Brazil Travel Guide

                         Date visited Brazil: December 2016

Hand gliding over Rio de Janeiro was a tick on the bucket list I had been excited about since our trip began over half a year before. In the days leading up to the flight I was getting more and more anxious. In the back of my mind questions started floating around.

How safe can it be to jump off a cliff with a stranger and only the laws of physics keeping me alive?
How do I land?
Why do I even want to do this stupid stunt?

I held my resolve, booked it in and on the morning went to the beach where I would meet my instructor. Bad winds the previous day meant there were catch up flights first thing in the morning. These delayed my own by just over an hour. Maybe it’s a sign, I thought to myself as the butterflies started to flutter. Bianca and I found a spot on the beach and watched a few gliders come in to land. About 50m before the ground the gliders would do a giant looping turn and descent. Inches off the ground they would glide until their speed dropped enough to touch down… The more I watched the more calm I became. One question had been answered and they all made it look so effortless.

Strapped in on the edge of a cliff an hour later was a different story. With one practice sprint under the belt I was attached and ready. Heart racing! 3.. 2.. 1.. RUN! No time to hesitate it was go hard or get hurt. I threw myself into full speed with the instructor at my side. We went off the edge and for a moment dropped! The sail filled with air and we were off… physics doing what it has always done, phew.

In the air the glider was smooth, I looked across and saw a turkey vulture gliding next to me. I was flying with the birds and the aerial view was incredible. My guide of 21 years pointed out the visual highlights from up top as we soared through the sky. In 20min the flight was over and I was safely back on the ground. Adrenaline still pumping having just experience something I would never forget.

 

Travellers visiting Brazil could set aside 6 months and still not experience everything this country has to offer. Locals sometimes refer to Brazil as its own continent, something that could almost be true considering its huge land mass and different background to the rest of South America. The Amazon takes up a massive portion of the country and most of the heavily populated areas are coastal. Portuguese is the main language here, so if you are like us and have just spent a few months learning Spanish… I’m sorry to say it will do you little good once you arrive in Brazil. They will slightly understand you, but you will not understand their response.

In our experience all the people are kind, generous and excited to help travellers. Even inside the favelas, we experienced no danger. We were always with a guide but never once felt threatened. Although the streets are run by gangs, they have rules in place which protect ordinary people, including travellers. Everyone is just trying to survive in what from the outside looks like a harsh environment but from the inside is just normal life.

Travellers to Brazil can expect to find all of natures beauties here, you can get lost in an untouched world of the interior amazon or enjoy some the world’s best surf spots on the coast.  A culture unique in colour and fun and in my opinion holds the most beautiful city in the world. 

Travel to Brazil to find it all, here is how.

 

Transport

Santa Cruz, Bolivia to Rio De Janeiro, Brazil
Tam Airlines $b 2,090 Total each ($300 USD).

Our time for Bolivia has sadly come to an end. Our next destination was Brazil. The easiest way for us accounting time vs cost was to fly.

We flew from Santa Cruz with 2 stopovers before finally reaching Rio (one in Lima and the other in Sao Paulo). These were the cheapest flights we could find, which came at the cost of one whole day allocated to travel.

Tip – When departing Bolivia by plane you will need to pay $b 14 for departure tax, remember to save some cash to pay for this tax.

 

Rio, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

Late for the tram!!

 

Rio De Janeiro Airport transfer to Bonita, Hostel
Flavio Hostel Driver – R$85 each ($25.46 USD).

We booked our airport transfer through Bonita hostel. Rio is a huge city the Airport is quite far out from Ipanema. We knew it would be safer to book through them and their driver Flavio, than risk being ripped off by a taxi or to fight the public with our bags on a bus.

We were now in a Portuguese speaking country and knew only “Obrigado” aka ‘thank you’ so we took the safe option.

We arrived earlier than expected and Flavio made the adjustments and was very prompt in picking us up. He also gave us a small briefing as we past all the Iconic spots. He was a very safe driver, the journey cost R$ 85 and took around 40 minutes.

