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The End is Nigh...

Our adventures during our final few weeks: Ciudad Perdida Trek, Tayrona NP and the San Blas Islands...

The end is most definitely nigh...so I'm afraid to say, this one is a little long! If it helps, it's mostly pictures!! ?

Ok so you thought our hiking days were done and dusted? Please no more tales of aching legs and blisters I hear you cry! Well, sorry to disappoint folks but with only 2 weeks left in Colombia, and of our trip in total, we decided there was plenty of time to fit in one final one - more specifically a 4 day hike to the Ciudad Perdida (Lost City) in the Sierra Nevada mountains above the Caribbean coastal towns of Santa Marta and Taganga.

After a very bumpy ride in the back of a crammed jeep to our starting point for the trek, we met the group with whom we would share the next few days as well as our guides. The group seemed to be another good one, which was great. Our guide Luis, a stout little fellow with a rather sizeable pot belly who looked just like an overweight 'Super Mario' (giving us hope that if he can manage this trek, surely we'll be fine!) spoke no English whatsoever but seemed friendly.

After a lunch of stale rolls and processed cheese and ham (hmmmm, hopefully the food can only go up from here) we were off! The first days walk was understood to be a fairly short leisurely one (approx 4 hours walking time) so we weren't too worried...until about 5 minutes in when it hit us just how tough walking with backpacks in 35 degree heat and tremendous humidity is! Within a few minutes we were drenched in sweat (something that was to become a theme for the next 4 days) so it was a big relief when we hit our first 'swimming spot' - one of many natural pools/rivers found along the trek - and we gladly jumped straight in to the cool water.

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Happily refreshed we set off again, only to be quickly greeted by a long and arduous climb that seemed never ending (hang on, no-one mentioned this was coming today!), meaning that our clean and refreshed state was very short lived.

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Eventually we reached the settlement where we were to sleep for the first night, in a huge row of hammocks no less. Gladly this site also had a great swimming spot nearby (and this one came complete with a waterfall and necessitated a pretty high jump to reach the water, which was great fun) so we were able, once again, to sort of clean ourselves up and cool down. The hammocks were fairly comfortable here too, so we were sure we'd get a good nights rest here, well that was until Luis mentioned the snakes and scorpions that tend to come into the hut at night - yikes!

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Day 2 brought an early start ahead of a long, tough days walking (approx 8 hours, most of which was uphill) to get us to the campsite which is closest to the Ciudad.

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I don't think I have ever been so hot in my life during this day, however there were luckily a few more natural pools to splash about in along the way and the scenery was fantastic. We were now amongst the stunning tree covered mountains we had seen the day before and the path was a decidedly more rugged and jungley. Of course Shaun couldn't resist having a few Indiana Jones moments, swinging on vines and running across rickety rope bridges!

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We also started to meet people from the indigenous tribe (the Tayuna) dressed in traditional clothing, along the path, and passed several indigenous settlements and villages. It never ceases to amaze me how basic some of the conditions are that these people live in, yet it's a way of life that they choose to maintain and fight to keep alive.

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Our accommodation on this second night was, rather luxuriously, beds! Ok, so fairly damp and rather stinky mattresses placed in rows and built in bunk bed style in a wooden framed open fronted shell of a building with mosquito nets over the top, but beds nonetheless! The natural pool here was a 5 minute trek into the jungle and was truly a hidden gem if ever there was one.

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So hidden, so secret, so beautiful. Clear waters surrounded by lush green tropical forest, hanging vines ready for swinging on, which Shaun duly tried!

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Day 3 brought us to the highlight, indeed the purpose of the trek - after hiking for a further one hour into the jungle, we reached the base of the 1200 steps that would take us up to the Lost City. The Lost City was built in the seventh century by the Tayuna people and is a maze of over 200 terraces and structures, spanning 30 acres, and was once home to 2000 inhabitants. It was also a large trade centre and the Tayuna's prospered there for centuries until the Spanish invasion of Colombia. When the Spanish came to Colombia they brought with them European diseases, to which the indigenous people had no resistance or idea how to treat, resulting in the near extinction of the race. In fear of enslavement by the Spanish, the remaining Tayuna's abandoned the Lost City in around 1650 and, hidden so deep in the jungle it remained that way until it was discovered in 1976. Unfortunately many of the treasures that the Tayuna people left behind were looted but the city itself remains a very sacred place for the Tayuna people, who (along with machine gun armed paramilitary!) guard it preciously.

