Chapada dos Guimarães: Hiking the highlands of Mato Grosso

Chapada dos Guimarães

Chapada dos Guimarães

Chapada dos Guimarães is located roughly 100 km northeast of Cuiabá, the state capital of Mato Grosso. These highlands of Brazil invite you to hike in the endless landscapes and bath under refreshing waterfalls. Once you reach Cuiabá the easiest way to reach Chapada dos Guimarães is by renting a car or contracting a private transfer. The road is in pretty good conditions and a second lane is currently under construction, making it pretty easy to reach the city of Chapada dos Guimarães. The city itself is pretty small, though the area of the National Park is raither extend and has several attractions, including waterfalls, caves, canyons, rivers and lagoons.

When planning a trip try to avoid  the first few months of the year, when the rainstorms tend to be heavier. Due to the location up in the highlands the winters (June-August) tend to be colder and the night time temperature may dropp close to zero degrees, something that may prevent you from enjoying a bath under the waterfalls. Therefore some of the very best moments to visit Chapada dos Guimarães are the months of May, September, October and November.

Veú de Noiva Waterfall

Veú de Noiva Waterfall

Get accommodated in the heart of the village and fill your days with excursions. One of the principal tours takes you to the numerous waterfalls of the national park, allowing you to have a refreshing bath under them. This full day excursion will also introduce you to the endless landscapes and rich vegetation of Chapada dos Guimarães National Park.  The tour includes also a visit to Veú de Noiva, the highest waterfall of the region with a breathtaking viewpoint next to it. Another interesting day trip takes you to the valley of Rio Claro surrounded by huge canyon walls. You will have a chance to admire the green landscapes of the valley, bath in the Rio Claro river and observe the sign language of indigenous tribes in the rocks.

Rio Claro Valley

Rio Claro Valley

Beside of these two principal tours organized in the national park, you will find a number of other attractions such as the waterfall of Martinha, located about 40km outside of the city. This waterfall is a popular bathing place among the locals, especially during the weekends. On your way back to town stop at the viewpoint and admire a spectacular sunset from the top of it. Chapada dos Guimarães is also a popular destination for adventure tourism. If you are into trekking, challenge yourself with the trail of São Jerónimo. Wonderful views from the top of it (836m) make it worth hiking. In Chapada dos Guimarães you will also have a chance to practise rappeling under a waterfall or light hiking for example in so called dinosaurus valley known for its’ strange rock formations.

Andorinha waterfall

Andorinha waterfall

At the moment there are few attractions that are closed due to either political reasons or lack of security. Among them are some of the principal sights of Chapada dos Guimarães like Cidade de Pedra (city of the rocks), the canyon of Paredão do Eco, cave of Aroe Jari and the Blue Lagoon (Lagoa Azul). When you travel to Chapada dos Guimarães check out the latest updates conserning these sights and set up of visit if possible, as the views from both Paredão do Eco and Cidade de Pedra are one in kind, while the cave and the lagoon are also certainly worth visiting.

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Villa Guimarães – An outstanding tourist class pousada in the heart of the city. Spacious rooms, excellent buffet breakfast and hospitable owners. Great value for money!
  • Pousada Solar do Ingles – A lovely pousada surrounded by tropical gardens and decorated with the traditional English style. A great choice for a traveller looking for cozy, but stylish accommodation with number of details.
  • Restaurant Peixaria do Nelsinho – A fish restaurant with long traditions, remember to taste the smoked fish, the speciality of the house.
  • Restaurant Som da Oca – A simple restaurant in the city center with tasty food  and great value for money.
  • Restaurant Bistrô da Mata – A sophisticated restaurant in the middle of the nature with great views. An excellent place to enjoy both the atmospheare and the dinner.
Paredão do Eco

Paredão do Eco

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Eco-tourism and desert beaches at Ilha de Marajó, Pará

On the way to Ilha do Marajó

On the way to Ilha do Marajó

Ilha de Marajó is in fact a huge group of island slocated in the coast of Pará, not far away from state capital Belem. Marajó is a temptating mixture of eco-tourism and beaches. Thanks to the fact of being a very big and wide area there is plenty of space for everybody and you will rarely feel like being in a growded tourism destination. The access to Ilha de Marajó is done from Belem with daily ferry connections, generally departing very early in the morning and in the afternoon (check daily schedules). Reaching Marajó takes about 3-3½ hours depending on the winds and yes you will be crossing the river, not a sea, even if it may not look like it. An another, quicker option to reach Marajó is to take a catamaran, which also operates on daily basis excluding Wednesdays. A catamaran trip takes aproximately 2 hours. If you have flexibility with schedules, opt for the early morning departures both ways, even if you had to wake up before the sunrise. Later on the afternoon the winds tend to be stronger and a heavily swinging boat is not something rare at all.

