4 months travelling in South America: Our Route

Many people have asked ‘Why South America?’ and ‘Why start there?’. We knew that it wasn’t the norm to start a Round the World trip in Rio de Janeiro but we did and we loved it! Throwing ourselves in the deep end was the Misters idea, we don’t know Spanish, no-one else we know has been there, so lets go there! I knew that if I could make it through South America with minimal anxiety then the rest would be a breeze. We not only made it, we loved every second of this diverse continent.

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Click image above for my Travel Pinterest Board

So I ask you… Why not South America? Here is our route with a brief summary on each town or city we visited. You will see any blog I have written on South America featured on this blog too for more in-depth information.

Brazil

Rio de Janeiro:
We split this into two stays, one in Copacabana and one in Santa Theresa/Lapa. You can enjoy your time sunbathing on Copacabana and Ipanema beach before visiting the Seleron Steps in Lapa. Don’t forget to tick off one of the wonders of the world: Christ the Redeemer.

Click for 5 Things to Do in Rio De Janeiro or our Review of Rio Forest Hostel blog

Ilha Grande:
Perfect island get away for the weekend. Known as the safest place in Brazil. Hike across to the world famous Lopes Mendes beach and enjoy the walking trails on your doorstep up to some incredible waterfalls.

Click for A Weekend in Paradise: Ilha Grande blog

Paraty:
The quaint town of Paraty is not to be missed! Try and visit on a Monday to enjoy Samba in the centre with all the local community at 8pm.

Sao Paulo
A mega city known for its incredible street art at Batman Alley (Beco du Batman). Take to the heights of a skyscraper building to see Sao Paulo in all it’s glory.

Curitiba
A colder and quieter town to escape the hustle and bustle of Brazil. The German Woods are a must visit to explore the Hansel and Gretel trail and reach the gingerbread and candy house at the top!

Foz du Iguacu
The place to base yourself for easy access to the Iguacu Falls (Brazilian Side) and Iguazu Falls (Argentinian Side). You can tick off One of the Natural Wonders of the World from your list.

Click for Best of Both Sides: Iguacu Falls blog

Porto Alegre
A great stop to relax and explore the town and local parks before crossing the border to Uruguay. We stayed longer than anticipated due to the fuel strike but Solar 63 Hostel was a great place to relax.

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Uruguay

Punta del Este
A sleepy ghost town in low season but I’m sure this place will come alive in high season. Be sure to visit the Hand in the Sand (Los Manos). If you want a tourist free picture, visit at sunrise or in low season!

Click for Punta Del Este: To do and To Stay Blog

Cabo Polonio
The town with no roads, no vehicles, no water pipes or electricity… that’s Cabo Polonio. It does however have a complete charm about the place with rancho hostels, beaches, lighthouse, solar power and an array of animals including the sea lions!

Click for Cabo Polonio: A Rustic Coastal Village

Montevideo
Home to half of Uruguay’s population. This is a big city to explore so I recommend renting a bike and taking to the Rambla to explore this city. Be sure to visit the Montevideo sign that we thought would be multi-coloured but it was just white haha!

Colonia del Sacramento
A sleepy town with boutiques, lighthouse and cobbled streets lined with sycamore trees. From here you can take the ferry across to Buenos Aires.

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Argentina

Buenos Aires
The city was rebuilt over 100 years ago and is super easy to navigate. The city is split between the historical centre where you will find the Pink Palace, Congress and the Obelisk and La Boca where you will find the colourful shacks in La Caminito.

Rosario
For an interesting experience head over to the Museum of Contemporary Art for Rosario. As we were full of cold and Rosario was pretty cold we didn’t hang around here much.

Cordoba
This city is truly beautiful with a hipster vibe going on with all the university students around. Feel the love at the amoCBA sign that means I Love Cordoba!

Alta Gracia
Great for a day trip to see Che Guevera’s childhood home. We visited the day after Che’s 90th birthday and bumped into his old childhood friend who happened to be visiting that day! The museum is free and has an English booklet to guide you round.

Mendoza
Wine and Dine for a day by experiencing the free wine tasting tours available in most wineries in Mendoza. There are also many treks up to view points of the Andes but just be sure not to get arrested for entering a private neighbourhood!

