Local knowledge is all if you are looking for an interesting story to tell when you come back from your travels.
Your average Brazilians are more similar to North Americans than us, they are pretty lazy and if they can get somewhere after lunch by 4x4 (even though a normal car would do), then they will take that option every time. Brilliant, now you know when the crowds will arrive and where, you can get on with the business of avoiding them and finding out what is (and was) really going on.
Rodrigo is one of those people you wish you were more like as he walks through the Atlantic rain forest pulling out wild raspberries, wild coriander, avocados and various other stranger Brasilian edibles as we stroll down the gold trail ~1km up from where the lazy crew will arrive just after mid day to litter the place (not enough to stop you going mind, it's pretty special).
The gold trail was cut out of the rock by slaves to allow the transport of gold and various other gems from the interior to the coast for shipment back to Portugal. Due to the general disregard for anything historical by most Brasilians (concrete and mirrored glass is a sign of progress, not naff old buildings and trails!), there are still amazing undiscovered gems like this next to a popular tourist spot like Paraty. The only people that walk this trail now are either on one of Michael & Rodrigo's trips or the local farmer who owns the surrounding land.
So after an incredibly interesting 45min down hill walk (well, after a quite steep up hill tarmac walk to get to the start!) I am presented with the most amazing waterfall run I have ever seen (I've been to a few in Brasil and Asia if that helps qualify my classification, and they were pretty cool). As well as being amazing, because we joined the water falls from the gold trail and from the top, non of the lazy 4x4 crew bother to walk up that far, so even when the crowds arrive the higher stretches are still deserted.
So tree hugging, crowd avoiding bit done, on to the nature created Disney World / Alton Towers part of the trip. OMG, a 20-30m natural rock water slide with its own park attendant who when not helping to push you down the slide into the plunge pool at the bottom is busily slipping down the same slide skipping with a piece of reed and finishing off with a somersault (don't forget to leave him a tip!).
Well over to you, I don't like to be too positive about anything, it's just not very British, but I had a big smile on my face when I had my end of day beer. I also did a day sea kayaking trip with Rodrigo and a jungle and mountain trek with Michael, all amazing.
You could be in Paraty, walk down the high street, go into one of the so called "eco" tour guide shops, book a trip and probably enjoy it. However, this would only be because you hadn't been taken out by the Paraty Explorer boys. Because if you had, you would only be disappointed you had wasted money on an inferior trip. I've traveled around Brazil over the last few years and am very familiar what is normally offered from these kind of companies. The least effort for the most profit, especially if you are a Gringo. Rest assured you won't get this treatment from Michael & Rodrigo.
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