Paraty, Brazil. This town, hidden in the hills of the Atlantic Forest, simply has it all: stunning beaches, spectacular waterfalls, historical architecture, jungle and trails for hiking and horse trekking.
Enjoy marvelous beaches It is incredible, how many fascinating beaches you may find close to Paraty. And they are exactly the kind of beaches we love: white sand, giant boulders and turquoise water, the beaches are hidden by the green hills from the rest of the world, just pure nature and no concrete hotel complexes with chlorinated pools in sight.
Our favourite Paraty beach is Praia do Sono – except for the natural beauty, it has a great hippie vibe. The name of the beach is translated as the Dream Beach, and it actually provides a chance to spend a night here in a tent, or a hammock, looking at the stars.
You may get there by boat or by car/bus – in this case, you will have to hike a small path starting from the highway and leading down to the beach. But keep in mind: In the rainy season, it might be tricky to climb down the muddy slippery stones with a backpack.
We also love the beautiful beaches of Saco do Mamanguá, Praia do Jurumirim and Praia Vermelha. But even within a short bicycle ride from Paraty, there are some pleasant beaches we loved spending time at.
Stroll through the colourful streets of the old town or trek historical ‘Camino do Ouro’ Paraty has its unique character: Its charm is due to the 17th- and 18th-century buildings and cobbled streets. Some of them stay underwater during the high tide. For that reason, Paraty is also known as 'Brazilian Venice'.
In the streets of Paraty, one can spot rare antiquities: horse-drawn carriages and VW hippie buses.
The town was founded at the end of the XVI century and one hundred years later, after the discovery of the world's richest gold mines in the mountains of Minas Gerais, Paraty became an export port for Brazilian gold.
Minas Gerais and Paraty were connected by the 1200 kilometre long "Caminho do Ouro" or "Gold Trail". Two sections of the Caminho do Ouro near Paraty have been excavated and you may hike them.
Explore secluded waterfalls If you google the waterfalls near Paraty, you are sure to find out the names of the most popular ones. Now that you know them, avoid them by all means – these places tend to get overrun! In order to spend hours at a river, listening only to the sound of the water and the jungle, but not the screams of people sliding down the wet rocks оr splashing into the water after a rope swing, rent a bike, go up the road towards Cunha, head of the paved road, take one of the minor path leading to the water. Doing so, you may find an awesome place – and keep it for yourself. ;)
Go on a trail ride We loved trail riding in Paraty, it was such a change from our regular beach-and jungle routine. Horse trails take place at the elevation of the Brazilian highlands that stretch along the Atlantic coast.
While it is wet and almost unbearably hot on the coast (at least for Balti, for me there is no such thing as ‘too hot`), the Highlands are cooler and drier. On a trail ride, you get a chance to see a different climate zone and get away from the crowds of the coastline.
We managed to arrange our ride with 'Horses4u' within a short time. Raul who guides the trails picked us up at our rental. The way to his ranch was spectacular, the road led uphill through a jungle.
After an hour-long ride, we reached Raul’s ranch. He showed us his horses, described their characters and told stories how he acquired them and enlightened us about the local riding technique: you need to lean forward to make it gallop and backwards to make it go slower.
The trails we rode were spectacular and suitable for both gallop and trot.
As it was just the two of us, we could set the pace of our trail ride. Still, the price Raul charged us was quite affordable, considering the fact that we were picked up, given a ride to the ranch and it was a private tour.
A horseshoe we`ve got from Raul is now lying around our home in Berlin, serving as a source of inspiration for exploring the new countries on a horseback.