Click for Exploring Mendoza: To do and To Stay

San Juan
For a glimpse into the Triassic Period you can head over to Valle de la Luna on a 2 day road trip to see dinosaur remains, clay formations and literally feel like you are walking on the moon in Ischigualasto Provincial Park. There is also a different Valle de la Luna in San Pedro if you want to save this till later.

Click for Adventures to Valle de la Luna blog

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Chile

Click to find out about our experiences of Crossing the Border to Chile

Santiago
Head up to the top of Cerro San Cristobal which is the second highest peak in Santiago for views across Santiago. Don’t be too disappointed if it is cloudy from the top, this is the high levels of pollution and tends to always be like that.

Valparaiso 
A day trip from Santiago to Valparaiso is well worth it to see the bohemian brightly coloured houses, the rickety elevators (ascensores) the port and the famous ‘We are not Hippies, we are Happies’ sign.

Copiapo
A quick stop through the town that was put on the map due to the trapped miners in 2010. There is now a museum that is open Thursday-Sunday that is guided by one of the trapped miners. This sounded really interesting but we unfortunately arrived on a Monday!

Antofagasta
Another quick stop going up North. A port side town that doesn’t have much going on but it is worth walking to Plaza Colon to see The Torre Reloj, a small replica of Londons Big Ben with the Chilean and British flags intertwined on the tiles.

San Pedro de Atacama
Visit the driest desert in the world and explore local ruins and hike up to incredible viewing points. The No.1 recommendation from us is to go Stargazing here! This was one of our top experiences in South America. This is where you can book and begin your Uyuni 3 Day Salt Flat Tour.

Click for San Pedro de Atacama: Driest Desert in the World blog.

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Bolivia

Uyuni
Your 3 day tour will take you to Lagunas, Geysers, Hot Springs, to see Flamingos and eventually to the Uyuni Salt Flats. You will have so much fun bouncing around the Jeep with a group of likeminded travellers. The Salt Flats are the best place to take your creative perspective shots that will definitely be Instagram worthy. You only need one night in Uyuni itself to freshen up and get a good nights sleep before heading on.

Click for Uyuni Salt Flats: What to Expect blog.

Potosi
Not for wimps or woosies! This was the tag line for the Working Mines Tour in Cerro Rico Mountain. We were very grateful that after two hours in the mine we lived to tell the tale. Health and Safety regulations do not apply here but well worth a visit. We booked through our hostel Koala Den (Koala Tours).

Sucre
We loved Sucre! Known as the ‘White City’ as every building is white. At every turn you will find beautiful parks and plazas. It truly is a delight to wander around with an ice cream!

La Paz
This place is crazy but you feel like you are in true Bolivia. For an opportunity to learn about the cultural beliefs of the Indigenous people, their fashion sense and all about San Pedro prison be sure to do the Red Cap Walking Tour. For those who enjoy an adrenaline rush; be sure to check out the Death Road Mountain Biking experiences. We booked through Barracuda and had an incredible experience!

Click here for Highway to Hell: Death Road, Bolivia blog

Copacabana
A beautiful sea side town on the shore of Lake Titicaca, the highest lake in South America. Climb up Cerro Calvaio for the best views in town.

Isle de Sol
Take a boat over to Isle de Sol for the day. Be aware that currently it is only safe to visit the South of the island due to an ongoing conflict with the north.

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Peru

Puno

A port side city at high altitude! From here you can visit over 100 floating islands in Lake Titicaca where the Uros indigenous people live.

Lima

Visit the capital of Peru to see the ultra modern mega city. We mainly explored the Miraflores and Barranco districts.

Peru on a Shoestring Tour

From here we began our two week Peru tour with G-Adventures. We visited Nazca and discovered the Nazca Lines at a height! In a small plane we flew over large ancient geoglyphs that featured simples lines, geometric shapes and animals.

In the Arequipa Region we explored the Colca Canyon that is the best place to spot the Condors.

Then our finale of South America, Machu Picchu! 4 days of trekking the Inca Trail to reach this incredible wonder of the world.

