- Walk along Paraty's historic Gold Trail and visit a cachaça distillery
- Discover Paraty Bay on a converted traditional fishing boat
- Hike to stunning Lopes Mendes Beach on Ilha Grande
- See Rio de Janeiro's Sambadrome, where samba performers parade during Carnival
|Day 1||Arrive in São Paulo||São Paulo|
|Day 2||Transfer to Paraty, Walking Tour of Paraty||Paraty|
|Day 3||Golden Trail Tour||Paraty|
|Day 4||Boat Tour of Paraty Bay||Paraty|
|Day 5||Free Day in Paraty||Paraty|
|Day 6||Transfer to Ilha Grande, Island Boat Tour||Ilha Grande|
|Day 7||Hike to Lopes Mendes Beach||Ilha Grande|
|Day 8||Free Day on Ilha Grande||Ilha Grande|
|Day 9||Transfer to Rio de Janeiro, Optional Visit to a Community Social Project||Rio de Janeiro|
|Day 10||Rio de Janeiro City Tour & Depart|
Day 1: Arrive in São Paulo
Welcome to Brazil! Upon arrival at São Paulo International Airport, meet your driver and proceed to your hotel. São Paulo, also known as "the city that can't stop," is the fourth-largest city in the world and the main financial center of Brazil. This important hub exerts economic, political, and cultural influence at a national and international level, and is the perfect starting point for your Brazilian adventure.
If you have time after your flight, head to the Centro Histórico (Historic Center) for a look at some of the city's famous sites, such as the Sé Cathedral, the Mosteiro de São Bento (St Benedict's Monastery), and the Martinelli Building, Brazil's first skyscraper. Otherwise, use the rest of today to settle into your hotel and relax.
Day 2: Transfer to Paraty, Walking Tour of Paraty
After a leisurely morning, meet your driver at your hotel for an overland transfer from São Paulo to the coastal town of Paraty. Paraty is a colonial relic originally founded in 1597 and established officially as a town in 1667. Once an important center for gold mining and transport, it is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is very well-preserved from an architectural perspective. It is known for its Baroque churches, cobblestone streets, and whitewashed buildings.
Once you've arrived and settled in at your hotel, enjoy a walking tour of the historic center of Paraty. Here, you'll learn about the town's history and step back into colonial times. Explore the legends of past centuries as you visit churches, museums, and historic homes. In the evening, take a walk through Paraty's bustling streets, and perhaps enjoy some live music at a local restaurant.
Day 3: Golden Trail Tour
On this tour, learn about the history of Brazil's Caminho do Ouro (Gold Trail), which links Paraty with Minas Gerais, running through an area of thick Atlantic rainforest. This cobblestone trail was laid by enslaved Africans in the 17th and 18th centuries and was originally used to transport gold and precious stones from Brazil to Portugal.
In the morning, leave Paraty and head toward the town of Penha, about 30 minutes away. When you arrive, walk along the trail through the rainforest. Visit the nearby waterfalls for a swim, then finish the tour at a cachaça distillery. Cachaça is similar to rum and is made from fermented sugar cane juice. Here, the spirit is still made in the traditional way.
Day 4: Boat Tour of Paraty Bay
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Take today to enjoy a traditional boat tour of Paraty Bay. The bay is home to more than 50 islands and over 100 beaches, making it an interesting and scenic place to explore. Discover the area's most beautiful spots as you ride around on a small converted fishing boat with an onboard bar.
Make stops all around the bay for some excellent snorkeling and sunbathing. Underwater, you can observe many types of marine life, including crabs, turtles, and a wide variety of colorful fish. There will be around 40 minutes to spend at each stop, giving you plenty of time for a relaxing swim in the sea. You will also have free time to rest and explore the surrounding villages, with the option to enjoy a fresh local lunch.
Day 5: Free Day in Paraty
Today is free for you to explore Paraty at your own pace. You can choose to discover the surrounding area by bike or take a kayaking tour of the bay. By kayak, it's possible to reach the Jabaquara Mangroves, a lush tangle of thick, shaded trees that is a great place for spotting wildlife and tropical birds.
If you're eager for an adventure, head off on a full-day hike of the nearby 1,444-foot (440 m) high Sugarloaf Peak. Not to be confused with the similarly-named Sugarloaf Mountain in Rio de Janeiro, this majestic peak is located in the lushly-forested Mamanguá Reserve. At the top, you'll be treated to unforgettable views of the whole region and of the Saco de Mamanguá tropical fjord, one of only a few tropical fjords in the world.