 

 

Rio De Janeiro to Ilha Grande
Easy Transfer (includes mini van plus boat ride) – R$95 each ($28 USD).

At our hostel we booked a transfer from Rio to Ilha Grande, it worked out to be nearly the same price than doing it yourself with public transport and far less stressful. “Easy Transfer” is the company and they are very popular among travelers, with door to door services three times a day – 8am, 11am and 2pm.  The transfer of a private boat is also included, this makes everything faster and more comfortable than taking the public transport. The journey from door to door took 4 hours. It was a safe and hassle-free way to get from Rio to Ilha Grande.

 

Ilha Grande to Paraty
Easy Transfer (includes mini van plus boat ride) – R$85 each ($25 USD).

Our first ride with Easy Transfer was indeed so easy we booked our transfer with them from Ilha Grande to Paraty.

We got the first boat back at 10am and once we hopped off the boat the van was already waiting for our transfer straight to the door of our hotel. The whole journey took 4 hours including the boat ride. This is the easiest way to travel as they take care of everything bringing you straight to your destination.

It is important for us not to have time wasting problems in transit, we only have a short amount of travel time remaining and would rather be enjoying the destinations than the journey at this point.

 

Paraty to Sao Paulo
Reunidas Bus R$98.75 each – including tax ($29 USD).

Our next destination was Sao Paulo, where we planned to see some friends.

We booked a few days in advance through the company ‘Reunidas’ online to guarantee a seat. Their first bus to Sao Paulo was at 8.30am. The journey takes around 7 hours, arriving at 3.30pm in Sao Paulo. The buses here reclined back to 160° and the air conditioning was a comfortable 22°. They also stopped a few times for toilet and food breaks.

Tip – There is no need to print your ticket, just simply show the email at the bus company window at the bus station and they will print off your ticket there.

Iguassu Falls, Argentina, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

Beautiful views from the lower track.

São Paulo to Foz do Iguacu
Pluma Bus R$290 each – including tax ($85.44 USD).

Long journey – 17 hours! Lucky we were so knackered from seeing friends that we slept nearly the whole way, which does not usually happen.

We had a bit of an issue with ‘Pluma’ Bus Company. When we arrived at Tiete station, Sao Paulo (the bus station written on our ticket) the attendant told us that the bus would depart from an entirely different bus station – Barra Funda! This was 20 minutes by metro away! We had little time to spare and arrived just in time!

Tip – Make sure you double check with the bus company of the correct station beforehand, especially if it is with ‘Pluma’. For some reason they don’t put the correct information online or on the ticket.

For an expensive bus it was quite comfortable, the seats were 160° recliners and it had WIFI in some locations, which was a bonus. We thought we would be served with food, but instead had dedicated stops for dinner and breakfast.

 

Foz do Iguacu to Parque Nacional das Cataratas do Iguassu (Falls on the Brazilian side)
Public Bus R$3.80 each ($1.12 USD).

We arrived at the International bus station in Foz do Iguacu at around 9.45am, this meant we had time to freshen up in the toilets before heading straight to the falls on the Brazilian side.

To get to Iguacu falls we had to get a bus from the international station to the urban bus station in town. Ask the driver to make sure you get on the right bus. We paid R$3.80 each. Once you get to the urban bus station you need to change to bus #120, this bus will take you all the way to the parks entrance.

Tip – When you are waiting for bus #120 to the falls make sure you enter the back doors, as you already have paid for the full journey at the international bus station. They won’t give you any paper ticket or receipt.

– There is a locker to keep your luggage onsite, we could fit both our big backpacks and one small backpack inside for R$30.

 

Iguassu Falls, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

Along the track are many different places to take amazing photos.

Parque Nacional das Cataratas do Iguacu (Falls on the Brazilian side) to Puerto Iguazu (Argentinean town)
Rio Uruguay Bus R$10 each ($1.12 USD/ $40 ARS).