Click here for Need to Know: Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

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So I ask you again… Why not South America? We learnt so much about the various cultures and so much about ourselves during this 4 months. What better way to start a Round the World Trip.

Go the Distance in South America,

Chloe

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The Cost of Travelling through Brazil

Budgeting for a Round the World Trip can be so difficult. I read around the subject so much and ended up completely bamboozled! Our STA agent gave us a figure of £1000 a month each and we based our travels on that. We know that along the way there will be more expensive places and then ridiculously cheap places but it all should average out in the end.

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Click image above to visit my Pinterest Travel Board

So this blog covers what we spent during our time Brazil. There will be some maths along the way but only to divide by two if you are a solo traveller. We had aimed to do a whole month in Brazil but we fell a little short on this with 25 days.

Transport

It might help if you know the route we took through Brazil. It looked a little something like this:

Rio de Janeiro (Copacabana) > Rio de Janeiro (Santa Theresa) > Ilha Grande > Paraty > Sao Paulo > Curitibia > Foz du Iguacu > Porto Alegre > Uruguay.

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This involved 8 coach journeys ranging from 154 BR to 566 BR for us, totalling 2077 BR. We used Coste Verde coaches (115 BR for both) to go from Rio to Angres dos Reiss, in order to get across to Ilha Grande. For a detailed description on how to get there, click here. The following coaches costs are for 2 people:
⦁ Paraty 170 BR
⦁ Sao Paulo 154 BR
⦁ Curitiba 178 BR
⦁ Foz du Iguacu 126 BR
⦁ Porto Alegre 566 BR (20 hour overnight in Leito seats)
⦁ Punta del Este 510 BR (across to Uruguay)

We found the cheapest way to travel was the bus and metro, ranging from 8 to 15 BR for us. Throughout our travels through Brazil we took 10 buses totalling 87 BR and 4 metros totalling 33 BR. As long as you stay within the metro station you don’t have to purchase another ticket and so can ride as many metros as you need in one go to get to your destination. This was also the case for one bus station in Foz du Iguacu, you get on the bus further down rather than the front where you buy tickets. If the locals jump on half way down, just follow suit.

Taxi’s are more expensive but I suggest using them when needed most. If it is late and you are half asleep and don’t even know where your feet are nevermind your hostel, just get a taxi or Uber. Or in the Mister’s case if you injure your foot, take a taxi! I’m proud to say we only used 3 taxis and 2 Ubers through Brazil totalling 150 BR for us.
When getting to Ilha Grande you have no choice but to use water transport. We spent 34 BR on a ferry ride and 50 BR on a water taxi. For a full details on how to get to Ilha Grande and why you may need a water taxi, click here to read our ‘Weekend in Paradise: Ilha Grande’ blog.

Overall, we spent 2431 BR on transport in 25 days. This equates to £541.05 for a couple or £270.52 for a solo traveller (May 2018).

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View en route to Ilha Grande

Food and Water
The breakdown for basic food and water we spent 1342 BR (£298.68), alcohol 277 BR (£61.65) and we ate out three times totalling 292 BR (£65.91).

Overall, we spent a total of 1911 BR on food and drink (including alcohol!) in 25 days. This is approximately £425.32 (May, 2018) for a couple. This works out as 76.44 BR (£17) a day if you like a tipple and a weekly eat out.

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Our Healthy Breakfast!

Accommodation

Our accommodation ranged from 50-104 BR for the two of us, per night. Sometimes hotels are cheaper and we opted for this in Curitiba. However, we had to have microwave meals for two nights.

Overall, we spent 1650 BR (£367.23, May 2018) on our hostels and hotels in 22 nights (we took 3 overnight coaches). This was % of our budget with an average stay of 75 BR a night (£16.69) for us both.

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Rio Forest Hostel – Review Here

Sight-Seeing

Now you can’t travel through Brazil without paying to do some of the ‘Touristy things’. We have been up close to Christ the Redeemer (150 BR for 2), saw Sao Paulo’s skyline up high (40 BR for 2), enjoyed far too many Caiphrinas on a Boat Trip (140 BR for 2), seen the Iguacu Falls from both the Brazil and Argentinian side (126 BR and 179 BR) and thoroughly enjoyed taking in the culture on 5 free walking tours (tips totalling 180 BR).