Day 6: Transfer to Ilha Grande, Island Boat TourIn the morning, travel from Paraty to the coastal town of Angra dos Reis via private transfer. Next, take a one-hour flexboat ride to Vila do Abraão, the only town on Ilha Grande. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed island was closed to the public by the Brazilian government for nearly a century, leaving its natural beauty in pristine condition. Once you've arrived at Vila do Abraão and settled into your accommodation, prepare to tour the Lagoa Azul (Blue Lagoon) around Ilha Grande via private boat.
First, make a stop in the shallow transparent water near the island to see an underwater world of coral and colorful fish, which you can feed from your hands. Next, proceed to Feiticeira Beach, a tiny secluded beach near Estrelas Bay. Here, you'll have free time to swim or hike to the Feiticeira Waterfall. Continue the tour through the Saco do Céu (Bag of the Sky), a bay that gained its name from the way the stars reflect on its surface at night. Afterward, stop at Fora Beach, which is lined with fishermen's houses and rustic restaurants. When the boat tour is finished, return to your hotel to relax.
Day 7: Hike to Lopes Mendes Beach
Head off on a hike with a private guide, departing from Vila do Abraão and heading toward Lopes Mendes Beach. On the way, you'll pass Palmas Beach, Mangues Beach, and Pouso Beach along the Enseada de Palmas (Palm Cove). From Pouso Beach, follow a trail for 15-20 minutes to reach Lopes Mendes Beach. With its fine white sands and crystal-clear waters, this beach captivates visitors with its world-class beauty. Here, you'll find mid-sized waves that appeal to swimmers as well as experienced surfers.
At the end of the 1.5-mile (2.4 km) long strip of sand, you'll see a clean and pleasant stream, as well as a small chapel and a mosaic by Silvio Cavalheiro on an old ship's barrel. Once you've had a look around and enjoyed some relaxation, return to Pouso Beach to catch a taxi boat back to Vila do Abraão.
Day 8: Free Day on Ilha Grande
Spend today relaxing on the peaceful beaches of Ilha Grande. Or, if you're looking for more action and adventure, there are plenty of activities to choose from: participate in an eco-trekking tour, explore the seas around the island by kayak, or try your hand at surfing.
You can also discover the surrounding islands on another boat tour, where you'll have the opportunity to visit some stunning untouched spots and natural havens. The nearby Botinas Islands, known for their clear blue water and world-class snorkeling, are a popular choice. These rocky islets are named for their boot-like shape ("botinas" means "boots" in Portuguese).
Day 9: Transfer to Rio de Janeiro, Optional Visit to a Community Social Project
Leave Ilha Grande behind today as you board a boat heading to the mainland. There, meet your private driver and transfer to Rio de Janeiro, where you'll spend the rest of the day getting to know the city. One option is to visit Project Morrinho, an art installation and NGO that is of great importance to the surrounding community. It consists of a miniature reconstruction of Rio de Janeiro's favelas made entirely of painted clay bricks and covering over 3,760 square feet (350 m²). The model features complex painted streets, over 3,000 miniature "inhabitants" placed one by one, and even policemen.
Originally started by local children and teens as a game, Project Morrinho eventually became a world-renowned art exhibit recreated at major events such as the Venice Biennale. You can see it on a guided tour, accompanied by the project's founder, as you learn about the cultural importance of this area and its history of expression and resistance through art. Otherwise, spend the rest of the day exploring the city however you prefer.
Day 10: Rio de Janeiro City Tour & Depart
Today, discover more of Rio on a panoramic city tour. Start by visiting the Maracanã, one of the world's most iconic soccer stadiums, and the Sambadrome, a specially-built parade area created for the samba schools that perform in Rio's Carnival each year. Then, pass by the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas (Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon), where you'll enjoy a beautiful view of the Corcovado Mountain and Christ the Redeemer Statue. Continue your tour by exploring the famous beaches of Ipanema, Copacabana, and Leblon. Afterward, stop for lunch at a local eatery if you'd like.
In the afternoon, return to your accommodation to relax, or keep exploring Rio on your own. Later, head to the airport to wrap up your journey and say goodbye to Brazil. You can rest assured that South America will be waiting for you with open arms should you ever decide to return. Boa viagem!