Costa Verde in Brazil

The Rio de Janeiro-Santos section of the BR-101 is one of the world's most beautiful highways, hugging the forested and hilly Costa Verde southwest of Rio. The Serra do Mar mountains plunge down to the sea in a series of spurs that disappear into the Atlantic to reappear as a cluster of islands offshore. The most beautiful of these is Ilha Grande: an 80,000-ha mountain ridge covered in rainforest and fringed with wonderful beaches. Beyond Ilha Grande, further down the coast towards São Paulo, is one of Brazil's prettiest colonial towns, Paraty, which sits surrounded by long white beaches in front of a glorious bay of islands. Seen from the harbour in the morning light, this is one of Brazil's most photographed sights.

Ins and outs

The BR-101 is paved all the way to Santos , which has good links with São Paulo. Buses from Rio run to Angra dos Reis, Paraty, Ubatuba, Caraguatatuba and São Sebastião, where it may be necessary to change for Santos or São Paulo. Hotels and
pousadas
have sprung up all along the road, as have expensive housing developments, though these have not spoiled the views. The drive from Rio to Paraty should take four hours, but it would be better to break the journey and enjoy some of the attractions. The coast road has lots of twists and turns so, if prone to motion sickness, get a seat at the front of the bus to make the most of the views.

Mangaratiba

About 22 km down the coast, this fishing village is halfway between Rio and Angra dos Reis. It stands on a little bay within the Baia de Sepetiba and in the 18th century was a port for the export first of gold, later coffee, and for the import of slaves. During the coffee era, it was the terminus for the Estrada São João Marcos highway from the Rio Paraíba do Sul. Mangaratiba's beaches are muddy, but the surroundings are pleasant and better beaches can be found outside town. These include
Ibicuí
(2 km) and
Brava
(between Ibicuí and Saí) to the east, at the head of the bay
Saco
,
Guiti
and
Cação
, and further west
São Brás
. There are numerous hotels in town. Boats run to Ilha Grande several times a day. Times vary according to the season but the last usually departs around 1400.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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