Overall, our sight seeing adventures cost 815 BR (£183.96, May 2018) and I don’t feel like we missed anything out due to cost.

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Chris the Redeemer – 5 Things to do in Rio

Laundry

This deserves it’s own little section as it can be a pain in the bum if you ask me. One of those adult things that just needs to be done regularly. We have Travel Wash which has it’s cost saving advantages but be prepared for the clothes needing 2-3 days to dry depending on the weather. We have needed to select hostels with laundry services a few times. The first cost us 15 BR for a gigantic load at the hostel. The next place wanted to charge 2 BR per piece of clothing so we refused and the final hostel used an external company that cost 13 BR a kg but turned out to cost 42 BR but it smelled divine and was ironed, so we didn’t mind.

Overall, laundry cost us 57 BR (£12.69, May 2018).

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Summary
Our 25 days travelling through Brazil cost in total 6864 BR (£1527.68, May 2018).

For a solo traveller this would be approximately, 3432 BR (£763.84).

Based on the advice we were given to take £1000 a month each, we came £140 under budget.

Where your most money will be spent:
⦁ Transport 2431 BR 35%
⦁ Food and Water 1911 BR 28%
⦁ Accommodation 1650 BR 24%
⦁ Sight Seeing 815 BR 12%
⦁ Laundry 57 BR 1%

Go the Distance with your pennies!

Chloe

Iguacu Falls: The Best of Both Sides

Stunning. Breath-taking. Jaw-dropping. Awe-inspiring. Just a few words that came out of our mouths on the 2 days we spent exploring the Iguacu and Iguazu Falls.

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The Falls split the border between Brazil and Argentina and this is why there are a fair few spellings. From what I have figured out it’s Iguacu for the Brazilian side and Iguazu for the Argentinian side. Iguacu actually means ‘Big Waters’ and that’s a pretty good description! They were voted to be in the top 7 Natural Wonders of the World in 2011 and they definitely deserve it.

Brazilian Side
As we were staying in Foz Du Iguacu we took an adventure to the Brazilian side first. I must admit the Iguacu National Park is pretty impressive. We were approached on arrival by a lady who spoke fantastic English, we were given two maps (one in English) and given full explanation of what was on offer. You can do extra activities at a cost such as a boat ride, bird watching and safaris but we opted for good old walking (and the included bus to begin). For general entrance to the park it cost 63 BR each (approx £15) and locals do get a cheaper rate.

Iguacu Falls

You begin with the bus ride to the third bus stop, the first two stops are for paid tours. You then can follow the trail through the forest, stopping at each viewing point along the way. This leads you up close to the most famous of the waterfalls, the Devil’s Throat. We saw people changing into their ponchos, so I followed suit and jumped into mine, that was a gift in my survival kit! This came in handy as I ended up carrying both bags underneath it while Duncan quickly snapped pictures in the waterproof case we had.

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Once you are soaked and feel like you have had a mindful moment taking in the enormity of the falls, you can go up the elevator to the higher viewing point. Or, you can walk this, which we enjoyed doing. Here you will find a restaurant, snack bars, souvenir shops and even more coaties!

Be warned the coaties (we called them Racoons) are everywhere and want your food. There are so many signs explaining not to feed or pet them, yet people think they know best. We did see them steal a pastie from an unsuspecting woman so they do have an evil side!



This is another fantastic viewing point of the falls, a little higher up! There isn’t as much walking as we anticipated on the Brazilian side so we were tempted to do the whole trail again in reverse. In the end, we caught the bus back and spent some time sunbathing!

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Argentinian Side
Well this was an experience to say the least and I think I am still confused about how an earth we even got to the Iguazu National Park. We were told you needed Argentinian Peso’s for the buses, this wasn’t the case for us as they were happy to accept Brazilian Reals. The bus got us to the Border where everyone has to get off, go through border control and jump back on the same bus the other side. I was rudely told ‘one person, one passport’ when we approached together!

