Paraty Brazil, 13 -14 January
13 Jan 2008
A 9am start and 4 hour coach ride to Paraty.
Paraty is 125 miles from Rio de Janeiro, on the edge of picturesque Ilha Grande Bay, It is a lovely colonial town. Sitting on Brazil's southeastern coast, Paraty lies on the border between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo states, and is a favourite with those looking to 'get away from it all'—Brazilians and visitors alike. Considered one of the world's most important examples of Portuguese colonial architecture by UNESCO, the historic centre is a well-preserved national historic monument, and today has been closed to vehicles to preserve its laid-back colonial ambience. During high tide the Portuguese cobblestone streets are partly flooded by seawater, adding to the fairy tale atmosphere.
Paraty's bay is filled with over 65 tropical islands and dozens of beaches, each offering something different, and all covered with vegetation that remains lush and colourful year-round. The water of the bay is always the right temperature for swimming, diving and snorkelling.
We are not the only people on the tour above 30 and it looked promising but...
The guides choice of DVD's is different to ours and a documentary about US Health care problems followed by the feature movie BORAT is not what we would have chosen.
On arrival at the hotel the previous guests in our room had not checked out so we went for a walk round the town of Paraty and on return the room was ready. What is it anout us and hotel rooms?
Paraty was very nice and restful to sit by the water and look at the schooners. The town is pedestrianised but with massive irregular cobbles. Its a world heritage site and there was certainly plenty of heritage.
We went down and sat by the swimming pool to have afternoon tea. As you will see when I eventually find somewhere I can upload photos the setting was very peaceful and a perfect contrast to the busyness of Rio.
We're off for a meal with the rest of the tour group this evening. This was very enjoyable with almost everyone choosing Pasta dishes. May need to find somewhere a little cheaper tomorrow night to balance the budget.
In the 1700's when the mines of Minas Gerais were pouring out gold, the perfect bay of Paraty was a busy port, the second most important in Brazil during the 'Golden Century.' The best pinga or cachaça (sugar cane liquor) of Brazil was produced here and the name Paraty became synonymous with the liquor. Later, coffee was brought from the valley of Paraiba to be shipped to Portugal, sparking another economic boom. In 1888 with the abolition of the slavery, Paraty became almost forgotten in time, and a large exodus left only a population of around 600, a considerable difference from the 16000 when the town was in its prime. In 1954 a road was opened linking the town to the inland through the valley of Paraiba, but it was not until 1973-75 with the opening of the highway BR-101 that Paraty's rebirth as a tourist town began. Paraty was declared a national monument in 1966.
The national parks that encircle the town are filled with trails, wildlife and waterfalls. a jeep or van tour are both excellent ways to appreciate this natural wilderness.
The local fauna and flora in Ilha Grande, a Nacional Patrimony protected area, are extremely diverse. The state park was created in 1971 and encompasses 4.500 hectares of wilderness. Mountain range, coastal, mangrove and prairie vegetation are all found here, along with an astonishing collection of bird life, including parrots, woodpeckers, Brazilian thrushes and saracuras. There are also different kinds of monkeys, squirrels, armadillos, pacas, hedgehogs and snakes, as well as endangered species such as the Alouatta Fusca, generally known as Bugio monkey.
A Jeep tour is how we choose to spend the day and this takes us up into the rain forest and visits several waterfalls and swimming places. No tour guide so the driver tries to interpret but we didn`t see much of the wildlife or fauna. Some of our plants have flowers and some of our plants do not have flowers!!
Lunch is not very exciting and we all decide to order a minimal one of a plate of chips or salad rather than paying high prices for the meals.
The old sugar cane refineries previously run with the slave trade was interesting but we avoided sampling the local cachaça.
After returning to the hotel where there was now more noise from families in the pool we went for a walk to the local pizza restaurant where an enthusiastic 12 year old served us. We got the impression it was a family business but the lad`s enthusiasm was great.