Eager to experience a better Brazil than the polluted beaches in Rio, we visited Ilha Grande, noted for its remote, beautiful beaches set amidst dense Atlantic rainforest. Located 150km south of Rio and 2hrs off the coast, Ilha Grande is popular with locals on a weekend break but hasn't registered highly on the international tourist scene as yet, which is wonderful! The main settlement, Abraáo, is full of small, quaint, pousadas (lodgings), friendly locals and casual beachfront restaurants.
We spent 4 idyllic days walking through the rainforest, exploring the beaches, cruising the coast on schooner style passenger boats, snorkelling, bodysurfing and soaking up the beautiful Brazilian sun (perhaps a little too much soaking as we've both gone red, brown and peeled since.... yes even with 30+ Mum's)!
Evenings were spent in Abraáo enjoying the local seafood and sipping caiparinhas with another travelling duo from Ireland (Robby & Yolanda) we had met in Argentina & had run into on the beach.
Our beach bum lifestyle came to an end with an epic 2 and a half days travelling to the other end of this massive continent; Quito in Ecuador, the country for our next month of adventure. A ferry, a stifling bus station, 8 hours on a bus to Sao Paulo, an airport hotel followed by a full day flying towards Quito (via Santiago and Guayaquil). Upon descent into Quito, we learnt that the airport was closed due to a black-out and flew back to Guayaquil for a night's luxury accommodation, thanks to LAN, and another early morning flight!