Water buffalo eating

Water buffalo eating

The ferry boats arrive to the port of Camará from where you have to take a transfer (bus, van or taxi) to your final destination. Where to stay then? Most of the tourists stay either in Souré or in Salvaterra, which of these two is better then? The answer is simple, make sure that you will stay in the side of Souré where all the principal tourist attractions and the best accommodation options of the island are located. Salvaterra and Souré are separated by a river, just like all the other islands of the group. Crossing the river is easy as a motorized boat takes you to the other side of the river at any time needed and with a nominal cost.

Tropical birds

Tropical birds

The speciality of Ilha de Marajó are the water buffalos that long time ago where transported from Africa and adapted easily in the climate starting to reproduce on the island. Don’t forget to visit one of the “fazendas” (farms, like Fazenda São Jerónimo, Fazenda Sanjo, Fazenda Araruna or Fazenda Bom Jesus) of the island, which are excellent points to observe wildlife, especially birds and taking boat excursions along the narrow rivers/streams surrounded by mangrove vegetation. Most of the fazendas also offer options for light trekking and horseback riding, if you are an adventure minded traveller you can also try out riding a buffalo. A visit to Marajó takes you very close to the nature, as it’s present basically anywhere you go and luckily until now the human life has not destroyed this fantastic eco-system.

Praia do Pesquiero

Praia do Pesquiero

If you want to enjoy the wide beaches of Ilha do Marajó try to place you travel between July and December, this is the dry and hot season on the island and naturally also the best time to enjoy these marvellous beaches of freshwater. The most popular beaches are Praia do Pesquiero and Barra Velha, both of them located in the island of Souré. Praia do Pesquiero is a 3 km long beach, where a number of natural swimming pools can be found during the tide water. Barra Velha is minor, but it definitely is hard to say which of these two is more picturesque,  it’s all up to your personal taste. What makes Barra Velha attracting is the mixture of  magrove trees, streams and the tide water that forms a sort of sand island in the middle of the river. Both of these beaches are located further away from the heart of the village so that you will need to take some sort of transportation (taxi, mototaxi, bicycle) to reach them. Mototaxi is probably the simplest way to get moved from one place to another while you stay in Marajó. On your way to Barra Velha, you will cross a place called “Landing field of Guarás”, where a large number of these beautiful red birds, “Guarás”, can be seen. Like most of the brazilian beaches both these also have rustic beaches bars serving ice-cold drinks, snacks and meals, so that you can easily spend an entire day enjoying the sun, the tranquility and the smooth waves of the river.

Praia do Joanes

Praia do Joanes

Barra Velha

Barra Velha

Beside of these two most popular beaches, a distant beach of Praia do Araruna, wellknown of its’ extend mangrove vegetation is located at the side of Souré, but can only be reached via fluvial access. On the side of Salvaterra the most interesting beach is Praia de Joanes, located in the village of Joanes. This is where the old ruins, first signs of inhabitations on the island can be found as well. Compared to the beaches of Souré, Joanes has generally stronger waves and more green vegetation. It’s worth visiting, even though on our opinion is not comparable to Praia do Pesquiero or Barra Velha.

As a conclusion we would like to point out that Marajó is worth visiting even if the access from Belem is long and tiring. Ilha do Marajó is a destination for an open minded traveller, who will not be disturbed even if the highest class and the widest option of services may not be available. When travelling to Ilha do Marajó the motive of your trip should be the nature, if so you will not be dissappointed, Marajó is still an authentic paradise on the earth!

Boats at the beachside

Boats at the beachside

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Casarão da Amazônia – A lovely colonial style pousada in the hearth of Souré with excellent price-quality relation. One of the best options to stay in, if not the best!
  • Pousada O Canto do Francês – A good quality rustic pousada just a step away from the center of Souré.

Peaceful life at Ilha do Algodoal, Pará

Arrival to Ilha do Algodoal

Arrival to Ilha do Algodoal

Ilha do Algodoal is a small island located in Pará, one of the northern states of Brazil. In general Pará is well-known as eco-tourism destination, but the fact that it also offers cultural attractions and irresistable beaches, makes it an interesting destination for international tourism. Ilha do Algodoal is a mixture of eco-tourism and beaches. It’s a destination of an open-minded traveller, who is looking for once in a life time experiences. As soon as you arrive to Ilha do Algodoal and get transfered to your pousada by horse wagons, you will notice that tiny island is completely lost in time. A good proof of this is the electricity that came to the island just few years ago, and as motorized traffic doesn’t make part of the island life, you can only imagine how far away the rythms of life in Algodoal is from the rush and run of any big or any medium sized city.

