After a few failed attempts at trying to get my head around Portuguese I decided that rather than try to navigate my way from São Paulo to Rio that I would buy a hop on hop off bus pass to get me from A to B. The bus pass consisted of transport from São Paulo to Paraty, a boat cruise while in Paraty, a van and a boat transfer to Ilha Grande and then a boat and a bus transfer to Rio, finishing up with a favela tour while in Rio.
When I arrived at the pier for my boat cruise in Paraty I wasn't really sure what to expect due to such little information being provided about it beforehand. What it turned out to be was a five hour boat ride around the islands that surround Paraty including snorkelling around two lagoons and two beaches. After I had spent so long searching for my beautiful beaches in South America it was such an amazing feeling to be able to finally sit back and relax in the sunshine as we cruised between the islands just taking in the incredible surroundings. I was also lucky enough to meet a
really good group of people on the boat so we spent that day and the following couple of nights hanging out and partaking in random activities such as utilising the hostels pizza oven while creating home made caprioskas (a local brazilian cocktail) one night and of all things watching the Superbowl the following night.
From Paraty I headed to Ilha Grande which is a semi-remote island a couple of hours drive and a 1 hour boat ride from Paraty. I say 'semi' because you can only get there by boat and there are no cars or ATMs on the island, but there is still a small town so it is not like you don't see many people around. The hostel that I stayed at was so close to the bay that I literally only needed to take three and a half steps out my bedroom door before I was in the water. It also had a bar that was right in front of an ocean pool that had a really good local band playing most nights.
On my second day on the island the weather had cleared up and I decided to attempt the
2 hour hike over the island to Lopez Mendez, which was voted number 5 in the top 10 beaches in the world by Vogue a few years ago. It was a bit of a strenuous hike, but it made the reward at the end that much sweeter. I also saw the biggest earthworm I had ever seen in my life on the way over there - it was as long as my arm and I am not even exaggerating! The beach was absolutely beautiful. The mountainous rainforest came right up to the squeaky white sand which then gave way to the crystal clear blue-green water. There were palm trees littering the cove and islands off in the distance. Such an amazingly picturesque beach that it actually is a serious contender with the beach that I saw in Langkawi, Malaysia that had been voted the most romantic beach in the world.
The one thing that I am consistently struggling with while travelling is the balance between experiencing as much of each country that I can, but also seeing a lot of each place that I stay in. Although you can stay in some places a night or two
and feel as though you've seen all that you need to, three nights in each of these places just wasn't enough. I think that maybe after Carnival in Rio I might just go and sit on a beach for a week. Now I just need to find yet an another amazing beach, although in Brazil that will not be hard.
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