The steps were incredibly steep and it was certainly tough getting to the top of them, but we were rewarded once we arrived there with a view of the first set of terraces and the entrance to the city. We spent 2.5 hours exploring the city, which was fascinating (luckily a nice Argentinean in our group was able to translate Luis' tour into English for the majority of the group) and the views were incredible.

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Whilst the centre of the city itself may not be quite as spectacular as Machu Picchu, it is certainly still a very impressive site to behold and the lack of mainstream access to the site, and resulting lack of other tourists, made it feel more secret and special.

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This was definitely much more the Indiana Jones experience Shaun was after, although I'm not sure Indiana was caught doing a human pyramid at the temple of doom!

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Following our tour, we returned to camp for a quick lunch, before setting off to start retracing our steps back, happy in the knowledge that, having done so much uphill on the way to the city, the way back would contain a considerable amount of downhill. We spent a last night in hammocks at another local settlement site, where much to our delight, we were fed a great meal of pasta - woohoooo "not rice" we cried!

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On our fourth and final day, we completed the trek by around lunchtime, having set off at around 6am to miss the worst of the heat and having spotted some poisonous snakes, dodged some unruly cows and visited an indigenous cemetery along the way.

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The drive back to Santa Marta/Taganga was even more eventful than the way there, since, owing to lack of room in the jeep, we watched with horror as our guide Luis jumped on the top of the vehicle and clung on for dear life as the jeep bumped its way along the unpaved mountainous roads! Luckily he, and we, made it back in one piece and in time for us to enjoy a slap up meal of filet mignon at the hostel (as you do!) before crashing.

Following this we had decided that it was finally time for some proper R&R so we headed to Tayrona National Park, famed for its stunning Caribbean beaches (not to mention being on the front of the Colombian lonely planet!) for a couple of nights. Tayrona can be reached by a 40 minute bus ride and then a 2 hour hike from Taganga, or alternatively you can take a short 1 hour speed boat ride there. Having finally had enough of walking, and with our blisters still fresh from the Lost City, we opted for the speed boat option without a seconds thought. However, the downside of this option is the incredibly choppy waters and swells along the coast that the boat must navigate to reach the park. It certainly wasn't the most relaxing boat ride we've ever taken, to say the least, and we arrived pretty bumped and bruised. Nonetheless, it all became worth it as we pulled into the bay of Cabo San Juan and saw the pristine beaches and clear waters that awaited us.

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We quickly booked ourselves in to spend the night sleeping in hammocks in a hut that sits on the top of the rocks overlooking the sea - the prime spot. We had been warned it can get pretty windy and chilly up in the hut in the night, but we couldn't pass up the opportunity to sleep in such a perfect spot and see the sunrise over the bay, so we decided we would take our chances and it was definitely a good choice. After all it's not every day you get to sleep in such a setting for less than £10!

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Our couple of days at Tayrona were spent very lazily, soaking up the sun, enjoying the sea and drinking beers - just what the doctor ordered! I think the photos pretty much speak for themselves.

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After 2 nights, we took the very bumpy and incredibly wet boat ride back to the town as we needed to get ourselves back to Cartagena to board the last minute Caribbean sailing trip we had booked to finish our trip with a bang, which was departing from there the following evening....

