros per month. By night, even if we were three bearded men, we didn't bring with us anything of value, following the advice of Lonely Planet, but on the buses we noticed sweet unaccompanied damsels playing with their iPhones.
The next day the sun returned, and it didn't leave us until the end of the holiday . In the morning we walked along the Lagoa (A lagoon behind Ipanema and Leblon). Even here - in a particularly rich area of the city - the Brazilians practiced every kind of sport. At 11 AM we left for Ilha Grande. After crossing the dirty concrete outskirts of Rio, we reached the Costa Verde along which runs the scenic road from Rio to San Paulo. We had lunch in a service area with a kilo buffet: there you could fill the plate of everything you wanted, and then you paid according to the weight of the content. 800 grams (I was hungry) of meats, salads, snacks and savory and mysterious pies costed 4 euros. I was very satisfied. We arrived in Mangaritiba, a seaside village with a beautiful beach.
Costa Verde
Costa Verde - Along the road from Rio de Janeiro to Sao Paulo, there are some beautiful stretches of coast. This is Mangaritiba, where you can get a shaky boat to Ilha Grande.
At Mangaritiba we took a boat to Ilha Grande. It was a shaky ferry. We arrived on the island, in Vila Abrao, and we looked for accommodation. Hostels were full but we found a guesthouse. The nice thing was that Vila Abrao, the only small town of Ilha Grande, had no cars: the promenade, where you could find most hotels and restaurants, was simply the beach. For long stretches there wasn't even the sidewalk: you left the hotel and you immediately put your feet on the sand. Also in the rest of the island there were paths, and not roads: you could trek around the island in a week.
Abraao, Ilha Grande
Abraao, Ilha Grande - A lush tropical island... and a small Paradise. Abraao is the largest village in the island. There are no motor-vehicles and the seaside promenade is actually a beach.
The small bars on the beach were beautiful, but the nightlife was quiet, more suitable to couples. The next morning we took a speedboat trip that took us in different beaches of Ilha Grande. There were white sand, palm trees and mountains covered with rain forest. We did some snorkeling with thousands of colorful fish, starfish and other wonders.
Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande
Fish Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande Fish - Few people, but lots of fish, inhabit Ilha Grande.
The following day we ventured to walk along the paths of Ilha Grande.
Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande
Among beautiful views and creeks and birds and monkeys, you could spend weeks wandering to the island.
Monkey
Ilha Grande Monkey
Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande
After admiring several wonderful bays, we reached the beach of Lopes Mendes, which has the reputation of being one of the most beautiful in Brazil.
Ilha Grande Beach
Ilha Grande Beach
Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande
Lopes Mendes
Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande - This is well-known as one of the most beautiful beaches of the world.
Ilha Grande
Ilha Grande
Lopes Mendes
Lopes Mendes, Ilha Grande - This is a good spot for surfing.
We surfed a bit before returning by boat to Vila Abrao where we had dinner with a kilo buffet.
Crab
A crab on a beach of Ilha Grande
The next morning, quite soon, for a ridiculously low price we took the public boat to Angra Dos Reis, a city on the continent not far from Mangaritiba. From there, we mounted on a bus to Sao Paulo and we got off at Paraty, the cultural destination of our travel itinerary.
The coastline between Rio and Sao Paulo deserves lots of breaks between the hundreds of bays, beaches and islands. The peculiarity of Paraty is that it's a colonial town with a beautiful old center made of stone streets and white houses with colored doors.
Paraty
Paraty - An old colonial town on the sea, surrounded by green hills and cachaca (the caipirinha liquor) plantations.
After having left our luggage at Che Lagarto hostel (booked when we were in Ilha Grande) we discovered the attractive town, following the downtown streets up to the ocean, which, in Paraty, forms a lagoon, enclosed by some islands.
Paraty
Paraty
We had fish for dinner and we slept in the nice hostel.
The day after we attended a guided tour by jeep, organized in the hostel, to visit the hinterland of Paraty, between crops, patches of jungle and waterfalls. Apart from the distillery of cachaca (the alcoholic used for caipirinha) and a good kilo lunch, the funniest part of the trip was to play in the waterfalls in the forest.
Paraty Jungle
Paraty Jungle
We dove, we swam, we glided down natural rock slides, we jumped into the streams using vines.
Paraty Slide
Paraty Slide - Many funny games can be played at Paraty waterfalls. This one doesn't hurt as much as it looks.
Paraty Jungle
Paraty Jungle
In the evening Paraty was home to the Festival of cachaca (pronounced "cachassa"), with live music.
Paraty
Paraty
After a brief walk in Paraty, we had a long trip to Sao Paulo and from there, by plane, we were going to Foz de Iguacu.
By night, we landed in Foz de Iguacu, where a van with a driver took us to our accomodation. This Rouver hotel was quite cheap and in a good location for transport and restaurants.
The day after we took the bus to get to Puerto Iguazu (in Argentina) and from here to the famous waterfalls.
Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls - Then you go to Iguacu Falls and any other waterfall loses a bit of its appeal.
The Argentine side of this natural wonder offers many paths to admire the river and the power of the water from different amazing viewpoints. Also the fauna in the park had its charm: we noticed turtles, catfish, coati, parrots and colorful butterflies.
Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls - Arguably the most beautiful waterfalls in the world, as seen from the Argentinian side, with lots of paths that lead to the viewpoints.
In the late afternoon we returned to the hotel by bus. We had dinner in a restaurant near the hotel with a churrasco. In the morning by bus we went to the Brazilian side of Iguaçu waterfalls. Here we left our luggage in some locked cabinets, so we were able to walk free in the park.
Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls - The view from the Brazilian side is really impressive. There are less trails, but the views are staggering.
The visit to the Brazilian side is much shorter since only one path covers the rim of the canyon where the waterfalls... fall. However, it should definitely be a part of a travel itinerary in Brazil and it is worth all the 20 euros of entrance, not only because the views are different than on the Argentine side, but mainly because the belvedere that concludes the path is something incredible.
Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls
Iguacu Falls - From a butterfly point of view.
Other activities were the boat trip to the feet of the waterfalls, and the flight over the Iguacu by helicopter, for the ok price of 90 euros each. After half an hour of wait we took off. We admired the jungle and the bends of the Iguacu river, and we saw the most beautiful waterfalls in the world flowing into the horseshoe-shaped canyon.
Iguacu Falls Helicopter
Iguacu Falls by Helicopter - A helicopter ride over the Iguacu Falls is a once in a lifetime experience.
After the helicopter flight we got to Paraguay, then back to Brazil, where we took the bus to the airport, which is very close to the Iguacu waterfalls. We landed at Rio de Janeiro at sunset and we returned to the Ipanema Beach Hostel.
The day after we visited the Corcovado, the 710-meter high mountain in the middle of Rio de Janeiro on top of which stands the famous statue of Christ the Redeemer. The queue for the funicular that climbed Corcovado was rather long, but it was worth it because the view was awesome... a must-visit for any travel itinerary. Then we played beach tennis on the beach of Ipanema.
In the evening, we took a bus towards the city center and, in particular, towards the neighborhood of Lapa, which is famous for its bars and schools of Samba. In the streets there were a lot of people, bars, live music, street artists. The next morning we had just enough time for one last walk in Ipanema and a photo of the fascinating Botafogo beach, before returning to the Airport (skirting the favelas) and then in Italy.
So, our travel itinerary ended drinking white wine on an Air France flight, to sooth our sadness for the end of a great trip!
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