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Paraty

At the beginning of the 18th Century the Brazilian Bandeirantes, mixed-race Brazilians (Indian mother, Portuguese father) discovered the fabulous gold and diamonds in Minas Gerais, some hundred kilometers north of Paraty, in the heart of a still virgin territory.
This opened the most direct path from the mines to the coast, through the mountains covered in thick tropical forest, which spread from the coast to the central plains.
This gold trail, whose cobblestones today recall its history, opens out on to an area scattered with bays and inlets, natural shelters only known by pirates lying in wait for merchant ships traveling along the coast of the New World: this area is known as Paraty.
The port grew rapidly, stimulated by the important movement of traffic that it organized. The boats arrived from Africa carrying slaves and manufactured produce to leave again towards Portugal carrying quantities of diamonds and gold brought to the coast by an unending line of mule convoys.
Prosperity continued until a new, more direct path, caused an upheaval in the destiny of Paraty making what was none other than a coastal village the centre of a commercial triangle: Rio de Janeiro did not take long to catch up …a reverse of history caused the brutal destruction and almost abandonment of Paraty but nevertheless allowed the town to preserve its treasures which remain until the present day.

 
Tourism in Paraty - Brazil
 
Paraty, World class Heritage site
Sauntering along the narrow cobbled streets, one discovers one of the most beautiful colonial heritages of Brazil, World class Heritage listed by UNESCO. Perfectly renovated dwellings and the four magnificent Baroque churches, a heritage that recalls the pomp of the past centuries and the collection of small low houses of the bourgeoisie "sobrados" from the 18th Century, in the centre of town, where cars are forbidden - emit a nostalgic charm. Views from the jetty, the sea, the church, the hills and the sky complete a perfect harmony of shades of white, green and blue.
 
Paraty, paradisiacal surroundings

The surroundings of Paraty equally contribute to this famous growth. Tropical mountains which “fall” into the ocean, long deserted beaches of fine white sand, an abandoned lighthouse off a fishermen’s village, islands straight from paradise surrounded by turquoise seas, undulating hinterland rich in local products, this is what you find in the region of Paraty, a land of incredible nature rich in history and traditions. Traveling through the national parks next to this little colonial city (Serra da Bocaina, Serra do Mar, Saco de Mamangua, Ponta de Joatinga), the curious will discover fazendas, Pinga distilleries (nickname for Cachaça, the national alcohol) sugarcane fields and coffee plantations with as much heritage as secular culture.

Today Paraty possesses a modern feel all year long for rich cultural life: the Pinga festival, the Book Festival, numerous shows and exhibitions … the informed traveler will undoubtedly love it, even in only a few days stay.
Paraty: 1-day programs

PARATY / VISIT OF HISTORICAL CENTRE (half-day)
Our English-speaking guide picks us up at 09:00 (or 14:00) at the pousada for a guided visit to the historical centre of the village.
Nestled between ocean and the foothills of the Serra do Mar, Paraty, registered as a word heritage site with UNESCO, shelters one of the most beautiful colonial heritage of Brazil. Along narrow, paved streets, we discover this incredible heritage, bearing witness to the wealth of the 17th and 18th century: sublime mansions, four superb baroque churches, one being the church of Santa Rita de Cassia hosting today a museum of sacred art.
Paraty, a very animated town night and day, offers numerous nearby beaches.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.

PARATY / BOAT TOUR IN THE BAY / private service
At 09:00 the captain drives us to the pier to embark our private craft, a fishing boat equipped for the tour (benches and cushions, cooler…).
Day open in the Bay of Paraty, traveling from island to island, beach to beach.
Stops planned on different sites suitable for swimming or snorkeling in the company of hundreds of fish (mask and snorkel included): ilha Comprida, saco da Velha, praia Vermelha...
Return to Paraty at around 16:00 / 17:00.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.
Option: English-speaking guide.