On the same day as visiting the Brazilian side of the falls, we took a bus from outside the park entrance, over the border to Puerto Iguazu, this is the town on the Argentinian side where you will visit the Argentinean falls from.

There are two buses that run between the two sides every hour 8am until 5pm – Rio Uruguay and Cruc del Norte.

The bus takes you to the Brazilian immigration to get your exit stamp and then to the Argentinian side to get an entry stamp. The bus will wait for you at both stops and then take you onto Puerto Iguazu town. This journey took around 30 minutes, both immigration lines were easy and fast.

Tip – As New Zealanders we did not have to pay any entry or exit fees. Check here to see whether your country is exempted to pay for an entry visa.

 

 

Puerto Iguazu (Argentinian town) to Iguazu falls (Falls on the Argentinian side)
Rio Uruguay Bus $65 ARS each one-way ($1.12 USD/ R$14).

Go to the main bus station and buy a ticket from the Rio Uruguay kiosk for a one-way or return ticket to Iguazu falls. This bus goes every 20minutes from 8am until 5pm and stops at the park entrance.

 

 

 

Accommodation 

Pousada Bonita Hostel, Rio De Janeiro
Double superior R$240 p/n, Double standard R$199, mixed dorm R$60.

Bonita’s Hostel is so much more than a hostel. They boast the entire holiday package. All you need when you turn up at Bonita’s is time, they will sort you out the rest at reception. Bonita’s have extensive lists of all the amazing activities offered around Rio. They have carefully selected their partners throughout Rio de Janeiro, only the best and most reliable guides and companies who provide the best tours, excursions, events and hikes. They have been doing it for a long time and prices are the best you will find! Reception is open 24/7 and is totally reliable for help and information, they were so flexible, and able to help problem solve in those stressful times.

We had a nasty ATM issue just as we where due to depart. They provided assistance and juggled our transfers back then forth with no hesitation. With their help everything worked out and we were off on time.

In the morning you will want to eat plenty of the complimentary breakfast buffet as Rio has so much happening you will be in for a big day almost every day. Take that second bowl of cereal and have another tea, coffee or cocoa. Don’t forget to grab a banana on your way out to snack on!

We stayed in the private suites at Bonita. The rooms are colourful and homely. Our double beds had the comfort of my personal bed back in New Zealand. Amazing! Clean, tidy and the bathrooms have large showerheads, ahh the little things done right make all the difference.

A swimming pool is in the main courtyard although our schedule was so crammed with only 5 days in Rio, we never had the chance to dive in. Our swimming was done at the beach, only three blocks away. On the way to the beach you pass all the restaurants, bars and a supermarket. Everything is so close!

Have the Bar Tender make you a Caipirinha, sweet and strong! You will find people in the bar and patio areas enjoying these before nights out. Join in.

Bonita hostel has been one of our favourite hostels worldwide, if travelling Rio you need to go and see why!

 

 

Pousada Paloma, Ilha Grande
Double standard + en-suite R$140 p/n, Mixed dorm R$60 pp.

Aquario hostel was our first choice, but unfortunately due to its popularity they were full that night and they recommended Pousada Paloma.

One street back from the beach and 5-minute walk from town, this place was a haven of relaxation. It was a bit over budget but with slim options we splashed out.

The owner was very lovely and helpful. We had a bit of trouble with an ATM in Rio and she happily helped us finish resolving the issue.

The room was quaint and clean and the bed was large and very comfortable. At night they have a restaurant upstairs with the most amazing food! It can be quite loud but it all dies down at around 11pm.

We recommend staying here while visiting Ilha Grande.

 

 

Aquario Hostel, Ilha Grande
Mixed dorm R$50 pp.

The following 2 nights we stayed at Aquario, they had the best location in town, being right on the waters edge with amazing views.

We heard this hostel is known for partying although while we were here on Friday and Saturday nights the bar was closed? Luckily for us, there were plenty of places to go out in town.

The dorm rooms were very small; it was hard to put your backpacks anywhere out of the way with 5 other people in the room.

