2 days in Paraty, Brazil: Swing like Tarzan, slide down a waterfall & taste some cachaca
Paraty is a small coastal town, with picturesque colonial buildings surrounded by lush green mountains and indigo blue seas four hours away from the city of Rio De Janeiro. We visited Paraty in April 2012 and stayed for 2 days exploring the quaint little town.
We organised our transfer by a private minivan from our hostel in Ipanema to Paraty. On our exodus out of the city, we passed several favelas built high up on hills and mountains, and no doubt with million dollar views of the state of Rio. The next 3 hours on the drive provided remarkable views of dramatic cliffs, and a backdrop of bright green vegetation and indigo blue seas that stretched on for as long as they eye could see.
We knew we were close to our destination as the first group were dropped off at a dock for Ilha Grande.
We arrived at the bus station in Paraty, bustling with tourists and locals.
|14-Apr-12||Jeep||Bocaino National Park
Tarzan de Poco
|15-Apr-12||Reunidas Paulista coach|
|Costa Verde||Matiz Guarulhos|
Get lost in the Old Village
The Old Village, filled with white buildings, and splashes of vibrant primary colours, made for a very aesthetically pleasing walk. Although the colonial style buildings, wrought iron lanterns and cobblestone pathways oozed old world charm, the town exudes a cosmopolitan vibe with its modern restaurants, and boutique retail stores lining its streets. Lacking big garish signage, the boutique stores and restaurants are only given away by glimpses inside the brightly coloured windows where you see store shelves, discreet menus standing at the doorway or by the set up of the al fresco dining tables.
As we walked through the town, horse led carriages passed us by, adding to the already beautiful visual of the city. Being able to navigate the streets with the evident absence of automobiles in the old town, makes for a great pedestrian experience.
We followed the cobblestone paths until we arrived at the small park separating the town and the sea. Here, small vendors sat under the cooling shade of palm trees and sold their small wares and street food. Past the park, we were greeted by a view of the dock, cradled by jagged green mountains and expansive blue green waters. Festive boats and schooners – dressed in elaborate and bright colours like they were part of Carnivale – were anchored along shore.
Although named a ‘tourist town’ by many a guide book- which to me, usually screams loud gaudy souvenirs, international food chains overtaking unique local food, and hawkers stopping you for tours every 5 minutes – these negative elements were lacking here. Instead, we found Paraty to be really chilled back.
Eat at a Por Quilo restaurant
For an authentic local experience on the dining front, you simply can’t go past a por quilo restaurant in Paraty. For those unfamiliar with por quilo- you basically fill your plate from a buffet selection, weigh it and are charged based on the weight of your food. There were several options along the main street of Av Roberto Silveira, just outside the Old Village. Options here we found were slightly cheaper and more affordable than what was offered in the Old Village so we frequented this road often when looking for a feed. I can’t recall the actual names of the restaurants we ate at, but if you have a chance to try por quilo, it’s a good way to sample a variety of local cuisine.
Ride a schooner
cost 40 BRL
Our schooner tour was booked again through Paraty tours. We were also given another option for a smaller private boat, but we chose to go with the big schooner group as it was slightly cheaper.
We anchored at various islands, providing opportunities for snorkelling and swimming in the pristine blue waters, or to simply relax at the beach. For an additional fee, you were able to pay for lunch on board. The journey provided some very picturesque and romantic views of the other islands surrounding Paraty- prompting one couple in our tour group get engaged on the boat! True story.
After our schooner adventure, we hung out at the pier, watching the other schooner boats return to shore, and people watched. We bought some snacks from the street vendors – one in particular was a gelatinous slice with shredded coconut, topped with a generous heap of condensed milk. I love condensed milk so this was a winner for me!
Slide down a waterfall & go cachaca tasting
cost 30-40 BRL
We booked a tour through Paraty Tours on one of our walks down Av Roberto Silveira. The tour included a visit to the national park, cachoeira toboga, cachaca distillery and tasting and a final stop at a garden.