Wanting to finish our travels with a spectacular grand finale, we had spontaneously decided to take a 5-night / 6 day sailing trip to Panama on a 9-berth 43ft yacht, the Perle de la Caribe, which sails via the idyllic San Blas Islands. We had looked at 3 boats in total, a catamaran (which would've instinctively been my first choice) which held 14 people at a push, however we were told (by the company selling the sailing trips!) "the 'El Capitan' is a pr*ck and crams the boat too full to make it an enjoyable experience". The other boat was a larger schooner type boat which slept 27, which was a straight out no from us. So we opted for El Capitan Fernando on the Perle de Caribe. And what a choice it was!!

We arrived at Club Nautico docks around 8pm where we met the rest of our fellow passengers and crew before setting sail at 9pm from Cartagena. I have to say, we lucked out massively on all fronts. Not only was the Perle de Caribe a great yacht, we also had a great crew and a good bunch of fellow sailors - we were all around the same age which meant any references to Natalie Imbruglia, Gameboys and any references to the 80's were immediately understood. Our crew were all Argentinian and were a great laugh, so easy going and easy to talk to. I don't think we could have picked a better crew.

Our journey started out with 3hrs sailing with the motor to get out of port, through the shipping channels and into the open sea. Given the time of year (it's windy season) Captain Fernando told us that some of the waves would be getting to 2-3 metres out at sea but fortunately we were going with the wind and not against it so it would be slightly smoother.

Now I'm not one for usually getting seasick but we were told to take tablets anyway as the first 2 nights and 2 days would be solid sailing on the open sea, no land in sight on the horizon and no stopping. Turned out this was great advice and was well heeded. Big swells and small boats don't do much for our stomachs. Neither of us were sick but when we went inside off of the deck, we felt so much more queasy. However, once we got into our double birth and were horizontal, we felt fine and quickly passed out, most likely from the drowsiness induced by the Dramamine. (This would also come in handy when we needed to sleep on our epic 36-hr journey home to the UK!) Doing the majority of the open ocean sailing at night was beneficial as it meant that we slept through most of it and would give us the maximum amount of time at the San Blas Islands.

After our first night, we woke up early to an amazingly deep blue ocean for as far as the eye could see in any direction - no land, no boats, nothing but the wind and the white sails. Sweeeeeeet!

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Breakfast today was freshly prepared fruit along with granola and milk and tea or coffee! Much of this day was spent sleeping as there was little to do apart from this. Reading was a little too much. Although we no longer felt seasick, the swells were still pretty big and as soon as you tried to concentrate on reading, the queasiness made a reappearance. I swear I didn't see some of our fellow sailors at all that day. It was nice to get a solid 13-14hrs straight sleep though, something we've not had at all this entire trip. Travelling is great fun but it is by no means relaxing...

During the second night, we saw one of the most magical sights of our trip. Whilst sailing in the pitch dark, the only light we had was the blazing stars above in the clear night sky (so bright that you could see the cloud of the Milky Way) and the bioluminescent phytoplankton being churned up in the wake of the boat. If you have seen the movie Life of Pi, you will know the scene I'm talking about. We spent about 3 hours genuinely deciding which was better, the skies above or the waters around us. We still don't know...

Awaking on our third day, we could feel no movement from the boat, just a slight sway from left to right...this only meant one thing, we had arrived! Leaping out of bed, banging my head on the ceiling of our berth, trying it again a little more cautiously, we got onto the deck and saw what I can only describe as perfection all around. Turquoise waters, pristine white sand beach with hanging palms only a 50m swim away and water so clear that you can see the bottom despite it being so deep that you cannot reach the bottom. Our quest to finish our trip on a massive high was fulfilled. We had absolutely nailed it!

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No time for breakfast today for me, I'm already in with my goggles and fins! The water was so warm, it was like jumping into a bath. El Capitan told us that just off of the starboard side of the boat was a small reef which everyone immediately scrambled to checked out. There was so much marine life down there - small fish, big fish, lobsters, eels, you name it it was there. One of our fellow passengers on the boat, Ben, had just finished his PhD in Australia in marine life so he was very handy to have with us pointing out all the different species. We called him Reef Man - seemed appropriate.

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The remainder of the day was spent relaxing in the waters and sunbathing on the boat or beach - this proved to be a tougher choice than you might think - boat or beach? boat or beach? So hard! For me, it was boat everytime. The gentle rocking of the boat always sent you to sleep.

