By Leo Cutting, Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – The small town of Paraty, situated south of Rio de Janeiro on the Costa Verde (Green Coast), has long been a popular destination for travelers seeking sun, sand, nature and a break from the hustle and bustle of Brazil’s larger cities. The town center’s colorful colonial houses and baroque churches allow visitors to feel as though they have stepped back in time to when Paraty was first founded by the Portuguese in 1667.
Perhaps it was this historic, colonial atmosphere that earned Paraty a recent cameo appearance in the fourth installment of the hit film, Twilight. This new-found celebrity has certainly boosted international interest in Paraty, but vampires aside, the prevailing emotion experienced by visitors to Paraty is generally one of peacefulness.
The town’s cobblestone streets seem to compel tourists and residents alike to amble dreamily from one place to another in happy ignorance of the passing of time. Despite this serine reputation, Paraty has recently become a popular destination for tourists seeking adventure sports.
Michael Smyth, an English expatriate and owner of Paraty Explorer told The Rio Times how “people are starting to look beyond the traditional reasons for visiting Paraty – the idyllic boat trip of the bay and the picturesque colonial old town – and are wanting to explore the surrounding Rainforest and remote coastal areas.”
Given that these remote areas are often only accessible by walking trail or by sea, hiking and kayak tours of Paraty are becoming increasingly popular. Michael explains that while “Paraty continues to be primarily a historical city but the [international and local visitors] are starting to appreciate the adventure tourism options right on their doorstep.”
Those looking to experience adventure tourism’s next big thing should consider having a go at Stand up Paddle (SUP) boarding this summer.
Originating in Hawaii in the early 1960s, this cross between surfing and kayaking involves standing on an oversized surfboard while using a paddle to navigate. SUP is easy to learn and a great way to enjoy the calm, coastal waters of Paraty.
Paraty is also a popular travel destination thanks to the numerous festivals held there throughout the year. Most famous among these is the Paraty International Literary Festival (FLIP), one of the world’s foremost literature festivals. This year’s festival was held in early June and hosted several internationally recognized authors including Man Booker Prize winner, Ian McEwan.
Other popular annual events include the Paraty Shrimp Festival (June), the Cachaça Festival (August) as well as the 300 year old “Festa de Nossa Senhora dos Remédios”, an elaborate religious celebration held each September 8th.
Getting to Paraty from Rio is very straightforward and takes around four hours by car or by bus. Whether one is looking to visit one of the town’s festivals, to hike and kayak in some of its less explored surroundings, or simply to enjoy a bit of peace and quiet, Paraty is not likely to disappoint.