Rio de Janeiro and Paraty Tours
Brazil is a country of contrasts and these Rio de Janeiro and Paraty tours are no exception. Whether you wish to experience the buzz of the big city or soak in the history and relaxed vibes of picturesque Paraty, these tours offer something for everyone. The unique combination of top tourist attractions with socially-minded community tours provides the perfect introduction to some of Brazil’s top destinations.
Spectacular Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is one of the most visited cities in the southern hemisphere, and for good reason. It conjures up images of crazily flamboyant carnivals, shimmering blue seas, a coastline made up of diving and swooping hills – and all to the theme tune of the ‘Girl from Ipanema’. The cidade maravilhosa – or marvellous city – is four and a half centuries old and was once Brazil’s capital city. Today it is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a real artistic and cultural mecca.
Everything about this city is dramatic, almost theatrical. It has strings of beaches from Copacabana, Ipanema and Leblon, all the way along to the Barra da Tijuca. Behind the luxurious flats lining the coast rise incredibly steep hills dotted with favelas (shanty towns). Looking down on all the glitz and the grit from the heights of the Corcovado is the enormous statue of Christ the Redeemer.
These Rio de Janeiro tours include all the city’s iconic sites as well as a visit to the Morro da Babilônia, one of the pacified slums in Rio. It is a very interesting place where sustainable and social technologies are emerging to solve local problems like waste, energy and income generation. Local residents have been trained as tour guides and give a real first-hand insight into favela life, whilst also bringing in much needed revenue for local community programmes.
The tours have generated a real sense of pride amongst community members and make a great socially conscious addition Rio’s long list of world class attractions. After years of being invisible, local residents are now the protagonists, eager to tell Morro da Babilônia’s history and show off its facilities and creativity.
After enjoying the sites and the buzz of Brazil’s top tourist attraction, the picturesque and beautiful Paraty offers a tranquil contrast to big city life. Set on the Costa Verde – the Green Coast – between Rio and Sao Paulo, it is surrounded by beaches, tropical islands, mountain forests and waterfalls. The town itself is a great example of colonial architecture and boasts beautiful cobbled streets that remain largely unspoilt. Today the town has been ‘rediscovered’ as an artistic and cultural hub and offers an insight into Brazil’s important black African heritage.
Paraty, which means ‘river of fish’ in the Tupi indigenous language, was a key trading port during Brazil’s first gold rush and the town was also involved in the coffee trade and the cachaça business. But at the same as time gold was being exported from the port, African slaves were being brought in to work in the mines and plantations of the Portuguese colony. Many of these slaves escaped or rebelled and formed their own settlements known as quilombos, where they were able to observe and celebrate their traditional culture.
Paraty’s rich history, lush tropical surroundings and relaxed vibes make it a great addition to any Brazil itinerary. It is also a lovely place to explore for a few days in between visits to Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. You can check the Sao Paulo, Paraty and Rio de Janeiro tour to see an example of a 9-day itinerary combining these destinations.