Ilha Grande

Small island – Big impressions

Find out more about the Ilha Grande: flee the urban jungle of Rio and expect lonely beaches, boat trips with dolphins, fresh fruits, jungle sounds to fall asleep and relaxed islanders.

“Come on, let’s try buying the ticket at the self-service counters.” So we got two of the last four seats for the bus to Angra dos Reis. The other people in the queue had to wait two hours for the next bus – sorry.

The buses are very comfortable and air-conditioned and you always get to know people, in our case a Brazilian our age who visits his parents in Paraty who have settled there for retirement. They now live there and discover the inner hippie within themselves, explore nature, learn a lot about fauna and flora and have adopted two dogs that only come near the house to eat and are usually on patrol. So we exchange about country and people, about dialects in Germany (he travelled Leipzig and Cologne) and about the influences that Portuguese has taken and why it often sounds Russian to many people. A good example was the sentence: “I forgot my black lighter in the corner of the schoolyard”. “Deixei o meu isqueiro escuro no recanto do recreio da escola.” Where every second word contains a sharp SCH and might sound a bit Russian to one or the other. Moreover, it seems to be more difficult for Spaniards to understand Portuguese than vice versa – maybe like Schwyzerdütsch for Germans?!

Fishing Boats (instead of tourist speedboats)

After a good three hours we arrive at the bus station in Angra dos Reis and lift our backpacks out of the bus baggage room. The sleepy Englishman next to us loses his SIM card and a few Reais, he doesn’t even notice it, but a young guy sees it and picks it up from the ground for the over-nighter. The nice guy wears a “Mercedes Benz” jersey and seems to come from Stuttgart. We get into talking and so we share a Uber to drive to the port together. In advance we talked to a fisherman who is supposed to sail from the harbour to the Ilha Grande at 14:00 o’clock. The small information stand informs us however that no ship departs today. Damn and now what?! Do we have to stay here for one night? When we tell him about the Lancha de Pesco, he shows us a passing man who takes us to the back of the harbour. He explains to us in Spanish that we simply have to climb over the different fishing boats to get on our boat. There are about 20-30 fishing boats, side by side, ready to leave. The boats are filled with durable food, drugstore articles and other small things such as washing machines or the like. On board with us are only inhabitants of the island who have gone to the mainland for shopping. The crossing is totally relaxed, takes about an hour and costs 35 Reais per Person. The boatman lets us out at our pier and wishes us a nice stay.

Crossing with a fishing boat

Pousada Llagamar

The track starts at the pier and goes ONLY over the beach past a few houses and restaurants to the track that hopefully leads to the pousada. With all the luggage on our backs and the hiking boots on our feet we don’t stroll relaxed through the blazing midday sun.

After a few wrong turns we arrive at the sign “Pousada Llagamar”. We are so happy to have finally arrived, we want to get quickly out of our wet clothes, take a shower and put on some mosquito spray because the little bloodsuckers have already started to get down on the German buffet.

Unfortunately wrongly thought, the extremely friendly and dear woman at the reception explains all details about the island to us in peace and tranquility and a note has to be filled out as well. So we keep on slapping ourselves to get rid of the mosquitos, the plan of the island sucks slowly onto our arm and our lungs get filled with humid air. Finally we made our way to the room. Barely freshly showered we discover the first 10 stitches and it knocks at the door: “Chicos lo siento es el incorrecto quarto. Hay un otra quarto. Disculpe.” Ok quickly some mosquito spray and off to our actual room, which is much more beautiful. A hammock with a view to the sea, air conditioning and an additional bunk bed which we can load with our stuff. Perfect! Now nothing can stand in the way of our wet stay on this beautiful island.

Our terrace with its own hammock and view through the Jungle to the sea – what dreams are made of!

The Pousada is super beautiful, a special thanks to Hannah and Max for the recommendation. The individual houses are spread all along the hill, connected by small stony paths and steps. Each terrace is decorated with a colourful hammock. The best way to explore the island is via the tracking paths or with guided boat tours.

Praia Vermelha

Since we already have a few hours of journey on our backs, we search starvingly for something tasty. There are three restaurants at the beach section Praia Vermelha to choose from. A more elegant restaurant, an Italian and a restaurant apparently without a name. The nameless one is our choice, no music is played and also the locals seem to enjoy a Cerveja here. The restaurant is run by an older man from South Africa who settled here on the island about 30 years ago. The fried freshly caught fish tastes very good and the French fries baked with cheese are filling right up. The menu also includes a water spray to keep the cats away from the food, but they don’t end up with nothing, the fishbones are given to them by the owner after we are done. The bill beats us by 150 reais for a meal and a bottle of water and a beer each. A 1.5 liter bottle of water costs 10 reais, at a consumption of at least 3 liters a day, not exactly a snap. But we learned from that for later trips to more isolated destinations (e.g. Pantanal).

We fall into bed at 18 o’clock, exhausted, just after we got the probably best of all açai prepared by Rosi. Each Reais of the 15 so worth it! So far we haven’t got a better one. Rosi is on her feet again early in the morning, probably around 6-7 o’clock and prepares breakfast for us. The fight against the “hanging leg flies” as we have nicely named them is not to be underestimated. At least 100.000 hanging leg flies are eating our breakfast. So Rosi has a special trick and prepares some plates with sugar and honey, a delicacy the flies can’t resist. After a while she covers the plates with cling film and puts the sugar fly plates in the kitchen. She releases them after breakfast again she reports to us. The flies can’t be blamed for that, we wouldn’t miss the delicious breakfast either. Fruits, fresh juices, buns and homemade cakes every morning whether carrot, coconut or chocolate all soooo good! We have all respect for Rosi, she is non-stop at work and even cleans the rooms. Really incredible. During a chat she tells us that she has 20 days off a year and goes to visit her family otherwise she is working here every day of the week and welcomes her guests as if they were relatives visiting her aunt. We felt very comfortable and fell asleep every evening around 18-19 o’clock with the sounds of the jungle.

Sun, Sand and Sea

Right next to the Pousada is a beautiful small stretch of beach accessible by a 10 minute walk, Praia de itaguaçu. Most of the time it was completely unvisited, but the traces that we humans leave behind are still visible. Every day that we were at the beach we collected at least one bag full of plastic garbage that was washed up to the sea. From whole room scent spray cans, over light bulbs or complete outfits from shoes to hats we collected everything and disposed in the garbage bin. Hopefully the garbage bins will at least be emptied properly.

You’ve probably heard of the new diving masks that make you look like you’re on a moon mission and everything positive you’ve heard is true. The masks are brilliant! We can breathe relaxed through our mouths and noses at the different beach sections and watch the fish buzzing around us. Unfortunately we don’t see a turtle, but instead we see a small group of dolphins during a boat trip.

There are hundreds of beach sections that can be reached by boat or on foot, we liked the Praia Aventureros very much with its very unique palm tree in L shape. There is also a waterfall and a grotto within walking distance.

After five days in the nature we are a little bit sad to leave the pousada but also a little bit glad not to be exposed to the humidity any more. The clothes become wet just by lying around and also pillows and blankets are clammy through the night without exception. On the way back we take the speedboat in the morning and catch the bus to Rio.

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