Each dorm room does offer a bathroom and shower, which was very convenient and kept clean. A complimentary breakfast is included here and was very similar to many places – fruit, bread, ham, cheese, cake, cornflakes, juices and coffee. Eat your breakfast right on the water looking out to sea, it is definitely one of the best views we have visited at any hostel.

The staff were very helpful in particular Debbie the manager. She was very welcoming and had a lot of tips and advice on how to spend our time on the Island.

We really liked the location of the hostel and thought it had a lot of potential, but we feel there are nicer places to stay around town.

Tip – On the Island there are lots of sandflies and mosquitoes, which will eat you alive! Be generous with the insect repellent.

 

 

Pousada Rumo Dos Ventos, Paraty
Double standard + en-suite R$200 p/n

We found this beautiful pousada online as it was rated one of the top 10 places to stay in Paraty. We thought we would splash out and stay in one of their quaint rooms.

Paraty, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

The rooms are huge and the beds were so comfortable!

It is always a nice change from the stuffy dorms we are typically used too.

We stayed a total of two nights here and it was so nice being surrounded by trees and the sound of nature right on our doorstep. Our room was charming and spacious, with an en-suite bathroom attached and a personal hammock on our terrace – we were ready to relax and enjoy.

The hotel offered free WIFI, swimming pool, a large communal area, restaurant and free buffet breakfast. This was a place where we wanted to unwind and spend time at the hotel before exploring the beautiful historic centre of Paraty.

The UNESCO historic centre and main bus station is around 20 minutes walking distance from the hotel. It is easy enough to find and the staff are happy to help and mark everything on a map for you.

We did have a little trouble communicating with the receptionist as she did not know any English/little Spanish but she always had her translator up and ready to help.

Make sure you wear mosquito repellent to bed as we had a few mosquitoes in our room and Bianca got nailed in the night by many of them. Apart from this we really enjoyed our stay here.

 

 

Hostel 10, Iguazu falls
Double standard + shared bathroom R$50 p/n ($240 ARS)

We found Hostel 10 on hostelworld, we had been spending a lot of money in Brazil so we thought we would do it cheap but by still getting a private room (probably the cheapest in all South America). Here you pay what you get, it is very basic and clean by hostel standards. WIFI works in the common areas and there is a big backyard to hang out and chill/swim in the pool. Breakfast is also included, but again very basic – toast and jam (we bought eggs and tomatoes just to fill our stomachs). The owner Manuel, is really friendly and knows a lot of knowledge on Iguazu falls, despite few bad reviews on hostelworld we think this place was a great stay for 2 nights especially if you are looking for something cheap.

 

 

Food

Sao Paulo, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

Carlos the master chef cooking up some chicken hearts.

  • Churrasco – referred to as barbeque/grilled meat. Brazil offers some of the best meat in South America; here the meat is eaten at a leisurely pace. At home barbecues, premium cuts such as picanha (ox rump) are seasoned with salt and herbs and grilled over the charcoal until deliciously pink! Sausages and chicken hearts are also a local favourite. Churrascarias (barbeque steak houses) are typically all you can eat restaurants. They serve the meat on skewers, ranging from pork, lamb, beef and wild boar. Waiters will come to your table and cut it fresh off the skewer for you.
  • Coxinha – Crispy on the outside, Coxinha is a rain drop shaped fast food filled with spiced shredded chicken and gooey potato. This is what you want after a night out and a sober snack! This is one of Bianca’s favourites.
  • Acai – Brazil’s own super food concoction. Acai is a popular fruit from the Amazon (similar to the blueberry) and well known for its energy and nutrients. It is served as a frozen sorbet topped with granola and slices of fruit.
  • Pao de Queijo – This cheese bread is a moreish snack! They are fist-sized balls eaten any time of the day!

    Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

    Brazilian pastries

  • Feijoada – Hearty black bean stew with sausages and pork. The traditional way of making this takes up to 24hours! The stew is usually served with rice, kale and farofa on the side.
  • Farofa – Is fried cassava flour, this is usually sprinkled over rice and beans. Found on the side of most Brazilian meals.
  • Acaraje – Deep fried patty of black peas and onions fried in palm oil, then sliced open and stuffed with fried shrimp, prawns, cashew nuts and other herbs. Served best when fresh with chilli sauce.
  • Salpicao – Brazilian salad made with chicken, bacon, raisins, carrots, apples, olives, and mayonnaise and served with shoestring potatoes chips.
  • Brigadeiros – are made from condensed milk, cocoa powder, butter mixed in a blender and can be cooked in the microwave for 10 minutes. Deliciously sweet, this is very high in calories but it’s just so tasty!
  • Arroz doce – Rice pudding served with cinnamon, a simple and yummy dessert.

 

 

Drinks

  • Agua de coco (coconut water)– Should cost around R$5 -$7, don’t pay more than R$10 and found on the beach or at small corner stores.
  • Cachaça – An alcoholic spirit made from fermented sugarcane juice and most famously served in a caipirinha, Brazil’s national cocktail.
  • Caipirinhas – Cocktail commonly made with cachaca, lime and sugar. Although other spirits can be used to make a caipirinha, Cachaca is the original ingredient.

 

Recommended restaurants

Rio De Janeiro

  • Carretao – A traditional Churrascairia Brazilian BBQ grill. Very popular restaurant in Ipanema and buffet style. We picked up all different salads, vegetables and even sushi! Then sat back down at our table with our meat card turned to “yes”, the waiter comes around with different types of meat – pork ribs, sirloin steak, chicken, beef ribs, roast beef etc and slices it right onto your plate. The meat was delicious and by the end of it, we were stuffed! We paid R$ 80 for the buffet, drinks and desserts were extra.
  • Amazonias – Here we had a healthy lunch snack of Acai, it was our first time and it was delicious! From then we got it everyday on the beach as a light snack. It’s so healthy for you I couldn’t help myself.
  • B De Burger – If you know me, you know I am a crazy burger lover. Here in Brazil they love their meat, so what better place to try a burger. We walked past B De Burger and it looked like my kind of gourmet sloppy burgers. We came back with an appetite and ordered 2 beef burgers. They where served nice and pink… I was in heaven. It rivals my top burger place in London, Patty and Bun!

The fries came with a ‘wasabi mayo’ sauce, I didn’t even know that were a thing! But boy, it was the best tasting sauce ever.

 

Ilha Grande

  • Café do Mar – While on the island we were craving some seafood. We walked along the beach and found Café do Mar, it was right on the beach with candles on each of the tables and lanterns in the tree, the perfect romantic spot. Here we each ordered a whole fish, veggies and salad. It was absolutely delicious, a whole fish later accompanied by a few glasses of wine and we were well satisfied. Great restaurant and an ideal location for a date night.

Paraty

  • Ponto Paraty – After our big splurges in Rio and Ilha Grande we decided to have a cheap dinner. We found Ponto Paraty in the historic centre and ordered the meal of the day for R$ 15 each. Nicely cooked chicken, salad, vegies and rice. Simple and tasty.

 

 

Must see & do 

Rio De Janeiro

  • Big dude tour – If you only have a short amount of time in Rio and want to see it all… The Big Dude Tour is for you. A Ram Jam Cram thank you Mam tour of Rio involving a trip up to Christ the Redeemer, Tijuca national park, a look at the carnival strip, a small walk around the hipster district of Santa Teresa and a chance to visit the amazing staircase “Escadaria Selaron” in Lapa. It was a great one-day trip with an experienced knowledgeable guide and a safe driver, they also pick up and drop you off from your hostel.
  • Watch the sunset at the Sugar Loaf – Take the sugar loaf cable car from Praia Vermelha to Sugarloaf Mountain, there is one stop at Morro da Urca, before reaching the summit of 1,300 feet. The sunset here is very romantic and magical to watch, buy a glass of wine and admire the view.

Tip – You can pay for your tickets up the mountain with credit/debit cards.

         – In the summer make sure you are up there at 5.30pm/6pm to secure a good spot for sunset.

