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Value Brazil: The emerald coast

10 days from £1197pp

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Value Brazil: The emerald coast:
Trip Dossier

Brazil is a colossal country and if you wish to get to know it well you’ll need to make several visits - but some of you will be after a beach holiday in just a corner of this vast territory. The area around Rio de Janeiro, itself one of the most glamorous and colourful cities in the world, is an obvious choice. Here you find some of the most exotic beaches, fringed by tumbling jungle vegetation, and some of the prettiest historic towns and villages, situated on tranquil bays peppered with unspoilt forest-mantled islands. 

This short holiday, with time spent on sun-drenched beaches but also beyond, begins in Rio on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, before heading down the coast to the historic colonial port of Paratí and thence you take a ferry to Ilha Grande, a vehicle-free, forest-cloaked island, once a backpacker’s secret but now studded with pretty barefoot pousadas.

Short itinerary

Holiday itinerary

Day 1

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

Day 2

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

Day 3

Drive along the Emerald Coast to Paratí.

Day 4

Half day schooner cruise to nearby islands and beaches.

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.

Day 8

Return by ferry and road to Rio de Janeiro.

Day 9

Transfer to airport for international flight home.

Detailed itinerary

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.


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.

Essential information


2 scenic road journeys (longest 4/5hrs); 2 boat journeys (1.5hrs).


Small, friendly hotels, colonial or modern in style with well-equipped rooms, private bathroom and heating.


Breakfast daily, lunch day 4.


We carefully select our local partners, some of whom we have worked with for over 25 years. Their English-speaking guides understand the expectations of our clients very well, and are consistently singled out for praise by the latter on their return.

Included excursions

  • Jeep tour in Rio – Corcovado Mountain and Santa Teresa District
  • Schooner boat trip around the bay and islands of Paratí

Summary of nights

 9 days, 8 nights: Rio 2; Paratí 2; Ilha Grande 3; Rio 1.

Included in the journey price

  • Services of our team of experts in our London office.
  • Services of Journey Latin America local representatives and guides.
  • All land and air transport within Latin America.
  • Accommodation as specified.
  • Meals as specified.
  • Excursions as specified.

Not included in the journey price

  • Insurance.
  • Tips and gratuities.
  • Meals other than specified.
  • International flights to Latin America.
  • Optional excursions.

Optional excursions

There are a number of half-, full-day or longer excursions or activities you may wish to consider in order to customise your holiday to cater for your interests. Please contact us to discuss these further or to add them to your itinerary before you depart. A selection of these:
  • Cable car ride up Sugar Loaf Mountain
  • Rio by Night – Samba show


The unit of currency in Brazil is the ‘real’ (plural reais).

Daily spend

A budget of around US$40-$70 per day should cover the cost of not-included meals, drinks, local transport, tips and the odd souvenir. Prices of meals and drinks in standard restaurants are more or less the same as in Britain, perhaps a bit cheaper.

How to take it

Cash machines are available in all major cities and towns, and so taking a debit or credit card with a PIN number is the most convenient way of withdrawing money while on your trip, and in most shops and restaurants you can also pay by card. However, since cards can get lost, damaged, withheld or blocked, you should not rely exclusively on a card to access funds. We recommend that additionally you take a reasonable quantity of US dollars cash (no more than is covered by your insurance), which you can exchange into local currency, and possibly some travellers’ cheques, though these are gradually falling out of use (American Express are the most widely accepted). Dollar bills should be in good condition, soiled or torn bills may be refused. You can take sterling, but the exchange rate is not always competitive or even available, restricting the number of places where you can change money. There are no ATMs in Ilha Grande, be sure to change money to local currency before you go there.


Tips are expected and local guides often rely on their tip as a significant proportion of their income. 

Most service industry workers will expect a tip of some kind and so it is useful to have spare change for hotel porters, taxi drivers and the like. It is common to leave 10 - 12% in restaurants.

Tipping guidelines can be found in our Briefing Dossier.


Travel insurance is essential. 

Details of our recommended policy can be found on the Travel Insurance page.

Airport taxes

If you have purchased your flights through Journey Latin America, the international departure tax is usually included in the ticket.

Journey grade

There are no long days of travel on this trip.

This holiday is suitable for all, including families (although you cannot book the latter with us online unless you require accommodation based on double occupancy rooms). In other cases, and if you have a disability or other special requirements, please call us.

In the summer months of December to March the weather is extremely hot and humid, you might bear this in mind if travelling with small children or the elderly.


In tropical Rio December to February are the hottest and most humid months, with temperatures reaching 40°C, and rain which falls in brief, heavy showers.

From June to September, temperatures are more moderate (18-23°C) and there is plenty of sunshine, but cold fronts can usher in periods of up to several days of cloud and drizzle. Weather-wise, March to June are good months for this holiday: it can rain at any time, but the sun can shine at any time too!

Clothing and special equipment

For day-to-day wear you should take light, loose-fitting, breathable clothes. (Of course, especially in Rio, the locals will often opt for tighter garments!) Comfortable shoes are important for walking and sandals are perfect for hot weather.

A sun hat, sun block, insect repellent and sunglasses are essential, and in winter – June to August - you should take a
light fleece or jacket for cool nights and a waterproof layer, as well as swimwear. Note that in the Brazilian winter you can have lovely warm days in the mid-twenties centigrade when a northern European would be happy to sit on the beach but you won’t find many Brazilians hardy enough to do so! There can be cool, dull, drizzly days too. An umbrella is handy: especially in summer, the rain can be short-lived but falls in the form of a tropical deluge, when a rain jacket may not offer much protection.

Take insect repellent to Ilha Grande.

Please get in touch with the office before departure if you have any doubts. Good equipment is very important and hard to come by in South America.


Preventative vaccinations are recommended against the following: typhoid; polio; tetanus; hepatitis A. You should consult your GP for specific requirements, including advice on yellow fever and malaria tablets (unlikely for this holiday). 

You can also find helpful information on the Masta Travel Health website.


Holders of a full British passport do not require a visa, although passports must be valid for at least 6 months after the trip begins.  Anyone with a different nationality should enquire with us or check with the relevant consulate.

APIS and ESTA - important flight information:

ESTA - if flying to the US, or via the US you will need to fill in your application to ESTA online

This costs $14 per person. This must be done by you personally.

Passports must also be machine-readable (MRP). Avoid locking suitcases if transiting the USA, as their customs authorities retain the right to break into them.

APIS - Many countries now oblige airlines to provide additional information about passengers prior to the flight departure. This Advance Passenger Information (APIS) must be supplied to us promptly in order to issue tickets and avoid fare increases. We will provide the airlines with the relevant details if we are booking your international flights. If the information is not provided you may be denied boarding.

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