Paraty , Brazil

Surrounded by dense swathes of rainforest, the gorgeous 18th century architecture of Paraty sits in a spectacular location on Brazil’s verdant Costa Verde. The pedestrianised town is a whitewashed canvas, splashed with bold blocks of primary colours, which shine above cobbled streets. Paraty and four nearby protected natural areas of Brazilian Atlantic Forest are a UNESCO World Heritage Site for their cultural and natural values. Gold is a key theme for Paraty and the region. Gold was stripped from inland mines and brought to Paraty’s port for export. Mules trains transporting the wealth reprovisioned at the 17th century Bananal Farm, with its water driven sugar mill, located 8 kilometres (5 miles) from Paraty. Gold is irresistible. English and French pirates hiding out in the nearby village of Trinidade raided the gold ships leaving Paraty.

Now the modern gold is the colour of the beaches, where rainforest cascades from the hills. There are many ways to experience Serra da Bocaina National Park, whether by foot, hoof or paddle. The sounds of birds in the rainforest will accompany you as you traverse trails to gushing streams or cross the sheltered waters of Paraty Bay to tropical islands. Birds are prolific around Paraty. The Atlantic forest has 120 endemic (not found elsewhere) species of birds in addition to more widespread types. Brilliantly coloured tanagers are highlights, as are hummingbirds, toucans and parrots. When asked ‘what is your favourite bird’? Answer with ‘the next one’.

tour 1 Gold Trail Hiking & Waterfalls

Explore the charms of Serra da Bocaina and travel in time with the history and regional culture of Paraty on this adventure through the mountains and waterfalls of the region. Enjoy nature and discover the local culture of the city on this tour made for nature lovers and history buffs.

Begin your tour by boarding your 4x4 jeep at the Pier of Paraty. Travel 20 minutes to the Nacional Park of Serra da Bocaina, where many different species of trees and birds await your discovery. Meet your Gold Trail guide to begin your 90-minute hike, which allows you to learn some of the history of Brazil in the middle of the Atlantic Forest. Begin your hike in the restored and preserved trail from the 17th and 19th century made by the slaves that connected Paraty to Diamantina.

After the hike, arrive at Vila do Penha to visit the Tobogã waterfall, with an optional stop for swimming and picture-taking. After your swim, stop at the Alambique Pedra Branca Distillery to learn the local production process and taste a bit for yourself. Your tour concludes with a visit to the Bromelia Exhibition, which features more than 500 species of bromelias, a brightly colored flowering plant native from tropical forests. Many species at the exhibition are endemic to the region. Others, more exotic, help to compose a rich collection with different colors and shapes. Make the short 15-minute return trip to the pier.

tour 2 Bananal Farm

Go back in time with a visit to the 17th century Bananal Farm, located 8 km from the historic center of Paraty. This farm was carefully restored after thorough historical and architectural research, following the IPHAN criteria for historic and artistic preservation. Meet your bilingual guide at the pier and travel 30 minutes to the farm for a guided tour with Forest Engineers or Agronomists that offers information not only on the agricultural area, but also regarding sustainable livestock and construction techniques as well as the history of the farm.

Highlights of your tour include the Historic House, where you learn the story of this farm, contemplating the history of the city of Paraty and Brazil through a visit to the Bananal Farmhouse dating from 1820. The farm has gone through the cycles of gold, sugar cane, coffee and tourism, seeing times of great rise and decay. Also discover the two different types of agro-ecological food production methods that are used on the farm, learn the techniques of sustainable breeding of farm animals as you visit the chicken coop, cattle corral and goat corral, and tour the cheese factory. On this tour is also the opportunity to learn about the sustainable building techniques used to build the farmhouse, including the reuse of rainwater, the use of solar panels, and the walls that are built with local materials. After your three-hour tour, enjoy a delicious lunch with the products made right on the farm.

Return to Paraty and visit its historical downtown, which has earned Paraty its status as a UNESCO Historic National Monument and Historic Patrimony. Return to the pier.

tour 3 Horseback Riding

Ride a horse through the trails of Serra da Bocaína National Park on this adventure that takes you galloping (or walking if you are a beginner!) through stunning panoramic views on horseback. Meet your bilingual guide at the pier and journey 20 minutes by van to the farm meeting point. Your guide matches you with a horse that best suits your skill level so you are ready to embark on a scenic ride through the trails of Serra da Bocaína National Park. Beginners can enjoy a gentle walk along a scenic trail, while skilled riders can take their horse on a leisurely gallop. Ride across this beautiful preserve to a waterfall where you can opt to go for a swim, taking in the landscape framed by mountains, and shaded by pine, cedars, and palm trees along the way. The ride in total is just under three hours, after which there is time to relax and see the center of Paraty for browsing before making the return trip to the ship.

tour 4 A Walk Through Paraty

Get to know this UNESCO World Heritage Site up-close during a comprehensive walking tour that showcases its most important landmarks and historical past. Paraty is a colonial town that features 18th century architecture so impressive and important it was recognized by UNESCO and designated a World Heritage Site. Meet your guide at the pier where your walk commences, taking you down narrow cobblestone streets, passing old homes with vibrantly painted walls and doors, and colorful cascades of flowers flowing from their balconies.

During your fully narrated walk, you will also see historical churches, museums, the Culture Center and a variety of artist workshops and galleries that vividly convey the culture, character and charm of this celebrated city. During the tour, we Will stop in the local market of fish, to present about the fishing activity, the basis of caiçara food. And there Will have also a stop to sample Cachaça, a popular Brazilian beverage made from fermented sugar cane juice. It's purported to be spicy, sweet and fruity. After your tasting, walk back to the pier with your guide.

On to Ilhabela, Brazil

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