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In the evening, by which time a few more yachts had arrived, everyone decided to head to the beach where a fire was started and time was spent sat around it, chatting, drinking (obviously rum, what else do sailors drink in the Caribbean?) and star-gazing. One of our group had brought his guitar so verses of Johnny Cash and Bob Marley came out too... Han and I immediately had a sense of being in the T4 show Shipwrecked, but with slightly less eccentric and stupid folk. The night inevitably ended when everyone had run out of booze.

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Our plan for the next day was to head to a shipwreck for more snorkelling but our morning was a much more sedate affair, many feeling the effects of last nights antics - no more so than our very own Captain Fernando. When he rose from his hammock which he had hung from the boom on deck, around lunchtime, his response to why we were no longer going to the wreck today was hilarious - with a cheeky smile and still looking half asleep, he said, "today we were going to go to the wreck pero (but in Spanish) it is now too late to go today pero what is done is done..." Nobody minded in the slightest because we were already in a beautiful spot. So after lunch, which consisted of freshly caught fish, salad etc we set off to the next island for more snorkelling and our next nights destination. This evening was a more sedate affair with more chat, music and cards. Booze? Obviously! More rum and more beer!

Our next few days really followed the above format, moving from island to Island taking in the beautiful waters, beaches and reefs. The food we ate was incredible. It was hard to imagine that all of it came from the tiny onboard kitchen. I have to say, Fernando and Boatsmen Luciano and Ariel (yes, as in the little mermaid!) were great chefs. We had ceviche one night, sashimi another from the fish we caught from the line on the back of the boat (tuna, snapper, sierra(?) and some other fish I've never heard of) and on our last night, our last supper, a humongous meze table with homemade humus, quacamole, sashimi, olives, carpaccio, garlic bread etc.

We did get to visit the shipwreck on our final day, which was great to see and swim around, looking through all the different rooms onboard and seeing what was inside.

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The highlights for us, as well as the pristine waters and stunning deserted island views, were that we got to see and swim amongst some big fish such as barracudas as well as what looked like small reef sharks, eagle rays (they look so cool!) and when on board, dolphins! What a way to end our incredible adventures.

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There is little more I can add to this, I think a series of pictures probably say much more than I could...

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On our last day, we said farewell to Captain Fernando, Luciano and Ariel and made our way by a much smaller speedboat to mainland Panama before a very hilly and speedy journey to Panama City (we both felt more sick after this journey than the 6 days on the boat) where we would spend the night before embarking on our 36-hr epic journey back to London via Florida(!?!), Colombia and Madrid. Fingers crossed it all goes smoothly.

Well, we hate to say it but that brings us to the end of our incredible adventures. We have had the most amazing few months, seen and done so much, met some amazing people and are devastated for it to be over, but all good things must come to an end I suppose... well unless this blog gets picked up by Lonely Planet, Rough Guides or Wanderlust and we snag our dream jobs as travel photographers and writers!

For now however, that's it from the Roundup. It's time for us to return to Blighty and plan our next adventures. We hope you have enjoyed this blog and we shall hopefully see many of you readers on the other side.

This is the Roundup signing off. Over and out.

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Posted by shaunandhan 14:07 Archived in Colombia Tagged me sunsets_and_sunrises beaches skylines people parties trees animals birds sky night boats snorkelling fish water sunset diving park beach trek city white island san sand sail national swimming tropical scuba dolphin yacht lost historic shark colombia cartagena ray turquoise blas rays lancha tayrona ciudad sunbathe teyuna perdida barracuda Comments (0)

Brazil! Time to Paaaaaar-a-ty!!

The Road to Rio: Our journey along the Costa Verde...

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12 weeks in...we have a confession to make. We must be the whitest people ever to travel South America for the length of time we have!! And we are not happy about this fact.

So heading further into Brazil, home of eternal sun, it's about time for some proper sunshine, a prolonged period of gorgeous weather...or so we thought!