So, I didn’t initially remember the passports, we had set off and thank goodness Duncan said ‘you do have the passports don’t you!?’. After a quick turn around, we were back on track. So remember the passports, it’s pretty important.
Then we were approached by the bus driver and asked if we wanted to share a taxi to the National Park with another couple. This was translated to English by this couple. So for a saving of 5 BR we went with the flow and accepted the offer (while inside bricking it that this could be a big mistake!). Luckily, we arrived safe and sound for 35 BR. We believe this was a quicker and slightly cheaper option. Our advice is to just stay on the bus to the station and get another one paying the extra 20 BR each to get to the Iguazu National Park, Cataratas.

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The entrance fee is 600 ARG PESOS each (approx £18) and there is a cheaper rate for the locals. This side offers many more trail walks and circuits to see many more falls from different angles. We jumped on the train (included in entrance), then walked across bridge like infrastructure, up to the Argentinian side of the Devils Throat. We were speechless! As we stood at the balcony we took in the immensity of the falls, the sound of the water and the height we were at… just incredible! We could even see where were stood on the previous day.

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Then we completed the Upper and Lower Circuits both offer wide panoramic views of the Iguazu Falls for differing heights. We didn’t get wet throughout the whole day, so the ponchos weren’t necessary for this side. These routes were the red and blue routes, worthwhile doing both in our opinion.

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At the time of visiting, the San Martins Island was closed. You are able to take the green trail back rather than the train again. This was an enjoyable walk to end our day at the falls.

I recommend doing the two days in this order with the Brazilian side first and then the Argentinian. This is because I wouldn’t want you to be underwhelmed by the Brazil side after Argentina. Our time just got better and better which I loved.

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Where we Stayed: Atalaia Adventure Hostel for 72 BR pn

Pros: Cheap private double room, great kitchen, TV in room, lovely to sit by the pool in the day time and great location for getting to the Falls

Cons: Expensive laundry costs, super basic breakfast with no fruit.

Search for hostels and hotels in Foz du Iguacu on Booking.com

Go the Distance at Iguazu Falls,

Chloe

A Weekend in Paradise: Ilha Grande

A peaceful island with no cars, pristine beaches, rainforest hikes and eye-capturing waterfalls is certainly the making of a weekend in paradise. For Ilha Grande this hasn’t always been the case. Formally, it hosted a high security prison for Brazils most violent criminals. Fortunately, it is now known as one of the safest places in Brazil!

A weekend in paradise

Click image above to visit my Pinterest Travel Board

We escaped city life for some well earned TLC a few weeks into our Round the World adventure. Here is what we got up to in our budget weekend in paradise.

Lopes Mendes
This was once voted as one of the most beautiful beaches in the world by Vogue Magazine. However, to earn the rewards of the beach there is a 3 hour hike ahead of you! Admittedly, this was the first time I had a tantrum on our trip (poor Duncan!). I was lagging behind a bit, struggling with the climb in the heat and flip flops. I think I was more annoyed at myself as I did the research for this day and blatantly ignored the advice I read… so I recommend trainers and take flip flops in your bag for the beach. So when Duncan made the slightest comment about my slowness… that was it… ultimate tantrum!

Luckily this was short lived and I apologised and returned to appreciating the beauty of the rainforest and both of us realising how far we had walked, it was a challenge but worth it. En-route you will pass Praia das Palmas and Praia dos Mangues beaches which are great pit-stops along the way. But be warned you will pay a lot of money for water here as we did, so stock up.

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3 hours later, we arrived at the white sandy beaches with crystal clear water and great waves too! We pulled out our towel, flip flops off, suncream on and I had a well earned rest before going for a swim to cool down.

The sand is very fine which annoyed Duncan. It literally doesn’t come off so you will have a sandy bum for a while! There are strong currents in the sea and we saw this for ourselves when a lifeguard went to save a man who was a long way out struggling to get back.