Ipanema, Rio, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

Sunset from Sugar loaf

  • Sign up to a Favela tour – We booked our tour with Q!Beleza tours, this half day tour offers a local guide who takes you around favela da Rocinha, the biggest favela in South America. This tour is completely safe and our guide was very knowledgeable and offered us the full experience.

Tip – Many companies do not offer authentic local guides. We choose Q!Beleza because they are locals from the favela and not outsiders.

– Respect your time in the favela, make sure you take appropriate photos and when the guide tells you to put your camera away, listen to him. Gangsters run the favelas so you need to respect their rules.

  • Hike to sunrise – Bernardo is an experienced local guide who runs many hiking tours around Rio. He leads you up to one of Brazils best views at 4am for an incredible sunrise from the top of the two brothers mountain, then down through favela da Vidigal – another great viewpoint and location of some of the most famous street art in Rio.
    Highly Highly Recommended!
  • Hang gliding – Soar like a bird across the skies of Rio! The views from the sky are incredible. ‘Hand Gliding Adventures’ have over 20years experience and will keep you safe. It was an extraordinary experience Brett will never forget and something everyone must experience.

If you care scared then please do not be afraid, it is not as scary as you might imagine when you actually do it. My take off, flight and landing where all very safe and gentle.

Highly Recommended!

 

  • Pedro do Telegrafio – Visit the rock made famous by Instagram. Fool your friends with some photo magic. Dangle off a cliff edge and snap some heart stopping photos.

 

Rio De Janerio, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

The sign pointing out the track to Telegrafio

How to get to Pedro Do Telegrafio

  1. Take a bus from Copacabana/Ipanema to Alvarada bus station (Central terminal). Cost R$3.80
  2. From there buy a card and load money onto it (around R$20 – it costs R$3.80 for each bus incl. return buses). Then take a Blue Express bus to Mato Alto station.
  3. Catch bus #867 to Barra de Guaratiba at the same bus station you get off, there should be one every 20minutes.
  4. Get off at the last stop at the beach, walk straight to the end of the beach and then up some stairs. Turn left up the road until you reach a small intersection. Here you will see ‘yellow hiking boots’ signalling to walk the path leading right – do not take this path! Follow the road left another 10 meters and on your right you will see a steep road leading up, walk for another 5 minutes and you will see this sign for the track.
  5. Follow the sign and pathway 40 minutes up. Near the end you will see a man offering his rope and photo services, walk past him and down the rocks a further 2 minutes and you will find the Telegrafio rock!

Tip – The public transport takes around 2 hours and the hike up takes around 40 minutes.

– Download an offline map beforehand to double-check you are following the correct path.

– Follow the above directions in reverse back to Rio.

Ipanema, Rio, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

Coconut water and beach babes! The perfect day in Rio on Ipanema beach

  • Spare time for a Beach day – Rio is full of awesome beaches. Spend the day soaking in the sun at Ipanema/Copacabana (touristy beaches) or for surf venture out to find the better waves at Barra de Tijuca where surf-able sand bar beach breaks are found along the entire beach. You will find breaks suitable for all levels of surfers.
  • Overindulge at the biggest Boat party in Rio – Bem entertainment has your evenings sorted! Every night of the week Bem throw huge parties. We were on the booze cruise boat party that motored around the harbour to Niteroi bridge, giving part-goers stunning views of the city. Caipirinhas were flowing and we were raving until 4.30am when the boat finally docked again. Always an awesome night out with Bem!
  • Party up in the Lapa neighbourhood – This funky, quirky neighbourhood is always fun on any night of the week! Go out in Lapa especially on a Monday as they have a big street party.
  • Take a seat on the most famous stairs in Rio, “Escadaria Selaron”. A beautifully colourful stairway monument, where during construction travellers were encouraged to bring tiles from their home to be incorporated into the staircase. Take amazing photos and try find a tile from your home country.

    Stairway, Escadaria Selaron, Rio, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

    Escadaria Selaron, A must visit in Rio. Stunning!