Bocaino national park
The open top jeep picked us up at the shopfront at 10:30 where we made our way to some waterfalls at the Bocaino National Park.
Toboga Cachoiera & Poco Do Tarzan
For those wanting to incorporate thrill and adventure elements in your visit to Paraty, look no further than the toboga cachoiera & the poco do tarzan. Located inside a small clearing within the rainforest, the Toboga Dalls makes for a fun (and scary) experience. The rocks are smooth so it acts as a natural slide into the pool below.
When we arrived, we watched as the fearless local kids performed stunts and slid down the waterfall on foot with ease. They jumped and flipped into the small pool of water at the bottom. It was very entertaining to watch, although with each flip into the rocky pool I flinched with trepidation of the worst.
Mustering the courage to do it myself, I took my time in heading up to the top of the waterfall. I watched as one of the ladies in our group slid down and halfway, hesitate and tried to stop by turning and trying to grab on to one of the rocks on her way down. She careered to the bottom, a sideways mess and ended up injuring herself. Adding to my already mounting anticipation, I shook off my nerves and thought to myself I would probably regret it more not doing it. The tour guide helped me settle in and sat me down at the top. He took my hand and pushed me forward to help gain speed. I landed into the pool below.
The Poco do Tarzan is basically what the name implies – locals swing on a Tarzan like rope into the pool of water below. This, I was not game to do, nor was my boyfriend, so we were pretty happy to chill out and be entertained by the locals who bravely jumped in.
After our visit to the waterfalls, we were driven to an old rustic farm where the cachaca distillery was located. A room housing some serious looking copper equipment set on top of a circular brick base stood in one corner, and another room housed wooden barrels of the product.
We made our way to the shopfront, all eager for the tasting. There were several colourful bottles of cachaca and liquor lined on the counter top that we could choose from. We tasted a few but I much preferred it in the form of a caipirinha than drinking it straight.
We bought a couple of souvenir bottles, and left the distillery.
Stroll amongst local flora
Our final stop was at a garden, where there were various flora that thrived in the lush tropical climate of Brazil. The tour guide left us to explore the garden on our own and we spent about 30 minutes here before heading back to Paraty.
Where we stayed
cost 420 BRR
breakfast buffet breakfast
You won’t find any big commercial chain resorts or sky rises towering over Paraty. Instead, you will find a myriad of pousadas, catering to all budgets.
We stayed at Magnu’s Pousada, positioned close to the bus terminal and a short 10-15 minute stroll to the Old Village. Our pousadas facade easily blended in with the rest of the residences on the street, with its white exterior and wooden frames and accents. Although it is not located in the old village, the buildings next to the pousada and surrounding streets still payed homage to the history of Paraty.
The reception area felt almost like a spacious living area and was furnished with eclectic, individual pieces making it feel very homely.
The eclectic and somewhat erratic furnishings of brightly coloured and mismatched linens continued on into the decor of our room. Our room was located on the second floor of the pousada, facing the quiet street below. Because of the low level buildings, from our window we could also see the tops of the mountains peeking out over the different shades of red roof tiles. The room was a quaint size with a comfortable bed and basic furniture.
The buffet breakfast which was included in our stay was served on the ground floor of the pousada. The food was kept in the little dining area indoors where you could opt to dine – or if you preferred to dine outside, there were also several tables set up next to the outdoor swimming pool and garden. For breakfast we feasted on a spread of breads, pastries, cold meats, jams and cheese. Simple and delicious.
We enjoyed our stay here and would happily stay here again.
The low key, homely feel – stay here for a warm simple stay
Complimentary buffet breakfast
Location- walking distance to the bus terminal streets where there are lavanderias, internet cafes and other useful amenities
|If you're on a budget, Av Roberto Silveira has cheaper options for food choices than the Old Village|
|Wear proper footwear when exploring the old village, the cobblestone streets are very uneven|
|If you like sampling different food, Por Quilo restaurants are a good choice|