Village of Algodoal

Village of Algodoal

Reaching this paradise requieres a little bit work, but is definitely worth it. The best access to the island is from Maruda, a small town located about 160 km from the state capital Belem. You can reach Maruda by a regular bus, which takes about 4-5 hours or by minibus/van when the journey takes about 2½-3 hours. Naturally a minibus/van is more recommendable even if it turns out to be slightly more expensive than the regular bus. The third option is to hire a private transfer, which of course is the most comfortable way of travelling and the arrival time will be planned according the departure time of the boats to Ilha do Algodoal. Once you reach Maruda you still have to take a boat across the river. The ride takes about 30-40 minutes and the departure times vary depending on the weekday, being generally few departures during the morning and the early afternoon. Once the boat arrives to the island of Algodoal several horse wagons are waiting for to transport the passangers to their final destinations. A horse ride a fantastic way to get used to the relaxed and easygoing atmospheare of this lovely island.

Praia da Princesa

Praia da Princesa

Even if the state of Pará is not wellknown as a beach destination, the beach of Princesa was recently chosen among the ten most beautiful beaches of Brazil. During the low tide you can reach Princesa either by walk or by hiring a ride with one of the many horse wagons operating around the island. When the tide is rising a small river has to be crossed by a rowboat. Here the sea water gets mixed with the rivers and therefore you will hardly notice any salty taste at all.  The color of the water may not be as bright as in many other brazilian beaches, but what makes Praia da Princesa special is a combination of several facts. This wide and long beach is surrounded by dunes, lies in a complete peace and harmony with the nature and has one of the most neverending kind of horizons for a traveller to admire. The beach bars serving clients are all rustic and outside of the high season (January & July) or the public holidays the beach can be basically yours. Once the sun goes down Praia da Princesa shows the another side of its’ beauty, here the sunsets are something spectacular. Due to the location close to the Equatorial the horizon seems to have no end at all, and the blue moment before the night falls is something to be remembered.

Lagoa da Princesa

Lagoa da Princesa

What are the other attractions of Ilha do Algodoal appart of the Praia da Princesa beach? The lagoon of Princesa is located in the middle of  the dunes and surroundedn by tropical vegetation, just about 30 minutes walk (or a short wagon ride) away from the beach. It’s a lovely place to visit and you can also enjoy a refreshing bath in the lagoon before starting your hike back to the beach. An another attraction requiring a longer hike is the village of Fortalezinha, located at the other end of the island. To reach Fortalezinha, you have three options: hire a local guide and hike approximately during two hours, take a wagon ride (approximately 1 hour) or a boat ride (approximately 30-40 minutes). Hiking is the best option if you wish to enjoy the pureness of the nature with all your instincts, but in this case it’s recommendable to start the journey as early as possible before the heat of the sun is insupportable. When reaching Fortalezinha, you will most probably see many species of birds, including beautiful red Guarás, be able to bath in the natural swimming pools during the low tide and enjoy the beach before returning back to the main village of Algodoal.

Beach at sunset

Beach at sunset

If you choose Ilha do Algodoal as your destination be prepared with a mosquito spray as there are a large number of all kind of insects in the island. Also do not expect to find a large variety of night life. On the weekends live Carimbo (a local dance) is played at the restaurant La Dune, while Raiz do Mangue concentrates on Reggae music, but that’s basically it. Algodoal is a place where you will mostly listen the sounds of the nature and easily forget everything related with your daily routines. Welcome to Ilha do Algodoal, one of our favourite destinations!

Colorful flowers

Colorful flowers

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Marhesias – A small pousada with 4 chalets surrended by tropical vegetation. The best option on the island with quality installations, stylish details and personalized treatment.
  • Chalets do Atlantico – Pousada offereing standard chalet accommodation, suitable especially for families or small groups.
  • Restaurante La Dune – A simple restaurant at the center of the village offering tasty home made food.
  • Bar & Restaurante Argentino – A recommendable bar at the beach of Princesa.

Rio de Janeiro, Part II: One of the 7 wonders and other things to see and do.

Restaurants and bars:

Churrascaria Majórica –
Restaurant Arab –
Restaurante à Mineira –
Restaurante Espirito Santa –
Rio Scenariuam
Carioca da Gema

What to do and see in Rio de Janeiro? Anyone of us can probably name the three most popular sights of Rio, the world famous beaches of Copacabana and Ipanema, the statue of Christ the Redeemer and the Sugar Loaf mountain. These three must be visited by any tourist who comes to Rio.