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After the 3 hour trek you may not want to go through all of that again and risk another tantrum. So we opted for a new experience and took a water-taxi back. It is important to note that you can do this both ways but they drop you off at Praia do Pouso and you still have to do a small hilly walk for 15 mins to get the beach (so not disability friendly at all!). For 25 BR (£5.51) each we jumped on a speedboat with 12 other people which was one hell of an experience. The closer you are to the front of the boat the less wet you get, but it was one hell of a bumpy ride! You would go up, up, up the wave and then drop! We both were hysterically laughing with a girl from London sat beside us! 20 minutes later we arrived safely on the beach.

How to get to Lopes Mendez
The trial you want to follow is T10 but this isn’t as well sign posted as I had read (or maybe we are blind!). There are smaller signs directing the way to the different beaches and if you feel lost don’t be afraid to ask the locals… they are happy to help.

Trail walks
The island has 15 different trails for you to enjoy. I have read of a people taking 5-10 days to cover the entire coast, setting up camp along the way. With our 2 days we opted for a shorter easier trail for the second day… or so we thought.

e339e9ca.jpgTrail 1 is an hour and a half walk that includes the Praia Preta beach where the Ruins do Lazareto are, Praiz do Galego beach, the aqueduct and natural pool. We spent a good few hours at the first beach with a beer and went for a proper swim as there was no waves. Duncan saw something in the water so keep your eyes peeled as theres no lifeguards about but this still didn’t deter him as he swam pretty far out.

We got sidetracked and saw a sign for the Cachoeira e Praia da Feiticeira (Waterfall of Feiticeira). We were convinced that this was on our trail but we were wrong. An hour and a half walk ended up extending by 2-3 hours! It was so worth it though! I didn’t think we could have walked much higher when we reached a stunning waterfall that we could get relatively close to. It would have been great if we could have got a shower under it because we must have stank… but unfortunately that wasn’t the case. IMG_0444 (2).JPG

Top Tip: Take a picture of the map you want to follow so you can keep on track.

Accommodation
I love talking about our big boo-boos, it leads to so many top tips for you all!

Top Tip: Don’t book accommodation with no reviews unless you are afraid of nothing!

We were the ultimate paranoid and pessimistic Brits when we saw that the flimsy door, half a window and a suspicious back room at house we stayed at! We assumed the worst and were anxious about leaving our belongings in the room. However, after one night we acclimatised to the chilled vibe of the island and booked a third night haha!

Were we Stayed:
Katrina e Sophia House
Price: 50 BR a night for a private room
Pros: Plenty of space, utensils in the kitchen and warm shower, live like the locals.
Cons: Didn’t feel too safe, no lockers, locals staying the back room that wasn’t advertised.

Search for hostels and hotels in Ilha Grande on Booking.com

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Getting to Ilha Grande
From our research we found very conflicting pieces of information about how to get to Ilha Grande, how much it costs and which ports were open. Armed with 3 options we aimed for the cheapest option which worked out well for us.

This started with a bus journey from nearby Rio Forest Hostel to the main bus terminal in Rio (Rodoviaria Rio). In this bus station there are stands for coaches to different locations. Coste Verde offer a journey to Ange dos Reis for 57.50 BR each. There is then a short walk (which feels like forever with your backpacks on) round to the ports. There are three main ports on the mainland and this route takes you to the furthest one away (hence the cheapest). We walked to Cais de Lapa and jumped on a ferry for 17 BR each. This option leaves once a day at 3.30pm. This was a steady 2 hour journey with beautiful scenery and we even saw dolphins jumping alongside the ferry!

IMG_0373 (2)We hope this inspires you for a visit to Ilha Grande or helps you in your planning. Find information on ‘Things to Do in Rio’ here

Go the Distance in Ilha Grande,

Chloe

Top 5 Things to do in Rio de Janeiro

The first part of our Round the World adventure took us to Brazil, starting in Rio de Janeiro. We knew we were throwing ourselves in the deep end starting with South America and a Portuguese speaking country, but we have loved our experiences so far!

We spent 5 nights in two area of Rio; Copacabana and Santa Theresa (near Downtown Rio and Lapa).  It is hoped that this blog will inspire you to book your flights Brazil and explore Rio de Janeiro for yourselves!

