From the buzz of Rio de Janeiro to stunning isolated beaches, embark on a journey from city to coast and beyond.
Brazil is Latin America’s largest country that expands over the vast majority of the continent and boasts a variety of picturesque natural landscapes. From the Amazonian jungle to paradise beaches and buzzing metropolises, this country has it all and is the definitive travel destination for budding explorers. With the Green Toad, these unbelievable locations are all at your fingertips. Jump on board Beleza Hop and explore from carnival capital, Rio de Janeiro, to the spectacular Iguazu Falls that border Argentina.
The first port of call on this trip is Ilha Grande – an idyllic island retreat that is a safe haven from the party metropolis of Rio. Lying just off Rio de Janeiro’s coastline, journeying to this picturesque jungle island is doable within a mere couple of hours. The island is almost entirely covered in verdant jungle, tropical forestry and is inhabited by rare plants and unique wildlife. Its landscape is rugged and hilly and makes for a great location for tough hikes that take trekkers up through the shrubbery to incredible but relatively unexplored viewpoints. One of the island’s most spectacular walks is a 2-hour hike through the heart of the jungle that leads to the secluded Lopes Mendes beach – rated as one of the most beautiful in the world. Enjoy a day along this vast sandy stretch and watch the crashing waves that make it the perfect surfing spot, then trek back to your hostel or catch a boat – the only two ways to return to civilisation! The island is also blessed with pristine, still waters on its western coast that are sheltered from the great Atlantic Ocean. Coupled with its rocky reef that fringes the island, Ilha Grande is the perfect spot for snorkelling and scuba diving. The island has only began to feature on the gringo path within the last decade, given its recent history as the site of a notorious Latin American prison. Its heritage means that the island is still unexplored and is undeveloped – with only a handful of small towns on the island, adding to Ilha Grande’s local feel and Brazilian charm.
Just south of Ilha Grande lies this enchanting town situated right on the seafront. The town remains to this day quintessentially colonial, complete with exquisitely preserved European-style buildings with colourful murals and irregular cobbled streets. Paraty is the ultimate time warp, and its fascinating heritage has earned its status as National Historic Site. Its cultural significance has also attracted poets, artists and writers who seek inspiration for their artistic works. Its centre has a plethora of museums, boutique shops and restaurants selling searingly fresh seafood and local delicacies. After exploring the web of narrow cobbled streets, see Paraty in all its glory on board an unforgettable boat cruise that ventures around the shoreline and weaves through rocky uninhabited islands, courtesy of Beleza Hop.
After a peaceful break from the madness that is Rio de Janeiro, its back to the hustle and bustle of Brazilian city life. Sao Paulo is another sprawling urban city that is home to an astonishing 20 million citizens. Its sheer size and appearance as expansive concrete jungle can be an intimidating sight at first, but beyond this orchestrated chaos is a fascinating metropolis waiting to be discovered. Its visitors must throw themselves into the spirit of the city, delve into its culture and get a feel for its philosophy to truly appreciate it. Sao Paulo is world-renowned as a fascinating cultural hub, competing for the title alongside cities such as Berlin and Tokyo. This is reflected in its dizzying array of museums, galleries and cultural centres. By night, the city doesn’t sleep and its streets come alive with its notorious 24/7 nightlife scene.
With idyllic beaches and a laid-back party vibe, the island of Florianopolis is a fantastic stop on Beleza Hop and deserves its title as one of Brazil’s hottest resorts. The Green Toad Bus takes you off the continent and onto the island via the main bridge that connects the two. The island is home to a staggering 42 beaches that overlook the Atlantic Ocean or are nestled in the heart of the island on the banks of the lagoons. Its multitude of beaches, waterfalls and lagoons make it one of the top places in Brazil for water sports – from snorkelling and discovering the island’s rocky coral to windsurfing and sailing. After a busy day of adrenaline-fuelled activities, tuck into some local cuisine, which heavily comprises of tasty seafood. By night, the island comes to life with fantastic nightlife, particularly during the dry summer months of December through to May.
Foz de Iguacu
The last stop on Beleza Hop is well worth the wait. This spectacular series of waterfalls physically carve up the border between Brazil and Argentina and is one of the continent’s most popular destinations as a sight of unparalleled natural beauty. A trip to the falls involves a delightful walk through the verdant forestry, where the waterfalls’ thunderous roar can be heard as you encroach nearer. The power and noise adds to the thrill of the walk, and eventually you turn a corner and are faced with a jaw-dropping scene. The experience is added to by the stunning setting amidst Brazilian rainforest teeming with unique species, not to mention the thousands of colourful butterflies. The mist created by the crashing water reflects the hot, beating sun, creating rainbow spectrums that also add to the romance and allure of this destination. Aboard the Green Toad, visitors can explore the Argentinian side, which boasts spectacular panoramic views that give depth and a real idea of the sheer size of these waterfalls. After your 13-day trip, you can choose to finish your tour on either the Argentinian or Brazilian side of the falls.
Book your place on Beleza Hop now for a fantastic 13-day tour that includes 2 van and boat transfers and 3 coaches including 2 overnight sleeper buses. Activities included are the boat cruise in Paraty and a day trip to the Argentinian side of Iguazu Falls.
Book with Green Toad direct at www.greentoadbus.com for £285 / AUD$581.
By Oonagh Turner