For those of you who are aware of our route, we were planning on heading to Florianopolis, east of Foz do Iguaçu on the Southern Brazilian Coast. However after much thought and discussion, we decided that we were tired of long bus journeys and going to Florianopolis for only 2-3 days would've meant two 16hr long bus journeys close together and three in the space of 5 days. As such, we decided to head straight to Paraty and just relaxing in the same place for 5 days taking in the many white sand beaches that surround the area.

Our bus took us via São Paulo (16.5hrs) where we had decided to carry on through to Paraty rather than spend a night, so another (6-7hr) bus journey was on the cards with only a brief wait at the station. Two couples we had met previously told us that there was nothing really in São Paulo for tourists so we heeded that advice and moved on. It turned out to be a great decision as looking out of the bus window on our departure through the rain at the grey skyline, we decided it looked more like Birmingham than Brazil! We were also happy to be leaving the rain behind, or so we thought.

Did we heck as like...just wishful thinking. We arrived into Paraty in the late afternoon and it was still raining, head! But this didn't dampen our excitement at being out of a city and able to see the sea! Not the North Sea or the English Channel, an actual ocean! We had not seen one of these since day 1 in Lima! Where have you been?! And with it, we could see white sand. We were in for a good time...if it would just stop p*ssing it down!

On arrival at our hostel, which was a nice little converted house with plush green gardens, a horse(!) and a 20m laned swimming pool (I was a little excited), we dumped our bags and took a seat at the bar next to the pool in need of large ice cold cervejas (Portugese now - so confusing!). With our mood in a state of limbo about the weather, salt got well and truly rubbed into our wounds when the woman working on the bar said that it had not rained there for over a month prior to yesterday with temperatures around 50C! As such, they were all very happy about the rain - we were less so! On that note, we took our leave and crashed out in our dorm, absolutely exhausted from the long day travelling. Tomorrow would bring a new day...

The next morning brought more rain, though much lighter and we were buoyed by the fact that the weather was due to improve the next day. Taking a more positive attitude, we worked out that the weather has generally been good to us so far wherever we have been and so we figured it was only raining here because it [the weather] thought we were in Florianopolis at the moment. So when it gets to the day that we were actually due to arrive in Paraty, the sun would duly appear. Yes, that's it. That's what was happening. Just a slight miscommunication with the weather over our itinerary that's all.

So waiting for the sun's late arrival, we decided to take a brief stroll in the historic centre of Paraty. Paraty (pronounced Par-a-Chee) is the southern-most city in the state of Rio de Janeiro which lies on the Costa Verde, a lush, green corridor along the coastline. It sits in the Bay of Ilha Grande which is populated by many tropical islands and amid jutting peninsulas and secluded beaches with a backdrop of steep, jungled mountains. It is also a preserved Portugese colonial (1500-1822) and Brazilian Imperial (1822-1889) town as well as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. As you can guess, we immediately loved the place. Aspects of it, particularly along the rivers, reminded us of South East Asia with the narrow brown-coloured rivers, the low-profile schiffs and the overgrown and overhanging palm trees and vegetation. What made you instantly realise that it was Brazil however was taking one look at the fisherman's boats, which were so brightly coloured, it was like seeing La Boca again, only this time on water! The historic centre is a beautiful maze of cobbled streets, the cobbles so big, you spend half your time looking at your feet and not where you're going (a bit like Bow Quarter). But, if you manage to look up every once in a while, you will see fantastic looking white stone buildings lining the streets with brightly coloured doors and window frames. Being a Sunday, and also that it was raining, meant that many places were closed, so we just casually wandered the streets soaking up the scenes before heading to our new accommodation and where we would be spending the next 4 nights, Pousada Bambu Bamboo.

