Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Weekend hike in the Juatinga Ecological Reserve

Luiz and I really enjoy discovering new places. We especially enjoy it when they are very close to home, outdoors and beautiful. This time around we discovered a tiny but stunning slice of the Juatinga Ecological Reserve (ReservaEcológica da Juatinga) located in the Atlantic Forest (Mata Atlântica) just a few hours south of Rio.

We have previously been to, and I have blogged about, Paraty and Trindade. Both are beautiful destinations with history, natural beauty and comfortable pousadas.  This weekend trip was to a place between those two coastal towns featuring incredible natural beauty, but since the area is only accessible by trail or boat, accommodations were a bit more rustic.

I’m going to let the photos do most of the telling in this post. We took more than 180 images in our short visit. The place is really a delight.

The hike and accommodations were arranged by our friends at RJ Adventura. We rendezvoused with 10 other people (including three guides) early on Thursday morning at the Nova Rio bus terminal where we loaded our backpacks onto a mini-bus and set off for the Reserve. The trail-head that was our destination is also available by bus. To get there, take the bus to Paraty, then transfer at the terminal to the local bus, number 1040, for an additional hour or so to the tiny town of Laranjeiras/Vila Oratório, just north of Trindade. The bus will terminate very near the trail-head.

From there most of the group hiked the 1.5 hours trail to Sleep Beach (Praia do Sono). I, on the other hand, volunteered to take the heaviest bags from everyone and join with our guide Cristiani on a sweet 15 minute boat ride to the same destination. (No sense breaking a sweat, I say.)

A quick shower on the beach to wash the salt off.

Praia do Sono is a beautiful beach and a cute little village of about 400 people featuring Gilligan’s Island-style beach restaurants, camping areas and a few chalets for rent. Overnight visitors have the luxury of electricity, if this is your final destination.

Who says your bamboo and mud house can't look fabulous?

It looks just like how Luiz would do it up.

You can take the boy out of being a waiter, but you can't take being a waiter out of the boy.
After lunch we continued past two more beaches to our nighttime destination of Black Point (Ponta Negra). Walking onto this remote little beach we were immediately ducking soccer balls being kicked about by the village youth on the futebol pitch on the sand.

The neighborhood.

We stopped at this house to ask if we could buy some rice and salt. The girl is showing us where in the forest we can look for fresh limes.

The family's bath tub.

The village fish market - which we took good advantage of.

Just a few modest restaurants lined the beach. Mostly we saw fishermen mending their nets sprawled over the sand. We got the key to the house we were renting for the next two nights and headed up a wisp of a trail to find our temporary home. BTW, there is no electricity in Ponto Negra.

The house we stayed in was amazing!

How's that for a balcony view?

Friday lunch.

Cooking up the fish.

Tasted great!

All that hiking (and a great meal) will put you out.

Between the hiking, lifts in the boat, swimming, fresh seafood meals, great friends, a fantastic rental house and pitch black nights – this place was wonderful!

View from the second floor of our house.

Moderate to challenging hiking for about 5 hours total (or pay a guy with a boat), two waterfalls, four beaches, two villages, fresh seafood at beach-side restaurants and super friendly locals. Brazil at its best.

There is nothing like a true getaway weekend to sooth the soul. This trip is very doable and highly recommended. Another option is to spend several nights in Paraty and one morning take the local bus service to the Juatinga Ecological Reserve area trail-head (or connect with the guys with boats) and spend the day at Praia do Sono, returning to Paraty for the night.


The Reader said...

looks amazing! so glad you guys had a get-away.

Jim said...

Muito bom, o lugar e lindo,voltarei sempre que poder. Valeu Jim as fotos estao lindas. parabens.