  • Photo opp at Jardim Botanico – Stroll around the city’s botanical garden, which is a great place to take photos especially of Parque Lage. A remodelled mansion that formerly was the home of Enrique Lage and his wife in the 1920’s, but it is most famously known as the mansion in Snoop Dogg’s music video for his single “Beautiful”.
  • Hippie market on a Sunday – In Praca General Osorio the markets come alive every Sunday. Handicrafts include art, jewellery, clothing and sarongs. Great place to buy gifts and haggle bargains.
  • Santa Teresa – One of our favourite neighbourhoods in Rio. It is located on the hill of Santa Teresa, famous for its narrow streets and a favourite spot for local street artists and tourists. There are many beautiful arty boutiques and quirky cafes, a very hipster/cool neighbourhood.

 

* All tours can be booked through Bonita hostel

 

 

Ilha Grande

  • Chill out on Lopes Mendes beach – The number 1 must do on the island. Lopes Mendes is voted one of the best beaches in Brazil and it is truly a beautiful place. We hiked through the beautiful rain forest from our hostel, Aquario. Approx 2 hours to get there, otherwise you can take a boat for R$25 or R$15 depending by the speed of the boat.
  • Hike to Feiticeira waterfall – Another hike is to Feiticeira waterfall, one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island. The hike takes around 3 hours and there is a beach close by (Praia de Feiticeira) where you can relax and cool off after.
  • Abraaozinho beaches – Nearby beaches close to the main town, Abraao is a 15-20 min walk north. The beaches here are small and quiet with a few bars, great if you still want to enjoy the beach without doing any hiking.
  • Boat trips – In town, Abraao there are many places to book boat tours around the island. Unfortunately we did not have enough time to do this but we hear Adventura beach is a must see.

Tip – There are no ATM’s on the island, so make sure you bring enough cash for at least your accommodation and return ferry. You can pay for most other things with MasterCard/Visa at supermarkets, shops and restaurants.

 

 

Paraty

  • Explore the beautiful historic colonial centre. Cobbled roads and colourful doors make the location a romantic walk about. Dine in the area and take some gelato for your walk to the cathedral. Stunning.
  • Trindade – 30min – 40minby bus or minivan. Trinidad is a beautiful beach with gentle waves. Stages hold live music right on the beach or find a quiet place in the sun further along. Cachadasso surf beach is only 15min walk over the hill if you fancy a whip around.
  • Cachaca tasting – Cachaca the Brazilian spirit was originally created in Paraty. They still create some of the best Cachaca in all of Brazil. Visit a bottle shop in Paraty and the walls will be lined with the sugar cane spirit. Best part of all is the tasting at the counter, can’t make you mind up on what to buy? Try them all first!

Iguassu falls

  • The most under rated must do of all South America. A magnificent display of Mother Nature’s power! Three times the size of the famous Niagara Falls and included as one of the 7 new natural wonders of the world.

We highly recommend visiting the Iguassu falls from both the Brazilian and Argentinian sides.
The Brazilian side offers panoramic views giving you an indication of its sheer size as you stroll a 1.5km walkway. At the top of the walkway a bridge extends out into the watery mist under the falls near the devil’s neck.

The Brazilian side of the falls took us around 2 hours walk and the cost of the entrance was $R63 each.

The Argentinian side is more an experience of the falls power. Up close and personal underneath or walking along a pathway close to the falls edges. Walk to the very precipice of the devil’s neck and feel its raw gushing power!

The entrance fee to the falls cost $330 ARS (R$70/ $20 USD). It took us 4 hours to complete the lower and upper circuits including the train to the devils throat.

See the transport section to find out how to visit both sides of the falls and on crossing the border.

Photography Tip – Go early in the morning for the clearest photos. Once the sun rises high it reflects off the water mist, this will create a whiteout haze in your photos. The Park opens at 8am so be ready to go then.

Tip – Bring a dry bag for your valuables on both sides of the falls. You are very likely to get very wet.

