We’ve just taken off on a flight out of Rio, on our way to Brasilia, with fabulous views over Sugarloaf and the many bays and islands of the city. It’s exactly 4 weeks since we arrived in Rio and began our family gap year! The time has flown!
We didn’t expect to stay in Rio de Janeiro state for a month. To be truthful, (and to the horror of many of our friends) we didn’t have much planned for Brazil at all
and two days before we left our friend Jo eventually sat me down with iPad and G&T and set me in the direction of holiday-rentals which found us a great apartment for our first week in Rio … with a great last minute discount too – thanks Jo.. The site also led us to our Ilha Grande beach house 🙂
Anyway, armed with our Lonely Planet Brazil book and with WiFi (painfully slow most of the time) in most places, it has been good to take our time to relax, unwind and at the same time figure out where we’re going and how we’ll get there!
We spent almost two weeks on beautiful Ilha Grande. It’s a truly gorgeous unspoilt gem two hours south from Rio with many lovely bays, gentle blue waters backed by virgin rainforest.
We had planned to stay a week after finding a fabulous beach house to rent called Casa do Canto. A lovely former fisherman’s cottage right on the beach, beautifully converted by its architect owners into a spacious, cool, living space and with breathtaking views. We were SO lucky to find it 🙂
A week flew by and simply wasn’t enough so we extended our stay by almost another week, a few more days in the beach house and a few days in Pousada Cauca – a small friendly guesthouse set back from the beach in a tropical garden with a little plunge pool and waterfall that the kids thought was fab!
We went by boat one day to one of the island’s most beautiful bays, Praia Lopez Mendez. Fabinho, who’d met us and brought us to our beachhouse from the pier when we arrived, took us by boat to Pouzo beach from where we walked a 20 minute trail over the hill and through forest where we spotted small monkeys to Lopes Mendes, a 2km long, fabulous wide white sandy bay, backed by rainforest and edged by great climbing boulders, said by many to be the most beautiful in Brazil.
We enjoyed splashing and wave jumping in the shallower waters and watching surfers further out. We built sandcastles in the perfect sand, the boys went rock climbing and Ben and I both ran the length of the beach and back barefoot, a bit heavy going on the ankles but pretty exhilarating – it inspired me to start running along the beach at Abraao, the main bay in the mornings after that to pick up our fresh bread for breakfast!
Ben had an amazing time steering the boat and both he and Zoe tried catching fish on the way back to Abraao – not lucky this time but Ben is keen to do some more fishing and see if he can catch our supper!
We watched the opening of the Olympics and felt a little homesick – we’re enjoying watching snippets of it when we get the chance and the children have been creating their own olympic events running, swimming, gymnastics, shot put and other events on the beach when they can!!
We sailed back to the mainland on the public ferry – R$ 7 each and under 5s free compared to R$ 40 each for the tourist catamaran which is 45 minutes instead of 90!
Its not hard to set Ilha Grande as first benchmark for top paradises visited! But then we headed south again to the lovely old colonial town called Paraty which is also beautiful!
Highlights included an idyllic schooner trip to nearby islands to swim and snorkel, a jeep trip inland to some beautiful waterfalls where all the kids bravely tackled a huge rock slide into chilly pools below. Not to mention traipsing around the pretty cobbled streets of the old town and eating at a super Thai restaurant run by a German ex pat…. but more on Paraty in another post.
Back to Rio yesterday, a comfy four hour bus ride and just time to treat ourselves to great sushi in Copacapana for supper that we’d missed the first time around. Ben and Zoe we’re super adventurous , Lara ate a bowl of rice and a couple of pieces of salmon before curling up in her chair and falling asleep – she is becoming expert at this!!!
On our map of Brazil it looks like we’ve covered about half a centimeter – its like I remember travelling in Australia – a day on the road and you’ve barely moved on the map but now we’re flying a couple of legs or more, we plan to be in Belem at the mouth of the Amazon in less than two weeks.