Christ the Redeemer

Christ the Redeemer

There are two ways to reach the statue of Christ the Redeemer which was recently chosen among the 7 new wonders of the world. You can either take a taxi up to the hill or pick a small train from the Corcovado station that takes you up through the Atlantic rainforest area. If you are not in a hurry, we do recommend you to try this out, it’s a nice experience and worth it even if you may have to take a queue before boarding the train. Once you are up on the top you still have to ascend 220 steps (or take an elevator) to reach the feet of the statue. Together with the beauty of the statue you can enjoy stunning views over the city. For the best views, try to reach the top of the Corcovado hill during the morning, before the clouds come up. There is also a small chapel up on the feet of the Christ for those who want to get married and immortalize their love in this spectacular place.

View from Sugar Loaf Mountain

View from Sugar Loaf Mountain

Together with the Corcovado, the top of the Sugar Loaf mountain is one of the best places to enjoy breathtaking views over Rio de Janeiro. To reach the top you have to take two steps cable car from the neighborhood of Urca. In addition to the views you can also enjoy the trails surrounded by the tropical vegetation. Sugar Loaf Mountain and the smaller Urca mountain are also popular among mountain climber and together they create one of the largest urban climbing areas in the world.

Copacabana and Ipanema are the most well known and popular  beaches of Rio de Janeiro. These world famous beaches have been numbered according to life guard posts and serve as meeting points both for locals and for tourists. One of the most trendiest points, is the always crowded post number 9 located at Ipanema.  In addition to these two pearls, Rio de Janeiro has many other smaller or less famous beaches. Arpoador, which is especially in favour of surfers, is located in between of Copacabana and Ipanema. Less crowded Leblon on the other hand is the continuation of Ipanema. The beach of Flamengo is not suitable for swimming but offers one of the most beautiful beach views facing the Sugar Loaf Mountain and Niteroi.

Tram to Santa Teresa

Tram to Santa Teresa

Rio de Janeiro is a lot more than just world famous beaches and landmarks. We highly recommend you to visit the boheamian neighborhood Santa Teresa, located up hill close to the center of the city. There are two ways to get up, either by taxi or by one of the charming old style trams leaving from the feet of Arcos da Lapa, an old aquaduct and entrance to the neighborhood of Lapa. You may have to face a queue to take this pictoresque tram, but it will certainly be at least worth of one way trip. Get off at the square of Largo de Guimarães and wander around in the streets of Santa Teresa. You will find a lot small shops selling handmade items of local artist and small restaurants with delicious dishes. Walking in these streets, while the monkeys are jumping up and down in the trees and tucans hiding themselves behind the leaves, you will start  feeling like if you were in a smaller town and forget of being in a city of more than 6 million inhabitants.

When it comes to historical sights, don’t forget to visit the monastery of São Bento, church of Candelaria and the national museum of Fine Arts. Enjoy a cup of delicious brazilian coffee at the fort located in between Ipanema and Copacabana or walk through the tropical vegetation on the top of the Leme mountain to enjoy another spectacular view over the beaches. The botanic gardens of Rio de Janeiro are worth visiting as well. Jardim Botanico, as it’s called in portuguese is a huge park, where you will find parts decicated for oriental vegetation, others for the Amazon rainforest flora. Don’t miss out the orchid house either! If you enjoy football, pay a visit to the world’s largest stadium, Maracana. Assisting a local match is so much more than just a game, the stadium is full of passion when the Cariocas enjoy their favourite sports and there is no lack of emotion while the fans encourage their teams by singing.

Barra da Tijuca

Barra da Tijuca

A seeker of an active holiday will also find plenty of things to do in Rio de Janeiro. If you are into surfing try out the beaches of Barra da Tijuca and Recreo, they are just one hour away from the heart of the city and offer great waves for the lovers of surf. These beaches are also less crowded and for example a small beach of Prainha, surrounded by the mountains is an excellent place for a swim in beautiful settings. Big emotions and bird’s view over the city are guaranteed if you decide to try hang gliding at São Conrado neighborhood. You may not know, but the world’s biggest urban rainforest area is also located in Rio de Janeiro. Visiting the National Park of Tijuca, is an excellent way to escape from urban life and feel the touch of the nature. For the first time visitors, it’s recommendable to take a tour with a local guide in order to avoid getting lost. The light hikes through the tropical vegetation will take you to waterfalls and viewpoints with breathtaking views over the city.

Once the night falls, we recommend you to head to Lapa. The most trendy, slightly bohemian neighborhood full of bars and restaurants. This is were the Carioca’s go to enjoy a drink and live music. The easiest and the safest way to reach Lapa is by taxi. Don’t consider taking metro, even tough the nearest station is not that far away, at the night time walking through the empty streets of Centro may not be very wise idea. The buildings of Lapa has been refurbished respecting the old architecture, which turns it to be a culturally interesting place to visit as well. Once you reach Lapa you will see a lot of people on the streets, especially during the weekend. Just join them and start bar hopping until you find your favourite place. There are plenty of options for all tastes and budgets. Also check out our recommendations for night in Lapa (see below).