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Beaches
Our first few days in Rio took us to Copacabana, that is renowned for it’s world famous beach! So why not walk the entire 4 km stretch! We popped out onto the beach at Copacabana Palace and walked until we ran out of beach. We headed round the bend to find a pathway that led to Ipanema Beach. On this occasion, the surf was much better on Ipanema but it’s not far to walk between the two as the waves inevitably change. Later on, we walked in the opposite direction to the headland, where we saw locals enjoying sea-fishing. We were fortunate to catch a local derby Football Game (Ipanema vs. Racing?). Honestly, when that first goal was scored I never seen so many children run onto the pitch cheering and jumping all over the scorer… unforgettable moment.

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Christ the Redeemer
You cannot visit Rio without going to visit the main man keeping a watchful eye over you. Are you aiming to tick off all 7 Wonders of the World? Well, Christ the Redeemer is one of them to tick off your list. The statue of Jesus Christ and is situated 700 metres high at the peak of Corcovado Mountain in the Tijuca Forest National Park. We took the 583 bus from Copacabana to Trem do Corcovado. The cost of the cable car and entrance to Christ the Redeemer was 150 R$ for the two of us (so £34.61 for 2). From our research, it was suggested to go early morning as the sun wouldn’t interfere with your pictures but naturally this is a busier time. We went on a Saturday morning, in low season and it wasn’t too crowded (I imagined much worse). Be prepared to wait to get the perfect Instagram worthy shot but remember to take the time to have a mindful moment. It is a wonder of the world for a reason, take it all in!

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Escadaria Selarón
This is also known as the Selaron Steps that are world famous! The vibrant tiled steps were created as a tribute to the Brazilian people by Jorge Selaron. The steps go between Lapa and Santa Teresa and feature 2000 tiles collected from over 60 countries. We literally stumbled upon these only 10-15 minutes from Rio Forest Hostel in Santa Theresa. Again, getting the perfect Instagram picture can be difficult with every one else trying to achieve this too. However, a kind guy took our picture together and we took our time for a great shot without other peoples bums or feet in the way.

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Cathedrals and Palaces
Although the exterior the Metropolitan Cathedral is rather dull, inside this cathedral is truly stunning with 4 stained glass windows from floor to ceiling. This pyramid style building is a great place to escape the Rio sun, appreciate the history of Saint Sebastian and observe worshippers.

Paco Imperial is the Royal Palace of Rio that was built in the 18th century. King John VI of Portugal resided there, as well as King Peter I and II. Several important events in Brazils history are associated with the Imperial Palace. It is situated in the Praca XV in Central Rio.

Close by to the Imperial Palace is Tiradentes Palace that is named after the Brazilian hero who’s aim was for full independence from the Portuguese and to create a Brazilian republic. A statue of Tiradentes in a Jesus-esque pose is at the entrance of this impressive building that formally was the ‘Old Jail’ where Tiradentes was imprisoned before his public execution.

 

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Museums
It is worth noting that many of the Museums in Rio are free on a Tuesday. However, the one we chose to visit on a Tuesday… was not free haha! We headed up towards the Maracana Stadium (mentioned below) and came across the Boa Vista Park. This is a very tranquil and well looked after park which is perfect for a picnic or leg rest! Within this park is the National Museum that cost us 6 BR each (£1.50 each). The exhibitions are remarkable, especially the mummified bodies, that I must admit gave me the hebbie-jeebies (although very interesting!). Only some of the explanations are written in English but there is an audible app you can download if you really want to take it all in. So remember to take your headphones, as we didn’t think about this.

Update: Unfortunately, on September 2nd 2018, there was a fire at the National Museum destroying many ancient artefacts. Read more about this tragedy on the National Geographic website.

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Other:
We had headed over to the Maracana Stadium under the impression there was a free museum/club shop there but this could not be found. There are tours that cost from 25 BR to 50 BR depending on whether you want access only or guided tour around the stadium. We chose not to do this but for football enthusiasts i’m sure it would be a fantastic experience.

The free walking tour will enable you to see the Seleron Steps, palaces and many important historical buildings. This is a 3 hour tour with very knowledgeable tour guides so tip generously at the end of the tour… they work hard for their money!

