Before we entered Brazil we waffled on whether or not to visit the most famous city here. It has a pretty bad reputation and has one of the world’s most famous slums… so would this be for us? We were drawn into the area by surrounding towns and mountains, so we made a quick stop and got just a touch of that Rio feeling.
This town had the summer holiday home of Brazilian emperors up in the hills above Rio. We popped in more for the gateway to Serra dos Órgãos, but also enjoyed the town center architecture and history.
Serra dos Órgãos National Park
Petrópolis and neighboring Teresopolis are gateways to this spectacular National Park. We couldn’t do the multi-day trek with Mitzi (no dogs allowed in the park) but we were able to do shorter day hikes on both sides of the park and get a beautiful glimpse.
Rio de Janeiro
It was only 2 hours from Teresopolis to Rio de Janeiro, so we decided to pass by and give it a look. There’s a place to camp between Pão de Açucar (Sugar Loaf) mountain and a military post, so we spent the night there with lot of other overlanders. We met our two goals for Rio in one afternoon: Caipirinha on the Copacabana and cable car up the mountain for sunset. We only stayed one night, but not because we didn’t like Rio. It is a beautiful city, but the night was loud and we wanted to get to Paraty before the rain hit!
Paraty was settled by the Portuguese colonists in 1597. In the indigenous Guaianás language it means “river of fish”, but the Portuguese used it to ship out gold from the hills around Ouro Preto. That is until pirates started attacking the ships and they switched to shipping the gold from Rio de Janeiro instead. Those pesky pirates ensured this village would remain quaint and cute for tourists in the 21st century! It is also known for the many cachaça stores and tricky cobblestone streets.
Rachel ended up coming back a week later when Yolanda came to visit us. They had a very disappointing scuba diving experience (note to any divers out there: AVOID Adrenaline Diving in Paraty!!!) But the weather was nice and even though there was nothing to see under water, on the shore there was a cute turtle that swam by (sadly no photos).