Luxtripper Travel Editor
Starting my trip in Rio de Janeiro I began with three days of hustle, bustle and postcard perfect views. First up, a day on Copacabana beach spent working on my tan whilst taking in the mountainous landscapes, live samba music and glamourous joggers. A blissful ease into Rio life before the next day’s busy sightseeing fun. Wanting to start with the famous harbour view I made my way up to the Christ the Redeemer statue for late morning, where despite the bustle of tourists I found myself looking down on the city, with the statue and a cloudless blue sky above me, and feeling as though I was looking down on the world from heaven. It’s easy to see why this is one of the seven natural wonders of the world.
Having begrudgingly torn myself away from the view I came down to Earth, only to head back up, this time on the cable car to the top of Sugarloaf Mountain, with a slowly setting sun behind me. Drinking a cold beer in the bar at the top I watched as Rio turned from brilliant blue to burnt orange and finally to pitch black, with the twinkle of a thousand lights. I remember thinking what a special city this is, nestled in between vast ocean and domineering mountains lies a place full of life and colour. Something which I would be reminded of the next day, on a trip to the Escadaria Selarón, a huge mosaic stairway in the Lapa region of town. Jorge Selarón, the artist responsible, calls them, "my tribute to the Brazilian people" and for me, that’s exactly what they are, a beautiful, brightly coloured example of this vibrant and varied Brazilian city.
Up next on my tour of Brazil was a week relaxing further down the coast, from Ilha Grande to Paraty. A tiny island paradise, Ilha Grande is an old pirates stomping ground, and with its lack of cars and few settlements, it still feels rather that way. The rainforest lined Lopes Mendes beach is one of the most picturesque I have ever come across - the fact that you either have to hike or boat to it making it perfectly unspoilt – and so a happy few days were spent lazing on white sand and paddling in turquoise water. But following an utterly incredible seafood dinner, eaten on the beach with the sea gently lapping my feet - Lua e Mar restaurant is a must try, genuinely the best seafood I have ever eaten – it was time to head back to mainland and move onto Paraty.
The old colonial town is a popular destination for Brazilians and foreigners alike and its cobbled streets and whitewashed buildings were bustling with life as I sat down in a harbour side bar to try my first Caipirinha, Brazil’s national drink. Made from cachaça spirit, sugar, lime and ice, these cocktails are dangerously delicious. Needless to say, after polishing off a couple I was in the mood for a little Brazilian nightlife, and so I found myself in an open air bar, nestled into an old stone building with flowered vines crawling the walls, drinkers chatting on the street outside, and a live samba band playing inside. The Brazilian carnival spirit is totally infectious, and even with my lack of rhythm I was soon being spun around by the locals and taught some moves by the band’s dancers, who looked fantastic all dressed up in traditional carnival attire. A perfectly Brazilian night followed by a perfectly relaxing next day. Having heard that the most popular activity for a stay in in Paraty is to take one of the many boat trips on offer, I set off on a big old wooden ship for a day of snorkelling, sunning and seafood. There’s really nothing like the joy of throwing yourself off a boat and splashing into a clear blue sea. It certainly cleared the cobwebs from the night before!
Suitably relaxed after my time on the coast I headed next to to Foz do Iguazu, the Brazilian base town for Iguazu Falls. And it was here that Brazil really stole my heart. On the border with Argentina sits a chain of almost 3km of waterfalls, all surrounded by rainforest and various flora and fauna – this is the little known wonder of Iguazu. Arriving into the national park I promptly made my way to the main viewing platform, perched on top of the very highest waterfall. Being drenched and deafened by the gushing water as it fell down below me, and I cowered away from the edge of the railing, was one of the most surreal moments of my life. However, as I wandered back downwards, on paths entwining through the rainforest, I came across my favourite views. Though the spray drenching experience from the very top was epic, the lower tree framed views give rise to a juxtaposition of colour that is just unparalleled. Rainbows appeared at every turn, and amongst the lush green trees and the blue water, thousands of multi-coloured butterflies filled the air. It was with a very heavy heart that I headed back to my hotel that night.
What a magical way to end my trip.