PARATY / GOLD TRAIL & PENHA
Trekking - 2 to 3-hour hike- elevation again 120 meters – difficulty: moderate
08:30: departure from the pousada, in a private vehicle, with our English-speaking guide.
After a few minutes on the road going inland, we reach a recently renovated section of the gold trail.
Some display panels and a small museum (with unreliable opening times) give us some explanations on the way about its construction, utility, anecdotes …
But the interest of the walk resides in the dimension we experience while strolling on the paved trail, imagining the phenomenal work that required the construction of this road over thousands of miles in length (from Minas Gerais to the coast) and the conditions of transportations of the time.
This short trek constitutes also an original way to discover the nature of the Costa Verde. Always surrounded by vegetation, we stop at numerous viewpoints over the ocean and Paraty, as well at a few waterfalls for refreshing bathes.
We can then lunch in a delicious local restaurant (its specialty being the suckling pig) before heading for the cachoeira de Penha, a natural site of exceptional beauty.
This gigantic natural limestone toboggan is perfect to spend the rest of the afternoon, in the coolness offered by rivers and waterfalls.
Depending on the day of the week, visit of a distillery (the area is famous for its cachaça).
Return to Paraty in the late afternoon.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.
Note: the gold trail is closed Mondays and Tuesdays.

PARATY’S BACK COUNTRY – TOWARDS THE SERRA DA BOCAINA AND CUNHA

09:00 departure, in private vehicle, with our English-speaking guide, towards the mountainous backcountry of Paraty, located in the National Park of Serra da Bocaina.
This area is only reachable by a dirt track, which was until the 70s the only terrestrial way to connect Paraty to the rest of the word.
Today abandoned for the use of the coastal road, this track takes us through the dense and green scenery of the Atlantic forest (the famous "Mata Atlantica") to the Cunha pass. The contrast is striking: there, at over 1000 meters above sea level, the hills covered with flowers and the narrow valleys make us forget the marine and tropical air, yet so close.
The picturesque village of Cunha seems sheltered from all outside influence. Numerous ceramic artistes have moved their workshops there, near the local market where we can find all kinds of delicious local products (honey, pine nuts…).
Visit of the village and of its memorable workshops. We visit the ones of the Japanese Mieko Ukeseki and of the Brazilian Alberto Cidraes (possibility of participating in a workshop). Return at the end of the day to Paraty.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.

DREAMY BEACHES AND FISHING VILLAGES OF THE COSTA VERDE
Departure at 09:00 with our very knowledgeable local driver. First stop, the charming fishing village of Picinguaba, hidden in the recesses of a beautiful Bay.
A few miles away, we can stroll along the immense beach of fazenda, many miles of white sand, often absolutely deserted, and a paradise for a swim.
We can lunch at local stalls. Family style cooking (specialty: shrimps and fish) simple, but delicious. We can complete this savory meal by a coconut "gelada" (cool coconut juice).
Depending on the weather and our mood, we continue on to the remote village of Paratymirim, its colonial church, its long beach and its blue and green waters…
On the way back towards Paraty, we stop in a distillery of cachaça, (or "pinga", the production of this area is famous in the whole country).
Return to Paraty at the end of the day.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.
Option: English-speaking guide.

PARATY - PRAIA DO SONO – PARATY
Trek – 1½-hour of actual walking - 150 meters of elevation gain- easy
Departure from Paraty at 08:30 with a local minibus with our English-speaking guide, for the village of Laranjeiras (30-minute trip). The trek starts by a short incline then enters the Atlantic forest (Mata Atlantica), at the heart of the" Ecological preservation area of Joatinga ".
After an hour and a half of pleasant walking, we reach, at lunch time, the hamlet of Sono, located on the border of one of the nicest beaches of the region, Praia do Sono, literally meaning "sleepy beach". With such a name, we don’t want to miss it!
Lunch break in a local stall. Splendid decor. The paradisiacal beach is usually deserted. Return by motorboat to Trindade then by local bus to Paraty at the end of the day.