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This Pousada (hotel) is owned by an Englishman, Ben, a very friendly and amiable chap who immediately and without asking gave us an upgrade! Woohoo! If any travelling couples or holidaymakers are thinking of coming to Paraty and are thinking of staying in a double room (rather than a dorm) then I cannot recommend any other place. For only a little more than a hostel (only 20 R$), the difference is huge and worth every single penny! Bambu Bamboo is a small place, just a 15-20 minute walk from the town centre, in the forest and next to the river. Our room was a minimalist looking, white room with a mezzanine level as the bedroom (reminiscent of our Bow Quarter flat) with ensuite and a second bathroom downstairs (I know!). With a free form pool and breakfast area next to the river, you couldn't ask for a better place to relax. This is the best place we have stayed so far and also the best breakfast we've eaten! Cereal, fresh fruits, yoghurt, toast, eggs, different cakes, juices etc. Amazing. Ben had just returned from the UK and brought back with him a load of Tetley's (and English magazines much to Han's delight) so a brew was the first thing on my breakfast table. I would've felt bad if I told him we drink Yorkshire Tea these days. Mmmmm...

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After a hearty breakfast, our first full day was spent trying to lounge around the pool, reading (I'm on my third book, the most I've read in 2.5 months in a long time...that's not a legal text!) and sleeping, but sadly it rained once again so we found a nearby bar and drowned our weather-born sorrows.

Deciding enough was enough, the next day we chanced the weather and caught a local bus to a nearby beach area called Trinidade, known for its white sand beaches. We headed to Praia do Mayo, a small bay with white sand beaches with a rainforest backdrop and blue/green waters lapping against the shore. It had all the makings of a great beach but the weather did not play ball. Clouds soon filled the sky making the sea look grey and not that inviting. As such, we didn't stay too long and decided to head back. However, in true style, Han had other ideas. Trying to climb a rock, she slipped and scraped her right knee right down the rock, removing a good chunk of skin from it! Not quite as bad as her arm in Peru, but enough to make her feel faint and leave another nasty mark! So Trinidade was topped off with a quick trip to the chemist to tender her wounds before we were back on the bus!

Our last day in Paraty. Today was the day that the weather should have caught up with our amended itinerary. Thinking there would be no more miscommunication, we booked a day trip on a schooner to visit some other beaches around Paraty and it's many Islands. The weather offered a humble apology and duly brought out the sun. Woohoo! Finally!! The day went much better, chilling on the deck with a beer/caipirinha in hand, snorkelling in the blue waters around the boat and when the speedboat took everyone to shore I decided to swim there instead. I wanted to see how much worse I'd got...(not too shabby I thought - winter 'hot weather training' not going too bad). All in all, the best day in Brazil by a mile! This was more like we expected.

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With the good weather finally arriving, we were a little reluctant to leave Paraty but we were due to head up the coast to Ilha Grande. Arriving in Angra dos Reis just in time to catch the next ferry, we took the hour and a half boat to the village of Abraao on the east side of the island, the main settlement on the island. Ilha Grande is one of the most pristine remnants of Brazil's Atlantic rainforest, one of the richest ecosystems in the world, and a hotspot for biodiversity and conservation. The island is largely undeveloped (it has no roads) and noted for its scenic beauty, which includes tropical beaches, luxuriant vegetation and a rugged landscape. The entire island is a protected area with a large part of it not accessible to the public and is solely reserved for scientific study.

But what about the weather you ask? AMAZING!! Scorching sun finally! Woohoo!!

Our first three nights were to be spent in the town, taking in its nightlife, it's many restaurants as well as the many walks and boat rides to idyllic beaches such as Lopes Mendes, a beach voted as one of the top 10 beaches in the world. And we did exactly that! The highlight? The $5 Real (£1.25) Caiprinhas from a mobile bar which was basically a man walking along with a cart full of spirits and mixers, a cocktail shaker and blender. They were the best Caiprinhas we've ever tasted!

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Our second three days were spent in Praia Vermelha (Red Beach) on the far west of the island, completely away from everything else. It was so remote that the only way of getting there was to get an expensive taxi boat from the main village or take the ferry back to the mainland and then get a smaller local boat to Praia Vermalha which only went at certain times and certain days. In true 'thrifty' traveller style, we took the latter option. On the boat across, we saw some HUGE crow-like birds circling above us. I don't know what they were waiting for, but I got a couple of decent shots of these massive creatures...

