ILHA GRANDE

Days spent: 4

Days recommended: totally depends on the weather

Where we slept: Airbnb double bedroom in a Tarzan-esque wooden hut in the middle of the jungle, hosted by Daniel [Rainforest House]

What we ate: grilled fish and meat, juicy exotic fruits, moqueca.

What we drank: caipirinha, fresh pressed exotic fruit juice and a lot of bottled water

How we travelled: by bus and speed boat from Rio (takes about 4 hours in total ), by foot on the island (there are no cars at all), by ferry to Angra dos Reis (about 2 hours, much cheaper than the speed boat).

Km walked: 52

How Ilha Grande affected our wallets: moderately to badly, it’s a very touristy island after all.

Issues we encountered:
Mainly related to the stormy rainy weather. Soaking wet shoes and clothes. Had the stupid idea to wash our dirty laundry on our first day and by the fourth day it was even more humid!
Also, keep in mind that you’re on a island: goods are pricey and not abundant. We ended up starving ourselves a little because of the lack of choice and stupidly expensive prices. [to avoid this you might better buy some supplies on the mainland]

Would we recommend it?
Yes, bad weather or not it’s still very worth it.

Analogue tips:
I didn’t do very well here. Only shot with one camera to then realize i should have used a film with higher ISO. The jungle can get very thick at times, making the light considerably scarce. Carry another camera with you and load it with a 400 or 800 ISO film, this will give you more flexibility.
If you own it, bring along an underwater case for your camera (I didn’t in order to travel lighter, but somehow I regretted it).

What to do:

  • Hike the steep jungle submerged path that leads to the 3 km long Lopes Mendes beach, awarded as one of the most beautiful shores of South America. This 3-4 hours trek will give you the best views of Ilha Grande’s Mata Atlantica, Brazil’s Atlantic forest. [you can take a relatively inexpensive speed boat to head back to Villa do Abraão from one of the bordering beaches]
  • Pull the mosquito nets around your bed, close your eyes and fall asleep rocked by the jungle’s echoing lullaby. Most of these sounds will be completely new to you and you will crave to find out which animal they belong to (if you won’t find them straight in your room!).
  • Listen to the rain falling on the roof of your wooden hut while lazily hammocking on the veranda.
  • Lose yourself staring at the hummingbirds while having breakfast
  • Snorkel with sea turtles and explore the crystal water lagoons around the island. Unfortunately pricey tours are the only way to do so [we did it with O Verde however, to be really fair, we didn’t get much information nor received any of the underwater GoPro pics our guide, Gigi, took]
  • Pick a beach bar [hippie Cafe do Mar is an excellent choice] and watch the sunset with a caipirinha in your hands, while waiting for your grilled fish based dinner. Fun fact: after a couple of drinks me and Isa, geared with toy headlights, ventured the pitch dark jungle to get back to the lodge. We recorded a Blair Witch Project inspired video at the beginning of our walk and made fun about getting lost, which of course happened few minutes later. Not nice when you’re in your flip flops and unknown bugs are crawling on your bare feet, the path is all muddy, narrow and steep and every sort of creature is howling right next to you.

Things we missed:

  • the beaches on the south-western part of the island due to stormy waters.

 

PARATY

Days spent: 3 days

Days recommended: 3

Where we slept: Airbnb private double bedroom with joga lovers, Fabian and Juliana. Their homemade breakfast (with homemade peanut butter and marmalade) is one of our favourite so far!

What we ate: plenty of sweets and cakes from vintage street vendors (including brigaderos -Brazilian chocolate and butter pralines-, coconut cake and maracujia cheesecake), guanabana jelly slices on bread, açai, flambed octopus with maracujia and black rice (@ Casa do Fogo), Parmesan chicken and lula (traditional octopus dumplings filled with shrimps and cheese. Sounds better than it tastes…)

What we drank: Brazilian ice cold beer and tropical fruit juices.

How we travelled: by local bus from Angra dos Reis (2 hours trip). By foot, jeep and local buses once in town.

Km walked: 25

How Paraty affected our wallets: not so much.

Issues we encountered: none. The city itself is small and quite safe, even at night.

Would we recommend it? Go for it!

Analogue tips: To spice up the colonial streets of Paraty and avoid shooting the same empty street on and on and on, pick one of the beautiful flowers around, set a wide aperture and let the streets become the colourful background of your closeup. A bit hipster but who cares…

Also, for the beach shots with the Lomochrome Purple film, if you want pastel hues like mine, set the ISO at 50.

What to do:

  • Get lost in the cobblestone paved, charming colonial centre of Paraty and give in to some local yummy cakes.
  • Do a daytrip to surfers favourite, hippie flavoured Trinidade (only one hour by bus). Walk away from the crowd and the BBQ smog of Praia Meio and explore the wild waves and white sand of Caxadaço and the beautiful, yet very mainstream, natural pool. [buses are based on the first come, first serve formula which means that, if there’s a queue of people in front of you and the bus is packed, you will have to wait one hour for the next one]. Not so fun fact: Isa almost drowned in Caxadaço due to incredibly strong underwater currents. Luckily there was a lifeguard on the beach who knew where the current wasn’t that bad and managed to pull her out of the water. If you’re not a very good swimmer and you see drowning warning signs and red flags, you might better think of keeping your bum dry.
  • Have a laugh while rolling down the poço do Tarzan and refresh yourself at Cachoeira da Pedra Branca and Cachoeira do Tobogã on a very inexpensive waterfall jeep tour (it includes a stop at a Cachaçaria with several free tastings, just saying…).

Things we missed:

  • snorkel tours. We were fresh from Ilha Grande and opted to avoid doing another one.

Who deserves a big thank you: Talita, Alessandro and Meritxell for the tips. Charlotte for being a good pal at the waterfalls (and for the brand new mosquito net!)

Canon EOS 300, Fuji Velvia 100 (35, expired)

Olympus OM-10, Lomochrome Purple 100-400 (35)/Fuji Superia 200 (35)

28/11/2016/ – 04/12/16

Ilha Grande and Paraty (Brazil)