Check out our other blog post about Rio de Janeiro:

Our suggested itineraries in the state of Rio de Janeiro:

Carnaval of Rio

Carnival of Rio

Brazil Diversity recommends:

Restaurants, Bars & Shopping

  • Churrascaria PorcãoA famous Brazilian steakhouse with excellent choice of meats served right at your table. Serves also delicious side dishes and deserts. Try out Porcão located in Flamengo and enjoy stunning views of Sugar Loaf Mountain.
  • Churrascaria Majórica – A typical Brazilian steakhouse, where the quality of meat is highly appreciated. Located at the neighborhood of Flamengo and very growded especially in the weekends.
  • Restaurante Arab – Restaurante Arab serves tasty arab food and can be found both from Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas and from Copacabana. We recommend you to have a dinner at Arab of Lagoa Rodgrigo de Freitas where in the evenings you can enjoy live music and stunning views over the Lagoa.
  • Restaurante à Mineira – Located at Humaitá neighborhood. A buffet restaurant specialized at delicious dishes from Minas Gerais state.
  • Restaurante Espirito Santa – This small, but charming restaurant is located uphill at Santa Teresa and is very popular especially during weekends. Espirito Santa serves Brazilian flavours and has a small terrance with few tables for those who prefer their meal at fresh air.
  • Rio Sul – If you are into shopping check out the shopping center of Rio Sul, just a short step away from Copacabana. Here you will find a large number of both national and international brands.
  • Rio Scenariuam – One of the most interesting places to explore the nightlife of Rio. Rio Scenarium, located in Lapa,  is an like an antiquarian with a large number of old items being part of the decoration. It’s a show house, where you will enjoy traditional Brazilian music, samba and forró. Like in many Brazilian bars you will also have a possibility for dining in Rio Scenarium. During the weekends, try to arrive before 11pm. just to avoid long queues.
  • Carioca da Gema – One of the most tradional music houses of Lapa. Carioca da Gema is quite small, but the quality of the music, mainly traditional samba, and the atmospheare takes it to the top of the list when it comes to nightlife in Rio de Janeiro.

Rio de Janeiro, Part I: Where to stay and not to stay.

The Marvellous City of Rio de Janeiro

The Marvellous City of Rio de Janeiro

During the short existence of Brazil Diversitys blog we have noticed that many of our readers are looking for detailed information about travelling in Rio de Janeiro. Therefore we decided to come up with this topic as soon as possible, even if there are plenty of other attractive places to visit in Brazil and it’s hard to choose in between them. With no doubt Rio de Janeiro is a marvellous city and has some of the most beautiful views in the world. It’s also a city of  huge contrats and probably due to this travelling to Rio always brings up some questions such as the security. When I first stepped the ground of Rio de Janeiro, I do had to admit that there is something unique and very special in marvellous city. The beauty of the city and the life style of the Cariocas (=native Rio born) left me speechless and fullfilled all my expectations. And it’s was just a start for a long term relations with Rio de Janeiro. So let’s get started!

There are two airports in Rio de Janeiro,  the centrally located airport of Santos Dumont serves only domestic flights and about 25 kilometers from the city you will find the airport of Galeão, serving both international and domestic flights. The simplest way to get to your accommodation is to book an arranged transfer in before hand or take a taxi. The yellow taxis of Rio de Janeiro are everywhere and they are reasonably priced. As anywhere in the world the first time tourist arriving to the international airport has a danger to become cheated by the taxi drivers. All the taxis do have a taxi meter, but the driver may not speak your language, so if you are unable to communicate in portuguese we do recommend you to contract a taxi with fixed price. This is easy! Even before you step out from the airport’s international area you will find a number of ladies calling for you and offering taxi service. Take an advantage of this and book a taxi with fixed price to your destination. The price depends on the neighborhood you are going to.

Copacabana adn Sugar Loaf Mountain

Copacabana and Sugar Loaf Mountain

Now that you are in the city you will start circulating the in neighborhoods of Rio de Janeiro. The most well know ones are without any doubt Copacabana and Ipanema. They both give a name not just for the beach, but for the surrounding neighborhood as well. This is also where most of the hotels are concentrated. If you are looking for a beach front hotel with seaview, but are not ready to pay astronomic prices your choice will most probably be located at Copacabana. At this world famous beach you will find a large number of hotels in all categories. Many of them are located right on the beach boulevard Avenida Atlantica, but less pricy hotels can be found few blocks from the seaside. Ipanema on the other hand is one of the fanciest neighborhoods of the city and the beach front has mostly residential buildings. Some highly priced hotels enjoy direct sea view, but also here you will find some larger number of options few blocks away from the beach boulevard.

Centro

Centro

Other interesting neighborhoods, when it comes to tourism are Leblon, an another fancy and most residential neightborhood located right next to Ipanema. Flamengo is a residential neighborhood for local middle class with large number of good quality budget hotels and easy access (10min) by metro to Copacabana Santa Teresa, the bohemian up hill neighborhood of Rio de Janeiro with smaller boutique hotels and an excellent alternative choice thanks to its’ relaxed small town kind of atmospheare. The center of Rio de Janeiro is called “Centro” and it’s basically home for many offices and financial operations of the town. The hotel’s located in the center will not bring any special interest for an ordinary tourist, unless you are travelling on business. It’s recommendable to vist Centro and it’s attractions from Monday till Friday during the day time, when the numerous restaurants and shops are open and you will find many Cariocas in the streets of Centro. At night time and during the weekends Centro remains empty and can turn out to be unsafe for a traveller.

Rio’s location at the Tropic of Capricorn on souther hemispheare means that the winter months June, July and August, temperatures are lower (20-25 degrees) and on the summer time an average temperature is over 30 degrees, occassionaly reaching 40 celcius. Rainfall is highest during the summer time, but usually it means thunderstorms at the end of the day. What would be a good time to stay at Rio then? Some people stop only for two days, other stay two weeks. We would recommend something in between. You will certainly always find something to do in Rio de Janeiro, but nearby in the state there are other interesting places worth of visit like Angra dos Reis, Ilha Grande, Búzios and Arraial do Cabo. All these are beach destinations, ideal for swimming, snorkeling and diving with clearer waters than the capital itself. In the inland, you will find the mountainous areas with options for hiking, mountain biking, river rafting and horseback riding. We do recommend you to take a short escape out of the urban life of Rio and visit at least one of these beautiful areas located nearby. To get an idea take a look at our blog post about Ilha Grande.

One of the many favelas

One of the many favelas

Then the never ending question of safety. Is it really safe to walk in the streets of Rio de Janeiro? On my opinion it’s as safe as walking in any other large city. It’s good to remember that Rio de Janeiro has more than 6 million inhabitants and you should not be wandering around at any part of the city on your own. The favelas (=slums), mostly located up on the hills are not to be visited by yourself. If you want to see this part of Rio de Janeiro, take a tour. It’s an interesting way to find out how big part of the population lives and in addition to sightseeing the tour guide provides you lot of information concerning the social system of Brazil. Highly recommended! Also leave all you jewellery, extra money and other valuable articles at hotel any time going out. There is absolutely no need to carry them with you. At the night time take a taxi, like we mentioned earlier they are everywhere and they are cheap. If at any moment you end up in a dangerous situation, stay calm, hand over all your belongings and contact the Rio’s tourist police afterwards. As a general mnemonic a street with few people should be avoided.

Last but not least, now it’s time to enjoy Rio de Janeiro! Shortly we are going to publish an another blog post discussing about the attractions that Rio de Janeiro has to offer. In the meanwhile, have a walk on the beach and enjoy a glass of chilly caipiriha!

Check out our other blog posts related to Rio de Janeiro:

Our suggested itineraries including Rio de Janeiro

Sunset at Ipanema

Sunset at Ipanema

Brazil Diversity recommends:

Accommodation:

  • Rio Guesthouse A small and stylish penthouse pousada right in the heart of Copacana.
  • Mama Ruisa – A mansion style pousada located up hill in the bohemian neighborhood of Santa Teresa.
  • La SuiteYour hideaway design guesthouse in Rio. Choose this option if you want to enjoy the spectacular views without leaving your pousada and don’t mind taking a taxi when willing to discover the attractions of the town.
  • Astoria Palace – A reasonably priced new hotel right in front of the sea at Copacabana.
  • Sofitel Copacabana – Beach front hotel, located just a short step from Ipanema allowing you to enjoy easily the attractions of both world famous beaches.
  • Travelling with tight budget and looking for a hostel? Try out Bamboo Rio Hostel or Vila Carioca Hostel, both offering private rooms and dormotories.

Hiking in Chapada Diamantina, Bahia

Colors of Sertão

Colors of Sertão

The national park of Chapada Diamantina is located in the state of Bahia, about 400 kilometers from the state capital Salvador and is charactirized of cliffs, table mountains, canyons, caves and waterfalls. In the past decades Chapada Diamantina was famous for diamonds found from the rivers of this National Park, which nowadays is one of the most popular eco-tourism destinations in Bahia.

Due to the breathtaking landscapes and easy access, Chapada Diamantina has became a popular destination among tourists seeking an active holiday and willing to get to know this different, often less known part of brazilian countryside. Chapada Diamantina can be reached either car or by regular bus from Salvador. The bus journey to the principal village, Lencois, takes about 6-7 hours, but luckily in general brazilian busses are quite comfortable with plenty of leg space and inclining seats. A private transfer will naturally be more expensive, but also quicker way to reach the destination. An another option is to arrive to Lencois by air. A weekly flight from Salvador operated by Trip Linhas Aéreas takes about 55 minutes and is currently operated on Saturdays only. Lencois is a small and picturesque village with number of charming pousadas, colonial style buildings and tiny roads.

Hiking Sossego

Hiking Sossego

When visiting Chapada Diamantina, the focus is naturally on activities available in the area. It’s good to take into consideration, that some of the hikes do need a certain physical condition. Closest to the village you will find the Primavera waterfall and the Serrano River with beautiful views over the village. Thanks to the easy access they can be visited, for example on the day of arrival. Brazil’s highest waterfall, Cachoeira da Fumaca is one of the principal attractions of the national park. The most popular way to reach the waterfall is from above, which requieres 6 km walking from the ecological basement of Vale do Capão. For real adventures, with good physics, can reach Cachoeira da Fumaca from below. This route requiering a three days hike. An another popular hike leading you to a waterfall, is the trail of Sossego. The lenght of this trail is about 8 km per way and there is no real path. You will go up and down the river side, jumping from a stone till another until you reach the waterfall of Sossego at the end of the canyon. We do not recommend the trail of Sossego for persons, who have problems with knees or do not have physical preparation. It’s also recommendable to have a local guide with you on all hikes as there are no signs nor clear paths.

One of the several waterfalls

One of the several waterfalls

In addition to hikes there are also other interesting activities and excursions to be enjoyed in the area of Chapada Diamantina, being one of the most popular called “Roteiro 1” (route 1). This excurcion takes you to several attractions, including the caves of Gruta da Lapa Doce, Gruta Azul and Gruta da Pratinha. A walk through the Gruta da Lapa Doce takes about one hours and allows you to admire the sand formations inside of the cave. Both Gruta Azul and Gruta Pratinha are filled with crystal clear water and in Pratinha it’s possible to swim inside of the cave, observe the bats with a flashlight and see a number of fish when snorkeling towards the sunlight. The tour of “Roteiro 1” ends with a hike on the top of the table mountain Paí Inacio. After having reached the top you will enjoy endless landscapes and the breathtaking beauty of the sunset.

Check out our suggestions for itineraries including Chapada Diamantina.

View from the top of Paí Inacio

View from the top of Paí Inacio

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • Pousada Vila Serrano – a lovely small pousada with personalized touch. All the rooms have a veranda or balcony and are individually decorated respecting the colonial style. Ideally located in a peaceful corner, close to the bus station and the heart of the city.
  • Restaurant Cozinha Aberta – Delicious food in a tiny restaurant and romantic dining in the terrace. Be prepared to wait, the slogan of the restaurant is “slow food” and it will take time for a meal to be served. However worth waiting for!

Escape Urban Life: Ilha Grande, Rio de Janeiro

Ilha Grande is one of the wonders located in the state of Rio de Janeiro. This former prison island is nowadays a popular tourism destination that has conserved the charming intimacy and unspoiled touch.

Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande

Ilha Grande is easy to reach and we warmly recommend travellers who come to Rio, experience the alternative lifestyle of  this tropical island. To reach Ilha Grande, you can choose between few options, first of all you have to travel either to Mangaratiba or to Angra dos Reis by bus or car, and then after take a ferry boat/catamaran/speed boat to Ilha Grande. The shortest boat connection is from Angra dos Reis. There is a regular bus from Rio to Angra dos Reis via Mangaratiba, however we do recommend you to take a speed transfer, which includes a van transportation directly from the capital of the state to the port  and vice versa. The schedules of speed transfer are adjusted to the catamaran schedules, making it clearly the fastest and simplest way to reach Ilha Grande. We also recommend catamaran over the ferry boat, due to the time save. By crossing the sea with catamaran (about 50 min) you will save about 2 hours compared to the ferry boat. The speed boat transfers (25min) are available requiering a minimun number of participants and therefore being suitable especially for small groups.

Beach Ilha Grande

Beach Ilha Grande

Once you reach Ilha Grande you will quickly find out that this paradise island has no cars (expect few available only for the militar use). The streets are sandy and the peaceful atmospheare can be felt immediately. Feels like you had travelled far away from the hustle and bustle of Rio de Janeiro. The main village of the island, Abrão, is tiny village located in a beautiful bay offering a wide range of tourism services such as pousadas (=brazilian guesthouse), restaurants, shops and bars.  Due to the mountainous tropical vegetation the other villages of the island can be reached either by sea or by longer walk through the few pathways crossing the island.

Lopes Mendes

Lopes Mendes

At Ilha Grande you will find some of the most beautiful beaches of Brazil, the most well-known of them is Lopes Mendes, which was recently chosen within the top 10 of Brazil. This beach can be reached by one of the several boat tours departing from Abrão every hour during the morning. The boat will take you to another beach, easy to embark from where you can reach Lopes Mendes after a short walk through the Atlantic rainforest. Lopes Mendes is a white sandy beach with no beach services (sometimes you may find people selling water, soft drinks and beer). This is a perfect place to relax, enjoy the beauty of the nature and have a long walk along the beach.

If you are not afraid of longer walk through the pathways we recommend you to preserve one day for Dois Rios, a beautiful beach located further away from Abrão. Most of the year the waves of this bay do not allow boat to embark in front it, therefore Dois Rios can be reached only by walk (about 2-2½ hours/oneway). The walk through the pathways is enjoyable for those like active holidays. It allows you to be in touch with the local nature, observe the vegetation, flowers and birds. From the top of the hill you will have a beautiful view over the village of Abrão. Dois Rios itself is a small village where the former prison is located. The sea is often very strong and not recommendable for a swim. However the two river (Dois Rios=Two Rivers), one at each end of the beach, are not only beautiful but also perfect for a swim. Personally we preferred the one at our left hand side, but it’s up to you to choose your favourite. No beach services can be found from Dois Rios and there are few restaurant offering home made food in the village, so we recommend you to take at least some light snack and drinks with you before you leave Abrão.

Beach Dois Rios

Beach Dois Rios

River Dois Rios

River Dois Rios

Ilha Grande offers also a number of other activities for tourist. You can hike through the pathways, being Dois Rios one of the most popular light hikes. Another beautiful beach of Caixadaco (close to Dois Rios) requires hiking through more difficult forest areas and it is recommendable to have a local guide with you. The most challenging hike that requieres certain physical condition is the Pico do Papagaío, the second highest peaks of the island. This full hike takes you up to 990 meters from the sea level and from the top of the peak you will have stunning views over the whole island.
Ilha Grande is  a paradise for the lovers of water activities. From the village of Abrão, you will find a number of different tours organized in the island. One of the best places for snorkling are the Lagoa Verde (=green lagoon) and Lagoa Azul (=blue lagoon), both with large number of tropical fish. If your schedule is tight or you just want to take the maximum out of your stay, we recommend you to take a speed boat tour around half of the island. Thiss tour stops at several beaches as well as at Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde. This way you will not spend the entire day travelling back and forth by a schooner.
The Brazil Diversity recommends the following pousadas in Ilha Grande:
BossaNova – a simple pousada located in the heart of the village. Located in one of the principal streests, close to the restaurants and the piers.
Só Natureza – a pousada with large, simply furnished rooms and garden with pool area. Located in the heart of the village.
Naturalia – Lovely pousada with excellent value for money, surrounded by the tropical vegetation and located in a peaceful corner, a short walk away from the heart of the village.
Asalem – a small pousada further away from the village, totally isolated allowing full interaction with the surrounding nature.

Ilha Grande offers also a number of other activities for tourist. You can hike through the pathways, being Dois Rios one of the most popular light hikes. Another beautiful beach of Caixadaco (close to Dois Rios) requires hiking through more difficult forest areas and it is recommendable to have a local guide with you. The most challenging hike that requieres certain physical condition is the Pico do Papagaío, the second highest peak of the island. This full hike takes you up to 990 meters from the sea level and from the top of the peak you will have stunning views over the whole island.

Ilha Grande is  a paradise for the lovers of water activities. From the village of Abrão, you will find a number of different tours organized in the island. One of the best places for snorkling are the Lagoa Verde (=green lagoon) and Lagoa Azul (=blue lagoon), both with large number of tropical fish. If your schedule is tight or you just want to take the maximum out of your stay, we recommend you to take a speed boat tour around half of the island. Thiss tour stops at several beaches as well as at Lagoa Azul and Lagoa Verde. This way you will not spend the entire day travelling back and forth by a schooner.

Check out our recommended itineraries with Ilha Grande.

Brazil Diversity recommends:

  • BossaNova – a simple pousada located in the heart of the village. Located in one of the principal streests, close to the restaurants and the piers.
  • Só Natureza – a pousada with large, simply furnished rooms and garden with pool area. Located in the heart of the village.
  • Naturalia – Lovely pousada with excellent value for money, surrounded by the tropical vegetation and located in a peaceful corner, a short walk away from the heart of the village.
  • Asalem – a small pousada further away from the village, totally isolated allowing full interaction with the surrounding nature.
Tropical Islands

Tropical Islands

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