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As our schiff was approaching our final destination, we saw a tiny little cove to our left and immediately wanted to know where it was and how we got there from our lodgings. It turned out, our pousada was a 1 minute walk away. Hence, we immediately went straight there, strolling through a bamboo forest and it was more idyllic than any beach we had seen so far and it was all ours. Not a soul around!

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Our lodgings, Pousada Lagamar is built into the trees which cover the entirety of the island from coast to coast. Our 'chalet' was built on stilts almost into the canopy itself, overlooking the intensely blue and turquoise waters peeking through the lush green leaves. And my favourite perk, a hammock right outside on the balcony.

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They even had regular visitors from the forest who would come down and say hello and chew on a little snack...

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The next day, we joined some of other guests at the Pousada on 2.5hr picturesque hike to Lagoa Verde, a shallow(ish), natural and tranquil area of water between the main island and a smaller one - and in between - a floating bar! This area is one of the best places to find many species of fish and if you're lucky, turtles and dolphins. Sadly we didn't see either of them but saw plenty of colourful fish! What made it even better was that there was nobody there either! Just the barman who duly served ice cold cervejas and agua. Not fancying the 2.5hr hike back, we decided to get a taxi boat back to Praia Vermalha and our Pousada, only to find the whole area had lost all electricity. Dinner by candlelight...very romantic.

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For our penultimate day, we decided that there was to be no hiking, no boats, just pure relaxation on the little secluded beach we found on our first day in Praia Vermalha. That was until our hosts Luciana and Ezequiel said that there was a boat trip going that day back to Lagoa Verde but also Lagoa Azul for more snorkelling and also another place where there were frequent sightings of turtles...sold! On the boat we got. I didn't really think it could get much better than the day before but I was wrong once again. As soon as I jumped in, a massive shoal of fish swarmed around me so much so that I couldn't really see anything other than a wall of fish!! It may have had something to do with the fact that the Captain had just dropped some food right in front of my mask as I jumped in, not that I'm just a magnet for fish sadly!

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But I am a magnet for turtles it seems! Again as I jumped in, they just kept swimming right up to me. It immediately dawned on me I know nothing about turtles other than that they can be quite big. I had no idea what they ate (found that out pretty quickly!) or how they react around people. Save to say when one was approaching me, I freaked out a little at first. I then realised that my GoPro camera was glinting in the sun making it look like tasty fish food. Whilst filming one turtle and taking my eye off it for a second, another decided to sneak up behind and bite at my camera, which was in my hand. Although startling, it was incredible to be so close to these magnificent creatures and see them in their natural environment. Despite my right hand looking like the speciality of the day, I was able to capture some great shots of the turtles! Han practically wet herself with excitement on seeing them and it was truly the highlight of our time on Ilha Grande.

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Our final day on Ilha Grande was spent relaxing at the Pousada, reading and sleeping (especially me as I had been up until 5am with two great guys staying at the Pousada, drinking too much, trying to right the wrongs of the world and work out the meaning of life - as you do when you've had a few!). Han was also not on her best form so was happy to chillax also. Not only because she was feeling a little rough from the night before, but also was yet again in the wars!! This time, Hannah had managed to pick up some sort of rash on her back and neck, which appeared to be spreading and getting angrier everyday. Frustratingly, we were on a small island, in a remote area with no amenities around at all and no means of getting to the mainland until the day we were leaving. Having tried every cream, spray and tablet available to us (with the help of the Pousada and all of its guests) nothing appeared to have done the trick.

So, the next day, an hour and a half boat ride and yet another three hour bus journey later, we would arrive at 'River of January' where our first port of call would be to the doctor...then the Havaiana's shop(!), then the beach!

Posted by shaunandhan 20:15 Archived in Brazil Tagged water beach white island sand tropical brazil paraty turquoise ilhagrande Comments (0)

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