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Where we Stayed
Cobanacopa Hostel
Price: 70 BR pp/n for a 5 person dorm
Pros: Great sense of community, larger kitchen, washing machine, impressive communal areas, water fountain, great security, clean rooms and toilets.
Cons: Cold Cold shower, our of stock beer, limited kitchen facilities

Rio Forest Hostel
Price: 45 BR pp/n for a 8 person dorm
Pros: Vibrant art, friendly english speaking staff, artistic communal areas, warm showers, clean rooms and facilities, cable luggage car for luggage
Cons: Basic Kitchen with few utensils, lots of steps

Find a detailed review of Rio Forest Hostel here.

Go the Distance in Rio,

Chloe

Rio Forest Hostel Review

This is the hostel I have been looking forward to staying in the most and it didn’t disappoint. We moved here on Day 3 in Rio de Janeiro and came from the Copacabana area up to Santa Theresa in order to move closer to Central Rio.

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Click image above to visit my Pinterest Travel Board

After a journey through winding roads, narrow streets and up very steep hills I was thankful that we had took a taxi. The mister’s foot was still not working properly, so we had to taxi it but I would recommend doing the same if your carrying all your earthly goods with you in a rucksack or two!

When we arrived we were faced by never ending steps but … there was a saving grace! What can only be described as a mini cable car came down the mountain side as a trolley for our 60L rucksacks. We were so grateful! We were greeted by the loveliest staff who also speak very good English, which was helpful. We were super early for check in but there was a place to rest our bags and plenty of places to relax and soak up the views of Santa Theresa and Lapa.

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Again, the staff were fantastic and our ‘Samboromo 8 dorm room’ was ready within 30mins. This room had 4 bunk beds, it’s own bathroom with a warm shower (this was a first for us in Brazil) and 4 large lockers inside the room and 8 just outside. The rooms were clean and supplied with clean sheets and pillows and linen was stored in the lockers.

This place is truly stunning with colourful graffiti artwork throughout the many floors and lots of comfy seated areas on balcony areas overseeing the city lights. The first main floor has a Reception and Kitchen. As well as the graffiti murals, canvas artwork transforms the building. The colours and textures of the art add to the vibe of this beautiful hostel. The Kitchen is basic, as it seems to be in hostels. Although, a few extra pans, knives and a tea towel would improve this.

The second main floor hosts the mini bar and pool. When we arrived the atmosphere up there was chilled with all the good vibes, beers and people laid by the pool. There are secluded areas shaded by trees with benches up some more steps, as well as a great photo opportunity with the front end of a VW orange campervan! Living the dream ey! There is BBQ facilities up there too which we by accident stumbled upon a birthday BBQ party! Blissfully unaware, we were invited across for some food by pleasant Brazilianoes that made us feel very welcome. As it is low season, it is quite quiet in the day time so this added a great atmosphere.

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The mini bar and pool area is also where the Free Breakfast is on a morning. We were delighted to see an array of food, drinks and utensils on offer. We had cereal, toasties, fruit, coffee and juice, so we were set up for the day. It was lovely to see healthy looking fruit that was well covered (elsewhere food can often be left out for a while!)

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This place is literally built into the side of the mountain, it is incredible! We have seen lizards, birds and even got to see 5+ little monkeys keen for their banana breakfast too!
Our 8 person dorm cost 45.00BR each which is £10.38 pp/n. The dorms range from 9 person at 40BR to a family room at 220BR. As we arrived in low season we had the dorm to ourselves with its own bathroom. You cannot beat the service, the smiles of the staff, the vibrant artwork, clean rooms and chilled atmosphere, especially for the money!

While in Santa Theresa we stumbled across the Secleron Steps and completed a walking tour in Downtown Rio and Lapa, which are both walking distance of Rio Forest Hostel. There will be a blog featuring ‘Things to do in Rio’ to soak up more knowledge before you arrive, coming soon.

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If you would like to stay at Rio Forest Hotel, I recommend taking a look at their website, Facebook or Instagram. However, for simplicity and best rates book through booking.com.

We intend to return to Rio Forest Hostel in the future in Carnival Season.

Go the Distance in Rio,

Chloe