 

 

Tips & Advice

  • In Brazil the currency is the ‘Brazilian Real’
  • The weather is mostly good all-year round which makes it a good travel destination. Winter lasts 3 months from June to August and the temperature low is around 13 degrees. Summer is from December to February and can get to a high of 30/40 degrees.
  • The norm is 10% tipping at restaurants. Typically included onto the bill
  • Be a smart traveller and do not carry any valuables around with you – passport, wads of cash, credit cards etc, keep them in a safe in your hotel or hostel.
  • Book taxis from your hostel or hotel, as they know the right price that you should pay to get anywhere. Uber can be used in the big cities, it is cheaper than taxis and the app does everything for you.
  • Metro system is clean and safe when used during the day, we avoided it during the night and used Uber a lot around the city.
  • No rules about jay walking in Rio.
  • When taking the bus know that you will need to wave it down like a taxi or else it will not stop. Yellow seats are for disabled elderly, pregnant or obese people.
  • Free ATM at the Rio Airport – Bradesco (Bank fees may apply, depending on your bank)
  • Like all big cities, be careful when walking around at night, take taxi’s everywhere and don’t carry a lot of valuables on you.
  • Adapt as best you can to the language change to Portuguese, most Brazilians speak/understand Spanish, which you can use to communicate if you don’t know any Portuguese like us.
  • There are no ATM’s on Ilha Grande so make sure you bring plenty of cash, however you can use your MasterCard/Visa at many shops and restaurants.
  • Pousadas are what they call guesthouses.
  • No bus tax when leaving the bus stations
  • There are luggage lockers at both sides of the Iguassu falls (Brazil and Argentina)
  • Bring a dry bag for your valuables on both sides of the waterfall, as you are very likely to get wet

 

How to stay safe at the beach

  • Pack light – don’t bring any valuables with you. Bring small cash to buy coconut water and food.
  • Avoid taking backpacks as it draws attention.
  • When going swimming, try having one person stay with your belongings. Do not to leave your stuff unguarded.
  • Try avoiding Sundays, as that is when most robberies occur.
  • If robbed, search for a police station to file a complaint for your insurance company.

 

Ipanema, Rio, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

One of the best views of Rio, the sunrise hike up to the 2 brothers.

 

Helpful words and phrases 

The main language is Portuguese in Brazil

Favela, Vidigal, Ipanema, Rio, Brazil, Travel tips, Travel Guide, Travel blog, Travel couple, Kiwi, Kiwis Off Course, Best destinations, Top Ten, Travel Photography

So much street art on the way down Vidigal favela. See the hidden lions?

Hello                                                            Oi

Goodbye                                                    Tchau

Please                                                         Por favor

Thank you                                                Obrigado

You’re welcome                                        Seja bem-vindo

Pardon me                                                Desculpa

English?                                                     Ingles?

Yes                                                              Sim

No                                                              Nao

 

 

 

* Updated to 2016 prices; Please let us know if there has been any changes to prices or if you have any tips to add.

* This guide is written in our own personal opinion and all recommendations are our own.

 

 

 

Want some more inspiration?

**See our Brazil Travel Gallery for inspiring photos

 

 

 

2 Comments

  • Reply
    Bonita Ipanema
    January 17, 2017 at 12:42 pm

    We received Bianca & Brett in our pousada and made it a point to offer them more than a full stay. We just did not imagine that the couple would be so nice and charming, which made us want to accompany them in part throughout this stay. It was a huge pleasure to host them and hope to see you back soon.

    Bonita Ipanema – Pousada & Hostel

  • Reply
    Isadora Martinez
    August 16, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    That’s great you had the guts to go hang gliding over Rio, it must be fantastic! Just as you said, Brazil could take a lot of time to see everything around, how long did you stay here?

    One of the places that must be seen is the Iguazu Falls! As well as Pluma, there are other companies that do this route: https://brazilbustravel.com/sao-paulo-tiete-sp-x-foz-do-iguacu-pr

  • Leave a Reply

    %d bloggers like this: