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Value Brazil: The emerald coast

10 days from £1197pp

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Value Brazil: The emerald coast

10 days from £1197pp
 

Private Journey

 

Day 1

Arrive in Rio de Janeiro. Transfer to the hotel. Rest of the day at leisure.
 

Rio de Janeiro is the most beguiling, seductive, intriguing and beautiful city on the continent. But it is a multi-layered place: Brazil’s economic indicators show that the gulf between the rich and the poor is the greatest of all Latin American countries. Sumptuous apartments overlook the sparkling bays against a backdrop of half-built slum dwellings, favelas, which cling precariously to the hillsides. 

Rio enjoys a truly awesome location among towering jungle-clad granite mountains, fringed by white-to toffee coloured sandy beaches that swoop down into the Atlantic surf.

Rio from Corcovado

Day 2

Jeep tour up Corcovado Mountain and to the arty Santa Teresa district.
 

Take an exhilarating trip by open-topped jeep through tropical fruit-laden vegetation up the sheer-sided Corcovado Mountain to drink in the views from beside the famous Christ the Redeemer statue on the peak. Continue to Santa Teresa, the colonial heart of the city which sits on a hill close to the Cathedral in the busy centre. 

This is a popular residential area for artists and TV personalities who occupy the stately shaded houses lining its cobbled streets. There are plenty of old-fashioned bars, or bodegas, and an ancient rickety tram still climbs around impossibly steep lanes lined by high walls sheltering museums, parks, art centres, smart restaurants and one or two luxury hotels.

Santa Teresa Tram

Day 3

Drive along the Emerald Coast to Paratí.
 

You will be collected from your hotel for a shared drive down the Emerald Coast to colonial Paratí (4/4½-hours). The winding road is bordered by steep mountains covered in lush Atlantic forest on one side, and the ocean on the other. This enchanting bay-side town is steeped in history; Paratí, means ‘river of fish’ in the indigenous Tupi language.

The town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and it’s not hard to see why as you wander through its local boutique-lined cobbled streets, explore glorious baroque churches and check out the local art work in one of the many contemporary galleries. The divine blue, gold and white painted Portuguese architecture has been carefully preserved, and the centre of the town is vehicle free. There are also some excellent places to eat freshly caught fish on the sea-front. The bay itself is dotted with tropical islands and, rising some 1,000m behind the town are forested mountains intersected by rivers and waterfalls.

Parati

Day 4

Half day schooner cruise to nearby islands and beaches.
 

Travel out to sea in the sheltered bay on the deck of a traditional three-masted schooner, in high season accompanied by other visitors and Brazilian couples and families. You’ll visit some of the virtually uninhabited little islands in the bay, each with its own hidden picture-perfect sandy coves where you can take a dip in the warm tropical waters. There’s lunch included and cool fruit juices to quench your thirst.

Parati Schooner Cruise

Days 5-7

Travel by road and boat to the tropical island Ilha Grande. At leisure on the beach, mountain trails or swimming calm waters.
 

Travel by ferry to beautiful Ilha Grande. This is the largest of many rugged, forested little islets studding the bays. In the 16th and 17th centuries it was a pirate’s lair, and later a leper colony was established there. Finally, it was home to a notorious prison, which accommodated not only political prisoners but also violent criminals. The penitentiary was closed in 1994 but developers were restrained by the island’s reputation, and now much of the inland territory is preserved in an ecological reserve. 

The island was adopted by the backpacker set but now that there are low-key barefoot pousadas a variety of visitors makes the journey over. There’s nothing much to do apart from enjoy some of the continent’s most beautiful beaches and coves, accessible by track or boat.

There are few tracks connecting tiny settlements and no motorised vehicles are allowed. The Atlantic rainforest remains largely untouched, although several walking trails have been established, so you can appreciate prolific wildlife, including hummingbirds. The only town, Vila do Abraão, consists of a few houses and dirt roads. The island can get very crowded at holiday times.

Ilha Grande

Day 8

Return by ferry and road to Rio de Janeiro.
 

Day 9

Transfer to airport for international flight home.
 

10 days from £1197pp

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