PARATY / FAZENDA MURYCANA & PENHA
Our English-speaking guide meets us at the pousada at 09:00
He drives us in a private vehicle, to the Fazenda Murycana, about 6 miles from Paraty. The site is located in a luxuriant forest in the mountain.
This place is loaded with history.  Known in the year 1700 under the name of “Three Farms”, the fazenda received at this time travelers who would spend a night there before engaging in the gold trail towards the Minas Gerais. In the opposite direction, the conveyers used to stop at the fazenda to hide their precious charge (gold and precious stones) in the forest while they checked to make sure the coast was safe of pirates.
The guide dedicates one hour to the discovery of the property; we find there a small museum and alcohol of local pinga.
The market for local produce gives us a taste of the flavors and traditions of the region of Paraty. Dona Hilda might offer us her "home made" coffee (if she is in a good mood!).
We then head on a horseback ride across the trails criss-crossing the National Park of Bocaina. Nature, here, contrasts with the seaside; a surprising mix of altitude and tropical plants. Because of the numerous rivers and waterfalls spread out over the area, the air is cool. The highlight of the day, and a good reason to visit this area, is the group of Pedra Branca waterfalls; an impressive show of nature.
We can then lunch in a delicious local restaurant (its specialty being the suckling pig) before heading for the cachoeira de Penha, a natural site of exceptional beauty.
This gigantic natural limestone toboggan is perfect to spend the rest of the afternoon, in the coolness offered by rivers and waterfalls.
Depending on the day of the week, visit of a distillery (the area is famous for its cachaça).
Return to Paraty at the end of the day.
Meals not included. Night in a pousada.
Option: Tyrolean and aerial rope course at the fazenda.

Evening options in Paraty

* Evening Capoeira
We attend a Capoeira presentation given by the local Mestre (Master) and his students. He will maybe invite us to participate to the exercises (the representation lasts 45 minutes).
Capoeira is one of the most fascinating aspects of the Brazilian culture. The capoeirist is at the same time an athlete, a dancer, an acrobat, a performance artist, a comedian and a musician.
Being forbidden to practice martial arts (which could make them more dangerous in the case of a rebellion against their masters) the slaves transvestite their fights into spectacular gymnastic moves, thus creating a unique ritual, in reality a real preparation to combat.
Thus was born the Capoeira, dance as much as martial art, and result of forced encounters between the different African cultures on the Brazilian territory over the three hundred years that lasted slavery.
One of the particularities of Capoeira is its musicality. This martial art is indeed practiced over rhythms soberly played using drums, tambourines, ant the emblematic instrument of the Capoeira, the Berimbau and a wooden arc stretched by a wire and ornate with a calabash serving as the sound box.
Forbidden and suppressed for a long time, even after the abolition of slavery, the Capoeira was only authorized by the government in 1937 when it finally became recognized for its cultural, educative and artistic value.
It is nowadays extensively taught and practiced, in the schools and on the streets, but also in the universities, theatres workshops, circus schools and the sportive centers in Brazil as well as in the rest of the world.
Note: the representations are irregular, check with us to organize the evening.

* Evening gastronomy / Cooking Academy (meal and wine included)
In the evening, we are welcome at Yara and Richard’s, who opened their cooking workshop in their superb house located in the historical center.
Our hosts are dedicated to promote the pleasures of the Brazilian table.
The recipes of the day are distributed so that we can, if we wish to, participate in the elaboration of dinner. The climax of the evening will of course be the sampling of the concocted dishes…
Note: usually open from Wednesday to Saturday included.

* Evening gastronomy & cruise in the Paraty Bay (meal and drinks included)
Yves, a French chef settled in Brazil for a few years, welcome us on his boat, a magnificent Saveiro (sailboat typical of Brazilian coasts) equipped and decorated with taste to offer us an unforgettable evening.
After a welcome aperitif, we sail towards the black and calm waters of the bay of Paraty.  The lights of town grow more distant, and soon twinkle in the distance.
We stop in the cove of an island for dinner. Menu a la carte (but to be ordered in advance): Brazilian, Thai, Provencal gastronomy… Yves knows how to cook it all, and knows how to do it with panache! Exclusive atmosphere for an evening deliciously spent at sea.
Note: maximum of 30 people.

 
 
   

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